Monday, September 8, 2008

Debt Free Living

It's a strange thing about debt. Everyone owes something. The talk lately is how to live debt-free. But is that really possible? I guess it depends on what kind of debt you're talking about. You could live in a house without a mortgage. You can drive a car and hold a clear title. But can you enter eternity debt-free? Who owns us? Who holds our note? Who has paid our debt?
Being saddled with debt can be a binding thing. We cannot be free to serve the Lord when we are enslaved to worldly wealth. We cannot do all that God commands when our obligations are to another master. We can suffer tremendous pain while suffering in debt. But this worldly pain of being indebted to the world's systems pale in comparison to the eternal pain we will encounter if we leave this temporary world and our eternal account remains unsettled.
When we realize that our payment has been made for us to live in eternity, it makes a difference how we live our lives here and now. We can be indebted to the bank and live freely in Christ. Our eternal debt has been settled by an Eternal One. He has forgiven our sin debt. He absorbed the cost Himself.
Several things have to occur when a debt is settled. The first question to settle in our minds is about the debt itself. There must be agreement about the debt. Does the debt exist? How much do we owe? And to whom? Our eternal debt exists. Even if you are reading this and do not believe that you owe God your life, trust me, you do. The wages of sin (sin being our natural-born existence and not only the wrong things we do)is death. Someone has said that sin has a payday someday. We have to consider that we are being held as hostages to sin by the ruler of this world. He has control over our lives because we are born sinners. We are born debtors. So yes, we have a sin debt to reconcile.
The next question is about the debt. Can we repay it? What is the amount? Consider that there are two ways to settle a debt. The debt can be paid in full. This option only exists if we have capacity to pay. The currency that we use must be correct for the amount and it must be acceptable as payment. Or the debt can be forgiven. This is highly appealing to the debtor but highly unlikely. Only the creditor has this option. Only the one who is owed can forgive, or cancel, the debt. The creditor alone enjoys the privilege of taking the initiative to exercise this option. I can pretend that I do not owe my life to God and must give an account to Him, but the reality is that I would be living in a fantasy. I do not have the currency or the resources available to buy my way into God's presence. The sin debt is too high. I am powerless to cancel it because that is not the debtor's option.
But when I enjoy a relationship with God, the One to whom I am indebted, the truth is that this dream of debt forgiveness has come true. God has assumed the cost of the debt. He has purchased us from the master of sin. As in any debt settlement, the terms of forgiveness must be accepted to take advantage of our new standing as debtors. This is the choice of the debtor. The conditions often include a pledge not to live in such a way that we become indebted again. Our problem as humans is that we want to be forgiven of our unpayable debt, but we also want a clean slate to live how we want to live. But rejecting the terms of our debt forgiveness leaves the debtor in debt. Are you still a debtor of a debt that you can never pay? Our has your debt been settled by God? Our account must be settled up when we're called up. Jesus paid it all…all to Him I owe. Only the blood of Jesus has been considered sufficient to pay our way out of bondage to sin. Are you grateful for that transaction today? Are you taking advantage of your debt settlement? God's children have been redeemed from slavery. We have been bought. bought by Him, and bought for Him.
I can't tell you how that stirs my heart with joy. So I'll just let the words of God's word say it for me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace... (Ephesians 1:3-8)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bitter Root Roundup

To look at me now, you would probably never guess that there was a time in my personal history when I was steadfastly opposed to consuming most types of food, especially vegetables that were good for me. Alas, I have now arrived at a season of life where I am a friend to almost every type of edible thing, although they are not so friendly to me! This includes gaining an affinity to brussel sprouts, broccoli, and turnips. I have not always liked turnips. As a young boy I was encouraged (that's code word for commanded) to eat them. I could endure the green leafy part but the turnip roots were another thing entirely. Although I was informed about their high vitamin content I was not enthused about them at all. They tasted very bitter to me. I did not believe that I needed to have turnip roots in my diet and the quality of my growth would not suffer if I separated myself from them. Turnips were a bitter root experience for me. It wouldn't be the last time I would find that a bitter root was something I would strive to avoid.

Unwanted plants can spring up in a cultivated garden and often the only way to keep them from overwhelming and crowding out the good things are to pull them up by the roots. But something called Roundup works pretty as well. It's the brand name of a herbicide that is pretty effective. Spray it on weeds and for a couple of days afterward, you may think it has had no effect. But suddenly, the plant will begin to wilt and become discolored as it dies. It won't matter what you feed the plant after an application of roundup. It will not be revived. Death has gone all the way down to the root.
Spiritually speaking, the writer of the Book of Hebrews had some wise counsel about bitter roots. I believe the advice was given to religious people and is relevant for us in our day as well. Early Christians were advised that they were to be on guard for a certain kind of growth in their midst would only yield big trouble. A growing root of bitterness would spoil the growth of many.

Have you ever been blessed by God in the things that you do? There is nothing quite like it. In those times it seems that everywhere you look spiritual fruit seems to be growing. Then suddenly, much like the dramatic death of weeds after a shot of roundup, the fruit begins to wither in your life. In times like these, you begin to wonder what's wrong. You begin to review your relationships and your life before God to discover that somewhere along the way, you have begun to harbor feelings of unforgiveness in your heart. The unforgiveness begins to feed a root of bitterness. Things begin to wither and die. Ever been through that kind of trial? Ever wonder where the fruit has gone?

A clear understanding of the grace of God does not provide environments for bitterness to grow. Once we know that grace is not earned, we understand that we are not entitled to it either. When we are more aware of God's grace in our life, we are more willing to extend that to others. Applications of grace retards the growth of bitterness. Keeping grace growing helps to crowd out roots of bitterness. Bitterness needs room in the heart to grow. It flourishes in graceless hearts. Bitterness will spring up when envy, jealousy, and resentment exist. Roots of bitterness grow in graceless gardens. A life lived apart from the grace of God will yield bitterness. Bitter lives beget bitter lives. Bitter roots grow bitter fruit.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:14-15)

We must actively see to it that bitter roots are spotted and removed. A shot of spiritual roundup can go to the root. A generous and repetitive application of forgiveness and grace is a death sentence to bitter roots and bitter fruit. Interesting that the glory of God was once seen in a fruitful garden and the desire to want something more than He had provided resulted in this broken and bitter world. But God is intent on restoration. God is glorified when we forgive those who have wounded us. God is glorified when bitterness is identified and we agree with Him that this attitude dishonors Him. God is glorified when we ask forgiveness for being resentful, angry, and envious and allow the Spirit of God to have His way in renewing our lives.
Always monitor your spiritual garden for the bitter root. There is no substitute for pulling the weed up. Roundup is good, but sometimes we need to get our hands around the weed of bitterness. Pull it up. Bring it to God. Ask His forgiveness of the unforgiving attitude.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Birds and The Bees

I've watched an ongoing conflict take place lately around the hummingbird feeder. The lament in the past few months about the absence of an abundance of honey bees in various parts of the world has a new meaning for me. I think I've found what the world's looking for. These missing bees are congregating around the hummingbird feeder. At least a large number of them. And it's driving the hummingbirds crazy. For a couple of years now, the population of hummingbirds in my back yard seems to have flourished. But this year there has been more bees than birds. I don't know how to get rid of them. The honey bees have responded to the colored sweetened water like it was the nectar that they so desperately love. And they usually cover the openings to such an extent that the hummingbirds have no place to feed. But there has also been another phenomenon to observe. Sometimes it only takes one bee around the feeder to disrupt the hummingbird's plan. The hummingbird seems to be ill at ease while the bee is close by. The bee's mere presence is often enough to make the hummingbird leave empty and disappointed.

When I was young, it was a popular thing to tell children about "the birds and the bees". The information that was communicated had nothing to do with feathered friends or buzzing bees but was indeed about nature. It was about the nature of human sexuality. Often when the session was completed, the children left with more unanswered questions and the adults left with a sense of incomplete and frustrated instruction. We never seemed to do an adequate job of sex education. The homes began to hush about it. And the church began to push the mute button. It was something we just didn't talk about until it was too late. So we left it to the cultural institutions. The schools began to teach it. And the streets began to instruct us. I wish I could turn back the clock a generation or two just to get this insight out for all to see. So here's my latest leftover thought:

The hummingbirds and the bees are attracted to the colored sugar water which appears to be nectar. Nectar is something good for both of them and was created naturally for the good of the rest of creation. So the birds and the bees are in conflict over something that is not what it seems. They would be better off searching for the real thing around real flowers but the feeder makes it too easy for them and it is so alluring. It seems we humans have intervened once more with our own design and haven't thought it through so well. So it is with society's teaching about sexual things. The media, our prominent cultural institution, does a pretty good job of promoting that which is not the real thing when it comes to the allure and accessibility and satisfaction of our sexual desires. In contrast, the Creator God has designed in His mind and written in His plan the good and right way to enjoy a sexual relationship between two human beings. The boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman is His naturally designed place to partake of this God-given pleasure. When our society turns from a trustworthy plan and design in favor of something that looks good and seems right to the mind of man, there is emptiness, disappointment, and death at the end of this direction. We have made our own design the way we think things ought to be. And we suffer as a people because of it. I think I understand the anxiety of the hummingbird as he shares the space at the feeder with the lone honey bee. Even though the tiny hummingbird dwarfs the bee, the bird knows that the bee has a stinger. That stinger could be death to him. Our so-called freedom to experience and experiment with sexual relationships comes with a price we are not prepared to pay. Our sexual freedom, the prize of my generation's sexual revolution, has deceived us. It is not what it seemed. It is no prize at all. It's a penalty and the price for our ignorance and rebellion. We are only as free as God makes us. Free love is when God sets us free to love His way.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

Back in the day, (in my day, know, the age of antiquity), young newspaper boys in the big cities would yell out the message, "Extra, extra, read all about it!" and hold up the newspaper so people could see the headlines in large print. Their announcement was designed to draw attention to the news of the day and to create in the hearers a desire to read more of the news. Not much different today is how we hear small sound bites of news on the TV designed to grab our attention. Usually in the middle of commercial breaks we hear these spoken headlines that end with the promise of More at 11! Yesterday's newspapers would print an additional copy of the daily news so a late-breaking story could get more attention. Thus the name extra, or additional copy. Lately I have been pondering the meaning of these two words. I have begun to think about them at fast food drive-thrus. Let's explore this leftover thought today. I have to get this one out of my head.
At one of my favorite places to eat, I can ask for an additional honey mustard sauce to be added to my order. This particular chain has several restaurants in my area. They have their own brand of dipping sauce and without fail, at every one of these locations, they offer to replace their sauce with the honey mustard. I know they are only trying to save me money. You have to pay 25 cents for each additional sauce. But it seems like they never hear the word additional or heed its meaning. I usually have to explain that I want both, their own special sauce and the honey mustard. But lately, I think I've gotten a breakthrough. Instead of saying the word additional at the drive thru speaker, I have begun to use the word extra. I've tried it at two different locations. So far, we have communicated exceptionally well. They add the honey mustard, I pay 'em the quarter and it is almost like heaven...almost...but not quite. Sorry...that experience is not even close to heaven.
If you ask someone if they would like to go to heaven, most people will say yes. That is, if they believe there's a heaven. And even if some don't, some will hedge their bets and opt for heaven just in case it might be a reality. Now if heaven is real, there may be an alternative location some folks would reason. And here's where I really want to go with today's leftover thought. Most people want to go to heaven. It gets interesting when they tell you why. Some will say that they would rather go to heaven than hell. I can see the wisdom in that. Then there are those that say they want to go to heaven to see their loved ones. Now they have to make assumptions that the loved ones will be there when they get there...which is another assumption altogether! Some want to go where there is no pain and suffering. Who wouldn't want that? Some are waiting to occupy a mansion that they say will be given title to. Some want to claim their rewards for the good lives they have lived while on earth. Then there are those who think their pets who died will be there. All these things make good theological discussions. But occasionally you will hear someone say they want to go to heaven to be with their God. I think these are folks who have had a significant breakthrough in their understanding of life and death and life after death. They want to be with their God, the One who has been with them. You see, folks may not always understand things that are additional. Additional things are things that are added. But extra is extra! We understand extra. Extra says that I am receiving more than I thought I would. More than I earned. More than I expected. The extra is what God has done to get me to heaven. It is not what I have done. Extra is when God grants more to us when we deserve less. Extra is what grace is all about. Extra is heaven when hell is deserved. Being in Heaven with God is extra enough. But when other things are added in, it is more than extra. God has made a way for me to spend eternity with Him. He has done through Jesus what we cannot do for ourselves. That is EXTRA, EXTRA good news!!!
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
Extra, Extra, Read All About It. Take the time, some extra time today to read in the Bible about what God has done and what God is doing and what God will do. Heaven is all about marvelling at the awesome work of an awesome God forever and ever. Heaven is more about a Person than a place. And anything else that heaven may be is over-the-top and out-of-this world extra.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Life's Puzzle

Lately I've found a great mental diversion in putting together on-line jigsaw puzzles. I was never one that spent a lot of time putting together one of those 500 or 1,000 piece puzzles. You need a lot of patience to master a puzzle. It was too frustrating for me because I always seemed to misplace a piece or two that was critical at the end stages. Just as I could see the picture finally come together, sometimes the missing pieces became the focus of the search and changed the purpose. No longer was the goal to finish the picture. Being unable to find the pieces changed it all.
My grandchildren help me with this new endeavor. On the computer, we don't have to keep up with the pieces. We drag them around with the mouse on the laptop and assemble the straight-edged pieces to frame up the picture that the puzzle will reveal. This is the easy part. Then we labor over the rest. The children (OK, and me included) often take a piece that we want to put into the puzzle but it just doesn't fit. Around and around we go inside the framed puzzle until I finally say, "I guess the puzzle's not quite ready for this piece." So we work as we wait until more of the puzzle comes together. And then we see it. We see the place for the piece. Everything fits. It all comes together.
Life is so much like a jigsaw puzzle. We work at getting our life framed up, considering our choices and selecting our options. We identify our borders, sometimes by trial and error, and we live out our existence within the boundaries. Some of life makes a lot of sense as the puzzle fits together very nicely. Then some things happen that do not fit within our frame. Our lives can be impacted with such grievous losses or we can be wounded so wickedly that the focus changes to the piece that doesn't fit the puzzle. It is time-consuming and even paralyzing. Whether it is disease or death or divorce or any of many life-altering tragedies, as we move through the sorrow of it all, we wonder what we will do with this piece that has our attention. The puzzle does not seem ready for the piece. Life does not seem ready for the loss. This painful piece does not fit.
In my younger days, I knew someone who was proficient at putting puzzles together and had this uncanny ability to "see" the places where the pieces fit before the rest of us could. We often called this person "Puzzle Master". Puzzles did not seem so challenging to the Puzzle Master.
When we don't understand the timing of events in our life and are bewildered at how it's all going to come together, we can take great comfort that we have Someone who knows what the completed picture will look like.
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)
God is an excellent Puzzle Master. Surrender that piece that doesn't fit or ask Him to help you find pieces that are missing. Trust me, the Lord can be trusted with the picture. He designed it. And it will come together in time.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Best Effort?

My family recently undertook a project to tie-dye some T-shirts. With the material and the shirts there was a video to show us how to design them. I was a passive participant in all of this. I watched the video. But I didn't choose one of these unique designs. The video also encouraged someone to use their creative imagination. But to have a bulls eye, or a spiral, or a pleated design, it seemed like it would take a lot of work. More than I wanted to invest. And if you know me well, you would agree that I am less than creative in my imagination. There were shirts to pre-soak in some solution... and rubber bands to tie at strategic points... and colors to mix... and shirts to soak overnight... and washing and drying them the next day...Whew!! It was enough to wear me down!! So I took the easy way out. I used the excuse that colors didn't matter much to a color blind man and tied four knots in the shirt itself and told my granddaughters to decorate the shirts any way they liked. I promised that it would be the most attractive. The next day, the shirts of the rest of the family looked good enough to wear in public. But mine was only suitable for pajama wear!! I tried to justify the lackluster appearance to my oldest granddaughter. I told her that I did the best I could. This nine year old responded with some timeless wisdom. "Sometimes, people say they do the best they can when they really do the best they want to do," she said. Ouch!! I find it discomforting to have someone preach to the preacher. It reminds me that striving for excellence is something that pleases God.
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17)
Now does this mean that God frowns upon my sorry excuse for a tie-dyed T-shirt? I don't think He worries about that too much. But I do think that God is concerned when I say I do my best and it is evident that I didn't give it my best effort. Someone is always watching. It is not the best example that I set for my granddaughters. They need to see a man that strives for excellence because He has a God with an excellent name. Someone is also watching when other people never see us. Our lives are lived before the all-seeing eye of a most excellent God. It's amazing that a person can learn in nine years what it takes another one over fifty years to forget. Some times we only do what we really want to do. I'm glad God didn't stop halfway to the cross.
Blessings to you,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Looking Good, Seeing Clearly

I was reminded lately of an experience in an optical shop a few years ago. After an eye examination, I took the lens prescription to a local business that specialized in offering a large variety of eyeglass styles and boasted of custom fitting each customer. They took a lot of time measuring the distances between my different facial features, and promised to offer me the perfect fit of the frames that I had chosen for the lenses. When I returned to pick them up after a few days, I sat in a chair while the technician observed how the glasses fit my face.
"How do they feel?" the young man asked.
"They feel fine," I said, "But I can't see through them."
"Great!" he exclaimed. "And they look so good on you!"
"But I can't see through them," I responded.
"But they look good," he maintained.
"But I can't see," I repeated. It's like he can't hear me, I thought. Maybe he's a deaf man in an optical shop. I wondered if hearing and seeing are connected. Finally, I began to break through to this guy. Evidently, someone had misread the lens prescription. He seemed heartbroken as he sighed and told me that they would have to send them back. "And they really looked good on you," was the last thing I heard him say.
The memory of this experience was triggered after my recent eye surgery. A lens implant from a cataract surgery ten years ago had slipped out of place, causing me to see double images in one eye. I am so glad that the surgeon wasn't like the optical shop technician. They seemed to have radically different understandings of the ultimate purpose of their service. The technician focused on how my eyeglasses "looked" and not how well I saw. The surgeon wanted to correct my vision. I have learned that it's far more important to see clearly than to look good. God wants me to see clearly so that He looks good. Jesus had something similar to say to His disciples. He told them stories that helped people gain a greater understanding of God and His purposes. Some of the people didn't get it. They were more concerned with looking good than with seeing clearly. But for the ones who heard the word of God...their vision was corrected.
"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." (Matthew 13:16-17)
Hearing and seeing are connected. Ponder awhile on this leftover thought: Instead of asking myself, How do I look?, focus on the question, What do I see? The world looks radically different through the lens of God's word. If anyone has ears to hear...
Blessings to you,

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What's He Looking For?

One morning this week I had an opportunity to share spiritual truth with my granddaughters. While we were all sitting together in the living room, I was explaining that God was pleased when He found a broken and contrite heart within us. This led into the discussion about the meaning of the word contrite. I explained that it means crushed...more than just broken...broken beyond brokenness. In the middle of our informal lesson, helping them think through the concept of a broken and contrite heart as opposed to an arrogant and proud one, my daughter began to examine the hair and scalp of her daughters' heads. "Let me look at your head," she said to each one. They sat very still for this process, as their mother parted the hairs on their heads and looked closely at the scalp. "What are you looking for?" said one of the children. "This is the season for ticks and I'm looking to see if any of them have gotten into your hair," her mother said. All this went on while our spiritual discussion continued. I told them how sometimes the troubling experiences of life's circumstances could break our hearts. And in this time of brokenness, God is looking for contrite hearts. He is looking for those whose hearts are broken beyond brokenness. He is looking to help those who cannot find anyone else to help. It is in these times that God cares for us in ways that only He can. I thought the informal session went well. Some of God's greatest truths are learned in this way. So, a few minutes later, I decided to review. "OK, girls, tell me," I said. "What is it that God is looking for?" "TICKS!" said the youngest. Well, so much for the spiritual lesson, I thought. Until God began to teach me. A tick, you see, is a parasite. Left unnoticed and unchecked, a tick can do much damage. It can suck the lifeblood and vitality from us and leave us more broken than broke. So God is looking for much more than the broken and contrite heart. He not only comes to us in our brokenness, He comes looking for the source of the pain. He comes to destroy the parasitic infection within us, enabling us to overcome the affliction of sin's destruction. He comes to help us in areas that no one else can. Here's the leftover thought for today: The devil is like a tick. God is looking into our lives, parting the numbered hairs on our head, so to speak, looking for evidence of sin's attachment and the unauthorized parasitic usurping of a life that belongs to Him. The devil is a thief, who comes like a tick, stealing life from God's people. Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) And furthermore, The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8) So what is God looking for? Jesus comes to the heart that is broker than broke, bringing life that is larger than life. He is a spiritual tick's worst nightmare. And He's my Savior.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who's Your Boogie Man?

In the 1970's a musical group named K.C. and the Sunshine Band recorded a song that was extremely popular called, "I'm Your Boogie Man". The tune came into my head recently and stayed in there long enough to chase out the thought, Who is this Boogie Man? Yeah, I know. If I can remember the tune, I am close to being a relic of antiquity. I'm telling my age. But the older I get, the more I come to terms with life. Telling my age is just another thing I'm not afraid of anymore. But the "boogie man" is still a concept of my consciousness that needs to be addressed. The lyrics of this song are such that I wonder why people of my generation ever gave it a serious hearing. Well...I've just thought through that notion and answered the question for myself. We've never been the most clearest of thinkers. A few of these lyrics demonstrates that when language is used in general (rather than specific) terms, it leaves room for the mind to wonder...and wander. Check out some of the lyrics: I'm your Boogie Man... that's what I am...I'm here to do... whatever I can. What does that really say?? So here's the leftover thought, which came out of my head at nearly the speed of light, as far as I can tell. The "boogie man" concept seems to be inherent in nearly every culture. Almost everyone seems to have grown up with the knowledge that there really is a boogie man. At least in our minds. So, if he is really there, what does he really want??
The culture in which I grew up was primarily small town and rural. We altered the boogie man's pronunciation, and even the spelling. Our Boogie Man was called the Booger Man. Boogers are boogie terrorists. In my time, I've heard tell of some mighty scary boogers! Anyway, as children, we were cautioned and counseled (politically correct terminology for threatened and terrorized) to behave ourselves or the booger man would come and get us. We were never told what he would do when he got us or where he would take us. That part was left for the imagination. For a young mind to be so soon a-wondering about such things and a-wandering through life was pretty scary. Further looking into some of this song's lyrics can give one the impression that this boogie man is there to do whatever he could to please the listener. Kind of like the boogie man was some sort of genie, your-wish-is-my-command sort of thing. He was there to serve whoever is listening to the song. This is a rather seductive suggestion. Well, my booger man philosophical worldview goes something like this. The booger man is in our earliest memories because he is real. We are born with that reality in place. And he is not there in our lives to serve us. He is there to be served. His presence is not there as a deterrent for bad behavior...he is the source and originator of bad behavior. He dominates our lives because he is a strongman, who inhabits our thinking and intends to control our behavior. He is not our friend. He is our enemy. And he is the enemy of God. The Booger Man is the devil. And it is his intention to destroy our lives by holding us captive. Wow. If that was the end of the story, it would be sadder than sad. But consider Jesus. He has hope for this grim reality. The authority of Jesus is constantly being questioned. Always has been. But questioning authority does not change the truth. Jesus is ultimate authority. He is stronger than the strongman. He's the booger man's booger man! And on one occasion He had this to say: "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house." (Matthew 12:28-29) Jesus, God in the flesh, has come to destroy the works of the devil. The kingdom of God has come upon me when I fear God more than I fear the booger man.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Making A Bold Statement

More times than I have been willing to count I have been in the spotlight, and sometimes the hot seat, for making bold statements. As a child I would get in trouble with my mother when I would tell her that I was not going to do what she wanted me to do. She would often say, “That's a mighty bold statement!” That would be the last thing she said until she demonstrated what the result can be when you have a lack of discretion about making bold statements. You need to be careful who hears you make bold statements!
When you make a bold statement, it can be very costly to you and those around you. In the workplace, a bold statement that is in opposition to the boss's philosophy may cost you your job. Disciples of Jesus Christ will often find themselves with the opportunity to give credible testimony of God's incredible power. When that happens, there are risks associated with making bold statements. When we suffer for making bold statements about the favor of God, our questions become, is it all worth it? Why does God put us in these uncomfortable situations anyway? Wouldn't it be easier just to keep quiet?
When we have our head on straight, and our thinking is focused on eternal things, it makes a little more sense. Here's a news flash. God is not as concerned for our comfort as He is with the integrity of His name. He wants others to know about the faithfulness of His provision. Often that only comes from the mouth of a witness. We should not be ashamed of suffering for Christ. Consider what this ancient witness says in the Bible:
...we may boldly say, " The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me." (Hebrews 13:6)
Because of what God's word boldly says, we can make two bold statements:
This help is nearby and constant. I don't have to wait hours, days or months for help to come. His help is immediate. He is with me. He will never leave me.
Only fools will attack a superior force. With God on our side and at our side, whom shall we fear? The real danger is living our lives enslaved to fear. When we fear God, man is no threat.
Are you living in fear of suffering some loss of perceived status in the eyes of those people around you? Or are you concerned with what the eyes of the Lord sees?
Take the opportunities that God presents to testify about His greatness. See what God can do with your witness in the world and in the workplace. Fear God. And fear nothing. Be bold. Be free.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

I wasn't the only grandpa there, but we were certainly in the minority. I was asked to fill in for a dad in a preschool class for five-year olds. It was "Doughnuts for Dads" day. The plan was that the dads (or their substitutes) would spend some time sharing a doughnut and a small part of the first part of their day with the child. What a great concept. It was a sight to behold. All those men trying to sit in those tiny little chairs at those tiny little tables was hilarious, but in my case was hazardous. Once I got down that low, I didn't know if I could ever stand up straight again! The kids were so excited as they served the men their doughnuts and I could see that this day meant a lot to them. Then I saw a couple of kids that made me sad. They had no dads or fill-ins with them. They were just watching the others interact. I wonder what they were thinking. I silently prayed for them to overcome such a shortcoming in their early lives. I began to muse about the influence that a father has in the life of their children when they are present to share in their lives, or even when they share some doughnuts. There is also a huge influence when a father is absent...not only on "Doughnuts for Dads" day, but everyday and all day. Nothing compares with the lack of a father's presence. But here is one thing that competes with it. It's the father who is "there, but not here". I saw a few of those. At least five of the men were there with their cell phones in their ear, managing their business from a distance, while the children were competing for their attention, close by, yet far away. The kids tried in vain to show a couple of the fathers a favorite book of theirs or something they had made. "Doughnuts for Dads" only lasted a few minutes. In fifteen minutes we were done. I wonder how many of these fathers had gone to a movie lately or a concert where the cell phone was off limits, and they willingly complied. In ancient times, I wonder how guys like me ever survived when someone left a message while we were busy and we called them back later. I don't want to sound like I was the perfect father. But I am speaking from a perspective of one who may have been "there, but not here" more than I realized. We can waste the years we have been given to be a great influence when our priorities are skewed. The potential for damage is great. Communication works like this. When one person calls another, they usually have the option of leaving a message...or not. The person who was called has the option to return the call...or not. If there are too many unreturned calls, the day will come when there will be no more messages. There will be no more calls. The caller will talk to others, interacting with them and being influenced by them, for good or evil. For the fathers who are "there, but not here", I'd like to leave the following message: Hey, dude...listen up! Your children are calling you... They have left many messages... they will stop calling you sooner than you think...take the phone out of your ear and put it in your pocket...nothing is more important today than hearing your child's heart, interacting with them, and using your influence...for good and not evil. Consider the following:
"Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; ...He did evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. For he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. So he forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD." (2 Kings 21:19-22)
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)
It's hard to argue with this kind of Fatherly wisdom, don't you think? Can you hear me now???
Blessings to you,

Friday, May 16, 2008

One Man's Trash, Another Man's Treasure

I guess I am one of the last holdouts when it comes to garbage pickup. Most of the neighbors have curbside pickup, although our street doesn't have curbs. They roll their trash carts out at night and the truck comes early in the morning to collect it, rather noisily, I might add. But I still take my trash to the local collection site. It's a state of the art facility, with different kinds of bins and dumpster containers for cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass, and paper recyclables. There is also one for metal objects. Lately, it has been a time-consuming and frustrating experience. I don't know how much longer I can hold out being a holdout. No matter what day of the week or time of day, there always seems to be a line of vehicles that stretches all the way out into the road. If you are the last in line, as one will always be at some point, it can be pretty hazardous for your health with the rear end of your vehicle sticking out in the travel lane of the passing traffic. Then, as I approach the dumpster, in absolutely no danger of setting any land speed records, my blood pressure goes up when I see the "garbage nazi". That's what I have decided to call him. He seems to wait until it's my turn to throw my garbage bags away to bring an already snail's pace operation to a complete halt. As I get out of the pickup truck, he decides to close the door to the dumpster and spend a few minutes compacting the trash. So I wait. Now I know the trash needs compacting inside the container. It's way more economical to transport compacted trash, especially with the high fuel prices, these days. But it always seems to be my turn when this happens. Isn't my time worth something, I ask myself? To make matters worse, this guy inspects what you throw away, spotting a plastic recyclable or a piece of cardboard in the back of the truck. So he informs me how to properly dispose of these things in their respective places. By now, I have identified him as the primary cause of the backed up line all the way out to the road. Sometimes, I have been so frustrated with the wait, I have gotten out of line and driven away, as a sign of protest. And while I'm thinking I really showed him, the wind in the back of the truck whips these bags around when I get up to highway speed. This causes me to wonder if these bags could blow out, becoming a traffic hazard, as I begin to imagine what it would be like if a tractor trailer truck ran over the bag of trash. Not to mention about what kind of mess this would make, I begin to think it would really not be in my best interests for my trash to be exposed to the world... I might have my identity stolen from some scrap of paper containing some personal information! So I experience no small amount of anxiety over a hypothetical situation. Since I don't talk to myself as much as I used to and my "self" no longer responds as wisely as I'd like, I have started to talk to God about this. It is amazing what happens when you pray. Lately, there's been another guy at the dump. I call him the garbage servant. Before I can get out of the pickup truck, he often reaches over in the back and throws my garbage bags away. He is pleasant and helpful and always tells me to have a "blessed" day. Here's my new perspective. The garbage dump in itself produces two kinds of folks. One who stays at a distance, pointing to the place where you must discard your garbage and really doesn't care about your scheduled and agenda-laden life. The other one gets involved with the process. He actually touches the trash, disposing of it himself. This one is a servant. We are born into a world that on its best day, is a garbage dump. I know the beauty of the sunset or ocean breezes and mountain ranges can be pretty awesome to experience. But this world is dying and cursed with the fallen nature of sin. And the only hope is that One came to this dump and bore the curse of all humanity so we could be restored. Creation is His recreation. He is personally involved in our lives, and cares about us. He not only tells us to dispose of our garbage, He helps us do it. Jesus came as a servant. He's coming again as Lord. His desire is to bring about a truly "blessed" day.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
This is encouraging for those of us in the garbage dump of life today. man's trash...another man's treasure. Is Jesus your treasure today?
Blessings to you,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Love's Language

The man kept talking to me all afternoon. He was so enthusiastic and I sensed his desire was very strong to have me comprehend what he was saying. Sadly, as we rode the same bus, traveling the same road, we failed to communicate. An afternoon of my life was shared with another human being and even though we were traveling life's road together, we never quite understood each other. We just weren't speaking the same language. Or maybe we were after all. But only one of us wanted to listen.
Back then I was a young American in the Air Force and he was an older Korean man. Every few minutes, he tried to speak slower so I would understand what he was saying. He even drew a couple of pictures for me of what appeared to be a large truck with two stick men standing beside it. About three hours into our journey, he flashed a broad smile, shouted something in Korean, reached into his wallet and flashed an ID card with English and Korean writing. Under the smiling picture was his name and occupation. I don't remember his name. But I never will forget what he did for a living. He was probably the most excited sanitation worker I have ever met!!! But he was also excited about something else he wanted me to understand.
Language can be such a barrier to communication. The language of love has many barriers to keep us from connecting. Because God is love, His language is love. He speaks out of His nature. Because He wants His people to speak love, there are many natural barriers. The language of this world is diametrically opposed to godly communication. The world’s systems are not supportive of the language of love. Now I’m not talking about how the world defines love. I’m referring to God’s love. A supernatural love…Love that communicates patience…while we live in a fast food, drive by world. God’s love speaks contentment when we are tempted to want more and more of what we have enough of already. Godly love is marked by humility and selflessness in a world filled with pompous braggarts and selfish pleasure, (and treasure) hunters. God’s love finds joy in right livng while the world celebrates and flaunts wrong ideas and attitudes. God’s love will motivate us to share it. It’s too marvelous to keep to ourselves.
I recall that the Korean man also had a book in his lap. It was a bible, written in English and Korean. He kept reading parts of it and pointing to the English translation, trying to get me to read it. I kept acting as if I didn’t understand. My problem was that I understood all too well. It was a time in my life where I needed God more than ever. I was a stranger in a strange land, alienated from God, and living as though I didn’t need Him. I was a living example of arrogance on display. But God was on my trail. Trying to break through with His language of love, using a trash man’s passion for the Treasure he had found, God was symbolically communicating in His language of love. He had placed me on a bus, sitting next to one of His people, sharing His language of love one more time. I can see it pretty clearly now. When God is on the hunt of a human, He will chase us until we follow Him. Listen to how God defines His language of love.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;... (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
What is He saying to you today? Who is He speaking through? Love never fails.
Blessings to you,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Holding Things Together

Humpty Dumpty makes me sad. Or at least the story does. I never knew Humpty Dumpty. But I have known some people who have "had a great fall". Imagine someone sitting at the highest place of achievement in their life. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. The imagery pictured here is that Humpty Dumpty is in a safe place. The wall represents to me a high place of relative security...maybe Humpty had built the wall himself. That would be another reason to feel secure. To have arrived at the pinnacle of a self-made life can bring one to think that we truly are the masters of our universe, the "captains of our soul". When we are sitting on the top of our castle wall or at the pinnacle of our Wall Street kingdom, it's kind of hard to see ourselves anywhere else.
Have you ever wondered what Humpty was doing there…sitting on that wall? Perhaps he (or she) was reflecting on how good life really was or maybe how life had suddenly become so complicated. Perhaps Humpty was contemplating jumping off that wall or desperately trying to muster the courage to face another Humpty Dumpty day. Whatever the reason, I wonder if the fall was a total surprise. I wonder if Humpty could see the fall coming or was he totally blindsided? Was the fall self-induced or did it result from the actions of another? The familiar lines of the nursery rhyme do not answer these many questions. But we are told two hard, cold facts: The fall was great…The damage was beyond repair.
The Humpty Dumpty story is so sad because it mirrors the human condition. Some of us fall from high to low places. Some of us depend on all the king's horses and all the king's men to fix our brokenness. What we discover is that indeed all of these could not put Humpty Dumpty or our shattered lives together again. The part that makes this human scenario so sad is depending hopelessly on the king's resources and the king's men to fix broken lives. The tragic part is that we forget about the King. In God’s word, the Colossian letter begins with the proposition of truth that Jesus, the Christ was, is, and always will be the King of the Cosmos; He is the King of the created universe, all we know about and all that we don’t. The words in chapter one expound on the power of Christ to create and sustain all of creation. These words are a great source of encouragement and hope for those of us who have had some of those Humpty Dumpty Days.
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
When the fall is great I can remember He is before all things. He knows about the fall before I have the great fall. Nothing can take place in my life that takes God by surprise. When no one can put my life back together, I can remember in Him all things hold together. He is the power that holds us together. He picks up the pieces and reassembles the parts.
Perhaps there is someone around you today that is in the midst of a Humpty Dumpty Day. You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to piece together what happened and who is responsible. Maybe they have tired out all the king's horses and have exhausted all the king's men. But instead of calling in CSI to examine the evidence to ascertain what went wrong, asking the never ending and seldom answered why questions, call on GOD to give hope and direction to the how questions. How do we survive these Humpty Dumpty days? Would you be the one to tell them about The Cosmic King who picked up your pieces and still holds them together?
Blessings to you,

Which Way Is Up?

During one of the spiritual mountaintop experiences of my life I was asked a question that I didn't quite know how to answer.
"Pastor, how does it feel to be an American today?"
The question came from the Filipino pastor we were visiting. A dream had come true. To be on a mission trip in some faraway land was something only God could have put together. To be there as an American and to hear the question was the most unpleasant part of that trip.
During that time in 1998, the worldwide, everyday news was about the scandalous sexual episodes of an American president. In the moment the question was posed, there was a feeling of shame within my heart for our nation. I felt a sense of being ashamed when I would hear so many people say that morality did not matter as much as a strong economy. Besides, some would say, what a man does in private does not affect anyone else publicly. Those folks ought to have to explain to a Filipino pastor how morality is irrelevant in a very public arena. What this president did in private was manifested publicly in our mission trip halfway around the world.
There was a whole lot of popular thinking that agreed with the concept of no absolutes in 1998. After all, we're only human and who are we to judge, right? What's wrong in one person's way of thinking is perfectly acceptable to another, some would claim. It was always amazing to me to see how silent the church was during that time. That kind of popular thinking is still very popular today. Shame is still a precious commodity in America. Someone has said we used to blush when we were ashamed. Now we are ashamed if we are seen blushing!
Living in a culture of non-absolutes does not change the truth that there is an absolute standard. It is found in the word of the Living God. Contrary to pop culture's value system, the standard is not the gold standard. The standard is God's standard. Holiness.
Not only collectively, but as individuals, we are held up and measured against God's absolute standard. The pain of resisting sin and being ostracized in our culture today is very real. We can easily feel the sting of being called a bunch of narrow-minded, intolerant, religious bigots. We can easily be trapped by compromising godly principles and becoming confused about "gray" areas of right and wrong. Sometimes God’s people don't know which way is up. If God occupies the high moral ground, where is this place? Is it the church? Is America still known as a moral nation? Ten years out from that mission trip I don’t see improvement. I see only degeneration.
Righteousness is to sin as up is to down. As a nation, we can either be exalted or disgraced. It may come as a huge surprise to learn the following spiritual truth: America is not the Kingdom of God!! America's political and spiritual leaders are accountable to a holy God according to His holy standard. One day the church will be judged on the basis of how we used what God has entrusted to us. Someone has said that America will not stand back up on her feet until the church gets back down on her knees.
Instead of lamenting about the moral darkness, what are we doing to be lights in our homes, churches, schools, workplaces, communities, regions, and nation? Let God clean your vessel so His light may shine the brightest. Instead of whining, why aren't we shining? Instead of hiding in the darkness, we can take back the night.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)
I guess I had a lot of leftovers in my mind about that. Gives us all something to muse about for the rest of the day.
Blessings to you,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Who's Your Papa?

There was a popular country and western song some time ago that asked the question, “Who's Your Daddy?” The song was not so much about parentage as it was about relationships. As I study human behavior and the complexities of personalities, I am often struck as to how people's relationships can set the direction for their lives. This can be for better or worse. The pain that comes from not knowing the identity of one’s father can be damaging for life. Who among us would not wrestle with the questions as to why our fathers did not want us to know them. Unanswered questions can paralyze growth as children create fantasies that do not match reality. Growing up without a father’s love can result in having none to give away. Is there any hope for the fatherless child today?
The acknowledgement that our father did not love us or willingly abandoned us can be very traumatic. But it also can be liberating, when we realize that God wants to love us with an everlasting father’s love. He wants the world to see what a person can become when they are full of God’s love. Until I had grandchildren, I was under the impression that the relationship of “daddy” was as close as I could get to modeling the the Heavenly Father’s love. But I have discovered a new dimension in relationships. The word “Papa” is spoken on the lips of my grandchildren. They call me Papa!! They also use the nickname “Pa”. I don’t mind it and it really doesn’t make me feel too old. Don’t tell them, but I want to grow up to be the papa they already think I am!
God’s love can be shown in the persona of a papa. In the scriptures, I am told that the word “Abba” is a close translation of our word papa. There is something within me that prompts me to respond in a loving way when these children call me papa. A papa’s love is enough to go around. One of my grandchildren often says she will never run out of love. It's like she knows the source of love is an eternal, all sufficient God, who we can know as Father and Papa. In my relationship with my grandchildren, I have a desire to give them the best of who I am. And I hope some of the worst things will just drown in the gene pool!!
Those of us who enjoy knowing God as Papa and Father can understand that we have an eternal heritage and an unbelievable inheritance. God has given us His Spirit. He gives us Himself. That's how we know who we are and to whom we belong. The Spirit within us is the Spirit of God. The question to muse about today is not Who’s your Daddy, but Who’s Your Papa?
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal 4:6-7)
Blessings to you,

Monday, May 5, 2008

Truth About Truth

It is amusing to me when someone is asked to testify in court. The familiar scene is where we are asked to place our left hand on the Bible, raise the right hand, and solemnly swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me, God”. I have several observations about this process of finding the truth. We are solemnly swearing as opposed to casually. I would think anytime we swear it should be serious and solemn, don't you? Next, we are challenged to commit to telling the whole truth instead of parts of it. A half truth will not do. To be truthful, a half truth is really a whole lie. Then we ask God to help us tell the truth. Do we actually need God's help to tell the truth? I believe it is here that our civil and secular judicial system has stumbled upon one of the greatest truths of the human condition. We actually do need God's help to tell the truth and live truthful lives. We are natural born liars. The good news is that our lives can be transformed by truth. We are changed when we know truth and act upon that knowledge.
Have you ever been deceived and learned some very painful truth that you really didn't want to know? It may be similar to a man who learned his wife was unfaithful in their marriage. When she confessed it to him, he wanted to stop her in the middle of her confession. He did not want to deal with the truth of it all and pretend that it never happened. Sadly, he could not remain in denial and still know the truth. As long as he pretended to be in a healthy and happy marriage, he could not be a part of its restoration. He either had to be bound to the lie or live with the truth. Thankfully, some storybook romances, that are really fantasies and fables in disguise, can really be transformed into happy endings. In this example, the husband and the wife turned to the truth of the situation and experienced a restoration of their marriage. They found that when they learned to live by godly principles based on God's word, they could know the truth and be set free. God is glorified when we come into the knowledge of His truth. It is His secret that He freely shares. Truth transforms us. The question that man has sought the answer for since ages past is not what is truth, but who is truth. Truth is not found with our hands on the Bible. When we open our bibles, truth is found on the inside... in the heart of this book we will find the heart of God. He is Truth. He said so.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dust To Dust

Is there a connection between TV and tee ball? Yes. Something called dirt. Recently, I saw part of a television show that highlighted a sad human story. A family was having a feud...within their own family! A mother and daughter were squabbling over a parcel of land. They were next door neighbors and the conflict had intensified between them. They had built a fence that separated their two estates. Neither one allowed the other to tread across their respective property lines. They weren't speaking or interacting with one another at all. As a last resort, from the prompting of other family members, they agreed to appear on a popular television show, hoping to settle the conflict and possibly make peace. Trying to get these parties to solve the conflict was a seemingly useless endeavor until the counselor brought in a wheelbarrow of dirt. He dumped the contents of the wheelbarrow right into the middle of the living room floor as he stated that this was what they were really fighting about...a big old pile of dirt. The mother was shocked into a breakthrough. She later stated that it wasn't so much the dumping of the dirt that got her attention. It was the realization that we all are truly "piles of dirt" and we treat one another that way. The tee ball connection came as I watched a little boy at the ball park sitting in the dirt and scooping up a large pile in front of him with both hands. He molded it into a circular shape about four inches high, patted it frequently and garnished it on top with a few pieces of gravel. As his mother approached him I thought, uh-oh. This little dude is in trouble. He's getting pretty dirty. His mother asked him what he was doing. He said he was making a birthday cake. Then she praised him for being so creative. Somehow I don't think there will be any fences constructed between these two if they ever decide to be neighbors. After all, it was only dirt. And so are we. It has been somewhat of a revelation to discover that I am truly an old pile of dirt...emphasis on the old! When I think about my life and how I've lived it in the past, I discover that I could have treated others better. Relating to other piles of dirt can get pretty dirty. God's word says that we will return to the dust from which we came. When I understand that my earthly, physical body will pass away, returning to the earth, I know that there is more to my life than just dust to dust. There must be some meaning beyond the here and now. The meaning of my life is found in the time between my birth and my death. For my life to have any meaning, it must be lived for some purpose. And the only way I can ever relate to others in a more godly way and a more encouraging and meaningful way is to have something of God living in me. God's word gives us a glimpse of what He has in mind. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. From one pile of dirt to another. Blessings to you.


Bird Watching

The bird feeder in the yard gives me occasion to observe the many kinds of birds in our area. With the help of a quick guide reference book, I can identify them, read about their habits and habitats, identify whether they are male and female, (something not so easy to do in humans, by the way), and basically add to my knowledge of life on this planet. In perusing through this guide of North American bird species, someone has taken a lot of time to be able to give me information about birds. The least I can do is to study the material. I may find some benefit from bird watching. Have you ever seen a rooster strut? I have heard it said that the reason a rooster struts is because he thinks the sun shows up every day just to hear him crow. Have you ever known people like this? These are the ones who are convinced that the world orbits around them, believing they are the center of our solar system, or the universe for that matter! You can learn a lot by bird watching.
Have you ever heard the birds sing just before daybreak? Why are they singing in the dark and what are they singing about? Maybe they are singing about the glory of God, putting proper perspective on the rooster crowing, the creature in contrast singing about the greatness of the Creator, testifying to His mercies, which are fresh and new every morning. Maybe they sing while anticipating the day, because they are believing in the promise that Light has come into a dark world, remembering that the darkness cannot overcome the Light. Why do people use the words "bird brain" to insult others in claiming they have limited intelligence? The birds that sing in the dark seem to know more than many humans. Sometimes humans despair and become quite anxious about their lives, stressed out and fretting about what they should eat and wear, and fear for their future in general.
A wise Person said once that we could learn a lot from bird watching. He said "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" The advantage to having a Heavenly Father adds a new dimension to bird watching. Why is it that we can believe that God feeds the birds and will not feed us? Could it be that we believe that God is an adequate provider for birds but not enough for us? What is it that we believe we need that is beyond His ability to provide? When we think that our Heavenly Father needs our help, we have become like the strutting rooster who may think this world has been created to serve us. All of creation has been created to glorify God, including mankind. Look up and see the birds, knowing that we have a Father in Heaven...if we are indeed His children. God looks after His people. Remember in the dark what you knew in the day. And sing to our Father...after all, this is His world.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Who's In The Details?

As to the last blog's leftover thought, Can you tell me when it is time for the mountain goats to give birth?, I would think that one could consult a veterinarian, trained at one of the most prestigious universities in the world (such as N.C. State) and the vet may predict the general time of the kid (goat) delivery. This assumes that the time of conception can be known to have occurred in a general timeframe. General is the operative word. For more detailed information, there is One who is acquainted with specific information about issues concerning life and death. This particular question is asked of a person who had experienced much trouble and turmoil in living through some major life changes. You may have heard the expression "the patience of Job" being used to describe people who demonstrate the ability to move through a life crisis without breaking down or blowing up. The person Job was confronted with traumatic events beyond his imagination and control. Human beings are meaning makers. So to live with a sense of meaning and purpose, we often try to ascertain the meaning behind life changing experiences, seeking the details of what has happened, who is responsible, why it happened. and how it may affect our future. I would suggest there is One who knows the answer to the afore-mentioned question. In fact, He is the one addressing the question to Job. Job did not learn patience without trial and trouble. Job learned patience when He learned to trust that God had the answers and God could be trusted. The Living God knows the specific time for the mountain goat delivery because He alone knows the specific time of conception. The God of the Living knows when life begins and when death is appointed. Of every mountain goat...and of every human being. He is about living and dying, and every detail in between. This is the relevance of the question. It matters who we trust with the answers of life that elude our questions. God has answers for the questions that we aren't even asking. You can trust the One who knows the time when the mountain goats give birth. The real question is how will we answer the questions He is asking: Who can you trust with your life? What is it that gives your life meaning?
Blessings to you,

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Too Much Information

I've been telling some folks lately that I think I have a Windows 95 processor in a 2008 world. My Random Access Memory (RAM) seems to be pretty random and harder and harder to access. So from time to time, I will experience a memory dump. (I saw that memory dump message the other day on my you think I should be concerned?) Thus the title in the URL, samsleftovers. What you will see here is leftover thinking (Musing) that has no more room in my head. That's pretty scary!! What comes out is often the leftovers that my brain has been trying to process, unsuccessfully, I might add. Hopefully, the thoughts that are blogged will be evaluated and commented upon. Feel free to post your musings as well.
Here's the leftover thought for today: Can you tell me when it is time for the mountain goats to give birth? If you are stumped over this, who in all the universe can tell us? And why is it relevant? I'll talk more about this on the next post.
Blessings to you today.