Archive for the ‘God’s word’ Category

imageSo I was doing my quiet time one day last week with a new online tool I found (quiettimediary.com – go check it out), and as part of my daily Bible reading plan I was reading Proverbs chapter 20. In verse 10 it says, “Differing weights and differing measures – the LORD detests them both”. When I read that, an incredibly intelligent and spiritual response popped into my mind. “Huh???”. I know – this never happens to you when you read the Bible, but it does to this simple minded fool. So as I have often done in the past, I just went on, filed the thing in my mind to ponder, and went on about my day.

Fast forward to early this week when I had to travel to Atlanta on business for a few days, and I found myself walking down the streets of downtown Atlanta looking at all the unique people. There were policeman, guys doing construction, guys and gals in suits, college students, and a few homeless people as well. For some reason, the thought popped into my mind that to God these people are all equal, and that he loves and measures them all exactly the same. Hmmm, wait a minute. Measures? Where did I recently see that? Oh yeah – Proverbs. So I scurried (I do that sometimes) back to the office and looked that verse up again. Ah-haaaaaa. Very cool. God uses the same weights and measures for EVERYONE. But do I? Do I value the homeless lady as much as the policeman or the lawyer? Do I apply different measures to them or weigh them on different scales? Ashamedly I have to admit I do. God hates differing weights and measures, and I am going to try and remember that everyone is equally valuable in His eye, and it should be the same for me.

Now before one of you great Bible scholars out there tell me that is not what that verse means, let me tell you that is what God showed me with the verse. I opened the Book, he planted the seed. I ran into a situation that made me think of the word “measures”, and God took me right back….., to HIS Word. Wow, what an incredible living guide to living our lives through God’s eyes. The Bible. So don’t fret if when you read it, you hear yourself go, “Huh”. Give the seed some time to grow, and God will reward it.

Thank you God – for that wonderful guide book! The B-I-B-L-E.

imageChristmas is in just a few days, but I am not gonna talk about that.  Can we just chat a bit instead?  I wanna get in your heart for a minute.

At a restaurant this weekend, I witnessed an obvious family argument.  It was such that it literally stopped all conversation around it as people watched the drama unfold.  The end result of it was that it unsettled the attitudes and the hearts of many people around them and literally sucked the joy from the room for a moment.  It was sad to see, and it spread grief to others so quickly.  For a moment, it made my heart heavy, and at Christmas time, that really annoyed me!

I have mentioned this before, but my good friend and pastor Jay Hanson is often heard asking the question, “What is the condition of your heart?”.  I want to ask that question of each of you today, and I want you to think of it in terms of what is deep inside, especially during this holiday season.  Jay asks a couple of companion questions as well:

-    Is your heart glad (light) or sad (heavy)?
-    Why?
-    Has someone hurt your heart?
-    Have you hurt someone else’s heart?

These simple questions can help you get closer to where you are in your spiritual life, and understand how your own heart condition can affect those around you.  By stopping and examining what is really in your heart as only you can do, you can make incredible progress spiritually and relationally.  If you do this examination on a regular basis, you can approach most things with a calm sense of peace that will take you to all the right places and decisions.  Discuss the condition of your heart with God regularly.  You will never hear anything from him except the truth, and he is the Great Healer of hearts.  I love this verse from Proverbs:

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV):
Above all else, guard your heart,  for everything you do flows from it.

As we all get ready to celebrate Christmas, approach it with a healthy heart, and guard it jealously!  If you work on getting that healthy, just think of all the hearts that will be uplifted – just because you made sure yours was light.

Merry Christmas – may God grant you a light and merry heart this year!

We are all thankful for something.  I can be just as thankful for the absence of something as I can the presence of something else.  Wait a sec – that was confusing wasn’t it?  Let me ‘splain then.

We tend to think of "thankfulness" as just being thankful for things we DO have.  I have my health, I have a great family, a nice car, etc., etc.  But what about the absence of things?  I for example am thankful that I do not have a serious disease.  I am thankful I do not have a big pile of bills that I cannot pay.  Right now I am thankful for there being no major drama in my life! 

imageI have a silly head game I play when I have a pain of some type.  For example, if I have a toothache, I think to myself, " When this pain is gone I will be so thankful, and I will appreciate healthy teeth even more".  But do I actually ever follow through on that?  Not usually, because when the pain is gone, I forget it.  When my car breaks down I am always SO annoyed with it.  Then I have to take it to a car dealer to get it repaired, which is always a difficult experience.  But when I am driving down the road on a long trip, and my vehicle obediently and reliably takes me 500-600 miles in comfort, quietly and safely, am I thankful enough?  Rarely.  Ouch.

You see where I am going here?  As we approach a new holiday season with both Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, how thankful are we for the things we do not have to deal with?  Here is a radical thought process for your holidays.  On Thanksgiving this year, before you say your prayer of thanks, have each person share something they do NOT have that they are thankful for.  You may find some interesting things, but it will also make you more thankful for what you do have.  Go ahead – shake up the tradition a little!

Here is the one I really want you to hear though.  At Christmas, before opening a huge pile of new presents under the tree this year, why not pause, and thank God for something you do not have to worry about, which was the entire meaning of the day.  Know what that one is?  You do NOT have to pay the price for your sins.  God solved that problem for you, and continues to solve it for you every day as he gives you grace and forgiveness.  Jesus died so that you do NOT have to suffer the consequences.  If that sounds hokey or religious to you, then find someone who does understand that.  Because he DID have to, I DO NOT have to.  I am so thankful I don’t.  Are you?

Go ponder this one.  It’s very cool.

Today’s article may be a bit long, but please hang in there for me, this is something very important both YOU and I need to do today. 

When I am trying to focus on a particular subject, sometimes I focus on what is the opposite to help me think.  Today I wanted to think through what the word “thankful” really means to me.  It was easy to come up with the normal platitudes of being thankful for my job, my health, my home, etc. (and I AM very thankful for those things).  But in order to think outside of the box a bit on this I decided to think about what the word “thankless” means.

Wow.  God really hit me when I approached it that way.  There are a number of ways we can approach this word, but the primary meaning I landed upon was the idea of not being thankful and examining the ways I am indeed “thankless” to the most important people in my life for what they do and who they are.  So excuse the personal nature of this article this week, but I gotta do this.  Here goes:

imageTo my wife:

I have not made you aware every day of the love I have for you and I am sorry.  God in his incredible wisdom has and is using you to prune, hone, shape and help me through every day.  In my imperfection I get angry with you even though I know He works on me through you.  When you do all the small things that make life so pleasant I do not focus on being sure you feel loved as a result.  You serve God by being my wife every day, and He is pleased with your service.  Thank you for making my life better.  I love you.

To my children:

You have taught me so much.  You have taught me what raw feelings of love truly feel like, showed me that pride is not always a bad thing, and you have been used by God to teach me patience and what is important in life.  You help me focus and adjust my pace as I walk each day.  You give me joy I cannot possibly describe, and make me turn to God with smiles at times, and with pleading tears at others.  You are perfect people in my eyes, and in God’s.  Do not ever forget that.  Thank you for making my life better.  I love you.

To my mother and father:

Thank you for bearing the pain of me.  You have endured it in so many ways from birth even through this present day.  I have not been thankful enough to you or for you and I am sorry.  All through my life you have loved me when I was unlovable, suffered through my mistakes in spite of my ingratitude, and always made sure I knew your love was there.  You took the small moments of love I gave you and nurtured them and multiplied them for use when I would not give you more, but you needed them.  You have been a wonderful model for me as I raise my own children.  Thank you for making my life better.  I love you.

To my sister:

Please see above in Mother and Father section.  It applies to you too.  Even if you are a brat.

And to the rest of the people in my life:

Take all the above and apply it to yourself.  God has indeed made all things perfect, and I am thankful for you all.  Thank you for putting up with me, for helping me grow, and for helping me enjoy the gift of life God gave me.

This verse sums up what you all do for me:

Colossians 3:15-16: (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Okay.  That’s that.  I did my part.  I told you earlier there is something YOU need to do.  Reread the above, and if you don’t get it on your own, well, send me an email and I’ll explain it to you.  Because God would want me to.

Thanks for reading.  Now go be thankful.

Ever notice in the Bible that Jesus was not into crowds?  He dealt with them when he had to, but most of the time he avoided them.  I think he was most comfortable and yes more effective when he was with the smaller groups where the intimacy could be felt.  People connect with people in a lot of awesome ways.

I really dislike crowds.  But I also dislike being alone for extended periods of time.  I am at my best when I find a balance between the two.  Ever wonder about that, about why we need to be involved with others in our lives?  I truly believe that God designed it that way.

image Some of my very best times have been when I am alone, and I have also enjoyed being caught up in the excitement of being in the crowd as well.  But somewhere inside of me I understand that the best place to be in general is somewhere in between those two, as a part of a community of believers.  People need people to help them through their lives, and God places people in our paths to help us on our way.  When I am struggling with something in my life, I believe God sends people to help me get through it.  They are a support group that can help hold my hand, and an accountability factor when I start to stray where I should not.  They help me get out of trouble, but they help keep me out of trouble as well.  I also believe that I need to be a part of that community to serve.  Just as I need help in times of trouble, I need to be there and offer help to others.  God has given us each individual strengths that just like a link in a chain, make us all stronger.  To not put those to use would be a shame.  I think this completes the circle of need that God has made perfect.

So where are you?  Are you a part of a community?  If you get in trouble, do you have a support mechanism around you?  How about when others are struggling?  Are you present, aware of their struggles, and there to lend help as needed?  If you

are, then you know the joy of helping, and of being helped.  If not, then you are really missing out on what God has for each of us.  Seek it out – you will soon discover the joy of being part of something bigger than yourself, where you can help and be helped!

Gotta go now.  Gonna go hang with my "peeps"!

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So I was at my small group meeting one night listening to Drew Thompson pontificate (with great enthusiasm and skill) upon the amazing story of the book of Mark, when I was caught off guard with my own thoughts.  Yes, that happens to me occasionally, please pray for me, it’s a bit scary at times. 

But I digress.  As we listened to Drew describe Jesus’ actions as told in one of his pericopes (hehe – look it up), it occurred to me that change we see as so difficult, is not even a challenge to Jesus.  For example, consider this excerpt from Mark:

 Mark 1:40-42: A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean. Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

Okay.  I get it.  So Jesus saw a man with leprosy, and he reached out to touch him and he was cured, clean and healthy. Big deal right?  Of course it’s a big deal!!  I mean it is Jesus, so this was no biggie for him of course, but what if you tried it?  Not happening, right?  Leprosy was like the most feared disease you could get in those days. You became an outcast, you could not find work, or food, or see your family or friends since they were forbidden to touch you. So not only would you not be able to cure and clean him, you couldn’t even touch him. But the man in question actually believed Jesus could cure him. Once he demonstrated that and showed his faith, he was cured —- and changed forever.

You get where I am going?  There are so many things we cannot do or control in our own ability, but we have a secret don’t we?  Faith.  One of our best kept Christian secrets (unfortunately).  Just as people around the leper gave up, we do this every day don’t we?  We look at a situation and decide it is just impossible, and is in fact so not possible we will not even try.  All because we do not demonstrate our faith.  

Hardhead. Yep — I am talking to you (yes – and me too). If you really truly want something to change, then focus on your faith.  Faith can connect you to the impossible. If you do not understand faith, come ask me.  I’d love to explain it to you.

Don’t believe me?  Ask the leper.  Then maybe you can look for a positive change you need to make, have some faith, and Jesus will reach out — and make you whole.  Having faith can create incredibly long lasting change.

Try it. Then let me know what happens.  I love a good change story!    

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We do not often ask for change.  A lot of the time when we refer to change we see it as a negative thing, but occasionally we hear ourselves say, “I need a change.”  When I see something in my life I want to change, I try and ask God to help me change it.  I find that when I do that I feel more like God is on my side as I work through whatever efforts are required to make the change happen.  Having God on your side is always a good thing, but it can also increase your own personal accountability.  Accountability is something I always need when doing a difficult task, it seems to make me more aware of the need and hesitant to do wrong or not do right when I need to.  Asking God to help has a way of talking you out of bad change as well.
 
For example,  I made a decision a few months ago to lose some weight.  I got on a scale one day and said, “I GOTTA change.”  So I sat down and God and I talked about it for a bit (to some that would be called a prayer, but most of my talks with God are more chatty in style).  WE (as opposed to just I) decided that I needed to do what it took to lose a few.  So I declared to God that I was going to do it, and He promised to help.  Yep – I made a promise to God, and He promised He would help me with it.  It was at that point that my accountability began to grow.  I became very interested in fulfilling my promise, because I knew He would hold up His end!

Now don’t get me wrong, it was not fun sometimes.  But making a promise to God, AFTER I had asked Him to change me on some way just felt more real, and there really, really is not a way you can fool God, right?  Wow.  That’s accountability.  But guess what?  He did his part very well.  Every time I started to quit, I heard that whispered voice say, “You can do this, and I will help you. Remember our little talk?”

I know – you guys think I am weird, but it was very, very real to me.  Not only was I determined not to disappoint, I felt strongly supported.  God also used my wife and daughter, and some friends and family members to be encouraging and help me on my way.  He supplied what I needed to fulfill my promise.  I did end up losing the weight.  I am proud of my efforts, and honestly can say I grew closer to God in the process.  We call that a win-win!

Psalm 37:5 (NIV): Commit your way to the LORD;  trust in him and he will do this”

Do you want or need to make a change?  Sit down and talk to God about it.  Not only will the accountability help, but the help He can provide is far beyond your own abilities!

Go change something!

 

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