Showing posts from April, 2012

Hey, you limping?

If you have ever engaged in the pastime of people-watching, you soon realize there are many "styles" of walking.   Some take slow, meandering steps, not appearing to have a care in the world.  Others walk at an "all-out" pace you'd imagine a marathon runner to require.  Still others seem to "strut there stuff" as they swagger along.  As any physical therapist will tell you, your "gait" tells a whole lot about what is going on in a person's entire body.  For example, if you shuffle a lot when you walk, it could be an indication of a lack of muscle strength, or perhaps a neurological deficit which is keeping the person from performing the normal "heel-strike" type gait.  The therapist observes for limps - knowing a limp on one side of the body affects so much on the other - called an antalgic gait (you are protecting one side with the work of the other).  A waddling or duck-like gait might cue the therapist to consider the effects

Calgon....take me away!

Have you ever just left a small gift on someone's desk while they were out of the office - no note, no explanation, just something which might bless them on a day when nothing seems to be going right for them?  What happens in the moment the person notices the gift upon their return?  They ponder it, don't they?  It gives them "cause to pause".  There is this period of time between the "shock" of receiving the gift and the moment their curiosity causes them to ask, "Hey, who put this here?"  For just a brief period of time, they stop focusing on the issues which made them so irritable in the first place, don't they? 14  A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;  a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.  (Proverbs 21: 14 The Message) Have you ever been on the receiving end of this type of "blessing"?  If you have, you will definitely understand what I am about to say.  The undeserved kindness of another "shuts you down&

Ummm...Have you seen our present mess?

We have all experienced those moments when the "mess" of our present "muddle" seems like more than enough to handle - then along comes someone telling us to get "deeper" into the "muddle"!  I think we all probably might have responded similarly to the one who tells us to get ourselves into a deeper muddle - it probably went something like, "Are you nuts!  Things are more than I can handle right here and you want me to do what?"  Hey, this is not a new response!  In fact, there is a similar one recorded in the Bible! 3  But David's men said, "We live in fear of our lives right here in Judah. How can you think of going to Keilah in the thick of the Philistines?"    4  So David went back to  God  in prayer.  God  said, "Get going. Head for Keilah. I'm placing the Philistines in your hands."  (I Samuel 23:3-4 The Message) David was the one asking for them to get "deeper into the muddle" and the

Pure Grace

I have a tendency to run the full-length of emotions in life - how about you?  Some days, I am on top of the world, others I am in the pit looking up.  The ups and downs, twists and turns of life just keep us in knots, wondering what is coming next.  It is one things to feel these various emotions because of another's action within our lives - quite another to feel them because of our own actions, isn't it?  One brings a sense of anger and retaliation, the other brings a sense of frustration and shame.   3  Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  (Romans 12:3 The Message) The main reason we experience these ups and downs in our emotions is our viewpoint - it colors our interpretation of life.  

We are what we eat!

Mom and I have a favorite spot we like to stop by whenever we visit the local shopping mall.  We are not there very often, so when we do traverse the mall, stopping into the See's Candies is a great treat.  The tradition has carried on for ages - stop in and you get a free chocolate!  I often don't want mine - so Mom scores!  She gets a "two-fer".  If you have ever experienced the chocolates from a See's, you know this is good chocolate.  It is not like buying a candy bar at the grocery store.  I really am not a connoisseur of chocolate - a plain chocolate bar from the grocer is fine for me!  Yet, it really does not compare to the richness of the "finer" chocolates you find at the store in the mall.  Some words are kind of like this - some go down easy, but they lack the "smoothness and taste" of the wise! 8  Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;  do you really want junk like that in your belly?  (Proverbs 18:8 The Message) Idle t

Batter up!

Back in the day, when baseball was just starting out as a national pastime, the pitching was a whole lot different than it is today.  You'd hear the announcer say, "Here comes the wind-up..."  In a few quick moves, the pitcher would go through various "contortions" until there was a sudden release of the ball, sending it sailing toward home plate.  It was the "wind-up" which gave the ball its speed.  Without the wind-up, the ball was not likely to cross the plate, but if it did - the batter was more likely to hit it dead on, sending it as far as his swing would allow.   14  The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam,  so stop it before it bursts. (Proverbs 17:14 The Message) The beginning of a quarrel is something like the "wind-up" of the "pitch" which will send the entire conversation into a direction it may never have intended to go!  Learning to control the "pitch" often determines if the ball will ever reach h

Hide or Seek - You Choose!

When I was a youngster, we played the simple game of "hide and seek".  In those days, we had a great neighborhood for hiding.  We had 13 citrus trees, a huge mulberry tree, and two pretty impressive sized junipers.  All provided ample hiding space for one who could scurry up the trunk and into the cover of the leaves fast enough.  In addition to this, we had all kind of hiding places behind the pigeon coop, around the pool area, behind the garage, and even behind a row of shiny silver trash cans.  Yet, as I recall all the places I hid, none was as safe as the place I run to now! 1-3  God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.  We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,  courageous in seastorm and earthquake,  before the rush and roar of oceans,  the tremors that shift mountains.    Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,   God -of-Angel-Armies protects us.  (Psalm 46:1-3 The Message) We all have "hiding places" we run to, don't we?  Some are m

The best defense is a good offense

There are times when we all need to hear the words which will bolster our courage, increase our faith, and help to put "steel in our spines" again.  No matter how hard we try, we sometimes experience moments of doubt - the siege against us seeming to be far more prepared than our own defense.  The truth is, we are often caught unaware in the moment of attack in our lives.  Most of us have little to no clue of the next thing which will put us into a tailspin.   6-8  Hezekiah rallied the people, saying, "Be strong! Take courage! Don't be intimidated by the king of Assyria and his troops—there are more on our side than on their side. He only has a bunch of mere men; we have our  God  to help us and fight for us!"  Morale surged. Hezekiah's words put steel in their spines.   (2 Chronicles 32:6-8  The Message) The situation:  King Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, is coming against the fortified cities of Judah.  His strategy was to take the city of Jerusal

This "fits" me well!

Did you ever consider something you put on, thinking it would make you look good, then immediately pull it off, replace it back on the hanger and return it to the rack at the store?  Your first impression was, "I have seen others wear this and it looks so cute!"  Your first impression on you:  "Uh....this does nothing for me!"  Maybe it is a "girl thing", but I think guys go through this frustration once in a while, too.  They may just not admit it!  There is one form of "attire" which will never disappoint, never look odd on us, and always flatters us! 10-11   I will sing for joy in God,  explode in praise from deep in my soul!   He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,  he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, a s a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo  and a bride a jeweled tiara.   For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,  and as a garden cascades with blossoms, s o the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom  and puts prais

Oh, those are BIG waves!

The idea of "hope" is the anchor which holds every person in the battle of cancer treatment.  The chance the latest chemo treatment may just be the one to kick those rebellious cells into remission gives one a chance to believe things may turn out well.  Working hard at a task, seeing incremental changes which appear to be in the right direction, gives a soul expectancy for things to be different from what they are today.  We all live with some element of "hope" in our lives.  If we did not, we'd shrivel up and die - if not physically, at least emotionally! 12  Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick,  but a sudden good break can turn life around. (Proverbs 13:12 The Message) In the NIV, the same verse is translated:   12  Hope deferred makes the heart sick,  but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.   We cannot live with "deferred hope" for very long without feeling its effect upon our bodies, minds, and emotions.  Our "anchor"

God likes what he sees!

So many times we form opinions of others based on what we see.  The only "chink" in this method of "opinion forming" is we don't have the full picture!  Every now and then I am surprised by something someone does or says which I really never expected them to do.  I am quite certain I have surprised people more than once with my own actions!  Yesterday was one of those days for me! True confessions are a good thing - aren't they?  When we can realize how we miss the mark, we are taking the first step toward correcting our actions! 8  But Noah was different.  God  liked what he saw in Noah.   (Genesis 6:8 The Message) As I write this blog, our hospital is under full review for our renewal of license.  This is a process which comes every three years, with periodic "rechecks" in between.  In the frenzy of the activity of the morning "start-up" activities, I found myself answering my peers in a curt, rather sharp manner.  Ugh!  I was se

Dangerous NOT to belong!

In school I found there were various groups of people - some were pretty popular, others not so much.  In the moment, almost all of us wanted to be part of the popular group.  It was not so much the desire to "do" what they did, but to be considered to be "part of" their group.  In fact, if I had considered some of the stuff they "did", I might have reconsidered my all-fired desire to "fit into" their group!  Isn't it funny how we view others from the limited perspective of how being "part" of their "circle" will benefit us?  This is certainly not a new issue in society - nor is it soon to be resolved! 15-17  Mordecai walked out of the king's presence wearing a royal robe of violet and white, a huge gold crown, and a purple cape of fine linen. The city of Susa exploded with joy. For Jews it was all sunshine and laughter: they celebrated, they were honored. It was that way all over the country, in every province, ever

In the periphery...

Have you ever come into a situation where you "think" someone is talking about you, so when you are asked your opinion based on just a little bit of knowledge of the gist of the conversation, you begin to launch into some answer which makes you look great (at least in your eyes!)?  Then, as quickly as you began, you find yourself caught off-guard when you realize they weren't even speaking of you, but another!  You are mortified to find out you have "built up" or "bragged on" someone you don't even like!  Haman found himself in just such a spot: 6-9  When Haman entered, the king said, "What would be appropriate for the man the king especially wants to honor?"  Haman thought to himself, "He must be talking about honoring me— who else?" So he answered the king, "For the man the king delights to honor, do this: Bring a royal robe that the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crown on its head. Th

Are you willing?

There are times when silence is definitely the best "tactic" to utilize - yet there are others when remaining silent will just worsen a situation.  Learning how to use silence in a positive manner is a skill many of us never fully grasp.  In fact, many of us don't like silence.  We avoid it at all cost.  There are also a group of us who like to express our opinion - invited or not.  Either way, what we do with the silence is important - what we do with the spoken word is even more so. 12-14  When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: "Don't think that just because you live in the king's house you're the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this."  (Esther 4:12-14 The Message) Esther f

That's an odd custom!

In a world as diverse as ours, we see all kinds of "customs" and "ways" which are somewhat different from those we may have been raised to observe.  The passage of time even affects the customs and ways of various people.  Just look at the tendency to all eat dinner as a family in the 50's being replaced with the "catch as catch can" type of family gatherings we see today.  Yet, when a people holds to a custom, there are others who can always find fault with it. Haman then spoke with King Xerxes: "There is an odd set of people scattered through the provinces of your kingdom who don't fit in. Their customs and ways are different from those of everybody else."  (Esther 3:8 The Message) Haman was not so concerned about Mordecai (the cousin of Esther) being a Jew as much as he was concerned about Mordecai refusing to bow down to him in some sign of awareness of his "masterful" position he had obtained in the government.  Haman h

Anointed with myrrh - really?

Imagine being a young woman, orphaned as a young child, taken in by your cousin to be reared after your parents' death.  You find yourself living in a strange land as a foreigner to the region, your family has been taken from you, and now you find yourself living in a "single parent" home.  Not the life every young girl dreams of, huh?  Then one day, a decree requires you to leave the comfort of the only "home" you really knew.  Taken from your place of comfort, you are ushered into a great harem of others being prepared for the pleasure of the king of the land.  Months of preparation will be required, but in the end, your very life will totally rotate around the king's command.  Esther finds herself alone, at the mercy of the head of the king's harem, and totally uncertain of her future.  Yet, in this story of Esther, I found a little nougat of hope: When it was Esther's turn to go  to the king (Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordeca

Mountains out of molehills

I was listening to a song on the way to work yesterday.  In the verse, a thought crossed my mind which I took as a seed thought for our study today.  The basics of the song inferred we stand on mountains of shame.  Dare I say we do this more than we may actually realize?   When wickedness arrives,  shame 's not far behind; contempt for life is contemptible.  (Proverbs 18:3 The Message) Have you ever heard the saying, "You are making mountains out of molehills"?  In the purest sense, this describes our tendency to respond "disproportionately" to something.  We all have a tendency to exaggerate a situation once in a while.  Yet, as it comes to our shame over misdeeds, I think we start out standing on a molehill and before long it advances to a mountain. We don't have moles in my neck of the woods, but we do have prairie dogs.  Those tiny mounds of dirt they push up as they burrow into the ground are certainly not very "ominous" in appearance.