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Showing posts from April, 2017

Mor than just a merry band of men

For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Romans 14:11NLT
Allegiance is more than being bound by a pledge or feeling a sense of "duty" toward something. It is the action behind that pledge - the heart that drives one into action to do as one commits to doing. There are far too many people who do little more than give lip service to whatever it is they are pledging themselves to. Their heart is in it at first, but eventually the heart's enthusiasm begin to wane a little. Don't believe me? You only need look as far as those garage sales in your neighborhood to see the treadmills, stationary bikes, and weight benches, all gathering dust, but barely used for more than catchalls! Lip service is easy - but actually doing what we say we will do requires a measure of determination we often don't possess on our own.
Allegiance begins first of all with an adherence to some for…

GPS precision, or broad perspective of the paper map?

A wise person chooses the right road; a fool takes the wrong one.  You can identify fools just by the way they walk down the street! (Ecclesiastes 10:2-3 NLT)
It was Voltaire who said, "The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs." Chew on that one just a bit. What got Israel into all that trouble during those years they were wandering around in the wilderness between their deliverance from Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land? Wasn't there a whole lot of murmuring going on? Isn't that just about the truth each time we think about how much trouble we can find ourselves in on occasion? We start to listen to the murmuring in our heart and before long we find ourselves "speaking out loud" what is in our hearts and that leads us down paths we might not want to have traveled at all!
The choice of the "right road" isn't a spur of the moment kind of decision. In fact, to choose wisely, one needs to "plan" the journey a little. I l…

Invasion of the body snatchers?

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”  (John 10:28-30NLT)
Years ago, there was a movie entitled, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Believe it or not, that was first released in 1956 in the old black and white format! The scenes depicted a local hometown physician presented with several of his patients suffering from some form of what he believed to be paranoid delusions. These patients thought their friends and relatives were actually "imposters" of some sort. During the timeframe this movie was released, the strong suspicion that there were "extraterrestrial forms" moving about in little space ships and intent on stealing our brains was kind of popular. Now, whether you are a believer in the "alien invasion" camp, or think this is all a myth i…

Inside your skin

Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.  (Frederick Buechner)
I don't suppose we really understand the difference between empathizing and sympathizing with another until we find our way "inside their skin" for just a while. Some time back, we faced some challenges as a leadership team - kind of a "we" - "they" type of situation in which one group of staff didn't feel the other knew what it was like to work their job. In essence, we did a "walk in my shoes" kind of experiment, allowing each other to see just how crazy and totally awesome each person's job actually was. Crazy busy, insanely hard at times, but also very rewarding and tremendously satisfying. We were asking them to "get inside each other's skin" for just a short pe…

Seek first

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  (Psalm 107:1, 9 NLT)
There are lots and lots of things in this world with which we can "satisfy" our souls, but only one thing which will satisfy our true need in life. We think things might just work to "scratch some itch" we might be feeling that "deserves" to be satisfied, so we go off to the local department store and search for just the "right thing" to satisfy that itch. Then we find that our "itch" wasn't as well satisfied by that purchase as we'd hoped it would have been, only to find ourselves "soul impoverished" again, searching for the next "thing" that might fill that empty space. The problem with all our searching is that it ends in what will meet some "soulish" need and we totally miss that the real need is much deeper in our spirit.

Good things…

What is your why?

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10NLT) What is you "why" for living? If you have been declaring that you just cannot make it any longer in your present circumstances, maybe you haven't tapped into the right "why"! If we are connected to the right "why", we can endure almost anything. Nietzsche wrote in response to a prevalent revelation of a lack of moral compass in the society in which he lived. He is probably most famous for one of his works entitled "God is Dead". In it, he discusses the evidence that society had taken leave of their desire to follow any form of morality at all - seeking all manner of pleasures and openly revealing their de…

Forgiveness has a depth, breadth, and weight

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. (Corrie Ten Boom)
23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. (Mark 11:23-25 NLT)
The temperature of our heart often determines how quickly we are willing to step into the uncomfortable ground of forgiving another who has offended, doesn't it? If it has grown cool through unkindled passion, we are less likely to overlook an offense. If it has been allowed to reach that "tepid" point, we are neither hot nor cold, and we are likely to embrace whichever "emotion" seems to…

Invincible summer within

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. (Albert Camus)
Winter is just about over for most of us in the states, but there is this lingering little bit of a visit now and again from the chilly north that brings just a hint of winter's snow and cold. As Spring blossoms into full bloom some places, others are still thawing. What is the purpose of winter? Isn't it a time of dormancy - when the living plants take leave of growth for just a while and endure the frosts and winter winds as they beat against them? It almost looks like death has come to what once was alive and thriving, but then suddenly we find wonder one spring morn when we note the tiny green growth once again emerge from the barren branch or spring forth from the frosted ground below. What appeared to have been lost to the winter shows signs of being stronger than ever!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy…

Let the skies declare...

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.  Romans 1:20NLT
I was up this morning in time to gaze into the pre-dawn sky with my oldest grandson in search of the Lyriad meteor shower. We captured two brief moments of shooting stars, but not much more. Needless to say, the time with him was what mattered, not so much that we were dazzled by shooting stars or meteors in the sky. As we repositioned from time to time to catch a different glimpse of the sky, I was amazed at how much this thirteen year old boy has not only grown in height, but in intelligence! He has this awesome app on his phone, points it toward the sky, takes note of the key stars in the constellation and speaks of the stars and their path across the night sky as they moved from horizon at sunset to their present position high above us in th…

Help

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.  The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.  The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.  The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121 NLT)

Have you been on a website and taken notice of the little question mark in the corner, or perhaps the "help" button they embed on their page? It is designed to launch you into some "commonly asked questions" so that you can better know how to use their webpage. It isn't uncommon for those pages to get tons of "hits" just because people want to get right to the page where they need to go to sort out an issue, find t…

Have we become blind?

"The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing." (Pierre Bonnard)
If you haven't noticed, we spend a great deal of our lives putting "names" or "labels" on things. In school, you get a red mark in the form of either a letter or numeric "grade" - labeling the work you have performed as either "passing" or "failing". In the sixties, those with long hair, loose fitting clothing, and wearing sandals were labeled "hippies". Folks who are comfortable taking up signs of protest of the lawn of our capital buildings are labeled "radicals". Still others who are slow to learn, unable to integrate into society, or below a certain "intelligence quotient" are labeled as "backward", "disabled", or even something worse. Names and labels do a great deal to take away from us seeing the uniqueness in each individual and I don't believe God get much glory when we use them…

Planted or sown?

The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit. (Saint Teresa of Avila) 
What truthfully produces joy in your life? There are those who will answer it is their family and the delight of each member joined together in amiable conversation over a simple family meal. Still others will acknowledge there is not a whole lot of joy in their family life, either because loss has left them with a void not easily filled, or because there has been some riff in the ranks. Others will give an accounting of this great accomplishment, or that newest purchase. In time, those accomplishments will be outdone and the item we held in such high regard will begin to decay or diminish in value. Nothing quite measures up to the joy of being where we can be fed, nurtured, and allowed to bear fruit, though - for this is TRUE joy, not the type easily fleeting or worn out over time.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in …

I am giving up, but not in the way you think I am!

You will never exaggerate when you speak good things of God. It is not possible to do so. Try, dear brethren, and boast in the Lord. (Charles Spurgeon)
What do you exaggerate about the most frequently? Is it your weight, age, or even your income? Is it the state or condition of your soul, telling someone you are "fine" instead of being truthful about the fact life is falling apart all around you? Is it perhaps the small things like that you'd be happy to do something for someone, all the while begrudging that they are asking for yet another favor from you? It seems we have become a society that appreciates being in-genuine instead of remaining true to our integrity. We boast about stuff we really don't control, while we remain silent about stuff we probably need to be more forthcoming with. It is far better to boast in what is true, reliable, and consistent - the grace and love of God!
14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Ch…

Need an attitude adjustment?

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up. (John C. Maxwell)
Maxwell also reminds us that others often hear our words, but it is our attitude that comes through even clearer than any of our words! I have heard it said that our attitude determines our altitude - the way we will go is revealed in the attitude we maintain in our pursuit. We assume an attitude and it either carries us or weighs us down - it is simply that which "fixes" us to the point we are aiming toward.
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing,15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. (Philippians 2:12-15 NLT)
As Paul writes …

And the highest bidder is....

Henry David Thoreau once said, "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." What is the price you'd pay for something you really, really wanted? Would it be only "up to" a certain amount, or would you keep extending yourself time and time again until you got what it was you were after in the first place? I wonder what would have happened to us if God would have taken the tact of just paying "up to" this point and then not being willing to go any further - would any of us really have understood or embraced grace? Likely not!
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:6-8NLT
The life of Christ given on our behalf declares just how mu…

Light is both sudden and constant

8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.  (Ephesians 5:8-11 NLT) We once were full of something other than light - darkness. Where light enters, the darkness is dispelled. The light we not possess is that which comes because the presence of Christ dwells within each of us. There is no longer room for darkness, nor is there anywhere for it to hide - eventually all that is darkness will be revealed (uncovered) by the light. We are called to live as "people of the light" - no longer tolerating darkness within. That means we allow what Christ begins within us by bringing light to do the work it does - exposing every hidden thing that needs to be fully brought into the open so it may be removed and set in order. Christ'…

Serve

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  (Ephesians 4:14-16 NLT)
What is your "part" in the family of God? So many times we are simply content to allow others to serve around us, while we just observe their service. There is a direct correlation between our service and our growth. One does not occur without the other. Now, don't get me wrong - service is not a way to "earn" anything in God's kingdom, but it is a means by which we put into practice the things we have lear…

Don't ever think you aren't growing

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20NLT) My old self can be more of a little bit of a challenge now and again. I grow in fits and spurts - how about you? I don't seem to be able to stay on the "growth cycle" for very long before I find myself in a phase where it seems I am just sucking in nutrients, but not really doing much in the way of growing. Or at least that is how it seems! I cannot ever forget that it is not longer me alive within - but Christ. If he wants to take small seasons of rest to allow me to "regroup" for the next season of growth that is ahead, then who am I to question his foreknowledge!  The important thing for all of us to keep in mind is this idea of it no longer being about us living for ourselves - it is the power of Christ within us that is living now. As long as …