The Spigot

As my husband, Gary,  watched from a distance the way I served others, he often described it this way: “You get to help people, who’s cups are depleted or empty, place themselves under the spigot of God and His Word so that He can fill them, restore them, guide them and use them.” 

Through these bi-weekly posts, move your cup under the spigot of God to receive encouragement in life and truth from God’s Word to live the full life offered by Jesus (John 10:10).

Remember

Have you ever had someone say something like this to you? “The past is in the past, move on.” Or maybe, “The old is gone, live in the new.”

Jacob definitely had a past. A past he likely wanted to forget. But, Jacob remembered. Jacob’s past testified to God’s faithfulness. Additionally, Jacob walked with a limp for many years – by my calculations at least 50 years. The limp represented a reminder of Jacob’s past wrestling match with God. The past exists in the present. God used the hardships of Jacob’s past to become the fertile soil for a new man and a new nation. A nation that would remember their past whenever they enjoyed a meal: they did not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon (see Genesis 32:32).

Paul also had a past filled with great promise but overflowing with much pain as he persecuted followers of Jesus. Because of his past, God positioned Paul to be a mighty vessel of evangelism and transformation through the ancient world. Yet, he too lived with a physical malady. He carried with him a “thorn” – a reminder of his humble dependency upon God Almighty. Paul remembered, and this propelled him forward in service of his Savior.

To recognize the past; its impact and influence, is necessary and profitable for growth in the present and the future. To disregard joys, sorrows, celebrations and hardships from the past is to miss the glorious movement and redemptive work of God.

Reflect for a moment on your past. Perhaps consider the highs and lows, the victories and defeats, the pain and pleasure. Remember conversations from yesterday, actions and interactions made in the last few months and memories from years ago. Each of these reside under the sovereign presence of God.

In what ways do you allow the past to speak into your present? How have you grown because of the past, or do you deny the past and shut it out?

Throughout the Bible God exhorts His people to remember. Remember is used over 230 times in the Bible. In the Scriptures, sometimes God remembers and at other times, He exhorts His children to remember. While He is perfect in His recollection, we are not. Many times we want to flee the past. We are often either a forgetful people or a people living in denial.

God instructs us to remember. Remember the Sabbath. Remember the LORD. Remember whose you are. Remember the ways of your ancestors. Remember where you came from. Remember to obey. Remember the prophets. Remember God’s great mercy and love. Remember through the cup and the bread. Remember.

God invites His people to remember. But why?

  • When we remember, our spirits are strengthened. By remembering we can see God’s activity in ways we missed in the midst of the event. We witness the movement of God.
  • Remembering offers space and opportunity for God to infuse His healing grace into tough circumstances.
  • Our trust in God and confidence in His goodness grows strong when we remember.
  • God’s character reveals itself through the past—his faithfulness, mercy, presence, peace, and sovereignty fill the moments of former days. We learn more of who God truly is in the midst of the ups and downs of life.
  • By remembering, we can spur others on and encourage them when life seems harsh, uncertain, and hopeless. We offer stories of God’s redeeming work and transforming power.
  • We testify to God’s abundant grace and kindness when we remember.

Do not fear the past for God is in your story.

It is healthy to acknowledge our stories, colored with both brightness and joy and also darkness and desolation. This promotes authentic living with Jesus, ourselves and others. When we refuse the reality of the lives given us, we accommodate and hide from the past rather than grow, heal and exhibit transparent living. God values authenticity & vulnerability (see Philippians 1:9-11; Romans 12:9-21; Hebrews 4:12-13).

Just like it did for Jacob and Paul, the past leaves a mark. If you’ve ever broken a bone, you likely feel it when the weather changes. If you’ve made a delicious meal, you plan to remake it in the future. If you’ve gotten stung by a bee, you avoid them at all costs. If you visited a beautiful park, you anticipate returning someday. If you’ve experienced trauma, you have a heightened awareness to actions and attitudes connected to it. If you celebrated significant milestones, you encourage others to pursue their dreams as well. The past remains a part of our present.

Consider the marks of the past that impact you today. Have you allowed God’s healing presence to descend into the space and situation?

Remember the joys and celebrations. Offer gratitude to God for His gifts and grace. Remember with the Lord and allow His healing presence to penetrate the darkness, the questions, and confusion of the past. Look for His redeeming companionship offering hope, healing and understanding.

Jesus delights to restore the broken messy aspects of His followers. And, these shards of sorrow create newness and life under His tender care. You are always on God’s mind—“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand” (Psalm 139:17-18).

Remember and marvel at God’s presence in the past and the present. He faithfully journeys with you.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Deuteronomy 5:15
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Lamentations 3:19-21
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.

Ephesians 2:11-12
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Judith Hougen. Transformed into Fire: Discovering Your True Identity as God’s Beloved. Grand Rapids, MI. 2009.

Dawn Eden. Remembering God’s Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories. Notre Dame, IN. 2016.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

Aug.24-Sept.22 – Gary continues his travels oversees for two more weeks.I would be grateful for your prayers for the ministry God has called him to, as well as prayer for peace, protection, healing and growth for me as I serve others at home.

September 25-October 1 – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Please pray for my preparation for an upcoming trip to Guatemala. I will be leading two full-day retreats as well as speaking to multiple groups. Thank you!.

Wrestle

Have you ever watched a wrestling match? I recall watching a tournament years ago. The activity didn’t really appeal to me. The guys were hot and sweaty, maneuvering around the mat and aggressively attempting to pin their opponent. The challengers faced each other and in the struggle for victory held each other skin to skin asserting individual strength and skill. Some matches seemed unending while others came to a quick conclusion with one competitor tapping the mat to declare submission to the victor.

To “tap out” is to submit, or forfeit, a match. The term “tap out” refers to the action of tapping either the mat, or the opponent, to signify surrender.

Wrestling comes into view when reading Genesis 32. Jacob prepares to meet his brother, Esau, by sending his servants and family ahead of himself. Jacob enters the night alone. Scripture tells us that Jacob wrestled with a man until daybreak. This was one long wrestling match. Imagine the sweaty struggle. Envision the intimacy between these two opponents. They are skin on skin, exerting muscle and maneuvers. In the end, Jacob “tapped out.” He submitted to the man, receiving a blessing, a new name, and a dislocated hip. Pain and praise filled Jacob’s lips as the wrestling match concluded.

Have you ever wrestled with God?

For the past few months I have felt like I am in a wrestling match with God. I am in the midst of change, big change. Gary, my husband, launched a new international ministry championing accountability to unleash global generosity. Then recently, my health has experienced great strain. And, all this is happening while my two adult children, Sammy and Sophie, are preparing to marry the loves of their lives this fall and winter.

Like Jacob, I have found myself alone a lot. I, too, have experienced intense and intimate wrestling with God. Most of the time I’ve sensed God holding me to the mat, waiting for me to tap out. In the struggle and pinned down by His great strength upon me, my soul contended with the Lord. My being wrestled with confusion, wounds, loneliness, and betrayal. Simultaneously, I have felt far and yet so very close to my Savior at the same time. While wrestling, God invited me to trust Him, to let go and release every concern to His attention, even the feeling that I had lost myself.

Just like the man with Jacob, God did not let go of me, but gently and powerfully held me to the mat awaiting my submission and surrender. My soul grew weak; I was tired of struggling. I longed for peace and grace.

Finally, I yielded. I surrendered all that was within me to the careful attention of Jesus. I tapped out. I lay on the mat with my King holding me quiet in His strong clutches.

After months of struggle, I submitted my place and pain to the care and authority of God. It’s tough though, as I continue to wait for Him to lift me to new life. I am confident that in His time, fresh life awaits my soul. For now, however, I continue on my back, flat on the mat, stilled by the strong arm of my Savior. Peace covers me. His presence and power overwhelm me.

Have my circumstances changed? No. But, God is changing me in the midst of the struggle, hardship, and surrender. His presence is ever so close. I can smell His sweat. He has my best good in mind. He is powerful and trustworthy.

  • With what do you wrestle?
  • Is God inviting you to tap out and surrender your ways to Him? Talk to Him about it.
  • Where do you need to submit to the purposes and plans of God?

During the struggle, I have clung to what I know to be true.

God is…Redeemer, Healer, Sanctifier, Challenger, Peace-giver, Friend, Present, Lover, Reconciler, Blesser, Victor, Real, Safe, Refuge, Hope, Trustworthy, and Faithful.

I am…beloved, forgiven, chosen, secure, adopted, known, saved, accepted, a new creation, sealed, loved, justified, alive, free, rescued, redeemed, called, and God’s temple.

Cling to the truth as you wrestle. Experience the reality that wrestling transforms us into who God desires us to become. May we each receive blessing, newness, and even physical reminders of God’s presence with us in the struggle. Let pain and praise flow from within our soul as we submit and surrender to the Mighty One, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Genesis 32:24-32
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Psalm 34:17-19
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Frederick Beuchner. The Magnificent Defeat. New York, NY. 1985.

Ronald Rolheiser. Wrestling with God: Finding Hope and Meaning in our Daily Struggles to be Human. New York, NY. 2018.

Lauren Daigle. You Say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI   The album Look Up Child has been a balm for my soul.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

Aug.24-Sept.22 – Gary is traveling oversees for the next month, The longest time ever for us to be apart. I would be grateful for your prayers for the ministry God has called him to, as well as prayer for peace, protection, healing and growth for me as I serve others at home.


September 25-October 1 – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Please pray for my preparation for an upcoming trip to Guatemala. I will be leading two full-day retreats as well as speaking to multiple groups. Thank you!.

Pickles

Recently, Gary and I visited a friend at his family’s cucumber farm in Puyallup, Washington. After walking through the farmstead filled with supplies for canning and seeing boxes of harvested cucumbers, we enjoyed the privilege of each making a jar of pickles.

We added several ingredients layer by layer into a large mason jar: grape leaf, dill, onion, garlic, spices, cucumbers, red peppers, jalapeños, chili peppers, vinegar and water. The cucumbers marinate in a brine mixture which preserves their freshness while deepening their flavor. After vigorously shaking the sealed jar, the cucumbers soak in the savory mixture for a month. The jar must be turned weekly so the spices don’t settle in one place, but flavor all the cucumbers. When the process is complete, we get a delicious jar of pickles to eat.

Just as the cucumbers soak in an array of vegetables and spices to be transformed into a pickle, we can soak in God’s Word to become transformed human vessels offering spicy interactions with those around us.

I wonder if I’m becoming a pickle? Do I soak in the brine of God’s Word? Do you? Am I preserved by the Scriptures? Do I offer deep flavor to those around me after soaking in Bible passages? Am I turning my jar weekly to make sure all areas of my life are influenced by God’s Word?

What does soaking in Scripture look like?

Have you ever read a Bible passage in the morning and by lunchtime you can’t remember what you read? At times, we might read God’s Word more like the newspaper or a recipe? Sometimes we read the Bible out of habit with little effect upon our being. Often, we approach Scripture for information. We study it, read commentaries on it, and dissect it; but do we really meditate or marinate in the Bible? God exhorts Joshua in Joshua 1:8: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

While there is a time for Bible study and scholarship, there is also a time to linger with the Bible. Reading God’s Word reflectively draws the mind and the heart together.

What would it look like to mull over Scripture; to ruminate on a single verse or even a short passage? When is the last time you wondered about God’s Word and its impact in your life?

As we meditate on passages from the Bible, our life is formed by God’s Word. In Psalm 119, the writer reminds the reader to meditate on God’s precepts, statutes, and decrees seven times. To God, meditating on His Word is imperative to a healthy soul.

In Colorado, we are closer to the sun and the air is dry. So, at times I like to turn my face toward the sun and just let the sunshine soak into my skin. Or, maybe you’ve watched rain slowly drip into the earth, soaking into the ground?

At Glenwood Springs, Colorado there are natural hot springs. Visitors arrive to this destination to soak. They would never dream of just dipping their toe into the water and leaving, they go to the Springs to soak, to ease their entire body into the hot water so the warmth completely surrounds them.

Likewise, soaking in Scripture is more than just dipping your toe into God’s Word, it is sinking in and letting Scripture surround you and absorb into your very being, your soul, just like a cucumber in the brine. The purpose is deep communion with Jesus.

Here are three ways to soak in Scripture and experience deep immersion with the Bible.

1 – Soak in Scripture by reading the same passage more than once. First read it slowly, listening to God’s Word. Then, as you read it a second time, reflect, listening for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. Sit with that word or phrase for a moment. Read the same passage a third time receiving from God. Wonder and pray about how that word or phrase connects deeply with your soul. Read it one last time, listening again and responding. Thank God for His presence and what He has shown you. Enjoy being in the presence of God.

2 – Soak by allowing your five senses to help you enter into the Scripture passage. As you read – notice what you hear and see in the scenario. Read it again, asking, what can you touch, taste and smell? Read it again, listening to the voices and noticing the people. Let God’s Word come alive by using your God given senses.

3 – Lastly, soak in God’s Word by imagining yourself in the scene. As you read it, ask who would you be? Why are you there? Read it through, imagining yourself as the different people in the passage. What is Jesus speaking to you? Read it wondering how God reveals Himself to you as well as what He reveals about yourself and creation through the text?

The next time you open your Bible, soak in the Scriptures. By the power of the Holy Spirit, use your God-given imagination to allow His Word to come alive. Notice what stands out to you. Talk to God about it. Receive from Him.

You can soak by yourself, with your kids, friends, spouse, small group, and even your church community. Linger with God, soak in His Word and enjoy deeper communion with Him.

It takes time for a cucumber soaking in brine and spices to become a pickle. In the same way, as we soak in Scripture, God transforms and preserves us, adding flavor to our lives, and bringing depth to our journey with Him.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 119:47-48
For I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lordand who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers..

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Alice Fryling. The Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God’s Voice Amid the Noise of Life Colorado Springs, CO. 2003.

Jan Johnson. Meeting God in Scripture. Downer’s Grove, IL. 2016.

Clouds

On a recent airline flight, I gazed through the window pane and marveled at the variety of clouds suspended in the air. As far as my eye could see, clouds floated about. Some appeared large and round, while others resembled a package of cotton balls. I wondered at their beauty. Later in the flight, the clouds shifted to thin layers; whispy and airy. Noticing the clouds from above represented a different view than I usually have.

With my feet upon the earth, the shape and texture of clouds pops against the backdrop of the deep blue sky. This is my perspective most of the time, but only if I am looking at them. Did you know there is a “Cloud Appreciation Society”? Members practice the art of noticing clouds and their unique and magnificent shapes, colors, and locations.

If we aren’t careful, we might miss seeing the clouds. If our focus remains fixed on the details before us, we fail to see what floats above. When was the last time you noticed the clouds?

Just like noticing the clouds above you, are you aware of the people around you? Do you see the people who cross your path, live in your home, or serve in the same workplace? 

The story of Hagar in Genesis 16 presents a poignant story of being noticed. She fled her home with a broken heart. Anguish and pain filled her soul as she wondered if anyone noticed or cared about her existence. The angel of the LORD noticed Hagar. He asked her questions and provided space for authentic sharing. Words of encouragement, direction, and hope flowed from the angel toward Hagar. Although mistreated and displaced, God had a plan for Hagar and the child she carried. Hagar realized the gift she received from God: He noticed her. She gave God a special name, “You are the God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:6-13)

Soak in that truth for a moment – God sees you! He notices you and the details of your life. What a gift!

Pause for another moment – How have you experienced “The God who sees”? Recall how it felt to be seen, to be noticed. 

Ponder another question – Would you be described as one who notices and sees the people in your path? 

In what ways can we cultivate attentiveness to not only the clouds in the sky, but more importantly the people around us?

  • It’s hard to notice others with your eyes glued to a mobile phone, computer, or the TV. Maybe it’s time to resist the electronics-tether and pay attention to the created image-bearers God presents before you. 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we begin work early, stay late, and focus on a multitude of tasks simultaneously. Perhaps, it’s necessary to develop more balanced work rhythms. 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we are consumed with self. Could it be that by practicing humility and serving others the attitude of the apostle John develops: “I must decrease, He must increase”? 
  • It’s hard to notice others when we live life on turbo speed. To be conscientious we need to slow down, embrace margin, and value people over projects and plans.

To notice clouds, we just need to look up. The same is true for people. To see them and not just look through them, we need to open our eyes. But how do we do this?

Set your agenda aside and engage with the heart of the person in front of you with open questions. Like the angel of the LORD, ask thoughtful and meaningful questions and await a response, even if it is slow in coming. Instead of insisting on your own perspective, allow vulnerability and honesty about the issues of life. Just as Hagar opened up, provide a trustworthy and safe space to receive and share. Then, offer support, a kind word, prayer, words of wisdom, and most of all the loving care of God. 

We get to follow God’s example of seeing others, noticing them, and being aware of their presence.

The next time your spouse walks in the door, notice each other, stop your activity and give focused attention. Notice. When your kids run through the house, smile and play along with them. Notice. If your neighbor drops by, pour a glass of tea and talk about the day. Notice. Pay attention to the downcast face of a family member, friend, or even stranger, and offer the gift of presence. Notice. Move beyond superficial and shallow questions with your co-worker; speak of God’s movement, tender conviction, and faithful character. Notice. When at the grocery store, look the cashier and bagger in the eye and offer a word of gratitude. Notice. 
 

So, go outside, take a walk, look up and notice the clouds. Wonder about their airy design. And, look around you, someone is just waiting to be seen not only by the God of the universe, but by you. Notice.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Exodus 3:16
“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.

1 John 4:20
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Mike Mason. Practicing the Presence of People: How We Learn to Love. Colorado Springs, CO. 1999.

Kaylee Andrade. The God Who Sees: Trusting God in the Midst of the Desert. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

August 6-9 – Seattle, WA
Kurios Gospel Forum. Fan the Flame of Your Soul.

Scraps

Among the many delights of planning a wedding is selecting flowers that reflect the bride’s tone and theme. I enjoyed the gift of joining both Emily, Sammy’s fiancé, and Sophie, my daughter, when they each met with their florist. Flowers of different shapes, smells, and stature filled buckets as Emily and Sophie dreamed and played with ideas to reflect the vision for their weddings.

As Sophie and the florist began to create floral possibilities, the florist shared an interesting story about scraps.

Several years ago, the florist attended a local design show. During a session, several florists took the platform one by one. They chose from several containers flowers and greenery, cutting and snipping the myriad of floral stems to craft a unique and beautiful bouquet. As they worked trimming stems, removing unnecessary foliage and collecting just the right blend of shape, size and color hue, scraps accumulated on the floor. These discarded pieces scattered and layered upon the platform.

Scraps

The final floral designer approached the stage. Reknown for his extravagant designs, the observers looked forward to what he might create from the beautiful array of colorful and unique stems. However, instead of moving toward the canisters holding the flowers and greenery, he bent to pick up pieces from the scraps dropped across the floor. With ease, he collected, arranged, collected again and rearranged. In the end, his handiwork brought awe to the audience. He then shared that this bouquet created from scraps would sell for $300 in his store. The encouragement and challenge to the onlookers was to notice what is deemed waste; to pay attention to what is cut away and tossed to the floor. There is beauty in the garbage, in the scraps.

Scraps – leftovers, crumbs, remnants, bits and pieces, waste, pieces

Leaving our floral visit, I found myself struck by this story about scraps.

  • I remembered the story of how Boaz left scraps in the field for Ruth to gather, providing sustenance for her and her mother in law (see Ruth 2).
  • The Food TV show, Chopped, comes to mind. On occasion the mystery basket is composed of leftovers which the contestants then use to create an integrated and delicious main dish.
  • The humorous outtakes from movies often land on the cutting room floor, yet their inclusion in the final edits bring a smile to those watching through to the end.
  • Paul records his life journey in 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, boasting about the scraps in his life that became part of preparing him for and validating the ministry God designed for him.

Scraps

God is the Master Designer and He makes beautiful things from the scraps in our life; the things we’d like to cut off and cut out. We would like to forget about these scraps. Yet carefully and artistically, God gathers our experiences, the hardships, and delights within our lives and forms them into a colorful expression of His glory and redemptive movement.

Reflect for a moment over the past week – do you notice the scraps lying on the floor of your life? In what ways are you trying to just ‘forget them’ or ‘move on’?

Scraps might look like:

  • Friction in a relationship
  • Being “let go” from a job you love
  • A nagging cold
  • An unexpected bill
  • Dropping a freshly baked dessert on the floor
  • Being late for work
  • Discord with a coworker
  • A whinny friend or family member
  • Being called for jury duty
  • Car trouble
  • Disarray from stormy weather
  • Politically charged conversations
  • A burnt meal
  • Delayed travel

What would it look like to ask God to redeem the scraps from this past week? From your whole life?

Often we look for purpose when we encounter pain, understanding with our unique experiences and comfort when faced with chaos. During these moments God might feel close or far away.

Regardless of whether we see the beautiful bouquet God is making from the scraps in our lives, He is present and purposeful and does not waste anything.

In the letter to the Romans, we are reminded of our Scrap Saving Savior: “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:27-28).

Can you thank God for the scraps from this past week? From your life?

Maybe consider praying something like this: God, honestly I don’t like the scraps in my life. They often bring pain, disruptions, confusion, and sorrow. By the Holy Spirit, help me trust you with all of my life. Thank you for being a triune God of beauty and redemption. You are Good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The song Beautiful Things by Gungor plays in my head: “All around, Hope is springing up from this old ground, Out of chaos life is being found, in you. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust, You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.”

Notice the scraps in life and trust God’s handiwork and creativity to design a masterpiece of His redeeming love. He is your Scrap-Saving Savior who loves you deeply!

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Romans 11:36 
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Colossians 1:17
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Job 19:25
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on earth.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested music videos.

Gungor. Beautiful Things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyPBtExE4W0

Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music. It Is Well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

July 15-17 – Concord, CA
I get to visit and assist my parents as my dad had open heart surgery on June 7.

 

July 20-25 – Washington, DC
Traveling to the ECFA headquarters to record a 5 minute video for their upcoming Governance Forums, as well as share in two podcasts. Additionally, Gary and I will welcome Gary’s Global Trust Partners staff from around the world for staff training and development.

Teem

Recently, while serving in the Philippines, Gary and I enjoyed an excursion to the Palawan region where we experienced the beauty of the El Nido islands. Have you ever seen a travel magazine or poster on a billboard with a picture showing grass huts overlooking turquoise blue water? El Nido looks like that picture. It is a real place and the water actually is as stunningly blue as the picture portrays.

The water surrounding these islands reflects the expanded version of the crayon box with every possible variation of blue and green. When looking into the water, the view is clear, allowing your gaze to travel deep below the surface. Diving into this brilliantly colored water reveals creativity, creation, and creatures carrying on in this underwater context.

Teem

“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small.” Psalm 104:24, 25

Gary and I entered the water world of the South China Sea and snorkeled with God’s aquatic creatures teeming below the surface. We witnessed bright blue fish, parrot fish (because they are as colorful as a parrot), orange, yellow, white and black fish, little Nemo fish and fluorescent purple tiny fish. Gary spotted a sting ray sitting on the floor of its ocean home; we were thankful to not disturb him. Sea anemones swayed with the water current and bright corals, rocks and seaweed decorated the diverse landscape beneath the surface. The sea teems with creatures beyond number.

The waters are alive with the creativity of our Creator. While kayaking in the “Big Lagoon” the gentle motion of a sea turtle greeted us. This little fellow swam alongside us gliding through his watery home, coming to the surface for infrequent breaths. His movement mesmerized us and gladdened our hearts as God allowed this encounter with one of his creation. The residents of El Nido demonstrate great care for the islands and the waters that surround them. Only kayaking is allowed in the Big Lagoon so as to preserve and protect the habitat below the surface. The external world impacts the health of life beneath. Plastics are not used on any of the islands and intentional preservation occurs so that the life teeming below the surface remains untainted, pure, and beautiful. Just as we care for God’s creation in the outer world, the one above the water, caring for the inner world of God’s handiwork is just as important and necessary.

Teem

As human beings, we live with both an outer and inner world. The external is seen by most: your physical characteristics, patterns of living, manner of speech, personality, and relationships. The internal, however, is below the surface – the state of your soul, thoughts, motivations, and passions. Most time throughout the day focuses on caring for the outside: the meals we prepare, the clothes we wear, how we socialize, the ways we exercise, and how we work and play. While caring for the exterior is important, how does caring for that which lies beneath the obvious manifest itself in your life?

Do you care for what teems below the surface of your outer world?

Just as the El Nido residents endeavor to preserve and protect the habitat under the surface of the sea, so too must followers of Christ intentionally care for the inner aspects of our being.

What are ways to give attention to the life teeming within your soul? How can we keep our inner world untainted, pure and beautiful?

Jesus offers new life to those who follow Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Consequently, the life teeming below is redeemed by Him and made holy by Him. The Apostle Paul exhorts the church in Corinth to take every thought captive. This means holding the thoughts offered by the external world and determining if they should be permitted into the inner world, below the surface. After we hold these thoughts, we must either reject them, or make sure they are obedient to the ways of Jesus Christ. As Jesus’ disciples, we get to take authority over the messages that endeavor to dive below the surface into our hearts. When we allow unfiltered, ungodly thoughts into our soul, pollution occurs, tainting and inhibiting the transforming work of Christ.

Paul offers direction to combat worry within his closing exhortation to the church in Philippi. Yet, his message doesn’t need to stop with the issue of anxiety. His words offer care for the hidden world within – the filter to protect our soul from pollution, damage, and emptiness.

“Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8.)

Be intentional about what seeks to dive into your soul. Let these be the filter into your soul:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it noble?
  • Is it right?
  • Is it pure?
  • Is it lovely?
  • Is it admirable?
  • Is it excellent?
  • Is it praiseworthy?

What kind of life teems within your soul? Notice the ways the outer world impacts your inner world. Care for the beautiful colorful creative soul God has given you by attentively preserving and protecting yourself from the influences of the world that seek to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came to give you abundant life.

Live fully alive with Him by attending to the subterranean of your soul!

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Proverbs 20:5
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Gordon MacDonald. Ordering Your Private World. Nashville, TN. 2012.

Tommy Newberry. The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life. Carol Stream, IL. 2007.