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Showing posts from July, 2018

Friendship Building Blocks

Last night, about 2 a.m., I awoke to thunder gently rumbling in the sky and quite a nice lightning storm coloring the sky in all directions. No rain, just hints that someone else somewhere was getting a little of the 'weather action' even though we weren't. The sky was grey this morning at sunrise, but alas, the clouds are lifting and sun is shining through. Arizona weather is just that way - lots of threats, but not a lot of 'action' in terms of those drops falling from the sky! Storms are something we prepare for, though - because they threaten to take out our power with high winds, interrupt our cell and satellite service with blowing dust, and when those drops do begin to fall, they can bring rushing floods to very arid places. Preparation is key to minimizing the risks associated with these storms, just as it is key to reducing our risks spiritually, emotionally, and physically when uncontrollable 'attacks' come our way in life.

If God doesn't build…

God's not finished with any of us yet

I am always touched when I observe someone just going the extra mile for someone. Maybe it is they guy who stopped to help an elderly lady with a flat tire, or the team of landscapers who jumped out to help someone push their stalled car off the roadway safely. It could be the child who tenderly helps their grandmother navigate some uneven pavement, or the worker on their way to the cafeteria who helps someone lost in the maze of hallways looking for a particular department. Brotherly love and kindness are traits that never grow old, my friends. In fact, they are traits that seem to exhibit just a little bit of the character of Christ in all of us - because he was always looking for the opportunity to serve others, if even in the slightest way - just because his heart was moved by their need.

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 w…

No more sour notes

Have you ever looked at awe upon someone or something, with one of those kind of "jaw dropping" moments? For just a moment, your attention is held and your reverie in what you are beholding is exclaimed. I have been at amazing falls of water, deep caverns carved precariously into our earth's 'underside', and high up on mountain's edge looking out great expanses of space - each holding a particular sense of awe for me. I have observed huge cranes lift massive loads to heights that you think would make them topple over, and small sticks of explosive substance bring down massive walls of great boulders. Awe is hard to describe, but it comes because something or someone holds one's attention just long enough to cause them to consider the magnitude of what they are seeing. To our good character (moral choices), spiritual understanding (discernment), alert discipline (spiritual development), and passionate patience (endurance and stability), we are to add rever…

A tale of the fisherwoman

It seems a little 'counter' to patience to be passionate, doesn't it? When we think of patience, we probably think about the one who simply stands by waiting to see what will unfold, not losing hope, but being very, very calm, cool, and collected. I imagine being passionate as being a little more animated and less 'calm' - there is action involved in passion, so it doesn't always make me think of patience. Most of the time, we don't really equate waiting and passion as belonging together, but let me be a little bit revealing here - passion and patience make all the waiting worthwhile! I love to fish and let me just tell you that you cannot be any good at this without passion and patience! You must sit still for long times, often rethinking what you are using to attract those fish to your hook, and then know just the right time to snag that catch when they are nibbling on your bait. It is a skill learned in the waiting! Much of what we learn in life is learn…

Don't buy new

Build upon what you have been given. This past weekend had a slight break in the absolutely hot weather, so I took advantage of putting together a stand for a friend's bike. The project had been lingering on my 'to do' list for way too long. As I thought about how to go about building this piece, I had many options, but I chose to 're-purpose' reclaimed wood to make the project's base. It was two inch thick pieces about five inches wide wood from some pallets I disassembled some time ago. Dried, solid, and beyond the degree of strength of the stuff I could get at the local builder's store, I chose to 'build upon what I had been given', so to speak. It turned out to make a very solid base to support the cruiser bike. We might not think that we can build upon much in our spiritual life, but one of the ways we can is to choose to build upon what we have been given and then to develop 'alert discipline' in its use. To a strong moral foundation (…

Help me to get this one

We are often reminded of the importance of allowing the moral foundation of our lives to be rebuilt or "re-formed" by the hand of God, in order to affect the choices that ultimately work to form our reputation. Add to that the attribute of spiritual understanding and you have a recipe for a strong walk. This is definitely more than a personal interpretation of the things contained in the Word of God. It involves all our intellectual faculties for sure, but it also involves the power to discern - to really identify truth from fiction and then to embrace only truth, dismissing all fiction (deception) from our lives.

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 gro…

Which way do I go?

There are some areas of town I really don't like to drive in because the 'intersections' of roads and freeways are just kind of hazardous to one's health and safety! The traffic comes at you from all directions - more than just east or west - it comes from about six different angles, each 'flow' of traffic expecting their own freedom of passage! While I recognize there were great engineers behind the development of these intersection points, I don't think they took into consideration the lack of attentiveness some would pay to these 'way points' in their journey. Sure, they are 'safe' way points - as long as one is paying attention to the posted signs and warning lights! Get distracted at all, or be totally unfamiliar with these places of intersection, and it is pretty risky business to traverse these way points! There are just times in life when we aren't pay as close attention to life's way points as we might need to - way points s…

Trust me on this one....

Trust is a big thing, not so much because we do a great job with this one, but it is so often the focus of attention because of how frequently it is breached. Look at how many 'hacking' issues have left millions exposed to identity fraud because one individual was able to breach what others thought they could trust in. Consider how many relationships dissolve each year, simply because trust was breached. Trust is based on the integrity of another - we count on them to do what it is that they represent themselves capable of doing. When trust is broken, we find ourselves questioning the strength of that relationship because we have based everything on the belief that the other party would perform as we expected and how they 'promised' they would be able to perform. I know I have antivirus software on the computer, but has that kept me free of SPAM, occasional virus invasions, or computer crashes? No, because the 'lines of trust' are always changing today! It is h…

Don't just pucker up!

We've all seen that little plaque somewhere that announces, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I think this is probably somebody's way of trying to keep lemonade stands in business! Truth be told, you can only take so much lemonade! A steady diet of lemonade gets to taste pretty bitter after a while and it changes what the 'inside' of your body looks like! Your physical body can only handle so much "acidic" intake before it starts to rebel with changes internally that you may not fully recognize until they have created a state of imbalance that you cannot easily bounce back from. Even when lemon juice is applied externally, to the skin or the like, it has an effect of lightening the skin, or making the places it touches very raw from the acidic nature of the lemon juice. Guess what - your spiritual state of "balance" can be equally as disturbed by a steady diet of "bitterness" just as easily - bitterness acting like an &#…

Open doors, not the earth!

How much time do you spend "pondering"? Pondering is way more than just letting your mind wander here or there. Pondering carries with it the idea of considering something so carefully that we are going through the mental process of weighing all the details, with an attentiveness to the details that help us to not miss a thing. God actually commends those of us who spend time in such a manner! This is how God wants us to be considering his actions on our behalf. There is nothing more rewarding than to truly begin to consider God's love and grace in action - it has a way of refocusing our attention and directing our attitude away from "me, me, me" - something we need more help with than we might want to admit. We are very 'me' focused individuals - even if we don't see it, others can attest to this fact!
We pondered your love-in-action, God, waiting in your temple: Your name, God, evokes a train
of Hallelujahs wherever it is spoken, near and far…

You want me to get real?

While reality television is all the rage right now, it can be a little bit over the top most of the time. No matter the day of the week, you can capture some version of this "watch me make a fool of myself" programming complete with scenes from what we can expect the following week. People have been drawn into to the latest wave of "reality" programming because it gives them a chance to see the "true nature" of how people respond under pressure, how far they will really go when challenged to do what any sane individual would avoid, and just how much 'moxie' one possesses to treat others in ways they never should be treated in a million years. It has the game show appeal of some prize at the end, but it also puts people in the situation where all kinds of pressure emerges and then let's us see exactly how they respond to competition, disappointment, desire, and a whole plethora of pretty serious emotions. The idea is to go through not only phys…

Tell me honestly - I can take it

The last thing most of us want is any kind of reprimand - let alone a serious one. On a scale of 1 to 10, most of us would say a reprimand ranks as a 1 to 3 on the scale of "I really wanted that". Not too many of us would even give it higher than a 5 because we really don't enjoy being reprimanded because it is uncomfortable and often a little 'intrusive' into who we really are or how we are acting. A reprimand is always associated with behavior that just did not "measure up". It carries with it the idea of rebuke or reproof. I always knew I was in for a little bit of a reprimand by the tone of mom's voice, or when she'd use my whole name! It made my hair kind of stand up on the back of my neck - because I knew something I did crossed the line. She could have tried some kind of "positive affirmation", but let me tell you, it wouldn't have had the same effect. There is just something about hearing quite clearly that you missed the m…

Service + God's Hand = Blessing

It hardly seems a day goes by anymore without some tragedy being reported on the evening news of a man or woman bent on harming others by some means of gunfire or violent outburst. The news is filled with these stories of a world in chaos. Maybe not all of the news is 'human caused' events, as even nature seems to be joining in the chaos with volcano eruptions, massive wildfires, and consuming floods. Do we daily lift our leaders before the Lord, asking him to give them wisdom in their decisions? I know that I am not one of those that "regularly" prays for our country's leadership - I almost have to be reminded of the issues, then I remember to pray! Do we daily lift those who have to face hardship after hardship, finding ways to bring them some relief if at all possible? Do we casually say, "I'll pray for you," all the while knowing we will forget about the need just about as soon as that individual is out of our line of sight?

2 When the country is…

Bold as lions

Guilt has a way of making us "edgy" - nervously irritable, impatient, anxious - maybe because we fear we will be 'found out' somewhere along the line for whatever it is we are feeling all that guilt over. One of the most "telling" characteristics of someone who is feeling a sense of guilt is that sharp edge that they get to their tone whenever they feel they need to defend themselves in their present state. It is human nature to either want to defend our actions, or to run from the scene in an attempt to escape the emotional upset guilt brings. WE want an 'out', while GOD wants an 'in'!

The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one's after them; honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions. (Proverbs 28:1)

We each have a unique opportunity to touch "edgy" people with the grace of a forgiving God, but it might be harder to take the 'edge' off someone if they really don't want anyone to kno…

Evidence of Love - prayer

The return we reap from generous actions is not always evident.
(Francesco Guicciardini)

Mr. Guicciardini also reminds us, "Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them." These are indeed wise words, for friendship is one of the things once gained acts as both a means to challenge us to move forward, but also gives us the support to take those first steps in the right direction. I am privileged to know good friends, but no matter what you say, there is always going to be one who stands out above the rest. That 'friend' who sticks with you through thick or thin, and even when they cannot be with you, their support is felt because you know you are never far from their thoughts nor out of their prayers for very long! Generous prayers lifted on your behalf, simply spoken from the heart, but with utmost meaning to those who need that support at that moment!

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not …

I spy with my little eye.....

If you have ever tried to judge the contents of a book simply by looking at the cover, you may have been somewhere into the first couple of chapters only to find what you thought the book may have been about turned out to be something totally not like expected!  You may have been very disappointed in your initial "assessment" of the book, even leaving it unread any further just because you weren't interested in it, or it was way too poor of a read. Once I get into the "heart" of the book, and I find what I hoped was contained there is missing, or falls short of what I expected, I usually abandon it, never to pick it up again. What I hoped was a "good read" leaves me a little disillusioned. Sometimes there are things in life that look like they will be a 'good thing', but once we find ourselves in the midst of them, they aren't exactly turning out the way we imagined!

Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.  (Prove…

Hit it big!

Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time planning, organizing, and generally creating a vision for our future without any evidence that implies we are guaranteed that future! It is human nature to count on the unseen, the unknown, to come to pass - for some, it is 'hope', but for others, they are counting on what will never come to pass because it was never intended for them. Those who hold out to win the lottery are playing against odds so great that their chances of ever winning are astronomical. Yet, they keep playing. Is that hope, or is that 'false hope'? If they are putting off the pursuit of goals because they would need that windfall fortune to do it, chances are they will never realize their goals! There is a place for hope, but hope must be founded in faith, rooted in a solid foundation, and reliant upon something (or someone) that can actually produce the outcome!

Don't brashly announce what you're going to do tomorrow; you don't know the fir…

The boiling point

The truth of the matter is that it is a continual challenge to both listen carefully to the wisdom being laid out in scripture and then to take it to heart - to allow it to affect our actions. The scripture often gifts us with "sterling principles" by which to live - more than advice to be considered, but rather principles by which our lives become principled. These are tested guidelines to live by - guidelines that will hold us accountable in our daily walk and will help our walk to be marked by consistency. One such principle is to make wise choices about those you walk with on this journey.
Don't hang out with angry people; don't keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious—don't get infected.  (Proverbs 22:24-25)

This is a pretty stern warning to avoid hanging out with the wrong company - angry people and hotheads. This isn't just a suggestion - it is a command - DON'T do it! Angry people are generally miserable people to be around, just in case…

So help me God!

In our culture today, we equate being "under oath" with having sworn to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We used to add the words, "so help me God", as we held our hands on a copy of the Bible. Society found this offensive and "intolerant" of the various religions of the world, so gradually this has been "phased out" of many courtrooms as the foundation upon which our testimony may be judged as "factual". The mouth that lies under oath differs from the tongue that lies in that it is associated with the giving of a testimony or acting as a witness either for or against someone. Scripture also reminds us that God hates a false scale (in other words, being dishonest in business affairs). God expects his kids to live as model citizens in a society that may not have very many good role models and a whole lot of rule breakers. 
Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a…

Door Number One? Two? Three?

The arrogant eyes (pride-filled attitude of looking down on others in judgment), the lying tongue (that destroys others and builds self up), the hands that murder the innocent (often without really "killing" them), and the heart that hatches evil plots (just because it can!). The feet that race down a wicked track - now that is indeed a description of some of our responses to temptation in life - we actually run toward them rather than away!

Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Feet carry us on our journey - they are what propel us forward or stop us in our tracks. In this case - they are racing forward - not at a pace that suggests any hesitation in the way they are going, but with determined purpose. Their direction…

It doesn't have to hatch

Attitudes of heart that God absolutely despises are not a secret - he does everything in our power to let us know what to watch out for in our own lives and the lives of others. This morning, we will examine the heart that hatches evil plots. It is important to remember that scripture refers to the "heart" a lot - if there is repeated focus on anything in scripture, we are supposed to pay attention to what God says about it. We may not realize that this is really the seat of our emotions, the center of our personality and temperament - so no wonder God spends so much time trying to help us understand it. The part of us that is driven or controlled by emotional response is often the main thing that gets us into trouble - not that there was a temptation right there in our path! When emotions are out of control, we might just offer up a short prayer of quick deliverance so they will 'settle down', but there are other times when we simply allow them to spin on and on…