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Showing posts from October, 2018

Do we really?

"Don't assume you know it all." I know just how much we struggle with "knowing the will of God" for our lives. We need, even crave, insight into getting "connected" to the will of God. There is a development of a trust relationship with the God we serve and we want to be sure we are 'doing' his will. We have to stop relying on what we can "reason out" in our own minds. To 'do' the will if God, we have to truly begin to listen to the still small voice of God - not just some of the time, but in all we do and in every decision we make. God will help us stay on the right course in our lives if we do.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Psalm 32:8 tells us that God "looks us straight in the eyes" and gives us the good advice that we need …

Out of words

Have you ever found yourself at a total loss for words? Something or someone just left you speechless - finding nothing you could say that would lend to the moment? It isn't often that I find myself in that spot, but when I do, it kind of makes me take 'double-notice' of whatever it is that influenced me. Why? If something or someone is capable of getting me to the point where no words can possibly share what I am experiencing, then I either need to celebrate the joy of that moment, or run for the hills because the thing is so evil I shouldn't be around it any longer!
Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; the world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts.  Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you. (Psalm 40:4-5 MSG)
Look around you and you are sure to see …

No visions of grandeur here!

Have you ever fought for a position - feeling like you should be the logical 'next candidate' for the position - only to find that it wasn't all that it was supposed to be? Usually by the time we have that figured out, there is someone else just waiting in the wings to take our spot - dreaming big like we did not so long ago - about to buy into the illusion of grandeur! Sometimes we are just better off putting out hands and head into whatever is at hand and stop being so concerned about the status of a position!

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving …

Let's avoid this catastrophe

We find reminders within scripture of the promise that those whom God calls, he also equips or enables to do the work they are called to do. One of the various ways we are "equipped" is with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit of Truth in our lives is resident within us as a result of our inviting Christ into our lives as our Savior - saying "yes" to Jesus. It isn't a complicated invitation - but sometimes we make the acceptance of that invitation way more complicated than it needs to really be!

If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! (John 14:15-17)

What does it mean to ha…

You cannot avoid it!

I can recall many 'camp meetings' and 'youth conferences' in which young people flocked to the altar, responding to the evangelist with a commitment to the 'call' on their lives. Very few of those who responded actually went into what we might call 'full-time' ministry, though. In the course of time, those who had not yet counted that cost when they made that commitment backed out. They began to discover the demands of ministry were great and the rewards may be equally great, but the calling was a pretty hard one! When we consider the prophet Jeremiah, we might just see one of those individuals who tries very, very hard to NOT accept the calling on his life - because he isn't quite sure he wants it!

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.  Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that's what I had in mind for you."  But I said, "Hold it, Master God! Look at me.   I don'…

Learning to tie a double-knot

I used to wear shoes that needed to be tied with laces a lot more than I do now, but whenever I lace up a pair of sneakers I am always cognizant of the fact those laces may work their way loose as the day goes on. They present a tripping hazard if left in that condition, so I usually take a little extra effort 'up front' to ensure this doesn't happen by placing the laces into a double-knot. That simple 'extra effort' doesn't seem like much, but when it is the 'right effort', the rewards are innumerable!

God-friendship is for God-worshipers; They are the ones he confides in. If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t trip over my own feet. (Psalm 25:14-15MSG)
The 'up front' effort we put into our daily relationship with God is important - it helps keep us from 'tripping up' throughout the day. While the communication with him should go all day long, and there should be an awareness of his ever-present care over our lives, it is good to 'begin&#…

Just imagine!

What is church to you? A social club? A place to meet and greet? A chance to 'get things right' all over again so you can go out and do the same old stuff next week? So many folks trudge off to church on Saturdays and Sundays, oblivious to any heartfelt reason for going to church or attending worship services in some location. Scripture warns us to be very careful when entering God's house - there is a specific purpose for church attendance and we need to be mindful in his presence. Right now, church 'attendance' for me is to stream the service over live video feed on Sunday mornings at the same time others are gathering in the building some call the 'church'. Mom and I find it quite a blessing that this type of service is offered for those of us that find it a little harder to get to 'church' these days.

Watch your step when you enter God's house. Enter to learn. That's far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice, doing more harm than go…

I need a housekeeper!

Ever get so 'into' your day-to-day "plodding" through life that you overlook the needs of others, show yourself insensitive to their plight in life, or are just plain oblivious to the heartache of your neighbors because you are just way too caught up in your own life. Been there, done that! Sometimes our "overlooking" of the other's need is not intentional, but a byproduct of the "busy-ness" of our day that results in us not being very open to seeing what is creating huge pain for another. There are other times, though, when we are quite aware that another is in pain and we simply don't want to invest the time, energy, or "heart" to reach out to them.

Don't run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God's concerns, and he will take care of them. We've warned you about this before. God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as bea…

My Best=His Best

It is quite easy for us to get 'drug down into' the culture of our day. The catty comments from opposing candidates catch our attention on the airwaves. The promise of this remedy providing instant this or that lures us into the latest of fads that only rob us of our hard-earned money and deliver none of the desired results. Easily swayed, we become 'prey' to these influencing factors. Wouldn't it be much more rewarding to be influenced with the type of things that actually pick us up instead of dragging us down? God's desire has always been for us to be 'drawn up', not down!

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You…

The heart of the healer and the mercy of a Savior

Ever hear that saying, "This may be your BIG chance", then thought, "Yeah, maybe this will be THE time"? THE time, THE chance, THE anything is kind of hard to predict - we are really saying it has all been up to chance and it continues to be right up into the present. Our BIGGEST opportunity comes not in the 'chances' we encounter, but in who it is we trust. We can trust the circumstances to bring our reward - like throwing the dice or spinning the wheel on the slots. We can trust in some 'lucky' thing to bring us the reward we hope to receive. Luck is really a two-sided coin - look it up! It refers to the 'force' that either operate 'for' you or 'against' you! I'd much rather be trusting in one that is continually 'for' me!

He asked the boy's father, "How long has this been going on?" "Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you ca…

Never a wasted word

I have found people have a harder and harder time communicating with each other these days unless it is done in some sort of emoji, tweet, or text message. We just don't interact face-to-face all that much anymore. The smartphones have given us access to our 'friends' 24-hours a day - pinging away with each newly composed message, cute video feed, or stunning social media post we receive. God isn't a 'social media' kind of guy, though. He really hasn't changed from his original plan of face-to-face interaction! It is called prayer and very few of us really 'get' how prayer works any longer because we have forgotten how it works to really share - to speak, listen, restate a conversation, mull things over together, and get down to the heart of the matter - all while being connected and vulnerable face-to-face.

God keeps his distance from the wicked; he closely attends to the prayers of God-loyal people.
(Proverbs 15:29)

There are times when we feel that…

The wise and the wisest

What action do you plan next? This is a tough question for some of us to answer because we just don't 'plan' our actions - we are more on the spontaneous side of things. Did you ever stop for just a moment to consider that even spontaneous actions are planned at some point? Yes, they are 'in the moment' actions, but we only do them because we have considered them either consciously, or deep within the recesses of our subconscious. All action is really based on some intensity of emotion combined with some belief we are to take that particular action. This is were things get a little complicated, because the intensity of our emotion may not always align with our beliefs! Sometimes they are 'way over the top' and just don't make sense in comparison to the action being enacted.

Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get. (Proverbs 20:18)

If you have ever made a 'resolution' to do one thing, and find your…

A well dug well

Deep wells are necessary here in Arizona because anything near the surface actually dries up pretty quickly unless it is fed from a very deep and refreshing source. The tendency to water only the surface of our ground actually doesn't promote deeper root systems, but a more superficial rooting. The trees, shrubs, and grasses with only these superficial roots often don't make it for the long haul of summer because they have nothing to draw from when the intensity of heat comes. We want to have deep wells to draw from, as we will face many a circumstance in life that turns the heat up more than a little in our lives.

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.
(Proverbs 20:5)

There is a tendency to "over-think" things today. We "work" a solution until it is what some call "fool-proof" and then we might take the steps to put it into action. The problem is that none of us is really all that what we w…

Let me be clear here...

What are the ways you are influenced? Where is it you turn to when you need to be updated on the state of affairs in politics, the weather, or the results of the football game? It used to be we had newspapers, but more and more of those have gone by the wayside. We used to huddle around radios and listen with intent as the latest events were crackled from the airways. Now we are likely to read our social media posts, quick one liner tweets, and updates on our 'electronic' news feeds. As times change, so do the ways we receive our influences in life. We might not realize it, but the things that need to have the greatest influence in us are actually being suffocated out of their place of influence by all the things that vie for influence in our lives today.

"Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he's up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up …

Through and through

The reality test of discipleship: Living out in your daily life exactly what Jesus tells us. All the world is into the fad of reality shows. At every turn of the day, new ideas for reality shows spring up - everything from being marooned on an island to trudging across country without anything at all to your name, dancing with famous people (whether you have rhythm or not), or making an absolute fool of yourself in the name of entertainment. These shows often push the envelope and exhibit the basest of human nature - it is truly "no hold barred" as far as they are concerned. People eat it up! Why? Perhaps because we are living "posthumously" through those on the screen - not really wanting our life's calamities portrayed for all to see, but associating with the ones we see up on that screen. Maybe we want validation that we are not any worse than others. Regardless the reason, the shows are prospering - they are big business these days. Not all that makes it in…

Take this most seriously

The power of two - do we really understand or appreciate it? There is something most powerful that happens when two are standing together! When there are two, one recognizes where it is that one or the other is a point when that one can no longer stand alone. At that point, we reach out to others. In a society that values the strength and ability of an individual, this idea of 'partnering together' is seldom overlooked for the value it presents. In recent years, we have seen education begin to teach the concept of "teamwork" by having students do "team projects" to obtain their grade rather than individual reports. This is not taught so much for the benefit of developing the inter-relatedness of each other as much as the development of the "social skills" that allow people to work together for the good of the whole. In God's economy, there is a benefit in being rightly related - first to him, then to others that he strategically places in our …

Hope is a seed

I watched an episode of "The Good Doctor" last evening and the story depicted a mother whose statement really caught my attention. She had a son with a heart disorder, requiring a major surgery to correct all the defects. As the doctors examined and re-examined this boy, their decision was that he was beyond the help of the surgeons - his defects were too serious. They were ready to prescribe some pills and send him home. The mother's determination on behalf of her son is not unique to this mother - for she was like a dog with a bone - determined to have these doctors do something for her son and not just write him off. In one of those tense moments when the doctors stood before her saying they had no plans of doing the surgery, she says something along the line that she doesn't have much at home - she is poor from a wealth perspective; she doesn't have any type of fall-back - for this is her only alternative. The one thing she has is hope - the simple hope of a …

Your full attention, please

My mother frequently uses the term "Listen to me!" as a way of getting my attention so that I actually stop, pay close attention, and hear out whatever her idea or issue is at the moment. It isn't always at the most convenient moment, nor is it always easy for her to get out whatever it is she wants to share. Yet, it is important enough for her to ask to for me to hear it, so I respond with, "I'm listening, mom", and she begins.  It isn't said in anger or in a moment of disappointment. Rather, these words are usually spoken in a "sing-song" manner, but with very specific intent - they are intended to get me to REALLY listen to what she was saying. Why? Because she knows she has something to say even if it is getting harder for her to say it! She has walked through much already, learned many lessons, and has the advantage of experience on her side, but the disadvantage of advancing age makes it harder and harder for her to actually form those t…

Oh, listen, then do! I get it!

The Golden Rule - I even have a ruler with the words printed on it! This is one of the most common 'rules' of the Bible, often repeated by many an individual who has no idea they are quoting scripture! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Did you ever stop to consider how Jesus opens this statement? If you look closely, you will notice he says these words to anyone who is listening - really listening to what he has to say. The beginning point of all teaching in our  lives begins with listening - then it moves into the doing part. Sometimes we get this backward and attempt to do before we hear!
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.Do to oth…

Is it today or tomorrow that we get that?

There is clearly a difference from being willing to learn and being excited to be taught. It was Winston Churchill who reminded us, "Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I don't always like being taught." We won't always like the topic we are learning, nor will we be in the best of mindsets to receive what is being taught. There are still going to be those 'lesson moments' when we hope to make it through relatively unscathed. We are just getting through it by the skin of our teeth.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. (1 Peter 1:3MSG)

In the meantime, there is a whole lot of discomfort on more occasions than we'd …

Learn on!

There are times when I just don't want to listen. I am intent on something else, the plot thickens in a TV drama I am intent on watching, or I am just too tired to care. Listening is hard at times because life gets us involved in other things. Listening is really a two-way street. When we aren't listening, we are blocking one side of the street! We must have open ears to hear the message - but we must also ask clarifying questions so as to get the full meaning of what is being shared. That is how God intends for us to be with our spiritual "ears" - listening with the intention of getting the full meaning of what he is sharing.

Simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening. (Proverbs 21:11)

There is a clear difference between being a "simpleton" and being a wise learner. We rarely use the word "simpleton" anymore in our English language. In fact, I cannot remember hearing it used in very many situations in my entire lifetime. …

Shhhhhhhhh.......

Our challenge is NOT in having the right advice to offer - it is allowing enough time to pass for the other person to actually WANT our advice! When I was in Bible College, one of the classes we took was designed to give us the skills to "listen" - really intent, serious listening. It was probably the longest and hardest semester learning the skills of biblical counseling - beginning with the skills of listening and ending with the skills of, oh yeah....listening. What was that all about? Somewhere along the way, our professors had learned that answering before listening is both stupid and rude. People were going to want to confide in us, hard things would be shared, and answers would be sought - but we had to learn to hear them out before offering the advice we were just chatting at the bit to get out!

Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. (Proverbs 18:13)

The failure to listen long enough or allow the time to build the trust that would be required to really sh…

Shaky footing

From time to time I like to share a quote I come across that speaks to me. Today, I will share one that we all need to learn well: "The past always looks better than it was. It's only pleasant because it isn't here." (Finley Peter Dunne) It was Henry Ford who reminded us that failure was just an opportunity to begin again, wasn't it? The past looks so good because we are probably busy finding ways to fail anew right now! As long as we are still on this earth, we are going to know times of failure - of unpleasant endings to what we hoped would end a little better. We didn't count the cost well - we didn't consider the outcome before we took the leap. The past looks good only to those who don't remember the pain of the failure!

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. I…