The Salt Marshes or The River

I have a question for you…

Do you live in the salt marshes of Christianity or in the River of God’s glory?

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You can be a Christian and not experience the fullness of His glory. You can live a good, “saved” life, following His commandments, yet, never comprehend His overflowing joy and complete peace. You can go to church every Sunday, work the nurseries on Wednesdays, pledge your loyalties to every youth and world missions project and still miss out on all He has for you.

Although, I have to ask, “Why?” … Why would we ever want to live beneath His potential for our lives? Why would we ever be “okay” with second best or just comfortable with less than His best? Why would we ever settle for something He knows we don’t need or even detests?

Yet, so many of us do just that! We choose to live in the salt marches of Christianity, and we completely bypass the river of God’s glory. Sometimes, it’s fear that holds us back, or maybe it’s those past pains that blind us from the reality of His promises.

Often, it’s schedules and agendas which consume every moment and spin us out of control, shielding us from the clarity of truth. Too many times, it is the sin of our past, our present, or the contemplation of sin in our future, which binds us to the salt marshes and refuses to let us venture beyond what we’ve always seen, heard and thought to be truth.

It is time to break free. It is time to live in His fullness rather than the anemia of our fears and failures. It is time to move out, beyond the norm, and step into the river of His glory.

You will find He is waiting there just for you.

*Note: I do not own nor possess any part of this video. This is from a simple google search to YouTube.

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Valley Praise

psalms-42-11What happens to your countenance when you are in the valley? What is the appearance of your face when everything seems to be going wrong, and you don’t know what to do? How do you react when trials, sickness or persecutions come? Are you sad? Do you get mad? Is confusion and chaos the ruler of the day?

Are you down in the dumps, or are you rejoicing through the valley?  My pastor always says, “What you can PRAISE through, you can MAKE IT through!” Find something in that valley to take joy in. Count your blessings. Even the smallest things can bring the greatest joys.

Honestly, there are some valleys where it seems there is NOTHING about which to celebrate. Some desert places are NOTHING but hot, dry sand and a burning sun that makes you feel you will DIE of thirst and loneliness. Some low places in life simply feel like the abyss with no light, no sound and no direction or hope. Yet, those are the times when we must stand with Job and say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21, and “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” Job 13:15.

We must praise Him regardless of what we feel or what we see. Praising is a submission of our flesh. It is not something that comes when we “feel it.” It is something that comes as we force our stubborn will into submission. Praise helps us see hope again, because it opens our eyes to His truth beyond our current circumstance.

God is holy. God is righteous. God is gracious, merciful, loving and majestic. He is worthy of all our praise. He is honorable of all our affection, adoration and appreciation. Let us praise Him through the valley. For, it is in our loneliest hours, and through our darkest nights when His glory and grace is revealed in our lives. ❤

Consumer VS. Producer

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The concept of Consumer vs. Producer might sound a little odd when equating with God; however, just stick with me for a moment while I grasp your attention, please…

A producer is someone who makes something for the good of another. A producer has a dream or a vision which they work toward. A producer is giving out, not taking, expending or exhausting the efforts of another. Producers have a passion for bringing forth, giving birth or putting together something for the well being of another.

A consumer is someone who takes something for the good of oneself. A consumer may not have a dream or a vision, they simply have a craving and desire for more of what they have. A consumer is taking in, not building, developing or yielding fruit. Consumers have a passion for engrossing, absorbing and even devouring what they have in front of them for the well being of themselves, sometimes, even to the detriment of another.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we can never out give or over produce what He has to supply for our lives. We can never pour out more than He can pour in; however, we can be all consuming of His goodness to the point of becoming “fat and happy” on the blessings of God, never giving to another, never reaching and never reproducing what we have found.

We must have a passion for reaching this world for Christ. We must have a desire to give to others the love and goodness we have found in Christ. We must have a vision to reproduce and give away this hope that only God can bring. When building His Kingdom becomes our goal, that is when we become producers for His glory.

So, I ask you which are you, a Consumer or a Producer?

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The Angels’ Song

“The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:8-11

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There are so many things in the book of Revelation that I simply do not understand; however, when it talks about the angels praising God all day long, I am definitely in awe. Can you imagine that being your calling in life? Your sole responsibility is to walk around the throne of God calling out praises and glorifying His name…non-stop! I mean, seriously, we get tired and distracted just being in a church service for over an hour.

Yet, the angels think God is truly something. One angel was sent to a young maidservant over 2,000 years ago to tell her she was going to miraculously conceive the Christ child. Just a few months later, they were sent to a bunch of lowly shepherds to proclaim that same child had been born in the city of Bethlehem. Another angel spoke to a man named Joseph in a dream a little earlier about this same baby telling him not to be afraid, to take the girl Mary as his wife, and later on, to tell him to leave the city for the life of his child was in danger. Many years later, angels go to Jesus and minister to Him after a long time of fasting and temptation by the devil. All through Scripture, these angels are constantly talking about this Savior King and glorifying Him with everything they’ve got!

I wonder if, during this Christmas season, we might be able to take a lesson from them? I wonder if we might pause for just a moment, lay down our agendas and ambitions to celebrate the presents, and take in His holy presenceCan we stand with the angels, lift our hands, and sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”?

Let’s praise and honor Him today, for He IS holy! He is Savior, and He is King! Best of all, He left His glorious throne to come to this earth to save us, because HE LOVES US!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

WE PRAY YOU HAVE A JOYOUS AND VERY BLESSED HOLIDAY SEASON!

Counted Worthy

Acts 5:41-42 “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

…rejoicing because of ridicule and persecution?? Who does that?? I don’t see many in today’s society who get excited over verbal attacks, much less, physical attacks! You can pick up today’s paper or turn on the nightly news and see accounts of those who are angry at any intolerance, any mocking or even the slightest implication of ridicule for their given faith, lifestyle or even choice of words. These men, here in the Scripture, were thrown in prison, mocked, accused, about to receive a death sentence, and ended up simply being flogged (for anyone wondering, that means “to be beat with a whip or stick”), and yet, they left rejoicing, because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 

This Scripture is so challenging to me. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about suffering, and especially, about being beat with a whip or stick. Honestly, that’s not quite my vision of a “fun day!” Yet, these men loved God so much that they were willing to go through all of this just so they could testify of His Name. They rejoiced that the suffering came their way, because it enables them to preach more boldly to others of His glory, and they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news from that day forward!

With the news headlines of all the Christians around the world being killed by ISIS, and so many other happenings in our own nation, this scenario is coming so close to being a reality within our own Land of the Free and The Brave. Growing up, I never thought this could happen here; yet, now, as an adult, I’m not so naive nor idealistic. I know it can happen in the blink of an eye, and to be honest, it does give me pause. 

I read books like Jesus Freak and Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and my faith is challenged by their boldness in the face of persecution. My petty little worries of friendships, light bills and “Are my children doing their homework today?” vanish into thin air in the light of their martyrdom. I pray I can be found this faithful. I pray I can be found this encouraging and this bold to share my testimony with others even if I am staring death in the face. 

It’s so easy to boldly proclaim your allegiance when no one is threatening you. It’s so easy to declare your faithfulness when you don’t have a gun aimed at your head, or your children are lined up at the stake, but as I read Jesus Freaks, I truly wonder if I could keep my bold faith when looking down the barrel of a semi-automatic or my children’s very lives are being threatened.

I pray I am found faithful and true. I pray I can remain steadfast and committed to the One who saved me, forgave me and gave me new life. I pray that, if I am found worthy of suffering disgrace for His sweet Name, I am able to stand, rejoicing, proclaiming His goodness and grace for everyone to see. 

How about you? What do you see? What would you do?

Fall Into It (3)

Fall into JOY

Fall into joy like you laughed, as a child, when you “turned over your tickle box.” That moment at five years old, when you got the giggles so bad, you couldn’t stop even at the warning of a spanking from dad. True joy is not only laughter, but it’s attitude. It’s a perspective. It’s an outlook. When true joy bubbles up, it can’t be contained. It can’t be hidden. It can’t be consumed by only one person. True joy changes your mood. It changes the way you see the circumstances. It changes how you see the future, how you see your destiny. Joy changes the very atmosphere. The Word of God says Jesus came to give us “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This kind of joy changes hearts. It changes sight. It changes lives.

Your Glory Intense

Oh Lord, Your glory shines bright;

So many who once believed now have taken flight.

The light is blinding from Your throne;

Those who weren’t stable, away have been blown.

Oh Lord, Your fire burns intense;

The judgments of Your purity now commence.

The heat is smoldering from Your breath;

The ones who only spoke of You now have found death.

Oh Father, Your presence weighs extreme;

So few remain to witness Your true means.

The depth is almost suffocating in reality;

Those who yearn for You disregard formality.

Oh Father, Your face pierces immense;

The conviction of Your righteousness all can sense.

The pain is diminishing in light of Your hand;

The ones who have refused can never see Your land.

Penned – MG – 8/8/03

The Depth of Your Love

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The trees sway to sing of Your praise.

The birds fly amidst Your grace.

The clouds swirl and form under Your glory.

Even the smallest weed stretches up to honor Your name.

Your love forever amazes my inmost being.

Your admiration for this land and its creatures.

You created us for Your worship and exaltation,

And yet, our selfishness wars against Your very nature.

The depth of Your grace, my soul cannot fathom. 

The expanse of Your forgiveness, my heart can’t comprehend.

The height of Your patience, my mind cannot see.

Even this inward flesh, I seem unable to bend.

Oh God, consume this humanness of which I live.

Burn a fire inside by Your holiness and by Your grace.

Melt away all the pride, the hatred and the insolence.

Even then, can I possibly hope to look upon Your face?

Penned – MG – 4/25/01