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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Desert of Grief

When I was a kid, I loved reading the Reader's Digest.  I had two favorite sections - "Laughter is the Best Medicine" and "Humor in Uniform".  Both are lighthearted short stories intended to bring a smile to your face and a little cheer to your day.  I guess I was attracted to these sections in the magazine because they made me laugh.  In fact, I gravitate toward laughter!  I find it is like a magnet to my soul.  Whenever I hear a group of folks laughing, it lifts my spirits - almost releasing some type of hidden "energy" within.  Much happens with laughter - medically speaking.  Yet, laughter can conceal a great deal of hurt behind it!


Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.  (Proverbs 14:13 NLT)


Did you know the average person laughs somewhere around 15-20 times a day?  If you are considering a face-lift due to a few sagging facial muscles, you might consider getting a steady dose of laughter each day!  In la…

The straight message

Sometimes we just need to hear stuff straight.  We get so many "white-washed" messages throughout life, don't we?  In the end, we sometimes don't really know who to trust, or when to count on something as truth.  I think the gospel message is one of those things we should not "white-wash", or attempt to "pretty up" in any way.  It is best when it is straight-forward and to the point!


My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.  (Colossians 2:6-7 The Message)


Paul does just the opposite of so many of the teachers of his day.  They were story-tellers.  They brought much "color" into t…

Have you truly walked?

As many of you know, I write this blog about a week in advance.  On Monday of this week, I underwent the fourth surgery on my knee.  As a result, I am a little sore, a little "lame", and a lot bored!  I really depend on my "walking" to keep me as active as possible - getting hither and yon is a big deal to me as I don't do "sedentary" very well!  I could not imagine being crippled to the point of being unable to walk at all, especially if this had been from birth.


There was a man in Lystra who couldn't walk. He sat there, crippled since the day of his birth. He heard Paul talking, and Paul, looking him in the eye, saw that he was ripe for God's work, ready to believe. So he said, loud enough for everyone to hear, "Up on your feet!" The man was up in a flash—jumped up and walked around as if he'd been walking all his life.  (Acts 14:8-10 The Message)


Paul is on one of his missionary journeys and stops in a region known as Lystra.  O…

Pushmi-Pullyu

When I was a child, the original "Doctor Doolittle" movie was released.  I was caught up in the mystery of how this amazing doctor could actually communicate with the animals.  One animal fascinated me, though.  It was the "Pushmi-Pullyu" (Push-me-Pull-you).  This "creature" had two heads - one at each end of the body - with really no tail at all.  It was kind of a llama of sorts, but with two head portions sharing one body.  Every single time it tried to move, it tried to go ahead in two opposite directions!  Now, does anyone else see the dilemma here?  When we are being pulled in one direction, it makes it almost impossible to move forward in the other!


Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!  You can't worship two gods at once.…

Are you handicapped?

Do you have a "handicap"?  In the most technical sense, a handicap is any disadvantage which makes it harder to be successful.  In this sense, I think we ALL have some handicap or another!  In another sense, a handicap is some form of weight, time, or distance placed on someone in order to "equalize" the advantages / disadvantages of all who run in a race.  For example, if you bowl really well and are being placed in a league with others who don't bowl as well, they might get a few points "handicap" to even things out from the get-go.  This gives everyone a "fair chance" of winning.  Sometimes, our "handicap" is given for quite another reason.


Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking aro…

Avoiding Course Corrections

Have you ever had a bad motive?  Maybe there was a time when you simply felt you had "cause" to act a certain way - so you did.  Or perhaps you just felt moved to some sort of action, not really realizing where the "motive" to act came from.  Either way, I think we struggle with our "motives" more often than we'd like to think.  


A bad motive can't achieve a good end; double-talk brings you double trouble.  (Proverbs 17:20 The Message)  


Solomon gives us some wise advice here.  A bad motive will never achieve a good end.  Start out poorly and we usually finish poorly.  It is always more difficult to change directions than it is to continue on the course we are on.  If you have a GPS, you know what I mean.  Whenever you have experienced the little voice telling you she is "recalculating", you know what is coming, don't you?  Yep, it is the "command" to "turn right" or "turn left" at the next exit!  The GPS …

A patchwork quilt

I have admired some of the most beautiful quilts over the years.  Depending on the occasion, there have been the traditional patchwork types with pieces of varying colors and fabrics stitched close together in no particular order.  Then there are the others which show a pattern, with great care taken in placing each piece so as to continue the pattern with each new row of material pieces added.  The traditional wedding ring quilts show the concentric rings intertwined, symbolizing the joining to two into one.  Regardless of the "pattern", they are a thing of beauty.  Today, we will look at something of a "patchwork" quilt of another kind.


In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple.   (Isaiah 6:1 The Message)


In the times King Uzziah reigned, Isaiah is given a vision of the heavenly realm.  He is escorted into the "throne room" of the Most High.  There, he encounters the…

Spontaneous living

I have made some acquaintances over my lifetime who seem to take life like a grain of salt.  Their "tactic" seems to be to live for today and forget about tomorrow.  Then I have others who seem to focus so much on tomorrow, they even forget live today.  In looking at these two perspectives on life, I wondered which was really the best.  You see, when we have a tendency to just focus on today, with no perception of the future, we often live without limits.  When we get so focused on tomorrow, we miss opportunities right in front of us today.  Both seem to have their drawbacks, don't they?


The empty-headed treat life as a plaything; the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it. (Proverbs 15:21 The Message)


Don't get me wrong, I am not quoting this passage because I am calling my acquaintances "empty-headed", but I see how they choose to live as just a little "empty".  In choosing to live for today, the focus may be on satisfying every whim the…

Buried, but not hidden!

As a kid, I always tried to cover up something I did wrong - I think it was more out of "instinct" than anything else.  You don't find too many kids who just come right out and say - "Sure, Mom and Dad, I broke the vase!"  Most try to hide the broken pieces by stacking them back together with Elmer's glue!  Now, don't look at me that way!  You had your share of "cover-ups" in your time!  


The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don't show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.  (I Timothy 5:24-25 The Message)


Sometimes our sins are absolutely blatant.  Like the time Mom came home from shopping and immediately announced to me that I had been in my Grandmother's licorice!  Now, how in the world did she know that???  I was immediately shifting into the "cover-up" mode before I could think about it!  Denials be what they wer…

Coming through? Or brought through?

As we consider our passage today, I wanted to share a couple of verses which came just ahead of our passage.  First, David reminds us no king succeeds by his own doing.  Big armies and lots of loyal servants does not make one successful - indeed, it gives an "appearance" of success, but it is nothing compared to the glory of being anointed by the Most High God.  Second, he points out the futility of thinking a warrior's strength is his own.  This is often a struggle for us because we see out "strength" as something we possess - instead, it is something we are "granted".  Last, he lays out the silliness of thinking having more "horsepower" or "brute strength" will win battles.  When we "count on" the wrong stuff, we often don't really "win" the battles!


Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean time…

Airheads beware!

Have you ever had those little candies called "Slammin' Sour Airheads"?  They are little strips of candy, but they pack a huge punch!  The "sourness" of the candy is enough to set everyone of your taste buds into full alert!  I think this might be what Solomon had in mind when he penned these words:


A person who talks sense is honored; airheads are held in contempt.  (Proverbs 12:8 The Message)


Airheads often speak without thinking - just blurting out whatever will "stimulate" the senses of the ones in hearing distance.  They don't care about the "shock-factor" of their words - indeed, they probably strive for it!  In the good old days, the term "airhead" used to refer to the "airspace" the enemy occupied in order to do air drops of more troops or supplies into the midst of the fight.  Hmmm...now doesn't this give us an interesting perspective on our "airhead" in the passage?  They are actually putting mor…

I need pictures!

We humans have a variety of "learning" styles.  Some of us need visual input in order to grasp something, while others can simply read the instructions and get it perfectly.  Maybe this is why some of those "some assembly required" items we purchase come with both written and pictorial instruction sheets!  Whenever I get one which is just written, with no pictures at all, I sigh and dig into the "reading".  I "can" learn how to put the thing together from the "reading", but the "picture" would have made it a whole lot faster!  


Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.  (I Timothy 4:12 The Message)


Paul is instructing Timothy, a relatively young believer, how to "teach" with his life.  In essence, he is telling him to make accommodations for the various "learning" styles of individuals!  Some will learn about Christ in what you say, others in how you live.  One is…

Living in the presence

We often turn to scripture to give us some insight into the "next step" we should take - especially when we just don't feel like we can "muddle through" on our own.  What we often forget is God never expected us to muddle through - much less on our own!  I know the passage I have chosen for today is directed to Israel, but it has much in the way of instruction for us, as well.


So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I'm commanding you today—live a good life.  (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 The Message)


Israel is called to "attention" - it is time to move into the land of promise, but before they do, they need to clearly understand what is ahead and who will be responsible for their success.  To this end, Moses "recaps" the last um-teen…

Shy or Bold?

Shyness is often thought of as "cute" when you see a small child burying themselves in the shoulder of their daddy, or hiding behind the skirt of their mommy.  They pull away, thinking hiding their faces will keep them from having to interact with the stranger making a big fuss over them at the moment.  In reality, they are quite visible!  They may have "postured away" from the "thing" they see as a threat, but they are really still present!  There are times I imagine we take this same "stance" with God - such as when he asks us to do something we may not feel entirely comfortable doing.  


God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. (2 Timothy 1:7 The Message)  


Shyness is really us being timid, or easily frightened away by whatever it is we are being asked to do.  If we were the small child in the arms of our parent, we may be frightened by having to interact with someone we do not know.  In the case of bei…