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Showing posts from January, 2013

Opposing Strength - You Got It?

Pressure:  The exertion of force upon a surface by something in contact with it.  

I had never really stopped to consider this definition, but I saw something this morning which I really did not realize.  Look at the definition again - pressure is the exertion of a "force" upon nothing more than the "surface".  When we use the term, "I am under a lot of pressure right now", we are simply saying, "There are a whole lot of EXTERNAL influences in CONTACT with my life right now".  Something, or someone, comes into CONTACT with our lives - but they are not "invading" our inner life - their contact is on the surface!   This may not earth-shattering to some, but I think if we really begin to latch onto this, we may just see how much control we have over what actually can affect us on the "inside".

If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.  (Proverbs 24:10 NLT)

First of all, what we allow into "contact" with our …

Radical Root Excavation

I like the straight-forward way Paul teaches.  In his letter to the Roman church, he really gets down-and-dirty with the believers, dealing with their misunderstanding of God's grace.  As he opens the letter, he lays out the plain truth - you cannot somehow deny God exists just by giving another explanation for how things came to be.  In fact, he points out the silliness of trying to make God anything less than God.  In response to mankind refusing to acknowledge God, Paul tells us God sets man free to follow their own devices.  Oh, what a dangerous place to be!  Mankind usually messes things up pretty well when they are left to their own ways of doing things.  Then, he turns our attention to the idea of comparing ourselves with others.  When he opens the second chapter, he tells us we cannot have the warped thinking that we are "better" than another just because we don't do some of the things they do.  The telling words, "Every time you criticize someone, you c…

Taking sides?

Blatant:  brazenly obvious; overt; undeniable; obtrusive.  Ever wonder why we can do some things which are definitely wrong and never appear to have anyone notice, then we do one thing "small" and we get noticed right off?  It is like we can do the same thing over and over again, seemingly unnoticed - then one day, the "thing" is out in the open.  Paul puts this in perspective for Timothy when he says some sins are just blatant (obvious), others don't show up until some time passes.  I think this is what Mom always meant when she said not to tell lies because they had a way of catching up with you.

The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.  (I Timothy 5:24-25 MSG)

Paul has spent a great deal of time giving Timothy, a new church leader, great instruction in the "care and maintenance" of his church me…

Is your "feed" working?

Pursue:  to follow in order to overtake, capture; to proceed in accordance with the plan or purpose.   The most important part of this definition is the word "follow".  Did you ever stop to consider all the things in life you "follow".  In Facebook "speak", we "follow" our friends - keeping up with their lives through the social networking feed we obtain from their posts.  In terms of a military command, when we "follow" an order, we are doing exactly as we have been instructed - not veering from the original intent of the order.  We "follow" certain news events because they catch our eye and stimulate some form of curiosity within.  In all these examples, we "follow" or "pursue" because there is something we count on as a "benefit" to us.  If we "follow", maybe we will learn something, be kept safe, or have the inside info on what is going on.  

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfaili…

Having some "birth pains"?

Have you ever stopped to consider the miracle of birth?  Having birthed two children, I remember the first twitches of the "real" birth pains and all those times of "false labor" when we'd feel those false contractions.  The difference between the two is that one of them did not "advance" the birth process, but rather just made us aware it was nearing.  Those "false contractions" may not have seemed like much, but they indeed did more to alert us to the pending delivery than we might have imagined.  With God, he does not just allow us to enter "into" times of pain without also "birthing" something from those times.  Those painful "contractions" are designed to bring forth something new!

In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.  (Isaiah 66:9 NCV)

In the weeks preceding the birth of my children, I experienced many of those "false contractions".  In fa…

Antagonize them!

Enemy:  a person who engages in antagonistic activity against another.

Antagonist:  something which counteracts the effect of something else; one who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another.

There are a whole lot of antagonists in our lives, aren't there?  There is tons of stuff which vies for our time and attention, often acting as an antagonist against something else which really would be well-served with both our attention and time.  The antagonist "competes" for something - time, attention, finances, emotional investment, etc.  The key to managing the antagonists is to recognize their effect.  In other words, when the antagonist is "engaged", the result of the antagonist is to take our attention AWAY - to get us focused in the opposite direction.  We have various medications in healthcare which act to "potentiate" the effect of another medication.  We also have medications which will act as an "antagonist" - counteractin…

What is your "status"?

Status:  The social or professional position, condition, or standing to which varying degrees of responsibility, privilege, and esteem are attached.  

Esteem:  Regard highly or favorably, with respect or admiration; to consider as of a certain value.

Value:  Worth, merit, or importance; to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.

We place "value" on certain things, don't we?  In considering someone, or something, we determine some "importance" or "degree of excellence" which we will "assign" to the individual or object.  Sometimes the individual or object then is held in a higher, or lower, esteem based on the value we "assign".  In turn, we often equate "position" or "standing" based on our determination of "assigned value".  It is not unlikely that we have even assigned "value" to certain actions of others, and even ourselves.  We often do this without much though…

Not another question!

Have you ever used the "skill" of answering a question with another question?  In some circles, such as counseling, this is a common occurrence - the questions asked are designed to get the person to consider the answer themselves and to begin to problem solve through the situation.  There are times when the most appropriate answer is another question.  For example, when a child asks you why they have to eat their vegetables, do you think answering, "Because I told you to", is the best answer?  Answer in this way, and the child will allow those veggies to just grow cold on the plate.  Yet, if the parent tried a different tact, such as saying, "Johnnie, what do you think is the reason you should eat your vegetables?", I wonder what they might receive.  Perhaps you'd hear the response, "Because if I don't, I will never get to watch TV this evening."  If the parent hears this, what is it Johnnie is saying?  He is equating doing something ve…

Am I good enough yet?

There is a story in the New Testament about children.  Jesus is surrounded by these curious little ones, pushing at him, wanting to be with him, some there because their parents brought them, but some likely there because they beheld him with curiosity and wonder.  Some of his disciples just did not understand the press of the children - nor the desire of their parents for Jesus' blessing of their lives.  So, they want to send the kids away.  Isn't that so like us adults?   We see the "business" of the hour as more pressing than the needs of a young one's heart.  Then along comes a man who wants to pose a question to Jesus.  His question:  “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  I don't think this is an unusual question to ask, but notice it was not the kids who asked this question, but the adult.  Jesus' response to the man reveals much about how it is we interpret our standing with Jesus.  Kids come in awe and wonder - adults come wit…

Hey neighbor!

At jury duty this week, I got to see a whole lot of people I'd not encounter normally, yet all of them were in one form or another my "neighbors".  They did not live in the exact same community as me.  Yet, we had some things in common - we all lived in the areas where jurors were chosen!  One of the prospective jurors shared how a rental home in her neighborhood was discovered to be robbed that morning.  They actually noticed the garage door standing open on a totally vacant rental.  What made this catch my interest more than anything was that this woman knew who to call to inform about the possible burglary!  Admit it - most of us would be hard pressed to actually give the first and last names of our neighbors, much less knowing how to reach them in an emergency!

When I use the term "neighbor", what comes to mind is probably the person who lives next door, or at least in your immediate neighborhood.  I have lots of "neighbors" - those who live in my …

Fit as a fiddle?

A twinkle in the eye:  To be bright, sparkly - with merriment or delight.  Now, just how often do you experience a twinkle in your eye?  If you can answer this as "very often", then you might just be the kind of person I'd like to hang around with!  This little "twinkle in your eye" is really and indication of how much you connect with the things and ones in life which actually bring you delight!  I find the eyes are a definite window to the soul - revealing what it is we "connect" with the most frequently.  If there is much connection with negativity, the "twinkle" is just not there.  If there is frequent connection with uplifting people and "content", I see much to take delight in!

A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart,and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.  (Proverbs 15:30 MSG)

The meaning of "fit as a fiddle" kind of brings some mystery into this passage, as I don't know many "fiddles" who act…

What's in a name?

What's in a name?  Have you ever heard someone's name and wondered if the person's parents really had it in for the kid when they chose the name? Something like "Lilly Cropp" or "Frank Lee".  There are names which depict something of the "era" into which they were born, such as when you hear a person born into the sixties being called "Star", "Sunshine", or "Rainbow".  Those given these name bear them a long, long time!  Still, others are named "after" someone - such as when they are given the name of the father down to the second, third or fourth generations.  Yet, others are given names which parents do a great deal of deliberation about - looking for "just the right" name which will speak of the character or blessing of the child.  Regardless of the name given, it is what is behind the name which really matters, is it not?  Being called "Star" doesn't make you outstandingly bri…

Becoming what we believe

Become:  Arrive at; grow into; develop into.   If someone were to walk up to you and tell you to "Become what you believe", what would you become?  In other words, I am asking what would you "grow into" or where would you "arrive at" in your life?  This might be a very telling question for some of us.  In fact, most of us don't really have a plan for where we'd like to "arrive at" or what we truly would like to "grow into".   We simply live day by day, making the best of each moment, and wonder what the next will hold.  I don't think God expects us to "plan out" every moment of our lives, but I do think he has a unique place in our lives for the faith to believe for great things in him.
As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Wh…