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Showing posts from September, 2016

You trying to outrun the storm?

And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. (Romans 5:3-4VOICE) Would you ever associate getting to know God's goodness and learning to anticipate it in action in your life because you had just walked through some pretty bad stuff? I don't think this would be first thing that would come to mind for most of us as the "means" by which we actually learn to hope and anticipate, but if you really stop to consider it, this makes total sense! We don't develop faith when things are going smoothly - we learn to trust and hope and anticipate when things are kind of rocky! When we are content, kind of just settled into whatever it is we are at total peace with in our lives, we don't have much "hope" for something to be different. Couples who don't ever argue, …

Just as I am

So accept one another in the same way the Anointed has accepted you so that God will get the praise He is due.  (Romans 15:7VOICE) Mother Teresa always reminded us of the power of a smile: "Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love." She also said we are responsible to ensure no one ever leaves our presence without being just a little bit happier - how? Through the spreading of love wherever we go!  There is something powerful in accepting the other person - complete with their quirks and hangups, their good intentions and their not so "holy" ones, their wisdom and their foolishness. My dad used to remind me that the things happening in my life might just pale in comparison to the other person's life's events, so I shouldn't judge based on what I see on the surface.  It was that old adage of "there for the grace of God go I" kind of moment. Acceptance involves approval - not so much of the actions of the …

A single rose

"A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world."  (Leo Buscaglia)  Friendship is under-rated. We live in a world riddled with all manner of casual contacts - filling a long list of "friends" on our social media feeds. In general, they are folks we "friended" because they posted cool stuff in their feed, had common friends with those we knew, or we know them casually from work or other places we frequent often. Do they really rise to the level of "friend"? Will they be there when the times are hard, or the things we count on seem to fall out from under us? Will they remind us our faith is in God, not the circumstances ahead of us or the ones we just found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of right now? If they aren't, then they are probably more of an acquaintance and not so much of a friend.
truefriend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times.  Proverbs 17:17 VOICE

The other day, my B…

Record-keeping again?

"Life is an adventure in forgiveness." (Norman Cousins) Let that one settle in for just a bit, please. Life is an adventure - into forgiveness and inside forgiveness. This thing we call forgiveness is a living, breathing, moment by moment existence. It is not a one time makes it all better kind of thing - it is an ever-expansive movement. I often hear people describe this phenomena of forgiveness as "I did it" and that is that. Let me just say the emotion and memory attached to anything that needs to be forgiven - in ourselves or others - takes a little bit more than a "I did it" kind of commitment!

How happy is the one whose wrongs are forgiven, whose sin is hidden from sight. How happy is the person whose sin the Eternal will not take into account. How happy are those who no longer lie, to themselves or others. (Psalm 32:1-2 VOICE)

Forgiveness is two-fold: in the moment, and then into continual action until the memory and pain of the issue becomes less …

What's that I smell?

Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29VOICE) Who's really listening to what you say? There is a commercial out right now in this election season which depicts pictures of kids sitting in front of the TV while a certain candidate uses expletives, bashes people, and is generally not very civil in his communication style. The message is that our kids are listening - their little brains being like sponges taking it all in. While this isn't a political rant on any one candidate, let me just assure you of this - people are listening and the truth is we make more judgments than we might think based upon what it is we hear. As adults we carry this one step further than the child might - we might actually look for the action that backs the words up, but not always! Sometimes we are more than willing to take…

A moment to pause

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.  (Philippians 2:3-4VOICE) We let a whole lot of things interfere with our relationships, don't we? Truth be told, most of us don't even know all the things we have tolerated that just aren't doing much to build us up, create cohesiveness in the relationship, or give us much of a foundation upon which to weather the worst of storms together. It isn't as though we set out to be selfish and prideful, but it is as though the world has an agenda for us that somehow twists our focus away from the important stuff in life and puts it squarely on the stuff some will definitely see as selfish and a little too much based in pride. We have to stop occasionally to really evaluate what we are keeping squarely in our sites and then refocus when we see …

Do we imitate or emulate?

So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you—so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God.  (Ephesians 5:1-2 VOICE)

Have you ever observed a small child imitating his or her parent?  The parent crosses their legs and the child does the same.  The parent takes their cup of juice in a coffee mug and the child wants his the same way.  The father is pounding nails with a hammer and the little boy wants a scrap piece of wood, a handful of nails, and a hammer to do the same.  For some reason, children just naturally emulate the actions of their parents.  Notice that I used the word "emulate" there - they don't just imitate - they want to do it as well, not just "close enough".  I don't think anything is much different for a child of God - we want to live this life of grace and love - not just "okay", but with excellence and pretty closely emulating what we have observed in the life …

A good leader...

Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others.  (James 3:13VOICE) Gentleness is often an overlooked character trait in today's leaders. We expect wisdom - otherwise they probably couldn't do the job. Wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge we have gained - making in practical to us. A good leader will be able to take what he or she knows in their mind and hearts and apply it to the situation at hand. Some leaders just apply what they know in their minds and forget about the heart.  A good leader considers both! Wisdom and understanding - knowing in the mind, listening to the heart, and then applying what you know is right, sound, and of good value in the situation. We might think one thing, but when we consider it with our heart, we sometimes find ourselves holding back or just not going down that path all together. Why? Wisdom demands balance between the cold, hard facts and the impact…

Experiencing through immersion

We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us. God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in him.  (I John 4:16 VOICE)

Experiencing goes part and parcel with entrusting.  It is impossible to truly "experience" anything without having also participated in it. We can watch all kinds of reality survivalist shows, but are we the ones hunting our meals, looking for potable water sources, or trying to figure out how to stay dry and warm at night?  Nope. We are taking it all in, maybe learning a little bit about ways to find edible food sources in the wild, and even how to make a steam water still to get potable water, but we still haven't entrusted our lives to the process of surviving in the wild!  If you suddenly were to find yourself cut off from civilization because you were the lone survivor of a plane crash in the remote wooded forest somewhere, then maybe you'd begin to experience it fir…

We are the church

If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters,here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love.  (Philippians 1:1-2 VOICE)

Comfort - encouragement - companionship - tenderness - mercy...
What fills your heart? What encourages your spirit? What energizes your thoughts? What gives "lift" to your step and forward motion to your actions? What gives balance to your emotions? If you can answer "Christ" to all of these, then you are probably pretty saturated in the peace of Christ!  Your comfort isn't found in things you own or the stuff you might be able to "see", but rather it comes from being embraced by his grace, tenderly touched by his mercy, and wrapped up squarely in relationship with him!

The very next step …

Living life to the fullest

If you love life and want to live a good, long time, take care with the things you say.  Don’t lie or spread gossip or talk about improper things. Walk away from the evil things of the world, and always seek peace and pursue it.  For the Eternal watches over the righteous, and His ears are attuned to their prayers. He is always listening. But He will punish evildoers,
and nothing they do will last. They will soon be forgotten. (Psalm 34:12-16 VOICE)
How many of us really "love life"?  If we say we do we will probably follow that statement up with some kind of ethereal kind of words such as, "....so, I will live it to the fullest" or "...and I am going to make the most of every moment."  We forget that we aren't the ones really determining what a "full" life is or what all the moments of that life will entail. We simply set out to "live it" and "love it" - but it isn't always that easy to love the "stuff of life…

Spice of life

If only You would rip open the heavensand come down to earth—its heights and depths would quake the moment You appear, like kindling when it just begins to catch fire, or like water that’s about to boil.  If only You would come like that so that all who deny or hate You would know who You are and be terrified of Your grandeur.  (Isaiah 64:1-2 VOICE)

Mom always used to say I had a mind that needed to stay active and most of my closest friends still realize that about me today. I was not the smartest kid in my class, but I was always (and I mean always) curious. I like to discover new things - always trying to see things in a new light. This fascination with seeing what might occur when you introduce a new variable into the mix is just part of how my mind works. That has served me well when trying to create a new recipe on occasion, but at other times the meal was a little less than "good", if you get my drift!  There are just times when the "mix" of what is there is …

Not just another mountain

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—from where will my help come in times of trouble? The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains will send the help I need. He holds you firmly in place; He will not let you fall.  He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep.  (Psalm 121:1-3 VOICE)
There are two ways to look at mountains in our midst - either as that which is never going to let us past, or as that which can bring our deliverance.  So many times we view the mountains as that which stops us in our tracks - formidable obstacles, unable to be moved, and hard to cross over.  We cannot go through them because they are immovable, would crash down on top of us, and would take lots of resources we don't have at our disposal.  We cannot go under them because mountains don't come equipped with underground passageways!  We could walk all the way around them, but that would be lots and lots of extra work, time, energy, and challenges…

Can I carry you?

Indeed, when you were still in the womb, I was taking care of you.And when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you.  When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak, and your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have.I will carry you and save you.  (Isaiah 46:3-4 VOICE)

There are times in life when what we see started in our lives just don't seem to be coming to fruition. It seems as though progress "stalls out". As with any process change, the movement from one point to another can start with great strides, but in a course of time, the gains seem to get smaller and smaller. Why? We are nearing the completion of the change! It isn't that God has stopped working in us - it is that we are about to be transitioned into a different "change" focus. In fact, once change is deemed to be complete in one area, it doesn't mean we just coast - it means we ready ourselves for the next phase!

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a g…

Carrots or Cheetohs?

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You remove fine layers of film and dust from the outside of a cup or bowl, but you leave the inside full of greed and covetousness and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee—can’t you see that if you clean the inside of the cup, the outside will be clean too?  (Matthew 23:25-26 VOICE)

My BFF and I were walking after lunch the other day, crossing the area on our sprawling property at work in which we may occasionally catch a glimpse or two of some groundhogs poking their heads above ground, scurrying back and forth between dens, and looking for the occasional handout from passers-by.  We had been proceeded by a couple of other work chums who had obviously wanted to ensure the little critters had a good lunch.  Scattered all across the tops of the mounds were those small carrots you can buy these days, all peeled and about two inches in length.  Bright orange was evident on almost every active mound, but we didn't notice too…

Studying hard

Make me hear of Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You.  Teach me how I should walk, for I offer my soul up to You.  Rescue me from my enemies, Eternal One, for You are my shelter from them.  Teach me how to do Your will, for You are my God.  Allow Your good Spirit to guide me on level ground, to guide me along Your path.  (Psalm 143:8-10 VOICE)
There are a number of action words in this passage which will be our focus this morning. Why?  God's plan for us is not for us to just come to him and then think it will be "life on a silver platter" moving forward.  He wants us to realize there are actions required of us - as with any other relationship - it must be developed, maintained, and continually refreshed in order to remain vital, flourishing, and able to be reproduced in others.  Let's see what God says:
MAKE:  Hearing is sometimes not as easy as someone speaking and the other person just somehow having the words "sink in" so they have their …