Praying God's Names- ELOHIM

To God and Father as ELOHIM

You are wonderful, Father. Your power and might brought the universe into existence. You created the huge vastness of space. You caused the microscopic molecules of the air. You made man, male & female, in your image. You love diversity – in the world, in nature, in people & personalities. You love your creation. You, Oh God, my Elohim, planned each detail of the world before you placed Adam in the garden. You provide all we need to be born and to live on this earth.

You knew me before I was born. You thought about who would be the right parents for me. You, only you, gave me life. You planted me in my mother’s womb. You nurtured me as I grew into a woman. You alone caused me to look as I do, think as I do, feel as I do. You had a plan and a purpose for me before you made the world. You made me to be your child.

You gave your Son for me – even before I lived. You called me to new life in you. You gifted me with your Holy Spirit. You grew my faith. You alone are worthy of my praise. You alone receive my honor. You alone deserve my devotion.

Continue, day be day, moment by moment, to breathe your Spirit on me

that I may worship & adore you, praise & honor you, obey & serve you, love you.

By Karen Guthrie September 15, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

…and with it new growth, new opportunities, new life, and new possibilities. If you’re anything like me, after what feels like days upon days of sunless winter skies, Spring feels very much like the proverbial breath of fresh air. We find ourselves searching for those newly-green sprouts shooting out of the ground, knowing that the early daffodils and hyacinth are close behind. We open windows on the warmer days, filled with sunshine and relish the warmed, cleansing air that the breeze brings. We breath deeply of the rain-soaked air after spring showers, knowing that much-needed moisture will help bring fresh greenery. Yes… we love spring. We yearn for spring.

Our souls are no different. So often life seems feels like this as well, regardless of the season. Work, school, family, relationships can grow stagnant… sunless if you will. We long for something- anything that energizes and puts fresh color into our days. We want spring for our souls too. We want that pop of a new hue and fragrance that puts another, fresher, earthier aroma into our lives. So often our days, emotions, heartaches grow dull and gray- we need an infusion of warmth and colored vibrancy. In short, we need revival. Deep, gut-wrenching, radically altering revival. Much like a field of blossoming flowers can alter the landscape dramatically, we need the same for our dreary souls.

Jesus is that change! He brings change both physically in the earth, bringing the new seasons, as well as Refresher of souls. Scripture never tires of telling us how much goodness and revival Christ can and does bring to us. God is as faithful and reliable as the changing seasons. We never doubt that spring will follow winter and summer after spring. This regularity of seasons is unchanging (though sometimes may feel like it takes forever!) God is no different. The Refresher of our souls can and will bring fresh air into our lives as well. Check out some of these verses about God refreshing us. He promises to do it! Ask and receive it today dear ones!

Acts 3:19 teaches us to “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

The Psalmist praises in chapter 19 verse 7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

Psalm 23:1-3 celebrates, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

Spring showers? “You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance.” Psalm 68:9

God promises in Jeremiah 31:25, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

If today you are weary, in need of some color or a breath of fresh air, forlorn and feeling forsaken, tired and in need of a change of season turn to Jesus! As He brings the spring rains to the earth, so also will He bring the refreshment we all so desperately need. He is our color-painter, our water-bringer, the season-changer, the temperature-warmer, and our soul-provider. Let Him change your season today!

No Shadow in His Presence

Have you ever contemplated what standing (or, let’s be honest.... falling to our faces) in the presence of the Lord would actually look like? Often I imagine the picture on the other side of this world; at the end of my time, in the heavenlies, surrounded by cherubim, enjoying the eternal hereafter, well.... eternally. I see a lot of light, singing, my senses filled to the brim of Christ everywhere. My soul at final and complete peace. Ah yes! What a scene I can envision! Like Paul I often long for such eternal repose. And yet, too often I miss the obvious. Being in God’s Presence is most definitely available to me here and now. Today. This moment. I need not long for my tomorrows. Yahweh is available to me always. He is in every thing, at every where, present every time. His presence is all-consuming.

One of my favorite lines from Paul Baloche’s song ‘Offering’ says, “There is no shadow in Your Presence.” (Listen here).

Envision that snapshot- no shadows anywhere because God is so completely everywhere. And not just without us, but within us as well. God’s light permeates flesh, organ, muscle, bone. It enlightens not just physically but wakes up our senses, softens our hearts, drives out sin, brightens our souls. Can anything else work in such ways? Forget 3D or 4D... God’s glory and light works in dimensions we don’t even have names for. Shadows- whether physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- cannot withstand the Light of our God. What a thing!

Take a moment today and praise Him for His Light. For His overwhelming brightness. For the absolute clarity the Light of His Son brings to us. Thank Him that no darkness can prevail in His Presence.

1 John 1:5, 7 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.... But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Mirror Image

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Adam and Eve lately in my studying, and it has struck me over and over again- the imagery of imagery. Genesis 1:27 (ESV) say, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." Images are interesting things because they are made to reflect or mimic something else. They are not, in them of themselves, anything but a copy of an original. They are a reflection... an image of something else.

There are references all over the place of images in the Bible. Some are beautiful, most are not. Scripture talks of the Israelites making images of a golden calves, of mice, of tumors, of other gods. In this idolatry, and many more like them, humanity was trying to replicate God.

Time and time again they failed.

Because what they didn't realize and embrace, is that WE are made in His image. Humanity was designed to reflect God's glory. All of creation was designed to show Him off, but WE are made specifically in God Almighty's image.

Colossians 1:15 tells us of another who is the image of God... Christ Jesus. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." Unlike humans, I believe this scripture tells less of the physical image of God and more about the nature and character of God. Furthermore, scripture does not stop there. Jesus (as a man) was the image of God and we are called and purposed to be remade in Christ's image, "and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

People worship graven images because they do not know the 'real thing'. We can point them to the Real Thing! We are made in God's image, we are called to reflect Jesus (the very image of God). Physically, mentally, emotionally, "in spirit and in truth" we are designed to reflect the image of God and His glory. Wow! What a weighty and marvelous thing.

Today I challenge you to look at your reflection- look hard. Do you see Jesus? Will other see Him? If not, clean up the image dear one! I pray that Jesus' light shines so brightly in you that others can't help but be drawn to your image... His image.

Mirrors reflect perfectly the image within them. A dirty mirror however will mare the image. If we are looking at Christ, and adequately reflecting His image back through us, we must make sure our mirrors are clear. Keep them clean, free of smudges, absent of scratches. Our daily fellowship with Jesus- being in the Word, prayer, worship all contribute to keeping our mirrors bright and shining. "...which is being renewed..." is not a static occurrence, we must continue to push forth, cleaning our mirrors along the way, as we are being transformed more and more into the image of Christ. God will shine out through the clear glass, straight through us and out to the world.

We need to be Christ's mirror image- aim for the perfect image dear ones! We won't attain it all the way on this side of heaven, but you certainly can strive for it. Reflect Him today dear ones, and everyday! Be that image that draws people to worship... not you, but the One within you. The image of the invisible God who is the only One worthy of our praise and adoration. Mirror Jesus!

The Power of Generic Prayer

I've noticed an interesting trend in my prayer life as I've grown older... though many people will preach on the value of specificity in prayers, through the years I've found myself praying increasingly generic prayers. Sure, there are still those super specific things and people that I lift up to the throne... but even in those requests, I've found my thoughts drifting more towards "Thy will be done" or "make it count" versus "fix this, heal that, bring about that." What's really cool is that the Bible continues to confirm the generic prayer model. Even in Jesus's prayer, The LORD'S Prayer, you'll notice Christ isn't praying specifics... He asks for God's will to be done (note the lack of detailed expectations) and that daily provision as well as forgiveness be provided.

Jesus specifically prays in generalities. And I love that because it gives God a very wide-berth to answer. After all, why would we limit God in our prayerful expectations when scripture tells us repeatedly that He desires to "do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine"? (Eph. 3:20) It seems an awful waste of prayer!

Through the years I learned that I rarely know what I really need to be praying in any given situation. Either the situation is so hopelessly complicated that I don't even know where to start in my prayers, or it's so discombobulated that I'm not entirely sure what to actually ask for... I don't KNOW the right answer.

Beyond that, too many times to count have I set up earthly expectations of how I think an answer needs to look... only to realize that God has other plans. Sometimes HUGE other plans- both good and 'bad'. But always HIS will and HIS time. Prayers are so often about expectations. And I've come to find out that my meager human expectations too often get in the way of God- they do nothing but create false outcomes that then provide a slippery slope of regret, bitterness, confusion, and even anger- often towards God.

Specificity in praying has the ability to disable our expectations of the God of the Universe.

I need to pray better. I need to pray broadly.

But that involves giving up a measure of control now doesn't it? For many that's a sobering thought. For those control-freaks, praying provides a major pipeline to the Almighty- a direct ear to the Man with the Plan. As a control-freak myself, being able to speak with God about stuff gives me a sense of calm... and control. And yet that sense of control flies in the face of what the posture of intercession should be... humility and meekness. Giving up the 'control' in our prayers, by broadening what we're asking (and therefore expecting) releases the power of the Almighty to really do His thing. And for Him to not only meet our expectations, but blow them out of the water.

All creation exists to glorify the Creator. Our prayers therefore should always exist to glorify God in whatever He sees best to do- whether that involves healing sickness or allowing death, miraculously 'fixing' a problem or letting us wade through the deep waters, winning the lottery or working 3 jobs to make ends meet... rest assured God will always bring an answer or solution that will glorify Him the most.

"God- Make this count- however that looks, feels, or ends up being, Lord... make it count for Your glory. May You choose, in Your sovereignty, to fix this in whatever way shines the brightest light on You. Be glorified, in whatever way You see fit, in this situation."

I love this elaborated generic style! I love that it gives all control to God to do and see as He wills. I love that it, in a sense, lowers (and yet broadens!) my expectations in order that God can exceed beyond even my imagination. I can pray recklessly in this way because His Will and His Way will always be the best- I never want to limit that.

Dear ones, today pray broadly, pray deeply, without expectation (except that He will answer in the perfect way!), with assurance that God will be glorified no matter what!

 

 

God is in the Details

The following is from my weekly post through Holy Beautiful. Please take a minute to hear my heart. Enjoy and be sure to stop and smell the roses today!  

These last few months have been a very interesting season with God and myself. I say interesting because I can’t. quite. figure. out a better way to describe it. After 10 years of critical care and ER nursing, 7 of those as a flight nurse, He led me away to…. well, nothing. I’m not doing anything right now. For someone who’s had a job of some sort since I was 15, and used to working long, hard, intense hours, it’s a super weird place to say the least.

And to make things really interesting, bills are coming due, and I have zero idea of even where to apply. I’ve stuck. I’m God-stuck. It’s a super peaceful place, I know that I’m not supposed to be employed currently. But it’s also a very uncomfortable place for me.

But God has been teaching me about the details. His details. Despite the fact that scripture is chalk-full of promises about the details (see Matthew 6 for just a glimpse!), I’m learning a whole new way to appreciate His details.

God is a details guy, and I love that about Him!

Take a look around nature. The design, the spectacle, the scenery, the intricacies… the details. He most certainly could’ve mailed it in. He could’ve stopped at a billion stars, yet He went on to design a billion galaxies with a billion stars each. He could’ve called it a day painting each sunset, yet each one is different. He most certainly could’ve mass produced the exact same snowflake a gazillion times and no one would have noticed. Yet He didn’t.

And yet stars, and galaxies, rain, snow, flowers, sunsets, and sunrises are not even close to the crowning glory of His creation. Us.

Wow.

God cares… no, He focuses, He tends, He plans and prepares for us- His people, the sons and daughters of His family. Each hair on our head, each beat of our heart, each breath we take- is by His design. By His detail. There is not a single. solidary. second. of our lives that’s not been already purposed for us. That is an overwhelming thought. One that I admittedly can’t quite get my head all the way around. But it’s pretty awesome to fathom just the tip of the iceberg of the details that God designs.

Too often I find myself missing the trees for the forest. I’m a big picture gal. I often get bogged down in details that overwhelm me, that I perceive as too many or too cumbersome. Details, especially ones that I can’t ‘fix’ stress me out. Anyone else?

I miss the little things all the time because I’m not a detail-person. But those details do matter. The bills, the check-ups, the oil changes, the pancake making, the carpooling, the vacuuming, the homework, the weeding, the quiet times- our lives are nothing if not the sum of a ginormous amount of details all coming together to make that big picture.

Like a mosaic with tiles, each one is necessary to the big picture. Those tiny tiles matter. The details matter, they’re important, they’re necessary.

And if you take a minute at them (or in my case, I’ve got nothing better to do right now than to concentrate minutely on them… one. by. one….), the individual beauty… better… the grace and mercy impregnated within each of those tiles, each of those moments, each of those seconds, each of those details… is astounding. The Grand Plan, the design, the forethought and care given to each one is breath-taking.

I am grateful for the Designer of Details in my life. I am grateful for His hand in every one of them. I am grateful for my big picture being taken from me and learning to focus on each moment and appreciate it for what it is and nothing else. What a low level of perspective to have! And the wonderful thing is that while my focus may be super limited right now, the big picture still exists outside of my periphery. It’s still there, being designed and perfected constructed by the Master Artist.

Writing this, I’d like to think that this particular tile that God has zeroed me into right now must be super important to the bigger mosaic.

And yet a gentle whisper tells me that isn’t so- God spends this much time on all His details.

And that, dear ones, is comforting.

Why Coloring Inside the Lines is so Outside the Box (part 3 of Coloring in His Lines)

Are you an outside the box color-er (is that a word?) or inside the box kinda soul? I used to fancy myself an outside the box kinda gal... it's a trendy and empowering position to take but then I got to thinking... coloring-outside-the-lines

We are God’s artwork- plain and simple. He created us.

Think about that and what it means.

Let's talk about lines, boundaries today.

God has placed lines in our world- many, many lines. Straight lines, thick lines, wavy lines, squiggly lines. Sometimes we see where they're going and sometimes we don't. Some intersect, some twirl and swirl- but they are all drawn together in a way that will make our lives a beautiful picture. These lines are the artwork of ourselves. They have been purposely set and drawn by a perfect Artist that results in a beautiful image. That’s right beloved, we are His masterpiece!

line-drawing

More often than not though, especially in the midst of the picture because of our low perspective, we cannot see the bigger picture... but it's there; and the lines that are present are put there as boundaries for us to know where to color correctly. The lines of the masterpiece have been drawn for you. Before time they were skillfully and perfectly crafted for you alone.

Yet too often we question the direction our lines are going, we are tempted to color our lives outside the boundaries that He's set for us, we try to peer over the lines into the next section. In short, we color outside the lines. We color outside HIS lines.

Lines can be sin, temptation, walls of obedience and they are not to be crossed- disregarding them mars the picture and become at odds with the image He has designed for us.

Not unlike Jonah, the 2 year old… remember his picture? See my first post about that here. His picture was just scribbles, he sort of acknowledged the lines of the drawing but didn’t really make an attempt to stay within them. The older one, Jesse, obviously saw the lines, noticed the picture and had a desire to stay within the boundaries.

Do you see your picture?

Can you see your lines?

Mature Christians should see lines in their lives daily, in all things. We should recognize them immediately as drawn by our Creator. We should acknowledge their boundaries and stay within them. They are there to protect us from marring our picture… in short, from defacing what the Artist intended it (us) to look like.

It is not up to artwork to tell the artist where and how its lines are to be drawn. That’s ridiculous! And yet how many times do we, as God’s creations, demand our pictures look differently? It is incredibly en vogue nowadays to be rebellious, to experiment, to stretch the limits and boundaries of what is right and acceptable. But we do so at such a cost! How often do we purposefully vandalize the image stamped onto our lives by sinning, crossing lines we know we’re not meant to? Do you see how bizarre that set-up actually is? That artwork would argue it's existence with the artist?!

God's artwork is perfectly drawn. It is perfectly planned and we are not meant to experiment with that. He does not want us to.

Everyone is so outside the box these days that being inside the box is the new radical lifestyle!

How ironic.

Dear ones I am convicted daily of how much I struggle with those seemingly pesky lines in my life! I am especially good at arguing with God about moving them or taking them away completely. Yet I cannot see my whole picture- and I do want my life to be a beautiful masterwork; one that looks the way it’s intended to.

I desire to be beautiful in His sight- and that requires, no, it demands that I stay within the lines drawn for me; tempting as it may be to go off with my own pencil.

So I’d ask you again to consider- How well are you coloring in the lines? Do you desire to be the masterpiece He's intended you to be?

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my heart today. Please comment below with thoughts and ruminations of where your walk is today- and stay tuned for part 4 (the last in the series <sad face>) coming to a blog near you!

Coloring in His Lines- part 1

This is a picture of my baby daughter's coloring page.

Okay, sorry, I actually I don't have one because she's only 9 months old. But she's SO cute isn't she!?! And I hooked you with a cute baby pic so you're invested now right?

Anna's not exactly a huge fan of coloring yet. I’m sure she will be eventually,  but for now I'm pretty sure she's not even aware that such a thing exists; and I'm positive she doesn't have the skills (mentally or physically) to actually color.

In Anna's world, coloring isn't even on the radar. She may be able to see colors and pictures, but she really doesn't have any context for them. So I would argue she doesn't really have an appreciation for it. In her baby world, she's yet to grown into an appreciation or love for coloring or art- it will come, but for now her eyes have not been opened to it and her present maturity level would not support it.

I want to talk about maturity. Spiritual maturity in particular.

I had a dream the other night about my kids coloring abilities (because, you know- that's what we moms dream about.) and was struck by the difference in skill level and accuracy between the 9 mo old (read, none....) the 2-year old and the 4-year old. None are early Michaelangelo's (that I can tell...), but the difference in their abilities is worth noting. Let me show you examples (and I apologize in advance for the Cars theme- with two boys under five it’s just a fact of life of where our house is at artistically right now!)

Here is a picture my 2-year old colored.

My man Jonah

 

Notice the random coloring, there’s been no attempt stay in the actual lines, the color palate is limited to one hue. It is chaotic to look at. I’ll give him credit for choosing red (he knows that Mac is red), and I'll give him credit for coloring on the picture (as opposed to the white spaces or my coffee table!), but that’s about as much meaningful interaction he’s had with the picture itself.

Let’s cut the kid some slack though, Jonah is only two. He has limited fine motor skills to adequately stay in the lines. He’s done what he can to color in a way that is the best of his ability at this stage in his life. And in the short two years of his life, he’s not spend a tremendous (or regular) amount of time practicing coloring. He does when it amuses him, when it peaks his interest.

Now check out the 4 ½ year olds work-

Big boy Jesse

In addition to being a ham and very proud of his picture, Jesse is clearly the better artist right now- but he’s got two years on his brother and twice the experience (both in time and practice.) He sees the picture itself and has tried to stay in the lines. He used the correct colors (for this particular session, he actually went and got his Mac truck toy and set it out so he could get the colors right.) Jesse’s fine motor skills are more refined, his intellect is more mature (in that he sees the picture and what it’s supposed to represent), and this boy LOVES to color- he ‘practices’ all the time.

Now here’s my picture….

Okay, just kidding. I didn’t actually color this. However it’s safe to say that my coloring aptitude, my ability to stay in the lines and make a beautiful picture far outshines my sons. Not that I’m some huge artist, but I’ve got 30-some years of practice and experience on them. Not to mention I have quite a bit more fine motor skills. If I were to try to color Mac, I’d use all the colors I needed to, utilize shading maybe, try to give him texture. You get the idea.

My artistic talent started as a baby like Anna and worked its way through time, skill, and practice into someone who can now pretty easily color not only in the lines, but using the correct tones and hues to make the picture look the way it should.

It would be strange if my ability was the same as Jonah’s or Jesse’s, because just as in all things in life, the expectation is that we improve, mature, and grow in things we do.  In medicine, in school, in business… we look for trends- and not just any direction, we want improvement.

Is it not so with our spiritual walks as well?

The expectation is that we mature. The hope is that we continue to refine. The command is that we bear fruit… good fruit.

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance… Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3: 8, 10 ESV

So I would ask, where are YOU today?

Take a mental snapshot of your life right now. How much good fruit is evident in your life- both in quantity and quality? Is there a trend of improvement?

Are you coloring inside the lines, using the colors God’s told you to? Are you obediently coloring where you’re supposed to, enhancing the picture God has put you into? Is there improvement?

 Now remember back 5 years ago. How does your fruit compare? Is there improvement?

How about when you became a Christian? Is there improvement?

 

I pray dear one that your life exemplifies improvement. I hope you are coloring where and how you’re supposed to be. I fervently wish that your life shows a trend of overall maturity and improvement.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my heart today. Please comment below with thoughts and ruminations of where your walk is today- and stay tuned for part 2 coming to a blog near you!

 

Why I'm up at 4 o'clock in the morning and maybe you should be to

Mornings are hard for me, especially when they start with feeding the crying baby at some ridiculous hour. At 4 o'clock in the morning specifically.

Every. Single. Day.

But today as I sit here with a baby and a bottle, I'm reminded through the open window nearby that despite the fact it's the middle of the night the crickets are still busy praising God. The stars are still twinkling brightly glorifying their Creator. The wind is still rustling through the trees, telling the world of the Savior. All of Creation is busy worshiping God. The creation is doing nothing right but exactly what it is created to do- bring glory to it's Creator and praise Him.

Still. At 4 o'clock in the morning.

Mere bugs, vegetation, and elements maintain perfect obedience to God. I am convicted. Surely as firstfruits of His creation (James 1: 18) I can manage to do better.

Even at 4 o'clock in the morning.

Will you as well?