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Showing posts from October, 2020

Carry me

Back a number of years ago, I undertook one of the toughest hiking experiences I have ever done. It was a 13-mile hike down into the Grand Canyon. The trails were steep, to stay the least, and most were quite narrow as we made the descent downward, so I knew the ascent up was gonna be a 'bugger'. I was a lot younger then, and a whole lot dumber! We packed full packs, small tent, and sleeping bags, along with lots of water because there was no fresh water at the base of the canyon. On the way down, I was too 'prideful' to admit that pack was heavier than heavy! I just took the weight upon my shoulders and plodded along. It was exhausting and my body felt the toll at the bottom of that trail. As we settled in for the night, I remembered looking over at those who were along on the hike and declaring firmly that I was hiring a mule to take my pack up to the top on the way out! Why? I learned there is value in having someone else bear my burdens at times! Carry one another’

Huh...so I have to listen?

Of all human activities, man's listening to God is the supreme act of his reasoning and will.  (Pope Paul VI) Listening to God is harder than you might think! We can 'hear' God and then we can really "HEAR" God. The first 'hearing' is just merely letting it go in one ear, consider it a little while, then lose it as fast as we received it. The latter 'HEARING' is us really being intent on ruminating on what God tells us and allowing that word he gives to begin to affect our total being - thoughts, emotions, attitude, and eventually our actions. Did you stop for a moment to consider what Pope Paul said there - listening to God is really an act of the will and our 'reasoning' power. Do you know how to always have the right answer when you need it? You learn it before you need it! Joy is found in giving the right answer. And how good is a word spoken at the right time! (Proverbs 15:23) The 'right answer' isn't all that far away fro

Take some time

The best time of year to enjoy some of the fruits of the season varies, doesn't it? The melons are juicy and sweet in summer, but almost non-existent in winter. The grapes are colorful and tasty right from the vines during summer. The strawberries boast luscious enjoyment and a sweet scent, but come fall and winter, they just don't taste the same. Fruit has a way of satisfying our senses - both internally (our taste buds) and externally (sight and smell). There is another kind of fruit we might enjoy a little better if we realized we might just "eat it" at a later time! The fruit I refer to is our words - they can be satisfying in season, not so sweet out of season, and sometimes totally non-existent! Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18:20-21) Good talk - fruit for our souls, nourishment for our minds, and h

Adrift

If you have ever just drifted on an inner tube on what you think is just 'still water', you probably realize that even the stillness of those waters had some type of 'under-current' that caused you to drift slowly away from where you began. Just because something looks 'still' doesn't mean it won't cause drift. I have learned to stay away from raging waves because the under-tow is totally evident - I would likely get carried away, sucked under, and have a hard time getting free. I haven't quite learned that same lesson about the 'still waters' I think will not be of any harm to me in life. In fact, I forget just how much 'drift' can occur when I just settle in and lose focus! There you are on that inner tube, waters are seemingly still, then you open your eyes and see just how far away from the shoreline you really are! Lose focus for even a while and drift is likely to impact your life in big ways. Give me back the joy that comes fr

Find your delight

Find your delight in the Lord. Then he will give you everything your heart really wants.  (Psalm 37:4) Do you know how this psalm begins? David begins by telling us to stop being upset because of sinful people and to stop being jealous of all those around us who are doing wrong. Do you ever find yourself caught up in the moments of comparison where you actually begin to bemoan the fact the ones doing wrong around you seem to prosper and you are just struggling to make it through? I think this can be more commonplace than we might first believe. It is hard to see people behaving poorly and seeming to just slide on by without anyone calling them on their behavior. It is hard to observe injustices overlooked. The instruction is quite simple - stop dwelling on their 'good fortune' in the midst of some pretty poorly made choices on their part. Why? The answer is found in the next verse - "Like grass, they will soon dry up. Like green plants, they will soon die." Our respon

Leaving the Shack

Temples of God - what does that phrase mean to you? To me it means there is a special dwelling place where the presence of God dwells. As we have discussed in the past, that 'temple' is actually human beings, filled with the presence of the Most Holy God through the gift of grace provided by the sacrificial offering of His One and Only Son, dying for the sins of the world. As a young girl, I remember going through some areas as my parents would set out on a long weekend away from it all. I recall seeing both very new, modern looking homes standing right next to a very old buildings fashioned out of adobe brick, tree branches, and even a few sod roofs. I asked my dad why the new homes were built, but not lived in and do you know what he told me? Those 'new homes' weren't what the people dwelling in the land were familiar with - it was foreign to them. They chose to live where they were most comfortable. I wonder if we sometimes are like those people I observed all th

What are your cardinal virtues?

George Washington Carver reminded us, "Where there is no vision, there is no hope." Carver was a committed scientist, always looking for ways to improve the soil that otherwise would have been depleted by years and years of planting the cotton crops of the day. His desire was to see agriculture take on the 'preservation' of the soil nutrients, planting in such a ways so as to allow the soil to 'regenerate' and be renewed. Did you know he was a Christian man? He was one of the first to proclaim that all of science is aided by the understanding of what it is to be in Christ Jesus - in other words, his faith 'enabled' him to be a good scientist. He could have been a very wealthy man, but instead he lived an average life, pouring himself into his work, his family, and the betterment of agriculture. On his grave you will find these words:  He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Somebody once said that doing something over and over and over again is not hard work - it more of a habit than hard work. They would be right, of course, because repeated tasks doesn't mean we are working hard. I used to have an older friend who'd respond to the question, "Are you working hard", with the quip of "Nope, hardly working". He actually prided himself on 'carrying off' the image of working hard, but in reality he was doing quite the opposite! If there is one matter that requires both 'habit' and 'hard work', it would have to be this matter of our words and actions aligning all of the time. Having both of these be deemed to be 'pleasing' to the Lord is kind of a 'crap shoot' for many of us. We get it right some of the time, but in truth, we don't get it so right the rest of the time! Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, O Lord, my Rock and the One Who saves me.

Know Your Target

Michelangelo reminds us: " The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. " Yup, this is so true - it isn't that we don't aim - it is that we settle for aiming low. What is your aim in life? Whatever it is, you always want to aim a little higher than your target if you ever expect to hit it. If your target is moving, you track a little in front of it because you expect that the target will move into your aim. The thing is that God doesn't give us 'moving targets' to aim at in life, so his target for us won't move into our aim - we have to adjust our aim to hit his target! The purpose of aiming is to hit something, not hope whatever it is will just happen into our aim! My eyes are on the crown. I want to win the race and get the crown of God’s call from heaven through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) My eyes are on the crown - this is a clearly defined ta

I am not thinking straight

The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts. (James Joyce) How do people around you appear to be acting these days? If you have a circle of friends like mine, their actions are pretty consistent, loving, and kind. If you look around you today, you may observe there are a whole lot of unkind actions being taken against individuals. There seems to be a lot of anger amongst people these days - leading to actions that are just not all that good around us. Actions are the direct result of what we think about the most. If fear is your main mode of operation, chances are you are allowing your thoughts to continually dwell on things well outside of your sphere of control. If you want to know what a man is thinking - just observe his actions! Do not act like the sinful people of the world. Let God change your life. First of all, let Him give you a new mind. Then you will know what God wants you to do. And the things you do will be good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Be a BIG Dreamer

For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) If you were to hear those words spoken over your life today, what would you imagine yourself doing with the help and power of God actually guiding you to accomplish it? I think we 'dream dreams', but we seldom see those dreams come to full fruition. We have 'big plans', but they somehow fizzle out before they ever get finished. The more dream, the harder it seems it is to see those dreams become a reality. I dream of retirement and I am getting closer to that place, but today is not the day to accomplish that dream. Just because we dream something doesn't always make that dream come true - but if God is the author of our dreams, those things are already set in motion within our lives that will help to bring that dream to fruition! Disney used to say all our dreams could come true if we had the courage to pursue them. I don

Doing it by rote

Billy Graham reminded us, "It is not the body's posture, but the heart's attitude that counts when we pray." How many of us focus so much on the 'way' we do something and forget all about the 'why' behind it? I think we might just do this a little more than we suspect as evidenced by us doing things 'by rote'. We do hundreds of things each day, simply by rote. Do you think through the steps of brushing your teeth, donning your socks, or even making the coffee? Probably not...they have become 'rote' tasks you just do without even putting much thought into them. If you really think about it, there are probably a lot of 'spiritual things' we can do totally by rote if we aren't careful. Some will pile into the cars on Sunday mornings - make their way to their local church building - all by rote. There was no real 'preparation' to participate in that worship service - they were there because it was Sunday and that is what

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, hi

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 r

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 f

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 se

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

J ust 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 h