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Showing posts from October, 2019

Junk it!

Most of us don't think of ourselves as 'idol worshipers', but in reality, we likely have a few we have placed on a pedestal. Lest you think I am suggesting they are the little Buddha dolls, patron saint figurines, or other religious paraphernalia we keep laying around, I am not. Idols are things we elevate to some place of adoration in our lives - even our own ego! The things we hold onto soon have a hold on us, so we might do well to do a little 'inventory' of what we have 'lifted up' in our lives. Even things from our past can be 'idols' we have held onto. What "dead idols" from our past do we need to finally let go of? I think if we look hard enough, we will probably find a few lurking in the back of the recesses of our minds!

Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over th…

Is this for real?

Whoever said we could walk through this life without worries, difficulties, or unresolved issues was probably not a well person! Choosing to serve Christ does not elevate an individual above the ebbs and flows of life. In fact, it almost guarantees a few more hurdles! If we really are living for Christ, we will face challenging people, circumstances, and moments of potential compromise which we may not have encountered otherwise. Worries are still going to come, simply because we all have a tendency to want to 'hold everything together' ourselves. We just don't get used to turning things over to God quickly, bearing much more weight upon our shoulders than we really need to bear.

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the tro…

More than just a nice feeling

Winston Churchill once said, "Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning." C.S. Lewis echoed his words when he penned, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." I used to have a pastor who always said you needed to stand for something or you'd stand for nothing. Some refer to this as 'steel-strong' convictions. Steel in your convictions - what does this mean?

It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. (I Thessalonians 1:3-5)

God's hand is on us for something special. We serve a God who is not only supernatural, but he actually influences us to move beyond the natural into the abundance of all he is! Our holy and mighty God wants us to live in the abundance he knows! It…

What are you doing with today?

The preparation of today makes us ready for tomorrow. Without the work of today, the events of today won't matter when tomorrow comes. When others look at our life, do they see evidence of our faith? Do they see us laboring in love, or resisting every move we make? Do they see us patient in our waiting, or chafing in anticipation, hating the wait and disgruntled by not getting our way? Many of us can claim to be believers, but do our lives indicate we live like believers? Three things that are just not arbitrary in our live are faith, the labors of love, and the patience we exhibit toward each other (and ourselves). In fact, these things speak volumes about the work which has begun in our lives - a work God is going to finish, no matter how hard it may appear to us!

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, befor…

Greeted by Grace

God's amazing grace and his robust peace go hand-in-hand. The peace of God is really not totally understood, or experienced, until one has an encounter with the amazing grace of God. Grace is like a pathway to peace - know grace and you will know peace. Don't ever think peace means the absence of anything disturbing, though. We will still find many a 'disturbance' in our lifetime, but we don't have to face those disturbances without absolute and lasting peace. We will 'rest' even though the demands are great. We will 'abide' even when the pressures try to move us out of that zone of peace. Peace isn't a place, or even an 'achieved ascendance' - it is a person - Christ. Know Christ, live in him and walk close to him, and you will know peace.

I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God's amazing grace be with yo…

So, that's what you are doing!

I really don't like books that are a 'slow start' when you get into them - those books that just don't grab you very well to begin with - kind of hard to get into and just poking around at all kind of details that don't really need to be shared. I love to read - my favorite venue being mystery novels that keep me enthralled until the very end. I like the suspense of seeing the plot unfold until you discover the "who done it"! By definition, a mystery is anything (or anyone) which presents features or qualities so obscure that they are going to arouse our curiosity. The "fun" comes in unraveling the obscure features - no matter how 'buried' they may be. I think God likes mysteries, often unveiling a little tidbit of something we need to know and then getting us ready to receive the next!

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 Go…

Every bit counts

We have times in life when we just feel like the harder we try, the farther behind we manage to get - like we are chasing our tail the entire way. In looking forward, we see only those things and others who are out ahead of us. It comes as no surprise when someone even begins to describe their impression of God being somewhere, anywhere, but not in the moment of their need - because their 'moment of need' is so far away from where they are right now. We had the need a whole lot earlier than 'now', but we just finally realized we actually needed him! The trial gets hard and we often think we have lost touch with the very one who has the ability to help us get through it all. Listen to these words:

Long enough, God— you've ignored me long enough. I've looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I've carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me. Take a good lo…

No need to bluff

There are times when we feel like no one is "in charge" - not even us - when the moments just seem to tick on and all the chaos of the moment have us bumping into all kinds of obstacles. We all face these times - the times when life deals us a hand we just would rather not play, not even a little bit! When "dealt our hand", we can either throw it in, ante up and play, or bluff our way through. Which way are you facing what life deals you today? If you are bluffing your way through, you are likely frustrated, seeing things as very difficult to deal with, but imagining you will get through somehow. If today's plans don't work, you will try something different tomorrow. The problem with living 'out of control' is that we soon get weary trying to maintain balance with the skill and power we possess. Our attitude begins to falter and we all know the attitude soon begins to impact the altitude to which we will ever be able to climb!

The day my enemies …

Not listening to your threats

As pressures mount in life, we have two choices - either we embrace them head-on, or we run in fear as far away from them as possible. I suppose there may be a third choice - we could just be paralyzed in our fear, neither moving nor being moved. Many will venture into the "thick" of the unknown - facing the mounting pressures without timidity - sometimes merely looking for an adrenal rush of sorts. Others will venture in, but with a much more timid, almost respectful apprehension of the unknown - movements calculated and determined, but based in fear nonetheless. The others who remain will just stay where they are and hope for the best - cringing in fear and unwanted anxiety. What the last group needs is to be grabbed by God - not to drag them in, but to encourage them he has them in his arms the whole while!

God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said: "Don't be like this people, always afraid so…

Stop looking - you already have it

I know I begin a lot of things thinking the project won't be all that hard, then smack-dab in the middle I discover just how hard it is! The things I thought I'd just sail on through are usually the ones I find a few hiccups along the way that delay my completing them! Sometimes we have a tendency to want to just give up. We start out well, but then we "peter out" somewhere down the road. There are times in life when we need a "pace setter" to keep us on track - someone to help us regroup when the hiccups come and we find things harder than we imagined. In moments of frustration, disillusionment, or anxiety, we need the steadiness and vision of one who sees more of the picture than we do. It is refreshing to know we have such a "pace setter" in our lives - God himself! It also amazes me just how many times we allow other people or other things to set the pace in our lives!

Just think—you don't need a thing, you've got it all! All God…

Will this stand up under investigation?

Okay, it is no secret - I like watching those shows that feature detectives solving some murder case, or finding robbers gone wild. I like to put together the pieces as they unfold on the screen, following along with the plot, and trying to think one step ahead past the commercial to 'solve' the next clue in the case. No matter what show I watch, the basis of the conviction of the criminal is all based on the evidence gathered. If it is flimsy at best, the conviction will not stand. It needs to be 'rock solid' if it is to stand up under the scrutiny of a judge's review. I wonder what evidence Christ has verified in each of our lives - is it really apparent, so all can see? Will it stand up under scrutiny? Will we be able to reveal a life-change has occurred? If not, perhaps we might want to consider how evidence is actually revealed and what purpose evidence fulfills!

Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open …

Finished Furnishings

Are you a giver or a maker? Is it possible to be both? Consider the difference between "giving" and "making". We can say, "I give you this item", or we can say, "I will make you take this item". Each carries a little bit of a different meaning. One implies an extension of one's self (making), the other the placing of something into one's care or use (giving). Yet, when we look at this in the terms of a great Creator "making" his people strong and "giving" his people peace, both words take on a different meaning!

God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace. (Psalm 29:11)

God "makes" his people strong - he brings about strength. It is in the movement and arranging of the various elements of our lives that strength is understood. In the times of the most significant weakness on our part, he comes through with the arranging of all things in such a manner so as to produce the ability to stand in …

My God

Ever hit bottom and find yourself recognizing the extreme depth of the pit that seems inescapable, all while life continues to demand more and more of you and the pit seems to get deeper and deeper? I think all of us have experienced being overwhelmed in some "pit" at one time or another. The impact of the "pit" is determined by the perception we maintain while we are IN the pit. We can continue to look down - seeing only the darkness of the lowest point. We can look outward - seeing only the closeness of the walls surrounding us, seemingly holding us in a position of bondage. Or...we can (and should) look up, taking notice of the glimmer of light breaking in the distance, and take hope!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God. (Psalm 43:5)

While David penned these words a long time ago, they continue to have awesome value for us t…

Cuz....

Because - what does this word really mean? There were times as a parent when my kids were just asking me all those 'why' questions and all I wanted to do was respond with a resounding, "Because"! You know what came next don't you - "Because why, mommy"!!! "Because I said so" was not always the right answer, but I heard it come out of my mouth on occasion! "Because God says so" is a different story, though. He 'says stuff' that makes things come to life - even the words that seem to 'limit' us mean so much because they keep us safely in a place where life can flourish. Because of the Cross...these words speak volumes. Have you ever stopped long enough to really take an inventory of the many things the Cross of Christ has changed in your life? When you do, you will find the list starts out with really "big" stuff - when you think a little longer, you will find the list begins to encompass some of the things …