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Showing posts from November, 2017

Fighting the inanimate

“The Lord says, ‘Don’t be afraid! Don’t be paralyzed by this mighty army! For the battle is not yours, but God’s!" (2 Chronicles 20:15 TLB)

There are times when we know we are fighting a battle because the bombs are bursting, bullets are flying, and there is so much chaos we just know we are in the midst of the fray. At other times, it feels as though we are fighting some type of "inanimate" object - not seen, not heard, but somehow wreaking havoc in our lives. Let me ask - which battle is the hardest to fight - the one where you see the enemy and hear his attack, or the one where he is cleverly hidden and you have no idea where? Both could be equally similar, but one reveals himself while the other remains hidden. We can fear them both - right? The thing with the attack from the enemy who remains cleverly hidden is that we have no idea what our "counter-attack" should be until he reveals a little about himself! We might do best when we know the enemy we are fi…

Re-homed

Every now and again I manage to catch a good show on the tube. I like to watch those wilderness shows, and even the ones with the vets working with animals. I watched one recently in which a family went to one of the most devastated areas of the recent floods and brought back to the Denver area a massive truckload of dogs and cats who needed to be "re-homed" due to the flooding. You would think they would have brought back the healthiest of the dogs and cats, but let me tell you, they were a mess! One needed a leg amputation, a whole litter of puppies needed sulfur baths for weeks to deal with the nasty ringworm that had ravaged their skin, and one of the dogs was completely deaf. The end of the story is that each of these were placed into homes where they could flourish and grow old together - a great end to a pretty awful period in their lives. What society would have otherwise rejected and given up on, the rescuers extended mercy toward, and in the end the ones given merc…

Dad, hear my prayer....

14 I have given them your commands. And the world hates them because they don’t fit in with it, just as I don’t.15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from Satan’s power.16 They are not part of this world any more than I am.17 Make them pure and holy through teaching them your words of truth.18 As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world,19 and I consecrate myself to meet their need for growth in truth and holiness. (John 17:14-19 TLB)

Jesus is just about to leave this earth and he is in prayerful communication with his heavenly Father. As he speaks with him, he recounts several things that I think bear our attention. First, Jesus reminds God the Father that each of us has received his commands - we are not ignorant of his plans or purposes when we have been given the most concise and thorough accounting possible. We have the Word and we have the examples of those who have gone before us - our ancestors in the faith. We are withou…

Just below the surface

Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take. (Psalm 119:105ERV) But...will it be the path we DO take? That is the question most of us have to answer, for we oftentimes know full well what we "should" do, but choose something slightly different. Why? We have free-will and we want our own way! People tell me God's will is so hard to decipher. Actually, it isn't because we have guidance we don't usually use! We have the Word of God, yes, but we have conscience, knowledge, common sense, the Spirit's niggling, and even the example of others, just to name a few! The issue isn't us moving forward - it is us taking steps in the direction that will bring us to the right destination! If you have ever made a decision you now regret, you likely know what it was like to ignore some set of evidence that "warned" you the decision was about to get you into trouble. Looking back, you realize clearly where your conscie…

Entertained, but not acted upon

Aristotle reminds us, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." I might add it is equally important to be connected to the one mind that knows what is right to accept and what needs to be rejected! That mind? The mind of Christ. The connection? Found when we say "yes" to Jesus and his Spirit enters that space in our lives reserved just for him. Truthfully, that is when the "real" education begins!

Bless me with life so that I can continue to obey you. Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word. I am but a pilgrim here on earth: how I need a map—and your commands are my chart and guide. I long for your instructions more than I can tell. (Psalm 119:17-20 TLB)

The wonderful things contained in God's Word aren't there by accident - they are purposed to be there because we need to hear and incorporate them into our lives. There are lots and lots of thoughts that come our way each day, but knowing …

So, why all the rules, God?

142 Your justice is eternal for your laws are perfectly fair. 143 In my distress and anguish your commandments comfort me. 144 Your laws are always fair; help me to understand them, and I shall live. (Psalm 119:142-144 TLB)

One thing we can learn from history is that God's laws (rules for living) are always "fair". The same cannot always be said about the laws of the land, or those some insist upon in their "own little world". Human beings have a very hard time "being fair" - we just have a bent toward showing someone a little more "favor" than another (sometimes because that "someone" is us). It is important to remember a law is nothing more than a "rule" that helps to define the way we are to conduct ourselves - it defines how it is we are to be living - oftentimes guiding the culture of a group, not just our own self. All laws set parameters - boundaries. Living within those boundaries is what is referred to as being &q…

Rotate and Align

There is a lovely Christian song by the group 'We Are Messengers' that absolutely catches my heart each time I hear it played on the radio. The words are from the song "Magnify", and they begin with the words: "I've been trying to make sense of the sorrow that I feel, holding onto for life to the only thing that's real. I've only scratched the surface; I've barely had a taste, but just a glimpse draws my heart to change; and one side of you lays my sin to waste. I don't need to see everything, just more of you." How many of us go through our days just trying to figure out some emotional "sense" we have been experiencing - a sorrow of some kind? I daresay it is far more than might want to admit it. The fact is evident - we all suffer some type of sorrow that kind of hangs us up a while - if only because of our own sinfulness. At those moments, we need to remember one thing - we don't need to understand it all, but we do need…

What story does your life reveal?

It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who foolishly condemn the Gospel without knowing what it can do for them, having never experienced its power. You are free from the law, but that doesn’t mean you are free to do wrong. Live as those who are free to do only God’s will at all times. (1 Peter 2:15-16TLB) Lives that can actually shut down the foolish accusations of the unwise - the truth we portray in our everyday choices is more powerful than we might just imagine!  We are to live in such a manner so as to silence the condemnation of the fool by the way we live, not so much with the words we are able to speak in rebuttal to his accusation. It may seem hard to imagine, but the example we set is oftentimes more important than studying to have "all the right words". It may not come as a surprise to anyone, but there were years when I was studying to "have the right words" - always ready to give an answer. I studied books on apologetic responses -…

In the light or enlightened?

9 So ever since we first heard about you we have kept on praying and asking God to help you understand what he wants you to do; asking him to make you wise about spiritual things; 10 and asking that the way you live will always please the Lord and honor him, so that you will always be doing good, kind things for others, while all the time you are learning to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10 TLB)

Wise about spiritual things - would that describe you? There are lots and lots of "spiritual things" in our world today, ranging from "untapped healing centers" in one's own body to "noble truths" one may attain to on some level or plane of existence. Let me just say this - truth comes in one form - it is either fully truth or not! There is but one spiritual connection that matters - that of our spirit with the Spirit of God himself. Enlightenment, self-realization, and all these "untapped energies" aren't really going to do as much …

I hear the thunder!

5 His voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power. 6 For he directs the snow, the showers, and storm to fall upon the earth. 7 Man’s work stops at such a time so that all men everywhere may recognize his power. (Job 37:5-7 TLB)

Ever notice how thunder gets your attention? I have been so absorbed in fishing at a stream on occasion, not even noticing the storm clouds gathering in the skies behind me, and then all of a sudden there is this huge rumble of thunder that manages to call me back to awareness. It wasn't that the storm wasn't there already. It was that I wasn't aware of it coming my way! The thunder alerts me to the approach of the storm oftentimes in enough time to "shelter" prior to the downpour. Yet, there have been the occasions when the thunder came so close to the downpour that I just didn't escape it! In both cases, if I had been paying attention, I would have observed the signs of the impending storm!

While i…

The naked turtle

“I, the Lord, am the one speaking to you. Come, let’s discuss this. Even if your sins are as dark as red dye, that stain can be removed and you will be as pure as wool that is as white as snow." (Isaiah 1:18ERV) If God were to speak to you today, with an invitation to "discuss things" just between the two of you, what would that invitation outline as the topic of "discussion"? I daresay it would involve a little different outline for each of us, but it all begins with the discussion of where we are at in relationship with him. The nearness, or distance we maintain is at the center of his attention and he is going to bring us to the place we recognize this has to be our "numero uno" focus in life. "Come, let's discuss this" may seem a little frightening for some simply because there has been very little "exposed" about one's life up to this point. The "cover" has been working well - or at least you think it has. …

Probing

In any really good subject, one has only to probe deep enough to come to tears. (Edith Wharton) It takes probing to discover - for all "looking" is only as good as the ability to "see". You've heard the old adage that seeing is believing. Believing begins with catching sight of something - if even just a tiny fleck of truth is caught, it has the potential to influence all our actions. I don't think we realize the potential in one tiny thought, or the simplest budding of truth in our lives. Yet, if we really stop to consider that tiny thought, it can be the very thing that consumes or launches us into new heights.

The Scriptures say, “Our lives are like the grass of spring, and any glory we enjoy is like the beauty of a wildflower. The grass dries up and dies, and the flower falls to the ground. But the word of the Lord lasts forever.” And that word is the Good News that was told to you. (1 Peter 1:24-25ERV)

Everyday is a chance to learn new truth, to embrace …

I got your back - you got mine?

Here are my directions: Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them. Pray in this way for kings and all others who are in authority over us, or are in places of high responsibility, so that we can live in peace and quietness, spending our time in godly living and thinking much about the Lord. (1 Timothy 2:1-2TLB) How much are we praying for others? How often are we pleading to God on their behalf - for his mercies, blessings, and provisions? Pleading is more than just "asking" God to bless them or keep them safe on their journey. Pleading suggests we are earnest in our appeal - we make every effort that we can to ensure their "case" is heard by God. In other words, we pray and don't let up until God intervenes on their behalf. There are times I see appeals on my social feed that tell me someone has a need - whether spiritual, financial, relational, or emotional - they are asking for those of us who see …

The heart of the matter

God’s word is alive and working. It is sharper than the sharpest sword and cuts all the way into us. It cuts deep to the place where the soul and the spirit are joined. God’s word cuts to the center of our joints and our bones. It judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. (Hebrews 4:12ERV) If you have ever tried to change the way you feel about something without dealing with the constant barrage of thoughts that invade your mind (and heart), you know how hard it can be to manage those feelings when there is no change in thought pattern. A lot of people will adhere to the theory of changing one's thoughts - giving us the catalyst by which we move from feeling one way about something to feeling a different way. I will tell you there is an element of truth to this, but it is much more than positive thinking that changes the way we behave!  It takes more than just being "positive" about a matter to change the feelings we have toward it. For example, if we think we cann…

Muck and Mire - Hard to Disguise

It was D.L. Moody who said,"I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man." I would have to agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Moody - my own "self" gets the best of me without much effort at all more than any other person does and THEY are the ones who have set out to get the best of me! Time can get the best of me without much effort. People can be my worst obstacles, and they don't even know they are sometimes. Then there is this whole struggle with wanting my own way when I know perfectly well it may not be what is right or best for me. It is not so much that the "thing" was wrong as much as the "desire" behind the thing was not exactly "right on". Indeed, I can "get in my own way" more than anything else at times!

But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation isirresistible. You ca…

To get or to serve?

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. (C.S. Lewis)
He is the one who has helped us tell others about his new agreement to save them. We do not tell them that they must obey every law of God or die; but we tell them there is life for them from the Holy Spirit. The old way, trying to be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments, ends in death; in the new way, the Holy Spirit gives them life. (2 Corinthians 3:6TLB)

As a child, mom or dad would instruct me to do something, perhaps a chore to be completed prior to going out to play. Whenever I was given this task, although the task was "reasonable", the effort it took to get it done so I could pursue what "I wanted" always seemed so huge. I wanted to ride bikes with the other neighborhood kids. I wanted to get out the Monopoly game and launch into an all day marathon to see who would amass millions. The things I "wanted" mattered to mom and dad,…

Chosen to Tell

But you are his chosen people, the King’s priests. You are a holy nation, people who belong to God. He chose you to tell about the wonderful things he has done. He brought you out of the darkness of sin into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9ERV) Commercials on TV are written to tell a quick story related to a product the manufacturers hope to sell us. It could be they have created the most comfortable pillow known to man and they want to convince us to spend far more on one pillow than we ever did on all the pillows we have owned combined! It could be they have developed a sure fire cure for some ailment if we just use their salve, or will delight our families with the latest flavor found in some product they package for us to snack upon as we watch our favorite sports on TV. Regardless of the "product", the "story" told is supposed to create a "desire" in us to "want" the product. Could it just be that God knows the importance of "advertis…

Really, the lesser of two evils?

Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. (Romans 13:1TLB) There are times when I look at the state of things in our country and honestly wonder if God really had much to do with who filled some of these official seats.Then I remember the story of Israel demanding a king, just like all the other nation's around them had. He tried to remind them they needed but ONE authority in their lives and that was HIM. He attempted to dissuade them from "following suit" with all the other nations, but they continued to desire that "government official" sitting on the throne. So, he gave them exactly what they wanted - not exactly what they needed, but what they wanted. There are indeed times our stubbornness to pursue a certain course might just yield us what we want, but veer from what we really genuinely need! While not all government officials are upright and godly in their attitudes or…

Time to clean house

I pray that God will open your minds to see his truth. Then you will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. You will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious.  (Ephesians 1:18ERV) Most of us don't realize an open mind is a gift from God. It is by his doing that we actually have "space" for truth in our minds. It is by his grace that we desire more than our own intellect by which to navigate through life. To truly "know" truth requires more than we just expose ourselves to it - we must be open to the person who is all truth - Jesus Christ. Hope stems not so much from knowing all things from start to finish, but in believing the finish will be something that creates a deeper desire for the one who loves us beyond measure. 

While we are busy "going about life", God is all around us and working hard to reveal truth in all things to us as we are in constant movement. I have two grandsons, both have ADHD - something…

Giving in

Raymond Moody once said the most powerful prayer was that of surrender. It is so very true - for surrender is the beginning of all change. Surrender isn't about what we can accomplish any longer, it is about what the one we surrender to will accomplish on our behalf. Surrender opens the floodgates of opportunity - to all those things we could never do on our own. True surrender is probably one of the most difficult places to arrive at in our hearts - for it means we let go and we give over what little control we were still holding onto. There is the type of surrender done under duress, but God isn't looking for this type. There is the type where we resign ourselves to the fact something will be a certain way, but God isn't even looking for that. What he is looking for is the abandonment of control - the willingness to relinquish it in order to allow other potential to be released - the potential that originates in God himself.

Since we respect our fathers here on earth, tho…

No longer a victim

Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too. (1 Peter 5:8-9TLB) If you have ever played the "victim", you know how easily you can fall into the pity party mode. Before long, you have yourself made out to be so this or that, the other guy totally wrong or hurtful, and the spin begins. The truth is that we have one really big enemy who is out to put as much of this "spin" into our lives as possible. He knows that as long as we are "spinning" the pity wheel, we are not focusing on how much God cares for us, is madly in love with us, and has more than enough grace to help us through that difficult place. Victims aren't always blameless. Sometimes the "victim" puts themselves right where they shouldn't b…