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Showing posts from December, 2020

What is that smell?

I recently parted with a huge amount of printed materials, reference books, and the like from my bookshelves. I was paring down to the critical few that I really wanted to keep because I use them from time to time. Most of what I can research today is online, so I even find myself not going to Webster's on the shelf so much, but the dictionary that is online when I need to look up a spelling or find the meaning / origin of the word. I recently had to go back to my trusty dictionary to look up an all too familiar word. I was surprised at the primary definition I discovered, as it really was not my first impression of the word. The word I sought out was "cynic". The primary definition is a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and then disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view. I thought a cynic was a nay-sayer - one who just opposed things because they had a genuinely "sour" disposition in life! I al

Balanced, not going anywhere, and resourceful

My niece has goats on her property and I am always amazed at their activities. They jump up onto higher objects like gravity didn't exist, balancing precariously on a slim edge of board like they didn't fear falling, and all the while try to keep each other away from their favored 'perch'. They would eat continuously and what goes in must come out the other end - almost continuously, as well! They butt into areas they shouldn't be into, cleverly finding ways to find stored food, and taunting others in the pasture with them if they have the chance. Interesting animals indeed. It is almost like they are the 'owners' of the pasture. Do you ever think God a little comical in what he records in scripture? Sometimes you come across something you know is really not "comical", but when you see it, you cannot help yourself - you laugh! Yep....that's what happened when I came across the portion of scripture which described a goat as a "solemn dign

Rear-view or Full-view?

And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; they wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!  (Psalm 84:5-7) Some of us may have God in our rear-view mirror right now. It is like we look up one day and realize that he isn't in front of us any longer - we aren't following him as closely as we were at one time. Sometimes that is a result of us taking our focus off him, while at others it is more of us having drifted into just doing things by rote. We read the Word, but it is because it is habit - we aren't really getting much out of it. We say a few prayers, but it is also out of habit - we aren't really expressing our heart or listening to his. Ever start out on a journey and find yourself there, almost unaware of the twists and turns you took to get there? We all have roads we travel

My size? GRACE!

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did "see what's really going on"—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. (Genesis 3:6-7) How are you doing with this 'blame' thing? Maybe hit the snooze button one too many times because of a rough night, then blame your tardiness at work on being "caught in traffic"...really, who was to blame? Perhaps a deadline passed without your work being finished, while your online shopping is all complete, and you excuse it away with just how "busy" you have been...really, who was to blame? It is silly how we try to "cover up" our little "missed steps" with all kinds of make-shift things that are really a 'cover-up', isn't it? As I was reading the s

Why fear?

Light, space, zest— that's God! So, with him on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. (Psalm 27:1) Wow! Three simple words, but pretty all-inclusive of the character of God if you ask me! Light, space, and zest - what could he possibly have meant by using these words? We all have probably tried our best to describe God to someone at sometime in our lives. It is harder than you might think, isn't it? We launch out into some kind of lengthy explanation of what God does , how he moves among us, or even how he makes us feel . All the while, we are really struggling with giving anything truly "concrete" in our answer - we have an idea of how he 'acts', 'moves', and even how he makes us feel, but are we really describing God? What God declares about himself in this passage is simple and to the point! He is LIGHT, SPACE, and ZEST.  Light - the very message we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in him there is n

Step One - Observe the Prepared Ingredients

I find myself looking down at a plate of food I have made, all very good ingredients and smelling very inviting, only to realize I have prepared a 'white' meat, 'white' veggie, and a 'white' starch! The plate is kind of 'bland' in appearance, although it smells and will taste wonderful! The action of considering how the plate would 'present' didn't even cross my mind as I prepared it. In fact, I just pulled this or that from the cabinets, fridge, and freezer - combining ingredients and seasoning just right - without even one thought to it all being rather 'bland' in appearance on those white plates. I wonder just how often we go through life, pulling this or that together without one thought to how it will all 'appear' in the end. What gets 'combined' will one day be 'presented' - we might just want to give some thought to that one! We can have all the right ingredients and still lack something in the presentat

Scrubbed Up and Ready to Go!

Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean

Seek the 'advantageous additions'

I have to admit to being a totally insecure individual when I was growing up. I thought nobody could every like me, that my life was always 'less than' someone else's, and that I needed to do or give things to get somebody to really like me. What a crock of lies that was! God made me complete with all kinds of wonderful character traits and yet I totally sold myself short. I just didn't think of myself as much of a 'bargain' when it came to relationships. In fact, I thought I'd have to really 'market' myself to get 'liked'. Truth be told, bargains are kind a neat thing! I have come across individuals in my lifetime that proclaim to be pretty awesome individuals, only to find out they lack a lot in the 'awesomeness' realm! What I found out is that what they proclaimed would be an 'advantageous addition' to my life by simply being in relationship with them was no real 'advantage' at all - the bargain was flawed! Sometime

The Fast & The Furious

We all probably know someone who lives 'fast and furious' - either a family member or friend. They seem to be kind of oblivious to the risks they are taking. What they may fail to recognize today is that the enemy of their soul is about to 'strut his stuff' because all this 'fast and furious' living is about to cave in on them! That makes the enemy of our soul very, very happy! He gets his 'glory walk' on and struts around like a little peacock just relishing every moment of every 'crash and burn'. Do you ever feel like the enemy of your soul is just strutting his stuff when it comes to the choices you have made? It seems like he has repeatedly dealt blow after blow in 2020, until each of us are left low and beaten down. It could be we find ourselves experiencing this "beaten down" state simply because of the subtle, but consistent, compromises we have made. Either way, God hasn't left the throne. The enemy of our soul may be '

I see you this way, but I see myself....

I have to say Craig Groeschel hit the nail on the head this past weekend when he pointed out how differently each of us views a 'fault' depending on whether you have it or it is my own personal one! He said something like 'we view your life by your actions, while we view our own by our intentions'. Telling isn't it? We judge another by their actions - while all the while we justify our actions by evaluating out intentions, not our actions! At times, we are presented with individuals who seem to have an "ulterior motive" in their actions. In other words, what is presented is really a "mask" for something being done to deceive the individual on the receiving end of the action. One thing is said, another is meant. One thing is done, but the intention behind it is completely contrary to the "appearance". This is dangerous ground for us - simply because we really don't know what to expect, or when to trust. If it is out own actions g

Not gonna miss out!

I have moments where I am so acutely aware of what is going on around me, I am pretty sure I don't miss much. Then there are lots of other times when I am not as acutely 'dialed-in', knowing I may miss something, but not really all that concerned about it. How is it we can be so acutely dialed-in at times and then be so 'out there' at others? It has to do with our thoughts, for sure, but it also has a lot to do with our hearts - where our emotions lead us, we often go without hesitation. I think this is why God doesn't just reveal his truths to us once and leave it at that. He knows we may not be as 'dialed-in' as we need to be to actually hear, see, or interpret truth each and every time. We might want to be, but honestly, our emotions just don't always point us in the right direction to see truth when it is revealed, much less use it! It could be the 'little things' in life we miss the most - simply because we 'gloss over' them or d

Oh, so I have to keep it up?

Back in the day, there was a TV show in which Flip Wilson played a character called "Geraldine" who often was heard saying, "The devil made me do it!" Geraldine blamed the purchases she just made on the devil, the accidental running of the car into the side of the church on the devil, and other various shenanigans in her life all on the terrible old devil. It is easy to blame others for our own misguided steps in life, isn't it? It is much more convenient to blame them on the devil! There are even times we have the nerve to "blame" God for the ignorant stuff we do. We venture into stuff without clearly thinking - just plunge right ahead and never consider the end before we begin. In the end, we look back, wondering where God let US down - now isn't that a hoot? Proverbs reminds us people ruin their own lives by their own foolishness (Proverbs 19:3). Ouch! God is not to "blame" for our misguided steps. In fact, when we come right down

Come on in

Mom taught me to leave the house "presentable" - be sure you wear clean underwear, comb your hair, brush your teeth - just a few of the 'rules of being presentable' that were reiterated when I was a youngster. I honestly has carried through into my adulthood, but I am probably less worried about the things that are habit now - like brushing my teeth and putting on clean underwear. It also doesn't mean I always dress up, but I don't go out in my PJs or with hair all askew! There are times when I am in the middle of a build in the shop and realize I will need a few more screws, the right size nail, or an extra piece of lumber. I don't always change out of my 'shop clothes', but I at least wash my hands, run a brush through my hair, and brush off as much of the sawdust as possible. Silly, isn't it, how much we focus on the external as our "view" of being presentable? Most of us forget there is much more importance in being 'presentab

Engraved faces?

Okay, true confessions here - have you ever dropped like a whole box of paper clips and watched in horror as they skittered all over the floor, or worse yet, that box of straight pins? I have and let me just tell you that a bag of beads is even worse! As the saying goes, "If I didn't stop to laugh, I'd just cry". Some of life's littlest hassles can seem really big in those moments, huh? We forget there are bigger ones others are facing - much, much bigger than a few paper clips, straight pins, or beads that require us to scour the floor to pick up. Golda Meir said, " Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either. " One of the most popular columns in the Reader's Digest is "Laughter is the Best Medicine" - something that has made me chuckle on more than one occasion. Why is it we enjoy laughter more than tears? I don't think any of us like the tears we shed, but there is something quite &#

Be at home here

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples." (John 15:5, 8) A few moments this morning pondering this passage may help us to understand just how much God is concerned with our growth - not just our statements of faith or acknowledgements that he is God. He really wants us to know that he is a 'fruit inspector' - he looks for us to bear fruit! Yes, it will be over time because no fruit is instantaneous, but he still looks for signs of a harvest! Jesus points out the 'connection' that results in fruit-

Too many to count

I am always on the look-out for a good deal. I like to find those mark-downs on the end-caps, come across a great garage sale with items so reasonably priced, and even find the perfect good deal on the social media marketplace. A person on the 'look-out' really has to be on their toes, or it is quite possible a good deal could pass them by. Staying on your toes is a term used to describe being prepared for whatever could happen - ready for action - ready to jump in and to take action no matter what it may require. We also could describe this type of 'look-out' stance as being alert and aware of what is going on around us - not missing a beat. There is attentiveness, preparedness, and an investment which is spoken of when we are 'on the look-out'. So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep ea

It is up to us

I have days when it seems like I can accomplish just about anything, and others where it seems like there is nothing getting done. Interruptions seem to rob my planned activities and replace them with those that were unplanned. The harder you seem to work at something (especially those things that are a little harder to accomplish in the first place), the more difficult it seems to become. You never seem to "catch up", never seem to fully "grasp" the goal - making it harder and harder to get to the desired end. In the end, you just stand there in total frustration, more in a muddle than you were when you first began. Just as quickly as we started, we find ourselves out of energy to continue the journey toward that goal! We stop short of the goal - never really crossing the finish line. What a waste, huh? Or is it? We all need reminders from time to time to stay focused even when there are things that aren't going so well for us.  You know by now that I like

Gathered, but also brought

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.” (John 10:14-15) We have all probably read or heard this portion of scripture at one time or another, but I never really caught something that Jesus was saying until this morning. Read that passage again with me and stop at the sentence where Jesus talks about having other sheep in addition to those in this pen. Did you

Long forgotten?

He said, "Then you see how every student well-trained in God's kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it." (Matthew 13:52) I enjoy watching the older movies where life just seemed to be a little easier and less complicated. The simpler times have an intrigue all their own. The struggles to remain true to the convictions when times are quickly changing around us is a reminder to all of us of the speed of change that demands our attention today. What touches me the most is those older movies is what I would call simple trust - in their neighbors, in their family, and in their God. God has much in store for us, but we have to remember there is something very important about 'simple trust' when it comes to seeking his direction or intervention within our lives. The student well-trained in God's Word is the like the owner of a small general store - able to put their hands on an

Gonna meddle a little...

Application being the basis of all change - without application, there is no advantage to knowledge - most of us would probably 'cop' to the plea that we aren't all that good at applying what we know. I have lots of cookbooks and recipes around the house, but that doesn't mean I am a gourmet chef. I can cut a piece of wood on my table saw, but that doesn't make me a master carpenter. I can clean my house so you don't see too many dust bunnies, but that doesn't make me an expert on cleaning. It is only when spiritual and emotional knowledge is applied that we can say we are truly developing "wisdom". I think this may be what Jesus was trying to tell these religious leaders that day when he told them they only sought what would 'titillate' their curiosity rather than really develop an understanding of the One True God. Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. "Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evi

Alignment assures the hold

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me. (John 6:35) I have probably read this passage a hundred times if not more like several hundred, but each time we go through scripture God can bring something new to mind. I think it is because we are more ready to 'see' things or 'hear' things at some times than we are at others. Life's circumstances, our attitude of heart, the removal of distractions, and creating a 'space' for God's presence are just a few things that influence how 'open' we are to what God wants to show us. I am the Bread of Life - how ma

Let it unfold, God

At times I expect God to do things a certain way just because I know he did them that way before. I forget that he is the God of Creation - meaning he is not 'locked into' one way of doing things. He doesn't have to do things he same way each time, but the principles of how he moves are generally pretty consistent. Do you ever expect God to "appear" or "move" one way (the way you imagine in your mind)? Do you expect him to "perform" in a certain manner (the plans you have so carefully calculated or devised that you want him to follow)? When he doesn't "appear" or "perform" as we imagined, how do we handle it? For some of us, we get mad at God for a while, or a little bit confused by his actions - because he did not "fit" our "mold" of how we thought he should act. The Pharisees probably had this same kind of "mental argument" with Jesus as he walked this earth - simply because he didn