Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eye see

Tuesday - September 30/08 - Entry #23

Reading through the first part of the New Testament again.

I do this a lot.

Jesus words struck me with force a few days ago:
"Your eye is the lamp of your body.
When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light."
But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you."
The Gospel of Luke Chapter 11, verses 34-36.

Points I note as I think about these words:

1. The eyegate affects the whole body. Porno is not isolated to the eyes, it fills us up entirely with darkness.

2. What my eye focuses on is largely my choice. Something outside of me is not determining that. Only if that is true can Jesus say: "see to it that the light within you is not darkness."

3. Darkness is very tricky stuff - we can come to think that the darkness inside is actually light

4. When darkness is our intake, it affects everything: marriage, sleep, telling the truth, being an open person, our sexual wisdom and function, our use and abuse of people. Jesus got it right - an uncontrolled eye is the entry point to some pretty bad stuff.

5. When the eyegate is under control, however, the whole of our being can be filled with "light" the light of integrity, trustworthiness, kindness, truthfulness and much more.

6. Jesus not only speaks the truth, but He is prepared to help us live the truth He speaks of.
For instance, about "light," He is so good at helping us here that He gets nicknamed "The Light of the World." (John 8:12)

Got trouble with your eyes? A bit "dark" where you live lately?

An old song writer got it right:
"Don't try to drive the darkness out, you just turn on The Light."



Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Wednesday, September 24

- "To entice to do something wrong or unwise." (Webster - Dictionary)

- "Pray simply like this:
Keep us forgiven with You and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil." (Jesus - Matthew 6))

Recently I was hit by a particularly strong form of temptation.
Temptation, I realize, is part of normal living - but this was was stronger than I had experienced in a pretty long time.
An innocuous gaze turned suddenly poisonous.
The normal patterns of thought and response were suddenly stalled.

The snake had bitten.
(The devil is called a snake often - see Revelation 12:9)

Suddenly I felt the numbing and paralysis.

Then the temptation was over.

Quick hit....quick slither off.

But I felt weakened, disappointed...and wondering what I should do in response.
I was worried that the snake would try to return.
He usually will.

Here is what I did.

1. I immediately began to pray, right where I was, and in soft tones began to ask God to forgive me for yielding to that temptation, even briefly, and to forgive me and make me clean inside again.

2. I reminded myself of one very special promise: "if we confess our sins He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:8-9)

3. It came to me then to solicit a friend's help in making sure that I had dealt with this openly enough. I would ask that friend to hear my confession, to question me in any way appropriate and to pray with me. I would also ask this person to check back with me and ask me how I am doing, whenever it seemed good to do so. (James 5:16)

4. Soon after determining #3 (above) was to be part of the agenda, I did just that - told of my encounter with temptation and in return found love, acceptance and wisdom in the process. We both prayed together as well.

5. Finally, I thought of a preventative idea...one deliberate but simple step that I could take to put up a wall between myself and the temptation....shutting down its source....and trapping the serpent in his den. I did that at the next opportunity. It worked.

"No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down;
He'll never let you be pushed past your limit;
He'll always be there to help you come through it." I Corinthians 10:13ff



Monday, September 22, 2008


Monday, September 22, 2008

A few years back, a man who profoundly walked with God wrote a little track (early form of blogging :). In it he set forth three words: facts, faith and feelings.

The facts, he said, are those truth statements that clearly point us to Jesus Christ and explain to us what He has done for us through His crucifixion and death for us and His resurrection to life and ascention into heaven.

Faith - our personal means of connecting to the facts - for instance when I say: "God, I believe the facts...and I am asking Jesus to forgive me of all of my sin and become my Partner for life and eternity." When I say words like that from my heart, it is like I am building a bridge from who and where I am right now into the presence and purposes of God for my life.

And Feeling - what we sense within when we do all of the above. Spiritual wholeness - a feeling of release from the crud, the immoral, selfish, wrongful stuff....and on the other side of the spectrum of feelings, sensing forgiveness, joy, hope and what one Bible verse calls "peace with God."

Facts. We find the facts so critical to connecting in reality with God in the Bible.
Faith. Exercising in the spiritual realm like we do in the material realm lots of times every day...like, walk over a manhole, or fly in a plane lately?
Feelings. The squeeky clean feeling inside...the "all is really well with my soul"...the eternity questions and my destiny in it is now a certain thing.

What the man who introduced these words freshly to all of us also pointed out was:
1. It is usually always a progression - facts -> faith -> feelings - and not some other order.
2. If you have facts and faith that is truly enough. Feelings are ok, but not a must.

Both points have great merit and often helpful in our journey with God.

Ah, but most all of us have been built with a huge feeling feeler (got that? :)

From where I live, sometimes it seems that the order is just not that clean and neat...like sometimes great feelings seem to sweep over me from who knows where? Then I try to assess: is this "cool" or not...and then, if it is good, I try to search out facts to sort out what our response to the feelings stirred up should be. Feelings->faith->facts.

Two days ago I was in one of those moments of great feeling.

I was on a two day retreat with men from all over Utah. We had a number of sessions for teaching (facts). We had moments when faith was released in prayer and action. What stood out to me was the way feelings occured. We had been listening to a teaching from Luke 15 about the lavish love God the Father has for all of us. This was followed by the speaker giving a long and personal illustration about their family learning to love like that.

I found myself so moved that for many minutes during his presentation, I kept having to wipe tears from my face. As the session came to a close the band returned and we began to sing softly to God, some kneeling, others with hands raised.
As I went to the microphone to give closure to the session a man who had not been in the session came forward to share an announcement. His first words were: "There is such a presence of God in this place that I could feel it as I just entered the room."

For a number of moments we all simply stood in the presence of God. Feelings and responses took shape in all of our hearts. The analogy that came clearly to me was that it was like we were all standing in a river (of God's presence) waist deep. It was a time to remember and take action upon.

Facts....faith....feelings. Feelings....faith.....facts. May we know them all and be encountering God richly in these days.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Several days ago I found myself sitting on the edge of a high bank, in a canyon, by a rushing, clear river....while my friend went after some trout, and our wives talked together.

I had walked down the gravel road a ways staring at the river and the wonderful mountainous territory just across the way. Aspens just beginning to turn golden. Air crisp and fresh.

I finally decided to just sit on a rock by the edge of the road...and listen and watch. That always seems, for me, to be the doorway to discovery.

Within a very few moments something caught my attention near my feet. Only inches long, it darted up on a rock 8 feet away and looked at me curiously. Tiny dark paws seemed to be clasped in prayer...and I could almost sense a "please" was in the air.

Too bad I didn't bring anything to give, I thought.

And then I remembered...I've got an Almond Joy in my camera bag.

I got up quietly and slowly to retrieve my bag. The chipmunk bobbed his head, but didn't move.

When I found the candy bar, I detached the almonds from the top.

The first one I tossed close to my little friend. He retrieved it - can I say "joyfully?" :)

The first almond he took to his rocky perch and ate...rotating the whitening nut in his "hands". With the second one he made the puch of his left cheek bulge and then scampered out of sight.

Chipmunks must have "leftovers" too....perhaps saved for cold, snowy days. He didn't just stuff himself. He saved for a scarcer time. Smart...really smart.

As I walked back from where I'd come from, I thought of how the tiny things in the world often amaze as much or more than the big things.

And I thought of Jesus who advised His hearers: "Consider the lilies. Look at the birds." (See Matthew Chapter 6 for the full account.) In fact, my impulse to write this blog today comes from the example of Jesus Who took His disciples into the fields with some frequency to share what He saw there about life and God.

So let's keep our eyes and ears open. And may we see beauty and experience joy in small things around us today.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The news September 16, 2008

In the middle of last night I found myself tossing and praying.


*I'd watched people carrying boxes "everything that was theirs in their office" - 5000 of them - carrying the box of their stuff. Suddenly out of work. They had been part of an esteemed team of financial professionals on Wall Street - but now the company they had counted on was going bankrupt.

*I'd seen the shots from helicopter of the miles of devastation in Galveston, and Houston and so many coastal and inland areas in Texas and Louisiana....acres and acres of rubble and bare foundations. How many people will be looking simply for a good drink of water today?

*I'd read the article about the Russian long-range planes now flying into NATO territory - and leaders of the world wondering what this new bristling and power really means.

*The reports from the Middle East of bombs and bloodshed...and radical Islam.

The economy.
The weather.

Nations and people - in crisis.

And this morning I reached again for the Bible asking for truth to fashion my heart.

Here is what I found.

1. Don't Panic: Jesus, when talking about the calamities that will come at the end of earth-time (See Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13) - said, the first response should be not to panic or get swallowed up in fear. Calamities are part of the climax of the ages. Difficulties will increase as a sign of reaching the very end of time. Allowing fear to become the emotional focus can cause a freeze-up...and a draining out of faith. A preoccupation with things beyond our ability to control.

2. Remember Who is in control: I found the Bible reminding me that Jesus is truly in charge of history and time. He is Lord of everything. He is not ever taken by surprise...though those who follow Him were often "amazed." He does not ever need to draft an emergency plan. As a great lady, who lived through persecution and the Nazi regime, often reminded her audiences: "There's no panic in heaven."

3. Pray: *for leaders who must make hard decisions in these times, *for people who are in a chaotic situation to turn most of all to God for His help, and *for ourselves to maintain the course with a heart of love and obedience to God.

4. Listen and do - take time not just to listen to the news -over and over and over and...see #1 above - :) - but to listen to the Spirit of God. Ask Him: "Is there anything You want me to do?" Then wait to hear. And when you hear, obey. Do the next right thing - no matter how seemingly insignificant - in the right direction.

Finally, some of Jesus' direct words:
"Watch out for doomsday deceivers.
When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.
There will be famines.
The Message has to be preached all across the world.
...And then (you'll) see the Son of Man (Jesus) enter in grand style, his Arrival filing the sky - no one will miss it! He'll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
So keep a sharp lookout.
Stay at your post, watching.
The words of Jesus...selected from Luke 13 - The Message.

The evening news: may it be a call to prayer, not a call to fear.
May it summons us to appropriate action, not circling anxiety.
May it cause us to look with expectation to the return of Jesus.



Friday, September 12, 2008

The Presence

V. Raymond Edman was his proper name.

But he had lots of other names given to him because of his kindly manner.
Prexy was the one I remember - quite a name for the President/Chancellor of a presigious college.

For years he had been involved in taking the good news about Jesus to people in Ethiopia.
His devotional writings had stirred the hearts of many.
His ability to reach out simply and love people. had brought deep impact to many.

And recently he had suffered with heart problems.

But "recovering" was the word now and it was announced the he would be back to speak in the Wheaton College chapel one more time.

I remember the day we all entered the chapel with expectations as to what we would hear.

When Prexy was introduced he came quietly to the podium.
He spoke that day from the Psalms - the theme being "In the Presence of the King."

Then he illustrated the theme by talking about what he experienced when entering Emperor Haillee Sellasie's throne room....the protocal, the attire, the mannerisms...and the overwhelming sense of awe....to be in the presence of a "king."

He concluded quietly....
stepping back one pace...
And then he fell backwards
and was gone.

"Gone," I say....not "dead." But gone into the Presence of The King.

He had lived his life so close...and now just a small step backwards took him into The Presence forever.

The auditorium was hushed. Some wept quietly. Others wrote notes...what did he say? What was God saying to me in this?

Some day in our own way, we will all take "a small step backwards" - for we are all living that close to the edge of eternity.

For those who have given their lives over to Jesus and asked Him to partner with them on the journey called life - it will be the fulfillment of the promise: "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

May we live today, ready to go.

May we live - in and for - The Presence.

Selah -


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grumble, grumble, grumble

It was time for desert.

Grandma Paul was at our table again.
She lived only a few miles away and was a frequent guest.

Desert was offered and everyone dove in eagerly to the large portions handed out - until it came to Grandma Paul.

Clearing her throat she would say: "I'll just take a very tiny portion."

That directive was followed - often with some expressions of "are you sure that is enough?".

And her comment, after receiving her insisted-upon small portion always followed: "Well that is a very small amount."

Just a little grumbling to adjust the feelings she must have had inside aways was needed.

Saw a cartoon that portrayed a youngster having received the firm instructions to "lie down" - saying - "I may look like I am lying down, but on the inside I am standing."

Grumbling - obedience on the outside, complaining on the inside. Saying yes, and feeling no. Smiles on the face and acid in the stomach. Nice words when present - and ugly ones when out of earshot.

Grumbling is infectious. It can spread to an entire nation....actually did....and it led then to a serious crisis. (Check out the Bible - Numbers 14 for one account) I Corinthians 10:10 - do not grumble...it can lead to destruction.

Want to stop but can't seem to?

Two bits of thought:

1. Simply resolve to stop grumbling - it gets habitual. Make this the moment when you determine strongly to begin a new pattern of speech control. For extra help try the buddy system on this asking a friend to alert you to times you do, so that you can sharpen up on your tongue-control.

2. #1 doesn't seem to be helping enough? How about trying a depth personality makeover. That's what can happen when God starts to work within us. Here is one of many promises He makes: "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone... Ezekiel 11:19.

May the words of our mouths today, give joy, and life, and love to all around us.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

The name

Dateline: 14th century Scotland.

They called him Bruce.
Sounds Scottish and it was.

Pretty primitive times.
Kilts, and swords, and castles and grogs.

Justice too was very primitive - and often very unfair.
Might made right. Status gave privilege.

And a guy named Bruce saw the plight of the poor in the "courts" of his day and was moved into action. First with one needy person and then with another - and finally he developed a reputation for defending the rights of the poor in "court."
Eventually it came time for names to become more complex and people took sirnames to better identify themselves.
And because of his skill and compassion, Bruce took a name that spoke of his calling.
He chose Argue.

Bruce Argue.

And thus an unusual last name began with noble cause.
And survives to this day.

From what I understand, everyone who bears that last name is related. An interesting benefit indeed.

As I reflect, I wonder if Bruce found himself on this cycle:
1. One day he simply saw a need that caught his attention.
2. At some point he offered to help meet that need.
3. He discovered that he had some gifting relative to presenting arguments in court.
4. He found that when he did this, it was satisfying and even stirred his joy and passion.
5. He did it more and more frequently - until (perhaps?) it became the main agenda of his life.

And so the positive impact of his life goes on 6 centuries later.

And when someone, after hearing my name, asks: "don't argue do you?"

I can smile & say, "Can I tell you about where this name came from?"

What's in your name?


PS - what is also neat is that our names can be attached to His name. Christ-ians.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


The middle of the night.

Darkness - dark thoughts.
Why? If only? What could have been...

Whispers....to a partner who holds, and listens and probes and accepts.

It had been dealt with long ago...but here it is again.
The death of a parent and then later that of a spouse. And the emptiness that followed and follows still sometimes - even 40 years later.

And in bas relief the ever deeper realization of what was lost and never could happen...the love that could have been known but was taken away. The encouragement that could have been given but was consumed - spent - fighting a losing battle with cancer.

...and there is a sense of scar within and ache.


How can I respond?

Here are a few ideas.

of who I am and where I am - rather than resigning and giving up...and going into a life stall.
Acceptance means the end of endless "whys"...and the beginning of "now whats." Acceptance means turning mental energies towards the present and future rather than the past. Conducting an honest assessment of gifts and graces, of talents and challenges....ups and downs. acceptance for me is undergirded by the fact that I believe each of us are specially made with a plan that goes with the design. That part is God's deal.

of how the loss has deepened the gifts of life and the ability to pass it on to others. What is happening on the good days? What am I learning?....and how am I growing? And if I were to imagine the best possible future, what would it begin to look like? (Someone who knows you best might have some things to say that help.)

doing what can be done now to make up for the ache.
Like loving those around me - caring for them, listening to them, camping near them...doing what expresses love to them. Forgiving them when they fall short of my expectations and keeping short accounts on my failures...and theirs. "Do to others what you would have them do to you."
If I sometimes feel stalled, at least I can do something to head in the right direction.

And most of all
having a long and thorough conversation with Jesus about it all.
Purposefully telling Him that I am needing His help with the night.
And healing with the aches and scars.

It's the middle of the day now.
The sun is shining brightly and cool breezes are in the air.

And inside of me there is enough light - to share this openly with you.

Jesus - "light of the world" - has helped me again with the night.

For the night I describe was last night.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

(Read more about light in the Bible, The Gospel of John, Chapters 1,2,3)