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Showing posts from September, 2013

Staying buried, or seeking the light?

If we begin to think about what "fruit" might just be present in our lives, one of the first ones which may come to mind is "love".  I had to "Google" how many times "love" appeared in the Bible, figuring it was probably somewhere in the thousands, right?  You might be surprised to know that the King James Bible has the word "love" printed only 314 times - a whole 594 times if you throw in a smattering of lovest, loveth, loving, and lovingkindness.  As important as this "fruit" is, I thought it would likely be far more "cited" in the scriptures.  Yet, love is probably the most significant of the fruit we can bear in life - as all the rest of the fruit which may become apparent are really founded on the basis of love. Don't believe me?  Try being long-suffering if you have no foundation of love in the relationship.  Try finding joy in difficult circumstances if love is not the basis of what holds your head up and

Getting rid of the "bad seed"

We began to explore a little about "fruit-bearing" yesterday.  As you may recall, we need to both recognize what seed is being planted and have the knowledge to know whether it is good or not.  Today, let's go a little deeper into this idea of "fruit-bearing" - keeping in mind that fruit is "grown", not just magically "given" in our lives.  We can use all kinds of excuses for any "bad fruit" we want to - truth be told, it grew there because of the seed which was planted.  On occasion, we have explored the concept of "character" being formed in our lives - a process requiring a period of time with a series of adjustments this way and that until there is evidence of God's character shining through in a pretty consistent manner.  I don't think you can consider "fruit-bearing" apart from this concept of character formation.  In fact, as fruit is becoming evident, it is only because of the "character"

Short-cut to fruit-bearing

If you have ever had something begin to grow in your garden and then wondered what it might be, you may have left it grow a little longer because you think it resembles a flower or perhaps a plant which will produce some type of "fruit".  As it grows, you can begin to tell if it is what you thought it might be or not.  When it no longer resembles what you thought it was, you pluck it up because you now recognize it as not being the "fruit-bearing" plant you imagined.  I feed birds - this produces a variety of "undergrowth" in my flowerbeds because they fling seed everywhere.  I have seen one-eyed susan, an occasional sunflower, and a lot of tall blades of grass as a result of this "seed flinging".  There is also a whole lot of stuff in there I don't recognize.  I just pluck those out right away because I have no idea what they will produce. A whole lot of "seed" gets "flung" in life, doesn't it?  Much of it can begin t

My filing cabinet

Memory is a powerful tool - learning how to use it to our advantage is probably one of the most difficult tasks we can undertake, for we remember what we'd be best to let go of and we don't remember some of the most awesome moments God provides for our growth and restoration.  If you have ever caught yourself bemoaning where you ARE, you have probably forgotten where you came FROM.  We have selective memories, at best.  Focusing too intently on one thing keeps us from seeing the things we might just need to hold a little closer to our hearts. God  makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet... God  is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sin

How good are you at putting on your gas mask?

Does it ever amaze you how our brain works?  Probably one of the most stunning displays of our brains comes anytime we "work through" something we just haven't been grasping, right?  When we finally "get it", we just stand there all excited and celebrating our moment of success.  More important than the stuff we finally "get" is the times when we try to justify what we are saying or doing through some warped impression we might just be holding onto.  It is like the times when we outright act one way, all the while knowing we are being asked by God to act an entirely different way.  We somehow tell ourselves it is okay because God is gracious, or it is going to work out well for us in the end because God has everything in control.  Truth is - God does have everything in control, but the thing we are pursuing may be the furthest from what God intends for us!  What we need more than anything else in our lives is for God to do the intensive "straighte

Know anyone who is a little "caustic"?

We all have those relationships where we would rather wring their necks sometimes instead of dealing with just one more of their temper tantrums, cries for our attention, or demanding moments.  People get on each other's nerves at times - making this whole business of relationship so much more work than we want it to be!  Face it - - - even you act like the one someone else wants to do a little neck wringing on at times!  In some social circles, especially those of the "politically correct", these types of relationships are called "difficult" or "high maintenance".  In my social circle, they are called "get over yourself" relationship moments!  Sometimes people have "toxic" moments - other times they LIVE toxic lives.  The first is okay - we can deal with it and move on.  The latter is not - it lingers, eats away at us, and drains us of all we have to give and more.  Toxins are poisons - they affect what they touch because of their

What's in your "heart-vault"?

Crowds have a way of pressing in on us, being a little unwieldy, and just plain rude, don't they?  Give people enough to "gawk" at and they will congregate quicker than ants on honey.  I call them "looky-loos" - they are they for the "show", not for much else.  They come to see, certainly not to participate. They come interested in what they might get, not in what they might give away.  What draws a crowd?  Isn't it the spectacular, the unexpected, and the unusual?  Jesus was all of these things.  Spectacular - dramatically daring as he went against the Pharisees and dared to challenge their "religious-ness". Unexpected - surprising those who least expected his touch or care with the deepest expressions of his love.  Unusual - shocking them with the extraordinary and the uncommon display of power, grace, and wisdom.  He was a crowd "gatherer", but he was also a crowd "divider".  The same things which drew many to him a

Attracting the right attention?

Commitment has a way of drawing attention at times, doesn't it?  Get "into" something with all your heart and you will find there are others who will find fault in your pursuit!  If you haven't figure it out by now, God is interested in how we will respond when we are criticized, put down, or when others try to "undo" something we are in the process of doing.  Most of their interference and resistance is really without cause, so a response of telling them they don't know what THEY are doing, or THEY are being unfair seems pretty logical to me.  God's desire is for us to respond differently.  In fact, scripture tells us we are to "put up with" being treated badly, even when there is no good reason for the way we are being treated (I Peter 2).  Our response matters. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:10 NIV) You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes p

You a peacemaker or a peace taker?

A peacemaker is one who works toward reconciliation between two parties who disagree, find themselves quarreling a lot, or just plain like to mix it up a little.  Some of us avoid conflict like it was the plague.  We do everything in our power to not be in the position where we will have to be involved in situations where conflict is inevitable.  To someone who actually likes to be in the thick of it, they might interpret this "avoidance" behavior as a little bit of cowardice or wimpiness.  There are actually tests out there you can take to tell you your "conflict style".  I took one once, and guess what....I was a conflict avoider!  It did not show I never took the bull by the horns, I just take a little time to "process" the conflict.  To the outsider, this appears as though I am avoiding the conflict, retreating, or just plain don't want to "mix it up". To me, it looks like a "safety mechanism" to keep me from putting my foot in

A truly "plumb" heart

Nothing is more elusive than the approval of man.  Try as we might, we often fall short of what another expects of us - leaving us feeling like we haven't measured up and them experiencing disappointment.  Since it is so elusive, why do we spend so much time trying to "measure up" to some other man or woman's approval?  The approval of another is kind of like a well disguised snare in the path - we get caught up in it without even noticing we were headed in that direction!   The pathway to man's approval is pretty demanding, though.  It demands our time - often time we don't have to give. It demands our attention - often attention which is diverted from something which also requires our attention, but which will go without while we pursue something completely opposite.  It demands our energies - sucking us dry of that which really would be best utilized on a task designed by God for us. To the faithful  you show yourself faithful,   to the blameless you show

Feeling a little "cluttered" lately?

If you have ever stopped to consider things long enough to actually get a clear perspective on things, you will probably realize there is that moment in time when you finally realize the reality of something - it comes as one of those "AHA!" experiences.  For the first time, you see things as they are - you really understand them.  In our spiritual lives, this happens, too.  We get to the place where we finally have that "AHA!" moment and then we sit and revel in what it is we finally see so clearly.  What happened to get us to this point? Simply put, we got enough of God into the places in our heart and mind where we had all the muddle previously!  As he got into those places, he sorted out the muddle and let us see him and our circumstances in clarity! Blessed are the pure in heart,  for they will see God.  (Matthew 5:8 NIV) You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.  (Matthew 5:8 MSG

Mercy is a great "counter-attack"

Yesterday we began to explore the importance of mercy being an action on our part which connects others with Christ - it connects the "value" of an individual's changed life to the actions of Christ on their behalf.  It is the action of another on the part of one incapable of the same action which puts on display the grace and beauty of Christ.  Today, I'd like to expand upon this idea of how it is we display the mercy of Christ in our lives.  It is a "practice" of real love which displays Christ to others, isn't it?  All the words in the world don't display mercy - they might direct someone to consider mercy - but the action is what makes the connection between the words and the heart.  One of the toughest things for us sometimes is the first step.  The first step toward mercy when it is undeserved is sometimes the hardest one we will ever take.  The first step toward the unloving requires the commitment to love even when love is not returned.  The