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Showing posts from October, 2016

As a nation...

Thought for the day: "Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable." (Franz Kafka) I also like what Franz said about obstacles: "The thorn bush is the old obstacle in the road. It must catch fire if you want to go further." So many times today we allow others to define for us what is acceptable and that is what we seem to move towards in life. We sometimes even allow what we know to be acceptable to God to take backseat in deference to what society finds acceptable. I honestly have to say I know what I want in a President, Senator, and Sheriff, but often find the candidates just don't measure up to what I believe and find acceptable. Honestly, this is one of the toughest election years for me because I don't see one candidate as rising above the other at all and it is hard for me to "defer" to what one group says over the other. I think a whole lot of others are in the same boat as me, just in a whirlwind of unease over this election …

Don't be a pack mule

Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the law of the Anointed teaches us.  (Galatians 6:2VOICE) What burden do you have that I might shoulder on your behalf today? If someone were to ask you that question, could you really answer it honestly? Or would you be like most of the majority of believers and simply resign yourself to having to carry that burden yourself? For some strange reason, we have the hardest time allowing another to step into our "mess" of a life and take any of our burden from us. It may be that we carry the burden simply because we think if we admit it to anyone else they will judge us or think it is ridiculous for us to be shouldering it at all. It is as though we "judge" our burden by the burdens we see others carrying and see ours as just not as "big" or "serious" as those they carry, so we just shoulder it alone. You know what? No burden is ever as heavy as the one we are carrying right now, regardless of …

I need the answer now!

There is great joy in having the right answer, and how sweet is the right word at the right time! (Proverbs 15:23VOICE) What is the right answer?  This is the question asked in schoolrooms all around the world by teachers desiring to "test" a student's knowledge or learning. The question seems innocent enough, but when called upon to actually provide the right answer it is a bit more difficult that one may first think.  There is this thing inside many of us which society has labeled as "test-taking anxiety" which seems to abruptly interrupt the "circuitry" in our brain and we "freeze" under pressure. I don't think this phenomena is limited to the classroom, though, for I know a good many times in my own personal life where I was called upon to share  the "right answer", but came up blank! The hard disk in my brain was spinning as fast as it could, but somehow the information I was looking to produce was misfiled or just too jum…

Etched upon my heart

I am pleased to live how You want, my God. Your law is etched into my heart and my soul.  (Psalm 40:8VOICE) What is etched into your heart - into the fibers of your soul? The true answer to this question often comes when we are put to the test when we are at our weakest point physically, are tired and have endured all manner of pretty frustrating events, or perhaps after a great emotional "high" on our way back down to equilibrium. The "stretch" placed on us in each of these moments is what often betrays the truth about how "pleased" we are to live as God wants us to live, doesn't it? There is a type of art called crayon etching in which a person takes lighter colored crayons and colors "hard" on the paper - not necessarily in any specific "picture", but just to put the color on the paper in a pretty good "layer" of crayon. As the paper begins to fill up with color, it looks vibrant and pretty in a way. The next step is t…

Conscience - why were we created with it?

Create in me a clean heart, O God;restore within me a sense of being brand new.  Do not throw me far away from Your presence,and do not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.  Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You;let Your willing Spirit sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12 VOICE)

Sin creates a "void" in our lives - a palpable void that yearns for what has been lost and agonizes over the turmoil it creates. There is no escaping the sense of "uncleanness" which envelopes the inner man, because it is that sense which draws us into places of deep and meaningful confession, repentance, and restoration!  Did you ever stop to think why God made man with a conscience? We could have been created with that portion of our thinking / sensing / intellect being left out of the equation, you know. I kind of think an animal such as a lion doesn't have much of a conscience, simply because they wouldn't be able to pounce on an innocent young animal or an aged older one as …

You getting specific?

Take great joy in the Eternal! His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires!  (Psalm 37:4VOICE) I took a class once designed to help me do a better job of "relating" to others - something most of us think we have down pretty well, but likely could use an occasional refresher course on from time to time. In that class, one of the exercises was to write a list of what we believed to be the desires of our heart. In other words, the teacher was asking us to get "specific" about things we might say "off-handed" in conversation like, "I would like to find a soul-mate", or "I sure would like a bigger house". Both comments are "solid" in that they specify we want someone to be that "other part" of our life we call a soul-mate, or that we are desirous of more room to spread out, but neither of these is very specific. I don't think God wants us coming to him with a list a mile long, outlining exactly how we s…

Open seas demand faith

Alan Watts once penned, "Religion is not a department of life; it is something that enters into the whole of it." I think it is quite possible we relegate God to some "portion" of our lives, while we hold back other parts of us as "off-limits" to him. This is perhaps the one consistent theme in the lives of those who really don't go beyond "Sunday church" in their relationship with Jesus. Sure, he is good for the one hour on Sunday when we celebrate him in the company of others who come to do the same, but we don't take him much further than the doorway of the church sometimes. We hear the good sermon, even nod in agreement to the points the preacher makes, and laugh at the jokes he tells. When we leave the doors of the church, the matters discussed become as though they were carried on the winds - gone from our memories, and not at all affecting our hearts.  God isn't a "department" or "thing" in our lives just f…

Remember, rekindle, release

GRACIOUS Eternal One, remember Your compassion; rekindle Your concern and love, which have always been part of Your actions toward those who are Yours. Do not HOLD against me the sins I committed when I was young; instead, deal with me according to Your mercy and love.  Then Your goodness may be demonstrated in all the world,Eternal One. (Psalm 25:6-7 VOICE)
I am pretty certain I am not alone in saying that I want God to always and consistently remember his compassion toward me, to repeatedly show his concern and love toward me, and to never remember my sins, but cover them securely under his mercy and love. Daniel Goleman once penned, "True compassion means not only feeling another's pain, but also being moved to help relieve it." When we say we are counting on God's compassion in our lives to extend to us mercy and grace, keeping us free from the weights of guilt and shame, we are saying we are counting on God to being continually moved to help relieve the weight of…

Meditate on this

May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart meet with Your gracious approval, O Eternal, my Rock, O Eternal, my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14VOICE) How would you describe the "musings of your heart"? For many of us these are unfulfilled dreams, wishes for things to be a little different than how they are right now, or a change to come that would somehow "kick things into action" in our lives that seem to be at a standstill right now. Did you know the meaning of "musing" is really "meditation"? Did you know the meaning of "meditation" is really the process of spending time in quiet thought? This passage is a prayer - that God would help the one praying it to bring forth words that honor, build up rather than tear down, and reveal the right "meditation" is occurring deep in one's heart. As I get older, hopefully I am also getting wiser. One of the things I think leads us into developing wisdom in our lives …

Desire this...

Napoleon Hill once said, "The starting point of all achievement is desire." He didn't imply it was merely the desire that got us to the point of achievement, but that desire (passion) fuels us, moves us forward, gets us off the starting block, so to speak. desire is a powerful tool, but must be used carefully for it can either move us ahead in purposeful and ordered movement, or it can launch us into the unknown with little to no control over our trajectory! I would like to believe every Christian is certain of their desire, but I must be honest here - even my own desire gets a little out of whack on occasion! It needs constant filtering, frequent readjusting, and an enormous amount of work on the part of the Holy Spirit in my life because left to my own devices, those desires will be less than "desirable"!

Whoever pulls away from others to focus solely on his own desires disregards any sense of sound judgment. (Proverbs 18:1 VOICE)
For all my wanting, I don’t …

Fact check it

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 whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.  (Romans 12:2VOICE) Something will "mold" our beliefs, morals, and ultimately our choices as we make our way through this world. We often have very little idea we are actually being "molded" in one way or another - it so subtle that we likely don't even notice the changes to begin with.  It isn't until we finally step back, taking in the totality of the change, that we see just how much we have been affected by the environment we are in, the people we are with, or the things we have allowed "into" our minds such as media messages. I saw a post the other day declaring that if you weigh a certain weight on earth, you'd weigh somewhere close to one-third that weight on Mars - so that meant we were living on the wrong pla…

Objective and Obstacle

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that. (Jeremiah 29:11VOICE) Woody Allen once quipped, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him about your plans." It was meant as humor, but I honestly think I may have heard a slight chuckle on occasion from my heavenly Father when I have declared some lofty goal, plan, or purpose for something I am putting aside for later use.  He knows I have not always met my goals; my plans are sometimes a little too one-sided; and what I thought I'd use down the road somewhere just ends up going into the give-away pile at some point. There have been times when I have just sat back and listened to the plans God lays out, luxuriating in the moment when I let the desire to be in control all of the time just go; and then rising to really get behind those plans with all I have in me.  Those are the times I'd have to look back on and declare the plan really w…

Let's get to the root of the matter

Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. 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.And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. (Romans 5:2-5 VOICE)

Radical grace - what a visual image comes to mind when I think of grace this way.  Grace is unmerited - it is undeserved and unearned.  It is a gift, given freely, not under some sense of compulsion.  Radical grace is that which is totally opposite of what the present condition is that exists within someone's life. In other words, when God extends radical grace, he is saying you and I are getting something so totally and completely opposite of what it is we should be getting.…

Darkness envelopes and seas toss

Aristotle Onassis said, "It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."  He also said, "We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds."  While Onassis is best known for his business acumen and marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy after the death of John F. Kennedy, his statements both ring true to us today. We can experience a darkness so totally absorbing that it seems to blanket us within what feels like sharp talons just bearing down on us, but it is during those times of the greatest darkness, when we feel all of life pressing in that we often strain just a little harder to see that one ray of light just beyond our present place in life. As he so aptly said, we also must learn to navigate in rough seas - for life rarely gives us totally calm sailing for any length of time!
My salvation and my significance depend ultimately on God;
the core of my strength, my shelter, is in the True God. H…

One more Cheerio

Heed counsel, act on instruction, and you will become wise later in life. The impulses of the human heart may run wild, but the Eternal’s plan will prevail. (Proverbs 19:20-21VOICE) I imagine there aren't too many of us that want to go through life not ever learning anything at all. In fact, we began life by exploring things around us until we became acquainted with what they were and how we could "engage" with whatever it was. If it was a toy that would make noise when shaken, we delighted in the discovery of that simple movement producing something which could make us that giddy. If it was the splendor of spearing our first Cheerio on fingertip and actually accomplishing the arrival of said Cheerio into our waiting mouth, we reveled in the moment of satisfying crunch and awesome display of advancing hand-eye "skill". As we got older, the things we found ourselves learning may not have been that simple, or produced that much enthusiastic glee in the accomplish…

Remain loyal - how?

Remain loyal to Him! Fear Him and obey His commands. Listen to His voice. Worship Him alone. Be fervently devoted to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4VOICE) As Israel was about to become a nation of their own among a whole lot of other nations who would eventually desire to put them into servitude, take their fertile land, and ravage them as a nation, they receive this command to remain loyal to the God who had made them a nation. This would not have been unusual to require this degree of "dedication" to the God they served, as the nations around them all "served" or "dedicated" themselves to some form of one or more "gods". The difference is that they are to serve the One True God - remaining loyal to him and him alone, despite the temptation to become wrapped up in the false worship of these other gods.

It should not come as a surprise that scripture refers to remaining loyal, steadfast, committed, and dedicated so frequently. It is probably linked to h…

Not gonna stop

Confucius said, "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." I think he may have been describing many of the times when I looked at my own life and commented that I'd just like to settle in with what I had accomplished so far because things were just "stalled" or not moving. This can be especially true when I am moving toward a weight or exercise goal! It seems like I can get a mile walk under my belt pretty easily, but then my body is ready to take it to the next half mile, but the weight doesn't seem to come off despite my "extra effort" at lengthening the exercise. Just going further doesn't mean we haven't "quit" on the inside. The distance we travel, the goal we reach, isn't so much a matter of just putting one foot in front of the other - it has as much to do with how our minds and hearts are seeing the progress and the distance yet to be covered!

Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But …

Read the label

O True God, You are my God, the One whom I trust. I seek You with every fiber of my being. In this dry and weary land with no water in sight, my soul is dry and longs for You. My body aches for You, for Your presence.  (Psalm 63:1 VOICE)

Do you ever experience those "dry places" in your walk with Jesus? You know - the times it seems like you read the Bible, but you just don't seem to "hear" him talking to you through it; or you find yourself less than enthused with the sermon, mind wandering to the grocery list.  I think we all get a little "parched" once in a while from the "dry places" we walk through, but what does being "parched" do for us physically?  We look for relief, don't we? We seek refreshment - we want water! Could it be the "dry places" we all experience are really a precursor to something amazingly satisfying just around the corner?

Hunger and thirst create a sense of "yearning" in our souls - d…