Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2018

What's the point?

I often study the life of David - from boy in the field tending sheep to the ruler of a nation. David had an intimate relationship with God - something quite evident in how frankly he spoke with God and how "free" he was in the presence of God. There is much to be said about having a deep, beyond the mundane, relationship with God. Look at what David reminds us time and time again - God is the one who welcomes, we are the ones who come into that place invited. We aren't interlopers in God's presence - we are welcomed and embraced.

You've always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You've always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.  (Psalm 61:3-5)

David acknowledges that God gives him something we call 'space' - that thing we like to refer to as breathing room - a place of complete sanctuary. Have you ever had a really good f…

Watch your step!

We are so blessed to live in a country where we can worship freely. There are still a multitude of people in this world who must live 'undercover' because of their belief in Jesus Christ - because it is not a 'permitted' religion within the country where they reside. The places of worship for these individuals are sometimes the tiny living rooms of a group of believers where someone opens the meeting with prayer, shares a thing or two from the scripture, all the while longing for a trained pastor to be their shepherd. In some senses, those believers are closely worshiping together in much the same way the early church did - or even as the nation of Israel did until Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem. They open their homes, gather under a large tree in shade of the day, or find a shelter somewhere just so they can be together and share from the Word of God. This is the heart that drives them - not that they have to 'go to' church - for they 'are' the …

A friend - a hand - a hope

There is a newer show on reality TV about people being left alone to survive - but they are given survival items such as fire starter, knife, and sleeping bag. They just have to learn how to build a shelter and survive off the land. The main part of the survival experience is that you are alone, must stay alone, and cannot seek out the other 'survivalists' that are a mile or further away from you. The point is that you are being tested on 'standing alone'. Scripture pretty much discourages trying to stand alone, especially in times of trial and struggle. It is as though these folks are welcoming the extreme loneliness that comes when they don't have contact with others. I have seen them adopt pet field mice in order to have something to talk to and take care of beside themselves! We are created as social beings and attempting to remove ourselves from social contact completely is not well tolerated by our minds, hearts, and spirits!

By yourself you're unprotected…

Can I get a witness?

Who do you find it the hardest to speak to? What are the words you have the hardest time saying? What are the thoughts you need to share, but you feel you just aren't up to it, or that it is just too difficult to say them? We all have those moments when it is one of the most difficult things to just say what it is we need to say - to get out into the open what has been veiled behind other words for so long. How many of us really get to the point of sharing our full heart with those who need to hear the words contained within it? Counsel and guidance are there, but do we know how to share it, or when it is the right time to share them? From the looks of things, I'd say we don't do a very good job with this one, my friends!

It's true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It's obvious, isn't it, that the law code isn't primarily for people who live responsibly, but for t…

And don't for a minute...

Where does a warrior find strength? I watched a show this weekend about the great warrior chiefs of various American Indian tribes as they were being asked to sign treaties to no longer attack the white settlers. The thing that struck me was not just that they were fighting for their land, but for their way of life - they valued their beliefs, customs, and traditions. These included how they viewed and treated the land and the animals inhabiting that land. They were willing to fight for them. The warrior has a different kind of 'heart' and 'mindset'. The warrior knows what he believes, stands upon those beliefs even when pushed to give up on them, and trusts those beliefs because he trusts what is behind those beliefs!

And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I comma…

Truth brought to life

I was watching a show the other day in which a scientist was being ridiculed for his belief in the 'creation story', as they called it. To those who were accusing the scientist of being foolish in his 'fairy-tale' beliefs, there was only one answer to how creation came about - what often is referred to as the big-bang theory. I don't know about you, but I'd rather believe in a truth than a theory! There are just too many 'holes' in that theory to make it truth in my book - especially since my 'book' is the Bible!

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. (Genesis 1:1-2)

Imagine all he has formed, all that exists, and all that no longer exists. Things, people, and trends - all have a tendency to come and all will go. As I reflect on the "Creation Story" - the re…

Abandon this

There are probably more than a few things in life we'd do well to just 'abandon' - because they are not meant for us to be carrying, working toward, or engaged in. The moment we abandon something, we leave it where it belongs - in the past. It isn't there to niggle at our time in the present. It cannot make demands of us any longer - because it isn't in the present! We don't 'occupy' a new space until that space is readied for that occupation. We prepare the space because it is important to do so before we move all manner of stuff into it. After the stuff is moved in, we might realize that we moved in a little bit too much stuff - leaving us with a sense of clutter and disorder. To 're-occupy' that space means we de-clutter and re-order. Occupation means we abandon something we may not have needed to "bring in".

When GOD, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re …

Soul-Empty

Lots of time is spent pouring out our heart and then hearing from God as to what has been transpiring around us that seems to give us concern, fear, or a lack of peace. It is impossible to live without faith, as scripture plainly reminds us that the just shall live by faith. Faith must be growing, continually developing. There are times when all we want is for God to do what he had done at times past in our lives - in other words, be awesome in every way, delivering us from whatever is just about to come in around us, and keep us from any type of mind or heart captivity. It might have been a while since we really experienced God in the 'earth-shattering' way we did in previous times - almost failing to sense his presence and longing for things to 'be good again' where is applies to our 'closeness' with God. We could even say we have allowed our 'souls' to get a little bit on the 'empty' side - we just seem to lack what we need.

"Look at tha…

On the hook?

There are times when my BFF says something and I fake being 'hurt' about whatever she said - like walking away with head hung low, sagging my shoulders, or just putting on a pout. It is all in jest, but there are times when we all say or do things that really hurt another. We may not intend it, but the words come across curtly, the actions seem a little too rehearsed and stiff, or the response just doesn't match the moment. What happens next is critical. We can internalize the hurt so it does us harm, or we can externalize it in a way that harms another. Another option is to learn to actually recognize the offense as an opportunity to grow and to solidify the relationship.

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend! (Proverbs 17:9)

There are definitely times in life when an offense seems just too significant to overlook - there is just something about that offense that makes you think it is "justifiable" to remain angry wi…

Turning up the heat a little

Back in the days of the pioneers, there was a crazy flurry of activity to 'hit it big' in the gold mining 'rushes' of the day. Someone would come across the 'mother-load' and the rush would be on. Whether that sparkly stuff was panned from streams or chiseled from the walls of the caves that housed their rich vein, the result was the same - it had to be melted down before it could really be used. Along came the silver and copper mines, each yielding their own 'ores' of great promise - each requiring their own type of 'smelting' processes, but each producing various 'qualities' of 'finished product' as a result. The smelting process usually involved what came to be known as the 'crucible' - that smaller collection spot within the larger furnace where the refined metals would be collected. While the furnace produced the heat to accomplish the refining process, the crucible acted as a collection device to capture the purifie…

Look, don't touch

As a member of the human race, I speak as one fully aware of how we are so consumed with what "looks good" - many times judging a book by what we see on the cover without inspecting the pages to see what is contained within. The perception of eyes often becomes the only method we utilize to determine the "goodness" or "evil" of a certain thing or person. We set ourselves up for accepting things that are clearly outside of God's best for our lives when we are only "cover readers". While the surface may be soft or hard, bold or muted, or even seemingly impenetrable, it remains just that - the surface! There is ALWAYS something beneath the surface - sometimes begging for discovery, other times hoping no one will ever know!

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good.  (Proverbs 16:2)

Surface or real? David and Bathsheba - David was King of Israel, his troops are out fighting the battle to take more territory in the…

Piggy-back ride

Every now and again I like to catch one of those episodes of funny videos where someone is caught in the act of doing something just bordering on the edge of stupidity. One such video last night featured a wedding in which one of the bridesmaids wanted to have her escort hop on her back for a piggy-back ride. Let me just preface this with the fact she was about twice his size, so she may have been able to do it under normal circumstances! She was in heels, a long dress, under the influence of perhaps a little too much bubbly, and he came at her with a running start - all laying out the steps for a total flop on that idea! As you can imagine, they both ended up face first into the dance floor!  I used to be able to carry my children or grandchildren on my shoulders. I could give them piggy-back rides, supporting them when they needed a little bit of carrying to make it to the end of the journey, but that was a long time ago. If I tried it today, I'd be face down just like that brid…

I've never been this way before...

There are times, seasons in life, when we just have to admit it is all 'new' to us. We haven't been that way before - it is uncharted territory for us. I haven't had any cardiac surgery, but my friend was facing another in a history of those types of surgeries, and he didn't know if it would be his last or just another in the list. While it would be 'uncharted territory' for me, it was old hat to him. I haven't been in a hurricane, but I have endured many a monsoon, haboob, and microburst capable of uprooting trees, toppling fences, and hurling large objects across roadways at your vehicle. We can all say we have had those moments where something comes as 'old hat' to us - familiar territory, for sure. As much as we may not like to admit it, when it is 'new territory' we are traversing, we might not feel all that comfortable, secure, or 'faith-filled'! We don't know what to expect, so we are a little fearful. These are natura…

A little prep now makes sense

The training a soldier receives is for one purpose - to be prepared for the battle. Not to be prepared just in case there might be a battle someday in the distant future. It is training to be prepared - regardless of the battle, foe, or challenge. There is a great deal of attention that must be paid in "being prepared" - it involves mind being ready, body being physically prepared, and gear all being in solid working order. Another important part of the soldier's training is that of learning how to use the gear and when it is the appropriate time for each piece of gear. I was issued so much stuff - winter and summer gear - combat and survival gear. Each had a purpose and I had to learn how each piece functioned. If I didn't know how to dismantle my weapon and put it back together perfectly, it could mean the loss of life! Scripture describes the fact that we must learn how to apply the various weapons / pieces of armor we are provided in this Christian walk. It s som…

Just you wait and see

The development of habits, thoughts and behaviors comes through both ongoing discipline and repeated instruction. We become proficient at something through the repetitive "doing" or "experiencing" of that task or behavior. God's training of our lives encompasses many aspects, but none so soul-liberating as the ordering of our thought life. The training of God that is directed toward our thought life, bringing into alignment our thoughts with his mind, allows us to develop behaviors that actually build our character on a solid foundation.

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I'll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear. (Psalm 86:11-12)

The ability to walk the path God has laid out for us comes as we are submissive to the training God brings into our life - especially as it applies to our thought life. When I say "submissive" I am not referring to some mamby-pamby kind of response…

Better than or worse than?

Have you ever been accused of taking yourself too seriously? It could be you just cannot get past the bad habit of thinking of yourself as superior in some way, or deserving of more distinction than someone else for something you may have done. For some reason, you might find yourself getting a little pretentious, attempting over and over again to win someone's affections, or receive some kind of 'merit' by pushing your 'good deeds' as 'deserving' of some kind of notice. Since I could put myself in this boat on occasion, let me just say that it might not have occurred to any of us yet, but it could just be that those 'good deeds' we are counting on as getting us some kind of 'merit' with another are really what was reasonable in the first place - they weren't really all that 'above and beyond' actions on our part. There are times we push ourselves forward, demanding something more than we should, and it makes others uncomfortable…

Hand me the pick-ax

Undeterred - not able to be restrained from action. Wouldn't most of us like to say our walk with Jesus is rather "undeterred" - there is nothing that distracts us, keeps us from moving forward, or discourages us in our pursuit of right-living? Truth be told, there are a whole lot of things that 'deter' us each and every day - most of which we have total control over! The commission given to the disciples was to "go", followed closely by "train". Both are significant action words - one suggesting we don't remain stagnant, firmly planted somewhere, not moving - while the other signifies a specific course of action. My BFF is bilingual and she often attempts to help me gain a little bit of conversational Spanish along the way. My Spanish is helpless! It is as though my mind has a barrier to retaining this stuff! She aptly points out that I have no problem learning something new when it comes to Excel database writing, so why do I have a roa…

Taunt on...go ahead...I'm not budging

There are basically two responses to life - facing it head on, or ducking for cover - although there could be different versions of both, it basically boils down to head on or turning tail. The first requires some element of determination, faith, and commitment. The latter simply requires a spirit of complacency, an overly sensitive emotional response to fear, and a whole lot of discouragement. David was in a real "pickle" when he pens these words - perhaps like some form of "pickle" a couple of us might feel we are in right now, or will inevitably face from time to time in life. Friends had turned their backs, enemies were all around, and everything he had counted on seemed to be failing - except God (remember that one, will you).  So, in the midst of this, he turns to the one he knows will never fail.
Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye, so no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face. I've thrown myself head…

A new bike pump

We might not know what is missing until we look for it. The other day I needed my bike tire pump. Doggone if I could find it. I went into bins, pulled out cabinet items, and no pump. The thing had vanished into thin air! I never knew it was misplaced until I needed it to fill the new tires and tubes on my 'new to me' bike I was blessed with! It is a good pump - the kind that fits onto the frame of your bike. I knew where I thought it had been, but then I looked in all the places it might have gravitated into, but alas...no pump. The next step was to buy another one, so off to the hardware store I went. It still hasn't shown up, but I expect it to at some point. What I feel bad about is that I wasn't a good steward of my 'tools' for the task at hand. I usually do a better job than that at maintaining an awareness of where my resources are, but not this time. God calls us to steward some pretty significant stuff in our lives - like grace, truth, and love - but it…

Risking it all...how about you?

We can be on our way toward doing one thing, but find ourselves called upon to do something else without warning. I was on my way back to bed at 3:30 this morning after tending for mom's needs - she was on her way to set the electric tea kettle to the "on" position as she was up for the day! I was heading one way with one mission in mind - sleep. Mom was headed another - with a totally different mission for me in mind! We can have our days or moments interrupted. Our desires and our plans can endure interruptions. Even our relationships and our health can be interrupted. We never know when that interruption may mean an adjustment in our course. Jesus was on his way one day to accomplish one healing he'd been called upon to do, (that of the dead daughter),  when a totally different use of his healing power was called upon, (the healing of the woman with the issue of blood). It is the woman that I wish to focus on this morning. Not specifically her need, but her faith …

Not just the easy stuff

Do you ever ask questions, only to find you already knew the answer? Sometimes we ask the question because we want to be certain we do indeed have the right answer already, but there are times we really doubt that we do - making the question really kind of like a fact-finding mission. We ask, hoping to receive, but we aren't sure we will receive anything that we didn't already know. The questions we ask can be 'conditioned' on the type of answer we really want to receive. For example, if we ask only a very superficial question, we are probably seeking only a superficial answer. If we want to get to the nitty-gritty, down and dirty truth of the matter, we might just ask the harder questions. The answer is almost predicted by the question posed. There is a quote that says, "Good questions outrank easy answers." (Paul Samuelsen)

But Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats…