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Showing posts from January, 2015

Good manners?

I always like it when scripture makes things very, very plain - so I don't have to struggle with the meaning - don't you?  The parables are nice, but there is hidden meaning which must be ferreted out.  The truth is truth, but sometimes truth is a little harder to "get" than we might first think.  When God lays out things so plainly in scripture, we rejoice in laying hold of the meaning the first time we read it.  When he lays out things like "don't do this..." or "do this..." without giving us the "why" behind the restraint we are to exercise or the action we are to engage in, we just plain want more of an explanation - right?  It is only part of our nature to question "why" these actions make a difference, or the restraint from some particular action would keep us "inside" of God's plan for our lives.  Since the beginning of time we have "pushed against" any boundary set for us!  Why should today b…

I am "better off" - how about you?

"Better off" - in better circumstances than another.  For many of us, we could look around us and see we are "better off" than someone else around us.  We might have a loving family still around us to care for us and us them - "better off" than the one who has lost their loved one. We might be enjoying the privilege of a hard day's work - "better off" than the one who stands in the unemployment line.  We could be eating our favorite meal at a nice clean restaurant - "better off" than the one who will dig through the dumpsters behind it tonight to find their meal.  The list could go on and on - but in so many ways we can say we are "better off" in this circumstance, with this relationship, in this job, etc.  Despite being "better off" than in another circumstance, relationship, job, etc., we find ways of complaining about where it is we find ourselves - especially when it comes to our relationships!  What we tend…

I am flapping hard here!

Back in the day, before I knew any better, I had this ill-conceived idea that I could do anything, anywhere, at any time in my life.  I kind of thought of myself as "all powerful" - even believing if I flapped my arms hard enough, I could actually fly.  There was a time when I was around 4 or 5 that I actually did believe I could fly - turning over trash cans, climbing up on top of them and flapping into the wind!  Now, lest you think I am a little touched in the head, I really could not fly, but my imagination got the best of me for a short period of time.  It wasn't long before I was the best "cop" riding a Schwinn two-wheeler in pursuit of those "bad guys" who just robbed the bank, or a mom taking care of her little baby while making dinner out of mud-pies in the backyard.  As kids we often think pretty grandiose thoughts about ourselves - our capabilities and our dreams being so BIG we think the world cannot stand in our way.  Then we grow up!  Be…

Let's get to work!

We are always looking to "gain" something in this life, aren't we?  We may not want to gain a few extra pounds, but we want to gain interest on our savings, or gain the advantage over someone else in a game of tennis.  We look for the "ins" and "outs" of each encounter, knowing full-well the position of power we have when we know how it is we will gain the advantage.  Our minds just calculate things that way - what is it I will gain by being involved in this, giving this to that, or bringing what I have into the mix.  Pretty seldom do we just get up in the morning and say with determined confidence that we will just go about the day "doing" whatever God wants, "giving" wherever he asks us to give, and "moving mountains" for someone else.  We get up, prepare to go off to work, and then plunge headlong into whatever it is we call our "work".  What we fail to recognize is the significance of our work - we see our w…

Head down, feet in gear, here he comes!

You know that I find object lessons in a great many things - sometimes even in other individuals.  Today's lesson comes from someone I don't even know, but who "crosses my path" on a pretty frequent basis.  I have to pass through a few "senior" or "retirement" communities on my way to the hospital each morning, as the hospital is smack dab in the middle of retirement communities galore.  As I do so, I see various sights which thrill my heart, such as an elderly man or woman out walking their pet, someone riding along in a motorized cart getting a little fresh air, and even an occasional golf cart transporting someone who has probably lost their ability to drive much in an automobile to and from the grocery store.  One such "passerby" catches my attention more than others simply because he is quite "dangerous" in his behavior.  It is this elderly man, up in years I am sure, who is always wearing a pair of khaki pants, a shirt, a…

Valuable vs. Worthless - you decide

Valued vs. worthless - there are many factors which determine each.  One of the things you may not know is the origin of the word "value".  In terms of accounting, a coin was minted with a certain weight - this weight giving it the "value".  For example, if it was a brass coin weighing one-half ounce, it had a value, but not as significant as a coin minted from gold weighing the same.  Since coins were kept in pouches and circulated in payment for goods purchased, they would lose a little of their original weight because in the process of being circulated, they "wore down".  In time, the original value of the coin was not the present value.  You know, there are a lot of things in life I have considered to be of such high value at one time or another, only to find out as I look back on them now they just don't hold the same value to me anymore.  Whether it was the job I worked, the position I held, or the things I "owned", they just don't…

Attitude adjustment required

I remember how I always found it easier to obey mom when she was watching me than it was when she was away for hours and I was "without supervision".  The TV would go on before homework was done; chores would be deferred in hopes of playing a little with my favorite toys or reading a good book.  In essence, I was being a little two-faced - behaving one way when I was under scrutiny and quite another when I was thinking no one would know.  The long and short of it was the outcome - the chores were done halfway and the homework just didn't measure up to the level it could have because I rushed through both! What I think would have been more "honoring" to my mother was if I had of worked even harder to obey the rules of doing homework and chores first!  I was being a kid - totally consumed with whatever distracted my attention the quickest!  This is kind of how we fall into temptation in our lives - we get distracted by what grabs our attention the quickest.  I wo…

We love us

There are times when it helps us to have a list of "do" and "don't" actions and attitudes. Lists help us to organize thought and see things which "fit together" in a certain way.  Yet if we just have "lists" of the "do this" and "don't do this" actions and attitudes in life, we sometimes miss the reason behind those things - they become nothing more than rote to us and we just act one way or refrain from acting another because it is "on the list".  If we approach God's practical instructions about how we are to live our lives in this same manner, we will find the scriptures impractical, hard to understand, and even harder to "live out".  One of the most practical things I find outlined in scripture is how much this "list making" and "rule keeping" can steer us wrong.  You see, we love ourselves way too much to actually enjoy being told to deny ourselves.  We honor ourselves …

Love is more than a four letter word

Quite some time ago, one of the national marketing campaigns for a well-known cellular carrier asked the question, "Can you hear me now?"  In time, this became a hallmark question associated with a little humor in circles all around the globe - people asking each other if they "could hear them now" when they needed to repeat something, or if they were just making a point about needing someone to listen.  Today, I think the question we might consider is can you see my love now?  People have an excellent opportunity to put into action the words they speak - by modeling the love of Christ to others.  This might look like us stopping by the side of the road to help a woman with small children bouncing in the backseat change that flat tire.  It might resemble us helping an elderly man or woman put those groceries carefully into their trunk so as not to break the eggs.  It could also look like us sitting at the bedside of a friend who has just received bad news from the …

What must I do to be really, really rich?

The scriptures are full of conundrums - those "life riddles" which get us to thinking a little bit, but almost seem "counter-intuitive".  It is this idea of "getting us to thinking" which I believe God might just have in mind, for all action begins in thought and all thought has one of two outcomes - good or bad.  When the thing presented is "counter-intuitive" it can be a little hard to understand.  If you have studied the New Testament, you will likely remember a wealthy Jewish man coming to Jesus one day and asking Jesus what he must do have eternal life.  Jesus responds with somewhat of a conundrum to this young ruler.  He references the goodness of God and tells the young man he must keep God's commandments.  That is all well and good, but the rich young ruler wants to know "which ones" he must obey.  Isn't that just like us?  We hear "keep his commandments" and we want to know where there is "wiggle room&qu…

An early morning lesson or two

I like watching those shows on TV that show you how things are made.  I think the process of manufacturing items we use everyday is kind of fascinating - seeing how you go from raw product to packaged, or watching a craftsman take a piece of raw material and turn it into a beautifully designed object.  I caught an episode yesterday which captured my attention, but really didn't speak to me until the wee hours of this morning.  I had a hard time sleeping last night, but when I was awakened by a very clear, and very loud man's voice simply calling my name, I listened!  You see, I don't have a man in the house, so hearing the voice kind of rattled me a little!  I thought maybe my mom had passed and I was being awakened to find she had gone on to be with Dad, or perhaps she just needed me and it was God's way of waking me up.  It might sound a little weird to you, but whenever this happens, I usually just cannot go back to sleep.  It is often with good reason, because God …

Good sense dictates it!

Have you ever been accused of being a little too "chatty" - always talking away, not really intent on any particular subject, just talking non-stop?  I have one child who is quiet, content to sit for long periods without so much as a word, while another is just the opposite. This isn't unusual, as most of us have differences in how it is we "interact" with others.  In fact, if you consider your immediate family, you will find there are those who are reserved, others outgoing.  It is kind of a dangerous position to find oneself in, though, when we are a little "too chatty".  Why?  There are times when we don't always consider the words we use - because we aren't quiet long enough to consider the way we say them, the content we use in saying them, and how it is another may receive them.  The "chatty" run into problems because they are too chatty - the "quiet" run into their share of problems because no one really knows what t…

The beginning is really only a beginning

Respect and obedience - two things we struggle with so much.  Why?  Maybe it is because we haven't learned to respect ourselves well enough because we struggle so much with obedience!  We think about obedience and we get all "down" on ourselves because we just don't "measure up" a great deal of the time.  We set out to do one thing, but eventually we drift into doing something else totally different.  This is the course of life - we make plans one way - but we drift from the plan, realizing differing results because of the "drift".  I think if we maybe looked again at the instructions we are given in scripture, we might just realize where our "drift" has come from.  Scripture tells us to respect and obey God - I don't see anything there about dealing with our guilt over our lack of perfect obedience.  In fact, if we look elsewhere in scripture, God tells us he takes our "guilt" upon him - we don't have to bear it any lo…

Not a grade, but grace!

Correction is not something we enjoy, but we definitely benefit from it when it is embraced and does the work it was intended to do.  When some of my teachers used to hand back papers with red marks on them indicating a wrong answer or improper spelling of a word, the expectation was for me to "correct" the error and return the paper for reconsideration. The teachers who actually allowed me to make the corrections on my work, returning it for reconsideration of the understanding I now possessed related to what I had previously done incorrectly held a certain place of respect in my mind.  Why?  They allowed me to correct what I did wrong - in essence, they gave me a chance to prove I could actually learn from my mistake!  I like to view correction as a means of learning from mistakes - not as a punishment or some form of "penalty" for what it is I have done.  The truth is I make a sufficient number of mistakes each day - if it were not for the ability to "corre…