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Showing posts from July, 2021

Just live

"Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact." (George Eliot) I will be the first to admit there have been times when my words came too freely, showing just how 'ignorant' I was on a particular topic. It is as though I thought having 'much to say' on a matter made me look like I actually understood it! I will be the first to admit now that I really knew very little in some of those areas where I had offered all of my 'lengthy discourse'! Whether it was the zeal of youth, or the pull of my pride, those days of having to give the longest, or loftiest of answers are not as important to me now. I find the simple truth in the hands of God does way more than the most profound of discourse from my mind and mouth. The answer’s simple: Live right, speak the truth, despise exploitation, refuse bribes, reject violence, avoid evil amusements. This is how you raise your standard of living! A safe and stable way to

Are you ignorant?

Confucius said, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." It might be uncomfortable to ask the question, but I will anyway - just how aware of your own ignorance are you? I looked at myself first when posing that question, so don't think I am meddling here. In truth, I really deny some of the areas of my life where I am ignorant - lacking in knowledge, untrained, unlearned. If I were to be truthful here, it isn't that I am lacking in the training as much as I am lacking in the learning! I repeat mistakes for this very reason. When the mistake is easily corrected, that may not be a big deal - when it is harder to correct or leaves lasting 'scars', it is a much bigger deal, isn't it? Ignorance can also be that we are unaware of something - an action we take when we might not even know what is behind that action or that we are taking it in the first place. Both are equally as important to consider today - if we remain 'ignorant' i

Barricades

I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse! Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom. Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle-wonders. My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your Word. Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; God, don’t let me down! I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how. (Psalm 119:30) As we begin today, I really just want to focus on one portion of this passage - the idea of barricades being set up in our path. I have frequently been speaking with others only hear they are frustrated by all the things that seem to stand in their way as they try to head down a particular path. I often just sit back and listen, hearing regretful story one

Dustpan and broom or dust blower

Have you ever moved a piece of furniture only to be mortified by the huge volume of dust bunnies collected under it? I have and let me tell you - I had no idea how 'out of control' they had become! What allows the dust bunnies to collect? Isn't it the darkness? We don't see them, so we don't think about them. They were covered by something that allowed them to 'get out of control'. In the darkest places, they could multiply unnoticed. Furniture now moved - they are exposed. They have to be dealt with now, don't they? We don't just push the object back over them and ignore them - we break out the broom and dustpan, the mop and pail, or the vacuum. They have to be gone before we move anything back into that space. Is any wonder that sin can get a bit out of control in our lives when we ignore those dark places where it can multiply unnoticed? God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. If we claim that we experience a shared life

Just Don't

Ben Franklin told us, "When in doubt, don't". That isn't all that complex of a formula, is it? We complicate it so much by asking ourselves if the thing we are about to say or do is really all that bad; perhaps it is something God will look the other way on when we do it. The truth is that God doesn't look the other way - ever - so stop trying to talk yourself out of your guilt - just don't do it!  Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance. (Proverbs 21:3) Far more than - this also says it all, doesn't it? What can you justify with your excuses? I have to ask - is it worth 'far more than' God's presence in your life? I can justify a couple fresh baked oatmeal cookies with "I will walk more this week" or "It is just once". Truth be told - I NEVER stop at a couple. That 'taste' lingers and I want one more - and then one more. The couple leads to a handful! Si

Blessed when...

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me. (Psalm 119:7) It might be hard for some to appreciate the truth of God 'prescribing' the right way for each of us to live, especially when we think we know the best way to live for ourselves is really what we want above all things in life. When you go to the doctor with your chest on fire and head filled so full of congestion you can hardly see clearly, you migh

Out with the old, in with the new

God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not?  He’s solid rock under my feet,    breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle:  I’m set for life. 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.  (Psalms 62:1-3,7-8 MSG) David had such a personal relationship with God. He was always "My God" to David.  He wasn't just the God of his Fathers, but he was up-close and personal with God. He had developed an intimacy with God, sharing freely of his own heart, and in turn, I believe God shared his heart with him. He points us to the "granite-strength" of God in many of his psalms. He also reminds us to consider the safety of God's protection and covering. These are not foreign concepts as taught and understood by David - somehow he came to know God as his "granite-strength" and "safe

A telescope, microscope, and horoscope

Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. (Colossians 2:9-10) A telescope is used to make distant objects - sometimes quite far off from us - appear larger, so we think they are really closer than they are. The term 'telescope' can also be used to describe the placement of one slightly smaller object inside the other, allowing a larger object to be collapsed into a smaller space. Many people think

In one ear...out the other

  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  Act  on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1:22-24) I have been fooled by a good many things in this lifetime and there are still other things just waiting to dupe me at some point down the road, even my own folly. Since coming to Christ, I'd have to admit my own folly doesn't quite dupe me as it did once upon a time. In fact, even considering something kind of foolish now causes me a moment or two of pause and reflection. I have learned to consider my course - choose my steps a little better than I did in my youth. It certainly didn't come easily, though. Our folly has a loud and continually beckoning voice! It wants one way and that is its own way. Attempt to shut that voice down and you might just re

Walking the runway

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. (John 15:10) If following an example wasn't above Jesus, why do we think we can live independent of the examples God provides in our lives? Jesus reminded us he loved as his father loved him - he followed the example of what it was to truly love without condition - the way God loves all of us. He modeled unconditional love when he wasn't put off by the leper coming up beside him, or being touched by the woman all considered unclean and impure. He modeled that same love when he endured the beatings, was spat upon, and made his way willingly to the most brutal death you could imagine. He wasn't afraid to model - but he also wasn't afraid to follow a very solid and reliable model. Maybe the importance of modeling isn't fully understood

A little more than Spring Cleaning needed

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand— out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise . (Romans 5:1-2) Do you ever get to the spot in your life where life is coming at you so fast you just cannot "pull it all together"? You feel like you are under a mountain of stuff and cannot seem to see any relief on the horizon, much less the solution to the present muddle your are dealing with. I doubt you are in that muddled mess alone! Sometimes we just need a good catharsis to clean out the "stuff" that buried us so deeply! If you have ever gone garage sale hopping, you might have wondered about the p

Filled gaps

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that. (I Corinthians 1:7-9) Wouldn't it be nice to "not need a thing"? To be so "set" in life, nothing we could buy or be given is really needed any longer. If you were to ask a child what they "needed", their list of "needs" would perhaps include the latest super-hero characters, a new building set, or an electric scooter/moped - they might include books, clothes of the latest fashions, or more. If you ask an adult, their "needs" would be a little loftier - like a new set of

What is your life message?

Did you ever stop to consider why it is the devil comes down so hard on you to convince you who you 'used to be' when you finally begin to believe just who you are in Christ Jesus? He isn't going to be happy when we figure out we are new creations and no longer who we 'used to be', but will use every opportunity to convince us who we were is really what we still are. Where we grow up, who we are surrounded with as we grow up, what we face in the way of encouragement or negative feedback - all these things make up who we believe ourselves to be and what we believe we are 'worth'. We could have been told we are really 'nothing', but God declares us to be 'everything' - but it can take us a long time to realize this. Inadequate, worthless, shameful, insecure - do these words ring true for any of you? They are the words we often hear in our moments of personal doubt and frustration. When we feel inadequate, we oftentimes over-compensate by trying

Know what NOT to fear

Plato reminded us: "Courage is knowing what NOT to fear." We all probably have those things that we are fearful of, don't we? Last night we had one of those horrendous dust storms with winds up to 70 mph and the many noises you hear when those gusts rip through your neighborhood can send your heart into palpitations! Thuds from pine cones and branches hitting the roof tops, clinks and clunks as small branches and leaves are driven into the windows at speeds that make them mini-missiles, and the noise of wind whipped lawn chairs skidding across the patio. Add to this excitement the timing of the storm at well after bedtime and you get the idea that sleep was not to come easily. Cell phone alerts blaring one out of slumber and then the horrific noise of those winds - my heart took a bit to return to normal rate and rhythm! Did I need to fear the storm? Not really, but I knew enough to appreciate the gravity of it. The yard would be left littered with all manner of debris an

Did you raise intelligent children?

Okay, so how many of you would say your parents raised intelligent children? How about your own kiddos - would you consider them to be intelligent children? Ask most parents that question and you would get an immediate response of a little bit taller posture, a grin appearing on their faces, and a quick "I think we did a pretty great job with them" might come forth. Ask a group of parents with wayward kiddos and you might just get a sulking glance and a little less positivity in their response. Intelligent children are not 'smart' in terms of book-learning, although that might help them get places in this world, but wise in terms of knowing when and how to be obedient to the right set of values or morals. I imagine there were times when my parents looked upon my actions and saw a child acting pretty foolishly - off doing her own thing, oblivious to the 'rules' by which I was to have made my choices. Yet, there were other times I know they looked upon my choice

Fight fire with fire? Not!

Over the last several years, the Arizona, California, and New Mexico forests have had their share of challenging fires. Some ignited by man, others ignited by nature, but all very damaging in their effects. Fire has a way of "catching" and "taking hold" quicker than we can imagine. A few week's ago, we had a fire in a neighboring area just outside of the town limits where I live. There were homes lost to the ravages of the licking flames - some for human dwelling, others for the creatures of the desert that made their sanctuary those scrub grasses, cacti, and now scarred juniper trees. The destruction of one spark resulted in the complete devastation of a huge area - leaving nothing but a 'fire scar'. Fire is indeed not a thing to be taken lightly, especially when it might be the result of the words we have spoken! A gentle response defuses anger,  but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.  (Proverbs 15:1 MSG)    Temper-fires are those moments in time wh

Bigger than life

What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him makes it. (Psalm 18:30) I just returned from a road trip that didn't stretch across the loveliest of landscape, nor did it include the best of roadways. It seems every state has a different way of paving and differing priorities for how they will accomplish the task. Some places had potholes, rough surfaces, and barely visible striping dividing the lanes. Other places had that nice sound-proofing rubber overlay that made driving over those places quite nice. We all travel different types of roads, don't we? Some of us get way too many of those bumpy, under-maintained patches, relishing those moments when there is just a short break from dodging hazards and enjoying the ride. We desire the smooth patches, but we develop a certain sense of alertness when we might have to dodge this hazard or the next! Whenever I travel to the high country, occasionally making my wa

The badlands

Have you ever stood so close to a river bank, or perhaps the edge of a drop-off of some sort and then watched as the ground beneath you seems to just crack and fall away? In an instant that 'firm ground' you thought you were standing on was taken out from underneath you and you were slipping into an 'unknown' space. I have done both, finding myself covered in mud and wet to the core from slipping into the river, and sliding helplessly down a ravine on my backside until something could stop my descent. Footing is important - it grounds you. I recently explored the area known as "El Malpais" in New Mexico - the site of a large lava flow that has hardened over time. One thing that struck me about the landscape around me for miles and miles was the 'impenetrability' of that hardened lava flow. The floor of the desert was 'locked in' by that lava and as it hardened, it became what some may think of as 'impenetrable'. The most amazing thing h

Throw that bucket in again

Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it, you’ll say, “Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done, spread the news of his great reputation! (Isaiah 12:4) Buckets pulled from the well of salvation? We don't think about where our 'refreshment' comes from sometimes - buckets of grace drawn from the deep wells of salvation are true refreshment to our souls. What is your main 'wellspring'? Honestly consider that question, my friends, for the wellspring we draw from the most frequently becomes that which either deeply refreshes or sadly disappoints. There can be 'tainted' wells from which we draw 'inspiration' for some of the foulest of actions we can imagine. There can also be life-giving wells where we draw in the deepest of refreshment. Both require us to draw from them - we aren't hooked up to them with an 'auto on/off' spigot. We mus

True Freedom is Not

Cicero said freedom was the power to live as one wishes. I have to challenge that idea a bit today, though. Freedom - true freedom - is not the ability to live as you wish - allowing every whim and fancy of your flesh to rule your life. Freedom is actually living within boundaries - knowing truth and allowing that truth to change how you make choices and what you allow as a response from within your being. Freedom involves the soulish parts of man, but it also is intensely founded on where our spirit man is anchored. If we have never said 'yes' to Jesus, allowing his freedom to be our true anchor, we are likely still living mostly soulish lives - self-centered, self-motivated, and self-fulfilling. We want what we want and we go after it. Cicero would have said we allow whatever force within us to direct our paths - Jesus says we deny self and listen to his voice, conducting our lives within a framework of goodness and grace. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way yo

Abandoned Not

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.  (Aristotle Onassis) 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) Think about one of your 'darkest moments' right now. Maybe it was quite some time ago, or perhaps you are just coming out of that place right now. What did you experience as it started, went on for what seemed like an indefinite period of time, and when it finally ended? If your moment hasn't completely ended, you might just learn something from those of us who have seen the end. The darkest moments of our lives are a time of intense focus - they 're-center' us, don't they? There are hard feelings to endure through those times, and even some awful troubles that we have to overcome, but what we all have in common as we walk through these moments is there is no absence of hope as long as we tak

Who's acting here?

 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. (Romans 12:3) The more we try to figure ourselves out, the harder it gets. We do something and we attempt to get down to the rationale behind the action we exhibited. We don't do anything and we try to look deeper into the meaning of the inaction. We are always evaluating ourselves by the outcomes of what it is our action or inaction produces. Is this always the most valid way of evaluating ourselves, though? If we take our text today as truth, then we are clearly not to evaluate self by self - we are to evaluate self by what God does

Oh, you aren't all that big after all!

When the sun is just right, even the smallest subject can cast a huge shadow. The object seems to be 'larger that life', even though it is actually quite small. I stop for periods of time and consider things - sometimes stuff others might just not stop long enough, or consider important enough, to think on.  I began to "ponder" shadows as I am currently in a climate where the sun hasn't been out in days, so no shadows have been cast by the sun. The lights in the condo where I am staying are what affords the shadows right now and it is amazing what you can create from simple objects such as your hands and fingers when the lamplight is reflected upon the wall. As you look at the various shadows, you can ponder what you may be seeing and tell yourself many a story that way! Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  (Psalm 23:4 NKJV) Psalm 23 is one of the most &qu

Loads worse than...

When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, With your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now. (Psalm 138:7-8) I am one of those individuals who likes to do things for myself, sometimes to my undoing what I have done a couple or more times until I get it right. It has been a hard thing for me to trust God with stuff I think I can handle on my own, but hear this confession for what it is worth - whenever I do it on my own, there is a whole lot of 'undoing' that needs to be done! I walk into the thick of trouble a lot of the time and forget who exactly is to be in control of the situation! If you are like me, you are ever so grateful when that one hand wards of the evil and the other one grabs you up and wraps you into those arms of protection so desperately needed. God isn't finished with me yet - how about you? I would like to propose that if you are still