What do you see when you look around your world? Much of it isn't pretty. Finding the beauty of the universe becomes increasingly more difficult when evil and suffering is consistently broadcast into our living rooms and printed in our newspapers. Some of us like to take exotic vacations to distant shores in hopes of finding a beautiful place to relax. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."
Searching for beauty need not become a hopeless task. Everyday we can see the miraculous, breathtaking creation of God if we train ourselves to look for it. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11 said, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." I believe it is possible to find something good in almost everything! It all depends on our viewpoint. Believe that God has something to say to you in every flower, every blade of grass, every human encounter, every raindrop that falls...then you will find beauty right where you are. Carry it with you or you will find it not.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I am tempted to become as negative as the media, cheer me up with a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Help me to exercise my freedom of choice, so that I may habitually choose to see your good work in everything. Amen and amen.
Recently, NBC’s Dateline had a very poignant story on the “Education of Ms. Graves,” a new school teacher in Atlanta who had high expectations for her students.
In this exposé, we walked the halls with her; saw firsthand the frustration, anger, and disappointment when things didn’t go as anticipated. We watched her question her ability to reach students with problems most of us will never face – one student and 2 brothers being raised by their 75+ year-old grandmother due to absentee parents; one student living in a small hotel room with 3 siblings and his mother; to one child suffering and acting out because her father was in jail. Ms. Graves faced so many challenges.
However, despite all of those obstacles, she never lost site of the goal – to help her students excel, to help them believe in themselves!!!
Over the past years, I’ve had my share of challenges and they keep coming. One particular situation comes to mind and I didn’t realize at that time that I needed to seek God’s counsel. I was naive enough to think that my years of life experiences would provide the wisdom needed. WRONG!!! There is nothing in this world – raising children, getting married, finding employment/staying employed that does not need to be taken to God in prayer.
I was a faithful churchgoer and pledged, but not nearly on the journey where I needed to be. God has a way, however, of getting our attention and He has certainly gotten mine.
You see, I’m still on the battlefield, but instead of thinking I can handle it, I know that I am nothing without God. I will never be anything without His favor and His blessings. I am thankful that God still believes in me when I’ve been distant. When I cry my eyes out in pain or joy, He hears my pregnant pauses and my deepest sigh. I thank Him for being ever-present!
With God at our center, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. And, when we feel there is no hope, God reaches his hand out through Angels and he lifts us up.
Just like Ms. Graves, He doesn’t give up on his children. He has high expectations for us and loves us too! We are his children and our welfare is important to him.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I bow before your altar and ask for discernment. I know that YOU know all. I ask that you open up my eyes and my heart and show me the right thing to do. I do not question YOU, Lord, for I know you work miracles in our lives daily.
We also know that sometimes we're led astray and in our moments of weakness, we do and say things that aren't for the good of all, but only for our selfish interests. Help me see the big picture and grow more in your wisdom.
A popular and long-running television game show, "The Price is Right", hails its contestants from the audience by calling, "Come on dowwwwwwwn!" Each participant then runs recklessly to the floor and bids on the items to determine who can guess the price the closest.
Jesus has called us to repentance, to reverse the direction we are going. But a mere reversal is not enough. To believe is to move with full speed and reckless abandon in a new direction. Elton Trueblood puts it in terms of an eternal gamble... "To be a Christian is to bet your life that Christ is right."
Right or wrong, deserved or not, we were bought with a price! The blood of Jesus was spent to redeem us from the jaws of hell.
GospeLines Prayer:God help me to live in such a way that I will show eternal gratitude for the gift of everlasting life. Amen and amen.
A dear friend recently shared his frustration in the letter below.
"Wolves hunt in packs. Dolphins and whales swim, feed and breed in pods; ants and bees in hives… etc., etc.
Human beings are the only species that bands together its various groups against outside threats. Why don't all the whales know that we are bad for them? They communicate across the whole ocean and yet they don't seem to warn each other about common threats.
We as a species will control or wipe out any other species that is a threat. If sharks killed thousands of people a year, we would hunt and kill them all. Then we would go back to killing each other.
What we need is a palatable, outside, imminent threat. An invasion from Mars would be good. As long as we see Muslims, Jews, Chinese, Germans, etc., we split and fight. We need to refocus as HUMANS. Maybe global warming and its incipient Ice Age will force us to deal as a species. The survival instinct is strong; but, how does one engage it without putting life on the line?"
The question in his last line touched my heart, not just for my friend; but for all those asking the same question: How do I engage life without risk? How do I go out into the world without being contaminated and overwhelmed by the world?
This is my answer.
My dear friend, we do have a common enemy; one that is trying diligently (and very successfully) to destroy us. Sadly, many don't even know they're in a war, much less that they're on the front line and getting cut to pieces. That's the bad news.
However, the enemy isn't destroying everybody. Some are fighting back... and winning. We have the weapons to defeat this enemy and we should be really encouraged; because, the end has already been written... WE WIN! That's the good news.
The only question remaining is which group will we be in? Will we be with those who are swept away; or, will we be with those who have victory?
The survival instinct is strong. How does one engage it without putting life on the line? You can't!
This is a war and in wars the combatants lives are always on the line. The difference is, some of the combatants know they're in a war and are picking up their weapons and fighting while others continue to philosophize about whether there really is a war and if we should or should not fight.
For a long time, I was on the wrong side; or, maybe I just wasn't fighting for the right side (if there is even a difference). Today, I've picked up my weapons and I'm fighting. I may not survive the battle; but, either way, I'll be there for the victory parade. And, I love a good parade...
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
A small lake behind my workplace is hidden by a grove of trees. High in the tallest tree a chicken hawk has made his nest. Every day he can be seen hunting for his prey, soaring with proud wings through the air, patiently waiting for the right moment to fall silently from the sky and snatch his victim with viselike claws
Yesterday, a tiny mockingbird fell from its nest, helplessly crying for something or someone to rescue him.
Nearby, the parent mockingbird heard the distress call and flew straight at the menacing claws of the hawk. Fearlessly, the smaller bird dove time and again at the beast, pecking at its back, squawking loudly, risking its life for the fallen baby. Because he was unable to maneuver as quickly as the mockingbird, or maybe deciding that it wasn't worth the fight, the mighty hunter left the area to find dinner elsewhere.
We often find ourselves facing Goliath-like foes in the workplace, in our social groups and among our peers. While it may seem the enemy or temptation is bigger than life we will never know until we make the attempt to overcome our adversary. God is able to instill courage beyond our means and strength far above our capabilities if only we will risk the fight instead of giving up.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I am weak but you are strong; I am cowardly but you are brave; I am afraid but you are fearless. NOW, LET'S GO OUT AND FACE GOLIATH TOGETHER! Amen and amen.