Showing posts from May, 2022

Abandonment Issues

Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. (Luke 14:33) A disciple is a fancy term for a pupil - one who is in a place of learning. We can all admit we are disciples - in some place of learning as we go through this life. Jesus' main purpose was to help the disciples to learn what it meant to have the Kingdom of God in their midst - the presence of God dwelling among them. Isn't this the purpose of all our tests and trials - to get us to the place we understand we have the presence of God within us at all times? A disciple doesn't concern themselves with the "what can I do" mentality in life. Instead, they make the shift from the "what can I do" to the "what will Jesus do in and through me" if I yield to him right now.  What a disciple does well is to bring God into the picture. The disciples who traveled with Christ day after day had a purpose -

Wisdom Encouraged

But the wisdom that comes from God is first of all pure, then peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help those who are troubled and to do good for others. It is always fair and honest. People who work for peace in a peaceful way plant a good crop of right-living. (James 3:17-18) I daresay we all want to act wisely, but as much as we 'want' it, we fail to always exercise the greatest of wisdom in some of our choices. How can we 'want' something so badly and still miss out on it so frequently? I don't think it is by accident because we don't always remember the 'rules of wisdom': 1) If it is wise, it will be pure; 2) If it is wise, it will be done with a peace of mind and heart; 3) If it is wise, there will be a gentleness to the action; and 4) If it is wisdom, it may not seem to be the easiest course up front, but it will definitely be the easiest on the back-end! We are surrounded by all manner of impure options, thoughts,

Be the soil

A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves. (Henry Ward Beecher) Pride leads to destruction; a proud attitude brings ruin. (Proverbs 16:18) I have had those moments when I thought I didn't get as much as I deserved - credit where credit was due; thanks for a job well-done; or some form of remuneration. As a young leader, I thought this stuff was important. As I matured a bit, I learned it wasn't all that important - there was a certain sense of joy in just doing a job well, no matter who got the credit, thanks, or 'payment' for it. I have come to realize it is quite a dangerous thing to drift into this pathway of believing we are 'owed' something. If we are to be truthful here, our attitude about why we are doing something is very important.  Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, "Pride will ruin people, but those who are humble will be honored." It is important to have the right attitude behind our actions. Look at w

Plan Number One

Got any plans for your day? One nice thing about being on vacation is the lack of plans! We find ourselves very spontaneous, making plans only if it involves being at an established location at a certain time (such as to catch some fish in the early morning hours). Other than that, we kind of just like to take it one day at a time! Not a bad way to live, but how many of us can actually live like this? Unless we are retired, it is not likely!  We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. (Proverbs 16:9) We plan the way we WANT to live - but only God makes us ABLE to live it. Plans and ability are two separate things, are they not? We make a lot of plans which we never seem able to fulfill, right? They just don't come together as they should, or never really get finished because other demands seem to creep up which require our attention. Let's be honest - we all have plans we sometimes have no ability to fulfill - we just hope we might make some

Upon the conduct of one

Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. (Alexander the Great) The fate of all - really? I believe this to be true, for my conduct could very well influence the conduct of another. The things I say, do, or even ignore have the potential to influence and change the course of another's life. We all have that potential - so it is pretty important that we recognize it now! Alexander also said, "Whatever possession we gain by our sword cannot be sure or lasting, but the love gained by kindness and moderation is certain and durable." Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help. If two lie down together, they will be warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break. (Ec

Is it all a show?

“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (John 8:31-32) How many of us can really say we have excellent "stick-to-it" determination at the beginning of a project or task? Most of us, right? We don't usually start out with "I don't think this is worth finishing, but I'll start it". We usually will say something like, "This is a big task, it may take me more than one day to accomplish, but nothing ventured, nothing gained." Freedom is often the result of determination. If you have spoken with a former of prisoner of war, they will share the things they held onto in their minds, hearts, and spirits which helped them make it through till their release. You will hear of the tremendous determination and doggedness required to hold on when things really don't show any signs of changing. I think true freedom is based on h

Gamble on HIM

Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. (Blaise Pascal) Wager, without hesitation, that HE exists. Gamble on the truth - not just a pittance, but all you have - because truth will surely reveal much more as you lean into it. God has more for us that we often realize, but until we put our faith out there a bit, we may not see what he has for us. Faith isn't just a belief - it is the heart's drive to see what is not seen, understand what is not known, and gain what we presently do not possess fully. Words from wise people are like sharp sticks used to guide animals. They are like nails that have been driven in firmly. Altogether they are wise teachings that come from one Shepherd. (Ecclesiastes 15:11) Scripture is not given to us just to fill our minds with verse upon verse. I us

Perfect is not a real condition

Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) Edmund Hillary said, "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." We see the mountain and convince ourselves it is too hard to traverse. If we are ever to get to the other side, we need to get over ourselves and embrace the mountain! We could wait for all the conditions of our lives to be 'perfect' before we take the first step toward whatever it is that stands as your 'mountain' - but we all know 'perfect' is hard to find and short-lived. Some of us need to get over ourselves and begin to take the steps we know to take - not the ones we might take if conditions were 'right'.  "Perfect" is a condition where all the parts conform ABSOLUTELY to the description or definition of some 'ideal' we have formed within our minds. Many times, our 'ideal' is not quite accurate - it has been c

Another sunrise

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. (William Arthur Ward) Ordinary opportunities are often overlooked - we just don't see them. We might not know what we have missed until someone else actually points it out. Stop for a moment to consider your body. There are times when I just look at those tiny hairs on my arms, standing almost upright, goosebumps forming because of a cool breeze passing over the surface of it. I am amazed that God created us with all those tiny muscle fibers that actually make that hair stand on end - a tiny muscle for each one. Then I look at intricacies of the eye - outwardly appearing one way, but inwardly a maze of blood vessels, tiny receptors, and nerve endings. Ordinary opportunities to miss the very thing that bespeaks the tender care God took in creating each and every fiber of our being - missed until we stop to notice. There are likely things in this day y

Lipstick on a pig

Charm can fool you, and beauty can trick you, but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised. (Proverbs 31:30) Ladies, I am going to share a bit with you today, but guys you will do well to consider these words, too. The godly woman bears one significant and constantly evident trait: She is in love with Jesus. She keeps him first - in tending to her family's needs, giving of herself within her church congregation, and even in just being a member of her community. A life surrendered to Christ gets noticed - because Christ shines through in every action of her life.  A woman might feel a bit inferior because she doesn't dress as others who are 'more stylish' than she is, be married to a 'successful man', or even have a career others will 'admire and praise'. Let me be the first to acknowledge - there is no 'successful man' in my life other than the Lord Jesus himself. I don't wear the most stylish of clothing, following the latest trends -

How about you?

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities;  Truth isn't. (Mark Twain) Truth isn't limited to the possible - it transcends it. So many of us focus on what we see as 'possible' rather than looking toward what may seem a little impossible to us. We limit ourselves by the 'belief' that we are 'limited' to what is possible - based upon our talents, status, upbringing, or training. I never knew riding a two-wheeler would be so hard, but after a few falls and a whole lot of wobbly attempts, I was able to realize the 'impossible'. That one 'skill' allowed me to be 'mobile' like I never could be just on foot. If I had of looked at that old Schwinn two-wheeler and my brother's assistance as though they were going to harm me, I never would have got up on that thing. Sometimes we have to put aside our 'belief' that something is impossible if we are ever to move beyond into the p

Don't be a vessel

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. (Mark Twain) If we were to be honest about our anger, we would likely acknowledge there is something within us that was wounded - our pride took a hit of some sort. Most of the time it is not that we just have a bad temper - it is an issue with our pride that causes us to have those outbursts that bring riffs in relationships. Most of us don't have 'rage issues' or 'bad tempers' - we just get a bit miffed at one another on occasion because something struck us wrong, we were disappointed by some response, or we just plain got our undies in a bundle because we didn't get our own way. I know - I just meddled in your mess a bit - but I also am meddling in mine! If you are angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper. Never go to bed angry—don’t give the devil that sort of foothold. (Ephesians 4:26) I think this translation of this pa

Knowledge of my ignorance

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.  (Thomas Sowell) Since we are God’s children, you must not think that God is like something that people imagine or make from gold, silver, or rock. In the past, people did not understand God, and he ignored this. But now, God tells all people in the world to change their hearts and lives. (Acts 17:29-30) God may let us get away with some things for a while, just because we really don't know any better. Let him begin to unfold the Word of God and his principles on how to live upright lives for a bit and he begins to ask for some change. Why? We are no longer ignorant - we know what is expected. Sometimes it does take quite a bit of knowledge to show us just how ignorant we have become - not because we are 'dumb', but because we have been influenced to ignore those things for so long. For a long time, God's people may go along, living as they want, then the day comes when they realize what t

Who gets the credit on this one?

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.  (Harry S. Truman) It was Truman who was first quoted as saying, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." There are times we feel the heat rising in our lives and we get doggone uncomfortable in the process. If we took Truman's suggestion, we'd bolt every time we felt a bit too uncomfortable for our liking. If we always bolted when things got a little too 'heated' in our lives, what do you think we'd accomplish? Not a whole heck of a lot, that's for sure! We'd spend more time running that we'd spending 'accomplishing'! The fastest runner does not always win the race, the strongest soldier does not always win the battle, the wisest does not always have food, the smartest does not always become wealthy, and the talented one does not always receive praise. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) We ALL can start the race, but will we ALL finish it? Some will drop

Let's get caught up

You have probably heard it said that the enemy of the present is our past. In other words, we fight battles with our past more frequently than we fight battles with our present - but we are fighting them in the "space" our present is supposed to occupy! Our "present" has a purpose, but we occupy it with the things from our "past" which still gnaw at us. I wonder just how much of the present we miss because we are so focused on the past? The only thing changeable is the present - the past is forever just that - past. Why then do we spend so much time focusing on it?  One of the most common reasons we do this is the familiarity we have with our past – it is an easy place to drift into because it is a former “routine” for us. We hope by focusing on the past, we might just find something worthwhile there which can "benefit" our present. The issue with this is that most of what is in our past really brings us to the point of being overwhelmed in o

Shaped by the master craftsman

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (Romans 12:2) When one 'conforms', they will become similar in form, nature, or character to that which they are seeing modeled. Behavior is most often 'modeled' before it is anything we 'conform' to, isn't it? For example, you may not even consider having an ice cream cone until you see everyone along the boardwalk happily warding off the heat of the day with their favorite scoops. They became the 'models' of the behavior you are about to conform to - obtaining a cone of your own delightfully rich scoops! The ice cream example is tame compared to some of the things modeled for us today - things that we may not exa

Great things happen when...

When a believing person prays, great things happen. (James 5:16b) There should be no doubt in the power of prayer - God delights in hearing from his kids, even though he may not hear from us as often as he'd desire! Great things happen in those times of conversation with him. Just in case you haven't noticed, he brings seed thoughts that we can think upon the rest of the day. There is no substitute for spending time just sharing our heart with him. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. (James 5:16a) This is the other part of this verse - something we also should not overlook as we consider spending time with God in conversation. There is power in confession - it is the beginning of our healing - emotionally, physically, spiritually, and relationally. The more we open up to him, the greater the opportunities for him to begin to bring order to our confusing life. When we are uncertain what to pray, just pray for God's wisdom. Did you for

Today or Tomorrow

Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.   (Corrie Ten Boom) I don't want to brag or anything, but I haven't worried about anything in the last ten minutes! Yes, I am making light of a much bigger problem, but it is good to laugh once in a while, isn't it? Worry indeed robs us of our strength - the strength we need in order to face whatever we are going through today. I used to worry a great deal about what tomorrow would bring - especially when I was working. Every new day meant new challenges - some I didn't want to face, others I actually enjoyed. As a kid, I had a terrible problem of nail biting. It was a nervous habit - done unconsciously, without real effort, and was quite difficult to stop.  Mom bought m

A sacred place

Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission. (Arnold Bennett) Bennett also reminds us "it is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top" - something we'd do well to consider when we are just 'coasting through life'. We oftentimes take for granted the things we allow to 'penetrate' our minds, almost without any real thought to it at all. It is as though the process of things 'getting into our minds' can be a little 'passive' when we are not 'on guard' to keep out unwanted influences and misguided half-truths. Maybe the one thing we can do to 'guard' our minds seems a bit too easy, but in allowing the Word of God to begin to penetrate our minds more and more, we are actually 'setting up the guard'. Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. (Proverbs 4:23) Indeed, our thoughts dictate so many of our actions - both good and b

Obedience is not easy

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (Romans 12:12) I have a theory that burnout is about resentment. And you beat it by knowing what it is you're giving up that makes you resentful. (Marissa Mayer) Ms. Mayer makes a very good point about 'burnout'. We create this scenario in our minds about having to 'give up' something in order to pursue something else, and it is this 'something else' that is making us feel burned out. Truth be told, it is the 'resentment' we form toward what we perceive as 'given up' that leads to the feelings of burnout. Remember, feelings can be fickle - they can lead us down pathways we don't want to be traveling. The harder we try to not focus on what we perceive we are 'giving up', the more the feelings of resentment grow toward whatever it

Live in the moment

Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. (Proverbs 17:1) I wonder just how many of us actually gamble on our future? We go through each day, making plans for the future, but not really living for today. While I am a big proponent of 'saving for a rainy day', and being prepared for unexpected expenses, I also know we are not assured of our tomorrows. Maybe that is why I ask God to show me how to live each day, where I can make an impact today, and how it is I can use what he has given me for his glory. I want my 'today' to count! How about you? Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. (Mahatma Gandi) If we are 'in Christ', we are going to live forever, but maybe not in this 'lifetime'. Live as though we were to die tomorrow - not with the attitude of a million tomorrows, but with the attitude of making the most of each day. Redeem the time - you are not guaran

Focus your energies on...

Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting. (William Arthur Ward) If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped. (Psalm 130:3-4) As it turns out...those are actually words of realization on the part of our psalmist. When we have that moment of recognition that only God can provide, what a moment it is! Just grab hold of what he is saying here - God could keep record of all our mistakes, making it impossible for any of us to actually 'clean up our acts' totally. He could make us pay restitution for each and every failure, but he doesn't. Instead, he paid the price - not out of 'obligation' or 'regret', but out of love. His 'habit' is to live and breathe love - where love is, grace abounds. If God gives so freely of his love - forgiveness being an integral part of love - how is it we can hold grudges against each other? What is a

An elusive goal?

Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit. (Hosea Ballou) We can find many ways to seek happiness in this lifetime, but few measure up to true happiness. In fact, ask any ten people for their definition of happiness and you will receive ten different answers. What becomes evident is that happiness is pretty much 'accomplished' when something we want comes to fruition. We are happy when it is a sunny day, and we are not working so we can enjoy it. We are happy when there is money in our bank account, sufficient to pay the bills, but with a bit left over to enjoy some 'free time'. Contentment differs from happiness, because it is not based upon some external condition being met. When the heart and mind are at rest, peace abounding within, spirit in communion with God, we are content. We may not be 'happy' because there are clouds in the sky, but we can be content to know God is at the helm of our day. I inherited your book on living

Use it or lose it

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. (Arthur Ashe) There are times when we find ourselves thinking we don't have 'enough' of the 'right stuff' to do what lies ahead. We discount what we have, thinking only about what we lack. Ashe put it very well - use what you have, right where you are today, in the best way you can, and you might just see that God that as an offering he can totally bless! What we 'don't have' doesn't have to dictate what we can do with what it is we have been given! We all have gifts. They differ according to the grace God has given to each of us. (Romans 12:6) On the path of 'doing what we can', we might just discover God has given us something we didn't even know we had. It is while we are going about the things God asks us to do when we discover what we thought was 'missing' really didn't matter all that much because God had something else in mind. He had prepared us for that moment o

But it seems that...

How little do they see what really is, who frame their hasty judgment upon that which seems. (Daniel Webster) I pray that he will use his glorious riches to make you strong. May his Holy Spirit give you his power deep down inside you. Then Christ will live in your hearts because you believe in him. And I pray that your love will have deep roots. I pray that it will have a strong foundation. (Ephesians 3:16-17) If you looked upon my life on any given day, you might not always see the evidence of Christ coming through is some of my actions or words. Why is that? While I have a 'strong foundation' (Christ in me) and believe the 'right stuff' (the Word of God and the Holy Spirit's urging), I don't always make right choices. I speak before I think, step out before I seek direction, and sometimes just lazily approach life as though time didn't matter. If you just looked at the outward, you might form a wrong impression. If you knew the struggle going on inside me

Tree Climbers Unite

Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (Luke 19:10) If you didn't grow up in Sunday School, you may have missed the story of the 'short man' who climbed a tree to see Jesus - his name was Zacchaeus. He was a Jew, born of the line of Abraham, but was probably not very well-liked by his people because of his profession. He was the Chief Tax Collector in Jericho. As a tax collector, he was viewed as a 'defector' to his people - 'siding' with the Roman government. His identity as a member of Jewish society had probably been lost because he would have been shunned for choosing this course of life. It made no matter what lineage he proclaimed - he was an 'outsider' to his own people. Sometimes we can 'be' all the right things, but choose to 'do' the wrong things, making us feel like we are pretty much on the 'outside' of everythi

Win/Loss Ratio a bit low?

Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it. (George Halas) 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 12:1-2) Do we live with regrets? Yes, sadly, many of us do live with regrets - things we wished we would have said, done, or pursued. There is no place for regrets in this walk with Jesus, though. Jesus doesn't 'set us up' for regrets - he sets us up for victory. We may fail t

Time to stop competing

Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay. (Sallust) A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. (James 3:3-6) Harmony is probably one of the most difficult things for humans to achieve. Why is that? It could just be this propensity we have to always seek our own 'best interest' in life, or our insane desire to always be out ahead of each other in one way or another. Harmony can be disturbed when competition becomes the focus.

Opposites attract

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. (I Peter 1:18-19) I listened as my pastor shared the moments in his life where he had struggles with doubts - something we don't expect a pastor to share with his congregants. I understood what state of mind he could have been in when he was experiencing these doubts. I was fully aware of my own doubts along the way - times when I wondered if God 'really said' or 'really meant'. It is never wrong to have doubts - it