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Showing posts from October, 2020

Closet Christian?

The Temple of God in the Old Testament became the place where God could meet personally with his people. Today, the 'temple' is not a building - it is his people. Instead of one locale for his presence to inhabit, there are millions and millions of temples - his people. His presence inhabits his people and in turn, his presence is free to explore the world through us! God's temple needs to be seen - to be an impact on the world. Light isn't meant to be hidden, my friends - it is meant to illuminate - to expose and show the beauty around it.

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. (Luke 11:33)
Prayer is one means of us bringing light to the world, but it isn't enough. God isn't asking for his church to be 'shy' about their faith - we are to be bold in our prayers. The presence of God inhabits his temples - when we become visible, his…

It isn't a criticism

I don't know about you, but there are times when I get good advice and I just don't pay attention to it. If I don't pay heed to what is shared it usually results in some type of 'disaster' for me. Someone once told me you had to add extra flour to a cake mix at high altitudes and change the baking time/temp. Did I remember to listen to that advice when I was at higher altitudes? Nope...and the brownies were pretty doggone runny! Did I discard them? Nope...just used a spoon to eat them! Advice is good to hear, but if it isn't heeded, it isn't anything more than 'words in the air'. 
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:20-21)
I have to be honest here - listening to advice is a whole lot easier for me than accepting discipline! When discipline comes my way, I kind of want to turn the other way and just ru…

We set out

I came across a quote from the journals of Christopher Columbus the other day and it struck me as a very simple way of proclaiming the truth about what happens when a man or woman decides to follow Christ. He said, "Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World." I know very well he was speaking of leaving one shoreline in search of another, but change up just one word in that and you have a pretty cool picture - "Following the light of the SON, we left the old world."

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
We set out for a 'new world' when we choose to follow Christ, don't we? Old has passed away, new begins and the journey before us is filled with hope, but maybe just a hint of reservation is mixed in with that hope, isn't it? We aren't sure about the journey, so we kind of 'hold back'. If you are like me, it didn't take you long …

Prepared for the 'what'

Charles Swindoll posed the idea that "life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it", because he proposes reaction can be controlled or 'governed'. I imagine God sits around sometimes just watching some of our reactions to some of the things in life that shouldn't have thrown us into a tizzy, but there we are - in a pickle and sour as all get out because of what is going on in our lives. Life doesn't have to elicit reactions from us - we offer them quite freely, don't we? We are moved by the oddest things, shut down by others, and completely oblivious at times to things that should have cause us some sort of reaction. In my day to day work, I plan the action so we don't have to be so 'reactive'. It is called being 'proactive' - knowing how we will 'act' before there is ever a need for a reaction.
Learn well how to wait so you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing. If you do not have wisdom, ask God …

Are they reversible?

William Lloyd Garrison, a journalist from the 19th century asked, "Are right and wrong convertible terms, dependent upon popular opinion?" Mr. Garrison actually died in 1879, way before any of the present issues arose in government, health, and cultural climate. Yet, he may have had a little insight into human nature when he posed that question, for humankind has always tried to make wrong right since the beginning of time. It is the 'spin' that mankind puts on an issue that 'converts' it from wrong to make it seem a little closer to right. That 'spin' has been around since the Garden of Eden!

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to good teaching. (Proverbs 12:15) 
While the question Garrison posed during the time he worked to free slaves in America is important, there is a lesson to be found in it for all of us today. Are 'right' and 'wrong' actually able to be switched - dependent upon the whim of whoever …

The luxury of giving

One must be poor to know the luxury of giving. (George Eliot)
The luxury of giving - have you ever thought of giving as a 'luxury'? I like how Eliot frames this thought because it points to the extreme need and the appreciation of what is given when it is received. You do realize there is nothing good or noble about giving if there is no real need for what you are giving, don't you? You could give away free trash cans till the cows come home, but if there were no cans or boxes in the pantry to fill the trash cans when emptied to fill a hungry stomach, those trash cans would merely be dust catchers. There is indeed a 'need' - but the need is different from what we are giving, making what is given pretty senseless in the end. For giving to be 'spot on', there must be an awareness of the need - just like when God saw the need for our forgiveness and didn't think twice about providing exactly what was needed to meet that need - his Son.

Those who go to him fo…

You MUST

MUST is a pretty strong word, isn't it? It is one of those four-letter words we are allowed to speak - no moms ever washing out a youngster's mouth for having said 'must'. It is a strong word because it allows for no 'wiggle-room'. "You must complete this task" carries a much different meaning than "If you are able, you must do this", doesn't it? The former allows no wiggle-room, while the later puts a condition on our having to complete the task. With God, there is very little 'wiggle room' in his instructions to us - the 'must' isn't usually paired with any other condition than a choice to be obedient. If that is the case, then if God tells us we 'must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads us to pray', then does that mean we are supposed to be on our knees 24/7? I don't think that is what God had in mind when he stipulated that 'must' in scripture. Instead, I believe he was asking us to be s…

Deal with the clutter

Do not talk much about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring. (Proverbs 27:1)
I used to spend a whole lot of time daydreaming about something 'way in the future' that I would want to accomplish or a place I'd like to visit. The problem with 'way in the future' daydreaming is that we don't always know our future, nor are we even guaranteed that future! Put all your eggs in that proverbial 'future' basket and you might just never accomplish much! I have learned over the years that life is not assured to us tomorrow, nor is the health or ability to accomplish that 'future task'. I have taken care of strapping young men left in persistent vegetative states because of some freak accident. As I glance on the frailty of their bodies in those hospital beds and wheelchairs, I recount the truth that our days are never guaranteed. I have stood by while life drained from the bodies of those fighting cancer with every last ounce of willpower the…

It is a 'process' thing

Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. (Winston Churchill)
How many of us are like Churchill - liking it when we actually learn something new, but really dreading the whole bit about being taught that lesson? It is nice to discover something new, but it is a little more difficult for us to accept when that discovery comes with a bit of hard work, isn't it? I used to ace tests, but recently had the opportunity to sit with my eldest grandson who is struggling with Algebra II in high school. I did pretty well in this subject back about 50 years ago! Today, it is like I am having to relearn all the principles again in order to remember how to solve those equations and it is HARD work! I don't know about you, but when something is that 'hard' in life, I tend to resist it a little. When life lessons are 'hard', it is not uncommon for us to want to just bury our heads in the sand, or run from them completely. The 'pro…

It isn't useless

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless. (Thomas A. Edison)

Some actually said 'not so nice stuff' about Edison. In fact, if Edison had listened to what others labeled as his limitations in life, we'd have been deprived of many a great invention. Did you know he didn't start communicating until he was nearly three and a half years old? When he finally did start, do you know what he did? He started asking how everything he touched or saw worked! He had a mind that was curious to understand the inner workings of things - from the simple to the very complex. His constant curiosity did not endear him to his school teachers, though. In fact, they thought his constant questions were hard to manage and they actually said he had an 'addled' brain! I guess 'addled' may be another word for 'genius'! At the age of twelve, he undertook the task of reading almost every book in the public library! Why? …

And that has made all the difference...

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost)
You haven't traveled my road anymore than I have traveled yours. Our roads may have intersected here and there, but the road we each travel is uniquely our own. At each major intersection in life, we make a choice - we choose one path or the other - we don't travel them both. Perhaps we follow in the footsteps of someone who has traveled portions of that path before, finding our view of the path just slightly different. As similar as my BFF and I are, as we take a road trip, or enjoy a stroll along a forest trail, we 'take in' our surroundings in different ways. I will remark about one thing I saw, only to find she didn't see it at all and vice-versa. Why did we not experience the path the same? We are unique - our eyes and hearts are open, but we might just find we are taking in life in just a little different manner as we travel paths that see…

I pray this for you

And this is my prayer: I pray that your love will grow more and more. I pray that you will have better understanding and be wise in all things. I pray that you will know what is the very best. I pray that you will be true and without blame until the day Christ comes again. (Philippians 1:9-10)
I pray that your love will grow - we all need our love to grow just a little bit each day, don't we? How awesome would it be to know someone in your life was praying for your love to grow today? Well, consider this a little prayer from me to you - may your love grow! What does 'growing' love look like? I think it might take on the form of not always talking, but realizing you might just need to listen a little bit more. It could even mean you shut off the TV and just observe the environment around you, who is filling it, and what they are filling it with at this very moment. It could also look like that moment when you just realize someone needs a touch, a hug, or a kind smile to bol…

Are you a light runner?

We all probably know someone who runs those amber lights, or much worse, takes a red one or two from time to time. What do they do just before running those lights? You would be right if you said they punch the gas pedal down a little to speed up the vehicle, but I think there is one other thing they do that you might not have noticed. They take a quick look in the rear-view mirror, at the side street cars waiting in line, and if there are no cops or traffic cameras in either view, they fly on through! They are looking to see if they will get caught - if their 'sin' will get noticed by anyone who can do something about it. 
Everyone who sins hates the Light. He stays away from the Light because his sin would be found out. The man who does what is right comes to the Light. What he does will be seen because he has done what God wanted him to do. (John 3:20-21)
Truth be told, the fear of being caught far outweighs the desire to maintain safety at that moment. There isn't much …

Not just a 'make-do' repair

It was Ernest Hemingway who reminded us, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." What are the 'broken places' of your life? Go ahead - for a moment or two - just ponder that one and begin to call those 'broken places' by name. You have them and you likely have attached some sort of 'name' to those broken places - like divorce, death, or defeat. You defined those broken places by an event or some outcome in life. Now, look again at those broken places and describe some of the strength that has come out of that place. What name does that strength bear? It was likely easier for us to put a name to our 'broken places' than it was to put a name to the strength that was worked into us because we were broken. We remember what 'broke us', but we oftentimes don't recall all that has happened in our lives that help to mend those broken places into even stronger ones.

A broken spirit is my sacrifice, …

Walk with the wise - become wise

Do you have anyone in your life that really 'believes' in you? There are all kinds of people in our lives, but those that really believe in us are a blessing way beyond what we might imagine. When we have others who believe in us, they encourage us, give us direction, help us avoid harmful things, and even learn new things. I don't know about you, but I need encouraging people in my life because life is filled with all kinds of people and things that have the primary aim of discouraging me. We all need direction from time to time because we don't always know which way to go on our own. We also don't see the stuff that can bring us harm when we are too doggone close to it, but when another is there to help us see it they can keep us from going any closer. We want a group of people in our lives that believe in us - nothing will help us grow as much as being surrounded by people we admire, respect, and trust.

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fool…

My bestie

I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don't believe I deserved my friends.  (Walt Whitman)
Yup, I no doubt deserved each and every enemy I have made in life - that is for sure. What I don't understand is how many friends I have with as foolish as I have treated some people at times! I think we all have 'those moments' when we do less than a stellar job of treating others well. If it is a lifestyle, no doubt you have more enemies than you have friends! If it is an occasional 'one-off' kind of moment, no doubt those who call you friend have already forgiven that 'one-off' moment. Friendship requires some work if it is to endure the hardships of time and the challenges of those 'one-off' days. What we invest into a relationship today may not show any real 'yield' until we most likely need it somewhere into the future.

There are persons for companionship, but then there are friends who are more loyal than family. (Proverbs 18:24)
In life we have…

Debtor's Prison

Life is an adventure in forgiveness.  (Norman Cousins)
I came across this little quote the other day and it made me think about all the ways forgiveness is both needed and given. If you are like me, your first thoughts gravitate toward 'who' we need to forgive and 'what' the offense was that required the forgiveness in the first place. We usually think about others when we begin to think upon forgiveness - someone that has done or said something that has hurt us, bringing harm to us either intentionally or completely without any ill will at all. I wonder...just how many times do we think of the 'who' in this business of forgiveness as ourselves? You know what...you and I need to forgive ourselves, too. We hold ourselves in a position of 'debtors' way too often - unwilling to forgive our own trespasses! All that does is keep us on the hamster wheel of trying to find a way to get out of 'debtor's prison'!

Who can see his own mistakes? Forgive my …

After is a big word

Have you ever 'bargained' with God? I mean that moment in your life when you just promised God some form of service or dedication if he'd just do this 'one thing' for you right here and now. I have to ask a hard question here - did you uphold your end of the bargain? Most of us would likely answer a big old "no" on that one. We might have started out well in our 'plan' to uphold our end of the bargain, but then somewhere down the road when life got a little more complicated again, we let go of our hold on it a little, or all together. I know I have been in 'tight places' and asked God for deliverance, promising him I'd change a few things in my life, especially when I was younger. I know how many times my promises fell short of total fulfillment - but not for the lack of commitment - just the lack of motivation to stay committed!
Do not throw away your trust, for your reward will be great. You must be willing to wait without giving up.…

Crying Uncle

I've heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I've brought a big bat. I'm all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me! (Dr. Seuss)
Wouldn't it be nice to always live in a "Dr. Seuss" world where everything rhymes and all in life is whimsical and free? News Flash: The world isn't 'Dr. Seuss' compatible at times! Some troubles come from ahead, some from behind - this is reality. I have to ask - are you ready for those troubles? If you are like me, they sometimes catch you a little off-guard! You 'think' you are prepared, but when they hit you full-force, are you really? A moment of true confessions here - I'm not! In fact, I find myself kind of mulling over the muddle I am in and then realize I am gonna need some help!

We are glad for our troubles also. We know that troubles help us learn not to give up. When we have learned not to give up, it shows we ha…