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Showing posts from January, 2018

Conceived in love

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?" (Matthew 7:7-8MSG) Bargaining - it is kind of like "you scratch my back, and I will scratch yours". None of prayer is to be this way - for God isn't a bargaining type! Bargaining involves obtaining something, but at a price - maybe less than expected, but a price is paid. Jesus tells us to ask 'directly' - don't pussy-foot around with God in prayer. Be open, honest, and with a heart of sincerity make your request known. God knows your need already, but maybe acknowledging the need before him is the real purpose of prayer - so we come to und…

Get some "pre-emergent"

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8MSG) Pearl Buck said, "Love dies only when growth stops." The growth one realizes in life is in direct proportion to the seeds planted. If the seeds are planted in response to God's leading, the harvest will indeed be worthy of all the time and effort put into it. We all "plant" in "response" to something - whatever it is we respond to, let it be that which produces only the best harvest! We can tell a lot about who or what we are responding to in life by the harvest we realize from those seeds planted. The right seeds will yield things like growing, solid relationships; cr…

Squeeze me - go ahead!

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-3MSG) What tests have you done rather well on recently? What challenges came at you that you just faced head on and mastered without even looking back? We remember and rehearse the ones we failed, or that did us in, right? Do we do a good enough job celebrating the ones we "pass"? It is likely we rehearse the failures way more than we celebrate the successes. Why? We aren't satisfied with the outcome! We want to see that altered in some way when that challenge is faced the next time - we want to get a much better "grade" on the test! You know me...I had to look up the difference between these two words because I didn't really unde…

Oh, go fly a kite!

It was Vince Lombardi who said we'd accomplish a great many more things in life if we stopped thinking of them as "impossible". At times, I think we imagine ourselves as never making it to some destination we have in mind - especially when it comes to our walk with Jesus. We won't take the right steps, believe the right stuff, or make right decisions when it really matters. This is how we see ourselves at times and this can be quite defeating because sometimes we won't even try when we feel there is an "impossibility" in trying.

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 MSG)

Lewis Mumford said, "A certain amount of opposition is a great help to man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind." Too many times we view the "hard stuff" as "opposition" in life. We don't …

There will always be that "one tree"

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 is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it. (1 Corinthians 10:13TLB)

There are times we think the particular temptation we face in life is unique to just us. No one else could possibly be faced with the same degree or intensity of temptation as we are. Spoiler alert... there is no "new" or "unique" temptation known to man! At the center of it all is our will. At the most basic level we find it "our way" pitted against God's. We may see temptation different today than it was fifty years ago, but trust me on this - lust was still lust back then, lying has been aroun…

Don't you see the light?

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life.  (Philippians 2:14-15 TLB) True confessions here...sometimes my "beacon" gets a little fogged over by my complaints and verbal agonizing over things not going my way, or that I just simply don't like. It is easy to slip into the complaint-mode, even kind of "second-nature" to some of us. Complaint takes on the issue as something we will "lament" or "object to". It is a subtle form of criticism that sometimes carries with it the idea we have been "wronged" or "put upon" as a result of someone else's actions. To be truthful with you, most of the complaining we do really doesn't accomplish a doggone thing, and …

That first step

I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions.  He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. (Galatians 5:16TLB) "Oh, so NOW you tell me!"  Have you ever uttered those words AFTER you did something foolish and found yourself smack-dab in the middle of utter confusion, chaos, or calamity? "Yeah, I guess I have to admit, I wanted it REALLY bad." Maybe you have uttered those words, or similar, at the end of some "binge" that left you feeling a little bit "over-indulged". Most of us have those "moments" where we say to ourselves, "I should have known better...", but what we don't always realize is how much we could have avoided those "kick yourself in the seat of the pants" kind of moments by just listening (even a little bit) to begin with! There are tons and tons of "advisers" in this thing called life. Some hav…

Crawling, are you?

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly. (R. Buckminster Fuller)
I think there are many butterflies waiting to emerge in this world! All the while, we are crawling around, on our way to becoming something of great beauty and majesty, but have no clue just how that will be accomplished. We do what we know to do - live the life of the caterpillar! I don't know if caterpillars "sense" the time has come for change, but I think God helps us to be able to "sense" there is a change occurring in our lives. It is his grace at work and we cannot deny something is happening, even when we don't know it is that we are taking on the beauty and freedom of the butterfly!

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you. (Romans 12:2 TLB)

I don't understand why God made …

Another hornet's nest

It was an old-timer clergyman, Billy Sunday, who said, "The devil says I am out, but the Lord says I am safe." There are times we listen to the words of those who don't have the right perspective on our "run" in life. We listen to them declare some "line drive" we make as "out", while God is saying to us it is "close", but still on the inside. It is good to knock one out to center field, but I know there are times we do well to get a line drive! We barely escape being "out" because of the grace of the one calling the outcomes in our lives!

I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4 TLB)
We don't just skirt the strongholds of the devil in our lives - we have to knock them down completely. I know how I have sprayed a little hornet killer on a hornet's next from time to time and then wonder at why they are back. The fact is I never knocked down the nest…

Why am I waiting again?

On the day I called, you answered me;my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3 ESV) 
When I pray, you answer me and encourage me by giving me the strength I need. (Psalm 138:3 TLB)
On the day - catch those words. There are times we think we are praying to a "brass sky" - words bouncing back at us and not making any "inroad" to the God of the universe. We pray and pray - sometimes imploring God for the very things we need - never really feeling like we are "getting anywhere". There is truth in these words, "On the day...", for it isn't that he didn't hear, we just don't see evidence he has heard! On the very day we pray, he answers. The answer may just not be as quickly, or as "overt" that we can "sense" it, but trust God's word on this one - he has answered!

Our strength to endure the wait is often what we receive without even knowing we have received it! I have experienced long waits between the prayer and…

Don't put it off

I saw something the other day that said, "We cannot put off living until we are ready." It was probably an advertisement for some financial business, promoting one's "readiness" for those "golden years", but it kind of bespoke how much we go about life and just don't really "live it". We miss moments because we are making plans for "some day". Moments won't come back to us - once spent, they are gone! Maybe that is why Facebook put those "reminders" up there on our feed to remind us of the moments we actually posted something that are now called "memories".

23 Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! 2-3 He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most. 4 Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.5 You provid…

Influential, isn't he?

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me. He is for me! How can I be afraid? What can mere man do to me? (Psalm 118:5-6TLB) What can mere man to do me? That is a powerful question many of us never really take the time to explore. The more accurate question we may want to ask ourselves is, "What has mere man been doing to me?" What is it you have come to believe or accept simply because someone told you, or because of their "threats" you now behave a particular way in response to those threats? There is a fine line between our behavior and our beliefs - we aren't usually too far off in our behavior when it comes to these two things! May I meddle for a moment this morning? Way too many of us have some "fear". We don't want to "rock the boat" at work because we fear we may lose our job even though we are clearly aware of practices or behaviors that have become "common place" that ought not to be accep…

Our choice, but he backs us up

14 Obey God because you are his children; don’t slip back into your old ways—doing evil because you knew no better. 15 But be holy now in everything you do, just as the Lord is holy, who invited you to be his child. 16 He himself has said, “You must be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:14-16 TLB)

If I were to ask you to describe what the word 'obey' means to you, I'd probably get mixed answers on this one. If you grew up in a home where phrases such as, "Children are best seen and not heard", or "You will eat that because there are starving children in Africa", you probably have a view of obedience to your parents as being very cautious of ever 'crossing the line' with their rules. Others of us may have pushed that line a little in our lifetimes, finding ourselves clearly on the other side of that parent's anger or disappointment when we did. We can see obedience as a 'do it right the first time' kind of thing, while others could see i…

Big Treasure

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in heaven, your heart will be there too." (Matthew 6:19-21TLB) Someone once said our stumbles could be our greatest treasures. I pondered on that thought for just a while and began to really think about the times I have stumbled (and I don't have to think very far back to begin this journey!). What "treasures" came out of those moments? Sometimes it was the knowledge another stood right there with me, willing to go that extra length to see me "make right" what I was obviously making a pretty big mess of in the first place. At others, it was simply the knowledge I wasn't alone in the stumbling - others were tripping up on the exact same things! Yet, some of the greatest treasure I brought out of those times of stumbling were the ones that revealed just how much God&…

Harmony doesn't just "exist"

How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live in harmony! (Psalm 133:1 TLB)
What does harmony look like in your mind? In your heart? In your attitude? In your actions? Most would define harmony as the state of being united, without barriers or friction. In truth, harmony means much more - for it bespeaks a "congruity of parts" - where mind and heart are one; heart is reflected in one's attitude; and one's attitude directions all the actions that come forth so as to create a cohesiveness. Could it be possible to have harmony, but not to live in harmony? Yes, of course, for congruity of the parts doesn't always mean those parts will be all moving in the "right" direction!

While most of us would want to think of harmony as a state of tranquility, we all know to get to that "state" requires some traveling over some pretty rough roads at times! Tranquility is not something that just happens by accident - it requires a Creator, a Sustainer, an…

Happy Valentine's Day

Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ’s love for you was like sweet perfume to him. (Ephesians 5:1-2TLB) God is so ready to love us. He is simply waiting on us to be open to all the ways he wants to show us that love. The most important way he revealed his love was already done in Christ's death, but there are so very many more ways he stands ready to just encompass our lives with his perfect love! God's love isn't complicated like human love is. It reaches into places human love just wouldn't dare go and with such a tenacity that doesn't exist in the evidence I have observed with human love.  Human love is conditional - as good as our human love is, there is a point where we give and give, but in some very basic place within ourselves we are at le…

Ascending?

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu reminds us: "To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders." I wonder just how often we afford ourselves the luxury of really getting to the point we would say our minds are "still". I know this is a hard thing for me because my mind works overtime! I awake in the night, thoughts of some project emerging until I am ruminating on the solution. I am creating in my downtime - innovating in my sleep almost. Yet, I have learned the value of just getting still before the Lord and not allowing other things to creep into that space I create just for that time we will share the "stillness" together. I am never disappointed by the stillness because it is there I find my soul surrenders, my will is made bendable, and my spirit is given new glimpses into the very things I need to grasp.

Lord, I am not proud and haughty. I don’t think myself better than others. I don’t pretend to “know it all.”  I am quiet now before the Lord,…

Time to get rid of the rocker

32 1-2 What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. 3 There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. 4 All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day 5 until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. 6 Now I say that each believer should confess his sins to God when he is aware of them, while there is time to be forgiven. Judgment will not touch him if he does. (Psalm 32:1-6 TLB) How likely are you to admit you are a sinner? Hiding behind your dishonesty only makes you miserable - just as the writer of our psalm said. The truth sets each of us free. There is no better cure for misery than confessio…

A freedom like no other

7 For if you offered him thousands of rams and ten thousands of rivers of olive oil—would that please him? Would he be satisfied? If you sacrificed your oldest child, would that make him glad? Then would he forgive your sins? Of course not! 8 No, he has told you what he wants, and this is all it is: to be fair, just, merciful, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:7-8 TLB) I have often said we complicate this walk with Jesus way too much by adding a weight upon our shoulders of all kinds of "things" we imagine God must want us to do or bring or give. We get so bogged down under the burden of trying to meet whatever "demands" we believe God has of us that we miss totally it is just "us" he really craves! He wants time with us. He desires communion with our heart. He yearns to hear us tell him what is going on in our minds and hearts, and to allow him to unburden both! We imagine huge offerings are needed - he already provided the "ONE" offerin…

Another grace moment awaits

11 For the free gift of eternal salvation is now being offered to everyone; 12 and along with this gift comes the realization that God wants us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures and to live good, God-fearing lives day after day, 13 looking forward to that wonderful time we’ve been expecting, when his glory shall be seen—the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13 TLB)
Have you watched one of those "infomercials" on TV and heard their hard-sell pitches to get you to buy their product? It isn't enough we get one of those non-stick magic pans for the low, low price of $29.99 - hold your hat - we get two (for an additional shipping and handling charge which is equal to almost as much as the cost of another pan). They show you ten meals in less than one minute, dazzling you will the hype of how this will make your life so much easier, while giving you the healthiest meal possible since God created the first apple tree! Life offers us the …