Showing posts with label abiding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label abiding. Show all posts

Jan 30, 2014

Lessons from a Hummingbird

When a hummingbird builds a nest, the bird does not think ahead of time, "I will build a beautiful nest." She instinctively gathers tiny sticks, feathers, and soft things that please her, mindfully and enjoyably doing what is natural, just one pleasing piece at a time. And then, as if by magic, a beautiful, safe nest is created by God.

"Do you think lightly of the riches of [God's] kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness  [safeness, love, goodness and beauty] of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4 - words in brackets mine)
When we see that God is tender, and become still with that safeness, and do just one thing mindfully in freedom and faith, we effortlessly build something beautiful from God. 

Oct 25, 2012

Relentless as the Forest

I feel closer to God in the hammock in our backyard, especially when breezes tousle the branches above me, all shades of green, a kaleidoscope in the sun. Here, in a city neighborhood, in the hilly, forested part of Arkansas, my oak tree hosts a soprano choir of birds who seem to sing for the joy in it. 

Not far from here, the parking lots make it hard to believe there ever was a forest. Yet today in my hammock there is a distinct sense of the wild places still being present. Perhaps it’s the moss carpeting the rocky ground, mottled now and again with purple violets. Or maybe it’s the little nest of birds in the siding of our house. Yikes! Yes, the forest is still here, waiting. If not held at bay by homes, SUVs, and concrete, it would return, craggy roots imperceptibly yet relentlessly creeping into crevasses and crannies until there were few signs of civilization.

God is like the forest, it seems, patiently waiting to enter a crack in the concrete of the flawless persona we put on for the world. If we were to put aside the weed-eater of busyness and the chain saw of materialism, the Holy Spirit would set up residence in our lives and grow a forest of goodness there. How often does God plant a wildflower only to have it crushed with the steamroller of ambition, paving our lives with humanly achieved successes? What a glorious garden would flourish in our hearts, would we let our Gardner in. But instead, He waits longingly and relentlessly, like the remnants of the forest in our backyard.


This article won first place in the writing contest for the Little Rock Chapter of American Christian Writers in May of 2010.

Mar 13, 2010

Simplicity in Prayer

Mother Teresa said, "We complicate prayer as we complicate many things."

So we simply come to Him in solitude and silence while He nurtures us. Our hearts are filled and we can then go out and nurture others.

We still our souls and listen for Him in the spring breeze, the twittering nightingale, the fluttering leaf, the gurgling creek. He speaks and we know what to say to the brokenhearted.

We still our souls and look for Him in the stars of the night, the break of the dawn, the dew on the leaves, the bloom of the rose. He appears and we know how to solve our most daunting problems.

Perhaps we light a candle, put on some soft music, and have coffee with Jesus. Or instead take off on a brisk walk. As we sink down into the present moment where God lives and the wind tousles our hair, His presence invades our emotions and dissolves our fears.

Dear Jesus,
Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your Spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through us
and be so in us
that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul ...

~ Mother Teresa
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Mar 7, 2010

Nurtured by God

We often think of our service to God as being the first priority. However, God is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything (Acts 17:25). Instead He glorifies Himself by serving us.

Read what John Piper says in Desiring God, p. 132:

Suppose you are totally paralyzed and can do nothing for yourself but talk. And suppose a strong and reliable friend promised to live with you and do whatever you needed done. How could you glorify your friend if a stranger came to see you? Would you glorify his generosity and strength by trying to get out of bed and carry him?

No! You would say, "Friend, please come lift me up, and would you put a pillow behind me so I can look at my guest. And would you please put my glasses on for me?" And so your visitor would learn from your requests that you are helpless and that your friend is strong and kind. You glorify your friend by needing him and asking him for help and counting on him.
In the same way, God is the Server and we glorify Him by allowing Him to nurture us. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)."

So when you go to God for your quiet time, do not go as if you are doing something for God. This is to puff oneself up. Go as a child that needs to be nurtured by Him. Make yourself happy in His Word and presence! If you do, you will bear much fruit. After all, "this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10) emphasis mine.

We instinctively go to God when we are weary or frightened or sad. He designed it this way. Just as the branch is nurtured in the vine and then bears fruit, so we are sustained and strengthened by God so we can tell a needy world how good He is.

Some other scriptures to ponder:
Jeremiah 15:16
Zephaniah 3:17
Isaiah 40:29
John 15:15

Being nurtured by God is primary. Try it and see how it transforms your prayer time and your life. Service to God is only the fruit of abiding in His love (John 15:9). For without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

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Jul 12, 2009

The Tumbleweed and the Cottonwood

As Christians, there are two ways we can live: 1) according to the sin nature); or, 2) according to the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-9). We are given a vivid word picture of the contrast between these two lifestyles in the following Scripture.
Jeremiah 17:5-8

5 This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."

Have you been that bush in the wastelands? . . . just a dried up pile of twigs in the desert, burned out, isolated, and unable to see the good things in life? . . . I have. That’s the fruit of self-effort and self-reliance.

What a contrast we see between the tumbleweed in the desert and the majestic cottonwood by the stream. When we walk in the Spirit (relying in faith on God to live through us), hard times still come but we are not destroyed by them. We continue to bear fruit for God, and are free from worry. Our roots go deep, drinking in the Water of Life; we may be shaken but will not be torn down.

It may take 100 years to grow a cottonwood, so if you're still the dried-up bush, wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14). If you continue to put your confidence in Him, you will eventually flourish!

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Image: Circle Z Ranch

May 4, 2009

A Parakeet and God's Voice

Many years ago my husband and I were out on the balcony of our condo, looking out onto a beautifully landscaped mini-forest. There were literally hundreds of birds chirping in the trees. They were making quite a racket!

Then suddenly, I noticed a parakeet's familiar squawk among the other birds' noises. I asked Mike if he had heard it, and of course he hadn't. I realized that it was pretty amazing that I had heard it myself and supposed that it was from listening to parakeet voices day in and day out when I lived with a woman who bred them.

I thought it must be the same with God's voice. If we abide in Him (John 15:4) and listen to Him daily, seeking Him in His Word and prayer, eventually we will discern His voice just as I did the parakeet's -- even among a thousand others!

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May 3, 2009

Stop and Steep

Did you know a simple tea bag can help you find deeper passion in your spiritual life? Spiritual passion grows when we learn to commune with God and nurture our love relationship with Him. One of the best ways to nurture that relationship is through the practice of meditation. Meditation is simple to do: If you can brew a cup of tea, you can learn to do it.

The first step is to STOP. Forge some time out of your busyness. It's good to start small -- just five or ten minutes in the beginning. Find somewhere you can be quiet and undistracted for a few minutes -- even a bathroom or closet will do.

Just sit down, open your Bible to a favorite verse, and act like a tea bag: When you find a verse that warms your soul, jump in and STEEP! That's the second step: Be still, and let that Scripture soak into your being like a tea bag steeping in hot water. Look at the verse; then close your eyes and go over the words in your mind . . . then look at the verse again and steep some more . . . then look, then steep again, and so on. Don't hurry. Often the less you read, the better. Set aside ambition and focus on relationship.

The Word of God is living and active, so when you meditate on it you're actually steeping in the presence of the Lord. Allow yourself to sense His presence. When we quiet our souls and open our hearts in this way, God reveals Himself. That's just the way He chooses to work. As the water of the Word seeps in, the flavor of Christ flows out from within us.

Dwight Hill of The Navigators shares, "Over the days, weeks, and months, the appetite for this quiet connection with God will grow to the point where we do not want to live without it. No longer will we feel we are wasting our time. When this happens, the inner chaos, noise, anger, and frustration will begin to give way to inner peace and tranquility."

As you practice this art of communing with God, it's best to find verses that make you feel safe and loved by Him. We need ALL of Scripture, but there is a time and place for everything. The primary purpose in this exercise is to build your love relationship with God, so select verses that help you do that. 1 John 4:19 says "we love because He first loved us." That means the more secure we are in God's infinite love for us, the more our own hearts overflow with love for Him and others. It is in intimate communion with Him that God fans the flame of passion with the breath of His Spirit. And as the light of His love burns in us, our hearts drive us out into the world to be His hands and feet and heart and voice to the lost and the hurting, for His glory.

So let us
Throw back our heads and run with the passion
Through the fields of forgiveness and grace
We carry the eternal flame . . .
We are glowing in the dark . . .
Children of the burning heart

~ Steven Curtis Chapman, "Children of the Burning Heart"

As you brew your next cup of tea, remember to STOP AND STEEP!

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Mar 6, 2009

Cease Striving

As a first-born overachiever, I constantly fight the temptation to rely on myself rather than God. I think I've got it beat, and somehow that old self-sufficiency sneaks in the back door and there I am again, back at Galatians 3:3: "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" Sigh.

Often it is as subtle as the
subconscious idea that (fill in the blank) is up to me.

This morning, God brought to light a Scripture that I had overlooked (Hebrews 13:21). It says that by Christ's power, God Himself "works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight" (emphasis mine)." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy" (Romans 9:16). For the righteous shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). Even that is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).

result of that faith is fruit: the good things that God wants us to do (John 15:5). For "apart from Me you can do nothing" (emphasis mine again). Nothing ... not even breathe.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Relax in the Lord.
"For for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work" (Hebrews 4:10).


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