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Showing posts from March, 2013

What do you see from down there?

Calamity:  a great misfortune or disaster; adversity; misery.  There was a 20th century American Baptist pastor, Harry Emerson Fosdick, who penned these words:  "He who knows no hardships will know no hardihood.  He who faces no calamity will need no courage.  Mysterious though it is, the characteristics in human nature which we love best grow in a soil with a strong mixture of troubles."  The idea of the "best" in human character being produced in the times (or fields) of calamity or trouble might just catch your attention here.  In fact, it speaks very loudly to me - for the character which speaks the "loudest" is that which had endured the disaster, held strong through the misfortune and loss, dug in during times of adversity, and withheld the desire to give up in the midst of misery.

For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.  (Proverbs 24:16 AMP)

He also penned these words:  "Life consists not…

Reacting or Acting?

Ever fail a test?  You know, you think you have "studied" hard enough to make your brain actually leak forth the right stuff in just the right moment - then almost without recognizing the turning point, you "slip" in what you "leaked" and down you go!  Yep, been there, done that, bought the shirt, and wore it out!  The truth is, we all fail - sometimes more miserably than others, but we fail nonetheless.  It may be in some commitment we have made such as determining to eat right, or some "trigger" we just didn't want to respond to in quite the same way the next time we were faced with it.  This week was one of those weeks for me.  The "trigger" came and there came my response - not the grace-filled one I would have like to respond with, but the adrenaline kicked into full gear and there I was facing the same old stuff.  The truth be told - I didn't go as far in my negative response to the trigger - for I held back the words I w…

Beware of the potholes!

Many of my friends from back east and in the northern parts are still experiencing winter weather - snow flies, drifts build, and roads become hazards rather than passageways.  I have a family member in Canada who drives plows - he stays VERY busy trying to keep a semblance of passable roadway for those who must venture out.  To him, the work must seem endless, but it has a purpose - to make for a safe passage.  If you have ever tried to travel a roadway covered with slick ice, drifts of snow, and sometimes unrecognizable "boundary markers", you might understand the dangers associated with this type of travel.  When you cannot see the boundary markers of the roadway, it is easy to drift into spaces your car was not intended to travel!

The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick; if you know what’s good for you, stay clear of it.  (Proverbs 22:5 MSG)

I spend three years in Alaska as part of my tour in the military. I absolutely enjoyed the opportunities and exp…

You want me to cross where?

It is one thing to stand still - quite another to be at peace, remaining at rest, while the world whirls past you at speeds capable of making your head spin!  Moses is leading the people of Israel away from the slavery of Egypt - Pharaoh's army close on their heels.  Imagine being an unorganized, start-up nation, no armies of your own, and only a "dream" of freedom.  Here you are, faced with the armies behind, and a body of water before - one direction ensures bondage, the other promises hope - but something stands between their past and their future.  The water - their dividing line between the past and the promise of hope.  As the "past" closes in, they press closer to their future state - but there is a "hurdle" of sorts - the Red Sea.  In the presence of their "past" and the hope of their "future" stands the ominous "present". 
13 Moses told the people, Fear not; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the sa…

What's in your pages?

Example:  a part to show the character of the whole; a pattern to be imitated; an illustration.  Have you ever stopped to consider the various examples you have observed in life?  We have numerous more these days than ever before, simply because of the intensity of social media.  Not every one of these examples are the best, though.  Some stand as reminders of the "character" we don't want to become!  The tougher question to answer is really if we have ever stopped to examine the character we display which someone else may actually be using as what they will "imitate" in their lives.
14 And the grace (unmerited favor and blessing) of our Lord [actually] flowed out superabundantly and beyond measure for me, accompanied by faith and love that are [to be realized] in Christ Jesus.  15 The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.  16 But I obtained…

Autopia Trivia

Oh, that my ways were directed and established to observe Your statutes [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them]!  Then shall I not be put to shame [by failing to inherit Your promises] when I have respect to all Your commandments.  I will praise and give thanks to You with uprightness of heart when I learn [by sanctified experiences] Your righteous judgments [Your decisions against and punishments for particular lines of thought and conduct].  (Psalm 119:5-7 AMP)
How many times do we pray something like this to God?  We cry out to him, asking him to set our ways straight again because somehow we have managed to stray from the path we should be on.  David's plea - direct and establish my ways - not to live as I want, but to observe your Word in its entirety.  A "directed" life is one which both guided and regulated, so the course is certain.  It is like when I used to ride the "Autopia" ride at Disneyland as a child - I had no idea the metal bar which ran…

Boldly, Confidently, and Fearlessly

Three words are used in this morning's passage to describe our approach to God - fearless, confident, and bold.  These three words could all be interchangeably  could they not?  If we are confident, we are likely fearless and a little bold.  If we are fearless, it is probably because we have confidence which results in boldness.  Why are all three words used to describe our approach to God?  What was it the writer had in mind by emphasizing these three characteristics of approaching God - the AND emphasizes they do not stand alone, but ALL make up our approach.  It doesn't say, "If you are bold, approach God" or "If you possess the confidence, come before his throne".  All three play an important part in our coming before God.  Let's see why.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good tim…

Honest prayer yields God's bounty

Bountiful:  liberally, generously, or abundantly; providing or having ample supply.  When I look at my bank account, I hope to see "ample" supply for every purchase I need to make - don't you?  When I examine the contents of the pantry, I want to see an abundance of the "good stuff" which seems to satisfy both my cravings and my hunger.  When I am down in the dumps, I call upon God's generous grace because I know it will be what pulls me to my feet again.  When God "deals" with me, I want him to do it with liberal grace, generous love, and abundant power.  How about you?

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live; and I will observe Your word [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it].  (Psalm 119:17 AMP)

Here our psalmist begins this section of our psalm with the intention of God's "dealing" with him - so he may observe God's word.  In other words, he doesn't expect God to deal with him so he can continue to live in…

Full silos don't equal a good harvest

Harvest:  A supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored; the result or consequences of any act, process, or event.

I wonder if we have given much thought to the various "harvests" we have in our lives.  In most cases, we are not farmers - so this idea of "harvesting" is not fully understood.  The great work of producing the end result of a tremendous "intake" of grain is almost missed by us because we simply go to the local grocer and purchase the bagged flour, loaf of bread, or cake mix right off the shelf.  If there was a greater appreciation for the "work" which makes the harvest possible, I wonder if we'd have any greater appreciation for the "filled shelves" at the grocer?  Our definition above is really interesting, simply because it doesn't start with the definition of a farmer's work, but of the general work of seeing something to the point of maturity - then storing up the thing which has been brought to this…

Listening?

There are definitely times when we listen, but we just don’t “heed” what we are hearing, right?  We know we are hearing a clear cut warning to avoid some “event” or happening, but we go into it anyway – almost as a challenge to our common sense!  Listening and heeding are two entirely different things – one is a process, the other is an action.  We get pretty good at the process, but neglect the action.  Or the other way around – we forget about the process, launching into action.  The problem – process helps to define action, actions speak to the soundness of the process.

Now listen and give heed, O Israel, to the statutes and ordinances which I teach you, and do them, that you may live and go in and possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, gives you. (Deuteronomy 4:1 Amplified Bible)

As part of my job, one of the things I do is analyze processes to ensure they are working well.  When they don’t get followed, we usually have error.  When the process is outdated, becaus…

Shades of Grey

History:  the aggregate of past events; all that is preserved or remembered about the past.  We ALL have a history, do we not?  For some of us, the "story" is quite involved, colorful, and a little seedy at times.  For others, the "story" may be a little less complicated, kind of mundane, without too many shades of grey.  Regardless of the "shades" painted by our past, there are still things from our past which act upon us today, influencing how we interact with the present.

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (Romans 14:1 MSG)

It is sometimes quite difficult to welcome into our fellowship those with "histories" which vary completely from our own - especially when thei…

Ummm...what tomb?

The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead has been told time and time again, but as I was reading it again this morning, some things came to mind. First, Jesus told his disciples he was glad he was not there when Lazarus died.  Now, at first this may have seemed a little uncaring, but if you read a little further, you see he tells them since he wasn't there, this would be an opportunity for THEIR faith to grow.  He said to them, "And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing."  (vs. 15)  I wonder how many times we complain about Jesus "not" being where we thought he should have been at some moment in time, not realizing his "absence" was really the specific opportunity for us to receive "new grounds for believing"?  Probably more than we'd like to admit!  Second, he was not exactly going into friendly territory.  Many in the city had already been active in plotting ways to shu…

What do you see reflected?

Have you ever told yourself something only to find out in the end you were really just fooling yourself?  Until we actually look in the mirror, we don't see what is likely right in front of us all the time.  Even when we look into the mirror, we may not see exactly what we thought was there - because the mirror is clouded over with some film.  If you have ever taken a hot shower in a closed room, you find the mirror becomes all coated with the steam.  The coating on the mirror actually keeps you from seeing an accurate appearance of who you are.  Even if you try to wipe the steam away a little, the image you may see is still a little distorted by the remaining particles of water gathered on the mirror.  In actuality, the "image" never changes, just the reflection does!

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be tru…

Direction AND Counsel - We Need Both

Ever feel like you have been following the directions you have received only to find you are lost?  It takes only one subtle turn in the wrong direction, one overlooked sign, or one moment of inattentiveness to find yourself totally out of the path you are supposed to be following to reach your destination doesn't it?  In retrospect, you can probably look back and recognize the point you should have turned, should have heeded the sign, or been paying closer attention to the journey than something else which captivated your attention at the moment.  What happens next?  You spend a whole lot of time getting back on course.  Sometimes the best laid plans are not always going to work out as you planned simply because the one doing the "following" of the plan is a little inattentive, huh?

Without good direction, people lose their way;the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.  (Proverbs 11:14 MSG)

Our proverb this morning deals with good direction - wise counsel…

New Wine Skins

EXPAND:  To increase in extent, size, volume, or scope; to unfold; to express in fuller form or detail; to enlarge.  PUNY:  Of less than normal strength or size; weak; unimportant; insignificant.  

Not sure which side of the fence you are on today, but I know I would prefer the "expanded" version of life vs. the "puny" version.  In fact, in examining the steps I have taken over the last year (something I do in the first part of each new year), I can see some steps I have taken to "position" myself for growth in a number of ways in my life.  First and foremost, I find myself enjoying the times I have with my Lord - long or short.  There are times in my day when I just get quiet for a few brief moments - settling my spirit and emotions into the presence of God.  Others don't know about this, but it is what keeps me centered and on task in my life.  If someone comes across me at that moment, they might think I am deep in thought, but in actuality I am jus…