Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2020

A tool is meant to be used

I was standing outside our hospital pharmacy waiting to drop off some information the other day. Through the window I observed a series of 'apothecary' items, one of which is the old fashioned mortar and pestle. It reminded me there is always a little bit of a crushing process in life. The purpose of the pestle apparatus is to crush, grind, or mix whatever is in the bowl (mortar). Something is placed within the mortar, then through the action of the repeated blows and grinding of the pestle, the object in the mortar begins to change form. If it is corn, eventually the hardened pellet of corn will become like fine flour. When leaves are put in the mortar, the pounding begins to release the oils contained in the leaves, allowing a fragrance to be released. The bowl portion of the device is nothing without the "tool of action" (the pestle). It is the pestle which accomplishes the "transition" of substance from one form to another. One without the other is…

Build Strong Relationships

I am going to ask some hard questions this morning, so please bear with me. What kind of friend are you? What motivates you within friendship? How is it that you seek to have your needs met in that relationship? How is it that you seek to meet the needs of the other individual? Do  you build strong relationships, or are you content with nothing more than the superficial or 'artificial' kind of friendships? These are tough questions, but if we begin to answer them honestly, we may find they reveal something about either the 'success' or 'failure' of our relationships with each other!
Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. (Proverbs 17:9)

As a kid, I truly desired close friendships - the kind where you could tell your BFF anything and they wouldn't blab it to the world, or judge you because of something you thought or did. I truthfully didn't have any of these 'close' relationships …

Me? You want me?

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.  (Thomas Jefferson)
I am not much for keeping up with the styles of the day, either in my home decor or in what I choose to wear. I do look at the 'trends' from time to time, almost wondering what someone was thinking when they chose that particular 'design'! I find it comforting to see others just like me, trying not to 'bend' with the winds of popular trends. Principles are a hard thing to adhere to at times, especially when the 'trend' of the hour is telling us to do something entirely different than what we know to be right or true. I am sad to say that many will follow the trend rather than remain true to the standard upon which they claim to base their life!
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (I Corinthians 16:13-14)

The values we choose in life are often those we see modeled in others. I think it…

Say what?

Have you ever been guilty of just talking on and on, really not cognizant of all you are saying? Believe it or not, we might do this pretty frequently in our quiet times of prayer. We are supposed to be quiet for a while, but we find ourselves just rambling. I wonder just how many times we rant on and on to God about something, all the while ignoring his desire to get a word in edge-wise? It amazes me how much "talking" I do in prayer time and just how little "listening" I allow! I think we might be quick to spill our guts out before God, but I really wonder just how quick (and possibly willing) we are to listen to his instruction!

"I'm speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I've talked too much, way too much. I'm ready to shut up and listen." (Job 40:3-5)

I am ready to shut up and listen....pretty poignant words, huh? Two conditions are laid out - we have to "shut up" and we have to "listen&…

No matter what...

Have you ever lost one of your children in a large mall, or at the park? I have and I can describe for you the moment of sheer panic when I realized they were gone - not just from my sight, but gone! They had disappeared quicker than I was able to appreciate and that moment of panic gripped my soul, sent my emotions into a spiral, and began to play scenes of terror across the screen of my imagination. I wonder what it would be like to see our 'separation' from God through is eyes...would we begin to see the extreme scenes of terror that cross his screen, as well? I think God has things in control, unlike us, but he is certainly deeply affected by any separation between us!
So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35,37

Before I go furthe…

Should I quit?

There are some things in life we need to focus on intently, never quitting. There are also other things in life we'd do well to just turn our backs on and walk away, making a clean break from those things. While Norman Vincent Peale says, "It's always too early to quit," I wonder if he ever walked away from something that brought more liberty in his life to just be finally free of in the end. I have also heard it said that when we are at that moment of feeling like there is nothing more to do than quit what we are doing, we might want to first consider why we started. Sometimes in understanding why we started something, we also come to an understanding if it is really time to quit it!
May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist. (Galatians 6:9)

Those things that need our attention, with that 'never quit' kind of focus, are what God wants us to put our whole h…

Credit - do you need it?

Throughout my various careers, I have often run into individuals who think taking credit for what they have done is so very important. They want to see their names included in the research articles, or their names brought forward as the creator of the idea. To be transparent here, I know I have given away more ideas than I ever knew I had in my time on this earth - all with little or no 'credit' to speak of and so have you. I wonder what would have happened if Jesus had come out of that tomb so many years ago and looked for the walkway conversations, mealtime gatherings, and town hall discussions to all proclaim what a wonderful thing he had just accomplished on our behalf? He might have been sorely disappointed to find there were still all those who just didn't think he served any purpose in their lives!

But beware of doing your good actions in the sight of men, in order to attract their gaze; if you do, there is no reward for you with your Father who is in Heaven. (Matth…

Move that...there

Beauty: the adjustment of all parts proportionately so that one cannot add or subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole.  (Leon Battista Alberti)
Is there anyone else out there that is constantly adjusting the parts? My sister has this tendency to put down a cup, plate, or even a napkin - then she returns to it repeatedly moving it a little here or there, never really just allowing it just to be 'okay'. Now, I just set the table and enjoy the meal - the position of the 'stuff' doesn't really matter all that much to me. I wonder how many of us go through life trying to 'adjust the parts', not really sure what is 'proportionately correct' in them? We are fine as long as none of the pieces seem to get lost, or someone upsets our apple cart. The moment we find the pieces falling apart, we panic! We adjust and readjust, sometimes in an attempt to get them all back in the 'regular order' we have established, and at others we ar…

A little wisdom goes a long way

It is election year here in the United States and the campaign 'flinging' has already begun. The field of candidates has begun to shrink before our eyes as one after another throw in the towel and call it quits. As with any other election year, there will be a lot of 'story-telling' about how this candidate will out-perform the other, until we are all down to the wire and must choose one over the other. In the end, we can pray God will intervene and place the best candidate before us, but sometimes the 'people' demand what is not always the 'best' for them. It was Joe Biden who reminded us, "Our future cannot depend on the government alone. The ultimate solutions lie in the attitudes and the actions of the American people." If you recall a time in the history of the nation of Israel, there was this great outcry to have a king - just like the other nations around them. They wanted a 'royal' upon the throne - a man to govern their kingdo…

In this place

Abraham Lincoln had perhaps one of the most 'grounded' perspectives on how he was to live: "...my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." To be 'on God's side' is maybe one of the most significant steps a man or woman can take in their lifetime. There are many who 'report' they are on his side - but when you examine their actions, the testimony of their words doesn't match the evidence of their life! The two always much match up. We debate more about if God is on our side, forgetting entirely that we need to place ourselves squarely on his side with each decision we make in life.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need? (Romans 8:31-32)

When we are not clearly on his side, we are actually standing against him. Unf…

An Edison Moment

It was the American inventor, Thomas A. Edison, who reminded us that "just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." This is a good reminder for each of us who get down on ourselves because we didn't do what we were supposed to do. We aren't useless just because we failed. We are human! We are fallible. We are going to make unwise choices from time to time. It is what we choose to do IN those moments that makes all the difference. Do we get down on ourselves, labeling ourselves as 'useless', or do we take our failure to Jesus and ask him to help us find a way to take different steps the next time?

You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. (Proverbs 28:13)

Edison also recounted that he had tried a lot of things, but in trying these 'new ways' he found lots of ways that don't work. We oftentimes find ways that just 'don't work' in l…

On the hunt...

William Gladstone reminds us, "Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won't have to hunt for happiness." I think we spend a great deal of time 'hunting' for what will make us happy in life and totally miss the stuff right there in front of us that actually has the greatest potential to not only create a sense of happiness in life, but of reward and a sense of well-being. Hunt not for what will be the next thing to make you 'happy', but for the truth that will make your life deeper and more rewarding!

Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself—glorious life! (Proverbs 21:21MSG)

Hunt for what is right and kind - hunt for Christ and the truth he brings into any life when he enters it with his power and peace. Power and peace seem like opposite words, but to be clear here, where there is great power, there is bound to come great peace. We need more of Christ displayed in our lives - it isn't that we need…

Go ahead...be an irritation

It was Carl Jung who reminded us, "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." I find some stuff others do a little more than irritating - like when someone chews loudly with their mouth open, or when they leave one teaspoon of ice cream in the bottom of the container in the freezer. These things are just not supposed to happen! There is an 'etiquette' to chewing and a courtesy to 'sharing', is there not? Yet, if we are honest about what irritates us the most, we might just find out that we do not really stop at finding the 'behavior' offensive - in time, unchecked irritation can lead to anger, disgust, and even a riff in the relationship! For our love to grow, sometimes we have to 'check' our irritations to see if they reveal just a little more about how we really are treating each other.

Your faith is growing more and more. And the love that every one of you has for each other is also growing. 2 T…

Depending on God

Scripture frequently reminds us no king, governor, or ruler of any sorts succeeds by his own doing. Big armies and lots of loyal servants or citizens in your territory does not make a ruler successful - indeed, it gives an "appearance" of success, but it is nothing compared to the glory of being anointed and blessed by the Most High God. Armies are full of warriors. There is an extreme futility in thinking a warrior's strength is his own - that he doesn't need good leaders and others to fight alongside him. The warrior has a tendency see his "strength" as something he possesses - instead, it is something he is "granted" as God prepares him and goes with him into the battle. It is silly to believe having more "horsepower" or "brute strength" will win battles. When we "count on" the wrong stuff, we often don't really "win" the battles at all!

Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him, the o…

Shut 'em down

Airspace is referred to as the air available for an airplane to fly in, but it is usually subject to some rules because it is over a particular country or area that is 'maintained' and 'governed' by that ruler or a group of rulers. Airspace can also be that 'space' in your life where you either allow others into or not. You may allow them into that space, but with orders to exercise 'caution' as to where they go or what they bring into that airspace. You may not allow others into that 'space' because you have already determined them or what they bring with them to be of 'dangerous intent'. We need to guard our 'airspace' carefully and always be alert to what is attempting to get into it!

A person who talks sense is honored; airheads are held in contempt. (Proverbs 12:8 The Message)

Airheads often speak without thinking - just blurting out whatever will "stimulate" the senses of anyone who is in hearing distance. They do…

So, is this love?

What kind of love do you exhibit in your life? Is it 'conditional love'? This is the kind where you only extend yourself to those that extend themselves - like a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' kind of thing. Is it 'strings attached' love? The kind in which love is given, but only within certain limits. Is it 'free love'? There may be more than one meaning to this one, but in the times when I grew up, 'free love' was that kind of 'giving of one's self' without commitment, often in a sexual sense. If we are confused about the type of love we see exhibited around us, maybe it would do us well to understand what God says about it!

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains…

World or One?

Whose world are you trying to change today? The question is quite simple, yet most of us will stumble to answer this one truthfully. We may quip that we are trying to change everyone's world, one kind action after another, but is this truly what our actions reveal? We are called to be 'world changers', but by what means and with what intent? Too many times our intent is to 'make things better' for someone or something. We 'save the whales', 'recycle now', and 'feed the homeless' all in an attempt to make the 'world better' for someone or something. God asks for us to be a different kind of 'world changer' though. God asks for us to be 'good stewards' of the resources and talents we have been given, revealing little bits of him to others as we do, showing others there is always grace available to as many as will reach out and take it.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out t…

Another "unsafe" prayer

Are we guilty of praying 'safe' prayers? Prayers that are kind of mamby-pamby at best - working our way AROUND the real need without ever really hitting the nail on the head! These types of prayers are prayed more times each day than we might realize - with some of them coming from our own mouths! Why? "Safe" prayers are easiest because we don't have to 'expose' too much - we can just 'hint' about the need and hope God gets the point.

And when you pray, don’t be like the people who don’t know God. They say the same things again and again. They think that if they say it enough, their god will hear them. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come—
that what you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven. Give us the food we need for today. Forgive our sins, just as we hav…

What is your impact?

You are bigger than your job, that bank account, or the followers you have amassed on social media. The people you impact are much more powerful than the things you accomplish in this lifetime. View others as more important than yourselves and you might just see just how big your impact can be. There is nothing wrong with having a good career, or a solid bank account. The issue comes when we make these the goal and not just one of the 'means' by which we allow God to accomplish great things in and through our lives!

Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. Even the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, God chose you to be his. Think about that! Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence, and not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (I Corinthians 1:…

Soar, Climb, Change Your Perspective

Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it. (Winston Churchill) I know there are lots and lots things we walk through that have absolutely no appeal to us - we'd rather just dismiss them and walk away rather than go through them. What makes it more frustrating for us is the prolonged period of facing those troubles. We don't mind if they 'come and go' as long as they do so quickly. We don't want them hanging around! All kites rise best when there is wind, my friends, and opposing winds help it to soar higher and higher. A kite without the wind is just a little bit of fabric, paper, sticks, and string. With the wind, it is majestic beauty!

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 …

Are you stingy?

What does it mean when we say something is "ours"? As kids, I would hear my little ones struggling to let go of a toy they wanted to play with, declaring loudly, "MINE", and then swiping it away from the other one who was also interested in playing with it. They saw that toy as theirs, if even for a moment, not wanting to let go of it to any other kiddo desirous of a chance to put it into use. It became obvious to me that even though they had just declared it as "theirs", in short order it would be abandoned as they moved on to some other toy in the box. There are times we declare something to be ours without really intending to put whatever it is into constant 'use' in our lives. I have a washing machine and dryer, but they aren't used everyday. I have a dishwasher that I also don't use everyday. I have a hose in the backyard that may get used once a month if that. To 'have' doesn't mean we always 'make use of' the th…

Not doing it alone

I am finally getting time to reorganize the shop and begin some builds of workbenches, carts, tool storage, etc. This means a little here and there needs to be gone through, plans made as to how to accomplish the builds, and then the actual work of cutting the wood and putting it together. The last part is a little tricky in a small space, with only two hands, and with limited 'old lady' strength! Do you have any idea how much 3/4 inch plywood weighs? Now make some shelving storage unit that needs to be mounted on the wall and try to figure out how to do it with one hand to hold it and one to drive the screws into the studs! I have had to get pretty ingenious in my 'holding' work to get these things into place! If I were honest here, I should have 'phoned a friend' for help, but I didn't realize how much help I'd need until I was way into it. That is often the case in life - we get into it and THEN realize just how much help we are going to need to get …

Steadiness is about more than discipline

If your life is marked by 'fits and starts', but very few 'finished items', then you are probably not alone. In fact, more of us start things and never see them through to completion than you might imagine. We have closets with unfinished craft projects, crossword puzzles that never quite get that last clue answered, and ideas for improving processes at work that never make it off the drawing board. We are great at 'imagining' stuff, but the follow-through to get it completed is oftentimes lacking. One thing I have adjusted to as I have 'grown up' is the idea of this whole 'slow and steady' progress toward a goal. When I wanted to have a savings large enough to handle unforeseen emergencies, the process began with only a couple dollars here and then a couple more there, but it was in the consistent savings of those small amounts that I learned I could save even larger ones! Slow and steady isn't always the way we do things. Some of us jump i…

Well water

So many times we look for answers trying to figure out if something is "right for us" to be doing, or if it will accomplish what it is we are aiming to finish. In trying to reason out the response we will make or the steps we will take, we oftentimes find ourselves drawing from "the well" within - the knowledge we have "saved up" over time - and we don't even know we are doing it. It comes from having experienced things, storing up the "cause and effect" knowledge which comes from experience after experience. For instance, we experience disappointment when the ice cream cone melts away while we doddle in eating it down in the hot Arizona sun. The next time we purchase one, we might recall the knowledge we formed through the last experience - eating this one much quicker so it doesn't become a gooey mess. This is knowledge formed on understanding the "cause and effect" principle - ice cream is only enjoyed if the sun doesn't…

What are you hiding?

Most of us have heard that old adage, "The only thing constant in life is change", but it is almost an oxymoron. Why? If you didn't know, change is by definition the opposite of something which remains constant! Think about it again, and you might just realize there is truth in this saying because when you consider it, change is constant. If we are to remain fresh, vital and in a position of being on the "cutting edge" of all life sends our way, we need to be up for change - sometimes more frequently than we'd like, but change will come. Sometimes the greatest challenge to us comes in the willingness to admit we even need change. There is just something "comfortable" about a lack of change. When change begins to be called for, we get really, really nervous! Why? Simply because we don't see the need for change in quite the same way as the one calling for the change in the first place. When God calls for us to change, we might even find o…

Huh....as simple as being prepared

If you have had the impression that the battle you see raging around you is bigger than anyone really knows, you are probably closer to the truth than you might think! The battle we 'see' with the naked eye is one thing. The one being fought in the minds and hearts of men is another. The one being fought in the heavenlies is yet another! The battle rages - the surface has likely only been scratched, and there you stand in the midst of it trying to make sense out of what you can see and feel. What we can see and feel are only part of the issues at hand - there is a much deeper 'point' of warfare that we just won't be able to see or feel, but it exists and is at work all around us right now.

Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places. That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil…

First and Great

The last shall be first - be humble to be made great. These ideas seem a little like they might be an 'oxymoron', don't they? How can the one who is last possibly be first? How could being humble mean we will ever know greatness? I guess the way we define 'first' and 'great' are what may be of concern here, my friends. The words 'last' and 'first' frequently carry the connotation of being the one at the head of the line, in first place, or even getting it done ahead of anyone else. Have you ever been 'last' to finish something? I know I have and others rubbed it in because I was so far behind them in getting it done! It made me want to always be done 'first' because I didn't like being 'last'. If I were to be honest here, my 'ego' took a hit by being singled out as 'last'. I think others struggle with similar issues, so maybe it is time to look at the value of being 'last'.

Be humble before…