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Showing posts from March, 2015

Signs of life

Advice:  Something offered as a guide for action or conduct; an official notification.  There are times when I have received advice which has really benefited me in a positive manner.  I think of a previous leader I served with who guided me into investing my retirement funds in a way which was not only diversified, but helped me grow my funds a little quicker since I had some catching up to do.  This was advice which actually assisted me in a very positive manner.  I have also followed some not so great advice, purchasing some things I wish I had not simply because it was the latest trend and someone "swore" it would make all the difference to own it!  Now, let me just assure you, there are some things which have benefited my life, while there are others which were just pure flops.  Everyone talked about the battery driven can opener you place on the top of the can and turn on - but did anyone consider how long the batteries would last and how frequently it would run down? …

Not just a barrier

Security companies call me all the time asking if they can come install their devices to make my home more secure against break-ins, home invasions, and even to just have "monitoring" to see what people are doing in my house when I am not there!  Now, I don't live in a totally naive state, but I trust God to keep me secure, so I don't find myself succumbing to their pressure no matter how "bad" they tell me it is to live in this world right now.  I have traveled into areas where people have bars on their windows and so many locks on their doors there is just about no door jam left!  There is no sense of "security" without these devices - the neighborhoods are "rough" to say the least.  Security is really feeling like you are in a place where the "risks" are minimized - steps have been taken to reduce the possibility of something happening.  This is why those folks install the locks and put the bars on the windows - to minimize …

Do, Live, Act

To many of us, friendships outside of the relationship we call "marriage" come in dribs and drabs - we have perhaps one or two truly close friendships in the course of our lifetime, those marked by true intimate knowledge of each other and a depth of commitment which spans all the hurdles of how silly we can act on occasion.  These relationships matter so much to us - we work to preserve them, defend them, and even bolster them whenever things are little shaky. We also have lots and lots of acquaintance type friendships - those we have fun with, enjoy good times among, and even share in their hardships and worries on occasion.  Yet, these are just not at the same level of those we call "best friends".  Try hard to do right and you will win friends - scriptural instruction - not scriptural "advice".  The difference between the two - one is just an opinion which we can take or leave; the other is a promise based on truth.  Some of us don't always "…

Mirror, mirror...

As kids, we had all these little rhymes we'd say on occasion, like the one we used when we caught someone fibbing:  "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire".  Or maybe the one when the batter was up to the plate and we wanted to distract the pitcher from being able to concentrate on throwing the ball:  "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher".  Or the one we used when we wanted the batter to have a less chance of hitting the ball:  "Hey, Batter, Batter, SWING".  Pointing out that we knew someone was trying to pull one over on us by the "Liar, Liar" one was just kind of our way of letting them know we found them out and we weren't falling for their mischief or prank.  Rattling the pitcher or hitter was just a way of trying to stack the cards in our favor when we had a batter up to bat who needed a few "balls" to come there way, or we wanted a hitter to miss the ball!  If they didn't get a few balls and an occasional walk, they almost didn…

Fling them words - go ahead!

I don't think anything destroys a relationship quicker than our words!  Yep, as simple as that may sound, I believe it to be true simply because scripture tells us our words are like little sparks that have the capacity to set an entire forest on fire!  Living in the arid deserts of Arizona, I see the devastation one tiny spark can bring - changing the landscape for years and years to come in just that tiny ember.  Words change the landscape of our relationships - they either sculpt them into things of majesty and beauty, or they whittle away at the life within the relationship until it is found to be diseased and damaged by all the constant whittling!  One of the most common things spoken of in the Book of Solomon is the choice of our words - what we do with our words matters. Sure, there are a lot of other "popular" topics covered in the book, but a great many of the principles taught deal with relationships - those we cultivate with God and those which we deal with da…

Wrong way drivers

If you have ever gone the wrong way, missed the turn-off on the highway, or found yourself turned around in some situation, you know that moment of "how'd I do that" which occurs.  You know what I mean - that moment of sheer panic or rise of stress level within which signals you have just done something you are so sorry you did!  Over recent weeks, there have been various accidents reported on local TV about several "wrong-way drivers" on the freeways around town.  In most cases, lives have been lost because of the "wayward" driving of some motorist heading the wrong direction, often for miles and miles.  What happened to get them on the freeway going in the completely wrong direction, and at what point did they recognize they were maybe headed against traffic? In most cases, there might not have been any warning to the drivers who were so impaired they chose the off-ramp instead of the on-ramp to enter the freeway. It wasn't for the lack of signa…

More than endless prattle

If you have ever been around someone who just "talks to hear themselves talk", you know how foolish they can sound on occasion.  They just ramble on and on as though all the world was listening.  At times, they might actually have something to say, but the "world" is so tired of listening to their pointless talk that even if they have some nugget of purposeful information in there somewhere, no one is really paying that close attention!  This might be why scripture reminds us of the way we use our words - not in excess, not hastily, not in idle talk.  When we have a tendency to just make "conversation" for the sake of "passing the time", we don't really have much to share which will really lend to the building of relationship or receiving of instruction.  When I want to build relationship, I usually am very focused on learning certain things about the other individual.  I may be drawn to them because I see they possess a skill set I don'…

Working toward retirement?

I had a conversation with a person the other day who has retired and finds himself just a little "cooped up" in the house these days.  He isn't really that unique to some who have no specific "function" to perform once they retire. Many will recount how much they looked forward to retirement - hoping for lazy days, leisurely coffee in the mornings, and an occasional trip abroad to explore places on their "bucket list".  Then in almost the next breath, you will begin to hear this "hint" of remorse because retirement isn't working out as they planned.  Either they lost the one they hoped to spend all that time with, or they seem a little bit "lost" because they have more time on their hands than they counted on.  The truth is God made us to "work", not retire.  The first definition for "retire" in the dictionary usually refers to this process of "going away or apart", as in to withdraw.  It takes a c…

Grey hair cover-up

I will admit to foolish mistakes I have made, because if I do, just maybe someone else will avoid those pitfalls.  When someone is willing to share how they got to where they are today, we call that mentoring.  When someone shares the wisdom they have accumulated through many hardships, tough times, and emotional roller-coasters, we should revel in their willingness to share the path they took and learn about the various twist and turns life put in their way.  When Solomon put pen to paper, recording those various twists and turns he had learned from by observing his father's life, the pitfalls of some of the ways his brothers handled situations in life, and then his own pathway to "the top", we should glean as much from them as we can.  It amazes me how much is packed into thirty-one chapters.  If I had to choose which books of the Bible are my favorite, the Proverbs would be right up there.  Why?  There is much to the sensibility of what is shared therein.  I am not a …

Mentoring relationships

Mom used to say, "Do as I say, not as I do," on occasion.  Did you ever hear that adage growing up?  It kind of confused me, because I always wondered why I had to do something differently than what I saw being done.  What I didn't understand was the differences between age and privilege.  For example, when mom said it was bedtime, I balked.  Why?  Dad and mom were staying up late and got to watch more TV than I did!  So, of course, I questioned it!  I wanted the privilege which came from being an adult, but I was only a child. We are kind of like that at times, wanting more privileges, but not recognizing either the danger associated with them, or the responsibility which comes with those privileges.  Mom and Dad were adults - they chose their own bedtime. They had the responsibility to rise as the alarm sounded - ready to start their day.  They also had the responsibility of ensuring I got enough sleep to be at my best for my studies the next day at school.  I am not a…

A shepherd's hook and a nomadic tent

When you have an older adult living with you, such as one of your parents, it is not uncommon that the conversations will gravitate to what they want done after they are gone.  They want to know the few treasures they possess will end up in the hands of those they most want to have them - because they know they will enjoy them greatly.  Last night was one of those conversations with mom - turning not so much to the "bigger" material things she has, but the simple ones, like the china tea cups and the tea service she received from my grandmother at her death.  Yet, we didn't stop there - because the topic of her hearing aides came up, as well.  She didn't want them to go to just anyone - so she asked what I would do with them.  I told her my heart's inclination was to find some agency with children or older adults needing hearing aides who could not afford to purchase these expensive devices themselves and then to bless them with them being "refitted" fo…

Arms, feet, and warm hugs galore

Unless you were living under a rock back in 2001 when the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were made the targets of terrorist attacks, you know how this attack on U.S. soil brought a nation together unlike anything else we had seen in days preceding the events and/or what we have seen afterward.  Those affected by the terrorist attacks lost countless lives - moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles - all in a moment's time, all without warning.  The senselessness of the attacks sent many wondering if the beginning of something as catastrophic as World War III was about to begin.  One of the trends which was observed in the after-math of these attacks was the sudden "up-surge" in church attendance.  Across America, in large cities and small townships, people flocked to churches - people who hadn't been to church in years, or ever at all. The events caused some to examine their personal commitment to values they had been raised with, while others were seeking s…

Not the brightest, but the one which gets the job done

You don't truly value light until it is gone.  I guess I didn't fully appreciate it until my mother began to lose her eyesight.  Macular degeneration is a process of damage to the eye which gradually takes small portions of the eye's line of vision, increasing little by little until most of the line of vision is gone.  If you liken the story of Jesus healing the blind man in scripture to what my mother now sees, you will recount the man said he could see man as trees walking around.  Mom no longer sees our faces, doesn't appreciate the detail in a photo, and cannot see the home run her grandson hits in.  One of the things she most needs is "brightness" in her world because most of what she sees is shaded with much "darkness" due to the loss of light perception which comes with the disease.  Lamps of all sizes and shapes have been purchased to assist her in remaining as independent as possible.  Brightness of bulbs have been experimented with.  You w…

Maybe not the lifestyle you planned

When I was a young adult, one of the shows gaining popularity was this show which featured lots and lots of well-to-do people and how they lived.  It was called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", featuring Robin Leach "showing off" the homes of those who enjoyed what some considered an "elite" lifestyle. Ball players from major leagues, actors and actresses, and a myriad of other rather insanely rich people had opulent homes and properties which made eyes pop and people dream about what it would be like to live with such luxury.  It must have hit the mark for many a TV viewer as the series ran for 11 years!  One home caught my attention more than any of the others.  It was the one Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz lived in located in Beverly Hills, California.  Why?  I think it was the simplicity of their lifestyle in a region where "magnitude", "frills", and "effect" were all the rage.  Their home looked like a "regular&quo…

God, I give you the fool...

A long time ago, I thought the only way to deal with foolish individuals was to talk them out of their foolishness.  Let me be the first to confess - the only thing this did was make a fool of me!  Why?  Fools cannot be talked out of their foolishness - they need an up-front and personal encounter with Jesus - not with my reasoning, rationalization, or even arguments which point out all the ways contrary to the ways they have chosen to act. This is why you won't find me debating with those who show up on my doorstep to "win me over" to their faith. I will simply state that I am a follower of Christ, very pleased with this deeply personal relationship I share with him, and have my hope of salvation pretty well "nailed down".  If this peaks their interest, I certainly will go on to share why it is I have this hope, but I don't spend hours debating with them why their "religion" is flawed.  I need to simply state the truth for the hope which I have w…