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Showing posts from June, 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…

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 121:7-8NLT) 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 rig…

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 …

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 cr…

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 som…

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, bu…

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…

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 u…

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&q…

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 fo…

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 skies display his craftsmanship...

The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. (Psalm 19:1-2NLT) 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…

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 st…

Yesterday

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 te…

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." (Matthew 7:13-14NLT) 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…

How surefooted are you?

The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19NLT) 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 …

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…

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 90:2,4NLT) 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 …

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. (Ephesians 3:17-19NLT) 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 …