Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

(YouTube: CelticWomenVivo)

NOTE: This will be my final post of 2013. I will resume on January 1, 2014. I'm looking forward to spending another encouraging year with you.

Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!

Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers—a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

HEAVENLY CHOIR: To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!
(Luke 2:9-14, The Voice)

I searched YouTube for "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". There are a ton of videos (I'm not sure how one weighs videos, but you get the point) by various artists. I just picked the Celtic Woman version because I like them.

I am struck today by the deep theology in Charles Wesley's hymn text. This isn't a simple, sweet song about a baby in a manger. Check out these words:

"God and sinners reconciled"

"Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity"

"Mild He lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth."

This song contains a powerful expression of the gospel. The baby of Bethlehem was God in the flesh, who laid aside the glory of Heaven to be born so that we might be born again spiritually and reconciled to God.

Wow! I don't think I can add to that, so I will wish you a blessed Christmas and look forward to seeing you back here on January 1, 2014.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why Bother Arming for Battle?

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"No matter how well you arm for battle, victory is determined by Him." (Proverbs 21:31, The Voice)

At first glance, one might assume from this passage that preparation is inconsequential. God's gonna do what God's gonna do, so you might as well go on about your business and roll with it as it comes.

Some Christ-followers even take verses such as this to mean that we should never make plans or goals, or consider strategies toward those goals. If it happens, it must have been God's will; if it didn't, it must not have been.

In some extreme cases, "I will pray about it" means "I have no intention of doing anything."

But what if we saw a life of prayer as the central part of arming ourselves for battle? What if we asked Him to inspire our plans and goals and give us discernment into the best strategies? 

What if "I will pray about it" means "I will surrender myself to God and seek His wisdom about my next step in this process"?

Question: How might such a perspective change your approach to preparation, planning, and goal-setting?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

NOTE: Friends, I am going to post tomorrow morning (12/22) and then take the rest of the year off. Holiday travel and holiday guests when we are home make it difficult to schedule writing time each morning. I am going to renew and recharge and be ready to kick off again on January 1, 2014. I am looking forward to spending another year with you. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Focused Faithfulness

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Earlier this morning I posted this quote from Oswald Chambers: "People want the blessing of God, but they can’t stand something that pierces right through to the heart of the matter.”

Sometimes we don't realize that the thing that is keeping God from blessing us is ... us.

I'm not talking about a lack of faith. That's the message of the "prosperity gospel". 

I'm not talking about a lack of good works. That's the message of legalism.

I'm talking about a lack of focused faithfulness. I'm talking about the difference between doing our own thing and hoping that God will drop some blessings on us OR allowing Him to take His rightful place at the center of our lives. There is no greater blessing than knowing that we are walking in step with Him and that He is calibrating our lives to His purpose.

Question: What do you need to do today to refocus?

Please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Journey of Surrender

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"I have been crucified with the Anointed One—I am no longer alive—but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me." (Galatians 2:20, The Voice)

I have often heard Christian speakers talk about having a "life verse". I've also been a part of many discussions where people talked about having a favorite verse or passage of Scripture.

I have resisted both those concepts because God has spoken to me through so much of His word. My favorite verse is like my favorite song; it is the verse or song through which God is speaking to me at the moment.

Having said that, I acknowledge that Galatians 2:20 comes about as close as possible to being a life verse for me. It is, at the very least, one of my "anchor" verses.

It is a reminder to me that God is not nearly as interested in what I do for Him as He is interested in what He does in and through me. If I am concerned for God's glory, I can take two approaches: 

(1) I can try to be sure that whatever I do, I do my very best for Him.

(2) I can surrender to Him so fully that His life and His glory are lived out in me.

Notice that I did not say that I can take "one of two" approaches. This is not either/or; it is both/and. It is process and progress. It is a journey of surrender.

“The goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us.” (Oswald Chambers - "My Utmost for His Highest”)

Question: What will you do today to take your next step on the journey of surrender?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

He Wrote You Into His Story

(Our Nativity scene on our piano)

During this Advent season, I have been reading Janet Denison's 2013 advent devotional "Looking forward to Christmas".

One thing she said on today's reading has really stuck with me. (In fact I already posted the quote on Facebook this morning). "Jesus is not a 'character' in the Christmas story; he authored the Christmas story to reveal his character."

Wow! What a powerful truth! The author of history knows the story He wants to tell to all the world, so--just at the right moment--He writes Himself into the story and changes everything.

Furthermore, at the time of His choosing, He wrote each of us into the story to participate in the larger story of history. Mind boggling!

John 1:1-2, 14 (New International Version): In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

Question: What can you do today to focus on how Jesus has written you into His story?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What If I Could Guarantee You Success This Week?

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"We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:1-3, New Living Translation)

If you are like me, Monday morning begins with reflection on the plans and responsibilities for the week. Talk about making your list and checking it twice!

These verses this morning remind us to put our plans in perspective. Several things are worth our attention in these few short words.

1. Plans are good. There is nothing in these verses that discourages the making of plans.

2. We are not ultimately in charge. Our plans are for us. They are not for God.

3. Our perspectives are often skewed. We sometimes focus on what looks good. God goes much deeper to focus on what is good.

4. If we submit our plans and our work to God, we WILL succeed. Notice that it does not say we will have the outcome we planned. It says our plans will succeed. 

Does that seem like a contradiction? Not at all! The success is in the submission of our plans and our work to God. Outcomes are beyond our control. Success in the eyes of God is measured by faithfulness to Him.

Question: What are some ways that you have found helpful to commit your plans to the Lord?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Full Face Smile

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"A warm, smiling face reveals a joy- filled heart, but heartache crushes the spirit and darkens the appearance." (Proverbs 15:13, The Voice)

As I read this verse this morning, my first thought was that I have seen smiling faces that in no way revealed a joy-filled heart. I've seen phony smiles, angry smiles, cruel smiles, disgusted smiles ... you get the point.

But then I pondered a little more the words "a warm, smiling face." That's the difference! All those other smiles have a coldness about them. Perhaps an emptiness in the eyes keeps the smile contained to the lips. The joy-filled smile is not simply a smile, but a warmth that envelopes the entire face; it is internal joy that cannot be contained.

The converse is true as well. A spirit crushed by heartache shows up in the face as well. The lips may smile, but you can see the emptiness, hurt, and exhaustion the eyes.

Sometimes we move so quickly through our daily activities that we only notice smiles and frowns. We don't see the whole face. Consequently, we miss opportunities to apply encouraging words and actions to the wounds of those around us.

Question: How can you be more sensitive today to the faces you encounter?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Peace That Makes No Sense

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“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27, New Living Translation)

This peace that Jesus promised must have been what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, "And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One." (Philippians 4:7, The Voice)

We all experience times of natural peace, where there is a break in the conflicts and stresses of life, but the peace that Jesus and Paul mentioned is a supernatural peace. It is peace in the middle of the storm. It is peace that makes no sense from a worldly perspective. It is the peace at the very core of your being that comes from knowing you are right with God.

Oswald Chambers writes, "God’s mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace. He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, “as the world gives,” but the peace of Jesus.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

Question: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your "peace quotient" today?

Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My "To Remember" List

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"Honor and enjoy your Creator while you're still young, 
Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,
Before your vision dims and the world blursAnd the winter years keep you close to the fire." 
(Ecclesiastes 12:1, The Message)

"While you're still young"---some reading this may be saying, "Too late!

In reading the remainder of Ecclesiastes 12, we get the sense that "young" is more about the mind and attitude than it is about the calendar. I know people in their 80's that are "young"--still learning, exploring, and savoring life.

Here is a powerful idea I read this morning in my Spiritual Formation Bible:

"Suppose the day comes when the power of your memory is fading. Yet placed in a prominent place where you live is a card or a nice sheet of paper (perhaps framed). On that card you wrote years before (today), you will read ten things you wanted most to remember throughout your life. What will you read on that card?"

Question: What will you read on your list?

Join the discussion by commenting one thing you will read.  I'll go first ...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Are You Watching the Clouds?

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"Those who watch and wait for favorable winds never plant, and those who watch and fret over every cloud never harvest." (Ecclesiastes 11:4, The Voice)

There is a right time for everything. Our problem is that we don't always know what the right time is; so we begin to over analyze all the external circumstances and hesitate to "pull the trigger" on a decision or action.

Sometimes we even spiritualize our hesitance by saying that we don't want to "get ahead of God". I think that we are often so far behind God that we can't see Him and therefore assume He must be behind us.

I have seen a quote attributed to Zig Ziglar: "The best time to plant an oak tree was 50 years ago. The second best time is today."

Question: What decision or action are you over analyzing that is keeping you from your next step?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So, Sharpen the Blade Already!

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"Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed." (Ecclesiastes 10:10, New Living Translation)

As one who has chopped with a dull ax, cut with a dull saw, and sliced with a dull knife, I can attest that it takes a lot more work.

I have also worked with ministry and life tools that have gotten dull from neglect.

The greatest risk is not that our "tools" will be dull, but that we will become dull tools ourselves. In his classic leadership book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey says that habit #7 is "sharpen the saw."

I hope you understand that YOU are the greatest resource you can offer others. The sharpest ax in the hand of a "dull" user is an injury waiting to happen.

Question: What will you do today to sharpen yourself?

Please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Now, That Just Stinks!

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"As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor." (Ecclesiastes 10:1, New International Version)

A small foolish act can undermine the wise and honorable reputation we have worked so hard to develop.

One of the most powerful ways that foolish act undermines our reputation is the way that we can't let go of it. We keep bringing it up to ourselves. We keep feeling guilt and shame about it. We keep reminding ourselves how foolish we were. We imagine that our reputation can never be repaired. 

We can't get rid of the stink. 

I read a great question related to this in The Spiritual Formation Bible: "What do I have invested in this foible that prompts me to hold on to it?"

Wow! To phrase it differently: What right do I have to keep digging up that which God has already buried?

Question: What will you do today to resist digging up your stinking past?

Leave me a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Embrace the Mystery

"I saw all the works and ways of God, and it became clear to me that no one is able to grasp fully this mystery called life. Try as we might, we cannot discover what has been done under the sun. Even if the wise claim to know, they really haven’t discovered it." (Ecclesiastes 8:17, The Voice)

Just when you think you have it all figured out ... You are wrong

There are certainly things about God and His word that are understandable. He has given us enough revelation of Himself that we can make reasonable decisions about following Him. Through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit in those who follow Him, He gives spiritual understanding.

But there are mysteries of God that are beyond our comprehension. We can struggle with them, or we can trust and worship Him in the mystery.

Michael Card wrote a song back in 1988 called "To the Mystery". The chorus says, "Oh, that is the mystery; more than you can see. Give up on your pondering and fall down on your knees."

Question: What can you do today to embrace the mystery of God?

Leave me a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Corrective Lenses

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"My son, live according to what I am telling you; guard my instructions as you would a treasure deep within you. Stay true to my directives, and they will serve you well; make my teachings the lens through which you see life." (Proverbs 7:1-2, The Voice)

For as long as I can remember, I have heard the phrase "looking through rose-colored glasses" suggesting the idea that a person is choosing only to see the good in a situation.

I also remember, a few years back, buying a particular kind of sunglasses (Blue-blockers) that made the green-ish looking grass in my yard appear to be a dazzling emerald green. The glasses were WAY cheaper than water, fertilizer, and hard work!

About the time I turned 40, I started needing glasses for reading. Without them, the words on the page are blurry and distorted.

As I read this passage from Proverbs this morning it occurred to me that life can be blurry, confusing, and distorted if we do not view it through the lens of God's word. That's why it is important for us to not only read a portion of God's word every day, but also to internalize it and live by it so that it becomes our lens for interpreting life.

Question: What are some ways that you can think of to make sure that we are looking at the world through the lens of God's word?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What is Ahead Begins with Today

(Photo credit:  Bill Frymire (c)2007)

"Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this." (Ecclesiastes 7:10, New American Standard Bible)

It's funny how God does things sometimes. Music is such a part of my life that I almost always wake up in the morning with a song going through my mind. This morning, it was a song I wrote 26 years ago called, "These Are the Good Days". The song talks about missing today's treasures by either looking too far forward or backward.

So, I'm singing this song to myself as I brush my teeth and get my coffee and I sit down for my morning reading and prayer time. 

There are several sources that I read from each morning and then I write this devotional based on whatever God impresses on my heart. 

This verse from Ecclesiastes was a part of this morning's reading. I have used this verse in churches many times over the last couple of decades to remind them that they must focus on moving forward.

In less than 3 weeks, I will celebrate my 52nd birthday. It is highly likely that I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me. I have experienced much in these 52 years, but there is much ahead and what is ahead begins with making the most of TODAY.

It is dangerous to drive with our focus on the rear-view mirror. It's not wise to live with our focus on the "former days".

Question: What are some ways you have found to keep your focus forward and make the most of today?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If the well's too deep, you'll still be thirsty

"The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?" (Ecclesiastes 6:11, New Living Translation)

One of my high school buddies was fond of saying, "You filled the air with words, yet you said nothing."

Some of us preacher-types often resemble that remark.

I recently heard a sermon in which the preacher mentioned that he had been accused of not being "deep" in his preaching. He said, "That's because I'm clear."  That makes me think of a water well. No matter how pure the water is, if the well is so deep you can't reach it--you'll still be thirsty.

Whether we are teaching, preaching, or just engaging in conversation--our goal should not be quantity or complexity of words, but clarity and connection. 

Proverbs 15:23 says, "A person finds joy in giving an apt reply--and how good is a timely word!" (Notice it doesn't say a timely speech).

Question: What are some ways that you have discovered to make sure that your words "connect"?

(Photo credit: Flickr)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trusting God for Today

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"Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead." (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Voice)

This has long been one of my favorite Scripture passages, though I had never read it from this translation. This one may be more familiar to you:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (King James Version)

Regardless of translation, the message remains: We are not wise enough or strong enough to accomplish the task of living (trust in The Lord ... Don't lean on your own understanding). 

We don't deserve any credit when things go well--no matter how hard we worked at it (in all your ways acknowledge Him).

If we try to go it alone, we may as well plan on a lot of stumbling and uncertainty (He will direct your path).

I have shared these verses with graduates, newly married couples, newly ordained ministers, and others at significant life transition points.

Could they also be a good reminder as we simply transition into a new day?

Question: Which part of these instructions is hardest for you to follow?

Please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Swirling Thoughts

(The fog outside my window this morning reminds me of the fog inside my head)
I have so many thoughts running through my mind this morning. I have this post to write. I have another longer post to write for my weekly Life Matters blog/newspaper column. I am preaching at a pastors conference at noon today and am still refining my thoughts for that.

Do you ever feel that way? Maybe not the writing and preaching part, but the swirling thoughts that hinder your focus?

"I have seen the kinds of tasks God has given each of us to do to keep one busy, and I know God has made everything beautiful for its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:10, The Voice)

God has made everything beautiful FOR ITS TIME.

I am praying that The Lord will show me the proper and beautiful time for each task today.

How about you? What is something you can do today to corral the swirling thoughts?
Let me hear what you think.  Leave a comment below.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Making the Unreachable God Reachable

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"For if a person could keep all of the laws and yet break just one; it would be like breaking them all ... So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin— plain and simple." (James 2:10; 4:17, The Voice)

"Do not think that I have come to overturn or do away with the law or the words of our prophets. To the contrary: I have not come to overturn them but to fulfill them ... But you are called to something higher: Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:17; 5:48, The Voice)

Wait a minute! I thought this was Dr. G's cup of ENCOURAGEMENT! This seems more like a cup of hopelessness. Are you saying I can never be good enough?

Absolutely! And that is precisely what is so encouraging. What we could never, ever do for ourselves--no matter how hard we try--God did for us.

"He orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21, Voice)

Jesus did not come to give us a standard to live up to. He came to show us an impossible standard, to take our punishment for not living up to it, and to make us right with God if we will trust Him. He came to make an unreachable God reachable.

Now, that is encouraging! I hope you will make your way to a worship gathering of His people today.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cooperating with God

(Photo Credit: OCLC Newsletter, June 2009)

"Today I am who I am because of God’s grace, and I have made sure that the grace He offered me has not been wasted. I have worked harder, longer, and smarter than all the rest; but I realize it is not me—it is God’s grace with me that has made the difference." (1 Corinthians 15:10, The Voice)

Henry Blackaby, in Experiencing God, said that God invites us to join Him in His work. Stan Nelson, one of my doctoral professors, talked about our calling to cooperate with God in what He is doing in the world. 

I thought of both of those statements as I read this morning's passage. (I guess that might be stating the obvious, since I wrote them here for you).

There is a wonderful cooperation between the grace of God and my hard work that makes me what I am. However, the indispensable part of the equation is the grace of God. Apart from God's grace, my work accomplishes nothing. Apart from my work, God is still God. He doesn't need me, but He wants to use me in accomplishing His purposes.

He also wants to use you. 

What will you do today to cooperate with the grace of God at work around you and in you?

I'd love to hear your ideas on how we can all cooperate better with God.  Leave a comment below.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Humble" Thanksgiving

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"You see, all have sinned, and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed." (Romans 3:23-24, The Voice)

"We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

On this Thanksgiving Day, we pause to consider the blessings of God. Unfortunately, our expressions of thanksgiving are often no more than a tip of the hat to God as we go on about the business of our self-sufficient lives. We speak words and prayers of thanks, but live as if it all depends on us.

Sometimes we are even aware of those in need and we pray for them, asking God to bless them and thanking Him that we are not like them. But, apart from the unmerited grace of God, we are like them.

My prayer for today is that I will remember how utterly dependent I am on the grace of God. I will likely be called on to offer the prayer at a large family gathering today. I am praying even now for The Lord to put me in the proper frame of mind.

"Happy Thanksgiving" seems a shallow greeting. Perhaps we should wish one another a "Humble Thanksgiving."

How will you cultivate a proper sense of gratitude today?
I'd love to hear your ideas on cultivating gratitude.  Please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Like Cats and Dogs

 (Photo credit:  Photobucket)
"I am not asking solely for their benefit; this prayer is also for all the believers who will follow them and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me. All the glory You have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be refined so that all will know that You sent Me, and You love them in the same way You love Me." (Jesus: John 17:20-23, The Voice)

Jesus prayed for the unity of His followers in all places and at all times. This unity is a strong evidence that Jesus's words were true and that He was indeed God in the flesh.

I am visiting my daughter and son-in-law in their home for a few days. I have been watching their kitten and puppy playing together. I commented last night that it was like watching the way my kids used to play together.

How in the world can a cat and a dog get along so well? Because they are growing up in the same family. They have common parents.

All Christ-followers have the same Father, no matter what label we claim. When we celebrate that and play well together, we show the world that our message is true. When we act out our sibling rivalries, we send a confusing message.

How can you play better with your siblings who wear a different label?
What do you think?  Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Flowing and Blowing

(Jordan River.  Photo credit:
 "All the rivers flow into the sea, but the sea never fills up. The rivers keep flowing to the same old place, and then start all over and do it again." (Ecclesiastes 1:7, The Message)

Do you ever feel that way? You keep doing the same things over and over again and never finish? Makes me think of the 1970's song, "Dust in the Wind."

But, imagine with me for a moment. What if the rivers decided that, since the sea never fills up, we will stop flowing? The whole ecosystem would fall apart. Why?

Here's my "Aha moment" of the day: It is not the rivers' job to fill up the sea. It is the rivers' job to flow into the sea. The rivers accomplish their purpose in flowing, not in filling.

We may get frustrated because we don't see our jobs ever being completed? Could it be that our effectiveness is measured as much in the means as it is in the ends?

To clarify, I'm not talking about individual tasks never being completed. If that's the case, we have another issue all together. 
I'm talking about the big picture. I'm talking about why ministers never finish ministry and why teachers never finish teaching and why doctors never finish doctoring ... and why you never finish whatever calling you have.

We may be dust in the wind, but maybe God is using us to sand away someone's rough edges. Just a thought.

What can you do today to celebrate the means and not just the ends?
Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 25, 2013


God said to Moses, "I- AM- WHO- I- AM. Tell the People of Israel, 'I- AM sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14, The Message)

We who live in within the boundaries of time cannot fully comprehend that God is above time. He is I-AM--the eternal now. He does not look back to the past in memory. He is there. He does not look forward to the future with hope. He is there. This is, in the words of the psalmist, "so great that I cannot comprehend it." (Psalm 139:6)

Though we can't comprehend it, we can be shaped by it. Today, this present, is where we live and what we have. What will we do with it?

"The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds." (Jean-Pierre de Caussade, 1675-1751, The Sacrament of the Present)

How will you make the most of today?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gratitude Attitudes

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  "Open your mouths with thanks! Sing praises to the Eternal! Strum the harp in unending praise to our God Who blankets the heavens with clouds, sends rain to water the thirsty earth, and pulls up each blade of grass upon the mountainside. He opens His hands to feed all the animals and scatters seed to nestlings when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the raw strength of horses; He finds no joy in the speed of the sprinter. But the Eternal does take pleasure in those who worship Him, those who invest hope in His unfailing love." (Psalm 147:7-11, The Voice)

As we begin Thanksgiving week, I wonder if we can begin to shape our gratitude attitudes around the awareness of who God is and what He does. Will we be thankful to Him? Will He take pleasure in us?

How did you worship Him with thanksgiving today?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Life in the Weeds

(Photo credit: Flickr)

"Still others are the seed tossed among weeds and brambles. The word has reached them, but the things of this life—the worries, the drive for more and more, the desire for other things—those things cluster around close and choke the life of God out of them until they cannot produce." (Mark 4:18-19, The Voice)

Oswald Chambers writes, "Beware of 'the cares of this world . . .' (Mark 4:19). They are the very things that produce the wrong attitudes in our soul. It is incredible what enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention away from God. Refuse to be swamped by 'the cares of this world.'" (My Utmost for His Highest)

We do not have control over how life comes at us. We only have control over how we respond.  Will the cares of this life drive us to drink, drive us to fret, drive us to overwork or over-eat, drive us to sleeplessness ... Or drive us to pray, drive us to trust, drive us to listen to God's direction and cooperate with Him?

What are the "cares of this world" that are clamoring for your attention today?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A PERSON Without Adjectives

(Photo credit: Somewhere on the internet ... I downloaded it to my computer several years ago)
  "Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice, and defend all those who have been passed over. Open your mouth, judge fairly, and stand up for the rights of the afflicted and the poor." (Proverbs 31:8-9, The Voice)

What is your attitude toward the poor? I have observed all of the following:
1. They are poor because of their own choices. 
2. You can't trust them. 
3. They won't do anything to help themselves. 
4. We should help them to show that we are compassionate people.
 5. We should feel guilty for what we have since there are so many who have less. 
6. We should make sure they have a Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas tree.

Not only have I observed those, I have felt those.

For me, the biggest challenge is to see a poor person as a person. I have the same challenge with a rich person. Or anyone who is different from me. It is such a temptation to evaluate based on outward appearances.

It happens in church (and it is nothing new): "If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewelry, don’t trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless bum crawls in with his shabby clothes and a stench fills the room, don’t look away or pretend you didn’t notice—offer him a seat up front, next to you. If you tell the wealthy man, “Come sit by me; there’s plenty of room,” but tell the vagrant, “Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there,” then you’ll be judging God’s children out of evil motives." (James 2:2-4, Voice)

Certainly there are ways that we, as followers of Christ, can stand up for the rights of the poor and afflicted and speak up for those who have no voice. But maybe the best starting place is too see someone as a PERSON without adjectives. Not a rich or poor person. Not an educated or ignorant person ... Not a happy or grumpy person ... Or any other modifier. This is simply a PERSON, created in the image of God and loved by God enough that Christ died for him or her.

If we are willing to start with a blank slate and let the rest unfold through conversation and interaction, we will know better how to respond effectively to each individual.

So, what do you think?  
I'd love to hear your response to my ponderings.  Leave a comment below.