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Showing posts from May, 2019

Time to get healthy

A healthy spirit has a somewhat conquering power! There is a physical and mental soundness or vigor that is evident when the spirit is in a place of "healthiness". The hard times and then we are subject to the potential of a crushed spirit. What can we do when the spirit becomes crushed by hard times, difficult circumstances, or disappointments galore? That's a tough one - even though our first answer might be to turn to Jesus to have him heal it, we sometimes don't think of that as our 'first go to' in these circumstances! That is kind of like a "pat answer" for all of our life's problems for some people, but do they really 'work that one out' by really going to Jesus first off and leaving the tough stuff with him? We often turn to him for this return of spiritual health without even realizing what it was that brought us to the point of being crushed - we just know that we 'hurt' and we don't want to any longer!

A healthy spi…

You saw that?

Have you ever had someone approach you with, "I shouldn't be telling you this, but..."? Inside they are just aching to tell someone the tidbit of information they believe they are the only ones to know. It is like they have some 'inside track' and they want someone else to know it. What they may not know is that some secrets or 'inside track' stuff isn't really known to 'just them'. God knows all things - there are no secrets from him! So, even the best kept secrets are known by at least one other! Some secrets of the heart are not the most pleasant ones for others to know - they are downright uncomfortable to have 'exposed'. How about the secret that someone is struggling inwardly and they don't want others to know about the nature or depth of that struggle? They want these secrets of their heart to be kept, but the things we feel we must keep to ourselves can be the things that we often believe are too difficult to for others to …

Wow...I didn't expect that one

How extravagant has God's love been toward you? Almost all of us would immediately announce that it has been very extravagant, but if I were to ask you to list fifty ways his love has been extravagant, you'd probably find it gets harder and harder to describe his extravagance the lower we get down that list. God's extravagance is often 'felt' - something we don't oftentimes put into words. Yet, if we were honest here, his extravagance is actually what produces our sense of 'well-being' and 'peacefulness' within. It is what causes us to jump for joy, brings comfort to the depths of our soul when we have experienced moments of grief, and encouraged us with tender nudges when we have been too focused on something to notice we have not moved in a while. It is his extravagance that fills us, but did you ever stop to consider it is his equally his extravagant love that empties us?

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love could…

Is that a diamond I see?

Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles. (Thomas Browne)
I'd have to admit - there are a few 'diamonds' I have kicked in life, all the while thinking they were just rough-edged stones not really of much value. I didn't mean to just kick them aside, but I didn't see the value in them at the time. I think we might all do this from time to time, not even cognizant of the fact we are. One thing is for sure - we can overlook some 'gems' in our midst - but God isn't content for us to just 'overlook' them. He wants us to look over those 'stones' we might have only given a cursory 'once over' in life and see them for the jewels contained within!

God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we fin…

Keep him as your closest friend

Have you ever awakened from sleep only to feel a little MORE tired than when you went to bed? Just because you 'slept' doesn't always mean you 'rested', does it? Sometimes our sleep is restless, because of the burdens we bear or the interruptions in life that seem to interfere with that 'rest'. For some of us, it is the company we have been keeping that keeps us from resting more than anything else. Maybe that company is us! It doesn't have to always be anyone else - we can be our own worst company at times! No one knows the Father unless they know the Son - keep company with him and you will get to know God. That is the basis of Jesus' teaching - know me, the Son of God, and you will know the one who sent me, my Father God. Why is this important? Jesus tells us that no one really knows the Father like the Son does. Our kids know us so well - it stands to reason Jesus would know his Father very well, too! Since he knows what impedes our rest, isn…

Can we all get along?

How hard is it to get along with each other? HARD! How big does your tolerance have to be at times? BIG! How open do you have to be to finding ways to forgive one another? WIDE OPEN! This 'getting along' thing is harder than we might want to admit. If it was all that easily accomplished - there would never have been the first war, the first school yard fight, the first divorce, or the first debate over any issue! Doors would never have been slammed, feelings would never have been hurt, and work place violence would never have become an issue, either. If 'getting along' is the goal, then it must be achievable - because God never gives us goals that are not achievable in his grace!

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and e…

Reach THAT one

Ever feel like you could do a little more in your community, or to help some world mission? The disasters that hit far off places seem to be never-ending, causing us to be always bombarded by opportunities to get involved. In the times of Jesus' ministry on this earth, things were quite similar - if not in the form of 'natural disaster', then in the form of persecution and oppression from kings of quite unfriendly kingdoms. The twelve disciples were being trained to "do" the ministry of serving those they were surrounded by - those in their immediate focus and influence. The simple instructions of Jesus speak volumes - "Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place..." He was focusing them on the immediate needs of those in the communities in which they lived and did business. People with indecision and confusion in their lives who simply need a helping hand to sort things out - help them. People with the need to know that Christ is here - now - in…

My favorite shorts

One of my most comfortable pair of 'knock about the house' shorts has developed a stress tear at a very 'not so easy to fix' location. I will attempt to fix it, but a stress tear is kind of hard to fix because it follows the path knit in the shorts and it isn't parallel to the seam! So, try as I might, these may be 'beyond fixing' in the long run. Try as we might, we can attempt to bring the frayed edges of the tears in our lives known as "stress tears" together without the tear being noticed, but it is almost impossible. Things just don't match up and if we simply join at the point of 'stress', the surrounding fabric of our lives has also been weakened, so that patch is not going to last long either.
“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wine skins. For the old skins would burst fr…

What are you doing with those needs?

For a great many of us, prayer is a kind of "hey, God, it is me again" approach. We find ourselves going to him repeatedly for much the same thing, maybe laying it all out again in just a slightly different manner, but doing so because we just "need" something that only he can provide. There are also times when we simply pussy-foot around the whole matter that is niggling at our brains and pulling at our heartstrings because we aren't entirely comfortable talking to him about it. Regardless of our reluctance to actually lay those things out before him openly and honestly, he knows what they are, so all our pussy-footing around isn't really helping the matter. There is just something that comes when we are open, direct, and totally honest with ourselves and him in prayer - it is often referred to as "he answers"!

Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before J…

The mystery at work

It was Dickens who reminded us that, "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." (Charles Dickens) The 'created thing' is loved before it even exists - think on that one a little bit and you might just begin to feel a little differently about yourself. In fact, when you realize that God saw you fully formed, created you specifically for his purposes, and enjoyed you even before he created you - that is the beginning of wisdom! We may not fully understand how he sees each of us, but we can stand assured that he sees us as we are often incapable of seeing ourselves.

Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, So you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does. (Ecclesiastes 11:5MSG)

What is the 'all that God does' in your life? This is a pretty open-ended question, …

No clever dupe for me

Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit. (Hosea Ballou)
The 'counterfeit of happiness' - what might that look like? I daresay a good many of us know perfectly well what it looks like because we only have to look as far as the mirror to see the counterfeit on display. Many times we are in pursuit of what others tout as 'happiness' in some form or another, only to find it never really leaves us satisfied when we achieve it. It is when we finally lay down the pursuit of happiness and begin to pursue the one who provides true joy that we begin to realize the picture in the mirror has changed.

Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked. In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings and wilt like cut flowers in the sun. Get insurance with God and do a good deed, settle down and stick to your last. Keep company with God, get in on the best. (Psalm 37:1-4)
The price of the 'counterfeit' isn't a…

Detour me

It seems like every road I take to work these days is riddled with construction! We cannot turn left at some intersections, whittle down to one lane in others, and are detoured in directions we have to rely upon GPS guidance to maneuver! The inconvenience is made all the more unbearable by the rudeness of those who think they can avoid the longer waits by moving to the head of the line and cutting in around all of us who have waited our turn to make it through! It brings me back to elementary school all over again when you'd frequently hear the cries of "No Cutting" called whenever someone tried that in the cafeteria line! The benefits of the construction projects are hard to imagine when you are enduring the agony of the months of torn up roadways, but when they finally reopen that intersection with wider and safer turn lanes, you suddenly understand it from a different perspective. It makes sense on the other side of that construction, even though it seemed unbearable …

Drawn by the light

Charm is a glow within a woman that casts a most becoming light on others. (John Mason Brown) What amount of light do you cast on the lives of others? If we were honest, there are times when we cast more of a shadow, not light! The truth is that we can be very 'charming' at times and altogether 'mean spirited' at others. The more we try to 'charm' another, the less 'true' we are, for 'charm' is really designed to display one thing while silently moving to perform another. A snake-charmer speaks soothing noises, plays a little tune, and uses his hands to mesmerize the snake. His aim is to get hold of the thing! The very enticement he has displayed is meant to display one thing while his heart and mind is all about doing something quite different. Charm can be deceiving, but when it is combined with the true grace of God within a life, the light that is cast by that charm is genuinely warm and enriches the lives of those that bask in it.
Charm can…

Lay down, give in

There are many life events that we just barely eke by with any semblance of being "all together" at the culmination. There are others that we seem to simply "sail" through. Which do you prefer? I think we'd all say that we want the ones that we can "sail" through opposed to those that give us cause to reconsider how on earth we ever found ourselves messed up in the muddle we are in right now! I once read that we should not borrow from tomorrow what rightfully belongs in tomorrow - leave it there because today has enough worries of its own. That is the definition of worry in a nutshell - bringing imaginations about the "what if" of tomorrow into the "known" of today. There is a moment in time when we need to "deal with" life, not by just doubling-down or digging-in, but by laying down and giving in!

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorr…

Me Time

The very fact that we can make frequent and open contact with a holy God is always a thing of comfort to me, but it is hard for me to fathom the degree of love and grace that so openly welcomes sinners into the presence of the holy and mighty God of the Universe! Jesus was always very forthright in his reminders to his disciples about prayer, or conversation with God - first in his instruction to the disciples about "how to" pray (we call that the Lord's Prayer), and in his reminders that God is not to be "bargained with" in prayer. It is not a "you do this for me" and "I will do this for you" kind of contact, as we are so accustomed to in many business and day-to-day dealings these days. It is a direct, ask what you need type of relationship - but God isn't just there for our every whim and fancy. When we are in the position of bargaining, we are saying we have something "worth" trading or bargaining for. Either our price is w…

Give credit where it is due

Harry S. Truman reminds us, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." I wonder how many of us go through our lives just trying to get credit for whatever good we manage to accomplish and totally discount the very significant struggle we have with that stuff in our lives that often might just border on being a little bit 'not so good'? Most of the time, the desert region around where I live is kind of arid, not very 'colorful', and kind of scraggly. Yet, whenever we have a particularly wet winter and early springtime showers, something amazing happens to the desert floor. Not only do the cacti come into full bloom, but there is a plethora of wildflowers that spring forth. I had never really considered the fact that most of the wildflowers in the world go completely unnoticed by human eye. They spring forth from the hard soil of the earth, struggle against the elements, bloom in all their majesty, and no one ever sets an ey…

I see that!

The eyes really tell a lot about what is going on with a person. Whenever someone gets sick, we often see reddened "rings" around their eye, making the eyes themselves look a little "hallow" and "sad". They may not open their eyes as wide, and the "crystal-clear" appearance of the eye may look a little "foggy" or "dry". A "yellow" appearance turning to brighter shades of orange over time can signal huge issues with the liver. The size of the pupil, especially with one larger than the other, can signal a huge issue going on with the brain. The eye really can "alert" us to much that is going on inside a man in the physical sense, but it also betrays what is going on inside of the man in terms of his emotions and spirit!

"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank…

The reward is in the time

It is easy to get distracted when it comes to anything like a little quiet time with God. Taking time with my best friend is hard enough, but time alone with God is sometimes harder. Why is that? I think it might just be because the enemy of our souls knows exactly what happens when time is spent together with our mighty Savior! He knows the power that is given and the settling of uncertainty that comes. He doesn't want either to occur, so he puts up as many smoke screens and mirrors to distract us from this exchange as much as possible. Create the right environment and you can eliminate a few distracting forces. Allow the wrong ones and you will find time alone with God becomes harder and harder.

"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and com…

A well-worn path

We all probably have heard some variation of the 'confession is good for the soul' terminology. The fact of the matter is that it is one of the most powerful 'actions' we take on behalf of our soul that actually begins to touch the souls of those around us. Being able to own up to your mistakes is hard, but there comes a time when the soul is changed by one simple confession. There is nothing that binds two people together in a more committed manner than being able to confess one's mistakes to the other. Too many times, we hold out for the other to come to the place of admitting they were wrong before we will take even one step in that direction. When we choose to do this, we alienate ourselves from that which will bring health to our own lives. It is in confession that we find healing. The first place of healing is at the foot of the cross - in confession we find deliverance. The next place we may need to make confession is at the feet of a friend - for in confess…

Did I say that?

I know I am not the only one who has ever said something long before they ever thought about the impact of those words or the tone of voice used in speaking them forth. There is a whole lot to be said about our words, but I don't need to say a lot to tell you these words of us are like a loaded weapon at times! Words matter - what we think should not always be spoken! There is no greater struggle than to learn to control one's speech. Words that are thoughtlessly spoken often require us to "mop up" the aftermath of those very words! Jesus focused on the fact that words "kill" - they have an absolute  destructiveness that rises to the level of committing murder! If he feels this strongly about our speech, isn't it worth evaluating our choice of words?

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of …

Be a little salt

Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltin…

Living in the open

Conviction of heart really refers to not only the condition of the heart, but the 'bent' of the heart. Which way will we choose more than once when offered the choice? This is often the 'conviction' of our heart. We find we pursue one direction more than another - maybe not all the time, but this particular choice rises to the surface repeatedly. It may be a good direction to choose, or it may leave us feeling a little out of sorts because we know it wasn't the best choice at all. It is our actions, not so much our words, that reveal the real convictions of our heart. We always hear that we "cannot judge a book by its cover" and this is so very true. I have learned what is hidden in the heart is what is manifest in the actions - if not openly, then in secret. We have a huge opportunity to affect how the world sees Jesus based on what actions we reveal to the world. We have an equal opportunity to affect how we see ourselves by the choices we make in secre…

Prepare for the ride

If you are anything like me, you might have tried to side-step all the 'preparation' required for some exam in life, only to find all that side-stepping really left you wanting when you needed the right answer! You believed you could just do a cursory review of the work and all would be well. Preparation is key to not only exams in school, but for each of life's challenges as they come day by day. We all have differing responses when we face one of life's challenges, don't we? Some of us will rise up, take the bulls by the horns and plunge right in, while others withdraw a safe distance, consider their options and seemingly take forever to respond to the challenge. Sometimes we take every opportunity to avoid the challenge, just hoping it will go away! Regardless of how we face life when we are "challenged", it is important to keep in mind that each challenge carries a purpose. As Jesus remind us, true blessing in our lives comes when heart and mind are i…

Our need, His provision

I absolutely love the tiniest of words that seem to join ideas together. Take the word "but" for a moment and you might just find this tiny word actually negates or puts a condition into play. For example, when you say 'I wanted a taco, but I ate a salad', you are putting the condition into play of choosing the healthiest of the two options. The tiny word "and" joins two idea together. There is much to be explored when "and" is put into play in a sentence, for it often joins two things that are required in order to make something whole. For example, when you join 'peanut butter and jelly', you get a mighty enjoyable sandwich! When you join 'black and blue' in describing a recent bruise, you are letting others know of the severity of damage done when you struck yourself against that hard object. When God tells us we must believe that he exists AND that he cares enough to respond to us when we seek him, he is describing two very coex…

Hallmarks of Care

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy." I like how the Message interprets this passage as 'at the moment you are "care-full" - you find yourselves cared for'. There is a saying in both scripture and common day that reminds us we reap what we sow. There is a direct link between us sowing seeds of "care" and reaping a reward of being cared for. As many of you have discovered over the years of following this blog, I am in the role of a caregiver - mom having come to live with me about 11 years ago. It has been a lot harder than I imagined at times, but it has equally been as rewarding! There are lots of ways we sow into the lives of others - not just to receive something in return - but because we sense how blessed we really are when we begin to reach out to sow into the lives of another. It might not seem like we'd receive much blessing in the 'toil' of sowing, but remember that the farmer only receives the crop becaus…