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Showing posts from February, 2016

Not just another election

Leap year means a lot of things to people, but it is technically just a way to "balance" the calendar every four years or so to keep it in alignment with the astronomical year (the one we base our seasons upon).  All other years in the calendar are called "common years".  There is nothing "special" about them. If you speak with someone who understands this astronomical calendar thing to the "nth degree", they'd tell you the 365 day a year calendar pattern would cause a "drift" in the tracking of seasons if this adjustment did not take place.   In the United States, leap year usually ends up being the year we launch into electing the next President.  I wonder if this "election year" corresponds with leap year because it is our way as a nation of dealing with the "drift" which somehow manages to occur in our nation when a leader has lost popularity or seems to come under criticism from the masses?  Just wondering!

Let love settle in...

So many times we focus on the "do not" phrases in scripture as the means by which we should live our lives - the boundaries we are supposed to live within. I am not saying that is necessarily the worst way to look at things, but there is a different take on the matter - we could just live by the one "do" statement which really summarizes all those "do not" ones! I think the "do not" ones are there because we need "concrete" evidence of what is "allowable" versus "disallowed" in this Christian walk.  It isn't as though the "do not" instructions don't matter - they do make it pretty clear for us to know when we are crossing the line.  Yet, if we hear what Jesus taught, it is the one "do" statement which really captures all the others in their entirety.  The do statement? "Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. Love your neighbor as your…

A little weed and feed never hurt anyone!

Is it possible we foster things in our lives we really don't want to have around for the long haul?  To foster means we do something which promotes the growth or development of that thing.  I can water the lawns over and over again, but if I don't put some weed and feed on it occasionally, I eventually end up "fostering" the growth of weeds, not just grass! Spring has come early to the Arizona desert and I will have to take action soon with my lawns or else I will have a bumper crop of weeds and then it will take me even longer to rid myself of all the issues they will cause.  This is how it is with things within relationships which really shouldn't be fostered - keep allowing the stuff to occur which promotes the growth of the wrong stuff and you will yield a bumper crop of wrong outcomes!
Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. (Proverbs 17:9 VOICE)
We can foster the good stuff, or the not so desirable stuff…

As the dawn's light trickles in...

We all have those moments where we wonder if God has anything "special" for us - as though just being the object of his heart's desire weren't enough!  Those moments usually come when we have seen someone else around us really take a huge step, get awesomely blessed beyond measure, or realize some fantastic outcome as a result of their course of action.  We just cannot help but think, "What about me, God?"  It is just "natural" for us to kind of zero in on the fact we aren't doing or feeling "something special" at that moment, so we get to thinking God might have forgotten us, moved on without us, or just plain doesn't have much in store for us.  There is nothing further from the truth!  God cannot forget us - we are the apple of his eye.  He doesn't move on without us - although he might move a little to tug at our heart to get moving in the direction he is heading, but he doesn't abandon us.  He doesn't have the sam…

Not gonna give you the key!

All too often, we give into feelings of condemnation or the attempts to ridicule.  We find ourselves even doing this to ourselves, on occasion, pointing out our many flaws, devising ways to describe how "awful" we are because of a course of action we have taken.  I have to ask this - if God doesn't condemn us, what gives us the right to do it to another, or even ourselves?  Condemnation is really a form of expressing disapproval.  We may not do it in words, but our actions often speak louder than words.  Blame is associated with any condemnation passed down upon another, or even ourselves. We place blame for the "way" something is on someone, thinking assigning blame somehow makes it okay to point out the flaw in that individual's character.  I am trying to learn this lesson myself, but when we condemn self or others, we are really "sentencing" them - we are passing judgment. Since that job belongs to God and him alone, we don't have that role…

Waylaid between here and there

Finally - in the end, after considerable delay, at last.  We probably all have those "finally" moments in life, when we have been dinking around with something for so long in our lives and then as if we either could not stand it any longer, or the urge was too great, we proceed in the course we have been avoiding.  Avoidance is a tremendous deterrent to actually getting a matter accomplished!  We all have those deterrents, don't we?  The matter was too daunting for the energies we had left, so we rest a while.  The matter was too hard for the intelligence we possessed, so we "research" it for a while.  The matter made us just a little too uncomfortable, so we wait until we can have a change of heart toward it. When we reach the point of "finally", there is usually something good which will come from taking the first steps toward obedient action and if we are careful, maybe even a learning or two from the "delay".
Finally we did as the Eternal…

It is all in the DNA

We all have moments when our minds go into overdrive, finding ways to remind us of our failures with a tenacity which seems to be undaunted by every effort to distract it from that course.  It is kind of like we cannot escape those bad feelings about ourselves no matter how much we want to be free of them.  The heart and the mind are not always united in purpose or direction, though.  Sometimes our minds take us in many directions which our heart clearly says are wrong for us, or get us thinking in ways our heart knows are just not going to end well.  This may just be why there is a constant focus by God on renewing our minds - he knows our hearts are okay because he indwells our hearts with his Spirit. It is our minds which need a little work!
There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than…

An empty page

Gandi said, "My life is my message."  It is not a long quote, but it speaks volumes!  So, should our lives - I think this is what he meant!  I went to the local hardware store yesterday to get a few things.  I was amused to see the checkout gentleman sporting a huge St. Patrick's Day green top hat. At first, this may not seem like much to you, but it was Valentine's Day on the day he was sporting the hat.  I didn't need to ask him why - it was evident to me right away.  He either didn't like all the hype of Valentine's Day, or he was making a statement we see so very often nowadays - one "holiday" really doesn't stand out at unique anymore!  They all just make way for the next.  He was definitely not afraid to live his life as a message.  I wonder if we'd be so bold with the message of our lives?
Remember His call, and live by the royal law found in Scripture: love others as you love yourself. You’ll be doing very well if you can get this…

Not old, but new

As the days pass, I see subtle changes in mom which clearly indicate the aging process is taking a toll on her. Her energy waxes and wanes, mostly waning these days.  Her memory doesn't hold the details, or process the input as quickly anymore.  The hearing is kind of shot, the legs don't propel her as quickly, and the teeth don't chew through food as well as they once did.  All in all, the changes may be gradual, but they definitely mount up.  One thing I can be reassured of - though her outward body is failing, her inner spirit is strong! She is being renewed day-by-day, energized by the Spirit indwelling her.  
So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life everyday. (2 Corinthians 4:16 VOICE)
None of us lasts forever, despite all the advances in medicine and the tremendous amount of money some of us will drop on this "enhancement" or that, we cannot stop the p…

Learning from the best...

If you have ever had any type of a "problem" with another individual in life, this one's for you.  Sometimes it is just easier than others to connect with an individual.  Let's be truthful - relationships are not always the easiest things to get right in this lifetime!  We think we make inroads into relationships, then someone does something which disappoints us or doesn't live up to some expectation we have set - then things between us are just strained, awkward, and a little less than "great".  Love is something modeled and learned because we have good role models, not because we have good words or solid advice in books.  Love isn't learned in isolation, either - we have to be around others long enough, frequently enough, and with enough commitment to actually learn what it is to love. Therefore, if we humans are to learn to love, we need solid examples and a lot of practice with the subject!
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He…

Memories

"Suffering passes, while love is eternal. That's a gift that you have received from God. Don't waste it." (Laura Ingalls Wilder)  I once heard it said it isn't the days in life which we really form memories around, it is more the moments in life which we latch onto and place carefully away in the recesses of our memories.  Days come and go, not really with much significance attached to any of them - they are kind of routine with no lasting memory.  Then there are those moments in time when we just will not forget the thrill, enjoyment, or perhaps the grief of that moment.  Speak with someone who has lost a loved one and they tend to remember the good things, not so much the suffering and tragedy which took the loved one from them.  Love is eternal - suffering passes - sometimes slower than we might like, but it does.  Yes, we shall endure hardship, but it is God's love which beckons us onward from the midst of hardship into the warmth of his tender arms.
He co…

What do you expect?

One of my friends posted a little saying today which I wanted to share with all my lady friends (and guy friends who might just benefit from this, as well): "What a lovely gift to give a friend...to never expect her to be perfect." (Proverbs 31 Ministries) It made me think about how many things it is we do in life which we think someone else actually expects us to do, wanting so desperately to please them and not allow things to get in the way of our relationship. We might just do this a little more often than we admit - simply because it has become such a way of living for us, it might not be easily recognized at first. Maybe we need to actually stop long enough to ask, What expectations have I imposed upon another, and What is it I want from them? We might just be surprised what emerges when we stop to think what it is we "require" of another in relationship!

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arro…

Don't cast the dissenting vote!

We can find ourselves in situations where we are bickering with another over some trivial matter. Before we knew what happened, we were in some type of disagreement about a matter which really should not matter to us in the scheme of things.  It is like we zeroed in on something and now we are not going to let up on it.  We have all been there - in the cycle of discord without any real appreciation for how it all began or much hope of this thing ending well for us!  In those moments between "ignition" and "the crash", we all face the same issue - will WE be the ones to admit we are wrong or will we hold out for the other person to admit it?
Hatred fuels dissension, but love calms all rebellions. (Proverbs 10:12 VOICE)
We can fuel flames of discord by simply saying wrong stuff, or even ignoring some of the stuff we should be taking a stand about.  Nothing fuels discord and disagreement in our lives more than hatred.  Did you ever stop to think that we may not need tw…

Don't go it alone...

Helen Keller said, "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." I don't think we ever count on walking alone through life, but there are times when we can be in a crowd and still be "alone".  It is truly a hard thing to learn to walk alone - because we lack the stabilizing force the other's hand offers, their balance creates, or their persistence with us getting it right affords in our repeated efforts to walk!  

Two are better than one because a good return comes when two work together. If one of them falls, the other can help him up. But who will help the pitiful person who falls down alone? In the same way, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm. But how will the one who sleeps alone stay warm against the night? And if one person is vulnerable to attack, two can drive the attacker away. As the saying goes, “A rope made of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 VOICE)
A good return com…

Regret vs. Repentance

Saw a post this morning that I just had to re-post: "There's a difference between remorse and repentance. Remorse is being sorry for being caught. Repentance is being sorry enough to stop." (Greg Laurie)  I think this is so very true! There are probably a whole lot of us walking around out there with some warped idea of repentance - thinking it is what Greg said - being "sorry".  The truth of the matter is that until we "stop", we are only "sorry".  It isn't regret which brings a change of heart and mind, but truthful desire to do whatever it takes to change the way we have been thinking and acting! Regret may seem legit, but it is nothing more than a sense of thinking about what one has lost!  I dropped my breakfast pastry on the floor the other morning - something I regretted. I thought about that warm pastry stuffed with strawberry filling for a little bit - eyeing it just lying there on the floor. I could have scooped it up - the fiv…

Happy Valentine's Day

It is Valentine's Day in the good old USA, so millions will exchange cards with words of appreciation, sentiment, and love. Millions will be spent on "special moments" which celebrate the love of one for another. Balloons will be filled by the thousands and bouquets of the things will appear in homes, workplaces, and even adorning headstones as some will remember loved ones who have gone on before. To some it is a very "commercialized" day - to others it is a day which takes great planning and creativity in order to show someone the depth of their love. As we express ourselves to one another during these moments of appreciation and celebration of one another, let us not forget the words of John F. Kennedy: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 
You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and wo…

Squeezing a little?

"I've heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I've brought a big bat. I'm all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" (Dr. Seuss) Could it be that maybe some of us just need a bigger bat?  I pose that question because it seems like there are some in our lives who just don't ever seem to get past or away from those problems which "come from ahead" or "come from behind".  It could even be one of us who just doesn't ever get truly "free" of the things which have come as "troubles of more than one kind". I challenge us not to think about those troubles, but the size of the bat we have been given to help us deal with them once and for all!
When the upright need help and cry to the Eternal, He hears their cries and rescues them from all of their troubles. (Psalm 34:17 VOICE)
Peter Marshall had a great perspective on the troubles which…