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Showing posts from 2013

Confined?

Small spaces can be quite confining.  I have learned much about caves, caverns, and the formation of stalagmites and stalactites over the past few years as I have explored several unique and totally amazing caverns and cave systems on recent vacations.  The magnificence and beauty of these spaces buried way underground is truly awe-inspiring.  In those moments of taking in those beautiful displays of crystalline-like beauty, I just wanted to break out in hymns of praise like "How Great Thou Art"!  My "tours" of these caves has been guided because I am not an experiences spelunker, so I restrained myself.  Yet, I did breathe in deeply and just sigh loudly at the amazing beauty of our heavenly Father's creative power - even when it is buried deep within the hidden spaces of this earth.  Being some 200-250 feet below ground didn't even concern me, but there are others who would absolutely freak out if I told them we'd be "going underground" today…

Living as an example

When you are making your way through a field of landmines, you definitely want to listen for the faint "click" of the detonating trigger if you misstep. You then hope to have the wisdom of another who knows the inner workings of the device to show you how to keep the detonator from engaging when you remove your foot from the device.  There are definitely times when there is a specific need to pay attention - to listen like your life depended on it.  Did you know God gives us a certain amount of common sense to handle some of life's challenging moments, while he expects us to listen intently to his voice as though our live's depended upon it?  Truth is, he doesn't really care too much which can of tomato soup we purchase, but he does care about who we might just run into in the aisle as we are shopping.  Common sense allows us to purchase the can of soup which tastes good, is a reasonable price, and meets our nutritional needs.  His still small voice might just pr…

Window gazing

If you have ever made a conscious decision to look beyond the surface in someone's life, you know just how conscientious you have to be to not just stop at the "surface stuff" you observe with the eye, but to look deeper.  It is easy to think you might get to know the "real" someone just because you see them act a certain way or say certain things.  Truth is, we aren't really getting to know the "inner struggles" of a man or woman until we get beneath the surface.  For some, the holidays were a tremendous time of reconnecting with family and making new memories.  The homes were filled with laughter and lots of stories which added to the good times.  For others, the holidays were kind of melancholy and lonely.  The memories of yester-year were just not enough to bolster their enthusiasm for the holiday.  Relationships had been lost, hearts were left open and hurting, and things just didn't ring with the same cheer as in years gone by.  Still ot…

A Whet Stone and Some Fire - Bring it on!

We have all probably heard the saying, "This is a little bit of heaven..."  What someone is really trying to convey when they use this expression is that at this very moment, the thing they are experiencing or enjoying is giving them just a little glimpse of awesomeness!  It might be because the chocolate is soft, sweet, and just the right little "pick me up" for a late afternoon snack. It could be when a long awaited vacation away from the hubbub of daily life finds you with toes buried deep in warm sand.  Or maybe it is because you are held close in the arms of someone you love very dearly, just enjoying the moment at hand.  A little taste of heaven....indeed.  I wonder how many of us realize how much God wants to whet our appetite for what he has in store for us?  I think he may be constantly giving us "little tastes of heaven" just so we "stay hungry" for more and more of him!

The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’…

Among or In?

I am sometimes guilty of judging a book by its cover - like when I pass a quick judgment on someone or something because I see something on the "surface" which kind of gets my dander up, but really don't understand the reality just beneath the surface.  We never really know what another will bring into our lives until we get beneath the surface - look beneath the "cover". Lest you think you are beyond concealing things beneath a "cover" in your lives, ask yourself this question:  When was the last time I was truthful about the toughest struggle in my life today?  That question can be very telling - for we often don't have anyone with whom we can share these struggles; or we don't really want to be honest about the struggle because it is kind of humbling to admit we struggle in that area of our lives.  In reality, we have no struggles which are not "common" among all men and women - things like fear, anxiety, mistrust, pride, addictio…

Radical Life Change

Radical - of or going to the root or origin of something.  If you haven't really thought about what "radical change" is, you might be a little surprised to find out it is change which goes after the "root" or "origin" of something in order to so totally change what has become "traditional".  If a business wants to "re-invent" themselves because they have been losing customers to some other big name chain with a newer look, what do they do?  They go through some "radical change" to make us believe this is the store we want to be shopping at instead of the other guy's.  J.C. Penney did just that - they changed up the lines they carried, took out a whole bunch of their stock, remodeled the interiors of the stores to be more "hip", and then they lost business!  Most of us who shopped at Penney's did so for a reason - the consistency of finding the lines we liked, which fit us well, at a reasonable price rang…

Giving it all away

Merry Christmas to all!  Hope this is a blessed day for each of you and your extended families.  As we look at the blessings of Christmas, my hope is that we will consider first the blessing of our Savior's finished work on the cross. It was one gift you couldn't wrap, but it is always available even after the Christmas tree is put away!  God is in the business of taking what is withered and worn, then returning them to places of robust growth IN HIM.  This is the message of Christmas - the changed life made possible only as a result of accepting the gift given in his Son.  As our life is made robust in his goodness, we are commissioned to share this life with others - allowing the many graces we have been freely given to be poured out in service to others. This is the expression of love God desires from us today - the pouring out of our lives, without strings attached, for those in need right there around us today.

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!  The Lord resc…

Deliverance

In the midst of some of the toughest places we could be in, there are moments when we just need to stop to take time to refocus.  In this moment of refocus, we are really re-centering our eyes of Jesus - his greatness, his graciousness, and his gentleness.  In the midst of chaos and terror, he becomes our settling peace.  In the moments of uncertainty and wavering, he becomes our strong foundation.  In the mountains of hardship and despair, he becomes our strong deliverer.  Some of us need to refocus more than we recognize.  On the surface, we might appear calm, cool and collected.  On the inside, we are falling apart, failing to pass the tests, and frantically trying to avoid the mess we are in.  As we face these tough places in life, we aren't alone.  Not only does the guy or gal next to you feel the pressures of life, but so do you - if you were honest enough to admit it.  

But let me run loose and free,celebrating God’s great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, “God…

A new lamp

Have you ever had one of those moments when you know something and no one else in the group does?  You are almost chatting at the bit to get an opportunity to share it with someone, or perhaps you have been sworn to secrecy and cannot.  Either way, it is almost impossible to contain yourself. The information you possess is almost too big to be contained.  I think this is the way it is with what God gives us - it is almost too big for us to contain it! It leaves us feeling like we'd have to share it or we'd burst.  I like the analogy of heading off to the market one day in search of a new oil burning lamp for the homestead.  You have the anticipation of the journey - for you have a mission in mind.  You have the moment of exploration - for there are many lamps from which to choose.  You have the moment of choice - for just the right one has been selected.  You have the moment of expectation - for you can imagine the light it will bring to your home.  Then at last, you have the …

Not another plate of brussel sprouts!

Hate is a strong word, is it not?  Many parents actually try to get their kids to not use this word, but choose to say something like "I dislike brussel sprouts" instead of "I hate brussel sprouts".  Why?  Perhaps it is the intensity of the word - hate.  It carries the idea of some extreme aversion - almost a totally passionate dislike or repulsion for that which is being described.  In the English language, we have a lot of synonyms for the word hate: loathe, despise, abhor, and even detest.  To the child who doesn't want to eat his brussel sprouts, he is probably just trying to convey the idea of the taste being a little too bitter and displeasing to his palate.  When that pungent odor of brussel sprouts gets into his tiny nose, he just cringes because it doesn't smell so very sweet or as familiar as his macaroni and cheese favorite!  When God uses the word hate, he doesn't just imply a "dislike" for something - he is indicating a much stron…

Need a new roof?

If you have ever hired a workman to come into your home or yard to fix up something, remodel, or landscape, you probably had some idea of what you wanted the finished project to resemble.  You had a plan and you asked the workman to follow the plan.  Even when I had new shingles put on the roof a few years back, I expected it to look a certain way when it was finished and it was expected to perform without leaking, holding up to the tough summer winds in Arizona, and providing my home with protection from the hot sun. I had windows replaced on this old home during the summer (don't ask me why I chose the hottest day of the year to do it).  I had seen the "demo" version of the windows, and could only imagine how they would appear once they were installed.  Since all of them were custom sizes (don't ask me why home builders do that to us unsuspecting buyers), they had to be carefully fitted to each opening.  Some fit like a jewel, others required a little "nudgin…

Got some rotting fruit?

Quite some time ago, as I was considering a big move with my career, I faced the fear of not being ready for the next step, but also the overwhelming excitement about the possibilities that come with change.  I was a fairly new nurse at the time, not really sure of myself on so many accounts.  To take a huge step toward a position of leadership was almost one of the scariest things I did.  That day, a good friend gave me some advice which has stuck with me on so very many future decisions.  I'd like to share that advice with you today. She said, "Green is growing, ripe is rotting."  Now, at first, this may not seem like a very "profound" truth, but I have often thought on this, mulling over decisions I have made throughout my career, in my home, with my family, and in all kinds of relationships using this simple "rule of thumb". Keep yourself in a place of being just a little greener than you may like and you won't risk the potential of losing con…

A tender green shoot

This time of year, we often go back to the portions of scripture proclaiming the arrival of the Son of God - Jesus.  We read the story of his birth, the journey of the magi, and even some of the various prophesies of his promised coming.  In most churches, we focus on the nativity scene kind of stories, but not so much the purpose of his coming kind of stories.  Today, I'd like us to consider the attributes of the Messiah - his most significant "traits" which made him the perfect sacrifice for our salvation.  Our beginning spot is how he is described as a "green shoot".  If you have ever seen a plant withered beyond what you thought could ever return any signs of life again, you will get a picture of how scripture describes the circumstances of his birth.  His "beginning" was from a "shoot" so dried up, so destitute of any signs of life that most would say there was no hope for "life" to ever be part of it again. The place from whi…