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Monday, December 31, 2012

God is greater!

Practice:  Habitual or customary performance; repeated performance; systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency; or the condition arrived at by experience or exercise.  The difference between talk and practice is that of action - practice requires the action which backs up the talk.  In other words, there is substance to it.  John reminds us love is really an action, not just a "message" or a thing we "say".  It requires action to back it up!

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.  (I John 3:18-20 MSG)

As a matter of fact, John goes a step further and reveals the "means" by which we can evaluate if we are really living in the reality of being kids of the King - by putting love into action!  So, it is more than just "action" - it a "measuring stick" by which we can determine if the reality of a life change has occurred.  You see, self-centered individuals put love into action, but the action is directed toward themselves!  Christ-centered individuals put love into action in such a way which reveals Christ to the world.

Maybe one of the most important things John points out in this passage is the ability for the practice of love "shutting down" our own self-criticism.  What's more, John reminds us of the debilitating effect of our self-criticism.  Now, I don't think there is probably a person reading this who has overcome all aspects of self-criticism.  In fact, if we were painfully honest, we'd admit we often struggle with being a little hard on ourselves on some of the same issues over and over again, right?  John points out we can shut this type of "impractical" self-talk down - with the practice of love in our lives.

The crux of the passage is the very last sentence:  God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.  This truth has the ability to be eye-opening to us if we give it a chance.  Let's break it down a little, shall we?  First, God is greater.  We don't even need the rest of the passage - God is greater is more than sufficient to shut down ALL of our self-criticism.  For example, when I worry about how I must appear when I say something which was foolish and self-centered, I recall that indeed "God is greater" than any of my foolishness and self-centered actions!  Now, if that doesn't put things into perspective, I don't know what will!  God is greater - not just bigger, but greater.  He is our "more than enough" - more than enough in our failures, more than enough in our deficiencies, and more than enough even when success might build up our egos a bit.

Next, our worried hearts are best handled by the one who settles the storms. God is greater than our worried hearts - this speaks more than most of us realize.  You see, we torment ourselves with all kinds of disturbing thoughts, don't we?  John's reminder to us is simply that God is greater than any mountain of disturbing thoughts we could muster up!  All the things which "harass" us with continual "nipping at our heels" - those little and big things which we tend to muddle over time and time again - are not outside of his care.  We just need to place them squarely into his care!  God is greater - but he wants us to realize those worries are best placed into his hands in the first place.

Definitely, the most settling thing about this passage is the final thought:  God knows more about us than we do ourselves.  Now, that might seem a little hard to believe - another knowing more about us than we do ourselves, but the fact is, the Creator knows the creation best!  This should give us some sense of hope - the Creator knows exactly how we were created and he is able to put in order anything which may have become a little "disordered" in our lives through the influence of sin, the self-destruction of various behaviors, or the misguidance of another.  

God is greater - greater than _______.  You fill in the blank.  Nothing could fit into that "blank" which God is not sufficient (more than enough) to overcome, fix, or put out of the way in our lives.  Love in action is to realize the most important relationship we can maintain is that which centers us squarely on the one who is "more than enough" to overcome all our worries.  We often think we are the ones doing the "loving" in our lives, but until God does the "living" in our lives, all the "loving" which comes out of our lives falls short of what the Creator really designed.  Just sayin!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What are you counting on this year?

Most of the Psalms are written by David or the sons of Korah as a matter of worship - songs of celebration, praise, or love to the one true God.  This morning, I'd like us to look at a psalm of Solomon - the son of David and next king to rule over Israel after David's death.  The psalm opens with Solomon petitioning God to "gift the gift of wise rule" to him as he assumes his role as king.  In turn, he comes to a place of declaring much about what he "counts on" from the God he serves - namely things like God standing up for the poor and needy; taking care of those who would oppose the needy with tyrannical ways; and God bringing his foes to their knees.  Then we come to this portion of the passage:

All kings will fall down and worship, and godless nations sign up to serve him,
because he rescues the poor at the first sign of need, the destitute who have run out of luck.  He opens a place in his heart for the down-and-out, he restores the wretched of the earth.  He frees them from tyranny and torture—when they bleed, he bleeds; when they die, he dies.  (Psalm 72:11-14 MSG)


I chose this passage today because it speaks much about the very things we count on about God.  I think we often live in a world where we focus on the things we do "FOR" God (we call this religion), rather than focusing on the things God does for "US" (we call this relationship).  So, let us dive in a little to see what it is we "count on" from God in our lives.

1.  He rescues.  Does it strike you as odd that the first attribute Solomon outlines is that of a rescuer?  It doesn't seem like this should be foremost attribute when we think of the God of the Universe, does it?  Yet, if we read scripture well, we will see something my pastor outlined well this past weekend:  He loved!  He gave!  We believe!  We live!  (For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16)  What does a "lover" do for the one he loves?  Isn't he willing to give his life so the one he loves may be able to live?  In other words, he is willing to rescue!  What does a rescuer do?  He liberates, releases, redeems, ransoms, recovers, and saves!  So, first and foremost, we have a God who rescues - a Savior!

2.  He sees the need.  Nothing speaks more about how much another loves you than to have them meet some unspoken need in your life.  There have been times when I have been totally caught unaware by the love of individuals - without even speaking a word about my need.  God does this ALL the time!  He sees the need often even before we are aware of it ourselves - and to top it off, he is already busy setting things in order to meet that need!

3.  He opens a place in his heart.  Going back to our John 3:16 passage, we can see God loved - therefore, he opened his heart and gave!  He loved - we receive!  Even the faith to believe is not of our own doing - he gives it, as well!  He loved!  He gave!  We believe because he gives us the faith to believe!  Now, we live - exuberant, whole, and recreated lives!  Don't let it escape you - God opens a place in his heart not for just a few, but for whoever believes!  If we believe he is the one true God, his Son is the only begotten son of God, and that he died, rose again, and sits at the right hand of God as our Savior, we experience the place he has for us in his heart!  Glory!

4.  He restores.  He brings us back to a place of soundness.  Yep, soundness! I picked this one feature of "restoration" because I think it speaks volumes more than just restoring something to its former condition.  If I wanted to be living according to my "former condition", I would not really think of this as being restored to much of an existence!  In fact, I kind of like the way God does the restoring, because he doesn't focus on the past state as much as he does on the future!  He gives us back "soundness" - the ability to have a grounded, whole, and satisfying foundation!  

5.  He experiences our pain.  We experience much in this life, but none of it escapes his "experiencing" it right along with us.  No path we take is devoid of his presence - no amount of pain escapes his care.  He went before us into the grave - experiencing death like none other - then overcame the hold of the grave, so we'd live again!  Now, I don't know about you, but that gives me a hope like none other!  

I wish we'd all experience God in this way.  As the new year is upon us, may the love of God touch your heart deeply, his hand reach out to rescue you from the hold of your past, and his creative hand bring soundness to your life!  Happy New Year all!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The next generation - A Year in Review

Legacy:  Anything handed down from the past; something handed down from one period of time to another period of time.  Legacy can be some "thing" such as property; but most importantly, it can be what an individual passes down to the next generation.  There are both good and bad legacies.  Sometimes people call the good legacy an inheritance.  They often call a bad legacy a curse.  


Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 MSG)

Eventually...the word which describes the obvious, doesn't it?  We all die - none is immune to the pull of the aging of the body and wearing out of the parts.  The point between birth and death is what determines what we leave when we depart this earth.  It isn't what we leave in a will to the next generation, but what we leave in their heart which really matters.  Yet, it amazes me how much we focus on the "stuff" we leave to another instead of the real legacy they need to actually do well in their lifetimes.

Our passage today seems a little morose, but let me take a moment to "unpack" it a little for you.  Joshua lived to the age of 110.  If you don't know anything about Joshua, you might not see the significance of his death.  Moses recruited a few spies to go into Canaan when Israel was crossing through the wilderness as they were coming out of their bondage in Israel.  Joshua was one of those original spies.  He went boldly into the land of giants, seeing what God had promised to the people - a land flowing with all they needed for life!  This is the beginning of the story of Joshua's heritage - he was a faithful witness of the truth of God's possibilities in the midst of what others thought was impossible.  Throughout his life, he stood alongside Moses as the right hand to Moses.  When Moses passed, Joshua assumed the leadership role in Israel.  He ruled well, taking the people into their inheritance - allotting each of the twelve tribes their portion of the land and helping to get them settled.

He lived well, did he not?  He was there leading the people around the impenetrable walls of Jericho, urging them to obedience before God.  He wasn't afraid to ask God for the impossible - asking God for time to "stand still" as he fought an alliance of Amorite kings in the land of Gibeon.  In fact, God took his request so literally as to make the sun stand still - giving Israel the ability to defeat the kings and their armies.  In fact, not only did the sun stand still, but hailstones big enough to kill the Amorite armies were also added to the mix.  His greatest legacy was his constant dedication to the God of his forefathers - Jehovah.  He stood many times before the assembly of Israel, urging them to live well in the presence of their great God.  To do so, they were to remain loyal to the things God taught - especially the "rule" about having no other god before HIM.  Yes, he left a legacy, indeed.

Now, as we see our passage unfolding, Joshua has died and the generation after him has now also lived out their life.  The sad statement above comes after not only Joshua had passed, but those who were the recipients of his "legacy".  The problem - it does not appear any were as concerned with the legacy they'd pass on as was Joshua!  You see, the statement, "...another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel" says it all.  Another generation - one who did not have a faithful witness to the possibilities of what God could do when given his rightful place in their lives - grew up.  But...they grew up without their God at the center of their lives, leaving them devoid of the very thing they needed.

I have to take a moment to pause at the end of this year to ask some tough questions, not only of myself, but I am encouraging you to consider them, as well.  What legacy will we leave?  When others look upon our lives, do they see the possibilities of the God of the Universe in the midst of the impossibilities of our circumstances?  Do they hear clearly the message of hope and love which only God can speak through the human heart?  Is there an urgency in our message - a challenge to remain holy, to rise above, and to seek God with all we are?  This is our legacy - to be the light of the world in a time of darkness.  This is our heritage - to pass on the light!  

Wouldn't it be a sad state of affairs to discover that our next generation knows nothing about God because we were too afraid to speak up, to intimidated to live the example we are called to live, or too focused on other things to really see the value of passing on the hope we've been given?  It is a usual "custom" to look back over the year that has passed, seeing what has been accomplished.  We publish books - "A Year in Review" - accounting for both the good and the ugly of our year.  I wonder who among us has the passion and purpose of standing before God, in the midst of the battle, to request his intervention?  Maybe it will be me - perhaps it will be you.  Either way, it takes us realizing the potential we have of keeping the "next generation" from losing the connection with God!  Just sayin!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sabbatical anyone?

Periodically I like to come back to familiar passages of scripture because they speak fresh intent into my spirit and just bring something refreshing within my parched soul.  You have probably heard me say I tend to turn to the Psalms, Proverbs and Pauline Epistles as my "favorite" places to turn in the scripture.  It is because I "connect" with David -  a sinner through and through, but intent on keeping God first in his life, not afraid to turn again and again to God seeking grace for his misadventures, much like me.  I also connect with Solomon, a man seeking wisdom and intention in life, always open to the truths God would teach.  With Paul, I find the honesty of a heart struggling to make a break from the past ways of doing things and reaching to do things in the newness of this Christian walk.  Regardless of the place I go, the theme is the same - God's gift of grace leads us right to where we need to be - connected to the one who gives life!  I particularly enjoy the following passage because it speaks to me of living out my life, not in some "religious" pursuit for purity, but practically, honestly, and dependently.


So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)

The first thing which "pops" out in this text is Paul's instruction to take the "ordinary" life we live and place it before God as an offering.  Now, you wouldn't think the "extraordinary" God of the universe would be interested in the "ordinary" of our life, would you?  Yet, the instruction is to bring the "ordinary" to the "extraordinary".  It is kind of "releasing" to realize God never expects the "extraordinary" from US.  He just expects the "ordinary" - in turn, he brings about the "extraordinary" IN us!  So many times, we "work up" to giving something of "worth" or "value" to God.  We find ourselves in the frenzy of "religious rule-keeping" and the resulting "busy-ness" of this practice, all the while missing the important point - God wants the ordinary, not what we can "work up" in our lives!

This leads to what Paul says next - God just wants us to embrace his work in our lives.  We somehow get this confused, thinking God's embrace only comes as a result of some "work" on our part.  The truth is, we reach out and his arms are already open wide to take us into his embrace.  Paul tells us WE embrace what God DOES for us - not that we do something to make God want to embrace us.  If we have God confused with humans, we might just think we have to do something which makes us "embraceable" in order to be embraced.  Isn't this the way we humans operate?  Someone does something "nice" or "good" and we return their "niceness" or "goodness" with our embrace.  One of the things I worked hard to do in my kid's lives was to embrace them, and to do it for what seemed like "no reason" to them!  Just doing it because I loved them - not because they did something well, or FOR me.  I wanted them to see the unconditional love of God and to learn to embrace well.  Both of my kids give awesome hugs and my daughter has taught my grandsons to do the same!  What an awesome thing to pass along - unconditional love!

My daughter shared yesterday, just one day after Christmas, about the need to put the newly gifted video game on top of the fridge, out of the reach of the oldest grandson.  Why?  Simply because it had "consumed" all of his attention since he got it!  I watched on Christmas day as he was totally absorbed in navigating through the various stages of the game, then taking photos of the family and drawing whiskers, funny hairdos, and the like on the photos.  Now, on the first day, I expected this, but by the second day, when his mother wanted him to enjoy a little sunshine and fresh air, he was refusing to do so.  He was more focused on the game than on what would do both he and his brother some good!  So, away went the game.  Now, as you can imagine, he was hurt by the action of his mother because he failed to see the loving intent behind the game "sabbatical".  

Sometimes I think God has to take our attention away from some of the things in life we embrace so freely, often without thinking much about it, just to help us focus again on what is really important in our lives.  We become so well-adjusted to the way we are doing things, and then God comes along and "messes with" our adjustment!  Even this action reveals his tremendous love for us!  Sometimes we need this "adjustment" in order to realize how "fixed" we were on the "thing" and how much this "fixation" was taking us away from what we need the most - connection!  Connection with him first, and then connection with the people we love in life!  Maybe this is why I like Paul's writings so much - because he was never content to see anything take the place of connection!

It never ceases to amaze me how "drug down" I feel when the connection has been interrupted.  It happens in the most physical sense, because when I have taken my eyes off of some relationship, allowing "space" to be created which should not exist there, I almost always feel a little "hollow" inside.  That hollowness is really a sense of being "drug down" into some empty space.  When connection is broken, with others or with God, there is almost certainly a sense of emptiness which occurs.  So, maybe an early sign of needing to "reconnect" is the hollowness we begin to feel with the pursuit of whatever it is that has our attention so "fixed".  Just sayin!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What mighty walls, Jericho!

Have you ever read the story of the storming of Jericho?  It begins with the statement:  "Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out." (Joshua 6:1 MSG)  Now, let me paint a little picture for you of Jericho, for as I do, you will see just how amazing it was that Israel actually "halted" the activity of this great city just by their presence!  

First, its location was in the western part of the Jordan valley just above the Dead Sea.  It was known as the city of palms because it was filled with the trees.  For anyone to pass through the valley of Jordan, they had to first pass through Jericho.  It was like a natural "toll station" for all travelers of the time.  

Second, its fortifications were massive.  The outside "city wall" was six-feet thick, separated by a space of about twelve feet from the inner wall which was double the thickness of the outer wall.  For those who would attempt to lay siege to this great city, over 18 feet of thick stone awaited them!  The most impressive part of the walls were their height - over thirty feet high.  So, in total, two walls, one six by thirty feet, the other twelve by thirty!  

Our understanding is there were some homes between the two walls, but the greatest amount of homes were inside the second wall.  Probably some merchants and some of the soldiers who defended this great city lived in the outer wall homes.  These were made of something similar to what we'd call adobe brick these days - sod and grass packed so tightly as to give them great endurance against the elements and insulation against the heat.  

What makes the story most amazing is "how" the walls came down.  Yesterday, if you read my blog, you will recall us learning a little bit about the idea of the power of our words.  Israel surrounded Jericho, for a period of six days without uttering even one word!  They'd walk around the city, just as one unified group of people, but silent - not a peep heard.  Imagine being one of the guards on the great wall of Jericho, seeing this huge group of immigrants from Egypt, marching around in silence!  You'd probably thought they'd lost their marbles!

If you were going to lay siege to a city this fortified, I imagine you'd expect to see Joshua commanding the troops to begin to muster their weapons, sharpen their swords, and erect some catapults to launch some stones of warfare against this might fortress.  The guards on the city wall did not see any of this kind of activity, so imagine their surprise, and the surprise of the inhabitants of this city when all of a sudden on the seventh day the people of Israel erupted in a shout!  At first, I imagine they giggled to themselves, thinking this group of "cowards" had lost their minds.  Then, almost quicker than they could gather their own senses, the walls began to shake!  What seemed like pretty solid footing -  a rock-solid defense - became the undoing of a city!

The power of a word spoken in the right time, in the right frame of mind, with the backing of God - now there's a "rocking" offense!  As they shouted in one unified voice, God's presence going before them, they began to see first one stone fall to the ground, then another, until the wall was nothing more than a flattened mound unable to protect even a mouse!  

There is much the story of Jericho can teach us.  First, the power of obedience.  I imagine Joshua met more than a few glaring looks from his Israelite companions when he shared the idea of circling this great city with nothing more than the presence of God before them and their "silent" marching for six days!  And then he asked for seven laps on the seventh!  Yet, they did it!  They submitted to the plan of God - obedience in action is a powerful tool.  

Second, the power of our silence.  I imagine this six days gave the Israelites many opportunities to focus on the one out front - God himself!  The priests were carrying the "ark of the covenant".  The ark was the place where God "connected" with his people - the place of his presence.  So, as they circled, he led the way!  The power of God's presence in the right perspective in our lives is something we'd all do well to learn - him first, us second.

Last, but not least, I want us to consider the power of praise.  I don't believe they broke their silence in just "words" without meaning.  The scripture tells us, "...they gave a thunderclap shout."  They had marched around the city seven times on the seventh day - then culminated the seventh "lap" with this huge thunderclap shout.  I'd like to think the shout they lifted was one of praise - for they were focused on what God was about to do!  The lips of God's people would do well to be silent when silence is the best plan - then to thunder loudly when praise is about to bring the walls down!

Sometimes it is nice to revisit some of our Old Testament stories just to see the lessons God provided as a memorial for us to learn from.  Now, consider the walls of defense you face today.  Obedience, silence, and praise - let them be your offense against those walls!  Just sayin!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Graffiti of the heart

Bad-mouth:  To speak critically, or disloyally, of another; disparage another.  The origin of this word comes from the root meaning to "curse" another - to literally put a spell on another!  In the most literal sense, it means to abuse someone verbally.  It carries the idea of belittling, demeaning, or to reveal the low opinion we may have of another.  Okay, so who actually does this?  Well, if we listen carefully to our own words on occasion, we might just find it is us!  James wasn't speaking to the church, not the heathen community!  He tells the members of the church to stop their bad-mouthing of each other.  I think we sometimes look outside our four walls to point blame before we take a good look at ourselves, so this morning, I am going to ask us to begin with examining our own words before we consider the words of another.  Why?  Simply put, James says our bad-mouthing is like painting graffiti all over the Word of God!


Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?  (James 4:11-12 MSG)

His Word takes a beating when we run down another, pointing out their faults, picking at their character flaws like it was some casual passing of time.  I was surprised the other day to hear someone close to me begin to point out the character flaws of someone who has gone on to be with the Lord.  She pointed out the absence of affection she experienced from this individual, reminding me of the many "verbal abuses" she endured at the hand of this individual.  Now, don't get me wrong, none of us is ever to subject ourselves to verbal abuse, but hear this clearly, not letting go of some of this stuff will eat at us and damage the integrity of OUR lives if we don't!

As I listened to this individual outline the various things she had been "holding onto" for fifty some years, I was grieved to see how much she had "held tightly" to the words spoken all those many years ago!  Words which likely did not get spoken with the intent she perceived, but which still hung over her like a dark cloud, influencing all her future interactions with not only the one who spoke them to her, but everyone she now tries to form relationship with!  She perceived the words as pointing out her deficiencies in character - holding onto them all these years, allowing them to "color" her opinion of herself.  Now, if this doesn't speak to us of the power of our words, nothing will!

In hearing the words which were spoken to her, I was amazed to hear how she "interpreted" what was said and actually internalized them as "truth" she held onto.  Now, these many years later, she is still dealing with the "words" which were simply "truth", but which she took as an affront to her character.  Hear this:  Our words may NOT come across as they are intended, even when spoken in truth!  The hearer is the one who "interprets" the meaning of the words!  How they are "received" is often the most important part of communication.  I wasn't part of the conversation back all those years, but I knew the individual she spoke of quite well and find it hard to believe the "intent" of the words spoken as they had been "interpreted".  So, because words were spoken, sometimes in haste or with carelessness, the door was open for them to be interpreted and "held onto" as "fact" all these years!  I wonder how many times I have spoken carelessly, causing another to "hold onto" something which they "received" in a manner which does not accurately reflect the intent behind the words?

James paints us a word picture here.  Say things haphazardly, in a manner which almost places another's reputation or character on the chopping block, and you might as well take out a can of spray paint and be painting disgusting words of graffiti all over the testimony of Christ!  We might have an opinion on how another should act, speak, or perform a certain task, but is our opinion always "spot on"?  Not likely!  In fact, if we go back to our definition of "bad-mouthing" another, we find our "opinion" is often doing nothing more than expressing our "disloyalty" to another!  The main thing I think James wants us to see is the power of our words - the obligation we have to speak truth, but to always (and I mean always) KNOW how they are received!  If we never seek to validate what the "receiver" hears, we may just go on believing our words were taken as they were intended, not realizing how much they were "misinterpreted" and the resulting damage they will do!

Many years ago, I visited Mazatlan.  I enjoyed the beaches, the friendliness of the people, and the lovely weather.  A few years back, I returned to the same city, took the same ride through the city, and was surprised to see the damage done by graffiti.  The city was riddled with all manner of graffiti - some buildings so consumed with the ugly stuff that the identity of the business conducted within the walls no longer was evident!  The city had turned into one huge "billboard" of words - haphazardly written, ugly and disgusting.  I asked a local about all the graffiti and was told how they tried to keep it under control at first, but in time, the sheer work of doing it became more than the local authorities could handle, so now it just is the way they live.  I have to think this is kind of like what happens when our words just get flung out there, haphazardly spoken.  The first words may be easy to "erase" with a little work on the part of the one who spoke them.  In time, when the words are not dealt with, the next are added, then the next, all the while "covering over" the true identity of the individual upon whom they "land".  Like graffiti, they obliterate the truth of what is underneath!

May we just take a few moments as we wrap up this year to begin to examine our words a little more closely.  We never really know how they are received unless we take the extra step of ensuring they are received as intended.  More importantly, we need to be vigilant about WHAT we speak - for some words are nothing more than "graffiti" - ugly, haphazard, and not easily erased.  Just sayin!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Settle that Storm!

Brainstorming:  A technique for solving problems, amassing information, stimulating creative thinking, or developing new ideas, by unrestrained and spontaneous participation in discussion.  If you have ever been part of a "brainstorming" session in a large group, you know you can generate a whole bunch of ideas in a short period of time using this technique.  Yet, I find we don't always get the best from the most - we often get the best when we are able to filter it down to the least.  For example, when we have to choose between cookies on a platter, there may be ten different varieties.  The one "creating" the platter wanted to have a "selection" of all possible choices.  The one eating the cookies may have one thing in mind - satisfy my craving for chocolate and peanut butter!  The cookie-eater zeros in on exactly what will fulfill - not all the other sweets on the platter!

We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 MSG)

This proverb really tells us a great deal about how we humans interact with God and others.  First, we have all kinds of options and formulate all manner of plans.  It is like we have this continual "brainstorming" session going on in our mind!  We throw up ideas, often without much calculation, and see if any of them "sound okay" for us to be pursuing.  The danger comes in us "throwing up" so many ideas!  Have you ever had too many options?  What the brainstorming does is leave us in a mess - chaotic thought produces chaotic behavior.  By the very definition of the word "brainstorm" we see two things - the center of thought and the chaos it brings!  Our brain is the center of thought - as such, it is the place of understanding.  Now, add too much thought into the picture and you get the idea of a "storm" effect - you really don't know where the next thought will come from or what it will reveal!

Options and plans - doesn't this really reveal the idea of liking to have all our options available totally in a row before we start a thing?  We are constantly working out the "if-then" scenarios.  If this happens, then I will go this direction; if that happens, then this is the course I will pursue.  The danger in all this is the possibility of not getting God's direction before we make the choices which will set things in motion in our lives.

My brain shuts down after a while - I think it is kind of like a "preserving" factor.  When I get on "overload" because of too much "brain-storm" activity, I shut down!  Oh, I don't drift into some catatonic state, but I do withdraw, find a place to center myself, and just spend some time getting things settled again.  When too much chaos abounds, I just cannot function well.  If my friends have observed me for a while, they see the more demands made of me, the quieter I become.  Why?  My brain is on "overload" and I just need to get focused again!  

In examining our proverb this morning, let's not forget what Solomon says - the brainstorming and planning is okay, but there is a bigger purpose behind every choice!  God prevails!  He is the "force" which settles the storm - he doesn't contribute to it!  If you have ever been in the midst of a "brain-storm" of massive proportion, you might not recognize the source of the storm, but it is clearly NOT God.  His actions are those of peace, order, and pre-eminence.  There is but one purpose - to keep God first in our lives.  The "storm" settles when we get this right.  

I don't know about you, but as this Christmas is upon us, I want to take a few moments to "settle the storm" and to just focus on the one who makes this entire season of celebration a reality - Jesus!  We can get so caught up in all the plans and preparations so as to miss the meaning of it all.  Take some time today, center yourself again, allow the winds to die down in that brain of yours.  This is our chance to connect with him - his presence can prevail - but we need to give him access!  The best of our plans and the wisest of our schemes just pales in comparison to getting close to him!  Just sayin!  Merry Christmas all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The race goes to the winner!

Race:  Urgent need, responsibility, or effort as when time is short or a solution is imperative.  Usually we think of a race as some contest of speed - the faster someone is, the more likely we are to think they might actually "win" the race.  I found this less common definition of "race" this morning and wanted to share it with you because I think it connects some dots for us. You see, we all run.  How well run is often determined by our "interpretation" of the need to run!  If we have a bear charging at us, intent on making us his supper, we might just run like our life depended on it, right?  If we are told by the doctor to get a little more exercise, such as running a mile a day, we might just have a different "interpretation" of the need!  The crux of the defining moment is in what we see as the "intensity" of need.  

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.  I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.  (I Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG)

Our definition captures three key elements I'd like us to consider this morning.  There is an appreciation on our part of some need, responsibility, or effort which is required of us.  Until we "appreciate" the need, responsibility, or effort required, we don't make the first step.  The idea is of coming into a full awareness - to be fully conscious of the first step.  The runner has to see the value in the race!  To run aimlessly is silly.  To run with purpose makes much more sense - since there is either a prize or a destination in mind!  

The urgent need:
I described being chased by a bear as a "logical" reason for running as though your life depended on it.  I think life is filled with all kinds of "logical" reasons for "running" like our life depended on it.  Yet, life is also filled with some "illogical" reasons for "running"!  Have you ever watched a scary movie on TV or in the theater and found your heart racing, the tiny hairs on the back of your neck standing on end, and being just about ready to jump out of your seat if someone were to come up behind you and tap you on the shoulder?  How "illogical" is it to be afraid of what is "made up" on the TV screen?  Most would say the movie was made to elicit some sense of "terror" or "fear" within you.  If it did, the movie maker accomplished what they set out to do.  But...how illogical is it for us to fear what is "made up"?  Most of us would say it is plain silly to be so frightened by that which cannot hurt us!  Yet, we walk around everyday with "illogical" thoughts plaguing us with all kinds of "made up" fears!  Things like, "You are not good enough", or maybe even "You'll never amount to anything".  We have other "illogical" fears which hold us in their grasp - like relationships all end in disaster, so why try?  We believe the silliest stuff - just because someone, somewhere, at some time told us it was this way!  I think Paul wanted us to focus on the "urgent need" which is really a need in our lives - the thing we need to find a solution to in order to turn the "illogical" into the "logical".  We get so wrapped up in "running" after the illogical, we often miss the logical.  The logical is the valid - the illogical is the invalid.  I wonder what we might accomplish for God if we started running after the logical, avoiding the illogical at every turn?

The responsibility:
We all run, but if it is without intent, we miss out on much in the race.  A runner which "engages" in the race takes his responsibility to run seriously.  There is "intent" in the running.  The greatest part of responsibility is the idea of accountability.  A true runner is very accountable - for not only this race, but preparing for the next and the next one after that one.  In looking at what Paul describes, I think he might have been focusing us on being "answerable" for how well we run.  I don't know about you, but if I give something my half-effort, just barely skimming the surface of what I am capable of giving, I find the "end" a little unfulfilling.  Yeah, I made it to the end, but did I give it my best along the way?  We have a responsibility to run well - anything less shows we are really not concerned with the answer we will give at the end.  I don't know about you, but when I am "answerable" for my actions, I want to be able to "answer well"!

The effort:
We often equate effort to the idea of exertion.  We "put out" and then we realize some "return" for what it is we "put out".  For example, if we do 20 sit-ups a day for three weeks, we expect to see our waistline decrease in size and our abs to become more toned.  If we took our measurements on the day we started and then again at the end of the third week, seeing absolutely no change, we might be a little discouraged!  We expected something for the expenditure of our effort (exertion).  Really, all God ever asks of us is for us to make every "earnest" effort we can to live according to the plan he has for us.  In other words, we see "obedience" as deserving of our "serious attention".  For some, this may seem like a bit much, but if we take the effort to make the first step, we find the "effort" becomes less and less as time goes on.

The other thing we see in our definition is the "timeframe" of our running.  It is as though the time is short.  In considering this point, let me just say, we never really know how short our time may be.  If we take for granted the day we are given, we may find ourselves woefully lacking when the next doesn't come!  If we begin to "process" today well, we won't find ourselves disappointed by the things we "put off" doing in our yesterdays!  Just sayin!

P.S.  I just realized this is my post 1,000!  Seems hard to believe the challenge of a friend a few years ago has resulted in over 1,000 posts being written!  It has been an honor to share my heart and I hope to continue to run well!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Handicapped and loving it!

Handicap:  the disadvantage that makes success more difficult.  When I was in school, we had classrooms for "handicapped" kids.  We called them "special ed" classrooms back in the day.  I don't even know if they even still exist today.  Kids with both mental and physical "handicaps" spent their days in the classroom, learning the skills they'd need to make it in life.  It was my privilege to serve these kids in my high school.  Yep, my privilege.  I got to be a teacher's aide during their physical education class.  Right up my alley!  I loved the gym, the open field, and even the quiet of the water of the indoor pool.  It was made more perfect when I first saw one of these kids experience these wide open spaces for the first time!  You see, it was a new "concept" for my PE teacher, and she went out on a limb to show that these "handicapped" kids could be just as involved in the things life said they "couldn't" do as they could in the things life said they "could".  

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.  Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 MSG)

At first, lowering the basketball hoop to just about five feet off the ground seemed ludicrous.  But...when the first hoop was scored, the silliness of the action seemed lost in the glory and hoopla of the entire class of kids hooting and hollering over their peer's accomplishment!  I've thought back over some of the "adaptations" we made in the gym, the kickball field, and even the swimming pool, in order to give these kids a chance to experience the joys of team sports.  What I saw more frequently with this group of kids was the real meaning of "team".  The kids didn't strive to get a goal, or kick a home run, for themselves, but for the "team".  The celebration which ensued when they did was not for their own accomplishment as much as it was for the accomplishment of the team!

I wasn't very popular in high school.  A little bit of what you'd call a geek.  I loved science, toyed with sports, and dove into books like they'd go out of style someday!  Volunteering my free hour each day to be a teacher's aide to those others saw as "disadvantaged so as to make success an impossibility" had the effect of setting me even farther away from my peer group.  Yet, I would not change a thing!  What I experienced in the open arms and hearts of my "special" friends far exceeded anything I "lost" in the eyes of my peers!  

There were a lot of ups and downs with this group of kids.  Some days went better than others.  Sometimes I felt like we were "herding cats" - trying to always keep them in a group, attention on the game, and then helping them learn the new skill they'd need to kick the ball or sink the shot.  It wasn't until I saw the possibility in each person's life that I began to really "get into" the enjoyment of helping them explore their unique possibilities.  I think I was learning the lesson Paul is speaking of above - I quit focusing on the handicap of these kids and began appreciating the gift they were.  You see, focusing on the handicap only allowed me to see the impossibilities.  Focusing on their heart allowed me to see the tremendous possibilities of even the smallest accomplishments.

I think God is that way - he focuses on the possibilities, not the handicap in each of us!  He knows the "handicap" exists, but it might just be he sees it a whole lot less than he sees our possibilities!  As I have aged, I now have what some see as a physical handicap - the damage to my joints which arthritis has created, causing my movements to be less fluid than they used to be.  I don't run well anymore, have limited endurance for the long haul, and deal with pain daily.  I could focus on the "limits" of the "handicap" (the thing making it difficult for me to do some things), but if I did, I'd never get anywhere!  Paul hits the nail on the head:  Christ's strength "moves in on our weakness" not when we are strong and mighty, but when we are weak and needy.  

I don't know how many times we accept the label of "handicapped" in this life.  I think it might actually be more often than we would like to admit.  Going back to our definition, anytime we see any "disadvantage" we experience in life as that which we focus on as making success more difficult, or even impossible, we are accepting the label.  Scripture plainly says, "With God, all things are possible!"  Man focuses on the impossibility - God remains steadfast in declaring the possibility.  We ALL have some "handicap" in life.  Sometimes the best thing we can do with what we view as a "handicap" is to change our perspective on how we see it.  If we begin to see it as God's opportunity to reveal his strength in us, we might just see it less as a "handicap" and more of an "advantage".  

Those kids wore a "label" by some as "handicapped".  In my book, they were "loving", "forgiving", "compassionate", "kind", and "honest".  You see, their "limitations" in life did not make them less able to experience and show love. In fact, I think they "loved well".  They learned not only to forgive others, but they were constantly called upon to forgive themselves because each "failure" presented a new opportunity to "begin again".  Their ability to associate with the others who also failed, got back up, and tried again only revealed the tremendous amount of "compassion" they had for those who fail.  There response to each other was kind - forbearing the little annoyances of life.  Most of the time, their words were quite truthful - almost too honest, if that were possible!  In those "honest" moments, I often saw my own "dishonesty".  I "masked" my failures - they had no choice but to be wide open with theirs.  Maybe there is a lesson there, too.  In our honesty of transparency, when we are really "real" with others, we experience the opportunity to "overcome" our "handicap".  

What makes us weak on this earth has a way of connecting us with the strength of heaven!  Just sayin!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hindsight sees God's extravagant love!

Are you a "people-watcher"?  You know - - you enjoy just sitting in the mall, sipping a cup of coffee, watching all the people pass by.  You observe their attire, hair styles, the way they carry themselves, and the people they are with.  In some cases, you see "attitude", as when the young men are gathered together in group, one working to outdo the other with a story of some kind.  At other times, you might just see the "loner" gazing absent-mindedly in the windows, not really intent on the "shopping", just on the fact they are out of their homes and escaping life for a little while.  When you stop long enough to watch another, you might just see a thing or two which you'd have missed otherwise!

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG)

I believe Paul probably was a people-watcher.  He observed their behavior, gleaning much from their "attitude", and coming to some conclusions as a result of what he observed.  The power of "observation" is a learned habit.  It just doesn't happen one day.  In fact, you have to learn to look beyond the surface to get really good at this - otherwise, you draw conclusions which are far from reality.  It would be like the game we used to play as kids.  We'd see people walking in the malls, then we'd make up some story about them.  Like the man with cowboy boots and Levis strolling along becoming the Sheriff intent on keeping justice in this hear town!  We saw what we wanted to see and formed the story around what we interpreted in our mind's eye!  But...in the real world, this is a dangerous thing!

Paul gives us the example we are to "watch" - God himself!  He is the one we should "observe" - taking in his "behavior" in order to learn how we are to approach life, answer life's questions, and create life's best outcomes.  Watch what God does - and then do it!  So, instead of just "creating" a story about God, we are to do like God does!  Now, in the make-believe world of the gentleman dressed as a cowboy, I don't think I'd be very comfortable strolling up to him and asking him if I could be his deputy!  But...in God's world of reality, I am quite comfortable asking God if I can be on mission with him!

Look at what we see in this passage.  "MOSTLY what God DOES is love you".  I added the emphasis here because I think it is important to realize God's greatest and most easiest observed attribute is his LOVE.  It is in his actions, even when we don't see it!  Look at how we learn how to make this attribute ours - we "keep company with him".  I have special friends - enjoying every moment of "company" I get to keep with them.  They fill my days with laughter, hold me close when I am low, and can just fill my "space" with warmth without even speaking or doing a thing.  At my weakest moments, nothing and no one else fills my "space" as well as Jesus, though.  In his extravagant way, he reaches into the "space" of our lives - loving us through to wholeness!  It is more than making the lame walk or the dumb talk.  He meets us at the point of our most desperate need and there, he transforms us.

Now, this may not be significant, but his love is learned in observing his extravagance.  His love is not miserly - it is extravagant.  In what actions can we observe the extravagance of God's love?  First, we see the extravagance of laying down his divinity to take on the form of a human - in coming as a babe in a manger.  We see the extravagance of his love in being willing to touch the untouchable in the world - those labeled as unclean by the others in society.  He never skimped on his love - making not only wine from water, but the best wine of the evening.  He always found time for even the least in the crowd - embracing the child, touching the grief of the mother who'd lost her only son, and restoring the guard's ear to full function after Peter attempted to lop it off.  Nothing is "outside" of God's extravagant love - he is willing to humble himself for the sake of another; give the touch of hope where no hope exists; and restore what we so foolishly destroy in our haste and misunderstanding.  Yet, his greatest display of love - his willingness to hang on a cross for our sins.  The man who knew no sin, becoming sin for all mankind.  Now, this bespeaks the ultimate sacrifice - the ultimate display of love.

When Paul reminds us we learn by observing, he is asking us to consider the many "extravagances" of God's love and then to begin to display those same extravagances in our actions.  It takes a little change in our focus to do this.  We have to begin to see the extravagances of God's love - first through our eyes, then through his.  I really never understood the extravagances of my parents' love until I was a parent myself.  In fact, as I was being loved through some of the ugliest period of my life, they were faithfully extravagant in their love, but I was oblivious to their extravagance!  I am older now, and I hope a little wiser.  As I look back at their example of love, I see the extravagance of God's love imitated in their lives.  It is like God opens our eyes to his "extravagant love" not so much when we are experiencing it, but almost after we have been through it!  Maybe it is because we have "clearer perspective" after the fact than we do when our emotions are all muddled up in the moment.

What examples of God's extravagant love have you been observing of late?  If we look hard enough, we might just see the example of his love in the one right next to us today.  If we are willing, we could be the very example of his extravagant love the one next to us needs!  Just sayin!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Move through to move beyond

Enough:  adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire.   Desire:  a longing or craving for something which brings satisfaction or enjoyment.  Have you been so desperate for something that absolutely nothing else enters your mind?  You just cannot turn your attention from whatever it is you long for, craving it with such intensity, nothing else will satisfy.  Wouldn't it be awesome if you could honestly say this about God?  He - the object of your longing or craving - would be the center of your focus so much that nothing else would satisfy!  I wonder how we get to the place where God becomes the object of our desire more than anything else in this world?

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 MSG)

David tells us the secret.  It comes in "working up a hunger and thirst for God".  Where is this hunger and thirst "worked up"?  Ummm...I warn you...you may want to stop reading now!  The hunger and thirst which brings God central in our lives comes in the "traveling across dry and weary deserts".  In the "dry" and "weary" places of life, desire is built - not for the "little bits" of God's presence, but for the "sufficiency" of his presence!

Now, since you have not stopped reading, let's look a little deeper at what David is saying, shall we?  It is in "movement" we find our hunger and thirst built - not in our stagnancy.  David points out it is as we are "travelling across" the dry or weary place we build a hunger and thirst.  Some of us get into the dry or weary place and just take up residence there!  No wonder we don't have our hearts changed!  We "wallow" instead of "travelling through".  Do you know what it means to wallow?  It means to roll in the dirt in hopes we will find refreshment!  Now, how silly is that?  If we were rhinoceros we might actually benefit from the "dirt bath", but dirt just doesn't have the same effect for us!  In fact, it clogs our pores, brings nasty zits which annoy and leave us pocked, and then it gives us a pretty rank smell!  So, I don't recommend "wallowing".  

Probably the definition of "wallowing" which comes closest to what I am think we do when we get into the dry and weary places is to move along, but with such clumsiness and slowness as to reflect our awkwardness with the place we find ourselves in.  We "move", but it is with no real purpose, no intensity. We just "flounder about" in our dryness.  David says we don't work up a thirst unless we are travelling "across".  In other words, from one side to the other! There is a destination in mind - out of the middle of the muddle we are in!  The only way to get out of the mess is to get to the other side of it!

It is in moving across we find the place of moving beyond.  But...to get across, we have to experience a lot along the way.  The dry place is often characterized by the "absence" of something.  We lack something which we need.  The absence builds or intensifies as we begin to "move across" in order to get "beyond".  If you have ever been thirsty, you might just have begun to sense the dryness of your lips, the pastiness of your tongue, or the like.  If you don't address the thirst, what happens?  The intensity of the thirst grows, doesn't it?  The awareness of the absence of the fluid your body craves begins to grow.  In travelling across the dry places in our lives, the intensity of what our spirit craves is growing.  We thirst for that which truly fulfills - not just a tiny taste, but the total immersion!

The movement is key - nothing intensifies thirst or hunger more than "using up" the resources we have at our disposal.  Sometimes God leads us into the dry or weary place to show us how little our "enough" really is!  He allows us to "use up" what resources we have in "reserve" within in order to show us how much more we really need!  The dry places make us aware of our little and his much!  So, rather than focus on the "place" we find ourselves, let's begin to focus on what we will discover in our movement to the "beyond" of this place!  In our movement, I know our hunger and thirst will be intensified, but it is in the discovery of how much we actually hunger and thirst that we come to the place of being opened to receive "more"!  Just sayin!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sticking power!

Have you ever watched a little gecko (lizard) crawl effortlessly up the exterior wall of the house or the fence?  They seem to just "grip" the wall, making the effort of staying up against gravity seem like gravity doesn't even exist!  It is raining this morning in Arizona.  How many geckos do you think you will observe on the fence today?  Zero!  Not just because the sun isn't out for their normal midday "sunbath", but because their little feet lose their "sticking power" when they get wet!  They have all these tiny little hairs (hundreds of them) lining their little feet.  These little hairs allow them to "grip" the surfaces they scurry across because they can get all the hairs into the tiny nooks and crannies of the surface - giving them the ability to traverse the surface upside down if they desire!  So, when the water comes, guess what happens to those tiny hairs?  They get slick!  Just like ours!  In turn, the tiny gecko loses its "gripping power" - its ability to "stay" where it normally would want to be.  

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth.  Stay with God!    Take heart. Don’t quit.  I’ll say it again:  Stay with God.  (Psalm 27:13-14 MSG)

Our passage today refers to finding some "gripping power" ourselves.  In using what the gecko has been given, it is able to go into places other creatures cannot.  It can scurry to safety away from those who would want to make a meal of them.  It can skittle into places where little bugs dwell, making a meal of the little nuisances.  In fact, the gecko is something I work hard to keep around my house, even allowing them to dwell in my garage!  They help keep away the other things which may harm me, simply because they have this awesome ability to "grip" and "go" where others cannot!  When the water comes, though, they lose their ability to "anchor" themselves.

We are given "super human" powers ourselves, but we often don't realize they exist!  Now, in examining the "gripping power" we might develop in our own lives, we find a lot of things affect our ability to "stay" anchored.  We all have been given the ability to "anchor" well into the foundation of Christ, but when we allow the very things which "anchor" us to become "touched" by the things which interfere with these "anchoring" things, we experience a lack of "traction" in our spiritual life.  What are some of the "anchoring" things we have been given?  

We are given the Word of God.  The Word of God gives us the ability to "anchor" our thoughts on truth - instead of allowing our thoughts to run wild.  Whenever our enemy wants to interfere with our "anchoring" power, he often disrupts our connection with the Word.  He gets us too busy to spend time exploring it, convincing us it is too hard to really "get" what God is saying in it, or just simply distracts us when we try to get into it.  We need to recognize he is "throwing water" on our anchor!  His main purpose in keeping us away from the Word is so we will never discover the truth contained therein.  What he realizes is the "strength" of the anchor of truth!  Truth in our lives are like those tiny hairs on the feet of the gecko - it gets into the nooks and crannies so small they cannot be seen by the human eye - and it anchors us tightly!

We are given the fellowship of solid relationships who stand as excellent examples in our lives - spurring us on when we would otherwise be stagnant and non-productive in our walk with Christ.  We learn to hold fast in times of trial more by the example we see in others than in the "experiment" of holding on ourselves!  The encouragement of another is often the very thing we need to take the next step in our journey.  If you have seen these little geckos scurrying up the fence, you might just note one smaller one following a bigger one.  They seem almost to be playing, but in fact, I think they are learning from each other.  Learning to climb higher, discovering new heights together.  There is nothing more encouraging than to discover newness with another.  So, if our enemy wants to disturb our anchor here, he encourages us to isolate!  To make a go of things alone.  Silliness - pure silliness!  We lose our "grip" the easiest when we have no other example to show us the way!

We are given a voice.  Now what could the "anchoring" power of a voice be?  Think about this a little.  The power of your words is often more "anchoring" than you know.  When you speak words of truth - your faith is built up, is it not.  When you speak words of fear - what happens to your faith?  It plummets, doesn't it?  Maybe this is why we are encouraged to pay such close attention to the words we speak.  They carry an "anchoring" effect for both the speaker and the hearer!  When the speaker and the hearer are the same person, watch out!  I think there is value in talking to yourself at times.  Some of my greatest break-throughs in life have come out of hearing my own thoughts put into words!  When the thoughts have been wrong, speaking them out has allowed me to see the error in the thought.  It allowed me to make course corrections.  So, when our enemy wants to get us down on ourselves or others, he often uses our words and the words of others to plant the seed thoughts which will change the placement of our "anchor".  

So, I don't know about you, but I want those "super human" powers I have been given to be able to "anchor" me securely.  In the midst of the storms, I want to hold fast.  I think the ability to remain "anchored" is in direct correlation to the use of the very things God gives us which anchor us securely!  Just sayin!