Tag Archives: God’s presence

The Swing


We are more than a body that lives for a while and then dies. We are created souls with a spirit that lives forever. To understand the purpose of our life and how to live it, we must understand how our body, soul, and spirit work together…or against each other. Without this, we experience the same dilemma as Paul:


“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18-25, condensed)


Like Paul we can be in two places at the same time: desiring to walk by faith but actually walking by sight. This ‘wretched’ place stems from the dilemma of thinking we can get closer to God by continually striving to be better. It’s like our spiritual goal is the old Avis Car Rental motto: “We try harder.”


Hebrews 4:9-13 tells us there is a solution our dilemma: Rest in God. His Word divides soul, spirit and body, revealing our thoughts and intentions. Nothing is hidden; all is laid bare before God. Those who stray from Him “will never enter my rest” (Psalm 95:11) but “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works.” (Hebrews 4:11)


Dan Stone’s illustration of ‘The Swing’ helps explain both our dilemma and our solution. If you still have it, take out the illustration of The Line. It’s a horizontal line reaching left to right across the page. Above the line is our eternal life where the believer’s  spirit is united now and forever with God’s Spirit. Below the line in our temporary life on earth, our soul is seated in our body on a swing suspended from the line separating the unseen from the seen. Like Paul, we intend to follow God but our thoughts, feelings, and actions are contrary to this. Our swing constantly moves left to right, from ‘bad’ to ‘good.’


If we don’t understand God’s rest, we try to control the swing by our own power. We try to ‘nail’ the swing to the God’s ‘good’ side by trying harder.  But like Paul, we end up doing what we don’t want, and not doing what we do! We try to live the ‘good’ Christian life in our below the line experiences, but the life flowing-power of God only comes from above the line where our spirit is united with His.  Our spirit, guided by God, speaks to our soul. But our noisy soul also listens to our body which tells it what it sees and feels on the ever-moving swing. We’ll either be frustrated by living by sight (below the line) or empowered by living by faith where we are already one with Christ (above the line). When the starting point our dilemmas is seen from our point of reference, the swing will always present a problem for us to solve, trying to be good when we think and act opposed to it. Choosing to look at life from our union with God, the problems of the swing become a matter for Him to resolve as He works in us. We simply respond to Him – by faith, believing we already are who He says we are, thinking and behaving that way.


Our soul says, “This is how I FEEL.” Like Elijah, our fearful soul experiences the earthquake, wind, and fire around us.  We need to listen to our spirit who communicates God’s still small voice who says, “This is who I AM in you.”


Live in His presence, where your spirit meets His Spirit and speaks peace to your soul and your body. Listen for His still small voice and find His rest and peace.



“A grenade in your dream box”


That was the expression used by my oncologist at my 2 year post transplant evaluation. It was his folksy yet compassionate way of acknowledging the impact this troublesome journey with cancer and reluctant transplant recovery has had on our dream of mission work in Bolivia. The latest medical counsel is “Wait…” at least until my health stabilizes. We had been preparing ourselves for this news when my GVHD recently returned. We’re looking to a new short-term treatment intended to derail what seems to be leading to a repeat of my earlier Failure To Thrive diagnosis. It could be much worse, so we’re thankful.


As we left the doctor’s office, this unusual expression lingered in my mind. And I wondered, have you ever had a grenade in your dream box? Something that suddenly, unexpectedly, and explosively disrupted your greatest plans and hopes? Perhaps Joseph felt that way when he was abandoned by his brothers or when he was later falsely accused and thrown in prison. King Saul was constantly throwing a grenade in David’s dream box. Fourteen years separated David’s anointing and actually becoming King. Certainly, the disciples must have been shell-shocked when their Lord’s body was taken down from the cross. We remember the long sessions praying and counseling with friends who lost a child at much too early an age. I recall working in a nursing facility where two women were in agony the same night; one whose body was failing while she pleaded for life and another who pleaded for Jesus to take her home, but her body would not surrender. I remember the gentle old man who visited his wife every single day though Alzheimer’s had quickly robbed her of every memory of him. Some dreams seem to be lost forever.


Whether big or small, God cares about your dreams. His unending love and amazing grace doesn’t always make it easy. But He makes it possible, because His compassion and mercies are new – every single morning. We don’t always feel it but His presence is what we need when dreams are broken. Where else would we turn? Will our emotions and logic console us?


Sometimes dreams are lost for a season, sometimes for this present life. But the very strong foundation on which our faith is built tells us to hold on to hope, to let it be a secure anchor in the most tumultuous of storms. It’s a place where everything else is weighed on the scale and measured against the value of knowing Jesus and being able to come to Him only by grace, while we wait.


Perhaps in that place of waiting out your present storm, you might find you are meant to be part of someone else’s dream, an answer to their prayer, an encouragement to the hurting, a ray of hope to those who have lost their light.


If it seems your dream box is shattered, if what you’ve built your life upon comes crashing down, come to Jesus. Come, just as you are. Don’t wait to get patched up. Just come. Honor His name in the storm. And if you can’t do that, come anyway. In the darkness of the night, hold on to your hope. Resurrection morning is coming soon.



Be best blessed



If you could choose between receiving a gift that lasts just for a short time or one that lasts forever, which would you choose?


It probably sounds like a silly question. Of course, we value good things that last. But do our prayers match this? Indeed, we are encouraged to pray for our daily bread, but there are even greater blessings in store for those who seek them. What are these greater blessings? Paul speaks to them in his letter to the Ephesians (and to us, by the way):


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3


What are these spiritual blessings offered to us? Paul outlines them in verses 4-8:


  • Benefits of knowing God
  • Our salvation
  • Adoption into His family
  • Forgiveness!
  • Wisdom, discernment, insight
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit 
  • Power to live in accordance with God’s will
  • Hope of living forever with Jesus

That’s quite a list of blessings to begin your daily declaration of praise!


Matthew Henry writes: “Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable, and without which we cannot but be so.” In other words, our true happiness, peace, and fulfillment in life come not from the physical realm that we so easily see and measure and enjoy but from the spiritual realm that we come to experience through faith. These spiritual blessings are available to us right now through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and will also last forever in the heavenly realms where Christ dwells and where we already are seated with Him (Ephesians 2:1-10).


Do you really desire the very best that God intends for you? Really? Then let your prayers be not only for your daily bread, but more especially for His indwelling presence. Ask to see God more clearly and to see others through his eyes. Seek to know God not just about Him. Pursue discerning wisdom, strength, and courage. Ask not just for increased ability; answer God’s call for your availability to be His purposeful and intentional light wherever you go today.


Be best blessed.
Discover and enjoy God’s best blessings for you today.



Safe in the hands of God



What comes to mind when you think about prayer? Often we think about prayer requests, those lists of petitions to bring before God. God invites us to come to Him with our requests, but prayer is more than that.


Mother Teresa once said, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”  Prayer is seeking the presence of God, being available to His agenda, and listening to Him with our heart. Her quote reminds me of the passage in John 22:27-30. Jesus is talking about the difference between true followers and those who don’t know Him.


“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life,and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father,who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one. 


Sometimes we think we can’t hear God’s voice or that He doesn’t listen to ours. But He says we (His sheep) will hear His voice because they remain in His safe protection and they follow Him.  And He hears us. Jesus gave us His own Spirit to interpret our prayers perfectly and present them before the Heavenly Father.


We come into God’s presence by placing ourselves in His hands, by being available to Him, and by listening for His voice. We also come into His presence by giving thanks. Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me.” – John 11:42


A.W. Tozer wrote:  “Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth, I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already.” God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”


The next time you go to prayer, spend time seeking His presence. Experience the peace and joy of letting Him hold you in His hands. Whisper to Him your praise and your thanks. Listen to His voice speaking peace, love and wisdom to you. Go ahead and present your requests to Him, with thanksgiving. But don’t miss the transcending experience of just resting safe in the hands of God.


Live what you believe

Are you living the life you say you believe in?

One of the challenges God drove home during my journey with cancer is that I ought to really live what I believe: God IS a promise keeper, His Word really IS true and applicable in real life situations,  He really DOES have a purpose for us in all situations. You see, sometimes we say we believe (and I think we really do) but we don’t live with the power of that belief. It is like living with belief and unbelief at the same time.


If that has been your experience, be encouraged. The one does not deny the other. In Mark 9:23-25. Jesus says to the father of the possessed child, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” We too believe, but also experience aspects of unbelief: “Is this really God’s will that I be fully healed or is there a grander purpose in suffering?” It is not a doubt of what God CAN do, but how He will choose to work His will in this temporary time on earth.


What fears do you have that seem to counter your beliefs? That the road will be too hard, that it will seem unfair, that it will be a waste of time and effort, that His ways might not be as good as your ways? What choices do you have? Reject the truth because it doesn’t FEEL true? Or accept and believe to be true what ‘thus says the Lord’. We can still only accept this by faith, because there are so many questions that remain, and so many failings on our part to put into practice all that we believe; so many contrary feelings and physical responses. Where I am not ‘successful’ in applying belief to all areas of my life,  I have to remain fully persuaded that God will sustain me until the end at whatever level fits his perfect plan. . . and that in the end, I will find it worthwhile. . . that this present suffering will be measured and weighed and found incomparable to the glory He reveals.


What fears and pain do you face? You can turn them all over to God. He is bigger than any fear you can imagine. I believe coming to Him pleases Him greatly and will restore great joy to your soul, regardless of other circumstances. Practicing the discipline of entering and remaining in God’s presence is the antidote to fear. Seek His presence, His love, His grace, His peace.

Faith will sustain until hope is realized. God, my God, will remain faithful to His promises, whether I sense it in tangible ways or not. I believe this also for you.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”  Numbers 6:25-26



The light switch



I remember when I wired my first house. I may have turned the first light switch on and off ten times, just marveling at the ‘miracle’ of harnessed electricity. I wonder how many times each day we turn things on and off. (Unless you are a kid. In which case you simply turn everything on and leave it running! :-).


We turn on a smile and then off again. Turn on attention to those we value and off to those we find bothersome. We find it difficult to turn off things like our phone and FB or the TV even in the presence of those we love so sometimes the switch gets stuck half on and half off. And there’s little chance we’ll turn them off at all for a stranger who may need a light shined on their path!


I wonder how many times we turn on a switch to connect us to God for a few moments in the morning and then off again as we go on to our other tasks. Then on again for a few moments at night before we switch everything off at bedtime. (Even then sometimes our minds keep running in the ON position.)


Have you ever seen one of those light switch covers that can be locked into position so the light (or power to an outlet) is always on or always off? What if you simply turned on the switch when you connect to God first thing in the morning and then, like a child, just left it on all day, never turning it off. Just leave it in the locked ON position. You would have constant access to His joy, His power, His discernment and love; always aware of His light shining on and in you. Always seeing how His presence illuminates your daily tasks. Never disconnecting from your true source of power, you’d see the world and your problems as they really are, not as they appear when encumbered by shadows. Likely, you’ll need to figure out which switches you’d have to turn OFF to keep the right switches ON.


Remember Tom Bodett’s old Motel 6 commercial, “We’ll leave the light on for you?” Make it your goal to keep the connection to God’s presence locked in the ON position. You will find numerous times when you fail to attain this, but when you do, just flip the switch back to ON. Imagine the light that will shine in and through you. “Leave your light ON” and see how your connection to others likewise becomes attuned to His power.


“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16



God IS the temple


The kingdom of God is within me. –  Luke 17:20-21


The Israelites worshiped in the temples of their making. We worship in churches of our making, but in reality we are the temples of God if His Spirit lives in us. (1 Corinthians 3:16)  But in heaven, God IS the temple. There will be no darkness because HIS light is all we need. No need to worry or fear because there will be no thieves in the night – in fact, no night at all.  No more shame. No more deceit. Only the glory of God’s presence and the revelation of His goodness. Consider the words of John:


“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)


The gate to the kingdom of God is within you. It is open to those who seek His presence – and His light – in their life. Enjoy it now and enjoy it forever.



Practicing the presence of God





When do we go to God? Why do we seek His presence? Probably it is often for help in some difficult situation we face. Sometimes it is for peace and solace in the middle of an oppressing storm. Sometimes we turn to God on behalf of our friends and loved ones or to confess our wayward ways.


God honors all these. In fact, perhaps more than anything else, He just wants us to spend time with Him. He doesn’t need us, yet values a personal relationship with us.   But practicing the presence of God is a discipline that requires guidance throughout the day. Without it you will likely find every little thing drawing your attention away and in the process, forgetting who you really are and why you are so busy anyway.


Does it sometimes feel like your visit with God in the morning is to get your marching orders and then you report back to Him at night?  The problem is, we need His guidance throughout the day too. That is why He gave us the Holy Spirit, so we would have access to His power, wisdom, grace, and truth moment by moment. God never intended you to take marching orders and then face the battle all alone.  We need to practice the presence of God in our moment by moment lives to stand firm and focused.


But in our busy lives, how do we stay focused? It may help to use simple post-it-note reminders to draw your attention from the mundane to the One who loves you dearly, the One who wants to guide you safely through your day.  Putting notes in your car, on your computer, on the bathroom mirror, TV, book stand, and refrigerator (etc) will draw your attention to your God and prompt you to thank Him and seek His guidance. You have so many transition moments in each day between one task and another that can serve as opportunities to acknowledge God. Learning the discipline of one and two-word prayers may usher in His presence during those times. (We might find value in this at prayer meetings too, instead of filling the air with endless words.) Daniel set aside seven times each day to stay connected with God. You can too: when you rise, at each meal, at morning and afternoon break times, and before you go to sleep. The number of times is probably not so important as your desire to turn to God throughout the day.


Seek His presence. Find His power and His plan for your life.


“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;      even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord.     With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

You make known to me the path of life;     you will fill me with joy in your presence,     with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:7-8,11

Expecting God’s presence



If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. Psalm 139:8


Have you ever been in a situation and later realized that God was present?


Jacob came to the same conclusion that he had been in God’s presence. After stealing his brother’s blessing Jacob had a dream of a stairway reaching from earth to heaven and angels ascending and the promise of God that all of earth would be blessed by his descendants. “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”” Genesis 28:16


We shouldn’t be surprised. David concluded: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:8). Paul concluded that there is nothing nor any place that can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8).


What if instead of finding ourselves thankfully surprised by God’s presence in our lives, we decided to live by inviting and expecting Him to show up – just as He promised? Not in the sense of Him stepping in to prevent us from any discomfort that might come our way, but in expecting that the God who sent his Son and offers us His Spirit, will indeed be with us wherever we go. Before Jacob’s dream would be realized, he would he would face much trouble. But in the end, God’s promise was fulfilled. And it will be with us too. Jesus said to His followers, “I am with you always. I will send you a counselor.” Regardless of our circumstance, we can claim that same promise.


Instead of leaving God at the end of your morning devotional, go with Him throughout the day. I wonder how many reasons you can find to thank Him throughout the day. Expect His presence to guide you and usher you into his peace, whatever circumstances you face.

Wandering leads to anxiety



I was probably 3 or 4 years old at the time. We lived in a suburb of Chicago and my mother had taken me to the Marshall Fields department store. I loved that store. At Christmas time they would have the most elaborate motorized displays in the store windows. And inside there were so very many things to catch my eye. And therein was my downfall. I’m sure it was something shiny that caught my eye and led me to wander away from my mom. (How quickly that happens.) And when you are very small, you only have to wander a short distance to find your self hidden from view and quite alone. I remember looking up and not seeing my mother. Quite upset, I wondered why she had abandoned me and left me all alone in this huge store! Of course, in reality, it was I who strayed away from her, not the other way around. But when we are feeling upset and alone our perspective is easily twisted to see things differently. I’m sure I became quite anxious and started to cry, which brought everyone’s attention to me and reunited my mother and me.


Isn’t that how it is in our relationship with God? In times of despair, we ask, “God where are you? Why have you abandoned me in my time of need?” But of course, it is not God who abandons us, but our own desires which drag us away from Him. Feeling alone and separated from God leads to anxiety. In fact, whenever we feel anxious and find ourselves worrying, it is a good sign to show us how we have wandered from God in our thinking and behaving and into the lonely anxiety of our own ways.

The way to find calm and peace that restores us is through putting ourselves back into His presence. The good news is that we don’t have to call a store detective or put ourselves in the lost and found department to wait for someone to discover us again. We simply need to turn around and find Our loving God right there ready to comfort and guide us.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28