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Showing posts from April, 2019

A liberal God

I have always marveled at King David's absolute trust in God's love and his repeated faithfulness to turn to God when he was in a place of trial or trouble. David is attributed the "compliment" in Scripture of being a man after God's own heart. I daresay that there is no higher "compliment" or "attribute of acclaim" that carries such importance as that one! David sums up his trust for God in this one statement of truth - God delivers...he makes good. These two key understandings on David's part are what hold him together in tough times - times of trouble and trial. He has come to experience the generosity of a God that gives out of a heart without "strings attached". David is aware that God has both a "readiness" to his giving and a "liberality" in that giving.

God delivers generous love, he makes good on his word. (Psalm 57:3)

He is ready to give - even before the words are spoken from our lips that acknowled…

Getting at the heart of it all

Have you ever seen someone so good with their skinning knife they can just peel away the hide of an animal without a rip or tear, no waste of any of the meat just below that skin? I have seen some fishermen able to fillet their catch with such skill not even one bone is found in the fillet. How do they learn this skill? I think it comes to them through practice and with the employment of the right 'tool' to do the job at hand. There is comfort in knowing that God means what he says and his Word will come to pass. His Word is like the scalpel in the skilled hands of a surgeon or the knife in the hands of the skilled hunter. As a nurse, I have seen the skillful use of the scalpel - dissecting away the finest of tissue to protect the healthy tissue and to expose the tissue that has become devitalized by disease or decay. I have also seen the damage done by a "blade" in the hands of one not trained or at all skilled in its use. The difference is beyond description.

God m…

Slip-proofing life

I know people who walk around the wet floor signs - faithfully! I guess I am just a little less cautious because there are times I find myself plowing ahead, looking at the floor, observing for wet spots. Why is there such a difference? Perhaps those who go around believe the signs mean what they say! I might actually think they may have been there a while and just don't apply any longer because the floor 'looks dry'! Why do they place their trust in them? Maybe it is because they have nearly fallen in the past and have learned a very valuable lesson. You never know - the one who points out the sign may have insights beyond your own!

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out …

How much experience do you have?

Oscar Wilde aptly reminds us, "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." Some of us have more "experience" - almost 'too much' experience! Why? We've made lots and lots of mistakes. We've allowed those mistakes to not only occur, but we've learned from them. We simply don't want to waste them - because in God's hands even our mistakes can become very meaningful experiences in our lives!

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:4-8 MSG)
We are 'makers' of trouble in our lives - but God isn't …

Dawdling and Dwindling

The other day, my BFF and I were on a walk and she announced Easter was upon us already. Life slips through our fingers quicker than we realize. I remember miserably long summers when all I could think of was how much longer it was until we could be back in school (yeah, I actually liked school!). Mom used to tell me that I was "wishing my life away". Today, I simply blink and the day is over! I look back and half the year is gone! Before you know it, we will ring in the New Year and you will probably hear those words cross my lips, "Where did this year go?"

Oh, how sweet the light of day, and how wonderful to live in the sunshine! Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour, remembering that there will also be many dark days and that most of what comes your way is smoke. (Ecclesiastes 11:7-8)

I think we all have a tendency to 'look back' over our life toward the end and sometimes we realize m…

Speak the right words

What words matter to you? For some, it is hearing they are loved beyond all measure, while others want to hear that 'well done' at the end of a project they have engaged their efforts to undertake. Often we 'judge' the 'value' or 'worth' of something or some relationship based on the words we hear spoken. I don't thrive on the 'well done' to determine my worth. I have learned there is a much more important 'worth' in my life - it is the life lived well each and every day that matters more. Being able to lay my head upon the pillow and realize I have made something a little better for someone, created a solution that will help someone do well in what they have before them, or that I just got caught up with something - these things create a sense of well-being - but it is knowing I am "right" in relationship with God that makes me rest well at night!

The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, …

Preach it!

Ever wonder why we have 'preachers'? Men and women, proclaiming the message of hope found in Christ Jesus - some share the message with regularity, while others are called upon at various intervals, but all 'preach' the message with clarity, certainty, and credibility. The truth is that God chose 'preaching' as the way to bring the message of salvation to a lost and hurting world - to a people with hurts, hang-ups, and habits that needed a way to find healing, deliverance, and stability in their lives. God chose what others may consider kind of silly as his means to deliver this message and he quite often chooses those who have been all bound up in their own issues to become the best of 'preachers'!

The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written, I’ll turn …

The Big Bang

The use of a weapon, such as a pistol, requires the "hammer" to connect with the firing pin, thus igniting the cartridge that will act to force the projectile from the barrel of the weapon. As the hammer is "cocked" back, it is poised for release - it is readied, but not yet activated to do the job it is intended to do. Once released, the series of actions produced has astronomical results! The same is true of the Word of God in each of our lives. The Word is "poised" to bring about a series of responses within us that ignite us and propel us into action - even though it may not be released to do the work it is intended to do yet, it stands at the ready. There is always something within us that has the potential of "explosion" if it is ignited by the right connections. The Word has a way of making the connection that aligns all the parts so as to bring about an "ignition" within.

Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a …

Resting on the Anvil

True it is - hammers can pound things into other things and ensure other things are pounded in such a way that they no longer represent their former form. It also shapes that which it hits. It is that shaping process that God may be after in our lives, not just the work of penetrating our souls, but of really changing them. God's word is a tool used to "shape" us - it is designed to "adapt" us to the character traits that most closely resemble those of Christ's. I daresay, these are the character traits we most often lack apart from a little 'shaping' on his part!

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"
(Jeremiah 23:29)

As the hammer is wielded, the shaping process begins.  As the object being shaped is placed on top of that which acts as a backdrop to all the shaping process, the hammer comes down on the object upon which it rests, conforming it to the image of that which it rests upon. …

Hammered?

Do you have those days where the 'pounding' you took just leaves you feeling a little defeated and like you just cannot go on any further? I think we all do, but did you realize there might just be a little benefit from being 'pounded' a little? A hammer has a job to do - it is to pound! It could just be your day had a job to do - to bring about a change within you that was absolutely necessary and required the use of some 'strategies' designed to change you!

Does not my word burn like fire?” says the Lord. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29)

You know me well enough to realize that I would look up "hammer" in the dictionary. In doing so, I discovered some meaningful uses (purposes) for the hammer. Over the next couple of days, don't be surprised if we explore those and see just how they make an impact our lives. The first use of a hammer is to strike a blow, or repeated blows, so as to pound an obj…

In need of a heart transplant

Sometime we just need a little reality check, don't we? It is as though we need to hear we aren't doing things all that well, or that we don't have our act all together - and then we come to some revelation we need to change the things we are doing, or how we are responding to life's circumstances. If you don't want to know the truth, then don't ask, but you won't get very far in this lifetime if all you expect to live 'within' is the confines of some made up reality! There are just times when something 'new' needs to be added - because the 'old' hasn't been working out too well for any of us!
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve comp…

Your true convictions

What does the cross-examination of your life reveal about the "rock-solid" or "a little too shaky to admit" testimony of your life? Whenever someone wants to build a case 'for' or 'against' you, they begin with something they call 'discovery'. There is a 'looking into' the life and events to see what really comes forward while 'looking'. A trial always begins with what they have come to term "opening arguments" - the laying out of the case from each person's perspective (prosecution and defense) in such a way that those 'on trial' are given a hint about what will be presented. It is often quite telling that something is about to become apparent, but it usually isn't all laid out in infinite detail in the 'opening argument'. There is much to be brought forward and that takes on a whole lot of 'asking' and 'telling'.

The first speech in a court case is always convincing—until th…

Do I need this?

“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.” (John 14:21 MSG)

Some might think there are a whole lot of different gods in this world and they'd be correct in their assumption! There are a lot of 'different gods' in this world, all of them man-made gods. Even men who have risen to places of 'adored exaltation' are not really all that exalted. There are a few reasons why Christianity is different from every other world religion in which someone or something has been exalted as the god they worship. We observe the first difference in respect to 'how' one is able to be made 'righteous'. In all other world religions one must 'earn' their way to some placement or position. It is a system of 'works' to become more 'enlightened', 'fulfilled', or 'empowered'. As my pastor so aptly puts…

Carry me

Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own. (Henry Ward Beecher)

I pose the question today of who specifically it is that you are carrying? Are you carrying yourself, concerned only with your own reputation, focused merely on what you find you will obtain from the 'greatness' you are portraying? Or are you carrying others, sometimes without number, into that place of greatness, not on your coat-tails, but in the places of your heart and soul that truly help get them from where they are to where you imagine they can be? We might think we need to develop more strength for the battle, but it could be we just need to come alongside someone so that we both make it through the battle together!

No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by b…

Three, but two

Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future. William Wordsworth
Life is indeed past, present, and future - what have you been doing with each of these parts, my friends? Some of us hold on so very tightly to the past, not willing to let it go, thinking we may somehow be able to change what has been. Others live so fully in the present, all the while forgetting the future will have demands of us we need to prepare for somehow. Very rarely do we get this past, present, and future thing down well in our lives, but when we do, what an amazing thing it is!

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. (Ephesians 1:11-12 MSG)
Who are we re…

Furnishing your heart

It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who reminded us, "We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it." Peace is sometimes found as the result of the fight, not just in the absence of it. We might just find ourselves in the fight of our lives, but see no way out. In just the right time, and in just the right way, peace comes. How is that? The fight is still going on around us, but in the midst of it all, there comes a peace that is quite unexpected. It is a "God thing" - something we don't have to understand to appreciate!
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:7 MSG)

Worry is the natural emotion when the battle rages and the fight gets harder and …

Never enough

Does your ego every get the best of you? Do you find yourself having to 'put forward' something great you have accomplished just so others know you have accomplished it? If this is a tendency in your life, you are not alone. There are bunches and bunches of us that have been caught up in that trap from time to time. We get so focused on whatever it is we have accomplished and then we want everyone to know we have done it! We find ourselves prouder than can be and we want everyone to know it. Impressions only are made once - isn't there some kind of statement as to that truth? Doesn't it go something like, "You only get one chance to make a first impression?" Well, what impression have you been trying to make with God? Do you honestly think he finds your 'first impression' all that great? If you are like me, the first impression you put forward to him was a 'fake one' because you were ashamed by the real one!
What actually took place is this: …

Experience, then understand

Understanding and experiencing are related, but they can also come separately into one's life. We can experience something long before we understand it. The baby who touches something hot and then realizes it leaves a nasty sting may not understand how the heat came to be, or that it can be used for good, he just knows to stay away from it because it causes pain. The one who understands how 1,500 pieces of picture coated cardboard can all make a huge mural may not know how to fit those many pieces all together! When one actually understands AND experiences something, it is vastly different and there is a different appreciation for whatever it is they both understand and experience.

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold should…

Words of Wisdom

Okay, I remember the old 'first generation' personal computers that were about the size of your entire desk. Yes, I recall the brick cell phones that weighed about 10 pounds and could poke an eye out with their heavy duty antennas. Yup, I even was a part of that first 'social networking' clan known as Myspace and had to access it via "dial-up" modem! That makes me old! But...does it make me wiser? No! Age and wisdom are not always connected - there are times when age occurs and wisdom just seems to evade the person who has those added years under their belt!

A wise person gets known for insight; gracious words add to one's reputation. (Proverbs 16:21)

It is no secret that I like to veg out with my tablet in hand. I like to play the games, find joy in reading a free book I have downloaded, or just laugh occasionally at a well-posted joke on my social media feed. I also find that there are nougats of truth that people sometimes share that make me pause for…

Remove that lid

No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true. (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Scripture reminds us 'honesty lives confident and carefree', while 'shifty is sure to be exposed'. (Proverbs 10:9) There are lots and lots of us who go through life 'wearing one face' at home and another out in public. Sometimes we don't always know we are doing it, but we find ourselves acting as though life is perfect when deep down in side we are crumbling to pieces. We cannot 'act' before God - he sees behind the scenes and knows when there is nothing more than a cleverly prepared backdrop being portrayed!

There is a confidence that comes when we are first honest with ourselves, then with God, and finally with others. We must come to terms with ourselves before we can actually do this, though. We have to realize we aren't all that we want to be - we get things wron…

Re-engage

At the end of a particularly long, arduous day I might just desire a little 'me time'. The transition from the hectic pace of the day into the quietness of an evening relaxing and a little slumber later into the night is a promised reward for a long day's work. There are times when we desire renewal, whether it be by 'me time' or some type of 'retreat' from something, but it seems hard to find. The opportunity just doesn't seem to come and we are finding ourselves getting tireder by the minute. There are times we don't understand the reason for our endless work, but we know we are called to engage in it. We might question the continuation of the efforts, not always seeing much return on our investment, but growing more weary each day. Remember this - we don't always have to see the immediate return on our investment - we just need to continue making it.

He continued, "Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with th…

Embrace it!

Some might believe being a Christian ensures a life of ease. Like it is some one-way ticket to a 'silver-platter' kind of existence. Then all of a sudden there is some unforeseen event that occurs, knocking us for a loop, and we get all up in God's grill over him allowing such a catastrophic disturbance of our 'ease'. It is easy for us to believe that God is not with us in our times of suffering. It is very important for us to recognize God as the "Father of all mercy" or "Father of Compassion and Comfort". Remembering that a father is one who has begotten a child and as such, he has a certain sense of responsibility for that child, it is natural for us to believe he will always ensure our 'ease'. God does not abandon those he calls his children, but a little unrest in our 'ease' is not abandonment!

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongsid…

Welcomed Dominion

Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 8:1)

Be Careful! The instructions the people who would become the nation of Israel received all those years ago. Though they were spoken to reference their specific movement from wilderness wandering into the land of Promise, they actually have application for us today. The first instruction they receive as they are about to set out on this new journey was to "be careful" - to mark their lives, their actions, and their thoughts with attentive concern so as to avoid error or any omission of truth or trust. The challenge to us is to be living in such a way that we show close attention to the details when it comes to conforming to the Word of God. It has often been said that the "devil is in the details", but I would like to challenge you to think more appropriately that "God is i…

Hard, but better

I am so glad for a simple last name! To pronounce some of your last names is kind of hard, isn't it? The names in the Bible can be even harder! Add to the family names all the names of the regions in the lands referenced within those pages and you get some pretty good tongue twisters! Sometimes we skip over those parts in the Bible because reading all the names is hard and rather than face the challenge, we just move on. Ever wonder what you have missed out on just because you found something a little too difficult? Or you settled for something else that seemed a little easier or more appealing? Yep, the things we 'settle for' can be quite satisfying, but will they ever be as satisfying as the things we have to work just a little harder to obtain?

Of the land that we possessed at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer along the Brook Arnon and half the hill country of Gilead with its towns.  I gave the half-tribe of Manasseh the rest o…

See or Behold?

Albert Pike once penned a reminder to all of us: "The eye of the cheerful and of the melancholy man are fixed on the same creation; but very different are the aspects which it bears to them." In other words, we all see the same things, but we see them in quite different ways. The way we interpret things is often based upon the circumstances we find ourselves in, or the experiences we have amassed over our lifetime. We "see", but the similarity of what we "behold" is different. It is quite possible to gaze at God's creation one day, seeing one thing that captures our attention, then see it totally differently the next day. Why is that? Today's perceptions may be 'colored' or 'clouded' by whatever is occurring deep within our mind, body, and soul at that moment in time. It is good to see, but it is even better to see as God sees - with freshness, renewal, and grace!

What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at y…

Heed that flag

There is seldom a time when "going in circles" isn't a waste of time. I think that someone like a race car driver would be the exception. He accomplishes either the winning or the losing of the race while staying on that oval track - going around and around at a calculated pace to accomplish the goal. For most of us, going in circles is another story - we find that we accomplish very little in the course of our efforts. The people of Israel had been "going in circles" in the wilderness for years. They had shed more than a few tears of grief over their choice to doubt God's provision for them. Something I have seen over the years (even in my own life) is that tears don't make someone change! You cannot equate tears with repentance. We can shed real tears without any real sense for what we need to change or how to change.

Then we turned around and went back into the wilderness following the route to the Red Sea, as God had instructed me. We worked our way…

How to find a best friend

You know, we probably have a lot of 'friends' who will help us to fall, but I wonder just how many 'friends' we have who are there to help us get back up again? There are lots of us who have way more who fit into the former category, and we are truly blessed if we have even ONE who fits into the latter! It was the Greek historian Herodotus who left us with the thought, "Of all possessions a friend is the most precious." I'd have to add the 'right' friend makes that possession even more priceless!

Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (Proverbs 18:24 MSG)

Who is there when you fall? Not just 'there' in the physical sense, but 'there' to help you mend your ways, find your way back, and ensure you are really stable once again? Who is there to see your misgivings and then to know which ones are to be abandoned and which are to be pursued? Who is there to delight in your accomplishments AND suffer in …