Showing posts from 2016
Contentment is a lifestyle.
A lifestyle, I would say, that is not pervasive in our current western culture. After all, one very familiar dictate which has been handed down to us is, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Our inalienable rights.
I like to be happy. But I’d much rather be content. Contentment is a gift from God. Those who spend their lives pursuing their own happiness will never arrive at the peaceful place called content. What you strive to attain, you strive to keep. What you strive to attain is never enough. Really.
The life ruled by the mentality that happiness comes from something you don’t have is insidious, filled with emptiness, and rewarded with grasps at fleeting satisfaction. And this lifestyle is dangerous, for it creates in us an increasing hunger. And for those of us who are weak-willed, that means danger.
In the written account (called the book of Acts) of the early Christian church we see the recounting of a man who I believe was on a journey…
You get what you pay for.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Nothing in life is free.
There are only two things certain in this life, death and taxes.
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Can't complain. No one would listen anyway.

How many of these memorable quotes have you heard? How many have come out of your mouth? How many have you actually believed?

Paul, an apostle of the Christian faith wrote these words of caution in a letter to the church that existed in first century Rome, "Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world ..." He was speaking to a world view, a way of thinking; an adopted outlook on life.

The quotes above make sense; they seem to have some truth to them, an element of sensibility. And they may carry some truth, but they certainly carry much more. Hidden behind their surface meaning exists a philosophy, an attitude, a pattern of thought. Under the covers you'll find words that, in contrast to providing true wisdom or li…
One of Those Days ...

Have you ever had one of those days? Maybe that day has turned into a week, and maybe that week has turned into a month. Or maybe your "one of those days" has turned out to be one of those years. Life is good at handing out disappointments and broken dreams. Our expectations are often easily let down. People fail. We fail.

Some of us have hearts that take on offense more easily than others. We all have different personalities. But even the greatest leader among us, the hero of heroes, can fall prey to discouragement. Even kings fall to it. As people, we may hold a position, but our positions can hold us and put us in the most difficult of situations. Look at king David.

While out fighting battles with his men, David's home base at Ziklag was under attack. The wives and children of his army were taken away, leaving David and his men to return to an empty, burned out city. They were outraged. And they were outraged at David, their leader. There was even …
the voice that matters
We are like antennas constantly bombarded with signals. These signals come in differing forms and frequencies; some we tune in, some we tune out. The source of these signals, of these voices, is multitudinous. The news, our favorite TV show, our coworkers, politicians, books. These all compete for our attention and desire that we heed them. Some of these assertions even come from within. A simple thought, an experience remembered, a familiar feeling; these can vie for our attention just as much as the loudness from without.

Sometimes it can feel like we are shoppers being barraged with sales people, merciless and pushy. My wife and I spent one of our anniversaries in Mexico. As we were on our way out of the airport, a constant flow of people trying to offer us places to stay and taxi rides approached us like a well choreographed dance. My "No, gracias" was perfected that day. It's like that. These voices bombard us, trying to sell us their message.

Some people count sheep to fall asleep. Supposedly.

I couldn't sleep the other night; I had things on my mind. But instead of counting sheep, I started pondering what I like about snow. Odd, right? We New Englanders know snow and we love to complain about it, but that night, I started listing all the things I like about snow. 

It's pretty. The way the moonlight glistens off of it. The way it sits on tree branches. I like the crunch it makes under my feet when it's fresh. And a field of freshly fallen snow seems so pure, untouched and innocent. 

I like the quiet snow brings when it has stopped traffic and the plows haven't hit the road yet. Freshly fallen snow reminds me that He has forgiven me of all my sins and failures and made me as white as it; pure, untouched, beautiful.

I like how snow makes me feel safe in the warmth of my house when it's blowing fiercely and bitterly outside but can't touch me. That night, I found my mind drifting towards rest and peace…
Ifsand Buts
I once had someone tell me that I should stick to playing piano and not sing. It was said very nicely, but still, when you lead worship and someone tells you your voice is not where your gifting is, it hurts.

God has called each one of His children to task. He's prepared good things for us to do, not because He needs slaves, but because He loves to make people happy. You do something good for someone and not only are they happy, you are also happy. It is more blessed to give than to receive. I think most of us have heard that, even outside of the context of church or scripture.

It's true.

There is much good to do in this world, and many hands available, but it seems there are so few who actually jump into the mess to help clean it up. Why? Maybe we're like Moses, called to speak, but not a good speaker.

Remember the story? The LORD calls to Moses from a burning bush and tells him to go and speak to the king of Egypt, to Pharaoh himself. Moses' response?

Moses s…
An Adventure
God has got us on an adventure. And that's a perspective. In this life, we can look at our challenges as difficulties, the Murphy's law attitude, or, we can embrace the promises of God and see our difficulties and plan changes as what they really are for the child of God - adventures. As Chuck Swindoll said so succinctly, "life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it". True.

The delayed flight, the cancelled appointment, the unexpected surgery. Our challenges are many and varied. Yet God has a hand in them all; they are a part of this grand adventure the child of God finds himself on.

My wife and I were recently scheduled to fly to Manila. We packed. We prepared. We arrived at the airport early. We were denied check-in. I was denied check-in. A big mess- up on the ticket. The name on my passport didn't match the name on my ticket and the ticket had to be re-issued with the correct information. That was confirmed by the airlines as being done…
Hidden away in every living thing is a genetic plan; a blue print holding the design of a finished product. From a frog to an oak tree, from a squirrel to a rose, from a bird to a human; inside each of these resides the genetic material that instructs an organism how to grow and reproduce. Inside what starts out as a small and vulnerable creature, lies the instructions to carry that creature to its full destiny - a road map to its purpose and maturity. 

I took a walk in the woods recently. Surrounding me were tall, immovable pine trees. Their strength was massive and I had to strain my neck to see the end of their height. They are impressive creations. But they don't start that way; their beginnings are far less remarkable.

With barely a thought, I could easily bend or even uproot a pine sapling. It rises insignificantly above the forest floor; threat-less and barely worth a glance. It is cute. It is soft. But what it starts off as is barely an indication of what it is to become.…
Old Hymn, New Song
I've had an old hymn on my heart lately. It's a beautiful song written by C. Austin Miles, penned in the early 1900's. The lyrics for the chorus of the song go like this,

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

You may recognize this song titled, In the Garden. The words were written in a damp cellar (not in a garden) after C. Austin Miles had had a vision of Mary visiting the tomb of Jesus after his death. The melody and the verses are just as powerful as the chorus. I'm sure many could tell of what this song means to them and how it has impacted their lives. What jumps out to me, though, are the words, And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. None other has ever known.

At first, the line of the song seems untrue. Many have known depth of relationship with Jesus, haven't they? Isn't this something that we, as Christians, boast i…
the end of the line
Some of us are naturally stronger than others. There are those who can accomplish great things because of their strong charisma or keen business sense; the Bill Gates and Donald Trumps of the world. Their elite training, personality makeup, and drive bring them to places that many of us do not go. Their natural boundaries and limitations seem to go beyond the horizon; beyond what we can see.

Then there are those of us whose boundaries are not so elusive. They seem to be in front of us at all times, mocking our weakness and deflating our self-esteem. The weak hit their natural limitations sooner, sometimes much sooner, than the strong. But whether your boundary is seemingly limitless, or whether it is easily in view, God has given each of us the opportunity to cross from our strength into His strength; from the natural to the super natural.

At some point in our lives all of us reach the end of the line, where the train called my ability can go no further.

Many amazing t…
His Selection

"... we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world ..."

We can choose to rejoice in the day, even if it's a rough day. We have the choice to stand in one of two places. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but God works all things together for our good. I'm going to choose the God working all things together for your good. What about you? What will you choose? Loss or gain? As His child, both options are open to you; they really are.

This life is not a series of random events as Darwinism would have us believe. Natural selection is replaced by spiritual selection; you are a chosen child of God, selected and adopted. He walked into the orphanage, saw you, and said, "I want this child, I choose (your name here)." We are chosen. We are not at the mercy of the cosmos, we are in the hands of a sovereign God; a loving, all-powerful, sovereign God. 

Family time can be a rough time…
This is My Ugly
Pour out your heart to him - psalm 62:8

Empty it completely. Leave nothing behind. Not one drop of bad attitude, not one secret sin, not a single dream or feeling of accomplishment. God wants it all, not for His sake, but for yours. You see, you can be honest with God. That hidden sin that nobody knows about? He sees it. The attitude you have towards your children, boss, or pastor? God hears it as if you were yelling it out at the top of your lungs. God knows it all, and he wants you to know He knows it all.

Exposing our hearts has never been easy. Opening up can be scary. Who likes to be rejected? Our past hurts and rejections has helped to pay the salary of many a psychologist. But as any good counselor will tell you, holding it in, bottling it up, is a sure recipe for impending explosion. So pour it out; pour it out before God.

The psalm I quoted at the opening actually begins with the words, "Trust in Him at all times, O people." One of the greatest expressio…
the pain of removing a sliver
Nothing struck horror in the heart of my children more than their mother approaching them with a glistening silver needle between her fingers to remove a sliver from their finger. I know what they were probably thinking, (actually, what I thought as a child), "Leave it, it will grow out eventually. It's really not that painful." The thought of the process of removing the sliver brought more pain than the sliver itself.

But, as parents, we knew the sliver needed to be removed to avoid the risk of infection and to remove the pain our children would feel every time something touched the area of their wound. Some things are just necessary, no matter how painful; necessary for us to function normally, necessary for us to be at our optimum us.

The pain of rejection can be agonizing. The pain of rejection by someone in authority can be even more agonizing. It is a sliver in our hearts.It's one thing to be cast aside by a peer, but quite another to…
Does God Speak?
I like Start Trek, Voyager. I watch it at lunch time. Please don't think less of me for that. The episode I was watching today hit a chord in my heart. A group of humanoids were trapped in stasis, kept alive by a computer simulation that played a virtual reality in their minds through an advanced technology. Without these people noticing it, their deep seated fears gradually surfaced and became part of the simulation. Soon, their fear became so strong that it took the form of a clown and took over the simulation, ruling their minds mercilessly. They were trapped by their fears personified.

Does God hear us when we pray? Does He speak to us?

Well, He spoke to me through that episode of Star Trek; through a TV show some would call silly. Amazing what God can use to speak to us. I know one young lady who would agree with me. God can and does speak to us. 

My daughter Heidi had some difficult decisions to make. Life course changes. Which option should she take? Should she …