Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2014

Giving God your background

We all have a "background", don't we?  In terms of police work, every case has a background made up of evidence found at the scene of a crime, coming together to form a puzzle of pieces which eventually "fit" into a particular scenario playing out.  Within that scenario there are different players, actions, and "props".  In terms of your health, doctors and nurses seek to discover you medical history, including the history of your immediate family members, because it gives them the background on what may be the issues you will deal with or are dealing with right now.  In terms of solving a particularly tough problem in math class, you have laid up a certain foundation of truth you have come to count on to be consistent with each "equation" you must calculate. This trust in these "formulas" or "principles" form a background by which you formulate your answer to the new math problem before you.  The background of a matter g…

Feeling downright child-like

Can you recount some of the people who were brought to Jesus for his help? We have the friends willing to peel back the roof of a home, lowering their buddy on a stretcher into the midst of the crowd surrounding Jesus inside that home.  Their determination to get their friend into Jesus' presence was indeed commendable and something I hope we all have in friends in our lives.  We have the nobleman whose son was taken ill.  Although he could not bring his son on the journey, his earnest attempt to connect with Jesus and get Jesus to go with him to his home was also recorded as one of the first miracles of Jesus.  His faith was commended and as the man returned home, servants greeted him with the news that "while he was on his journey home" the child was healed.  Then we have the mother of a girl from the region of Syria Phoenicia who was possessed with an evil spirit.  The earnest plea of this mother on behalf of her daughter was for her to be "free" from the ev…

Plenty, Honor, and a Satisfying Life

A payoff is a culmination of a series of events which leads to a certain outcome.  For some of us, our "payoff" is when we finally get to retire from our daily jobs and pursue other interests we have put off until that time.  We have saved faithfully, hopefully planned well, and look forward to the days ahead once we arrive at that date.  If you are like most of the folks who finally arrive at that transition point, there is something bittersweet in your arrival at that point - for life is about to change and sometimes it leaves a person without a sense of purpose in life.  I think that is why I tell everyone when I retire it will just be from one career into another.  I just cannot imagine getting up in the morning not having a purpose for my day!  It may be to volunteer my time to organizations I support, travel to places I haven't seen yet, and to write until my heart is content, but I will have a purpose! There is a bigger payoff all of us should be concerned about -…

You aren't alone in your agony

Ever have one of those mornings when you don't just "pop up" out of bed singing hymns of praise and feeling like you could take on the world?  I have them all the time!  I don't think I am alone in this, either.  In fact, if you wake repeatedly just feeling like you are on top of the world and have this cheery attitude all the time, I need to have you in my life so you can rub off on me!  I can overcome my pain and fatigue, but I have to focus on it - purposefully putting Christ in front of it.  It isn't just "automatically" an attitude of victory that I feel every morning - it is a practiced victory which I walk in and count on to overcome my feelings of being fatigued and slow to move!  The best part of waking up (and going to sleep for that matter) is that I can make a fresh start with God every morning (or night).  I might be feeling terrible - feeling like things couldn't go worse in my life - but I can count on this one fact:  God wants to see…

Too many molds to choose from

We all aim at something - sometimes without even knowing that is what we were aiming at!  None of us just gets up in the morning and sets out aimlessly - even that cup of coffee you are drinking is made with purpose - you wanted it!  Purpose is also what we describe as determination - being directed toward a certain point and then doggedly making every effort to get to that point.  As scripture defines it, our "purpose" is to be found in Christ - above all else, his life within us is to give meaning to our steps and a sense of determination to our actions.  Some of us struggle with feeling like we understand our purpose in life - having been shot down a few times when we tried to step out, or having believe what others told us about our actions not mattering or making a difference.  When this is the case, we don't actually need to stay where we are, but we can come to Christ with our feelings of being "aimless" and "purposeless" - asking him to bring …

Oil rises, but it also obstructs!

All of us experience some form of set-backs in life.  Some are only little ones, others more catastrophic.  When we come up against those things which might seem a little daunting, I wonder what our immediate response might be?  For many of us, it is to immediately begin to "fret" or "worry", rather than immediately take the need to Christ in prayer.  What seems so basic, and easy to understand, is quite different in the heat of the moment.  We almost want to "mull it over" a little before we release it into the hands of the one most capable of helping us see our way around the mess in the first place. We have a running joke with my mother, saying if she had nothing to worry about, she'd worry about not worrying.  This may be closer to the truth for many of us than we might want to admit!
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…

Don't follow me...I get lost easily!

In this day and age of GPS on your phone, in your cars, or clipped to your backpack when out in the wilds, it is almost impossible to get off-course.  If you want to find your way back from where you came, you just simply push "home" and the little device navigates you through all the twists and turns to get you back from where you started.  If you want to explore the nearest this or that, you simply search, click and then you are off and running.  In so many ways, these little devices are saving us lots of time and effort - even navigating us around traffic and construction delays if we so desire.  They can help in so many ways and have become almost common place now in our lives that most car manufacturers in the U.S. are just figuring out a way to configure them right into the dashboards of the cars so we don't have to have wires, adapters, and external devices hooked up any longer.  This speaks to me about how much it is we want to have things in our lives which give…

Acting upon the preliminary reports...

I work in a world where we rely upon preliminary reports all the time.  We don't always have time to wait for the final test results, which can take days, to make decisions about how to begin treatment of a patient.  If we did, we might place the individual in greater danger than if we begin treatment.  The final report may not reveal the same conclusions, but we have a pretty good "impression" of the reality of what it is we are treating based on several things - presenting symptoms, the patient's history, and what we can ascertain in our assessment of the patient (touch, smell, etc.).  Based on these things, we draw certain conclusions - then we act upon those conclusions.  This is the way most of us work in this life - even scientists who seem to deal (at least on the surface) with facts and only facts.  If you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, a scientist is acting upon faith until he or she can confirm their suspicions as fact!  In terms of our walk with Jesus…

Remembering the journey....

There are times when we all wonder just why it is we are traveling a particular road we are on.  We just cannot put our finger on why it is we are facing the challenging, and sometimes a little treacherous road we must cross.  In those moments, we wonder if we made a wrong turn somewhere, or if this is the way is life us supposed to be - complete with potholes, narrow and sometimes hair-raising switch-backs, and climbs so hard you almost peter out on the way up.  I guess I face those roads a little differently than some.  Instead of wondering why I am on the road, I just ask!  In fact, in time I come to discover something unique about every road I have traveled - I am not traveling it alone!  In truth, I may have made a wrong turn - but I still don't travel alone.  I have Jesus right alongside me no matter what road I am on and this one thing I know - I cannot "bail" - the road will be traveled!

Keep and live out the entire commandment that I’m commanding you today so tha…

Yielding to the signs

We are in the midst of monsoon season in Arizona, bringing strong winds, sheeting rains, and all the damage these two create.  Coming home the other night was a little challenging as I found myself dodging downed trees, broken tree limbs, and lots of debris in the roadway.  I had to call the township to report the damage on two of the streets I traveled, hoping all other motorists would be able to navigate past these downed objects before they could get them cleared.  It would soon be dark and the damage was significant all around our area.  There were even downed street signs - some larger than life ones which mark the turn off on the freeways.  Now, that took some mighty strong wind to sheer them off at the base of their posts!  What happened to all those people counting on those signs to let them know they were at an intersection which required them to turn, or take a new path to get safely to their destination?  The signs served a purpose, but they were impeded by the storm.  As l…

Learning to love deeply

Stop to consider for just a moment how it is we learn to love - how we learn what love actually is.  Isn't it learned in what we see modeled for us?  As we come into this world, those close cuddles, all wrapped warm in little blankets, cozy in the arms of the ones who hold us are probably the earliest memories of love we can possibly understand.  Later on, as we grow up a little, we might associate love with the protection we feel as we are swooped up into caring embrace when we are scared by a frightening noise and the times we are just cuddled up in the lap of one reading us a bedtime story.  Much later in life, we might associate love with the tender things someone does to make us feel appreciated and the warming hugs of a friend.  All of these memories have one thing in common - they are all action-based.  Love is learned in the actions we see and experience - not just in the words we read or hear.  We can learn a lot about God's love in what we read in scripture - we lear…

Flash Flood Warnings!

To whom do you run when you face troubles?  I remember awful summer storms in the Arizona desert, lightning flashing across the sky, black clouds rolling in around on all sides, and loud rolls of thunder shaking the very panes in the windows.  It wasn't so bad when I was nestled all secure in the safety of my home, mom close at hand.  It was terrifying when I found myself a couple doors down, caught in the sudden down pour and only fence upon fence separating me from that absolute safety of mom's care!  I would remember hearing her calling for me and before long, her arms would come over the fence, lifting me to "safety" in those loving arms of hers.  She'd rush me inside and then all would be well.  You know, God is kind of like my mom - he has big enough arms to reach over obstacles in my path; a loud enough voice to be heard over the cacophony of noise in my world; and a tender, enveloping embrace which makes me feel at peace once I enter into it!
I run to you,…

You applying yourself?

I think we have a lot to learn about how to answer "temptation's" call in our lives - like how to actually say "no" and how not to be "duped" by how intelligent "temptation's" call can actually be!  Truth be told, we all probably listen to "temptation's" call a little too frequently simply because we don't recognize the voice of God very well, or because we aren't familiar with his teachings well enough to recognize a lie when we hear it.  The one and only way to actually get to know God's voice is to listen for it - the only way to get to know his teachings is to actually study them.  Therein is the rub - listening and learning.  Two challenges we all face - some better than others - but nonetheless two common struggles for all humans.
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4 MSG)
The above passage is the firs…

How many times do I have to be told?

Did you ever stop to consider the "skill" of listening?  If we are to really understand what listening is and is not, we must probably understand what listening "is not" first.  This will help us to "carve out" what listening really is. The idea of listening is not just "hearing" words said.  It is not being intermittently engaged in conversation.  It is not double-tasking - doing one thing while allegedly listening.  I have tried all these things - "hearing", engaging half-heartedly, and double-tasking.  What happens is that my attention is not directed as it should be, my heart isn't into it, and I just plain miss stuff!  We can either develop a "habit" of being good listeners, or the one of not listening as we should.  The latter is a bad habit!  There is probably no habit quite so difficult to break - no skill so difficult to learn.

I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’v…

All I want for Christmas is....

Having raised two children and seeing the grandchildren moving up the grades in school, I am well familiar with the tendency to heart those words "I want" more than I care to have heard them.  Most parents deal with this "I want" phase of childhood by trying to sculpt their children's desires into realistic and meaningful ones rather than indulging each and every "I want" as though it was an immediate need which required being met.  If we did meet every one of their "I want" demands, we probably raised pretty spoiled children!  More importantly, we never helped them realize the world isn't all about them! There are times when our "wants" are really demands and they are all based in this belief of us being the most important one in the picture at the moment.  There are probably very few of our "wants" which actually equate to "needs" in our life - but isn't it amazing how loudly our "wants" proc…