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Showing posts from October, 2017

Stem Cell Transplant

God, create a pure heart in me,and make my spirit strong again. Don’t push me awayor take your Holy Spirit from me. Your help made me so happy.Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey you. I will teach the guilty how you want them to live,and the sinners will come back to you. (Psalm 51:10-13 ERV)

Purity of heart is not something we accomplish on our own - we definitely need God's help with this one! In fact, it is impossible for the "impure" to ever reproduce "pure". The strength of spirit it took to compromise, or downright follow a path of impurity in the first place is what should make us realize we don't "find purity" on our own. We need (and we want) God to make our spirit strong again - but in the right direction!

It is one thing to be strong - it is another thing to exhibit the strength that is initiated and sustained by God himself. I can be a very strong-willed individual, but does that strength of will always produc…

Defined or conformed?

"Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces." (Matthew Henry) When we really stop to think about it, there are indeed times we equate affliction with some form of punishment, totally disconnecting that these present moments of affliction are really the things that reveal the tremendous depth of God's grace. Were it not for the opportunity the afflictions produce, we might not see the faithfulness of God in quite the same way, or his power, love, or depth of unending grace.

The Lord saves those who are good. When they have troubles, he is their strength. The Lord helps good people and rescues them. They depend on him, so he rescues them from the wicked. (Psalm 37:39-40 ERV)

Trees grow strong, but it is more than soil that makes them strong. It is the winds that challenge their rooting and give them cause to grow deeper than ever before. The trunks of those trees grow broader, giving them sub…

Not another minute!

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. (Psalm 27:14ERV) We've discussed this before, but I don't like to wait. The time it takes to "wait" in line, or for slow traffic to clear while others in front of me gawk at a fender bender is almost unbearable to me. Why is it so hard to wait - because it is not very "productive" time! It wasn't until I was well into my adult years (and I mean "well into") that I began to realize there might actually be a purpose in waiting when it is waiting on the right stuff.  Waiting for the Lord's help is one of those "right things" I need to be able to do. In fact, when I choose to wait on his help in my life, I realize something I actually need - strength and courage! Strength for the long haul and courage to face whatever the next challenge is that is just around the bend. Strength comes as we wait - not in us charging ahead under our own power or determined to …

Rice cake living

The Lord tells his secrets to his followers. He teaches them about his agreement. I always look to the Lord for help. Only he can free me from my troubles. (Psalm 25:14-15ERV) Another word for "agreement" is a much more formal one - covenant. It is always made between at least two parties, one of which is obligated to certain actions. In this case, God is the one who covenants with us - he is the one obligated to continually take certain actions based upon his unyielding love and unending grace. Our part in the agreement is to follow his teaching - to adhere to the principles that actually provide boundaries that will keep us safe. All of God's teachings contained within the scripture, even the bad stuff about those who chose not to adhere to them, is put there so we can learn to walk within these boundaries. God uses example to teach as much as he uses words. He knows we often learn best when we can see it lived out in someone's life. This means we also have the ab…

Outlook

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14ESV) Have you ever noticed how quickly your mouth betrays the musings of your heart? The longer you dwell on something in your mind, mulling it over and allowing emotion to become attached to the idea, the more the idea has a way of "spilling over" into your words and actions! There is no disadvantage to this as long as those musings are pure, kind, and Christlike in nature. As soon as they turn inward toward the self-demands of our flesh, the worse those musings become! John Maxwell reminds us that it is our attitude that others feel, even though they hear our words. That is why tone of voice so often betrays the true intent of the heart. There is not denying a begrudging or peeved attitude - it comes across in ones words just through the tone in which they are spoken. This makes it even more important for us to determine the right stuff for us …

Change - is this the right time?

A long time ago I began to realize the very best thing to do was to change before someone told you that it was time you did! While change is not always easy, it may be the more respectable and desirable of courses to take! Those who actually "make it" in big business will tell you they have to remain ahead of the curve - they must keep up with the demands of their customers - always anticipating if change will be necessary in order to have a product or service that will remain in demand. There are just some things that must change in order to remain "ahead of the curve" in our lives, but there are also some things that must remain very consistent if we are to change in the right direction!


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your…

Change begins with each influencing thought

Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (Romans 12:2ERV) It is hard not letting the world change us, isn't it? We see so much that influences the way we feel about ourselves, from fashion to weight reducing surgery. We come across all manner of bad news meant to "inform us" and then the occasional story meant to "inspire us". We hear reports of war, threats of power-hungry men seeking notoriety in not so friendly ways, and even stories of terrible choices made by others that leads to astronomical outcomes ranging from suicide by the bullied and mass murders by the angered or insane. The world has a way of changing us in direct proportion to the amount of the world we allow to get inside of our minds, emotions, and hearts. The ability to…

But this hurts....

I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future. (Jeremiah 29:11ERV) We all start on new ventures with a little sense of apprehension, not sure of which way the events before us will unfold. We are open to something new, but also a little bit fearful that "new" will be harder than we might really want to experience. We don't always know the full depth of the chasms we will have to traverse, nor do we appreciate the full height of the hills we might come to find ourselves gazing outward upon. Yet, we begin. Do we have to know the fullness of God's plans to trust him with our lives? I don't even think we are able to think things out to the fullest in our own finite thinking, so no, I don't think we need to know all God will do with what we are about to encounter. I do believe we need to trust he will not hurt us. I need to tru…

Wildfire or Stoked Fire?

Richard Nixon reminds us, "The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire." The hottest fires can be the ones that come up unexpectedly and consume way more than we ever thought possible by one tiny spark. They can also be those that are stoked over and over on purpose so as to accomplish a particular task. Both have similarities, for both require fuel in order to burn. What fuels the fire that refines the "steel" of our lives is sometimes stoked with great intent by a faithful God, while at other times we might just find that something which appears to be a wildfire burning in our lives is really the result of "untended" ground.

Fire is used to make gold and silver pure, but a person’s heart is made pure by the Lord. (Proverbs 17:3 ERV)

Wildfires burn because there was something to ignite - the fuel existed to allow the slow burn to begin to become a much bigger burn. The wildfire burns because something acted as an ignition point - there was somethi…

I MUST calm down!

I must calm down and turn to God; only he can rescue me. (Psalm 62:1ERV) You "calm down" in direct proportion to your willingness to turn to God instead of the problem which is making you anxious or up tight right now. Turning to suggests that we must turn away from. There is a physical "relocation" of our attention - away from the problem at hand and toward the solution that is nearer than we might imagine. Calming down suggests there is a certain sense of escalation that comes in the midst of facing that problem or unpleasant circumstance in your path. Once again, our emotions get the best of us...and where our eyes are directed our heart will follow. As our psalmist implies, there comes a point when we recognize all our efforts and angst over the situation will only increase until we actually realize we must have "calm" restored in order to see things as clearly as they are meant to be seen. Anxiety and stress over the problem are not going to be manag…

Friend or Foe - Who Goes There?

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly.45 If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45 ERV)

I wonder if someone has to tell or teach us to hate one another, or if that is just something we come by naturally. Maybe it comes when we foster some sense of entitlement in our lives, believing others "owe us" because of something we believe we deserve. Perhaps it develops over time when we focus more and more on what we want more than on what another could want or need. It might even come when we get so caught up in comparing our differences that we cannot help but be angry or bitter over another's fortune, their status, or even their ability to enjoy life's simplicity. Regardless of how hatred develops, I know there is but one way for love to really take hold in our lives - through Christ Jesus.

It was Martin Luthe…

"MUST" says so much!

You must follow the Lord your God. Respect him. Obey his commands and do what he tells you. Serve the Lord your God, and never leave him. (Deuteronomy 13:4ERV) Follow, Respect, Obey, Do, Serve, and Stay - all seem like pretty easy-peasy kind of stuff until you put them ALL together and then you expect ME to actually live them out in my everyday life! This passage starts out with an "imperative" - you MUST. Must is a small word, but there isn't any wiggle-room in the action that is expected when MUST precedes that action. All of us must eat to live - the need to eat overrides reason sometimes. If you don't believe me, just watch one of those survivor shows where they have to live off the land and see what kinds of stuff they actually eat just because they are hungry! I watched one guy trap rats and eat them; another something that had been found dead on the ground - each seeking to meet that need for protein, but each making less than desirable choices. When we receiv…

What's your faith worth?

Faith that does nothing is worth nothing. (James 2:20 ERV)
One of my Bible College professors always used to say, "Sometimes you must put feet to your faith before you will see the evidence of what you are seeking." He was reminding us that faith is more than a "thing" - it involves action. It requires us to believe, then to act upon our belief. Faith becomes most evident in the action we launch based upon that belief - either it is faith in God, or it become evident our trust is based in something we can do or accomplish. Our professor wasn't telling us to "force" God's hand, but rather to trust him to guide us 'into' what would ultimately become the fulfillment of our faith. 

When we begin to trust God even the tiniest bit in an area where we have struggled for a while to really make any progress toward a goal we might have, it isn't that we just say we have faith, we take steps to show we are willing to move in that direction. For exa…

I am getting a little thirsty here!

God, you are my God. I am searching so hard to find you. Body and soul, I thirst for you in this dry and weary land without water. (Psalm 63:1ERV) There are times in our lives which we would have to say are "drier" than others. They might be within relationship, on the job, or even our spiritual lives. Within relationships, things grow "stale" and kind of "routine", leading those within it to just "coast" for a while without making much effort to keep things alive and flourishing. At work, the flurry of deadlines may have been met, bringing a longer than expect lull in your workload that just leaves you a little lost and without any real sense of pressure. In our spiritual lives, a "lull" or "dry" season may actually be more of a lazy drift rather than an abrupt ending. Either way, when we begin any kind of "dry season" in our lives, it may be a little bit harder than we expected to "rebound" or "star…

Majoring or Minoring?

Thomas Jefferson reminds us: "Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you." I had the opportunity to work with two college-aged volunteers at our hospital the other day. As we began to share a little bit about the task we needed to accomplish that afternoon, we had a little downtime to just share a little bit about each other. I asked them what they were doing now that they were out of high school. One of them was quite certain - studying to be a trauma surgeon - while the other almost seemed directionless. She thought she wanted to go one way with a career, but then decided against it, so took a semester off to discover what it was she wanted to do. While this is not uncommon, it is often in the "doing" rather than the "not doing" that we discover our direction.

TrusttheLord 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 righ…

Okay, help!

"Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught." (Winston Churchill)
2 They will help you learn to be wise, to accept correction, and to understand wise sayings.3 They will teach you to develop your mind in the right way. You will learn to do what is right and to be honest and fair.4 These proverbs will make even those without education smart. They will teach young people what they need to know and how to use what they have learned. (Proverbs 1:2-4 ERV)

I am like Churchill - love learning, but sometimes kind of slow in the "being taught" realm! The stuff we are the slowest to learn can become the biggest and most rewarding lessons of our lives, though. As we look back over some of those lessons, we might find ourselves amazed at how God so faithfully kept teaching until we finally realized the truth he wanted us to see. It may just be the truth he wanted us to see was the ugliness of some sin in our lives - these are the hardest…

Happy Hearts

5We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are very happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory.3 And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient.4 And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope.5 And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave us. (Romans 5:1-5 ERV)

Almost no one equates troubles or problems as some 'thing' they are to treasure, much less enjoy! In fact, we do all we can to avoid troubles - even creating "troubleshooting guides" in every user manual for items from small appliances to gigantic industrial machines. We want to know 'what' can cause the prob…

Goal-Directed Obedience

8 You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You can’t see him now, but you believe in him. You are filled with a wonderful and heavenly joy that cannot be explained.9 Your faith has a goal, and you are reaching that goal—your salvation. (I Peter 1:8-9 ERV)

By definition, a goal is something that is realized because you move toward it - you aim at it and hit it. It becomes your purpose and it is the basis of all the steps you take toward achieving it. Sometimes we confuse goals with intentions. What is the difference? I think intentions aren't always what we hit because they aren't always all that realistic. I intended to do so much on my three day weekend a couple of week's ago, but I only got about a third of what I intended accomplished. It wasn't that I didn't have a whole lot of good intent, it was that I lacked the energy to accomplish what I was aiming at. It is a good thing that our salvation isn't based on what it is we have the energy to accompl…

Mulligrubs?

Fear can be a trap, but if you trust in the Lord, you will be safe. (Proverbs 29:25ERV) "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." (Nelson Mandela) What fear evades conquering in your life? For many, fear is a daily struggle, making every step forward an effort so magnificent that it is almost impossible. We all fear different things at different times in our lives, making us not so much "unique" as "similar". For all of us, fear can indeed become a trap, paralyzing us and keeping us "fixed" in one spot from which we just don't seem to break free. Most don't recognize the paralyzing effect of fear, but when you stop to really think upon what fear does to us, this idea of getting us bogged down in the mulligrubs for a while becomes pretty evident. Don't know what mulligrubs are? It is the condition of our emotions in wh…