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Showing posts from November, 2015

Know when to quit...

Do you have enough sense to know when to quit?  In my industry, we call this "work - life balance" - knowing when work needs to come to an end and the things in life which matter outside of work become our focus with enough energy and enthusiasm still left to actually enjoy them.  Quite a few people in your circle of influence may struggle with this "knowing when to quit" kind of thing - whether it is in the realm of a job they go off to each day, or something which distracts them equally as much in their leisure life.  Either way, if there isn't balance, we find ourselves engaged in what becomes the focal point of our lives and this can demand a very disproportionate amount of our time, energy, and heart.
Do not overwork yourself just to become wealthy; have enough sense to know when to quit. As soon as you become fixed on riches, they vanish. For suddenly they sprout wings and become like a soaring eagle flying high in the sky. (Proverbs 23:4-5 VOICE)
Notice …

Merry Christmas

"All the Christmas presents in the world are worth nothing without the presence of Christ." (quote from Crosswalk.com)  
As I was scrolling through the updates from my various friends on my media feed, I came across this quote and it kind of hit me.  I spent the afternoon with mom in the wheelchair, my daughter at my side, and the three of us just strolling a couple of the local stores for a few Christmas presents yesterday.  It wasn't a big deal, and we weren't like some of those crazy types of shoppers who were looking for the big bargains, willing to camp out at the wee hours of the morning to find that door-buster item.  We just went to have fun with each other, enjoy a little shopping for some specific items, and then see where the afternoon would take us.  As we luxuriated over a hamburger and fries for our late afternoon lunch, we just enjoyed each other's company.  I'd have to tell you there were a whole lot of people out there on "Black Friday&qu…

For this I am thankful....

Maybe you have heard the little acronym: GRACE = God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  I think it says it all, doesn't it?  Grace is no piddly gift - it is everything Christ could offer - his very life given for ours.  We also know grace is God's unmerited favor - not deserved, totally unearned, and never able to be purchased by us.  It isn't a "bartered" item - you cannot "talk God into" grace - it is freely given because HE wants to give it, not because of anything we can offer in return.  All of these facts about grace are probably what make it so hard for us to get our brains around grace.  WE don't "get" grace because it is so contrary to everything we have learned in life - we "get" by earning or deserving, right?  God gives without us earning or deserving - totally outside our basis of understanding, right?  The good news is that we don't have to understand GRACE to appreciate the effects of grace in our lives!
I a…

What is restorative justice?

Embarrassed may be translated "ashamed", "flustered", "disconcerted", or even "bewildered" or "confounded".  Lots of ways to say the same thing, but each with just a tiny hint of a different meaning.  If I said I am not ashamed of the gospel I might just be trying to tell you it doesn't make me hesitant to share it, or take action on what it says.  If I were to tell you I am not flustered by it, you might get the idea I am not "put off" or "put down" by what I read there.  If I were to tell you I don't find myself disconcerted by the gospel message, then you might just get the impression I am not "mixed up" when I read its words, but in fact find a kind of power to put at peace what is already so mixed up within me.  You see, we all have a slightly different approach to the gospel each time we take it in - the most important thing to remember is that we are not to shy away from it!  No matter how w…

They are still brussels sprouts!

The other day, I saw this recipe advertised for the "best ever garlic roasted brussels sprouts". Spoiler alert - they are still brussels sprouts! My daughter actually tried these and she said she had to gag them down, make the kids gag them down, and then announced she'd not be serving them again to rounds of cheers and delight! She is a chip off the old block, let me tell you. I have one vegetable I just don't enjoy and it is brussels sprouts! They are advertised as "miniature cabbages, but their taste is something quite stronger and a little more bitter than cabbage, so despite my love for cabbage, they remain on the lowest part of my "vegetable" list. You can "fancy them up" anyway you like, but they are still going to be the same old thing underneath. The same is true in our own lives - we can decide things look pretty good to us, but when we finally decide to partake of them, they leave us with a pretty bad after-taste.
God’s bless…

More than an app....

I saw this cute quip on Facebook this morning: "There is no app to replace your lap - read to your child." It was a sign prominently displayed over the doorway to a bookstore, so it made all the sense in the world to me. It also spoke to me of something even more important - the idea of coming fully into God's lap and allowing him to open his Word to us. Sometimes I think we kind of want to replace the "time" just nuzzling close to each other with whatever can be found in the "Bible Verse of the Day" delivered to your email or Twitter feed. No app will ever replace the moments had on the lap! Sorry, but it is the cold, hard truth and I just thought I'd put that out there!
Immerse them in the truth, the truth Your voice speaks. (John 17:17 VOICE)


Jesus is about to be taken from this earth, leaving those who were called his disciples and followers in a place of potential harm.  He knew the only way to protect them was to leave them something whi…

"Meaning to" and "getting there" are different

We try to bring a lot of things into God's presence, thinking we can somehow repay him for his grace or win even more of his grace or affection by what we offer to him.  The sad truth is that no gift is sufficient - no sacrifice great enough - no offering satisfactory.  Two things God asks of us - live justly and love kindness - then walk with him in humility.  He doesn't "expect" us to "do" things "for" him - like bringing him sacrifices, offerings, and doing all kinds of good works.  We don't get "merits" for what we do anymore than we get "demerits" for what we don't do, or the wrong stuff we do.  God isn't into keeping score and this is probably one of the most liberating things we can understand about God's grace.  In his grace, "score-keeping" doesn't exist.  Nothing we do "adds to" or "takes away" from the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Chri…

Whoops! That one just escaped!

The majority of us would rather be remembered for something profound we might have said at a point in history than to be remembered for the silliness which sometimes has a way of coming out of our mouths at not always the most perfect moment.  We want to "go down in history", not as the fool, but as the wise.  Then how come we spend so much time letting foolish words escape our lips?  Maybe it is because we neglect the heart!  The words which escape our lips are merely a reflection of what is in our heart at that moment.  Deal with the attitude of the heart and the words which come forth won't just "escape" - they will serve purpose, hit the mark, and give wise counsel to the hungry soul.
From a wise heart flow careful words; wise words make the lips more persuasive. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb: they drip sweet food for life and bring health to the body. (Proverbs 16:23-24 VOICE)
I have found that I can judge the effectiveness of my words by how easily…

Prepare to develop

I recently saw a post on my social media feed with a simply phrase:  "You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it."  It was set over a simple photo of a farm and farmhouse.  I think it probably had a couple of messages behind it, such as farming is not for wimps!  It probably had another meaning closer to the passage below - we don't receive lessons in this life through osmosis, but because we walk through them and learn from them.  Someone might think they were given the life they were given because only THEY could live up to the challenge.  The challenge wasn't given to you because you had the strength, it was given to you to reveal the strength the Almighty would give you to walk through it.
Those who learn from the lessons of life will join the others who are wise.  Those who disregard discipline sabotage themselves, but those who are open to correction gain understanding. Reverence for the Eternal is the first lesson of wisdom, and humility…

Don't think you can constrain me!

Have you ever done good and found out someone was talking behind your back about what you did in a not so positive way?  In fact, they are kind of making fun of you for being a goodie-two-shoes, or just "brown-nosing".  It is unfortunate, but people will be people - this is one thing we can count on!  Not everyone will understand why you do what you do when God moves you to do something out of the ordinary for someone else, nor will they always see it as done just because you wanted to bless someone.  In fact, they will likely see it as you trying to get ahead, or maybe as though you are trying to "one-up" them.  Either way, don't get all weird about their reaction to you - they don't understand your purpose and they drift into this criticism of your actions because they don't know your heart.  The important thing is that you are acting in a way which honors God and with the intent of being an extension of God's grace in the lives of the ones you to…

Like-minded people unite

Like-minded people have a tendency to gravitate toward one another, don't they?  It is as though there was some internal form of radar which brings them together and they just mesh.  This is all good when the "like-minded" thoughts and actions are pretty upright and honorable.  When they are at the opposite end of the spectrum, we don't like to see those people "get together" because the opposition they bring to others when together is pretty challenging to deal with.  What are the "like-minded" tendencies we are supposed to be focusing on in finding those we travel through this life with on our journey to eternity?  The characteristics we are to look for in others are the ability to show sympathy, love, compassion and humility for each other.  This is the beginning of "finding" the right type of companions for the journey, but when we add to this the willingness to move from paying back the evil or insult we receive in life with nothing…

Got a little turmoil going on?

Ever been in a place some might call a real "brouhaha"?  You know what I mean - the place in your life where everywhere you turn, it is like total conflict.  It could be conflict all created by your own mind and soulish desires, or it could be external to you, but affecting your life nonetheless.  It is that place where someone or something is lying in wait for that moment when the attack will be just right to take you down.  It is as though things are on a slow boil up to a point, then all of a sudden the boil begins to roll and steams begins to build.  At that point, what do you do?  For most of us, it is too late to do much because when it finally builds to that point, it is harder and harder for us to find peace, get a clear picture of what is happening, or even call a retreat from it.  We are there for the duration - simply because we didn't know how to avoid the conflict in the first place!
I am pleading with the Eternal for this one thing, my soul’s desire:  To liv…

Stop playing the field

I saw this cute little post the other day on Facebook and thought you might enjoy it:   Dating tip...Run as fast toward God as you can and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself.(GodFruits.tv)  Kind of profound in a way because most of us simply run toward the one we want to date rather than running toward the one who actually can help us find the right one to date!  My pastor says something similar to us singles all the time - become the kind of person you want in a mate and you will attract that kind of person as a mate.  The message is similar - who we choose to pursue so much so as to actually make a heart attachment to will determine the rest of our course in life.  Who we become in that relationship with another human being isn't the other person's "fault", it is an outcome of us pursuing another person rather than us pursuing God with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Don’t fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love it…

No, No, No....Cut!!!!

There are times for each of us when we just lose sight of things in our lives - things which are more important than other things.  In these times, what we do to regain focus is what will make all the difference.  Wouldn't it be much easier to just remain focused?  Of course, but it is hard to maintain focus - it requires us to take action when we might not feel like taking action, redirect our attention when we are becoming distracted, and dig into the Word of God when the answers just don't seem to come.  
Stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth; engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck; meditate on them so they are written upon your heart. In this way, you will win the favor of God and others, and they will think well of you. (Proverbs 3:3-4 VOICE)
The basic thing I believe we need to see in our study today is this idea of being directed - one way or the other, the direction we choose is because either we are directed from some desire within, or we…

If God is...

If God is on our side...words which really say it all.  What does it mean to truly stand with God on our side?  In the most literal sense, it means that nothing is bigger, stronger, more powerful, or with any greater authority than the one who stands with us through any and all storms, troubles, diseases, or threats.  It also means that no warring faction within us can ever win the war!  This is indeed good news for those of us who haven't quite learned to walk away from temptation when it comes our way, huh?  Although we may not have "drawn the line" far enough away from compromise the last time to actually avoid "opening the door" to sin, we have the one resident within us who helps us redraw the line a little further away the next time!  Most of us think we chose God, but in truth, he chose us.  It is like he stood on the field and specifically picked us out of the line up to become part of his team.  We weren't the ones choosing that day we said "y…