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Showing posts from November, 2011

Spot the Differences?

Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; 
   then I'd never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel.  (Psalm 119:5-6 The Message)
What is it you compare your life to?  Is it another individual?  Perhaps it is a set of rules or standards you strive to adhere to.  Or maybe it is an illusion of perfection you set up as a "desired outcome".  Either way, you will be disappointed in comparing your "progress" in life to any of these!  When we compare ourselves to others, we can do one of two things - either we get really humbled by their actions (making us feel guilty), or we feel like we showed them up (making us feel really proud).  If we spend all our time trying to "live by the rules", we sometimes get so bogged down in the rules we miss the life that is happening all around us.  Most of us have had some type of illusion of perfection in our minds at one time or another - it does not take much to burst our bubble on …

The leap of faith

You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You're blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.  That's right—you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it.  (Psalm 119:1-4 The Message)
A few days ago, we looked at the meaning of the word "blessed".  Many might have been surprised to know that "blessed" carried meaning such as consecrated, set apart, sanctified, and supremely favored.  Words are rich in meaning - we just need to explore them to see what is "hidden" within.  The psalmist sought to set out a series of "life-instructions" within the 119th Psalm.  He begins with the lesson of learning to "walk".  He will end with the idea of where learning to walk actually gets us!  Today, we begin a venture into Psalm 119 - finding highlights from this rather long…

See one, do one, teach one

1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message)
Have you ever heard the saying, "See one, do one, teach one"?  In nursing school, that seemed to be the method they used to help us connect between what we were learning in the books and what we'd actually see, hear, smell, feel, etc., in caring for our patients.  For example, we'd listen to lectures on the diseases of the heart.  That lecture would be complete with signs and symptoms of irregular heartbeats, swelling in the extremities, and other "signs" that the heart may not be working as well as it should be.  In our clinical setting, we'd be asked to take care…

The Circle of Quiet

12-15 How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word, providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,while a jail is being built for the wicked.God will never walk away from his people,never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its wayand every good heart put right.
(Psalm 94:12-15 The Message)
How blessed the man you train!  How blessed the woman you instruct in your Word!  Awesome words, huh?  Did you know that there are other words for "blessed" in our English vocabulary?  Namely, they are:  Consecrated, Sacred, Holy, Sanctified, Supremely Favored, and Blissfully Happy!  Wow!  Now that says a lot, doesn't it?  The one trained or instructed by God is really a pretty privileged individual!
As I sat in English class during my high school days, one of my most favorite things I learned to do was "diagram" a sentence.  My teacher would remind me that there is always a subject of the sentence, that a whole lot of …

What's taking shape?

5-6Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the 'wind-hovering-over-the-water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. (John 3:5-6 The Message)
Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness - maybe because he was a prominent religious leader of the day, afraid to be seen seeking answers from the very one that those religious leaders would ultimately send to the cross.  As the story opens for us, we see a familiar scene of Old Testament times.  The Rabbi (the teacher) would pose a question or introduce an idea that would stimulate thought and provoke conversation.  Then, in the customary manner, the Rabbi would begin t…

Uh Oh! I think I forgot something!

6So seek God and live! You don't want to end up with nothing to show for your life but a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground. 
   For God will send just such a fire, and the firefighters will show up too late. (Amos 5:6 The Message)
Amos was one of the twelve minor prophets of Israel.  He had a tough job - serving as the prophet during the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah.  The kingdoms were growing prosperous - some would say they were "feeling their oats".  They had little time for God and lots of time for their good life.  The armies of Assyria (one of their rivals) were battling for the territory of Damascus.  In turn, Israel was allowed to live almost without battle and enjoy the expansion of their territory without the need for battle.  Although the nation was prospering and expanding its lands, its heart for God was not so expansive.  
Values are often determined by the circumstances we find ourselves in.  When Israel was "down on its luck" with armi…

Is it all an illusion?

12-13 Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I'm still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a "good" life. No matter how many days he lives, they'll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn't fear God. (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 The Message)
The Good Life - how many times have we said it or heard it said by another - "Aah...this is the GOOD life!"  We are kicking back on the beach, enjoying the rays, listening to the palms fronds rattling in the wind, and then we utter these words of absolute contentment!  The next thing you know, a gust of wind blows away your umbrella, a happy-go-lucky child throws sand on you, and the sun drifts behind the clouds!  What happened to your "contentment" in that moment?  Ummm....honestly....it was no longer the "good life"!
Our p…

You're Invited

1God, who gets invited to dinner at your place?  How do we get on your guest list? 
2 "Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. 
3-4 Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. 
5 Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, 
         never take a bribe.  You'll never getblacklistedif you live like this." (Psalm 15 The Message)
David was a man after God's own heart.  I often consider what this really means.  It seems that my "heart" can often betray me - so I am reluctant to "follow it" sometimes!  In all the practicality of day-to-day life, David takes a little time to listen to what God tells him.  He asks God a question, then he actually stops long enough to listen for God's answer.  I think that is what it is like to have a heart after God - not that we always make the right choices and live 100% perfectly, but that we give God the central place in our lives.
When David stopped long enough t…

Beginnings are easy!

8 Endings are better than beginnings. 
   Sticking to it is better than standing out. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
I think that many of us do a great job at STARTING stuff - our hobby cabinets, bookshelves, and garages give testament to that fact.  Yet, I wonder how many of us really FINISH what it is we start!  I have a very creative daughter.  In school, she would take all kinds of arts classes.  I always enjoyed seeing what it was she created.  She'd take on new projects with all the flare of creativity she could muster up, then when the project was taking too long, or something else caught her interest...it would be put aside unfinished.  Another side of this story is my tendency to read as many as five books at one time.  I will start them, put them down and take up a new one.  When the mood hits me for a little of the mystery, I pick it back up, then it gets put down for the humor of the comedy, and so on.  
It should not surprise you that we are very "moody" people.  We are dri…

Want high returns on your investment?

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns.  Don't hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others. (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 The Message)
In the United States, this is the week of Thanksgiving.  We will gather around tables across our nation with friends and family this Thursday to celebrate the season of harvest that our forefathers began so many years ago in Plymouth.  The celebration of harvest was something to relish, as the hard work of the year was drawing to a close, and the land would soon lay at rest for while prior to the planting of the next crops.  We've lost that sense of celebrating harvest over the years as our country has become far more of a manufacturing country and a lot less of an agricultural country.  Yet, we continue the celebration without any real connection to its original meaning.
In many ways, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the season we call our "holiday" season.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, fa…

Litmus Test

1 If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction!  (Proverbs 12:1 The Message)
If you've read even one of my blog posts, you will know that I love to learn new meaning of words, explore how things work, and to simply understand the "why" behind things.  I have a mind that works almost all the time - finding myself awaking in the night hours with ideas for the next blog, "fixes" to something that is needing my attention at work or at home, etc.  I have had friends ask, "Don't you every just 'shut-off' and chill?"  I guess that I'd have to say that I do, but it is just like taking a dimmer switch and turning down the "intensity" a little!  The light just never is completely shut off!
The passage today deals with a "test" - kind of like a little litmus test - to be able to tell if we really love being a disciple of Christ.  The first part of this verse is the "s…