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Showing posts from August, 2012

Taken in by his embrace

We all run - either toward something or away from it.  In every decision of life, we make a choice to draw near, or to cautiously pull away.  Throughout our daily lives, we resist some things and gladly partake of others.  The pear is eaten - the candy bar avoided.  The tough conversation is had - the relationship rift is avoided.  We all have a response to Jesus, as well - either to be embraced by him or to rely upon our own strength.   Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.  This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be comple

All together? NOT!

There used to be a time when people had to perceive me as having life all together.  It was far from the truth, but the mask I cleverly wore was one of being "all together" in a tremendously broken life.  Emotions were haywire, desires often overruling any sense of conscience, and mouth engaged when it ought to be otherwise!  Sound like anyone you might know?  If I am to be honest about how Christ has changed my life, I have to be honest about what needed changing! I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.  (Philippians 3:12-14 The Message) Just like Paul, I can now freely admit - I don't have it all together.  I don't have

Hey! Do I add up?

I love it when I can ask a question and get a straight answer.  Sometimes I get frustrated with people who just want to beat around the bush and never answer the question head-on.  They see their avoidance of the "direct" route as a cunning tactic to keep me from ever discovering the truth.  Thank goodness we serve a God who is delighted to allow us to get directly to the truth!  He knows if we don't discover truth in our quest, we will never be able to fully trust him in (or with) our lives. My question:  What are God-worshipers like?   Your answer:  Arrows aimed at God's bull's-eye.   They settle down in a promising place; t heir kids inherit a prosperous farm.  God-friendship is for God-worshipers; t hey are the ones he confides in.    If I keep my eyes on  God ,  I won't trip over my own feet. (Psalm 25:12-15 The Message) One day, David poses this question to God.  He probably just wants to see how well he is doing in this thing called "walking wi

Love in action

Our pastor spent a great deal of time unpacking I Corinthians 13 this weekend.  His purpose - to help us connect the dots between what we call love and what we really are experiencing - an emotion.  In fact, his main purpose was to help us see the difference between the use of love as an adjective (we fall into love) and as a noun (an action word).  You have probably struggled with the difference between the two, as well.  We have a tendency to describe love - the feeling - instead of living the actions associated with true love. We pondered your love-in-action, God,  waiting in your temple:  Your name, God, evokes a train  of Hallelujahs wherever i t is spoken, near and far;  your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.  (Psalm 48:9-10 The Message) Our psalmist has got it down - God is pondered best when our focus is on his actions!  We see much revealed to us in terms of his love for us, simply by considering the magnitude of his actions on our behalf.  For example, Israel looke

It is what it is....

I just came across a friend's post on Facebook in which she displayed a plaque which reads:  "It is what it is....but it will become what you make it."  You know, what we make of circumstances often reveals much more about the foundation in our lives than we realize.  What we do with a failure of another, emphasizing it or letting it go, reveals more about our heart than we often realize.  It is what it is...true enough words.  We cannot stop a runaway train, but we don't have to in its path, do we? A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;  a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.  (Proverbs 22:3 The Message) One of the things my pastor said this past weekend stuck with me.  He simply stated we are exercising "wisdom" when we avoid the "hot buttons" in relationships.  Now, that may not seem like rocket science for some, but how many times have we just plunged straight ahead, knowing some manner of conversation or action would &q

Scorekeepers Beware!

There are a whole lot of people who "keep count" in life, huh?  They seem to have the imaginary scoreboard illuminated all the time - tracking each failure and success like it was some way of telling who was "winning" in life.  Keeping score seems to be something we "just do", huh?  We tend to keep score in our own lives - but also in the lives of others.  For some, they cannot bear the thought of someone "one-upping" them.  For others, they just want to see someone worse off then them - so they keep score just to see if there is anyone!  Regardless of the reasons we keep score, it isn't a healthy thing to do. Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.  (Jo

A huge load of regrets

I was listening to a song the other day - I mean really listening.  In the lyrics of the song, it became quite plain - we live with regrets.  We go through life "looking back" - thinking things through from a different perspective - wondering if we could do it all over again how things might have turned out differently.  The lyrics really challenged us to look to the opportunities of today, instead of the missed ones of the past.   The very steps we take come from  God;   otherwise how would we know where we're going?    An impulsive vow is a trap;  later you'll wish you could get out of it. (Proverbs 20:24-25 The Message) In the truest sense, regrets are feelings of disappointment - we experience a sense of loss.  In turn, we become dissatisfied with the direction we are heading.  In one sense, it is like finding out you have been drifting without specific purpose.  Back in the day, my family used to take Sunday drives.  We'd pile into the Oldsmobile, then h

Perspectives on Praise

Have you ever stopped to consider your words of praise?  Sometimes I think we become so familiar with saying something like "Bless God!" or "Thank You Jesus!" that we almost speak them without any really thought behind them!  Well, consider how we might feel when all we hear from someone is, "I love you" or "You are so special to me", but then never really see the love or "special" connection displayed.  The words become hollow when spoken so frequently without any really action behind them, don't they?  The same could be true of our worship! Blessed are you,  God  of Israel, our father  from of old and forever.  To you, O  God , belong the greatness and the might,  the glory, the victory, the majesty, the splendor;  Yes! Everything in heaven, everything on earth;  the kingdom all yours! You've raised yourself high over all.   Riches and glory come from you,        you're ruler over all;  You hold strength and power in the

Harvest Time!

This is the best time of year to enjoy some of the fruits of the season.  The melons are juicy and sweet.  The grapes are colorful and tasty.  The strawberries boast luscious enjoyment and a sweet scent.  Fruit has a way of satisfying our senses - both internally (our taste buds) and externally (sight and smell).  There is another kind of fruit we might enjoy a little better if we realized we might just "eat it" at a later time! Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;  good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.   Words kill, words give life;  they're either poison or fruit—you choose.  (Proverbs 18:20-21 The Message) Good talk - fruit for our souls, nourishment for our minds, and health for our bodies.  Now, there is a harvest we could ALL get into!  We all have experienced the times when we say something without thinking, or get caught up in responding before we really take time to listen.  The end result is usually words which seem a little &quo

What's in your backyard?

I have seen lovely homes with a nicely landscaped front yard, beautifully framing the home with color and style.  Then, to my dismay, observed the backyard to be a mess of dirt, weeds, and nothing too impressive at all.  Why is it we "put our best foot forward" with what people see first, but neglect to ever do anything with the thing we see the most?  The front yard is for the public - the backyard is for our use, is it not?   The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;  fools look for it everywhere but right here.  (Proverbs 17:24 The Message) I know our passage only speaks to the "front yard" of the perceptive (the wise), but I think there is much to be said about what is the "back yard" of a person's life!  What we allow, or choose to ignore, in our "back yard" is often more important than what we have created for the public view in our "front yard".  For some of us, the things we allow into our lives create a mass

I've been thinking...

Have you ever considered just how hard it is to get the knowledge we form in our heads to begin to affect our hearts?  It seems like we can almost be beaten over the head with the same lessons (knowledge) until we are almost numb, yet totally miss the formation of any wisdom  which keeps us from doing the same silly thing over and over again!  Then we find ourselves getting all down on ourselves, God and others just because we failed!  What's that all about? Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor;  keep a clear head—you'll find a good life.  (Proverbs 19:8 The Message) First of all, let me say something which may open your eyes a little.  You and I are not in this alone!  There are others just like us, seemingly being hit over the head with the same lessons time and time again.  We have similar natures - therefore, we have similar responses!  So, lest you think you are the only one struggling with your present battle, look around.  You will begin to see others who

A yoke of another kind

We have a lot of ways to describe "worn out".  We can think of something as so worn it is beyond repair - so it becomes something we'd be better off discarding.  It can also mean we have so depleted our energies with the pursuit of something that we just cannot seem to find enough rest.  When this happens, we describe ourselves as exhausted or no longer enthusiastic to take on the task at hand any longer.  When we reach this point of waning enthusiasm and fatigue beyond our capacity to recover from - we need to do just what Jesus instructed - get away with him!  The promise - we will recover our life! "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."