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Showing posts from February, 2017

The big reveal...

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. (Proverbs 28:13-14 NLT) You might have heard it said that confession is good for the soul - it is also good for everything else! I am not talking about the kind of confession where you tell a man in a small wooden box your sins while you are kneeling in a small wooden box next to him. I am talking about the willingness to be transparent when you do something wrong, to take responsibility, and to seek forgiveness from those you have hurt in the process (God first, then others, and even yourself). Concealment involves keeping something under cover. I liken it to the covering over of an object with twigs and leaves to have it "blend in unnoticed" in the forest. The idea of concealing anything is that you don't want it noticed - you don't want it to catch the attent

Do you resent me?

A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,  but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier. (Proverbs 27:3 NLT) Carrie Fisher once said, "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." There are a whole lot of us drinking our own poison and then expecting the other person to be affected in some negative way by that poison which is in actuality consuming US and not them! Resentment is a terrible "eroding force" that eats away at the foundation of our spirit and emotions until one day there is this "landslide" that makes it almost impossible to actually dig out from under.  While some of us may not think we are holding any grudge or harboring "ill-intent" toward another person or persons, there are some pretty easy ways to see if we are: - Do we think frequently about the wrong they have done? This is probably the easiest way to know if we are holding onto stuff we need to let go of - because what occupies our m

Silence speaks the loudest

Do not answer (nor pretend to agree with the frivolous comments of) a (closed-minded) fool according to his folly, o therwise you, even you, will be like him.   Answer (and correct the erroneous concepts of) a fool according to his folly,  otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes (if he thinks you agree with him). (Proverbs 26:4-5 AMP) This passage seemed a little contradictory this morning. The first part of the passage tells us NOT to answer a fool, while the second part tells us we DO answer a fool. Confusing, huh? So, how is it we are to respond to foolish people, with their foolish plans and supposed "wisdom of the ages" as they put it? There are indeed times when we probably just need to keep silent, for our silence is enough to counteract their foolishness!  There are other times when it is both wise and necessary to answer their foolishness - so that others aren't manipulated by their foolish plans or pulled into senseless beliefs themselves. Learning how to

Grace on!

"If someone you know makes a bad decision or uses bad judgment, it doesn't mean you have to allow that to alter your attitude. Why should you allow anyone else's bad decisions to send you into a tailspin of misery?" (Joyce Meyers)   I wonder just how many times in life we let another's actions and attitude determine our own? I know it is hard to think pure thoughts when all around you are all manner of unwholesome influences. I know it is difficult to find good when all seems to be a little too "tainted" to actually be easily overlooked. Yet, when we allow the bad influences of those around us to affect who or what we are, we allow them to be in the driver's seat of our lives - and they are definitely going to steer us in the wrong direction if they get that degree of control! The Lord approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness. Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots.  (Proverbs 12:2-3 NLT

Thank you for the journey, Lord!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the  Lord . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. ( Jeremiah 29:11-13   NLT ) We could all recount times and seasons of tremendous trial and overwhelming changes occurring in our lives - times and seasons we'd rather not have passed through, but for which we will always be tremendously grateful for God's presence guiding us through. We neither planned them, nor did we always welcome them with open arms. Some of these times were just plain hard and awful to have faced - almost bordering on being our "undoing". Could it be possible that was the purpose of those seasons - our "undoing"? Maybe it is just possible God was after a little "undoing" of what it was we were so busy "doing" that needed to be accomplished in our lives.  Proverbs reminds us that we can

Anguish of Soul

Turn us again to yourself, O  Lord  God of Heaven’s Armies.  M ake your face shine down upon us.   Only then will we be saved.  (Psalm 80:19 NLT) If you have ever been in one of those places some would label as "a funk", you probably have cried out a little to God because of the circumstances of life and the just plain miserableness of your plight. You might even have complained, groaned, screamed, and even fallen prostrate before him in prayer. It is not uncommon to begin to heighten our intensity toward prayer when life isn't dealing us what we consider to be a "fair hand". As I read through a couple of the psalms this morning, beginning at the 77th and moving through the 80th, I noted a common theme of crying out to God for restoration of some "former condition". The nation of Israel had slipped away from their first love - they had enjoyed times of great privilege, but had come into a place of being overtaken in their own lands and placed under t

You are quite a character!

" A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble ."  (Charles Spurgeon) The moments we make today may not seem like much when we consider them one at a time, but when they are all added up and seen in their totality, that is a different story. In the moment, the decisions we make, the way we choose to solve life's problems, or the responses we give to one another when hurting, offended, or critical of something we have done make all the difference. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.   (Philippians 1:11 NLT) When Jesus is central in all we do and think, the character produced will be consistent with his. When we are at the center of all we do, the character produced will be a little too harsh,

I need a little pampering!

It was C.S. Lewis that reminded us when we aim at heaven, we get earth thrown in, but when we aim at earth below, we end up with not much in return. If you haven't read much of what he has written, he is well worth the read. It was Lewis that also reminded us of the thing we call "self" - not being more than a "meeting place" of sorts for things that we refer to as "natural forces", "fears", and "desires" - some from within us, others from without. That "meeting place" is frequented by these things because of our upbringing, influences from around us, and even some of the "devils" we cannot really see but know must exist just because of all we experience. Probably one of the greatest things I remember from his writing is the statement: "The self you were really intended to be is something that lives not from nature, but from God." We might think we are a product of our environment, and we might just be

Growing through or just going through?

Every now and again, a quote comes across the social feed that just catches my eye and holds my heart. One such is that by Toby Mac: "If you saw the size of the blessing coming, you would understand the magnitude of the battle you are fighting." We SEE the battle raging around us. We EXPERIENCE the torment of the fight. We DELIBERATE over the choices we must make.We AGONIZE over the complexity of the circumstances. Yet, in all this, we don't ever really know the true size of the blessing just around the corner! You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. (Psalm 18:39 NLT) Who arms us for the battle?  God himself provides the armor, sends in the legions of angels who battle in heavenly places, unseen by our naked eye, but there nonetheless. Who gives us the strength to put one foot in front of the other when there is no human strength left to put forth?  God himself renews our energies, not just physical, but spiritual and

What marks your journey?

"Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot.  In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you." ( Oscar Wilde) “ God alone understands the way to wisdom;   he knows where it can be found,  for he looks throughout the whole earth   and sees everything under the heavens.  He decided how hard the winds should blow   and how much rain should fall.  He made the laws for the rain  and laid out a path for the lightning.  Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.  He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.  And this is what he says to all humanity:  ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;   to forsake evil is real understanding. '" (Job 28:23-28 NLT) We can probably all recall the scripture verse about where our heart is there will our treasure also be, but when we stop for a moment to consider where our heart has been, where it is now, and where it is it might be headed into the future, we can certainly see how much "differen

Do I act or not?

"He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other." (Francis Bacon) Good advice comes from various sources - sometimes the wise words of a cherished friend, at others a discovered truth from God's Word, and at times it even comes from those we might not think to really have had much influence in our lives until we look back and see their fingerprints in what has become our "molded character". Many times advice is sought, but there are also times when it is offered without anyone asking for it. In those moments, it can be listened to, heeded, and result in some type of impact in our lives. It can also be ignored, not acted upon, and result in an even bigger impact. The key isn't that we acted or didn't act - it is in discerning which was the advice we were to heed and which it was we were to

Light is the symbol of truth

James Russell Lowell penned, " Light is the symbol of truth ." Why do you suppose he said that? Maybe it is because when truth becomes known it is as though what was once hidden in the darkness is suddenly manifest, as when a light comes on in a dark room.  Perhaps it is because when we think of the paradox of good and evil, we think of one as pure and clean, while the other is dark and murky. If we are believers, we see evidence of "light" in all that God is and does - his character is that of truth. It is impossible for God to be untruthful, for all his essence is that of light! Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT) Light leads us somewhere - it leads us out of darkness. Where light is, darkness cannot prevail. Where shadows exist, it is only because there is light. When truth is revealed, all that on

It is ALL a waiting game

Joyce Meyers speaks of patience as the "behavior" we exhibit while waiting: "Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it's how we behave while we are waiting." Many of us feel waiting involves us just doing nothing - being kind of "stagnant" for a period of time until whatever it is we are waiting for happens. It is really quite different, though, for waiting involves movement, just not ahead of schedule or in a direction of our own making. According to Webster, patience means we bear pains and trials calmly and without complaint, but it also means we don't act hastily or rashly. If you think about that one for a moment, you will begin to realize "bearing" suggests action - we don't act when we sometimes think we might have a "solution" to the problem at hand, but trust in the one who will bring the right solution in the right time. It means we remain steadfast - not easily swayed or affected by the circumstances. For our

Raindrops keep falling on my head

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops What if Your healing comes through tears What if a thousand sleepless nights Are what it takes to know You're near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise... (Chorus: Blessings by Laura Story) So many of God's greatest blessings come to us in the form of some "disguise" - they aren't realized as blessings until somewhere down the road when we look back and see all God has done to coordinate those steps up to where we are at that moment of "realized blessing". There are times when God's greatest blessings seem a little "counter-intuitive" - they just don't "add up" at first. In time, we see the bigger picture, but along the way the road is littered with hardship, tears, hurts, and trust issues. Could it just be the purpose of every "bigger blessing" coming in that disguised way may just be to really clarify our true place of tr

Happy Valentine's Day

As Valentine's Day is upon us, we are challenged to show our love to one another in ways depicted in media as "gifts" of our love. I wonder just how many of us are being challenged to show our love for God in ways that really express our love for him and not just the gifts he gives? It is a challenging question we may need to ask more than once over the course of our lifetime because it is so easy to appreciate the gifts or blessings themselves and totally lose touch with the Giver. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17 NLT) Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right when he said the only way to transform an enemy into a friend is by the sharing of the love which comes from one heart. It is the only "force" capable of creating that change. I think this might

My political post

For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. ( Psalm 33:4-5 NLT ) With so much changing all around us, at speeds sometimes too great for us to keep up with, it is good to know that God's word will always and consistently hold true - unchanging and totally immovable even though some may try to tell us otherwise. It is not "open for interpretation" as some may attempt to rationalize, nor is it "exclusionary" as others may want to report. It is all-encompassing, consistently relevant, and boundless in application. John Calvin once said, " A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent ." So many times we remain silent when we clearly see God's Word being attacked, blatantly disregarded, and trampled underfoot by those who tout their lack of respect for

The enemy within

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us . (Charles Spurgeon) I have heard many a conflicted soul tell of the battle with those enemies within - bringing them to their knees more than once. There are those who see those enemies as something we must be rid of in order to move on, but I wonder how the Apostle Paul would see that one. He prayed, evidently repeatedly, requesting some "thorn" be removed that gave him a constant battle of some sort. Allegedly, it was something that kept him from getting too high a perception of himself - keeping him humble. I wonder if some of the "enemies" within are really those types of things that help to keep us humble? So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So n

What are we seeking to win?

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. ( Ephesians 6:12-13 NLT ) A German soldier by the name of Erin Rommel is quoted as saying, " Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning ." There are a whole lot of battle lines being drawn in the sand these days - but I am afraid some just don't warrant our time or attention! I honestly have had to ask why some of these marches, protests, media campaigns, and rather large crowds of disagreeable people are doing what they are doing. I don't even know if some of these individuals in the crowd know what it is they are doing. Some may actually just be following along because they

Roots in the sewer?

For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.   11  No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.   12  And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. (I Corinthians 2:10-12 NLT) Did you ever stop to really consider why it is we are given the Spirit of God as a teacher or guide in our lives? In looking at this passage again this morning, I realized it is so we can know the really intentional and purposeful thoughts of God - so we can really get to know him on an intimate basis. It is so true that the thoughts of one man's mind are known only to him - he has to share them in his words, actions, and attitude in order for us to even get a "hint" of what might be going on in that mind. In elementary school the kids used to taunt with the saying, "It takes one to know one", whenever so