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Showing posts from April, 2018

Meet, Know, Follow - BE the Church!

Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day. (Romans 1:20TLB)

While none us is without excuse in knowing there is a God of the universe, not all of the world knows of his plan of salvation for their lives. Isn't that the purpose of the church - the help people meet, know, and follow Jesus with all that is within them? Yet, so many "churches" meet each week with nothing more than a nice, pleasing sermon and a few songs, only to go through the week without one consideration of this thing called 'relationship'. Going to church is far different from being the church. Christ's call was for us to BE the church, not for us to build the buildings and warm the pews! To BE the church, we have to do more that 'go to church' - we have to allow the message to penetrate our hearts and then to affect our actions. …

Deny it!

I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30TLB)
If you have ever wondered just how 'secure' your salvation is, then wonder no more. The place we hold in God's heart isn't going to change, no matter how poorly we perform or how far we drift from closeness with him. While he'd like nothing more than our uncompromising love and dedication to his principles each and every time we make a decision, he knows the reality of the struggle with our will. He knows we will slip up from time to time and that we will need his forgiveness. If we doubt his love or his power in our lives, we can rest assured in knowing there is absolutely no room for us to doubt. The gift of his Son's life was enough to prove the depth of his love.
Sometimes we might believe we can 'slip awa…

It Wins!

There is something grace does each and every time in our lives - it WINS! It has the upper hand each and every time - regardless of how 'bad' our decisions may have been, or how lame our excuses got as we tried to cover up our guilt. Grace WINS - no matter what! That is a message of hope, especially to a sinner like me. I am not exempt from compromise - I mess up and make wrong choices. I am not above speaking a cross word now and again - I get tired, frustrated, and a little bit selfish on occasion. But...each time guilt and shame think they have gotten the upper hand in my life - grace overcomes their moment of triumph and wipes the slate clean again. Grace WINS - hands down!

6 Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. 7 So overflowing is his kindness toward us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved; 8 and he has showered down upon u…

Promotion through demotion

For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another. (Psalm 75:6-7 TLB)

A lot of us think we got where we are today by some progressive achievement of skill, talent, and hard work. The real fact of the matter is that God promotes and he is the one quite capable of holding us back from promotion on occasion, as well! If you have ever been "passed over" for some important task, or perhaps that 'next step' on the corporate ladder, you might have felt a little slighted, or like you 'deserved it'. You get a little ruffled, especially when you see someone get the position that you absolutely know you had greater skill to perform the tasks or a greater familiarity with the work being done. There are just times we don't understand the choices some will make to promote one over another, or how some seem to avoid crisis after crisis while you muddle through. One thing I have learned to trust over the years is t…

Telling a new story

For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation. (Romans 10:9-10TLB)
Some would say it is better to remain silent if you are not prepared to act. I would tend to agree. It is way too easy to share our thoughts and all too hard to put some actions behind those ideas and beliefs. Each time we share a thought or belief, we run the risk of rejection or dismissal, but when that idea is backed by the corresponding action it is harder to just dismiss the thought or belief. It is much harder to deny whatever has actions behind it! Those actions actually 'confirm' the validity of the thoughts. 
What we take into our hearts begins with seed thoughts that are considered and concentrated upon within our minds. We might say the gateway…

Mmmmmm....do you smell the bread baking?

4 I can never stop thanking God for all the wonderful gifts he has given you, now that you are Christ’s: 5 he has enriched your whole life. He has helped you speak out for him and has given you a full understanding of the truth; 6 what I told you Christ could do for you has happened! 7 Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 And he guarantees right up to the end that you will be counted free from all sin and guilt on that day when he returns. 9 God will surely do this for you, for he always does just what he says, and he is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, even Christ our Lord. (I Corinthians 1:4-9 TLB)

As a child, packaged bread moved from just being a loaf placed in a paper wrapper at the bakery to this loaf of "enriched sliced bread" that was conveniently all cut the same size, wrapped to stay fresh in plasti…

We OWE a debt

Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others—never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of God’s laws, fulfilling all his requirements. (Romans 13:8TLB)

I sometimes use a credit card, but I am sure the banks aren't excited by the fact I don't carry a balance long enough to even pay any interest on it! I use it and pay it off - not liking to have debt. It is one of those cards that actually returns a little money to me by accumulating points with each purchase. I have managed to buy a new computer that way and a tablet, not to mention getting occasional gift cards. So, all in all, it is one practice that has served me well. There is one debt that I will always owe, though - the debt of love. For all of my life I will always be taking steps to 'pay off' that debt!

Some think of debt as a liability. When it comes to loving as Christ loved us, it isn't so much a liability, but an outflow of that love. It is the consideration of other…

Dark tunnel ahead

Corrie Ten Boom lived during some of the most horrific times of World War II. She was the daughter of a Dutch watchmaker, intent on helping many Jewish families escape the horror of the Nazi holocaust by hiding them in a small closet while enduring the unsettling repeated searches of her home. Living in those very unsettled times, constantly fearing for their own lives, and the lives of the families they sought to keep from the death sentence of being a Jew in those times, she never lost sight of her faith. She held fast to the certainty she was held in the center of God's arms and regardless of what those men might have sought to do to end her life, she'd was going to do the right thing. I remember hearing her one time, and as I sat in a room listening to her stories of those moments of tremendous fear, this is what she said, "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer."…

Glove or no glove?

The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his!  He is the one who pushed the oceans back to let dry land appear. Who may climb the mountain of the Lord and enter where he lives? Who may stand before the Lord? Only those with pure hands and hearts, who do not practice dishonesty and lying. They will receive God’s own goodness as their blessing from him, planted in their lives by God himself, their Savior. These are the ones who are allowed to stand before the Lord and worship the God of Jacob. (Psalm 24:1-6 TLB)

It was Nathaniel Hawthorne who penned, "A pure hand needs no glove to cover it." There are lots of "gloves" we wear in life, sometimes for protection, at others to hide. I wear gloves in my profession for protection - to avoid the spread of illness. I wear gloves when I garden - to avoid injury. I wear a glove when I play ball - to assist with the capture of the ball. I wore dress white gloves in the military while on parade - to look sharp an…

Where's that nose pointed?

I have always appreciated John Maxwell's leadership advice. He is an excellent teacher and one of my favorite thoughts from him is that "people may hear your words, but they feel your attitude." Attitude comes in louder and clearer than just about anything else because it is palpable. Even when you attitude is that of apathy or disinterest, there is a certain sense of 'feeling' that presents with your disinterest. Most of the time, we are making judgments about people and how certain interactions went not so much by the actual words, but by the attitude which was displayed while those words were shared.

A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life; jealousy rots it away. (Proverbs 14:30 TLB)

3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. (Philippians 2:3-4 TLB)
Attitude is reflected in ou…

No dime store provisions here

Then he said to all, “Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to me! Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it, but whoever insists on keeping his life will lose it; and what profit is there in gaining the whole world when it means forfeiting one’s self? (Luke 9:23-25TLB)
A few years ago, I had the privilege of being given access to some very expensive tools through an estate sale situation. Prior to this offering, I had a couple of power tools inherited from dad, or some that I had picked up along the way when the need arose. They were inexpensive ones and 'did the job' such as drilling a hole or sanding a rough spot out of some wood, but they were definitely not high quality tools. My neighbor was a professional woodworker, having both a small shop in his backyard and a much larger one for his business venture in town. The chance to pick up some very nice tools at a ridiculously…

Just change the boundaries!

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. 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.  All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day 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.  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)
There was a time...those simple words have been heard time and time again, recounting the memories of some former condition and now observing the change that has occurred. In some situations, the memory of the 'old' or 'f…

Impotent or Important?

When we were utterly helpless, with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners who had no use for him. Even if we were good, we really wouldn’t expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:6-8TLB)

What would you do for someone who 'under-valued' you, having little to no use for you? Most of us would be honest here and say we'd do very little, if anything at all! Why? We live in a world that expects reciprocity! We look for the 'what's in it for me' situations and that is what we go after more than those 'even if it means nothing for me, I will do it anyway' moments. Honestly, we want to 'get' a little out of whatever we 'put into' something, don't we? This is only natural. It is something quite supernatural to give without any expectation of getting!

Helpless p…

Positive or Negative???

Memory requires some effort on our part, does it not? Try learning your mathematical 'times tables' for the first time and you will likely have to 'memorize' the fact that 3 times 3 equals 9. Eventually, in the course of 'rehearsing' that which you have memorized, you will form long-term memory of that fact. It is a fact, not fiction, for three rows of three oranges a piece will yield you nine oranges. There are parts of our memories though that are a little more fiction than fact. We all 'add to' memories, not the stuff we memorize, but the memories made in the moments of life. Most of what we remember will be true, but there are parts of our memories we 'make up' to fill in some gap in those memories. It just could be because we didn't 'take notice' of those things 'in the moment', but now we are recounting something from those moments and realizing there was more we never even saw while we were living in that moment!

O Lord…

Not perfect....just evident

20 So they brought the boy, but when he saw Jesus, the demon convulsed the child horribly, and he fell to the ground writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has he been this way?” Jesus asked the father. And he replied, “Since he was very small, 22 and the demon often makes him fall into the fire or into water to kill him. Oh, have mercy on us and do something if you can.” 23 “If I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if you have faith.” 24 The father instantly replied, “I do have faith; oh, help me to have more!” 25 When Jesus saw the crowd was growing, he rebuked the demon. “O demon of deafness and dumbness,” he said, “I command you to come out of this child and enter him no more!” 26 Then the demon screamed terribly and convulsed the boy again and left him; and the boy lay there limp and motionless, to all appearance dead. A murmur ran through the crowd—“He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet and he stood up and was all right! (Mark 9:…

This is a result of that...

I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20TLB) Every now and again I try to teach someone something in Excel that will actually make their life easier if they adopt the function or shortcut into their practice. At first, they listen intently. At some point down the road, either they get it, or I see their eyes roll back in their head and you know they will never use that shortcut or function in a million years! What happens is that some are very intent on learning - on wanting to know how this software 'tool' can work FOR them. They have tried to create their own ways of doing the same function, such as selecting all the data at one time, but their method of scrolling for eternity until they find their last row and column of data is just insane when a simple holding of the Control Key and …

Avoid that pile...

I once heard a coach tell his team they needed to find out what the other team was going to do - paying close attention to their formation, footing, eye contacts, etc. Then he said to them that this how they could take that next move into their own control - making it almost impossible for that team to 'make that next move'. Maybe this isn't bad advice for our daily lives either. If we were to pay a little closer attention to the enemy of our souls, observing his moment, noticing how he is 'setting things up' so we can take a fall, maybe we'd have a better understanding of how to counter those attacks!

8 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. 9 Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too. (I Peter 5:8-9 TLB)
I think many of us feel it is impossible for us to ac…

Good dog or ferocious dog?

Someone once said "faith" has a twin - "doubt". Is it possible that maybe "faith" has a triplet brother - "fear"? Doubt and fear reside alongside each other so much of the time. We may not want to admit it, but when we are doubtful, we have an element of fear that begins to creep into our thoughts and affect our emotions. Doubt leads us to take certain actions or respond in a specific manner. Fear is part of that reaction to doubt. If a large, ferocious looking dog approached me at a dead run, I probably don't have any need to have a sign over the dog's head that tells me I am about to get mauled! Some things we just 'fear' because we have absolutely no doubt about their intent! At other times, doubt just barely creeps in like the tiny chihuahua pattering our way who looks harmless, but when close enough, those teeth can nip at our heels - maybe not with as much power as the huge over-powering dog, but they can still do damage. I…

Intelligent Design - YUP!

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist at the Hayden Planetarium in New York. You might recognize him from the History Channel's show called "The Universe". He was one of the ones opposing keeping Pluto as a planet and who frequently lectures on the extreme "limitations" of any scientist who believes in "intelligent design". His stand is that to believe there is a God and Creator of the universe is to limit the possibilities of all other 'discoveries'. You can be very well educated in the sense of 'intellectual content' and be very empty when it comes to connection with the God of the Universe! If we truly believe all this beauty and majestic 'inter-working' of all of creation could just occur by a 'big bang' or some 'alignment' of the universe's 'forces', then we are missing out on the most amazing relationship we can have with not just this universe, but with the Creator of it all! We live within…

How heavy did you say that was?

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 TLB)

What slows you down? As each decade passes, I find the things that once couldn't stop me are more or less obstacles in my path these days. My strength is still good, but it isn't what it was in my twenties or thirties! I didn't used to have an artificial knee and running was no problem for me, but running with 'artificial parts' doesn't exactly make me the Bionic Woman! My grandson took a hike this weekend with his youth group and before he went he packed his 'survival gear'. It was as though he thought he'd have to keep the whole group hydrated, first aid rendered, and possibly navigate the open spaces of the mountains aroun…

Compassion or Condemnation?

"Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation." (Henry Ward Beecher) Most of us need more doses of compassion and far less doses of condemnation! One of the things I used to tell my kids is that the world would find ample opportunity to poke fun at them, finding fault with what they did or what they wore, but within the walls of the home in which they lived, we wanted to do less fault finding and far more accepting. Why? Simply because I knew the 'condemnation' moments would outweigh the 'compassion' moments in this lifetime.

Jehovah is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of love. He is good to everyone, and his compassion is intertwined with everything he does. (Psalm 145:8-9 TLB)
Compassion is a "God-word". It involves that deep-seated desire to alleviate the suffering and pain of others, even if it costs you everything. Seldom are we truly encountered by such a great desire here on this earth in those we associate with. God isn't mo…

Favorite or Favored?

St Augustine wrote, "God loves each of us as though there were only one of us." Having two kids myself, I know there were moments when one of them would say, "Who do you love more, mom?" Or perhaps they would postulate about who my "favorite child" was at that moment. As a mom, it is hard to not 'play favorites' at times, especially when one kiddo is acting so sweetly while the other one is a terror from you know where! Ask me at that moment and I'd admit - the sweet one was my 'favorite'! It is good we serve a God who has no favorites - whose love and acceptance is not at all dependent on how we are acting or behaving at the moment, isn't it?

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing wil…

How sharp are you?

A dull ax requires great strength; be wise and sharpen the blade. (Ecclesiastes 10:10 TLB)

I am a stickler about using a good sharp knife when I am prepping meals. I don't like to 'hack thru' food items, but prefer that very clean, swift cut while prepping. The desire for a sharp knife means I have to frequently sharpen the blade to keep the 'edge' in the condition I like. In so doing, I actually shorten the length of time it takes to prep. I have had some knives that just don't hold their edge, no matter how much effort I put into sharpening them. Those knives don't get used much in my house, simply because they increase effort! The same attention should be paid to remaining 'sharp' when it comes to my mind, emotions, and spiritual condition!

Just as with the care and treatment of my knives, there needs to be special effort put into maintaining a 'sharp edge' in our spiritual lives. If you find your 'sharpening' has increased in frequ…

Do we use the light we have?

We despised him and rejected him—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we didn’t care. Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! (Isaiah 53:3-4TLB)

Albert Pike said, "We have all the light we need, we just need to put it in practice." Light came into the world, but the world rejected it almost as though they didn't need light to survive! Even a blind man will tell you without light on someone's part, the things he enjoys so much would not have been created for his use. The things he relies upon for his safety, such as audio cues at the crosswalk, braille lettering on the elevator buttons, and even the knowledge others have that a red-tipped white cane signals a visual deficit on the part of the one carrying it are all part of what was created 'in the light'. If a …

More than a moment

It was Dr. Seuss who said, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." We pretty much like how things begin, but we often feel let down when they end. I know that is the way I approach vacation times - happy that the day has arrived to embark on my adventure; then the final day comes and I must begin the journey back to "normal". Some projects begin the same way - with great gusto and good cheer; then end with a few bumps and bruises, tired muscles, and a sense of a little let down to be completing it. I wonder if we approach some of the moments in our lives with Christ in much this same manner - seeing a closed door behind us as something to mourn rather than to smile about 'because it happened". There will be bumps and bruises along the way sometimes, but remember...we grow by falling and getting up again!

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. (Psalm 90:12 TLB)
Our days are fe…

I am not hiding

My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me. (Psalm 62:7TLB)

Protection is often thought of as the preservation from harm or injury. It comes from the root word 'protectio' in Latin and means "a covering in front". We want God 'out front' in our lives - shielding us from all harm that is attempting to find a means to lay us out. The idea is that of 'guarding' so as to keep safe from invasion or loss. The President of the United States has a 'protection detail' with him wherever he goes. His 'detail' is huge, not only in number, but in the armored vehicles he has at his disposal and the military defense at the ready wherever he goes. The purpose is to keep him safe from any harm that might be planned for him. This allow him to do his job, much like God's protection 'out front' in our lives helps us 'do our job' on this earth. The right 'protection' makes a…