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Daily Psalm: Art & Verse Inspired by Psalm 24

I’ve washed my hands.

And I’ve emptied my heart.

The gate is open and I pray,

Come now, Lord, and do Your part.

A psalm of David.

The earth is Adonai’s and all that fills it— the world, and those dwelling on it. For He founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers. Who may go up on the mountain of Adonai? `Who may stand in His holy place? One with clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully. He will receive a blessing from Adonai, righteousness from God his salvation. Such is the generation seeking Him, seeking Your face, even Jacob! Selah

Psalm 24:3 – 6 (TLV)
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My Dream Life is Here

I woke up to my dream life
Where I am not just mother and wife
But a daughter and friend to Him who gave me life.

I woke up to blessings galore
I have family, friends, and so much more
Granted by the One whom I adore.

I am so glad to be awake
Not afraid of the next steps I take
Because the One who is with me makes no mistakes.

I'm living my dream life right now
I don't have to understand how
The One who loves me can avow

I woke up to my dream life this morn
Rejoicing that I am reborn
And live with Him who calms all my storm.

Welcome to my dream life, my friends
Come join me as I ascend
To fulfill the purpose of the One who penned

My dream life.

 

 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.

Isaiah 42:9 (ESV)

Tropical Dreams by CiMo ’19
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Light Outshines Darkness: Dark Day #3

Betrayed and disappointed
By She who I thought was my friend
She constantly made me promises
But in the end

She lied and turned
Everything into dust
She hurt me
And betrayed my trust.

She said one thing
But did another
And my dreams,
She tried to smother.

So, I walked away
I was no longer available to betray.

She didn’t come to find me
She didn’t seek me out
But the Lover of my soul
Knew what I was about.

He taught me to forgive
He showed me that
She had forgotten how to live.

He opened my eyes
He transformed my heart.
He showed me how
To get a fresh start.

He renewed my mind
He healed my wounds
He caused my branches
To burst out with blooms.

The dark day I refer to here is the almost three years when I stopped attending church. I wish I could describe the heaviness that I experienced every Sunday morning, but I can’t. All I can say is I would walk into my closet and freeze. I struggled every week to go to church and eventually I stopped trying. I decided that If I didn’t love and enjoy it, I wasn’t going

I can’t say there was one particular incident that turned me away, but I had been actively involved in a local church for many years and over time, there was an accumulation of behaviors that grieved my spirit. I got frustrated and aggravated. I shut down and eventually I stopped going

I had been a Sunday School teacher. I sang in the choir. I had been a leader of a bible study group and a member of an intercessory prayer group. Yes, I prayed and worshiped at home. I just couldn’t in my local assembly.

I visited a few churches, but couldn’t shake the heaviness and so I rarely attended more than once or twice.

One night I had a dream. I was taking a tour of a church. The walls and floors were covered with red carpet. The church was split into two level and two sections. When I chose the section where I wanted to sit, I got a phone call from someone at a church I attended when I was young. They told me they wanted to see me. I then got a call from my sister who asked me if I had gotten a call from the church. I told her yes and while we were talking, I got another call. This time it was someone from a different church. That last call was from someone who taught a bible study class I attended as a child. She told me she wanted to hug me one more time.

I decided the dream was a call for me to return. I prayed about it and this time I not only returned, but I returned with a gift for the church. The Lord began to use me to encourage the church through poetry and art.

I am happy to say I have returned with a fresh tenacity to be a blessing to my church family. The Lord transformed my heart and renewed my mind.

The biggest difference I can see in myself is that I am no longer seeking what I can get out of attending church. I now ask the Lord how I can bless others. I ask Him who does He want me to encourage. Because He is faithful, He always answers.

Who does He want you to bless?

Psalm 22:22

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
One Body but Many Parts

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

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Anointed Thoughts

Anoint me with Your oil
Remind me who I am
One who overcomes
By the blood of the Lamb.

No accusation of the enemy
Can cause me to flee
The blessings of Your presence
That always comforts me.

Let Your oil flow
Sanctify my mind.
Not my will, Lord,
But let it be Thine.

I dreamed of a little girl last night who had trouble following instructions. She had heard people say how bad she was from an early age and she decided to live up to their expectations.

A caring adult took her by the hand and showed her how to find her way. When I woke I heard the words, “Thou anointeth my head with oil.”

Here is the lesson…

Your head needs anointing because it encompasses thoughts, beliefs, and imagination. Thinking thoughts of destruction, revenge, and running away when trouble comes can destroy individuals and families.

Believing the negative words or images you see can shake your faith. The enemy wants you to believe it is hopeless to trust God. The enemy will help you imagine all sorts of things.

You will imagine you can face life without Holy Spirit. You will think you have power to make decisions and succeed on your own. You might even think you don’t need the Word to guide you.

Anointing your head with oil sanctifies your mind. The anointing helps you pull down those imaginations. The anointing helps you surrender your will in exchange for His.

Psalm 23:5 (NIRV)

You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies. You pour oil on my head. My cup runs over.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (TPT)

We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.

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Invitations: Jose and the Woman at the Ice Machine

6:30 a.m. and I’m patiently waiting.
The lady in the apple green box she thinks is a car is slowing me down.
It’s my turn to fill the coolers for work.
But she’s filling more than one cooler, with tears and a frown.

“Cry later, lady.” I think to myself.
She yells at her kid for another cooler to catch more ice.
“Seriously, don’t you have a fridge at home,” I growl in my thoughts.
When they finish and the kid tries to move his cooler, it falls. “Nice.”

I decide I’d better help if I want to get on my way.
So I smile and lend a hand.
When I load up their coolers.
I see more than I’d planned.

A babe in a car seat and a thumb-sucking preschooler,
Both sleeping under blankets in the backseat.
I close my eyes and say a prayer.
“No fridge, no home–a family living on the street.”

Pastor Miguel’s sermon comes to mind.
“Stay alert and look for God during your day.
He is working all around you.”
My eyes are now open and now I know what to do and what to say.

A dash to my job and then to the church.
I leave the family in Miguel’s care.
I finish my day watching for God’s hand
To guide me to another way to share.

clear close up cold cool
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jose’s experience reminds me of Jesus at the well in John 4. The woman went to the well for water and walked away with more than she expected.

God is speaking and working all throughout our day and He invites us to join Him. We are responsible for making sure we don’t miss those moments by focusing on ourselves more than others.

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Invitations: Walmart Prayer Meeting

Quickly pacing past produce and frozen goods.
Aiming for the pickles and buns.
Hamburgers on the grill will make for a quick meal.
Jordyn and I make haste at the end of a long day.

We round the corner and stop on the “Bread” aisle.
Pausing to scan the shelves, we hear a dispute.
A family is in uproar and drawing us in.
Looking for a hasty escape is to no avail.

“She is so mean to me,” the man turns to me waving his arms in exasperation.
“He’s just an idiot and doesn’t listen,” grumbles motor cart lady.
“But all I am doing is trying to help,” the man looks at me with pleading, tearful eyes.
Another woman in their party cries, “This is just too much.”

Still glancing around, looking for an escape or a camera,
I turn from the buns and smile at the man.
“Remember that she has lived a long time. Love her anyway.”
“But she’s my mom. She is never kind. I can do nothing right in her eyes.”

“I see. Well, you have two choices. Hold it against her or love her.”
I tried to leave, but motor cart lady says, “He’s doesn’t do anything right, never has.”
“Lord, what are you doing? Why am I here?”
“See what I mean. It just hurts. And she says things like that, too and she’s my wife,” he points at the other woman in their group now weeping aloud. “That’s my mother.”

I smile again. “Okay. Your job is to be respectful and love. She is your mother.”
“Love her? Even when she is mean?”
“Especially when she is mean. And her too,” I point at his wife.
“Your job is to love no matter what they say or do. Just love.”

“How?” he sighs deeply.
“Can I pray for your family?”
Prayer meeting happens in front of the buns and we turn to leave.
“Grandma, what was that all about?” Jordyn asks as we grab our buns and leave.

grocery cart with item
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

The great commission in Matthew 28 compels us to go and make disciples of all nations. Sometimes our “nation” is Wal-Mart.

 

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The Parables of Our Lives: Praise Like the Trees

Have you ever wondered why trees grow tall?

Why they stand firm in spring, summer, winter, and fall?

They wave when the wind blows

They twinkle when it snows.

Trees cast cooling shadows in the summer heat.

They sprout leaves, bear fruit, shed leaves, and repeat.

In all that they do and all they provide

Trees are the quiet teachers of our lives.

They teach us to endure hard times and extend a helping hand

To set deep roots and care for our land.

They constantly remind us to spread beauty everywhere

To dance and wave with thankful praise even when in dispair.

Trees are gentle counselors who whisper in our ear

That hope is always near.

1 Chronicles 16:33
Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord; For He is coming to judge the earth.

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The Parables of Our Lives: March Madness

This is one of my favorite seasons. Not only does the earth appear to be waking up from a long sleep, it is college basketball playoff season. As I followed the brackets along with the rest of basketball fanatics, I was also following friends on FB who were working in their yards and getting ready for spring.

What does spring preparation and basketball have to do with each other? Well, believe it or not, there is a parable to consider.

Tevin and Lauren walked around the nature trail for one final lap. As they slowed their pace they noticed a group of businessmen leaning over a log. Suddenly one of the men jumped back while another told them all to be careful because there were fire ants in the log. Tevin and Lauren approached the men and saw that ants had covered the right side of one of their jackets. Tevin told them to remain calm as he began to help the ant covered man remove his jacket. 

As Tevin removed the man’s jacket and shirt it became 

pexels-photo-170389.jpeg

obvious the man was covered with ant bites. Lauren quickly told one of the men to call for an ambulance. The man with ant bites was obviously allergic to fire ant bites because his arm and back were starting to blister.

After the ambulance transported the ant bite victim followed his companions, Tevin and Lauren sat on a nearby park bench.

“Wow. I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Lauren said.

“Me either,” Tevin shivered. “I’ve never seen so many ant bites. He is going to be miserable for some days.”

“I’m sure. But did you notice that he never actually touched the log. The ants covered his arm and back, but not his chest and legs? How could be that be?”

“I don’t know, but it would seem that he needs to avoid places where there are fire ants.”

“Yeah. He underestimated the power of those tiny creatures.”

As I was writing this parable I was half watching basketball highlights. The ants in this story aren’t the only things that are underestimated.

20170923_161802732046648.jpg

Several teams made it to the “Big Dance” this year and caused some stings of their own.

I’m sure Virginia had plans to be still in the bracket as well as Houston and TCU.

Loyola-Chicago, Michigan, and Syracuse weren’t on the list of many 2nd round predictions, but they made it to the final 16.

 

 

The ants in the parable and the upsetting teams have a few things in common:

  1. Vision (They had a place they wanted to be.)
  2. Strategy (They had a plan for the opposition.)
  3. Determination (They didn’t let the opposition steal their place.)

We may feel small and insignificant, but we all have potential to make a difference in the world around us. We can do big things for God even if we have failed in the past. The Lord has given us everything we need that leads to success (2Peter 1). He has given all of us the ability to dream. He teaches us how to fulfill the dreams He places in us. He has equipped us with His Holy Spirit who will guide us (John 16:12 – 15).

We have power to protect what He has given us.

Victory and success is ours if we don’t quit when we face struggles and opposition.

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The Parables of Our Lives: The parable of the fallen trees

I have been on an adventure for the last several months challenging myself to see things from God’s perspective.

In John chapter 5 Jesus said that He didn’t just do things because He felt like it. He looked where the Father was working and that is where He went to work. Jesus looked at individuals and situations to see what God was doing and then He did what the Father was doing. Jesus paid attention to things in nature and other circumstances to teach lessons.

After reading verses 19 – 21 I wondered how often Father God shows us things that we miss. What is the Lord trying to tell us through nature and other circumstances? Are we missing out on things because we are so busy with life?

For the next few posts, I will be sharing a few parables about different things I’ve seen in my everyday adventures. This first one comes from a recent rainy season in East Texas.

The rain continued to fall as if the sky was weeping with great sorrow and grief. Today was the third day of relentless wind and rain. Residents in Ridgeview City only ventured out to replenish staples at the local market or to dredge through rainy fog on their commute to and from work and school.

Sarya had just picked up her three children from their after school activities and was concentrating on seeing the road. Her children, Eli, Taylia, and Treena, sat quietly in the backseat playing on their mobile devices. Sarya was thankful the children’s devices were fully charged otherwise they would be making noise, contributing to her anxiety driving through the thick fog and rain.

It wasn’t dark yet, but the fog covered the dim sunlight wrestling with the low dark clouds. Occasionally gusts of wind would gently rock their SUV as fog slowly rose from the saturated ground.

“Mom, are we going somewhere? We are usually home by now,” Treena called out from the backseat.

“No, honey, it’s very foggy and Mommy is trying to be safe. It’s hard to see the road.”

“Okay,” Treena said as she settled back in her seat and continued to play her game.

Sarya inhaled a deep breath, released

a sigh of relief, and silently said a prayer of thanks as she rolled through the green light at the last intersection before Magnolia Lane. They were only a few blocks from home once they made the right turn on to Magnolia. Just as she approached the Magnolia Lane Church, there was a soft moan followed by a loud rip.

Sarya frowned and looked in the rear view mirror to see if the sound came from the backseat. As she looked ahead to face the road again, she was greeted by what appeared to be a giant octopus in her peripheral vision. She gasped and stepped on her brake pedal.

“Mommy, look!” exclaimed Eli and Taylia in unison.

“The trees at the church!” squealed Treena.

“I can see,” Sarya tried to sound calm as she looked to see if the trees had fallen on the road. To her relief, the two oak trees that stood in front of one of the oldest churches in Ridgeview City had split in two different directions. Sarya and her children silently peered out the window as she slowly passed the fallen trees. They could see the long interwoven roots of the unearthed trees that were now laying facing opposite directions.

After tucking her children to bed, Sarya sat down for a long awaited cup of tea and quiet time. 8:30 was her special time for relaxing before shutting down the house. She either read a book or sketched to unwind from her busy day. Tonight she picked up her sketch book and began capturing the image of the fallen trees at Magnolia Lane Church.

Fallen Trees

As the image began to form on the page, she wondered why the trees had fallen after decades of providing shade and picturesque panoramic views for the members at the church. She immediately thought of the parable of the fig tree in Mark 13:28 “Now learn a parable of the fig tree, When her branch is yet tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.” She wondered what “sign” could be learned from the fallen trees. Why had the trees in front of the church fallen, but none of the many others lining the streets in her neighborhood?

As she sketched and meditated, she began to hear

“The exposed roots in front of the church is a symbol of the root of division in your city. The trees fell facing north and south. Your city is divided between north and south. Your churches are divided as well. It’s time to change things. There are not segregated sections in heaven. The church should not be segregated. Your city has a long history of segregation, of separating itself. It is time for that to change. It is time for your city to look like the Kingdom of God. When your churches unite, then your city will grow and be blessed. The separation has caused oppression and violence to linger. It’s time for a change. It is time to topple down the traditions and allow the Kingdom of God to truly reign in your city.”

Sarya put down her sketch and wrote the message in her journal.

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Courageous Influence

She stood just outside the door of her mistress’s room. It wasn’t her intention to listen, but Naaman, captain of Aram’s army, was ranting on the other side of the door.

“God has elevated me and led me to many victories. Why doesn’t He take this wretched disease away from me? I might as well be dead. No one will want to follow a crippled captain. I’m ruined!” Naaman bellowed as his wife tried to comfort him.

The servant girl softly rapped on the door when the room had grown silent. Naaman yanked open the door and glared at the girl, “Well?”

“I have your dinner tray,” she whispered and entered the room as he pushed the door open for her to enter. Naaman backed into the room and watched as the girl placed the tray on the table across the room. He notice the girl whispering to his wife just before hurrying from the room.

“What was that all about?” Naaman asked his wife.

“What do you mean?” she responded.

“I saw the girl speaking to you. What was that about? She never speaks when I am in the room.”

“She thinks you should go see a prophet in Samaria. She says his name is Elisha.”

Naaman followed the advice of the servant girl and made arrangements to meet with Elisha. He reluctantly followed the prophet’s advice, but was healed of leprosy after following his unusual instructions.

The servant girl was brave. She wasn’t afraid to share her God with someone who could easily be considered her enemy. (2 Kings 5)

This story reminds me of the children of Israel who had embarked on possessing the Promised Land. They were to conquer the lands and influence the nations by demonstrating the power of their God. They were to teach and lead other nations to their God, not the other way around (Joshua 24).

We all are created to be an influence. Our God is to be envied. We are to shine so that others will see Him and want to become part of the Kingdom we possess. We are to take the Kingdom to the nations (Matthew 28). The nations aren’t just foreign places, but the nations include the places where we live, work, shop, and play.

The Kingdom within us.

We are instructed to be an attractive influence–a light that shines so bright that others will want to worship our God.

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Matthew 5:16