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Showing posts from November, 2016

Know vs. Show

No one really knows the day or the hour of their final breath, although some may sense it as quite near, while others fight for every last breath as though it were something they might control. As time winds down for some and time begins for others, the world continues the constant buzz of life's circle. Some believe there is no end to their life, with perpetual opportunity to return in some other form in a life hereafter, while others hypothesize there is nothing beyond that last breath. I will always believe there is life after death - not in "some other form" such as returning as a goat or coming back as some famous person - but in union with the Most High God - ever present with him into and throughout all of eternity. If that makes me a little flaky to some, I shall not apologize. If that makes me a little too "holy" for some, I also shall not apologize. As much as it matters where I am headed once this is all over, I want to be assured I am living this li…

What are you wearing today?

Since you are all set apart by God, made holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kind. But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful.  (Colossians 3:12-15 VOICE)

The word "since" is suggestive of a completed action - based upon something which has already occurred - it is a done deal. That means there is no denying this life-change which occurs when we give our hearts to Jesus - it is an action like no other, setting into motion all future actions which are based upon that one action. At the point we say "yes" to Jesus, inviting him to take control of our lives, there is an action on God's part tha…

Which way you planning to go?

"Never look back unless you are planning to go that way."(Henry David Thoreau) Wise words for us to consider this morning, aren't they? Which direction do you plan on pursuing today? It may be that you have already selected that direction by the focus you are maintaining! Thoreau also said that things are not what change in this world - it is US that change in the midst of the things! 
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor. (Hebrews 12:1-2 VOICE)
Stay focused on Jesus - this is the message I want us to hear as we begin this "mad rush&q…

As my soul pants...

Come, let us worship in song, a joyful offering to the Eternal. Shout! Shout with joy to the rock of our liberation. Come face-to-face with God, and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. (Psalm 95:1-2VOICE)

Although I am not a big fan of those who make millions telling others how to make millions, I find it helpful when someone can help those struggling financially to learn to live on a budget or find some freedom from over-spending such as using a prepaid debit card rather than running up large credit card bills. While I am have not attended one of her seminars, or even read one of her books, I came across a quote recently from one such author and speaker: "True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share."  (Suze Orman) I am not sure if she meant to, but she connected the giving of one's self to the greatest gift of all. I think t…

Really, God?

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn: when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes, when you avoid sin’s highway, when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse. For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness. It is your focus—from dusk to dawn. (Psalm 1:1-2VOICE)

We don't have to fear the next turn in the bend, although we don't know what awaits us, we can be assured of this - God will bring blessing out of every circumstance we face. It may not seem that way as we are rounding that bend into what seems to be a tumultuous ride, but God's plan is to bring blessing even out of what is the hardest and most demanding of life's moments. God's blessings follow us - they are like the wake of a boat moving through the water - impacting those around us and leaving their lives just a little bit more blessed by having been touched by him. It isn't that we avoid the calamity, but that we refuse to be overcome by it - not gi…

Immerse me

Like Me, they are not products of the corrupt world order.Immerse them in the truth, the truth Your voice speaks. In the same way You sent Me into this world, I am sending them. It is entirely for their benefit that I have set Myself apart so that they may be set apart by truth. I am not asking solely for their benefit; this prayer is also for all the believers who will follow them and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me. (John 17:16-22 VOICE)

Jesus is just about ready to be taken to the cross and he takes some time to pray for his disciples - those who follow his teachings. The moment he starts praying you can see this intimate connection he has with his father - it is a comfortable exchange of words and is free-flowing in expression of his heartfelt wishes and burdens.  A few times in this prayer, he reminds us that we are not products of this corrupt world but are …

Momentum

"The undertaking of a new action brings new strength." (Richard L. Evans) While this is ultimately quite true, most of us begin some new task wishing to be where we want to end up right from the beginning - we wish the steps in between didn't have to be taken because it is a lot of work sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other!  Some think we make our own future, create our own hope, live as though we create the world in which we live. While I think keeping a positive attitude is quite important, we don't actually create our outcome just because we think our way to a positive approach to the problem at hand. We often have to struggle with the "negative" stuff in the middle of the problem, with the gamut of emotions that brings, until we reach the other side. As Evans said, the actual action we take creates a little bit of new or renewed strength in us. Each action is the starting place for momentum to develop - without action, there is no possi…

Let us be grateful

Let me see clearly so that I may take in the amazing things coming from Your law. (Psalm 119:18VOICE)

What is it you are not seeing that clearly right now? Is there some question you have been wrestling with for some time unable to quite reach some form of resolution or solution? Is the time you spend pondering the stuff of everyday life kind of getting harder and harder when you expected it might just let up a little? If so, you are not alone in this inability to see clearly at times - we all suffer from the same "lack of clarity", but may not always admit to it because we don't actually realize we haven't reached a point of "clarity" yet.

I think one of the greatest things which unlocks clarity in my own life is when I reach a place of gratitude in whatever are I am struggling or wrestling with at that moment. That may seem a little naive at first, but hear me out. When I transition from questioning into trusting, it usually happens when I begin to settle i…

My attitude directly influences my altitude

Trouble and distress have overtaken me, but Your commandments bring me great joy. (Psalm 119:143VOICE) There is more to "keeping a positive view" than just thinking positively. Trouble abounds - but we don't have to be under the weight of it. Distress comes in bushel baskets - but we don't have to succumb to it. We might feel "overtaken", but when we really understand the meaning of that word, we might feel differently. Overtaken is made up of two words - "Over" and "Taken". When we allow feelings to guide our thoughts, getting us engaged with all the chaos around us, and causing us to be fearful or angered by the situation at hand, we are likely to feel like there is something which has "come over us". It envelops us in the strangling tentacles of the chaos and seems to have us squarely in the shadow of the oppression of the moment. To be taken, one must be "available" - that which is watched closely and guarded with…

Make me a little less crooked, please!

"What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains." (Tennessee Williams) Williams sure hit that one square on the head, didn't he? The human heart is probably one of the most "un-straight" things in this world! Jesus said to his disciples one day as they were considering their heart's affections that the human heart can be found in the same locale as one's greatest treasures. "Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice—don’t undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets.  Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack, where rust does not corrode, and where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21 VOICE)  In considering the human hea…

Break free

God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; 5 He came to save us. It’s not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. He brought us out of our old ways of living to a new beginning through the washing of regeneration; and He made us completely new through the Holy Spirit, 6 who was poured out in abundance through Jesus the Anointed, our Savior. (Titus 3:4-6 VOICE)

Many times we have to "begin again" when it comes to the things we attempt in this walk of faith - simply stated, we all mess up! It may seem like some Christians don't ever admit they have times when they just plain "fail miserably", but the church would be a whole lot better off if more of us admitted we aren't perfect! I think we give a false sense of reality to those who haven't quite overcome their desires to do things they shouldn't do, and I honestly believe this grieves the heart of God when …

A way of escape

I believe it was Oscar Wilde who once quipped, "I can resist everything except temptation." Although he may have said it a little "off the cuff", I think he had a pretty good handle on the human condition. We all struggle just a little bit more than we may want to admit with this idea of "resisting" - we tend to resist the stuff we should be embracing eagerly, all the while embracing what it is we are supposed to be resisting! Scripture reminds us that there is absolutely no temptation that is not "common" among mankind - it has been faced by someone else, so you cannot ever claim to be unique in whatever it is that is causing you to be a little tempted in your life. 
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 VOICE)
It is important for us to …

All the bells and whistles

Now God has equipped us to be capable servants of the new covenant, not by authority of the written law which only brings death, but by the Spirit who brings life. (2 Corinthians 3:6VOICE) I sometimes fall prey to the pervasive attitude of "I could never do that" when I see someone run a marathon, but the truth is that I have never trained or attempted even a short one, so why would I ever assume I could not do it? The more truthful statement would be to admit I am too doggone intimidated by the race to even enter it!  It isn't that we "could never" as much as we haven't really ever tried all that hard! The good news about our walk with Jesus is that we are "equipped us to be capable servants" - we don't have to worry or wonder if we have the "right stuff" to run the race because we do! Back in the day, my father was a car salesman for a period of time. He was great at sales, so most of his career involved one forms of sales or anoth…

But I don't understand it, God!

I know You can do everything; nothing You do can be foiled or frustrated. You asked, “Who is this that conceals counsel with empty words void of knowledge?” And now I see that I spoke of—but did not comprehend—great wonders that are beyond me. I didn’t know. You said, “Hear Me now, and I will speak. I’ll be asking the questions, and you will supply the answers.” Before I knew only what I had heard of You, but now I have seen You. Therefore I realize the truth: I disavow and mourn all I have said and repent in dust and ash. (Job 42:1-6 VOICE)
I don't believe any one of us is immune to a season of complaining once in a while, no matter how positive we attempt to live our lives the desire to complain is there. We might not understand something, see sense in a decision which was made, or even support it, and this emerges in a moment or season of complaint. Why? It is usually because we are disappointed, or maybe it is because we think we "knew better" or could have "do…

Why an egg?

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad." (C. S. Lewis) The truth be told, many of us are actually trying to fly while still in the egg! We want escape from the developmental process occurring in which we feel a little bit like we might just be "trapped" inside the shell. The egg's mission is not to confine us, but to provide all we need while confined so that we emerge strong and prospering, ready for flight! If we stay inside that protective shell too long, we find the nourishment we need for continued growth begins to be depleted - until we escape the confines of the shell, we don't find what we need next for our continued growth.
You are the gentle equalizer: soaking the furrows, smoothing soil’s ridges, softening sun-baked earth with generou…

Walking on a tightrope?

Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him.
4 His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light—a light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched.  (John 1:3-5 VOICE)

Edith Wharton said, "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."  We might want to concern ourselves with the cleanliness of the mirror, but the one who gazes into the mirror and sees his reflection is the one who much concern himself with the cleanness of that mirror, not us. In reflecting Christ, it is Christ who brings clarity to that image - we simply reflect what we receive. We are filled with his living breath - the very things which animates us and gives us connection with him and others. His light cannot be put out, nor can it be hidden. It is a light unlike any other - one which is meant to be reflected back and shown outwardly that others may catch si…

Keep to the script!

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—and the God of peace will walk with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 VOICE)

Paul was the kind of guy many might think of as "Ivy League". He was considered to the be the Pharisee of the Pharisees, a Jewish Rabbi, high up in the ranks of "religious zealots" of his day.  We might liken that to being "top of the class" - or lettering in a varsity sport - getting a name for yourself - or even being in the spotlight. He excelled in the study of the Law of Moses and practiced it down to the smallest instruction. He was too good to walk on the same side of the street as the leper, and too righteous to associate with sinners of any kind. He took issue with this new-found &quo…

The Crown

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."  (C. S. Lewis)  I have frequently commented about each of us having an "aim" or "purpose" in this life - without one we are kind of set adrift without any real destination in mind. As Lewis said, when our aim is correct, we realize blessings beyond our imagining - when it is limited by what we can see in the natural sense, we might just not ever be able to enjoy all the things God wants us to experience. If I were to ask you what God wants you to experience today, what might you answer? If you could not really answer that, or you gave some "cookbook" kind of answer, you might just want to take a few moments to reconsider your aim - maybe it isn't high enough!
We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize! Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exe…

Be an artist

Picasso once spoke of all children being artists - but then he quickly changed his thought to the idea that it is hard to "remain" an artist as one grows up. I have to say I kind of agree with him - we get so wrapped up in the complexities of growing up and all the decisions that come with being "adult" that we often forget the simplicity and beauty of just being ourselves. When we are ourselves, there is a freedom of expression, movement, and voice that isn't heard when we are guarding each movement, scrutinizing every expression, or worrying about whether our voice will be heard or count in the scheme of things.

Then it dawned on me that this is good and proper: to eat and drink and find the good in all the toil that we undertake under the sun during the few days God has given, for this is our lot in life.  Also, God gives wealth, possessions, and power to enjoy those things, and He allows them to accept their lot in life and to enjoy hard work. This is God’s …