Showing posts from 2021

Instant or Consistent?

 Mother Teresa reminds us to "be faithful in small things because it is them that your strength lies." Jesus told his disciples, "If you are honest in the small things, you will be honest in the big things." (Luke 16:10) Faithfulness isn't always the easiest things - consistency to always do the small things is hard, isn't it? I remember to dust the TV console because the dust is quite evident. I don't always remember to dust the picture frames - because they are smaller, out of my immediate line of sight, and easier to 'forget about'. It is like the rungs on the kitchen chairs - I can completely ignore them until one day the light reflects on them just the right way and I realize just how badly they need my attention! There are things in our lives we attempt to ignore just a bit and they could be the very things that need the biggest part of our attention right now! What are some of the small things God is asking you to pay attention to today? Y

A cut path

My troubles turned out all for the best—they forced me to learn from your textbook. (Psalm 119:71) To disturb the mental calm and contentment of an individual is indeed an unfortunate state of affairs. To constantly worry, be in distress, feel agitated or stirred up is a terrible place to find oneself. There are a whole lot of things in this life that annoy the stuffing right out of us. One trouble upon another will wear us down. If you have ever observed a stone 'grooved' by a constant drip of water, you may not know exactly when the 'erosion' happens, but it does! We never really know what "drop of water" will actually be the first to begin the "groove", nor do we know when the last drop will accomplish its work, do we? We have lots of tiny drops, all working away to "cut a groove" across our lives, trying desperately to divert the waters in a totally different direction. The seemingly impervious stone is eventually eroded away by the &

Compounding interest?

I think Henry Ford may have been the one to remind us, "Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal".  We all seem to lose focus on the mission, if even for a temporary span of time, when we get wrapped up in the obstacles in our midst. Booker T. Washington said, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome." An obstacle is anything or anyone that "obstructs" our vision, progress, or stand. It almost blocks our passage from one point to the other. If you are like me, these are simple annoyances that you "deal with" and then quickly move on. I sometimes "paint myself into a corner", then am left trying to figure a way out - tackling more than an 'annoyance'. How about you? The truth is, there has never been an obstacle (or a corner) that God has not been right there with the wisdom to help me through it (or around it).  The perception

Goose-bumps aren't always necessary

Sometimes we want to just 'feel' God - right? We want to know he is with us - that he is right here in this moment. We want to 'feel' his presence - that he isn't far away, but drawing near and holding us close. Is it wrong to want to 'feel' God? Absolutely not! In fact, God doesn't ask us to squelch our feelings. We aren't to rely upon what we feel, but it is not wrong to have feelings. There are times when we will 'feel' life deeply and there are going to be other times when the 'feelings' just don't come through - especially when it comes to feeling the presence of God in our lives. Drawing near doesn't always ensure some type of 'super-natural' moment with God - shivers down our spine, warm fuzzies overwhelming us. Drawing near does ensure we are right where we need to be to hear from God and to have him direct our lives - even when we don't 'feel' those warm fuzzies! I’m happy from the inside out, and

Pondering the year

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. (Hal Borland) With just a few short days left in this year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect over the past couple of very challenging years. This pandemic has been astronomically difficult for a great many - losses abounding all around us. Families have lost loved ones - homes emptied of fathers, mothers, siblings - never to be quite the same again. Lives have been changed as bodies may have 'recovered' per medical standards, but the tell-tale signs of this awful disease linger on in the core of their being. Social gatherings have been curtailed, scaled-down, or not held at all - leaving many lonely, fearful, and without support. Masks have become a permanent part of the wardrobe of many - covering over smiles, hiding fear, and leaving us wondering what a person really looks like underneath it all. As we ponder the passing of these two very challenging yea

Poop Happens

Okay, for those who know me, you know I like a funny story, but the joke was on me yesterday morning as I walked along the canal with my BFF. Calmly walking along, just sharing our thoughts and laughing together a bit, and all of a sudden, I felt a very wet 'plop' on the top of my head! You guessed it - a bird had relieved itself on my freshly washed hair! I started this little dance in place, pointing at my head, my BFF asking what on the earth was wrong, and then she saw it. Retrieving a small stick from nearby, she was able to rid my head of the offending matter. I could hardly wait to rush home to wash it out, but at least it was 'gone' for the most part. I told her this would make good 'blog' material somehow - so here goes. There are just times in life when things are going pretty well, then all of a sudden, without warning and without pretense, something catches us off-guard. We 'dance in place' a bit, but unless we have someone alongside us to h

On this Christmas morn...

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us , had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. (Ephesians 1:11-12) As we ponder Christmas this morning, I'd like us to answer two questions: Who are you?  What are you living for? Most of us will answer the first questions with our name, or even add a little about ourselves such as our occupation or position in life. We might even feel we have really answered this question with these "facts", but I wonder if we really realize exactly who we are? In fact, most of us really don't tell others who we are; they observe it by how we behave - how we respond to life. Our actions reveal a great deal more about our true identity than any names, titles, or declared interests ever will! The second question really gets at the root of this thought - what (or wh

Truth will always be truth

Truth lasts;  lies are here today, gone tomorrow. (Proverbs 12:19) Elvis Presley reminded us, "Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, it ain't goin' away". Can you see the logic in what he said? Truth is enduring - it isn't here today and gone tomorrow. If we keep in mind that truth is not a 'thing', but rather a 'person', this statement is even more profound. You can shut Christ away for a time, but he 'ain't goin' away'! He is the one who will pursue, no matter how much darkness we create within our lives - his light isn't going to be shut out forever! We would like to put 'truth' into a category - the truth we will believe quickly and easily accept; while the thing we have a little trouble believing or accepting may not be as easy for us to deal with. Christ is ALL truth - there is no 'believe this' and 'not that' in Christ. It is an ALL or NOTHING faith! You either believe he is the So

Don't are right where you need to be

Moses told the people, Fear not; stand still ( firm, confident, undismayed ) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians you have seen today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. (Exodus 14:13-14) It is one thing to stand still - quite another to be at peace, remaining at rest, while the world whirls past you at speeds capable of making your head spin! The people of Israel are being led away from the slavery of Egypt - Pharaoh's army close on their heels, not really willing to let them leave the land where they had been servants for years. Imagine being an unorganized, start-up nation, no armies of your own, and only a "dream" of freedom. Here you are, faced with the armies behind, and a huge, raging body of water before - one direction ensures bondage, the other promises hope - but something stands between the past and the future. The water was really the div that's how I stay on course!

Oh, that my ways were directed and established to observe Your statutes [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them]! Then shall I not be put to shame [by failing to inherit Your promises] when I have respect to all Your commandments. I will praise and give thanks to You with uprightness of heart when I learn [by sanctified experiences] Your righteous judgments [Your decisions against and punishments for particular lines of thought and conduct]. (Psalm 119:5-7) We are probably frequently heard crying out to God, asking him to set our ways straight again because for some unknown reason we have managed to stray from the path we should be on once again. Our plea - direct and establish my ways - not to live as I want, but to observe your Word in its entirety. A "directed" life is one that is both God guided and regulated, so the course is made certain and true. It is like when I used to ride the little cars at Disneyland as a child - I had no idea the metal bar which ran

Adopted by Grace

But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. (Galatians 4:4-5) Set free to experience our rightful heritage - did you catch those words in this passage? It is your 'rightful heritage' to experience all that God has prepared for you from now into all of eternity - wouldn't it be silly to walk away from such an inheritance? How can we be sure we will experience ALL that God has for us? If you have said &q

Abundant life indeed

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live; and I will observe Your word [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]. (Psalm 119:17) Something that is determined to be bountiful - don't we all want this in our lives? We want to receive liberally those things that are given generously and abundantly. We all appreciate having an ample supply of the things we need and desire in life. When I look at my bank account, I hope to see "ample" supply for every purchase I need to make - don't you? When I examine the contents of the pantry, I want to see an abundance of the "good stuff" which seems to satisfy both my cravings and my hunger. When I am down in the dumps, I call upon God's generous grace because I know it will be what pulls me to my feet again. When God "deals" with me, I want him to do it with liberal grace, generous love, and abundant power. How about you? It would be wrong to expect God to deal with us in grace just so we ca

Leave it

When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don’t go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God, your God, will bless you in all your work. When you shake the olives off your trees, don’t go back over the branches and strip them bare—what’s left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don’t take every last grape—leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. (Deuteronomy 24:19-21) I wonder if we have given much thought to the various "harvests" we have in our lives. The great work of producing the end result of a tremendous "intake" of grain is almost missed by us because we simply go to the local grocer and purchase the bagged flour, loaf of bread, or cake mix right off the shelf. If there was a greater appreciation for the "work" which makes the harvest possible, I wonder if we'd have any greater appreciation for the &quo

Got any grapes?

“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) Most might be familiar with this passage about the vine and branches - being joined together with Christ producing new life within us. I have to ask - did anyone really see the part about how God shows WHO HE IS to the world? It is the production of fruit in our lives - when we become mature in our faith and stand strong in the faith - these are evidence of WHO he is, not just what he does! The first thing to remember is that fruit cannot be produced where

Are you seeking understanding?

  “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.” (John 14:21) It is one thing to know something, but quite another thing to act upon what we know, isn't it? I just discovered a crack in my drywall that was repaired when they painted the house a year ago. I believed the repair to be solid and to the uninformed eye it was pretty much undetectable. I heard some settling the other night and now it is back again! I see it - know it is there - but I haven't taken any action to repair it yet. Why? I want to know the best way to act - not acting in haste, wasting time and resources on something that won't last. We all get the same information about God's commandments, don't we? We can read them in his Word and we can even talk them over with others who also know them. It is one thing to 'know' them - quite another to be willing to ta

Common Ground

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do . And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with . Treat them gently . (Romans 14:1) All history is really the aggregate of past events; all that is preserved or remembered about the past put together in some form of 'remembered events'. We ALL have a history, do we not? For some of us, the "story" is quite involved, colorful, and perhaps even a little seedy at times. For others, the "story" may be a little less complicated, sort of mundane, and without too many deviations from a straight course. Regardless of the picture painted by our past, there are still things from our past which act upon us today, influencing how we interact with life in the present. It is sometimes quite difficult to welcome into ou

Bless and keep on blessing

Blessed are those who give without remembering and take without forgetting.  (Elizabeth Bibesco) The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (Proverbs 11:25) How many of us have been beating the paths at the local department stores in search of those 'perfect gifts' for our loved ones this Christmas season? We shop till we about drop, wrap till our fingers ache, and decorate till our homes are all aglow. Yet, I wonder how many of us have taken a breather long enough to remember the blessings we have received in Christ Jesus? Christmas isn't about the presents - it is about his PRESENCE with us. It isn't about what we might receive - it is about what we must give. Christmas is going to come and go, just like other days each calendar year, but we put so much work into that one day, don't we? I would like to put a little challenge out there this morning. Would you possibly consider how you can keep Christmas alive all year throug

Made Perfect

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. (1 John 1:8-10) Have you ever told yourself something only to find out in the end you were really just fooling yourself and absolutely nobody else? Until we actually look in the mirror, we don't see what is likely right in front of us all the time. Even when we look into the mirror, we may not see exactly what we thought was there - because the mirror is clouded over with some film, steamy and distorting the image of what we see. Even if you try to wipe the steam away a little, the image you may see is still a little distorted by the remaining particles of water gat

Bolstered inside and out

Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (John 8:12) We might need to ask God to show us what has previously been hidden within us - cuz we have become experts at keeping stuff in the dark, haven't we? There is absolutely no reason for us to stumble around in the darkness - hiding all kinds of stuff we think others shouldn't know about us, or worse yet, trying to stuff things into little cubby-holes in order to keep Jesus from knowing about them. This means there is nothing hidden - all things are revealed. The world's light has come - there is no more hiding - NONE. Perhaps this frightens us a bit - remembering we have all become pretty savvy at hiding stuff we don't want to admit exists in us, or that we don't want others to know about us. It is the stuff we don't want to admit exists in us that probably gives us the greatest sense of fear - exposure

Let's get an adjustment

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 agenda but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me. (John 6:35) Have you ever seen God in action and then refused to believe it was him? You credit the happenings to something else like 'fate', 'the universe', 'stars aligning', or 'luck'. How silly of us to think things just happen by 'fate' or 'luck', much less that the 'stars aligning' actually happen without the one who made them actually aligning them! Every person given by the Father to Jesus eventually comes running - that means the more we try to resist or 'explain away' our d

Get 're-activated' in his presence

God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax ; you’re never sorry you knocked. (Psalm 9:9-10) There are times in our lives when we just seem to feel a little "battered" by the various things coming at us - things out of our control, some brought on just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time - others brought on because we deliberately put ourselves in the place where we'd feel these repeated blows. The present "battering" many of my friends are taking are definitely not by their own doing - they are being battered by disease, the unknown of resistant viruses in tiny bodies, and the uncontrolled actions of internal processes gone wild in bodies plagued with disease. In these moments, the repeated blows seem to deal a very "heavy" and "damaging" effect on the mind, emotions, and even the spirit of those dealing with the circumstances. Bad times will come - we just cannot evade them

But how...

Tolkien reminded us, "Courage is found in unlikely places." For some of us, the holidays require a bit of 'mustered courage' on our parts. They are not something we look forward to - perhaps because of loneliness, family discord, or even a lack of hope things will ever change in this world. As much as we are frightened by the load we bear right now, I wonder if we could look at the 'load' Mary bore all those years ago and take note of her tremendous courage to do what no other has been called to do. She was called to bear the Christ child - to bring into this world the Son of God in earthly form - an unwed mother, conceiving by 'miraculous means', in a time when 'being with child' outside of wedlock would have meant immediate rejection and disgrace. I don't doubt Mary had some significant moments of fear as she faced the Angel Gabriel that day - alone, visited by a heavenly presence, told she had been chosen. In fact, scripture tells us Gab

A little take-away for you

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. (I Peter 2:9-10) Most of the time, we go through life making all kinds of choices without much thought - simply because things have become so familiar to us and we just do it by habit. We reach for the salt or pepper at the table simply because we have done this for years. We drive a particular path to the store without much thought to the winding path, sometimes not even aware of the things we pass simply because they are so familiar to us because of the sheer frequency of the path we travel. We gravitate to the same place at the table, in the living room furniture, and even 'our side' of the bed - it is "our" space. We have indicated a "preference" for a certain route, spot,

Is it time?

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have. (Margaret Mead) “‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’ “What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn’t just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world." (Acts 26:17-20) The Apostle Paul is on the 'witness stand' before King Agrippa, brought there by Festus, the new governor of Cesarea. The religious leaders want t

Christmas memories

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. (Roy L. Smith) And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. (I John 5:21) We might forget this truth, but Christmas is the very best of times to celebrate the love of God. It is also the best of times to celebrate each other - family and friends coming together to celebrate the joy of the season, but also to celebrate each other! It is a time to create memories. I don't know about you, but the gathering together seems to be less and less as the family grows up and we all seem to have our own 'direction' to travel in life. Memories are made in the moments - so take the moments this holiday season to make them.  Jesus is our greatest gift - the one we receive ourselves and the one we can give to others. It is unlike every other gift - we d