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Showing posts from January, 2014

True Freedom

If you have ever just gone about doing whatever it was you felt like doing without any real concern for how it would end, or what it may bring for the long run, you probably have come to the conclusion this way of "living free" isn't really "freedom" at all.  In fact, the more you do whatever it is you want to do without regard to the consequences, the more difficult it is to work your way back from where those indiscretions let you end up.  If you don't believe me, remember the last time you worked hard at changing the way you ate, losing a few pounds in the process.  Then remember the day you chose to eat just a little treat or two, then the next, and then the larger portions, etc.  In the end, you probably not only put on the weight you lost, but gained a few more pounds in the process.  It wasn't "that big of a deal" when you were indulging, but now that the jeans no longer fit and the buttons are not quite meeting in the middle, you might…

QUIT is not in HIS vocabulary

You have probably heard me say that messages repeated in the Bible are really an attempt for God to get through to us on a particular matter simply because it is an important thing for us to learn.  If in twenty-six short verses God repeats something twenty-six separate times, I think he may just have a message for us!  The message?  HIS LOVE NEVER QUITS!  If you begin to take apart this psalm, you will discover some pretty significant "issues" in which Israel found themselves - "issues" which put to test exactly how secure they were trusting in and stand firm on God's love.  We move from the majesty of having created the oceans and cosmos, to protecting Israel when the death angel passed over Egypt, taking the firstborn, to the splitting of the Red Sea when Egypt was coming up fast with all the might of their military forces.  Not enough to prove his love is enduring?  Then add those the fact that God "smashed down" huge kingdoms right and left as Is…

High speed or dial up?

I'd like to quote something my pastor has frequently said, but which I think bears repeating:  "Religion is US working OUR way to God.  Christianity is GOD working HIS way to us."  (Pastor Chad Moore)  There is really no more eloquent way to put it!  Our old way of doing business centered entirely around US keeping the rules and getting things straight.  Our new way of living is to allow God to make his way into our lives and to go about setting things right on our behalf.  Lest we think this involves absolutely nothing from us, let me set the record straight on that one.  As long as we are connected with Christ, sin speaks a "dead language" to us - it is like we hear it, but we don't respond to it because we don't understand it any longer.  The part we play is in maintaining the connection.  I use a wireless router when I am on my laptop.  This allows me the freedom to be on it in my kitchen, the front room, or even in the bedroom.  There have been tim…

Beware of the Dog!

If you have ever found yourself getting into the middle of someone else's argument, then you know how messed up things can become for YOU in just a short period of time!  What started out as an innocent concern for someone else's well-being ended up becoming quite a mess for you to mop up in your own life!  How do we get wrapped up in these things?  Well, if we were to be totally honest, most of us haven't really gotten past our tendency to want to "be in the know" about stuff, so we meddle!  Meddlers pay the price - often with a little skin off their own backsides!  Meddling is just a polite word for saying we like to get the scoop, or have something to gossip about.  In fact, this burning desire to either be in the middle of the situation, or to have the hair-brained idea that we know how to solve the issue we don't even own is what propels us forward even when common sense is telling us to stay away! Perhaps it is time to consider just how much extra strif…

You hear me now?

Wisdom dictates we listen more than we speak - but I have to honestly ask how well we are doing on that one?  Listening is an art - learned not because we really want to learn it, but because if we don't learn how to listen, we will eventually get life pretty much as we like it, but we might just be the only ones left in the picture once we do!  I suspect there is much to this listening "art" which many of us have yet to perfect.  In fact, learning this "art" of listening requires we not only learn how to "tune into" the voice we hear, but we learn to "recognize" the voice.  I think many of us hear those "voices" in our heads - hopefully not too many of them - but we don't always know which one is the one we should be listening to.  If you have ever seen the commercial where there is a little guy in white on one shoulder and a little guy in black on the other and the lady is trying to figure out if she can give her kid chocolat…

A strangle-hold

Somewhere in time, the expression "end of my rope" came into use.  In a general sense, it means someone can't take anymore.  The origin of the saying might just shed a little bit of a different light on it, though.  It comes from the practice of hanging a condemned man.  The noose is placed around the neck, cinched a little to make sure it is snug, and then he falls through a trap door underneath his feet.  As he drops, he comes to an "abrupt end" to the rope!  In essence, he is jerked short - he doesn't have any more "give" in the rope to allow him to stand against the growing pressure of the rope around his neck.  Now, this indeed paints a picture of something not quite as casual as being at the point of just throwing up one's arms and walking away - it suggests the "pull" that makes one feel like they have run hard, but come up short of realizing the hoped for end.  There is just nowhere to go when you are at the end of the rope -…

You a "winter visitor"?

I live in an area of the country where we get this influx of what are called "winter visitors" - those who flee the cold and brutal storms of the winter season in pursuit of the sunshine and leisure of life in sunny Arizona.  Along about October, recreational vehicles begin to be spotted with license plates announcing the arrival of our "snow bird" friends.  Slowly, but surely, the campsites and RV parks begin to fill, until a large community of these "birds" take up "semi-permanent" residence in our region.  Some of the folks who make Arizona their home year round don't exactly anticipate the arrival of these "birds" in warm fashion because they know the streets and restaurants will be busier, causing things to move at a slower pace, and it just gets a little more difficult to "live life" at our normally suicidal pace!  I just simply remind those who don't look upon their arrival as "terrific" about the fac…

God, I'm making a fly-by!

When we are presented with alternatives to things the purpose is to give us a choice.  We can have peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and honey, or just peanut butter - based on our "mood" of the day, we choose what comes closest to our desired sandwich.  Alternatives are just a lot of choices.  If you have ever gone into a restaurant with pages and pages of menu items, bound together in a spiral bound book of sorts, you probably have been so frustrated by all the choices you just chose your old "stand by" because you couldn't decide fast enough!  When in doubt, it's a hamburger for me!  The problem with "too many" choices is the increased anxiety a multitude of choices actually affords.  
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s…

You "underway"?

If you have a tendency to think you need to "have it all together" in order to "do life", you probably have been pretty disappointed with just how much you find yourself struggling to even get it together in the first place - let alone keeping it together!  We limit our potential whenever we think "perfection" is the goal and WE are the ones to actually accomplish this goal!  My friends, perfection IS the goal (Christ), but WE are not the ones going to accomplish the goal (salvation and all the "clean up" which comes with it). All we can do is head toward it - Christ is actually the one beckoning us on and he will be the one who gets us over the finish line!  
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is b…

Put right is not us getting it right all the time!

So many times we want to assume that there is no way we can be "put right" in life because we can only see the "wrong" we have done.  We see how frequently we fall and struggle to get up - God sees how many times he has the opportunity to help us to our feet again.  God doesn't see the wrong as much as he sees how he has already put things right for us in the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus.  Isn't it about time we change our perspective of the "wrong" we think is unforgivable in our lives and begin to see what God sees when he looks at us - lives "put right" with him?
God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.  (2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG)  
We evaluate people by what they have and how they look - God sees them by a totally different standard.  He sees them not as wealthy, or well-dressed, but as "needy" individuals - needy of a Savior - needy of being "put right". This is indeed …

Re-engaging the mind

Unprincipled really just says someone is lacking moral scruples.  Scruples are standards we live by - agreed upon as the "minimum set" of actions on one person's part which result in some type of restraint or inhibits some other form of action.  Is it safe to say that the "scruples" of our society have changed over the past twenty years?  I don't think anyone would disagree with this observation.  It would only take about one-half hour channel-surfing to get a flavor for how "low" the minimum set of actions has become.  We have housewives from somewhere out there acting like absolute terrors toward each other, their husbands, and their kids.  There are wives and husbands battling it out over how many photos she takes in a given day. Survivalists pit one against the other to get some coveted trophy and a little prize money, all the while changing up who they will "side" with based on who seems to be doing the best.  Divas galore flaunt th…

You...God....You

There are very few things in this life we can actually be sure of - most of which are totally out of our control as Benjamin Franklin once said in the old adage:  "Nothing is certain but death and taxes."  If we were to be totally honest, I think we might just be able to add a third one to this list:  Mistakes. It is totally human to make mistakes, so it stands to reason we can count on it as a "given" in life - something we can count on happening.  If there are things we can know for sure will happen, we have a different mental focus about them, don't we?  For example, I don't even think about the taxes coming out of my paycheck until someone asks me about them, or I go to prepare my income tax statement every year.  Why?  They are a "constant" I can count on, so no amount of worry will ever change the fact they are coming out of my paycheck.  It is as though they just "happen" - they are out of my control.  I can try to manage them by …

Come on, breathe!

Many of us have a tendency to listen, but be less than attentive to what we are hearing - something which quite honestly results in a little less than "perfect obedience" when it comes to us listening to God.  It should not surprise us God puts these concepts of "listening" with "obedience" and "learning" with "living".  What we hear, we are to respond to in a prompt manner.  What we come to know, we are to live out.  It is repeated over and over in scripture.  In fact, James warns against being a "hearer" and not a "doer" of the Word - Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1:22-23 MSG)  This "in one ear, out the other" thing runs dee…