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Showing posts from November, 2014

Need to "re-connect" for the holidays?

I watched a cute little movie last night which wasn't probably in keeping with everyone's themed "Christmas Feel Good Movies", but it had a pretty good message despite some of the wacky stuff in it.  The movie?  "3-Day Test", a film by Corbin Bernsen.  The plot goes something like many of the other Christmas-themed movies, but it has a little twist.  The man of the house (Tom) has lost track of his family - simply because he is too busy being a "bean counter" (accountant) and is always working to pay the bills.  His teenage daughter gets arrested because of the kids she is hanging around with, while his other two kids (a son who will only communicate with him via a digital sign and a daughter who makes him talk to her doll instead of directly to her) are all pretty disappointed with their good old dad.  So, maybe dad is a little too wacky, but he finally gets the point the family is a mess and he conducts what becomes known as the 3-day test.  He …

Reputation and Respect

Reputation and respect - two sometimes very contradictory states in life, right?  We can have anywhere from a disreputable to "holier-than-thou" reputation, but neither is really a well respected reputation.  We can have a pretty disreputable reputation in some individual's eyes and still be very well respected in our circle of influence, such as when a gang member is respected by those in his/her gang.  Reputation isn't always based on the "good" we do, but on the way and varied reasons people want to pay us honor.  We can gain respect by various means - not all of them honorable and upright.  Reputation can be good or bad, and sometimes at a point right in between.  Respect can be earned, but it can be lost quicker than it can be earned.  Maybe this is why scripture reminds us that reputation and respect are worth MUCH MORE than silver or gold - neither can really be bought, nor can either be maintained through our wealth or "status" in life!
A g…

You "on plumb"?

Stranger:  A newcomer in a place or locality; an outsider; a person who is unacquainted with or unaccustomed to something.  Foreigner:  A person not "native" to or in a position of being "external" to something.  Scripture declares we are no longer either a stranger, nor a foreigner, once we say "yes" to Jesus.  In fact, we are adopted into the family of God - made citizens in his Kingdom.  As a result, we are no longer on the outside looking in, but are growing more and more accustomed to the ways God moves, how he responds, and what it is he finds pleasure in.  I live in a family of "naturalized" citizens.  Mom came over from England at a very young age with her parents, naturalizing in her young adult years.  Dad came down from Canada in search of a dryer climate to help with his young son's lung health, naturalizing shortly thereafter.  My brother received his naturalization after serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era.  My sist…

Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me

In 1955, a song hit the airwaves sung by Vince Gill and which is often associated with the Christmas season.  For most of us younger than our 50's, this song may not have much meaning, but when we take a step back in time, we might be surprised at the history of the song, "Let There Be Peace On Earth".  Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller actually penned the lyrics to this song, but you may be surprised as to the "why" behind the lyrics.  Jill was suicidal after a failed marriage (something quite scandalous and still not "socially acceptable" in the mid-fifties).  Yet, in the midst of her sorrow and agony over her loss, she found hope.  In her account of how she came to write these lyrics, she said it was as a result of finding "the life-saving joy of God's peace and unconditional love".  This song has been sung in times when war was ravaging countries, pleading for those warring factions to lay down their weapons and take up the call to p…

Beyond and above

There are lots of metaphors in scripture, oftentimes not appreciated because we don't stop long enough to take time to actually let them sink in.  A metaphor is something used to describe something else.  When we say God is our fortress, we aren't saying he is a stone building erected with stone, mortar, and protective walls.  We are simply giving a word picture of his strength, security, and place of safe-keeping.  Whenever we refer to God as our shield, we are giving a word picture of one who wards off the blows from our enemies and protects our most vulnerable parts.  To many, word pictures speak much - to others, they are simply glossed over as some nice, frilly way to describe something, but they need something much more "concrete" because their brains don't stop to delight in word pictures.  Perhaps this is why God uses both in scripture - the word picture and the direct, to point out the truth. As we explore scripture, getting to know our God as the main p…

Don't be afraid of the muddle

So many times we want total deliverance from what we are going through, all the while forgetting we grow in the midst of the trial, not by a rescue from it.  We often want the easy way out, not the way which means we have to get real, go deep, and struggle a bit to get past our resistance.  No good athlete will ever tell you they arrived at their current stage in life by sitting on the sidelines.  In fact, they will tell you "practice makes perfect" and the place of "practice" is in the middle of the field, running on the track, or fighting in the ring.  It is smack dab in the middle of the muddle where we learn what we are made of.  Maybe this is one reason we don't just say "yes" to Jesus, then magically find ourselves transported off to some nether region to live on a cloud for all of eternity.  God wants us in the midst of the muddle because the muddle needs us as much as we need them!
Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, …

Understanding Love

Love - in a scriptural sense, this term means any purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.  Now, we take a lot of actions in this life, neither purposeful, nor sacrificial - let alone on behalf of another!  So, how is it we best learn to display love in our lives?  I think the more of Jesus we allow to "get inside" our lives, the more love begins to be reflected "outside" our lives in the actions we exhibit.  How love takes root is pretty similar to how most seeds take root.  There is a germination process whereby the "seed of love" is planted and begins to send off the tiniest bit of hope there will be new growth there any day.  In a short span of time, those tiny roots will produce a little stalk of growth, giving evidence of something happening just beneath the surface.  Until the tiny growth appears "above" the surface, all we know is the seed has been planted.  We don't know if it is receiving enough water, sunlight, or …

Giving it all away

The blessings of God - some would say they come unannounced, and often unrealized. Others might say they don't come often enough, as though there were some delay in receiving his blessing which is unexplained and undeserved.  Realized or not, his blessings surround us.  Delayed or quick to appear, his blessings are sure.  In good times and bad, his blessings come - though some may think they are undeserved.  Who can really say there has ever been a blessing of God "deserved" by anyone?  Even when we are obedient and following closely to what God wants for our lives, can we claim his blessings as "deserved"? Not really - for ALL God's blessings are simply because of his grace and grace is totally undeserved!
Shout praises to the Lord!  The Lord blesses everyone who worships him and gladly obeys his teachings.  Their descendants will have great power in the land, because the Lord blesses all who do right.  They will get rich and prosper and will always be reme…

Do your research

I don't know what you "respect" in this life, but I have a healthy respect for various things. I don't put my hand on hot burners on the stove because I know heat burns.  I don't drive the wrong way down the road, even when the way looks clear, because I have a healthy respect for the planned flow of traffic.  I don't pick up snakes because I know many have bites which can do more damage to me than I'd like to endure.  I willingly pay my taxes to my government bodies because I really don't look good in horizontal stripes!  I respect these things because I either know the consequences of NOT respecting them through some personal experience (burning myself on a hot burner), or because I have seen what the outcome has been in someone else's life (head-on collisions).  One is me learning the hard way; the other is me benefiting from someone else's failure.  Now, if we apply this truth to God's Word we might just be surprised to see the same th…

Who says stones can't "talk"?

I am always amused by the "posturing" of some when they think they are pretty "hot stuff" and there is no one who can challenge them or give them a run for their money.  It is like they just stand there self-assured, thinking their good looks, money, or massive "status" will somehow make everyone around them just cower and run.  In ancient times, when kingdoms were all the "rage", men rose to places of great prominence and were crowned "king" over regions of lands.  Most of the time, these lands were taken lock, stock, and barrel from those who inhabited them previously.  If anyone survived (or was allowed to survive) in the "taking" of the land, they were usually forced into indentured service to the king.  They provided for his coffers as they lived out their lives under his reign.  Until a stronger "challenger" arose, with bigger or more skilled armies, that king would hold the rule of the land, and his offspring…

We aren't responsible for the outcome

"You have never been here before..."  Seasons come and go in our lives - some quite pleasant, others bringing more than their share of heartache and trial.  Life cannot be manipulated to just have one or the other of these seasons - we "get" what comes our way, much like we "get" the weather destined to cross our home town at one point or another. We can "make snow" these days to keep ski resorts running at peak performance, but those who ski will tell you man-made snow is a little different than what actually originates from the skies above.  The only reason for the man-made snow is the lack of the "real deal".  So, did we change the season, or manipulate the outcome?  It was the outcome we changed, not the season!  Seasons have a way of changing us - not the other way around.  
The next morning Joshua and all the people of Israel got up early, left the camp at Acacia, and went to the Jordan, where they camped while waiting to cross it…

More than be strong and take courage

If you have ever "inherited" a monumental task because someone left the company, was promoted, or you just were "tagged" as "it", you know the overwhelming sense of terror which grips you, if even for a moment, as you consider the magnitude of what you are going to have to do.  For just a moment, you are overcome by the responsibility and you might even falter a little in your acceptance of the task at hand.  This is probably a reaction quite common to man - one which is based in fear as much as it is in pride.  We might fear failure because it will impact our "impression" in the eyes of others.  We could think no task is beyond our means of completion, but silently be worrying we might not have the wherewithal to pull this one off.  What usually happens in these moments is someone bolsters our "faith" a little by reassuring us that we "can do it".  This might do more than bolster our faith - it could even make our head swell…

WHO not HOW

We certainly find ways to be very narrow minded when it comes to what we believe, don't we?  Don't get me wrong - there are definitely times when we need to be rather "narrow" in our focus, but it is never to be to the exclusion of truth or the denial of another's faith in Christ.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the differences in HOW we worship as congregations that we miss the fact we are worshiping the same GOD!  It isn't HOW - it is WHO!  Three simple letters make all the difference - but only in the arrangement of those letters!  What matters is the doctrine we adhere to as we walk this earth.  If a person claims to be Christian, but then denies the work of the cross, making Jesus nothing more than a great teacher or another of the prophets, then the doctrine is wrong - therefore, the worship is not correct.  If a person fully appreciates the aspects of grace, knowing full-well that the cross of Christ, his life, death, burial and resurrection make it …

Help! I didn't see that trap!

I am not a hunter, nor do I live off the land, but I understand the purpose of traps.  They are set because you hope to snare, catch, or snag something in the process of them being "caught off-guard" by the thing you have set.  Even when you throw a baited hook into the lake you are setting a trap, hoping to snag a fish in the process.  The whole idea is to catch something totally unaware of the trap being set.  Most of the time, we can stumble into a trap simply because we aren't paying close attention.  If you have ever served in the military, one of the things they teach you is to have a "trained eye" to observe for things being a little out of place in your environment.  The power of "observation" is a sense which must be practiced until it becomes keenly aware of what "IS" to be so that you can recognize when something "ISN"T supposed to be.  Maybe we could take a lesson here - learning to know what is supposed to be in our pa…

Madam Stupidity and Sir Wisdom

Stupid is as stupid does - ever heard that one?  If you look it up in the Urban Dictionary, you will find it means an intelligent person who does stupid things is still stupid.  In other words, it means "you are what you do".  Chew on that one a bit and you might get a little depressed since much of our actions are contrary to what we might actually know better than to do! Back in the day, an individual labeled as "stupid" was usually considered to be kind of dull in his or her senses - they lacked the keenness or quickness of mental thought processing.  I have to say, there are times in my own life where I could have been labeled as such!  My slowness of mental processing, combined with the disconnect between my heart and my mind led me down some pretty mucky paths.  Been there?  Bought the shirt?  Wore it out yet?  Probably!  Whenever we "know better", then pursue the path anyway, we are acting a little like we are "slow on the uptake"!  We ne…