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Psalm 65: Take Heart

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Life is full of such uncertainty.

I think to myself, what bliss to have complete control, supremacy. And yet, no amount of wishing changes the disturbing reality of my frailty. Life happens – triumph and tragedy – and so much of it without consulting me in the least.

So we are left to flail about, groping for any speck of perceived power we can harness.

Or, we can marvel at our Maker. We can see in the majesty of mountains and the opulence of oceans His benevolent heart and hands securing and sustaining our feeble lives. He literally holds us together when all is falling apart.

Take heart. The breath-taking magnificence displayed in all of creation is but a glimpse of the infinite power exerted by the God of our salvation on our behalf each and every day.

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Psalm 58: Venting

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Have you ever come home bloodied by a bully? Do you know the pain of heartless torment? Can you remember enduring abuse, helpless against cruel aggression?

That kind of suffering scars the soul like nothing else. It’s confusing, humiliating, excruciating, and enraging. Those afflicted this way are desperate for deliverance, but they want more. Vengeance seems a sweet antidote for injustice, a passionate plea made by the least of these.

Imprecatory prayers (as they’re called), cries for harm against one’s enemies are not forbidden, but neither are they encouraged. Perhaps they are allowed for the purpose of ridding our hearts of resentment. Venting the venom of retribution makes room for the miracle of mercy.

Our Father in heaven allows us to honestly unload our bitter baggage and assures us that He is more than able to exact justice with perfection. We can release our tormentors to God’s capable care and walk a path of restoration full of freedom and hope. In time, we might find ourselves praying again for our enemies … pleading with God for their welfare instead of their ruin. (Matthew 5:43-45)

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Be Careful Out There

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It is intoxicating for those who drink it in, a rush that can inflate the mildest of personalities. But it leaves a stench in the nostrils of those who must endure it, or at the very least, observe it. It often taints what would otherwise be celebrated, admired and enjoyed. Strangely enough, it is easily recognized in others, but nearly impossible to self-diagnose.

I’m talking about P.R.I.D.E.

It goes by many names – arrogance, haughtiness, self-importance, hubris, vanity, and conceit – but in essence, pride is holding a higher view of one’s self than one should. In addition, it is also accompanied by a lower view of others than that which ought to held by fellow human beings. Ultimately, it is to assign a measure of importance to ourselves that rightly belongs only to God.

Pride forgets that we were formed from the dust of the earth, and it is to dust we shall return (Genesis 3). It assumes that our importance is the outcome of our own accomplishments, rather than the fruit of bearing God’s image, a gift given to all without distinction.

Make no mistake, this is an equal opportunity offense. Pride exists in every pocket of society regardless of how prosperous or poverty-stricken people may be. We all have a knack for striving after comparative superiority whether at the top or bottom of worldly achievement. For some, it’s large and in charge. For others, it lurks behind a congenial façade. Either way, and everything in between, the human condition is plagued with an independent spirit that longs to go its own way.

King Solomon offers a grave warning; a sobering admonition intended to deflate an ego destined for serious damage.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

Arrogance is the Achilles heel of even the smallest degree of human greatness. It spoils the grandest of stories by transforming heroes into fools. Dress vanity up, put a good face on it, cover the stench with a fresh fragrance, and you still got a hot mess waitin to happen.

We are in our greatest danger when we are full of ourselves instead of humility. Pride dismisses our utter dependence upon the strength, wisdom and grace of God, and leaves us vulnerable to the defects of our own designs. To be sure, a haughty spirit doesn’t ensure an immediate fall – some ride their ego above the fray for years – but it ensures an inevitable fall. Hubris of any kind may very well work a room or work a plan, but it always withers the soul.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating victories. Success is an outcome worthy of congratulations. Our risk comes with finding significance in what we do, particularly when surpassing others, rather than in how we are seen by our heavenly Father, quite apart from our performance.

A word to the wise (for all of us!), “…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

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Choose

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

We all have the freedom to do what we want to do, but then we’re left with the consequences of our choices. Wisdom is all about recognizing the choices before us, understanding the consequences of those choices, and then choosing the path which best leads us to God’s glory and our good.

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Psalm 90: Fading Flowers

Posted by on Jun 10, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

flowerLet this sink in.

Your life, as full and busy and chaotic and entertaining and timeless as it seems; it truly is just a blink of the eye. Think of it like a breath. There’s eternity … and then there’s your moment; your speck of time in all of time.

As minuscule as that moment is, it is gigantically valuable; monumentally significant. Each day matters not only for that day, but forever. Seriously, forever. What you do with it, how you invest it, the purpose for which you live it is a really big deal.

Waywardness is wearisome. Complacency is costly. Rebellion against the Creator of all things can only lead to deep regret. Perhaps you’ve already tasted some of that.

Our days were given us by God to treasure; like freshly cut flowers from a doting husband. And yet, they are so easily squandered. Oh that we would grow to appreciate the vast potential waiting to be realized every time the sun rises on our “moment” in history. I have a hunch it would change our lives for the better.

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Playing By The Rules

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

refereePick your sport, any sport; there is a basic level of understanding you have to have if you want to play. Every sport has its own unique set of rules, equipment, positions, time constraints, field of play, eligible players, scoring, etc.

You can’t touch the ball with your hands in soccer (“football” outside the U.S.), unless throwing in from out-of-bounds, or if you are a goalie in the box. You can’t run with the disc in Ultimate Frisbee. Stealing is OK in baseball (as long as it’s only a base). And there are no shortcuts in Triathlon; you have to stay on the course.

The unique characteristics of each sport set them apart from one another. In other words, when you cease to play by the rules of a particular sport, you are no longer playing that sport; you are doing something else. It may look or seem similar, but it isn’t the same if it doesn’t adhere to the original.

Generally, most people get the above concept when it comes to sport. But when it comes to faith, many in our culture throw that same concept right out the window. The assumption is that our beliefs are private and personal … thoughts which many believe are right and true simply because we have them, not because they align with objective truth.

For example, one of the most common ideas is that “all religions are essentially the same.” The assumption is that what you believe isn’t really as important as simply believing something, as long as you believe it sincerely! That would be like showing up at a tennis court with ice skates and a bat, believing with all your heart that you came ready to play tennis. You would be ready to play something … but it most definitely wouldn’t be tennis.

The fact is, all religions aren’t the same and faith is only as good as its object. Sincerely believing something that is false doesn’t change the fact that the belief is misplaced. You can believe with all your heart that you will float after jumping off a cliff, but your belief doesn’t change the reality of gravity.

Christianity is gracious, for sure, but it is still particular in its foundational distinctives. We’re told from Scripture that Jesus was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life; He can’t be the Savior otherwise. He claimed to be the Messiah prophesied in the book of Isaiah. He was betrayed, tried and condemned unjustly, crucified on a Roman cross, buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathia, and miraculously resurrected on the third day, appearing physically to several hundred people. Those are truth-claims of Christianity that are either true and consequential, or they are false; there’s no in-between.

If they are false, then we are utterly foolish to adhere to anything Christian. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:14–19, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But if the claims of Christianity are true, then they compel us to radically follow Jesus with reckless abandon. That was His simple invitation, “Follow Me.” He said it to first century folks, and He says it to us. While our culture tries to dismiss Christianity or integrate it with every other kind of belief, we are called to stand firm on its uniqueness and graciously invite the people in our circles of influence to place their faith in the one object of faith who alone can deliver eternal life.

May He give us the boldness to do so until He returns.

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