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Showing posts from July, 2012

Nature vs. nurture

The age-old question of mankind might go something like this:  "Why did I just do that?"  We find ourselves asking and re-asking this very question as we find ourselves continually reworking our plan to be fresh in our obedience - only to find we will inevitably ask the question once again.


So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it? "Don't touch this! Don't taste that! Don't go near this!" Do you think things that are here today and gone tomorrow are worth that kind of attention? Such things sound impressive if said in a deep enough voice. They even give the illusion of being pious and humble and ascetic. But they're just another way of showing off, making yourselves look important. (Colossians 2:20-23 The Message)


What happens when we try to keep "rules"?  We struggle with them, right?  We find ourselves asking, "Why am I being asked to NOT…

The awesomeness of our God!

Okay!  I came across this passage again this morning as I was re-reading the Psalms and just had to stop to share it!  


God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. (Psalm 36:5-6 The Message)


Okay...knowing me as you might, you know where I am headed, don't you?  Yep, let's break it down!  First, I want you to see each of these "attributes" of God are broken down with their own individual "descriptive" word.  Our psalmist does not simply say God is loving - he calls his love meteoric.  He doesn't reference God as loyal to his word - he calls his loyalty astronomic.  These are big terms which lend much to understanding each of these attributes.  So let's explore them a little:


- God's love is meteoric!  Here's what I know about meteors (and trust me, it is limited).  A meteor is a sudden appearance of someth…

May I meddle a little?

There have been times when I hear people almost bragging about their escapades.  It is as though they have no sense of awareness of just how they sound when they recount the stuff they have engaged in.  In fact, some even appear to have a sense of pride with acknowledging their folly!  Now, I am not one to "parade" my folly in public.  I have a hard enough time admitting to my failure in private without having to flaunt it for the world to see!


Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. (Proverbs 14:9 NLT)


I think our passage has much to say about how it is we do with our "guilt" when our escapades have been less than honorable.  The fool makes fun of the guilt they feel.  Try as we might, we cannot rid ourselves of the sense of guilt with simply laughing it away or making light of it.  If we dismiss our guilt long enough, we become almost "immune" to the sense of guilt we feel about a certain behavior.  We begin to justi…

All the bells & whistles, please!

Have you ever bought a new car from the car dealership?  If you have, you can probably associate with the anxiety of having to make all those choices!  First, you have to have an idea of the basic type of vehicle you need.  Car or truck, SUV or van, two doors or four, etc.  Then you head to this "section" on the lot.  The inventory is sometimes daunting!   They are all lined up in colors galore - bright and shiny.  You navigate in and out of each row, looking at each one, picturing yourself behind the wheel.  Then comes something I will call the "sticker effect".  You find the one you really like - upgraded wheels, window tinting, leather interior - you know the one I mean.  Then...you see the "sticker" and almost feel the blood running from your head and the dollars emptying from your bank account!  What happened to your desire at that moment?  It was probably "diverted" to settle for a vehicle with a few less bells and whistles!


Ears that hear …

Paint me a picture, will ya?

I absolutely love word pictures - they help me connect meaning to a thought which is expressed.  In God's attempt to help us "connect" the truths contained in his Word, he often gave such vivid word pictures to his teachers and prophets.  You have probably heard it said, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  I don't know if you know the origin of this phrase, but it likely comes from a novel written in 1862 by Ivan Turgenev (Fathers and Sons), in which a character in the book attempts to convey the idea of a picture conveying what may take many words to express when he says, "The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book."  Here is a word picture for us this morning:


Where is the god who can compare with you—wiping the slate clean of guilt,
turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people?  You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialt…

Reflecting his grace

We are no longer under the Levitical system of worship which required the bringing of sheep, bulls, goats, oils and grains to the Temple for sacrifice.  If we were, I wonder what our "offerings" would be today?  Since most of us merely go to the supermarket to obtain these "products" of someone else's labor, we don't connect with them as a "sacrifice" at all.  In fact, we probably take it for granted they will be there in the display cases and the aisle shelves when we next venture into the luxury of the market.  I think this is where Judah might have been drifting when God spoke these words through the prophet Micah.  Perhaps they were just going to the "supermarkets" of their flocks and herds - picking out whatever one looked best and merely carting it to the priests to be offered.  If so, they had lost touch with the purpose behind the offering - atonement, forgiveness, thanksgiving.


How can I stand up before God  and show proper respe…

A pile of socks anyone?

Do you remember growing up and saying stuff like, "When I grow up, I will NEVER have to do this again!"  It was usually uttered in frustration and total rebellion because someone was asking you to do something which you did not like or did not totally "get".  You struggled with the "desire" to do as you were asked because everything inside you was saying, "I don't wanna!"  It was one of those "I'm sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside!" moments.  Did growing up really change much?  Probably not.  We just came to realize socks don't magically find their way to the dirty clothes hamper and into the washer.  Someone actually has to "harvest" them from the floor and plop them into the wash water to see them made clean again!  


Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish, picking and choosing their gods.  But we live honoring God, and we're loyal to our God forever and ever.  (Micah 4…

Who's in your circle?

I wonder who people see "hanging around" us when they look our way.  Could it be they see all kinds of people just like us?  Or could it be they see people of various backgrounds, struggling with multiple life issues of their own, drawn to us by something called "grace"?  I daresay, we have a whole lot of "people just like us" in our circles - but are we being as effective as God would desire us to be when this is as far as our circle reaches?


By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, "He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends."  (Luke 15:1-3 The Message)


Jesus is our example this morning.  He is surrounded by a whole lot of men and women of doubtful reputation.  This draws the attention of the Pharisees - the leaders of the church community.  I can say with a cer…

Are you a self-rescuer?

Are you into "self-rescue"?  You know - the constant exertion of effort to pull yourself out of the mess you find yourself in presently.  Many of us try to deal with life by a series of "self-rescue" attempts - don't we?  We simply cannot bring ourselves to admit we messed it up - let alone admit we need someone else to help us out of the mess!  As my kids were growing up, they'd pull out all kinds of toys.  The floor would be littered with building blocks, little people, and remnants of this and that.  By the end of their playtime, just at the point of needing to pick things up so we could "move on" to whatever came next, they'd sit there in the midst of the mess and whine about having to clean up what THEY had done!  In the end, I'd sit down next to them and begin to help them pick up what they had brought out.  Why?  It wasn't because I was delighted to "deal with" their toys and mess - it was because I wanted them to unde…

Befriending a few fears, are you?

Times were different when we were children.  Back in the 60's no one thought it odd to allow their children to play in the front yard - oftentimes running from one neighbor to the next depending on who had the neatest toys to play the next go-round of imaginary game play.  Today, we sequester our children from the world around them, arranging instead for "play dates" because we have a society in which we do not feel comfortable allowing them to run "loose and free".  Sad, isn't it?  I wonder, though, just how much of our life's celebrations we miss out on simply because we live so sheltered?  I think it may be bigger than we think!


But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, "God, there's no one like you.  You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!"  (Psalm 35:9-10 The Message)


Our psalmist is penning these words right in the middle of a huge …

What quarry are you dug from?

There is a pretty familiar question which we hear many times a week, if not everyday:  "Are you serious?"  Whenever someone poses this question, they may not really be seeking the truth about your level of trustworthiness or your desire to commit to something.  In fact, they might just be saying this to exclaim some message of surprise - like they could not possibly imagine what we just did or said as even remotely possible!  There is another saying:  "Let's get serious now."  This one is often spoken as a word or two of admonishment  designed to get us focused (refocused) on what is at hand.  


Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God.  Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug.  (Isaiah 51:1 The Message)


When you are serious about something, there is a process which occurs.  First, there is conscious thought - you focus your capacity for understanding and processing on the subject or …

Crossing deserts?

I like salty treats - even to the point of craving them sometimes.  Whenever I consume them though, I usually end up drinking a lot of water - because they make me thirsty.  In the end, they leave me thirsty for a long time, not just while I am taking them in.  My body simply cannot process all the sodium in the salty treats without a whole lot of water.  In fact, whenever we find ourselves in the midst of the "excesses" of life, we often crave what we most need to help us deal with the excess.


God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. (Psalm 63:1 The Message)


So, we crave what we most need to deal with what we find ourselves enduring!  Sometimes we are "enduring" stuff by our own doing - like when I eat a huge bowl of Cheezits or eat a whole candy bar.  The sodium from one and the sugar from the other just cause me to "crave" the very thing which will hel…

Given full rein?

If you have ever ridden a horse, you know the importance of the reins.  They let you direct the horse, don't they?  At least, this is what those who told me how to ride instructed me!  Heaven knows, I have had some opportunities to ride some of the most stubborn horses!  No matter how hard I pulled the reins a certain direction....there was no turning them from their destination!  Now, tell me, what was the purpose of the reins with these horses?  I think it was nothing more than decoration!


"But my people didn't listen, Israel paid no attention; so I let go of the reins and told them, 'Run! Do it your own way!'"  (Psalm 81:11-12 The Message)


All I could do with those horses was to "give them the reins" and let them lead where they wanted.  As you may very well imagine - it was right back to the barn!  They did not want to take me down the trail, but wanted a leisurely afternoon enjoying oats and the shade of the barn!  Imagine that!  Sound like anyon…