Aye-Sight: Seeing Eye to Eye with God

healthy-eyesight-tipsI think you’ll agree that the health of your eyes and good eyesight is of critical importance: Good vision helps you in every aspect of your life.

The same is true when you consider your spiritual life.  Good eyesight is an essential to spiritual health, and poor eyesight can be devastating.  In Psalm 119, there’s a verse that focuses on the object of your vision:

Psalm 119:36-38

Turn my head and my heart to Your decrees

and not to sinful gain.

Keep my eyes from gazing upon worthless things,

and give me true life according to Your plans.

Verify Your word to Your servant,

which will lead me to worship You.

Instead of wasting your time on the worthless, invest it in the precious.  Take a look at these “eyesight” verses:

  • Psalm 19:8: The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  • Psalm 26:3: For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.
  • Psalm 33:18: Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, and on those who hope in His mercy.
  • Psalm 34:15: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.

I’ll close with Psalm 119:18, and I encourage you to make it your prayer for today: Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.

Batman is Alive and Well

batmanDaniel Kish may not be a muscle-ripped superhero, but as an echo-locator he has bat-like abilities.  Even though he has been blind since he was 13 months old, “Kish navigates crowded streets on his bike, camps out in the wilderness, swims, dances and does other activities many would think impossible for a blind person (Discover Magazine).’

As a human echo-locator, Kish navigates his way through the darkness by using “audio cues given off by reflective surfaces in the environment (Discover Magazine).”  This is much like the technique used by bats and dolphins.

Kish’s skill as an echo-locator is an ability we all have; however, we are so visually oriented, we are blind to its presence.  To help people develop their echolocation skills, Kish says he is on a quest to help people learn to see with their ears.

Is it possible that we are so distracted by what we see that it handicaps our hearing?  There are times that we need to turn a blind eye to the visually enticing and learn to echo-locate, so we can “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Seeing what the world has to offer without hearing what God has to say can you get you into trouble.  Eve is a good example:  “When she saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate (Genesis 3:6).”

Learning how to echo-locate will help you fine tune your life, so you can hear the voice of God:  “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; The voice of the Lord is full of majesty (Psalm 29:3-4).”

Raw Emotion

Reading-facial-expressions_articleDo you remember the last time you did it?  Something happened and you let your guard down and the true you showed:  Your emotions were on display for everyone to see.

Immediately following His Passover entry into Jerusalem the emotions of Jesus were easily seen :  “When Jesus came closer and saw the city, He began to cry, and He said, If you had only known today what would bring you peace! But you cannot see it (Luke 19).”

In a moment, Jesus went from the joys of the palm branches to the tragic reality of what the future held.  In this incident, it’s easy to see His love in:

  • His walk of grace as He came near to the city
  • His eyes of love in the way He beheld the people
  • His heart of compassion as He wept due to the spiritual blindness of the people

Is it a comfort to you to know that the love, grace, and compassion of God is yours to claim?  It’s available to you because of who Jesus is and what He did.  Notice how this is explained in The Message:

Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has entered the inmost Heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to our faith. For we have no superhuman High Priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible—he himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence, that we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need.      ~Hebrews 4:14-16

A Clear and Present Danger

advisoryAn article in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post caught my attention: “The U.S. military has boosted security at all of its stateside bases and stations, broad recognition that the United States has heightened its awareness of a possible attack inspired by the Islamic State militant group, U.S. officials said Friday.”

With this report following on the heels of the recent incident in Garland, Texas, it was a frequent topic of discussion on Saturday morning.  When the security level is raised it gets a person’s attention.

Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren said: “The military believes there is an increased and predictable security threat at home, with extra precautions, ID checks and searches launched across the country. It does not mean that an attack is considered imminent, however.”

How would your behavior change if you were told the danger is most certainly “imminent”?  You may not be aware of it, but here is a statement that warns you are in grave danger!

Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour. Be firm in the faith and resist him, knowing that other believers throughout the world are going through the same kind of suffering.  ~I Peter 5:8-9

Watch your back, there’s a lion on the prowl.

A Normal Failure

images (2)Success and failure are the topics of many discussions.  In the Proverbs, Solomon draws a contrast between the “God-loyal people” and the “wicked” and how they manage the difficult times they face:

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” ~Proverbs 24:15-16

When a person is successful, he hears the cheers of the crowd; however, when he fails, the whispers of the same people are heard as an agonizing shout.  Failure is, however, a normal part of a person’s life.

With this in mind, let me share my Top Ten Failure Quotes:

  • Failure is not falling down: It is staying down.
  • “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
  • “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
  • Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
  • Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. ~Lloyd Jones

When I think of a God-loyal person, I think of Tim Tebow.  This young man had a stellar career as a college quarteback.  When his professional career came to an abrupt halt, some peole labeled him as a failure.

Tebow stayed in shape, continued to work hard, and he signed a contract with the Eagles this week.  He is anything but a failure, and he is a living example of Solomon’s words: “God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet . . . “

Follow the Leader

Follow_the_Leader_Photo1When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word.  I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.

In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said:  “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

  • Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
  • Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.

In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

  • Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
  • Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.

In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

  • Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
  • Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.

Here’s the simple truth:  You can follow or be hollow.  When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places.  When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.

The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion:  “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”

Friday: A Day of Signifiance

6187141-crown-of-thorns-hung-around-the-easter-crossIf you could travel back in time to history’s most important Friday and relive that day in 33 AD, what would you hear as you walked the streets of Jerusalem? The city had swelled in size because it was Passover, but the conversation was not the annual rites at the Temple.  No, that significant sacrifice was overshadowed by the crucifixion of Jesus.   As people contemplated the events, they exclaimed:  Finished!  Epic life ended!  Last chapter of a miraculous life has closed with a tragedy!

The Messiah you have been following has been nothing more than a grandiose dreamer with Messianic aspirations, and your dream has ended in a nightmare.  In stunned silence and in a state of shock, you wonder:  What now?  How could all of this happen?  How could so many people have believed a lie?

A cloud of despair hangs heavily on your doubting heart as you try to make sense of the disaster that has disrupted your life.  Friday has been an arduous day, but at least there has been a lot of activity.  When you woke up Saturday morning, you hoped that yesterday was just a bad dream; however, when you looked into the sunken eyes of your fellow disciples, reality buckles your knees:  Your Hope has been crucified; Jesus is dead; and, Saturday drags on and seems like it’ll never end.

From that Friday of 33 AD, to the Friday of today, there is a perceptional gap that is every bit as deep as it is wide in years.  All the disciples of 33 AD had was a form of spiritual PTSD and the stench of death, but you have the benefit of history.

You know the story doesn’t end with that dramatic death on the cross. You know there is an encore to what the disciples thought was the final Act, and it was announced to those few devoted women who went to the tomb:  He is not here; He has risen!

The fact of the resurrection turned men of cowardly hearts into courageous soldiers of the cross, and in a few short years the infant church shook Rome.  This is the mobilizing power of the resurrection and the proof of what can happen when a group of people are infused with hope . . . people just like you.

I encourage you to share the hope and live the message as you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Sunday.

Recycling and Refocusing

recycle_word_peopleIn the Sunday edition of the Washington Post, Chris Mooney wrote:  “We have a problem, people: Even though we’re supposed to put the right stuff in the blue bin, a lot of recyclable material nevertheless winds up crammed into landfills. One of the most noteworthy of these is paper: While 64.6 percent of paper and paperboard got recycled in 2012, that still left 24.26 million tons of the stuff discarded, according to the EPA (Why We Don’t Recycle Crumpled Paper).”

While some things get tossed out simply because people won’t toss them in the recycle bin, research suggests there might be another reason.  The Environment and Behavior journal has reported on research by  Remi Trudel, Jennifer Argo, and Matthew Meng of Boston University and the University of Alberta.

Their research focused on the way your brain categorizes information and then acts on it.  When your brain sees a piece of crumpled paper, it perceives it to be trash and not something to be recycled.

The study found that, “Full sheets of paper were recycled 77.4 percent of the time, whereas crumpled paper was only recycled 7.8 percent of the time.”  The researchers said: “We consistently show that consumers’ decision to recycle the same product depends on whether the product is intact (i.e., whole) or distorted (i.e., crumpled, cut).”

When you meet an individual whose life has been crumpled by the power of sin or the heartache of failure, how do you respond?   Do you see them as trash or someone who can be recycled?

You are probably familiar with the verses that call you to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world,” but how well do you know and put into practice the scriptural admonition to be a recycler?  In Romans 15:1-2, Paul said:

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

What is Christianity to you?  Is it an experience and relationship of convenience or are you willing to “lend a hand” to those in need?

God-Colors

plan-your-visitDid you accept the challenge I proposed yesterday?  If you read this blog on Thursday, you know that I encouraged you to be the peace in your piece of the world.

If you embraced my challenge, you were living the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5:16:  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The Message elaborates on this command of Jesus:

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).”

If you made my goal your goal, and you did your best to be the peace in your piece of the world, you were cherishing a basic principle of Jesus.  You were, “bringing out the God-colors” in your piece of the world, and people had the chance to see your light shining. They could see your “good works” in:

  • Your warm smile they enjoyed awhile because it reflected the love of God.
  • Your courteous disposition that was void of suspicion and full of sincerity.
  • Your word that cheered them while others jeered them. You were the “you-can-do-it” voice they needed to hear.
  • Your hand that helped them stand: You reached down, to help them stand up.

If you missed my challenge on Thursday, you can accept it today.  Be a “light-bearer” for Jesus, so you can share the dazzling light of God-colors.

I would like to hear your comments:  What do you think of when you think of “God-colors?”

Are You Eyesome or an Eyesore?

in_the_eyes_of_god_by_rainacornasusgirl-d652cziEyesome is a word that I had never seen or heard of until yesterday, and it means, “Pleasant to look at.” When I discovered its meaning, I thought of the words of Peter when he spoke of the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:4).”

I see fewer eyesome people who are noted for their “incorruptible beauty” and “gentle and quiet spirits.” Instead, there seems to be a proliferation of people who proudly exhibit a spirit that is reckless and impetuous.  This sort of person is less eyesome and more of an eyesore with a spirit that is rude, crude and arrogant.

What can you learn when you focus your eye on some of the Scripture below?

  • In Ephesian 4:1-3, Paul said I “urge you to live in a way that is worthy of the calling to which you have been called, demonstrating all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace.
  • In his advice to young Timothy, Paul instructed him to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness (I Timothy 6:11).”
  • Paul emphasized the importance of gentleness when he wrote to the church at Philippi: “Let your gentleness be known to all men (Philippians 4:5).”

To be perceived as more eyesome and less of an eyesore, I encourage you to give some thought to Psalm 90:17:  “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us.”

The “beauty of the Lord” does not speak of any physical feature, but it does mean that God can make you an eyesome creature.  When His beauty is upon you, He will begin to develop the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious” in His sight.