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Showing posts from July, 2015

Another take on "ask", "seek", & "knock"

I have two grandsons, two children, one elderly mother, and a bunch of people at work who know the meaning of "continually" asking.  They know what it means to be tenacious - persistence likely "paying off" at some point.  At times, you kind of feel like people just keep asking for more and more, then at some point you almost want to say, "Hey! Don't you ever stop asking for more?" If you look at what scripture describes as a "tenacious spirit", you will find God actually doesn't discourage this type of persistence in asking, seeking, or even spending time with him.  In fact, there is a reward for persistence!  
Continue to ask, and God will give to you. Continue to search, and you will find. Continue to knock, and the door will open for you. Yes, whoever continues to ask will receive. Whoever continues to look will find. And whoever continues to knock will have the door opened for them.  (Matthew 7:7-8 ERV)
If we look carefully at our pas…

Another take on anxiety

One of the emotions which can run rampant in our bodies is that of anxiety - even leading us into such serious attacks mimicking what appears to be a heart attack or some kind of severe reaction.  Many of our emotions are "strong" and don't give us as much of a challenge as this one emotion!  God created all emotion, with anxiety being the one connected with the sense we are somehow in harm's way.  There is something akin to a "niggling" which just alerts us to the need to do something differently or else we will be in the midst of some type of trouble we may not want to face.  As long as we don't get overwhelmed by this emotion, we are fine - but in today's world, the stress factors are much worse than they used to be and we tend to internalize our stress in ways we may not even recognize.  I am jaw clench kind of gal - clenching my jaw without any real thought just because the stress is building.  I then begin to feel it in my shoulders and neck, …

It isn't the root of ALL evil.

One of the silliest arguments I have heard is that of whether God wants his people to be rich or not.  In some "circles" of influence within the church, there are those who proclaim God wants you to be wealthy - so keep "claiming" you will be wealthy and it will eventually happen.  Then there are those who say God didn't want his people to be wealthy because wealth destroys people and should only be used to "win souls to Christ".  While both sides of the coin (no pun intended) carry a valid argument, neither is right on.  Whenever we take some portion of scripture and quote it out of context, we are in danger of believing something only "partially" true - because we lifted only one portion of what was said.  Partial truth may be truth, but it isn't the full truth - we want truth, but we want all of it.  As Jesus is talking to the crowds, he has talked about the kingdom of God being the "possession" of those who are "poor i…

Don't take that detour!!

You might recognize the first two sentences of our passage as being from the Lord's Prayer.  I think we do a disservice to ourselves when we "compartmentalize" the prayer into just so many verses and exclude the immediate two which follow.  They are there to give further explanation to a very important concept Jesus wants us to understand - especially when we recognize Jesus was ALL about relationships - and he wanted us to learn to relate well with God and others.  The Lord's Prayer is a reminder of how we need to take time to speak with God on a regular basis - not just to "cover our bases", but to really get more acquainted with him and to allow him to reveal more of himself to us.  As Jesus concludes the instructions on "how to pray" or "talk to God", he reminds us of the importance of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a two-way street, so to speak.  We forgive others, God forgives us.  We get God's forgiveness, we pass it on to other…

And when you pray...

We have all probably encountered those who don't like to pray in public - kind of shying away from being asked to do the honors of saying grace or the like. Then there are those who seem to like it very much, almost going to the extreme when doing so - as though the grandeur of their words would somehow unlock heavens gates for the beckoned answer quicker than any other "key".  When you run into someone who actually knows God in a deep, personal way, you realize the simplicity of their prayers is really quite moving.  As a mother, I always loved it when my kids would just reach out to pray for the thumb I had hit with the hammer, or the splinter I had managed to embed in my hand while doing yard work.  They were simple prayers, but I knew heaven took special notice of them - because they were genuine.  Just simple "Jesus heal mommy's splinter" opened my heart to heaven, so I knew it had to open heaven to me!
When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. They …

Be a blessing

There is a reward which comes from doing something because you know it is right and you know there just isn't anyone who needs to know what you have done.  It is a deep-down sense of satisfaction with doing "right" or "good" without having to "account" for your actions to anyone other than yourself. The fact is - God sees those actions and he takes note of them, even when others don't see them.  In the practice of the religious zealots of the day when Jesus was delivering this sermon, there was this custom of making a "big deal" of doing the "right thing".  The gifts were brought to the temple and a "show" was made of the significant "offering" someone gave who was "very religious".  Their actions on behalf of the widow or the poor were done in a noticeable fashion, so as others might be able to see them and give them praise for having "taken such favorable actions".  As Jesus put it, the…

Three lessons from the Mount

There aren't too many of us who haven't heard the teaching of "turning the other cheek" whenever someone wrongs you - like we needed to actually be hit twice!  Yet, in the breadth of this teaching, Jesus is really laying out the path he will walk during the next several years of his teaching ministry - continually allowing the criticism, forgiving the hateful words of others, and refusing to strike back when deliberately opposed by those who would seek to shut down his ministry on this earth.  Back in the Old Testament, there was a practice set up in the Law which allowed for this "eye for an eye" kind of thing to occur. For example, if a man killed your donkey he was to restore it and something extra in return. In making restoration of the one thing which was lost also to make some type of restitution for the lost item.  Steal from someone and you had to not only repay what you stole, but a portion more.  Maybe God was trying to help us see the connection …

The enemy of good is good enough

When I first encountered people from the southern states, I didn't realize some of their "customs" or "accepted behavior".  One such trait was that of not saying "yes" or "no", but "maybe" a whole lot more than I was accustomed to hearing. If you'd ask them if they wanted more mashed potatoes, they would answer "maybe" - but in actuality their "maybe" meant "yes".  It confused me for a while until I began to realize they were simply being polite by doing so - it neither committed them one way or the other, but if there indeed were mashed potatoes left in the pan at the end of the meal, they likely would eat them! I was raised in a "yes" or "no" kind of family - we didn't "commit" to things with a "maybe" very often.  In fact, I can hardly remember mom or dad not giving a decisive answer one way or the other.  Even when there was a little indecision in a m…

Not another relationship hurdle!

The relationship woes of today's society are too innumerable to even recount. Suffice it to say we have a lot of work to do when it comes to relationships! We cannot seem to commit.  There is tension caused by too many distractions and individualize pursuits.  The media encourages conflict and break-up.  The lack of true depth in relationship created by a "mobile" society and reduced time actually spent "relating" to one another the "good old fashioned way" is just another among many of the issues we face.  I don't pretend to be a relationship expert, because I have my own issues which get in the way of developing solid and founded relationships!  One thing I do know is that we can glean truth from the Word of God which will help us to develop foundation within relationship - truth which will give us "anchor" and hold us steady when things come into our relationships to distract or divide us.
You have heard that it was said to our people …

Law or Liberty - which is it?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the Old Testament: 1) It is out of date and no longer applies because we have the New Testament now; and 2) It has "some" meaning, but it really isn't all that relevant to us today. Both of these beliefs are a little bit askew of what Jesus taught, making them inaccurate.  There used to be an old adage about tossing the baby out with the bath water - if we toss out the Old Testament just because Jesus came on the scene, we are kind of doing just that.  In fact, Jesus reminded the people he taught of the importance of "keeping the Law", but he changed the focus of "how" it was to be kept.  Prior to his teaching, the Law was a set of rules to be kept by repeated self-effort.  If we look at what Jesus says about "keeping the Law", we will find that he simply says we are to obey it, teaching others to obey it, as well.  You may argue Jesus came to "fulfill" the Law, therefore making the…

A little salt makes things a whole lot better

Salt does more than season our foods and preserve them for a shelf-life which ensures we have stores of food for the upcoming needs of our families.  Salt is one of the basic "ingredients" of our cellular system and without it we experience quite an imbalance in our physical bodies.  Since sodium (salt) attracts and "holds" water wherever it is, a certain amount of it must be circulating around our bloodstream in order for us to maintain what we might refer to as a "healthy blood pressure".  Too little can actually cause the blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels and result in serious complications. Our nerve pathways are also highly regulated by the right amount of positively and negatively charged particles in our body at any one time - sodium being one of those things which carries a "charge" to help with nerve conduction.  Along with these attributes of this important substance in our bodies, we can thank sodium for helping to brin…

Emotional ups and downs

Since the beginning of time man has tried all kinds of things to attempt to fulfill this deep-seated desire to "be happy".  Happiness is some kind of elusive "dream" for many individuals - just never really getting to the place where they are ever truly "happy".  Yes, they experience a little "delight" or "enthusiastic fulfillment" with this accomplishment, that purchase, or even those relationships, but in the end it isn't lasting.  All they are left with is a whole lot of "expense" or "baggage" and then they have to start all over again!  The pursuit of happiness in a particular thing, or even in another person, is going to cost us something we may regret having to "pay".  With happiness being elusive and carrying a bigger cost than we may want to pay, what keeps us going back time and time again to pursue it?  I think it may come in the deep-seated need for God himself - a need many fail to recogniz…

Another election - another debate

It is another election year in the United States - the year in which we will determine who will be our President for the next four years.  As we know, this election season will be filled with all manner of debate, with men and women alike posturing for position and power.  Lots and lots of promises will be made, some quite valid and within the individual's ability to keep, while others are not. I cannot help but be discouraged from watching all the media hype about some of our candidates, though.  This is also the time of year when groups of individuals begin to "choose sides", so to speak, and align with these candidates in the race.  In essence, it is like a big schoolyard filled with bullies, all squaring off against one another, while the onlookers choose sides and begin to cheer them on.  It is quite unfortunate that our political climate has become one of having to undo the other's character, pointing out each and every character flaw as though the other candid…

Rest a while - you'll need it!

We all have those moments when we just feel like we aren't going to get to where we hoped to get to, finish what we hoped to finish, or just accomplish that one big thing we set in our sights.  What we do with those moments matters because it often determines if we will ever pick up the task again, or direct our focus toward it.  If we get defeated by having to put down the pencil when we are trying to finish a rough draft of a book just so we can rest our minds and renew our creative juices, we'd never finish the book.  We cannot think of having to "rest" in between the spaces or seasons of "accomplishing stuff" as a negative thing.  In fact, I think God purposefully gives us some seasons in our lives where we kind of "coast" for a while, though they aren't long, because he knows we'd be overwhelmed if he didn't.  He knows our personality and our emotional make-up.  So, just because you need to step back for a moment, don't beat y…

Anew is not Again

New starts - what exactly are they?  In everyone's life, there come opportunities to "begin again", "make a fresh start", or have a "do-over".  The thing about each of these is the "carry-over" from the old into the new.  Let me explain what I mean.  Take a tablet or pad of paper and a pencil or pen.  Now write these words: "I just failed".  Go ahead - do it.  Now, tear off that sheet of paper and throw it away.  What you are left with is a "clean" tablet of paper - right? Not really! Gently run your fingers over the surface of that table of paper and then hold it up to the light at an angle.  See or feel it?  Yep, there is a tell-tale sign of the old message you wrote there, isn't there?  As much as we thought we go rid of the old, we still had some indication of it being there.  It isn't much different from that every time we go to make a fresh start, begin again, or attempt a do-over in life!  We have those tel…