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Showing posts from March, 2017

Killing me softly

Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. (Matthew 11:29)
Back in the day, the recording artist Roberta Flack became known for several of her most popular songs. One such song had lyrics that somehow touched me, not because they were a "love song" really, but because of the undertone of the song as I viewed it in light of what Jesus did in my own life.  The song?  "Killing Me Softly With His Song". Why did this song speak to me of Jesus and his action in my life? Maybe an exploration of the words might tell you:

Strumming my pain with his fingers - Singing my life with his words Killing me softly with his song - Killing me softly with his song Telling my whole life with his words - Killing me softly with his song
Doesn't Jesus have just the right way to place his fingers exactly where the pain is in our lives, making what others might see as too much pain and making it into something special through the song he …

Outlast those wages....

The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it. (William James)  There comes a time when we all will have to ask ourselves if we have lived in such a way so as to leave a positive impact in the lives of those we have touched. We might have accomplished the big things such as graduating from college, landing that first "great job" that provided the way we bought our first house, or rose to the top in our industry. The big things aren't always the things that will live on, though. They aren't the things that leave that legacy in the lives of those who come behind us and who have observed the way we lived our lives. Sure, they were all milestones and "great things", but in the scheme of eternity - will they matter?

The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23CEB)
What outlasts our accomplishments? What outlives our lives? Isn't it the evidence of grace - lived out today,…

Not another one!

Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward. (James 1:12 CEB)
There are certainly times of testing and trial - when you don't feel like you are ever going to be out from under the pressure of "issues" that just keep surfacing. You just get your head to the surface again, gulp a little fresh air, and another wave comes crashing down over you! Some time ago, I watched a movie about the first black Navy diver portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. - born to a poor family, joining the military in hopes of finding that "better life". It is the story of our lives, isn't it? We want something "better", taking steps in that direction, only to find the "distance" between what we had and what we want is gigantically longer, harder, and more challenging than we ever expected.

Gooding soon comes to realize he isn't going to be "accepted&quo…

Parenting isn't for wimps!

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.) How we choose to live our lives affects many more than those in our immediate circle of influence.  Our children, our children's children and their children on down through the generations become the recipients of the example we set in the here and now. A wise man once told me that what we "tolerate" in our lives today will become the foundation for us moving closer and closer to tolerating something just a little worse down the road until one day we are so far from what we once stood for that it is hardly even recognizable anymore. Nothing could be more true.
The righteous live with integrity; happy are their children who come after them. (Proverbs 20:7 CEB)
I know there were days when my kids were growing up where my "example" slipped a little. I sometimes lost my cool over stuff that really didn't matter all that much. I opted for a quick me…

But I am so cozy right here!

"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) I think it might just be possible some of us have "gone bad" because we have refused to leave the safety of our shell! The place of "nesting" is good only while the egg needs "nurturing" - until it is time for birth to occur and maybe just a little longer until the hatchling learns to fly. At some point, the mother pushes the bird from the nest - either because the life within never emerged from the shell, or the thing refused to fly!

3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. 4 We have many parts in one …

Heart, mind, action - in that order

13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children,15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. (I Peter 1:13-15 CEB)
There have probably been times when you begin something, thinking it is the exact thing you needed to do, or the right time to do it, only to find you run smack-dab into one wall after another. What happened? Was your intention wrong? Were the steps you took just not good enough? No, it may just be that your mind was ready for action, but you weren't thinking as clearly on the matter as you needed to - you had a good idea, but you didn't give it time to filter through enough or the right filters in order to remove all the "sediment" and "mud"! Even th…

Building or Demolition Crew?

God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (I Thessalonians 5:11 MSG)

It is time to be a church were people truly love one another - more than one hour per week, but in everyday "doing" of life. It is time where the church doesn't just look back at all the blessing it has "known", but is a continual stream of God's blessings time and time again. It is time to BE the church - not to proclaim the church as a building or place, but a people, vibrant and strong, moving continually in the grace and love of Christ. Too many times we have the wrong view of the church. Maybe it because others see it as a place …

What is your IQ?

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15 NLT)
I have met some very "intelligent people" as the world would label them - great at math, science, the study of human language, etc. Yet, in the very short span of about 20-30 minutes, I can see also see how very "unintelligent" they might be where it comes to using common sense and the ability to "relate" to others at a deep and meaningful level. A high "IQ" doesn't guarantee you have common sense - nor that you use it. It also doesn't ensure you can be very "good at" relating to others. The most "intelligent" people I have met are those who aren't so much consumed with learning that comes from the lesson books, or even the study of a particular subject matter until they master it, but that they are committed to developing and using common sense - understanding where it applies to how they first relate to God and t…

The Lord is my shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (Psalm 23:1-3NLT) What does a shepherd do? How is it he goes about his daily work? Isn't his whole purpose in life to watch over the flock he shepherds? As he "watches over", doesn't this entail an unwavering commitment to focus on their needs, often above his own? When is it the shepherd is "on duty"? Isn't it all the time? Isn't the shepherd "on duty" when the sheep are not as "focused" on their surroundings? I think maybe the shepherd has the hardest job, for his work never ends, his vigilance can never cease, and his provision must always be renewed. We have all that we need - not always all we want. For many a child (and even an adult or two I know), this concept of want and need get a little confused. We want a lot of things…

Where is all this mess coming from?

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8 NLT)
St. Frances de Sales reminds us to never be in a hurry - I think it is because he knew hurry is often the cause of many a misstep in life. He said, "Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."  There are times when all around us seems to be in a fray, poking at us, goading us to get involved in that discontent or rush-rush kind of activity. When our peace is disturbed within, we tend to give into the rush-rush and find ourselves giving into things we thought we could resist. Quiet is most easily disturbed when our inner p…

You giving anger fuel?

Marcus Aurelius was an emperor of Rome during the second century, but is noted for being one of the "last good ones" of that era. His main "call to fame" are his writings or "meditations" on dedicated service and uncompromising duty - being a great warrior and temperate leader himself. He was what has been coined a philosopher of stoicism - living with a strong commitment to self-restraint, the heartfelt respect of others, and a compelling duty to one's country. He was known as the ruler who lives a temperate life and was pretty much uncompromising in his principles. One of his statements pretty much sums up his philosophy of living: "How much more are the consequences of anger than the causes of it." His understanding of this truth may have made him one of the last "good emperors" of his time - because those who came after him actually didn't adhere to some of the valued principles he upheld. One of my favorite quotes from his…

Open ears, open heart

“And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful. Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.  Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates,waiting for me outside my home!  For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. 36 But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36 NLT)

The call is to "listen" - not absent-mindedly, but with deliberate attentiveness to what is being said, how it is said, and even when it is said - for all God says has a purpose and a plan and a specific timing.  God's instruction brings joy. You might ask how that can be since his Word sometimes brings conviction. The end result of conviction is repentance - the result of repentance is a "do-over" - a chance to do again what the heart had not done well the first time. How many times in this life do we actually get a "do-over"? In the natural sense, it isn't ve…

1000 pieces and counting

2Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians …

Desire....Meet Power

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT)
Sometimes I think we believe we somehow get to the point we are living exactly as we should - that our obedience is all our own doing and it is kind of "perfect". I'd like to think I had everything to do with my obedience and that it is completely perfect all of the time, but it is a constant struggle for me.  I am pretty sure more of my obedience is based upon a little "want to" on my part and a huge "power-infusion" on the part of Jesus! How about you? Is your obedience a struggle at times? Is it sometimes mor…

Beneficiary or Benefactor

Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.  The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:24-25 NLT)
In most of the economy of our world, people increase their "wealth" by charging for whatever it is they can "sell" in the form of wares, goods, or skill. There are very few who form a company to actually "give away" things without any expected "return on their investment". Even those companies who offer "freebies" on the internet aren't really doing what they do for "free". They get a list of your contacts, allowing them to reach out to hundreds of others who will also be enticed to get the "freebies" they are giving away. 
In actuality, those companies who give away all this stuff are paid to give it away! In God's economy, it is in giving of one's self, time, talent, and even treasure, that we find an "increase" in what re…

Recipe for Enjoyment in Life

For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”  (I Peter 3:10-12 NLT)
I have met many an individual who is seeking enjoyment in life with gusto. Their every move is somehow purposed to get as much from the moment as possible, all while planning the next steps they will take so the enjoyment just doesn't have to end. I vacation with a friend about twice a year, getting a little respite from being a caregiver and just being able to be away. As the week begins, we are always excited about the possibilities the week holds - the discoveries as we enjoy a little time with nature on a hike, or get a few good movies under our belt on a "veg" day. As the week draws …

Demonstration, please

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:9NLT) You have probably heard it said that actions speak louder than a thousand words, right? Well, let me also tell you that grace is only truly understood in action - there are just no words to really describe grace. It is undeserved - unmerited favor. It is demonstrated love. It is the kind of demonstrated love that reached out to the one with leprosy, whose body was marked by missing fingers and toes, scarred with untold sores, and a "stigma" society placed upon them as "unclean" and "rejected". It is the kind of demonstrated love that takes notice of the small man perched in a tree, while attempting to catch even a glimpse of the "great teacher", while countless others overlook him because he is not of "great stature". It…