The impact of your own safe harbor or fort

I spent a couple days this week travelling to Hampton, Va. for a company event. I lucked out with my travel plans finding a hotel looking out on the Hampton Marina. While driving down here I saw signs for Jamestown, Fort Monroe, and Fort Story. It got me thinking about what it must have been like to literally live in a fort or the relief felt after crossing the Atlantic especially when facing a storm to find a safe harbor like the one pictured here.

Scripture uses both of these locations to describe how we need a place of retreat allowing us to be refreshed, nourished and encouraged for whatever might come our way. Isaiah 25:4 – “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall.” David writes in Psalms 91:1,2 “Whoever dwells in the shelter (fort, city) of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

When we come to God, it is like sailing into a harbor where the water is calm and away from the wind and waves that been battled out in the open sea. For us land lubbers, a fort provides that same kind of feeling. We are relieved to see gates open as we return tired and hungry and feel even better as they close behind us so we feel safe and protected. Psalms 91: 5,6 Where “you will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Forts and Harbors are places people go to seek refuge from danger. The Bible time and time again tells us we are to do the same with our spiritual lives. In fact, just in the book of Psalms, its noun and verb forms occur again and again—more than 40 times in all, as in “take refuge in him,” “the LORD is his refuge,” “he is the saving refuge of his anointed,” “be a rock of refuge for me,” https://biblemesh.com/blog/refuge-in-the-psalms/ Our Lord want us to come to Him just like a child comes to a parent when they need to be comforted or feel safe from when in danger. Even yesterday I watched my granddaughter run and hide behind her mom when I entered the room. Uh Oh, here comes that big, scary, MRG 🙂 When we do seek refuge in God, He promises to provide peace that is beyond human comprehension. https://www.bible.com/bible/116/PHP.4.6-7.NLT

I went to a friend’s funeral yesterday. It was a service that left everyone with such hope. Why? Because he and his family had no doubt Lee had gone to the ultimate safe harbor. To a place described in 1 Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

The service ended with this quote. “And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

May this blog help you understand that God is your mighty fortress. Not matter what challenges you face, may you seek your refuge in Him. Please subscribe to this blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

Don’t we all wish we could be more like Peter?

I just love Peter and what his life teaches me about what it means to be a follower of Christ. He was so strong in His faith and had such a love for Jesus and yet, he failed Him in such significant ways. In a weird way, it encourages me in my own failings or falling short in my own faith walk. Paul, in Romans 7:18,19 writes, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Peter went through the same dilemmas throughout his life.

Even though he saw Jesus perform miracles, He doubted when Christ told him there were fish to be caught. Luke 5:5 “Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Kind of like a sassy “OK, if you tell me to”

He was bold enough to get out of the boat and walk on water toward Jesus but when he remembered the wind and waves, He splashed down like an anchor. Mark 14:22-33. He realized that his lack of faith was because he took his eyes off Jesus and instead focused on the storm. Jesus was teaching him that He will help navigate whatever comes our way if we stay focused on Him.

Peter loved the Lord and said he would never deny Him and even fight for him but not too long afterward it says in Mark 14: 75 “And immediately the cock crew and Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said to him, Before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

and finally, when the same thing occurs after Christ’s resurrection in John 21, Peter doesn’t have to be taught twice. “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”“No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

The final lesson Peter teaches us if that when we have failed God wants us to humble ourselves so that we can admit our wrong doings. Oswald Chambers writes, This is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor. The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus works best” John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness”

Peter, Do you love me?

Jesus does the same with Peter after he swims to shore and serves him and the others breakfast. Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times so makes him answer the question “Do you Love me three times”. Peter is hurt but responds, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times so makes him answer the question “Do you Love Me” three times as well. The Lord then challenges Peter to “Feed my sheep” which meant be the leader of the church. No matter how many times we fall short, Jesus is there to forgive and challenge us forward. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2021&version=NIV

The moral of this blog is like Peter, Love the Lord with all your heart! Be passionate in your desire to honor Him and bring Glory to His name. And when you fail at it, know that Jesus through the Holy Spirit will be there to hear your simple prayer, Help Me! As He did with the one He called the Rock, He will lift and carry you back to the boat so that you can rest up and be ready “Feed His sheep or go through whatever storms (adversities) He has for you next.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. My hope is it will encourage you and others who read it to remain Thankful in all Things. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you can receive email notifications when new content is written. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

The importance of having routine in your life

I met with a young friend last week who asked me about the intentionality he saw in my life. He wanted to hear how I went about living a life of faith in God which led to this blog post. Two things came to mind.

1) When Guillain Barre Syndrome https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/guillain-barre-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20362793 left me paralyzed, God made Himself present in so many ways. I shared how my illness and subsequent recovery deepened my faith by making it so much more real for me. If you haven’t already, you can read my GBS story at www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie

2) I also explained having a routine was instrumental in my recovery. I have pretty much followed that routine for the last three plus years with my morning routine being most important. My friend asked me what a morning routine looks like. For me to make the most of each day, I need to get it started out right. I try not to schedule early morning meetings because it leaves me feeling rushed into what is almost always a crazy, jam packed day. Heather Riggleman writes about routines using Mark 1:35 “One of the reasons Jesus got up early was to be alone with God. If nothing else, choosing this step is vital. It is so worthwhile to seek first the Kingdom of God. God wants to meet with us. He has so many things he wants to share. He’s waiting to commune and communicate. He’s waiting to fill our souls before we race through the day.” Glenn Lundy writes about his proper morning routine in https://themorning5.com/ebook

My morning routine starts the night before. For me to get up at least an hour and a half before the day’s activities begin, I have to go to bed at a regular time. That way, my body is ready to wake up between 5:30 and 6am every day. If I am honest, there are nights where I go to sleep looking forward to my coffee in the AM. I set it up the night before so all I have to do is push the button when I wake up. My devotionals start before the coffee is ready. It consists of reading scripture and other devotional books and blogs. I pray and journal asking the Lord for guidance on things I know will be happening throughout the day. As people come to mind, I text and email them to let them know I am thinking about them. I then create and send out via social media and text a motivational thought for the day and for fun, post a recently taken picture with a personal haiku. Knowing I am going to do that keeps me focused during the day on something I will want to post the next day which I hope will help people be thankful in all things. Another way of walking in faith throughout my day is what I call the 6-9-12-3-6-9 BSKHIG smart phone reminder. On those hours of the day, my phone reminds me to Be Still and Know He is God no matter how the day has gone so far. It makes me stop and do a reset. Often times I recite my own paraphrased versions of The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23.

This type of routine might not be for you but I encourage you to find one that fits your schedule. This anonymous quote sums it up. “If every day while waking up, you put yourself at the top of your to-do list and take care of your needs first, then everything else will fall into place.” Michael Hyatt shares, “Like the air bags in the airplane, If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t have the ability to help others”

Over the last three years, my routine has reinforced Ms Riggleman’s thoughts on having an established schedule. “We were created to work in rhythm with the world around us through rest, work, and play. This includes how we start our days, what we put into our bodies, being nourished by God’s word, and how we move our bodies.” We do this by remembering John 15’s teaching “that we are the branches and God is the vine. Only by being attached to Him can we be nourished to produce the fruit so that others can be nourished too. Each morning and throughout the day, I remember Oswald Chambers charge. ”Ask yourself, who am I to serve. ”I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey so it is never a question of what He will do, but of what I will do to serve and honor Him.” Answering like Isaiah did, ”Here I am Lord send me”

Thanks for reading this week’s blog. Please share it with others if you think they would be encouraged by it. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

Taking time to rest

Dan Allender “The leader who doesn’t feel pressed to the wall often is not involved in the work that is advancing sufficiently against the forces of darkness. But the burned out leader has allowed the intensity and exhaustion of his calling to take away the pleasure of hope.” http://leadwithyourlife.com/blog/leading-with-a-limp

I talk to so many people these days who say they have never been more tired and are on the verge of burn out. I feel it as well and it gets compounded by seeing others lose their hope and joy for life. I have spent time thinking about this phenomenom for awhile now which caused this blog post to come out a bit late. I hope you won’t lower my grade because of being tardy with the assignment 😀

Jesus says in Matthew, ”Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2011:28-29&version=KJV Oswald Chambers breaks these verses down this way. “Come unto me. If I will come to Jesus my actual life will be brought into accordance with my real desires; I will actually cease from sin and actually find the song of the Lord placed in my heart. Let go of everything and deliberately commit all to him. He will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity” Do you catch it? We are to rest so we can then go back in the world with a desire to make a positive difference.

Max Lucado in Traveling Light, https://www.amazon.com/Traveling-Light-Releasing-Burdens-Intended/dp/0849912970 Sheds new light on an old favorite, Psalm 23, asking us to consider the baggage we all carry. He how we need to release these burdens to a God who is ready and willing to be our everything.

My analogy is we all try so hard to hold on to and control everything. A closed fist cannot be open handed. If we aren’t open handed, God cannot put into our lives what He wants for us or take away the things that hinder us. If we allow ourselves to be hindered, we will not have the strength for the vital activity God wants from us.

John Ortberg asked his mentor, Dallas Willard, “What do I need to do to be healthy spiritually? What do I need to do to guard my heart?” After a long pause, Dallas said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Though our spiritual life has had other enemies in other eras, hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life today. When you hurry, you can hardly do anything the way God wants your to do it.”

Links Players, Randy Wolff, summarizes it well. “Lives are changed in quiet, reflective moments. Step out of the traffic, and look to God for your answer. The traffic and speed will kill you.” God promises us when we come unto Him, He will refresh and nourish you. That way you will have less chance of experiencing burn out and more opportunities help others do the same. As Matt Redmond sings, Where we no longer labor but instead find life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Al37huqFfg

Go now in peace…never be afraid. God will go with you each hour of every day. Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true. Know He will guide you in all you do. (Benediction)

Thanks for reading. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. You can reach me at michael@mrg7175.com

To be a great Father, one needs to have great Friends

I had the opportunity to preach at Belmont Baptist here in Charlottesville. I so appreciated my friend Jim Carpenter asking me to share a Father’s Day message with his church.

 I was asked to do 2 things. 1) Provide a little bit about my story and 2) Share my thoughts about Father’s Day. I tried to do it in a concise manner as I knew I was between the Fathers enjoying their day at brunch, Bar B Que or getting out to fish or play golf. 

The story Jim asked me to share was about my Guillain Barre Syndrome health challenge I experienced in 2019. It left me paralyzed from the neck down for 17 days. Before I explain what I learned, I need to share with you the process that God used to prepare me for that adversity. As Oswald Chambers writes, “no man is born either naturally or supernaturally with character he has to make character. Nor are we born with habits we have to form habits on the basis of the new life God has put into us so that we may face whatever adversity comes our way.  As I look back on my life the, the significant moments have occurred absolutely formed the character that helped me face and persevere through GBS. Those times helped me trust that God would get me through what, without question, was the toughest time in my life

For over 50 years, I have lived my life striving to love the Lord with all my heart, Love others as God loves me, and then trust Him with the outcome. Seeing God’s presence in each previous challenge solidified my faith so that I would be ready for the adversity I would face.

For those who read my weekly blog. www.thankfulinallthings.com, I recently wrote about how Psalms 23 outlines this sanctification process I am talking about so well.

https://www.biblestudytools.com/psalms/23.html Look how One verse leads us into the next. Each one prepares us for what is to come. First, we are to acknowledge that the Lord is our Shepherd who will provide all that we need. Secondly, He does not ask us to lie down in green pastures, He make us do it. He knows we need rest even when we might not think it is necessary. Once we have rested, he gives us the opportunity to experience the peace that comes from being led to still quiet, waters. There is nothing more peaceful for me than being at the ocean when there are no waves and the sun is yet to rise. It does indeed “restoreth my soul” He has created us. He leads us. He calls us to rest so that we can be restored. Why? So that when adversity comes our way as it does each and every day, we will not fear because He promises to be with us. May this thought process cause you to “go out knowing that goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life, knowing you will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6

There are many things I learned as I recovered from GBS. First and foremost was the fact that when everything was stripped away, God was there to comfort me and lift me up. Right up there though was the realization that Dottie and couldn’t have made it through the way we did without the encouragement of so many. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. This verse commands Christians to continue to encourage and lift up those around us. So many people came to Dottie and my aid while I was sick and in my recovery.  

So what does this have to do with being a Father? There are so many things to master as a parent but one of the highest is the duty of encouragement. … If we aren’t careful, we can laugh and make fun of our children’s ideals and dreams. Without meaning to we can pour cold water on their enthusiasm. We can discourage vs uplift them. We have a Christian and a fatherly duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer can keep our children moving forward providing a bit of wind beneath their wings. 

Let me share three examples from scripture to make my point. 

Mark 2:1-12 Paralyzed man  https://www.bible.com/bible/111/MRK.12.1-12.NIV

The key verse is “When Jesus saw THEIR faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

John 11: 1-44 Lazarus https://www.bible.com/bible/114/JHN.11.NKJV

V43 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to THEM Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” and finally, 

Mark 6:7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

Parenthood is such an honor but as we all know, it can be hard.  

  1. Like the paralyzed man, Lazarus and me, learn that You cannot do it on your own. 
  2. To do it right, We need to be dependent on God understanding we were not meant or were created to do parenting or for that matter life alone. 
  3. Be willing to experience humility. Allow yourself to be dependent on others.  There was a reason Jesus sent the disciples out in twos. We need someone to have our backs and lift us up when we are down.  as 1 Thessalonians exhorts, whether it is a child, family member, or friend be an encourager of one another. 

In closing, let me encourage you by saying, “In the darkest of times God met me in that place. It is not the valley I would have chosen to walk through but I am a better man with a deeper faith because of it.” If you are in the midst of challenging circumstances or should they come your way in the future, be assured He promises to do the same for you. 

Today is a day, that’s not so bad. We celebrate being a Dad 

We look at them and are filled with joy, it doesn’t matter whether a girl or boy.

Let them love you today and say you’re the best

Always be there for them knowing you’re blessed.  

Hug and encourage them make them feel great

Cheer them on in whatever they participate.

I’ve had some success, yup not so bad; But nothing compares to the title of Dad. 

Thanks be to God. 

I hope you enjoyed the blog this week. If so, please share it with others who you think it might encourage. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you can receive notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

What is it about the Ocean?

I spent this past week at the beach. We were with dear friends and the weather couldn’t have been better. I tried to read but quickly realized this was a week for pondering and waiting on the the Lord. Before you read further, I encourage you to listen to this song as it will provide the back drop for what I want to share. https://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw

Just like Peter, the Lord does indeed call us out upon the water. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2014:22-33&version=NIV A metaphor for letting ourselves go to a place where we realize we are no longer in control. Walk with me from the beach into the ocean where with every step the water gets deeper until you are standing on your tippy toes and all you can see is the water swirling around you. That is what God wants from us. To be totally immersed in His Love that we can’t see anything else and therefore all we can do is trust in Him. Francois Fenelon in the book Let Go says, “Be careful of distractions and the desire to do too many things at once. Above all things, be faithful in the present moment and you will receive all the grace you need.”

Here are some other vignettes that came to my mind as I sat in solitude letting the waves carry me from one analogy to another. My hope is it will cause you to close your eyes and think about these things as if you were in a chair with the water from the waves washing over your feet.

  1. No matter how long it has been, the ocean is still there when I return. When you walk up to the beach, you know the ocean is there. If you are quiet, you can hear the waves from far away. Isn’t that just like God. No matter how long it has been since you last sat in His presence, He is there welcoming you back with delight. If we are still, we can hear Him and know that He is God, our Creator.
  2. I watched an accomplished surfer riding waves while someone else was getting their first lesson. Just like our faith journey, the veteran was able to stand up and navigate the power of the waves giving him a smooth ride toward shore. The beginner however, had a hard time getting up on the board. She fell off time and time again because she couldn’t find her balance as she was pushed forward by the force of the sea. Her persistence paid off in the end. She learned from her failures and eventually she caught a wave and to her surprise, was surfing in toward those who had been encouraging her after every wipeout.
  3. In the early mornings as I sit on the beach awaiting the sunrise, there are folks out looking for pretty rocks and shells that the recent high tide has brought in overnight. Isn’t it interesting that you can tell which ones have been in the ocean the longest. They have been smoothed out and sometimes even made shiny by the constant churning of the waves crashing along the shore. The same can be said for us. Our lives become more beautiful as we age because we have been refined by trials and circumstances we have encountered along the way. Just like that pretty shell or rock, people can pick out that beauty out of a crowd.
  4. The last lesson I will share comes from my love of boogie boarding. Waves can be powerful and when they are, handled properly, they can provide quite a ride toward shore. God is like a powerful wave. You have to choose the right one, sit back, and catch it just right. If you get ahead of yourself, it can lead to a nose dive and you being thrown off the board. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death or a wipeout 🙂 If you sit and wait too long, the swell will pass and leave you behind.” Oswald Chambers says it this way: “Launch all on God, go out on the great swelling tide of His purpose.” Psalm 27;14 https://www.gotquestions.org/wait-on-the-Lord.html But when you time it correctly, the momentum of the wave lifts you up and sends you forward in such an exhilarating sort of way. God wants us to live life in the same way: Respecting His power and waiting Him. He does not want us to be out in front of Him nor does He want us to hang back when He is ready for us to be used by Him. So, as Hillsong sung in the song I suggested, “Will you call upon the Lord? He wants us to submit to his power and live life immersed in His desire to push us forward so that we can accomplish all He has in store for us.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you found it helpful, please forward it to other who might be encourage by it. If you haven’t already, I would love for you to subscribe so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached via email at michael@mrg7175.com

What can we learn from our times on vacation?

I have been sharing my thoughts with you recently about Psalm 23. http://thankfulinallthings.com/musings-on-psalms-23/ Well this week I get to experience where God “leads me by still waters so He can restoreth my soul”

The beach is my favorite vacation location and the Outer Banks of North Carolina has been a destination spot for our family. We came down with friends 35 years ago and have been coming back ever since. This week we are here with two other couples who have been friends for almost 50 years which leads me to what the ocean can teach us. Where there is an ocean there is a beach and the beach is a place where friends and family can gather to rest and enjoy a time away together away from the regular day to day constraints. This type of time teaches us that we need to get away so we can return ready to deal with our normal day to day responsibilities. Hopefully it is a time where we can be encouraged by those with us and that we can do the same for them as well. The goal is to find depth in our conversations and to laugh a lot.

The best type of vacation is when everyone has a willingness to pitch in so there is time for each person to recharge knowing there is someone taking care of what needs to be done. Here are a few examples that have worked for us in the past. 1) An agreement to share equally in the expenses and the opportunity to pay a little more for someone who needs the financial help. 2) There are nights you cook and clean up so you know you can relax with no responsibilities the other nights. 3) Noone has to do anything except for the family photo 🙂 Games can be played and movies can be watched but there is freedom to not participate. 4) You commit to help everyone find the time to have personal down time and take a nap or two and others do the same for you.

As I thought about these vacation guidelines, I wondered why we don’t implement them into our every day lives as well. Think about it….1) Why not share equally in chores or financial matters more? Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” 2) Think of the times where others do the chores so you can rest as your Sabbath. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” – Genesis 2:2 We all need to find down time where we can truly rest and not feel bad about not pitching in. Follow God’s example and take a full day each week for Sabbath rest – a time to focus on God and His goodness, and allow Him to refresh you for the next week’s work. 3) As far as the family photo. Seek Unity in all you do and honor your mother 🙂 “God calls his people to live in unity with one another, so it is important to make every effort to live together in harmony with everyone.” Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” 4) Help those around you to find rest and restoration. Ephesians 4:2,3 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Can we turn vacations into our every day lives? Why not give it a try. Maybe soon no matter where you are, you can say when asked how are you doing, “it is just another day in paradise.” 🙂 Why not just Let Go!

If you enjoyed this blog, please forward it to others and consider subscribing so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

Musings on Psalms 23

I have been reciting Psalm 23 several times a day over the last couple years. Sometimes I just say it from start to finish. Other times I personalize it adding prayers for me and for others. Sometimes I fall asleep before finishing it at bedtime. And then there are the times when I’m in the middle of it and can’t remember the rest 😃 As many times as I have read it or set it out loud, I came across something this week that I’ve never thought about before.  This post will be my thoughts on the first three verses and how God prepares us for when adversity comes our way.

“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. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Do you see it now? One verse leads us into the next. Each one prepares us for what is to come. First, we are to acknowledge that the Lord is our Shepherd who will provide all that we need. Secondly, He does not ask us to lie down in green pastures, He make us do it. He knows we need rest even when we might not think it is necessary. Once we have rested, he gives us the opportunity to experience the peace that comes from being led to still quiet, waters. There is nothing more peaceful for me than being at the ocean when there are no waves and the sun is yet to rise. It does indeed “restoreth my soul”

He has created us. He leads us. He calls us to rest so that we can be restored. Why? So that when adversity comes our way as it does each and every day, we will not fear because He promises to be with us. May this thought process cause you to “go out knowing that goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life, knowing you will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I would love to hear from you via email at michael@mrg7175.com

How did Easter cause you to seek God?

UVA Easter Sunrise Service

Charles Stanley reminds us that we need to be mindful of our priorities. Where do you invest our time and energy? What or who occupies our thoughts?  “As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.” The beginning of the year brings New Year resolutions? Easter brings the hope of a new life and the promise that our lives can be made new when we look to Him. How did you seek the Lord during the Easter season? I hope it was a time of refreshment and led you to a renewed desire to reorient your priorities so that life can be all God intends for it to be.

What does it mean to be renewed/refreshed? Why is it important? It is getting warmer outside again. As you walk by a pond, stop and look at it. It may look fine but in fact, it may be stagnant which can lead to fish kills and the rapid growth of floating green organic matter. It happens when there isn’t a constant exchange of living water that keeps a pond environment alive and healthy. Water comes in and fills a stagnant pond during a rain or a snow melt. But there is no outlet to keep the pond water fresh. The same can be said for how we live. Our lives can become stagnant because we are set in our ways which keeps us from receiving the fresh ideas and living water God wants to give us. https://www.biblestudytools.com/john/4-14.html Like a pond, we have to have an outlet to get rid of the stuff that holds us back from being a better version of ourselves so God has room to intervene and make us better.

Easter gives us that outlet. It comes in two ways. Confession and Forgiveness. 1 John 1;9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This becomes the outlet that takes away the toxicity from our hearts. Forgiveness does the same thing. Buddha says it this way, ““Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” That is why Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s prayer to ask God for forgiveness and then do the same thing to others.

So let’s remember that Easter is not just a one Sunday deal but an event that happened which changed the world forever. Let knowing God sent His Son to die be the living water that brings hope to your life every day. How awesome is it that gives us the outlet through confession and forgiveness to let go of the old so that we can be continually be refreshed and molded into the people for which God created us.

I so appreciate you reading this blog. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at michael@mrg7175.com

It is Holy Week. God wants to be in a relationship with us

How is your Prayer life? If you are like me, you wish it would be better. Tim Keller writes in his book, Prayer https://timothykeller.com/books/prayer, that it should be like the medication you take daily to make sure you remain healthy. You know it is important and therefore, you try never to take the pills. Prayer should be the same way. Taking the time to pray daily helps us live our lives in the way in which God intended. Through the help of the Holy Spirit it brings us into a relationship with our Father. Craig Denison describes it this way. “”If you ask for a deeper friendship with the Holy Spirit, you will find he is the best friend you have ever known. This is because “friendship with the Spirit is like any other friendship in that it develops over time. Like a new friend, you must get to know his character and personality. Spend time just talking with him, listening to him and allowing him to work in your heart and life. Prayer is your gateway to experiencing the things of God. Walk in relationship with him, follow his guidance, and make a new best friend in the Holy Spirit.”

For the regular readers of this blog, you know I wrote about having the proper “swing thoughts” as we go through our days. The Masters was this week. I read two different stories that helped me think about why we might find it hard to pray regularly.

The first was about someone who caddied for someone who was playing in the same group with Tiger Woods. When he found out that this was happening, his first thought was, “what will I say to him if I get a chance?” He didn’t want to say something stupid. He wondered if Tiger would even acknowledge him. This is true for many of us when trying to pray effectively. “What is it God wants for me to say to Him?” “Does He even care what is going on in my life?” This Holy Week answers that question. He sent His Son to die for us BECAUSE He wants to be in a relationship with Him. That relationship allows us to communicate with Him. Like Craig Denison shared, “Prayer allows us to develop a stronger friendship with God so that can develop the the proper “swing thoughts” on how to live.

The second story was about the Scottie Sheffler who won The Masters even though he four putted the 18th hole. It solidified his #1 ranking in the world but Jim Denison shared this interesting fact. “Before Scheffler could win the tournament, he had to do something very important a few months ago: RSVP to his invitation to play. According to the New York Times, Augusta National sends invitations each year to golfers it wishes to invite to the tournament. They must signal their intention to play before they are permitted to compete.”

Want to be better about praying? Like Scottie Scheffler, You must first signal your intention to receive the gift God has for you. https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/idolchatter/2022/04/masters-champion-scottie-scheffler-says-he-plays-golf-to-glorify-god.html He has invited you to be in relationship with Him. Your first prayer needs to be, “Thank you Lord for giving the opportunity to communicate with You.” Then know it doesn’t matter what we say as long as it is sincere and honest because He really does care what is going on in your life. One prayer will lead to another and your faith will become stronger as you watch those prayers being answered. Why not make this Holy Week a significant moment in our life? Where you began to pray regularly with the proper swing thoughts allowing you to see life from God’s perspective. Close your eyes. Let your swing thoughts be Seeing (Visualize) it, Feeling the Love He has for you, and then being free to let yourself trust Him for the outcome versus trying to do it all on your own.

Happy Easter week everyone. For those of your in Charlottesville, join us for an Easter Sunrise Service in the UVA Amphitheater. We will be there from 6:45 am to 8:00 am. Please subscribe to this blog if you want email notifications for when new content is posted. I can be reached via email at michael@mrg7175.com