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Showing posts from March, 2018

Terca!

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't. (Henry Ward Beecher)

Boy, is that ever the truth! The strongest thing to overcome is our "won't" moments - those times when we dig in our heels and just determine we "won't" change the course of things, or the behavior we are being challenged to lay down. The more we determine we "won't" do something, the more we desire it! There are lots of times we label our obstinacy as being sort of something we have no control over, like a force that is 'forcing' us to do something. The root of the issue is our stubbornness, not our commitment. We commit very well to pursue something - we are just choosing the "wrong something" to pursue!

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (Proverbs 16:18 MSG)

Obstinate people aren't going to compromise - they are unyielding, dug in, there f…

Tumbling along

“Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle alone
and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth.  He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows." (Jeremiah 17:5-6 MSG)
We probably hear the next couple of verses more often in "church circles" than the ones above. The next couple of verses in this chapter say, “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers; never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season." The idea of being solidly rooted, immovable or unaffected by the worst of circumstances is one we get encouragement from, so it is more frequently quoted that the one I chose this morning. Yet, the Curse comes before the Blessing in this passage. Why? I t…

Back in the day...

15 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. 16 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. (I Peter 2:15-16 TLB)

I know the moments seem to be magnified these days when someone chooses to do something so wrong it just cannot help but make headlines. The actions of a few make the lives of many a living nightmare. I was talking the other day with my BFF about how different it is to grow up today. We reminisced about the times when we grew up - running from sun up to sun down with the neighborhood kids - likely no emerging from whatever 'play' was at hand until we were called for supper. The mischief we managed to get into was indeed 'child's play' and we didn't live in fear of our lives. We went to school without having to carry bullet-proof back…

Consider the audience

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. (Psalm 51:17 MSG)

I will be the first to admit there are days when I am merely going through the motions. Something deep inside of me just isn't all that excited about doing whatever it is I am doing. I don't quite see the thing ahead of me with any real sense of passion. While these days are not frequent, they can really bog me down when I allow them to influence me for very long. Going through the motions is nothing more than putting on a performance. You feel one way, but are doing something entirely contrary to the way you truthfully feel. Why do we do this? I think it may be it is easier to just go along for the ride than it is to step up, take ownership for how we feel, and allow ourselves to really face the day without masks. A flawless performance - many of …

Grace again...yup

I came across a quote the other day that spoke to me deeply: "Who has a harder fight than he who is striving to overcome himself?" (Thomas a Kempis) Let that one sink in a little and it may just give you a moment of pause as it did me. The very thought of overcoming myself is almost maddening, for there are many complex issues within that are actually in conflict with each other, the Christ-centered beliefs I want to live by, and the way I should be living if I were living by the standards others would create for me to live within. The conflict is real for all of us - we honestly don't appreciate the full impact of this struggle until we step back and ask ourselves if what we are doing at the moment is actually what Christ would desire of us!

23 But anyone who believes that something he wants to do is wrong shouldn’t do it. He sins if he does, for he thinks it is wrong, and so for him it is wrong. Anything that is done apart from what he feels is right is sin. (Romans 14:…

Cyclical Reboot Mode?

Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! 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. (Psalm 23:1-3TLB) "Because" is a big word in the hand of Jesus! Because we are his, we have all we need - everything - nothing missing or incomplete or lacking in any manner. We are secure in this knowledge, my friends. We are allowed to rest - not made to rest, but allowed to rest. There are times when God guides me to take times of rest, because he knows without it, I will be on a downward slope toward burnout. I imagine the same to be true for each of you. We can all get a little too over zealous in our pursuits. Right now I have a couple of projects in mind, several started, and a bunch almost complete, but not quite there yet. If I don't manage these well, something gets left 'undone' or 'half-done'. God helps us have times of rest so that we get to th…

Impress me

Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them, but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. (Colossians 3:12TLB) Do you worry about making that "good impression" when you are with other people? If you spend even six or seven minutes in front of the mirror everyday, you probably are concerned even slightly with the impression you make from a physical stand-point. Even if all that time is spent shaving a little stubble from your face, or putting on a minimal amount of make-up, it is still 'work' that goes into the 'impression' you give to others. I doubt you do it entirely for yourself! We can spend a great deal of time 'perfecting' the outward 'impression' we display, but I wonder if we spend equal amount of time on the inward 'impression' we w…

Sentimental gush

9-11 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)

Sentimental gush - that is what I kind of feel when I watch some of those sappy "and they lived happily after" love stories. Yes, I believe people can "be in love" and that "love will find a way" and all those other cliches about love. Don't think I am down on a solidly committed and growing relationship - it is just that our world often portrays love in ways that are totally gushy and then doesn't show the very 'hard' side of that loving being vital and vibrant! I…

Tract or Custom Home?

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (2 Peter 1:5-8MSG) I have often referred to this daily and continual work of "growing up" in Jesus, but how many of us actually consider "growing up" work? For some, it is the ultimate goal in life - but that is probably when you are ten! For those of us "grown up" already, we long for the 'good old days' when life was simpler and our main issue for the day co…

Daily problems, oh, and one more to boot!

26 And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans. (Romans 8:26-28 TLB)

Most days I need someone's help - if not "human help", I certainly need the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. What is so certain is that we have DAILY problems. They aren't occasional, once in a great while, in the by and by kind of problems that emerge - they are DAILY. Sometimes we don't recognize them as problems, but they are nonetheless. Problems demand a solution - ignore them and they just get bigger. Sometimes the solutio…

God-Radar Blinking?

7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. (Galatians 6:7-8 NLT)

One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. (Niccolo Machiavelli) Mr. Machiavelli has been referred to at the "father of modern political science" because of his commentaries on unscrupulous and oftentimes quite diabolical politicians. While I don't adhere to much of what he describes as "normal operations" within politics, his observations were nonetheless true. Politics at the time of his writings allowed the engagement of some rather immoral and often hurtful tactics. Writing during the Renaissance period, he often observed human life being taken in the name of 'political advancement', mattering not to those wi…

Fickle or Faithful?

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is the faithful God who for a thousand generations keeps his promises and constantly loves those who love him and who obey his commands." (Deuteronomy 7:9TLB) Do we really understand faithfulness? Some believe faithfulness to equate to 'adherence' - the idea of living by some code of conduct or rules of operation. Others imagine faithfulness relates to allegiance - pledging one's life, actions, finances, etc., to some cause or individual. I think God's type of faithfulness involves all of these, but it always speaks to his dependability and trustworthiness. It is because he is continually, without variation, dependable in all manner of thought and action, his words carry power and his actions hit the mark each and every time.  What God requires from us is our 'faithfulness' - allegiance, adherence, and attachment. Allegiance speaks to our dedication to him and no other. Adherence speaks to our commitment to h…

I am too busy for a crisis!

Kissinger once quipped, "There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full." Many of us would share his sentiments. Our schedules could not manage a crisis of any nature - much less a little 'hiccup' along the way. The more busy our schedule, the more we can count on something to disturb it, though! The moment we are too busy for any type of 'crisis', that is the moment we are too busy for life! Life isn't going to stand still so we can manage through some crisis - it keeps coming at us at whatever pace we had 'scheduled' and the crisis will loom until we pay it some mind.

12 Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you. 13 Instead, be really glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory in that coming day when it will be…

Diamonds - Rough, but still diamonds

The English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray, wrote: "There are many sham diamonds in this life which pass for real, and vice versa." If you stop for a moment to consider the diamonds you have overlooked as you have gone through this lifetime, you might be surprised at what you discover. To me, I recount the 'diamonds in the rough' that have touched my life in ways some just might not understand. There were hugs from that child I worked with who could not speak more than a couple words due to his mental handicap that touched my soul deep down when I was feeling particularly lonely during my high school days - diamonds beyond value. Those giggles from the kiddos when they discovered some perfectly good way to sneak up on me and startle me with their shenanigans that just warmed my heart because they felt comfortable enough to be silly and free with me - they were diamonds indeed. Maybe even those moments of temper that emerged when someone didn't get their wa…

Misery loves company

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4MSG) We probably all have heard that old English proverb, "Misery loves company", but does it really 'love it'? Back some time ago, I came across some research attempting to see if people who spend a good deal of time together actually influence the 'moods' of the other individual. They attempted to see if one depressed individual in the relationship did more to bring down the other individual, or if the opposite would be true and the other brought the dep…

Habit or obsession

It was Benjamin Franklin who reminded us it is easier to prevent habits than to break them. A habit is an "acquired behavior pattern" that is followed so frequently that it becomes what scientists would call 'involuntary'. More than likely we each have one or two habits that have become so 'involuntary' we no longer think about them, we just do them. As a matter of fact, it probably throws us off a little whenever anything interferes with that 'pattern of behavior'. If you are used to rising in the morning, putting on a pot of coffee, and sitting with the paper in hand as your 'routine', you will likely be lost if the paper delivery doesn't occur that day. Your 'pattern' just got disrupted! Most would agree some habits are not bad to have, such as washing our hands and brushing our teeth. Good hygiene is an 'acquired behavior pattern' appreciated by all. Yet there are others which are a little more 'out there' that…

B.O.L.D.

14 But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting him. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned. 16 So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 TLB)

We need to be bold in our faith - bold believers through and through. I know there are times when we face uncertainties and somehow all our boldness flies out the window like some vapor ascending into the unknown. If we are be 100% truthful here, we ALL need a little lesson in boldness! Why? We get doubt in the driver's seat and faith merely becomes a passenger. Passengers don't control the car - although they may try to tell you where to turn, stop, or what's just around the bend, you are under absolutely no obligation to heed their advic…

It is an ALL-Inclusive thing!

5 You must love him with all your heart, soul, and might. 6 And you must think constantly about these commandments I am giving you today. 7 You must teach them to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning. 8 Tie them on your finger, wear them on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house! (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 TLB)

There are those of us who may postulate the hardest part of loving the Lord with ALL our heart is obeying him. I think it might just be the hardest part of loving the Lord this way is for our 'self' to get out of the way long enough to actually let God connect with our hearts! Pride keeps us at arm's length - shame helps us put up a good front - 'image' drives us to 'religious expression' instead of relationship. Indeed, to get close enough to love God and serve him with ALL requires a whole lot of other stuff in our lives to get out of the way!

I didn…

A fresh canvas is art

4 An empty stable stays clean—but there is no income from an empty stable. (Proverbs 14:4 TLB)

An empty stable stays clean, just as an empty house might remain neat and with things in order. An empty bottle doesn't really serve the purpose for which it was created, nor does an empty heart! Another 'empty' to consider is that of a canvas stretched tightly upon the frame. The frame gives it a 'form', yet the canvas is still just 'empty' until the artist takes up the brush and begins to add brush stroke after brush stroke of color to that 'void'. An empty canvas is rarely seen as 'empty' in the eyes of the artist - simply because he knows all the ways it is to be filled.

There are times we believe 'empty' is a bad thing, but if you actually stop to think about it, 'empty' defines the object as 'not full', not that it isn't open to being filled. The canvas might be nothing more than canvas until it stretched tight upon …

Water or snow? Both help us grow!

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them." (Isaiah 55:8-9MSG) It is probably a good thing God doesn't think the way we think, huh? My 'thinker' gets a little muddled in thought at times, making it kind of 'hazardous territory' to travel! If God thought the way we thought, he would be very limited in his approach to issues and to our needs. We see things one or two ways, not really seeing the bigger picture at all, but we aren't …