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Showing posts from January, 2016

Fix the fix I am in!

Most of us would think of a journey as a time of adventure and discovery.  It is a crossing from one place into another - maybe not permanently, but it can be experienced and enjoyed nonetheless.  To others, it is a quest of sorts - a mission to accomplish something such as crossing a dream off of your "bucket list" of things to do someday.  If we view a journey as "destination-bound" movement, we kind of think of it as a way of getting from where we are to where we might want to be.  If we view it as somewhat of a "dream", we might never really make much movement toward it, right?  The truth of the matter is that a journey is anything we do or think which helps us pass from one place or state to another. If we take actual steps, leaps, or bounds to get from here to there, it is probably more of a physical journey.  If we prepare mentally and spend time in study, it may be a little bit of a journey in thought resulting in development of thought. If we add…

Stop - consider - choose

Two paths - two choices - a whole lot of things drawing us down one - only one thing drawing us down the other. Life is not always easy, nor are the paths we take totally "well-traveled" by others.  In fact, we may find ourselves on a path which is just not all that well-discovered, nor is it well-worn, yet I have found those paths often give us the greatest discoveries in life!  You hear all the time of people getting a "major" in one subject and a "minor" in another while they are completing their degrees in higher education. In essence, they are saying they have "two pathways" in life which they can fall back on if the need arises.  If the economy takes a turn this way or that, they might be a little more resilient in their job opportunities because of that dual educational path, but in life, it is rare that we can actually follow two paths and do justice to both!
There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narro…

Time is not in a bottle...

Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid in South Africa - the mission of his term in office as their President focusing strongly on racial reconciliation in their country. One of the quotes he is known for is also one of my favorites: "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."  Time is a fleeting thing - it is easy for it to get away from us, like water passing under a bridge, we often don't recognize the millions of seconds just frittered away. The time is always "ripe" to do right - there is no "wrong time" for doing right.  It is quite possible that what may be accomplished in this day may never be regained - so we must learn to appreciate the moment, embrace it, and then "do" what needs to be done in that moment.

Don’t you know that as long as you do what is right, then I accept you? But if you do not do what is right, watch out, because sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce on you! Y…

Chisel away, God

I am going to ask us each a hard question today, but one which I think needs to be asked:  "What are you running from?"  Many times we run from the stuff which incites fear within, but we don't have any destination in mind when we start running "from" those things - we just run.  I don't like spiders - I am not arachnophobic by any means - I just don't like their creepiness!  I don't exactly run from them, but if you ever encounter one of those big, hairy brown wolf spiders of the Arizona desert invading your space INSIDE your home, you might just find yourself taking a few steps back! They are scary looking - move faster than lightening - and they don't seem to take no for an answer!  I can totally understand why we run from spiders, or dogs who seem to be doing a lot of snarling, while eyeing you are a solid piece of meat.  We run from other other things, too, which are maybe not the best things for us to be running from - things like conflict…

A verb lesson

A verb in the English language is the part of speech which describes an action - in simple terms, it is a "doing" word. It could be used to suggest a mental action, such as thinking. It could also be used to suggest a physical action, such as running. It also can be used to suggest a state of being, such as standing. Did you know God likes verbs? In fact, they are probably one of his most favorite parts of speech!  Don't believe me?  "Go ye into all the world..."  Go is an action word. "Seek first the kingdom of God..."  Seek is an action word.  Many of God's commands and instructions to us begin or end with some type of action on our part - he is asking us to not be "inactive" believers, but participate in what he is doing in this world!
Heed counsel, act on instruction, and you will become wise later in life. (Proverbs 19:20 VOICE)
Three important verbs to consider:  Heed, Act, and Become. We might just miss that last one if we didn'…

Nothing means "no thing"

If we have been in church for a while, we probably have heard the verse which tells us to "be anxious for nothing", right? Do we know the context of the verse, though?  Probably not. Let me set this up for us a little.  Paul has been talking to the believers at Philippi about those in this world who may oppose their beliefs, ridiculing them for their faith, and even persecuting them because they are followers of Jesus.  He likens them to "dogs who run in packs" looking for someone to pounce on and maul with their viscous attacks, throwing around their "religious pedigrees".  I like when he tells the believers he will make it through all the pain and suffering he will be enduring all because of his choice to follow Jesus when he says, "...nothing will stand in my way because he has grabbed me and won't let me go."  He is referring to Jesus holding him tightly through all circumstances - regardless of how painful they may appear, he will rise …

Brick or glass - you decide

There are times in this life when it just will seem there is absolutely NO way of escape - times when it just seems like no matter how hard you try, the thing you are running from will catch up with you and you will be overtaken.  We all face those moments, no matter how sophisticated, "deep", or "spiritual" we might appear.  If we were more honest with each other, we might not feel so bad about the times when we just don't "do as we should", even when we "knew better". We do a disservice to each other to never show our failure to others - for it is by failure we have an opportunity to learn from not only the thing we failed at, but from what others have experienced in the same circumstances.
Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward. (I Corinthians 10:13 VOIC…

I need more than a ritual

I absolutely appreciate the Apostle Paul's candor in his letters to the New Testament churches.  He was never ashamed of the gospel message, nor did he ever mince words as he declared whatever it is God prepared for him to declare.  He was bold, to the point, and always spot on.  Whenever there was controversy of some sort, he faced it head on - he didn't "make nice" with those who had the controversy in the hopes of "winning them over" to his viewpoint.  In fact, he often stood in opposition to the wrong actions of those who chose their own way of doing things and let them know very clearly their choices were definitely not "on the mark".  If we understand Paul's role in the New Testament church, we might just appreciate even more why it was he took such a firm stand on occasion.  He was the founding father of these churches - it was upon his shoulders to make sure they laid the right foundation upon which to build.  If they didn't start …

Islands form how?

Baltasar Gracian wrote: "True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island... to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing."  Life without friends is like life on a desert island - both barren and isolated!  It is empty - almost as though it were depleted and fruitless.  To go through life without the discovery of a close friend is to walk without legs!  It is possible to get through life, but the journey is so much tougher!
A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times.  (Proverbs 17:17 VOICE)
What does an island symbolize to you?  The first thing which comes to mind is a body of land surrounded by water on all sides.  It may be kind of lush in appearance, as there is much greenery upon that island, surrounded by some beaches. Did you know there are really about three ways islands are formed…

Able

Do you know the purpose of the word "but" in your sentence? Whenever you insert "but" into the sentence, you are saying the prior stuff is "negated" by the next stuff you are about to say.  For example, when you say, "The caramel truffle was delightful, but I think it went right to my hips," you are saying although it tasted delightful and there was that moment of pure ecstasy when you indulged, you will regret having to workout a little longer on the treadmill tomorrow! "But" makes null and void what has just been said, or puts some type of condition on it.  Another example, "You were supposed to do that yesterday, but I understand you had an emergency..."  In this example, the person is willing to overlook the failure to do whatever it was that should have been complete by now, all because there was the "condition" of an emergency arising in your life.  So, the "but" is significant to set up what is goin…

The cocoon

Most butterflies and moths "spin" or "weave" a cocoon into which they kind of "hibernate" - or so it may seem on the surface.  The cocoon is an illustration of "going in one way, coming out another" - what once was may have the same "roots", but it is quite different from the way it once was. Whether it is the cocoon or chrysalis "process" we consider, a living thing goes inside this object, then a transforming process begins:  1) A larva transforms into the pupa; 2) the pupa begins to transform into the imago; and 3) the imago begins to emerge as a "new life form".  What once was is no longer what emerges - there is a new life form, unrecognizable as its former "form" any longer - the image is affected within that cocoon.
Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatev…

Pebbles in the path

One of Toby Mac's Facebook posts from January 9th was quite simple, yet profound: "Forget the past. But do remember the lesson." I think this is where the rubber meets the road for most of us - we remember the past and focus less on the lesson - if we even see the lesson in the past in the first place!  By definition, a lesson is a useful piece of practical wisdom acquired by experience or study.  If we go through things and never "acquire" anything by the experience of the event, we just might find ourselves repeating the "event" until we find the "lesson" in it!
Those who learn from the lessons of life will join the others who are wise. (Proverbs 15:31 VOICE)
A lesson is more than advice - we can take or leave advice, but to actually learn a lesson, we have to participate in it.  Heaven knows there were a few lectures during my years and years of schooling where my mind drifted into pleasanter places!  It wasn't unusual for me to have t…

Overshadowed?

Anxiety is just a fancy word for worry, but worry is a fancy word for trying to do things in your own power or ability! Let's be truthful here - we all struggle with letting go of the reins on some stuff in our lives - maybe a little more at some times than others.  If we are feeling kind of "strong" at the moment, we may not feel the need to seek God's direction, nor even give it a second thought.  If we are a little "weak" and a whole lot of emotional upheaval is brewing deep within, we may want his perspective on the situation a little quicker than later!  Why is that?  It is probably because we have a tendency to "work things out" in our own strength whenever we "feel" we might just be able to and then when we become pretty convinced by the building pressures that our way has not really accomplished the goal, we cry out under the pressure.  At the root of being overtaken by anxiety is this idea of being overshadowed with "self-a…

Life does come with instructions!

The poet and philosopher of olden days, Samuel Johnson, is credited for these words:  "Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not."  Thinking upon these words may just cause us to reexamine how it is we have been responding to people on occasion!  We may not be fond of the way they act, the things they are demanding of us, or the lack of responsiveness on their part, but it doesn't have to affect the kindness we continue to reveal to them.  Mark Twain once said, "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."  Both authors hit the nail squarely on the head, don't you think?  
We have cause to celebrate because the grace of God has appeared, offering the gift of salvation to all people. Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves …

Softening or hardening - all in the same water

Have you ever seen that little saying posted on someone's timeline or maybe in a little sign in someone's office which simply reminds you the same boiling water which can soften a hard potato is also responsible for making a runny egg hard? The idea is our circumstances can change us - it depends on how we view them, what we allow to happen to us "through" them, and if we are even willing to get into them in the first place! I don't know about you, but there are just some "boiling water" circumstances I don't want to face sometimes! I would rather not be in the pot of water at all, let's just be honest here! I honestly don't think I am alone on this one - there are just times we'd rather skip the "boiling" process and get whatever results will come without it! Ever try eating a raw potato? It is okay, but I prefer mine mashed, with a little milk, and rich butter! I know there are health advisories about under-cooked or r…