Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2019

What's that I smell?

Sometimes I think we confuse concentration with consecration. Concentration can be very time-limited, while consecration takes us beyond time-limits into a life-long pursuit. Consecration goes beyond the surface - in fact, it embraces all of our being when it is operational in our lives. Consecration is simply the act of setting something apart for a specific use - not for a while, but for a lifetime. When we say that the brownies are made special for daddy because they are his favorite treats, we have the expectation that the one receiving enjoyment out of those brownies will be daddy. The same is true when we say we have dedicated our lives to the service of our heavenly Father - he will receive the enjoyment our dedication brings.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for h…

Are you even listening?

Many of us don't remember the process of "tuning in" a radio any longer, much less the laborious task of adjusting the antenna on top of the roof or holding the rabbit ears so the family could catch the last few minutes of a show. Our electronic devices have "auto-tune" features, allowing us to scan through various stations until one comes in with the clarity of reception that is desired, cable delivers immediate channel clarity, and web apps make it so we can find anything we want at the touch of a button. The 'art' of moving an antenna has been lost - the need to recognize the exact location on the sliding dial of your radio while listening for the voices of your favorite announcers has gone the way of digital tuning. I wonder if all this ease of 'tuning in' has done anything with our ability to 'tune into' the things God still requires us to exert a little effort to get?

Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice.…

Have no fear

What are you wearing today? Have you dressed by the time you read this, or are you luxuriating in your jammies for just a little longer? Regardless of how you have 'clothed' yourself at the moment, there is nothing like what comes from being clothed with the blessing of God! Have you ever snuggled deep into something of comfort because your day was just a little harder than you'd like it to be? You may even find you needed some form of help, but it just seemed to never be coming, so you hunkered down, sheltered in place and are just there waiting. At those moments, all you want to do is sit down and cry out for help - but there doesn't seem to be anybody within earshot! Yet, you might just cry out anyway - if not outwardly, at least on the inside! Never lose sight of this hope - "real help" and very "real comfort" comes from God.

But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to God, His…

Is that everything?

God's call is never too late, and it goes without saying, but his expectations are quite extensive when he calls! Abram (Abraham) was nearly a century old when God placed the call on his life. Imagine that in today's life-span and he would be very lucky at all to see anymore birthdays. It was late into life that he received his call, but keep in mind that people lived a whole lot longer in Old Testament times. I have heard more mature Christians saying that God cannot use them any longer - they are too old or too debilitated to be used of God. That is hog-wash! God's call is irrespective of age, natural talent, or financial means! His call transcends our physical limitations, infuses us with talents we never thought we'd possess, and makes miraculous provision for every inch of the journey! Any call is just beginning - it matters not where we start out, but that we progress toward the finish line!

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, &quo…

Crawl if you have to

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. (Charles Spurgeon)
Stop for just a moment to consider how much effort it must have taken for snails of all sorts to finally reach the door of the ark and you might find yourself taking hope that you will also one day reach that destination you so desire! Never give up - never given in. To give up means we just quit. To give in means we take an easier road. Neither will meet our need. Both will leave us with feelings of regret or guilt. Things will get in our way - that is a given. Others will have opinions that mess with our minds and challenge us to reconsider our determination. Stop short and you will always miss the boat!
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able t…

Skills check-off

What is a preceptor? In many learned skills, there is a process of aligning an individual who has much experience with another who is just starting out in the skill. During a specific period of time, the preceptor 'checks off' the 'newbie' on various skills required for the work at hand. The main purpose of the preceptor is to help the newbie add line upon line, precept upon precept, skill upon skill, until they are deemed able to perform the task at hand without constant oversight. We all look for 'mentors' from time to time in our lives - whether learning a new job, or just trying to learn a new hobby. There is no greater 'mentor' relationship one can have than that which mentors another in the 'skill' of being in a committed and growing relationship with Christ.

God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to tak…

Seed packets

A seed only does what it was intended to do when it is planted! In the package, it is just a nice thing (kind of like all the religious rules). Once in the ground, tended appropriately, the seed yields something beyond its original form. That is true of each of us as we become related to Christ. We take a new form - exponentially yielding fruit in season. That is what it is to be in relationship with Jesus - we become the evidence of what is "in" the package! That was what Lazarus was that day so long ago - an evidence of what had filled his heart! 
Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. So the high priests plotted to kill Lazarus because so many of the Jews were going over and believing in Jesus on account of him.
(John 12:9-11)

Lazarus became a living testimony of the power and deliverance of God when his life was raised. He became a "threat&qu…

Waiting doesn't mean we won't move on

"I waited, and waited, and waited for God..." Have you ever been in the position of just waiting, and waiting, and waiting - all the while growing more fearful and frustrated that nothing is happening - at least nothing you can see? If you have walked with Christ for more than an hour, I think it is safe to assume that you might have experienced this kind of agony in waiting - not because he wants us to experience agony, but because we might just not realize all that is going on behind the scenes to get everything ready for the ultimate answer! We don't understand the delays and we don't remember the next time how long of a wait it was the last time!

Now God, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn't see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart ga…

Don't go there....

When I was in the military, I pulled the assigned task of "guard duty" on a few occasions. The thing that struck me most was that I was guarding "stuff" that I really had no clue that anybody would want, but it was supposed to teach me the skill of ferreting out friend from foe! Sometimes I'd be assigned to the motor pool, while I would just walk a perimeter around some place where others slept peacefully. Did I find I had to ward off intruders all that much? No, but I was ready! You never know when the enemy will attack, or at what location. So you "prepare" for the worst and pray for the best!

God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always. (Psalm 121:7-8)

God's watchfulness over his children is much like that of the one who diligent fulfills his role of 'guard duty'. When intruders come, we want to know we can answer the question, "Wh…

Okay, uncle!

Are you one of those individuals with unfinished projects tucked away here and there throughout your house? Maybe something about your house is unfinished and you have been just 'living with it' for a while because you lack the resources or energy to get it finished. We may even have things in our lives that we'd like to see changed, but the completion of that change just seems to be stalled. God, high above, sees far below - right into those areas of our lives that are 'started', but not quite 'finished' yet! We may not "see" him, but he sees us! If nothing else, the fact that God even notices humankind should bring us to our knees! Be quite clear on this - "no matter the distance, he knows everything about us". Nothing escapes his notice - nothing is overlooked for his intervention. Too many times we come to the conclusion that we are in the thick of things all alone - no one noticing the mess we are in. Just the opposite is true - God…

Man, I am on empty!

Have you ever blurted out to someone that you were 'starving' - perhaps having been delayed in having your lunch, or not being able to grab breakfast before your day took a huge swing into overdrive? When was the last time you said this about your soul - admitting to God that you have waited too long to take nourishment from his Word, or have been waiting for what you think is too long to receive some desired answer from him related to something that has wearied your soul? The moment we recognize our desire is the moment we look for it to be satisfied, isn't it? When it comes to our God's care and love, we don't have to starve, but we do have to have an appetite!

God won't starve an honest soul, but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3)

God won't starve an honest soul - the thought provokes us to consider what it is to "starve". What is it that Solomon could have been referring to when he spoke of the "starvation" o…

Wow! Look up!

There is always a story we are telling others - in the way we walk, how we respond emotionally, and in our tone of voice. The story is more than words - it is 'acted out' in each and every move we make. Is it any wonder we can look at the things God has made and see how much he displays about himself in them? Even the things within nature declare the character and love of God. Consider for a moment the beauty of the rose. It comes from a stem riddled with thorns capable of tearing apart human flesh, yet it has the softest of petals and most magnificent odor. What seems harsh produces something so sweet and delicate. Isn't it just like God to take some of the 'harshest' of things life sends our way to produce the sweetest and most delicate responses within us? 
The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God. (Psalm 19:1-2TLB)
The heavens are vast - you really cannot comprehen…

No runt here!

If you have ever felt like you just didn't have what it took for the issue at hand, rest assured you are not alone in that feeling! For seven years, Israel was under the domination of a heathen nation known as Midian. The story of man called Gideon begins with the description of the ugliness that domination brings to a nation - others eating their crops, turning their camels loose to bring their pasture lands to ruin, and sending the people scurrying to the caves to hide from their captors in cowering fear of their destructive forces. As is always the case with God, he hears the cries of their hearts, sends a prophet, and re-explains to them why they are in bondage. It is simple: God spoke to them of his tremendous care for them, demonstrated that care repeatedly in mighty ways, and they still chose to fear the people around them! Fear is always a place of bondage - plain and simple!

One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiez…

Kept from stumbling

Ever begin a day proclaiming God's grace and end it assured he has displayed his grace time and time again throughout that very day? I have and I know that it was God who set things right in that day, not me! It makes me want to 'repay' what I have received so generously, but there is not way to 'repay' God for his grace! The only thing we can do is to be grateful and strengthen our resolve to live obediently to all he commands.

What can I give back to God for the blessings he's poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God! I'll pray in the name of God; I'll complete what I promised God I'd do, and I'll do it together with his people. When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him. Oh, God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service! I'm ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice and pray in the name of God. I'll complete what I promised God I'd…

A stone for a wall or a path?

While most mistakes we make are not those that result in a permanent riff in a relationship with another, there is a tendency for us to recall the past ones made when the individual keeps making the same ones, isn't there? Most of the time, we do our best to not make the same mistake again, but if you have ever made the same one more than once, you know just how frightfully hard it can be to seek forgiveness, much less give it! Rarely do we look as mistakes as 'permanent' because we allow 'do-overs' in life. Wasn't the key labeled backspace on the keyboard really a way of allowing us to retype those misspelled words, or completely eliminate a thought we did not want to continue with in those written words? We all have those 'backspace' moments - those times when we know we have made mistakes, but we need to the grace of God to wipe them out so we can start over again.
Love forgets mistakes; nagging about them parts the best of friends. (Proverbs 17:9)

The right image

Did you ever dream of being someone else? You observe a famous sport's star performing so well in his sport and you begin to imagine all the glory and grandeur he enjoys. You see one of those shows on TV where what is depicted is some lifestyle of opulence and magnificence. You note the admiration a particular teacher receives from her students and you imagine being so well-liked someday by all those who you will touch in your profession. We all 'admire' another from time to time, or consider 'what it would be like' to live in their shoes. Did you ever stop to consider what it is like (truly like) to be the President of the United States, a U.S. Senator, or Prime Minister of a great nation? Imagine being the Son of God, come to earth, leaving behind your divinity, knowing that your entire purpose for being there was to endure the ridicule of people and the ultimate end of death on a cross. Not exactly the same image is created, is it? You might not want to walk in …

Where are you?

We have a whole lot of terms for the transition of life referred to in religious circles as 'salvation' - inviting Jesus into your heart, making him Lord of your life, being saved, finding new life. We need to keep in mind one thing - our "salvation experience" is a one-time experience that involves an "exchange" of our sinfully selfish nature for the holy nature of Christ. This happens both instantly and it takes time - while we 'receive' the exchanged life at that point of 'salvation', it can take us a lifetime to see it 'worked out' in every area of our lives!

Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the 'wind-hovering-over-the-water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who t…

The Counting House Books

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs. (Charlotte Bronte) If you recall the Charles Dickens classic in which Ebenezer Scrooge is observed making his way to his counting house (today's version of a bank), all the while intent on not celebrating Christmas, holding people captive to their debts, and being unwilling to ensure the poor could have even a small meal to enjoy on the holiday, you might be close to the miserable state a soul endures who is so tied up in himself that he fails to recognize the needs of others around him. I daresay none of us is exempt from a periodic display of selfishness from time to time. If we find ourselves given to this pattern of behavior over and over again, it is likely we are going to develop some of these traits as revealed to us by Scrooge. Nursing animosity or registering wrongs is really a condition of the heart that goes much deeper than 'keeping accounts'. Did you ever stop to wonder why D…

Am I revealing my ignorance?

The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds. (John F. Kennedy)
Imagine that you are a well-studied, perhaps even having accumulated a few degrees you proudly display on your walls, yet lacking in all manner of common sense. If you don't think this is possible, look again! We are told to value the degrees we can amass - gaining more and more education from our books and halls of learning - yet we oftentimes forsake common sense when we need to count on it the most! While scripture clearly encourages us to be open to 'new ideas', we are also reminded of the importance of learning 'good judgment' in light of all our 'new knowledge'.
The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them. (Proverbs 18:15)
Now teach me good judgment as well as knowledge. For your laws are my guide. (Psalm 119:66)

It was Kennedy who also reminded us there were risks and costs to our every action - as well as the risks of inaction. I thi…

A little more than "fire insurance"

Have you ever heard someone say of someone's 'salvation experience' that they just 'bought themselves a little fire insurance'? It is as though they are pointing out the individual has said 'yes' to Jesus, but only as a means to not go to hell. Is it possible to get 'fire insurance' and still live a life as we choose? It also begs to question if the "once saved, always saved" term is biblical - based on what we can find in scripture and recognize to be true about the nature and character of God. I know parties that will weigh-in on both sides of this equation, but we need to understand some scriptures that might help to answer those questions - or at least, provide the biblical perspective "in context" rather than taking a few verses out of context that might support one opinion or another. "Fire insurance" and "once saved, always saved" are just two 'states' of our soul we have labeled - you won't…

Just thinking....

When we have thoughts that are constantly gravitating toward worry, it becomes an all-consuming process that works over and over again in our brains until it eats us up! Did you ever really think about what worry is - not worry over worry, but think about what might be at the root of it? When we are spending our time in worry, we are really focusing all our time on reviewing over-and-over again what we have absolutely no power over - the control is really in another's hands! That seed of doubt, fear, frustration, and indecisiveness soon become a full-grown tree of worry, bearing repeated fruits of anxiety that we feed on and continue to mull over in our minds. We have no control over it, but it soon begins to control us - it draws us in deeper and deeper.

I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (P…

Not one more cookie!

The resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible. (Thomas Hardy) Ponder Hardy's thoughts for just a moment and you will understand why willpower alone seldom keeps us from eating the candy bar within our fridge! Now, the one still at the grocer's counter is a little harder to actually enjoy, is it not? The nearer the 'evil', the harder it is to avoid - it is within our path and we find things harder to resist when they are in our path!

So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
My BFF was sharing about her father's desire to lose a little weight, so he has 'divested' himself of some of the goodies he had 'stockpiled' in the house. The box of chocolates found a new home far away. The rice krispy treats made someone else very happy. The cookies blessed another's family. I imagine the purpose of the 'divestiture' is to ensure the t…

Good or Good for Something?

Be not simply good - be good for something. (Henry David Thoreau) What is that "something" for you? We all strive to be 'good', but how much do we strive to be 'good for something'? I think Thoreau was maybe trying to tell us we all have that 'something' God has placed us on this earth to do and we won't be totally fulfilling our purpose until we recognize and move into that 'something'. We do focus on 'being good' a lot more than we focus on finding our 'something' we are really 'good at' and then finding how that 'something' can bless the lives of others.

God made everything with a place and purpose... (Proverbs 16:4)
Our place and purpose has been defined by God - at the time he formed us in our mother's womb, that purpose began to take form. The 'something' we were created to fulfill began long before we ever knew life. It may take a while for us to figure out what our 'something' is t…

Grace when I need it most

In watching one of those shows set back in the 'old country' of Scottish history, I observed as these homeowners kept their sheep 'penned in' within stone walls they'd erect from stones found right there in their own fields. It didn't have to be high - just about the same height at the sheep. They'd graze along until they came to this stone enclosure, then they'd almost turn around and graze in another direction. These small, but quite effective boundaries actually kept the sheep from wandering willy-nilly off into pastures not theirs to graze upon, or into areas where harm would await them. The Word of God presents a wide variety of "boundaries" that actually act quite similarly. Those boundaries actually serve to give us a sense of safety - we stay within them and we are safe - we step outside of them and no telling what will happen. One of those 'boundary areas' should be in our thought life. Our thoughts are not really all that &q…