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Showing posts from January, 2019

Prayer Worrier or Prayer Warrior

You might think that is a play on words, but it isn't! Many times we enter into our moments of talking with Jesus like intimidated little kids, head hung low, shuffling our feet, and dancing around the truth of what it is we really are there in need of at that very moment. We don't want to 'impose' on God, or maybe 'tick him off' with our constant asking, so we just dance around the subject, grazing on it from time to time. Prayer worriers - those who fret over how to say it, what to say, or in just being honest about what they are feeling - the end is always going to be the same...we won't feel like our time in prayer has accomplished very much! Why? We never really got to the meat of what needed to be shared - and God didn't get a chance to take care of whatever it was that was on our heart in the first place!
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for …

This isn't Monopoly

Have you ever struck up a bargain with someone, crafting your "investment" into whatever it is they want out of the deal in order to get out of it exactly what you wanted? I used to play Monopoly with friends when younger and you'd find us in an all out battle to the finish, attempting to persuade each other to let go of that one last railroad, high end property, or utility. We wanted the monopoly so we'd be able to bankrupt anyone landing on that square! The bargaining got somewhat loud on occasion, with an almost 'begging' or 'pleading' tone to it. The pleading was met with firm resistance, no matter how 'broke' that other player was and how much they could use our 'capital' to keep going in the game. They just didn't want to give the other player the satisfaction of doing everybody in as they made their way around to that property block. There are definitely times when a little bargaining isn't really all that bad - like in…

Please get rid of those weeds

If you were to look at the yards of my neighbors around me right now, you'd see a massive overgrowth of weeds in more than a few yards. As much as we try to keep our homes free of weeds, they seem to come up. One neighbor who neglects their overgrowth can actually 'support' the growth of those little nuisances in the yards of all the other neighbors! You know, if we stop to think about it, the 'weeds' we tolerate in our spiritual life are equally as 'prolific'. The ones we associate with can actually be affected by their overgrowth in our lives - causing their lives to become 'infested' with those weeds if they aren't quick to notice those seeds drifting their way!
Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting G…

Choose a side

I was watching a show last night in which a physician was asked to be an 'expert witness' in a malpractice case. As healthcare providers, physicians and nurses are often called upon to give 'expert testimony' as to the practice exhibited by another provider during the care of a patient that didn't quite go as expected. If you are called upon to be the expert witness on behalf of the one being tried, you are there to give testimony to the evidence of the care being provided in a reliable manner - it met the standards of care. If you are called upon to be the expert witness against the one being tried, you are expected to bring out errors in judgment that led to the 'bad outcome' of the patient. It is clear from these examples, we can be a 'witness' on either 'side' of the issue - it depends on who's side we 'side with'!

'I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I…

Hmmm...what could I do for you?

Most of the time we don't need the grandiose teaching, nor the higher education principles, to just know what is right for us to do - we just need to do what we know! There is a lot of emphasis on getting the 'best teaching', most 'profound advice', and 'latest understanding', but truth be told, there isn't a lot of 'new stuff' out there, my friends! Truth is truth and it always has been. Truth will be truth, now and forever - period. What we need more than anything else isn't 'new' - it has been there all along - it is simple, good, and essential for 'solid' living. The simple solution may not always be thought of as the 'best' solution to any issue, but it can be surprising how much the 'simple' is really the best!
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. (Matthew 7:12 MSG)
A simple guide for our behavio…

I am not tripped up that easily!

Have you ever tripped over your own feet? Worse yet, have you done it in public? How'd that leave you feeling? Kind of goofy and a little embarrassed, if you are at all like me! Your immediate response might be to poke a little fun at yourself for being so clumsy, but inside you are kicking yourself for not paying closer attention and you are dealing with utter humiliation. Imagine the 'trip up' was not a literal one of falling over your own two feet, but of a more spiritual and emotional nature. You 'slip into' a bad thought pattern and then begin to act upon those thoughts. You are way past tired and begin to respond to others in a curt and unreasonable manner. You get mildly distracted by something that should hold your attention for all that long, but when you finally realize you are distracted, you are already way too far into the 'fall' that you cannot stop yourself. Been there - done that - dealt with the humiliation of it!

If I keep my eyes on God, I…

What evil lurks in them there shadows?

Every now and again, I will purposefully use 'bad grammar' just because I am trying to get a point
across - usually to show my genuine openness to an idea, or because I am just being a little silly. If you ever hear me tell my BFF that I just 'got schooled' in something, or 'learned me a new thing', it is just a way of letting her know I know something today I didn't know before. It may be seriously important information, or it could just be something that peaked my curiosity. I can be heard saying, "Hey, let's Google that", meaning that I want to understand the meaning of a word, figure out where something originated, or what something looks like. Yesterday, it was an herb used in traditional Mexican dishes, while a week ago it may have been why lady bugs are always called lady bugs and not man bugs! Being interested in learning is a very good thing, my friends, especially when the 'thing learned' helps us to grow stronger in Christ, m…

Got a root-problem?

Do you ever feel like a yo-yo? Up one day, down the next? Or maybe a slinky? Stretched and falling all the time, regrouping only to fall again all over again? Yup...that can describe a good many of us from time to time - some of us more frequently than others! What gets you going in the morning? I have a Facebook friend who posts continual reminders of her 'need' for coffee - not just a little bit to help her get going, but a WHOLE LOT of coffee! Some of us need more 'motivation' in life than others toward certain things - not just with coffee, but with encouragement, compassion, and even a little correction from time to time. We are just not living as freely as we could be living - bound up by all manner of worries and anxiety-producing troubles. We need balance - to do more than 'bounce back' so we can spring into those same actions all over again!

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of s…

Let's get this right ALL of the time

Those who spend their lives teaching will tell us the ability to learn a subject is directly influenced by our specific desire to learn that subject - if we don't find the subject interesting or useful, we often discount the learning opportunity, making it more difficult to ever get much from what is being taught. We often miss out on some of the most profound (yet insanely simple) lessons in life simply because we don't want to take the time or energy to apply ourselves to that learning. There are also times when we feel that we don't "need" to learn the lesson being offered - seeing ourselves as above the lesson - already having knowledge about a particular subject and feeling as though we didn't need to learn anything else. Both scenarios are dangerous ground to tread, for learning happens only when hearts are open.

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it— how shortsighted to refuse correction!  (Proverbs 12:1)

It is shortsighted to r…

A rudderless ship?

A ship without a rudder is kind of 'dead in the water' - it can propel in some direction, but without the rudder, the direction is haphazard and subject to drift by the most powerful current it faces. A "principled" life can stand up to the worst life throws at it. Principles acts as our "rudder" - giving us the guidance for right conduct. They give us the fundamental truths by which we make our decisions. A life that is governed by the right principles will withstand the toughest of life's conflicts and all those disappointments we can face in our lifetime. Moral character and integrity act as marching companions of "principles" - each bringing the balance we need to "stay the course" when the worst is upon us.

The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin. A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst. Moral character makes for smoo…

How to spot a counterfeit

If you were to tell me something today - something very important for me to remember - I'd do my level best to keep that foremost in my memory, rehearsing it until it was committed there. Unfortunately, if you were to just talk to me about something without really impressing the importance of it to me, I might not give it a passing thought again. I would just see it as 'information' shared, but not really see it as something I needed to hold onto very long. It was what we shared in the course of the day - something in passing - but it wasn't expressed to me in such a manner as to make me commit it to memory. Telling me what is on sale at the local grocer this week is only of use to me until the end of the week and the new ad being released. If I commit it to memory, it won't do me much good because it no longer applies - it was time-limited and specific to that store. When you tell me where you hide the spare key for your house in case I ever need to do a welfare …

Don't make a way for sin

For just a moment, think about what it means to be in "common relationship" with others. We have a variety of 'common relationship' experiences in life. As we drive down the freeway to our destination, we have the 'common relationship' of being motorists on the roadway. As we nurse ill patients back to health, we have a 'common relationship' of being that momentary caregiver administering medications, dressing wounds, and helping them feel safe. As we sit in the theater with our best friend, all the others there are in 'common relationship' with us - seeing the big screen come to life and the picture capture our attention. Of all the 'common relationships' we can explore, there is none as rewarding or captivating as that of our common relationship with Jesus Christ!
But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh st…

Checking off too many on the list?

Scripture outlines six things God hates, and if six were not enough, God adds just one more (kind of like the cherry on top) that God has some pretty serious feelings about (in fact, we might call it a total loathing for that thing). Hate carries the idea of a very intense, passionate dislike of something. Loathing carries a sense of disgust and gives one the idea that God is repulsed by the type of action he is observing - actions not 'befitting' a person who calls himself a child of God. In total, seven things God asks us to take notice of in our lives and then seek his help to break free of them so we can live in a manner that shows we are engaged with him on this journey of 'right-living'. Our eyes get us into so much trouble - almost as much as our mouth - so it should come as no surprise that the 'top two' things God hates have to do with these two!

Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue…

The making of a Royal Beauty

Now and again, mom begins a discussion by saying she doesn't know what she has done in this lifetime to 'deserve' all the pain she experiences because of her arthritis, stenosis, and neuropathy. Any one of those can be quite debilitating - add all three together and you rarely have a day when one or the other isn't a troubling thing. Add to this that she is legally blind, hard of hearing, and 100 years old, and you can see why she might just 'bemoan' some of these ailments once in a while! While we may not understand the 'why' behind the present set of worries and woes that we experience, we can be assured of one very important fact - the day is coming when we will live healed and whole once again if our hearts are surrendered to Christ!

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 …

Are you a hoarder?

Treasures come in all forms, from small to gigantic, 'observable' or 'unseen'. The 'unseen' treasures can be the most valued of all to us, but never really known or appreciated by others. They are 'just ours' - to be enjoyed and appreciated by us and us alone. Memories can be treasures - unseen by others, but treasured up in our hearts and frequented as often as we like. They aren't 'tangible' like a diamond ring, but they are appreciated and felt nonetheless. Treasures can be 'laid up' in all manners, as well. Today, if someone has way too many 'treasures' we might just call them hoarders! They make entire TV shows to show the unhealthiness of being too focused on saving all these 'tangible treasures' that one can amass, but have really little to no use of over the long range. I wonder if it is possible we also can 'hoard' intangible treasures - such as memories we should have let go of long ago because they…

In one, out the other

Do you all get things right the first time you attempt them? Have you ever heard from someone there is a better way of doing something? What did you do with that advice? If you are like me, there are times you have embraced it, while there are other times you have 'let it go in one ear, then out the other'. Wisdom comes through a process of learning. Good judgment is something that must be developed. We'd like both to be "instant", but they only come in the process of time. They are a result of exposure to learning opportunities and time invested. The matter I choose to let out the other ear is not always the right matter!

Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you'll know how to live. I'm giving you good counsel; don't let it go in one ear and out the other. (Proverbs 4:1-2)

Ever see someone limping around after they have done some type of activity that they are not "used to doing"? It is like when I spend a day…

Follow the pattern

The pattern makes all the difference when we don't know how to do something and need a little guidance to get the job done. I used to sew my own clothes and clothes for the kids. I used a lot of patterns back in the day. Some were very simply making it very easy to follow along with the completion of the garment. Others were quite hard, requiring a lot more concentration and attention to the details if I was going to get the job done right. I have assembled my share of 'out of the box' furniture - gaining me the privilege of being called upon by my family to always do it now. Why have I become so proficient in the task? Because I made my share of mistakes of NOT following the directions, having to start over again, and now I remember to read the instructions word for word! They are given to guide me in the assembly and to discount them is to allow for error. The Word of God is given as our instruction, but we are also asked to watch God and see what he does - his actions s…

A few gaps?

Mind in gear? What does that mean to you? When I consider a 'mind in gear', I think of the one who is deep in thought, creating, coming up with plans and ideas, or working to put those ideas into application. I think of the carver who looks at a plain piece of log and begins to fashion what he sees in his mind. I also think of the one who might calculate the risks and benefits of a particular set of actions and then formulate a plan they will act upon - such as a surgeon considering the best course to take with a patient to optimize their health. Having one's mind in gear is really a sign of being engaged in the process - you are more than a casual observer. God isn't after those who have all the answers as much as those who will engage with him and be more than casual observers in his kingdom.

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doin…

Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy

Back in the day, there was this little contraption you'd suspend from the door jam that allowed the infant to bounce happily up and down. Suspended in the enclosed seat, the infant could test out their legs a little and develop some strength in them. These simple devices were eventually replaced with walkers with four wheels, then these walk behind toys, and even more complex contraptions over the years, but the idea is all the same - to help the child develop their strength and balance. God gives us a whole lot of things in life to help us develop strength and balance, but none as lasting and true as his Word! We can hang onto his Word like nothing else - it never fails because it is backed by his oversight and careful attention to each detail contained within it! 
Remember what you said to me, your servant—I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me. (Psalm 119:49-50 MSG)
His words have a unique way of rejuvenatin…

Collect and Guard

What have we come to 'treasure' in life? There are lots of treasures when we stop to consider it, but we probably have some things that rise above the rest. For me, it is relationship - first with God and then with others. We place a 'premium' on what it is we come to treasure - devoting time and energy to those things. We are asked to live disciplined lives - exhibiting the ability to "listen" well and to "treasure" the right things in life. The ability to listen may be hampered by the life choices we have made. The clarity of what is heard becomes crystal clear when we learn to treasure the relationship we have with Christ. We won't want to miss what he says - the advice he gives.
Good friend, take to heart what I'm telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. That's right—if you make Insight your priority, and won't take no for a…

Quench that stench

If you have ever had your eyes diverted for just a moment or two while driving, then realized how dangerously close you were to heading into the tail-end of another car or swerving into someone else's lane, then you probably also know the 'immediacy' of your reaction to 'correct' your course. You immediately brake, bringing the car back into a safe distance behind the one in front of you, or you get back into the lane you were to be in and then remain vigilant to remain there! With all the texting while driving I see these days, it is easy to see how accidents can be on the rise - for diverted eyes only take a moment to allow the catastrophic to occur. The same is true in our spiritual lives - diversions are dangerous to us - they change our course, put us in harm's way, and can take a little bit more 'over-correction' than we might first imagine.

God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—my w…

Let's get stupid together!

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. Ralph Waldo Emerson
I don't 'get stupid' with my friends like some may think of 'getting stupid' with their friends. I don't know how you interpret what Emerson said, but in my opinion he was trying to say it is okay for us to be our true selves with those we are able to call true friends. Why is that possible? I think it is because trust has been established and we know it won't be betrayed when we 'bumble' a little around a friend. It is a true blessing to have such a friend - it is a greater blessing to be such a friend!
Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (Proverbs 18:24 MSG)
Old friends are those we usually refer to as 'true friends' - they have endured the test of time, the challenges of relationship with us, and become our truest companions along some of the toughest journeys. Not all of us have experienced that k…

Inside or Outside - Where are you looking?

We make decisions all day long, from what time to awaken to what we will wear, eat, or do within that day. Some are quite easily made - like taking a drink of water when we are thirsty, or crunching on a cracker or two when we want a snack. Others are a little harder - like when we have to figure out the budget or what market moves to make with our investments. Still others are astronomically hard for us - like taking the first step toward seeking forgiveness when we know we have been wrong or making things right when we have made a mess of things. Decisions are not all easily made - some take us some time, while others almost 'percolate' within us until they are finally fully formed and we are ready to take action upon them. There are just some that should not be overlooked, though - especially the ones that are the harder ones to make!
Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all …

Old history be gone!

I don't think there is anything more damaging to our overall sense of well-being than for us to continually rehearse the 'bad stuff' in life. The 'stuff' may have happened TO us, or we may have been the ones to have DONE it. Regardless, to continually go over and over all that "old history" is really not all that productive and it might actually be the cause of why we aren't moving forward right now! There is something much more powerful in 'being present' in the moment - to be focused on what it is we can take control of within ourselves, then turning the rest over to God to let him have the reins in our lives. 
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands." (Isaiah 43:18 MSG)
To forget about what's happened one must be willing to let go of both …