because the more things change the more they stay the same

Archive for January, 2010

>SECOND HAND GLOWS

>“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 NIV).

“Oh, I never go see a movie,” Jane said. “They are way too expensive. I just let my friends tell me what happened. That’s just as good, isn’t it?”

That makes about as much sense as losing weight by listening to how much exercise our friends do. We only truly understand and appreciate an event by first hand experience.

We want to glean information the same way. Through the work and research of others.

With so much information at our fingertips, we want to be in control of our decisions. That is good consumerism. However, assimilation of knowledge will not make us doctors or lawyers anymore than staying in one of those smart hotels.

When Mindy had a pain in her abdomen, she visited a medical website, entered her symptoms and discovered she could have anything from a stomach flu to terminal cancer. When she finally consulted an expert, her doctor put her on a high fiber diet for chronic constipation and the symptoms cleared.

Unfortunately, we approach our spiritual life in much the same way as our search for knowledge. Through second hand resources.

Sheila Walsh says in Women of Faith Devotional Bible, “I think we Christians have become lazy. We would rather read a book about him or how someone else became closer to God than spend time alone with him ourselves. We would rather listen to someone else’s interpretation of the Word of God than read it for ourselves. And yet we alone are accountable for what we believe.”

We rob ourselves of intimacy with God because we stop short with our knowledge about God. He has given us his Word, the power of prayer, and His very presence to lead us into a relationship with Him. Why then do we persist in secondhand Christianity?

Ponder me back

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>When Get Up and Go Gets Up and Goes

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The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we ‘get up and get going.’ God does not give us overcoming life–He gives us life as we overcome.”— Oswald Chambers

Oswald wrote these words a long time ago. How did he know that our culture today would be so draining we’d have problems plodding through our days? So what should I do when my get up and go gets up and goes? Should I simply sit and wait for it to come back? There are days I think it has permanently left the building.

Sometimes my kids would complain that they didn’t feel like going to school. Of course, I dumbly retorted with, “Well, some days I don’t feel like going to work. So what would happen if I didn’t go to work?”

Kids are smarter than that. They equate the job with money. Kids aren’t paid to go to school. So the analogy falls short and the kids’ incentive to attend school is by no means enhanced. So I reverted to the old standby sans rationale…”Get out of bed. You’re going to school because I said so.” After they complied, their agile joints finally got their juices flowing. Often they’d come home saying their day ended up being good afterall.

Often, the body will eventually fall into sync with the mind. Exercise gurus are quick to point out that the feel- good hormone lags behind the action. In other words, the getup and go will return once my get up and go gets going.

I suppose that is true with our spiritual life as well. There are aspects of the Christian life that demand energy often at times when I feel the most depleted. That is when the Father reminds me, “Let his mind be also in you…”

So which comes first? Fortitude or attitude?

Ponder me back.

>I’m Glad I’m a Tree

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The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61: 1 – 3 NIV).

Do you ever think of yourself as a tree? Tall and straight and fully adorned in green leaves? Here God promises to the refuse of the world and use them for His glory. He reaches out to the poor, to the despairing, to the prisoner, to the lost. Whether our circumstances are of our own making, a calamity or catastrophe beyond our imaginings, or because humankind’s rebellion, I believe God wants to make the dark places light, satiate the hungry, and set the captive free.

I believe God intimately knows the brokenhearted and offers renewal. With so great an offer, why are we slow to respond? What captive would not want to be free? What weary traveler would not want to find rest? What disease-ridden soul would not want to be cured?

The Lord asked the paralytic man at the wading pool a seemingly foolish question-Wilt thou be whole? (John 5:6). If he were cured, his life would change dramatically. He had to decide whether to walk in newness or cling to the security of the old. Healing and freedom would catapult him into the unfamiliar.
Perhaps that is why the path to repentance and salvation is so narrow (Matthew 7:13). It is an entrance into a vast unknown and few dare to choose the path.
Let me “leaf” you with this thought:
I believe that God will fashion those who seek to be made whole into a strong and mighty oak amidst His grove. What do you think
Ponder me back

>Irrational Fear

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There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:16).

There’s that word again—fear. Why do I fear that which I cannot control? If God is sovereign, doesn’t He have power over that which causes me to shake in my boots? Is my fear irrational, then? I don’t think its the body’s chemical reaction to unpleasantness that is at issue here.

A reporter interviewed a missionary soon after the devastating earthquake that toppled so much of Haiti. He stated that he’d been in the country thirty years. He’d seen political upheaval, disease, hurricanes, and mudslides. But he had never known this kind of terror in his life.

Preachers exhort, “Do not fear. If you are weak, God will strengthen. If you thirst—God will provide a fountain. If you hunger, God will supply.” But in reality, many wonderful Christians do hunger, thirst, and succumb to the ravages of the flesh. Does God expect us to ignore our human composition when confronted with the terrible?

 If fear is an instinct, as natural as gulping for air after emerging from a fire or climbing out of a deep pool, why does the Bible equate it as a sin? Or does the verse imply that it is a sin to remain in a state of fear?

I wonder if fear is like anger, natural but laden with potential harm if we react to the anger or fear in a way that does not glorify God. Perhaps the one who continues in fear has not yet surrendered that fear to God’s sovereignty. And if we wallow in our fear we are exercising a belief that God has sent the trouble as punishment. Just as the Bible says to be angry and sin not, God reminds the believer there is a solution for fear. We need not nor should we continue in it.

When we do, when we allow uncertainty to paralyze or when we react impulsively, we rob ourselves of God’s provision. We’d rather believe he chastens us than loves us. While he may not remove the circumstance that caused the fear, He will most assuredly carry His child over or through the horrific. If death is the result, then we are forever in His arms. Conversely, when we claim that Love, there is no longer any room for fear.

Ponder me back.

>Hopefully Devoted To You

>Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality (Romans 12:10 – 13).

Susan scowled when Darma was assigned the solo part. “She always gets the solos,” Susan complained to her husband at dinner. “I’m just as good a singer as she is.”
I must confess, when my fellow writers announce their publication successes, I am a lot like Susan. While I extend gracious congratulations, my heart says, “When’s my turn, Lord?” When I read this verse, I am checked.
While neglect and abuse exist, the majority of parents are devoted to their children. They take pride in their accomplishments. They put their children’s needs above their own. Imagine how much stronger families would be if spouses did this for one another?
I wonder what our churches would look like if we were truly devoted to one another as a parent is to a child. As God demonstrates His devotion to us? We could not contain the influx.
Ponder me back

>Advancing the Ball

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May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17 NIV)

With the all the technology in this world, why can’t they invent a bed that makes itself? Why must we toil in fruitless endeavors, wasting our lives away with the mundane? No matter how many dishwashers we have in the house, someone has to load them. And they need to be emptied before they can be used again.

There is always some task screaming at us to be tended to. If it’s not laundry, it’s mending. If it’s not moving the lawn, it’s pulling the weeds. It never fails that as soon as I clean the kitchen, someone in the household has a hankering for a snack. “Leave it alone for an hour at least,” I demand in my best general’s tone. “I’d like to just look at for a few minutes at least.”

I wonder if even the most exciting careers are riddled with the mundane. Sometimes the mundane seems to overshadow what I feel is productivity. I feel like that golfer who hits the ball and watches it hit a tree and go backwards another hundred yards. No wonder the Psalmist worries that his life will be frittered by the mundane and asks God to honor the work of his hands. Ever feel that way?
Ponder me back

>No-quitter Zone

>“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister (Hebrews 6:10 NKJV).

It happened again. A criticism came my way on a new work in progress, jolting my confidence. “Why do I bother to write?” I ask myself. Then another comment came in on the same section that said, “Great writing!” It seems that like so many other areas of our lives, judgment will vary according to who is doing the evaluation..
We’ve done our best. We’ve cast our bread upon the water to the point our heads hurt. And yet the criticisms mount. And we wonder, “Why bother?” The encouragement filters in…suck up. Don’t quit. Keep keeping on. Good advice and so we follow it. But the pain remains.

Like many who receive disappointing news, writers often cope with rejection by self-chastisement, going to the mall, or downing a box of chocolates. Some of us wallpaper our offices with rejection letters or mount them unto a dart board. We collect them for the biggest, best, or funniest rejection story like fishermen glory in the one that got away.
Sometimes within our arsenal of coping mechanisms God will send his encouraging word…always right for the occasion. How has God cushioned you in the throes of discouragement? Let’s cyber clink our coffee cups and frolic in the no-quitter zone.
Ponder me back.

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