Saturday, July 31, 2010

What is going on?

I have had a few ask me that. And I few who have stopped just short of it.  Honestly - I don't know.  What do I know?

  • I have been taking my 'happy' pills, although I haven't been exactly happy.
  • I am still lonely. constantly. painfully.
  • God is good. He is faithful. He is with me.
  • I am still scared, confused, and struggling.
  • I have been contemplating some decisions that I know are not wise, but they have also been haunting me and on my mind constantly.  
  • Something still needs to change.
  • I am tired of 'talking' - in groups. to counselors. tired. The healing that was happening has come to a stall. maybe I need a break from it all. maybe I need to attack things harder. I don't know.
That is what I know right now. That is what is going on. See? Nothing has really changed much in the past few months. Fake it 'til ya make it is getting tiresome and too fake. 


Knowing God - Mark 1:14-15

(from Pastor)

Jesus came to Galilee,
proclaiming the good news of God, 
and saying, "The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God has come near;
repent, and believe in the good news."
Mark 1:14-15
Jesus' first sermon was 19 words long: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
Jonah's first sermon was 8 words long: "Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4)
Repentance was at the heart of both.
In Nineveh, "the people ... proclaimed a fast ... put on sackcloth ... and sat in ashes."
My question today -- an 11-word sermon -- is, "What will you do in relation to Jesus' call to repentance?"
In Christ's Love,
a guy who needs to dance
(Dance? Why? Because repentance
is turning away from sin and turning toward God.
That's a lot of turning, turning, til it comes out right)
repentance: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life to feel regret or contrition, to change one's mind, to cause to feel regret or contrition, to feel sorrow, regret, 

What if you don't feel sorrow or regret? No contrition? Or is it more the act of turning away from sin? Not the feeling. Again - fake it 'til you make it. It gets tiring.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 11:25

(from Pastor)

At that time Jesus said,
"I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things
from the wise and the intelligent
and have revealed them to infants ..."
Matthew 11:25
I've frequently said that, "I've never had a question from an adult that I cannot answer. But I get unanswerable questions from kids all the time!" With adults you can research and draw parallels and sometimes just talk long enough that they assume you know something (or get bored). Kids, however, cut straight to the heart of the issue, and won't tolerate clever obfiscations.
So if any "wise and intelligent" adults want to know what the "wise and intelligent" in this passage were missing, then the most important words in this verse are, "at that time." 
Here's the context of chapter 11 ... Jesus has just commissioned the twelve disciples (chapter 10), and after telling them that they will face great challenges (chapter 10 again), another true follower of God is arrested (John the Baptist, chapter 11, verse 2). As the rejection of Jesus -- his message and followers -- begins, Jesus turns and address the crowd, saying, "to what will I compare this generation?" (v 16). He'll go on to compare them to blasphemous citizens of Sodom (v. 24) In fact, "Woe!" is the verdict he proclaims on many cities because like Sodom, they would not repent (v. 21-24). "The wise and the intelligent" -- read, the Jewish scholars, the religious leaders, and the proud but hard-hearted -- totally missed the coming of the Messiah.
Who wasn't going to miss the coming of the kingdom? As the Gospel unfolds, it was ... the infants ... the children ... or in other words, the religiously simple but religiously honest. It was "the least of these." It was even the Gentiles. All wound up embracing God's gift from heaven. 
Hope is not a matter of being scholarly. It is a matter of being tired, honest, and innocent, for as Jesus will say, in just a few verses: "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who doesn't want to be
intellectually burdened anymore
Hello. I am tired.  But I also like to learn and study ... but as I have said many times before - the more I learn, the less I know.  I know there is so much more to learn.  There is much hidden from me.  But my burden is so heavy. I am trying to learn, but my stubborn self won't always accept it.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Knowing God - James 1:12

(from Pastor)

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.
Such a one has stood the test
and will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised
to those who love him.
James 1:12
This passage links two sets of words. The glorious words are: "blessed," "promised," and "crown of life."The more challenging words are: "test" and "temptation." And the general flow of these words suggests that if we endure a "challenge" we will receive a "blessing."
The question is, is the opposite true? If we fail a test and succomb to temptation will we be cursed?
The answer is yes.
And more importantly, the answer is NO!
What I'm saying is this ... The crown of life comes to all who have faith (see 2 Timothy 4:7-8), and our momentary failures and temptations can never knock that permanent crown askew. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). So rest assured, your weakness does not separate you from God and his love! (Romans 8:30-31)
Nevertheless -- and if we're honest -- we'll have to admit that succombing to temptation does indeed bring curses upon our lives. Now, these consequences don't tend to be sharp thunderbolts shot down from heaven; rather they tend to be in the form of consequences (rather than eternal judgments). Just like we'll get burned from touching fire and sick from drinking filth, we'll suffer the curse of consequence whenever we indulge too much temptation.
God has a different plan.
For all who BELIEVE, he gives a crown of salvation.
And for all who BEHAVE, it's a crown of peace (instead of a life of tumultuous consequences).
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's worn the wrong crown
a few too many times
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.
... True confessions time.  I have been struggling again lately.  And considering a dangerous move.  I have found out that a good friend lives about 45 minutes away.  A friend that I have known since middle school. A friend that now that we are both married ... I know seeing him would be dangerous.  To say we have a magnetic relationship is putting it mildly.  We haven't had any contact in almost 10 years.  I have his contact info. It is burning a hole in my pocket.  I am lying to myself to say nothing would happen.

Not contacting him is behaving.  It is not giving in to temptation.  Yet right now, it doesn't feel very peaceful.

Sometimes it seems as if I am paying consequences for other's mistakes.  How bad can the consequence be from one completely on my own?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Knowing God - Hebrews 6:7-8

(from Pastor)

When the ground
soaks up the rain that falls on it
and bears a good crop for the farmer,
it has the blessing of God.
But if a field bears thistles and thorns,
it is useless.
Hebrews 6:7-8
Most summer days I get to drive by fields of corn and grain.
I love that!
Some days, the corn seems green and alive. Other days it seems dry and thirsty. But either way, I'm glad it's corn instead of thorns, blessings instead of curses, crops instead of wasteland and thistles.
I thank God that you are corn, turning occasionally to these devotions and God's word for moisture and nourishment. Too often we beat up on ourselves, wondering if we're deserts and wastelands. Fear not!
I love it when you're green and growing.
I also love it when we're thirsty. Yes, a little thirsty implies a little unhealthy dryness. But a little thirst also implies an increasing desire. God blesses true desire -- especially when it refuses to be quenched by anything but him.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to get really wet
This was a bit of encouragement.  I have been in such a desert. Wanting my cup to not overfill, but to have just a bit in it.  Maybe my tenacity is enough right now. The fact that as much as I want to - I haven't given up yet. I haven't run away. I'm still corny.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Knowing God - Psalm 19:1-2

(from Pastor)

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech
Psalm 19:1-2
Last evening, I was sitting on a mountain deck. A dozen delicate clouds wafted just above the hills and trees. They glowed orange and peach with the last rays of day.
A friend's cell phone vibrated. His wife was texting from her perch beside a lake a hundred miles away. Her sunset must have been equally enticing: "The lake is on fire."
I must confess, that I don't slow down enough most days to watch sunrise or sunset, and therefore, I often miss what "the skies proclaim."
This Psalm tells us that "day after day they pour forth speech." Therefore, I invite you today, to walk outside. To stop. To look. To listen. And discover what God is saying to you through the sky.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who hopes to have a kink in his neck tomorrow
(because God had so much to say to me today)
I am often amazed at people who marvel at nature, yet don't believe in God.  He speaks to us through nature ... bluebirds ... clouds ... sunsets.  Too often we are so caught up in the busyness of our lives to hear God speaking to us.  Today there was an amazing sunset on one horizon with dark storm clouds on the other.  A conflict of emotions in the sky.  Was God relating something to me? Or reflecting the conflicting emotions I have been feeling lately?  Calm sunset on one side ... roiling storms on the other.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

knowing God - Psalm 45:6

(from Pastor)
the scepter of Your kingdom
is a scepter of righteousness
Psalm 45:6
Rarely have I seen a verse with so many potential translations.
The more figurative translations talk about the "rule" -- as in, "You will rule your kingdom with fairness" or "by treating everyone fairly." But today, I'm going to stick with a more literal translation and the role of God's "scepter."
You know what a scepter is, right? It's the king's big stick ... but more than that, the scepter was a powerful symbol of authority. In a sense, carrying a big stick meant, "Me and my kingdom can knock you and your kingdom's block off." "Yield to the scepter."
"God has scepter that stands over his kingdom," says this Psalm. And while there's throwing-plants-into-orbit-power behind this scepter, there's something more important that defines God's reign. As the variety of translations render it, it is a leadership based on "righteousness," "fairness," "justice," "uprightness," "honor," "fair treat[ment]," and "equity."  
In Christ's Love,
a guy who'd rather follow
one who was fair
than one who was powerful
I remember seeing the jewel encrusted scepter in London when I saw the crown jewels.  It amazes me that such small items weld so much power ... rings, crowns, scepters.  But God's scepter stands for so much more. As pastor says ... righteousness, fairness, justice, honor, equity.  

What is our scepter? What is the symbol of God's power in our lives? That shows he is our ruler?

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Knowing God - 1 Thessalonians 5:13

(from Pastor)

give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:13
"Thank you."
Aren't those two of the most powerful words in the English language?! It makes a hard job joyful to know that the person appreciates your time, effort, and generosity.
Some of the most sincere means of thanksgiving are tears of appreciation. We can't begin to say all that is in us; nevertheless, our heart rises to our throat and love pours out of our eyes. On our mission trip, our group received thanks -- in words and in tears --- from our homeowners.
But a strange thing happened at another site. During our second week of the trip, we worked with another church from Arlington, Virginia. One of their home owners was angry, surly, and went to great lengths to avoid them.
It robbed these Virginians of much of their joy. And yet it was a powerful teaching tool.
Why do we give? Why do we serve? Yes, it's nice to be appreciated, but isn't that an added bonus rather than the point?
We serve because Christ calls us to serve. Period. Sometimes our actions will be received with joy -- as, indeed, many of Jesus' miracles were received. Other times the thankless louts may nail you to a cross. Nevertheless, we keep on serving because -- with Jesus -- we have a more eternal perspective: In this sinful world, too many people are broken and sometimes they need to see grace to discover faith.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who probably needs
to tell you thank you for something!
Thanks, friend.
Thanks. In ALL circumstances.  Not just when what you are doing is unappreciated.  But when others hurt you?  I need more time to ponder this one ... and talk it out.

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(Excuse errors ... Typing on a purpleberry)

I am trying to make a decision, again, this time about the blog. Do I continue? Do I try to catch up? Do I shut it down?

I have not done the daily bible readings. Being gone for 3 weeks in April put me behind and I haven't found the motivation to continue. Someone told me to 'just restart at today' but the perfectionist in me can't leave the other days out. That was a major part of the blog.

I don't feel as if I can be as transparent as I was initially and I don't want to whine too much. Although, why should I care? I write for myself. Maybe I fear something I say being taken out of context or blown out of proportion.

Pastor's devo's are a large part of the posts. My comments don't really add anything to them.

I don't know what I'll do. I have a flight from Little Rock to Charlotte to mull it over.

Part of the blog is like having a conversation with a good friend. Part is to ease loneliness. Part becauise I enjoy writing and word play.

Plans TBD

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Knowing God - Psalm 40:3

(from Pastor)

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:3
In the midst of our mission trip, I caught a cold. It fought first with my throat and robbed me of my voice. Therefore, last Thursday was a very strange day of hand motions and charades ... and power tools ... and, thankfully, no lost fingers.
It made me think about how much we take the gift of communicate for granted. I constantly felt like I was retreating into a shell as my voice refused to participate in games, devotions, and conversations. Isolated, lonely, and ... (well, I'll come back to this in minute).
Now, one direction I could go with this is to say something about needing to appreciate the gifts we have and praying for those who physically limited in any way. (That's always a needed reminder.)
But for the second time this week, our scripture verse is about a new song. A few days ago, we "watched" an old man grab a guitar and sing an old song in a new way. My voice left me isolated, lonely, and with only one person to talk to.
When have you slowed down -- and been silenced enough -- to sing a new song and say a new prayer to God.
In Christ's Love,
a quieted guy
I am learning a new song.  This has been a time of intense loneliness.  So much so that I am no longer weeping in my loneliness, but instead treating it as my new 'norm'.  The second part of the verse struck me - many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.  The order of events ... first you see him, then you fear what you saw, then you realize you can trust him.  I do see him.  He terrifies me.  I still don't trust like I know I should.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 7:24-25

(from Pastor)

"Everyone then who hears
these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came, and the
winds blew and beat on that house,
but it did not fall, because
it had been founded on rock."
Matthew 7:24-25
In verses 24 and 25, Jesus talks about "wise" and "rock" and "did not fall." In verses 26 and 27, he talks about the opposite -- "foolish," "sand," and "great was its fall." The temptation is to ask: "Which are you -- wise or foolish -- when it comes to "these words of [Jesus']?"
That's a good question, of course, but I have a friend who likes to remind me that maybe the deepest point of this story is that rain falls both on the wise and foolish. Hard times will come whether we're wise or rebellious, righteous or tainted, faith-filled or blasphemous. (For example, Jesus was wise, righteous, and faith-filled and still got nailed to a cross.)
The rain will come. As Jesus says in Matthew 5:45, "he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous."
Well ... the rain came on our mission trip. One of our teams was putting on a roof. They had the whole roof off when disaster started rumbling in the background. Thunder, lightning, rain, and a promised soaking of the inside of the house. They prayed harder. They worked faster. And the rain didn't come ...
... that afternoon. It came that night. High winds blew off a piece of the tarp and the ceilings and drywall inside a corner of the house were saturated. Now, it wasn't the big disaster that it could have been the previous afternoon. But it was enough to alter plans and necessitate additional prayers.
The rain will come. And life is how we handle the rain and the sun. Some handle rain poorly with excuses and complaining, pouting and blame. Others handle sun poorly -- taking pride in their own accomplishments rather than being thankful for God's grace. Still others rise to the occasion in the midst of life's trials and use their hours in the sun to be a blessing to others.
Who are you in this tapestry of life?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's learning
to sing in the rain 
I think I know who I am and it is not who I want to be.  But I am still on the journey - n the midst of the storm.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 6:19

(from Pastor)

Jesus said,
"Do not store up for yourselves
treasures on earth, where
moth and rust consume and
where thieves break in and steal ..."
Matthew 6:19
Moth and rust and wood-rot.
That's the condition we found a porch in as we started on our mission trip. Trying to remove a first nail, one of the members of our team fell straight through the decking!
Through long days and a lot of sweat, we built a brand new porch. It is hard and solid and stable, and unless there's a great flood, should outlast its 80-year-old owners.
It is a treasure on earth. But is that why the homeowners -- there and across the street -- cried when we left. No. The nails will rust. The decks will rot. The moths and termites will do this handiwork in.
The treasure that will last is the gift of love in a sinful world. For no reason -- other Jesus and his love -- a handful of people, both younger and older, came from Charlotte to West Virginia to show a couple of families that God's kingdom still reigns and love still prevails.
In Christ's Love,
a treasure hunter
(who's found plenty) 
Stuff.  We can't take it with us. It takes up space.  But for some strange reason - 'Gifts' are my love language.  Yet I am tired of all the stuff. Clutter. Things.  But I am also craving the eternal stuff. relationship. trust. love. companionship. Sometimes one does help relay the other.  They don['t have to always be mutually exclusive.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Knowing God - Matthew 13:14

(from Pastor)

And all ate and were filled;
and they took up what was left over
of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
Matthew 13:14
Wouldn't it have been miracle enough to have fed five thousand people with no leftovers? That would have been enuogh, right? But as each disciple distributed a basket-full of fish and chips, it kept getting heavier instead of lighter.
That's God! That's his extravagant grace!
Last week our mission team worked on two houses right across the street from one another. We put new decks on each house. And that would have been enough, wouldn't it?
But on Saturday, our children came.
They sang a song. They shared a Bible verse. Their energy was contagious. And they gave the homeowners a few potted plants.
As we left those sites, the new decks would have been enough ... but hanging from the rafters were these beautiful flowering plants. Symbols of extravagant grace -- more than we ask for, more than we have a right to expect.
How has God splashed flowers, children, color, and extravagant grace into your life?
In Christ's Love
a guy who's been richly blessed
(and needs to remember to say thank you)
I was recently at the NOAH conference in DC. As a member of the board of directors, one of my duties was the raffle and silent auction.  I am not a salesperson nor am I a fundraiser.  I was terrified the auction was going to flop horribly.  I was scared I wouldn't get enough donations, make enough money or get enough bids.  My goal was $1500 and 100 items.  On Thursday there were only about 30 items to put up for auction.  On Saturday - we had 119 items plus 3 special raffle items!  We ended up raising over $3500 on the silent auction alone!! And another almost $4000 on raffles.  

We - no - God!  This was so far over anything I ever imagined.  My own personal loaves and fishes ... 

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Knowing God - Psalm 33:3

(from Pastor)

Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Psalm 33:3
People have learned to ask me what I like to ask you: "What was your biggest God moment?" This week I'll share a few of my "God moments" from the mission trip.
My biggest one, hands down, was with the whole team gathered for lunch last Saturday. Chris and Gary brought guitars and mandolins, and we all sang songs of faith.
The homeowner we were working with -- Hank -- loved the music and kept saying, "I used to play the guitar." Then he held up a palsied, shaking, 82-year-old hand and said, "But now my hands tremble."
It took a lot of coaxing, but a guitar soon found its way into his hands, and Hank's hands settled, and his "I can't" soon turned into some beautiful "back porch picking." Indeed, he sang to us a song of faith.
God promises to us a "new heaven" and a "new earth" where mourning and crying and pain will be no more. Our hands will not shake, our bodies will not be weary, and we will sing a new song with renewed voices and new faith.
I caught a glimpse of heaven on the mission trip. A pre-figuring.
Thanks, Hank. Thanks, God.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who can't play the guitar ... yet
(maybe Hank can teach me in heaven)
I almost always have a song in my head. I can't really play an instrument although I have a hammer dulcimer that does an excellent job of collecting dust.  And I have been known to shout in joy from time to time.  In my career, I often come across "Hank" - older people who have given up on a passion they had due to age and perceived inability.  The song is still there.  It's in our hearts.  We don't need out physical abilities to play, sing and shout for joy!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Knowing God - Psalm 94:12-13

(from Pastor)
Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD,
the man you teach from your law;
you grant him relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.
Psalm 94:12-13
Question: Is discipline a good word or a bad word?
Answer: It depends on which vantage point you are looking from!
As children, we didn't like rules, laws, restrictions, and discipline. I pray you're wise enough now to see some of the wisdom behind the person who loved you enough to channel your willfulness and sin!
Parents ought to guide their children the way God does. "Law" ... plus love. "Discipline" ... plus grace. Firmness, direction, and purpose ... plus self-sacrifice. 
In the long-run, discipline offers us "relief from days [and days and days] of trouble."
The alternative -- perhaps a form of lazy, permissive, or impotent parenting -- often produces a "pit ... dug for the" ones we thought we were helping. 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's thankful
for disciplining parents
Discipline is hard ... as a parent dishing it out. as a child of God receiving it. as a human trying to practice 'self-discipline.'  But when we are disciplined, we are blessed.  We may not always see the reason behind the disciplining. One of my son's favorite words when we discipline him is 'why?'  Don't we often ask God that?  Why? As a mom, I try not to say because I told you to, but sometimes that is the only reasonable answer. The only one he will understand.  

Part of discipline is obedience.  The faster and more often we obey, the less need of discipline there will be.  And the more we will be blessed.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Knowing God - 2 Thessalonians 1:11

(from Pastor)

For God will make you worthy
of the life to which he called you.
And we pray that God, by his power,
will fulfill all your good intentions
and faithful deeds.
2 Thessalonians 1:11
Most of us love it when we hear PART ONE. It is indeed a blessing to hear something say -- and mean -- "We keep on praying for you."
Most of us would also love to hear a PART THREE answer to our deepest prayers. For example, when we're in a hospital, don't we want to hear, "God by his power WILL ..."? Indeed, in times of trial, most of us would love to have God's power show up!
PART FOUR is another good piece of this verse. The Apostle Paul once said, "I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do" (Rom 7:22). Again, wouldn't you like to have the power of God help you "fulfill all your good intentions"?
PART TWO, however, is the part that we occasionally balk at. Why is Paul "praying for you"? Because he wants you to accept "the life to which he [has] called you." That sounds good! But what if God called you tomorrow to pack up your bags, head to a town that you never wanted to be in, and do something that doesn't sound good to you?
That was Jonah's story. He rejected "the life to which [God] called [him]" -- and he wound up in the belly of a whale as a result.
What's the belly of the whale in your life? Life -- I hope -- is pretty good. But is there a longing, a gnawing, a hunger. Are you close ... but not quite there? Or are you lost and far. And what's this about "God [needing to change me to] make [me] worthy?"
What's keeping me back from wanting ... and discovering ... and living ... and being filled by PART TWO?
In Christ's Love,
a part - three - kind - of - guy
(Lord, show me your power) 
Life is essentially the belly of the whale I am currently in.  I don't think that I could ever be worthy enough for anyone ... much less God.  But the verse says that God will make us worthy of the life HE has called us.  Not the life WE want - the life HE wants. The hard part is getting ourselves out of the way so God can work.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Knowing God - 1 Timothy 4:4

(from Pastor) [originally typed 'from God' - pretty fitting as you'll find out!]

For everything created
by God is good ...
1 Timothy 4:4
A friend encountered another friend just the other day. The second guy was complaining about life. It was a bad day. He said, "If God is good, how come there's so much mess in this world."
The friend said, "I'll grant you that there's mess. But when we get to the next phase of life -- heaven -- I'll bet we'll look back and see a whole lot more purpose than we can see from this vantage point."
The second guy rolled his eyes. "Pie in the sky."
"Don't believe me?" said the twin. "Imagine we were twins ... in the womb together ... communicating in that weird-twin-way. Can't you imagine one of us complaining, 'Why'd God waste so much energy growing us eyes. It's pitch black in here. We'll never see a thing.'"
Arguing from the perspective of the womb is silly. Why? Because the next world is bigger and grander than anything the baby can yet imagine.
Well, isn't it equally silly to base our whole reality on the perspective of earth when the next world -- heaven -- is so much bigger and grander than anything we can yet imagine.
The alternative is trust. Do I trust me and my earthly logic. Or do I trust the promises of scripture and the blessed assurance that "God is good."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's been swimming
in amniotic fluid and
wants to move up to the big time
Trust ... I still have issues with that one.


Everything good is from God.  Everything. Even those things we don't particularly like ... broccoli. spiders. snakes. bad drivers. Even people who hurt us. Past events. It is all from God.  And it is all Good.

When some says, "It's all good." They are speaking the truth!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Knowing God - Isaiah 66:2

(from Pastor)

I, the LORD, have spoken!
I will bless those who have
humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.
Isaiah 66:2
Who wants God's blessing?!!
Alright ... I know, I know ... dumb question ... we all want God's blessing, right?
Well, if we want God's blessing, it appears to me that the first thing we need to do is find out what "contrite" means. Why? Because it says that God will bless those whose hearts are "contrite."
What does contrite mean? Well, here's my non-scientific definition ... Having always seen "contrite" in the context of confession. The "con" part of the word has seemed to mean something like "no" and "negative." And the "trite" part reminds me of a word it rhymes with: "Tight."
Contrite, therefore, has always seemed like "a tightening of a belt" or "a cutting out of a dessert." (Do you hear that "no" and "negative" there? "Cut it out?!")
More officially, "contrite" is "a sincere remorse for wrongdoing," or as one web dictionary put it: "Contrite is a more sophisticated way of describing feelings of regret" -- as in, "Many felt the politician's apology was not contrite enough."
The point is this: Contrite is regret and repent. And today's lesson is the promise that if we want God's blessing, the first thing we need to do is "cut it out" -- as in, we need to cut out the sin and distractions; we need to circumcize our hearts.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's always wanted the "contrite" blessings 
while striving to live a "non-trite" life-style
Humble. Contrite. Tremble.  Not words of strength. Words of weakness. Of putting others first in a fearful manner.  Put others first, regret and repent, be fearful.  Then we will be blessed.  The order of the words strikes me.  If we are humble (and if you tell others that you are humble then you likely need to do some work!), regret our sinful actions/thoughts/words/deeds and ask for forgiveness and fear God as the great and powerful being that he is - then we will most definitely receive his blessing.  easy peasy, right? HA!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Knowing God - Isaiah 55:11

(from Pastor)

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
Isaiah 55:11
My grandfather was a farmer. Every summer he produced hundreds and hundreds of acres of wheat and corn and beans.
Wait ... did you notice anything strange about that last sentence?
Who produced?
My grandfather was a very good steward of the earth. He tilled. He planted. He fertilized, cultivated, and prayed. Indeed, I'm certain that he prayed a lot for the sun, the rain, and the good health to do his appointed chores. In due season, my mom's father -- and his big green combine -- also trailers full of grain. Yes, my grandfather worked very, very hard. But did my grandfather produce life?
As the Apostle Paul once said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:6). In this verse, Paul was talking more about evangelism than farming, but the point is the same: God produces life. God produces fruit. And one of our Lord's principal tools in prospering life is his Word. God says, "... my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to ..." 
If you're feeling less than fruitful, try reengaging God's Word.
This devotion is hopefully a good start! Want more, why not pick a favorite book -- say John or Genesis -- and pray, "God, give new growth." Or why not email me, and I'll help you discover a do-able reading plan.
In Christ's Love,
Mr. Black Thumb
(i.e. a guy who's never produced
more than a bushel full of any vegetable)
Less than fruitful. Dry. Parched. Empty.  All descriptors I have used the past several months.  I have tried reengaging in God's word ... and like my own attempts at gardening ... have failed miserably!  But in his faithfulness - where he sends out his word, it will produce fruit.  He will prosper - despite my feeble and failed attempts.

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