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Showing posts from June, 2018

More than a quarter

I never did earn an allowance for all that long as a kid. As a matter of fact, if that quarter a week lasted much longer than a month total I would be surprised. You see, mom and dad equated the 'earning' of that allowance as a 'payment' for certain chores done around the house or yard. When they came home at the end of the day, they'd see if I had done what I said I would do - but not just that it was 'done' - it also had to be done 'right'. In reality, they were helping me realize any job undertaken in life had the potential for very positive outcomes when I put my full effort into it. Eventually, the chores were done, but maybe not to the level mom or dad would have desired. The dusting was perhaps only 'superficial', not really moving all that much out of the way to get at the surface dirt. The patio may have been free of leaves, but did I pick them up or just push them into the yard where they'd be free to clutter the patio again by…

What is your focal point?

Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. (Galatians 3:1 Msg)

Clear focus is a challenge for even the most dedicated believer. We are called to evaluate our focus because God often sees that we no longer have Jesus set before us clear enough to remain on track. There are times when we have allowed something else to fill the center of our focus that only Christ should be filling. With all the input we receive in a day or a week, it isn't hard to get off track. The things that are all around us act as distractions to what really needs our focused (undevided) attention. Focus is the position in which something must be placed in order for clarity of perception to occur. If we change that position even minutely, the clarity of our perception is directly impacted. Spiritual focus is impacted by a number of things.

Changing the distance at which we hold Christ in our daily lives can have a dramatic impact on …

These steps won't register on my smartwatch

The instructions to each believer are clear - get out there and walk!  Okay, before you jump off the deep end and tune me out, I am not heading down the path of needing to adopt a physical exercise program! Although most of us need a little more exercise in our day, there are a lot of 'steps' we take that won't 'add up' on our step counter smartwatch!  We do need to be active in our spiritual walk - avoiding the urge to settle in and rest comfortable in the realm of our spiritual growth - something we could do very easily if things are going quite well at the moment. It would make Satan very happy to know that we have decided "we've arrived" and then just settle in and relax in what we have received in Christ without growing any further! The 'urge' to move forward is seldom there when everything is 'going well', but we almost run at full speed when things are going wrong! Why is that? We are desperate for deliverance! Maybe we need to …

Don't be pushed around!

It would definitely be appropriate to ask, "What are you imagining God will do for you today?"  There are lots of us who face each day with all these agenda items that we have laid out for ourselves and others, all the while being pretty oblivious to what it is that God is preparing for our day instead.  We also go to God with huge desires, but somehow we think God's plan to meet those desires is to do it in a smaller, or less significant way than we are imagining in our hearts and minds.  Both ways of facing life are equally riddled with issues - if not because of how much control we want, then with the limits we are putting on God. When we exclude God from our plans, we open ourselves up to failure that really doesn't need to be there in our lives.  When we limit God by our lack of faith, we do not fully appreciate the magnificence of his love for us and how that love would design moments we need - not just the ones we want.

God can do anything, you know—far more th…

I only have a little ability

The Apostle Paul seemed like quite a well-educated, very capable guy when you looked at him from the outside - on the surface, we can appear just about anyway we like, but it is what is at the center of a man that really makes the man.  Paul took honest moments like this in the letter to the church at Ephesus to explain his own personal struggle with feeling "ill-prepared" for what God had called him to do.  He tells us what he recognizes as his calling on his life - to help people understand and respond to the message of salvation - something he felt very ill-prepared to do, but which he knew with a certainty was what he was to go about doing.  It was this message that he spent the remainder of his years attempting to get out to as many people as possible, establishing them in the truth that God had made a way for all people to have access to the atoning sacrifice of his dear Son, Jesus. Sometimes the thing we feel the least equipped to do is the very thing we should go abo…

Nibble on this

Ignore the Word and you will certainly suffer! Did you realize that is actually a warning provided to us in scripture? It also offers a pretty awesome reminder of what happens when we don't ignore the truths of God - if we honor God's commands, we will grow rich! Okay, don't get me wrong, study of God's Word is not a "get rich quick" scheme!  It is actually a pretty orderly, sequential growth process that has many rewards for the one who takes the time to make the investment into taking it in. Yet, we can go days and days without any intake of the truth that has the potential to free us from our hurts and hangups. We toy with truth like it was something to we might find beneficial at some point, but not at others. The long and short of it is that if we merely toy with truth, it cannot have as deep of an impact in our lives as God intended!

Ignore the Word and suffer;honor God's commands and grow rich. (Proverbs 13:13)

All of scripture teaches us that an app…

Really?

Pretentious people don't really get the most out of life. They are so busy putting up the 'pretense' they don't really get much time to enjoy what is really happening all around them! We cannot forget the importance of living genuinely - showing our "real colors" vs. living with a "facade" in place.  The tragedy of not living a life that always puts on a show or keeps up a certain image is that others only see only a pretense of happiness.  Too many times, it is easy to hide behind what we want to portray to the world vs. being our real selves.  This is because we interpret our 'real' selves as unworthy of public display, not of value - so we create a facade to hide behind.  This is a very dangerous place to be - live there long enough and you will become less and less familiar with what exists behind the facade!

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life. (Proverbs 13:7)

God wants us to realize a life t…

Okay, I finally get that one....

There are times take a little ribbing from my friends because I like to learn new things and get excited about stuff like learning new formulas in Excel, or finding out the origin of certain words or sayings.  I have a curious mind that is only satisfied when I have discovered a new fact - like taking something apart to see how it works, or discovering the name of a bug that crawls out of a hole in my back yard.  I know they say curiosity killed the cat, but I am not a cat! I think an inquisitive mind is given to us by God himself and he delights in seeing us put it to good use! According to scripture, if we are the kind of people that love learning, then we will also love the discipline that goes with it.  Most of us could say that we are open to learning new things, but does discipline REALLY have to be part of it?!? I mean, come on God, does discipline REALLY have to be part of us discovering new stuff?

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighte…

Pass me that plate, will ya?

Receive and experience the amazing grace of Jesus.  It is more than just a saying. This is the specific instruction of hope for the people who love God - that they both received and then begin to experience very deeply the intensity of the love that extends such magnificent grace. We can 'receive' a lot of things in this lifetime, but none of these things 'received' really matter until we begin to experience something as a result of what we 'received'. Think for a moment about the dishes passed around the table at a huge family meal, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. If your house is like mine, there are a variety of dishes, all prepared with tender-loving care. Some are quite simple - like the mashed potatoes. Others are a little more 'fancy' - like the corn casserole or baked green bean casserole. We might just allow those dishes, received into our hands, pass us by because our plate seems too full already, or we don't really need two starch…

Think, don't just act

Remember how fretting and worrying wears us down and brings us into a place of paralysis in our faith? There is a lot of power behind our thoughts - our way of thinking has a great deal to with how it is we perceive a situation and how it is we will approach it. There are very specific things we are supposed to be thinking on - allowing these types of thoughts to become fertile ground in our minds can go a long way to keeping us from fret and worry. Remembering that there is  first the need to "put off", then to "put on", we can conclude that some thoughts are meant to be left behind and others pursued. For some of us, the thoughts we have been mulling over for some time have become almost habitual with us - maybe not even the best of habits for us to have!  You have to put off a bad or less desirable habit, and in turn, you put on a better one.  When God tells us to have no other gods before him, he also says to honor him with our entire hearts, minds and souls.  …

Anti-corrosive barrier

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.   (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
Honestly answer this: When you are faced with the type of things that cause you to worry even a little, is your actual first response to those worries to 'worry' or 'pray'? Honestly, I think most of us might admit it is to worry, then to pray when we finally realize we are worrying! The Apostle Paul experienced some rather tough trials in his time in service to the Lord. He was jailed, brought before magistrates to give an account for his actions, engaged with others in ministry that had a hard time getting along with each other, and he faced physical ailments in his body...just to name a few of the …

Ready....Set....Love

God's goal for each of us is that our love would flourish – not just be evident, but be overwhelmingly, undeniably present in all our actions, speech, and emotions. We get the emotional part of love, but it is the words of love and actions of love that oftentimes don't quite measure up. Flourishing love is contagious love. Flourishing love is an active love – producing byproducts of its action in the lives of those it touches. This type of love is not in word only, but is a daily lived, sacrificial, unconditional reaching out of our lives for the benefit and well-being of others. We are encouraged to not only love, but to do it well - there is no 'half-way' when it comes to love. How many of us can truly say that we have learned to love well? We may be able to say that we have loved much, but loving well is a totally different story. 

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…

Strategically Placed Tools

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  (Philippians 1:3-6 MSG)
It is a truly comforting thing to know that God has placed leaders, mentors, and caring relationships in each of our lives that are frequently moved into "prayerful consideration" of our needs as we cross their minds. God can do much with a soul that is yielded to his purposes – especially when that yielded vessel is willing to reach out to the needs of others. The “trigger” toward "prayerful consideration" is born out of the newness o…

Welcome back!

God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live... And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I'm commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you'll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back. This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to…

Don't steam in it any longer!

"Count yourself lucky." We use this phrase, "I am so lucky", often without realizing what it means to be "lucky". It means that we are "favored" - to find a special space or focus of attention where all is going well. We should count ourselves as specifically favored by God - an object of his special focus! Being the special object of his favor should produce within each of us a sense of awe - tremendous wonder at how the God of the universe could have favor on us. His care for each of us begins with a specific action of his love - he forgives us - giving us a fresh start. The slate has been wiped clean! How many times do we say, "I wish I could get a fresh start"? Well, we can as many times as we need that 'fresh start' - God's footstool is the place of fresh starts. Fresh starts are characterized by being able to leave all the mess of our past exactly where it is and moving on beyond that place of 'messiness'. Not…

Throw it all in

Blessed be God—he heard me praying. He proved he's on my side; I've thrown my lot in with him. Now I'm jumping for joy, and shouting and singing my thanks to him. God is all strength for his people, ample refuge for his chosen leader; save your people and bless your heritage.  Care for them; carry them like a good shepherd. (Psalm 28:6-9 MSG)
Each of us have been through a rough stretch or two in life - times where we don't think we are going to make it because either relationships fall apart, circumstances keep us so frustrated and busy, or coming to the realization absolutely nothing was working out as we had hoped no matter how hard we tried. Companions may have turned against us, maybe even conspiring to destroy our reputation and keep us from some role we had been dreaming of all these years.  The constant running, the immediate danger, and the ever-churning frustration causes us to cry out to God for help - it could be we are just left silent and pondering quietly…

But....but....but...

Ever find yourself paralyzed by fear? Considering something 'ominous' in front of you, with memories of what you once had behind you? These thoughts plague us and we find ourselves wondering if we can ever make it past the past and getting fully into the present. There isn't much hope of ever experiencing the 'newness' of the present until we let go of all the excuses we offer to attempt to stay connected with our past!
Attention, Israel! This very day you are crossing the Jordan to enter the land and dispossess nations that are much bigger and stronger than you are. You're going to find huge cities with sky-high fortress-walls and gigantic people, descendants of the Anakites—you've heard all about them; you've heard the saying, "No one can stand up to an Anakite."  Today know this: God, your God, is crossing the river ahead of you—he's a consuming fire. He will destroy the nations, he will put them under your power. You will dispossess the…