Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2021

God is patient, but...

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Romans 5:6-8) If God had to wait for your timing on some of that 'life change' that really needs to happen in your life, just how long do you think he'd have to wait? I am going to admit something to you about my life - I don't like waiting, but I don't seem to mind it when God is kept waiting on things he clearly has asked me to do! God asks for some form of obedience and I drag my feet, not beca

Holding on tightly

But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, "God, there's no one like you. You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!" (Psalm 35:9-10) Times were different when many of us were children. Back in the 60's when I was a wee one, no one thought it odd to allow their children to play in the front yard - oftentimes running from one neighbor to the next depending on who had the neatest toys to play the next go-round of imaginary play. If my grandsons want to ride their bikes, it take a whole lot for mom to not restrict them to riding in circles in front of the house! Today, we sequester our children from the world around them, arranging instead for "play dates" because we have a society in which we do not feel comfortable allowing them to run "loose and free". Sad, isn't it? I wonder, though, just how much of our life's celebrations we miss out

Pondering the list

"Are you serious?" Whenever someone poses this question, they may not really be seeking the truth about your level of trustworthiness or your desire to commit to something. In fact, they might just be saying this to exclaim some message of surprise - like they could not possibly imagine what we just did or said as even remotely possible! There is another saying: "Let's get serious now." This one is often spoken as a word or two of admonishment designed to get us focused (refocused) on what is at hand. I can see the difference in these two 'serious' questions, but there are times when all it want to answer is the "are you serious" one and definitely not the "let's get serious now" one. Why? One doesn't require more than a sharing of superfluous info while the other requires me to do something with the info I have. Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from

Huh, my mess? What?

Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn't guarantee life forever, or insurance against the Black Hole. (Psalm 49:7-9) Simply put - pulling one's self up by your bootstraps means you are going to 'rescue' yourself - be a success on your own. I don't know how that works for you, but when I have tried it, I fall again! If you are into "self-rescue" - the constant exertion of effort to pull yourself out of the mess you find yourself in - you are likely to fall again because you won't stand very well on your own. Many of us try to deal with life by a series of "self-rescue" attempts - don't we? We simply cannot bring ourselves to admit we messed it up - let alone admit we need someone else to help us out of the mess! As my kids were growing up, they'd pull out all kinds of toys. The floor would be littered with building bloc

Be the means

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. (I John 3:16) Wouldn't it be terrible if God's love disappeared from this earth? What is the need you walk by today? It may seem insignificant at the time, but each 'passed-by' need is one less expression of God's love to a hurting and very needy world. Living sacrificially doesn't come easy to us, does it? Who do we think about first on most occasions? Do we cook dinner because we think the family is hungry even when we are probably not hungry ourselves? Do we speed ahead, closing the gap in traffic as cones are directing traffic down to one lane and that yahoo on your righ

We are in the same boat

His love has the first and last word in everything we do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) His love has the first and last word in everything we do... How true are these words in your life? I'd have to admit to you that Christ is not always the one in control of my actions - sometimes I just plain take over and cast his sage wisdom aside in pursuit of something I want to do. I deliberate over my actions and sometimes still choose the wrong path. Anyone else here with me? The good news is that if we are in Christ and he is in us, his LOVE has the first and last word in everything we do - even when we get a little out of control sometimes. His love pulls us back - not once, but repeatedly. For some of us, that '

Whose are you?

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. (Ephesians 1:7) Abundantly free - how many of us live as though we were set free and now live free? Most of us struggle with some form of guilt (because we did something wrong) or shame (because we believe we are bad because we have done wrong). Guilt is meant to drive us to a place of repentance; shame just keeps us believing we will never 'measure up' and will always be lacking in some way. Either way, we are likely not living free if we are gi

When silence answers it all

Although I don't know the author of this saying, it remains quite true: "Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." Proverbs 29:11 reminds us, "A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over." Proverbs 10:14 provides a little more thought on the matter: "The wise accumulate knowledge - a true treasure; know-it-alls talk too much - a sheer waste." Do we talk because we have something to say - or do we talk because we need to say something? It is a telling question, isn't it? Talk too much and you just fuel fires; speak wisdom in the midst of chaos and you can re-establish order and set the course once again in the right direction. Proverbs 10:19 goes a little further by telling us, "The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words." How measured are you words? I have had to learn that lesson the hard way - by saying way too  much when I should have been more 'meas

Break out the water

God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. (Psalm 63:1) Whenever we find ourselves in the midst of the "excesses" of life, we often crave what we most need to help us deal with the excess the best. So, we crave what we most need to deal with what we find ourselves enduring or living within! Sometimes we are "enduring" stuff by our own doing - like when I eat a huge bowl of Cheezits or eat a whole candy bar. The sodium from one and the sugar from the other just cause me to "crave" the very thing which will help my body deal with the excess of sodium or sugar - water, movement, and something a little more sensible. Take a look at some of the things that develop a more "spiritual" craving within you and you may just be surprised at how much you have been 'craving' because you are deficient in those very things. Here we are presented with

Pssst...are you digging in?

"But my people didn't listen, Israel paid no attention; so I let go of the reins and told them, 'Run! Do it your own way!'" (Psalm 81:11-12) What is the purpose of the reins when riding a horse or having a horse pull a wagon? They let you direct the horse, don't they? At least, that is what someone told me when I mounted a horse as a young girl and attempted to get that large beast of an animal to go where I wanted it to go! Heaven knows, I have had some opportunities to ride some of the most stubborn horses, or at least it seems they were more stubborn than they were willing. No matter how hard I pulled the reins a certain direction....there was no turning them from their chosen destination! Gotta ask - - - - what was the purpose of the reins with these horses? I think they were there for nothing more than decoration! Or was it because I really didn't understand the purpose of the reins? All I could do with those horses was to "give them the reins

So, time for retreat?

God is solid backing to a well-lived life, but he calls into question a shabby performance. (Proverbs 10:29) Just met with the financial advisor and one of the questions I keep asking is how 'solid' the backing of every investment is right now. As I near retirement, I want to be sure my investments will be solidly backed. Backing sometimes comes in the form of a 'thing', but it can also be a 'place' and a 'person', right? Be in the right place and have the right person 'backing' you there and you are likely going to do okay in the end. A sanctuary is kind of like having that 'well-backed' place and it is usually a place provided by some pretty 'phenomenal', as well. There is something special about having a place of sanctuary, isn't there? When we have a place of retreat, we somehow feel a little better knowing we can go there to recover from the things of our day that beat us down and made us more than a little weary. Anoth

Gritting your teeth?

Albert Einstein was known for his amazing mind. Do you know he published over 300 scientific papers, had his PhD by the age of 30, and actually won the Nobel Prize in physics at the age of 42? As accomplished as he was in his field of study, do you know one of the most memorable things he said is repeated time and time again, maybe not verbatim, but pretty doggone close. "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Do you know how many mistakes a scientist has to make before he finds the proof of his theory? Too many to count! Do you know how many mistakes I have made along the way, attempting to live out this Christian walk with grace and stamina? Too many to count! How about you? Too many to count?  Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well

With or To?

Mom always told me if I wanted to have friends, I had to show myself 'friendly'. In other words, don't be closed off, aloof, or stand there with your nose up in the air. Go for it, put yourself out there, and be a friend to the one who needs a friend. That is what she modeled and I certainly took a long time to learn that lesson. Why? I was terribly insecure as a child - not really thinking others could ever like me because I didn't know that I had anything 'good' to offer in a relationship. As I cam to Christ, do you know what happened? God became my 'security' - he took all that made me 'insecure' and gave me what will always make me feel totally secure. He gave me his heart and his hand. As I took his hand, I experienced his heart. As I experienced his heart, I understood there was an internal 'anchor' that made me secure no matter what came my way.  Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. How? you ask. In Christ. God

Not finished with you yet...

"But you, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear. Israel, there's no need to worry. Look up! I'll save you from that far country, I'll get your children out of the land of exile. Things are going to be normal again for Jacob, safe and secure, smooth sailing. Yes, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear. Depend on it, I'm on your side. I'll finish off all the godless nations among which I've scattered you, but I won't finish you off. I have more work left to do on you. I'll punish you, but fairly. No, I'm not finished with you yet. " (Jeremiah 46:27-28) The book of Jeremiah deals with a condition many of us experience in our lives - repeated sin and willful disobedience. Recorded for our reading is this report of major catastrophe after major catastrophe for the nation of Judah. They chose to worship other gods, offering special offerings to the Queen of Heaven - an idol of the religions in the land that went against God&

A million other things

My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God— So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. (Psalm 62:7) May I ask what 'absolutely' means to you? If you ask me if I want to go fishing, my reply will be 'absolutely'! If you ask me if I want to paint a few walls, my expression of interest or intent will be way different! The first expresses the idea of being without any reservation - I am completely, wholly, and intently interested in going fishing. The thing you might hear from me when you ask me to paint a few walls may be 'okay', but my heart isn't 'absolutely' committed to the project! There is going to be some reservation because I know how insanely hard it is to paint and do a good job at it. There is all that prep time, then you have to roll the paint in this direction and that so you get even coverage, and all that cutting in...I am just getting tired thinking that one th

The news is going to get out...

I have met church-goers who seem to treat their 'religious life' as though it was something they could hold so close to the cuff that no one else could actually know the God they serve. It is as though they think they have some 'inside track' with this God-thing, but in reality no one really has found a 'more right' way to heaven than to believe in the finished work of the cross accomplished by Christ himself. No one who really serves Christ whole-heartedly is able to 'shut-off' their 'religious life' just because it a workday and not the sabbath. In truth, our life isn't 'religious' if we are followers of Christ - it is a genuine relationship that carries into all the days and hours of our week. He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captiv

The Great Beyond

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look . He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried — our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us . We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. (Isaiah 53:3-4) If you have ever thought all the 'things wrong with you' are a bit much for anyone to actually lo

Not just any old stone

Parents everywhere are faced with the challenge of teaching their children manners as they grow up. Society sets expectations of how people should 'behave' when interacting with each other. The lessons vary from chewing with your mouth closed, elbows off the table, say 'please' and 'thank you'. Other lessons may be taught in some cultures - things like hold a door open for others, respect your elders, no back-talk, and the list goes on. When someone spoke to me, I was taught to answer them. When they gave me something, I was taught to thank them. Whenever someone thanked me, I was to tell them they were welcome. Simple manners - yet so much meaning behind them. First, when I was being spoken to, answering revealed just how well I had been listening. When someone gifted me with something, a simple thank you let the other person know I appreciated the gift. Whenever I let someone know they were welcome, I was showing I cared about them meeting a need. Welcom

No April Fool Here

But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. (Romans 6:23) Who tells you what to do? We probably all have persons in authority within our lives that give us tasks to complete and we go off in the direction of 'doing' whatever it is we are asked to do. Bosses are probably at the top of the list - they by nature of their position are guiding the work that gets done each day. If you are a child, parents are those individuals who remind the child of the bed needing to be made, teeth requiring a little scrubbing, and toilet paper that needs replacing when they use it all up. Traffic cops expect we will observe what they tell us to do, diverting this w