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Showing posts from February, 2019

Parenting 101

Someone once quipped everyone knows exactly how to raise children except all of us that have children! It is like we needed a user manual, but the product arrived absent that manual! Mom used to say babies needed a little gauge on their tummies with an arrow that pointed to hungry, wet, tired, gassy, and just hold me because. That would have made knowing how to meet their needs much easier, wouldn't it? Now, when they turn into teenagers, the 'gauge' might need to be a little different - right? Maybe the options would be something like "Thinks he knows better than his parents", "Wants your love, but wants to look cool", or maybe even "Cannot figure this thing out and needs your help". Wouldn't it be grand if kids came with instructions and those little 'gauges' that help us figure out how to be better parents? Maybe we aren't given the 'gauge' so much, but we really are given the instructions - we just don't realize…

Hey, it is okay if you are hurting!

Laughter cannot mask a heavy heart. When the laughter ends, the grief remains. (Proverbs 14:13) Erma Bombeck once reminded us, "There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt." This "thin line" as she calls it is really very concerning - for if it is crossed, the laughter can certainly turn to pain quite quickly. We never really know what is just beneath the surface in the lives of those we meet with each and every day. We might think we really know them, but in truth, there can be very little 'space' between immense sorrow and loneliness on the inside from what we see displayed as confidence and friendliness on the outside.

We need to become skilled 'readers' of the human condition. We might not always recognize just how close to grief or sorrow a man's heart may be until we cross the line into that 'finite space' between the happier self displayed on the surface and the hurting self hidden jus…

What's that I see?

Did you ever stop to think about what God's love really looks like? If you have noticed even one person in your circle of friends, perhaps you may have seen a glimpse of his love just because you noticed that person! Did you ever stop to think God's love is really displayed in his creation - his children? When we look at each other, we are capturing glimpses of his love.

Dear friends, if God loved us that much, then we should love each other. No person has ever seen God at any time. If we love each other, God lives in us. His love is made perfect in us. 1 John 4:11-12NLV
God's love lives in us and is made perfect in us. That means that even one glimpse into the eyes of a child of God is a glimpse into the heart of God! What does his love look like? Maybe it looks like my grandson tenderly guiding my 100 year old mother down the sidewalk in order to bring her safely to where we were working and to allow her to get a little sunshine with us on a Saturday afternoon workday in…

The lesson in the medicine cabinet

For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13NLV  What does is mean to 'look with all your heart'? My daughter needed new medicine cabinets in her older home to replace those older metal ones that had become rusted and kind of beyond repair. She searched quite diligently until she found replacements that not only fit the specific size hole in the wall, but also the type that was made from metal material again. Seems the majority today that fit into the wall are plastic or MDF. The plastic was too flimsy. The MDF wouldn't take the beating of life with boys! So, she searched the shelves until she finally found the last two someone had in stock. She didn't stop looking. She didn't stop with the purchase. She didn'…

Count on it

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.Romans 8:35,37NLT  Nope! If just means we live in a fallen world, capable of and actively engaged in all manner of sinful activities. Since we are in this world, we run the chance of being exposed to disease, getting in a car wreck, or having our roof torn away by high winds of a summer storm. It isn't because God's love for us has faltered - it is just that we live in an imperfect world. In case you didn't realize what God says about this world system we live in, you need to understand it is the domain of Satan and his brood of demons. Remember: At one time you were dead because of your sins. You followed the sinful ways of the world and obeyed the leader of the power of darkness. He is t…

A little spring cleaning may be in order

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...  (Proverbs 23:7) Whatcha thinking? It is a common question, but maybe the better one is, "Where you even thinking?" There are all kinds of things that "vie" for attention in our mind. The "loudest" voice is often the one heard the best. Just as much as there are things that demand our attention in our thought life, our emotions are constantly being "played" by the events of our days. Depending on what it is that is running through our thoughts at the moment, our sometimes up-and-down emotions can be manageable, or completely out of control. Therefore, learning to "manage" our minds, or our thinking, goes a significantly long way in learning to live with an emotional "balance" in our lives.

Our mind really has two "sides" to it: the totally present and evident conscious side, and the less recognizable, but ever present unconscious. The conscious side of our mind is pretty …

Seek so as to find delight

The one who seeks good finds delight...(Proverbs 11:27) It is sometimes quite hard for us to differentiate between what we need and what we want. Every now and again, my BFF will tell me someone is a little 'needy' that day - usually because they seem to constantly be requiring some type of intervention from us that usually isn't part of the normal course of the day. Figuring out what it is that we really have "need" of in our lives is a hard thing for some of us, while others seem to hit the nail on the head almost instantly.  We have lots and lots of "wants" that we often confuse as "needs" in our life.  Sometimes it may be something like desiring a better job instead of being grateful for the one we have.  The desire is a "want", while the actual job we have meets the "need". Needs and wants aren't always even all that close - in fact, what we need can be the furthest thing from what it is we want (such as eating a p…

Making the right contact

An introduction goes a long way in the business world, doesn't it? Make that right contact and the doors will open to new opportunities and greater potential for your career. The moment the contact is made, the things set in motion may not be fully known, but the momentum has begun. My dad was a great one at making contacts in the business world. He could connect with people like no other - all with what appeared to be the greatest of ease. He was just comfortable in his own skin and he let others be comfortable in theirs! There is one connection we all can make that helps us beyond measure - it is the contact we make with the one and only Son of God. Without that contact, the doors we need opened won't be opened!

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusi…

Let him at it!

As a parent, we all have those moments when we are less than patient with our children. As caregivers to the elderly, we can experience those similar moments. Regardless of our 'age' in Jesus, he never seems to become impatient with us. God is immensely patient with his children. He gives us space - to make our own choices. He gives us time - to come to our own conclusions. He gives us these things because he knows that in order to have our heart, he must have it yielded willingly - we must 'want to' yield our hearts to him. God is infinitely patient in his waiting for us to turn from our sin - but he will not wait forever. Sometimes, he gives us gentle, but quite firm nudges to cause us to see our sin. When he does, remember that it is out of his immense love for us that he has done so.
You didn't think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that…

What goes in...

We can 'swallow' things both in the literal sense and in a figurative manner. Swallow your mashed potatoes and meatloaf at dinner and you have eaten dinner. Swallow a really bad scheme and you have potentially set out on a path you will come to regret. What goes into a man or woman is as important as what comes out! When the right stuff goes in - the right stuff is more likely to come out! So many times we focus more on what "goes into" the body and completely miss the importance of what it is that "comes out" of that same man or woman in the form of action, attitude, and exemplified values. There was this day when the disciples were being criticized for not "washing" prior to partaking of their meal. Trust me, this was not based upon a real concern that the disciples practiced good hand-hygiene to reduce the spread of micro-organisms! It was a "custom", plain and simple, that they were 'bypassing' - and that drew the attention o…

Me? Not me!

If you are like me in the slightest, you may have found yourself on one occasion or another telling God why you aren't the most qualified for whatever it is he is asking you to do. You and I are not that dissimilar when it comes to occasionally making excuses for what we see to be a list of 'impossibilities' in our character when faced with what appears to be insurmountable odds or things we just find hard to do. I am an introvert by nature, so whoever thought I'd fill a pulpit, or stand in front of a classroom teaching? From the very first time, there was this little argument going on between God and I - you know, the one that goes something like: "Me?" "You couldn't mean me!" "I don't know the slightest about..."  Yup, that's the one. The one where we admit we know very little and possess even less in the way of ever accomplishing whatever it is that God wants to do with us. Maybe you have also been like me, hearing quite cle…

Constructed or Created?

Charles Dickens reminds us: "The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists." The one creating is able to see long before the created comes into existence - there is much thought as to how the end result will be formed, but more thought goes into how much the object is loved. If that be the case, just imagine how much thought goes into the love extended our way each and every day by a loving and gracious Creator!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (…

But...you weren't being nice!

We probably all know how easy it is to be nice to nice people, but tell us to be nice to someone who isn't being nice back and we just wanna throttle both of you! The idea of being nice to someone who isn't being nice is like fingernails on a chalkboard - it gets our dander up and we just wanna scream! The idea of loving our neighbor isn't all that hard - but ask us to spend the 'energies' of prayer on our enemy and we might just think that is the biggest waste of our time. After all, can a leopard change his stripes? Our enemy will always be our enemy - right? They will always act as foolishly as they have been - right? Things aren't going to change - or are they? Maybe the change might not happen with them, but with us!
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives y…

Seeds - we need two types

What kind of seeds do you have planted? It is just about the time of year when folks begin to start their seedlings under grow lights in some protected environment, readying the starter plants for the spring planting season. Various vegetables and herbs will begin their growth - seeds sprouting under the watchful care of those who desire those gardens to flourish this coming growing season. The truth of the matter is that the gardener does not just plant any old type of seed - he plants corn seeds if he wants corn, eggplant if he desires that growth, and flower seeds if he wants to adorn the garden with some manner of color to attract the pollinating insects. It would be insane to think he could just plant one type of seed and expect all kinds of harvest of different produce! His harvest will depend on the seeds - not just that something was planted!

Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people, Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil. (Psalm 97:11)

Light seeds and joy seeds - …

What are you hunting now?

My brother is a hunter. He is quite skilled at the tracking of the animals he hunts. He is able to recognize signs of their coming and going. In the effort to find a good place for his blind, he can find those positions that allow him to observe unnoticed and in time, he is able to find his target. While I am not a hunter in terms of carrying a gun, tracking game, and bringing home the meat, I am a good hunter when it comes to a bargain! I like to find that 'end-cap' hideaway where bargains go to hide and then find something I can use at a greatly reduced price. There are all kinds of 'hunters' out there and all kinds of 'hunted things' to boot. I wonder if we were all to hunt for the right and good things in life just how different our culture might become?

Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself—glorious life! Proverbs 21:21MSG
Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors are just two of the traits that exemplify the life th…

Nope, not going there

I once heard it said climbing a hill is a great challenge, until you recognize there is just another hill beyond that one, and another, and another, and so on. The hills just never really stop - even the flattest of places is marked by some spot that makes another a little higher or lower than the other. Hills are not 'high places' all the time. Sometimes they are our 'lowest'! Ever run across an individual that just seems contrary in all they do? There is just no pleasing them because they find fault with everything and love to quarrel over the smallest or lowest of things. There is a word for these type of individuals - fools! A fool loves to pick a fight - to find a hill and then mark out one's stand upon it. It is a mark of honor (of good character) to avoid a fight. I am not implying that we actually live in a state of existence where we go through life without ever saying a cross word or entering into constructive debate periodically. Yet, a man or woman of g…

Stooping down

"Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar." (William Woodsworth) There are moments in time where we find ourselves unable to soar, feeling like we are in our darkest days, when it is time for us to 'stoop' because we just find it impossible to rise up until we have spent a little time prostate before God. It may be one of those moments for you today, and that is okay if it is, because God isn't put off by our lowest moments. The darkest days are oftentimes the times he shows us the greatest light and our lowest moments are the ones that help launch us into times when we will once again soar.

How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes…

Don't blame God

Ever hear someone say, "Why did God let this happen to me?" It is a natural question to ask whenever something bad happens in life - especially when someone doesn't realize or understand fully the love of God and the nature of his character. We react this way because we feel that we did not "deserve" this moment of disappointment, season of loss, or depth of difficulty that we are experiencing. Yet, "bad things" sometimes come into our life, not because God did anything to orchestrate them - they are a result of us living in a fallen world. It can be related to our own ignorant zeal - hasty decisions, careless answers, silly compromises - those things that get us into the "soup" we are in each and every time. People can sometimes ruin their own lives and God gets the blame for their silliness. Rather than asking why God allowed something to happen, we might do well to examine what was in our own heart that might have allowed or fostered this…

You hungry?

Most of us want things to turn out 'all right' in life. We strive for this outcome - not really wanting to endure any type of failure at all. Why? Failure isn't comfortable - it costs us something - we don't always regroup after it very well. Have you ever been accused of taking life too seriously - of being 'too afraid' to fail? Guess what...when someone tells you that you take life seriously, they are actually paying you a high compliment! According to scripture, taking life seriously is something that will find you a great reward, significant honor, and integrity that stands the test of time. I have been told on more than one occasion that I am way too intense about life - I am not afraid to fail, but I like to think things through before I take that first step - making others think I am just a little bit scared of the next steps. I guess that it really doesn't bother me - in fact, rather than being put off by that insight, I want to continue to have tha…

Love on!

The other day one of my acquaintances asked if I'd be interested in taking some of the supplements they are taking, touting just how wonderful they made her feel. I am not a big "taker" of stuff, taking only the stuff I need to take to be 'in balance' with my blood pressure, cholesterol, and the like. I find that to be quite enough! We are always looking for the things in life that truly make a difference - from supplements to the latest self-help book. If we observe a product at the market that will make life easier - we buy it. If we hear of a new tool that will remove the tightest of bolts - we put our faith in it. If we come across a book that announces the quickest way to lose ten pounds - we shell out the money to learn how. Why? We want what others have come to believe is the 'greatest' answer to our current need!

If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community o…

In need of a plumber?

What is the cost of a leaky faucet? When those washers are worn and the thing just doesn't shut off correctly, allowing it to drip what appears to be nothing more than small drips of water - how much do those drips actually end us costing us? If you are like my dad was, not very much - because as soon as there was any sign of dripping, he break out the toolbox and go to work to replace the seals again. If you are like most other people, you might find it costs you a bit more - because you wait until it annoys you enough to do something about it! Leaky faucets eventually get our attention - especially once you see how much the leak increases with time. There is a tremendous amount of waste in what a leaky faucet can cost us in the course of time. The tongue can be like a leaky faucet at times - first with only small 'leaks', but eventually when the tongue is left 'unchecked' for too long, the 'leak' gets to be pretty annoying and causes a whole lot of damage…

Use it or lose it

When I used to play team sports, I used to like basketball. The game was both a challenge in endurance and accuracy. We had to run a lot to keep up with the movement of the ball, but we also had to be very accurate in our passing of the ball to the next player, while assisting them in making their lay-up shot with absolute accuracy. As I have gotten a little older and a whole lot more out of shape than I used to be, I have neither the endurance, nor the accuracy! I have tried shooting hoops in the driveway with my grandsons, but alas...I stink! I miss more than I hit. My skill didn't leave overnight - it left because I failed to use the skill to keep it 'in shape'. My muscles have lost their tone and my eyesight requires more and more correction every couple of years. All this combined leads to a fairly 'ineffective' basketball player now. Use it or lose it - isn't that what they say? I wonder what we haven't used in a while that we might not even realize w…

Sit down - we need to chat a while

Have you ever been just a little bit 'over-the-top' when it comes to your competitive spirit? I watch some guys play basketball in their 50's and 60's like they were in their teens and wonder just how great they are going to feel in the morning. Some will awaken with aches and pains in places they forgot even existed! They will find their 'enthusiasm' of the day before might have been a little overboard when they realize how foolish they were to drive for the basket as earnestly as they did in order to lay up that shot. We all have a bent toward enthusiastic competition in some form or another, although it may not be in the realm of sports, it still exists. What we do with our competitiveness matters, though. Too much can actually be our undoing - not enough can cause us to never try anything new.

He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” Mark 9:35MSG
I'd say the twelve disciples may have…

No cover-up required

God isn't looking for us to have it all together in worship before him - he is just looking for us to be ourselves and to be together in the worship of him! Our worship has to engage our spirit - and it has to be genuine. It is impossible to have a truthfully 'engaged spirit' if we are not truthfully ourselves in spending time with Jesus. Jesus was never looking for the 'polished' and 'perfect' in his ministry - he always engaged with those who were far from perfect and mostly those who were 'dirtied' by their pasts.

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:24MSG
If I were to ask you who you …