Relationship with God

Reminder of God

May 31, 2005

More thoughts today on our need for each other. True, when we’ve just enjoyed a great triumph or huge success, we often desire to believe that we are the ones solely responsible—we all deal with a degree of pride, but the fact is, we need each other, and none of us really can boast of a success and state that there has been no help along the way. Someone to teach us, someone to believe in us, a person or persons along the way to give encouragement. Thinking on this brought to mind again the Pacific Redwood. We talked about these a bit last week. They are tallest and mightiest of all trees, and yet have you ever noticed that a tree so large, so strong, is never seen by itself? In fact, it is impossible for a Redwood to reach maturity unless it is surrounded by other trees. No, the surrounding trees don’t need to be Redwoods themselves, but there do need to be other trees very close by. Why? The Redwood has a very shallow root system. The roots seldom go more than a few feet underground. The root system of the Redwood is not nearly strong enough or deep enough to provide the tree with stability on its own. That is why the Redwood requires there to be other trees around it. The roots of the Redwood will grow to intertwine with the roots of the other trees nearby, creating a subterranean weave or mat if you will. This network, or mat, then provides the giant Redwoods with the stability they need in order to stand tall and weather whatever storms come their way, as the burden is then evenly distributed among all of the neighboring trees. In this way, the Redwood gains stability, while giving stability and shelter to others

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

Simple statement. Yet how are we doing on that point? Which are we more likely in fact to do—to attempt to force those around us to conform to our ideas/ideals, or to actually intertwine our lives with those around us, their welfare, triumphs and disappointments, and in so doing give them shelter and stability, while they as well help hold us up? Let’s put it this way: Ever notice that Christ came not as a politician to force external changes, but instead invested deeply in the lives of others, and in so doing, turned the world upside down? So, how intertwined are you with those around you?


May 30, 2005

We added an anemone to our fish tank this week. They are beautiful creatures. They come in various shapes and colors and undulate, peacefully, in the aquarium, being made up mostly of water. But anemones also have another side to them that isn’t quite so peaceful. They can sting. They aren’t malicious; their stinging is both a means of defense and a means of feeding. Interestingly, however, there is one fish that gets along quite swimmingly (couldn’t resist) with the anemone, a clown fish. We have one in our tank, appropriately named Nemo. When we introduced the anemone to the aquarium this week it was interesting to watch Nemo as he “made friends” with it. He let him get settled in. (You can put an anemone in the tank but it will move around until it finds the place it likes best.) Then as a means of introduction, Nemo made several darting runs into it so that the two could become acquainted. Every time Nemo went in he’d suffer a few stings but he kept at it. Finally the anemone accepted him and now when Nemo swims into the middle of it; it will close around him in kind of a hug. It’s so fun to watch. This anemone is large enough to eat him but instead they are friends. Today, I watched Nemo excavate the area around his new anemone home to make it more comfortable for his host. He even moved a piece of rock three times his size out of the way.

Friendships are amazing. They don’t just happen overnight. They require work and dedication. Sometimes they can even grow a little prickly, but those friendships that stand the test are the ones that last more than a lifetime. We were never made to be lone rangers in this world. God designed us to work together, encourage one another, help one another, yes, and even admonish one another.

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:24

A man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The love on which true friendships are based is seriously important to God. Christ said that loving our neighbor as ourselves the second greatest commandment, second only to loving God. I think I better call a friend I haven’t caught up with in a while. How about you? Remember we are the hands and feet of Christ, ministers of His love.


May 27, 2005

Oh the things we do to play it safe! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for risk management, but even that assumes that one is willing to take some risks, to balance out risk verses possible reward! John Shedd once noted “A ship in harbor is safe—but that is not what ships are made for.” In like form, in Christendom, we seem to have forgotten what WE have been made for. Too often for so many “Christians” every waking moment is filled with “fellowship”. “Christian” bookstores are filled with “Christian” romance novels, “Christian” TV channels are filled with “Christian” soap operas. There are entire employment agencies designed to find employment for Christians in “Christian” companies, not to mention “Christian” baseball, football, soccer, and softball leagues! Here is a pure and simple reality: That is harbor, not what we’re made for, and we must stop hiding! AND we must stop thinking of “engaging the world” as a series or protests and politics! If we are not willing to interact with this world that God created, we will never be challenged by it, never grow, and in turn the world will never be challenged by the love of Christ, will never know His grace.

2nd Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

What has your life modeled this week? Timidity? Or are Power, Love, and Discipline what has been seen? A harbor is a great place to get provisions, seek shelter in a storm, and to make needed repairs. Yet if all you do with your life is remain in some spiritual harbor, you will never enjoy the voyage and adventure that God designed you for! Hoist the mainsail and jib! Up anchor!


May 26, 2005

Have you ever seen the giant redwoods of the Pacific Northwest? They are truly amazing to behold. To think of something that large…alive! The Forest Service realized the treasure they had on their hands when the Redwood National Forest was set apart as a national park/preserve. They instituted many strict policies to protect the beautiful trees, including a highly aggressive fire containment plan. Firemen, sometimes even U.S. Soldiers were moved in to fight any fire that started in the huge forest. Several decades later however, the Forest Service realized that in doing so, they had made a mistake. Redwoods are conifers. That means that their seeds are in cones like pine cones. For redwoods however, these cones are rock hard, and do not open seasonally to release their seeds like pine cones do. For these cones to open and release their fruit, their seed, intense heat is required—the intense heat of fire. You see, the Redwoods are such massive trees that during a forest fire, living redwoods are rarely ever severely damaged—usually just the dead wood of the trees, and the scrub is actually burned. The heat from a forest fire is required however for the Redwoods to be able to bear their fruit, to go to seed. Recognizing this, the Forest Service has now reversed their policy of aggressive fire management in the Redwood National Forest, and the forest is thriving. Thinking on that brought this passage to mind—

1st Peter 1:6-8

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Christ; and though you have not seen Him you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…

I’m sure the Redwoods do not enjoy the fire raging around them, but still that they rejoice to see their seed take root. Neither do apple trees enjoy pruning, but it is still necessary to maximize the fruit production. Trials are the same in our lives. Yes we can wonder, sometimes even rage at God that He allows them in our lives as it seems that our very souls blister under the heat--Yes, the heat can seem unbearable, but there is good fruit that comes from the fire. Pruning can hurt, but it gets rid of the dead wood and leaves you more fruitful. So, if times seem a bit “heated” for you right now, rejoice—that may just be what it takes for you to get rid of the deadwood in your life and grow, as well as for your fruit to grow. And that fruit will always point back to the One who tends His garden!


May 25, 2005

Parasites—nasty little things. This week, my fish tank became infected with the parasite Ich, and I almost lost my Blue Tang. The parasites attach themselves to the outside of the fish—looking at first like grains of salt, but then growing. They can literally suck the life out of a fish, and if not fatal in and of itself, Ich often leaves the fish in a weakened state so that they are susceptible to other bacterial and viral infections which can kill them. Yet it is not just fish that have to worry about parasites! Even in the United States, it’s estimated that between 30-50% of the population suffers from some form of parasitic infection (hookworm, roundworm, and pinworm being some of the most common). Here’s a gross little piece of trivia for you as well. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s in the United States a “one dose silver bullet” pill for weight loss was widely sold. Inside the capsule was a rolled up tapeworm. Resulting from my missions work overseas, I have had two big bouts with parasites—a nasty skin infestation of scabies which took over a month to get rid of (some of the scars are still visible) and a really unpleasant case of giardia, which lasted for nine months, ripping my digestive tract to shreds. Whether infesting a fish or a human, a parasite pulls nutrients from their “host”, leaving the host weakened, and sometimes gravely ill. The funny thing is, most parasitic infestations can actually be easily avoided. Basic cleanliness (sleep in a clean bed with clean sheets, cook food adequately, drink purified water, and don’t walk outside barefoot) will almost rule out the chance of you becoming infected. Oddly enough, as respects our spiritual lives there are parasites as well. Take a look at what Paul has to say about it—

1st Corinthians 6:12-13

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.

Yes, all things are “lawful” for us in a spiritual sense. No, we are not “saved” by being “good enough”—we can’t be. We are brought into God’s presence by His grace, through faith—both being a gift from God. Yet there are often choices we make in our behaviors, which although they can never separate us eternaly from God if our faith is in Christ, will act as a parasite in our spiritual lives. Behaviors that while “legal” are not profitable. And often times these parasites do leave scars. And always, they are the result of choices we make, actions we choose. Take some time then today to reflect, to look at your choices, your behaviors and ask which of these are acting as parasites, drawing my energy, my sustenance from me? What do I choose to do that is of no profit to my spiritual, emotional, even physical life? Then commit yourself, with God’s help, to put those things behind you. You will be amazed how other areas of your life will be strengthened when you do.


May 24, 2005

I enjoy working out, and I enjoy running and rollerblading. As a matter of fact, if I don’t get a chance to work out or run, I get cranky (ask Glenda…or my friends…or my dogs). Unlike my Dad, I have no real athletic prowess, I just enjoy it. I think it is so very sad when you see someone whom you used to know a long time ago in their peak of fitness that has let themselves go. Not only does gravity do some unkind things, but their physical strength has atrophied through their choice to cease using it. That’s true really in so many areas of our lives, isn’t it? I mean, aren’t some of the saddest words to hear at a class reunion “he used to be…” fill in the blank. If we don’t use our strengths, they do atrophy. Even spiritually. We adhere to the Christian FAITH. When was the last time though that you made a decision based (think honestly here) on faith? Even in our churches, logic or politics tend to guide much more than faith, and that’s just wrong. Let’s not forget the words of Elton Trueblood who stated “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” Does that describe your faith, your relationship with God? How would that, applied to your life today, affect your decision making process?

2nd Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each of you toward one another grows ever greater…

Think for a moment on that salutation—does that sound like a Church, a group of believers of whom it is said “They used to be…”? No, of course not. When God then looks at you as a person of faith, does He see a person of spiritual fitness, or instead one who has allowed atrophy to sink in? Time to hit the gym?


May 23, 2005

Character: what is it? An individual’s character,that is a hard thing to define, for throughout one’s life, it should continue to grow. As Goethe observed some 200 years ago, “What is the true test of character, unless it be its progressive development in the bustle and turmoil in the action and reaction, of daily life.” In other words, the hardships of life should make us grow. If not, there is a flaw in our character. You know, this meets itself out in our daily walks with God. There are many who read their Bible or go to Church not to learn anything new about God, and certainly not to allow their lifestyles or choices or assumptions to be challenged, but instead only to find the fodder by which they can affirm the choices, preferences, opinions that they have already formed. Here’s the rub with that though: No one can grow without change. Growth is in part by definition change. Look at how Paul put this:

Romans 5:3-5

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

If Paul has stopped at perseverance, we could assume that our lives, our opinions, our viewpoints were to remain static, yet he didn’t. If we are growing in Christ, we are changing, for our character cannot grow without change. If you have not changed a viewpoint, or broadened a horizon, or had a reversal of position in awhile, you may want then to stop and ask yourself this—Am I really growing in Christ, or do I simply want to be affirmed as I am? The one choice is static, the other, and scary as it is, leads to a dynamic, albeit untamed, life. What’s your choice?


May 20, 2005

So what are you going to do with this new day, this new week? In what arena’s will you strive and succeed? Which ones are really worth your while? Andrew Carnegie once noted “The rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage—he has little competition.” How very true! A reality many never seem to realize in life is that we will all serve something, or someone—maybe no consciously, but we will. Oh, to be sure, often times we think we’re doing something for ourselves, but when it comes down to it, isn’t preening really just a service to vanity? Isn’t the garnering of power really a service to pride? Aren’t these things really then just false (and sneaky) gods? No, if we want to succeed in life, we must be purposeful, not accidental in our serving. That begins with the conscious choice of whom we will serve.

Joshua 24:14-15

Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Are you taking then that step today in being purposeful as to whom you will serve? How will your life differ now, having made that choice?


May 12, 2005

I read something tonight by Henry Van Dyke that struck me with its profundity: “Use what talents you possess—the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang the best.” Amen! In other words, we are all desperately needed—and you are needed as you are--Let that sink in and revel in it! Let the gift of your song sing out, and you’ll soon find that a chorus has joined you!

1st Peter 4:10-11

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Some profound truth in that passage, namely that each person (yes that includes you) has in some way been specially gifted by God. So use your giftedness, and you will be working from God’s strength. Your song to sing is unique, and God has made you to sing it!


May 11, 2005

Disappointments hurt. The worst form of disappointment though is a broken heart. Now why would anyone risk a broken heart? C.S. Lewis noted the answer to this very well in his book The Four Loves: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” So true that love involves risk. Receiving the love of another is risky; initiating an act of love to another is riskier still. And yet the rewards… It amazes me that God choose to take the risk of initiating a love relationship with us. How often is His heart stomped upon? And yet he Loves us, that we might in turn love, and be transformed in Love.

1st john 3:1-2

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and such we are… Beloved now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

Love transforms. God’s Love transforms us more into His likeness. Is that descriptive of your life today, being made more in the likeness of God? Avail yourself of His Love, for that will make a change in your life you could not dream of making on your own.


May 10, 2005

Do you honestly think that God can’t use you to change this world? Are you really too weak for God to use you, too “sinful”, too much of a screw up? Then consider these examples: Adam refused to stick up for his wife, and was hen-pecked. Noah was a drunk, Abraham sold his own wife into another man’s harem and knocked up his wife’s maid and then kicked her and his own son out of the house, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a schemer and liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was a braggart and abused and spent a chunk of time in jail, Moses a murderer, Gideon was a coward in hiding, Rahab was a whore, David exposed himself in public while dancing and had an affair and was a bad father, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Job was bankrupt, John the Baptist ran around in a loincloth and ate bugs. Matthew was a collaborator with an invading army, Peter had a foul temper, John was “holier than thou”, Thomas was a doubter, Martha was a worry wart, Mary Magdalene an illicit woman and demon possessed, the Samaritan woman a slut, Paul a murderer, and Lazarus, well he was dead! God used each of these folks greatly. Good luck thinking up another excuse! Paul put it this way:

2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

…And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Avail yourself of God’s strength for each task he sets before you and you will change this world; not only that, but the shape of eternity to come.


May 9, 2005

Some accomplish great wonders with moderate talent. Others with great talent accomplish little. Why? Well, In part, it often comes down to expectations—not those imposed from outside, for as adults we need to learn to set our own expectations. No, what we really expect from ourselves often times metes itself out in what we accomplish, and those accomplishments can be very great indeed whether the world notices or not! This is something that Michelangelo fully understood when he stated “The danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Now think on this: Do you really believe that God’s goal for your life is that of mediocrity? Has He given you the grand call in life to be superbly…average? Of course not. Each human is uniquely gifted by God. The problem is that we find that hard to believe, we often times forget that when we are called to do something of importance, we are called to act from His strength, and He is more than adequate! Still as the warp and woof of life intersects our person, sometimes it is hard to believe that, and you’re not alone if you feel that way. Consider the story of the man whose son was a demoniac, self destructive and foul. He came to Jesus, beaten down, not even sure anymore of his ability to believe anything, and this was what happened:

Mark 9:21-24

“And He asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘from early childhood. And it has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If You can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the boys father cried out and began saying ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’”

The boy was, of course, healed. This boys father knew something important, namely that it doesn’t take much belief, much faith, in order to be able to approach, even entreat Jesus. And when that is done, He meets us where we are, helps us with our unbelief, and brings needed healing. The point is this: This is a new week. God wants to, intends to use you to accomplish great things, so cease striving for mediocrity. Set your sights high, then look even higher to Him who empowers you, and remember that you are immortal until God’s purposes with you here are through, and then you will be with Him! You can more than meet this day, you can look at it as your tabula rosa, your blank canvas. What masterpiece are you going to paint with your life today? Trust God to start; He’ll enable you to trust Him to finish and give you the strength to press on!


May 6, 2005

To loosely quote Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series of books, “It is not the abilities we have that define who we are; it is the choices that we make.” So very, very true. And yet the choices that we make are often driven by the voices we choose to listen too—external, yes, but most often those voices we’ve internalized. Choices are often driven by voices. “Tapes” of praises or criticisms from our growing up, our times of change and discovery that we choose to pull out and listen to in our minds. Friend, if those “tapes” that you are choosing to listen too reek with condemnation and self doubt, then the enemy has won a large victory indeed in your life. Think on this—would Satan try to dissuade you, discourage you, from living out of your weakness or your strength? Of course evil wants us to believe that our strengths are actually weaknesses, and our weaknesses strengths. And so his sniper shots are aimed precisely at those areas where we are strongest, to convince us that we are indeed unable, ineffectual to work from those areas. And so we quit, allow ourselves to be robbed and in so doing we rob those around us of how God intended to minister to them through us. Think on these two passages:

Philippians’ 4:12-13

I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

1st John 4:4

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Yes, believe me I know that out of habit the negative voices are the easiest to believe; yet God did not create you to excel in mediocrity. He did not create you merely to survive, no, but to thrive! Every choice we make further defines us as a more heavenly creature or one more hellish, so when the negative voices play, remember the words of James “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” So do not fear any task that lays before you—God is for you, so who else can stand against you? Every past wound fades with the potential of the future God has for you—live in that knowledge.


May 5, 2005

You know, this has been an incredible spring at our birdfeeder. Yes, we have a Red Tailed Hawk that nests in one of our trees, but this year the color at the feeder has been even more impressive than him. Some common but beautiful birds, like the several pairs of cardinals, the gold finch, the purple finch and the house finch. Then some very rare birds, like the indigo bunting, the scarlet tanager (you’ve got to see it to believe it), and the rose breasted grosbeak. Then of course there are the sparrows and the doves.

As humans, it is easy for each of us to look around at other people and feel like we do not measure up, like the plumage or wingspans of those around us is so much greater, and so we just want to quit trying… To leave it for the other guy… The one with the prettier feathers. Here’s something interesting to ponder though: the indigo bunting is never mentioned in scripture. Neither is the scarlet tanager, the gold finch, purple finch, the cardinal or house finch. What is mentioned, and mentioned in a very positive light is the dove, and the sparrow—plain as they may be. The point is, irrespective of their colorful plumage, their ability to catch the eye and draw attention to themselves, it is not those birds that God specifically states that He notices, or calls us even to learn from. It is the sparrow and the dove. God has this weird habit of using the humble, of using in fact anyone and everyone who wants to be used by Him. Yes, Christianity can provide a healing environment, and that is good. Yet when the healing is done, it is time to get out of that hospital bed and get to God’s work. Some may look flashier, and call great attention to themselves. God is interested however in those who will instead point to Him. He has His place for you in His work—not just in you, not just for you, but also through you.

1st Corinthians 12:20-25

But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

You are needed. The funny thing is; for some, their brilliant plumage is all the reward they will ever know. But the sparrow and the dove God notices. If you feel like a sparrow, then let me ask you this question: How will you let God work through you today, to bring His ministrations to a hurting world?


May 3, 2005

I was very poignantly reminded today of a great truth. Forgive me that I do not know to whom the quote should be ascribed to, but it speaks volumes "Revenge is nothing more than the lazy man's attempt at grieving". Wow, how true--"Revenge is nothing more than the lazy man's attempt at grieving". When we are wounded deeply, what we are really facing is some type of loss--the loss of a thing, a love, maybe the loss of self esteem, an ideology, or a misperception we've chosen to attach affection to--so many things we can loose. In reality when faced with a great loss we can really only do one of two things: Forgive the one responsible (even if that is ourselves) and allow ourselves to go through the grieving process for that thing lost, or, instead, to take revenge, to seek retribution, maybe even one upsmanship, on the person, persons, or organization that caused us our loss. The one act shows trust in God, and allows for healing. The other, well that locks us in a cycle of anger, and no matter what she may whisper at night in the dark, anger is never a pleasant mistress. Revenge is an action and happens in an instant, it never restores back to us that which we have lost, and it never restores back to us our sense of wholeness, instead it robs us of that very thing. Grieving a loss and forgiving, that is a process, it takes time and is a matter of choice and faith. Choice in turning our back on revenge and forgiving, and faith in that it requires one to believe that God's justice is real, and one day justice and mercy will not seem contradictory in their nature. The Psalmist wrote looking forward to such a day in Psalm 85:

Psalm 85:9-11

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth springs from the earth
And righteousness looks down from heaven.

We have all experienced losses, some very great indeed. But we cannot replace those losses with anything toxic and hope to heal. For instance, a loss of innocence is often times falsely "replaced" by callousness or stubbornness, when instead it should be grieved, allowing God to bring true healing. What losses make you want to cry out for justice, to take matters even into your own hands? And yet God has extended to you, in response to your wrongs, mercy. To forgive is to love, and it is when we choose that course of action that we are most like God.


May 2, 2005

You know, there are just some things that you just know are a product of the fall, I mean there are some things on this earth now that were definitely not in the Garden of Eden! Consider the most dangerous animal in the world: More people are killed by this animal each year than by all others combined (except man). The animal? The dreaded...mosquito. Yup, disease and infection spread by mosquitoes kill more people every year than all other animal attacks combined. Another nasty little creature is the tick. Ticks are found from every climate from Antarctica to the Sahara! They are also the vector for several nasty diseases, such as Lyme's disease and a host of others. You know what else, I heartily believe that the Garden of Eden didn't have "no see-ums" either. No see-ums are tiny biting flies that live on every continent except Antarctica. They are really tiny--1/25th to 1/10th of an inch long, which means they are so small so as to be able to fly right through a window screen! Unlike Mosquitoes, they do not pierce the skin--instead, their jaws slice it open, with their saliva working as a powerful anti coagulant. In the Middle East, where David had been a shepherd, summer time is no see-um season. There is a variety there that infests sheep, called a nose fly. These no see-ums lay their eggs in the mucus of the nose and eyes of the sheep. The bites from both larva and adult, although they do not transmit infection or venom, are so irritating to the sheep that they can literally drive them insane. Sheep will actually beat their heads against rocks seeking relief from the biting flies. Many die. The cure? In Palestine shepherds today do what was done in David's day--they mix an ointment of olive or linseed oil with some sulpher. They anoint then the nose, eyes and heads of the sheep with this oil, which provides immediate relief, and keeps further no see-ums away. Today's our last look at psalm 23. Let's take a look at verse 5:

Psalm 23

1. The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3. He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
5. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is Monday. A day where I'm sure more than a few of you spent your commute time into work fantasizing about the nuisances, annoyances that you are anticipating. It is so often the annoyances after all that drive us mad... God as the Good Shepherd has what is needed to anoint you, to give you relief from those annoyances. Oh, the part about preparing before us a table in the presence of our enemies? A large flat land at high altitude is referred to as a table (Mesa). Mesa's are very easy to protect, to keep enemies at bay, even though they may surround the table, so Shepherds love to graze their flocks on those tables. Yet the tables must be prepared in advance, with forage planted, salt and mineral licks in place, etc.

So what? You see, No see-ums are nuisances, they are no real danger to sheep, but they can be so irritating it drives a sheep mad, and to death. We face similar things in life. Yet there are real dangers for sheep (wolves, coyotes, lions, etc), and there are real dangers for us too. The point here is that Gad is more than adequate to protect us from those real, big dangers--He's even prepared a sanctuary, a mesa, for us in advance. But He is also interested in, concerned about those small irritants in our lives, The kind that just seem to build... And when we come to Him with them, He anoints our heads with healing oil, and He has it in such abundance for the asking that our cup overflows. God is concerned with the big dangers you face in your life. He is also concerned about the annoyances that can cause such pain... Hope that gives you a good start to your week!


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