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Showing posts from January, 2021

Be an Influencer

The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it — rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers. (Jonah 3:5) An unpopular message, delivered by an unwilling messenger, after a hard struggle to get to the point of obedience. How many times are we called by God, equipped by him, and then we find we question the 'thing' he would have us do? Perhaps more than some of us might like to willingly admit. Have you ever wondered if your life could ever make an impact? Perhaps you have listened to people in your past or present who repeatedly belittled you - making any hope of making any difference a thing we consider to be out of reach for us. Maybe you have tried to make an impact - venturing into one area or another, only to have run into brick walls and resistant forces - making you question if the 'thing' you felt compelled to do was really him telling you to do it. I

A few steps back

The more I try to understand God well enough to actually be able to describe him, the more I find I still don't understand him as well as I thought I did yesterday! Do you ever find yourself in that spot? Thinking you finally understand how he moves and works, and then wham...he stuns you with something else you just find totally awesome about him! One thing I have come to understand very well about God is that he isn't put off by 'second chances' - in fact, he affords a means by which we can actually get them - it is called grace! He has a great many attributes, but this is the one you will hear me speak about time and time again - simply because it never gets old, never wears out, and is never fully appreciated until we need it! If you had to define grace, you could use the old school definition of undeserved favor - getting what you didn't deserve. I might describe it as 'second chances' - the setting right of what was done wrong so we can make a go at it

In a dark place?

Been looking a little down lately? Maybe it is because you are hanging your head in shame, or perhaps you are just tired. Regardless of the reason, there is something that is suggestive by our present 'look' - something isn't quite right with us. In moments of rebellion, there comes a time of realization - the moment in time when we realize just how far we have drifted from what God would have wanted for our lives. In that moment, we often look up - simply because we have come to realize there is just no help found in looking down! If we looked down - we'd only see our problem, our shame, our tiredness, and our helplessness! When we look up - we see our hope for deliverance, renewal, freedom, and joy! I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, and my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Th

Even in our rebellion

I just want to take a moment or two to remind each of us that God isn't done with us, even when we find ourselves in worst of places in life, our choices perhaps not the wisest. In the midst of our disobedience, God never stops finding ways to get to our heart - he uses all of this earth's and heaven's resources to reach the recesses of our hearts. The many and varied ways he uses to get the message of his power and protection across to his creation is not limited by the finite because he has access to the infinite. We often don't realize the means God will use until we look back "after the fact" and realize how much God was displaying his power, purpose, AND his protection in our lives. It is in the "hindsight" where revelation occurs - where our mind begins to comprehend what God has been doing in our hearts all along. Then they prayed to God, "O God! Don't let us drown because of this man's life, and don't blame us for his death

A Dark and Dank Place

A huge storm of emotional upset, physical pain, or even relational conflict - could it be a sign of our disobedience? After boarding the ship to Tarshish, in clear disobedience to what God had asked Jonah to do, there comes a huge storm - rocking and tossing the ship every which way. Amazingly, Jonah is able to sleep deep down in the hull of the ship, almost 'sailing through' the calamity his disobedience seems to be bringing into the lives of the others around him! Have you ever stopped to consider this part of the story of Jonah? As I read this passage today, I had to stop and pause over this one because running away from God is seldom the answer to our problems and it creates problems for others in our lives. The harder and farther we attempt to run, the worse the problems seem to be magnified in our lives. Try as we might, God really cannot be escaped! There is just no hiding place from God! Then they grilled him: "Confess. Why this disaster? What is your work? Wher

Instead

There are simply times when the easiest and quickest solution to the problem at hand is just to walk away, right? Ever walk or perhaps even run the other way? You see or hear something, then without a moment's hesitation, you turn and run, hoping to avoid the confrontation, escape the demand, or just plain ignore the situation? I think we could all answer in the affirmative to this one on at least one occasion in our lives. It is sometimes more "convenient" to pretend we did not hear - but I am going to meddle a bit here - what is the cost of hearing and then not doing? It is probably less "costly" in our eyes to just ignore the need - but who will meet the need if we were the ones designed and equipped to do it? I imagine it is less "relationally intense" to avoid the confrontation - but what walls will be built by avoiding the difficult discussions? It is likely we will ignore a few things in life we really were being directed toward because we

Jumping again?

I need explanations - how about you? When something goes awry, I want to understand why, not just that everything will be all right. I think it is because I am a 'process' person - I see the steps it takes and when a step is broken, I need to understand how the break occurred and then implement the 'fix' that will keep the step from breaking down again. There have been lots and lots of times in my life when I thought I knew what 'broke down' in the process - either in my own failure of taking the right steps, or in some other process I was involved in. I actually come to a conclusion as to the 'why' or 'how' way before I understand what was even broken! I think we might all be a little guilty of jumping to conclusions at times. We just don't possess all the facts, but somehow we think we have the whole thing figured out in our minds. We form some type of "story" in our minds we latch onto. In plain language, anytime we don't

Round and Round We Go

Control - we all have issues from time to time, don't we? If we want control, we struggle every time is out of our control - like when traffic comes to a screeching halt on the highway and we have places to be right then. If we don't actually want control and it is thrust upon us, we wanna turn tail and run - like when we get put in charge of a project way out of our comfort zone. We all have times when our days just seem to spin out of control. It is not an easy thing for many of us - we just don't like to have control in the hands of anyone else, or to be told we need to control things! Whenever control shifts, we feel "out of control" - anxiety creeps in, frustration mingles with our anxious thoughts, until we end up on the edge of wanting to just scream, "Give me back the reigns, fool!" or worse yet, "I give up, I'm done, I am out of here!"  Okay, if this has never described your day, don't read on! If it has...maybe you'd be

Spits and spurts

By now you all know I am a little bit of a "people watcher" - I look at their walk, posture, facial expressions, position they take in a crowd, and even where they put their hands. Why? These 'tell a story' about the person and where they are emotionally, physically, and even perhaps spiritually. You soon realize there are many "styles" of walking. Some take slow, meandering steps, not appearing to have a care in the world - but is that an accurate picture? Others walk at an "all-out" pace you'd imagine a marathon runner to require - in a hurry to get somewhere, catch up with someone, or just challenge their body. Still others seem to "strut there stuff" as they swagger along - perhaps thinking their 'image' of 'being cool' or 'standing out' matters more than what is on the inside. Believe it or not, our "gait" tells a whole lot about what is going on in a person's entire body. If you shuffle

Just askin...

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (I John 4:20-21) Let's take a moment to get honest with each other here, shall we? Do you think you are a pretty good person? Go ahead, answer that one honestly. If you answered affirmatively then a follow-up to that one is who do you NOT love? Who do you find yourself around that you kind of feel like you are just at opposite ends of the pole and you are forced to kind of like them so you can work with them, live nearby them, or perhaps even live with them in your own family/household? If you could name someone there, good! You are being honest with yourself and God. Now back to the one who answered they are a pretty good person. Who do you NOT love? Chances are it doesn't matter whi

It is not just 'full-speed ahead'

Maybe life is a little complicated for us right now - every day brings new reports of worsening pandemic, more loss of life, riots, disagreements, and the list goes on. Why would we ever want to leave the safety of our homes? We have all experienced those moments when the "mess" of our present "muddled circumstances" seems like more than enough to handle - then along comes someone telling us to get "deeper" into the "muddle"! I think we all probably might have responded similarly to the one who tells us to get ourselves into a deeper muddle - it probably went something like, "Are you nuts! Things are more than I can handle right here and you want me to do what?" Hey, this is not a new response! In fact, there is are tons of similar ones recorded in the Bible - I think God doesn't want us to think we are alone in this muddle! But David's men said, "We live in fear of our lives right here in Judah. How can you think of go

Let it go

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:26-28 MSG) No division - no WE/THEY. In Christ's family there can be no division. Let that one sink in a moment. Take even two minutes to think about the present circumstances in our nation and you will realize there is even more division and 'divisiveness' these days than ever. We have families and friends 'divided' over this pandemic - divided over if it is real or is it a hoax? We have neighbors within communities 'divided' over which 'lives matter'. We have a

Under God

Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered. God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me? God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies. Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people; Far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities. Hemmed in by barbarians, in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt; Hemmed in and with no way out, in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt; Like swarming bees, like wild prairie fire, they hemmed me in; in God’s name I rubbed their faces in the dirt. I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me. God’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation. Hear the shouts, hear the triumph songs in the camp of the saved? “The hand of God has turned the tide! The hand of God is raised in victory! The hand of God has turned the tide!” (Psalm 118:5-6 MSG) Sometimes I feel like I have been 'pushed to the wall' - pin

Going all in

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16) We are faith-filled risk-takers intent on being holy as our God is holy. Does that describe you? We all come to Christ exactly as we are - none of us is better than any other person - all are able to be faith-filled risk-takers intent on being holy IN CHRIST JESUS. We receive this gift of 'new life' and almost without us realizing it, do you know what God does within us? He 'pulls us into a way of life shaped by god's life'. Now that should make all of us more than just a little bit hopeful, my friends. We have been given a gift we

At the end of it all

What do your 'treasures' reveal about you? About your focus in life? About who or what you consider to be important? Did you realize what you treasure most is a good indication of where you will invest the greatest amount of your time and talent? If your 'treasure' is in your family, you likely spend a great deal of time with members of your family, helping them to complete tasks, enjoying leisure pursuits together, and even just 'hanging' in front of the screen watching a good movie at times. If your 'treasure' is in your career, you likely invest a great deal of time, talent, and sometimes even money into that career. You better your education, so you are more proficient at what it is your are doing, looking for the next big move you can make to stay relevant and 'in demand' within your job market. If you don't know where your 'treasure' is, look at where you spend the majority of your time, or focus the greatest part of your attent

We all hide, now seek

If you ever played that childhood game of 'hide and seek', you are probably aware someone is given the task of 'finding' and the others are given the task of 'hiding'. The challenge was to find the 'best' hiding place so you didn't get found. Back in the day, we had a great neighborhood for hiding - lots and lots of really well-concealed hiding spots on my property and the two that adjoined it. We had 13 citrus trees, a huge mulberry tree, and two pretty impressive sized junipers in my yard alone - not to mention the chicken coop, the fenced in pool area, shrubs, shed, and the like. All provided ample hiding space for one who could scurry up the trunk, duck behind a wall or two, or into the cover of the leaves fast enough. As I recall all the places I hid, none was as safe as the place I run to now! I run to the safety of God's arms. Today, it isn't so much that I am playing a childhood game of 'hiding' as much as I find I am 'h

BE strong

There are days when I feel ever so grateful and aware of each breath, each rhythmic thump of my heart, and each wisp of air as it gently passes through my hair. As I am on the 'back-half' of my life now, I think I fully appreciate each morning I awaken without an ache or pain bothering me, find my blood pressure within normal range, or just simply start the day with a leisurely pace. There haven't been many of these moments, but I have had a couple of those "life or death" moments - car spinning out of control on an icy roadway, or even narrowly missing a multiple car pile up because I was able to pull up onto an embankment quickly. Perhaps we get too caught up in life at times to even realize the type of fight we are really in - more moments than we might imagine as "life or death" occurring all around us. In the moments we take to actually pause long enough to look around, we often discover we are in the fight of our life! God is strong, and he wants

No chinks here

Ever heard anyone say that guy has nerves of steel? They are actually paying the individual a compliment, but I also have heard some say the contrary statement, "They have absolutely no backbone." What is the difference between the two guys? One is putting it all out there without any signs they are intimidated by the circumstances, while the other is labeled as 'no backbone' because they have a little more concern over the issues ahead of them. There are times when we all need to hear the words that will actually bolster our courage, serving to increase our faith, and helping to put "steel in our spines" again. No matter how hard we try, we sometimes experience moments of doubt - the siege against us seeming to be far more prepared for the battle than we our with our own defense. The truth is, we are often caught unaware in the moment of attack in our lives. Most of us have little to no clue of the next thing which will put us into a tailspin. For many t

From rags to riches

Do you ever put something on, thinking it would make you look good or would be of the newer fashions available in the stores, then immediately pull it off, replace it back on the hanger and return it to the rack at the store? Your first impression was, "I have seen others wear this style and it looks so cute!" Your first impression on you: "Uh....this does not look good on me!" Maybe it is a "girl thing", but I think guys go through this frustration once in a while, too. They may just not admit it! There is one form of "attire" which will never disappoint, never look odd on us, and always flatters us! It never goes out of style. Everyone can 'wear it', but no one wears it quite the same, yet they look so very good in it. That attire is none other than the grace and peace of God. It is what scripture references when we hear about the 'garments of righteousness'. I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my so

Grace Beats

Every now and then I am surprised by something someone does or says that I honestly never expected them to do. I am quite certain I have surprised people more than once with my own actions - actions they never thought I'd do either! So many times we form opinions of others based on what we see. The only "chink" in this method of "opinion forming" is we don't have the full picture! When we can realize how we miss the mark sometimes, we are taking the first step toward correcting our actions! Actions don't correct themselves - there must first be an acknowledgement that we need to change and then we must take the correct steps. But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah. (Genesis 6:8) Do we ever wonder if God likes what he sees right now when he looks at us? I do! There are definitely times when I think God DOESN'T like what he sees because the actions were rude, harsh, or just downright selfish. I sometimes think my actions are based upon

One day...

Have you ever been in that moment when you'd like to say something, but you know better than to even open your mouth? I have and let me tell you...it is harder to stay silent sometimes, but oh so worth it! The words I would say would not be helpful, could even incite a little argument or two, and might even end up doing more harm than good. There are times when silence is definitely the best "tactic" to utilize, yet there are others when remaining silent will just worsen a situation. Learning how to use silence in a positive manner is a skill many of us never fully grasp. In fact, many of us don't like silence. We avoid it at all cost. There are also a group of us who like to express our opinion - invited or not. Either way, what we do with the silence is important - what we do with the spoken word is even more so. When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: "Don't think that just because you live in the king's ho