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Showing posts from May, 2021

See him - see you

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him . (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) Face-to-face conversation seems to be a thing we just don't engage in as much as we did in times long gone by. I come from the era when mom's stood at the back fence or mailbox, passing the time of day while watching wee ones engage in play. Today's electronic age has helped us to "connect" with each other via all kinds of social media. We text, IM, post, tweet,

A Love Like This

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. (Romans8:26-28) Lauren Daigle sings a song I just love - not because of the beauty of her voice - even though she has a great voice. I love it because of the love of her heart - the love she has for her Lord! The song? It is "Love Like This". Indulge me this morning as I share those words with you - allow them to minister to your heart as much as they minister to mine: When I am a wasteland You are the water. When I am the winter You are the fire that burns. When I am a long night You are the sunrise. When I am th

Your life speaks very clearly

Imagine what life would be like if Jesus had avoided the cross - if every 'negative thing' he experienced while on this earth and those three days in the tomb had been something he refused to embrace. What chaos would exist in this world today as our sinful natures just continued to follow whatever felt good to us? If we look at the chaos sin DOES cause today, imagine it multiplied ten, twenty, or even a thousand times over - because without Christ moving in his people, the chaos would be growing at astronomical proportions! Jesus never took the easy way out - he embraced the hard path, the difficulties of being rejected, and the hardships of being misunderstood by some of the most influential and important people of the time. Yet he endured it all - not because it was easy for him - but because he knew it was necessary for us - the ones he loves with an intensity that outweighs any of the hardships he endured. That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself

Running a little hot or cold?

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (James 3:17-18) Stop for just a moment and consider just how hard it is for two to walk in agreement. There will always be differences in how we think - it is part of who we are and what we have experienced in life. We don't all 'think alike', regardless of how similarly we have been raised, studied, or been through challenges in life. We all face those opportunities differently because God made us each unique human beings, capable of independent thought and 'adaptive' behavior.  It is quite possible you will associate with that phrase 'hot one day an

Dragging your feet?

How many times do you find yourself moving slowly and deliberately because you don't want to do something at hand? My windows need a good washing and I keep putting it off. It isn't that the job is all that hard. I just don't like having to pry the screens off and then wash them down, allow them to dry, and then return them to their place. I don't mind the window-washing part - it is the whole screen issue that gets in the way of me completing the job as quickly as I'd like! So, I drag my feet a little when it comes to completing this project, but if they are to be washed, I must stop my foot-dragging behavior, buckle down, and get 'er done. How many things in life do we just 'drag our feet' on, only to find if we just buckle down a bit, we'd be very pleased with the outcome? Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them. (Hebrews 6:10) Committed faith isn't just accidental

Two and two make...

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. (Romans 11:33) To be painfully truthful here, there have been times when I have imagined God needed my advice on how to fix a particular matter in my life or that of another. How foolish of me to think God needed my 'input' on the matter in order to find the solution. There have been plenty of times when he just needed me to finally hear what he was saying to me - allowing me to 'catch up' with what he was doing in my life - but there hasn't even been one time when he looked to me to advise HIM on how HE should be working! Even

The importance of the middle bricks

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the duplicity of the treacherous destroys them. (Proverbs 11:3) Integrity is having agreement in all the areas of our lives. A hypocrite is one who is a different person behind the mask - they wear that mask and allow everyone to see on the what they want them to see on the outside. Their private lives are much different than their public lives. Whatever directs us on the inside is what is really what gives a man or woman integrity. We are building a life - whatever we put into it will eventually be visible on the outside. Every decision is a brick in that building - we can do right or wrong - each is a brick that adds to the 'integrity' of the building! At some point, we make compromises. A good question to ask is, "What do your actions say about your integrity?" Our actions really say a lot about the 'bricks' that we put into the building of our lives. We make decisions all the time - some are wildly wrong and ot

Abandoned obedience

 I remember being a 'new mom', reading all the books I could get my hands on in order to understand how the life within was taking form, what was happening to my body, and how to prepare for that 'big day' when she would make her debut in this big, big world. That was years ago now, but when I allow my mind to drift back to those times, I can recall some of the excitement combined with fear as we readied our home for her arrival. I'd have to admit, as much as I 'read up' on it all, I was really not prepared for those first few weeks without sleep, the long nights walking the floors, let alone the number of diaper changes, spit-ups that required clothing changes, or the inability to figure out what those cries meant! Trying to figure out all that stuff and get enough time to shower, squeeze in some much needed rest, and still find time to make meals, wash clothes, and clean the bathroom - it seemed as complex as it must be to obtain one's PhD! Just as you

No window-dressing yet

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. (Psalm 139:13-14) I oftentimes wonder why it takes so long to see change in my life. I may want to lose 40 pounds, but it seems to take forever to lose even two of those pounds. I wanted to learn to play the guitar, but it took so long to master the chords and I never got onto to the fingering part of the lessons. I wanted to retire, but the goal of retirement seemed so far off, especially when it came to putting extra money away so I would be able to reali

Not again, but afresh

 I came across a thought we might want to consider this morning: " Only the mediocre are at their best ." (Jean Giraudoux) Well, that certainly puts it right out there, doesn't it? There are days I feel pretty good about what I accomplish, while others just pass without me really doing all that much. How do you I think I feel about those days when I don't accomplish much? Usually I am a little bit discouraged by my 'lack' of 'doing', but I am learning to 'do' less and 'listen' more - not because I don't want to 'do' something, but because I have learned it is easier to do it once than repeat the same failures time and time again!  Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?— and treat your servants with kindness for a change. Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen eno

Have "it", God!

Have you ever had someone ask you what you might make of a bad situation? They know you are facing it, but they want you to 'make something out of it' rather than 'let it go to waste'. Now, that is a bit optimistic on occasion, as some situations just turn from bad to worse when I get involved in them! Why? It would have been wiser to just let them go - that is what I needed to 'make out of the situation' - stay out of it because it isn't going to change anything for the better if I get involved. What we make of circumstances often reveals much more about the foundation in our lives than we realize. What we do with a failure of another, emphasizing it or letting it go, reveals more about our heart than we often realize. It is what it is...true enough words. We cannot stop a runaway train, but we don't have to be in its path, do we? We also don't need to ride every train that comes along! A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton

Did I say that?

Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;  good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.   Words kill, words give life;  they're either poison or fruit—you choose.  (Proverbs 18:20-21) I love it when fruits and veggies come in season in the local market. The winter veggies are okay - but the summer ones taste way different. The winter fruits are limited - but the floodgates seem to open in summer to melons, berries, citrus, mangos, pineapples, and the list goes on.  This is the best time of year to enjoy some of the fruits of the season.  The melons are juicy and sweet.  The grapes are colorful and tasty.  The strawberries boast luscious enjoyment and a sweet scent.  Fruit has a way of satisfying our senses - both internally (our taste buds) and externally (sight and smell).  There is another kind of fruit we might enjoy a little better if we realized we might just "eat it" or "experience the fragrance of it" at a later time! Good talk - fruit fo

Yeah, you may be right, but...

If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. (Matthew 18:15) Do you know what strikes me the most from this passage? The extreme obsession with 'pursuing' forgiveness and restoration. Let's get honest here - we rarely "go after" forgiveness like it was something to be pursued until we had resolution. If someone tells us to bug off and refuses our intentions to be restored, we may try again, but do we really have this type of tenacity to "offer again" that grace and love time and time again? If you follow this passage, you might just find yourself in a 'cycle

Today I choose to honor

Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2) Those who enter...that means we just don't sit around an expect Jesus to make everything good for us all around us. Sometimes we have to put 'feet to our faith' - we need to take steps in the right direction and then we see God's work happening. Why is that? I think it is because God never desired robots or puppets. He created us to be in active relationship with him - willingly submitting our will to his - taking one step after another in the right direction because of how much we want to honor him with our lives. When we put God in first place in our lives - we are honoring him - giving him the esteem he rightfully deserves. What is the opposite of

A little work pays off in the end

A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams. (Matthew 13:3-8) Okay, you have probably heard this parable once or twice. A farmer planted - nothing unexpected there, right? Farmers plant, but seed purposefully planted is a wondrous thing. Your gardens and fields can be filled with all kinds of 'growing' things - because of purposeful planting. Just as amazing to me is the seeming strength of the stuff that is NOT purposefully planted in our gardens or fields! How is it they manage to get there in the first place, or find root? How do we get to the place our garden only grows the 'good seed' instead of every 'opportunistic seed' that happens

Borders hold us back

Van Gogh asked the question - "What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" This is a good question to ponder today because so many times we 'think' about things we'd like to do, but then we discount the 'possibility' of us actually accomplishing it. Why? We might think we don't have the moxie to actually do whatever it is we are considering, or we don't have the time, funds, or talent. Either way, we limit ourselves to never take the next step - all because we lack some element of courage.  “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) These are God's words - not mine. Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Stop giving the things that seem to stand in your way a second chance. Why? God, YOUR God, has already gone before you to make a way and he

Reckon with this...

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. (James 5:16) Make this your COMMON practice. I called that out because I didn't want us to miss it this morning - it is to be our 'common' practice to confess our sins and pray for each other. Why? Not because we need a human to confess our sins to - like a priest in a confessional - but because there is power in declaring we need others to pray with us (agree with us). Confession is coupled with prayer for each other - it doesn't stand alone. We are to share with those who will be able to help us by both praying for us, but also who are placed in our lives so that we 'do life' together. In other words, they help to not only lift us up before the throne of God, but they help us stay on course moving forward - some call this accountability. T

Just be open

"If you want to give it all you've got," Jesus replied, "go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me." That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go . (Matthew 19:21-22) Have you ever been asked to do something you weren't really willing to pay the price to do - something so 'catastrophic' that you just couldn't see how you could possibly 'do' whatever was asked? Regardless of what you are asked to do in the natural, spiritual, or physical sense you probably struggle a little with the "price" associated with it. We all struggle when it comes to the price - it is only natural. What we fail to recognize is Christ wants us to move from responding in the natural and beginning to respond in the spiritual. Refuse to consider the cost up fr

A sacred enclosure

Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your own permission (Arnold Bennett) Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life . Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God , ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. (Romans 8:5-8) Our minds can be like steal traps - holding onto stuff best let go of and resisting the entry of the stuff that really needs to be given place in our memory and forethought. If our minds are a 'sacred enclosure', then why do we let stuff into

A full tank - fueled for the day

When my BBQ grill runs out of propane, it is usually right in the middle of cooking something like chicken or steak. There I sit, expecting a tasty BBQ meal and then at about halfway through, I have to improvise by bringing it all inside and cooking it on the stovetop. What a disappointment it is when the flames 'burn out'. In our spiritual life, our flame can burn out if it isn't kept fueled and ready for use. Just a little fuel is not enough - it can leave you 'improvising' life - and we all know improvised life isn't as good at the one 'finished well'! Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (Romans 12:12) How is it you keep yourself fueled and aflame? I know some like to get away to that special spot in the woods, just taking in nature for a while. Others appreciate a great family gather

Above or better? Not!

Lord, have mercy on me...a sinner. Those words speak volumes. When we finally get past our pride and begin to see ourselves realistically, we are on the right path. Pride gets in our way so many times - giving us 'reason' and 'permission' to compare ourselves one with another. This is dangerous because these are faulty comparisons. As I have already said this week - there is no degree to sin - all sin is destructive to us and possibly even to others. Pride is hard to identify in our lives sometimes, but it is indeed a 'big deal'.  He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my inc

Believe

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) Anyone who wants to approach God - MUST believe... That MUST is an imperative - not a 'caution' or 'advice'. It is meant to give us a positive direction we can follow. If we want to approach God - to enjoy and appreciate his presence in our lives, we MUST believe two things. Before we get into those two things, let's begin by fully understanding the word 'believe'. It carries the idea of having confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so. We don't 'see' God, but we believe he exists. We don't hear his audible voice, but we believe he speaks. We don't know his beginning, but we believe he is without beginning or end. We don't have to fully under

Who's looking out for you?

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Oh...grow up! Have you ever heard that said to someone? Perhaps it was said to you a time or two in the course of 'growing up'. What does it mean to 'grow up'? I am aware of individuals who 'grow up' in size, but not necessarily in intellect, emotion, or even spirituality. Sometimes our bodies grow faster than the rest of us - we look like we are all 'grown up', but we have limited experiences, untested theories of how life works, and are kind of 'green' around the edges. There seems to be various areas of our lives that can be 'stunted' in growth - not all grow equally, nor ever developing in some areas as well

Our greatest attention - Our greatest affection

Bless our God, O peoples! Give him a thunderous welcome! Didn't he set us on the road to life? Didn't he keep us out of the ditch? He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; finally he brought us to this well-watered place. (Psalm 66:8-12) Maybe we think "blessing God" means giving a little of our hard earned income in the collection plate on Sunday, or perhaps singing a sweetly sung hymn. To bless means to exalt, magnify, and glorify the one we consider worthy of such a position and honor. It means we worship and adore the object of our affection and attention. What we miss most of the time is that the one we worship and adore is supposed to be  the object of both our affection AND our attention. The one who receives our greatest attention usually holds our greatest affection , and because of this we find opportuni