Showing posts from December, 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 realit

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 t

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 &qu

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 particular

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 atte

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’

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 pre

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 athlete

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"

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 extrav

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

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 &