Thursday, September 26, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Dream. Laugh. Sing.

Okay. So it all began with this. On Pinterest. At midnight. All by myself.

                   And was quickly followed by this:

                                        And this:
And thus began a laugh-fest that lasted for over two hours! I laughed until my belly hurt and tears created a small river down my cheeks...

At midnight.
All by myself.

It was glorious!

The pain, the worry, the devastation flowed from my spirit, literally transforming into joy as the cackles and snorts broke up the fallow ground of my heart.

Solomon, the great man of wisdom, spoke these words, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bone". ~ Proverbs 17:22

Yes, and amen!

I have been broken and crushed. I don't even know how we're going to pay the bills this week, but you know what? I have found the joy of the Lord once again. Where once that small river of tears was born of extreme despair, now my tears are reflecting the goodness of God. He is amazing.

And He knows what He's talking about. 

There is strength in the joy of the Lord. There is peace. There is hope.

Psalm 126 reads, "When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing."

The Lord is my Deliverer. He is bringing me out of captivity into His marvelous Light. I can dream again. I can laugh again. And I'll never stop singing His praises.

Beloved of God, you are not alone in your despair. God sees and He knows all about it. You, too, will be brought out of your captivity and learn to laugh again.

Our God is faithful.

Now, don'tcha feel better?

Father God, Thank You for the gift of joy. Thank You for the gift of grace, for that is what You've extended to me. I am so grateful. Thank You for the laughter. Thank You for the hope. And thank You for every promise of Your Word. I love You.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. I've got a foot stomping, smile-provoking video of Kristyn Getty singing, "Every Promise". You're gonna love it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Follow The Sound Of My Voice

"The broad path is heavily traveled, but if you choose the narrow path there may be times when you won't see anyone but Jesus."

These words leaped off the page at me, searing my heart with recognition. The impact of God's grace was so strong, I failed to write down the source of such wisdom; however, I know it's based on Matthew 7:13 & 14.

I'm on a narrow path. At times the trail has been so tangled and rocky that, but for the grace of God I would have lost my way. Each time I've fallen into the place of overwhelming despair, out from the darkness would shine a light--a lamp for my feet--to show me the way to go. 

Jesus held the Light.
Jesus called to me over the rush of tears and said, "Child, I am here. Do not be afraid. Follow the sound of My voice."

Over the past four months we have suffered a son's attempted suicide, the very real threat of leukemia for a precious grandchild, unending unemployment, emergency food stamps, scandal and disgrace born of lying tongues. I have been broken. Crumpled. Shattered into a million pieces.

But never have I been left alone.

"Child, I am here. Do not be afraid. Follow the sound of My voice."

I'm learning to respond:

"For You are my lamp, O Lord; 
The Lord shall enlighten my darkness. 
For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; 
The Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? 
And who is a rock, except our God? 
God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect." ~ 2 Samuel 22:29-33

Jesus lifts the lamp high, illuminating the heavens above. And there...there in His beacon of light I recognize the Presence of God. He is with me, sheltering me, and casting His shadow over me, His child.

My darkness was His shadow all along. How could I ever forget how great is our God?

Please don't miss the music video I'm featuring on the Morning Glory  page today. It will stir your spirit and enlighten the eyes of your heart to grasp how great is our God. The video features Chris Tomlin and worship leaders from around the world singing with thousands of people, "How Great Is Our God". You'll hear it sung in different languages and see pictures of different nationalities and ethnic groups worshiping the Lord. I'm telling you, ya don't want to miss it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ A Sure Place

Daddy was a giant of a man, at least to my little girl eyes. I ran to him when I was afraid. I crawled into his lap when I needed comfort or a snuggle. My daddy was a sure place in my little girl's world.

I played a game with daddy. We dubbed it the Shadow Game. On hot southern afternoons when the sun baked the earth and a father and his little girl tended the garden, refuge from the heat was hard to come by, except in the shadows - the shadow of the father.

As daddy worked the hoe and stirred the soil, I tried to stay in his shadow. When he stepped, I stepped. When he knelt, I knelt. I had to stay close to stay in his shadow. If I got distracted and didn't keep up with him, the sun blazed down on me, my skin burned, and sweat dripped freely. But, when I followed daddy's movement closely I found shelter from the sun.

And, in the closeness, I could hear him whisper to me.

His whispers were one way he kept me close enough to stay sheltered. He whispered silly things. He whispered secrets to tending a garden well. He whispered love between a father and his little girl. Sometimes he sang a song I would have missed had I been running around doing my own thing.

Our Father God is a sure place, too.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High 
shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty 
[Whose power no foe can withstand]. 
I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; 
on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust." 
~ Psalm 91:1,2, Amplified

When I stay close to the Lord - when I dwell in His Presence - His Presence casts a shadow that shelters me. The shadow of His Presence is a sure place. No foe can reach me. I cannot be burned. In His shadow I hear His sweet whispers and the song He sings to me in the night places.

Could it be that when fears overtake me and the cares of the world become too much - could it be that I have ventured out from the protecting Shadow? Yes! Absolutely. When my courage ends, my heart will find strength as I make my way back to the sure place of my Father's love. There, and only there, will the ruins come back to life as His Spirit breathes beauty into the ashes. 

His shadow is my refuge. 
His shadow is my comfort. 
His shadow is my sure place in a very uncertain world.

Father God, How can I ever thank You enough for giving me understanding of this incredible Truth? It is Your Presence - Your being - that casts the shadow of safety. It is in abiding IN You, dwelling richly IN Your Presence that we find Your secret place beneath the shadow of Your wing. Thank You, Lord, for that provision. You are amazing Lord. I love You and I give You praise.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. If you love church choirs you'll love this video of the Mount Paran Church Choir singing, "Under the Shadow". I promise.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ I am His and He Is Mine

I closed my eyes and relaxed into the embrace of our porch swing. Back and forth. Back and forth. I surrendered to the rhythmic consolation, the methodical easing of my anxiety.

"Breathe on me, Lord," I prayed. "Breathe on me new life, new hope, new peace. Remind me that I belong to You."

I continued to rock. Back and forth. Back and forth. Eyes closed, heart open.

And then the words to this song by Kristyn and Keith Getty came to mind and I began to sing:


In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all -
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone my hope is found...Oh, yes, Lord! Enlighten the eyes of my heart to see! My hope is found in Christ alone - in the work of the Cross, in the love of my Savior. IN Him I am secure. Nothing can separate me from His love. No thing. I am His and He is mine.

I hurried inside and googled the lyrics to this song. Following are the remaining verses. I urge you to read through these lyrics slowly. Allow God to use them to strengthen you, to give you hope, to set you back on solid ground...

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid -
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death - 
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home -
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Powerful, isn't it?

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm...
For I am His and He is mine...
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny...

Jesus commands my destiny. He is El Roi, the God who sees and knows all about it.


Father, I cherish Your grace and Your love. You are my strength. You are my joy. My song. Thank You for Your precious Presence in my life. Thank You for teaching me that as I abide IN You I am safe and sound - no enemy can assault me. You are good, Lord. You are merciful and kind. I love You and I give You praise.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. You will be blessed beyond measure as Kristyn Getty sings, "In Christ Alone".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scriptures of Holiness ~ When the Morning Stars Sing

Brushstrokes of lavender and orange cream swabbed the evening sky as another day lowered its eyelids. Deep shades of purple and navy rolled in like a wave. The luminous brushstrokes rode the wave back out to an ebony colored sea of night. The stars appeared. I considered the heavens and the Hand that made them.

And I thought of Job.

Job. A righteous man. A good man. A man sifted by Satan because the Lord allowed it, knowing Job's heart would remain faithful to the God of his fathers.

But, never forget that Job was human. He was a man - a man with real feelings, a man with raw emotion as his world crumbled around him. Job was a man who dared to question God - not disrespectfully nor irreverently. Just honestly.

And that brings us back to the stars and how in my darkest night I thought of Job.

"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!...Who laid [the earth's] cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or, who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth...when I said "This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!"'"

And the holy tongue lashing continued (all because I considered the stars in the night sky).

"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that an abundance of water may cover you? Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, 'Here we are!'? Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?"

Well...okay then.

But it didn't stop there. Nope.

"Moreover the Lord answered Nan (Ummm...I mean Job), and said: 'Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.'

"Then Job answered the Lord and said: 'Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.'"

Job was confronted with the holiness of God - His sovereignty over all things.
So was I.

In this exchange, Job came face-to-face with God, and in so doing, had to confront his own self-righteousness. Job recognized his pride and expressed his shame. I had to do the same. I had to acknowledge that I wanted to take back control of dire circumstances because I doubted God's sovereignty. I mean, I didn't realize it at the time, but now it's clear. Either I trusted the Lord or I didn't. Either I believed He is God, or I didn't. If doubt and fear and shameless pride hover about me and color my perspective, then I'm not allowing God to be God.

I love what Job said at the end: "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You."

Job's relationship with the Lord deepened. Before the difficulties assailed him, his knowledge of God had come mostly from others - the hearing of the ear, but now Job knows the Lord through personal revelation - now my eye sees. Well, GLORY!

And hereto I can say, "My eye sees You, Lord, and understands deeper than ever before. Thank You, Lord. Blessed be Your holy Name!"

As I consider the night sky and the Hand that made it, I hear a song coming up over the ridge. I recognize it this time. It's the melody created when the morning stars sing together.

*Job 38:1,4,6-8,34-36; 40:5

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to worship with Kari Jobe as she sings, "Stars In The Sky". I think you'll love it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Salty Praise

"Bless the Lord O my soul, O-o-o my soul.
Worship His holy Name.
Sing like never before, O my soul.
Worship His holy Name..."

I belted out the praise from some hidden reservoir deep within. Surely the circumstances of the day did not call for a natural response of praise. Nope. Not today.

But I couldn't deny that praise was welling up within me.

Blue and I walked on. We paused beneath the pine grove and cooled off in the shade for a moment.

And the praise kept coming...

"The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me 
     (Bop, bop, bop, bop, bop - that's the drums **wink**)
Let me be singing when the evening comes."

Isaiah 61 begins, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified" (verse 3).

The garment of praise.

When Blue and I got back home, I looked up this scripture and searched for information about the term "garment of praise". I learned that the Hebrew root word for "garment" is 'atah which means "to wrap" or "cover" ourselves. It is more than simply throwing an article of clothing casually around our shoulders. 'Atah suggests that the garment of praise is a complete and thorough covering which will leave no openings for the enemy to penetrate. The garment of praise is created by God to repel and replace the heavy spirit.

But it must be put on. A warm coat from our closet can only resist the cold wind when it is put on. Likewise, the garment of praise must be put on to repel and replace the heavy, burdened, and failing spirit.

As I sought the Lord for insight, I pictured Him being drawn to my pain like a magnet to steel. I imagined Him looking into my eyes with longing, wanting to relieve my burdens, desiring to pour His strength into my broken places. He stood, holding a garment perfectly tailor-made for me, His child. The garment exuded a brilliant illumination of joy. There was a warmth about it - something supernaturally holy. The Lord offered it to me.

I heard His gentle whisper, "Will you accept My gift of praise? It's a gift, you know. It's the very thing that doubt and fear cannot survive around. But you, My child, must be the one to put it on."

Tears trickled down my face, wetting my cheeks with salty praise for a God who sees and knows all about it. El Roi is His Name.

I closed my bible. Blue curled up next to my feet and I began to sing some more...

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, O-o-o my soul,
Worship His holy Name.
Sing like never before, O my soul,
Worship His holy Name...
I will worship His holy Name."

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page so you can put your praise on today as Matt Redman sings, "10,000 Reasons".

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Scriptures of Comfort ~ Do You Have A Need? I Have A Name

I'm learning to take God out of the proverbial box. Oh, don't get me wrong. It's a beautiful box. Some might call it spectacular - after all, only the finest will do for the Creator of the Universe.

But it's a box, nonetheless.

Maybe I'm the box. 

Now, that's a thought. The Spirit of God lives within me because of Jesus, right? So, subconsciously, do I filter God's greatness through my own frailties? Do you?

Moses mistakenly put God in a box. I also believe, like us, he saw God through his own limitations. Why? Because the Lord appointed Moses as the great deliverer of His people, choosing him to go before Pharaoh and tell him, "Let my people go!", but Moses questioned God's plan.

To say Moses was a reluctant participant is an understatement.

I can just see me....ummm, Moses. Ahem!....standing there with hands on his hips shouting to the sky, "You want me to do what, Lord?! I can't do that. And, oh yeah, after I get your children out of bondage, who am I supposed to tell them sent me? Huh?" (Yes, I think Moses was a bit sassy, too. That's because he walked closely with God. Even so, Moses never forgot the holiness of God.)

"And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."'" ~ Exodus 3:14

I've heard this explained as "I AM whatever you need Me to be." Or think of it this way, "If you have a need, I have a Name".

Oh my goodness. His Name. His Name declares His character and attributes. His Name is the embodiment of Who God is. 

His Name:
El Shaddai ~ The All-Sufficient One, the Caregiver
El Elyon ~ The God Most High
Adonai ~ Lord, Master
Jehovah-jireh ~ The Lord Will Provide
Jehovah-raah ~ The Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah-rapha ~ The Lord Who Heals
Jehovah-shammah ~ The Lord is There
Jehovah-shalom ~ The Lord is Peace
Jehovah-mekoddishkem ~ The Lord Who Sanctifies You
El Roi ~ The God Who Sees

And what about these...

Wonderful, Counselor, 
Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Savior, 
Everlasting Father, 
Redeemer, Refuge, Hiding Place, Strong Tower

Do you have a need? I have a Name.

His Name is Jesus. He is God with skin on.

Father, Open our eyes that we might see and know Your greatness. You are above all comprehension and yet You know us by name. You know our weaknesses, our fears, our joys. And You care. You care so much that, at times, it baffles me. You, Lord, are the perfect answer to our prayers. You are our reward, our greatest blessing. Before we know what it is we are lacking, You, in Your love have already filled the void. Thank You. Thank You for Your faithfulness and for Your intentional mercy. You are a mighty God. I love You.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to be blessed beyond measure. I'm featuring one of my all-time favorites, "There's Something About That Name". It's a video of Bill and Gloria Gaither leading an entire auditorium of believers lifting up the Name of Jesus. I wore out a rocking chair singing this song to my babies. I kid you not.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Those Annoying Thickets

Matthew took my hand, hoisting me onto the moss-embellished boulder. Matthew. My son. My mountain man.

For the previous hour we had made our way through thickets, slippery mountain rocks, and underbrush so dense I didn't know what I was stepping on. Sunlight filtered through lanky pine groves that led us into shadows black and murky.

I didn't have a clue what the reward for this exhausting escapade would be, but Matthew knew - and he couldn't wait for me to experience it. I gripped his hand and we trudged on.

Matthew led me to the top of the ridge. Below us the river ribboned through the valley. Lacy evergreens bowed along its edge. Mountain pasture land tumbled in and out of the forest where bright sunshine met shadows once again. The mountain range melted into a blue haze along the horizon, taking my breath away.

The Lord reminded me of a favorite journal entry from A. J. Russell's God Calling

"See not the small trials and vexations of each hour of the day. See the one purpose and plan to which all are leading. If in climbing a mountain you keep your eyes on each stony or difficult place, as you ascend, seeing only that, how weary and profitless your climb!

"But if you think of each step as leading to the summit of achievement, from which glories and beauties will open out before you, then your climb will be so different."

Matthew encouraged me to keep going when the going became too difficult. I felt his strong hand in mine keeping me from harm. I learned to keep looking up at the radiating sunbeams cascading through the forest shadows, instead of concentrating on the brambles trying to grab my ankles. I learned to trust my steps because Matthew was my guide.

My guide took me to mountain heights with beauty my heart could barely conceive.

A few times I wanted to give up.
I could've said no.
I might have missed the glory on the ridge by complaining of the climb.

I could've, but I didn't. I love Matthew and he loves me. I trust him.

I trust Jesus, too.

"For I, the Lord your God, 
will hold your right hand, saying to you,
 'Fear not, I will help you.'" ~ Isaiah 41:13

Fear not, little one. The Lord is by your side, holding your hand and leading you to heights unknown. Trust Him. Focus on His beautiful face and the glory before you. It will make all the bumps and bruises of the climb worthwhile.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. I'm featuring an EXTRAORDINARY video of Eva Cassidy singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". You may think you know this song (it's one of my favorites), but you've NEVER heard it sung like this. Sit back. Relax. Let the Lord bless you.