Friday, June 30, 2017

What's that you say?

The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense. (Proverbs 10:21 NLT)

Plato said it this way: "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something." The essence of all we say is to have value in it - if not in the immediate, then somehow in the accumulation of those words over the course of time. I think this is most evident in the lives of our children, for it is "little by little" that they take in the words we speak and even when we don't think they are listening (or hearing us), they add those words to all the others they hear. We can just hope our words of wisdom are outweighing all the other voices they are bombarded with these days!

The words we choose can build up or tear down. I have observed just one wrong thought spoken out loud having catastrophic effect. I have also observed one carefully chosen thought, leading to well spoken words, can change a life! One damages the relationship - the other helps it continue to grow. While not all words are worthy of speaking, all thoughts are worthy of careful consideration BEFORE they are spoken. There is another passage in scripture that goes hand in hand with the one above:  "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18 ESV) It is oftentimes the "rash words" that bring us the most difficult of circumstances from which we must now "dig out"!

Plato also reminds us: "There is no harm in repeating a good thing." Sometimes it is the repeating of the words until they are well-absorbed that brings the greatest of pleasure and strongest of victories in our lives. We don't always hear what is messaged the first time - even though they are words of great wisdom. Yet, we often take the words of foolishness way too seriously and allow them quicker influence in our lives than we perhaps ought to! We need to weigh carefully the words we say, but equally important is to weigh well the words we absorb into our lives. Just sayin!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I wanna be kept

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 121:7-8 NLT)
I have occasionally joked with close friends that I'd like to try my hand being a "kept woman". When I say this I usually mean it would be nice to not "have to" work, but do so only if and when I wanted to rather than it being a requirement of not having to live in a cardboard box! There are times I forget that I am indeed a "kept woman" - and each man or woman, boy or girl that gives their lives to him, saying "yes" to his actions of grace in their lives, is a "kept" individual!
To be kept means you are supported by another - your needs are met by someone other than yourself. In the sense of our relationship with Christ, this is perhaps one of the hardest lessons for us to learn. We often find ourselves going to him with our needs, but when the provision doesn't come in the right timing for our liking, we attempt to find a way to make that need go away by our own efforts. As we come and go in life, our needs are being met, even when we don't see the immediate fulfillment of them!
Perhaps the simplest way for us to understand God's "keeping" power is for us to think of it in terms of what it is not. In other words, we look at the "synonyms" of being kept, such as forgotten. It is impossible for God to ever forget even one iota of what he has created, for all of creation is spoken into existence by his word and is maintained by that same word. Abandonment is just not in the cards for any of God's kids. It isn't him that leaves us - it is the other way around!
Dishonor is part of abandonment and being forgotten. All over the world today, there are individuals in nursing homes and assisted livings, all but abandoned and mostly forgotten by their loved ones. Out of sight, out of mind, as the old saying goes. Indeed this careless treatment of the elderly, homeless, or lonely individuals is one of the greatest ways we dishonor those who God has placed into our lives and us into theirs. 
Similarly, the last "opposite" of being kept is that of being "broken". First, let me just remind us that the connection we maintain with Jesus isn't broken on his part. It is some action or inaction on our parts that brings this sense of "broken relationship". God's desire is for continual union with us. He doesn't have a contract with us - saying you do this and I will do that. He asks us to love him, trust him with our lives, and then find delight in the care he takes to meet all our needs. Plain and simply, we are "kept" individuals - not because we deserve it, but because we "need it". Just sayin!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Only I can change me

Carol Burnett was one of my all time favorite comedians as I was growing up. I loved her slap-stick humor, wildly gleeful guffaws, and hugely expressive eyes. One thing she frequently said as she was interviewed by those who asked her about her success was that she discovered, "Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me." She points to the importance of not just settling for status quo in life, but being engaged in this process of change. She also reminds us of the importance of not looking to others to create that culture of change for us, but rather to be the ones to engage in creating it. Martha Beck reminds us, "Everyday brings new choices." Today, we choose between one set of goals, or another entirely different ones. Today I choose to take some time away from the heat and just get up into some "fishing country" to engage in a little R&R. Next Monday, I will choose to go to work, put in my 8 hours, and do all that must be accomplished in that workday. Each day brings a different set of choices - but we must engage in our choices in order to be actively participating in the outcome!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

While we can never lose sight of the one who has all things in HIS control, we must remember he expects us to be active in our choices to trust in him - to not merely rely upon what it is we can figure out in the moment. To seek God's will is to do more than merely run something past him in a moment of prayer and hope for the best. It also means we take the steps we know to take - those things we can trust to be right and true - then see how he multiplies those steps toward obedience with extra installments of his grace, multiplied measures of his love, and hugely impressive shows of his magnificent provision. 

Too many times we think trusting means we just sit back and do very little, but I think Burnett hit the nail on the head when she reminded us of the importance taking the first step. What happens when we step forward? In the military, it meant you volunteered for the mission! Maybe that is why we hesitate to step out! We don't want to be engaged in the "mission" because we don't know what all it will entail! There were many assignments I volunteered for that I had absolutely no clue what would be involved. I did it because I trusted those in leadership over my life at that time to make wise decisions, utilizing the skills of each of the volunteers to the best of their abilities. In the end, it usually turned out pretty well!

Trust isn't easy, nor is taking the first step into the unknown. Change involved embracing the unknown. We may have a vague hint of where it is we are headed, but most of the time, we just stick our toe in the water to test the temp! If it seems a little too much for us to endure, we pull back in fright. If it seems like we could "tolerate" it for a while, we might step out a little further, but if it gets a little too deep too fast, we turn back! Why is that? I think both of these tendencies stem from the unwillingness to trust God with the unknown. We trust "us" as far as we can, but when it comes to trusting God, we struggle a little bit because we don't always know exactly what "change" he might see as good for us. We "want" change, but we may not want "that change"! 

I have to ask - if we never try that change, how can we ever know if it will be too hard, just right, or way more awesome than we expected? Just askin!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Grace-Connection

It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who postulated no river could ever be stepped into as the "same river" a second time. In thinking that one through, he was saying the river is constantly changing - simply because there is an ebb and flow to all of life. To say you reached the river is one thing - to say you stepped into exactly the same river is impossible! He also is famous for saying there is nothing permanent except change. We might have thought that last one came from a more "modern" motivational speaker, but it was penned somewhere around 500 B.C. I particularly like his words, "Big results require big ambitions." It isn't just going to "happen" - we pursue what it is we desire. Without pursuit, we are stationary - this may be good for the walls of a building, but it isn't for us! The essence of pursuit is the desire to change something - to realize something different than what it is we know right now.

34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:34-37 NLT)

Is anything worth more than your soul? A troubling question for those whose pursuit is toward things that the heart may find enticing, but which are not all that wise for us to be pursuing. As many of us believe, "ambition" is central to "change". We somehow believe if we have a good enough "drive" toward something, we will certainly realize it. The opposite may be quite true, for ambition may launch us along the journey, but it seldom keeps us going long enough to finish the mission. Ambition might get us to the river, but it isn't going to help us experience the depth and breadth and subtle nuances of the river's change all around us. The heart has to be aligned with the spirit, otherwise we miss the "subtle nuances" of the journey. In the end, the journey will be totally "anti-climactic".

We find ourselves "hanging onto" things we never should have pursued in the first place. It isn't that we don't want to let them go, it is that somehow we have become very familiar with the "comfort" even the misery of those experiences have created! Our soul isn't content, but we aren't sure what to do about it - there is some "internal" drive left, but we aren't sure where it is taking us. I had the mistaken belief being in "management" was a glorious thing until I was placed in management! All of a sudden, the thing my soul desired the most became the thing my soul found to be such a huge and sometimes unwelcome burden to carry! There are times when we find our pursuits took us into hardships we didn't want to endure.

I think Jesus is reminding us of the importance of seeing our desires in the light of eternity. Oftentimes the desires of our soul (man's internal drive, so to speak) take us to places we "think" are going to help us realize some sort of fulfillment or purpose in life. We might discover some things along the way, but in the end, we find there isn't much difference in this journey than the last we put our hope in. This is why he reminds us of the importance of our spirit being aligned with his - not our souls. He takes care of our souls as he enters our spirits. In the end, he brings us to places we appreciate and find deeper purpose by experiencing these moments. Rather than "drive harder" in order to realize some desire of our soul, perhaps we need to "rest more" in the grace-connection we make at the spirit level with Christ! Just sayin!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Disappointment yields discontent

I once heard it said that disappointment is the fertile breeding ground of discontent - the more we hope for something that may not ever happen or takes way longer to happen than we imagined, the more discontent we become in the circumstance we are living. It is because we are so focused on the object of our hope that we lose sight of the many blessings already right here in front of us. It is possible to be too "future focused" - hoping continually for something "better" in the future - that we forget just how blessed we are right now.

The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. 
(Proverbs 10:22 NLT)

My pastor spoke this past weekend about the realization of goals - getting from "here" to "there". As he made his point, he reminded each of us of the dangers of getting somewhat off-course "on the way" by the things that distract us somewhere in the midst of that journey. As he put it, "You will get somewhere, it just won't be there." There are a probably more times we realize "somewhere" moments in life than we might just realize. The moment we lose sight of what it is we are seeking, experiencing a little disappointment in the slow progress we are making, the more we become distracted by the things that get us to "somewhere", but not "there". 

Discontent is bred when disappointment isn't overcome - when the hope or goal isn't renewed on a frequent basis. The "hope" or "goal" is really our "direction" in life - we are headed a certain way because we hope for a certain outcome. When that direction is altered in anyway, we find the trajectory of our lives takes a totally different course, sometimes landing us in a totally different spot than we set out to achieve. Some of us tend to map out a course and never revisit the map along the way to be sure we are still on course!

Whenever I plan a driving trip, I map out my journey. I look at the online maps, or drag out one of those actually "foldable" paper types, and look at the various routes I might take to get me from here to there. In many cases, there is more than one option to get me to that destination. In some cases, there may only be one. It is important to know this before I begin, but what I don't realize is how distracted I can become by the length of the journey. There is that tiny antique place just off the highway, or the promise of some fish in that lovely creek just down that road. Before long, despite the careful planning at the start, I can be on a totally different journey simply because I act upon my discontent!

We don't always know what will come up between our "here" and "there" moments in life, but if we deal with the disappointments along the way, we stand a lot less chance of succumbing to the discontent bug that gets in our bonnet! Just sayin!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Not ending, but beginning

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." (T. S. Eliot)

What ends have become your new beginnings? One of the most fearful places to be is at the "end" - for the "end" requires one to either choose a new beginning, or to settle for a place of stagnancy. Either way, there is something to be "feared" as one approaches the "end" of any matter. As my BFF and I were sitting at lunch the other day, we began to contemplate just how near retirement was for each of us. Not too awfully long ago, I was just "starting out" in my career as a nurse, and in about the blink of an eye, here I was contemplating what the next six years might bring before "retirement" age was reached. It is kind of scary to think about occupying my time with new ventures, while at the same time it is rather exciting. In the end, I will choose to "end" one thing, but plan to "start" something new - for idle hands and minds are never a good thing!

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT)

We may not always anticipate the "endings" we are brought to in life, but we can stand assured none of these "endings" are meant to bring us to a place of "inactivity" - for God never wants "stagnancy" in our walk with him. As we contemplate some of the "endings" we have experienced thus far this year, what might be the "new beginnings" God is working out for us? One thing is for certain - God is the God of "new beginnings". Each year, my trees drop their leaves, looking rather barren and like all the life has drained from them. Each year, the warmth of the spring sun begins to challenge those same "barren branches" to bring forth new growth. In just a matter of a few short weeks, what was seemingly barren is chocked full of abundant growth! The end wasn't the end - it was a new beginning.

As my grandsons were growing up, I became familiar with a term used in education today - something called "chapter books". I really hadn't heard that term (or paid attention to it) until they were advancing in their reading skills. When they finished these "one chapter" books, there was a new skill they needed to add - to read "chapter books". Their advancement through the grades has presented them with longer "chapter books". In life as we know it, we might start out with the simple "one chapter" issues or decisions. As we learn to master these with a sense of ease and comfort, we find ourselves being challenged to move beyond them, though. Why? There is new discovery awaiting us in the "bigger" chapter books of life. At times, I am just like you - I don't want a "bigger" challenge in life. I want to just "glide" for a while. After all, what is wrong with a little "break from life" for just a while? Nothing and everything at the same time.

There is nothing wrong with finding rest for a while in God's grace and presence. There is everything wrong with becoming so complacent that we no longer move. In the Song of Solomon, you will observe the "lover" (us) waking from a short slumber, only to find her "lover" (Jesus) isn't where she is at any longer. She calls and calls for him - asking throughout the city if anyone has seen him. What has happened here? Her "lover" hasn't "moved on" in terms of his love for her - but his absence has caused her love and need to be close to him to become very apparent to her! It is quite possible the end of one "chapter" in our lives is the very challenge we need in order to realize just how intense our love for Christ is - for in any ending, there is a new beginning - even as it applies to our intensity of devotion to our Lord and King, Jesus Christ! Just sayin!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Disappointed - Grow On!

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)

"Sometimes when you get disappointment it makes you stronger."  (David Rudisha) 

If I relied solely upon my own strength and knowledge, I surely would become disappointed with many an "unwanted" or "unanticipated" outcome in my life - how about you? The "big picture" as some call it is just not plain enough for us to always see - try as we might, we might get glimpses at it, but to keep it in constant focus is a hard, hard thing. There have been times when I experienced disappointment, not always because of anything I had control over, but because of some action of others, circumstances outside of my sphere of influence, or just sheer natural disaster. Disappointment is part of life - we cannot always avoid it - but we can use it to help us grow stronger!

I had a marriage fail, but I don't live in the shadow of that disappointment any longer. I have grown from it and am stronger because of what I took away from ten years of struggling to hold it together and all the years since. I have lost jobs, not because of a lack of aptitude or hard work, but because of circumstances beyond my control. I have learned to rely upon the provision of God even more than I did before, not because I lost the job, but because I finally realized all the "best plans" of man are but a speck on the map of God's perfect plan for mankind. I have seen my kids do things I wish then hadn't, feeling a little disappointed they had to walk that course in life. I didn't beat myself up as a mother, but found my love for them just grew in proportion to the depth of my pain!

We don't have to live in the shadow of our disappointments in life. God has provided a means by which they can be transformed into opportunities for our growth. It begins with unmeasured amounts of his grace and then it multiplies into all the various things we need to not only survive the disappointment, but to be left stronger by it. I don't always get how God does this in us, but I know it to be true. I don't always understand why it takes disappointment to help us to grow a little deeper, but maybe it is because if we always had things "just right" in life, we'd become complacent or "flabby around the edges". I trust God to renew when my energies are at their end. I rely upon his "push" to move me forward when I am getting way too bogged down into the "mully-grubs" of disappointment. He isn't going to leave us in our place of disappointment, but sometimes we choose to dwell there just a little too long!  Just sayin!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Strength in stillness

“Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”  (Psalm 46:10 NLT)

I believe man looks at how much he wants, but God looks intently on what it is that man needs - peace and a stillness of spirit. The only path to a still spirit is for the God of Peace to dwell in the midst of that place designed only for him - our own spirit. Man is a tri-part being made up of body, soul, and spirit. To leave that "spirit" place open to any old influence that wants to invade it is to leave one's self open to some pretty crazy, mixed up stuff that can leave us a mess in the long run. 

Stillness is more than the absence of noise, as I have often said. It is the actual ability to stand secure, firmly anchored, and without the need to "do" anything simply because there is a deep trust and confident assurance in the PEACE that indwells us. WE don't DO - we wait in confident assurance and allow the God of Peace to move upon us, showing us what it is he is doing and what it is we are to do as he moves us. Part of stillness is just resting - it is also moving, not in haste, but in confident and steadfast assurance.

I saw a post the other day saying WE cannot brag about our love for God because our love has a tendency to rise and fall, but we can brag about his never-ending love for US. Our love ebbs and flows, being really hot at times, and then being almost ice cold at others. We don't have an adequate amount of "consistency" in our lives to say our peace never fails - because our closeness to Jesus often isn't as great as it should be. We "get distanced" from him sometimes without even realizing we have drifted away from that intense place of peace and assurance we had counted on so much at some point. It is as though we just forgot about the "intensity" of peace as it was meant to be enjoyed.

All God asks of us is to BE still - to allow his peace to have access to those areas of our lives where "doing" has become the norm. God love isn't about us "doing", but about us "trusting", "resting", and "discovering". The more God's Word finds a place into our hearts and spirit, the more our body and mind experience the "thing" we refer to as the "peace of God". The worry and anxiety of life seems to pale in comparison to God's grace and love when we allow more of God's Word an opportunity to impact our lives. That opportunity does not exist unless we make that opportunity - we have to still our minds, settle into times of discovery with him, and just allow him to speak to us - to our spirit and our mind. Just sayin!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sargent Dan Moments

The French novelist Anatole France reminds us: "If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." We can certainly gussy up foolish thought and word as much as we want to, but in the end, it is still going to bring us into foolish behavior at some point! My best friend and I were eating at Bubba Gump's once while in Florida. I broke into my impersonation of Forrest Gump's conversations with Sargent Dan and before long, we were both cracking up about things. We had a moment of frivolity all because of a little foolishness on my part. While that didn't hurt anyone, nor did it send us down some terrible pathway in our lives, to use that same foolishness in a meeting of the Board members of our organization would likely be less than appropriate! Sometimes even the "good things" we engage in are a little inappropriate or "foolish" at other times. The most awesome part of the Forrest Gump movie is those "teachable moments" which came out of his life. He always loved, and he always "tried again" - despite the challenges. He never settled for being told it was impossible. It is good to constantly guard our hearts so that we "learn" to engage in those things (good paths) that are always appropriate, not easily taking us down paths we should avoid entirely (foolishness), and that are both tested and true in our lives.

The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. (Proverbs 23:24 NLT) 

As a parent, I observed my kids "not listening" to any advice or instruction on occasion, leading right into them making less than "reliable" decisions. In those moments, was I particularly celebratory of their failure to exercise wisdom? Nope! Had I tried to steer them away from those bad decisions, either through positive example or sharing the lesson I had learned from similar choices? Yup! Were they going to heed my advice, or embrace the teaching from scripture they should have embraced? Nope! We sometimes know very well what should be done, or even hear many warnings not to do it, then go right ahead and exercise the poorest of judgment anyway! Honestly, I don't think wisdom is always "learned" in those moments when someone else tries to tell us what to do, but in having done some of the "unwise" stuff we have done and then God using those occurrences as "teachable moments" in our lives.

The important thing is that we are "teachable" - we take away something that keeps us from making those "unwise" choices again and again. Will we repeat them? It is quite possible we will, but when we really want to learn from what we go through, we rarely make those same unwise choices in quite the same manner. The outcome may appear similar, but usually we arrive at the outcome in a little bit of a different way. Even then, we are able to experience that "teachable moment" - beginning to understand we can get the same "negative result" from more than one pathway! There is more than one pathway to sin, but it stems from very similar roots - we don't heed warning - either written, spoken, or "prompting" warnings we might receive.

Over the years, I have accumulated a little bit of wisdom on some matters. Have I managed to complete the "lesson" when it comes to those matters? Probably not. The truth of the matter is that there are far more ways to "dress up" wrong decisions than we might imagine! In the end, it is the focus we maintain that actually helps us determine when a particular path may not lead us exactly where it is we want to go. Herein may be the greatest of all wisdom we can learn from God's "teachable moments" - that sin has many paths, but grace has but one. When our eyes remain steadfast upon the person of Grace - Jesus Christ - we begin to put the choices in perspective a little better. We might occasionally "slip up", but even when we do, grace is awaiting us at the end of that pathway. This is probably what amazes me the most - we can travel the wrong path, realizing the worst destination or outcome - but smack-dab in the middle of that we can still find grace. 

Yes, we need to learn our lessons from those teachable moments. Yes, we need to be "selective" about the path we choose, exercising solid wisdom and sound judgment as we choose. Yes, we will make wrong choices - it is part of our human nature. Yet, in the end, what will we learn from those choices? What will we take with us the next time we are enticed to go that similar direction? What is it we will do differently "next time"? These are perhaps the hardest questions to answer when it comes right down to it, but they can also be the most enlightening and rewarding. Just sayin!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Destiny or not

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)

It is a well-known fact that an object moves toward where it is pointed or directed. In terms of our lives, it has to do with our "line of sight" - we focus on something and we move toward it - or avoid it all together as something dangerous we should stay away from. Unless we are cliff diving we probably don't move beyond the edge of the cliff - but how many times do we get right up to the edge just to "look over" to see what is there? There are times we allow things into our focus, getting just a little too close to the edge for our safety and security - whether it be in the realm of our emotions, spiritual lives, or our physical body. We push beyond where we should go all because our focus draws us into someplace we probably shouldn't go.

Focus is a BIG deal, friends. It most certainly has a great deal to do with our destination, but it may also have a great deal to do with our destiny! Some think of one's destiny in life as one's "lot" in life - it is the combined set of circumstances that lead up to the outcome one realizes. It is more than fate that determines our course, though. It is a whole lot of choices along the way, sometimes with multiple course changes just based on what it is we are choosing to focus on at that moment. The destination is our target - destiny is what we feel we have little to no control over - it just is what it is. 

The truth is that we often do more to affect our destiny by the destination we are determined to reach than we might first want to admit. We make choices - both good and bad - and the sum of these choices often is described by some as our "destiny" in life - simply based on what they see as a result of our choices. The destination we reach at one point in our lives is determined by what it is we choose to focus upon with the greatest of determination. If I focus on losing weight and getting in shape, I drop pounds, lower my cholesterol, and generally feel more energized. The destination was a certain "pound range" or "size range", but was this my "destiny" in life? Not really, it was a place I wanted to reach - a point in time I hoped I would sustain, but it doesn't sustain me!

Our destiny often can be thought of more as what sustains us - what keeps us in the race, so to speak. I am determined to realize my eternity is spent with Jesus. That determination affects the choices I make, but I'll have to admit it doesn't affect ALL of the choices I make. Some of the time I choose to focus on stuff not really helping me grow in Christ - it isn't that I am changing my destiny by that lack of focus, because I am still a child of God. It is that I may not realize the fullness of the destination God has planned for me in this lifetime! While they are very similar, one thing is for sure - what we determine to be our focus in life will define our destiny into eternity. Just sayin!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Counting one by one

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. (Eric Hoffer) There is an old hymn of the church whose words echo: "When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." (Johnson Oatman, Jr.) If you have never heard the hymn, or it has been a very long time since you sang it, there is benefit in a little "refresher" on the words! The final stanza says much: "So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be disheartened, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end."

The godly are showered with blessings... (Proverbs 10:6a NLT)

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:3-6 NLT)

It isn't that God is "going to" bless us, it is that he has already showered us with his blessings! Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms is given to us already simply because we are joined with Christ through grace. Considering that for just a moment, there is nothing any of us needs that isn't already provided. I didn't say that we have all we want, because our "want" is often a little "overboard" on occasion. We can "want" a whole lot of things, but some of what we "want" will actually do us more harm in the end if we were to obtain everything we wanted! God is interested in meeting our needs - in "showering" us with the blessings of heaven - through Christ Jesus. That means we cannot experience these same blessings if we are not joined with Christ - they are "conditioned" upon that union!

As Hoffer said, the hardest "math" to learn is this "arithmetic" of actually "summing" or "counting" our blessings. For me, these blessings begin with my redemption, but in God's eyes, even my existence or "birth" is a blessing. The fact that I have experienced "new birth" is a double-blessing! What are your blessings? In rather short order, you might begin to compile a list of the "things" you see before you - a nice home, reliable automobile, good job. Then you might gravitate to the people God has placed in your life and list them as "significant" blessings. Eventually, your list ends, doesn't it? You are all "counted out", so to speak. Yet, you have neglected to account for some very significant blessings you didn't even know you had been a recipient of such as the time God's hand diverted that speeding driver from clipping your car, or the many times you just breathed a moment or two between the hectic rush of life.

We take for granted so many of our blessings. We recount a few, at best, but often overlook those that didn't rise to the level of "memorable moments" forever trapped in the recesses of our minds. The birth of our children, the day we walked the aisle to receive our diploma, or the time we were snatched away from the edge of the cliff just before falling into some temptation, these are easily remembered. I sometimes quip with my BFF about my "rememberer" being a little broken. My memory (and yours) traps away so much, but when asked to recount what is in there, it can sometimes be difficult. God wants us to take inventory of his blessings to us quite often - so we form memories of his grace and provision. The more we consider his grace, the more we develop a sense of gratitude and gratitude sends the evils of discontent packing! Just sayin!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The skies display his craftsmanship...

The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. 
Scripture describes the accolades that are raised as Jesus enters Jerusalem just before he is crucified, with throngs of people laying down garments and palm branches to make a pathway for his entrance, all the while calling out praises to God for all the miracles they had been witnesses to as Jesus ministered on this earth. The religious leaders are none too excited Jesus is receiving all this "attention", so they tell him to rebuke these followers for the things they are saying. Jesus simply turns and pointedly says, "If they keep quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!" All of creation is meant to praise the eternal God, even the majestic skies, roaring seas, and soft babbling brooks.
As a kid on hot summer days, I'd find a semi-shaded spot and just "sky gaze" while luxuriating in the coolness of that shade. I'd listen as birds sent their melodious messages from one branch to the other, crickets chirped their incessant songs of impassioned pleas, cicadas buzzed as the busily shed their outer shell of skin, and the occasional breeze rustled the leaves underfoot. As I gazed upward, I noticed something - the skies are never the same. From day to day, the hue of the blue changed and the colors painted at various times of the day were always different. Even the con-trails of the passing airplanes sometimes stretched from one corner to the other, while at others they disappeared into what seemed like "thin air" almost as soon as they were formed. The skies were full of clouds one moment, than clear the next. There was a constancy to the uncertainty of the changes I observed, but a beauty to be found in that "constant change" nonetheless - a beauty that declared the majesty of the Creator indeed.
It should come as no surprise to us that nature even has a way of praising the Creator of all things. The constant lapping of waves on the shore produces a melody of rhythmic praise all its own, while the gently ruffling of the mulberry leaves in the gentle afternoon breezes declare a melody quite unique to them alone. The whispering of the pines and the gurgling of the brooks, each declare some simple, yet profound truth of praise to the one who both created them and sustains them at the same time! All of creation - that includes us - will join in praise one day, bowing before the feet of Jesus and echoing accolades that not only declare what we have seen, but what we have come to know in our hearts - that God exists, rules supreme, and is the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings!
In the meantime, let us never lose sight of the fact God is deserving of our praise - not just because he does miracles in our midst, but because he is the one who both created and sustains us in all things. Yes, those miracles create a sense of awe, but it is the beauty of his creation - the complexity of it all working together - that causes me to praise him. From the complexity of the skies and seas, to the inner-working of the many systems which make up the human body, all declare there is a Creator deserving of praise and worship! Just sayin!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day, Dad

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.  But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him.
(Psalm 103:13-17 NLT)

My earthly father always believed in me and he showed it by his actions toward me. When I wanted to learn how to ride a bike, he encouraged me to go for it by getting out the training wheels and putting them on my sister's huge Schwinn two-wheeler. I say huge because anything bigger than 5 inch wheels on a tricycle was "HUGE" to me in those days! When I wanted to earn a little money like my older siblings were doing, he helped me pick the fruit from the citrus trees in our yard, pile it high into the wheelbarrow, and then make believe he wasn't watching me like a hawk from two doors down as I stood on the street corner with my sign that it was a penny a piece! When I wanted to finish nursing school after a break up in my marriage, he gave up every other weekend to stay at home to watch the grand kids so I could work a job getting some skills I needed to "learn the trade". He knew when I needed to learn lessons the hard way, or when a hand of rescue was needed. He never took his eye off me when I was certain I was doing everything "all on my own". Indeed, he showed his love and his "backing" in my life in so many ways, probably making it easier for me to see just how much God my heavenly Father does much the same thing every day of my life.

There are times we need to know we have the "backing" of our heavenly Father - feeling his presence so closely to us that we just know we will be caught if we were to stumble even the slightest. There are other times God isn't quite as "palpable" in the moment, but we must never lose sight of the fact he still is watching over us and his strong arm is ready to deliver us at the first indication we are in need of his intervention. Sometimes God knows we have the ability to do what needs to be done - because he has seen us do it time and time again. He still stands "watch" over our actions, my friend. At other times, God knows we will want to "chicken out", overcome with fear and doubt because of the daunting size of the task ahead of us, and he has already made provision for the encouragement and little nudges we will need to put one foot in front of the other as we go into and through whatever it is we face.

It hasn't escaped God's attention or notice that our "make up" is that of dust - from dust we were formed and to dust we shall return! Dust doesn't have must "structure" unless there is a skilled hand fashioning it into something unique and "put together". Dad gave me many "skills" as I was growing up, sharing with me the things he had learned as he made his way through life. Why should I feel like God wouldn't share his "skills" with me as life's opportunities present themselves that are bigger than my present "skill set"? God the Father isn't going to abandon us with the issue at hand - he may allow us to struggle with it a little to show us where it is we need a little help - but he doesn't abandon us to solve life's issues all on our own. I think some of us don't understand this as well as we should, maybe because we didn't have a good and trusting relationship with our earthly fathers. It is possible for us to learn to trust God, though. He isn't one to shirk "responsibility", nor is he one to "abandon" us. We won't know this until we actually put a little skin into the game and begin to trust him, though. We don't allow him to show us how near to us he is and just how much care he takes to ensure our safety and provision in this lifetime. Trust isn't inherited. It is learned. It isn't in the words so much as it is in the actions. God certainly has revealed he can be trusted - we just need to observe his actions in our lives to know this. 

I cannot wish my earthly father a Happy Father's Day today because he went on to heaven many years ago. I can show him how much his influence in my life made a difference though. If you didn't have that positive influence in your earthly father, you do in your heavenly Father. We can all reveal how much HIS influence makes in our lives. Just sayin!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Each day is the scholar of yesterday. (Publilius Syrus) It is indeed a challenge to remain "current" on all that yesterday taught, isn't it? In fact, there are probably times we want to be a little the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand because the lessons are just too hard or we just don't want to be "bothered" any longer with whatever it is we have been learning. Teachers everywhere will tell us how difficult it becomes to teach kids as summer vacation approaches. Their attention is directed to the summer fun and less onto the lessons of the hour! If we really want to remain vibrant and growing, we need to continually being looking at the things we can learn from what we did yesterday. It doesn't mean we live in the past, but that we take inventory of what the day offered, how it is we can "use" what we took away from that day (the good and the bad), and how it is we can put all that into good use for our day today!

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:2-6 NLT)

The Proverbs were written to help us understand the insights of others who have already figured out a few things in this lifetime. There is something to be said about listening to wise counsel and then putting into practice the wisdom we glean from that counsel. It sure beats making the same mistakes over and over again because we really didn't know what to do with what we were given in our day! What God did for us in giving us the 66 books of our Bible is to record for us the things which help us take away the lessons of yesterday - the history that perhaps shouldn't repeat itself as well as that which is pretty doggone awesome! One thing is for sure - we all have "yesterday" experiences we definitely don't want to relive! We want to put them as far from us as possible, but if we stop for just a moment to consider what it is we take away from those experiences, we note things such as not responding the same way, avoiding that particular "trigger point" again, etc.

Yesterday has a value of its own - it gives us insight into how we may deal with today. When we "run through" our yesterday merits and demerits, we find it possible to maybe have a few less of those same demerits today, but also to capitalize on the merits whenever possible. If I totally botched a relationship opportunity yesterday, I may not be presented with exactly the same opportunity today, but I can allow how I handled it yesterday to affect how I will handle that relationship today. I might be making a path to someone to ask their forgiveness for my behavior, or even taking a moment to thank that other person for pointing out some things to me I had not considered, but which were definitely causing me some issues in my relationships. Even the "bad stuff" has a lesson in it. We may not want to ever examine it again to find that lesson, but the value of us doing so today, when we are less "in the thick of it", is that we often see clearer what was a little foggier just yesterday!

While God doesn't want us to dwell in the past, he does value us taking lesson from it - allowing it to influence how we will make new decisions today and what it is we will spend our resources focusing on now. Just sayin!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The gate, not the road

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." 
This teaching comes in the midst of such things as not judging each other for what we have/don't have or do/don't do because of the damage this causes not only to the relationship we have with others, but what it does to have such discontent cultivated in our midst. There is a tendency to compare ourselves to each other, holding a man's actions or abilities as our "standard" by which we measure each other. It is a faulty standard at best and it builds this culture of discontent because we will soon realize others don't do as we do, nor do they have what we have. It also falls on the heels of each of us praying for the things we have need of in our lives, always trusting that God who knows our needs even before we ask stands at the ready to meet our every need. It is immediately after Jesus spent time reminding his hearers to do unto others as you would like them to also do unto you, not forgetting that this is the sum of all that is taught in the Law of God. At this juncture, he pauses to share the truth about two roads - one very well-worn and wide; the other narrow and traveled only by those who have discovered the wonder and joy of the destination awaiting them at the end of the journey.
I think it is no accident that Jesus puts this reminder of the "narrow road" after all this instruction to avoid comparison, not being afraid to express our heart to God, and the overarching principle of thinking how others can be blessed through our lives. We are examples of his grace and as such, we invite others to travel this narrow road. The wider road tolerates many of the actions and attitudes Jesus has just warned against - making it an "easy choice" for many. When I willingly begin to analyze my "place" in life by the actions of others, I can get onto this "super-highway" of comparison, envy, and bitterness pretty easily. I open the door to both an elevated view of myself at one moment and then a deflated image of who or what I am - leaving me riding a roller coaster of emotions and dealing with both elevated and diminished pride at sometimes the same time. It makes the "easy journey" an up and down ride, to say the least, but it is still the "easiest" ride to embark upon!
I don't want us to miss what Jesus said here, though - because I think we think the road to life with Jesus is very, very narrow - almost "confining" sometimes. It doesn't say the road is narrow, it says the "gateway" onto that road is! I have narrowly squeezed through some spaces on my travels as I hike up into beautiful, wide open meadows that would have been totally missed had I not gone through the narrow opening of the gateway in order to get there! The journey beyond the gate isn't as narrow as we might at first imagine! It is just that in order to embark upon the journey we lay down the stuff that shouldn't go with us on the journey down that roadway! We leave behind our pride, bitterness, anger, comparison, etc. We let go of the burdens we have "packaged" into our lives that just distract or weigh us down. Then we can pass through the narrow gate into the vast expanse of God's love, provision, and protection - the roadway of grace that leads into the vast meadows of limitless rest, purposeful peace, and tremendous provision beyond all we might have compared our lives to in the past!
It isn't the roadway we should consider as much as what we desperately need to lay down to enter the gateway! Just sayin!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How surefooted are you?

The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. 
How "surefooted" are you these days? Mom shared with me last night that she is feeling a little less than steady on her feet these days. It is apparent that she is shuffling her feet a little more and she is definitely not "putting the miles on" her legs like she used to as she ages. It is also apparent to me that these physiologic changes in her body bring with them mental and spiritual changes, as well. Herein is the rub for many of us where it comes to "growing on in years" with Jesus. It isn't that we are engaged in the activities of growing up so much, but that we are "growing on". We find ourselves appreciating or even considering truth in a new way. It is as though things we might have missed while we were doing all that "growing up" somehow makes sense now!
A deer is pretty doggone surefooted, but as a tiny fawn is born into this world, do we observe that same "surefooted" stance? Nope! In fact, they are kind of wobbly on those spindly legs at first and eventually they get a little bit "bouncy" and "flouncy" in their jumping about, exploring new things and facing the challenges of discovery. The tiny baby begins to grow up and in turn, all that energy of youth gives them tremendous ability to bound here and there, jumping high in the tall summer grass, and exploring new things with vigor and what appears to be limitless stamina. As the deer grows, it adds "weight" and begins to develop into the adult stages of life. In those stages, the deer is still rather nimble and able to take on the new challenges of difficult paths and hard climbs, not because it wants to climb higher, but because it knows there is provision awaiting them within the climb. There remains lots of "muscle" and pretty much limitless energies. In this stage, there is a lot of time and effort put into nurturing the offspring produced and training them to be safe and secure in their own "walk".
As the deer advances, carrying more and more weight, it struggles to be as nimble as it once was. While it remains "surefooted", the wisdom in where it makes its footing is more and more apparent. It doesn't strive for the unexplored path as much, but trusts in the ones that have proven to be rewarding time and time again. We have passed on wisdom along the way, leading little ones young in their faith to grow up and grow strong. As we grow on in years walking with Jesus, we have accumulated the weight that matters - the wisdom of the years and the weight of his truth within. We know where to find our footing and where it makes sense to look for our provision. We find ourselves exploring less and trusting more. Why? Is it because we are "growing old" in our walk? Not necessarily. It may just mean that we are more aware of our ability, his provision, and how those two intersect. In this sense, we have become "surefooted" in our trek with Jesus. We are trusting his path much more than we used to and we are stable in our walk as a result. Just sayin!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Oversized Wishbones

Robert Frost once quipped, "A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body - the wishbone." So true, isn't it? We find ourselves saying thing such as, "I wish I could...", "I wish I had...",  or even "I wish I hadn't..." In the dreams of tomorrow and the wistful contemplation of our yesterday, we find ourselves "wishing" our lives away! Our psalmist was having one of those moments where he began to envy all the things he saw those around him doing, acquiring, and being given - his words might just betray our hearts a little, as well. "For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else."  Have you ever found yourself saying something similar to this? We don't "get" how some people "get all the breaks in life", while others just seem to go on and on in their little worlds with all the problems that come their way. Then in a short period of time, with God's grace and help, we come to the realization of just how greatly we are blessed, despite the "absence" of the "things" we might have once envied in their lives!

I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.  My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.  (Psalm 73:22-26 NLT)

We can "wish" forever, but in the end, it isn't wishing that accomplishes anything in our lives - it is the putting forth of the effort to see the thing accomplished. God isn't just going to deliver all of life's "things" to us on a silver platter - there is something to be done on our part with all aspects of his blessing. We may not realize it, but even the changing of our attitude takes some effort! We don't get a different mindset because God brainwashes us! We choose our mindset and we choose the attitude of gratitude - regardless of the circumstances we are in at the moment. Do you know what turns us away from comparing ourselves and circumstances to the "outcomes" of another's life? It is this attitude of gratitude. That may seem simple, but it is so true! Once we begin to settle into the grace of God within our own lives, the "things" or "privileges" of another's life just pale in comparison!

Our psalmist spoke from a heart as genuine as could be - he admits to the struggles with envy and comparison he engaged in just as much as each of us struggle with those same comparisons. We just aren't all that different from each other, are we? We all get wrapped up in this "comparison" thing from time to time. We all have the ability to get ourselves all bent out of shape because another seems to be "doing so well" in comparison to what is happening in our lives at the moment. As I sat at the memorial service for my dear sister-in-law this past week, one thing struck me that her daughter shared. She recounted the repeated times (and there were many) over all the years of struggle that her mother received that "crappy diagnosis" that she wasn't counting on - the cancer was back again or hadn't shrunk despite the aggressive treatment regime. Each and every time, as her daughter so perfectly described it, she faced that "crappy diagnosis" with grace and determination. She could have compared herself to others who got the "glowing reports" of "cancer-free", but she didn't. She pressed on, in spite of odds that were declared to be totally against her. 

When we exercise our "wishbone" too aggressively, our "comparison buttons" are pushed all too easily, my friend. When we settle into the day-to-day living of life in the measure of grace we are given for each day, despite the "prognosis of the day", we begin to find our focus isn't on what we don't have, but what lies right in front of us. If that be Jesus - what more could we need? Just sayin!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Time isn't everything - timing is

Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God. For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. (Psalm 90:2,4 NLT)
Most of us don't really understand how a thousand years can be like a day to God - as brief as a few night hours. In fact, if you have ever spent a sleepless night, awakened by some noise, then unable to fall back to sleep again, you know how "slowly" those hours pass! The important thing for us to remember is that God's time-continuum is different than ours - his economy of scale is huge compared to ours. This is so very valuable for us to learn, because we tend to think in the here and now, with maybe a little look into the future now and again, but God sees the bigger picture long before it ever happens! The above passage begins with, "Lord, through all the generations you have been our home." This is the pivotal point of all the psalmist is saying - before anything ever was, even after what we know today is gone in some tomorrow, God's presence has been and will forever be our home!
Just a little later in this psalm, the psalmist asks God to "teach us to realize the brevity of life, so we may grow in wisdom." (vs. 12) The "brevity" of life is evident all around us, but are we growing in the midst of the realization of this brevity. As a youngster, I went through growth spurts - shooting up, filling out, needing larger clothes and discarding shoes when they became too tight to any longer squeeze my toes into. In a spiritual sense, we also grow in spurts - shooting up sometimes to new heights, getting a broader perspective on life at other times, and sometimes even having to leave behind stuff we had become quite comfortable with in the process. As a young teenager, I know I saw others "maturing" around me at a much quicker pace than I was - making me envious of their growth and development. It isn't uncommon for us to do exactly the same thing in a spiritual sense - envying others who seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.
God isn't after the "quickness" of our growth, but the lasting integrity of that growth. There are just some lessons easier to learn or "adapt to" than others - especially when it comes to issues of trust in a life where trust may have been violated by others on more than one occasion. It may seem like it is taking "forever" for us to learn to trust, but in reality, that "forever" to us is like a blink of an eye to God. He knows the exact time it will take for us to get to the place of fully trusting in him, trusting him for who he is and then relying less upon our own "fixes" to fix our fixes. God is intent on us learning the "brevity" of our lives (complete with all the messes we get ourselves into) and the "vastness" of his care, love, and grace. 
The closing words of the psalm bear reading because they speak of the psalmist's desire to be satisfied with God's love - nothing compares to the love of God and nothing satisfies us quite as effectively as that love. Maybe we could make this our prayer this morning, for nothing would please the Lord more than for us to trust his timing, look to him for our sustenance, and allow him to replace what was once broken and battered with that which is most beautiful and whole!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!
Just sayin!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Eviction notice posted

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 
What or who is at home in your heart? This might just be a tougher question to answer than we first think, because our first inclination is to say, "Well, Jesus, of course." Yet, I have to ask, how many roommates is Jesus forced to live with? How much space do these other roommates take up in that heart of yours - in my own heart? It might be that roommate of constant guilt, always yacking at you and never letting you forget it is around. It could be the roommate of pride, demanding its own way and struggling to allow control to be "lost" in anyway. It could even be the roommate of negativity, nagging and demeaning until you just don't want to even be around yourself any longer! Either way, Jesus might just be in "competition" for a little more space in our hearts - if we were totally honest here.
I remember the first trip my BFF and I took together. We were pretty sure we'd do well sharing space in a cabin on a cruise ship, enjoying a few rays on the deck together, and luxuriating in the quietness of the open seas. I'd have to say that back then, we did well together, but we hadn't grown in our trust of each other quite like we have now. In fact, as we travel together these days, we are quite comfortable just hanging with each other, being our real selves, and we actually look forward to these times with anticipation and excitement. It is like we have grown comfortable being in "each other's space", yet still giving each other "enough space" to be exactly as we are. In these couple of week's a year we get to enjoy away from caregiving of elderly parents, work, and all the routine of life, we get to just unwind, put our feet up, take long walks, enjoy a little piece of God's beautiful earth, and just "hang". I think God wants those special times with us, too, but it could just be our lives are a little too "occupied" to allow many of these times!
While retreats and special times away are good to recenter our lives and help us regain focus, they probably aren't the true "staple" of life by which we all live and breathe. We must learn to balance the constant barrage of demands the "roommates" in our heart make upon us, right down to kicking some of those "roommates" out so there is more room for the one who really matters! We have a tendency to not want to deal with the roommate nobody wants - but why? Why do we tolerate that "messy" roommate who makes us feel dirty inside? Why do we permit that "intrusive" roommate to take up more space than we want to give it? Why do we humor the "demanding" roommate who always makes its own needs the most important needs of the moment? Perhaps it is because we aren't really all that good at serving the eviction notices!
The truth of the matter is that most of us have a hard time "evicting" these "space-consuming" roommates in our heart. It isn't meant to be our job alone - we need someone stronger and more powerful than us to "serve notice" and then kick them out - Jesus! Not only is he the most gentle, kind, and loving roommate our heart could ever welcome in, he is also the most powerful and capable! He will deal with these "space-consuming" roommates - but we have to be willing to serve notice and then allow him to enforce that notice. We stop and he starts. We put down roots and he gives us stability. We open the door and he kicks them to the curb. There is just not enough room for the stuff that only "consumes space"! Just sayin!