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Friday, September 18, 2015


Pour out.  Pour it all out.  This is the lesson of the Psalms.  These written words, these songs--these questions, laments, celebrations--all urge us to do the same.  

Nestled deep into this inspired book, we read:
pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.

Pour it out because He is our refuge.  He is a safe place to leave the contents of our hearts and minds, AND He is the one who can answer and transform you.  It doesn’t say “pour out your heart because God will make your life comfortable, say yes to your every wish, or help you live your best life now.” 

We pour because He can be trusted. 

His thoughts toward us don’t shift depending on what we tell Him; His love doesn’t wane.  When He sees our unattractive attitudes or motives, He doesn’t love us less or more because of what we pray.  He doesn’t get uncomfortable when we “overshare.”  His love for us has already been decided and determined, and guess what, it has nothing to do with our personality, actions, family history, or dignified prayers, but has everything to do with our belief and trust in Him.  Those embarrassing or shameful parts of us?  
He already knew the depth of them. 

When we read that the heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9), it doesn’t mean that our hearts deceive Him, but that they deceive us.  It is in the pouring that we are given a glimpse at what He already knew.  We can’t repent or ask for Spirit-enabled change for something that we are blind to. 
When we continue to forsake time in prayer, we can begin to think that we're ok, that we've gotten this holiness thing down.  

But then.  When we see below the surface, we're appalled at what we find—jealousy? self-righteousness? Prejudice? Hatred? Materialism? Bitterness?  He gives us a knowing look--this God before whom our secret thoughts are exposed (1 Corinthians 14:25)…before whom nothing in all creation is hidden from His sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13) says yes.

The Psalms are the pen and paper version of the pouring.  Among the countless prayers, there is also a lot of self-talk.  David doesn’t shy away from difficulty, but instead puts it on paper allowing us to watch as God molds his heart.  Sometimes God intervened and changed the situation but sometimes He changed David’s focus, reminding him of the truth and of God’s past faithfulness.  

The Psalms vividly show how God lifts His children’s heads.  The struggling Psalms are no less impactful than the praising Psalms--the struggle is relatable and beautiful, showing God for God and man for man—there is no confusion who the faithful, powerful, omniscient One is. 

When it feels like everything else is dried up, we look to find that God’s love remains.  His love and care for His own does not dissipate, but endures. When we are tired and only have words of complaint or fearful ramblings—God wants it all.  

It is in the pouring out that we bring our authentic selves to Him—not a calculated façade.  He works in vulnerability, molding the heart, the motives, the thoughts, and even the desires.  Many hours are spent in prayer devoid of real heart-to-heart connection with our Maker because we are presenting who we think we should be, while our Maker knows who we really are, even when we ourselves are unaware. 

Imagine a child wanting a piece of clay to become something more but withholding it from the potter.  In prayer, we are holding our clay to The Potter, because He is the only One who knows what to do with it. Time spent in prayer is not only time to speak with God, but also time to avail ourselves to the One who redeems all things and changes us to reflect His image.

So today, pour it out, pour it all out, before your loving Father.  And don’t be surprised when you notice a change in the contents of what you pour out…He is changing you; He is making you; He is remaking you.  Your God who makes all things new will transform you from the inside out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

promises kept

2 Corinthians 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.   

This verse has always seemed mysterious to me.  It was one of those that I loved and, at the same time, knew it meant more than my current understanding.  Saying "yes" to promises?  Great!  Glory?  Yes, please.  But what else?--I knew there was more...

There are many places in Scripture like this that I've read and prayed, Lord, what does this mean?  And then waited until He gave the understanding.  When God does shine a light on a truth, the understanding is so sweet and life-altering. 

Let's start with a few questions as we look closer. 

2 Corinthians 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.   

Who makes the promises? 
          ...for no matter how many promise God has made

          God Himself has given us very great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4) 

Who fulfills these promises? 
          ...they are Yes in Christ

          He has accomplished these promises in Christ, or put another way, His life, death, and resurrection has accomplished and fulfilled what was promised; promises are kept and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  While God will fulfill every single promise He has made, it is only IN CHRIST that He fulfills the personal declarations.
What’s our role in the promise process?    

           ...and so through Him the Amen is spoken by us

         We simply say amenAmen is one of the most universal words in human language and it literally means, “truly, so be it, yes, I agree.”  When we say Amen, we are saying, Yes, Lord.  May it be so according to Your will.                   
Who gets the glory? 

          ...the Amen is spoken by us to the glory of God

        God is glorified when His people desire His will above their own.  Believing His word, trusting His way and living in agreement with Him brings Him glory and 
brings us peace.

Here’s an example:  In Deuteronomy 31:6 God says to His children:  I will never leave you, nor forsake you.  God has made this promise to us; He will never leave us.  

He has accomplished this through His Son--through Jesus Christ we have been brought into His family, into His presence, and we have received His Holy Spirit.  Remember what His very name means?  Immanuel, which means God with us (Matthew 1:23).  Jesus has accomplished this promise and now we dwell in Christ and His Spirit dwells in us until we are physically in His presence forever. 
And we say, Amen  
Mary said something similar in Luke 1:38 when her response to Gabriel’s announcement about Jesus was, I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.  

By saying Amen, we are agreeing with His promises and purposes, asking for them to be done in our lives, and we are proclaiming to the world that Yes, God is faithful and can be trusted.  ...the amen is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Jesus accomplishes the promises that God has made and our role and response is, 

Yes, Lord, whatever You want, whatever Your will, may it be to me as you have promised.  

We ask God, we agree with God, we give God control and He is glorified through our lives.  How would praying these simple words change every day of our life?   

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


A cross-stitched phrase hung on the narrow wall between the kitchen and dining room when I was a child.  

When God closes a door, He opens a window, 

the threads proclaimed in country blue.  Above the words, sat a sweet little bird looking out the window. 
I’ve thought about that short phrase a lot over the last few years.
Doors close a lot in life.  When we are the one initiating the closing, the change of a new direction can be exciting, but when it is a God-initiated closed door we might spend quite some time fumbling around for a window or even a light switch.    
It gets real when we feel that we're on the wrong side of a closed door--caught in between the shutting of the door and the opening of the window.  Stuck.

Like the time I chased my sister outside with not so great timing--the screen door latching closed behind me at the same time my sister slammed the front door, causing me to be what we call in the South “stuck between a rock and a hard place”…or more fittingly, “stuck between two shut doors.” The space was so tight that I couldn’t move my arms to open either unlocked door. Stuck.

Now before you ask if this was possible, I should add that it was before twinkies and kool-aid became the staples of my adolescent diet.

For years, I assumed when God closed a door, He already had a window, or preferably another door, wide open, waiting on us.  

Surely He wouldn’t cause us to slow down and be still; surely “be still” means to still your mind in chaos, not your actual body or life or calendar; surely He would want us to go from one activity, ministry, or commitment to the next.  He’s not the God of long pauses but of blazing forward, right?

Oh goodness, what kool-aid was I drinking?  While there are times when God seamlessly leads us from one thing to another, the busyness that comes from activity, especially good activity, can lead us to function on autopilot.   

We confuse the world we see, which tells that growth, even spiritual growth, means bigger and better—like climbing a ladder and at the top:“ta da…look at what I’ve become…look at this shiny life of significance that God has blessed me with,” with the kingdom that is often unseen—that there is no ladder in the Kingdom of God and if there is, it is either to climb down or lay on its side as a bridge.   Phrases like, He must become greater, I must become less, become sweet sentiments.   Becoming less is replaced with increasing your influence.  

When we feel stuck, there is a great deal of wrestling that takes place.  We wrestle with accepting our circumstances.  We wrestle with God and His will because it is so different than ours. We wrestle with our own inner sin and weakness that was easily ignored during busy seasons but is glaring when life is still. It's understandable why we often avoid these pauses like strep throat. 

But when we are stuck, God shows that walking with Him is more about the walking with Him and less about a glittery arrival, as Brennan Manning called it.

When we are stuck, we learn more about His character and His heart toward our broken world and  toward us, His children.  When our hands are empty and not full of activity or accomplishment, when the “with-ness” of God becomes the one remaining thing, when we feel we have nothing to “offer” or hold up for his approval, we are left with the truth that His acceptance, love, and presence depend entirely upon our Jesus and not even a tad on us. 

 I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  Psalm 131:2  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Creation's Chorus

The mountains declare the glory of God. 

The majesty, the grandeur, the beauty, the incomparable, infinite, incomprehensible—all on display for the looking eye.

The flowers, those 3D color wheels, remind that beauty is God’s design. 
Every hue of yellow, orange, blue and purple proclaim, look at me, look at me,
reminding us of the Author of Beauty, look at Him, look at Him. 
Every stem and petal exhibit the intricate attention of the Master Artist. 

The trees, the singing birds, each living thing works together to exhale, glory, glory, glory.

  The rocks, the grass, the streams, all say, our God is strong, our God is lush and vibrant.

The riches of His beauty declare, you are loved.

All details of His creation sing in unison, look at the work of His hands. 
He has made all things for His glory, lifting gazes to Him, the exalted one.

What about you, believer?  What do you proclaim? 

What is your contribution to this glory-chorus of creation? 

Join the proclamation of all creation.  This is what you were made to do--it is your purpose and your joy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Feet touching the ground, lungs breathing the air, mouth eating the food--
dwelling with the people He knit together in mamas' wombs,
speaking words to ears he hand-crafted, Holy God in the flesh,
abiding in the world He created. 

It is Immanuel’s voice, the voice of the God who is with us, that we hear in John 15.  Preparing His disciples for His death, Jesus shares these words of life to teach the with-ness that will be the trademark of His kingdom. 

Vines, branches, gardeners…these are not just examples, these things were created for the purpose of illustrating unseen spiritual realities.  When He created vines and determined that branches must stay connected, He knew this would be a clear picture of infinite truth to finite minds.  Physical realities mimic spiritual truth, not the other way around.

If God had only sacrificed His Son to be the scapegoat for the punishment of humanity’s sin, that would have been more than enough.  Salvation alone displays His goodness and abundant love.  But since God is an “exceedingly more” kind of God, He went further, much further. 
We hear God’s call to enjoy Him in abundance throughout Scripture. 
for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…and you have been given fullness in Christ…open wide your mouth and I will fill it…for God gives the Spirit without limit…call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Colossians 2:9-10; Psalm 81:10; John 3:34; Jeremiah 3:33  

A friend recently taught me about "dayenu."  A song sung at the Jewish Passover, it's a word that means it would have been enough for us.  There are fifteen stanzas in the song and each is followed by Dayenu!--it would have been enough for us: "...If He brought us out of Egypt--Dayenu!...If He had fed us manna--Dayenu!..." 
This is our extravagant God.  
If He had only saved us from our sin it would have been enough for us--dayenu;
if He only rescued us from our willful destruction it would have been enough for us--dayenu.   
He not only redeemed us, through no merit or effort of our own, but He also deposited His Spirit within our hearts—the Spirit that would enable all who believe to live their days in Him—Yes, in the very presence of God.  He has graciously poured Himself out and graciously poured Himself into us.  We are in Him and He is in us. 
This is a revolutionary intimacy. 
When Jesus is speaking of the vine and how the branch must remain in the vine, how it bears much fruit because of the source, He is giving them, and us, the foundational secret to life with God.   This is the secret to wisdom, knowledge, joy, impact…this is everything.  You either bear much fruit or you can do nothing, with abiding as the determining factor. 

When we abide in Christ, we make our home in Him, we live in Him.  Everything is now in Christ—our daily tasks, our relationships, our dreams—in Him we live, and move, and have our being.  This is more than a mindfulness that we belong to Him—lifting our thoughts to Him is where it begins but if we are willing, it is much more. 
In the Old Testament, you’ll remember, the priests carried out their duties in the Holy Place. It is important to note that the presence of God was not there, but on the other side of the curtain, in the Holy of Holies.  The priest could enter this Holy of Holies once a year, with many stipulations, to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people.

But now (two of my favorite words in Scripture) our Savior has opened wide the Holy of Holies.  Beginning with the ripped curtain at His death, Jesus has now made living in Him possible and we are allowed, urged even, to enter into the very presence of God. 
You can almost hear the shout, “COME IN, DWELL WITH ME; ENTER IN AND STAY—ABIDE HERE.” 
He is ever-drawing, ever-wooing us to Himself.  We simply enter by faith. But we forsake the magnitude of this gift when we function outside of the veil.  We still belong to Him, our anchor is still within the veil, but we are forfeiting what He has freely given us when we do not abide therein.  We may still think of Him a little or read His word, but the constancy of remaining is lacking.  As C.S. Lewis taught, He offers the sea but we settle for a mud pies.  He has cleared the path, telling us that He is the way into the very throne room of God and we are often content to remain outside the rent veil, going about our daily routine, settling for shadows and substitutes while the life-giving power is found within, in Him--in the vine.

What a truth!—I am made clean, declared righteous, and invited to live in His presence.  The power over sin—to say no to those things that I can’t seem to shake—is found there, the companionship that I’ve looked for all my life is there, the approval, the love—oh the love!, the healing, the glory—everything is within. 
But most of all, God is there.  The God who hand-knit me, the God who knows the intricate places of my heart better than I do, the God who has wooed me since childhood—Yes, He is there.  Won’t you come?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

what we know

Why, O Lord do you seem so far away?

Longing, frustration, loneliness, confusion--here we are again.  What is God doing?  What does He think about me?  Has He forgotten me? The trail we walk is sometimes so winding that it seems to go nowhere.  It feels as though our lives have gotten off course and maybe He's unaware.    We want to turn back and go to what we know, we want to stop and find people who will commiserate with us, we want to turn any direction other than the one we are going.  Words that once seemed sure, feel like a thin paper map, and we fear that a wind will come and blow it to pieces.   We begin to question what we once knew; we begin to question God's character; we certainly question our own. 

When Scripture refers to God as a stronghold it gives us the picture of the security and strength that He is and provides.  We never read that the world we inhabit will be secure or fair, we read the opposite actually.  We will have trouble, people will lie and cheat and steal, prayers may seem unanswered.

And yet, in the midst of suffering or disappointment or confusion, we must listen to The Great Whisperer.  The Spirit who raised our Jesus and lives in us reminds us of truth--truth that is strong and unchanging.  Truth that we cling to when everything else is giving way underneath.

When I am suffering and caught up in the worst of fears, I often make a list I title what I know.  The simple writing of this list reorients my thinking and lifts my eyes to a faithful God and away from myself.   Sometimes my list is just a few words and sometimes it’s longer.  Here is my most recent one.

What I Know:
God's love for me is unchanging.
There is nothing I can do to make Him love me less and nothing I can do to make Him love me more because His affection for me is based on His character, not on mine.  
He is aware of my lot and is involved in the details of it.
The things God is accomplishing in me in the midst of this time is more important than the things I feel I should be accomplishing.
If He is not responding to my request, it is because waiting is better than a resolution.
His desire for me, above all else, is that I know Him from personal experience, not just hearsay.
There are some realities I learn about God that I only understand through struggle and suffering.
My heart, though lukewarm, doubting, wandering, or questioning, securely belongs to Him because He paid the highest price for it.

I hold onto His words, but during times when my grip is weak, they hold me.  And I am held by the strong God who knows me and knows what He is doing.  When the world around me is uncertain and dark, He holds me close.

Friday, June 26, 2015

there once was a girl

There once was a girl who said all the wrong yeses and all the wrong no’s,                
she was one who was worse than her foes.                                                                

She had a heart that was tender and mind that went deep,                                          
but she wanted a man who her soul he would keep.                                                

She was liked by some and loved by a few,                                                                         
still she lay on her bed at night wondering what she should do. 

Keep searching, keep searching, keep searching she thought,                                      
but she could never quite find what her heart truly sought.                

After looking and looking she settled on some,                                                                  
but she quickly kept looking when she realized we’re done.                                     

Then finally she met One who was different than the rest,                                            
she noticed that He was concerned with her best.         

She followed whole-hearted and loved all that He showed her,                                    
like that He was enough, her looking was over. 

How closely they walked while His truth He revealed,                                                    
she was overjoyed that her soul He now healed.                                                             

One day, to her surprise, He brought a new man to her path, 
but all she noticed was his dirty blue hat.                                                        
She looked closer to find something in his heart unexpected,                                      
that he too loved this God they both once neglected.

She was thrilled that his heart had met the One too,                                        
and now she knew exactly what to do.

Fall in love, fall in love, fall in love they did do,                                                                 
they loved the One and now they loved each other too. 

Days turned to months and months to years,                                                               
they laughed many laughs and cried many tears.

They dreamed and they lived and shared in much joy,                                                    
but then it was time to knock on His door. 

And though their love-long days had come to an end,                                                   
they knew they would see their One, truest friend.

Come in, come in, come in to my home,                                                                              
I’m thrilled to welcome you two with my song. 

They hugged and they danced and they sang for forever,                                           
they were finally home, complete, together.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sunday Lunch

When I was young, we spent Sunday lunch at Nanny and Pawpaw Neel’s house.  Regardless of what kind of week we had or how chaotic the rest of life seemed, those few hours were reserved for 130 North 14th Street.  Still in our “church clothes” (not wanting the time we spent ironing them the night before to go to waste by only wearing them for an hour), we’d park on their root-cracked driveway that was just long enough for three-fourths of a car, race across the cool, rooty St. Augustine, run up those steep concrete steps, and knock on the locked screen door—Nanny was serious about locked doors.   The smells of baking bread and pecans were the first to greet us at the door, and then Pawpaw, with his wide smile, his shirt unsnapped down to his belly—a small picture of this carefree man.  We were clearly his delight. 

Their house was full of tangible comforts.

After sneaking Wrigley’s Spearmint from the drawer just inside the den, we’d plop onto the kitchen stools to watch Nanny Neel work her magic.  She was always busy in the kitchen, but effortlessly so.   Cooking and feeding were her gift; she was an artist and watching her create in her studio was also a gift.  I love that woman. 

Since my mama was the baby of three, she was never expected to contribute anything to the meal—I guess that’s one of the compensations for the total number of her baby pictures adding to zero.  I get it, by the third you’re tired. 

In the winter time we would take turns standing over the floor furnace.  We’d keep to the heat as if it were a newborn baby--there wasn’t a minute that it was left alone.  I loved that furnace. 

After all the food was at just the right temperature (how did she do that?) we circled up to give thanks, no matter how spiritual the prayer sounded, what we were really thinking was, thank you, God for this gift you’ve given our Nanny.

“Make your plate,” she’d say—even now, twenty years later, when I see a sturdy Styrofoam plate, I hear those slow, familiar words.

Our favorite Sunday lunch was chicken-n-dumplins (What exactly is a dumplin? And where is the “g”?  These are questions I still ask.) and rolls.  My goal was to fill that plate with as much white as it could hold—I quickly learned that at my grandparents house, the adults paid no attention to unnecessary details--I’d open up those hot rolls and pour homemade muscadine on like syrup--no less than 5 and no more than 8, usually.   I loved those rolls.

I guess the tables were cleared and the dishes were done, but that was also magical.  Us kids just let the adults do the adult chores.  The only expectation on us was to eat and be loved. 

We ended each Sunday sitting on the stiff living room couch, some fell asleep and some would talk about all the important things like septic systems and new carpet for the camper.  My sister and I would give updates too, her cheerleading tryouts, my dance recital.  I loved those days. 

Pawpaw has been gone seven years this November.  I miss him something deep.  I miss him teaching me to hold my fishing pole just so; I miss him throwing me to the sky in DeGray lake; I miss his calm comfort.  I loved that man.  And while Nanny’s days are drawing to a close, at 94, she dreams about Pawpaw often.  Death has just been a small interruption for them.  You can tell when you talk to her that she can’t wait to see him.  I’m sure she has a lot to tell him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

the river of delights

Wow.  I'm reading a Psalm this morning, because I read Psalms in the summer, and I read one that I promise was just inserted today.  I've never noticed it before, but it's such confirmation for what I shared yesterday.  God is so good.

They feast on the abundance of Your house;
You give them drink from Your river of delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light we see light.
psalm 36:8-9
Feast, abundance, river, fountain...the message of God's extravagance and His "more than" nature is unmistakable.  He is more than enough and when we find our delight in Him He gives it abundantly.  In Him we find ourselves and find our soul's deepest longing. 
Drink from His river of delights today, friend. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

out of the depths

Think about the good today. 
These words woke me one morning.  They weren’t audible, they came as a thought, but not a thought of my own.  They were soft and generous as thoughts from above can sometimes be.  I got up, still wondering how a thought could wake me.  I had been having quite the restless night—the result of many restless days, and then a simple sentence shook me.  It wasn’t complex or profound, but revolutionary for sure.

I'd been feeling like I was in a type of pit for some time.  God’s nearness and faithfulness were still certain in my mind, but I began to wonder if He had forgotten about me or set me aside.  As a self-proclaimed realist, “looking on the bright side” when things are difficult has always bugged me.   I love the part in Romans that says “Abraham…faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…”  Facing the facts makes much more sense to me than the power of positive thinking.  Pardon the clichés.  I’m on a roll.

But maybe, instead of focusing on the hard circumstances, I was being instructed to focus on the good that was also true—to the rest of that verse in Romans that says, “yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” …to shift my thoughts from the brokenness and questions to the ways God has poured out good things and Himself.  I think the Lord was saying, “ok, you’ve examined the difficult, now let’s examine the good.”  Could it be that the deliverance I’d begged for begins with the renewal of my mind?...with my deliberate choice to follow Him out of the pit? 
Sometimes God sheds His oh-so-bright light into our dark places and we sit in awe, but sometimes He shows us His light and asks us to walk to it, leaving the darkness behind. 
Sometimes He says, “be still and watch my deliverance,” (Ex. 14:14) and sometimes He says, “get up and come out.”  (John 5:8; 11:43) Today was the latter.

So how do we think about the good and how does that bring healing and restoration?
First, I think it needs to be said that grief is part of life.  We cannot expect our lives to be free of sadness.  Even if our lives were completely free from all hardship, which they’re not, the state of the world around us and the condition of human hearts can cause deep sorrow.  Our world is so broken, lives around us are so broken, our own hearts are so broken.  I think it was Amy Carmichael that said, we follow a crucified Savior.  But we face the facts and then we face a great God who can be trusted.

One command in Scripture that helps us is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5—take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  In other words, when thoughts of self-pity, doubt, or sadness (or pride or self-righteousness, for that matter) come knocking, shut the front door.  No really, shut the front door, the back door, the windows and the garage.  You’re not escaping reality by not focusing on the difficult because the truest reality is found in Jesus Christ, which brings us to another command.

Delight yourself in the Lord.  Yes, this is a command.  Delight literally means to bend towards or to be inclined to, it also means to take pleasure in.  We serve a God who commands us to take pleasure in Him! It doesn’t say “you should delight in Him.”  The words should and delight don’t work together.  Delighting in the Lord is the response to a clear view of Him--God is delightful, we are told to enjoy Him.  As John Piper proclaims, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  Don’t seek joy (or satisfaction or pleasure), seek God and find all of the above.   If I took my son to the candy store, opened the door and simply said, “go for it!” he would have no trouble finding delight inside.  This is what God does for us, “here I am, find your delight in Me.” 
All of God’s fullness is made available to us in Jesus Christ,
we can either feast, snack, or fast.

If I am not finding delight in the Lord it is either because I haven’t subjected myself to His fullness—maybe because of busyness or disinterest; because I have looked in the wrong places and settled for a lesser-God, one that glitters and shines, but found to be fools gold; because I have so filled my thoughts with self that there is no room for Him or anything else; or because I have looked for pleasure in shadows--good things, even religious things, that only point to the reality found in Him.  As long as we are delighting in something other than the Lord, our delight in Him will be minimal. 

Think about the good.  It takes practice when those thinking muscles are atrophied, but He gives strength with every command. 

 We still face life’s difficulties, but the difference is that our joy is steadily anchored in Him—not because we have masterfully created a good anchor or a good rope, but because that which we are anchored in is strong and sure.