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Showing posts from January, 2017

Nope, not that one. Maybe that one?

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5NLT) God would rather have us ask than to move ahead in blind abandon to whatever it is we are concerned about, my friends. The attitude of asking for wisdom is not an admit of defeat, but of trust. I don't ask for help from those I don't trust - simply because I don't know they can be counted on to have my best interest in mind. There are a whole lot of counselors in the world today, but not too many who speak with the wisdom of God. We need to be consistent in where it is we seek wisdom, and what it is we embrace as wisdom. Thomas Jefferson said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." To admit we don't know what to do, how to do it, or even that something needs to be done in the first place is to seek wisdom. One thing I have observed over my years is how freely people give "wisdom" in the form of advice, but how hard i…

Celebrating Defeat!

Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out. (Edwin Markham) 

Most of us would agree with the idea of victory sending us into places of awesome praise and tremendous celebration. Those who win some major sporting event will jump up and down, slap each other on the back, whoop, holler, and even cry in awe at having "done it". The tremendous release of emotion can almost overwhelm, but the sense of "high" which was celebrated with such passion cannot live on, for the moment will pass, memories will remain, but the moment is now behind. On the other hand, one walks away from the "win" as the defeated. Is it possible they could celebrate in similar fashion, for out of the things that shake our very souls can come greatness and character formation not quite found in the moment of gleeful victory?  
In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can me…

Grace or Justice - You Decide

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, "Whenever you do a thing, act as though the whole world were watching." Wise words, indeed. There is nothing more powerful than considering our actions we might take in the secret places of our lives, or when we don't think anyone will notice, in light of what others would see if they were to observe those actions "out in the open". Sometimes we might even stop in our tracks before we took those intended actions simply because we wouldn't want others to ever see us doing them. When you have ever been in a place with closed circuit cameras all around, were you as inclined to adjust your underwear as you might have been when you were in the "safe place" of your own bathroom? Probably not! Why? You didn't know who was watching! Maybe we'd do well to remember that principle when we take many other actions in our lives - we never really know who is watching and really, no action ever goes unnoticed by G…

Privileged life, but principled, too

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. (Dwight D. Eisenhower) 
Have you seen the Facebook post of a nice log cabin in the woods, surrounded by stately, lush trees and a rather picturesque view of the surroundings, with the little caption that asks: "You have to stay in this cabin for one month, with no access to internet, cell phones, or TV. On the last day, you received $100,000. Would you do it?" Most of us would have to consider that one very, very carefully because we are kind of "connected" via our cells, internet, and media outlets! We almost freak out just thinking about being "disconnected"! I wonder if God asked us a similar question, like if we'd want to gain all the treasures of heaven and his kingdom, would we "disconnect" from where we have put our treasure on this earth, would we do it?

Corrupt people walk a thorny, treacherous road; whoever values life will avoid it. (Proverbs 22:5 NLT)
We have …

That pesky Golden Rule

This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:12 VOICE)
Most of us recognize just how truly hard this command actually can be in "real life". It is as though we want to say back to Jesus, "Yeah, but you don't know that other person as well as I do!"  We want them to hurt as bad as we are hurting, or at least a fraction of it! We don't want them getting off "free" of any accountability for their wrong actions. We don't want them to be "pain free". We think there has to be SOME consequence for their bad behavior! The thing Jesus was trying to get across to us is that we wouldn't want God to have that attitude with us - so we shouldn't have that attitude with others.
If you came up in church, you probably remember hearing this passage referred to as the "golden rule" somewhere along the line. I even have a ruler I got somewhere w…

But I want that cookie!

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. (1 Corinthians 10:13VOICE) Anyone who has ever "dieted" will be sure to tell you there comes a point when you are face-to-face with something that is tempting you to indulge, and in that moment, you face the toughest decision to either listen to the tempting thought or walk away from it. If that temptation was for a rich, warm cookie right from the oven, to walk away from it doesn't stop the lingering smell of those freshly baked cookies, does it? The temptation remains - you are just a little further from it than you were before. You could leave the area a little further, but the temptation is still there in the form of a thought or memory. What you did was move away from "immediate danger", but you didn't actually replace the cravi…

Just get me to the intersection already!

So the impossible is possible with God. (Luke 1:37 NLT) Charles Swindoll once wrote, "We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations." Let's face it - there are times when we just cannot see the opportunity because the disguise is just too good! We might want to find some "silver lining" in what it is we are going through, but if the truth be told, we are having a tough time finding much of an "opportunity" in the circumstances. An opportunity is just an intersection. It is a place of choice - go one way or the other. Most would say the opportunity has to be "favorable" to be considered positive, but there are times when we don't see much favorable in what is right in front of us. The rest of the definition is that at that place of opportunity (the intersection), we stand a good chance of advancing or making progress. In God's hands, I think we stand a much better than "good c…

One more wave

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.  (Charles Spurgeon) 
I can recount numerous times when a particularly difficult season of my life seemed to be finally winding down, when I could just begin to see the clearing of the fog of chaos, and then almost imperceptibly there comes the "next wave" of trial! I know you have had similar experiences, when you didn't think there was much more you could or would have to face before the muddle you were in would clear and allow you some "breathing room". You might have even uttered the words, "Can it get any worse?" I think Satan might just like to hear those words uttered because he relishes in showing off his pretty ugly self all around us!  I have learned not to ask those words, but rather to ask God, "How shall you show yourself stronger than the trial adding havoc in my life today?"
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, jo…

Please just answer the door!

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8NLT) God doesn't string us along in our lives - although we might have formed that perception when we don't get immediate or instantaneous answers to our prayers. Somehow we interpret God's "not right now" as "we will just have to wait and see". Parents are good at using that last one, simply because they want to encourage some type of behavior from their child, or they really need to see if they will have the funds later to be able to do whatever the child is wanting. God doesn't manipulate us into "right behavior", and he certainly has all the resources he needs right at his fingertips, so he probably doesn't use the "we will just have to wait and see&qu…

Pray the Word

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” (Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT)

Some of the promises in Isaiah are really rich in character, aren't they? The imagery presented for us here about God's Word is dynamic. As often he does, God uses a word picture to help us understand the impact of the Word of God in our lives. As rain comes down, it has an immediate impact on the pla…

Just call me "Ambassador"

It is central to our good news that God was in the Anointed making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other. So we are now representatives of the Anointed One, the Liberating King; God has given us a charge to carry through our lives—urging all people on behalf of the Anointed to become reconciled to the Creator God. (2 Corinthians 5:19-20VOICE)
Many of us watch the news each evening, or prior to going to bed, only to get discouraged by all the stuff we see and hear reported. Officers shot in the line of duty, car wrecks, mass shootings, downed planes, war efforts redoubled, natural disasters - the airwaves are full of these kinds of reports. Rarely do we receive the heartwarming reports of kids being kids, families reunited after years apart, or the like. Why? News isn't considered "news"…

Resistance isn't a bad thing

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33NLT) As I was coming through Bible College, the "deeper" the theologian, the "greater" the writing of that author was deemed to be - but did it always affect my heart the way it needed to? No! In fact, although the truths were spot on and accurate as all get out, they were "too deep" to affect some of the spaces of my heart where I just needed to trust Jesus. I tried to apply those principles taught by those great theologians, but they just didn't make much of an impact. What did? When I just honestly stopped for a moment and realized I am a pretty simple person, so simple solutions and principles were going to be the things that changed my character, not the deeply profound theological principles! For example, it wasn't that I had to figure out "what faith is", I j…

Polar Opposites

Lady Wisdom: Whoever is young and gullible, turn in here.
You are welcome in this place!  Then, turning to those who are naive, she says: Come in. Come, eat my bread, and drink my spiced wine.  Give up your gullible ways, your naive thoughts, for true life.  Set your course for understanding. (Proverbs 9:4-6 VOICE)

When we think of someone as naive, we think they are lacking in "worldly wisdom", not really having much going for them in the way of informed or sound judgment. They are indeed kind of unknowing and unsuspecting of things that others who are considered a little "smarter" or "wiser" might not be so "tricked" by in their course of dealings. There are some who are young and gullible - readily taken advantage of by those who are on the lookout for their opportunity to make a point, take advantage, or just plain humiliate. God doesn't want us to either be naive or gullible - he wants us to come to a place where we "set our …

The Jungle Book

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father. (John 15:5,8VOICE)

I had the opportunity to spend some time home with mom this week and on one particular afternoon which found her dozing peacefully, I turned on a movie thinking I'd drift off into a peaceful nap time, as well. It was the remake of Jungle Book and I had not yet seen it. Within minutes, although my eyes were drowsy and my mind was exhausted from having to deal with medical issues for mom, I found myself unable to doze. The story just captured my attention and there I was, desperately in need of some rest, but enthralled in the imagery and story before me. As you may know the story, the "man cub" was adopted by a pack of wolves. I am not sure how he developed all his ability to talk with the wolves, tigers, leopards, and birds…

Less is more when more is no good

The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "Less is more when more is no good." Let that sink in a while and you might just agree with Mr. Wright. When what we desire is no good, it doesn't really matter if the desire is a little one or a huge one - it is still not good for us to pursue! One of the Roman philosophers of the first century, Publilius Syrus wrote, "If you wish to reach the highest, begin at the lowest." In other words, what we don't think might matter is what usually will give us the greatest difficulty. We take for granted the washer in the faucet until the drip begins to keep us awake at night!

13 So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act, control yourselves, and look forward in hope as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. 14 Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know better. 15 Since the One who called you is ho…

Renovation 101

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." (Matthew 6:19-21NLT) Where are your treasures? What is it you treasure most in life? If you were to look around your home today, what one thing would you say means the most to you? Although I have all kinds of things I have acquired from friends, family, and special finds down through the years, I'd have to say none of those really are my treasures. In fact, I'd probably say the only true treasures I have are those who fill the house with me - my family. Jesus never had much in the way of earthly wealth from what we can see recounted in scripture. He probably came from a "run-of-the-mill", working class family - regular home, furnishings, and the like. He didn&#…

More than religious practice

Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people. (Amos 5:14-15NLT) Love good and hate evil - two seemingly "easy" things, right? Yet, do you realize what conflict these two commands actually bring into our lives? The desire to do good is there, but the actual ability to "do" good is based upon more than a desire to do it. We must act upon desire - which means we act even when the desire is kind of masked by our other feelings of desiring to actually make someone else hurt as much as we might be hurting right now. Running from evil is easy when we recognize it - but we all know there are times when we don't realize a particular course of action as "evil" in nature. It is possible for people to…

Finding the right fit

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2NLT) Have you ever made one of those really dumb moves where you tried to imitate something you saw, like a style someone was wearing or they way they were behaving, only to find the way you managed to pull it off just was a total fail? I have! You don't realize you are even doing it sometimes until you look back in horror or humor at what has just occurred! When I try to find a new hairstyle, I look at photos in magazines, watch people on TV who seem to have a style I admire, etc. When I ask the beautician if she can do that with my hair, inevitably she ways "no". Why? My hair won't conform to that cut. There are a lot of times when we try to "conform" to some particular way of living only to find we are not really cut o…