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Showing posts from July, 2020

It is fine - rest for a while

Life comes at us hard and it comes fast. The journey gets a little rough - too hard to handle alone. We get fatigued - worn out by the constant pressures and worries. Sometimes we just need a break because the battle has been long and hard - that moment of solitude when we just sit back and let the worries of the battle pass from us. Notice, I did not say we let the battle pass us by, but rather we 'regroup' and 'repair' for what is next to come. Regardless of the reason for needing to be "carried", there are times when we just cannot go it alone.There are times in life when we just need a little "carrying". I find encouragement in this passage today. The "unchanging" GOD is ALL strength for his people, AMPLE refuge for his chosen, SAVIOR of his people, and the one who BLESSES his heritage. In him, we find CARE and the open, welcoming arms to be CARRIED for a while. The one who's promises to us never fail - he has us in his care. The…

Who vs. What

Who are you? If someone asked you that question today, how would you respond? You might start with telling the person your name, but then you may launch into a little 'description' of yourself, such as "I am a nurse, working in the Quality Improvement department of a large metropolitan hospital." We might be full-time stay at home moms raising two boys, or out in the day to day workforce 'bringing home the bacon' in some form. So, when someone asks who we are, we tell them we are an accountant, restaurant manager, author, or housekeeper. Now, describe who your best friend is - go ahead, their name and a little about that person. It is not uncommon that we associate 'who' we are with 'what we do' in life. If that is the case, I wonder what Simon Peter was really saying about Jesus when he made this observation about Christ:
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthe…

Assume the position!

Moments come when we just need to 'assume the position'. If you are presently in the military, or are ex-military, you understand the meaning of that statement. Our drill sergeants would ask us to assume the position just before we began our daily workout session, better known to some as the "Army Daily Dozen". Stop for a moment to consider that there is a 'position' and a 'posture' to just about everything we do. There is a posture, as well as a position to worship we often do not consider. The psalms are great "stopping spots" for discovering words of encouragement, utterances of praise, and moments to just "rest" in adoration of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This morning, let's consider the words of Psalm 95. It begins with "Come, let’s shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!

Let’s march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns!" Then it goes on to proc…

Tuning in and tuning up

Lots of medical places have people stationed to check temperatures as you walk in the door and even cameras that can detect thermal temp as they scan your body. This spread of Coronavirus has businesses changing how they do business! Back in the day, before thermometers were a common thing in each medicine cabinet, parents used to "test" their children for fever by placing their lips on the forehead of the child. It seemed like an odd way to do it since we have seen people repeatedly use their hands laid across the forehead to "evaluate" the feverishness of another. Yet, it was a pretty doggone accurate process! More accurate than the hand - and the closest to the true determination of "fever" than anything other than a thermometer. The lips have a great deal of "sensitivity" receptors which allow them to be pretty accurate at interpreting what touches them, so fever was more easily detected using the receptors there. As mom lost her eyesigh…

Not just another "Super-Hero"

Back in the day, when black and white TV was the norm and families with colored TVs were considered to be on the wealthier side of humanity, there was one cartoon I used to love to watch. I would work to get any chores done just in time to catch "Mighty Mouse". Tiny mouse, red cape, yellow shirt and pants, streaming through the air to bring justice and right all that went wrong in the world. A 'super-hero' of tiny proportions, but 'super' in the eyes of this child. Bear with me for just a moment while I recap the theme song of this cartoon:  Mister Trouble never hangs around When he hears this Mighty sound. "Here I come to save the day" That means that Mighty Mouse is on his way. Yes sir, when there is a wrong to right Mighty Mouse will join the fight. On the sea or on the land, He gets the situation well in hand. (Source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/mightymouselyrics.html) Now, let's remember this was a cartoon series featuring a mouse with &…

A little litter box story

I will praise You with a heart that is right when I learn how right You judge.  (Psalm 119:7)
I had to reread this passage a couple of times this morning, until it finally sunk in and I 'got' what God was trying to tell me! Ever have one of those moments when you know something is right in front of your face and you just cannot see it? Sometimes I praise God a little 'timidly' because I am sure he knows I haven't been all that good, or that I am walking too close to the line with something he asked me to stay away from. I am not really on the 'wrong side of the law', so to speak, but I have this feeling inside like I have been on that 'wrong side of the law' too many times and maybe there is something lingering there that hasn't been forsaken, so it hasn't been forgiven. I bet some of you are like that at times, too. You cannot get that stuff out of your mind that keeps telling you God isn't happy with you, or that he is about to unleash a…

Go ahead...talk it out

Ashamed: Distressed or embarrassed by feelings of guilt, foolishness, or disgrace. That about sums up how many of us 'feel' about our behavior sometimes, doesn't it? We get the overwhelming sense of guilt that comes over us like clouds of a building storm. The disgust we feel toward ourselves because of some foolishness we chose to engage in just about makes us sick to our stomach. Then you add to it the sense of humiliation we endure because we know we just added one more 'failure' to the ever-growing list of 'failures' we have already created and we get pretty down on ourselves, don't we? The good news is that there is one thing that we should never be ashamed of and it is the very thing that actually removes all our guilt, wiping away every foolish action we have ever taken - it cements the hope we have in Jesus - the power of God received through his Word richly speaking into our lives.
I am not ashamed of the Good News. It is the power of God. It is…

Cleaning out the junk drawer

Following and Leading - two entirely different positions in life. The leader is out front - the followers are moving somewhere "behind" the leader, but usually they are moving consistently in the same direction as the leader. Now, this may seem a little rudimentary to some, but let me assure you, following is a lot tougher than just "getting in line" and "marching on". If you don't believe me, ask any first grade teacher or mother of several toddlers! They will surely tell you how hard it is to keep those little one all in a neat row, especially if they are "standing still" for any length of time! They will wiggle, move out of line, squat on the ground to explore the potato bug crossing in a crack in the sidewalk, or simply fall out of line to go do something else, talk to a friend, or just plain sit down and resist the movement altogether. I think the same may be true with God in our lives - we line up behind him, but if he stands stil…

Let's get a little clarity here

I have tried making jelly and jam, but let me tell you - to get the right 'set' on either one is kind of an art of its own. Have you ever tried to make jelly? When we look at all those various flavors, colors, and pretty jars all stacked with care on our grocer's shelves, we often forget what goes into making the jelly. It really is a science! Some of my jellies tasted pretty good, but I had a few "flops" in the process - something I have become familiar with in many areas of my life! I'd like to share a few lessons I learned in the process of jelly making. Pretty jars all assembled, fresh lids, stock pot filled with water to boil those jars, and sugar all measured out - that was the beginning. Who knew the most important part of making the jelly was not in the "prettiness" of the jar I chose, nor the shininess of the caps that adorned them or the pure whiteness of the sugar that would be measured out with care? What I learned made the most di…

What do you stand for?

Virtue is a positive quality developed by taking a firm stand for the right in temptation, or by the suffering endured in consequence of wrongdoing. (Max Heindel)
I cannot help but think there are some who think bearing any consequences for wrongdoing is just 'not fair'. It is like they expect to do something against moral or ethical standards and just go on as though nothing bad happened. The consequences for bad choices should always be there - even when we think otherwise. If nothing else, I have felt the very guilty conscience for some of my wrong actions in life - a feeling that led me straight to my knees and into pretty deep conversation with my Maker! Why? I don't want to live by the violation of any moral or ethical standard, but I make wrong choices that require me to make course adjustments in life. Sometimes I bear the real and tough consequences for my actions, while at others I know God has spared me some painful ones that are merely because of his extreme lov…

Finding our way

Let's be careful about how we 'slam' each other right now for either erring on the side of NOT wearing a mask or choosing to wear one at all times, keeping our kids home when school begins or choosing to send them into the classrooms, or choosing to work from home to reduce risks of exposure or choosing to go into the workplace every day. We find fault with each other over the stuff of life - that is for certain - but don't let it divide us, or harsh words of criticism be spoken that will leave 'riffles' in our relationships. This isn't wise at all. Yes, there are those who are choosing to live on the edge of life right now - not really being respectful of advice to observe social distancing, choosing not to cover one's mouth and nose with a face mask, and even chafing against the 'establishment' of rules related to where we can socialize right now. It doesn't mean we have to be rude and unkind toward them - we can urge strongly that they ta…

Your calling has found you

I think we sense some form of 'longing' for success, but more than that we crave something that will be lasting and have a great significance in this world. We all want to understand our genuine calling in this world so we can understand what will give great significance and be of lasting meaning on this earth - but more than that - we want to know what we do that will be of significance into eternity. To be called means we have more than a general knowledge of what we are to be doing - it means we sense we have a deeper purpose in this world. We would all like the scriptures to declare plainly what our 'calling' is in this lifetime. Calling is about who you are, not so much what we do. God wants us to be in relationship with him, then he will ask us to do something - it isn't the other way around. I think we get this confused - we think we have to do something, but we forget that all calling begins with living a holy life.
"I am being held in prison because of…

Get 'er done

‘O Lord God! See, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your long arm! Nothing is too hard for You! (Jeremiah 32:17)
We all have things in our lives that we think are a little too hard for us to handle. It may be a task that lies ahead that has frustrated us for a while, but we have put off equally as long because we know once we get into it, we are gonna hate how hard the work will be. It could be the conversation you have been putting off having with that loved one because you know it will be 'hard' and 'hard stuff' kind of makes for a little friction in the relationship, so you avoid it like the plague. If God made the heavens and the earth by his great power (and he did, by the way), then is anything that lies ahead of us 'too hard' if God is with us in the undertaking of that 'hard thing'? 
Our lives are riddled with 'difficult things'. I just spent a couple mornings with my BFF building some raised garden boxes. …

Stop for the snail

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."  (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) 
I may not have originated these words, but they are something that really resonate in my heart - especially as I get older and recognize that I am not in the beginning of my lifetime any longer, but rather the end of the course. I live for today - because God never assures me I will have tomorrow here on this earth. I learn for an eternity - because God has assured me I will learn at his feet for all of eternity. There are certain things worth learning - such things make us stronger, giving us depth and breadth that might otherwise be undiscovered in our lives.
I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s…

The ride is pretty rough at times

Have you ever been in a circumstance where you knew 'letting go' of something meant it was going to bring some form of pain into your life? You may lose your grip on it and it will cause you physical pain, but you may also lose your 'grip' on it and it will leave you with a whole lot of emotional pain. Whenever we are holding onto something, or someone, for dear life, we are using a whole lot of effort to hold onto it, as if our very life depended upon not letting go. In some cases, we are the ones doing the "holding" - simply because we are desperate to not let go. At others, someone or something else is holding onto us - because to let go would be to experience loss of some kind. None of us likes to experience loss - no matter how well we are prepared. Loss is often equated with being "deprived" of something you once had, such as when we mourn the loss of an individual in our lives. It can also mean an accidental loss of something, much like …

Half full or Half empty

Time has a way of slipping through our fingers without us even recognizing it has passed us by. We can fritter away time easier than anything else. To fritter means to allow something to slip away little by little, almost like the sands seeping through the hourglass. Frittering something away is not like a glass slipping from our hand and shattering on the ground because we had wet hands when we tried to hold it. In this case, we were unprepared to hold the glass securely, so it slipped and we were fully conscious of it slipping. To fritter a glass out of your hand is kind of like dozing off with a glass of water in your hand, then slowly, little by little, the glass tips ever so slightly. Then it tips a little more, and a little more. Then in the next short passage of time, the glass lays on its side, contents flowing freely from it. We can remain asleep, unaware of the contents being spilled, or the condition of our "hand" which actually "relaxed" its grip a…

Pour into each other

Do you know the purpose of the spout on the water or juice pitcher you have in your fridge today? It is designed to pour out the contents it holds in just the right way so that the little "funnel-like" stream hits the spot inside the glass you are pouring the liquid into. I have to ask a tough question today - who is it that pours into your life with such 'funnel-like' accuracy so as to almost consistently hit the right spot? Go ahead - really think about those in your circle of friends and acquaintances that "pour into" your life. You are likely to discover there are a lot more who have the "spout" of your life turned toward them, hoping you will be the one doing the pouring! They take from you, expecting you to pour into their lives, without any thought of ever pouring into yours - not because they are selfish, but because they either don't think they have anything to pour out themselves, or they haven't really thought they needed to …

Not always evident

We all have those moments when we just feel called to pitch in and get something done. The urge to roll up our sleeves and get whatever lies ahead out of the way almost propels us forward with such a force that nothing can stand in our way. Then there are other times when a stick of dynamite could not move us into action! What's the difference between the two? One thing that stands out is the motivation that comes from within. At times, we are highly motivated, while at other times that motivation just isn't there. Is that wrong? I don't know for sure, but I think there are times when we aren't supposed to be the ones that rise up to meet the need - there are others who are called to do it. We aren't always to be the only ones rising up and taking action, but when we are called to do so, we should do it cheerfully, with gusto, and in a way that shows how much God's love is working through our lives.
The man who gives much will have much, and he who helps others …

Dams and Dikes

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. (Martin Luther King, Jr)
A dam retains water - a dike holds it back so floods of water won't invade spaces where they don't belong. A dike is an embankment of sorts, but the 'site' selected for a dike is equally as important as the actual material that goes into the building of the embankment. I think we all have some 'embankments' in our lives that are constructed of whatever material we have at hand - emotional 'sandbags' of sorts that are filled with all kinds of garbage that just 'fills the space' and creates barriers that help us avoid things that we fear the most. 
Love is made perfect in us when we are not ashamed as we stand before Him on the day He judges. For we know that our life in this world is His life lived in us. There is no fear in love. Perfect love puts fear out of our hearts. People have fear when they are afraid of being punished. The man who is afraid does not hav…

Who's doing what here?

Let's take a little inventory today. If I were to ask the question, "What is the one thing you hoped to accomplish yesterday, but didn't", what would your answer be? For a few of us it likely would be some household tasks like cleaning the bathrooms, doing the laundry, or getting the crumbs out of the silverware drawer. Others will say it was something like motor rebuild on the motorcycle that has been in pieces in the backyard for weeks, or the sorting of all those clothes in their closets that they haven't worn since the last time they were actually that size! We all have things that don't quite get accomplished as we would like to see them accomplished, right? There is one thing we don't want to put off in our lives and that is what God wants to see worked out in us. We might try to skirt that, as well, but the longer we skirt his working, the longer he will be working!

He is working in you. God is helping you obey Him. God is doing what He wants done i…

A little bent

The heart is fooled more than anything else, and is very sinful. Who can know how bad it is? I the Lord look into the heart, and test the mind. (Jeremiah 17:9)

It probably goes without saying that we are seeing some pretty unruly behavior these days. From refusing to mask-up in public to help reduce the spread of this virus to protests turned into violent looting sprees, it all just saddens my heart. Some ask why people act this way, but I'd just have to begin by saying that the heart of man is fooled by many things. There will be those who believe the COVID-19 virus is a 'scam' or 'hoax' - something cooked up by the government, healthcare community, or other 'big brother' entity, so they won't 'buy-into' the plans to slow the spread. Some will say that violence begets violence, thereby justifying their own violent outbursts. We listen to reports - some given with all the wisdom and light man can shed into a circumstance, while others are lacking…

Used

God has given me His loving-favor. This helps me write these things to you. I ask each one of you not to think more of himself than he should think. Instead, think in the right way toward yourself by the faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

I allowed these words to sink in a bit this morning because there are just some days when I sit to study and write my blog, but nothing 'new' or 'exciting' comes. I just read, reread, and then attempt something. Ever have those moments? This morning I think God was showing me there is no 'thing' within me that writes these blogs - it is HIM in me that helps me write them! The thought crossed my mind that there are others who might be reading this post today who feel like God will never, or could never do anything good through their lives. The word to you today is this - God has given you his loving-favor AND because of that, you are able to do the things he has designed for you to do. There aren't going to be big flashi…

A little 'wheel-time'

Drift happens - little by little - almost without ever noticing just how far off-course you have gone. Isaiah is an Old Testament prophet sent to Israel to encounter them for their "drift" - having become "like the other nations". If you have never really read the entire message of Isaiah, you will have missed special words such as: Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow. If they are red as crimson, they will become like wool. (1:18) Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will no longer learn how to make war. (2:4) Doom to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who make bitterness sweet and sweetness bitter. (5:20) The list could go on and on, but I would like to focus us on one of the latter chapters of this great book. There we find these words: Still, God, you are our Father. We’re t…