Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Ships were not built
to float safely in the harbor.
Step out of my comfort zone?
Offer compassion… 
...receive *gulp* compassion?
It’s not as easy as it looks,
and it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should.

   [kuhm-pash-uhn]  noun
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

   The nurse’s aide assisted the elderly woman to the commode, giving support as needed.  When she was able to manage on her own, the helper turned her back for a few moments until her services were needed once again.  After being tucked into her bed, the frail woman looked tenderly into her helper’s eyes.  “You’re the only one who has ever turned away… Thank you.” 
    Living in an elderly care facility, receiving a medical exam, or being hospitalized; these unfortunately initiate a variety of awkward situations and invasions of personal space.  The nurse’s assistant imagined herself in a similar circumstance, receiving respectful and courteous care.  Her simple act of compassion toward preserving the dignity of another carried significance for both of them. 
   Elements of shame in the face of compassion invited response, but could not insist upon a happy ending.  Yet in the wake of obedience, they both can trust the Author of compassion to bring honor and joy to their shared interaction.

   The man was not caught off guard by attitudes of apathy or expressions of anger.  Instead, he saw unique abilities and potential for a bright future hidden behind the dull, despondent eyes of the boy who was soon to be a man.  Their tutoring sessions provided more than academic assistance.  The man had walked in shoes of the same color not too many years before, paving the way for empathy to connect their hearts.  
   Elements of regret in the face of compassion invited response, but could not insist upon a happy ending.  Yet in the wake of obedience, they both can trust the Author of compassion to bring inspiration and trust to their relationship.

   She did not desire to create hurt feelings, yet her friend’s persistent questions could no longer allow her to evade sharing what she knew to be true.  After seeking godly counsel and spending time in prayer, she relayed to her friend some reservations she had in regard to their relationship which she knew would not be easy for her friend to receive.  The risk of rejection loomed nearby in the shadow of their awkward encounter.  She knew potential existed for formation of a deeper relationship, for she understood how difficult it was to receive correction herself. 
   Elements of risk in the face of compassion prompted response, but could not insist upon a happy ending.  Yet in the wake of obedience, they both can trust the Author of compassion to bring healing and newness to their friendship.

   The waitress made her rounds warming cups of freshly brewed coffee, tossing bits of conversation here, teasing and laughter there.  “You look like you could use a nap, darlin’.  Why don’t y’all stretch out on that booth there and catch a few winks”, and to another; “You ain’t up to drivin’ home, sweet pea’.  I’ll be getting’ off work here pretty soon; I can take ya’ home.  You want cream and sugar, hun’?”
   The young college student took a seat a few tables over from where the homeless man sat with hands cradling a steaming cup.  Pulling paper and pen from his jacket pocket, he sketched the man’s likeness.  Then striking up a conversation about the weather, it wasn’t long before stories began to flow; tales of the good old days, a career gone awry, memories of Vietnam.  “What’s that y’ got there, son?”
   Unfolding the sketch, he handed it to the man.  A broad grin set eyes to twinkling, “Well now, would ya’ lookie there.  That’s me, ain’t it!  Hey Emma, c’mon over here a minute!” 
   Self-respect, confidence, feelings of value, an optimistic future; each one is apt to be illusive on any given day.  The burdens of some weigh more heavily, stealing joy and clouding hope.  We all are needy, and we all need to be needed.  Simple touches of compassion can trigger reminders of worth, of hope for a new day, and expose a cloud’s silver lining.
   Elements of the unknown in the face of compassion invited response, but could not insist upon a happy ending.  Yet in the wake of obedience, they can trust the Author of compassion to bring courage and perspective to their newfound acquaintance.

   [pash-uhn]  noun
compelling desire; intense fervor; powerful emotion or feeling

     [kom]  prefix
with; together

   Galadriel, also bearing a ring of power, experienced tremendous struggle but did not yield to its enticement.  “You are the bearer of the ring.  This task was appointed to you.  And if you do not find a way, no one will.”1  
   Her words of encouragement to Frodo were spoken from her heart of compassion, for they shared a common compelling desire, a mutual passion….
1(Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien)

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
for His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.” 
~Lamentations 3:22

Monday, February 27, 2012

Saying it louder...

Saying it louder doesn't make it right.

When you attempt to talk to someone who speaks in a foreign language,
do you say the same words over and over again, only louder?
C’mon, admit it…. You know you do!
Many people do.

We instinctively know that
increased vocal volume, along with reduced tongue velocity,
must somehow stimulate clarity and enhance comprehension...

…but in reality, it doesn’t help at all;
our words continue to be received as gibberish.

Speaking louder,
acting more spiritual,
being more dominating,
seeming more self-assured,
manipulating with psychology,
triggering emotional hot spots,
using skillfully persuasive oratory…

Is truth defined by winning?

“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?  
Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
and speaks truth in his heart. 
He does not slander with his tongue…” 
~Psalm 15:1-3

Is effective conveyance of the Gospel dependent upon the brilliance
of my communication?

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,
not in cleverness of speech,
so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.”
~1 Corinthians 1:17

“For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. 
But even if I am unskilled in speech,
yet I am not so in knowledge;
in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things….
…As the truth of Christ is in me,
this boasting of mine will not be stopped…”
~2 Corinthians 11:5,6,10

Is it always right to be right?

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but do not have love,
I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
~1 Corinthians 13:1

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Better late than never

Better late than never.

Upon reading this old adage,
the first person that came to mind was the thief on the cross.

His life displayed a series of poor choices
which led to destructive behavior… and then he got caught.

He did not deny his wrong doing or avoid blame;
he acknowledged his hopeless estate and that he was receiving what he deserved.

“One of the criminals who were hanged there 
was hurling abuse at Him,
saying, 'Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!'
But the other answered, and rebuking him said,
'Do you not even fear God,
since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 
And we indeed are suffering justly,
for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds;
but this man has done nothing wrong...'” 
~Luke 23:39-41

The thief not only recognized Jesus’ innocence,
he also identified that Jesus was completely without sin,
that Jesus’ authority was equivalent to that of God,
and that God’s kingdom belonged to Jesus.

“…And he was saying,
'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!'
And He said to him,
'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”
~Luke 23:42,43

God’s grace and gift of life were extended to the thief right then and there.

*      *       *
Better late than never
…may also allude to another manner
in which Jesus drove home an important life lesson to those He loved.

“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus
of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… 
…So the sisters sent word to Him, saying,
'Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.'
But when Jesus heard this, He said,
'This sickness is not to end in death,
but for the glory of God,
so that the Son of God may be glorified by it...'"

It’s hard to imagine a more difficult tragedy or agonizing sorrow
than the one which was about to occur.

“…Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 
So when He heard that he was sick,
He then stayed two days longer 
in the place where He was...”

If Jesus loved Lazarus, then
why wait two days longer?

“...Jesus then said to [His disciples] plainly, 'Lazarus is dead,
and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there,
so that you may believe;
but let us go to him…'” 

Plainly, there were two options presented;
take Jesus at His word … or don’t believe Him.

Here are several of the people’s reactions;
unfortunately each is very common to this day…

The Martyr Reaction
“Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

The Informed Reaction
“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

The Reasoning Reaction
“Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man,
have kept this man also from dying?”

The Write-It-Off-As-Done
and Let’s-Move-On Reaction
“Lord, by this time there will be a stench,
for he has been dead four days.”

This next phrase is going to sound familiar because Jesus purposefully repeated it,
reinforcing, highlighting, underlining, emphasizing,
…stressing over and over and over again…

“Did I not say to you that if you believe,
you will see the glory of God?” 

“So they removed the stone.
Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said,
‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 
“I knew that You always hear Me;
but because of the people standing around I said it,
so that they may believe that You sent Me.’
When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice,
‘Lazarus, come forth.’ The man who had died came forth…

“Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary,
and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”
~John 11:1-43

Jesus was late… on purpose.
   Lazarus was totally and completely dead… beyond a shadow of a doubt.
      All possibilities of hope for Lazarus were eliminated.
         Only God could conquer death and create life.
            God was glorified as a result of Jesus being late… on purpose.
               God knows what He’s doing.
                  We don’t.
                     We can trust Jesus… completely.

Did I stutter or...

Did I stutter or are your ears flappin’?
Listening is not just a valuable relational skill
or best business practices.

Listening is an essential part of prayer,
and the key to access the ability to hear
and to be heard
is God Himself.

Selective Hearing
“And they said to Moses,
‘You speak to us, and we will listen;
but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’”

Too Self-Absorbed to Listen
“If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.”

Drawing Near to Hear
“Whoever is of God
hears the words of God.
The reason why you do not hear them
is that you are not of God.” 
~John 8:47

Listening with Respect
“Know this, my beloved brothers:
let every person be quick to hear,
slow to speak, slow to anger.”
~ James 1:19

Prayerful Listening
“He who has an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…”
~Revelation 2:7

Able and Attentive Listener
“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:23

Completely Dependent Listener
“My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them, and they follow Me.
I give them eternal life,
and they will never perish,
and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

Invaluable Listening Skills
“My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord 
and find the knowledge of God.”

Costs and Benefits of Listening
“Take care then how you hear,
for to the one who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
~Luke 8:18

Listening Pleasure
 “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!”
~Deuteronomy 32:1-3

God Listens
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will
He hears us.”
~1 John 5:14

God Always Hears
“So they removed the stone [from Lazerus’ tomb]. 
Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said,
“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
“I knew that You always hear Me;
but because of the people standing around
I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
~John 11:41,42

Words of Life Received
“But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word
that comes from the mouth of God.’”
~Matthew 4:4

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's not the size of the dog..

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight;
it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

When you think of ‘the fight’ as applied to Biblical personalities,
do you think of David slaying Goliath?
or of Gideon with his 300 men conquering thousands?
or of Moses leading millions through the parted Red Sea?

How about others in ‘the fight’, the ones less famous,
who also acted with courageous valor in obedience to God.

The fight of plotting and wits
“And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.’  But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, ‘Yes the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.  It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went.  Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them…  Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before… When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath…’”  ~Joshua 2:1-11

The resourceful fight
“After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.”  ~Judges 3:31

The passionate fight
of brute strength
“When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him.  And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands.  He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand 
men with it." ~Judges 15:14,15

The fight of tremendous risk
“And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.  Thus the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.” ~2 Samuel 6:11

The fight to value godliness
over expectations
“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot… said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?’  …Jesus said, 
‘Let her alone…’” ~John 12:3

The vigilant prayerful fight
for hope beyond death
"Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.  And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died… So Peter arose and went with them… all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.  But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’  And she 
opened her eyes…”  ~Acts 9:36-40

Each of these fights were won
not because of any super-human strength,
amazing skills, or remarkable intellect.

Each fight displayed God’s miraculous power
through acts of submission, obedience, trust,
and an intensely focused passion for God.

Waging War

A string of facts
does not add up to the truth.
…nor do self-defined, self-perpetuated substitutes for truth.

“Gemini are extremely independent. They will not be pinned down by anyone or any rules. They need to experience the world on their own. Change and freedom are extremely important to Gemini, they will never let anyone dictate them, they are extremely independent and freedom is essential to their mental well being.”  (http://zodiac-signs-astrology.com/zodiac-signs/gemini.htm)

“For although they knew God,
they did not honor him as God
or give thanks to Him,
but they became futile in their thinking,
and their foolish hearts were darkened.  
Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” 
~Romans 1:21-22

Truth is Truth,
we must be…

Taken Captive by Truth
“…How thankful that we have the truth of scripture to carry us.  Our weapons are not of this world....thoughts that would normally slay the joy of our living can be brought into captivity by the truth.” 
~Jennifer Parette

“For though we walk in the flesh,
we are not waging war according to the flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh
but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
We destroy arguments
and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God,
and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
~2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Completely Occupied by Truth
“Finally, brothers,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.” 
~Philippians 4:8

Equipped by Truth
“All Scripture is breathed out by God
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.”
~2 Timothy 3:16,17

Overwhelmed by Truth
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
~1 Corinthians 13:12

Set Free by Truth
 “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 
‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.’
They answered him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How is it that you say,
“You will become free”?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, 
everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 
The slave does not remain in the house forever; 
the son remains forever. 
So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.’”
~ John 8:31-36

Truth is not context free.
Truth is Truth
and, by definition,
commands response.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Watched Pot...

A watched pot never boils.
...for as I watch, are my expectations for a certain outcome most important?

The prophet anxiously awaited God’s response,
yet this prophecy would not be fulfilled
for another sixty-six years.
God instructed him to wait,
and in His compassion
reminded Habakkuk of His promise…

“For still
the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow,
wait for it;
it will surely come;
it will not delay.” 
~Habakkuk 2:3
God’s ways are not within
my calendar.

He felt overwhelmed, hungry, weary, abandoned, afraid.
He had run away.  He was hiding.
God told Elijah that He would reveal His Presence to him,
but not in the way he had expected;
a display of might, of power, of strength came and went.
Then in a gentle, comforting whisper,
God’s promise was fulfilled…

“So He said, ‘Go forth
and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ 
And behold, the Lord was passing by! 
And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains
and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord;
but the Lord was not in the wind.  
And after the wind an earthquake,
but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 
After the earthquake a fire,
but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing…
…and behold, a voice came to him and said,
‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
~I Kings 19:11-13
God’s ways are not within
my expectations of grandeur…

He was promised a son,
but more than that,
he was told that he would be the father
of a great nation. (Gen. 12:1-3)
At seventy-five years old, this seemed impossible.
Twenty-five years later,
God’s promise was fulfilled through Abraham…

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?
At the appointed time I will return to you,
about this time next year,
and Sarah shall have a son… 
And Sarah conceived
and bore Abraham a son in his old age
at the time of which God had spoken to him.” 
~Genesis 18:14, 21:2
God’s ways are not within
my own ability…

*       *       *

“But he said,
“What is impossible with men
is possible with God.” 
~Luke 18:27

“And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season
we will reap,
if we do not give up.” 
~Galatians 6:9

Fun and Games until...

It’s all fun and games
until somebody gets hurt.

We’re not just talking about running with scissors;
We’re talking about all of life.
What an awesome gift, this thing called forgiveness!

since the beginning
of time!

 “If we confess our sins,
He is faithful
and just
to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
~I John 1:9

confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person
has great power
as it is working.”
~James 5:16

 “Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.”
~Ephesians 4:32