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Through The Lens of God’s Gifts

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 (NLT)

Joy and Peace are gifts of grace already given to each and every one of us… Receiving, embracing and allowing those gifts to shape us however, is a choice.  And when we make the choice to see our lives through the lens of those gifts, we begin to recognize how truly present God is with us every day.

If there are words for Him, then I don’t have them…

The True Nature of Love

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)

As I read and prayed on these words this morning, God reminded me of the depth of this fundamental truth; that when we embrace the true nature of the Love He freely offers and seek to share that Love in all that we do, we clear the way for God’s peace and joy to overwhelm all those things in our lives that pull us down.

Defined by Our Blessings

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” – James 1:17 (NLT)

When we allow our attitudes, our outlook, our words and our actions to be expressions of the many Blessings God places in our lives each and every day, we not only share His light with those around us but also find that our struggles and circumstances no longer define who we are.

The Isle of Misfit Toys

Dear Lord; Happy Thursday Father!

Ever since I was a little boy Lord, I’ve loved this time of year.  Beautiful lights and decorations adorn our homes, joyful Holiday music overwhelms the airways, and our hearts eagerly await the celebration of that Silent Night so many years ago.  And along with the many festive practices that grace this season Father, December also ushers the return of some of my favorite childhood Christmas shows…

Dr. Seuss’ Grinch once again attempts to steal Christmas…

Linus reminds us of the miraculous meaning behind this Holiday…

Frosty the Snowman makes us yearn for that serene blanket of white…

And Rudolph… Well, Rudolph’s story was on my mind as I drove into the office this morning…

“I certainly feel like I belong on the Isle of Misfit Toys…” I mumbled to myself…

For the first time in a very long time Lord, I’m having a difficult time filling my heart with the joy this Holy Season offers.

As You know Father, this year has seen a great many trials for my family and I; many of which still have uncertain endings.  And although I have faith that You’ll see us safely along this valley path in Your perfect time, the light from that Holy Star seems dimmer through the clouds this year.

And as I look around at the world joyfully celebrating this Season of Hope Lord…

I feel out of place… A “Misfit Toy” stranded far away from You.

And yet Father,

I know You’re with me all the same.

Even in my hurt…

Even through my pain…

And even on the Isle of Misfit Toys.

So Lord, as I make my weary pilgrimage to rest by the side of that Holy Manger this year, I pray that You walk that path beside me.  Give clarity to my sight Father, and resolve to my steps that I may seek this Celebration of Hope with the wonder and awe of a child…

Your beloved child.

For it’s in Your precious name I pray Jesus,

Amen.

~PhatherPhil

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Reminded of the Promise

Dear Lord; Happy Wednesday Father!

Over the past couple weeks Father, I’ve been listening to and enjoying a sermon series called “Times and Seasons” preached by Steven Furtick, the lead pastor over at Elevation Church.  It’s been a powerful series for me so far Lord, and has touched on some areas of my life that are very raw right this moment.  This morning as I pondered the most recent message I’d listened to, You placed on my heart a guest post I wrote for Healthy Spirituality a couple years back.  I chased down the document containing the post, and as I reread the words You’d given me during a very different season of my life it dawned on me that even now, Your Promise still holds true…

The Promise

Stark…

Cold…

Bleak…

Unyielding…

Such is the way many choose to view the winter landscape.

And yet,

I believe that winter carries with it a deeper message;

A Promise from God.

I absolutely love taking long, quiet walks in the woods; spending that communion time with my Heavenly Father, surrounded in the majesty of His bounty.  In that Stillness, I find that I feel powerfully connected to God’s presence, and He’s used those moments of intimacy to bring me some wonderful revelations.

I try to visit our local forest as often as possible, even during the “less comfortable” seasons.  Seeing the many transitions and phases of God’s creation never fails to unveil new truths to me, and whatever the conditions are I always come away feeling Blessed for my time there…

Even in the dead of winter.

Hmmm… The “dead” of winter…

Not a very accurate description in my opinion.

I actually enjoy walking through the woods in the winter months.  Strolling among the leafless timbers, the barren landscape lies in stark contrast to the lush foliage that normally fills the scene.  And yet, while first impressions are that all life has left this place, nothing could be further from the truth…

Life still resides here…

Waiting…

Promising to burst forth and begin anew with the breath of spring…

Just as God designed it to.

And Funny enough, He designed our lives that way as well.  Like that forest, our paths are bound to the seasons God lays out for us…

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time
for war, and a time for peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

Times of abundance, and periods of trial; both are gifts from God.  We celebrate those moments when His Blessings shine brightly all around us, and yet those times of wanting are also cause to rejoice…

When instead of dwelling on our pain,

We give thanks for His promise;

The promise that it is in fact, a season,

And that in the “dead” of our Winters, there is still life,

And there is still love.

Thank You for our Winters Lord, and Your promise of the Springs ahead.

Amen.

~Phather Phil

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