Showing posts from October, 2021

Cart - Then Horse, or Horse, Then Cart?

How many of us would consider ourselves to be 'mature'? I am over the age of sixty now and 'mature' could mean I have an AARP card! For one to be considered mature, here are some things to consider: Are the fully developed in body and mind? Is the work of development complete and perfected in the individual? Are they readied and prepared for what lies ahead? If the answer is truthful - none of us fit into this category! In society today, we often think of maturity as reaching a certain age - the age of "legality". In other words - it is a measure of chronological years, not so much a measure of anything on the inside of the person. The problem with this way of thinking is that we often have a whole lot of "mature-looking" individuals walking this earth, but they really lack the evidence of maturity in the emotions, mind, or their spirit. Chronologically, they are "of age" - spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually, they are still imma

With, not to

  Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful! (Proverbs 15:23) Agreeable conversation is usually quite enjoyable, is it not? Start to get a little 'testy' in conversation and the sparks can fly, or the doors slam shut quickly in that relationship. Why? People don't really like conflict all that much - congenial words go a lot further than unkind ones. Truthful words can hurt from time to time, though. There is a time and a place for those 'right words' at the 'right time' - when that time and place presents itself, the outcome is awesome.  What makes for 'congenial' conversation? The 'spirit' of the words is correct - in other words, the feeling and 'temper' of the words is kind, thoughtful, and truthful. What makes for 'argument inducing' words? The 'spirit' of the words is harsh - hateful, distasteful, unkind, or cold words that actually have a purpose of hurting another. Some

Ignore Religion

  Blessed are you who give yourselves over to   God ,   turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”   ignore what the world worships; t he world’s a huge stockpile  of  God -wonders and God-thoughts.  Nothing and no one   compares to you!  I start talking about you, telling what I know,  and quickly run out of words.  Neither numbers nor words  account for you.  Doing something for you, bringing something to you— that’s not what you’re after.  Being religious, acting pious— that’s not what you’re asking for. (Psalm 40:4-6) If you are like me, you almost get speechless when you consider the wonder and power of our God. That is okay because the words we use to proclaim the things we know about God pale in comparison to who he is, the power he possesses, and the intensity of his love for us. If you find yourself speechless at times, don't fret - it is the perfect way to worship at his feet! Just 'give yourself over' to that sense of his presence and bask in just being there. 

My what big teeth you have, Mr. Wolf

Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin. (Psalm 55:22) Virgil was a Roman poet way back in the day and he penned the words, "It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep may be." Ponder that one for a moment and really let it sink in. The wolf is not put off by the huge flock of sheep - he sees the one he is after and then he zeroes in to achieve his target. What he doesn't know is that there is a Shepherd keeping his eye out for each and every one of those sheep in the flock! He has no clue what will await him if he chooses to attack even one of them! We will know troubles - it is inescapable in this world. We will have things that make us worry a bit - it is human nature to do so. We will encounter wolves and become frightened by their 'huge teeth' - it is part of our fight or flight response. We don't have to fear the troubles, nor do we have to create our own way of esc

Not my will, but thine

Pressure is the exertion of force upon a surface by something in contact with it. When we use the term, "I am under a lot of pressure right now", we are simply saying, "There are a whole lot of EXTERNAL influences in CONTACT with my life right now". Something, or someone, comes into CONTACT with our lives - but they are not "invading" our inner life - their contact is on the surface! This may not be earth-shattering to some, but I think if we really begin to latch onto this, we may just see how much control we have over what actually can affect us on the "inside". It is what we 'let in' that matters - not so much how much EXTERNAL pressure we are under. If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. (Proverbs 24:10) What we allow into "contact" with our lives will exert some kind of force against us. Even air exerts some kind of "force" upon that which it surrounds! We cannot escape the fact that things

Mounting a good defense begins here

I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. (Psalm 27:4-5) It is not always a certainty that we find 'comfort' in the place where we dwell. Sometimes our place of dwelling is far from 'comfortable' because of who else dwells there, or the events that transpire within that dwelling. A dwelling is meant to be more than a place of 'living' - it is a space for each of us to decompress, replenish ourselves, and prepare for whatever comes next in our lives. If our 'physical dwelling' is far from perfect, we can be assured of one thing - our 'spiritual dwelling' is one place we can find all these things. The only quiet, secure place in a crazy, mixed up world is at the feet of Jesus. It is indeed the place where we can decompress because he allow

Tripped up by my own feet

  God-friendship is for God-worshipers; They are the ones he confides in. If I keep my eyes on  God , I won’t trip over my own feet. (Psalm 25:14-15) To stumble while walking without having tripped over any obstacle in your path - how foolish is that? I have done it! It seems like I tripped over air. Down I went, stumbling like a rag doll until the ground met my body's impact. Looking back on those 'trips' I wonder how many times I trip over the things I don't see in life? Things in the spiritual world, in my subconscious, and even in my intellect. We can have many 'tripping points' in life, but there are probably none as problematic to us as those we cause ourselves. Most of the times I have tripped over 'air' have been due to what I would label as 'distraction'. I was looking somewhere else, listening to someone else, or just caught up in daydreaming. Before I knew it, I was headed into the 'tripping moment'. Did I fall each time I stum

Just a 'stupid sin'

Are you a map or GPS user? Do you wing it based on the direction of the sun or other landmarks you recognize? I do a little bit of each of these - sometimes recognizing a landmark right off and knowing where I need to turn, while listening intently to the GPS or map's directions to know exactly where to exit a roadway for another. We all need directions - no one of us is able to continually know the right direction to follow all of the time. Things change around us in spite of every effort we might take to keep them the same - so we oftentimes need to have a new course set as those landmarks and way-finding points are no longer 'valid'. How will we find our way? The answer to that question is the most telling in regards to where it is we will likely end up! There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid

You have way too many alternatives!

The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.  (Henry Kissinger) When it comes to our thought life, I daresay we could do with a few less 'alternatives' to ponder, rehash, and ruminate upon. We all probably struggle a little bit with the 'clutter' of thought we encounter all day long as we go about our regular tasks and chores. Any 'alternative' is simply means we have to make choices - one becoming more demanding or clearer than the others. We choose when to begin the laundry, whether we will leave the vacuuming another until another day, or even if we will listen to music while we go about those chores. We choose to hold onto or let go of the thought 'alternatives' when it comes to our misadventures that leave us feeling a little less than 'right' in the end. Guilt can lead to shame all because we don't let go of something we have spent way too much time ruminating on in our minds. Anger can lead to bitterness because we continue

Are you a social influencer?

  So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:2) How many times do we find ourselves going along with the crowd just because we have become so 'well-adjusted to our culture'? We move toward the newest trend, all because we are listening to the voice of the crowd. We take on more debt than we should, all because someone said we couldn't live without something. We might be mo

Measuring Up

Three words we oftentimes use without really considering their meaning - status, esteem, and value. Status: The social or professional position, condition, or standing to which varying degrees of responsibility, privilege, and esteem are attached. Esteem: Regard highly or favorably, with respect or admiration; to consider as of a certain value. Value: Worth, merit, or importance; to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance. We place "value" on certain things, don't we? In considering someone, or something, we determine some "importance" or "degree of excellence" which we will "assign" to the individual or object. Sometimes the individual or object is held in a higher, or lower, esteem based on the value we "assign". In turn, we often equate "position" or "standing" based on our determination of "assigned value". It is not unlikely that we have even assigned "valu

I had pretty smart parents

  Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like a winning crown, like rings on your fingers. Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you, don’t go along with them... Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look; don’t listen to them for a minute. They’re racing to a very bad end, hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on... When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens: the more you get, the less you are. (Proverbs 1:8-9) As I was growing up, I remember that time around my teen years when I began to think I knew more than my parents. Somewhere around the age of 21 or so, magically my parents became the smartest people on the planet again! How did that happen? My parents didn't get 'magically smarter' - they were pretty doggone smart all along - I was the goofy one thinking I didn't need their advice and wisdom. The advice and wisdom they possessed wasn't 'book-learned&#

Open, Open, Open!

  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. (Psalm 62:1) How many times have we found it hard to wait for God's timing in our lives? The more we wait, the harder it seems to await whatever it is we are waiting on. Unable to wait longer, we can jump ahead of his timing, bringing disaster to bear in our lives. Been there, done that, and even wore out the t-shirt! Our psalmist puts things in perspective for those of us who have had to wait a little longer than we might have liked: "Everything I need comes from - so why not wait"? He is our solid rock - a firm foundation upon which we can base our trust. He gives us a chance to rest in him - breathing room for our souls, so we don't jump ahead of him. He is that impregnable castle - a word picture for not only the capability he has to keep us in our times of waiting,

A prevailing wind

  Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well. We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but  God ’s purpose prevails. (Proverbs 19:20-21) Good counsel is to be sought, not because we need someone else to do our thinking for us, but because we sometimes need to get a clarifying perspective on things. God never asks us to allow others to think for us - to make choices for us that we should be making for ourselves. He asks us to use the wisdom he grants through is Word, wise counsel of others who know his Word, and the best 'knowledge' we have at the moment. Sometimes that 'knowledge' is just the tiny nudges we feel in our spirit - but even these 'nudges' need confirmation through what we find in the Word and what we know to be true about our God. Wise counsel is 'taken' - it is crammed down our throats, nor is it 'happened upon'. There is an active participation in finding truth, adopting truth, and then l

Proper Maintenance Required

A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle. (Proverbs 15:30) A twinkle in the eye might suggest that one is bright, sparkly - there is evidence of merriment or delight. Now, just how often do you experience a twinkle in your eye? If you can answer this as "very often", then you might just be the kind of person I'd like to hang around with! This little "twinkle in your eye" is really an indication of how much you connect with the things around you and the ones in life that actually bring you delight! I find the eyes are a definite window to the soul - revealing what it is we "connect" with the most frequently. If there is frequent connection with negativity, the "twinkle" is just not there. If there is frequent connection with uplifting people and "content", I see much to take delight in! "Fit as a fiddle" kind of brings some mystery into this passage, as I don't kno

Desire is a step toward receiving

As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!” He touched their eyes and said, “ Become what you believe .” It happened. They saw. (Matthew 9:27-29) Become: arrive at; grow into; develop into. If someone were to walk up to you and tell you to "become what you believe", what would you become right here and now? What would you "grow into" or where would you "arrive at" in your life? This might be a very telling question for some of us. Most of us don't really have a plan for where we'd like to "arrive at" or what we truly would like to "grow into" in a spiritual sense, much less a physical or emotional sense. We simply live day by day, making the best of each moment, and wonder what the next will hold. I don't think God

A barren place

  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) Why do we find ourselves in the desert places anyway? If you are like me, you chose to live in one! If we wanted to wax a little philosophical this morning, we could all say we get ourselves into some pretty 'dry and barren' places at times? Those dry and barren places are likely a result of our choices - yup - I've gone meddling again. Here's the thing I want us to consider today - do we get hungry and thirsty when we are in a place of ample nourishment and quenching? Not likely! We get the hungriest when there is no food in sight, and the thirstiest when our demand for fluids is not met with an equal provision of the refreshing stuff. It is in the dry and weary deserts where we find we have a need or two that honestly cannot be met any other way than by God's provision. When we are in the lush valleys, green meadows, a

Shedding a little light

  “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” (John 3:20-21) I have to say there are a lot of 'dark places' where people can find their 'hideout' within these days. The unfortunate reality is that although they think they are hidden from the light, light has a way of dispelling ALL darkness. It may not seem like it, but there are 'runners' in this world - those who do their very best to live independently and without thought as to their eternal future. To those who run I have one thought today - what is it you are really running from? Is it that you

Abandoning it all

  Seek  God  while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to  God , who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness. (Isaiah 55:6) During a time when the nation of Israel stood divided into two kingdoms and were constantly threatened by attacks from Assyria and Egypt, the prophet Isaiah is called to write these words - a prophesy of redemption to those who would seek it. The nation had been mostly deaf and disobedient to the words of God through the prophets - in fact, if they could break the rules, many of them did. Isaiah was called to focus on the redemption that would come through the Messiah (Christ), but the divided nations of Judah and Israel stood in opposition to much of what they knew they should be doing. Isn't it just like us independent humans to choose our own way of doing things, even when we know it stands in complete opposition

Are you near-sighted?

  Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. (Proverbs 27:1) Gandhi reminded us that we are to "live as if we were to die tomorrow; learn as if we were to live forever". We can be certain of one thing - tomorrow is not promised to any living creature - it is a gift to receive each day we are given. I have a little harder question to pose that may not make fans of many of my followers, but here goes: What will you do with your today in order to make someone else's tomorrow better? I didn't ask what you would do today to make YOUR tomorrow better, but what will you do with TODAY in order to leave a bit of a legacy for someone else's tomorrow.  I think we spend a whole lot of time today preparing for OUR tomorrow should we blessed to receive another day on this earth, but do we spend OUR time in a way that assures someone we may not even know will be receiving a better tomorrow - a blessing prepared today f

The 'considering process'

God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study—endless enjoyment! Splendor and beauty mark his craft; His generosity never gives out. His miracles are his memorial—this God of Grace, this God of Love. (Psalm 111:2-4) Endless: Of or seeming to have no limit; boundless; infinite; incessant. Our challenge today is for us to consider the works of God. I would like us to put a great deal of effort into this "consideration", then to proclaim what it is we have been "considering" rather than keeping silent about it. There is to be a certain attitude in our consideration of the wonders of God. Get to know God on a personal basis and I believe you will not be "shy" about proclaiming what it is you have discovered in him - in his Word and in those times you spend alone with him. God's works are so great - worth a lifetime of study. God's works - everything from his creative to sustaining power - is worthy of our consideration. His works produce so

Human opinion disables us

  The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in  God  protects you from that. (Proverbs 29:25) How many of us are subject to human opinion? If you don't think you are, ask yourself if you go to the 4 or 5 star items on that online store, reading the reviews of the products you are considering. If you do, you are subject to human opinion - reviews are actually a form of offering one's opinion of a product, service, or place. We all rely upon human opinion just a little bit - even if it is to swerve right as we are going down the road as we have seen the three drivers in front of us do already. We don't know why we are swerving, but based upon what we have seen, we respond similarly. That is the bad thing about human opinion - we respond similarly based upon what another thinks or feels. If you have ever read mixed reviews of a product, you know how conflicted you can be in reading them. You know some absolutely love the product, while it totally disappointed others or simp

Don't just assume

You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. (Ephesians 4:20-24) "It is dangerous to assume because you might make an 'a**' of 'u' and 'me'..." is a saying that stems from a Mexican insurance company urging drivers to not just get out there on the road without appropriate coverage. It dates back to December 26, 1957 as part of an ad for the Horace DeVargas Insurance Agency as posted in the Rio Grande Sun. We all might have come to the conclusion to think that something is true or proba

We need balance

  So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-10) As I read this passage again this morning, my eye caught that phrase to 'use your head and test your feelings'. I guess I never really saw that before, or maybe I just needed to see it this morning. Using your head means you actually think before you act or say something. As I was prayerful on my walk this morning, the idea of how much division is all around us in this world right now kept coming to mind. Division in the government; between churches; and even between those we used to call friends. Why? Masks,