What Comes From His Hand

I love reading 1 Chronicles 28-29 and the way David talks to and about the Lord, especially his words beginning in 1 Chronicles 29:14. After giving his “personal treasures” for the temple of God, he prays:

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”

When I think about giving to the Lord in any manner–time, money, other resources, abilities–it’s never a great sacrifice when I realize that it all comes from Him. We only give back to Him what came from His hand. What I consider my “personal treasures” actually always belonged to God.

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Before the Next Thing

Today I consider the season of preparation.

I often encourage others who feel like nothing’s happening, like they idle at a standstill, like they fly in a holding pattern, that something is happening. That something is preparation! When life feels slow and quiet, I like to consider all I’m reading and studying. I like to ponder. I like to build up creative ideas.

I like to pray and wait.

A season of fruitfulness will come, just like the harvest, but first, preparation.

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Same Recipes, Different You

Today I prepared chicken pot pie to place in the oven this evening. I’m standing in the kitchen, and I’m mixing the same vegetables, chopped chicken, thyme, milk, and cream of chicken soup to put in the pie crust. I’ve made this same old recipe for 20 years.

I remember how, back when my children were toddlers, preparing chicken pot pie in advance was an absolute triumph. Having that kind of time and that kind of advanced planning for a meal was my definition of family success. And I made chicken pot pie because the children loved it. Something about the crust and the creamy insides made them gobble dinner up. So I made it for them.

But this time, my chicken pot pie feels like part of my day and something I chose because it sounded good to me. Nobody needed my attention; nobody else’s schedule determined when and how I could make this dinner.

As I folded the crust down around the edges, I thought about the passage of time and how the meaning and manner of parenting tasks change. It wasn’t a sad feeling at all. It was more of a “look how far we’ve come” kind of feeling. The triumph wasn’t in making dinner ahead; it was that I’m here, having come through that part of my life and now living something new. The recipes stay the same, but it’s a different me.

 

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Better Returns

I love Proverbs 3:13-18 and the promise of what wisdom brings. We read this:

13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
    and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
    and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called blessed.

I consider the better returns of wisdom than even silver, gold, jewels, or anything thing else I could possibly imagine. Nothing is better than wisdom. Nothing compares with her. Finding Jesus, as the fulfillment of wisdom, offers the riches, honor, pleasantness, and peace we seek.

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A Form of Deliverance

Since God’s ways are always right and good, I can trust that whatever happens, it represents a form of mercy and deliverance. I might not see it as such at the time, but the older I get and the more I trust God, the more quickly I can see how He works.

In Philippians 1, Paul says twice that what has happened to him (imprisonment, chains, distress) will turn out for his deliverance so that Christ will be exalted and the gospel advanced (12, 19).

We move through trials and even the more ordinary stuff of life knowing that God is working a form of deliverance that exalts Christ and advances the gospel.

Philippians 1:12- 21: I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. . . Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

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The Riches of Nature

Today, my family and some friends wandered on a trail around a pond in Ft. Collins, Colorado called Red Fox Meadows. It was a gentle, one mile stroll, but it stretched into a far greater expanse in my heart.

Together we squealed and hushed ourselves when we saw a doe with her spotted fawn bounding behind her in the tall grasses, popping into view like a jack-in-the-box.

We watched with unnecessary fear how a greenish-blue water snake swam in the water.

We crept near enormous black turtles sunning themselves on sun-bleached logs, only to have them plop into the water.

We walked by the old gnarled tree where, two years ago, we saw a mother raccoon and her cubs.

We, for the first time in our lives, observed a mallard duck sitting on her nest by the shore, and we stepped back as the father spread his feathers out in warning that we were too close.

Further on, we counted seven fuzzy yellow ducklings from another nest, wobbling as they swam beside their parents.

Turning the corner on the trail, we laughed at the orderly line of Canada geese that walked single-file in front of us and then serenely entered the pond.

I returned rich with nature. And the joy didn’t stop: I recounted and then identified more of what we had seen: the Horned Lark, the Belted Kingfisher, the Black-Capped Chickadee, the Magpie, and the Red-Winged Blackbird.

We’ll return this evening to see the fox and the raccoon.

Oh, the riches of nature!

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Stand Up and Charm

This morning I read in Tozer’s The Purpose of Man, this lovely quote:

“God made you in order that you might stand up and charm the rest of the universe as you sing praises to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why you were made in His image.”

What would my life look like to others and feel like to me if every purpose of my heart turned towards worship?

Inevitably, this life would charm others on the journey. I think about what it means more broadly to “stand up” and “sing praises” in various forms and in various settings. The standing up seems public, deliberate, and visible. The singing seems vocal, beautiful, and honoring. Perhaps our standing up simply means to reveal in a public way our adoration of Jesus in some kind of vocal way. I say this because my form of singing (I cannot sing at all!) is writing, teaching, and speaking. My form of standing up right now is publishing and speaking about Jesus wherever I am.

We’re made to stand up and sing praises to Jesus.

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Running Towards People

I’m studying the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, and I realize again the vital practice of seeing oneself as the parent who welcomes home. The father in the parable runs with compassion towards his wayward son who now has started his journey back home.

What I notice most is the running. I notice how the son has not yet repented, has not yet made anything right, has not yet showed any change of lifestyle. But these behaviors were never a condition for the father’s response.

This terrible son has brought great shame upon himself and his family. This terrible son has wasted the family’s resources. This terrible son has ruined so much.

Yet the father runs with compassion. The father dresses him with honor. The father prepares a lavish feast. And even as the older brother responds with jealousy and anger, the father stops to love and instruct him as well.

I think about preparing a feast of love, gifts, and honor for those around me on the journey. Instead of shaming, punishment, or anger, for example, when my children make choices I would not make, I pray to respond differently: I start running, and I bring a feast of love.

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Morning Wherever You Are

I leave for a 5:30 AM walk. I’m in another city nothing like my own, yet so much feels familiar at this hour. The certain slant of light, the movement and sounds of birds, the slinking cats, the darting squirrels, and the trucks growling to life all remind me of some interconnected, shared experience of morning.

We all sleep. We all awaken.

We enter this new morning once again.

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