Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ The Parable of the Squirrel

I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee, it's hefty aroma calling to me from an ocean of deep thoughts. I settled onto the porch swing and tried to relax in the presence of the tall, graceful day lilies swaying rhythmically in the breeze.

My spirit was exhausted from waging battle against life. My mind quarreled with the faithfulness of God; My spirit reminded me of my blessings. My Bible shouted out reminders of God's promises; My weary soul struggled desperately to walk in that reality.

"Lord, forgive me for being so frustrated. I feel angry that life has to be so hard!! I miss the joy of my salvation." I pouted as I slung accusation after accusation at my Heavenly Father. 

Then my tirade ended and I took another sip of coffee.

A flash of gray raced past the porch and leaped onto the base of the wrought-iron pole standing in the midst of my begonias. There, the bird feeder hung temptingly about four feet off the ground, secured by the hook shape at the end of the pole. Catching his breath, a young squirrel glanced in my direction. Excitement was written all over his face.

Four tiny paws gripped the slender pole. His furry tail twitched uncontrollably with happiness. With sheer determination the squirrel inched his way upward towards his prize. When he got parallel to the feeder he S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D across to the perch so he could dig into the morsels of goodness. Watching his can-do attitude was funny enough, but then the wind began to blow.

Blowing wind begets spinning bird feeders.
Spinning bird feeders beget spinning squirrels.

I realized the squirrel had a choice to make: either let go of his prize, fall to the ground and start over OR grab hold with all fours and hang on with all his might until the wind passed by.

He chose the prize.

The squirrel's back paws swung over to the base of the bird feeder. Hanging upside down, he held on with all fours as though his life depended on it. His little body spun and twirled, eyes wild with excitement. A bushy, gray tail twitched in cadence to the swinging feeder. There was no way this little guy was going to let go of his prize. No sir! And no wind or difficulty was going to get in his way, either. He simply held on tight, kept his eyes on the prize and waited for things to calm down. Then, very matter-of-factly, he S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D his back paws across the great divide until he reached the pole again, gripped it tightly and resumed indulging himself with those delectable morsels of goodness.

I knew this was a God-moment.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it" ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24

Swinging back and forth, I pondered the lesson the Lord was showing me. In a race, only one person can win the prize. God wants us to run in such a way that we win. I want to win the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ. I want to rest in His presence, walk in His provision and enjoy the blessings of discipleship. Like the squirrel, I want every little morsel of goodness I can grab, no matter how difficult.

Even though for a season, I feel like I'm spinning upside-down, holding onto God's promises with all fours, I know that if I can just persevere and keep my eyes on the prize, the wind will calm down, the spinning cease and I can indulge myself once again with the goodness of God.


If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory page. You have got to watch the featured video. It's a film of Derek Redmond running the 400 meter sprint in the Barcelona '92 Olympics. Derek tore his hamstring during the race, but refused to give up. Oh. My. Goodness. Powerful is an understatement! Please watch and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Remain in Anticipation

Lazarus died. He was a beloved friend of Jesus, brother to Mary and Martha, and yet he died. Jesus knew he was sick - the women had sent word to Him. They knew Jesus loved Lazarus and they knew He could heal him. The women didn't doubt Jesus' love or ability to heal. They "let their request be made known to the Lord". 

But Lazarus died.

"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was" (John 11:5, 6). Huh? Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, but He stayed two more days before He went to him? Why? In those two days of waiting, Lazarus died.

Jesus waited because God had a plan.

Jesus knew all along that Lazarus would be raised back to life through the power of God. His death was allowed for the glory of the Lord. Jesus even told His disciples, "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe." 

...that you may believe...

God always has a plan. Always. 
God always hears our prayers. Always. 

But many times we are called to wait. Not because He doesn't want to be bothered. Not because He has to think about the answer. Not because He enjoys watching us squirm in our frustration. Nope.

Many times we are called to wait because the Lord wants to show us His glory...His GLORY! He wants to perform things that only God - and God alone - could perform. God is good all the time. He is faithful. He is able. And He delights in working miracles for His children.

              "Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
                         for my hope is in him. 
                    He alone is my rock and my salvation,
                my fortress where I will not be shaken;
             My victory and honor come from God alone. 
     He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 
                    O my people, trust in him at all times.
                        Pour out your heart to him,
                           for God is our refuge."*
 Wait. Yachal (yah-chal): hope, trust, expect, remain in anticipation. 

"The correct way to hope and wait for the Lord is to steadfastly expect His mercy, His salvation, and His rescue, and while waiting, not take matters into one's own hand" (Spirit Filled Life Bible commentary, p. 1327).

Remain in anticipation. God is working all things together for Your good.

*Psalm 62: 5-8, New Living Translation 

If you have received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory page to worship with Jason Upton as he sings "I will Wait For You Jesus". Are you in a season of waiting? This song will encourage you and give you strength for the journey.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Splashing in the Puddles

I watched the storm clouds percolate into giant towers. A slate gray veil hovered around the base, but the towers grew whiter and brighter as they ascended into the heavens. Within minutes, the slate gray turned to charcoal and spread like ink over our mountain home. The wind kicked up. Rain, driven in sheets, peppered down.

And I rocked on my porch. Thinking.

"I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples." *

Lightning began to snake across the darkened sky. Thunder roared. The earth responded with windswept ripples across the fields of tall grass. 

And I rocked on my porch. Thinking.

"The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook." *

The storm rushed in, consuming my attention, but then it was over. Done. Gone. In the distance, another tower percolated in the summer heat. Lightning danced in and out of the slate gray veil, preparing to descend on yet another community. Another life.

A shaft of light broke through the trees and bounced off the purest cobalt blue I've ever seen. It was a bluebird bathing in a puddle. The light reflected brilliantly on its feathers, almost taking my breath away as I pondered the things of God. I thought of the Tabernacle in the wilderness embellished with threads of scarlet, purple, and blue. The blue was to remind the children of Israel of the One True God; it was to carry their thoughts to the splendor of the blue heavens from which He reigns.

Thunder. Lightning. Brilliant blue.

And so it is with us. Storms come and go. Cancer. Unemployment. Divorce. Rebellious children...yes, storms come and go. But, I want you to see the Lord in your storms. He is there. His voice is in the thunder. His consuming fire flashes through the darkness. The earth trembles at His voice in recognition of His sovereignty.

And His child? His child splashes in the puddles left by the storm.

*Psalm 77:11-14, 18

Father, teach us to find You in the storm. Open our ears to hear the voice of Your thunder showing Your might on our behalf. Open our eyes to see Your consuming fire in the lightning, daring the enemy to torment us. You are a great God! You are worthy of our praise. We love You Lord. Bless Your Holy Name!!
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory page for a few minutes of worship with Chris Tomlin as he sings a combination of "How Great is Our God" and "How Great Thou Art". I promise you'll be blessed and the Lord will be honored by your worship.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ When the Praise Begins to Rise

The air felt sticky. Blazing hot. I rocked on the porch swing trying to cool off. My porch - my swing - seems to be a place I can find solitude with the Lord. As I rocked back and forth, He brought something to my attention: the air was still.

Yes, the air was still. It seemed as though the whole earth had ceased its striving. There was no breeze. No movement in the trees. A doe stepped out of the forest across the street, making her way to the creek, but mid-stride, she, too, stopped.

Everything was quiet.

I immediately thought of Psalm 46:10,  
"Be still and know that I AM God."

Be still..."Yes, Lord. I'm listening. Open my ears to hear You. Open my eyes to see You," I prayed.

Still. Quiet. Peace.

Then the symphony began. In the midst of the quiet came a song. Many songs. The birds of the air sang praise to their Creator. Birds of many colors sang in harmony, filling the air with acclamation of God's glory.

It was beautiful. So beautiful.

Within moments, a rain shower fell from the heavens. It wasn't a downpour - just a summer shower to replenish the earth. The air cooled. A slight breeze began to blow.

And the birds continued their song.

I have learned that when I make my stubborn self sit still - cease striving - and focus on the goodness of the Lord, it won't be long until praise begins to rise in my soul. It isn't long before His amazing grace begins to fall like rain to replenish my parched spirit. 

I sat still and listened. "Child, You are learning to walk in My Presence. You are learning to still your restless spirit and concentrate on Me - to focus on Me instead of your problems. That is good. Just as surely as your stillness comes, the praise will rise. And when the praise begins to rise, my grace will fall. It's a cycle, a pattern, a law of Mine that always holds true. Always. Be still and know that I AM God and ready yourself for the praise and grace to follow. Every time. Without fail. I AM God. There is no other."

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory page. I'm featuring a music video with Rush of Fools singing "Peace Be Still". The one who made the video used scripture throughout to encourage you in the Lord. Are you thirsty? Do you need to feast on God's Word? Watch this video. It will fill you to overflowing with the goodness, the hope, and the promises of our amazing God. Bless you! Nan

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Instinct

Can you see it? Over there. In the woods. I see a deer bristling with perspiration, mouth open, gasping for air. He's running. Leaping. Battling the fallen trees and thick underbrush. The enemy has been in hot pursuit. The deer lost the predator at the bend in the gnarly trail, but he is exhausted and parched. He needs water to strengthen himself.

The deer pauses, cocking his head toward the clearing to his right. He pricks his ears to the gurgling of a brook calling to his thirst. Instinctively, the deer turns in the direction of the flowing water. Desperation begins to leave his countenance. His frantic leaping calms to a steady walk, and carries him to the edge of the pristine water.

Bowing at the water's edge, the deer drinks slowly and deeply of the liquid treasure. No longer is he thirsty. No longer is he weak. The deer has found strength for the journey.

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" ~ Psalm 42:1,2, NIV

I have begun to understand thirst - not physical, but spiritual thirst - thirst that can only be satisfied by the River of Living Water that flows from the throne of God. 

In recent years, depression and anxiety have become my constant companions. Fears for the future, fears of where our next meal will come from, even concerns for my health have become fodder for the enemy's torment. It seems I can stand strong against him for awhile and then the battle fatigue begins to set in. My soul becomes parched, my spirit defeated. Each day becomes more difficult than the one before. 

I am learning that when I am overwhelmed with these faith-threatening symptoms, I need a drink. I need to run desperately to the foot of the cross and meet my Jesus there. Instinctively. Intentionally. I need to drink long from the Living Water of God.

Do you also wrestle with fear and anxiety? Are you lonely? Bitter? Exhausted? Sweet friend, when you feel overwhelmed with life's hardships, drink of the Living Water. Jesus will call to your thirst. Listen and you will hear. Run to Him and pour out your heart. Empty your heart of everything that burdens you. Yes, empty it so He can fill you anew with peace, hope, and joy. Rest in His Presence, sing of His glory, feast on His Word.

He will not disappoint you.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. I found a song I've never heard before by a singer I've never heard of: "Living Water" by Kees Kraayenoord. He is fabulous! I know this song will bless you and give you strength for the journey.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scriptures of Praise ~ Sandpiper Wings

Shabach (shah-vahch). Praise.

I learned something totally amazing today. I can't wait to share it with you.

Imagine a stroll along the seashore. Warm sand squishes between your bare toes. A sea breeze whips through your hair, playfully lashing moist, salty air against your skin. The sun - that celestial, blazing orb - is lowering itself against the ocean's edge. Slowly it descends. Glorious shades of magenta and gold are released into the evening sky. All of creation, in that moment, shouts praise to its Creator.

That's the kind of praise we're familiar with. Sheer joy. Awe. Wonder. Something inexplicably deep within that rejoices and proclaims the goodness of the Lord. Shabach.

A sandpiper skips along the ocean's edge. A thunderhead begins building its tower along the horizon - beautiful in its form, fearful in its power. The once playful wind intensifies, catching you off guard. As you bend into the wind, turning your head against the sand blasting your face, you see the little sandpiper. His skip has turned into a full-out run. He spreads his wings and lifts from the sandy shore. Up, up he goes. He's not battling the wind. He's gliding, coasting and then joining his wings in rhythm to the turbulence ushering him towards the heavens where he soars. Shabach.

"O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.

"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live" ~ Psalm 63:1-4a

Shabach. Praise.

Shabach's meaning reflects two different directions. One is "praising" as we know it. The other is "calming" - to still or quiet someone or something. For instance, Psalm 89:9 reads, "You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them." Shabach.

There's a connection between praising with words and quieting or soothing with words. And you wanna know what that makes me think of? It reminds me of a quote I live by: "When you can't praise the Lord for your circumstances, you can always praise Him for who He is" ~ author unknown.

Think about that. When you can't praise God for what's happening in your life, you can always praise Him for who He is. Like the wings of the tiny sandpiper in the face of the impending storm, Shabach lifts us towards the heavens. It soothes our soul; it quiets our restless spirits.

And it gives honor and glory to our God.

Father God, You alone are worthy of our praise. You are a great God, full of wonder, mighty in power. How excellent is Your Name in all the earth! We love You, Lord.
If you received Morning Glory via email, I am begging you **wink** to visit the Morning Glory page. I'm featuring a music video titled, "Psalm 8 - The Praise & Worship Song" by Richard Smallwood and his choir. It's long - nine minutes. But can't we all give the Lord nine minutes to worship Him? Yes, I think so. You can even listen to the video as you search your emails or something. I know in my knower these few minutes of worship will make your day. Bless you sweet friends.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Tracing the Imprints

The dawn burst with its myriad of glorious colors, spreading liquid gold like frosting over the earth.  Dew drops glistened on the primrose. A bluebird swooped to the resting place of a lichen-draped limb on the old apple tree.  She serenaded the morning with a sweet song - perhaps a morning prayer of thanksgiving to her Creator. Beneath a fallen log a cricket chirped, greeting the new dawn with a jazzy little tune of joy.

Beauty, which only moments before, had been obscured by the darkness, was now visible in the morning light. It had been there all along. This hidden beauty declared the faithfulness of God.

And so it is with us.

The darkness in our lives - the struggles, despair, depression - can obscure the hidden treasures of Christ within us. The treasures are there, but we can't see them because the shroud of darkness seeks to hide the Light - it seeks to stifle our declaration of God's faithfulness.

Have you ever thought perhaps within our darkest moments are hidden the secrets of God - His mysteries stored up for His child? It's easy to understand the truths revealed in the Light: "I believe in the One True God, Maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His Son, who died on the cruel cross for the redemption of mankind - for the restoration of my broken soul." These we readily accept and understand.

But the darkness holds truths as well.

Only those who experience the darkness face-to-face, while anticipating the coming Dawn, gain the knowledge of the hidden treasures of our faith. In the darkness we experience the loving comfort of our Lord. In the darkness we reach for the hand of our Heavenly Father and can trace the imprint of our name He has engraved there. Really? Yes, really.

Beloved, listen to His promise, "Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands..." ~ Isaiah 19:16

When we grope for the Lord in our darkness, His hand meets ours. He holds us securely and lifts us up into the myriad of glorious colors found in His Presence.

Ah...His Presence.
I feel safe in His Presence. Secure. Loved.

Exquisite beauty can be found in the darkness. His Name is Jesus.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to worship with Shawn McDonald as he sings, "Beautiful". If you've never heard Shawn sing, you're in for a treat. He has a raspy, soulful voice full of God's grace. This young man has been delivered from much and knows God's grace well.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ In The Twilight Hours

A shaft of light broke through the darkened canopy of dusk. It streamed through shades of gray, radiating from the secret places of God. In the twilight hours - that odd place between clarity of day and fear of night - the light tugged at my heart strings. 

I followed its path with my eyes. Its travels ended in a field of grain growing near our mountain home. I noticed the light broadened as it shown down upon the earth, almost like a cone with its pinnacle beginning in heaven. In the circular spotlight I sensed a God-moment.

Darkness was falling all around, yet in the light I saw the stalks of grain dancing in the breeze. Wave after wave of glorious wind rippled through the meadow. The rhythm of the dance called to me. The grain bowed low then gracefully rose again. The movement was fluid. Surrendered. Beautiful.

                                  For behold, 
                          He who forms mountains, 
                             And creates the wind, 
              Who declares to man what His thought is, 
                     And makes the morning darkness,  
               Who treads the high places of the earth - 
   The Lord God of Hosts is His Name
                                              ~ Amos 4:13

Oh that I would yield to the Spirit of God as gracefully as the stalks of grain. I yearn to dance in the twilight hours - that place between the clarity of day and fear of night. I long to honor the Presence of the Lord with my trust and thanksgiving. Surrendered. Beautifully reflecting His love.


Father God, You never cease to amaze me in Your pursuit of Your children. Thank You for loving us enough to go to extra lengths to reveal Yourself to us. Teach us of Your sovereignty. Teach us of Your holiness, Your majesty. There is none like You O Lord. There is nothing that can separate us from Your love. Nothing. No thing. And yes, Lord, it's gonna be worth it all to see You face to face and to dance in Your Presence for all of eternity. You are an awesome God, full of wonder and might. I praise You Lord. I exalt Your Name on high. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to worship the Lord with Rita Springer as she sings, "Worth It All". What a great song! I know it will bless you.