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How are you dressing these days?

Recently my work environment changed their dress code a bit, lightening up on the restrictions on wearing jeans to work. In fact, the term "dress for you day" really says it all. We are now allowed to come to work in nice jeans - the kind that are free of rips and tears - making it very comfortable to work. It isn't that I really wanted to ditch all my dress clothes, but there are just times when I am doing little more than sitting in front of the computer working on some projects and jeans are quite comfy. I wonder how we are dressing for our day when it comes to our 'spiritual clothing', though? If we were to judge our 'spiritual attire' by the attitude we see exhibited while we are shopping for some 'out of stock' items, or our willingness to make adjustments while we go through crisis of some sort, we might just find we are a little 'under-dressed'. It seems some have forgotten to get dressed at all!

Since you are all set apart by God,…

A crown awaits

What's your trial? What is it you are attempting to bear up under right now? Some will quickly say it is this social distancing thing, limiting their ability to go about the normal day-to-day activities they would other find themselves doing. Others will admit their trial is some form of illness, perhaps even this COVID-19 or flu virus that is circulating. Still others will acknowledge they are under some spiritual trial, not really sure what it is they are under, but knowing they are fully and completely under some form of attack. Regardless of the trial, the expectation is the same - you hold up because God is holding you up.

Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him. (James 1:12)
Holding up begins with us being in right relationship with God. The closer we draw to him, especially 'under pressure', the more we will re…

Find a way

We all probably know someone who has a difficult time making their needs known - either because of advanced age, being just a wee tot, or perhaps suffering from some mental incapacity. Who do you know who cannot speak for themselves? Perhaps an individual comes to mind who is mentally handicapped, clearly not able to make decisions for themselves that consistently reflect safety for their well-being. Perhaps it is an elderly person who no longer is able to get around as they once did, with mental acuity not quite at the same level it once had been. Not to meddle or anything, but maybe it is you! Have you ever seen something more than once, a warning or advisement of sorts, and just gone right on past it? If so, maybe you were exhibiting a little bit of 'mental incapacity' at that moment! You clearly 'received' the warning, but did you really 'receive' it? No, because you did not put it into action. What is received is used. Whenever scripture tells us somethi…

No matter what...

No matter what...  These words create a picture of determination, don't they? When we proclaim them, we are usually acknowledging there will be hurdles in our path that must be tackled and even mountains that must be scaled. We are not willing to allow what stands in our way to impede our progress. When we say we are determined, we are indicating we have made a decision - one we will stand upon 'no matter what'. We are 'firm' in our commitment and are committed to the course, even though it is going to challenge us. In healthcare today, we have to exhibit this kind of determination against all manner of viral, bacterial, or combined attack. It also seems that we must exhibit great determination just to find groceries, necessities, and ways to keep our children busy right now. Regardless of the course ahead of you, determination is called for!

But blessed is the one who trusts in Me alone; the Eternal will be his confidence. He is like a tree planted by water, sendin…

Taste and See - - - You will love it!

I remember when my kids were quite little and they just knew the flavor of breast milk, but they also needed water from time to time. They weren't all that fond of the 'lack of taste' the water had - often turning away from the offered water because it was flavorless and 'not the same' as what they were used to taking in. Over the course of time, they experimented with new 'tastes' as we added in cereals, ground up veggies, and fruits. What happened was that they began to taste and found that what they were offered wasn't all that bad! We started with veggies and worked our way up to fruit. If we'd have started with all the sweet stuff first, they likely would not have developed any appreciation for the other stuff in life that provided ongoing nourishment for their bodies. Sometimes we just need to 'taste and see' in life. We need to know there will always be things that aren't all that appealing to our 'taste', but they may ver…

Let Him Lead

Whether you call it social-distancing, self-quarantine, or deliberate-isolation, it all equates to us spending time away from the ones we may see on a regular basis at work, church, school, or in other social settings. I have observed many getting very creative about how to occupy their time, creating all manner of funny social posts, baking, and even creating fun activities for the kiddos who are bored out of their minds right about now. I also observed some being very creative in sharing their interests, like the online choir that all log in at the same time, practice their song, then create a lovely multi-state, multi-nation choir online! Now that is creative and what an awesome outlet for your talent. Thank you to all who are listening to the advice of our medical leaders across this country and abiding by the social-distancing / self-quarantine practices. You may not ever know how many times your steps were kept from passing through the path of this disease. Our soul may desire t…

Complaint Department Closed - Prayer Department Open

Mom always taught me to treat others as I wanted to be treated myself. If you have seen how some of the grocery store staff are being treated today, you might just realize there are a whole lot of people out there who didn't learn this lesson very well when they were growing up! Complaints, anger, and even disgust at not having enough of this or that on the shelves, as though it were the fault of the cashier, stocker, or even the store manager! Have you ever written a letter of complaint? Perhaps you received less than stellar service, or the product we received just did not live up to your expectations - instantly launching into the "complaint" mode. Our psalm today begins as a letter of complaint. His observation: Things just weren't working out as well as he'd hoped - either for himself or the evil people around him. We all have expectations of how things should work, but does that mean they will always work that way? Not likely!

Whom have I in heaven but y…

Why didn't I see that?

Stop for just a moment to consider a well-worn path - one that has become hardened because of the frequency of the passage over that path. As I hike in national and state parks, I look for the well-worn paths because I know someone has gone down that path enough to have 'carved out' that path. The only problem with always traveling the well-worn path is that sometimes it isn't going to lead you exactly where you'd like to end up. I know that there are hardened paths, well-worn ones, that are the result of sinful choices in my life. These are the ones I'd really not like to continue to travel!

The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name. (Psalm 23:1-3)
Why does a path become 'well-worn'? Isn't it because it has been traversed so many times t…

Swimming against the stream?

The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.  (Woodrow Wilson)
What is the 'stream' you are attempting to navigate right now? Is it more like a raging river about to overflow the banks? Or is it more like a babbling brook? Either way, there is still a 'current' to your day. The 'stream' you are navigating doesn't have to have a strong current to make it hard to maintain 'stability' in the midst of it. Right now your 'stream' might be 'sheltering in place' with a house full of kids, spouse, and even an elderly parent. You are attempting this 'work from home' thing and your patience is being tried by the slowness of your internet connection, or the lag VPN can have. Whatever your stream - it has a current - but you don't have to be carried away by it!
I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; …

Overturned Tombstones

Some of the hardest prayers we can pray - almost to the point of being dangerous and downright uncomfortable - are those kind of prayers that give God permission to do something IN us or WITH us. Those words that tell God we are yielding ourselves into his hands are all it takes to set in motion things within our lives we had no idea would happen. These are indeed 'dangerous prayers' to speak forth because they will open or shut doors, challenge relationships to grow, and create a desire within us that is unquenchable. Whenever we ask God to dig deeper into our lives it is usually we are desiring to dig deeper into relationship with him!

Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Examine me to see if there is an evil bone in me, and guide me down Your path forever. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Don't pray these words if you don't mean them - if you aren't willing to have your world rocked. Th…

Embraced and Given - Not Plug and Play

If you have ever had to install a new electronic device, like a modem, router, new laptop, or even a new cell phone, you know how totally frustrating this can be when you cannot figure something out that seems so simple in the diagram. I should not be amazed 'plug and play' smart technology becomes a little less smart in my hands on occasion, but I am always amazed at how easy it was once I figure it out! Each of us has struggled with stuff that should have been as easy as 'plug and play' in life, but it just wasn't. There is an "app" for everything these days, so why isn't there one for 'how to do this the simplest way'? The "little things" like being agreeable, being sympathetic, acting in a loving manner, exercising compassion, and living in a truly humble manner aren't ever going to come to us in 'app form' or in that 'plug and play' kind of moment! They are the "little things" that give us so much …

Huh, so that's it!

There is a pretty familiar question that we might all hear from time to time this week, if not everyday: "Are you serious?" Whenever someone poses this question, they may not really be seeking the truth about your level of trustworthiness, or even your ultimate desire to commit to something. In fact, they might just be saying this to exclaim some message of surprise - like they could not possibly imagine what we just did or said as even remotely possible! There is another saying: "Let's get serious now." This one is often spoken as a word or two of admonishment designed to get us focused (and often to get us refocused) on what is at hand. These aren't words spoken to just hear ourselves speak - they are spoken because there is some need to make a course correction - to get back to what we should be doing.

Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from wh…

Are you influential?

Andrew Young reminds us, "We rise in glory as we sink in pride." He also reminds us, "Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you've got." Two seemingly different statements, but there is something that is consistent in both - WE are not to be at the center. Pride may not be what we label our sense of 'importance', or our desire to be 'noticed', but pride is a result of us being a little bit too close to the 'center' in our lives instead of Jesus. Influence is something we might desire to have in life, so those around us are positively affected by whatever it is we say and do. If the reason we desire influence is so that others will take notice of something we have done, pride may be just a little too closely related to what we believe to make us 'influential' in life. The greatest 'influence' comes not in us being noticed, but Christ being noticed IN us.

When you heard that Good News, you belie…

Is there any end to it?

I can remember saying, "When I grow up, I will NEVER have to do this again!" All these years later, I don't know how many times I found myself complaining about something that needed to be done, but I still have to clean the toilet, pick weeds, and wipe down sticky cabinet shelves. I struggled back then with the "desire" to do what needed to be done because everything inside of me was saying, "I don't wanna!" It was one of those "I'm sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside!" moments. Did growing up really change much? Nope! I just came to realize toilets aren't automatic cleaning, weeds keep growing, and if you have any food in your cabinets at all, there will be messes.

Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish, picking and choosing their gods. But we live honoring God, and we're loyal to our God forever and ever. (Micah 4:5 The Message)

We do an injustice to the holiness of God and the abs…

Congregate vs. Segregate

I know there is a Supreme Being who rules the affairs of men and whose goodness and mercy have always followed the American people, and I know He will not turn from us now if we humbly and reverently seek His powerful aid. (Grover Cleveland)

Who rules your heart at this moment in time? If you quickly respond, "Why, God, of course!", then you are among the many who believe they are motivated and governed by the one who made all things. Yet, I have to ask you again to consider for just a moment who it is who really is ruling your heart at this very moment. Chances are you might just say it is this god we refer to as 'fear', or perhaps that other god of 'greed'. A few days back I wrote of a man who traveled hundreds of miles buying up every hand sanitizer he could find on the shelves, all with the intent of selling them on what has become today's 'black market' - online! To his extreme disappointment, he was not able to 'offload' what his gre…

We don't cross alone

Salty snacks - do you consume them from time to time? I do, but I probably shouldn't. Whenever I consume them I usually end up drinking a lot of water - because they make me very, very thirsty. In the end, they leave me thirsty for a long time, not just while I am taking them in or because I chugged a few glasses of water along with them. Our bodies simply cannot process all the sodium in the salty treats without a whole lot of water. In fact, whenever we find ourselves in the midst of the "excesses" of life, we often crave what we most need to help us deal with the excess.

God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. (Psalm 63:1)

God made us in such a way that we crave what we most need to deal with what we find ourselves enduring! Sometimes we are "enduring" stuff because of our own doing - like when I eat a huge bowl of Cheez-its or other salty snack. The …

Do you say the right thing?

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)
True confessions here today - I don't always say the right things! Words escape my lips that would have best been left unsaid. What's worse is that I know there are times when I should just stay silent and someone goads me into speaking and then I let it all out! The truth of the matter is that whenever there is less thought behind the words and more emotion, they don't always come out in the best manner or with the most gracious of intent!
Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Do you always say words that build others up? I have been around individuals that seem to always be …

A little wisdom in dark times

Just read a post from one of my friends about a couple who drove 1700 miles to pick up all the hand sanitizer available in every store he came across and now cannot sell it as he thought he could online! I am sorry, but I have to say that this idea of theirs was awfully stupid! I know they think people will become desperate and want this stuff, but honestly this is just one of the selfish and foolish things I have heard repeated lately with all this hype about Coronovirus. There have been lots of times when I hear people almost bragging about their escapades, but to brag about hoarding to deny others a chance to remain well hydrated, fed, or sanitized is just not something to brag about. Most of these 'hoarders' appear to have a sense of pride with acknowledging their folly! I am not one to "parade" my folly in public, but I went into a store for the first time in a long time and was amazed at how many people were acting like doomsday was coming. What warmed my heart…

Not always virtuous

If you have ever wondered about how to have an effective relationship with anyone, you know you have to get to know the individual a bit before you can truly 'figure out' what it is you each 'bring' into the relationship and what it is you 'offer' to each other. For example, if I think about my BFF, I know she brings an ability to tell it like it is - she doesn't pull her punches and I appreciate this about her. When I need to hear truth - she hits me with it. When I need her to hold me accountable - she reminds me of my commitment. When I find myself getting a little too 'bent' in one direction - she helps me laugh and put that stuff aside for a while so I can get refocused. These are just a few of the myriad of ways she 'brings' and 'offers' something into the relationship. When it comes to our relationship with God, what do you suppose we 'bring' and 'offer' within it? You might just be surprised to find that we &#…

Be at peace

So many today are exhibiting some 'social behavior' that is contrary to what I'd have to call 'trust'. Look at the shelves in your local grocer and you will find it is almost impossible to buy even the 'thin and cheap' kind of toilet paper! The hoarding of toilet paper is very real thing - if you don't believe me, look on Amazon right now to see how many brands are sold out with a 30 day 'expected delivery' date on them! The panic is real - somehow making it impossible to purchase basic necessities - but creating havoc for those who might actually have trusted there would be cold medicine on the shelf when they awoke feeling a little punk this morning! Workplaces are shutting down, meetings are being cancelled, and you know there must be significant panic if the national and professional sporting events all cancel their season! God has a message for those who are panic-driven: "Be still, listen, and trust in me. I am your shield, your prote…

Ah...except this, there would be that

Except - do we ever stop to really consider what that words means in terms of how we live our life, what happens to us 'in' our life, or what will come out of our life in the end? In some cases, we use 'except' to mean barring any unforeseen circumstances something else will happen in our lives. We also use it to say we are rejecting something from our lives or choices, such as when we say we will eat everything our plate except the broccoli. Short of this happening, we will expect to have this happen - except is a big word with a lot of potential consequences in our lives!
God’s way is perfect. The Lord’s promise always proves to be true. He protects those who trust in him. There is no God except the Lord. There is no Rock except our God. God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take. He makes my feet as steady as those of a deer.
Even on steep mountains he keeps me from falling. He trains me for war so that my arms can bend the most powerfu…

Not always eye-to-eye

I know that my intentions are not always in alignment with God's intentions for my life. Whenever the intentions of my heart are not the same as his, I find I can get into a funk for a while as I try to figure things our in my life. The things God is doing may not be the things I believe he should be doing in my life. His timing may be totally out of the timeline I had in the way I thought things should go. His choice of resources he uses as 'tools' to accomplish his purpose in my life are most often not the ones I would have thought I'd need to have used in my life, but if I were honest here, his ways are not always mine!

Eternal One: My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God does not go about things as we do - plain and simple. His ways are most often different than we could ever imagine in our finite minds - bec…

Is this the on-ramp?

Henry Ward Beecher reminds us, "We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started." A thing we often forget is that every journey requires a starting point. We sometimes get all caught up in the journey and forget from whence we came. We see the 'finish line', but completely disregard we had to cross the 'starting line' to even be on our way to the 'finish'. 
But He knows the course I have traveled. And I believe that were He to prove me, I would come out purer than gold from the fire. My foot has been securely set in His tracks; I have kept to His course of life without swerving; I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have valued everything He says more than all else. (Job 23:10-12)

I have not always traveled in a straight course - veering on occasion into places where complacency take me without even noticing. I have resumed my course on occasion without mu…

So...what fulfills you?

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (C.S. Lewis)
Did you ever stop to consider where you find your greatest discontent may also reveal to you where it is you will find your greatest contentment? If we are so disillusioned with our present world, I wonder if it is because we are desiring another world more? Is that a bad thing? Only if that 'other world' is one that leads us down a pathway away from God! If it is a pathway that draws us nearer to him, then it is not a bad thing at all! In fact, God's hope is that we will keep our attention clearly fixed on the hope of a future with him, while living effectively in this world by living in the present with him at the helm of our lives.
Belief begins in the heart and leads to a life that’s right with God; confession departs from our lips and brings eternal salvation. Because what Isaiah said was true: “The one who trust…

I did it again!

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. (C.S. Lewis)
If you have ever tried to read trail signs on some forest trail, or around some preserve land, you may have noticed that it is kind of like an art you must master. Certain symbols mean that the path will go straight, increase your climb, maneuver through harder territory, or even turn you toward a new destination. Those markers are there for a reason - to help you find your way. Have you ever been off-course so badly you totally missed a few of those signs? I have! In fact, I have blazed new trails where no one seems to have gone before! I don't just mean the paths in the forest, my friends, because I have blazed paths into relationship faux-pas where none have gone, cut trail through 'new idea' territory that didn't end so well, and stumbled through some character choice pathways that some would never even consider traversing! What did I learn from…

A noodle lesson

It was Voltaire who reminded us, "Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time," but I'd have to say that perfection requires more than the hand of time. It requires the hand of God in our lives. Voltaire was right in his supposition that perfection is something that is attained in very slow progress at times, quicker at others. It is in the passage of time that we begin to see things change. I made macaroni and cheese last night, something I don't treat myself to very often, but I just had a hankering for it. If you have cooked pasta, you know that it requires the water to boil a while in order to soften the hard outer shell of the noodle, then in time the inner portion becomes affected by the heated water. If you leave it too long, you get mush. It is somewhere slightly between 'hard inside' and 'mush' that you reach 'perfection' with the noodle. If you want the best texture and taste to your pasta, you watch and wait…