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Showing posts from July, 2019

Hey, can you take a look at me?

A farmer or rancher relies on his barn because it serves a variety of purposes. If he raises livestock, it can house the feed and provide shelter for an occasional animal from his herd. If he is a farmer, he may store his much needed farm implements within it and give shelter to his tractors. It could be it is a 'catch-all' for all the various tools of his trade, but without it those tools would be subject to the weather and loss. We may not fully realize or value the true value of the barn until it is in need of repair!

My sad life's dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your Word. (Psalm 119:28)

Reduced to ruin or decay, that old barn is not going to be of much use to the farmer. It could have occurred due to neglect - the owners simply not making any investment into keeping it up. It may be a result of simple age because we all know nothing lasts forever. Or maybe it is just occurs because of a lack of resources - the owners unable to keep it up becaus…

Do you 'member?

The moment we want something so desperately that we seek it with all our effort - that is the moment of change. It may be we want a drink of water, cooled with lots of ice on a hot sunny day. We even want it so bad we'd crack ice cubes from an old fashioned ice cube tray! We change our position from just 'wanting' something to doing something to obtain it! There are times when all we need is to get up again - because the change we so desperately need is not found where we are, but in rising from that place!

I'm feeling terrible—I couldn't feel worse! Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom. Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.  (Psalm 119:25-27)

True enough, the the cold, hard truth that we are miserable at times and we just need to get honest about where we are! Have you ever been this honest with God? Really just getting down to the n…

Yum....

Do you mull things over, finding yourself deep in thought, unaware of everything else at the moment because this one thing is your focus? If you are one who turns things over and over until you get a better understanding of the object you are considering, then you are one who mulls or ponders. To ponder means that you consider something deeply and thoroughly. It involves the mind, but it also relies on the involvement of the emotions in the process. It comes from a Latin word that means to "weigh". Some of us might say that we are "reflecting" on an idea - we are simply pondering that idea (weighing the pros and cons). I find I do a great deal of pondering or mulling in the wee hours of the night when I am awakened. My mind begins to work on ideas or issues - some evading both my attention and the 'fix' all day long. In those moments alone in thought, am I really alone? I don't think so - because God is with me in those wee hours!

I ponder every morsel o…

Kept and Helped

Does anyone other than me ever feel like they were chosen to just keep making the same mistakes? Keep doing the same old stuff you'd promised yourself you'd not do again? Keep tripping up on the same things you tripped up on before? I think we all go through these cycles in life - doing well for a while and then 'tripping up' on something we didn't think could trip us up again. We have to remember these things are not experienced by us alone - there are hundreds, if not thousands of others who trip up at just about the same point! Obedience is really a series of trips and rising again!

Keep me far from every wrong; help me, undeserving as I am, to obey your laws, for I have chosen to do right. (Psalm 119:30TLB)
We forget about the 'rising again' part of this! We are chosen to do right, not wrong. That doesn't negate our free-will (our ability to make a choice). Sometimes our choices just get the best of us! We aren't really deserving of God's gra…

What are you banking on?

Have you ever thought of your heart as a vault of sorts? It is more like a vault than anything else, because we oftentimes hide things away there forever and ever - our special treasures and sometimes our 'special non-treasures' that we might not really want to let go of! Look at what God's Word does when it enters our hearts. I think we often don't give credit to God for the work he does in the "changing" of our hearts - through his Word and times with him. We sometimes just think he is "mending" our hearts, but as you soon come to realize, simple mending by anyone other than a skilled surgeon leaves us leaking! He replaces those hard hearts with pliable ones, diseased with healthy, and empties those that need a little 'cleaning out' in order to be whole.

I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won't sin myself bankrupt.  (Psalm 119:11)

Today I might focus on the importance of allowing the Word to affect our heart (min…

Hey, listen up!

We can become quite 'selective' in our hearing. Guess what? That might just make us a little too 'selective' in our "hearting", as well! Our heart may be less than responsive at times - a little to calloused for anyone or anything to actually break through. When this happens, it is time to get alone with God, spend some 'quality time' allowing him to renew that heart through the Word and times of worship! The most amazing thing about God's method of "dealing with us" is his ability to get right at the heart of the matter - what it is we need to have dealt with at that very moment! He certainly does not beat around the bush when it comes to "focusing" on an area of "opportunity" in my life, but I don't always pay attention to those areas he is trying to focus on. God does not mince his words - in turn, we can learn the right way of living that is reliable (trustworthy) and then walk in it - but to have our heart af…

It is not the cards we are dealt...

Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well. (Josh Billings) I once told a peer we all just needed to play with the cards we were dealt. We were going through a tough transition, restructuring all of our work, parceling out various components of what we once had done to others in completely different departments. Our duties were changing and it was difficult to adjust. Yet, the cards were dealt - we held them now. It was now our responsibility to play those cards well. I play Euchre and I have been dealt some pretty lousy hands. Yet, if you understand when the right time to play those lousy cards is, you can still manage to help your partner score some points. It is more about 'being in the game' than it is the cards we are being dealt. We stay in the game, knowing we will have advantageous moments when the cards we hold can be played well!

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when y…

Hello....you out there?

So seek God and live! You don't want to end up with nothing to show for your life but a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground. For God will send just such a fire, and the firefighters will show up too late. (Amos 5:6)

Ever find yourself in a place where it feels like everything around you is 'on fire' and you are somehow trying to put out all the fires at once? I think we occasionally find ourselves in these times of wearing and quite frustrating 'firefighting'. Most of us can put out a small fire, but those bigger ones require the expertise of the firefighter specifically trained in the task! Amos was one of the twelve minor prophets of Israel. He finds himself leading a group of people who had little time for God and lots of time for their good life. The armies of Assyria (one of their fiercest rivals) were battling for bigger territory and Israel was allowed to live almost without warfare during that time, enjoying the expansion of their own territory wit…

Dogeared Pages

Most kids today don't have a clue what a Sears or J.C. Penney's catalog looked like. They have immediate shopping options via the World Wide Web, making these bound 'manuals of dreams' a thing of the past. When we got the latest version of the catalog, we'd pour through it over and over again, admiring the latest fashions, dreaming about the shiny appliances promising to make our life easier, and finding out just how 'empty' our toy boxes were in comparison to what was displayed within those pages. If it wasn't in the catalog, you never knew it existed. The catalog was the place you turned when you were in need of something. Yet, it wasn't 'complete', was it? You couldn't buy your groceries through the Sears catalog, nor could you buy a horse, cow, or goat (at least I don't think you could). As "complete" as that catalog was, it didn't contain all we needed. It just made it convenient to find basic things. The more comp…

Too many lids?

It may seem like a small thing, but yesterday I emptied the dreaded 'lid drawer' of all those plastic lids to the various size containers I have in another drawer. Then I pulled out those containers and guess what I did next....I matched them up! Lid with container until all were matched. Then I found what I had suspected all along....many a lid remained with no matching container. Why? Perhaps the container had found another use such as it being a holder of items in a storage drawer, or it just simply got yucky looking and was discarded. I was left with 10 or more lids with no 'mate'. No wonder that drawer was frustrating me! I then sorted through the containers until I found the best to keep and made up a box to take to the local thrift store. Know what? I finally can find a lid to match my remaining containers! Once the 'clutter' was gone, it was easy to do! There are just times when we need to take time to 'declutter' our lives a little. Not just th…

Live in to live out

We might attempt to define obedience by the things we do instead of some other things. For example, we define it as obedient to drive the speed limit vs. careening down the highway as whatever break-neck speed we may feel like that day. We 'do' observe the limit, then we 'keep' our foot from pressing too firmly on the gas peddle, and we 'stay attentive' to the dial on the dashboard. All this to 'do' just one thing - drive the speed limit. Yes, obedience has to do with 'doing' and 'not doing' - it is making choices and living within those choices. It also has a whole lot to do with 'being', as well. We are 'being' renewed day by day - in the love and grace of God. That 'being' actually helps us with the 'doing'. We sometimes get that backwards, though - trying to 'do' in order to 'be', but God's plan is just the opposite!

When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Fathe…

Who, not what

"Aah...this is the GOOD life!" We are perhaps kicking back on the beach, enjoying the rays, listening to the palm fronds rattling in the wind, and then we utter these words of absolute contentment! The next thing you know, a gust of wind blows away your umbrella, a happy-go-lucky child throws sand on you, and the sun drifts behind the clouds! What happened to your "contentment" in that moment? Ummm....honestly....it was no longer the "good life"! The days of good old conversation and peaceful repose with an aging parent turn into helping them make daily decisions, take their showers, and ensuring their safety at every turn. Yep, the 'good life' is kind of missed in those moments, isn't it? There are lots of things that change our 'good life' concept - from sudden gusts of wind to changing needs of those around us. When the 'good life' morphs, are we ready?

Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughou…

So, what's your response?

"Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered." (L. Lionel Kendrick) Very good instruction from Mr. Kendrick, is it not? I think he was not only reminding us of the necessity of correction, but of the equal necessity of kindness and grace in the midst of it!

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

I have a mind that works almost all the time - finding myself awake in the night hours mulling over ideas, creating "fixes" to something that is need of my attention at work or at home, or even working out the solution to a word puzzle that has been 'holding me captive'. I have had friends ask me…

Yes, God knows...

It was Ann Landers who reminded us,"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them." While we are faced with opportunities all day long, how many do we actually 'act upon'? Truth be told, we probably overlook, or miss more than we know we do take some action toward engaging in. We are just not 'tuned into' them as we should be - making it quite easy to overlook them. The moment someone needed that touch of assurance, we were distracted and let it go by. That time a tear was about to escape the corner of a friend's eye, contemplating the loss of a member of their family, and you just were oblivious to their internal pain. We've all been there - seeing, but not really seeing! It is indeed hard work to seize every opportunity - acting upon what we see can even be a little bit uncomfortable for us, or a little awkward at times - but if we don't, who will?

So God has put the body together in such a way that ex…

Rejoice ---- and again ----

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice. (John Calvin) Too often we almost pass by tremendous things of beauty and never even consider they were put there for our enjoyment! I stop to watch the inch worm make his way from one leaf to another. I observe the slowness and tenacity of the small snail in the garden. I notice the fragility of the opening bud on the hibiscus bush knowing full-well it will be short-lived, but cast such a brightness into the garden. I watch as the leaves slowly descend to the ground on a hot summer's day. These were meant for our enjoyment, not just a casual glance now and again!

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be happy today! (Psalm 118:24)
This morning I wish to ask a question: "What have you only casually observed this week?" This is a tough question to answer with all honesty, but I believe it is a necessary one! It could be the very thing you have 'cas…

Hello! It is me again! May I come in?

I remember welcoming my two grandsons into this world, privileged to be at both of their births. The joy was overwhelming, but so was the relief. The relief that my daughter had made it through, that the pain was over, and that she would stabilize her very stressed body. She suffered from high blood pressure, excessive swelling, and lots of health worries just prior to delivering the boys. When we welcome someone, or something that can occur, we are actually expressing a little bit of pleasure in the moment. There will be memories attached to it, but there might also be a little bit of work! Welcoming new life into this world is a lot of work. So is welcoming Jesus into your life! You don't have to 'do the work' of being forgiven for your sins, but you do have a 'lot of work' ahead of you in learning how to make right choices and 'rework' what have become bad patterns or habits in your life! Good news is that we don't do it alone!

It's the word of fa…

Considering Veneers?

There are “friends” who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
There is an optical illusion about every person we meet. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) What is the 'illusion' you are displaying right this very minute? Regardless of how 'genuine' you believe yourself to be, there are just times when you 'put on display' something quite different from what is really going on inside. It is kind of hard to be 'genuine' all the time - especially around those you may not know very well, or trust very deeply. When you do find that individual you feel totally comfortable around, I would challenge you to ask yourself the question about what you still portray as an 'optical illusion', even in that very close relationship. At first, you might just say there is nothing you keep from that individual, but let me ask you if you have ever tried to keep something from God. If the answer is 'yes' to that one, …

So, just spill the beans...

You don't just have a story - you're a story in the making, and you never know what the next chapter's going to be. That's what makes it exciting. (Dan Millman) If every chapter of our lives was opened with the words, "My purpose in writing this chapter in your lives is...", we'd feel a whole lot better about what is going on at the moment! The truth is, we don't know the end from the beginning, so we enter each new chapter of our lives with just a little bit of fear, a tiny bit of doubt, and maybe even an overwhelming amount of both! When we commit our hearts to Christ, believing that Jesus is God's Son, our "end result" will be eternal life in Christ Jesus. This very fact leads us to a place of "boldness" in approaching God with whatever our heart is burdened with - the ability to face the 'next chapter' with a boldness we don't possess on our own.

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God&…

Truth remains truth

I am in the process of some 'refinishing' projects around the yard - simply because the hot Arizona sun dries everything out, making anything wood very dry looking in a rather short order. The raised beds are in need of a good coat of paint. Not exactly the job you want to undertake when it a blazing 100 degrees outside! In the next couple of months, I will watch for one of those days when it is only going to be a 'mild' 100 degrees and undertake the project then. Why do I to do the job without much delay? The more the wood is exposed to the extremes, the more damage it will sustain. Nothing lasts forever, does it? God's love, his grace, and his words - these are everlasting and eternal. My raised flowerbeds are not!

“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever. (Matthew 24:35)
Things today are not as they were yesterday and they won't be the same tomorrow. All of life around us is in a constant state of flux or change. Even the most 'consta…

A little resistance training

It was Emerson who reminded us, "We gain the strength of the temptation we resist." There is much to be said about 'resistance', but the greatest realization we can experience is that when we are resisting, we are allowing the strength of that which we resist to be weakened. We resist the urge to respond in anger and anger's appeal begins to wane. We resist the need to always control and we begin to see there are other opportunities that come to light when another is given a little of that control. Why does resistance actually make us stronger? We are working against a force - strength always comes when we work against a force. We may not realize it, but what we were resisting actually has a diminished strength the next time we resist it. Why? We have grown stronger and the strength it takes to resist again is now less than it was before!

So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Give yourself to the right stuff and…

Inside my skin

"Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too." (Frederick Buechner) 
Whose 'skin' have you been living in this week? I know a good many individuals who never 'get out of' their own skin long enough to realize what it is like living in someone else's skin. Their days are filled with 'me', 'me', 'me' - leaving little room for any other concern a brother or sister may be enduring. It is a truly sad existence to never get out of one's skin! Compassion isn't given any other way. The genuineness of one's caring is really not 'felt' by the other person until the 'compassion connection' is really made.
It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor—what a blessing! (Proverbs 14:21)
The other person…

Let me begin by saying....

What do you talk to Jesus about? I mean, do you do more than shoot up little arrow prayers from time to time when the challenge is a little harder than you might like, or do you actually have conversations with him about the things in life that you know perfectly well need some attention? It is easy to have those superficial conversations with anyone, including God. To have those deeper, more intimate, and sometimes very 'telling' conversations is just a bit harder. Yet, it is in the conversation that truth begins to be revealed - and where truth is revealed there is the potential of a 'mark' being left. Truth leaves something behind every time. It has a way of declaring 'new ground' oftentimes never quite seen before.

Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly ge…

Be careful with those weeds

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I look at my garden at times and wonder where all the weeds come from. It isn't as though I plant those seeds. I don't even encourage them to find their way into my yard, much less take root in my soil. Have you ever stopped to consider the 'value' of a weed? I found out many are edible and you may have actually find you have even eaten some this very week! We probably all know dandelion leaves are edible, but how many of us have gnoshed on them? Watercress grows at the creek bed and was often a delicacy my dad would delight in on a hot summer's day of fishing. Lamb's quarter is a common weed in many gardens and we probably pluck it up, casting it aside in the rubbish bin. Yet, it is purported to have a taste similar to spinach and is even healthier for you! Not all weeds are bad - just as not all people are bad because of their labels!

“God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed …

Not down for long

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Back in the day, Hasbro toy company introduced a simple little toy in the shape similar to an egg referred to as a "Weeble". There were firemen and doctor Weebles - dogs, cats, kids, and other barn animals - families and townsfolk alike. Small villages of these things could keep young children amused for hours. The whole 'draw' for these things was their marketing jingle - Weebles Wobble, but they don't fall down. Sure it would tilt from side to side, but it would 'right' itself rather quickly, making it quite easy for little hands to set up those townsfolk and barn critters. They were created with a very specific way of maintaining equilibrium - gravity causing it to return to an upright position without any real effort. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a center of equilibrium that we always came out 'righted' every time we s…

A little change in direction may be helpful

Mom had a saying when she couldn't find something. She'd say she "put it away so carefully, so as to find it the next time," only to find it was nowhere to be found when she needed it! Have you ever been looking so diligently for something only to find that what you sought with such great earnestness was right there in front of you all the time? When you finally realize that the object of your search was just within your reach, didn't you feel a little silly having spent all that time and energy in the seeking? It's kind of like you just have to say, "Duh! Here it is!" and give yourself a little knock on the head!

Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don't see him; quietly but surely he's active, and I miss it. (Job 9:11)

A process in the business world known as "building shared vision" is usually facilitated by bringing a group of people together for a period of time to tap into what it is that they imagine for the succe…

Let me sit down for a while!

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 
There have been lots of times I hiked on paths just way too hard for my level of conditioning. I don't know why I do it, but somehow I think I will make it. About a third of a way to the destination my body begins to tell me I bit off more than I can chew and in a short while it begs for me to just turn back! When we find ourselves on a path that is hard, maybe even what we might come to recognize as 'too hard' for us, what do we do? Turn back? Rest a while and go on? Creep forward at a snail's pace because we won't be fazed by the torture of moving forward? If you are like me, you rest a bit, then press on. You might find you need frequent rests along the way, but eventually you make it to the destination. Worn out, aching from the exertion, maybe even with a few blisters to show the 'torture' of the climb - but you made it. Making it isn't the…

STOP, just STOP

Ever take time to consider some of the 'four-letter' words you use on a daily basis? Maybe some of them aren't all that 'good' for us to be using, but there are others we may use that we haven't really taken time to consider their meaning. GIVE is a four-letter word that can mean we seek something that we desire to have in our possession to the idea of having some flexibility in a situation. STOP is a powerful four-letter word. There are 39 individual definitions of this one word in the dictionary! Did you have any idea? When we come up to one of these signs on our drive to work this morning, we will obligingly bring the vehicle to a halt, look all four directions, and then take our turn in making the next move we need to make along the way. That is the purpose of the sign! Ignore it and you could find yourself with a dent in your fender, a ticket in your wallet, and more than a little late to work!

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingl…