As I step back and pause to consider all that has been in the making, I find myself in awe of the miracle of God’s creation daily.
I’m not just talking about what I have in me…. I am talking about something that we all have in common with our creator, which is the desire and ability to create more love daily.
What’s pause-itively amazing about today?
… a brand new life to love, created and brought forth to be nurtured and developed with hope to one day become all it is destined to be from re-birth.
Wondering where I am going with this? I understand… because for a minute I started to feel like I wasn’t going anywhere myself, but this morning I sat with a full cup once again and in a moment of clarity, it came to me. My whole life has been spent and meant to lead up to this… waiting in expectation for the next great opportunity to tell someone… about the love I have found and am now burdened to share.
I have always had a story to tell, don’t we all? The love stories I use to tell others was always about the love I was looking for, but since I was searching in all the wrong places, all I had to talk about was where I had been. Today, the love I have found allows me to tell you about where love is leading me next and the hope that exists for you to find of the love of your life, which I know you have been waiting for! It is found in the one and only true friend and lover of all of our lives… Jesus Christ! I mean He died for you and I and love doesn’t get any more real than that.
“Greater love has noone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”
Is where I am going inconceivable? My aim is to get to the single element that must exist in order for anything else to. God’s greatest creation… love.
I am “in love” today and need to make sure I pause and let it soak in.
“Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Francis Scott Key
September 14, 1814
There is a Banner in my Heart
A Banner Yet Waves, post-Independence Day
In an article entitled Francis Scott Key pens “The Star-Spangled Banner”, authored by History.com Editors and found at https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/key-pens-star-spangled-banner, I learned that these lyrics, first penned as a poem, were written in inspiration at the sight of the tattered United States flag still standing alone after Key witnessed the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the war of 1812. I also read there that Francis Scott Key’s opportunity to be witness to this awe-inspiring moment came about from his desire to set free his friend, Dr. William Beanes, who was being held captive by the British and they were aboard a ship forced to wait. Key had successfully negotiated the release of his friend but they were not allowed to leave until after the bombing campaign on the fort in Maryland was to take place.
Closing my eyes for a second, I put myself in Francis Scott Key’s shoes and tried to imagine him and his friend waiting in apprehension as the events unfolded. Did they hear the first commands of the British to attack? Did they catch glimpse of the first bomb as it dropped? I thought of the banner of determination that first wavered in Key’s heart, giving him the inclination to seek out and save his friend that had been captured by the enemy. I didn’t research the historical account that undoubtedly has the exact time the battle started and ended and every other finite detail in between but I envisioned a man and his grateful friend sitting in a ship “relationship”, in expectation of a long night ahead with only the hope of the fulfillment of a promise made to them by the enemy, to set them free post the battle that would ensue. I wonder if they pondered… would it come true or was it was a lie. All of these things had to exist first before that glorious moment took rise at dawn’s first light for him to peer out and see our flag still standing through it all.
There are many penned accounts of men throughout history that stepped out, determined to seek and save a friend. However, there are fewer full accounts of those that succeeded in their salvation but then had to endure and await an entire battle to come to fruition to see their fulfilled promised freedom breakthrough. I have many friends that are lying in wait to see that light of what they are promised to break-through their long dark nights. They need a friend that will endure with them through the end. Are you that friend or are you able to bring them to that one that will be?
After a day where the independence of our great nation is celebrated with bombs bursting in air, I look forward to coming together with friends and family whose banners are yet waving in determination to see freedom ring true for all, including you. I woke up at dawns early light this morning and thought of the feeling that must have filled the heart of Francis Scott Key, when he peered out and saw that flag still standing in the distance, knowing the battle was over and the freedom of his friend and country was at hand.
What are you enduring and awaiting through in this daily battle we call life? What freedom or breakthrough did you wake up longing to see or experience this morning? What lie of the enemy is holding you captive today? Do you need to be healed in your heart, body, mind, marriage? There is a banner that yet waves for you, in my heart and in His, in a place, in a relationship where you can… not just hope to be set free but truly be set free indeed!
Our only hope to be completely healed and set free as a people and nation… lies in the one and only true friend…. Jesus Christ! Oh say can you see….
I’ll just leave this on the table for you…. meet with me and Him today my friend at ppineschurch.com
a reflection of what’s deep in the heart; more evident when we are set apart.
Saved… love, for a time such as this
When you know that you know, in your heart, that something’s missing, you are easily distracted from what’s in plain sight. We are in perilous times right now, separated from God and separated from one another. Left to ourselves, social distancing starts to take its toll as we are hard pressed to feel the love, distanced from the touch of others in our lives. With no end in sight, we can start to feel like we are condemned to live separated forever. God only knows what you’re really going through right now. God also knows how to get you here… alone with Him.
I am here to tell you it’s really true. God knows what you alone are going through and the love that you want to know… Well, He lives to show you that love and just how much He knows you, my love.
Today and everyday… love lives because He lives!
My hope is that God meets you wherever you are. Whatever vulnerable state you are in, whether you are alone in a place, alone in a relationship, or alone even in a crowded room… God is there and He has all that you need. He is the very answer, the way, the truth and the life. He is love and the love-er, of your life! May you receive your answer…. Him and His way, truth and life… Beloved.
My prayer for you and your love
Lord God, this morning I lift the needs of every single soul with the question in their heart of whether they will ever find the love that they seek. You and only you know, hear and have the answer to every cry of our hearts. This very day may they come to know… your love.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever shall believe on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For He sent his son to the world, not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. ”
God…without love… we are dead and you know this and you have made a way for us to escape the death found in that which we lack. I pray that every single one that comes across this prayer or ponders the thought of the existence of true love in this world, would not just be filled with the desire to find the love they desperately seek but would open their mouth and ask for it from the only one that can completely give it… YOU. Your word tells us we have not because we ask not… I pray they, we, I ask…
I come to you a sinner, separated from the love you have for me.
I don’t want to live this way any more.
I know that your son Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sin, and that because of this I do not have to live separated from you or your love.
I ask you to come into my heart and my life.
I ask you to be Lord in my life… that I may receive all that you have and that you would help me to walk daily in your love.
I pray these things in Jesus’ name.
Be loved. You are His… BELOVED.
Live… with me… one wholly loved life!
Love… with Him… let’s walk together. Join me and share the love!
Just one solemn thought from this servant’s heart this morning has led to a lot that I seem to have to say at this table set for two over what I feel none of us deserve.
A long….. distant relationship….
With the minimum (cough) distance between us growing, the fact that we can’t truly sup together means; what is being served at this table leaves a bit more to be desired regarding what’s on my plate. You see, in our relationship, I am always looking forward to the feast, and at a feast, which is what the extended invitation is for, take-out and delivery should not even be an option. This spawned a question in my mind… Who are you and I to judge the distance between anyone and God. With both the opportunity and current need for some to attend church from their comfy couch at home, I can’t help but wonder… how many will be willing to answer the call of God from where they are and step out of their comfort zone.
I have heard many tell me, “I don’t feel I need to go to church because church is not about the building.” … OK, to that there is some truth. But, I humbly ask, “Isn’t God about the building though?” Not the physical building… but the building up of His people and of His kingdom.
I am trying to re-assemble my thoughts so I can share instead of table them and be self-consumed with the current events. The reasonable need for others is spurred by the thought of me being left to myself at a feast, which would probably lead to nothing short of a huge helping of self-indulgence with a side of self-deceit… which in my past experience has ended up just giving me a ton of extra weight and defeat.
The bible clearly tells us “do not forsake the assembling of my people”…. and my understanding is that it’s important because it also says… “where two or more are gathered, there will I be also.”
There is no one we need to show up right now, more than the great “I AM”
Just when we were all starting to get comfy with the idea of having God up in the house… He stands at the door and knocks… and we are alarmed. Who are we really trying to be socially distanced from. I was self-deceived, for a moment of time to think that not being gathered together may be the best option for all and that caring for others can still be done from a distance. To be honest, some desperately need to be touched by God and noone can judge the distance between anyone and God but God himself.
So maybe, just maybe you feel and are told you are selfish for wanting to gather OR perhaps you are feeling wrong for feeling the need to stay home. As I sit alone, in prayer, hoping to hear from someone other than myself, I hear exactly what I need to. He says, “The greatest concern of mine is not the measured distance that keeps us apart… but instead… your distant heart.”
I know this is a long distance relationship but can I speak with you frankly for a moment, heart to heart? With all the focus on social distancing, I feel we are masking the real problem… to truly stop the spread of what is killing us all… it’s not our mouth that needs to covered, it’s our heart.
Matthew 15:11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the heart of a man.
My biggest issue I have is within my own heart, the only distance I should be concerned about… between you and me… is the distance between me and YOU…GOD!
I will keep my mouth covered… as a sign of these times… but I can remain silent no more about what’s on my heart! I am humbled because I have been served… something I never deserved!
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Just to keep it real… I am putting a spin on what’s really on the table this Thanksgiving holiday.
Ah… November… there are so many great things to say about it because it’s always a month to remember. Of all the days in this month can you guess which one I love the most? Coming from this natural born foodie, you may assume Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite because it’s the day we purposefully plan to give thanks for everything we are blessed to have loaded up on our plates but in truth, for me the greatest day of all is always the day after Thanksgiving. Not because of the big black Friday deals, but because of all that is leftover after spending a day of giving thanks for and with all that you love.
Of course, I relish the opportunity to revisit every thing I have been previously blessed to enjoy upon my plate each year but there is something amongst this year’s leftovers that I never considered giving thanks for… what life actually dished out.
Chips and Dips…
Recent events have caused me to lean in a little closer to get a real look at what I hold in hand and with all the chips on the table, I realized in my past love-life, I have more dips that have been dished out than I would like to choose from. Suddenly, looking at the hand I have been dealt, I am faced with two very important questions.
#1 Am I really, truly grateful for it all?
#2 Am I still in?
Take a look at your cards because it’s time to ante up. You may be sitting there, with a straight laced poker face, wondering how we ended up at a card table this year to give thanks… WELL… let me explain.
Earlier this month, on a trip to a lovely little chapel in Vegas, I had the honor of witnessing my sister make a vow to love a man not just for the rest of her life, but for the rest of his and into eternity. Now to be in love is one thing but to be “ALL IN”…. in love… is quite another altogether. You see, my sister had already spent more than 30 years enjoying all life had to offer with this man… so, in a heart to heart conversation with her I had to ask “Why now?” Without skipping a beat, she explained how she made him a promise a long time ago to love and take care of him for the rest of her life and since he asked… she couldn’t refuse. During their spoken vows, my sister now being well over the age of 50 and him being 79, I thought about the words they were agreeing to and what they really meant. And I believe this is the real reason people cry at weddings…. “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, I promise to honor and cherish you all the days of my life”. Saying I do, with the latter part of their lives together ahead, the reality hit me that they were promising to continue to love when all that life has to offer could start to lack it’s luster. In short… she was going all in.
With all the cards laid out on the table, in a moments time, I considered the hand I have been dealt and deliberated the good and the bad. Then I thought how it’s easy to give thanks and joyfully jump in when I know I am looking forward to partaking in all I favor and savor. Now, after I have had my fill on all that has been dished out and what is leftover is all that remains… am I just as eager or am I ready to fold? In other words do I count the joy in dealing with the times I am presented with the dirty dishes as much as I do the filled ones?
The gamble in choosing to love…
With all the ups and downs in life and love, realistically speaking, once you’re over the hill luck has little to do with it. You can count on seeing more of the valley than the mountain top, unless you’re committed to always look up!
For an enduring love, consider this…
James 1: 2-4
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Again… revisiting what is leftover today, I will wrap up my thoughts on whether true joy in life comes from luck or love, with a statement made by the mister that married my sister in Vegas. He said “to anyone thinking about asking me if I like to gamble… I don’t have to gamble because I hit the jackpot already!”
The short trip I took down the aisle in that little chapel in Las Vegas revealed more than just the things worth revisiting on memory lane. It reminded me that without a doubt, there’s no such thing as luck in my “loved-life”… and that is a glorious discovery.
The real deal is… the greatest truth in the pursuit for love and happiness is that neither come from the hand you are dealt, they come from the hand you are holding. “Say what?” you may retort, “Isn’t that the same thing?” To which I say…
My love… it’s not the same thing at all.
Thought on love #13:
Choosing to love all the time, in good times and bad is not easy but the reward in doing so is a joy that helps you through all the storms your love will endure.
The other day, in conversation, a friend apologized for having what they thought was bad breath.
“I’m so sorry” she said, guarding her mouth with her hand.
“For what?” I replied.
She immediately explained that what she ate for breakfast had so much fresh garlic, cilantro and onions in it that it seemed to be lingering and ruminating in the air and between her and I, though she brushed and did all she could to prevent it from having that effect, she was embarrassed that it was affecting me. But it wasn’t. I wondered if I made a face or gesture that triggered her concern but in the end she said it must only be her that smells it or I am just too nice to say that it’s putting me off. I thought to myself, I love the smell of those three things, so I am not sure it would have put me off anyways, but I didn’t smell anything still.
We laughed it off together, and I did my best to try to reassure her that the evident experience she was having, as a result of her morning choices, was in no way impacting me the same. However, she remained self-concious about it afterward and still continued to cover her mouth and apologized with explanation again as another approached to join our coversation.
This made me think…
How often am I hyper sensitive to the lingering effects of my prior choices? And… how much does it affect my interaction with others and most important of all, my interaction with my most significant other… God?
It’s funny how we can tend to focus on all the wrong things and do so often in our relationships. Especially, the most important ones; the one with God, our spouses or significant other and ourselves.
Dale Carnegie, one of the leaders and experts on relationships, in his amazing book “How to win Friends and Influence People” speaks a lot on the topic of focusing on what’s positive in our interaction with others. His very first principle is actually “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain” and it is first for a reason.
God knows and apparently Dale Carnegie does too; it’s extremely hard not to focus on the negative but whether we do or not has the greatest effect on us and everyone we interact with. We are easily drawn to the negative and are critical and offer complaint more often than anything else in our relationship with Him, as well as ourselves and others.
So on this Sunday morning, as I prepare to go to His house, where I hope to meet with Him and am looking forward to Him speaking to me… I’m thinking of what, if anything, will have an affect that may hinder our conversation.
Will it be what He is focusing on or what I am? He already knows all that’s on my plate and what I have to put out on the prayer table this morning. I think He is preparing me for what He has cooking.
Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
Just a little food for thought this morning. Hope you enjoy what is served up enough to join me again!
Lord!! Help me in my prayers and praise to you. That what I bring before you focuses on all that you are doing that is good. May it fill your house with a pleasant aroma that revives you’re spirit in me. In every sense, REVIVAL is what I need!
Thought on love #12:
If you are spoken for….
Reviving your love takes more than just focusing on what you are doing in love. It involves focusing on what the one who truly loves us all has done, is doing and has promised to do.
His love is good, all the time. All the time, His love is good! I AM Spoken for.
“Good evening folks… this is your captain speaking….” statically coming over the loudspeaker.
As the flight crew pauses from their routine, he continues “We have some adverse conditions currently that are causing some delay of our on-time take off.”
“Just great!” Exclaims the man in the seat behind me. “Excuse me, do we know exactly how long this delay will be?” Asks another. “I have a connecting flight!!! This is going to make me miss everything!” A disgruntled voice yells from across the aisle.
Not going anywhere for a while?
Sometimes there are times we must weather events that cause great delay in us getting where we planned to go. Usually, we focus on all the wrong things during these times… and those things result in us really going nowhere.
We can tend to focus on the event, saying… “Why is THIS happening?”
Or we can start to examine our past and present faults and failures exclaiming “Why me?” And “Of course…this was bound to happen to me!” As if the line up of your evident errors in your circumstantial past has led to this subsequent event preventing you from reaching your final destination because everthing is all about YOU. I’m guilty!!!!
But in reality the time spent focusing on why this is happening or who caused it to happen just takes away from the experience of what is actually going on. The subsequent event may be just what is supposed to be happening. If you are not careful… you will miss it entirely!
Staying grounded in the stormy times
We are in a love-hate relationship with everything in life. When adverse conditions hit us and we are faced with dealing with a stormy outlook, we make decisions with the flip of a coin as if there are only two outcomes to our present situation. Good or bad. And we usually don’t lean toward the good. However, there are eight-sides to every coin. If you never knew that… they are:
The right side, wrong side, left side, up side, down side, in-side, out-side and the ever unrecognized “be”side. We’ll get into all of this in more depth later as we take a look at change in our perspective of all that we wholly love and hate in life, but the point I’m trying to make here is: there is more to what you’re experiencing than just what you’re choosing to look at.
I say all of that to say this… my beloved,
Thought on love #10
complete and true love is fully experienced through an entire course of events. The take-off and arrival to your desired destination is such a small part of it all. Don’t get stuck where those two alone are stalled.
You need to be present in every moment that you are in. I read somewhere that the present is “pre-sent”. It’s an opportune time for you to take advantage of the time you are suddenly afforded. Know who God is and who and what you are in Him, then look around to see who you are with and “Be” what you are meant to be with and for them in the moment.
You are where you are for a reason
When you’re in a place where you have nowhere to go… flip your perspective to a brighter side! Make your decision on how to be by considering every side of the situation, not just the side you’re standing on. You may need to change your view by looking at what’s right, wrong, left, up, down, in and out in this moment. You may find you are beside yourself when you see how God uses that time to change things with you in it.
Ultimately… He is the master planner behind the scenes and when we feel like our plans are thrown of course, often we are suddenly right where we need to be for His plan to take course.
Psalm: 46. 10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Ready to get on board? Need to make that one last connection before take off? How about this one…
“The TSA rules”
“Take off your shoes, hat, jacket, and belt or anything with metal on it and place them in a bin. Put all of your personal items in a separate bin and place your bag on the belt.” He says, as another points me in the direction I must go. After successfully passing through the body scanner, I head over to the conveyer belt to retrieve my carry on and find it being pulled aside for further inspection. Putting on sterile gloves and unzipping my bag, the TSA agent asks “Do you have anything in here that is sharp or could be considered hazardous or harmful material?” With pierced lips “I hope not” I say.
Everyone loves the TSA, right?
Well, I don’t get to fly the friendly skies everyday but when I do, I know the process. To successfully get on board I must follow the TSA guidelines. Before I can hope to take flight, I will have to check in first. I have to abide the rules and listen to instruction. For my safety and the safety of others.
As I begin boarding I can’t help but recognize…. isn’t getting on board to go anywhere in life just the same? No matter where, when or how you travel in life, there will always be a some things you are required to have, bring or do and a longer list of things that you shouldn’t bring because they are potentially hazardous or harmful to more than just you. But what those requirements are depends upon the appointed governing authority.
Keep calm and “Carry-on”
What you choose to bring along can prevent you from carrying on. When the TSA agent asked me to declare anything I knew of, in my bag, that would be of potentential harm, there was nothing I thought would be, but the fact that he asked prior to his search made me realize that the governing authority thinks I should know. I mean I should know, right? The guidelines were provided so I would.
This made me think about an acronym I have heard mentioned a time or two for the B-I-B-L-E. It’s …..
basic instructions before leaving earth.
This “good book” is filled with guidelines to help me throughout all my travels alone or with others and so the question is… how well do I know those guidelines? Who makes the rules wherever I go? Me or the “TSA” and…. how well do I follow what that governing authority advises?
Proverbs: 4. 1. Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. 13. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
The TSA of my life’s travels, better known to me as the “true sovereign authority” is Jesus and He is the author and finisher of more than that book chock full of instructions for life.