Showing posts from April, 2022

The best proof

Dr. Joyce Brothers reminds us, "The best proof of love is trust." Let those words sink in just a bit - don't just skim over them. The best PROOF of LOVE is TRUST. Three very important words because love requires proof and the only proof that really matters is when you know you can count on the person you love. If we are to do more than just 'survive' in this world, we need to master this thing we call love. We take each other for granted - expecting so much from one another - not really appreciating the person behind the actions. Trust is based upon more than 'follow-through' - it is based upon the motivation of the heart (the spirit behind the actions).  We can trust God because he did more than 'follow-through' on a couple of promises to us. He did more than just 'be there' in our lives. He showed us we could trust in him - he gave us the 'proof' of his love through his Son. Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so ta

Is change possible?

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

Measured Words

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. (Robin Williams) Dear friend, listen well to my words ; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health. (Proverbs 4:20-22) The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words . (Proverbs 10:19) There is much 'said' in this world today - much is 'believed' - much will not bear true under testing, though. Words and ideas can change the world, but heaven help us if we are speaking the words that will lead us astray in anyway. The wise measure their words - what does that mean to you? Words have a 'measurement' to them. They have an 'extent' - sometimes going beyond the intended meaning into the imagined meaning. They may actually be 'amplified' in the ears of the hearer - taken to heart - made real in the imagination. Words

Become, don't dwell

Become wise, dear child, and make me happy; then nothing the world throws my way will upset me. (Proverbs 27:11) Scripture teaches wisdom is something we acquire over time. Most of our wisdom comes through what we refer to as the "school of hard knocks". You know exactly where you learned some of the lessons you have learned, while there are times when you really could not say it was one place or time when the learning happened - it came in the "course of time". The point is, we don't stop "becoming wise" at any one point in life. The process of acquiring wisdom is to be a continual thing. Every opportunity presented is an opportunity to incorporate some knew knowledge or application of truth. We just need to use what we "amass" and let it affect how we make decisions in the future. This seems to be the point of our struggle - in using what we already know to help us avoid mistakes. I could save millions of dollars, but if I never used

Handle life properly

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in. (C. S. Lewis) We all have those moments when we are thinking about what WE want. We get lonely and desire the closeness of another. We feel anger over things that bug us and want revenge. We have messed things up so badly and see no way out, but desire it so greatly. We find ourselves in the pit and want a ladder to climb our way out. We look all around for any other answer, but we know the one and only answer to each of these issues is Christ Jesus. We seek answers, but we don't go to the one who knows the answer ever before we pose the question. I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want

A house or a home?

Home is any four walls that enclose the right person. (Helen Rowland) Take notice that Ms. Rowland did not say the right home makes the person. I think we spend way too much time focusing on the walls, bricks, mortar, and furnishings, sometimes to the neglect of the individual who resides within. The 'right person' within the four walls - regardless of their color, condition, or size - that is what makes a home. Perhaps it is time we focus on becoming the 'right person' instead of on having the 'right home'. I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need your help, especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should. (Psalm 101:2) What are you inside the walls of your home? How do you act there? Is there a difference from the way you act 'in public' view? There are times each of us 'acts' just a little differently when our 'public face' is on versus when we are within the confines of our own 'personal space'. I know we

More than a few issues

A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:17-20) We all have a purpose in life. According to scripture, our lives are supposed to bear fruit - something is to be "reproduced" from each of our lives. From the moment God told Adam and Eve to be "fruitful and multiply" mankind has been focused on "bearing fruit" - more than just physical offspring, but fruit of all kinds. With the labor of his hands, mankind brought forth crops and harvests beyond measure. With the investment of his time and talent, mankind ensured the mentoring of the next generation. Mankind is continually bearing fruit of one kind or another. It probably goes without saying some fruit is not exa

Needed: One Rowing Partner

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. (Havelock Ellis) Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1) We make moment-by-moment decisions to let go or hold onto whatever makes us feel good, validates our feelings, or determine to be of some value to us. To be painfully truthful with you, I have held onto some things I would have been better off letting go of, determined somethings to be of great worth that really had very little worth, and listened to my emotions way too much in this lifetime. Those things only served to trip me up - keeping me in a place I didn't want to be. When I finally let go of what I thought was so important to hold onto, I found myself pursuing G

Avoidance issues

Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. (James 4:1-2) Conflict comes from a bunch of differing sources - external or from within - our own minds and bodies presenting us with challenges beyond number. Most of us feel a little challenged by the continuation of some of these conflicts - either in relationships, in terms of what we desire, or just in what it is we are surrounded with every day. Let's consider the things which lead to conflict and their "antidote". We have some sort of conflict when we sense we are losing an element of control we'd rather not give up. Face it, control is a big deal to most of us. All the way to the grave we will struggle with wanting some

Go ahead, sit a while

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. (St. Augustine) God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together. We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on. (Psalm 33:18-22) If we are to ask God to love us with all he's got, wouldn't it be reasonable for him to ask us to do the same toward him? We look for his love - do you ever wonder if he looks for yours, as well? I imagine he sits there, attentive for our knock, and eager to just have us sit with him a while. We've already received the invitation - we don't need to await another. What's more - the invitation isn't 'generic' - it is ours. How do we show God love? We revere him - trust his ways, listen attentively to his v

We get there by going there

Dr. Seuss reminds us, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." So many times, we focus on the 'end' of things and forget all that happened in between the beginning and the end - the 'going through' part. We get through something, look back a bit, celebrate or mourn, depending on the occurrence, and then we commit to our memories something from that experience. It won't be the full details, but we will latch onto some part of it as the memory we will keep. If it was a happy occasion, we may not have wanted it to end. If it was just the opposite, we are probably grateful to have it over once and for all. Either way, it isn't the end that made the difference for us - it was the 'going through' that did. If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attentio

Hope in the midst of dryness

Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child. (Deuteronomy 8: 2-5) Remembering means that we go through a process of thinking of something again and again. In the process, we bring our attention to something we want to be aware of - bringing what exists in the unconscious mind back into the conscious mind. I remember my first "solo" bike ride - but mostly because I have scars to

Negotiation Table

Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God. There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. (Philippians 1:28-29) Sitting Bull said, "Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children." It was a wise aim, but one I feel might have left us somewhere along the way. Unity is a hard thing to create, much less maintain. Unity actually requires only one agenda and when we humans get involved, there are always going to be differing agendas. How is it we put down our own agendas and take up Christ's? How can we still maintain our individuality and be part of a group bigger purpose? It comes not in 'giving up' our agenda, b

Not perfect - how about you?

True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. (Proverbs 22:4) True humility - this suggests to me there might just be a form of humility which is not genuine or real at all. It is that type of humility where one "pretends" to be submissive to the will of another, but really there is a little (or a lot) of resistance going on. It is like the age-old adage of us sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside! Humility is often thought of as being modest or a little bit inferior to another. Humility is really a spirit of deference. It is the respectful and courteous regard of others in our lives - the willingness to take the back seat or to play second fiddle, so to speak. It is the condition of no longer pretending but being real with each other. A truly humble person is not afraid to be themselves around others or God. There are a lot of ways we don't show our humility. One of the most evident is when we say we know everything the

The wrong stuff

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8) Let's stop this morning to consider what it is we truly love. It is probably easier for you and I to make a list of what it is we truly dislike or hate than it is to make one for the things we truly love! I don't like brussel sprouts, but I wouldn't say I "hate" them. I don't like liver - I think I could say I definitely don't like lamb - and I think I could even say I don't like lightening storms - but I cannot truly say I "hate" any of these. Hate is a strong word - one which I discouraged my kids from using as they were growing up. In reality, when we are saying we "hate" something, we are stating we almost have a hostility toward it. In laying out my list of what I don't really like, I am really saying I have a little aversion to the taste or the effect

Another risky move

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. (I John 3:16) Disappearing love - does that sound like the state of so many homes these days? Did you know that in the US there were 5 marriages per thousand in the two-year span from 2020-2021, with 3 of those 5 ending in divorce within the same time span (and that is only 45 states reporting statistics)? Our homes were hard hit with the pandemic, weren't they? Relationships still developed, but they didn't withstand the pressure. It is tough to love someone, especially when there are external forces at work to tear the relationship apart! It is equally tough to love someone when we are so

Choose the right stuff

My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life . (Proverbs 4:10-15) We begin a lot of things, but how many of them do we actually finish? In terms of finishing, we don't do as well as we do with the beginning part! To finish well, we need to have not only tenacity, but we need to have set out on an endeavor we find worthwhile and rewarding. If the thing we set out to do is so overbearing and adds burden instead of delight, we get bogged down and often lay it aside because it is "too hard". It is like when we say we will read the Bible in a year. We find ourselves reading for the sake of reading - not really taking time to savor the truth contained within. We plug on through the "boring" chapters, get excit

Look up, look around, trust what is within

Winston Churchill reminded us, " If you are going through hell, keep going. " There is quite a bit of wisdom in that one! We might want to give up, but hell isn't our stomping ground! It may seem a bit like we are doomed to be there, but the truth of the matter is that we are to move through to the other side of whatever misery it is we are calling our 'hell' at this moment. God reminds us, " As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. " (Colossians 1:10-12) There is a strength not our own that we rely upon when in the midst of something bigger than our capacity, or harder than our capabil

Feeling a little 'diminished'?

Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:2) Does your faith ever feel like it is dwindling? There is one thing we can do whenever this happens - go look at Christ did when his faith was battered and worn by life's demands. He withdrew into prayer - times to talk with his Father one-on-one. He got with his good friends to share ideas, hear their stories, and feel their support. He sat down and ate at rest with those he enjoyed company w

How about a little clear thinking here?

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. (Leo Buscaglia) That word is for someone today - not sure who - but you will know it when you hear it. Worry robs so many of us of today's joy - not because it has any power of its own, but because we give it the power to rob us. Worry is a state of mind, heart, will, and emotions. It diminishes our drive, deflects our focus, and demeans our hopes. If you are a 'worrier', it is time to remember we are called to be 'warriors', not worriers.  Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep

The sticking point

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. (I Corinthians 13:3-7) Love is tough business - even under the "best" of circumstances. In fact, I think it is one of the toughest things for us to receive and even harder for us to give away - that is, when we do it well! Many times, we "love", but it is definitely not "well". We have all those strings attached, kind of doing our own thing, but never really investing in each other as we should. In the roughest spots, it is put to the test, and we sometimes don't come out smelling so pre

Not what, but who

As I raised my children, my one main concern was not what they would do in this world, but who they would be. As I see my grandsons becoming young men, the same aim exists. It isn't what we do in this lifetime as much as who we become. What we 'do' may seem very important to some but trust me on this one - - - we can 'do' all kinds of 'good' stuff and 'be' doggone 'wrong' in our heart while doing it! That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live . After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. (Romans 6:12-14) Sin cannot tell us how to live - but it sure presents a whole lot of options! We find ourselves fo

The theorem of light

We have all the light we need, we just need to put it in practice. (Albert Pike) “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (Jesus) (John 8:12) Many folks go through life looking for the next great revelation, all the while possessing so much knowledge and using very little of it. I knew all kinds of stuff in school, but actually used about 1/10th of it in real life! Physics is a blur; trigonometry was likely a waste of my time; and calculus never got used even one time. Geometry helps me with some 'area' and 'angle' questions in my woodshop; algebra actually helped me when I calculated drug dosages; and biology helps me keep my garden growing. I still only use a tiny fraction of any of those subjects that I say did me some good to study. We can be 'knowledge-rich' and 'wisdom-poor' at times. We have 'light' and still we seek something to deal with the 'darkness'.

Never walk away

Everybody wants to do something to help, but nobody wants to be first.  (Pearl Bailey) Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow” when the money’s right there in your pocket. Don’t figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor when he’s sitting there trusting and unsuspecting. (Proverbs 3:27-29) Your hand is God's hand - can we just ponder that one for a moment or two? What was the last thing your hand did for someone other than yourself? It goes without saying, we may deny ourselves very little, all the while oblivious to the need that could be right there next to us. Never walk away - that is a pretty direct command, but I will be the first to admit, I've done it. If it is within our ability, why don't we take the next step and meet the need? Maybe it is like Bailey said and we don't want to be the one to take the 'first step'. I know some wil

It might just hurt...

Of all possessions a friend is the most precious. (Herodotus) God-friendship is for God-worshipers; They are the ones he confides in. (Psalm 25:14) Friendship with God is desirable - in fact, it is the best 'friendship' we can find in life. We all know the value of a good friend - someone we can confide in, sharing both our doubts and hopes openly. It is a different type of relationship we have with God, though. We share our most intimate confidences with him - at least that is what we believe we are doing. Have you ever wanted to talk with him about something that was just eating at you, but you were 'afraid' he might react to whatever you want to tell him in a way you might not like? It isn't that you don't trust him, it is that you don't trust yourself to respond to his wisdom in the way that he expects. God isn't going to ask us to do something that will hurt us. If we are honest, we are afraid what he asks will cause us some degree of 'pain'