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Reminder of God


June 30, 2005

It is a shame Shakespeare is so seldom read anymore. In both his comedies and has tragedies, there are so many words of wisdom. Learning by story is productive. When we learn in story, our defenses, our natural predisposition to argue, is lowered. That, to a great degree is why Jesus taught so often by using parables. Consider these words then, from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth: “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers o’er the fraught heart and bids it break.” Such very true words, a truth that as a pastor I’ve seen manifest itself time and time again, and yet our culture so very often tells us to do the exact opposite: keep your feelings to yourself, stiff upper lip. From childhood we’re taught “big boys don’t cry”. As adults so many of the “heroes” that we’re given by Hollywood model the “man as an island” mentality—James Bond, any of the multitude of characters played by Schwarzenegger, these are characters not of feeling, but who instead numb themselves with sexual conquest and/or drink. We can turn off our hearts, our feelings, but when we do that, how then are we different from the machine? Here are some of the seldom spoken facts of life: Broken dreams hurt a hell of a lot more than a skinned knee. And, we all have seen a side of ourselves that hurts others, that reaches out to wound, or passively simply allows others to bleed, and when we see that side, it scares and hurts us. Now here’s the terrifying part of these facts—Ignore the pain of that broken dream, stuff it somewhere deep down, and you will find that in so doing you will begin, or have actually gone well on the way to, suffocating any passion you have left. Also, fail to look at that hurtful side, to acknowledge it, and proactively choose not to use it, you will find that you spend more and more of your life living there until you have forgotten how to love. Our sorrows and failures need words. This doesn’t mean gushing every emotion on to some poor slob nest to us in the elevator, but there is this truth—God not only listens, but He already knows, having an intimate care for and knowledge of your life. Give then these life issues voice in your time with God. Trust me, you’re not going to surprise Him. Do this, and you will find not only a natural catharsis, you will also find that God then intersects in your life to bring you healing, to make you more like Him.



Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you;

He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.




Cast your burden upon the Lord—literally throw it upon Him—that is am imperative, a command. And then, (and this is the hard part, at least for me) leave it there. Give your feelings words. Hey, God already knows them!

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June 29, 2005

This moment in time will not happen again. Each moment is unique; each presents you with opportunities, many of which will never present themselves again. Moments pass, and with them so do opportunities. Thoughts often appear in our heads which remind us of a wrong we’ve perpetrated against another which needs to be righted, or a relationship we’ve let go which needs to be reconciled. Do we act on those, or let them go by the wayside? Moments, opportunities, these are much like a foreign language in this respect: if you do no use them, you loose them. Take a look at what Paul had to say about these moments, these opportunities—



Galatians 6:9-10

And let us not loose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.




This moment is an opportunity in you life. Will you use it, or let it slide by? Notice what it is that Paul is enjoining us to do here—to do good to all men. Not to give each what they “deserve”, or to do what is needed to “teach them a lesson” about life, but to do good to all men. This moment is yours to use, or yours to loose, and for each moment in our lives, we will all eventually give an account. So, this stewardship responsibility, this opportunity, this moment: what will you do?

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June 28, 2005

For years I was told that the greatest heroes of the faith are the clergy—the professional Christians. I disagreed when I was a pastor, and continue to disagree now. I stand with Martin Luther on this one where he said “A milk maid can milk cows to the glory of God”. Now that is a truth too seldom taught! No, the real truth is, God will use those whom He chooses, and great works for God are always those done in His power by those who yield to His will. Fact is, God is much more concerned with a person’s devotion than He is with a person’s profession. Consider some of the great heroes in scripture: Gideon, David, Moses, Rahab, Elijah, Mary, Martha, John the Baptist, all of the disciples, Paul, even Christ Himself, none of these came from the cloth of the priesthood. One does not need to have a pulpit to be a hero of the faith; in fact we are surrounded by heroes every day: The single mom who works diligently against tremendous odds to provide for her children, the man who remains faithful to his wedding vows, despite incredible temptations, the parent who chooses to love his or her child, even when that child is in the throws of rebellion, the office worker who foregoes an opportunity for a promotion because they refused ethical compromise, the person who stands by their spouse in the face of grave illness, the person who follows God’s leading even though it isn’t “sensible”, as the world counts sensible. You, my friend, have the capacity to be a great hero of the faith, whether you work outdoors in a labor position, or in a cubicle, or behind a counter, or behind a pulpit. The key is doing God’s work in God’s strength.

Ephesians 6:10-12

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.


Being a hero of the faith; that is not about what you choose to do for God, but instead your choice to let God do His work through you. God is the cause, we are the instruments, and His effect is meted out on a changed world, one heart at a time. Think on that, hero. It isn’t about what you can do more than the next man, it’s about what God can do through you, if you let Him.

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June 27, 2005

Many of you know that Glenda and I are movie junkies. I really enjoy movies—movies of many different genres. As such, I was remembering the other day when Blockbuster used to charge an extra buck on your rental if you forgot to rewind the tape. They did this in theory to recoup the cost of labor for having to take their time to rewind the videos, but really it was just a rip off. Although we were always conscientious to rewind, probably half the videos that we rented were never rewound, even though someone got charged a buck. Still, the discipline has stuck, and so last night, when Glenda and I finished watching a movie on DVD, I looked desperately for several moments on the remote for the “rewind” button! Ok, maybe I’m slow, but old habits die hard. No, DVD’s do not need rewinding. They are a completely new format. Still, as silly as this mistake was to make, don’t we often make the same mistake as respects our very lives? I mean seriously, how many of us are trying to “earn” our way into God’s good graces by our behaviors, actions, works? Consider this:

Galatians 2:20-21

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.




Religion is about obeying rules to work your way up to God. Christ is a new format—He came down to us. Think you can earn your way to God’s grace? Think again. The nature of grace, otherwise stated “unmerited favor”, is that it is a gift. Gifts cannot be earned; if they could, they would be called salary. As you start this week, let this be one less thing to worry about. The life you live is not to be one of law, of works, but of faith. Let Christ live in you. He loves you, and delivered Himself up for you. You don’t even have to look for the “rewind” button.

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June 23, 2005

Hopes and dreams. These are in so many ways the essence of life. G. K. Chesterton recognized this when he wrote “The center of every man’s existence is a dream. Death, disease, insanity, are merely material accidents, like a toothache or a twisted ankle. That these brutal forces always besiege and often capture the citadel does not prove they are the citadel.” Oh so true. Yet so much of what people call “reality” in this world conspires very purposefully, in a planned fashion, to rob us of our hope, to rob us of our dreams, for evil knows that when we cease to hope, cease to dream, then we have in fact begun to die.



Romans 5:3-6

And not only this, but we 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. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.




Hold on to your hope, protect it, nurture it, and invest in it. In God we have reason to hope. In God we have life eternal. The two are tied together. Hold on to your hope, your dreams. Oh, lest this sound “Pie in the sky bye and bye”, Chesterton knew of what he spoke: for years he was plagued with recurring thoughts of suicide until he found his hope in Christ.

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June 21, 2005

Communication is universal among all living things…well, at least those which are at least somewhat self-aware. Stepping over my (I thought) sleeping dog Millie to enter my office, I was greeted with a “thump thump thump” as her wagging tail hit the floor. That’s communication, with the basic message being “I like you, I’m glad you’re here.” Blossom, another of our dogs, came in just now and dropped a slobber soaked tennis ball in my lap; again, communication (throw the ball!). Even fish, it turns out, communicate. Now, I am not making this up—it seems that an international group of researchers from Canada, Scotland, Denmark, and Sweden banded together to study the communication regimen of the herring. They have determined that the lowly herring communicates by regulating the tone and frequency of its, um, breaking wind. Yes, that’s right. Fish flatulence frequency is in fact the lingua franca of the herring. (Makes one wonder how often they ask each other to repeat something…) And yes, these researchers got paid to do this study. Now, aren’t you glad that we have been given a somewhat more sophisticated method of expressing ourselves? And yet here’s actually a serious question—how often do we use that gift to actually communicate that which is worthy of saying. How much of what we choose to say really is just so much gas? Consider these thoughts:

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

James 1:19

This you know, my brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.


I love how James starts out --”This you know…”. The implication is clear, namely that intellectual knowledge and actual practice are in fact often very different things. Are we quick to hear, to listen? IF we are, then we are actually learning with every conversation. Yet too often while one person is speaking, we are busy thinking of a proper (or winning) response—especially if we are arguing (which is of course when listening is of the greatest importance). And how about Psalm 19:14? Are the words of your mouth something that you really believe that God will commend you for? Truth is, the majority of arguments are not about issues of substance, but instead issues of ego. Few Churches split over doctrine, many over issues of practice—things which should be easily worked out if individuals are able to listen, hold their tongues, jettison their egos, and deal with the issues, instead of the personalities. As well, I am old enough to realize that those who simply love to hear their own words often speak a great deal, but say very little Yes, we can communicate. Yet it is up to us to make sure that what and how we communicate is worth more than fish flatulence. Or that may be a red herring for another day…

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June 20, 2005

Over 7 billion people inhabit this earth…7 billion! When one thinks of the meaning of that, it can make one dizzy. 7 billion people, and we are all striving for significance, hoping to be exceptional in something that sets us apart, wanting to be unique and hoping that our existence will be…noticed. In the early 1800’s Kierkegaard noted of this “All essential knowledge relates to existence, or only such knowledge as has an essential relationship to existence is essential knowledge.” We humans are social creatures. As such we all desire for the significance of our own personal existence to be validated by another; in other words, we all want a witness to the existence that is our lives. Competing with 7 billion others for a validation of our existence, that can be daunting. Who shall be a witness to my life? To yours?

Psalm 139:1-4

O Lord, Thou has searched me and known me.

Though dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar.

Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,

And art intimately acquainted with all my ways

Even before there is a word on my tongue,

Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.




The things we will do to be noticed, to gain for ourselves a witness to our existence, to gain a sense of validity of our very lives; and here we see the ultimate in Witnesses, the ultimate in validations. God not only notices you, you are important to Him! Look at some of the descriptors as to that fact here: “searched me” “known me” “understand” “scrutinize” and “intimately acquainted”. How many “friends” do you have of whom you’d say the same things? Often times in trying to plead various cases in our lives, we may make the statement “As God is my witness”. The truth is that in reality He is. He is because He cares about you, notices you, and in so doing the God of the universe says “you are important, just as you are.” On this Monday morning, let that sink in. Let it energize you. In the midst of 7 billion people, you are unique, and God stands to validate your very existence. So go forward in the courage of a life that has meaning, and a life that is unique to you. As God is your witness…

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June 17, 2005

Compassion: One of the greatest of virtues. A gift given both to the men who wield it, and by those who wield it. When William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize, his acceptance speech dealt very much with the nature of man. In that speech Faulkner stated of man “He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.” Yes, but how many of us exercise that spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance? Let’s close our study today of Psalm one by looking at verses five and six:



Psalm One

1. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor Stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

3. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor Sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.




Now this is important—let this sink in. The “wicked” and “sinners” spoken of here—these are human beings, human souls. Individuals with dreams, individuals who hope to love and to be loved. So what are we going to do about this? Clap our hands with delight because the wicked “had it coming” or “deserve” it? Well, what is that that we deserve? Again, as we discussed yesterday, the context of this Psalm makes it very clear here that there is a final absolute time when we all must face our creator. Some will be deemed “wicked”, some will be deemed “sinner”, and sent away form the presence of God, away from all that is good (try to fathom that, and you will begin to get an idea of the terror of hell). So what, if we truly do want to exercise compassion, do we do? Legislate a certain set of behavioral norms, forcing our ideas of proper conduct on the masses so that their outward behavior looks better? A group of powerful people tried to do that back in history. They were called “Pharisees”. Christ didn’t give them much credence. In fact He condemned them. Legislating behavior will never change the heart of man. No, if we really choose to exercise compassion, we love those individuals who have not yet chosen to know God, to seek God, as they are…Just like God choose to meet you where you are. We love them without the conditionality that they change, just as we have been unconditionally loved ourselves. We love them by virtue of their humanity, as we have been loved, and we don’t make them into a “project”, for God has not made “projects” out of us. And when that teachable moment may come, we don’t’ try to give them all the answers, but instead introduce them to the One who is The Answer. And whatever they choose to do with that introduction, we continue to love them. I choose to study this Psalm at the beginning of this new path in my life for this reason: The principles of what are important in life are the same no matter what your profession. If you want to set your path straight, then your heart must be in tune with God’s heart. Your priorities must mirror His, and mankind, well He proved to us what a priority mankind is to Him with His Son. Walk then in His example.

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June 16, 2005

You know, I’m not one to see all of life as a series of absolutes—Black and white, Right and wrong. I’m wired to see many shades of pastel and gray in between the two. Some individuals have liberties that I don’t have. I exercise liberties that others do not. Some believers will not go to movies, believing they are inherently wrong. I love movies. I will not set foot in a casino—others do, without a second thought. I am very much a postmodern in that respect. Frankly, unless something is expressly forbidden in scripture, I believe we all have a great degree of latitude. Yet, absolutes do exist. There are some things which are simply the right thing to do, and some things which are simply wrong. There are also choices we make that do in fact define us. Let’s take a look tonight at verse four of Psalm one:

Psalm One

1. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor Stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

3. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor Sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.


Again, the word here for “wicked” does not mean someone who is as evil as they can possibly be—much more this word simply describes a person who stands outside of a covenant relationship with God. In other words, one who is to busy, preoccupied, or simply “hasn’t gotten around” to seeking a relationship with God. I actually find this verse very frightening, for within the context of this Psalm, it makes it clear that as respects the human soul, there is an eventual absolute: either a person has chosen God’s ways, or has chosen (again, by commission or omission) to follow their own way. God, being a gentleman, will honor our choice. “Chaff” is the worthless husk to a kernel of wheat. After harvest, when the wheat had dried, the people of ancient cultures would take the wheat out on a breezy day, and beat the heads of wheat against themselves. This process would cause the valuable, nutritious kernels of wheat to fall to the threshing floor, while the chaff would in turn simply blow away in the wind. Here’s the issue as respects us today—Where one stands with God is a, no the defining pivot point of one’s life. Yet too often in our society, we seem to think of Christianity as simply a part of lifestyle or even culture; that is, something to be “practiced” on Sunday mornings, maybe Wednesday evenings, and on certain holidays when it’s hard to find a parking place at Church. God doesn’t view things that way. That’s because Christianity is not a “to do”, it is a relationship that defines one’s identity. Is it your identity? You know, chaff looks a whole lot like a kernel of wheat…until the two are separated. So, pause for a moment, take your time, and ask yourself what it is that defines your identity. Amazing how we are more prone to take much more time with issues such as entertainment than we are in answering that question. Don’t get me wrong here—I’m not saying that the status of your salvation changes daily with every whim or change of attitude! I mean hey, I’ve been married to Glenda for 22 years. Some days I am much better than others at showing her the great love she deserves. Yet, on my “off” days, that does not mean we are no longer married! Same with God. Commit to Him once, and He will never leave you!

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June 15, 2005

First, thank you so very much to all of you who sent such kind words of encouragement this morning/last night. They are very much appreciated! Yesterday we began looking at Psalm one, verse one. And saw how one is blessed, that is, enjoys happiness, joy bestowed upon him, if he avoids walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the path of sinners, or sitting in the seat of scoffers. Today we’ll look at the contrast to taking advice of, or living one’s life under the direction or influence of either of those three, as we look at verses two and three of this great Psalm.

Psalm One

1. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor Stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

3. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.


4. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor Sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.


The word here “delight” carries with it a deeper meaning, namely, that of taking care in, pleasure in, musing over. In other words, instead of allowing oneself to be discouraged by scoffers, or swept up by decadence, or taking direction from those who have no care of God, this person’s focus, direction, comes from God’s Word. “Law” is not a popular word these days. It carries many negative connotations, especially in the context of religion—kind of a “cosmic killjoy” list of “don’ts” and “cant’s”. That however is not what the “Law” of God is. Simply, the law of God is His word, and in that Word are commands (in the imperative by the way) such as “Rejoice!” “Celebrate!” “Love your neighbor!” and of course, “Love the Lord your God”—all positive commands, to be sure! In other words, we are to take our direction in life from God’s Word, which will ensure that we then prioritize what is important to Him, not to the scoffer or the person without depth. Meditating day and night? That does not refer to specific times, but instead stands as brackets to the day, meaning that this individual is the type to mull over the things of God’s word throughout the day. The result? That is verse three-- This is the person who will be able to stand firm, be firmly planted. Yet we mustn’t forget, that for a tree to truly be firmly planted, that tree must endure storms which shake it to its core, thereby cracking the soil, loosening it around the roots, so that the roots can then go that much deeper. No, faith in God is not a promise that the storms will not come, but instead a promise that those storms will be used in our lives to our benefit, instead of harm, to root us deeper, give us greater stability, and that, too gives manifold results, two of which are listed here. A leaf that does not wither—the foliage of a tree gives it its energy. Deeper rooting nourishes the leaves; nourished leaves stay green and in turn give energy. Finally, there is fruit. Not in our timing, but in God’s timing, there will be fruit. Fruit benefits others, and is also the means by which the tree spreads its seeds. Here then is a promise: Follow the guidelines of this Psalm, and you WILL bear fruit. Maybe not as quickly as you desire, but you WILL bear it in the proper season, and God knows what that proper season is. So, hang in there! Yes it can seem like forever before fruit comes. Yes, there are storms. But storms always end, and as they abate, you will find yourself more deeply rooted, stronger, and energized to face the day. The fruit will come in God’s time…

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June 14, 2005

Today a new chapter begins in my life as I start my first day of classes working towards a PhD in History. Truth be told, I’m scared to death. I was a pastor for over twelve years. Missions work before that, and six years of advanced study to get the proper credentials. In twelve years of pastoral work, though, I learned a few things about myself, about my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned that I love to teach, love to study, love to write. I learned that I absolutely love people. But I also learned that I am not wired to be a pastor. I lack some emotional strengths that are needed for the job. And that’s Ok; God made me like He did, and so, time to move on. Part of me grieves leaving the pastorate, but all of me knows it is the right thing to do. Transition times, though, do have dangers, and so this week I have found myself returning to Psalm One many times. That is what I’d like to focus on for the next few days, in that it gives such great insights regarding keeping the proper path, regardless of one’s vocation.

Psalm One

1. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor Stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

3. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor Sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.


Verse one gives us an interesting digression of progression in the manner in which we may choose those things which are opposed to God. By avoiding these, we find ourselves “blessed”—a word which carries the meaning, literally, of “one who enjoys a state of happiness by virtue of favor being bestowed by one who is superior”. The first digression of progression then is to walk in the counsel of the wicked. The word “wicked” used here does not necessarily mean those who are to the core evil in all their intents: instead, it refers to a person who simply has little or no regard for God, but instead lives to satisfy his or her passions or desires—a spiritually superficial individual. This is not the kind of person whose counsel should be walked in, whose opinions should influence the direction of our lives. Moving on, to be a sinner is to fall short of the Glory of God—we’re all sinners. The inference here though is that of one who actively chooses this as a lifestyle. To stand in their path is to get swept up in the tide of those walking that path. Finally, the most passive of this triad, is to simply sit in the seat of scoffers. A scoffer is usually a passive individual; passively aggressive. These are the types who find fault with the dreams, plans, goals, desires of others, and who discourage others from pursuing them. They are the weak individuals whose egos feed on the fallen dreams of others. They do not actively destroy, but instead they discourage others from pursuing what is good. Surround yourself with scoffers, your dreams will die. Remain among them long enough, and you will become a murderer of the dreams of others. Although there is a clear progression here, there is also an interesting parallelism: whether one actively destroys, or misdirects, or discourages one from doing what one should, the result is the same—these are the type of people who seek to prevent, by commission or omission, others from moving forward, and in any venture in you life, be it new or ongoing, these are the type of people to avoid. Who we associate with, the voices we choose to listen to, is to a great degree a matter of choice! This choice directly effects not only our productivity and direction in life, but also our relationship with God. A sobering thought. Who do you listen to? Tomorrow, the contrast—verse 2!

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June 13, 2005

It’s been a damp spring here which means perfect conditions for lightning bugs! You should have seen them in our back yard tonight, literally hundreds of them. It looked from a distance like a bunch of children playing with sparklers. Lightning bugs are also called fireflies, but that is a misnomer—they aren’t flies at all, but beetles. And, if you’ve ever caught a lightning bug, then you know that they are really, really ugly little critters! Seriously, some beetles, like ladybugs, are kinda cute. No one would say that about a lightning bug however. Still, I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t like the lowly lightning bug. Lightning bugs flash their lights, embarrassingly located on their rears, in order to attract a mate. There are many different species of lightning bug, each species having its own pattern of flashing light. The females typically cling to low lying branches, while the males do the flying. As a male flashes his species specific pattern, if there is a female of the same species nearby who is interested in romance, then she will flash back in like pattern. The rapidity of the pattern will increase the closer the two come together, and if all goes well, in a few months there will be baby lightning bug larva burrowing into the ground. Ahh, Amore’! Amazing, isn’t it, the power of light to attract?

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let you light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.


The lightning bug is not the most attractive of bugs, in fact it’s down right ugly. Yet in shining its light it attracts its lover, and brings joy to millions of humans who happen to look out upon them. You know, there’s a lot to learn here. We have many different ways in which we measure ourselves. Some try to be pretty, but there will always be someone prettier. Some try to be smart, but there will always be another who is smarter. Same with wealth, power, creativity. Relying on these things for self worth, well they will always let one down. But when you let your light shine…the Light of God, now that is something different! People will never glorify God due to your beauty, or wealth, or intelligence, but when they see the light of God in you, that is a powerful attractant! So don’t worry about those who seemingly excel above you in certain respects. Let your light shine out, and you will change the world.

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June 10, 2005

It’s Friday, and you’ve made it through another week. Were there times when you wondered if you would? Sometimes the mundane seems as if it will suffocate us, only to be followed by a crisis that makes us wonder if we will explode…and you made it through the week! In the warp and woof of the fabric that is our lives, God can often seem like another “to do”. A guilt trip of good intentions, failed in application. But that feeling, well that is just a lie, for God wants our time with Him to be a joy, not a burden. As Oswald Chambers remarked “The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.” Man, I could not have said it better. God’s work is always accomplished in God’s strength, not ours. Consider if you will a length of pipe: Yes, it can be used as a bludgeon, but that does no good for anyone! Or it can be used for its intended purpose, namely as a conduit for water—water which can cleanse, which can refresh. If doing the work of God seems a daunting guilt trip, remember that God never intended for you to be operating out of your strength, but instead simply to be a conduit for His.

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also 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.


Yup, you’ve made it through another week. And with great confidence you can face this day knowing that whatever crosses your path, God is more than willing and able to give you the strength to meet it, and to triumph. The man who works from God’s strength will never burn out! Press On! Hold on to Christ, and He will do His work through you…and in you!

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June 8, 2005

When I became a Pastor, I did so for a very specific reason: The Word of God not only had changed my life, but continued (and still continues) to change it every time I spent (or spend) a moment in it. I wanted desperately to help others experience that life changing power. The longer I remained in the pastorate, however, the more I found that very few people indeed really wanted to have their lives changed. What most seemed to want was to simply have what they had chosen to believe years ago, right or wrong, simply affirmed, over and over and over again. Drove me nuts. We cannot grow without change; that is a fact. And truth be told, even my dogs are happiest when they are learning something new, be it walking on lead or advanced obedience. Oh that we would have the sense of a dog! Frankly, It sadly seems that Bertrand Russell was correct in stating “Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do.” Here are a few great truths many have overlooked of late: Worship is a lifestyle, not a time. Sunday morning is about corporately worshiping God, not “feeling good”, and finally, your pastor is not your Bible, nor can you delegate your study of God’s word to Him—Your time in God’s word is your responsibility! Here’s a passage we looked at a few months back—it bears looking at again:

1st Thessalonians 5:16-22

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.


Yes, examine everything carefully! That means THINK! Hold everything, including your long held beliefs (prejudices?) up to the mirror that is the Word of God. Remember, Christianity is not a branch of a political party, nor is it a PAC, nor is it a set of behaviors, nor is it a dress code (Yeah, you may be an evangelical, but that doesn’t mean you have to dress like one!). And above all, it is not a life that can be lived vicariously through another—even your pastor. In fact, if you want to encourage your pastor, what you can do that will probably thrill him more than anything else is to let him know that you are studying on your own, meditating on your own, praying on your own, hey, maybe even ask him how you can pray for him! You are responsible for your relationship with God. You are responsible to pray, and to remember that the purpose of prayer is not to change circumstance, but to bring Glory to God. Do not delegate your thinking, do not delegate your relationship with God.

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June 7, 2005

Monday. Sleep last night was fitful, if it came at all. Traffic was bad coming into work today. Less than half of the items on this weekends “to do” list were completed. How are you going to get through this day, let alone this week? True, when we look only at what we can see, this world can be a frustrating, if not terrifying, place. And yet, if any of us stopped to think about it, we would all agree that the most powerful forces in this life are those things which cannot be seen, touched. Example? Love. Another example? Consider the wind. Great in its power to drive sand to blast away even mountains, to push the sea ahead in a huge hurricane, or to simply provide a needed wisp of cooling on a hot day, or to waft the fragrance of your lovers perfume across your nose. You can not see the wind, but you can see its effects. Another example? God. And yet, when we make our decisions, day to day; the choices which will affect the bearing of our lives, too often we are much more apt to look at those things we can see, and ignore the much more powerful “intangibles”. That, my friend, is not a life lived in faith. A life lived in faith makes decisions by exactly such intangibles as a prayerful leading. Fasting and seeking God’s will. Or, simply, what is right, verses what is expedient, what is the pragmatic thing to do. Ray Bradbury, the very gifted author, put it this way: “Sometimes you’ve got to jump off cliffs and grow your wings on the way down.” Point well made. A life of faith, a life where decisions are made on the intangibles of our existence, well that is a life where one does assume that the wings will grow… There was a time when the whole nation of Israel had been taken into captivity, year later, upon their return to their land; they were to rebuild the temple. Resources seemed unavailable. How were they to accomplish this task, which did not fit the norm of common sense?

Zechariah 4:6

…Then he answered and said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.


Ok, are you more likely to approach life from the strengths, the might’s, the powers, in your decision making, or instead to make your decisions by prayer, yielding to God’s Spirit? Really, do you want a life that makes sense, or a life that makes a difference? I am in my mid forties. Looking back on life, those who have had the greatest, most positive impact on my life, and brought the most beauty to it, have been those who have been willing to walk by faith, not by sight. How will you make it then, through this day…this week…

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June 6, 2005

Priorities, priorities, what are they, really? The two most telling metrics as to one’s priorities really come down to this: an individual’s day timer (PDA, whatever) and an individual’s checkbook. In other words, where do we spend our time, and where do we spend our money? All too often in this day and age, we are trying to manage lives of too many priorities, instead of making the time to proactively choose what we shall invest our lives, our resources into. Tomas Merton noted of this “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of contemporary violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.” And I couldn’t agree more. Even more disturbing, I see this violence inflicted increasingly on younger and younger members of our population. Children anymore are enrolled in every form of extracurricular activity, to the point where they are masters of none of them. They are following their parents example of being unable to say no, and in so doing we have failed to teach them how to protect what is truly important, what is truly a priority. In other words, in failing to say “no” to that which needs to be denied, we are succumbing to violence, and allowing that which is important in our lives to be overrun by that which is simply urgent, and teaching our children to do the same. Joshua was a man with a difficult job description: military leader, head of a nation, author. As instructions for how to handle such monumental responsibility, God basically told Joshua that it really came down to his priorities. Take a look.

Joshua 1:8-9

This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.


Here’s an interesting exercise—take just two or three minutes to jot down your top three or four priorities. Now, yesterday and this past weekend, would your calendar and your checkbook exemplify a commitment to what you just wrote down? Here’s the deal—for something, someone to really be a priority, that needs to be a conscious, proactive decision. What, whom, do you choose today? What will you say “no” to so that can happen?

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June 3, 2005

It’s Friday, you made it through another week, time to laugh. I was listening last week to a report by NPR on an act of violence in Iraq against ethnic Turks and Kurds men….Except the announcer didn’t say “ethnic Turks and Kurds men”—he swapped the first two most important consonants…I almost drove into the ditch laughing so hard. Easy mistake to make—I’ve done similar embarrassing things in my life. One of the things I find very amusing is what makes it into print, especially in “good” papers—The NY Times, Washington Post etc. Believe me, I have nothing against these papers, and I know what it is to have to write in a hurry! However, consider some of the redundancies encountered: “Oddly peculiar”—as if there is a normative for peculiar—and then the close kin to the above “Abnormally strange”—yes, those both made it into print. Then there are those that deal with deceit—“Deceitful lie”, Deceptive lie”, and “Misleading lie”—well, isn’t it good we know that these lies are in fact misleading! One of my favorite which one hears very often and I heard on the news this morning, a story about an “Armed gunman”. So if you need to distinguish between two gunmen, and one is a double amputee… Not that all redundancy is bad, Not that all redundancy is bad, but really! Still, as funny as these examples are, don’t we, very often times, try to add our own spiritual redundancies? In some small or large way, isn’t there a part of us that feels that we must add to the work that Christ has already done? In other words, having placed your faith in Christ for forgiveness, isn’t there a small part of you that now wants to “earn” your way? Point blank let me say this: If you are depending on anything other than God’s Grace in order to gain His favor, you will be sorely disappointed!

Ephesians 3:2-3

This and only this thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?


There is forgiveness and rest in Christ. Any attempt to “earn” our way closer to God comes simply down to pride…feeling that we have made ourselves “better” than our neighbor, and then trusting in some great spiritual scale to weigh the difference. Rest in Christ. To know the Grace of Christ, that is an incredible thing. Adam knew Eve, and a child was born. When we really know Christ, a new life is born as well. It is after all very different to know a person than to know about a person! Here’s the most important question in you life to ponder then—Do you know Christ, or simply know about Him? Have a great weekend!

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June 2, 2005

It’s not politically correct to say in Church circles, but frankly, can’t God sometimes seem a bit…distant? I mean really, wouldn’t He be a bit easier to believe in if we lived during the time of Christ, and constantly saw miracles? How about that water into wine trick? Why don’t we get to see that? Gregory the Great once noted “All men wonder to see water turned into wine… Every day the earth’s moisture, being drawn into the vine, is turned by the grape into wine, and no man wonders.” We still live in an age of miracles, It’s just that we, or maybe I should speak only for myself, I, am just too jaded to see them. Yes, God does still reveal Himself to us, just look around.

Romans 1:19-20

…because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.


It has been said before that 90% of mankind is asleep, but those who are awake live in a state of pure, constant amazement. Want to see a miracle? Look in a mirror, or close your eyes, and picture the face of someone you love. Now that’s a miracle! One of the greatest gifts a man can receive from God is a sense of wonder as to this life He has given us. Do you have that? Do you want it? Ask God for eyes to see, and he will reveal His wonder to you. Life…Love…I’m not sure which is the greater miracle….

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June 1, 2005

You know, Sometimes things can just seem unfair. A teacher can work long hours, struggle to be relevant to his or her students, and just eak out a living, while a certain actress can make a million dollars (literally) by saying “That’s hot!” Sometimes one (translated “I”) can fixate on the apparent injustices of life, of course all the while forgetting while so doing how greatly blessed we really are! Throughout history, however, many others have noticed this problem. The great poet, W. H. Auden noted of this propensity in a curative way “You and I are here to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don’t know.” Auden did have a sense of humor! However the point was made—It really doesn’t matter what the crowd is doing, or how others may appear to be getting much more doing much less—You and I have our marching orders, so follow them! David made note of this same issue when he penned (papyrussed?) Psalm 37:

Psalm 37:7-9

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.


Yes, the justice of the Lord does bend towards mercy, but His justice will be carried out—in His time, not ours. So what then of the apparent injustices, of those who seem to prosper while adding nothing to society? They are not your concern. What is the path God has set for you? That is your concern. And my friend, remember that paths are made to be walked, not simply stood in while gawking. Take then the path that God has for you; it is uniquely yours. Wait for the Lord, and He will guide your steps.

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