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Showing posts from August, 2016

Slip sliding away

When I said, “My foot is slipping!” Your unfailing love, O Eternal One, held me up. When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many, Your comfort lightens my soul.  (Psalm 94:18-19 VOICE)     Martin Luther King said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."  We have a moment of success and feel like we are standing on the top of the world - as though nothing could "undo" the feeling we are riding high on for that moment in time.  We also all know just how fleeting "riding" on success can be - for nothing soars forever - all things must return to ground level!  Comfort and convenience can be the enemies of challenge and controversy as much as the other way around.  We don't want to move when we are comfortable, much less find ourselves in a position in which we might actually feel the footing going out from underneath ourselves!  It is the mom…

In the middle of the storm

God is our shelter and our strength.  When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help.  So why run and hide?  No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails.  When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.  Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless. (Psalm 46:1-3 VOICE)

It is the time of year we call "monsoon season" in Arizona and with that comes high winds, lots and lots of blowing dust, sometimes even flash floods, but generally a whole lot of "bluster" without much rain to speak of in my neighborhood.  It seems to blow before we see any promise of rain, though. With the "outflow" of these big storms come this rolling dust storm you can see for miles and it almost darkens the sky as it passes over your area.  We call these dust storms "haboobs" - miles and miles of dust carried on the "current"…

Despite my emotions...

Yet in the light of day, the Eternal shows me His love. When night settles in and all is dark, He keeps me company— His soothing song, a prayerful melody to the True God of my life. (Psalm 42:8 VOICE)

It is very beneficial to understand the words preceding a passage cited as they give meaning to the intensity of what the writer is communicating.  As some may realize, not all of the psalms were written by David, although he wrote a good many of them. Korah was a worship leader in the Temple and he is attributed authorship of a good many, as well. Today's psalm is by Korah and opens with the thought, "My soul is dry and thirst for you, true God, as a deer thirsts for water."  What does a deer do when it is thirsty?  Does it merely stand there and hope it rains?  Nope.  It moves to where it expects to find water!  It begins to sniff out the water - motivated by the thirst building within.  Now understand the words of the worship leader - our soul is never so dry or thirsty t…

My closet is way too full!

He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.  (Psalm 16:8 VOICE)

Have you ever just looked things up and down only to discover the feelings those things bring from within you are kind of saying, "I wish I could just let all this go" and you really mean it?  We hold onto way too much baggage, don't we?  Stuff we don't really need to worry about because it isn't really our business to take care of whatever it is, but we take on the issue nonetheless.  Things we get ourselves into because we weren't honest with others or ourselves about our desire to be involved.  Monumental problems caused because we didn't take time to listen, or we just heard what we wanted to hear.  You know what I am talking about - I know I don't find myself in these messes all by myself!  To really be at the place we want to finally let go of these things is really a good place to be - …

Knowledge or Truth?

If you have the Son, you have eternal life. If you do not have the Son of God, you are not acquainted with true life.  (I John 5:12 VOICE)

As John wraps up his letter to the believers in the New Testament church of the first century, he is attempting to confront a belief system known as gnosticism.  In general, the belief perpetrated by the gnostics of the day valued the gaining of knowledge in ever-increasing way because knowledge broadened one's understanding and they believed a broader understanding would help you "transcend" evil. I don't know about you, but I have discovered just knowing truth doesn't mean I actually act upon it all the time!  I can have all the knowledge in the world, but until my heart is changed, which affects the choices I make, I will still continue to do dumb things!  As John puts it, no life comes to us by just gaining more knowledge - we need to gain Jesus, the Son of God, in order to really know life.

Most of us would agree that knowl…

Be not the hypocrite

"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over." (F. Scott Fitzgerald)  Many times we focus on whether we have what it takes it to make it to the finish line when all the while what we are probably more likely to need is a fresh start!  Mom has a plant on the patio she has been watering faithfully, taking good care of, but recently it began to show us it was not too happy with something - the environment, the heat, or maybe even the pot.  Even a little bit of fertilizer added to the water didn't seem to perk it up.  Last night I had to ask her if she was willing to let it go.  Nope....she wants to see if it can be nursed back to vibrant life once again.  There are probably lots of things which could replace that withered and anemic looking plant right now, but she won't let go of it.  I don't think it has what it takes to come back to the life it once had, so I am more inclined to just start over with the pot and go for something…

Why is it so hard to heal?

"Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier." (Barbara Kingsolver) I love this expression because it speaks so clearly as to why it is we deeply experience some things so doggone quickly, then take eons to actually have others things even inch their way beneath out skin! Pain jars us - truth sometimes doesn't even affect us until some time way into the distance when we have one of those "ah-ha" moments. I think the degree to which we have been influenced by pain may also be the degree to which we are willing to actually trust someone to be true and reliable - even if that someone is God himself!

DEMONSTRATE Your ways, O Eternal One. Teach me to understand so I can follow. EASE me down the path of Your truth. FEED me Your word because You are the True God who has saved me. I wait all day long, hoping, trusting in You. (Psalm 25:4-5 VOICE)
Pain is an "indicator" of something which we need to ad…

Repair it, or replace it?

Have you ever heard the quote, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." (Frederick Douglass) His words are truer than we might realize, for God reminds us to train up our children in the way they should go, spare the rod and spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24), and that discipline proves a father's love for his child (Proverbs 3:12). If there is so much emphasis on training up our children in "the right way" so they will make decisions which end up being "good choices", then how much more do you suppose God will do the same with us?  As Douglass said, it is much easier to build us up than to repair us!

Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.  (Proverbs 22:6 VOICE)

I think the first thing we all need to remember is that we are told to approach God as the small child does - with innocence, curiosity, interest, and awe.  As we do, we are drawn into his presence and begin to sense the gu…

Dreams or Plans?

You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You as I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb.  You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number!  If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!  Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.  (Psalm 139:16-18 VOICE)
Toby Mac posted a timeline picture sometime ago which simply read: "If today I lose my hope, God, please remind me that your plans are better than my dreams." It is a truly beautiful thing to have our dreams and God's plans perfectly align, but if anyone else is like me, there are times whe…

Where do we find beauty?

WorkingWomen.com posted a picture of a weathered, elderly female with the caption: "A beautiful face will age and a perfect body will change, but a beautiful soul will always be a beautiful soul."  I could not agree more!  We spend so much money and time trying to attain/maintain the perfect complexion, avoiding any signs of the aging process having occurred, and so little time actually looking into the eyes to see what the soul behind the face really reveals.  I catch a show on TV now and again where women are trying to "redo" their bodies for totally cosmetic reasons, not because they have some birth defect, life-altering scar from a traumatic event, or the like - just because they want smaller this or bigger that.  What does all this effort produce?  For most of them it still leaves a sense of dissatisfaction because they are "career lifters/fillers"!  They aren't fulfilled by their first attempt to get the "perfect image", so they go bac…

What on earth are you producing here?

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.  (Ephesians 2:10 VOICE)
Gandhi said, "My life is my message."  Nothing can be truer than that statement except maybe, "My life, with Christ lived through it, is my message."  Our passage refers to it as "heaven's poetry etched on our lives".  Grace isn't just something we "get" - it is something we see affecting our lives, changing our testimony, and actually turning our lives into a message from God's hand itself.  An author doesn't set out to "just write" - he has a message in mind as he begins the task of creating the masterpiece he will one day finish.  I imagine God to be quite the same as an author - a mindset for what the end result will be, creating scenes all along the way, orchestrating the "building of the story", until we see the climax of it all wh…

Construction Zone

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."  (Ernest Hemingway)   Hemingway had a way with words which made him one of the most famous authors of all times, but he also had a connection with the despair and agony of the human soul which frequently came across in the words he penned.  He was able to connect with the perils of loss, maybe as a result of being part of the ambulance corps during World War I or because he personally experienced the severe wounds of war himself.  Either way, he made this connection of brokenness, despair, agony, and even sometimes defeat - all plaguing the human soul to some degree in almost all of his writings.  Yet, nothing he said ever rings truer than the words above - through all the breaking processes in life we might just be left a little stronger at the broken place! 

What sacrifice I can offer You is my brokenspiritbecause a brokenspiritO God, a heart that honestly regrets the past, You won’t detest.…

Hit it again!

I have celebrated Your testimonies as though rejoicing over an immeasurable fortune.  I will fix my mind on Your instructions and my eyes on Your path.  I will find joy in Your ordinances; I will remember Your word forever.  (Psalm 119:14-16 VOICE)

I think the words of George A. Moore speak a lot about my heart at times:  "The wrong way always seems the most reasonable."  He also said, "The difficulty in life is the choice." How true!  We have lots and lots of paths in life to choose - knowing with a certainty which one is the "right" one is not always as plain as one may think.  Some of these paths are choices we make at the spur of the moment, such as when we choose to pick an argument with another over words or actions which just occurred.  We don't get a lot of warning, or foreknowledge they are about to happen.  It isn't like there is a natural, built-in "early warning system" ready to fire off in our minds which announces we are abo…

The great design

Charles Eames said, "Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design." He was an American designer made famous during the 50's and 60's. He worked with is wife in a design business, whose mission was to create the first types of furniture which could be "mass produced" in warehouses and sold to the millions. He is also known for saying, "Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose." Sometimes we see all the elements (pieces) in life, but we really cannot break past the mess of the pieces to see the design which those pieces can produce. We might recognize the need for a particular thing to occur, but we just don't know how all the pieces of life we are juggling at the moment all come together to create anything even remotely like what our "condition" demands.

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we…

Better than ... not just like

Here’s whose opinion you should be concerned about: the One who can take your life and then throw you into hell! He’s the only One you should fear! But don’t misunderstand: you don’t really need to be afraid of God, because God cares for every little sparrow. How much is a sparrow worth—don’t five of them sell for a few cents? Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid of any person, and you have nothing to fear from God either. (Luke 12:6-7 VOICE)

Do you ever find yourself being afraid of all the wrong things?  I know we all can watch some movie on TV, sitting on the edge of our seat, feeling our heart rate rise, the anxiety building, until all of a sudden the show cuts to a commercial.  I think they actually pause those at times when we just need to get our heart rate back down into the normal range again!  Is what's h…

Do you hear me now?

Praise the Eternal!  Write new songs; sing them to Him with all your might!  Gather with His faithful followers in joyful praise; let all of Israel celebrate their Maker, their God, their friend; let the children of Zion find great joy in their true King.  So let the music begin; praise His name—dance and sing to the rhythm of the tambourine, and to the tune of the harp.  For the Eternal is listening, and nothing pleases Him more than His people; He raises up the poor and endows them with His salvation. (Psalm 149:1-4 VOICE)

A new song - isn't it kind of exciting to hear that new release from your favorite artist? When they first put out that new recording, it may be heard a million times or more in one day nowadays.  In the good ole days of yesteryear, they'd have to crank out those vinyl disks, lay out a track on an 8-track or cassette tape, and then eventually we saw the evolution of the compact disk - all of which took time to produce, package, and ship to your nearest sto…

Empty nets

"Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success." (C.S. Lewis)  There seems to be weeks upon weeks in which the most we can look back on for the week is just to have made it through - when it doesn't seem on the outside like we have really accomplished very much.  We cannot forget we made it through! In that short little acknowledgement we can take heart, for the week and all the troubles which mounted against us just didn't stop us in our tracks - we ended up making it through. As Lewis points out, even the failures of the week are finger posts on the road to achievement - each failure not pointing toward an end, but a place to begin again. We might just treat failures in a different manner if we saw them as markers of where we have been on the way to where it is we are headed!  Peter was approached by Jesus after his return from an "all-night fishing trip" which yielded nothing.  Jesus asks them …