Thursday, October 30, 2014

5:30am beside the Sea of Galilee...

5:30am March 20, 2000, beside the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel
It is 5:30am, still dark as I settle down on the rocks beside the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias, Israel, on a cool Monday morning in March, 2000. I turn on my video camera and set it down on the rock beside me to record the sunrise and then I steady my 35mm camera for this first still shot of the pink glow beginning to peak over the eastern hills.
5:40am March 20, 2000 beside the Sea of Galilee
Then it hits me...He was here, He walked here, He may have sat on this very same rock on that early morning after His resurrection as He prepared a breakfast of fish and bread on a fire for His disciples. Right here where I am sitting right now. I am in awe. His Spirit Feet shod with flesh left footprints in this sand.

He is here now, with me. Emmanuel, God with us. His Spirit dwells in the innermost part of me, taking authority over my soul, the seat of my emotions, and my body, my fleshly desires and appetites. El Shaddai, my all-sufficient Heavenly Father, my Abba Daddy, speaking to me through His Word from Jeremiah 1:5, Beth, before you were born, I knew you.

6:00am March 20, 2000 beside the Sea of Galilee
My video camera on the rock beside me hums, and I begin to sing, My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine, for Thee all the follies of sin I resign, My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou... and then suddenly, at the exact moment when the first golden round edge of the sun peeks over the distant hills, my voice can be faintly heard on the video recording singing the closing words of the hymn...If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Take a few moments
to listen to Darlene Zschech's beautiful rendition of My Jesus I Love Thee.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

day 30 of 31 days of encouragement...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

transforming the atmosphere...

Physicists and scientists agree that even an apparently insignificant event such as a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa can affect the atmosphere in Alaska.

Isn’t it true that even a small thing, such as the beautiful hymn, Be Still My Soul, can transform the atmosphere in the room where it is being played?

The same is true for words…just a few encouraging words of Truth from God’s Word can transform the atmosphere of our thought-life.

Read these words out loud and see what happens to the atmosphere…

You are who God says you are…

In Christ, you are...
   BLESSED with every spiritual blessing,
      ACCEPTED in the Beloved Son of God,
         ADOPTED as a child of the King,
             CHOSEN before the foundation of the world,
                REDEEMED by His Blood,
                    FORGIVEN by His Grace,
                        LOVED with an everlasting love.

When you feel betrayed, God says: You are BLESSED
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)

When you feel ignored, God says: You are ACCEPTED
According to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:5-6)

When you feel abandoned, God says: You are ADOPTED
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Eph. 1:4-5)

When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4)

When you feel rejected, God says: You are REDEEMED
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. (Eph. 1:7-8)

When you feel condemned, God says: You are FORGIVEN
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. (Eph. 1:7-8)

When you feel forgotten, God says: You are LOVED
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4) 

Take a few minutes to enjoy Kari Jobe’s rendition of Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)…

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

day 29 of 31 days of encouragement...linking up with Holley Gerth...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Love that will not let me go...

One year my Daddy, Eston Willis, who was a wonderful Bible teacher, led a small Bible study in our home. Each week, we would gather, open in prayer, open our Bibles, and he would begin by quoting the same Scripture, Romans 8:1, at least seven times before we began...There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Something about the repetition of those God-breathed words moved God’s Truth from my head to my heart. The eighth chapter of Romans begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation”… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord—Romans 8:38-39

The verdict is final.
The case is never going to be re-tried—irrevocable. On that we can rest—we are accepted on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Take a few minutes
 to enjoy the Gaither Vocal Band’s rendition of the classic hymn by George Mattheson, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go...

O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
I give Thee back the life I owe
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be
O Love, that will not let me go.

O Joy, that seekest me through pain
I cannot close my heart to Thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be
O Love, that will not let me go.
O Cross, that liftest up my head
I dare not ask to fly from Thee
I lay in dust life's glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be
O Love, that will not let me go.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

day 28 of 31 days of encouragement...

Monday, October 27, 2014

feeling stuck? imagine...

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.—Ephesians 3:20

When I am feeling stuck, engaging in what some call, “analysis paralysis,” I find it helpful to apply the power of our God-given creative imagination for inspiration and problem-solving.

Imagination is a powerful entity.
It can cause the hair on the back of our neck to stand up, our spirit to soar, or our face to blush. Imagination is the power that holds our beliefs together; we believe with our imagination. Imagination is the wellspring of faith and hope. Our biggest and best dreams for ourselves and others rise from the imagination.

When we have been hurt, our imagination is wounded.
As a result, alienation and belief in bad news replace belief in good news. We may have...
  • a feeling response that can become frozen into resentment.
  • an anger response that can become frozen into negative reactions of rage or passivity.
  • an interpretation response that can become frozen in negative attitudes, perceptions, biases, and beliefs.
As a result, our imagination becomes paralyzed. Attending to our wounded imagination is a path through forgiveness. Forgiveness expands our horizons and invites us to retrieve the positive and work through the negative. Is the glass of water half-full or half-empty? The answer depends entirely on how you see it. “How you see it” is called “perception.”

There is the story about the blind men
and the elephant. Each man named and described the animal according to his experience of touching only one part of the elephant’s body. The man who held the trunk “perceived” the elephant to be a large snake; the man who held the leg “perceived” the elephant to be a sturdy tree. In the same way, we “perceive” life—depending on what our experience is.  Our experiences generate our expectations and our perceptions. We interpret life experiences, and we form expectations and perceptions, attitudes, and assumptions.

All of this activity is the work of the imagination.
It is also the work of the imagination to reinterpret and reform repeated assumptions and expectations. Forgiveness demands that we take another look so that our imagination can reframe our narrow interpretations. Forgiveness includes the decision to refocus or enlarge the context…walk a mile in another’s shoes. When we enlarge the context, we refocus, or we see it through a wider lens.
Imagination is the work of seeing through a wider lens.
If we remain stuck in a negative interpretation of an old offense, we will experience resentment whenever we think about it, or about the offender. We will never be able to grieve and let go; we will seesaw between rage and resignation; we will never allow anger to surface and put us back on the journey of forgiveness. If we insist on telling and retelling our bad news stories of the past, we simply recycle the bad news and pass it on to the next generation. We pollute the emotional environment; we remain stuck in lifeless memories instead of looking for a more positive side of things long past.

When you enlarge your perceptions
 using your creative imagination, you at least allow for the possibility of healing. You give yourself the opportunity to turn from the negative aspects of your past, to get rid of the excess baggage, and to face the journey into the future with hope.

When I served as the
Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education, I was frequently asked to provide technical assistance to school districts regarding strategies to improve creative and critical thinking skills for students.  I have identified some of those strategies here to inspire us to think creatively using our God-given imagination.
The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.—Albert Einstein.

The formulation of a problem determines the range of choices:  the questions you ask determine the answers you receive. Write the problems you want to solve as a question. Use the phrase, “In what ways might I…?” to start a problem statement. This keeps you from settling on a problem statement that may reflect only one perception of the problem. Keep asking this open-ended “In what ways might I…?” question allowing your creative imagination to flow.

You will be amazed
at how your continual re-wording of the "In what ways might I...?" question will increase your creative thinking skills of Fluency, Flexibility, Originality, and Elaboration—the four primary strategies for developing and improving creative thinking or imagination:
  • Fluency is the ability to think of many answers to a question, to list many possible solutions to a problem, or to generate a number of responses. Fluency is being able to think of lots of plans or ideas.
  • Flexibility is the ability to change your way of thinking about a problem or situation. It is the ability to think of alternative ideas and to adapt to different situations.
  • Originality is the ability to think of fresh or unusual designs, ideas, responses, or styles. People who are original are independent and creative in their thoughts and actions. They create things that are new, different, or unique.
  • Elaboration is the process of expanding an idea by adding detail. To elaborate, you must understand the original idea and see a way to clarify or improve it by adding specific details. You are elaborating when you add to, enlarge, enrich, or expand descriptions, designs, drawings, explanations, instructions, reports or stories.

Take a few minutes to enjoy MercyMe's I Can Only Imagine...

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

day 27 of 31 days of encouragement...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

standing on holy ground...

Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.—Exodus 3:5

It was one of those moments…my senses were more alert, more intensified, more attuned to the mysteries that swirl in and around us, more aware of God's presence. It was about 7:30 in the morning, when I opened the door to go to work, the brilliant rays of the morning sunrise came bursting through our neighbor’s tree, directly into my eyes. 

I paused, amazed at the beauty, I moved slightly to the right and I couldn’t see the sun’s rays, moved slightly to the left and I couldn’t see the sun’s rays, but as I returned to the center point, for what seemed to be several minutes, those rays shown straight into the eyes of my heart, and I suddenly became conscious of His Presence. I stood very still, almost frozen in time, actually not wanting the moment to end, thanking the Lord for the beauty He created, and for drawing my eyes and my heart to appreciate Him all over again. 

I shared my experience with a few people…they just laughed it off, kind of made fun of me for thinking it was anything special, but in the innermost part of my heart, I knew it was the Lord. I was totally captivated by the stunning beauty of those rays, perfectly symmetrical, glowing so intensely. I even spoke out loud saying, Lord Jesus, Thank You, Thank You, You did that for me! Just for me!

The memory of that moment makes me crave Him more, remembering the experience makes me yearn for more of His personal touch in my life, makes my senses truly alert, more attuned to the mystery that is our Savior. I'm looking forward to experiencing Him more and more, alive and active in my life every moment of every day...Praise His Holy Name!
Seek, inquire of and for the Lord, and crave Him and His strength (His might and inflexibility to temptation); seek and require His face and His presence [continually] evermore.—Psalm 105:4 Amplified

Take a few minutes to be encouraged by this wonderful hymn by Bill and Gloria Gaither, We are Standing on Holy Ground

When I walked through the door I sensed God’s presence…We are standing on holy ground and I know that there are angels all around…

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

day 26 of 31 days of encouragement...


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