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Showing posts from October, 2015

How much of a threat are you?

As Jesus neared the time when he would be publicly humiliated, beaten, and then marched to his death on a cross, he also is found drawing near and sharing time with those he had formed relationships with on this earth.  One such occasion was upon his return to Bethany, a town best known by the time of his return because of a pretty spectacular miracle he had performed there - the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  Now, the "fame" of this miracle wasn't because Lazarus was a "big man" in the town government, religious faction, or some type of a "rock star".  He was simply stated to be the brother of Mary and Martha - two loving sisters who were grieving his loss.  In terms of how this would have been treated today, if this man had been "famous" like Elvis Presley, his being raised from the dead would have had people flocking to his burial place and doorstep by the thousands!  He wasn't Elvis, but the "fame" of his miracle was ma…

Then --- Now

Did you ever stop to consider just "how" it is you overcome sin in your lives?  I bet it wouldn't be by yourself!   If we are truthful, we are spurred to consider our actions as sinful in the first place because of something we hear from another, see from the eyes of another, or just simply by seeing a different "picture" modeled in the lives of someone else.  We often have blinders where it comes to our sin - we just see what we want to see and it often takes the perspective of another to point us in the right direction.  The scripture refers to sin as something which "traps" us.  Have you ever seen something struggling to get out of a trap? It is almost impossible to get "out of" whatever it is they "got into" on their own.  The hole is too deep, the ropes too tight, or the weight too heavy which is pressing down upon us.  We actually need the hands of another, and sometimes even their ability to see clearly what needs to be done…

It is all "relative"

Have you ever been in a place where no matter where you look or turn absolutely nothing is going right?  You one avenue of attack, only to find that ends in a dead-end.  You plan a new way of dealing with the issue, then get foiled because your plan turned out to be too hard or just took too much effort.  At some point, you find yourself about to give up and you don't know why life has to be so hard!  We have all probably been that at some point in life as this is not an uncommon "fate" for humankind.  One area where I think we all struggle on occasion is finding the "right answer" when it is most needed.  You know exactly what I mean here - those moments when the moment passes and you are now able to think up all kinds of "good advice", "better solutions", or "clever come-backs".  Where were these "in the moment"?   If you think about it, life happened and you weren't very well-prepared for what happened because you …

The muddle demystified

If the heart of man is made up of mind, will, and emotions - the place where we make choices, decide which "voice" sounds the most "credible" at the moment, and what it is we will hold onto when times get a little challenging - then we had better figure out pretty quickly what is IN our heart and what CONTROLS it.  If the right stuff is IN there and the right ONE is controlling our heart, then we stand a better chance to have consistency in our lives which is reflected in our correct choices and wise responses.
We may think we are doing the right thing, but the Lord always knows what is in our hearts. (Proverbs 21:2 CEV)

I enjoy pleasing you. Your Law is in my heart. (Psalm 40:8 CEV)
God knows how many times we set out to "do" the right thing, but then somewhere along the way we get distracted by something which influences our thoughts, will, or emotions just enough to get us pursuing something else entirely.  It may not have been our original intention,…

Deep thoughts anyone?

The youngest player to ever win the Grand Slam in tennis was Michael Chang - a Christian athlete who frequently gave all the praise for his ability and talent to the Lord.  One of the things he is quoted as saying kind of speaks to our passage today:  "Maybe sometimes I'm such a thinker, I reevaluate too much. Sometimes when it comes down to it, I really don't need to do anything. I don't really need to change anything.  I need to just keep plugging away, working at it."  We probably all have a tendency to "over-think" matters on occasion, making mountains out of molehills and tragedies out of small blips on the radar.  WE see things one way - GOD sees them quite differently.  Somewhere in-between what WE see and what GOD sees is where revelation begins to dawn.  Deep thought may be where we discover the deepest of truths, but as long as they remain "deep", we don't actually bring them forth into the place of discovery and usefulness in ou…

You ready?

As another wave of storms swept through the valley over the past three days, they came with quite strong winds and what some call "micro-bursts" of storm activity.  These micro-bursts have the capacity to dump a lot of rain at once in seemingly one spot, combined with high winds which do significant damage.  Block walls were leveled, power poles snapped in two, and trees uprooted.  It seems like the storms lately have become more and more "aggressive", taking their toll on the neighborhoods where they hit the most.  It also seems like there are areas of our large metropolis where these storms hit with such frequency that people are constantly "bouncing back" from them.  Some areas were hit with nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain, while others enjoyed a steady rain most would consider nothing more than sprinkles.  Close to 30,000 customers were without electrical power for over one day.  At first this doesn't seem to significant in the face of th…

Alert and thinking straight

I don't always think straight - how about you?  There are times when my emotions overrule my intelligence and I just plunge right into things I should have left undone or unsaid. In a flash in time, the reasonableness of my decisions isn't even a concern in my mind because I am responding out of feeling rather than intellect or reason.  It happens to the best of us and it brings us into things which are harder to get out of than they were to get into!  It isn't by accident that scripture links "being alert" with "thinking straight".  When we are alert, all senses are standing at attention.  We are paying attention because all our senses are united in action.  This isn't the best way to overcome responding to only feelings - to be "on alert" in the realm of our senses alone often leads to us relying upon feelings even more.  We need to learn what scripture means when it says to be alert and think straight.
Be alert and think straight. Put al…

The rules are there for the sinner in each of us

When was the last time you played a game of Monopoly?  If you are like me, you played it a lot as a kid, but as you have "aged" a little, you just don't have the time to play, or perhaps your social circle just isn't "into" the game any longer.  As kids we all loved to play it - some more competitively than others - but we'd drag it out, appoint the banker and realtor, and count the monies out, dropping a couple hundred in the free parking spot to "seed" the booty to be gained for landing on the spot.  That last part may not have been in the rule book, but it kept us excited about landing on free parking and we liked doing it, so we did it. As kids, we took a little latitude because we didn't really think too much about the rules - if it made sense to us, we just did it.  As we got older, some of those we played with seemed to like to stick closer to the rules - as though they were some "deterrent" to something "bad" ha…

Ever stop to consider....

Do you take for granted things like the consistency of the sunrise or the predictability of the phases of the moon?  Most of us probably do unless we make our living predicting something based on their predictability.  If we were to stop for just a couple of minutes and consider what the scriptures declare about the sun and moon, we might just be amazed all over again at the next sunrise, sunset, and the phases of the moon!  Why?  They are simply doing what they were designed to do - to keep telling the wonders of God and declaring boldly what he has done!  They declare his creative power and his ability to sustain all things with nothing more than the sound of his voice!  This should give us cause to pause for just a few moments to consider his greatness and to bask in his brilliance!
The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done.   Each day informs the following day; each night announces to the next.   They don’t speak a word, and there is never …

I couldn't - could I?

It is one thing to "know" and another thing entirely to "obey".  One is having an acquaintance with what is expected - the other is actually putting what you know is expected into action so it influences your actions.  There are a tremendous many people who go through life "knowing" all kinds of standards, but then walking by an entirely different set of standards.  In my office I have a little plaque which reads: "Every time you walk by the violation of a standard, you set a new standard."  I think this is so very true in every area of our lives - whether it is spiritually, in relationships, or financially.  We go about setting all kinds of "new standards" in life, sometimes without any real effort or intent - it just happens because we don't stop long enough to think about what we are saying, doing, or responding to in the way of "feelings" or "emotion". The last time you spoke a little "harsher" tha…

Help! I don't wanna change!

There is something in "counseling circles" called the "put off - put on" dynamic.  In other words, stop doing this and do that instead.  In scripture, this is often seen as the don't do this, but do this and you will realize a different (usually better) outcome.  Our passage today is one of those "stop - start" instructions.  Stop following whatever had been your previous way of living before you said "yes" to Jesus and live differently now.  In other words, when we come to Jesus, there is to be a transformation evident in our lives - as some activities cease and others take their place.  Now, on the surface, the world may see it as we stopped going to the bars and started attending church.  We stopped using swear words, and now we say "God bless you" and "Hallelujah" a lot.  I do hope we realize there is way more to this instruction than that we just stop one thing and start another.  If we are to really "do" a…

Objectionable?

As I was growing up, I remember doing all manner of "things" which I hoped would have made me acceptable to some group of individuals.  Some of them were kind of insignificant, like just dressing to be acceptable to my peer group, while others were pretty much crossing the line because the actions either "broke the law" or "broke some rule".  By the actions I took, I either disregarded the clear-cut instructions of my parents or some other superior in my life, or I actually engaged in activities which put me at odds with the laws we are all supposed to live by.  I trespassed into private property, sometimes with complete disregard for the danger this could present to both me and those with me.  At other times, I found myself telling one lie to cover another, simply because I thought the truth would make me somehow "uncool" or "unacceptable" in the group I desired so much to be accepted within.  I expected my actions to somehow "ch…

He listens - just call out and see

I read a post recently which simply read:  "The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything."  I don't disagree with this, but wanted to challenge us to see this from a little bit of a perspective - God's.  In God's eyes, when we say "yes" to Jesus in our lives, we receive the best of everything, affecting not only our "happiness", but our sense of contentment, resolution, determination, and ultimately our peace.  In essence, God's saving graces sets our world on a kind of "different axis" - we stop focusing on the little we have and we begin to embrace the "much" he has!  We move from wanting the "best of everything" and the "making the best of everything" to the "we have all we need" kind of living!  
The Lord says, “If you love me and truly know who I am, I will rescue you and keep you safe.
When you are in trouble, call out to me.  I will a…

More than a legion

It is a sin to "soft peddle" the Christian walk - like it is going to be all sunny and rosy each step we take.   We cannot overlook the tremendous amount of work on our part to consistently listen to the right voices vying for our attention, nor the effort it takes to actually make the right choices when faced with all manner of temptation.  It is not a walk in the park by any means, so don't let anyone tell you it is going to be easy!  In fact, our path will be riddled with all manner of tempting thought, tremendous obstacles which will seek to make it impossible for us to cross without stumbling a whole lot, and lots of times when we just don't hear God's voice, but have to dig deep down inside us and lean into our faith that he is there.  There is one thing we can count on though - we don't walk without his tremendous care and protection over our lives!
God will command his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will carry you in their arms, and you w…