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Showing posts from March, 2021

More Moxie, Please

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. (James 1:12) I know many of us don't feel very 'fortunate' when we are faced with challenges that test our faith or fortitude. In fact, we probably groan a bit and wish the doggone thing would just evaporate before our eyes. We might dig in because we know it isn't going to just go 'poof' and be gone, but then somehow we don't have the fortitude to stick it out. Fortitude is both the mental and physical strength to face the difficulty with courage. If you are like me, getting my mind and body to align is a challenge a great deal of time - I get one motivated and moving, but the other seems to lag behind or go in a totally different direction! Have you ever seen something coming at your head-on? As a teen, I remember a group of boys in the neighborhood playing 'chicken' with their bi

Taken in and taking up

"Now, vigilantly guard your souls : Love God, your God. Because if you wander off and start taking up with these remaining nations still among you (intermarry, say, and have other dealings with them), know for certain that God, your God, will not get rid of these nations for you. They'll be nothing but trouble to you —horsewhips on your backs and sand in your eyes—until you're the ones who will be driven out of this good land that God, your God, has given you." (Joshua 23:11-13) Joshua is about to turn over the control of the nation at the point of his death. He gathers the leaders, priests, and elders together. In the moments which pass, he gives them sound advice on how God expects them to live in the land they have been given as an inheritance - a place of permanent settlement after years and years of wandering the deserts. His first piece of advice: Stay alert ! Why? The work was not done - nations still had to be dealt with. Know this, my friends, OUR work

Doubt, is it the enemy of trust?

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season." (Jeremiah 17:7-8) Trust is won, but not as easily as it is broken sometimes. We have all probably trusted someone to do something they committed to do in the manner they promised at the specific time they intended. The outcome was slightly different than what was committed, though. We end up disappointed by the lack of commitment someone revealed in that moment. When that happens repeatedly, trusting that individual to fulfill their commitments becomes very hard, doesn't it? Think for just a few moments today why it is you trust or don't trust God. I doubt a lack of trust in God is based on him not keeping his commitments in the manner he promised within the timing he intended! In fact, it

No choice but to flee

How many of us seem to just be 'spinning our wheels'? We seem to be going nowhere, but we are doing a lot of work to get 'nowhere'. There are times in each of our lives when we just feel like we have been "marching all night". We seem to be constantly moving, but accomplishing very little - exhausted by the many battles of our day that seem to just keep coming no matter how many we have fought. These are the times when our enemy wants to mount his most significant attacks. Why is this the best time for him to attack? He views us as "weak" when we have been "marching long"! He views our physical exertion and weakness as spiritual weakness, too! Silly devil, don't you know who we stand with and who stands strong on our behalf? Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. God threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought th

In and Under Authority, but Absolutely Free

But what happens when we live God’s way ? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. (Galatians 5:22-23) I have run into people over the years that ask why I chose to follow Christ. They aren't asking because they are curious so much, but because their 'view' of being a 'Christ-follower' means I must be a total 'rule follower'

I have 'green hope'

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance: Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing; I’ll sing to your name! And this one: Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together! And again: People of all nations, celebrate God! All colors and races, give hearty praise! And Isaiah’s word: There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (Romans 15

Just not capable

My dad could sell anything - but he also liked to 'brag' about the 'big' fish that got away. He might have been called a 'big talker' when it came to some of his fishing tales, but dad was an excellent fisherman, nonetheless.  Big talkers - do you know any? They kind of paint a picture that sometimes goes way beyond what we imagine possible, but the "picture" never really materializes. What do they do with their "big words" and "big ideas"? They build up hope, don't they? At least until you have been "burned" a few times by the "hollowness" of their words! While dad's 'big talk' was harmless because it was just another 'fish tale', there are 'hollow words' we might all hear from time to time that are not only harmful, they are downright misleading to all who listen. Like billowing clouds that bring no rain  is the person who talks big but never produces.  (Proverbs 25:14) I live in

I am in second place

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12) Chosen by God - don't those words just excite the soul? There is an intense desire on God's part to have you and I as his children - embraced by his love, set free by his grace, and living in the liberty those two things produce within us. We aren't just 'picked from the pack' - we are chosen by him because there is an intense desire - a passion of sorts that keeps his focus squarely on each of us. As a result, we are never outside of his provision, protection, and certainly not far from the reach of his passion.  One part of this passage that struck me this

Coffin Life is No Life

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. (James Baldwin) The more we attempt to 'live within' our masks - rather they protect us from things we'd rather not know, or cover over things we already know all too well - those masks aren't really going to do their job very well in the end. Some people use their careers as the 'mask they live within' - useless busywork that seems to really be getting them nowhere in the end. Others will use their humor as the 'mask they live within' - seeing sarcasm and pointing out the foolishness of others as a way of taking the eyes off of themselves. We can become masters of 'living within' our masks if we allow ourselves to escape into those things. Yes, you read that correctly - we 'allow ourselves' to escape the reality of life by 'living within' some mask we have created. That 'masked place' is really a place of hiding and God asks us to rip

It isn't patience you need - it is endurance

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (2 Peter 1:5-8) If you have ever started a 'project', then realize it sits unfinished some months later, you are not likely alone in that 'project completion' cycle. Many of us are great at 'making starts', but then somewhere down the road it all fizzles out. Why? We began with all the gusto in the world, but somehow that gusto didn't carry us along to the finish line. W

The good worked in is about to become the good worked out

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:28) If you are anything like me, you get a little tired not knowing what God is doing, why it is taking so long, how he plans to take the next steps in your life, or if he is even paying attention. It is always good for me to recall this verse, reminding myself there is no distance between God and ME at this moment or at ANY moment in time. He is right there alongside and his 'role' is to help us along. That suggests to me there is always some action God is looking for from ME. It is usually some form of o

A little spring cleaning?

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll come clean about my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched. God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck. Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight: “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.” God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around. (Psalm

Fill your tank first

Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take. (Joshua 1:9) Have you had those moments of what I'd like to call "blankness" - those moments when you are going from one room to another, obviously for some reason, but when you get into the next room, you come up 'blank' trying to remember the reason for the journey? I have them more than I probably should admit! Most of the time it is because I 'get off track' - distracted by something else I hear, see, or even smell along the way. There are leaves crunched into the tile at the entryway of the house, so I go get the l

Adorned with victory

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. (Isaiah 6:1) In the times King Uzziah reigned, Isaiah is given a vision of the heavenly realm -imagine it - heavens open and you have full view of the most awesome things you have ever experienced. He is escorted into the "throne room" of the Most High - the very place of God's presence. What catches his attention first? It is the "robe" of the King of Kings - God's 'clothes'. This robe is so long it fills the Temple! That is quite some robe - it fills the very space God's presence is felt and experienced! Even the longest wedding veil I have ever seen did not fill more than the aisle of the church! I have admired some of the most beautiful quilts over the years. Depending on the occasion for which the quilt was created, there have been the traditional patchwork types with pieces of varying colors and fabrics stitc

A fresh perspective

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:9) I almost glossed over this verse today, but a seed thought sparked as I read it a second time. Have you ever given grace to someone BEFORE they even knew they would need that extension of grace? I daresay many of us have given grace in the moment , but have we really just extended it without any strings attached long before we even know what the individual will require grace for or way in advance of the individual realizing they stand in the need of our grace. God extended grace from the beginning of time - before we were even walking this earth. In advance of our many mess ups - way before we even took our first breath. No 'mess up' makes his grace any less available - it was already provided way in advance of us ever taking that first step toward sin! The verse ju

Share that blessing, please

  3  All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.   4  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Have you ever stopped to consider your 'comfort' may be something you need to not just relish, but give away to others who desperately need that same 'comfort'. God's comfort isn't ours to keep - it is meant to be given away. We all experience troubles, but we don't have to be troubled. We all have the means by which to understand and enjoy 'comfort' in the sense that God is on our side, he knows our troubles better than we do, and he isn't about to abandon us to our own devices in those troubles.  Comfort is really the reassurance that we aren't alone. We can also think of it as having one stand with us that will bring 'agreement' again to

Are you believing a lie?

There is a part of our mind that goes into a panic mode without us even having to think about something. That part of our mind needs the help of the other parts of our brain to not always being in the panic mode. We panic because of the amygdala, but we can get control over panicked thoughts because the prefrontal cortex can bring reason into the situation. There is always a 'trigger' with any form of panic, anxiety, or fear. Our minds can go do the 'panic highway' and take us to the point of being overwhelmed by the thing we are keeping on our minds the most. If it is on our mind - remember it is in God's heart. He wants our mind's burdens to be given to him, so he can restore our minds to a place of peacefulness. Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Do what yo

Doubt isn't a bad thing

I would like for you to consider for a moment what this journalist was attempting to share in his words: " Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is - it is her shadow ." (Ambrose Bierce) Have you ever doubted? Then it is suggested you were at least at the place of some form of belief. Have you ever considered what your doubt was attempting to reveal to you? Perhaps doubt is not a bad thing because it points us to consider the truth of a matter. Where doubt is - - - there truth is. It may be in the shadows, but it is there! We need only look a little closer and we will find truth has never been far from us.  The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate dow

We or He

If we are to look at the life of King David, we will observe how he reminds us no king succeeds by his own doing. Big armies and lots of loyal servants does not make one successful - indeed, it gives an "appearance" of success, but it is nothing compared to the glory of being anointed by the Most High God. It is noteworthy to mention how many times he points out the futility of thinking a warrior's strength is his own. This is often a struggle for us because we see our "strength" as something we possess, but in truth it is something we are "granted". David lays out the silliness of thinking having more "horsepower" or "brute strength" will win battles. When we "count on" the wrong stuff, we often don't really "win" the battles - sometimes we don't even make it through them at all! Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He's ready to come to the

Fuel the Right Fire with the Right Fuel

Hatred stirs up quarrels,  but love makes up for all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12) Another way to say this is that hatred actually 'fuels' dissension - it becomes a sometimes unrecognizable 'energy source' for the discord that ensues. It actually creates the 'material' that allows a situation to become 'combustible'. Dissension is just a fancy word for bickering, controversy, or disunity. If we want to stop any 'dissent', we must begin to chip away at the 'fuel' that it is being fed. There are many types of 'fuel', but allowing continual negative communication about the subject matter can actually begin to allow those words to take root in one's heart until there become enough 'fuel' to throw another log or two on that fire of discontent. Quarrels aren't always going to stop on their own - the fuel that allows them to continue has to be removed. Love calms the rebellion - not just in the visible sense, but also deep w

Changed course through changed heart

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. ( 1 Corinthians 1:18 ) A survivor is one who has 'beaten the odds', coming out on the other side of something they had a hard time enduring. If God is the one who fights with us, helping us with our 'survival skills' in the midst of whatever it is we have been called to endure, then we can be assured that we will come out on the other side. Will we have 'war wounds' of some sort? Probably. We aren't guaranteed to be 'wound free', but we are promised to be 'held together' and 'put perfectly together' in the presence of Jesus. There are a great many of us that can proclaim we have been 'redeemed' - made new through the power and grace of God in our lives. We have undergone a process of tr

My feet in his footprints

 There are times we view God's Word as 'good advice' to be consulted much as a person might consult the weather report or financial pages of the paper. We go to the Word because we need some answer, but are we merely consulting the Word of God as a 'source' we consider, or as THE source we consider to be the most reliable and trustworthy of all sources? I read the Morninstar Research reports on how well a fund may be performing when considering to invest, but it isn't my only 'source' of information. I may consult my owner's manual about how something operates on my washing machine, but when I sense a foul odor, am not pleased with the cleanliness of the clothing, or hear a strange sound I am haven't heard before, that 'one source' isn't the end all of sources. I need an appliance repair person to help me diagnose the problem. The Word of God is indeed 'good advice', but we all know advice is meaningless until it is embraced.

Mirror Moments

You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart! Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again. But I’m in the very presence of God— oh, how refreshing it is! I’ve made Lord God my home. God, I’m telling the world what you do! (Psalm 73:25-26) Got some saggy skin or brittle bones? My skin isn't as 'taut' as it used to be and there are a few more wrinkle lines that have come with age. I am pleased to say there are a whole lot of smile and 'laugh lines' there, too! By bones aren't what they used to be, but if I'd stop stubbing them on immovable objects, I would be less 'bruised' and 'bunged' up! We all feel a little 'exposed' sometimes, don't we? Exposed isn't a bad thing because we are all messed up people on a journey toward being 'not so messed up' people! The most important thing I look for

Reframing Life

The facts are the same, the filter is different. What we filter out or allow to filter 'in' within our minds determine how we will respond to information presented to us. We call this a cognitive bias - the filters we apply within our minds based upon our experiences and/or our preferences. The facts will be the same in how we see things, but we can see it quite differently, can't we? The frame of our thought or situation defines how we see the situation. We change the 'frame' of our day and we can change the way we interpret the events of that day. The filter or frame are dependent upon us - we choose the filter we apply or the frame in which we see things in life. We cannot control what happens TO you, but you can control HOW you see it. I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect . Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out th