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I'm seeing it now

How well do you know me? How well do you know the guy or gal who lives next door? How well do you really know your coworkers? Chances are we 'know' each other in some manner, but do we really 'know' each other? Occasionally as I am watching some news story on the TV, I will observe people being interviewed after some horrendous crime or accident that took a life. The news reporter will interview them for their "perspective" on the criminal's history, their "impression" of the victim's life, or some such. It is as though these individuals come out of the woodwork, claiming some sort of acquaintance with the criminal or victim. Sure, they live six streets over in a totally different subdivision, never worked or went to school with them, but "they knew them well". Silliness! I wonder how God feels about some of the reports we give of "knowing him well"? Do we really 'know' him, or is that just a facade, too?

Here&…

Here's the hammer

Spent a couple hours in the workshop this morning making a project for my BFF. It wasn't anything fancy or particularly hard - she needed a large frame for a photo booth. Even the small projects make me very relaxed and I so enjoy building this stuff! I wonder how many times we think we are building "good stuff" in our lives, only to look back and see how little we actually "built" - maybe we would be surprised at how many times we'd say what was "built" was little more than a scrap heap. We always seem to think the endeavors of our lives are totally worthwhile - but in retrospect, how many of them really produced what we originally believed possible? The most amazing thing happens though when we set out on an endeavor with God - usually MORE than we believed possible on our own!

If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn't guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It's useless to rise e…

Scribble, Scribble, Scribble

I think I have shared this before, but I had a friend encourage me to write a book. The idea of having to put into words my life experiences almost intimidated me. Yet, when I began to really think about it, we all are writing a book of sorts - maybe not with paper and pen, but a 'book' nonetheless. We might call it the "book of decision". You see, each action we take is somehow "writing the next chapter" of our lives. Our response to today's events go a long way in determining the events of tomorrow. We here of horrific tragedy every single day - murders, auto accidents taking lives, suicides, and innocent victims in the wrong place at the wrong time gunned down without warning.  The events of those few moments in time have such a ripple-effect on all the families involved. Spouses, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and even their neighbors who knew them - all impacted by the events of the day. The events of that one "chapter" open u…

Cart - Horse, not Horse - Cart

I have to ask this question, mostly because I have to ask it of myself from time to time, but how many times do you actually need help with something, but refuse to ask for it? We all have times when we feel ready to face the world head on, then in a moment's flash of time, our brains begin to ask the question, "Who's gonna go with me?" "Will there be anyone there to help me if I go this direction?"  We falter for just a moment or two as we realize if we go it alone, we are a sitting duck and may quickly realize we are not well prepared for the things we will encounter. If we have someone at our side, we are less likely to have to share the brunt of anything "negative" or "too hard for one person" on our own. The opposite is also true - when we are accompanied on our journey offering a helping hand along the way, we share the joy and glory with the one accompanying us! We all need someone to be there from time to time with just the ri…

Content with what I have right now

No matter how had we try to avoid it, we all have moments when we just "envy" the other guy a little bit, don't we? As hard as we try to resist the green-eyed beast we call "jealousy", it rears an ugly head and suddenly we are seeing things through eyes of envy and self-defeat - wanting more, believing we deserved better, or just plain thinking we didn't get whatever it was we should have received. It is an age-old problem, indeed. Did you ever stop to consider just how blessed you are, even if you don't possess all the luxuries the other guy seems to possess, didn't get that promotion as quickly as the other guy, or just don't seem to live as 'worry free' as he does? Blessing isn't just material - it can be emotional, spiritual, and even a sense of just 'being all right' in the midst of what some may think is a bad situation.

When I was beleaguered and bitter, totally consumed by envy, I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox in …

Is anyone actually listening?

Right now in our country, there is a great deal of discussion, or perhaps debate over the issue of who should hold the highest seat of political office in our government. There are supporters on each side of the debate, but it is hard to tell which way the issue will end. The two parties oppose each other - one trying hard to have an impact on the other until whoever finally 'wins'. Have you ever wondered if your life could ever make an impact - if you could ever be a positive influence in the lives of others? Perhaps you have listened to people of your past or present who repeatedly belittle you, tearing you down every chance they get, making any hope of "impacting" the world in a positive manner a little less than a 'probable' vision for you. Maybe you have tried to make an impact, having ventured out in one area or another, only to find yourself running into brick walls and resistant forces.  Impact can be positive or negative - two possible outcomes exi…

Get me to shore again!

I know it is Christmas morning and this may not seem like much of a 'Christmas' message, but I think it may just be the one 'gift' we all need in our lives. In our moments or seasons of rebellion, there comes a time of realization - the moment in time when we realize just how far we have drifted from what God would have wanted for our lives. Those moments are described as being as low as one can go - being as far away from obedience as one can manage to get. In those moments, there comes a realization of where we are and we often find ourselves looking up - simply because there is just no help in looking down or in looking around! If we looked down - we'd only see our problem! If we look around - we'd see others right there with us, as helpless and lost as we are. When we look up - we see our hope for deliverance!

I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! Wh…

So, you will even use my rebellion?

Picture the scene of seas out of control - waves tossing you about like you were a pin pong ball on the surface of the water. The sailors, all highly skilled in their task of steering and controlling the ship with rudder, sail, and their knowledge of the seas - trying desperately to return to shore, making absolutely no headway as they attempt to navigate the churning waters. They look for a "cause" for their present circumstances. They seek out Jonah in the hull of the ship, having "discussed" their circumstances with each other, they were told by him that he was clearly the "cause" of their present danger. Yet, they choose to attempt any other alternative than what he proposed. His proposal - throw me into the sea. I don't know about you, but I have been asked a few time to "throw someone under the bus", but I find the internal struggle with this whole concept just a little unnerving! Giving into the desire to be free of the circumstances …

When the boat is a rockin' ...

Are you a 'runner'? You know - that one who finds something just too hard, or totally unimaginable for the asking - so instead of embracing what is right there in front of you to do, you turn tail and run the other way. The worst form of 'running' is when it is away from God - away from obedience. Running away from God is seldom the answer to our problems. In fact, the harder and farther we run, the worse the problems seem to be magnified in our lives. Try as we might, God really cannot be escaped! There is just no hiding place from God! That said, why do so many of us try to get away from what he asks of us? It may be stubbornness (AKA pride), fear (AKA mistrust), or apathy (AKA not really caring). The worst part about 'running' from God is that others usually get wrapped up in the results of our 'running'. We may not have intended it to happen, but they are affected by our actions - even when they result in inaction!

Then they grilled him: "Con…

Hold my hand, God

Ever run the other way when you know the right way to be going is exactly the opposite from the one you have chosen? You see or hear something, then without a moment's hesitation, you turn and run, hoping to avoid the confrontation, escape the demand, or just plain ignore the situation? I think we could all answer in the affirmative to this one on at least one occasion in our lives, but probably more frequently that we'd truly like to admit. It is sometimes more "convenient" to pretend we did not hear what was asked - but what is the cost of hearing and then not doing? It is probably less "costly" to just ignore the need someone has at that moment - but who will meet the need if we were the ones designed to do it? I imagine it is less of a "relational intensity demand" to avoid the confrontation - but what walls will be built by avoiding the difficult discussions? Most of the time, running the other way means we are running away from what God…

Is THAT me?

Most of us will be a little guilty of jumping to conclusions on occasion. We don't possess all the facts, but somehow we think we have the whole thing figured out in our minds and we are ready to tell the world how things should be. We form some type of "story" in our minds we latch onto. In plain language, anytime we don't have all the information (the facts), we are jumping to conclusions which may not be well-founded. We open up the door for a lot of problems whenever we 'jump' before we think things through and spend time getting the facts we need in order to for well-designed plans or response.

Don't jump to conclusions—there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw. (Proverbs 25:8)

The stories we tell ourselves (and eventually others) are often more important than we think! An inaccurate story will only lead to inaccuracies in our actions or the actions others take in response to what they hear! Learning to tell ourselves the corr…

Purpose and Intent - Prerequisite to Learning

Mindless pursuit is really not pursuit - it is just us being there without being present in the moment. The more we engage in mindless pursuit, the less we remember what it is like to really pursue with a true passion. If we really stop long enough to consider why we go to church, we'd all probably enjoy the experience a whole lot more! If going to church was more about us 'being the church' than about us 'attending' church, we might actually walk away a different person! Yet, most of us go to church in a kind of "mindless" manner - not really passionate about it, but more or less there because it has become routine for us.

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 good. (Ecclesiastes 5:1)

There is an importance in "entering to learn" - not just to be able to "check off" one more thing on our list of weekend experiences or 'to …

Circling the drain?

I have some friends who are cool, calm, and relaxed no matter what comes their way. I have others who seem to get more and more frazzled by each mounting stress in their lives, until they are 'spinning' in absolute frenzy. We all have times when our days just seem to spin out of control. It is not an easy thing for many of us - we don't like to have the control of our days in the hands of anyone else! Whenever control shifts, we feel "out of control" - anxiety creeps in, frustration mingles with our anxious thoughts, until we end up on the edge of wanting to just scream, "Give me back the reigns, fool!" Okay, if this has never described your day, don't read on! If it has...maybe you'd benefit as much as I do from pondering the words of the 23rd Psalm.

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the rig…

Ad Infinitum

How many times do we venture into things without thinking? If you are anything like me, you have probably undertaken a few things you'd look back on now and admit freely you had no business getting involved in that task or doing whatever it was that got you into the muddle it did. If you were to ask me to describe a characteristic about God which most could understand, I'd have to say my first inclination would be to describe him as a God of "second chances". He has many attributes, but the one which speaks to me the most is his grace. Grace is undeserved favor - it is God giving us a second chance (and often a third, fourth, fifth, ad infinitum). Do you know what 'ad infinitum' means? Again and again, in the same way, forever! Whether it is one of us that finds ourselves 'in a bad way', or another God brings across our paths, the answer is always the same - we need his grace!
Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time: "Up on your feet and on your…

I need a little therapy here

If you have ever engaged in the pastime of "extreme" people-watching, (the kind where you sit with a cup of coffee and just watch), you soon realize there are many "styles" of walking, dressing, doing one's hair, and even talking. When it comes to walking, some take slow, meandering steps, not appearing to have a care in the world. Others walk at an "all-out" pace you'd imagine it would be a marathon runner you are viewing. Still others seem to "strut their stuff" as they swagger along, pretty doggone sure of themselves. As any physical therapist will tell you, your "gait" (walk) tells a whole lot about what is going on in a person's entire body. For example, if you shuffle a lot when you walk, it could be an indication of a lack of muscle strength, or perhaps a neurological deficit which is keeping the person from performing the normal "heel-strike" type of gait. The therapist observes a person's gait for sig…

Be a gift giver

There are times when I come into my office to find a bottle of my favorite soda, or a small snack that will help me make it through a long day. They aren't 'expensive' items, but they mean the world to me. Have you ever just left a small gift on someone's desk while they were out of the office - no note, no explanation, just something which might bless them on a day when nothing seems to be going right for them? What happens in the moment the person notices the gift upon their return? They ponder it, don't they? It gives them "cause to pause". There is this period of time between the "shock" of receiving the gift and the moment their curiosity causes them to ask, "Hey, who put this here?" For just a brief period of time, they stop focusing on the issues which made them so irritable in the first place, don't they?

A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person; a heartfelt present cools a hot temper. (Proverbs 21:14)

Have you…

But...I am afraid right here!

We all have probably experienced at least one of those moments when the "mess" of our present "muddle" seems like more than enough to handle. As though our life energy or soul's determination were limitless, someone comes along telling us to get "deeper" into the "muddle" we are in! I think we all probably might have responded similarly to the ill-fated one who tells us to get ourselves into a deeper muddle - it probably went something like, "Are you nuts! Things are more than I can handle right here and you want me to do what?" Hey, this is not a new response to human issues all around us! People just don't want to 'deal with' more so they are constantly trying to find ways to just unload the mess they presently have - not to take on "MORE".

But David's men said, "We live in fear of our lives right here in Judah. How can you think of going to Keilah in the thick of the Philistines?" So David …

Pure and simple

Some days, I am on top of the world - sailing along without worry or hindrance. Others I am in the pit looking up - barely able to keep my head above water, really uncertain about the way things are going to turn out that day. The ups and downs, twists and turns of life just keep us in knots, wondering what is coming next, not sure we will be able to 'keep up' or 'make it through'. It is one thing to feel these various emotions because of another's action within our lives - quite another to feel them because of our own poorly prepared and 'dumbly executed' actions, isn't it? One brings a sense of anger, mistrust, fear, and perhaps even the desire to retaliate a little. The other brings a sense of frustration, guilt, remorse, and if we are being totally honest here, even a little bit of what we call shame.

Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this good…

I need a diet adjustment

There are still a few of those 'high end' candy shops in the local malls that deliver all the delight of a richly made confection. For years, mom's favorite chocolate has been See's chocolate. She would always delight in getting the nuts and chews variety, although she doesn't do well with the nuts anymore, so she has 'converted' to the chews! If you have ever experienced the chocolates from a high end confectioner's establishment, you know this is good chocolate and the caramels are rich, as well. . It is not like buying a pre-wrapped candy bar at the grocery store. I really am not a connoisseur of chocolate - a plain chocolate bar from the grocer is fine for me! Yet, it really does not compare to the richness of the "finer" chocolates you find at the store in the mall. Some words we speak or hear are kind of like the pre-wrapped bar of chocolate - some go down easy, but they lack the "smoothness and taste" of the wise!

Listenin…

Batter up!

When baseball was just starting out as a national pastime, the pitching was a whole lot different than it is today.  You'd hear the announcer say over the crackly loud speaker system, "Here comes the wind-up..." In a few quick moves, the pitcher would go through various "contortions" until there was a sudden release of the ball, sending it sailing toward home plate. It was the "wind-up" that gave the ball its speed. Without the wind-up, the ball was not likely to cross the plate, but if it did - the batter was more likely to hit it dead on, sending it as far as his swing would allow. The beginning of a quarrel in terms of this 'game of life' we play every day is something like the "wind-up" of the "pitch" that will send the entire conversation into a direction it may never have intended to go! Learning to control the "pitch" often determines if the 'argument' ball will ever reach home plate!

The start of a …

Better than the bushes

Do you remember playing that simple game of "hide and seek", running wildly around the house or yard, trying to find just the right hiding place?  Back in the day, we had a great neighborhood for hiding. We had 13 citrus trees in our yard, not to mention a huge mulberry tree, and two pretty impressive sized junipers just as you turned into the driveway to our house. All provided ample hiding space for one who could scurry up the trunk and into the cover of the leaves, or scooch way down inside the juniper's ample cover fast enough. In addition to this, we had all kinds of hiding places behind the pigeon coop, around the pool area, behind the garage, and even behind a row of shiny silver trash cans. Yet, as I recall all the places I hid, none was as safe as the place I run to now when I just need a little 'hiding out' from life's challenges!

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in s…