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Showing posts from August, 2017

Stupid or Wise?

The late Walt Disney reminds us the "way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing." It is quite easy to talk - another thing to actually put actions to those words! There are times when my words get the best of me, though - especially when I commit to do something before I really count the cost, or determine if I even have any enthusiasm toward the task at hand. In so doing, I commit myself to something I neither wanted to do, nor will I enjoy doing in the long run. Maybe you have done similarly, finding yourself smack-dab in the middle of something you absolutely dread will never end. When you are there, what you do next may actually determine just how long you stay in that state of misery! Most of us wouldn't dream of admitting we were wrong in making the commitment to do something, but those of us who actually realize it was worse to make the commitment than to admit it was wrong to make it might just realize a release from the commitment once we do! Others m…

Branch or Root

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." (Henry David Thoreau) 
The branches of evil are easier to deal with than the root, making going after the root a task many will avoid simply because of how hard it is to discover and then deal with in an effective manner. There are a whole lot of harmful things in this day and age, but actually being aware of their harm is another thing. Evil has learned to mask itself in ways we don't easily recognize, making it harder than ever to get at the root of it in our society today. As Thoreau proposes, there are a lot of attempts to expose evil, but very little is actually being successful at permanently eradicating it. The same can be true in our own lives - for evil lurks in places we might not have even considered - places we don't like to look!
12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humb…

Don't discount the storm

I’m thanking you, God, out in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud’s a flag to your faithfulness. Soar high in the skies, O God! Cover the whole earth with your glory! And for the sake of the one you love so much, reach down and help me—answer me! (Psalm 108:3-6 MSG)

I am enjoying a week of respite away from the routines of life with my BFF - a rare treat and a privilege. We have already enjoyed sunny weather, awesome wildlife finds, and tremendous fishing. The evenings have been cool, the days mostly sunny, river waters refreshing, and breezes calming. We have had afternoon rain flurries, with mounting clouds, thunder claps, and displays of gloriously bright lightning. Even when it rains, there is something of beauty in our lives - whether it be the rainbow as the sun finally begins to break through or the vividly painted skies at sunset when clouds adorn the sky with colors galore. "Every cloud's a flag …

Plant on

Good people are like budding palm trees.They grow strong like the cedar trees of Lebanon.  They are planted in the house of the Lord.They grow strong there in the courtyards of our God. Even when they are old, they will continue producing fruit like young, healthy trees. They are there to show everyone that the Lord is good.He is my Rock, and he does no wrong. (Psalm 94:12-15 ERV)
Martin Luther said, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I'd still plant my apple tree." Tomorrow may not be assured, but what we can do today is still in front of us. We must take advantage of what is right in front of us and not be so focused on what lies ahead that we ignore the tasks or responsibilities right in front of us. Luther reminds us we may not always see the fruit of our labors, but today's labor may be the very thing that produces tomorrow's harvest!

The moment we sacrifice what is right in front of us, the opportunity which may come further down the …

Boast only...

“Whoever boasts should boast only about the Lord.” What people say about themselves means nothing. What counts is whether the Lord says they have done well.  (2 Corinthians 10:17-18ERV) Someone once reminded me my present issues and troubles don't determine where my life is headed - they merely make up the place where I can start (or perhaps even start again). I think they may have been quoting Nido Qubein who also reminds us, "Change brings opportunity."  As a novice using Excel spreadsheets, I built spreadsheets and workbooks of data only to find the elements I needed to extract from that plethora of data were so jumbled up I could not really get much meaningful data out of that mess. Over time, I came to realize the significance of not only the data housed in these sheets, but how it was organized in order to make meaningful use of it later on. In life, we often know we are supposed to do something with what it is we have right in front of us, but it is just such a ju…

The past's place

It was Alfred Lord Tennyson who said, "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers." He also said, "Tis not too late to seek a newer world." With all that is going on in our world today, wouldn't it be grand to seek a "newer world"? We may want to escape just a little of the present in hopes of finding a little bit better of a future - but what we have in the present cannot be ignored. We must deal with the present conflict and sorrow in order to really see change. This is a premise to change - sometimes sorrow leads us to make changes we might not ever see as necessary apart from that sorrow. As Tennyson alluded - wisdom is what lingers once the sorrow has produced the work of turning knowledge into life-change.

10 The kind of sorrow God wants makes people decide to change their lives. This leads them to salvation, and we cannot be sorry for that. But the kind of sorrow the world has will bring death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 ERV)
The Corinthian church was pretty …

Perfection this side of heaven?

Dr. Brene Brown reminds us, "You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." None of us is perfect - none of us is "just right" when it comes to where we have been, are right now, or even where we are headed. Along the way, we have made a few missteps, created a little chaos in our lives, allowed words to flow forth from our mouths that ought not to have been spoken, and found fault in others for the same thing we do ourselves. Dr. Brown reminds us we find our true sense of belonging when we find ourselves being our true selves. I'd have to say we find our true identity in Christ - then we live "true" to who we are from then on!
8 If we live, we are living for the Lord. And if we die, we are dying for the Lord. So living or dying, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:8 ERV)
My "true self" apart from Christ is pretty "unlovable" - it made messes out of life's choices and created mor…

Discovery

Anyone who makes fun of wisdom will never find it, but knowledge comes easily to those who understand its value. (Proverbs 14:6 ERV)
Socrates reminds us the only true wisdom is in knowing that you know absolutely nothing! On occasion, my BFF will ask me a silly question that goes something like, "Is there anything you cannot do?" I usually just glare at her or answer there are a lot of things I don't know and have never tried. Some will never be known by me, nor tried, for they are not in the plans God has for me in this lifetime. There will always be things we cannot know or do in this lifetime, but we can count on this - the things we need for today are readily at our disposal simply by asking God for them!

The knowledge we need for today's decisions is at our disposal - we often just don't go to the right source. I have several websites I consult when I want to figure out something challenging with a spreadsheet function or formula at work. The problem comes in…

Come as you are....

10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 ERV)

Big nose, tiny toes, dimply or bony knees, brown or pale skin tone, wiry or thinning hair - all of us are unique. In our uniqueness, we all have exactly one thing in common - we are made "what we are" by God himself. Each of us is a unique creation of his hand. We can go through life trying to "remake" what we are by getting this lifted or plumped, that tattooed or pierced, or even just a touch up here or there over the years. We go through life trying to change whatever "image" of ourselves we don't fully appreciate, or which others have poked fun at for some reason. We almost forget we were uniquely and wonderfully made by the hand of the Almighty "just as we are"!

If we want to "remake" ourselves, we might just need to refer back to this scripture o…

Aiming on the Fly

John Maxwell reminds us that our daily agenda is what determines where it is we will be pointed that day. We start well, but do we always finish the same course we started? If you work in an environment like I do, you probably will answer that one as a resounding "NO". Our healthcare environment might allow us to "plan" our day one way, but the demands of the day can change at breakneck speed. We have to be "flexible" in our aim, but still maintain some semblance of pursuing that aim. In our jobs, this might be okay - in the direction our life takes emotionally, spiritually, and within relationships - that might just be a different story.

Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ERV)

With every step we take, we have a choice - we can choose what seems best to us, or we can take a microsecond to just possibly reach out to God …

Do or do not...

How can a young person live a pure life?By obeying your word. I try with all my heart to serve you.Help me obey your commands. I study your teachings very carefully so that I will not sin against you. Lord, you are worthy of praise!Teach me your laws. I will repeat the laws we have heard from you. I enjoy following your rules as much as others enjoy great riches. I will study your instructions. I will give thought to your way of life. I enjoy your laws. I will not forget your word.   (Psalm 119:9-16 ERV)
"Do, or do not. There is no try." (Yoda - Star Wars) "I'll try" is one of the most overused phrases in the English vocabulary! We "try" to make it to some event that we really don't want to go to anyway. We "try" to learn how something is done, but there is no real joy in our effort and we'd rather just avoid it anyway. We "try" something new, but we know we won't see it very far because it isn't "our cup of tea&…

Mistake meet Retake

If you refuse to learn from your mistakes, you will be poor, and no one will respect you. If you listen when you are criticized, you will be honored. (Proverbs 13:18 ERV)
When was the last time you made a mistake? I mean the "very last time" you made one. Likely you haven't make your "last one", nor have you recalled "all" the mistakes you have made in the last week, let alone in your lifetime! Mistakes are a part of life - it is part of being human. Sometimes we call them "errors", but whether we call them mistakes or errors doesn't matter - the fact is we all "make them". A mistake is any "error" in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, or insufficient knowledge. We don't have to work at making mistakes - they happen most of the time because something wasn't "working" in us!

There are two words in the English vocabulary that are kind of awesome: Mistake and …

Wings that bear us to heaven

Michelangelo may have had a different meaning in mind when he penned the words, "Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven," but I believe these two things do indeed create the pathway for our entrance into the heavens. It was the death of Christ and the insane love of God that created the pathway we follow into heaven. Nothing short of these two, nor any other path has the potential of creating the same degree of peace, harmony, or path to change in a person's life. It was God's love that set out the course of the path and it was Christ who walked it faithfully on our behalf!

God is light, and in him there is no darkness. 6 So if we say that we share in life with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are liars, who don’t follow the truth. 7 We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean. 8 If we s…

Pray for Peace and Live It Out

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." (Dr. Seuss)

Absolutely nothing will change until we are the ones willing to "get better", "be better", "behave better", and "live better". My sister often says behaving bad is still behaving - it might not be behaving in the "right direction", but it is still behaving! We are living in times where the unexpected happens - where tragedy strikes without warning - and where lives are turned upside-down in the blink of an eye. As Seuss reminds us, unless WE care a whole awful lot - absolutely nothing will change! These times demand peace-makers and peace-givers. We have way more of the other side of that coin than we need!

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them his sons and daughters. (Matthew 5:9 ERV)
Being a peacemaker is not the easiest job in the world, but it is a role into which each of God'…

The top of the heap

Someone once told me if you have to tell someone how smart you are, you probably aren't all that smart. Those who rise to positions of power, whether it be in terms of job or perhaps leadership within government, need not tell us of their intellect, but should model it in their actions. I believe it was Bruce Lee who said, "Knowledge will give you power, but character respect." Those who seek to lead don't need power as much as they need the respect of those they are leading!

A nation without wise leaders will fall. Many good advisors make a nation safe. (Proverbs 11:14 ERV)

In today's news, we will likely catch wind of one or more controversies in government stemming from policy to practice, or privilege to poverty. All of the world's eyes will be directed for just a moment or two to some sound-byte that was likely taken out of context and is then sensationalized for all to hear over and over again. Leaders today have a great responsibility - but I wonder if s…

Be a "do gooder"

Mark Twain once quipped, "Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." I think sometimes I do a pretty good job of astonishing myself with doing what is right instead of what I may have wanted to do! Why does doing the right thing sometimes just flow from us and then at other times it is so very, very hard? It might just be that the "right thing" is harder because we wanted something to be different - we thought we'd be on the receiving end, instead of the giving end, or maybe we believed the circumstances would have changed just a little the last time we "did the right thing", but found they pretty much remained the same. It can be difficult to do the right thing all of the time, but the more we get this right, the more of Jesus others will see in and through us.

9 We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. 10 When we have the opportunity to do goo…

Gonna shed a little light here

As people understand your word, it brings light to their lives. Your word makes even simple people wise. (Psalm 119:130ERV) Okay, I am looking to get as much light into my life as possible. How about you? Want more? Then the way to get more is through the exploration of God's Word, for his Word brings light to our lives in places we didn't know darkness dwelt and in ways we didn't realize possible. Most of us don't know there are "dark" or "unexplored" places in our lives - but in truth, there are probably more than we'd like to admit. It isn't that we are "evil" or "bad to the bone" - we just need a little light to expose what we don't already see! I can only see when I am looking forward. Sure, I have peripheral vision that picks up a little here and there on the sides, but what is right behind me, underneath me, and even over me is not always apparent because I am just not looking there. Too many times there are th…

You're driving me crazy!

It was Douglas Horton who reminded us we should dig a second grave while seeking revenge, for the second one would be ours. He also told us no one could drive us crazy unless we actually gave them the keys with which to do so! It is probably more common than we'd like to admit - we kinda have this tendency in each us to just want someone to get what is coming to them. They cross us in some fashion and we just wanna tell 'em off. We want them to "know" how much pain they have caused, or how much their insensitivity to the situation has compounded our grief, anxiety, or doubt. We don't like that our workload has increased because they are slacking. It happens in thousands of different ways each day, and we ALL struggle just a little bit with the "not fair" kind of thinking, desiring to see them experience just a little of what we have been going through as a result. Horton was spot-on though when he told us to dig two graves - for taking these "littl…

The right fit

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.” (I Samuel 16:7 ERV)
One of the sons of Jesse had been chosen by God to be anointed the next King of Israel, taking the role King Saul had first filled. It was the custom that the High Priest or Prophet go out to do the work of anointing the new King. He'd take a horn of oil prepared for the task and listen intently to where God was leading him. As God would direct, Israel would soon have a new King, and he had to be prepared through the "anointing service" as evidence his life from "head to toe" was dedicated to the task of both serving God and the people. Samuel ends up at the house of Jesse, but is a little confused at first when he sees the first son, Eliab, who is tall and handsome - by appearances, he was all things you'd lo…

Courage comes from within

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. (Lao Tzu)
Tzu really described what it is like to come to the revelation of how deeply we are loved by God and then in turn, we begin to draw strength way beyond whatever is resident within us - building and growing until we are able to overcome obstacles that once stood squarely in our way. To be deeply loved by God and to realize even a tenth of what that love is like is to begin the journey of walking with a strength not your own. We will never fully comprehend the love of God in this lifetime, but we have an eternity to enjoy it!

15 Every family in heaven and on earth gets its true name from him. 16 I ask the Father with his great glory to give you the power to be strong in your spirits. He will give you that strength through his Spirit. 17 I pray that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. 18 And I pray t…