Showing posts from August, 2021

Alive and Well - Because of Him

Were you fortunate to have the kind of friend on the playground who actually stood up for you when the bullies came to make trouble for you? I remember more than one of those occasions when the group of playground thugs would be headed my way - a loner on the playground, nary a friend close by to stand up for me. It made me very uncomfortable and the rest of the day usually went fairly poorly because others would have observed their ability to put me down, driving home some point about how I didn't really 'fit' in their crowd. Amazing what a bully can do to one's self-worth - making one feel lower than dirt. I no longer face 'bullies' in this life alone - Christ stands up for me! Who stood up for me against the wicked? Who took my side against evil workers? If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down

Things that go thump in the night

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or de

Just asking....

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you...(Psalm 42:8) Do you ever end up in the mulligrubs? Oh, you don't know what mulligrubs are - let me tell you a little about that place. It is a place of despondency, sullenness, or even an ill-tempered mood. Now, answer my question honestly - do you ever end up in the mulligrubs? As hard as you tried not to end up there, your day started wrong, went on being wrong, and ended even more wrong than it started! The outcome - mulligrubs. Grumpiness is another term we may hear used for this old-fashioned word. If we were to say this of a baby, we'd say they have the 'colic'. Misery and woe - pain they cannot explain - pain no one else seems to know how to fix. The 'toned down' meaning of this term is kind of feeling 'blah', or being in a 'funk'. Truth be told, we all 'get there' from time to time, but probably have learned to mask it a little better than someone else! In the dum

Are you evangelical?

The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I’ll stick with God; I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go. (Psalm 16:8) I have been asked why I am not a bit more 'evangelical'. What is really being asked is why am I not a bit more ardent in my message, or zealous in the presentation of the gospel truth? Why is it I am not 'shouting from the rooftops' the hope that dwells deep within my heart? Why am I not 'out there' more? Truth be told, it isn't about the 'forwardness' or 'religiousness' one exhibits, but the ability for others to see Christ in your life and want what you have. I haven't had too many positive responses to 'hell fire and damnation' sermons - but I have seen others develop an honest hunger for Christ because the 'thing' I have made them more than a little curious how they could have the same thing! I am probably going to step on a few toes today, so h

A shelf vs. a closet?

  So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (2 Peter 1:5-9) Have you ever frittered away a day, only to find at the end of the day you didn't accomplish as much as you set out to accomplish? There have been days when my list was so long and my accomplishments so few - leaving me with an even bigger list the next day. Early on in my career I learned to do something called 'prioritizing my goals'. I had work that required my immed

Your last resort?

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with  getting,  so you can respond to God’s  giving . People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  (Matthew 5:32-33)   I saw something on Facebook some time back that simply read:  "Make God your first priority...not your last resort". Short and sweet, but quite accurate.  "Seek first the kingdom of God..."  It is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of seeking all kinds of bargains in life, but are they really 'bargains' at all?  I use this passage this morning because it really captures well what I feel in my heart right now.  Sometimes we think the gift WE give or the talent WE bring is meant to fulfill the desires of the hearts of someone other than God.  In rea

Holy Spirit Come

Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) Before thermometers were a common thing in every medicine cabinet, parents used to "test" their children for fever by placing their lips on the forehead of the child. It seemed like an odd way to do it since we have seen people repeatedly use their hands laid across the forehead to "evaluate" the feverishness of another. Using one's lips to judge 'fever' was a pretty doggone accurate process! More accurate than the hand. The lips have a great many "sensitivity" receptors which allow them to be pretty accurate at interpreting what touches them. The "sensitivity" receptors of our lips should actually work both ways - affected by what leaves our mouths, and by what touches it! Maybe this is why our psalmist prayed for God to post a guard at his mouth - the entry and exit point for many a good or bad thing in his life! He is actually probably asking God

Distress or Destress

Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. (2 Corinthians 7:10) There are many in our world today who know too much distress - anxiety, great pain, acute physical and mental suffering. They are subjected to pressure from all sides, stressing and straining to keep it all together, embarrassed and exhausted by the strain. It may seem too simplistic to say this, but what we need more of in this life is 'destress' not 'distress'. To become less anxious, under less pressure, able to let go of the weight we are carrying on our own. That one simple letter changes a whole lot, doesn't it? Too many times we don't allow our 'distress' to drive us toward God - we allow it to carry us further from God. We find ourselves caught up in the things that push against us on a

That pace is unsustainable

Do you ever feel like your life is just not working out the right way? Some of us are merely burned out on life. We have been doing everything right, but everything still seems to go wrong. Life just isn't working. We can do all the right stuff, all the while seeing all kinds of hypocrisy around us, leaving us to wonder if this life we are living is filled with all the right stuff. There might not be a whole lot of 'drama' in our lives, but there are times when we don't feel happy or fulfilled. If we are dependent upon the feeling of happiness to evaluate the 'rightness' of our lives, we will likely all feel a little disappointed at times. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to liv

Are you a self-made man or woman?

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (I John 215-17) Don't love the world's ways. That is a pretty specific commandment, isn't it? What are the 'world's ways'? If you have been in church for any length of time, you have probably heard the phrase, "She doesn't drink or chew, or run with those that do." In essence, the belief is that there will be a difference between the life of one committed to this walk we call 'Christianity' and the life choices of one who has yet to make that commitment.  Have you ever heard Christianity referred to as 'The Way'?

So, you lead and I follow?

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 kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26) Some of us don't really know the difference between following and leading as evidenced by us attempting to lead all the time! The primary difference is position. The leader is out front - the followers are moving "behind" the leader, but consistently in the same direction as the leader. This may seem a little rudimentary to some, but let me assure you, following is a lot tougher than just "getting in line" and "marching on". If you don't believe me, ask any first grade teacher on the first day of school! They will surely tell you how hard it is to keep th

Clarity, Purity, and Beauty

If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree. (Matthew 12:33) If you have mastered this art of jelly-making, you know under-ripe fruit that is too green actually makes the jelly a little cloudy in appearance. It affects the clarity of the jelly. The fruit must be ripe, but firm - not too mushy. If it is too green, it does not go through the "straining" process well. If still too green, it will cook down to what you think will make a good jelly, but you will have to exert too much pressure on it to get the juices out of it in the straining process. It actually makes the resulting "juice" for the jelly very cloudy. If you have ever tried to "force" fruit from your life (or had someone else trying to do it for you) - producing some semblance of "jelly-quality juice" from your life - you might have seen some of the issues of being "squee

Single-mindedness is learned, not given

How 'single-minded' are you really? If you find yourself provoked by someone or something and your first inclination is to answer harshly or defend your actions, you might not be as 'single-minded' as you imagine yourself to be. If you find yourself faced with a decision to immediately choose the right thing to do, but toy with the idea to indulge just a bit, justifying it won't be all that bad - you might not be as 'single-minded' as you believed yourself to be. We all struggle with more than one response to circumstances and differences in choices we may make in a particular situation. We are never without those moments when we are face-to-face with two 'mindful' moments. When our 'mindful moments' begin to immediately dismiss the wrong choice or the harsh reaction, we are getting a little closer to being truly 'single-minded'. How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in

Help our unbelief

Some stand on the cliff-edge today - fearing the doom that awaits with just one misstep. The darkness of the vast expanse below brings swells of fear and apprehension. They might even feel a little 'hemmed in' because there appears to be no way to turn back safely. It seems like the footing once secure and rock solid is slipping away, small pieces cascading over that cliff-edge, never to be seen again. Some find the winds and waves of present circumstances rocking them to and fro, unable to sail a straight course because there is nothing but opposition in your sails. The harder they attempt to choose the correct course, the more the swells seem to pitch them this direction and that, until they are so unsteady and fearing the capsizing of all that they have come to know as their place of protection. Others feel the ground beneath them trembling, rumblings coming from deep within spaces they have never seen. The ground beneath seems to open up, separating them from what they once

Taking in the small stuff

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."  (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)  I may not have originated these words, but they are something which really reflects my heart. I live for today - because God never assures me I will have tomorrow here on this earth. I learn for an eternity - because God has assured me I will learn at his feet for all of eternity. There are certain things worth learning - such things make us stronger, giving us depth and breadth which would otherwise be undiscovered in our lives. Have you ever looked at an individual, considered what they "appear" to be like on the outside, and then made an "estimate" of their strength? If I see a guy who is muscular, with a great set of biceps bulging and firm six-pack, I think he must have spent a lot of time developing his strength. If I see a busy man in a business suit stop to help a small child explore the wonder of a snail crossing the sidewalk, I see a tot

Aimless or Purpose-Driven?

We all probably have those introspective moments where we consider our future. Have you ever asked yourself if you are where you are supposed to be? Is this the career path you are supposed to follow? Is this the relationship you are to be involved in? Is this the best you can do, or is there more? We all take time on occasion to consider those questions, but the truth of the matter is it doesn't matter where we are, God can meet us right where we are. We don't have to be this or that, get here or there, or accomplish this or something else. God meets us right where we are right here and now - coming to us long before we even realize he has drawn near. The important thing to remember is that God isn't as concerned about where we believe we should be, but rather are where he wants us to be. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:8) Where does God want you to be? Chances

God uses opposites

Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people, Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil. (Psalm 97:11) Seeds are unique to the type of plant from which they come and their purpose is to bring forth growth that is the same as the plant from which they came. You cannot expect to obtain passion fruit from a grapefruit seed, nor grapefruit from a grape seed. To expect something other than what you plant is just plain silly. You might have planted some 'bad seed' and then hoped for a better outcome than what you planted, but that just isn't logical. Maybe this is why God reminds us it is reasonable to expect to harvest what we plant, and we must plant in order to harvest. The one planting seeds is as significant as the seeds being planted - not to mention "where" the seeds are planted - because the outcome is based on both. If God is the planter of the seeds, the harvest is more likely to produce the type of growth which will edify and build us up. He take

A little gravitational pull needed

Take a good look at my trouble, and help me— I haven’t forgotten your revelation. Take my side and get me out of this; give me back my life, just as you promised. “Salvation” is only gibberish to the wicked because they’ve never looked it up in your dictionary. Your mercies, God, run into the billions ; following your guidelines, revive me. My antagonists are too many to count, but I don’t swerve from the directions you gave. I took one look at the quitters and was filled with loathing; they walked away from your promises so casually! Take note of how I love what you tell me; out of your life of love, prolong my life. Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth. Your righteous decisions are eternal. (Psalm 119:160) I want us to focus today on those words in bold above - your mercies, God, run into the billions. I don't know about you, but I think God's mercies in my life alone are into the multi-billions! There are moments when I just know he has showered me in his mercies -

Filling those margins?

Every word you give me is a miracle word— how could I help but obey? Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning. Mouth open and panting, I wanted your commands more than anything. Turn my way, look kindly on me, as you always do to those who personally love you. Steady my steps with your Word of promise so nothing malign gets the better of me. Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women so I can live life your way. Smile on me, your servant; teach me the right way to live. I cry rivers of tears because nobody’s living by your book! (Psalm 119:130) Every word - not just some of the words - are miracle words God speaks into our lives, but we have to be open to receive them! Receiving means way more than just hearing them - it includes acting upon what we hear. God relishes the moments we actually take to consider his Word - especially when we actually ask him to 'break it open' to us like he has never done before. God isn't ever goin

Prod me a little - it is okay!

The words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together. They are given by God, the one Shepherd. (Ecclesiastes 12:11) A water pitcher has a spout that is designed to pour out the contents it holds in a "funnel-like" stream that hits the spot we aim the spout toward (hopefully a glass or container). Someone you know pours into your life - who 'hits the spot' almost all the time for you? Go ahead - really think about those in your circle who actually "pour into" your life and 'hit the spot'. You are likely to discover there are a lot more who have the "spout" turned toward them - not you! They take from you, expecting you to pour into their lives, without any thought of ever pouring into yours. If you are as fortunate as I have been, there is always some individual who seems to be able to pour into my life just when I need it. I have often shared with you some things a friend said that sparked

Inside matters

God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart. (I Samuel 16:7) If God 'evaluated' us as most humans 'evaluate' us, we'd be doomed! God has a way of seeing past the superficial to the real - the genuine side of human character. Too many times we are more concerned with the way others 'see' us or 'judge' us - what their 'impression' is of our character. One thing I learned in all my years of management - a person can look good on paper and be totally different up close and personal. They can put forth an 'image' of what they hope to portray that will get them the job, but when it comes to the day to day work - where the rubber meets the road - they are just not all their 'portrayed image' suggests.  We must learn to look at others the way God sees them - not the way society tells us to see them. We must allow God to show us the good in others - instead of always looking

Listen and take action

I will be the first to admit - I listen some of the time, but not all of it. I tune out at times - not because I don't care, but because I daydream a bit. I find myself looking at the condition of something in the yard and then begin to consider how much work it will take to get those beds turned over and ready for planting. I catch a glance of the dust collecting on the edge of a bookcase shelf and consider my cleaning chores as unfinished, making a mental note to add those to the weekend warrior tasks. Most of the time we 'catch up' with the conversation as we tune back in, but not always. We all do it - we get distracted all while we are supposed to really be listening to someone right there in front of us. If that 'someone' is God, that lack of attentiveness to what he is telling us might just cost us in the end! 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

Just rest

You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me. I shiver in awe before you; your decisions leave me speechless with reverence. (Psalm 119:114) Whenever we declare God to be our 'place', we are saying we are 'positioned' within him. We are not just in the region of him, but we are in close intimate contact with him. When I ask you over to my 'place', do you go to my neighbor's and declare you are 'at my place'? No, you come right up to my front door, ring the bell, or come right in because I have opened the door for you. We are 'placed into' Christ's presence and it is there we are to dwell as a quiet place of retreat from all this world demands of us. I enjoy a quiet afternoon just kicking back and doing nothing from time to time. Why? It renews me a bit. It creates a calm within my life and it helps me unburden from the stuff that normally puts a weight upon my shoulders. Laundry done, floors vacuumed, bathrooms scru

Gonna meddle a bit...

  If you haven't figured this out yourself by now, we live in a world where people just don't seem to fight fair. There are events that happen that reveal just how some will pick apart others, while some stand idly by allowing it all to occur. Truth be told, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there! Dogs eating dogs is not a very pleasant thought to me - but it definitely paints a graphic picture, does it not? The world just doesn't fight fair. a believer in Christ, we have a different way of fighting our battles! The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse int