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Showing posts from April, 2020

I don't measure up

Pick up a yardstick to measure your life against anyone else's, and you've just picked up a stick and beaten up your own soul. (Ann Voskamp)
I wonder just how many of us have done what Ms. Voskamp describes here - measuring our life against another's and another's until we are left feeling 'less than' or 'worse than' another. I think her observation of the 'yardstick' becoming an instrument that actually leaves us a little battered is quite appropriate. Maybe even more important is the root of the matter - we were never called to measure ourselves against others because others are not the standard by which we 'measure up'. Christ is and only him!
Examine your own works so that if you are proud, it will be because of your own accomplishments and not someone else’s. Each person has his or her own burden to bear and story to write. (Galatians 6:4-5)
We have our own story to write - this is the crux of the matter when it comes to comparing …

Do you have pain?

Do we somehow think we can go through life without any pain at all? There are multiple forms of pain, but the worst is always going to be described as the kind that will not let up. It just comes at you, and at you, and never relents. It could be emotional pain, physical pain, or even spiritual pain. There are all forms of pain - but one thing remains consistent with all forms of pain - we don't always have a right perspective about it. Pain overshadows all we can see and think - it just clouds whatever else is around us at the moment. Get a blister on your toe and see how long you focus on your foot, shoes you will put on them, and when it will finally heal. Twist your back lifting something the wrong way and see how long you focus on how you will rise, sit, lie, and reach without getting those twinges that send shooting pains throughout your torso. We focus on the pain, what we belief will give us relief from it, and even what we can 'put on it' to mask the constant nagg…

So, that's it...

We all probably want a 'good life' and would do just about anything to get it. We pursue one thing right after another in earnest, just because we think it will help us achieve that 'good life' we desire. Most of the time it isn't that we don't have a 'good life', it is that we complicate it with stuff that shouldn't be there in the first place. Those 'complications' make it seem like we don't have a 'good life' at all. Sometimes the hardest things to learn are not really all that hard. Consider just how hard it is to get the knowledge we form in our heads to begin to affect our hearts. but this is important because when the heart is finally affected, the 'life' we have begins to take on a different impression within us.  It seems like we can almost be beaten over the head with the same lessons (knowledge) until we are almost numb, yet totally miss the formation of any wisdom which keeps us from doing the same silly thin…

Let's get a little balance here...

Have you ever felt a little 'off-balance' in your life? You might not know it, but that little niggling can be the beginning of a change for you. Some of us experience being a little 'off-balance' because we have done or said things that actually create an imbalance in our lives. We get too intent on having our own way, making our own point, or finding a solution before we know the real problem, and we will have an imbalance for sure! We get ahead of what God is doing in and around us, stumbling over others and ourselves in the process, and we will experience imbalance. We can be so focused on doing something we think is going to be good for everyone, but we forget to include anyone else in the planning! Balance is a hard thing, but let me assure you, imbalance is harder!
The Eternal prefers those who do good, but He condemns those who plot evil. Doing what is wrong keeps everyone off balance and insecure, but those who do right will never be uprooted. (Proverbs 12:2-…

Stumbling Toward Ruin?

I am a survivor. Have you heard those words, or seen them proudly worn across the front of a t-shirt announcing some event the wearer has endured and survived? A survivor is one who has 'beaten the odds', coming out on the other side of something they had a hard time enduring. If God is the one who fights with us, helping us with our 'survival skills' in the midst of whatever it is we have been called to endure, then we can be assured that we will come out on the other side. Will we have 'war wounds' of some sort? Probably. We aren't guaranteed to be 'wound free', but we are promised to be 'held together' and 'put perfectly together' in the presence of Jesus.

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
There are a gr…

99.9% is not 100%

Consider: to think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision; contemplate; reflect on. What is it you think so carefully about these days? Is it your desire to have a job, but nothing is out there right now because so many businesses are closed. Is it your fear of economic doom and gloom, worry setting in the more you think upon the current state of financial woes? What decisions are there to be made today in your household? Will you need to make decisions about how to proceed with projects once left for that 'day when you have time'? Or maybe it is the decisions about what to do with your school age kiddos who can no longer attend classroom education and started their 'break' from school schedules more than a month ago. What sort of things do you contemplate? If you are like me, it may be how to adapt to the continually increasing daily needs of an aging parent, challenged to keep up with the decline and keep them safe each day. We all find there are th…

So, what's in your backyard?

I have seen lovely homes with a nicely landscaped front yard, beautifully framing the home with color and style. Then, to my dismay, observed the backyard to be a mess of dirt, weeds, and nothing too impressive at all. Why is it we "put our best foot forward" with what people see first, but neglect to ever do anything with the thing we see the most in our lives? The front yard is for the public - the backyard is for our use, is it not? The "backyard" will be seen most often in our lives, by us and those closest to us, yet it can be the most neglected part of our lives!

The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard; fools look for it everywhere but right here. (Proverbs 17:24)

I know our passage only speaks to the "front yard" of the perceptive (the wise), but I think there is much to be said about what is the "backyard" of a person's life! What we allow, or choose to ignore, in our "backyard" is often more important than wh…

The possibility of today

Did you ever stop to think just how practical the Bible really is? It lays out sound advice on how to make financial decisions such as the borrower becoming slave to the lender, so don't be frivolous in your spending (Proverbs 22:7). We find instruction on how to have a solid family life such as how much it takes to build a household and the depth of understanding required to set them all on a firm foundation (Proverbs 24:3). We also find warnings of things we should avoid because they will be our "undoing" - things like not interfering with a good person's lives as it may end up with us falling flat on our face (Proverbs 24:15-16). Yet, there are many questions we just don't seem to find the easy or "straight" answers for in those pages. Jesus spent about three years teaching his disciples as he made his way to the cross. In that period of time, he laid out all kinds of truth for them. Some of it stumped the crowds, but the disciples usually got …

Help, I'm sinking here!

Selfishness and pride get in the way in our lives way more than we might like to freely admit to each other, but if we are to grow in Christ we do need to acknowledge this fact! The moment we begin to realize there is something at work within us that is in direct opposition to the work of Christ in our lives is the moment we can begin to choose to live differently. It only takes a moment to change a life course, while it takes a lifetime to live it out. Don't believe me? Look upon the parent who lost their child to drugs and tell me it didn't take a moment to change that parent's entire life course, or the single parent left alone to raise her children simply because there was someone more 'appealing' to her husband. A choice made in a moment - a lifetime to live it out. The moment we make a choice is as significant as each step we take beyond those choices, especially when it comes to growing in the grace and love of Christ.

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agend…

Self-Denial 101

Demonstrate living a life of denial of one's self for me. What does that really look like? Someone may point out there is this attitude of putting others first. That is definitely a good one. Another may tell us there is this kind of self-abasement that occurs when you really are living a life of self-denial. While we all need a realistic view of ourselves and should not think of ourselves as better than anyone else, I think a life of self-denial may just be more than putting yourself down. Self-denial might begin with an attitude and lead to actions, especially if we do it the way Jesus recommends!
If any of you want to walk My path, you’re going to have to deny yourself. You’ll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. (Luke 9:23-24)
The attitude we need to exhibit is one that reveals genuin…

A little sandpaper moment

Opponents exist in all arenas of life - whether on the playing field at a ballgame, in the market place, in the school yard, or even on the grocery store aisles - they are there! We cannot escape them, nor should we just stand in place and allow them free-rein. An opponent is just someone who is on the opposite side of where we are at that moment - mentally, spiritually, or physically. The 'function' of the opponents in life is to act as the 'antagonist' that drives us into action, but so many times we choose to idle in neutral when faced with the antagonist. God's word to us today is to face that block put in your way, or frustration repeatedly encountered in a new way - with is grace and wisdom!
Don’t be paralyzed in any way by what your opponents are doing. Your steadfast faith in the face of opposition is a sign that they are doomed and that you have been graced with God’s salvation. (Philippians 1:28)

We might first think about what the opposite of an opponen…

It is a worthy task indeed

Do you ever get tasked to do things that you wish you'd never have been tasked to do? I never really liked picking up dog poop or emptying the cat litter box, but when you have pets someone has to have the task! That stuff just cannot be ignored! I remember one time thinking it would just be okay to let the dog poop act as 'natural fertilizer' in the yard, thinking it would be nothing all that bad to just run the lawn mower over it instead of picking it up that week. That might not be so bad with the 'really dry pile', but it doesn't work so well with the 'wetter' ones! Now, while life isn't always like piles of poop in your yard, there are things in life that comes as 'tasks' that we want to ignore, put off, or just plain shift to another person. We don't want to deal with them and it shows in our attitude, but eventually it will also show in the 'fragrance' that begins to emanate from our lives!
So no matter what your task is,…

Oh, so it is wisdom we need!

Teach, counsel, and instruct - these all seem like very similar words, don't they? Yet, scripture calls them out as 'uniquely different'. One thing remains consistent between all three, though, and that is the use of 'wisdom' as the governing agent over all three! Whether teaching or instructing - it is to be done with wisdom. When giving counsel, it is to be governed with the wisdom that comes from God richly inhabiting our lives. Ever try to give counsel that you didn't first check with God about when giving it? I have and let me just tell you that it didn't always work out as well as I would have hoped! We need the guidance of the Word of God in our lives, but we also need to remember we need his Spirit to richly inhabit our lives, giving us that 'access' to all wisdom whenever we need it!
Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives. With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another. Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs…

Not just grace, but RADICAL grace

How many of us long for true peace and just don't find it in anything we have experimented with in life? I think we all go through places in life that we hope will bring us some much needed peace - that deep rest for our souls and spirits. When we really stop to look at what gives us true peace, we might be surprised to realize it isn't the 'place', but who is in that place with us. It isn't the events, but the one who walks with us through the events. It isn't even the 'strong faith' we exhibit in the midst of the moment, but the fact that we are given the very faith by which we stand strong in the midst of the battle. When it is our self-made, let's see how much we can 'muster up' kind of peace, it will fade quickly. The moment might feel good, but the long-term effect of that 'mustered up' kind of peace won't last the long haul. It is only the peace that comes through experiencing Christ and all he brings into our lives that …

The truth about my pride

Some of us are asked to do things we aren't all that willing to do - especially when we consider the price of what is asked of us. Some will say the price they are asked to pay doesn't equal the reward they will receive from whatever it is they are asked to do. Perhaps someone riddled with cancer asks you to go with them to the doctor for their next update - while inside you are secretly dreading the long waits that cut into your day's plans and the fact you are surrounded by sick people with waning hope that just act to make you a little more than depressed. Maybe you have been asked to give of your time to a ministry at the local church or been 'volun-told' you will be the rep at a local event sponsored by your employer - all the while wondering just how much this is going to "cut into" your "free time". Regardless of what you are asked, you probably occasionally struggle a little with the "price" associated with it, huh? We all s…

Bless 'em

Although the mass hysteria to purchase truckloads of toilet paper has died down, there is still a significant shortage of the stuff we need on the grocer's shelves. The truckloads of goods come and go, but there still doesn't seem to be a restock of all that once existed on the shelves. I have observed more and more posts telling us how to 'make yeast' from various household items because it is scarce in the markets. We see posts proclaiming new ways to create hand sanitizer from aloe and isoprophyl alcohol; kitchen wipes using a half roll of paper towels submerged in a small amount of bleach and water solution; or even the re-emergence of the use of hydrogen peroxide to sanitize items. As the saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Some are more than 'well-stocked', having amassed a great deal of resources for their 'quarantined existence', while others are still frequenting the stores at the earliest time possible in hopes of ob…

Unwelcome Inhabitants

My daughter sent me photos the other day of some form of beetle larvae emerging from cut logs she had stacked in her fireplace. Needless to say, the wood was removed hastily and sent out to the outside fire pit to be burned post haste! The weird thing is that those logs had been in there for quite some time and there was absolutely no signs of any life in them! In time, the 'hidden' began to be revealed! What 'inhabited' the dark spaces of those logs was being revealed. My daughter is no fan of bugs of any sort - in larvae form or otherwise - so she immediately sprang into action to rid herself of their existence. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the things that 'inhabit' the dark spaces of our lives were dealt with in an equally swift and decisive manner?
Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives. With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another. Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, and keep on singing—s…

So it comes down to this...

So it comes down to this... Have you ever stopped to consider what life has to come to for you in order for God to fully get your attention and hold it longer than two minutes? Some would recount a terrible occurrence in their lives, like that last drink that found them turned upside down, wheels spinning in the air, barely missing death's blow by seconds. Others would tell of the horrible diagnosis of some life-altering disease that made them take notice of what had been neglected in their lives to such a degree that life's little things finally mattered so little. There will be countless others who will say they had no idea a pandemic could bring life to a halt, crumble the economy, change the way we shop, or reveal such a lack of peace in their lives. What will it come down to in our lives to allow us to see that life slips right on by if we don't stop and take notice? What will help us to see there is no other thing that belongs at the center of our lives other than C…

Drop, Focus, Consider

Let's admit it, there are just times when we don't feel like anybody 'gets' where we are at or what is going on in our lives! They say they understand, but do they truly? Do we walk alone in this struggle? We certainly feel that we do! Truth be told, there are hundreds upon hundreds who have walked that path already - maybe not as us, but they have faced similar fears, anxious moments, inability to trust others, and all those similar emotions to ours. Were their circumstances identical to ours? Not likely, but their underlying spiritual, emotional, and perhaps even physical responses to the circumstances were the same! Humans react similarly to life stresses, so we really are not 'alone' in our struggle - even when we think it is unique to just us. We 'stand surrounded' by those who have gone before us...let us learn from their examples what NOT to do, as well as what TO do.
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cl…

Let it spill over

There are things in life that we all need to 'continue', while there are also things we definitely need to 'discontinue'. I cannot binge watch show after show and feel good about how my day went. I cannot go days on end without some physical exercise to clear my mind, regenerate my body, and get my juices flowing again. Self-quarantine certainly lends itself to the kind of 'isolate in place' kind of activities such as binge watching and incessant eating if we allow it to, but we have to make conscious choices to 'continue' in the things that help us to live strong lives. Experts tell us to rise at the same time we usually would, go to bed at similar times, engage in as close to normal activities as possible, and all should be well. I don't drive to work right now, so I try to make a few laps around the house before I settle in behind the computer monitor. I don't get to socialize with my friends, or give my BFF a big hug right now, but I can SK…

Oh, so that's how....

We hear a lot of voices today - each representing some "cause" mankind is touting at the moment. Some are reasonable and seem to catch our attention simply because what they present seems logical and straight-forward. Other voices are not as forth-coming in their motives - they simply manipulate the crowds with their message until they have them to the place we might call "biting on the bait". Our mailboxes are inundated with lots of requests for this or that, one right after another. When we hear a voice calling, do we recognize the source of that 'voice'? Jesus was most concerned with this when he gave his disciples this instruction:

Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he's up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sh…

We needed that goading

Scattered sheep are often not even aware of their aimless wandering, striving to find that next patch of grass to satisfy their insatiable hunger, or their endless pursuit of what is just around the next bend. It is that endless pursuit and aimless striving that gets them into trouble every time! Did you ever stop to consider why sheep need a shepherd? It is simply because they are followers! They go where the one in front of them goes, regardless of what could be in the area. The shepherd knows the areas where the sheep can become easy prey for those who would seek to make a meal out of them! He knows they will wander into these areas, but be oblivious to the threats lurking all around them. The shepherd of our lives knows the exact threats that lurk, the places in life that pose the greatest threats to us, and just how easily we can wind up in those places without even taking notice of where we are at the moment.

But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded …

Is that a sign?

Caution - Hot Surface!  Caution - Wet Floors!  Caution - Right Lane Closed Ahead! These are all words of 'caution' - advising us not to do something, or proceed without any thought at all. We each have had those moments in time when we would say we were not exercising much caution, or being aware of what we were doing (at least consciously). These are moments or seasons when we threw caution to the wind. How did that work for you? If you were like me, probably not as well as you had hoped!

Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe. (Proverbs 28:26 NLT)  When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. (Proverbs 29:18 NLT)

When we trust our own insight at the exclusion of warnings clearly revealed for our safety, we are in dangerous territory. I think we are all reminded of the need to 'take caution' every place we look right now. Social media is streaming warnings to wash y…

The standard by which we live

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself. (Henry Ward Beecher)
I have a small sign in my office that was given to me some years ago. It was given as a way of reminding me of my importance as a leader in healthcare. I was actually being honored by my peers when I received it, but it has been with me ever since because it reminds me of a very important fact - we lead by example. The sign simply says, "Every time we walk by the violation of a standard, we set a new standard." I believe this is a derivation of what Lieutenant General David Morrison said when he is quoted as saying, "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." There are times we 'set new standards' because our behavior doesn't match the past standard we had come to follow, aren't there? When we drift from a standard, what is one of the most common things we do? Don't we attempt to cover it up by making an excuse f…

Don't cop that attitude with me!

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up. (John C. Maxwell)
As I was raising my children, one of the most important lessons I believed they needed to learn was that of taking responsibility for their actions. Perhaps they didn't always appreciate the significance of this lesson, but I think it has served them well in their adult years. There are many of us that go through life attempting to shift responsibility from one place to another because making it our own is kind of uncomfortable at times and downright hard! We like the comfort of shifting blame, but does that really bring us any comfort? Not if you consider the weight of guilt blame-shifting places on your shoulders! Have you ever heard someone say, "You made me do it", or perhaps, "I have this bad attitude because you did that..."? Our attitude is OUR responsibility - it isn't dependent upon how another respon…