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Showing posts from May, 2014

I didn't recognize that one!

The Book of Leviticus is the record of the Old Testament Law - commandments and rules for living, sacrificial worship expectations, and the foundation by which we were to come to understand that a penalty for sin was to be paid.  In other words, the Law acts as a means to help us understand why the sacrificial death of Christ was necessary - it points us toward his work of what we call "atonement".  To understand atonement, we must understand why it is necessary.  As pointed out numerous times throughout scripture, man has a difficult time living his life "without sin" because he has a sin nature.  He has free choice, and as a matter of choice, he sometimes chooses things which are a violation of the way God would want him to live. When this is the case, this is referred to as "sin" - better known as "missing the mark". In other words, try as we might, we don't always hit the target!  
If anyone sins by breaking any of the commandments of God…

Are your words "care-filled"?

Scripture has much to say about what is we say - our words matter more than we might just think.  The problem for so many of us is that we speak before we think!  Scripture points toward "helpful conversation", "careful words", and "truth talk".  Now, at first these three may not seem very significant, but when we put them all together, it could just impact how it is we speak to each other and what it is we put into words.
The good acquire a taste for helpful conversation;bullies push and shove their way through life.  Careful words make for a careful life;careless talk may ruin everything.  A good person hates false talk;a bad person wallows in gibberish.  (Proverbs 13:2-3, 5 MSG)
Looking at this carefully, we see "who" this passage applies to: "the good", those who "live a careful life", and "a good person".  Most of us want to be counted among the "good" and the "careful", don't we?  So, if …

Deadbolts won't do

God wants to do so much for us - our part is just to enter into what it is he is doing in and through our lives.  There are many kinds of doors in this world - some quite elaborate, others simple, but effective.  Back in the day, we didn't lock them when we left our homes - now we secure them with two or more locks.  There are also doors of a different kind - not physical in nature - but kind of "immaterial" doors.  These are the doors we keeps securely "latched" in our lives so as to keep others out, limiting our "exposure" to the general public.  In essence, these doors act to keep others out and to keep our "mess" under wraps!  God's plan is to have those doors opened to him - not so he can criticize our "mess" of a life, but so he can help us clear out the space and allow it to be put in right order.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it a…

And where does this piece go?

It is the time of year when students everywhere are graduating from their classes in high schools and universities - intent on making their way in this world.  Speeches will be read, mortar boards will be thrown, and parties will be had.  When it is all said and done, the let down as they enter into this "real world" can be tremendous.  Some will branch out in directions only their minds-eye can fathom, while others will follow the more traditional paths set by those who have gone before them.  The choice about which road to take is established in their hearts as independence begins to bring new opportunities into their path.  In time, they settle into the course they believe is the best for their lives.  I think we ALL have those moments of "graduation" in our lives, when we stand at a crossroads of sorts, choices laid out before us, and then having to choose which one we think will serve us the best.  If we choose well, the road ahead will be navigated with ease.…

Middle moments

To be strong implies we are robust, able to stand up to the test.  Strength can be viewed as mental power, physical ability, and even moral firmness.  It is something developed over time - not something which comes as a matter of inheritance.  In other words, you can desire to be strong, but what brings strength is the exercise of the strength you possess until you begin to reveal you possess an even greater strength.  Strength is sometimes not used the way God would intend for it to be used.  If you have ever been hit by another car, you know the reality of the collision.  The power behind the car which struck yours does damage to yours because of that "strength" behind the force of impact.  The weight of the car, the speed at which it is traveling, and the location at which it strikes your car all determine the "strength" by which your car (and your body) will receive the impact.  The collision's force leaves you stranded - if not because your car is now dama…

What does your book say?

I think God fully understands how we interpret the trials and long periods of seemingly receiving no answer from him - those times when we just want to pull our hair out, scream little, stomp our feet, and generally tell the world that God isn't listening or that he doesn't care about us at this very moment! We all have those times - admit it.  We chafed against the agony of the waiting, expected a different outcome and was disappointed by the present one, and whined when things just didn't go as we expected.  All the while, we have one thing we do with some consistency - complain.  Even the most consistent Christian has moments when the agony just gets to us and we find ourselves complaining a little, or perhaps a little too much!  The most amazing part of this is that God doesn't turn his back on us, even when we are heavily engaged in the complaint process.
Job answered:  I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.I should never have opened my mouth!  I’ve talked too much,…

Got any "cooked books"?

Since my knee surgery, sleep has frequently eluded me.  I lie awake a lot at night, just not totally comfortable, so I toss and turn until I find a comfortable position which allows me to finally drift off for a few more minutes sleep.  I guess I do this to myself, because I cannot seem to find the slowness of pace that keeps me from overdoing it sometimes.  I forget that my body is healing and launch into projects and tasks way beyond my level of rehabilitation at this point. Then I wonder why I am achy in the night hours!  Sometimes we lie awake because we do something, or are involved in something, which plays on our minds or bodies into the wee hours of the night.  At other times, it is what is done to us which gives us the unease and keeps us from finding the slumber we so desperately desire.  Either way, the end result is a restless night in bed, rumpled sheets, and a crazy hairdo!  Did you know that not one "toss" or "turn" escapes God's notice?  Not one…

Treat me with some dignity, please.

Most of the time we treat our bodies pretty well, but there are those times when we just don't consider the impact certain behaviors or actions will have on our bodies.  This may be especially true in the realm of what we respond to emotionally which does much more than just impact our heads or hearts - it impacts the very fibers of our being.  Nothing we think or "feel" is ever without influence in our bodies.  Therefore, learning to treat our bodies with dignity requires us learning to rein in our thoughts and to rule over our emotions.
Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God.  (I Thessalonians 4:4-5 MSG)
Although our writer may have been referring to the dignity with which we are treat our bodies in a "sexual" sense, there is much to be said about maintaining this same vigilance over our bodies in EVERY sense.  When the term "dignity" is used, it generally refers to the se…

You a loner?

Let me ask you a tough question this morning.  Do you consider yourself a "loner"?  Most of us would jump to our own defense to immediately deny being a loner, but I really want us to consider this one a little more carefully than a casual answer.  Most of the time, we consider someone a "loner" when we see them isolate or insulate themselves from relationship with others, but scripture might just shed a little light on some other characteristics of these individuals.  The primary characteristic is that of "doing our own thing".  This might just describe us a little more than we'd like to admit at first, but if we were honest, we all have times when we are more concerned with "our own thing" than the good of the "group"!
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the …

You faking it?

Have you ever wondered why it is that some people just get "found out" when they do something wrong and others seem to be very clever at concealing their mistakes, often avoiding any type of discovery?  I think we all have at one time or another simply because we wonder how we cannot get away with the same stuff!  We may not come out and admit it, but we definitely are thinking it!  Get caught holding a smoking gun and it is hard to deny you fired the shot.  When it all comes to said and done, all sin is sin and will eventually be "uncovered" - the timing may be different for some, but it all comes out in the wash.  

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)

We hear the argument all the time about individuals thinking they are not "evil" or "sinners" - as a matter of f…

Uncovering the hidden

There are tons of crime shows on TV these days, each with some "souped up" form of forensics lab, cops with super-human deduction powers, and even those who read your mind in order to solve the crimes.  When you visit the local police station, you see a different picture - one not so glamorous and intriguing as that portrayed on those shot in Miami, Vegas, or LA.  What you observe is the true "investigative" tasks of the police detectives - crunching data they have in the case, bouncing ideas off each other, and painstakingly following up on leads.  You see the systematic approach they take to solving the crimes before them.  This is what investigative work is all about anyway - the systematic inquiry or study which brings the details into clear focus.  One of the purposes of this investigative work is to uncover what seems to be hidden so well that someone would not discover the truth.  This is what the criminal is hoping for, isn't it?  They want the hidden t…

Which way do I go?

An intersection is the place where two paths meet - the place where one path merges with another, or you must choose one way or the other.  We face many of these in life, oftentimes just navigating them without much effort or forethought.  At other times, we almost stall out just trying to make a decision about which way to go.  There are times when we come to intersections and find the way is not clear - the road "signs" just are not clear enough to really guide us into the next path we should take.  This is frustrating, to say the least, but more importantly it gives us concern because the wrong path can cause us countless hours of back-tracking and reworking our path.  Learning how to choose the right intersections is important if we are avoid this continual "rework" in our lives.
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human …

Learning to Lean

I have two grandsons, about five years apart in age.  I have two children, about two years apart in age.  One lives in Chandler, the other in Mesa. My brother is eleven years older, my sister ten years older than I am.  One lives in Phoenix, the other in Sedona.  We each have "distance" between us, if not because of physical location, at least in age, gender, and levels of maturity, don't we?  In the family of God, the "distance" we maintain from each other is also quite "palpable", is it not?  Some enter into this family relationship with great eagerness, just because they want to belong, finally feeling part of something worthwhile.  Others barely edge in, afraid to get too close for fear they might be "found out" for their short-comings.  Still others "enter in", but never really get beyond sharing "surface stuff" about themselves.  Depending upon the "distance" we maintain between God and others, our growth …