In the Morning, When I Rise . . .

In the Morning, When I Rise . . .

I woke this morning with a song in my mind that, well, that seems fitting to start any day.  The verse that has been running through my head says, “In the morning, when I rise; In the morning, when I rise.  In the morning, when I rise; Give me Jesus!”  The song has made me think about the days when I consciously choose Jesus at the start of the day compared to the ones that I don’t.  It’s not that I’m rejecting Jesus on any of the days, at least not deliberately, it’s just that there are days that I let the hectic pace of life push Jesus to the side.  When that happens at any time, but particularly at the start of a day, it isn’t long before my attitude and priorities begin to slide in a direction that isn’t productive to me or anyone else.

While choosing Jesus has to be a continual commitment, doing so when I rise each morning helps set the standard for the decisions that will come throughout the day.  Scripture says that “His mercies are new each morning” and it does me well to recognize and lay claim to the application of that in my life.  When I seek Jesus at the start of each day, I am made more aware of His presence because I’m looking for it.  While Jesus has promised to never leave or forsake His children, I have a choice as to how much I acknowledge and welcome that presence each day.  I believe that a practice of seeking God that includes a deliberate request each “morning when I rise, give me Jesus!”, prepares us for the final verse of the song, “When it’s time to die; O, when it’s time to die.  When it’s time to die; give me Jesus!”

As I said earlier, some days are easier to remember my need to seek Jesus when I rise.  For me, being up to see the beauty of God’s creation in the early morning hours serves as a visible reminder of His presence and fills me with a desire to seek Him.  The photo below is from a recent trip to northwest Ohio where I was able to watch the sun rise over Lake Erie and be reminded, “In the morning, when I rise; In the morning when I rise.  In the morning, when I rise; Give me Jesus!”

It is my prayer that you and I would desire and seek Jesus at all times and particularly each morning when we rise.

In prayer,
Tom

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Hold On To Instruction

Hold On To Instruction

I write a weekly prayer guide that I publish online and send out via email.  Each week I put together a series of daily prayer points that cover different aspects of a topic.  This week’s focus is about some things the Bible says we ought to hold on to.  The emphasis for today is to hold on to instruction.

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”
Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)

Perhaps you live by the old adage, “When all else fails, read the instructions.”  For many, that seems to be a common approach to life.  It is not until things become difficult, or go very wrong, that we stop long enough to check on how we were supposed to be living.  God tells us that we ought to hold on to instruction . . . but not just any instruction, His instructions!  When we choose to follow the instructions of God’s Word, we find that there are some difficulties that we are able to avoid and others that we become equipped to endure because of the life we obtain in Christ.  While following God’s instructions doesn’t exempt us from the troubles of life, doing so gives us a life that can see beyond the troubles to a greater hope and promise.

My prayer is that you and I would find a life in Christ that is worth holding on to.  I pray that we would not take the instructions of scripture lightly, but that we would cling to them as the true source of life.

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Time For a Break

Time For a Break

After two years and nearly three months of writing a daily page, I’ve decided it is time for a break.  I’m not sure how long the break will be and I’m not sure if I will go back to a daily page when the break is over, but it just feels like this current writing adventure needs a break.  I do suspect I will still write and post from time to time but it will be based on having something to write rather than simply on it being another day.  For those who have followed these daily blogs, thank you for the encouragement!

Given that I enjoy taking photos of the moon, it was probably fitting that there was a full moon shining brightly overhead as I took trash out tonight.

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2018: Page 88

2018: Page 88

Some thoughts, lessons, and/or reflections from the day:

  • It felt like a very short night as I was up for a time during the night as another seizure took hold of my daughter.
  • Even with the interrupted night, I found myself awake shortly before the alarm clock was due to go off.  While continued sleep would have felt nice, work doesn’t get done by itself so I headed that way and went about the morning cleaning and building prep as I prayed for my daughter.
  • The day felt long as my eyes were heavy from a lack of sleep, but as I took care of the building I also worked on the sermon for Sunday and worked ahead on the prayer guide for the following week.
  • The prayer guide that will go out on Easter Sunday is about new life but the one I worked on today for the following week is about being renewed.
  • I suppose the topic was helped along by my weariness today, but it seemed like a good follow-up as God not only wants to give us new life, He also wants to renew us in the times when we become weary.
  • It was an interesting combination to be working on a sermon about being fully alive and a prayer guide about being renewed, but I think God’s ability to renew us each day is a part of what makes being fully alive even possible.
  • At various times today I’ve found myself thinking about the difference between being needed and being wanted.  I’m afraid there are many times when people put a lot of effort into trying to be needed because they don’t believe they will ever be wanted.
  • I am thankful for a God who is not in need of anything, including you and I, but wants us with such a passion that He not only made a way through Jesus to give us new life, He promises to renew us as we daily put our hope in Him.
  • Today’s photo is from yesterday as I didn’t take any new ones today.  It made me think of God’s promise that “they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and mount up on wings as eagles.”

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2018: Page 87

2018: Page 87

Some thoughts, lessons, and/or reflections from the day:

  • The supplies I picked up yesterday on the way home were put to use first thing this morning as I took care of some maintenance tasks before starting the cleaning and building prep routine.
  • My morning tasks were accompanied by hymn lyrics including, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
  • Keeping my focus on Christ doesn’t typically remove the attention needed by the things of this earth but it does help keep them in perspective.
  • My day was filled with a lot of things that needed my attention as I took care of maintenance issues, worked on a sermon for Easter Sunday, and did some more writing for my next devotional book.
  • The writing focus today was a chapter that includes seven daily devotions covering the topic of serving with kindness.
  • It is amazing, and sad, how much notice even a small act of kindness receives in our culture simply because it stands out as being unusual.
  • When we serve with kindness, we represent the nature of God in our dealings with one another.
  • As the day went along, it became clear that my weekend was quickly becoming crazy busy because of events that will be taking place.  
  • While it would be easy, and natural, to focus on what the events will require of me, the greater focus was to pray for the families that would be involved in these events with greater needs than mine.
  • It was another long workday, so I ended up with a late lunch/early dinner combination on my way home.
  • After I got home we decided to head down to Potato Creek to see what we could find to photograph and/or take a walk.  
  • Susan had a seizure at the park so we skipped the walk but we did find a good variety of wildlife to photograph.  There were several kinds of ducks, a loon, some swans, a few herons, several osprey, and a bald eagle showed up for some photos as well.
  • Today’s photo is of a heron that was having some pretty good luck fishing.  The photo reminded me of the need to have balance in order to be successful.  This heron would perch in absolute stillness on top of this stump and when the time was just right, it would dive into the water and come up with a fish.

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2018: Page 86

2018: Page 86

Some thoughts, lessons, and/or reflections from the day:

  • A light rain moved in overnight and continued throughout the day.  While not as pleasant to look at and get outside in as the sunny days, it is just as important in the process of spring growth.
  • Our life needs both the rain and the sun to help us grow as we ought.  James says to “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.”  He goes on to explain that statement by pointing out that it is the testing of our faith that produces perseverance and eventual maturity.
  • I started the morning at work with some maintenance tasks that are easier to do when the building is empty.  I suppose the ease of the tasks remain the same no matter when I do them, but by coming in early I am not a distraction to others so it is easier on the things that need to take place during the day.
  • Sometimes a little sacrifice of time, effort, or money on our part goes a long way toward making someone else’s life a little easier.  I think that is at least part of the “bearing one another’s burdens” that we ought to be doing.
  • I suppose it was the steady rain as I drove to work that helped influence my mind, but the morning “cleaning song” today was “There shall be showers of blessings.  Showers of blessings we need.  Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead!”
  • I’ve been working on a sermon for Easter Sunday that I’ll share at the North Wayne Mennonite Church in Dowagiac, Michigan.  As I considered the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, I ended up with two sermon titles and outlines — “No Longer DEAD” and “Fully ALIVE”.
  • Since I doubt the people in attendance want to hear two sermons in one church service, I wrote a blog post using the “No Longer DEAD” outline as I continued work on the “Fully ALIVE” outline for Sunday.
  • By late afternoon I realized my workday had become longer than anticipated and I still needed to pick up some supplies for tomorrow, so I headed out for a late lunch before stopping by Lowe’s for the needed maintenance supplies.
  • Once home, it was tough to keep from dozing off so I started the writing of today’s page so that I can hopefully get to bed early and see if it is possible to catch up on some sleep.
  • Today’s photo is of a fellow birdwatcher that stops by outside my office window from time to time.  My suspicion, though, is that he is not watching the birds with the same intent that I do.

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2018: Page 85

2018: Page 85

Some thoughts, lessons, and/or reflections from the day:

  • Today was our pest control service day so I was up and out the door even earlier than usual.
  • The night air was crisp and clear as I started the truck this morning but the light frost covering the windshield was taken care of quickly by the washer fluid.
  • The morning cleaning and prep tasks were once again done with the words of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” running through my mind.
  • With the service completed and the building ready for the day, I turned my attention to working on the prayer guide for next week.
  • With the next prayer guide set to go out on Easter Sunday, I settled in with God as I sought direction for a topic that would fit well.  I eventually chose the topic of New Life and began the process of putting together the daily sub-topics and prayer points.
  • As I worked on the writing, my IT skills were needed in the building so my morning ended up being a test of my limited multi-tasking ability. 🙂
  • It was a fun prayer guide to write as I spent time with God looking at various aspects of the new life we have in Christ.
  • It was early afternoon by the time the prayer guide was completely written and I had taken care of the other tasks that needed my attention.
  • After formatting and scheduling the prayer guide to be sent out on Sunday, it was time to call it a day and take my daughter to lunch before spending the afternoon together.
  • What was left of the afternoon was spent at Potato Creek where we took a couple of the trails and found several osprey and a bald eagle to watch and photograph.
  • Today’s photo is of one of the osprey bringing a twig in to add to the nest.  While the stick he is carrying doesn’t look like much, by adding a little at a time a large nest is eventually completed.  It was a good lesson to consider how our faithfulness in the things that seem small will soon add up to a completion that will be large.

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