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Showing posts from January, 2020

Do you keep your options open?

I have been guilty of being more than a little mamby-pamby in my prayers at times. I sort of, kind of, might of asked for this or that, but what I really needed and wanted to ask for was something totally different! Why do we find ourselves being wishy-washy in our prayers? It might just be that God is waiting for us to get totally forthright with him before he gets forthright with the answer we so desperately need!
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. (James 1:5MSG)

God doesn't delight in us not knowing what steps to take next. He doesn't like to keep us in limbo, jostling for this or that, hoping for the best. In fact, he wants to bring clarity,…

Bargain or not

Do you barter with people? When I visited Nogales, Mexico, the advice I received from others who had visited there before me was that I should never pay full price for what a vendor is asking when I wanted to purchase something. I was to 'barter with them' until I felt a fair price was met. For example, I wanted this blanket marked at however many Pesos and I was supposed to say what I was willing to pay for it. Usually the vendor would meet my request with great resistance and shake his head vigorously that he was opposed to such an offer. Part of the 'bartering' was that I was to walk away as though I were no longer interested. If you have ever done this, you know they follow you asking you offering you some reduced rate, but still not what you desired to pay. If all goes well, you will 'wear them down' to a reasonable price you both can agree upon. In turn, you walk home with the blanket, feeling very good about the 'bargain' you just found. Truth b…

Let 'em stumble a bit

Some of us are parents - all of us came from parents. In the end, most parents want to know their kids will turn out 'okay' and be able to make it on their own. As parents, we have big dreams for our kiddos - some will be just barely realized and others will blossom way beyond our imagining. Either way, our kiddos will become their 'own selves' in the course of time and we see them launch into their lives of independence way sooner than we imagined. When they are growing up, there are tidbits of information we put into their lives - things we want them to know so they will grow up physically strong, emotionally secure, and spiritually in touch with their Lord, Jesus Christ. We pray for the best, hope for them to do well, pouring into their lives all we know how to give. In the end, the results are all up to God and them!

"And you, Solomon my son, get to know well your father's God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for God examines every heart and se…

Warrior Strong

From 1980 until 2001, the U.S. Army slogan was "Be All You Can Be" and the rest of it was "in the Army". It has morphed from "Army of One", "Army Strong", into the present "What's Your Warrior?", with each lasting a few or more years in various recruiting campaigns. I kind of like the present one, but the "Be All You Can Be" one really speaks of what God desires of his 'army' of believers - he wants us to be mature and complete, becoming all he intends for us to be - not as an Army of One, but as Warriors in his army of billions upon billions.
My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. (James 1:2-4 ERV)

Warriors become strong not in…

Blessed in Blessing

Ever watch a dog chase his own tail? The dog goes round and round in circles, chasing that silly tail, all the while never catching what is right there in front of his view. We chase after a lot of things in life - not all of them are really worth chasing. Sometimes we chase stuff that really only serves to bring us grief and disappointment. This chasing is a part of a much deeper issue, though. We lack satisfaction or contentment and therefore, we are chasing after the wind. Contentment is a state of being "at ease" in our mind, soul, and spirit. We don't need activity because we are at rest - we don't 'chase' for the sake of movement, we seek with a purpose. Sometimes ceasing is the best remedy to chasing! Satisfaction really is a sense of being grateful - fulfilled in what we have and who we are.

Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. (I Corinthians 14:1 MSG)

Pursue the rig…

My steps matter

We've talked about this before, but it bears repeating: God doesn't tempt us! We WILL have temptation in life, but it doesn't come from God. He knows what we CAN and WILL bear - he will not allow us to encounter any temptation we don't have a way of ESCAPE from if we will trust him to help us escape! When we fail to resist temptation, that is ALL on us - we didn't turn to him for his help in the moment where we found ourselves going from 'zero to sixty' in a blink of the eye toward that temptation. When we turn to him for help, he is right there with the help.
The only temptations that you have are the same temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13ERV
Some of us might think God should just remove the temptation - because we are Christians and he wants …

Some nasty stains here

We ALL make wrong choices. We ALL handle them in one way or another. Some of us have figured out we cannot 'handle' them all by ourselves. Do you ever feel like your "wrong choices" are just staring you in the face all the time? You try to move on, but they just keep "getting in your grill". No amount of "soaking" in our pity seems to take the stain of those choices away, does it? There seems to be no escape, no matter how much we think we are 'dealing with' them. We need God's help if we are to ever be really free of our wrong choices - we will just keep repeating the pattern we have established until we get his help!

Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down. (Psalm 51:1-3)

We need God to "wipe out" our bad record, don't we? When we think of the term "wipe out", we a…

Oil and Water Don't Mix

Opposing sides - the one is against the other - kind of like oil and water. Mix oil and water - is it possible to get oil 'into' water? Two very distinct 'layers' will eventually form no matter how hard you try to mix the two - they are opposed to each other. Scientifically speaking, molecules of oil are bigger than water and therefore they don't mix into the water - they stay as oil, not taking on the water molecule. Sin is kind of like a big molecule of oil in our lives - it can sit there a long, long time, trying to get 'mixed up' in our life of righteousness (water), but these two 'molecules' don't mix! They will always be opposed to each other.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antit…

Huh, I chose this?

Most of us realize it is one thing to "know" something - quite another to "do" it. I know how to eat well - to choose the right things to eat continually is a very real struggle, though! We know rewards of eating right always outweigh the short-lived enjoyment of the wrong choices, but we have cravings that demand to be fed. So, why do we act surprised when we get on the scale and see a few extra pounds? We made the choices - now we see the consequences. We need to recognize that both the knowledge and the action must make a connection within us in order to get the results we desire. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn and to put into practice in our lives, is it not?

Keep and live out the entire commandment that I'm commanding you today so that you'll live and prosper and enter and own the land that God promised to your ancestors. Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testin…

How big is your family?

I have friends who come from very large families, with siblings at every turn of the corner, sometimes nearing a dozen or more! I cannot imagine a household filled to the brim like that because I pretty much was raised as an only child. Born the last of three, but with 10 years difference between my sister and I, by the time they were graduating high school I was just barely in elementary! The remaining years left me still as the third child, but really as the 'only' since they had already flown the nest. In reality, we are an 'only child' in God's eyes - attention dedicated to our 'upbringing' as though there were no other kids in the family. Yet, we are one of so many more than we ever could count! We just don't all have the same last name, look alike, sport similar hair colors, or merely resemble each other by the shade of our skin. We are indeed many, yet one.

If we say we love God but hate any of our brothers or sisters in his family, we are liars. …

What'd ya say?

There are not a lot of people in my life that I have to 'speak for', but when I was raising my kids, I had to be their 'voice' to advocate for their needs because they were too young to do so. I had to tell the doctor's what they were experiencing, remind the teachers how they were struggling with some subjects, and even as a voice between the two of them when emotions were stronger than their words could ever be. Now that they are adults, they speak for themselves. As you can imagine, there are vulnerable adults in this world who need this type of advocate to 'speak for' them when their needs are not easily known. Ever stop to think who you are asked to 'speak for' in this world? If you don't think you have anyone don't overlook the importance of being asked to be the one who 'speaks for' Christ in this world.
I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty for the…

A whole new wardrobe

My first week in the military was kind of interesting. Arriving at Fort Jackson on a chartered bus that had picked up a whole bunch of us in the wee hours of the morning on that October day in 1976, the 'unknown' caused all of us more than a little trepidation. As we unloaded our suitcases and gathered around it became clear this would be a life-changing venture! In rather short order, the orders were being barked out to divide each of us into groups and then serving to usher us off to our temporary housing. The dawn came way too early and those jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts were all exchanged for olive drab shirts, socks, caps, and pants, white undershirts, and black boots. All the same, no one standing out any longer as unique. Those clothes we brought along for the journey were all taken from us, locked away until our final day at boot camp, never to be worn again until we were officially finished 'becoming soldiers'. Why did they insist on clothing us with the…

Am I in trouble?

Gonna meddle a little here this morning. Do you ever get into trouble? I mean the kind where you just aren't really sure there is any way out of it - the trouble you make or that is made by those you associate with that is just about to bury you alive. The truth is that most of the time we make our own trouble - we don't need the help of others to really do a good job at finding and meddling around with trouble. Trouble isn't a thing - it is a set of actions that lead to a result we probably will find a little undesirable. I joke from time to time that I am 'making trouble' when someone asks me what I am up to, but if I were honest here, the times when I am really 'making trouble' in my life are not a joking matter!
I was in trouble, so I called to the Lord for help. The Lord answered and made me free. The Lord is with me, so I will not be afraid. No one on earth can do anything to harm me. (Psalm 118:5-6ERV)
As kids, we'd ask our friends if they got &…

Evolve

When we use the word "because" in a sentence, what does it mean? In the most literal sense, it carries the idea of a condition being met. For example, I could not eat another bite BECAUSE my stomach was so full carries the condition of a 'full stomach' prohibiting anymore intake at the meal. The 'condition' was met, therefore the intake had to stop. There are a whole lot of 'conditions' met in life that result in something happening or not happening, right? In our lives, we sometimes think these 'conditions' are not met, so we use the BECAUSE to explain the 'why' behind our inability to 'measure up to' or 'meet' the condition. Truth be told, we use the BECAUSE statement way to often to excuse our stubbornness or pride and not enough to describe what God has and is doing within us!
Be holy in everything you do, just as God is holy. He is the one who chose you. In the Scriptures God says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1…

It is obvious, isn't it?

At times, the most obvious thing seems to be the most elusive for us to grasp, huh? We think we can easily grasp something, but it seems to be harder than we imagined. We believe understand something fully only to find we don't really get it at all. Did you also realize that an older meaning of the word "obvious" is that thing that stands in your way? Sometimes the most 'obvious' things are the things that actually become the things that form some kind of obstacle for us. 
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." (Matthew 6:19-21MSG)
There are those who report every obstacle is just a way to develop our abilities to achieve or overcome, but there are others who look at an obstacle and see their i…

Adulting 101

Truth be told, many of us don't ever want to 'grow up' - we want to live as 'children' our whole lives. It may be the result of thinking it will be a whole lot easier to just go through life naive, but that vantage point can get us into a whole lot of trouble. It might actually be a little selfishness on our part, no wanting to actually do the 'work' of growing up because it will mean we have to stop doing some things and start doing others. Regardless of the reason behind our 'foot dragging' as we approach our growth in a spiritual sense, the fact remains that we cannot continue as children forever! We need to grow up - putting into practice over and over again the things we have learned until they become second-nature to us. Today they have coined that term "adulting' - maybe what we should admit we haven't accomplished the true consistency we need in the tasks we consider to be 'mundane' in our spiritual walk. If we want to g…

A little lesson in electricity

Yesterday I spoke a little about 'pre-planning' for temptation. I touched on the idea of the 'planning' of our response to temptation when it comes because it WILL come and we need to be prepared. Minds are a powerful thing, but most of the time we use our minds for things that only defeat us, pull us down, or keep us twisted and conflicted. The mind has to be prepared for service - it has to be prepared for obedience. These things don't come naturally to us - they are conscious choices. The unconscious mind is a powerful thing - doing things by 'memory' that we don't even know we are doing. If you have ever been a nail-biter, did you consciously say, "Now is a good time to bite my nails. I think I will give it a go right here and now"? Most likely you were engaged in some other thing and in a moment of conscious awareness you noticed you were chomping on those stubs! We cannot rely upon the unconscious for obedient choices - these come more …

Planning for Temptation

Leonardo da Vinci reminds us, "It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end." Thinking on that one for a moment, we all probably could benefit from keeping that in mind because most of us try to resist closer to the end than at the beginning of the temptation. We go to the store hungry - then wonder why we are tempted to buy all the things we aren't supposed to be snacking on if we are to maintain our healthy lifestyle. Now, if we had planned a little better, having a nice breakfast before we head out to do the shopping, we are likely going to stick closer to the shopping list and avoid those unhealthy choices! Why? We resisted by planning on the temptation to be there!

So give yourselves to God. Stand against the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. You are sinners, so clean sin out of your lives. You are trying to follow God and the world at the same time. Make your thinking pure. Be sad, be sorry, and cry! …

Bless me, bless me, bless me

Sometimes it is hard looking at our friends, seeing them move into gorgeous new homes, driving swanky new cars, or jetting off to far away places on vacation after vacation. We get a little envious at times, don't we? We'd like a new home - ours is good, but it doesn't have all the features their new ones offers. We wish our cars ran as smoothly with less visits to the mechanic shop, but they still get us places we need to be. We have desires to explore islands afar, but a simple tent in the woods is all our budget will allow at present. Yet, when we stop to think on this just a little, we might just remember how truly blessed we are in this life - all because of the extravagant generosity of God!

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him s…

Move on

It has been a while since I have been able to break free from the day-to-day caregiving of an elderly parent, so I am a little overdue for some fishing! The great outdoors always beckon to me because I love to be out in nature. I enjoy the moments of listening to the gentle breezes bristling the tree leaves and the gentle movement of the stream's waters. I like to observe the curiosity of the birds as they explore the forest floor and the gentleness of the deer grazing in the open meadow. There is just something about being able to 'break free' for a while that helps to renew a mind and body. While some will choose to laze around the lake, taking in nature in all its beauty, others will head for a few days with far away relatives and friends, renewing the bonds and memories which the miles have imposed in their separation. Yet, others will clamor for the long lines of the amusement parks and the intense thrill of riding the latest rides. Whatever the location, the purpos…

The School of Grace

The way we should live is determined not so much by the circumstances we face, but by the decisions we make ahead of time! When God's grace enters our lives, the choices we begin to make change - sometimes quite dramatically. Grace has a way of not only 'cleaning up' one's life, but it has a way of 'keeping us washed' as we go through each day. Grace teaches us to live - not by the seat of our pants, but with purposeful steps taken consistently toward wise choices. Devotion to God isn't revealed in entering a monastery or convent. It is revealed in choosing to no longer live 'against' God - making choices that reflect our desire to live 'with' God.

That is the way we should live, because God’s grace has come. That grace can save everyone. It teaches us not to live against God and not to do the bad things the world wants to do. It teaches us to live on earth now in a wise and right way—a way that shows true devotion to God. (Titus 2:11-12ERV)

Did that just happen?

Short - how would you define it? Some might propose it means something is of little length or stature, while others may say something is about to pass very quickly. Have you ever read a 'short story'? It may have been a couple pages in a magazine, but if it actually made it to print as a book, it means the book is about half the size of a regular book! Short is a 'measurement' term and we go through life doing all manner of 'measurement'. There is a term used in woodworking that I like - measure twice, cut once. Heaven knows the times I have even managed to mess this one up! Measured twice and still cut wrong! How does that happen? Maybe because it was because of poor planning, or perhaps it was because I didn't listen and tried to take a short-cut that I really knew wouldn't work out very well in the end. We all do this at times - not paying close attention to the things in life we actually should 'measure'!

Teach us how short our lives are so t…

In 1492, Columbus sailed the oceans blue....

I can remember studying the discovery of the Americas by one very bold 'pioneer' of sorts - his name was Christopher Columbus. He was an Italian explorer of his day who made four trips across the Atlantic, with the most notable being the one where he sailed the oceans blue in 1492. His attempt to sail a direct route from Europe to Asia never really materialized as he expected, coming across the Americas instead. It was his 'discovery' of these Americas, already populated with various native inhabitants that gave him notoriety in his 'explorer' circles. He was credited for having found a 'new world' - complete with all the vast treasures it would hold for those willing to strike out to colonize these distant lands. Did you realize the purpose of exploration in those days was really to 'discover' and to 'colonize'? Did you ever stop to consider that the reason we 'discover' truths from the Word of God is so they can 'colonize&…

I am feeling rather 'dry' right now

If you have ever felt like your life is 'dry ground', you are not alone. There are seasons we all go through that feel a little 'dryer' than we'd like. It seems as though there is nothing getting through to God and he is not getting through to us. Dryness could have a few causes, but in general it is just part of life. Yes, compromise and sin can create a dryness, but if you think of the variation in the seasons of nature, you observe there are times when it is just going to be 'dry' - a season where growth appears to be stunted and a little less likely to occur. If we are truthful in our observations of these dry seasons in our lives, we'd likely admit there is much happening just beneath the surface, getting us ready for the next 'growth spurt' we are likely to experience.

The Lord is making roads through the sea. He is making a path for his people, even through rough waters. The Lord says, So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don…

Not chiseled in stone

Back in caveman days, the hammer and chisel were employed to record specific details that may have needed recording for others to see. The stone would be carved out, or perhaps a large section of fallen tree. The use of such rudimentary tools to communicate are a thing of the past. In today's electronic age, we seldom resort to "snail mail" as a means of keeping in touch with others in our lives, much less the use of hammer and chisel on stone. It is the "immediacy" of email and instant messaging which makes it all the more appealing to us - the ability to 'get the message out' to the intended audience in record speed draws us in. In the past, the "news" we'd share about changes in our lives would come via the postal service, arriving to the recipient days after the "news" was indeed "news". In the military, we had mail call. It was a time when we'd all gather around in hopes of one link to home in the form of a …