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Showing posts from September, 2017

Did I just say that?

When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. (Ephesians 4:29ERV) Notice our passage today doesn't say "if you talk", or "should you be so inclined as to say something". It says "when" - because we all have moments when our "talk" escapes us kind of unnoticed by our brains! We get those words out there and then think, "Did I just say that out loud?" By then, it is too late! The words that escape our brain's filter often hit a target we never intended to actually hit! The things people need to hear versus the stuff that comes out of our mouths sometimes can be vastly different. The things we each need to hear are the things that help us grow stronger as individuals and ultimately as a community. When these are the words spoken, we become an immovable force the enemy of our souls cannot deal with! W…

There is more than me?

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. (Philippians 2:3-4ERV) Okay, a moment for true confessions here. It is very hard being the caregiver to an elderly parent sometimes. There are just times when you want to have a little more sleep, get a little alone time or time with the girls, or opt for a bowl of cereal after a long day's work instead of cooking a meal. We all have these moments, whether we admit it or not, when we just want to ask, "What about me?" In those moments, it could just be God reminding us that not everything in life is about us! There are just times when life has to be about others. It is so easy to consider our own needs, and even to drift into moments of complaining because they aren't being met as we think they should be. It is hard let go of what we think we "deserve" or should b…

Forgive, don't remind

9 Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. 10 Smart people learn more from a single correction than fools learn from a hundred beatings. (Proverbs 17:9-10 ERV) Some of us find ourselves facing opportunities on occasion in which we know someone we care about deeply needs a little correction in their life - the choices they have been making aren't all that wise or they are going to take them into places they shouldn't dabble. There are times when we want to stop them in their tracks, but we must be very cautious not to over-step our bounds in the relationship. In those moments, we are caught in a hard place - we want to save them the hardship of the wrong choice, but we also know there are times when the individual just isn't prepared to listen to us no matter how imploring our arguments to the contrary might be. Here are a few thoughts for us today: 1. Forgiveness might just be the ticket that changes someone's…

Armor is meant to be worn

11 Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks.12 Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.13 That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil, you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. (Ephesians 6:11-13 ERV)

It was Abraham Lincoln who penned the words, "Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm." Where we have our feet planted is an important thing to take notice of as it determines just how secure our stand will be in the end. I have planted my feet on occasion on more than one "moving stone" and ended up getting a little wet, muddy, or losing my footing all together. It is too late to consider your next step when you have already lost yo…

Love is seen in actions of obedience

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. (I John 4:18 ERV)

The work of the Holy Spirit within us helps us to live with a sense of confirmation we are loved by God, regardless of our past misgivings or our present performance. We are unique in his eyes, not because we stand above anyone else, but because of who stands "within" us. Christ's presence with us gives us the ability to love above any fear of judgment as we approach the throne of God's grace. I think the Holy Spirit has the tough job of convincing our mind and heart of that truth sometimes, though. We want to believe God could never truly "love" us because we think of his love in terms of how we humans "love" one another. So often, our human love is performance based - we see the actions of another and then we either feel loved or not. Maybe this is why God did so much to demonstrate his love for us - because he knew we'd equate "doing&quo…

Brave as a Lion

The wicked are afraid of everything, but those who live right are as brave as lions. (Proverbs 28:1 ERV)

What gets you to the place of taking action in your life? Sometimes it is much easier to just be sidelined, not in the thick of things, letting things swirl out of control without us being right in the middle of those things, isn't it? We don't actually want to be all that "brave" or "into" the actions because there is a little bit of risk beyond what we may really want to take if we choose action over being sidelined. There are really a couple of things that place us on the sidelines - one is the choice to not even put forth the effort so we aren't asked to "play" in the game - the other is that we aren't quite ready because we haven't quite learned what is needed to keep us safe if we were to be in the thick of the action. Another may be something we didn't control, but which left us kind of "laid up" or "lame&qu…

More than Good Enough - we are GOOD

Sometimes a song's lyrics will just speak to me almost as deeply as scripture does. One such song is entitled "Good Enough" by Dara Maclean on the album "Wanted". Almost all of us desire to be "wanted" by someone. We seek that attachment - that connection to another individual. We go through life pursuing what we think will make us a "wanted" friend, wife, husband, employee, etc. To many of us, this equates to a pursuit of being "good enough" - we don't believe we will be "wanted" until we are somehow "good enough" in one way or another. We change our appearance, develop our talents, learn a new skill, etc., all in pursuit of being "good enough". My question is, "When is good enough really good enough?"

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:2…

Joy-Filled

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. (Philippians 4:4 ERV)

In modern days, we often equate happiness to joy and vice-versa. Happiness is dependent upon the circumstances. Joy is something much deeper, welling up from within. This is why scripture tells us to be "filled with" joy. When people are "favored" in some manner, by good fortune, luck, or some happening that delights them, they are said to be happy. When people are said to be joyful, it usually wells from a deep sense of contentment and fulfillment. There are subtle differences, but one is very dependent upon circumstance while the other is more of a lasting emotion. A lot of people try to give really deep meaning to one and a shallower meaning to the other, with happiness being very fleeting and joy more of a lasting emotion. The truth is that both are emotions - one can be a little longer lasting because it is based in keeping our eyes on Jesus even when the circu…

I forgot that blessing

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. (Melody Beattie)

What or who is it you find yourself complaining the most about? Chances are that thing or person is never going to be viewed as a blessing in your life until you change your way of seeing them just a little! I used to complain about not having a car when I was first married with young kids at home. If I wanted to go some place, I walked, rode the bike, or hitched a ride from a friend. Many a grocery trip was comprised of one child in the child carrier on my bike and another peddling alongside, with a backpack of groceries on my back. Then one day quite unexpectedly I was blessed with a car - as a gift! My in-laws bought a new one and no longer needed that little VW Rabbit. I was overjoyed to receive such a blessing. That is...until it be…

The past has no cure

I have carried you since you left your mother’s womb. I carried you when you were born,and I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety. (Isaiah 46:3-4 ERV)

There are times we just need to be reminded of God's faithfulness toward each of us - today may be one of those times for some of us. Regardless of what you are going through, if you look hard enough, you might just realize that God is the one who has been carrying you for quite some time! From moment to moment, we may forget who is at work in our lives, believing God has abandoned us on occasion simply because things get a little tougher than we would have wanted. Whenever we get to feeling like we are abandoned, we just need to look to our Creator - for the one who creates will never abandon his creation.

It was Elizabeth the First who said the past could not be cured. Too many times we go about our day's efforts trying to im…

Too high, or too low?

The poet Edward Young reminds us, "Too low they build, who build beneath the stars." A building site is often the most significant part of the building. Too much on hard, impenetrable stone and the necessary foundation might not be as easily placed as one may imagine. The running of pipes to bring fresh water and take away waste is made all the harder when the ground is solid with impenetrable stone. To accomplish the placement of these, blasting may need to occur. The process is costly, loud, and riddled with all kinds of dangers. Too much shifting sand and the foundation will never be secure, for the ground beneath is subject to every flow of water from storms and every gust of wind. Sure, the building may go up, but will it stay up? Jesus reminds us to not lay up our treasures on this earth, but to look to what it is we can lay up in the heavens instead. Why? There are a whole lot of forces seeking to destroy or "take away" those earthly treasures - but there is…

Who's at the helm?

Show me your faithful love this morning.I trust in you. Show me what I should do.I put my life in your hands! Show me what you want me to do. You are my God. Let your good Spirit lead me over level ground. (Psalm 143:8,10 ERV)

Edward Gibbons reminds us, "The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." Sometimes I find myself navigating on the worst side of the winds and waves, how about you? It is like all I can do is barely keep the boat of my life from capsizing and the wind and waves seem to be working against me at every turn. In those moments, all our efforts are placed in just making it through the storm. The ability to navigate the storms of life aren't so much found in our own strength or "navigation skills". The ability we need to navigate the wind and waves is that which comes from the Spirit of God helping us to read those winds, observe the movement of the waves coming against us, and then to successfully point the nose of o…

Blessing in what we have come out of

16 But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you! Don’t force me to go back to my own people. Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.17 Where you die, I will die, and that is where I will be buried. I ask the Lord to punish me if I don’t keep this promise: Only death will separate us.” (Ruth 1:16-17 ERV)

Naomi found herself widowed, losing both sons, as well. A widow in her day and age relied upon sons to take care of her, but now they were gone and she only had her two daughter-in-laws who could possibly help support her. The desire to remain together as a "family unit" is strong, but when it comes to leaving a place where you are comfortable, surrounded by friends and other family members, it can be quite difficult. The time comes when Naomi wants to return to her home land - to be nearer her own kin. Perhaps someone will act as a "redeemer" on her behalf to provide for…

A grace-filled touch

Cesare Pavese said, "We do not remember days, we remember moments." There are lots and lots of moments in my lifetime that come flooding into my thought on occasion, some bringing warm feelings of pleasure and others causing just a little bit of pain as a little bit of the memory of an old wound is recounted. I had one such unpleasant memory on my recent trip with my BFF while we were just sharing a little of ourselves. What struck me the most is that she sensed my intensely deep pain as she reached out and just simply touched my arm, and in an instant, without one word from her, the pain dissipated. God has a way of helping us even when we don't recognize we need that help, my friends. In any moment, we never know when a moment remembered can become a time of healing - no words necessary, just the touch of grace.

Praise the Lord! I thank the Lord with all my heart in the assembly of his good people. The Lord does wonderful things, more than anyone could ask for. The thin…

Which way?

"Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley." (Theodore Roethke) I had the chance to head to a lovely area of the Northern Arizona rim country this past week, enjoying a little R&R with my BFF and some quality time in nature. It always manages to recenter my focus and calm my weary body, despite the strenuous climbs down paths unknown, or long days awaiting those telltale nibbles that let me know there is a fish on the hook! One of my favorite things to do is to just look out over high places on the mountain's edge and see the vastness of the valleys below. While I appreciate the many things seen deeper down into those valleys, such as the lush meadows, abundant wildlife, and tall pines, I always appreciate the perspective one can obtain when one climbs to the top of the mountain for just a little bit of a different vantage point. As Roethke said, the path is there, but sometimes we just need to change our vantage point to see it…

Discovery begins...

8 This is what the Scripture says: “God’s teaching is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” It is the teaching of faith that we tell people.9 If you openly say, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved.10 Yes, we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we openly say that we believe in him, and so we are saved. (Romans 10:8-10 ERV)

In what ways are God's teachings near to each of us? First, it becomes apparent his teachings are near us whenever we hear the Word of God spoken aloud, or spend time discovering the truths within our Bibles. Next, his teachings are near us each time we observe another walking and breathing right next to us. Each of us is his creation - the work of his hand - therefore, when we live among each other, we are observing elements of who and what God is by observing each other. Lastly, all of nature displays his wonders - evidence of who he is and how he works is…

It isn't what I want

God you owe me...

Have we ever said this in one fashion or another? Stop for just a moment to assess your motivation behind that thought. At first, it is possible that we just want something a little bit better than what we have because what we have gives us troubles, such as a poorly running automobile. It might be we want a matching suit of clothes instead of the second-hand stuff we are wearing. Or perhaps it is the sinking feeling that we aren't going to get as much in our stocking this year at the holiday season as someone else will. Regardless of the motivation, the root of the motivation is discontentment - we haven't really accepted the blessings we have been given. We are not content with what we have been given or will receive in the near future - believing "something else" will be more satisfying or rewarding may be sort of naive on our part.

We may believe there is something "unfair" when others are blessed in ways we may have wanted to be blessed…

Be a giver

24 Some people give freely and gain more; others refuse to give and end up with less. 25 Give freely, and you will profit. Help others, and you will gain more for yourself. (Proverbs 11:24-25 ERV) I watched a movie over vacation that was about a man wrongly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. He spent about a quarter of a century behind bars serving time for a violent crime he had been wrongly accused of all those years earlier. Yet, in the midst of all the harshness of prison, living a life he neither bargained for, nor "lived up to", he did not grow bitter. He longed for the day he'd be able to be free again. That day came when they discovered the "real" criminal because of new evidence. His release was bittersweet, though, for his main desire was to reunite with his father and have his father know of his innocence. It was almost too late, for his father was in the final stages of Alzheimer's disease and didn't recognize his own son. Isn't it…

Is it bread yet?

5 Doing right makes life better for those who are good, but the wicked are destroyed by their own wicked ways. 6 Doing right sets honest people free, but people who can’t be trusted are trapped by their greed. (Proverbs 11:5-6 ERV) I sometimes come across people who are bemoaning something in their life's circumstances, announcing they "just want things to be better". It isn't an uncommon thing to face some type of struggle only to wish things could "be better" - the struggle often reveals the unrecognized desire each of us has to see things change in our lives. What most of us fail to recognize is that the struggle is actually the catalyst whereby "better" begins - it isn't where it ends!  It is what we "do" when we are faced with the struggles that matters. We have a whole bunch of choices when faced with struggles, but the hardest ones may be the most rewarding. They may also be the choices that take the longest to get us to a place…

A lesson from a barren tree

Did you ever stop to consider how big or how little a situation actually looks depending how close or far removed you are to it? Be up close and personal with the issue and you might see only parts and pieces of it, while missing the bigger picture. Be a little further away and you might miss the detail. At surface level, much may be appreciated, but rise a little further above the issue and you often see much, much more, but not as much as you see until you gain God's perspective on the situation!

17 We have small troubles for a while now, but these troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles. 18 So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ERV)

This summer I took a few days in the high mountains of Arizona to just enjoy time with my grand boys and a second trip to enjoy some time with my BFF. On my trip up with boys…

Don't is a mighty powerful word

Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests,  but take interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude Christ Jesus had. (Philippines 2:3-5 NLT) Don't is a hard word for many of us. In fact, it is not uncommon for us to hear that word and then almost feel challenged to do it anyway! It is as though we know we shouldn't because we have been advised it would be unwise to do it, but there is a defiant part of us that wants to know why or what will happen if we do. I am not unlike others in this matter, for don't doesn't always work as enough of a deterrent to keep me from trying whatever it is. This means we might just need a little bit better of a deterrant! What things act as deterrant in our lives? There are probably more than we might think, but here are just a few to get us thinking. We might be deterred because we have some fear, either natur…