Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2021

Dry bones, a huge stone, and withered limb

Dry bones in the valley....the crippled and paralyzed by the roadside....the tomb - what do these three have in common? God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live ?” I said, “Master God, only you know that.” (Ezekial 37:1-3) Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “ Do you want to get well ?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start w

Truly Good

But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesu

A full resume

Oscar Wilde reminds us: "The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future." If you think of yourself as a saint, you are likely living on some past accomplishment as your sense of 'sainthood'. If you consider yourself as a sinner, you know your past and present can be riddled with some pretty gnarly stuff that you'd like nothing more than to be rid of - in fact, you count on being 'rid of it' through the finished work of Christ on your behalf! You know you have a future because your past and your present are both in his hands and under his care. Wilde also told us 'experience is the name we give our mistakes'. How many of us have a resume full of those? I do! Mistakes galore and more - all lined up, in perfect order, they can be labeled as a great deal of 'experience moments' where I made an unwise choice, followed it up with other unwise actions, and then somehow God brought

Are you stuck?

We can allow our circumstances to drive us into places of bitterness and resentment. When we allow this to occur, we find ourselves drifting further and further apart from God. Chaos is a great source for bitterness to occur - especially when the chaos is caused by 'someone' rather than 'something'. It is hard to admit, but there are times when our pain takes us into a place where we become bitter against the 'someone' we might not want to ever form bitterness toward - GOD. We can all have dreams and hopes, then in almost a moment in time those dreams and hopes can be ripped out from underneath us - leaving us feeling a little bitter and hurt. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32) Direction determines destination - we sometimes head in the wrong direction in our lives and then wonder why we are not reachi

Let's get silly, shall we?

The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I’ll expose so-called experts as shams. So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered stupid—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation. (I Corinthians 1:8) Ever wonder why I take the time to record some thoughts on my scripture study each day? It is simple - God chose scripture to fill our lives with hope, direction, and even a little laughter from time to time. I rejoice in knowing I can turn to scripture whene

Outgoing love

Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love. (Romans 13:8) Sum it all up and what really matters at the end of a person's life? I'd have to say it is that we have loved and lived well. Love others well and your life will be lived well. It would be terrible to go through life without having known love, but how many of us go through life being 'stingy' with our love? We have been hurt by others, so we pull in a bit and don't put ourselves out there like we should. We have hurt ourselves, so we we see ourselves as 'not worth the investment', holding ourselves back from others because of this untruthful view of ourselves. Love well, my friends and you might just be surprised how well your life begins to be 'lived'. I will not make light of your having been hurt by others, but the time for healing has come. It is time to move past hurts that are re

Fit me, or me fit you

Have you ever engaged in one of those moments where you just go on and on bragging about one of your recent escapades? It is as though we have no sense of awareness of just how we sound when we recount the stuff we have engaged in. In fact, some of us even appear to have a sense of pride with acknowledging our insane folly! Now, I am not one to "parade" my folly in public on a common basis, but I have to admit - I have done it. Truth be told, I have a hard enough time admitting to my failure in private without having to flaunt it for the world to see! Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. (Proverbs 14:9) What it is we do with our "guilt" when our escapades have been less than honorable? The fool makes fun of the guilt or remorse they feel. Try as we might, we really cannot rid ourselves of the sense of guilt with simply laughing it away or making light of it in our social circles. If we dismiss our guilt long enough, we b

A little lesson in sacrifice

How can I stand up before God and show proper respect to the high God? Should I bring an armload of offerings topped off with yearling calves? Would God be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil? Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child, my precious baby, to cancel my sin? But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself too seriously—take God seriously. (Micah 6:6-8) We are no longer under this system of worship which required the bringing of sheep, bulls, goats, oils and grains to the Temple for sacrifice. If we were, I wonder what our "offerings" would be today? Since most of us merely go to the supermarket to obtain these "products" of someone else's labor, we don't connect with them as a "sacrifice" at all. In

Trust doesn't always come easily

But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:23-24) I like to revisit familiar passages from time to time because God is always so faithful to bring something to mind within these familiar words. I don't know about you but it seems like people are always looking for the next 'new thing' in this world. App

Truly experience the ride

Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-24) I am less likely to get lost if I know where I am going. If I understand what is expected before I set out on a journey, I am less likely to attempt to escape the hardship of the journey than when I am ca

Trying to do life alone?

Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. (James 1:13-15) Did you realize that sin actually grows in the dark? That is why it is so wrong for us to hide our sin - in the dark it has a greater chance of growing. We lust and that leads to looking - looking leads to action - trying to stop leads to us thinking about that sin time and time again. It is a cyclical thing. Shame makes us want to hide our sin - but that is the worst thing we can do when we sin. Don't conceal your sin - confess it. Sin needs to be brought into the light in order to be free from it. "You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving th

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