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Oh, that is what you said!

Have you ever just chased your tail round and round? The harder you seem to work at solving something, the more difficult it seems to become to solve it. You never seem to "catch up", never seem to fully "grasp" the goal - the solution seems to evade you and you try repeatedly to solve whatever it is that stands before you. In the end, you just sit there in total frustration, more in a muddle than you were when you first began, wondering if there are any 'untried solutions' to the issue. Just as quickly as we started, we find ourselves out of energy to continue to journey! We stop short of the goal - never really crossing the finish line. What a waste to have started and then to not finish it. We are reminded of the importance of staying focused. We are also reminded of the senselessness of relying on anything other than Jesus to give us prominence or importance in the Kingdom of God.

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I hav…

Say What?

One day, Paul was writing a letter to the Roman church. He is quite clear about his intention in writing – he wants only the best for his readers. He goes one step further in explaining his intention – he wants their salvation. His real “heart feelings” are summed up in the words of Romans 10:3 when he says, “After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.” He goes on to outline the receiving of grace by faith - not a system of "works" - in the heart action of believing we are saved, not in the doing of 'actions' to get our salvation. Then he asks a question he says has been asked for years by almost every prophet or preacher along the way, "Is what I am saying really making any difference?" I think there are times we all ask this question - especially when it comes to sharing our faith. The very next thing he said caught my attention this morning: Have yo…

Where'd I put that thing?

I used to enjoy watching the re-runs of the TV series, "The Waltons". The simpler times of 'pioneer life' have their intrigue - if not immediately, at least when you are in the midst of a traffic jam on the highway or a huge delay at the airport! The struggles to remain true to their convictions when times were quickly changing around them is a reminder to me of the speed of change demanding our attention today - change happens at the speed of light these days, or so it seems. What touches me the most in these shows about pioneer life is their simple trust - in their neighbors, in their family, and in their God. One of the characters on the show, Ike Godsey, is the store owner and local postmaster. His store is never really seen as what we'd call "impressive" by today's standards, but it always seemed he could get his hands on whatever anyone was looking to obtain - even if he had to special order it. Sometimes we forget we have a great big God …

More than "feeling" it

The gist of the entirety of scripture is the concept of taking what we come to know or discover there, and then applying it to our lives so our lives are affected by whatever it is we are discovering. Isn't this the basis of all learning? Application being the basis of all change because without application there really is no advantage to knowledge - it is nice to have, but if not applied, it is 'trivia'.  It is only when knowledge is applied that we can say we are truly developing "wisdom".  As we explore scripture each day, I think God is wanting to tell us something more than, "This is a nice little tidbit of knowledge for you." In fact, he likely is saying something closer to, "Take this, use it, learn to live within it, and be blessed beyond your wildest dreams."

Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. "Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?"�…

Waiting to be noticed

Many of us expect God to "appear" one way (the way we imagine in our minds), but is the way we 'expect' he will appear in our lives accurate? Do we expect him to "perform" in a certain manner (with the plans we have so carefully calculated), but then get disillusioned when he seems to perform a different way? When he doesn't "appear" or "perform" as we imagined, how do we handle it? For some of us, we get mad at God for a while and go silent on him - because he did not "fit" our "mold" of how he should act. The Jewish religious leaders of Christ's time probably had this same kind of "mental argument" with Jesus as he walked this earth - simply because he didn't "fit the mold" of how they envisioned the arrival or actions of their Messiah! They missed out on so much of what Jesus wanted to do in and through them simply because they refused to believe Jesus could "operate" …

You need a personal invitation?

When I seemed to loggy-gag along, not really paying much attention when I'd hear dinner was ready, or some such thing, my brother used to say was "Do you need a personal invitation?" The truth of the matter was that "yes" sometimes I did! There are many forms of invitations - both spoken and written. There are even "unspoken" invitations - simply expressed by a simple gesture, a simple look, or a nod of the head. When my grandsons were younger, my daughter would plan for their annual birthday bash about six or eight months in advance of his birthday! She'd pick a theme, begin to pick up things throughout the year, all the while working out a "theme" for the party. She is much more creative than I am - making absolutely beautiful decorations, cleverly displayed snack items, and treasures for each child who would be in attendance. It amazed me how she prepared. One of the "tasks" was the custom invitations she prepared. Yep…

Right place - Right time

Are there times when you feel like someone has you right where they want you? You are probably not being paranoid! In fact, scripture declares God has us right where he wants us - in the place where he is free to shower grace and kindness upon our lives. If you stop to consider the potential in those words you might just stand in awe and wonder how a great big God could care enough about one small human in the scheme of millions upon millions upon millions of humans. You might not fully comprehend the depth of his love, or how far it will go to see a life touched just as it needs to be touched, but that doesn't keep him from showering grace and kindness in immeasurable amounts day after day in your life!

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the ma…

Cured or Carried?

Good people die from bad stuff. Disease ravages a body. Senseless massacres take tons of innocent lives. Crazy warfare blows homes to bits, leaving children without parents. A car ride to work suddenly ends when a distracted driver runs a red light. I have been asked many times why God allows a believer to die from their disease or accident. Just what was the purpose in his taking the person from those who cared so deeply for them? In moments of silence and deep thought, I honestly could not come up with a good answer for the agony and pain they endured, or the pain now very evident in their loved one's heart. I just don't always understand how God moves all the time, what he plans within the long fights with debilitating disease, or how the sudden loss of a loved one will affect the lives of those who have trusted him for their protection. One thing I can hold onto - God is NEVER untrue to his word! His purposes may be far beyond my limited ability to understand them, bu…

More than just awake

At nearly 101, mom sometimes has moments when she gets a little concerned about the 'other people' in the house. In actuality, there are no others around at that time, but somehow she thinks others should be here and she wants to know where they are sleeping or why they aren't eating with us. It is understandable since she has my sister here some of the week to be with her while I am at work. I have to remain alert to these changes in mom because if not addressed calmly and quickly, she will become distressed and worried about 'the others'. She will get down on herself for 'being daft' and then she will be worried he mind is going. Usually a soft answer, reassuring her everyone made it home safely and will be safe and sound in their own beds tonight is enough to settle her spirit, but I must remain alert to these sudden changes. Alertness is the ability to be keenly aware of your circumstances - so in tune with what is going on around you that nothing misse…

Huh, what?

Do you ever have days when you wonder why you say what you say? I do! Days when the words just seem to "pop out" without any forethought or 'governor' over them! I guess we all have those days if were were to be totally honest with each other. There are other days when I seem to drift into some kind of "daydreaming" mode and just drift along, not really there, but aware I should be. When I look at the end of the day I wonder why I just did not accomplish much, why my interactions with others didn't amount to much, or why things just seem kind of 'blah' in my life. At other times, I am so productive and accomplish much, every interaction is solid, and I end on an upbeat. Most would consider this kind of "up and down" behavior as a little bit of inconsistency - the actions don't consistently match the words or the intentions. True that! If you have figured out a way to always, 100% of the time walk in consistency....patent it! …

What's that stench?

Have you ever been to one of the Hawaiian islands? I haven't, but I know one of their traditional welcoming gifts is the flowered lei they place around your neck. It is a beautiful arrangement of flower petals, rich with the aromatic beauty of the island from which they were taken, strung together to form this aromatic adornment. In a sense, these flowers are like "garland" - adorning the visitor with beauty and anointing them with the aroma of the beautiful flora of the region, bringing them a little closer to the "heaven" they are about to enjoy while on the island. God has a type of "garland" he would like us to adorn ourselves with - one which proves to adorn us in such a way we cannot help but be brought closer to him in the process.

"Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live! Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don't forget one word! Don't deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your lif…

Drink deep

On a hot summer's day, sun beating down incessantly, humidity climbing, trees silent as even the wind has found it too hot to work, aren't you thirsty and desirous of a large, cool drink? You can guzzle gallons of iced tea or lemonade, sweat beads cascading from the glass, ice cubes clanking to the bottom as you down the cooling liquid. Yet, you aren't satisfied, are you? You want more because the demands of the heat are telling your body it needs to keep up with these demands. I wonder if our spiritual heat were turned up a little if we'd find our spirits telling us to 'keep up' with the demands of getting deeper and deeper into the things God has designed for our lives? Maybe, just maybe, we all need the heat turned up a little more in that arena - so we'd drink deep of his grace and love - not just once, but over and over again!

Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinki…

Casting the right shadow

Abraham Lincoln said, "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." We all have a reputation - that shadow of our character - some of us better in some ways than another, but we all have our "bad stuff" we'd rather nobody ever associated with us! A reputation is the "estimation" we have of someone simply by what we observe, or don't observe, in their performance / behavior. It is only an "estimation" as scripture clearly reminds us we cannot really know a man's heart - only God can truly see "into" a man's heart. We see the shadow - God sees the roots.

Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people. (Proverbs 3:3-4)

We "earn" a reputation - growing like a shadow we can see it is not given to us!…

Garbage pick-up day

There are times we all feel like quitting. We also have heard the words of Vince Lombardi, "Winners don't quit and quitters don't win." Another quote goes something along the line, "Quitters are good losers." Nobody wants to be labeled a loser, nor do the want to really be at the point of being so 'under water' that they feel they have no other choice than to just walk away. So, we keep plugging along, hoping not to be labeled as a quitter, trying hard not to be thought of as a loser in some fashion. I think God may look at us, realize our desire to quit, and then somehow begin to meet this despondency with his provision. In those moments, what we do with what he gives us matters. We can embrace his provision, or we can continue to stumble along as we have been doing. The choice we make in those moments will determine our outcome.

God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. (Psalm 145:14)

Robert Inger…

I can hear you now

Agreeable conversation is indeed a pleasure, is it not? We all like it when we just find pleasant things to talk about. The words might actually be described as 'sweet', 'kind', or 'gratifying'. The moments spent in this type of conversation actually uplift us and make us feel 'refreshed'. Yet, the right word at the right time - there is nothing like that! Spoken words carry so much meaning - but when they are divinely directed into your life, they are amazing!

Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful! (Proverbs 15:23MSG)

A friend speaking the 'right' words at the 'right' time is priceless. Have you ever had a stranger speak those words into your life - without even knowing they were doing it? I have and it shocked me to hear just the right words from someone I didn't even know. Then I remember God even uses donkeys to talk to men at times! So, who am I to suggest only a friend can share thos…

Not just words

We all probably have different things written on our hearts, don't we? I have been loved, committed to love, and then have had that love broken. The words written then maybe went something like, "You didn't really matter to me", "Your trust wasn't important to me", or perhaps "You weren't what I really wanted." I have been guilty of writing some words there over the years, as well. Words like "You aren't good enough at that", "You won't ever measure up", or "Your best will never make you as popular as that one." Words get 'written' on our hearts as we live life, don't they? Some of them are 'written' there by others and others are recorded there because we write them ourselves. Either way, most of those words aren't really the truth God believes about us. In fact, he goes to great lengths to reveal to us what he has written upon our hearts - the truths he places there are what w…

Motivated, but not determined

There is a 'determination' and 'willingness' phase to repentance - but I think we forget about the latter. We get all the determination we can muster, but we sometimes don't do very well in the willingness component because our 'will' is kind of selfish. Some say motivation is based on what we 'want', while determination is based on what we 'need'. For example, I 'need' to lose weight - I don't always 'want' to go to the extremes it takes to get to my desired goal! Motivation doesn't come from without - it is based on wanting something so bad we will do whatever it takes to get it. Determination can be spurred from without, coached to do something we may not have had the know-how to do on our own. We actually need both for repentance to actually 'work' in our lives.

Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (Psalm 51:12TLB)
Of all the things I can be 'made' to do in…

Fair isn't always fair

Have you ever heard someone say, "That wasn't a fair fight"? In terms of "fairness" they were looking at the two parties in the fight and seeing if they were "matched up" evenly. When I was young, Dad liked to watch an occasional boxing match on TV - it was a pretty big deal back then. There was always lots of talk about "heavyweight", "lightweight", "welterweight", and "featherweight" - something I just never really understood, but knew it meant how someone was matched with someone else. The term described their overall weight - giving the boxer a "competitive class" ensured they were not pitting a man over 175 pounds with a man of 130 pounds. This was designed to give a man a "fighting chance" at winning. Each of the fighters had someone in their "corner" who fulfilled the role of their "trainer". This individual had the responsibility to keep track of how the oth…

Redo's aren't easy

Patience and impatience are separated by a paper-thin border in my life. How about you? I am learning to make things from wood and it requires a great deal of patience. It forces me to keep myself in 'check' - sanding, aligning and cutting just right, sanding again, clear coat after clear coat...the process requires patience. Drive a screw in without a pilot hole and you split the wood. Us wood with too much moisture in it and it will crack, separate at glued seams, and warp. Maybe this is a good hobby for me - because it is teaching me to wait, be quiet, and just be present in the moment! There is something about 'impatience' that comes from not being 'present in the moment' - we want something we don't have in a place we don't have it - seems to me if we were a little more 'present' in the moment, we'd stop focusing so much on what we don't have right now!

Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, …

My own two feet

I used to wear more types of shoes that required lacing up, but not so much anymore. You'd think that not having laces to come untied and tangled up in your gait would make it less likely that you'd trip yourself, but let me assure you it doesn't take laces to do that! I can trip over air on the sidewalk! Upright one minute and splayed out in the dirt the next! That said, have you ever noticed it isn't all that hard to 'trip up' when it comes to our spiritual walk? The things that manage to 'trip us up' are sometimes not all that 'apparent', such as the untied shoelace flapping about. They are subtle, sometimes not even noticed, and all together as dangerous as can be!

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 thing God desires is for our attention to be fixed on him. Now, that said, let me be the first to quickly admit keeping one'…

Just idle words

Do you know anyone who talks and talks? They have a tough time sitting still and just not having to say something about what they have done, who they have been with, what they saw, and the list goes on. In fact, the topic they choose to talk about can sometimes just be 'talk for talk's sake', if you know what I mean. There is a problem with talking too much - too much gets known! I think God may have so many warnings in scripture about speaking against another person, gossip, and the like, simply because of the tiny spark it takes to ignite a huge fire! Today's "rule" for living is dealing with the words we speak about others.

“You must not testify falsely against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16)

In the simplest sense, this translates as engage in "no lies about your neighbor." I think the warning is best understood by another simple statement (not really from the Bible, just my own observations): No neighbor is THAT interesting so as to alway…

Whew! Glad that is off my mind!

I am not proud of those things I did 'before Christ', but there are things that taught me life lessons. There are things 'after Christ' in my life that have still been struggles and those things have taught me even bigger lessons. Lessons come in the oddest ways sometimes. I remember one lesson that came while holding a pen. Have you ever looked down, found you are using a really nice pen, then wondered, "Where did I pick this up?" Then, as quickly as you realize you have walked off with someone's pen, there is a twinge of guilt about having absconded with something which clearly does not belong to you! Or perhaps you have been in the grocery line, received a bundle of change from your purchase, then on the way to the car, you count it to make sure it is all there. To your surprise, there is an extra ten dollars in the mix! Some would face each situation with a triumphant, "SCORE!!!" Others would likely take a few moments to consider if any…

Selfish to the core

Do you always know the meaning of a word? In the English language some words mean one thing when said in a certain context and another at other times. For example, you say 'there' and you are referring to a place, but when you say 'their' you are referring to something that belongs to someone. They both sound the same, but are they even close to the same in meaning? Nope. There are times when words in the Bible are plain and simple - they mean what they say. At others, the words may be "types" or "symbols" of something else - similar to when we say something was "bad", but we really know it means it something way cool. The words are used in a way which describes the action or attitude behind the action. Today, we look at our next "rule" for living under the safety of the wing of our Almighty God. The word we will look a little bit at is 'adultery' - something most of us equate with someone being with someone's spou…

Was it emotional murder?

Hey, dealing with others is just not easy! This should come as no surprise to any of us, but it needed to be said. We deny relationship woes like denying them somehow makes them any less real. These relationship woes grow and never go totally away until they are finally dealt with. Have you ever been so frustrated with someone, boiling over with all kinds of not so nice kinds of thought, or in some other world, just as long as it was not YOURS! Most of us would never consider murder as an option for dealing with someone we'd rather eliminate from our lives, though! So, why does God feel it is so important to tell us not to murder someone?

“You must not murder." (Exodus 20:13)

Society classifies murder into two buckets - premeditated (deliberate and planned) and without premeditation (more of an accidental thing in the commission of another crime such as speeding and causing an accident). Without getting too deep here, God really does not approve of the loss of life at the h…