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Showing posts from September, 2012

Fizzing up, or overflowing?

Jesus finds himself on the way to the Feast of Tabernacles, an annual celebration lasting one week in duration which fell in the Fall season of the year, just after The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  The celebration commemorated the memory of the time when Israel dwelt in tents in the wilderness - having been delivered from Egypt - but not quite ready to enter into their promised land of Canaan.  Jesus has stayed back a while, allowing his family to go on ahead.  He has been dealing with all kinds of misunderstanding on the part of his brothers - simply because they did not recognize him as the Messiah.  The journey to Jerusalem is going to be filled with some effort on the part of the religious leaders to undermine Jesus' teachings and ministry - as their opposition is escalating by the time we see him making this journey.  In fact, John tells us they were already out looking for Jesus - to accuse him publicly, to oppose his ministry, and to deny the reality of his miracles. 

“If…

What character am I?

We make lots of excuses in life, don't we?  Yesterday, I ate a brownie, a couple of cookies and more peanut butter on my toast than I am supposed to while watching my intake!  Guess what I did?  I "excused" my excess by saying I had been "good" for the entire week!  Yes, I am "allowed" to eat "off plan" a little, but I know I can make even better selections when I put my mind to it - even if it is "off plan".  What are we doing when we offer excuses for our actions?  We are not "owning up" to the failure.  So, let me just go on record - "owning up" is hard!  When we "own up" to our behavior, we must also own up to what we know will be the next steps we need to take in obedience to get ourselves back to the place we need to be.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. S…

You pushing me?

We all have moments when we feel overwhelmed by the task at hand.  The possibilities of doing what it is we are called upon to do seem daunting and we just cannot possibly see how God could have plans for us in the moment.  I imagine Paul faced a little of this - knowing full well he was "schooled" in the Law of Moses, but not at all "schooled" in the message of grace.  What he learned about grace he experienced the same as we all do - because the teacher embraced him!  Back when Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesian church, he admits to his surprise at receiving grace.  In fact, if you read verses 7-9 you will find Paul saying, "Hey!  I now have a new life's work - helping others know what it is like to receive this surprise gift of grace!"  Paul goes on to explain his absolute lack of "qualifications" to do what it is God has him doing - but God was handling all the details.  Humbly, he admits he was the least "qualified" of any…

How do you see me?

Have you ever felt a "bad attitude" just creeping up on you?  You are working away, living life, and almost without notice, you find yourself thinking thoughts you should not, responding curtly, or managing to "disengage" from the circumstances completely.  Get behind a slow moving car when you are late to your next appointment and see what you will imagine about the driver in front of you!  Never once do you stop to consider they may have just left the hospital where they said their last good-byes to a loved one, or that they are working hard to get the little bit of horsepower out of their overly used vehicle simply because they cannot afford anything with more "pep".  Sometimes what is at the core of the issue is "US" - not someone else!  We have allowed the wrong attitude to form - usually about US, not the other person!  When we do this, it "colors" how we interpret everything else in life.  

What you say about yourself means nothi…

Running with all ya got!

Did you ever stop to think about what it means to be "spirit-begotten"?  I have taken a couple of opportunities to focus on this idea of being "begotten" and just what "family line" has to do with the type of person we are declared to be.  Notice I said "declared to be".  If we are to be the type of people we are declared to be, we have to stop walking in the old patterns and start walking in the new.  For example, if a prisoner is to be set free from a jail cell after 20 years in confinement, he must learn what it like to have freedoms of his own.  He doesn't have the same degree of restrictions his bondage kept him in.  He has new freedoms which he may pursue - not just think about.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecte…

A little wind from heaven!

The chapter I chose today deals with a prophesy given to Ezekial about a valley of dry bones.  He is taken to a place where there are skeletal remains all over the place, totally picked clean, dried up by the sun and time.  God leads him around the valley, then through it, experiencing the full vastness of its expanse and the multitude of bones contained there.  We probably won't experience anything like this, but there is significant meaning within this prophesy for the nation of Israel.  I also think there could be a lesson or two for us, if we look close enough!

Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’  “Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I…

You listening?

When I took my business classes in school, one of the things I was taught was how to write a formal business letter all the way through an informal memorandum.  You learned the various components of each because you never knew what you'd be called upon to draft.  In a formal letter, there is a structure to it - the heading, inside address, salutation or greeting, introduction (or purpose), the body, the conclusion or complimentary close, and the signature line.  In essence, the introduction gave you a synopsis of what the body would elaborate upon.  The complimentary close was just a short ending to the letter, often thanking the reader for their consideration, and driving to some action.  One of the things I have observed in the epistles (or letters to the believers at the churches of the First Century) which make up our New Testament is the opening comments which outline the purpose of writing and the concluding comments which summarize the information outlined.  

My purpose in w…

Mock me no more!

Conflict is all around us, is it not?  The evening news is riddled with reports of conflict at its extreme - war, bombings, the taking of lives, and riots.  In a sense, we live in a world which is escalating in conflict more and more.  The chances of being railed upon by an angry shopper, or shot at in a random drive-by is greater today than it was thirty years ago.  Conflict is a state of being attacked, ridiculed, or derided - not always for a reason we understand or can justify.  Perhaps it is for our way of dressing, our spiritual beliefs, or our physical traits.  Regardless of the "source" of or "reason" for the conflict, it exists.  We run the chances of living WITH and IN conflict, don't we?
Remove the mocker and conflict disappears;judgment and shame also stop. (Proverbs 22:10 CEB)
Solomon gives us insight into conflict - it carries with it two close companions: Judgment and Shame.  This makes sense when we understand mocking is the action of "making…

Ummmm....do I belong?

The idea of "belonging" to something or someone is an age-old concept.  When we say we "belong" we are saying we are in some type of relationship - one in which the members have something in common.  When we "belong", we  possess the "proper" qualifications to be part of the group, don't we?  Back in the day, it was popular to "belong" to the country club, hanging out on Friday nights or Saturdays as the big bands played dance music and enjoying the fine foods prepared by the chefs for their members.  You associated "belonging" with a sense of some "status", did you not?  By "belonging" to the country club, you were somehow set apart from those who could neither afford to belong, or who simply had no idea how to play golf or tennis!  We might "belong" to the Chamber of Commerce, the local women's society, or an elite biker's club who travel the highways on their shiny, well-equipped m…

NOW is the time

Paul is one of my favorite New Testament people - his teachings are so down to earth and genuine.  He is not afraid to confront issues head on and he is compassionate in his efforts.  As he writes to the Church as Ephesus, he come to this idea of comparing the "old" life we lived "before Christ" and the "new" life we now live "after Christ".  In his opening words of this chapter, Paul lays out his premise for writing - the old way of life was stagnant.  Now, if you have ever tried to get clean in stagnant water, let me tell you, it leaves you feeling every bit as dirty as you did when you got in it!  You just don't might not realize it until you "dry out" a bit!  Then you realize how "ripe" you are!  Really, Paul wants us to recognize the "old way" of living as one of constantly "doing what we wanted to do".  We pursued the stuff we wanted to pursue - not really conscious of how much it was polluting u…

This, your darkest of hours

One of the "darkest" places to be is in the place of rejection.  By the very nature of rejecting someone, the one being rejected is being said to be useless or unsatisfactory.  They have no purpose in our lives - therefore, we discard them, refusing to accept them and what they bring into our lives.  One of the toughest things to learn to do with people who treat others as though they are "rejects" in this earth is to NOT reject them because of their "actions" of intolerance or judgment!  It is only natural to want to reject those who hurt others, abuse us, or treat some as though their sins are too great.  It is also a very dangerous place to tread - because we move into a place of judge in their lives - a place ONLY God can occupy.  Today, I don't want to focus on the one who rejects so much as on the one who has been rejected. The place of darkness this rejection creates in the lives of those who suffer at the hands of those who reject them is almo…