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Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

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A common, ordinary day in mid-November

Overcast and chilly, just like yesterday

Tomorrow promises to be the same

No breeze to make leaves dance

no birds to add lyrical songs

Few trees remain bannered in crimson and gold

Dullness and grayness predominate and

joy seems unwarranted.

 

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But wait—gentle wonders abound

Soft light filters through windows

Candles glow sprightly on tabletops

Hazelnut coffee in a favorite cup

Offers cozy familiarity and

A colorful afghan created by a friend

Wraps my lap in warmth and

My heart with her love.

 

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These quiet wonders provide the perfect backdrop to stilled time

Sublime moments of solitude to experience God’s presence

To receive revelations from his heart to mine

Time to wonder, time to ponder

Time to turn to God and listen

Allowing his Spirit to mend my brokenness

Tend my worriedness and bend my self-centeredness

To his way of contentment.

 

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Ordinary moments on an ordinary day suddenly become holy

Sacred and separate

As attentiveness leads to discovery

Discovery ushers in joy

And joy results in gratitude

I exult in you, Heavenly Father!

You reside among the commonplace as well as the astounding

There is great glory in the ordinary after all.

 

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(Photo credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.keyword-suggestions.com; Nancy Ruegg (2); http://www.dailyencouragement.net.)

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(a personal psalm)

 

Surrounded by tall, majestic trees,

I rest here on the deck with you, Father,

reveling in the quiet.

The stillness pervades my soul and I sense your peace.

 

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Bright morning sun dapples the landscape and spangles the leaves.

Dewdrops gild the grass.

Such radiant splendor ushers your joy into my spirit, oh God.

“Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun”

(Ecclesiastes 11:7 NIV).

 

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Overhead a crystalline blue sky speaks of your majesty—

its unlimited vastness, a picture of your infinity;

its constant habitation over the earth,

a reminder of your omnipresence.

The heavens do indeed declare your glory (Psalm 19:1a),

and I worship you.

 

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Soft, refreshing breezes brush against my skin,

their arrival unannounced and unbidden.

They are invisible, yet cause leaves to dance and flowers to sway.

Such breezes bring to mind your Spirit—also invisible

yet always refreshing, guiding and encouraging me with gentle whispers

(2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Kings 19:12).

I praise you for such gracious provision in my life.

 

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Leaves on the trees gracefully clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12),

drawing attention to their beauty.

Some of these trees are very old; roots reach deep and wide.

Their strength is a metaphor for your power:

proven over time, reliable, unchanging.

And that strength is available to me—

an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

“Thank you” is terribly inadequate.

 

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Two cardinals provide an antiphonal chorus;

a flicker chatters contentedly.

Other small birds tweet and cheep

in happy celebration of a splendrous morning.

I’m reminded how you care for the smallest,

most common sparrow (Matthew 6:26),

and my soul is comforted by your loving attentiveness.

 

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Flowers still bloom in yards and planters.

How many thousands of flowers have you designed, God?

Surely one type of bloom would be sufficient for bees.

Yet you’ve created a glorious variety.

Your artistry is astounding— delicate petals and intricate shapes,

in numerous sizes from sunflower-grand to umbrellawort-small.

“I sing for joy at the work of your hands” (Psalm 92:4b NIV).

 

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Oh, Lord, how I praise you for the many ways creation reveals your nature.

Daily you touch my soul through the beauty and majesty of your works.

The earth is teeming with evidence of your unfailing love (Psalm 33:5)!

And I stand in awe of you, the Creator of the universe, my Heavenly Father.

 

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What attribute of God do you see revealed in nature?  How does his creative work touch your spirit?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.flickr.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.public-domain-image.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.goodfreephotos.com.)

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(A personal psalm, based on Psalm 16)

 

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 Oh, God, I praise you for every blessing you bestow (v. 2).

You are the God of all Goodness, the Author of every benefit. Just recently you granted:

  • Timely encouragement from friends,
  • A memorable dinner celebrating four anniversaries—ours, along with those of our three children and spouses,
  • The announcement of a third grandchild, due to arrive in January.

As A. W. Tozer observed: Out of your goodness, Lord, comes your desire for my highest welfare, your wisdom to plan it, and your power to achieve it. What do I lack (Knowledge of the Holy, p. 70)?

It’s also true that anything good within me comes from you. I hate to think where I’d be today if it weren’t for your influence and direction in my life.

 

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Oh, God, I praise you for your godly people living heroic lives (v. 3).

I take great pleasure in knowing more than several, and gain encouragement from their examples—heroes such as:

  • Cheri, who cares for her elderly parents,
  • Buck and Nikki, who faithfully minister in nursing homes,
  • Bill, who soldiers on with ALS–with a sense of humor, no less—after years of paralysis, and
  • Charity, who is battling cancer with great doses of gratitude and praise, in addition to chemo.

These dear ones and more reflect your strength, Lord, your love, joy, peace, and courage. How dare I entertain the slightest bit of self-pity or discouragement?

 

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Oh, God, I praise you for being my grand and glorious inheritance (v. 6).

You possess all power, inhabit all corners of the universe, know all things.

You are all-wise, righteous and holy in all you do—absolutely perfect.

Everything in the universe belongs to you, the Creator of it all.

Yet you care for me.  Out of your unlimited resources, you supply everything I need—and then some. Even in the small matters, you are there. You’ve provided:

  • A woman to guide me through a hallway-maze in a medical building,
  • Two sons who can trouble-shoot my computer problems (!), and
  • Continual reminders that your Spirit is at work, even when circumstances seem stagnant.

You are a reliable God who keeps his promises. Always.

And when I leave this earth, you have reserved for me in heaven an eternal inheritance that will never decrease, including the privilege of living with you, basking in your glory.

Such wonders overwhelm the intellect, and my heart overflows with gratitude.

 

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Oh, God, I praise you for your reliability (v. 8).

All the attributes mentioned above (and more) you bring to bear in my life—not as an impersonal monarch overseeing the general welfare of his kingdom—but as a gracious Father, lovingly guiding my individual course.

You will never leave me alone to fend for myself.

And you will also keep me safe until all the chapters of my life have been written (Psalm 139:16).

 

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Oh, God, I praise you with my whole being (vs. 9, 11). You fill: 

  • My heart with the joy of your presence,
  • My mind with the wisdom and truth of your Word, and
  • My spirit with the glory of your attributes. 

Oh, God, I praise you that these pleasures are available to your children for evermore.

 

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May I keep my thoughts centered on you and on these, your precious gifts.

 

Art & photo credits:  www.dailyverses.net; http://www.biblepic.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pinterest.com (2).

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Nine times in Psalm 145, David used the word, “all” to describe the totality of God’s attributes and their far-reaching impact. These attributes fall into two sets, as follows.

The Lord is:

  1. Good to all (v. 9a),
  2. Compassionate on all he has made (v. 9b),
  3. Faithful to all his promises (v. 13c), and
  4. Loving toward all he has made (v. 13d).

In addition he:

  1. Upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down (v. 14),
  2. Is righteous in all his ways (v. 17a),
  3. Is near to all who call upon him in truth (v. 18a), and
  4. Watches over all who love him (v. 20a).

 

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How glorious to consider that all these general statements apply individually also—to you and me.

With a bit of effort, these truths can be turned into personal praise:

 

My heart sings for joy, Father.

You are so good to me (v. 9a)—blessings abound.

Even at this moment I revel in your gently falling rain,

The sound of Steve puttering in the kitchen

(Thank you for a husband who likes to cook!),

And three year-old Elena* on the floor,

Writing a story about making pancakes with Mommy.

Your goodness is on display, even in small moments.

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I praise you for your compassion (v. 9b),

Expressed through a doctor who, just last Saturday,

Offered consult on a weekend,

And even checked in on Monday morning.

Your compassion is evident in the kindness of strangers as well.

Just today a driver graciously gave me

the right-of-way on a narrow street,

Bestowing respect, favor, and a smile.

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How thankful I am for your many promises in scripture (v. 13c)–

Over 2,300 statements of hope and encouragement–

Promises sometimes fulfilled in amazing and creative ways–

Classic promises like Romans 8:28 and 1 Peter 5:7,

Realized as Steve and I moved to different communities

And embarked upon new chapters of our lives.

Personal promises, like Ruth 2:11-12 and John 13:7—

Surprisingly well-suited to the moment.

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I praise you for your loving nature (v. 13d),

Your attentiveness and favor expressed through

The cheer of bird song in the morning,

The grace and friendliness of people at church,

The inspiration of your Word,

The redemption from hurtful experiences of the past,

The peace of mind and joy of the Spirit

You infuse into each day.

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And thank you for the sweet comfort of your presence (v. 18a)

That fills me with delight.

How precious are those times when

I sense your nearness,

When praise songs and scripture

Bring tears that clear my eyes

For the sight of you in your grace

And make the vision of your favor more precious (1).

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Every day I want to praise you (v. 2).

You are pure goodness,

Manifested in infinite power,

Giving the light of truth, wisdom, and discernment.

Your glorious majesty reigns supreme over all creation.

And most amazing of all:

Everything you are, you offer to your children.

You are always seeking to manifest yourself to us.

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Words fail to praise you adequately.

But, oh, how I yearn to do so!

 

*Our granddaughter

(1) based on a Charles Spurgeon quote

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pinterest.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.strongtowns.org; http://www.pinterest.com (4).

 

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(reblogged from 10-24-13)

“Mail’s here early today!” called Lorna, as she entered the kitchen.

Oh, that was good news. Living far from home in Quito, Ecuador made letters a very precious commodity.

“Terrific!” I responded, and dashed upstairs to get my keys.

Lorna and her husband, Elbert, served as missionaries with HCJB. I was a short-termer, living with them for the four months of my assignment as a preschool and kindergarten teacher.

 

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The compound was only a brief walk from the house. Once there, it was just a matter of unlocking the gate, heading down the main walkway a short distance, up a few steps, and into the post office alcove where all our mailboxes were located.

I jogged the whole way there and back, excited to read my mail. But no sooner did I return home than my head started to pound, nausea engulfed me, and all I wanted to do was lie down. Never mind those coveted letters!

My problem was not a sudden onset of the flu, but mild hypoxia–oxygen deprivation. Quito is located 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains.

My experience (as well as those of countless others) proves: we humans require oxygen—lots of it.

Even folks who live near sea level can suffer from lack of oxygen, because they’ve become accustomed to shallow breathing. Their bodies never receive enough oxygenated air, causing them to feel short of breath and anxious.

On the other hand, research has proven that deep breathing helps us manage stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and even spark brain growth. By not taking slow, deep breaths now and again, we deprive ourselves of these benefits.

M-m-m. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, where King Solomon lamented the results of shallow living: chasing after wealth, accomplishments, and pleasure. In the end, nothing gave him lasting satisfaction and fulfillment.

Shallow living brings on symptoms in the spirit, similar to oxygen deprivation in the mind and body: heartache, fatigue with life, nausea from repetitive, meaningless activity, and shortness of temper.

In contrast to Solomon’s lament in Ecclesiastes is Paul’s praise to God for the power and strength of deep living:

“Oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength” (Ephesians 1:19, MSG)!

Deep living happens when we breathe in God’s strength with a prayer, his wisdom and encouragement with a scripture, his joy with a song.

Deep living happens when we practice his presence as automatically as we breathe.

And how do we do that, “practice his presence?”

By pausing frequently throughout each day, to turn our attention to God.

I might say such things as:

  • Thank You, Lord, for this new day. Work through me to accomplish your purpose.
  • I love you, Heavenly Father. Thank you for filling my heart with peace and joy every time I turn my attention to you.
  • Thank you for your power at work in me as I complete this task.
  • The wonders of your creation–graceful tree branches dancing in the breeze, lyrical songs of the mockingbirds, delicious aromas of pine and orange blossoms–They make my heart sing with praise!
  • Oh, Lord, I shouldn’t have spoken to Mary like that. Forgive me, I pray. Help me to think before I speak. And yes, I will apologize to her.

Refreshing. Energizing. Purifying. Like a deep breath of oxygen.

Shallow breathing causes a lesser quality of life. So does shallow living.

Deep breathing fosters strength of mind and body. Deep living does that and more.

Deep living radically transforms the spirit.

Let’s breathe/live deep!

* * * * * * * * * *

What deep living habits help you practice the presence of God?

(photo credit: http://www.wikipedia.com)

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Oh, look–a cardinal perched on that branch! Such a brilliant red. Against the foliage he reminds me of Christmas…What fun we had last year when Sophie* was here…Her school’s science fair is this week…I wonder how she’ll do? ‘Wish we could attend. Maybe Sophie could give her presentation on Skype…

 Now how did I get from cardinals to Skype? Well, you see the progression. That’s what often happens when the mind isn’t focused on a task: attention wanders from one thing to another.

Sometimes thoughts run in a positive direction, sometimes not.

Research has proved that positive thinking is actually good for us, providing:

  • A longer life span
  • Less depression
  • Less stress
  • Fewer colds
  • Better physical and mental health
  • Less risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • The ability to cope better during hardship**

But oh, how easy it is to fall into the negativity trap, and before we know it, we’re wallowing in despair.

King Solomon knew the danger we face. “Above all else,” he warned, “guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

 

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In other words, get smart about your thoughts and think about your thinking!

So, using Solomon’s imagery, let’s imagine ourselves as guards over our hearts. When a negative thought comes knocking, what should we do?

How about demolishing it with positive rebuttal from scripture? Here are a few verses that have helped me:

 

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  • Genesis 35:3 (NIV) – “He answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Jacob’s affirmation is a reminder that God has answered me many times in the past. He’s provided his calming presence, all-wise guidance, and loving care my entire life. I can trust him for all my tomorrows.

 

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  • John 13:7 (NIV) — “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Granted, applying this statement of Jesus to my circumstances a few years ago took the verse out of context. Even so, the morning I came across this scripture, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

 

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  • Romans 11:36 (NLT) – “Everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory.” I have returned to this verse countless times when events don’t make sense.

In addition to scriptural rebuttal, we can turn our thoughts into conversation with God.   First, consider the outcome of a thought-thread such as this:

I don’t know how we’re going to get everything done by Friday. If So-and-So would only do her share, we’d be fine. Why did she have to be put on our team? It’s not fair that the three of us have to work extra hard to pick up her slack!

 Can you feel the frustration and worry building?

 But what if, as soon as I realize my thoughts are spiraling downward, I included God in the conversation:

I don’t know how we’re going to get everything done by Friday…But you do, God! How thankful I am that you’re on this team with me. Guide my way to Friday! And grant me wisdom in dealing with So-and-So. Show me how to help her become a contributing team member.

 That’s much more productive than limiting the participants to me, myself, and I.

The best news yet?  God Almighty is downright eager to come alongside and assist no matter what situation I face.  He’ll gladly come alongside you, too.

 

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We don’t have to stand guard over our hearts alone.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Forgive me, Father, for allowing negativity to enter my mind and wreak havoc. When this happens again, help me to use scripture as rebuttal, and include you in my thought processes. Thank you for your help to turn my mind  from destructive to constructive thinking, so that I may enjoy fully the God-enhanced life you offer.

 

*Sophie is our seven-year old granddaughter who, sad-to-say, lives seven states away.

 

** from www.mayoclinic.org

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.fwallpapers.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.shereadstruth.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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Dear Father,

Christmas 2015 is almost here. Soon, all preparation will have to cease.

However (as You well know), my to-do list is still not complete; I’m going to have to prioritize and leave some things undone. That’s probably just as well, so my OCD tendencies don’t win over reasonableness!

But even as I try to settle myself, to pray and worship You on this holy day of Christmas Eve, distracting thoughts continue to ping around in my brain:

  • Did I dust the windowsills in the guest room? ‘Can’t remember.
  • Hey! We now have an evergreen tree in the yard. I could clip off some low branches and put them in the deck planters. That might look pretty.
  • Don’t forget to make sure the oil lamp is clean and ready for lighting.

I keep writing these thoughts down so they’re on paper and not in my head, because what I really want to do in these quiet moments is focus on You. I want to wonder again at the magnificent mystery of God becoming man. And I want to thank and praise You for sending Your Son to save me from the consequences of my sins.

Hush my mind, Lord; still my spirit as I pray…

 

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You are the God of the heavenly lights who lovingly sheds Your radiance over us.

With the angels, we praise You: “Glory to God in the Highest!”

All honor, splendor, and glory are Yours!

No one on earth or in heaven is as perfect and splendorous as You.

Who else can wrap himself in light as if it were a robe (Psalm 104:2)?

No one.  No one is Your equal.

What a comfort to know that Someone smarter and wiser than mere man is Sovereign over all.

What peace of mind You provide when I turn over to You the concerns of my life.

 

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Light of the World, Lord Jesus,

All praise to You for leaving Your glorious, heavenly home to dwell with us.

You are our Emmanuel—God with us.

More astounding yet, Your dwelling is not a general presence in the world, but personal.

You actually reside within each of us—when we invite You to do so. Another magnificent mystery.

And You have promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

In addition, Your Light provides guidance for our choices of action, strength to meet all life’s situations, confident hope for our future in heaven with You, and more.

 

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Help me, I pray, to rise up and shine like a brilliant star, because Your. Light. Has. Come (Isaiah 60:1; Philippians 2:14-15)! What a glorious privilege–to reflect Your Light, pointing the way to abundant life in You.

How I praise you, Lord Jesus, that Your glory, splendor, and power have risen upon me–an incomparable blessing I now enjoy in part, but one day in resplendent totality!

 

(Photo credits:  www.talkofjesus.com; http://www.themelight.radiantwebtools.com; http://www.eso.org.)

 

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