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Showing posts from June, 2014

He is not a "come and go" kind of God

What is a natural response to feeling like we are abandoned and out on our own?  Isn't it to kind of drift into this "complaint" mode?  Why is it we do this?  Isn't it perhaps just because we feel a little "entitled" or like the world should just anticipate our needs and see to it that they are met?  I think we drift into this "whining" mode quicker than we might realize mostly because we feel a little "entitled" as God's kids to not have to face the reality of bad stuff which is just part of living here on planet earth.  We forget that we are still physically present in the midst of evil and there is no way to escape some of the stuff which is just part of still living "in the world".  Instead of whining, we should be praising; instead of thinking God has rejected us or forgotten we exist, we should be celebrating his presence even when it isn't quite clear to us.  Why?  Simply put - God NEVER abandons his kids - no wa…

Place that guard!

Guard: To keep safe from harm or danger; protect; watch over.  In most cases, when scripture refers to God placing a "guard" over our lives, he is saying he is giving us protection, keeping watch, over our lives.  When he asks us to "guard" something, he is asking us to keep a particular thing under close watch in order to prevent some kind of misconduct.  The protection over our lives comes from God - the prevention of things which might put us in harms way is partly our responsibility - for obedience is paramount to our safety. 
GOD guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always. (Psalm 121:7-8 MSG)
GOD - Jehovah - the unchangeable one - places a guard over your lives.  The one who is unchangeable in all his promises - incapable of misrepresenting the truth - watches over our every step.  The one who is capable of becoming all we need is there with a watchful eye, anti…

A congregation of ghosts

What are you addicted to in life?  An addiction is described as the state of being "enslaved" to a habit, practice, or something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.  To cease from the addicting substance or activity would be to cause great pain to the one who is addicted.  Now, answer that question again - what are you addicted to in life?  If we purely examine this from a material or physical perspective, we may miss some of the stuff we sometimes are "enslaved" by which are not physical or material in nature. For example, if we are people-pleasers, we are addicted to the desire to make everyone happy regardless of the cost to us or others closest to us.  This would not be a good addiction, right?  If we are addicted to the praise we obtain from others in order to affirm our self-worth, then we also are not really free from being enslaved to something which has a "rule" over us. There are lots of addictive things in life - to live free o…

Your True Self

If I were to ask you to describe your "true self", how would you describe yourself?  Some might start with physical descriptors such as height, weight, hair color, or general build.  Others might immediately gravitate toward words like introvert, bookworm, or organized.  Still others might freak out that I am even asking!  Why?  Truthfully describing your "true self" is a little unnerving for some because it means being painfully transparent.  The truth is, most of us would have a tough time really describing our "true self" because we have worked so hard for so long to keep it under wraps that we almost forget who we are at the center of it all!  The masks we have chosen define us rather than the true creature who resides within.  None of us is without a mask or two of some kind - it may not seem like much to us, but even discounting one or two of our "real" traits is kind of like denying they exist.  God's plan from the start was always fo…

The small stuff matters

I want to embrace life - living it to the fullest and enjoying every moment. In order to do so, there are some things I should not do - things which would serve to shorten my days and / or fill them with things which are not pleasant, enjoyable, or "embraceable".  If you drive an automobile, you know you need to fill up the tank every so often in order to have the fuel to continue to see the car's engine work as it should.  In fact, you also need to do oil changes at regular intervals, get tune-ups, and even rotate the tires.  If you have driven your vehicle for any length of time, you can even sense when there is an unusual sound or vibration you might hear.  You can either respond to that quickly and get it put back in right order, or you can ignore it and see the further damage this "little thing" will cause.  I don't think life is much different than caring for our automobiles - on a very literal sense, if we ignore the little stuff, it brings bigger is…

A living testimony

As we have studied scripture before, I have often reminded of the importance of the simple words such as "and" or "but".  Today's passage has one of those "buts" in it - the thing which has been proposed or said ahead of this simple little word makes a huge difference.  So, we cannot skip over the simple words if we are to get the entirety of the meat from the passage.  To set the stage, we see Peter writing this letter to believers - it wasn't written to those who had no faith in Christ, but rather those who had embraced the finished work of Christ on their behalf.  As he begins the letter, he challenges believers to begin to live a life of holiness - set apart from their former ways of doing things (especially as it applies to their past religious performance).  There will be tough times - of this he assures us - BUT these tough times don't need to destroy or defeat us - we should allow them to define us.  As the chosen ones of God, we are d…

The future is now

A brand new life and everything to live for - this is what we have in Christ Jesus.  What that involves is not only a brand new start on life, but the joy of living life as we were created to live it - in close, personal relationship with God our Father.  Too many of us think of the "future" as way off in the "then", but in actuality, the "now" is the present of our future.  We start living our future today - in Christ Jesus.  We finish living our future some day - in Christ Jesus.  Yet, our future is without end - so is there really a finish?  Not according to what I see in scripture.  For eternity begins now and lasts a whole lot longer than my limited mind can imagine.  In the meantime, as we are living in our future today, God is keeping careful watch over us.  This should give us the hope that nothing happens today which is not going to bring something pretty doggone awesome in our future - for our future is today.
What a God we have! And how fortunat…

Walk with, not on

Yesterday we explored a little about being egocentric and how Christ changes our focus from "self-centered" to "other-centered" as he begins to become the object of our affection and attention.  As we begin today, we will consider how this change in "center" really is manifest in our lives.  Anytime we make a change in our position, we also change our focus.  Try it - turn around right where you are right now and try to see the screen of your computer from that position.  It is most difficult to see the screen with our head turned toward it, right?  It is also most difficult for us to see ourselves as the center of attention when we turn our eyes toward the face of Jesus.  Instead of beholding ourselves, we begin to behold the creator of all things.  This simple realization of position determining our focus helps us make great strides as it comes to laying down the stuff which really only matters to us and taking up the stuff which begins to reach others,…

You using your God-sense?

There are people in this world who believe that selfishness motivates people to do things - that it is because of their own self-interest ALONE that people seek to do good deeds.  Let me assure you, there are probably more than a few individuals like this, but once someone invites Christ into their lives, it is almost impossible to live that way any longer.  A cynic is usually someone we might refer to as pessimistic or skeptical.  They just have to believe every action has some underlying "ulterior motive".  As we come INTO Christ, the "motivations" of our life begin to change - moving from being a little too self-centered to being "other-centered".  The result of becoming more Christ-centered is that we also become more and more "other-centered".  This is a good thing since our ego gets us into more scrapes than we might like to deal with in this life!  While we are egocentric, we also have a pretty immature grasp on what others may see as wis…

It is finished - cross over!

If you were raised Catholic, you probably have a "view" of the priesthood a little different from someone raised in a non-denominational background.  For example, the Catholic church has a set of rituals the priest must perform on a regular basis - everything from blessing ordinary water to turn it into holy water to saying the mass each day.  In the Old Testament (OT), there was this idea of the religious leaders being called "priests" - not exactly in the sense of what the Catholic church may require, but similar.  The most important thing about the OT priest was that he was "set aside" from the rest of the community in which he dwelt for the specific purpose of all the duties associated with worship and sacrifice.  Their duties included such things as preparing the offerings each day which were to be burnt on the altar, intervening for the people of Israel before God in prayer, and the like.  There was also this office of "High Priest".  Basi…

Rich or poor?

There are just some things in life we should never ignore.  If we have a toothache and attempt to ignore the fact this aching pain has significance, we may be subject to root canal and a crown at a later date.  If our right lower abdomen aches and aches to the point of becoming quite tender, we might just be late to catch a very inflamed appendix before it ruptures bringing all kinds of other issues we'd rather not have to deal with.  Ignoring the red warning light on the dashboard of your car could result in you being stranded far away from help when you most need it.  It just isn't wise to ignore things that are right there in front of us.  So, I have to ask this:  Why is it that we can ignore the Word of God for so long and think we will be able to make a go of things without issue in our lives?  There is just something "foolish" in ignoring what is right in front of us - especially when what is there has the capacity to bring life, avoid harm, and build trust!
Ign…

Does pedigree really matter?

Jesus taught a lot in crowds, simply because there were a lot of curiosity seekers that flocked to him, but also because he found himself in the right place at the right time to use those opportunities as "teachable moments". One such moment was on the day known as the Feast of Tabernacles - a time when Jews solemnly gathered to celebrate one of the required "feast days" outlined in the Law of Moses.  There is controversy in the crowd, simply because people are all hung up about his upbringing, lack of education, and the place where he was born (and even perhaps the family into which he was born into).  This isn't a new problem for men and women, is it?  We tend to judge based on some "criteria" we hold for the "value or worth" of another because they went to school somewhere other than the local junior college, or have a familial line linked to some aristocracy.  Truth is, nothing of a "pedigree" in human terms really defines us a…

You in his "circle of friends"?

If you have ever been accused of being a "looky loo" then you know what this term means.  In essence, a "looky loo" is one who is hanging around just because of the curiosity a particular event or happening sparks.  They are casual "browsers" in stores, and those who strain to gawk at the accident on the freeway.  I think there might even be a type of looky loo in Christian circles, as well!  Like those who come to church for the excitement of the moment, but who have very little to do with Jesus any other day of the week. In essence, their curiosity drives them, but their curiosity doesn't commit them!  This is the case one day when a huge crowd had gathered to hear Jesus speak - listening late into the day to his teachings.  At the dinner hour, there is but a meager helping of bread and fish to feed the vast crowd and no monies to buy more.  Here we find the miracle of the loaves and fishes - enough to feed the crowds from the meager offering of a y…

What is your polarity?

There are times we question authority in our lives - this is just part and parcel with who we are as human beings.  I don't think we come out of the womb determined to questions authority, but I do believe we have all the "necessary" characteristics that lend to this state.  For example, we have free will, so the matter of choice is ours.  We have independent thought, so the ability to think and reason often presents the challenge to authority we may be engaged in.  Regardless of the "means" by which we challenge it, our desires are pretty much the same - we want to "stand alone", having no one tell us what to do, and to be "free" of the "rules" of another.  I am so grateful Jesus was not this way!  If had come to earth with this "independent" spirit, can you even imagine what a mess we'd be in today?  If he decided to act upon his own will, thinking things through as he sees them without listening to what his Father …

Victim be healed

A victim is someone who is actually cheated or deceived by their own emotions because of the actions of another.  It is quite easy to slip into the role of "victim" whenever we feel like we have been wronged - someone has done or said something which makes us feel threatened, misunderstood, "used" in some way, etc.  There are people who really are victims, though. They have been truthfully harmed by another and it is more than emotional scars they may be dealing with.  They could have injuries to their body, or perhaps have suffered an assault on their finances.  Either way, they all have something in common - they have had the actions of another negatively affect their lives.  There is something God wants us to see, though - our current circumstances are not permanent - he has the ability to make those areas damaged by another into something honoring and glorifying for his use.  This should give even those who have suffered the most destructive of actions some sen…

Add a few more earthworms!

As a kid, I always looked for the shortcuts in life.  Why?  Arriving just a fraction of a second before my friends or being the first one at the head of the line on the way to the cafeteria made all the difference in my mind.  How come?  First choice of the food, perhaps gaining the respect of those who see me as the winner, or just maybe because "first" is touted as always better than "second" in this society we live in.  It wasn't until recent days that team sports started to celebrate each and every player, giving trophies or ribbons to all the team players instead of the "most improved", "team captain", or "star hitter".  The kids just need to show up these days - performance really isn't the focus.  Back in the day, that was not the case.  Either you performed well, or you never were selected to be on the "winning" team!  You remember, the kids who lined up and the two team captains got to select each member of t…