Tuesday, March 31, 2009


March 31, 2009


Yesterday I went to the Ear Doctor...he wouldn't like that title :)

First time to check out why I say, "what did you say?" in a crowded restaurant.

He came back after tests with papers in his hand and took a comfortable position (not a good sign, I surmised). Then a barrage of questions...and I wondered that the part with the white paper results was headed in the wrong direction.


Finally it was time for the test results
....and he gently landed me in the realm of needing to make up for high decible hearing loss.

Then he said: "Wow, aside from this you are a really healthy guy."

Ah such pleasing words. Certainty.

So I went from uncertainty about my hearing to a wonderful certainty about my overall health.

All of us have to deal with uncertainty...some of us many times each day.

Uncertainties....about health, about job, about relationships, about money about career choices, and on...

Every one of these categories have popped up in front of me in the last 24.

Makes me pause and think...that there must be some basic Bible ways to deal with uncertainties.

There are.

First one that comes to mind is: through choosing to exercise faith. Focusing our faith on what is certain and letting that spread its stability to everything else.
Like lingering on: "you sure are healthy"....instead of "about your hearing." But on a bigger and more strategic scale, it is in putting faith in what is certain and letting that certainty calm everything else down.
Like the only thing I have found that is certain is: God. Not job, not health, not intelligence, not relationships, not life. The only certainty, really, is God...His nature, His promises, His power.

Mayby that is why some of God's nicknames are: Forever Faithful, Rock and All Wise

Faith in God acts like an anchor does to a boat in a storm..."as an anchor to the soul." (Hebrews 6:19)

So, God, I may not have "enough" (I think) in the future, but I will always have You. And in my future, You will show me the way ahead....for You are the Way.

Another way
to deal with uncertainty is through getting hope in better focus.

Uncertainties bring a tension plague to us when we don't have real hope growing inside. Uncertainties tend to starve out hope...panic sets in...we live in an agitated state.

But when hope is alive, "well, in the end, everything is just all going to be all right." (See the beatitudes for a more complete sense of what I am saying here)

We live with our hearts set on what is called "a living hope."
A living hope means that in the end, as we walk with God, our future will work out just fine.

In very dark times I have let fear and uncertainty move me to the very end...the what if's becoming so final. But when hope is alive in us, even death doesn't kill us. It just translates us into the presence of God forever. Feeling uncertain these days? Set your hope on God.

Uncertainties tend to pull us into ourselves....endless evaluations and negations....endless spiraling into self. Is there an escape....a way out?

There is.

Love breaks us out of self and surrounds us with others.

I'm not talking about loving feelings....but loving actions. Loving actions draw us closer and closer to people, fills up our spirits and prepares us for the world beyond.

Now, if you are really perceptive, you already are ahead of me. What are three important things to focus on when life seems quite uncertain?

Faith, hope and love.

The greatest three elements in the places where God is showing up.

So, may we, in the midst of today's uncertainties respond with passionate faith in God, a wise grasp of hope and future, and an extravagent love to those on our journey.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Standing with you...


Oh, by the way, the greatest of the three? Love. See I Corinthians 13.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009



March 24


So it's getting towards Easter.

Time to look at the four accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus again. Never seems like a person plumbs the depths of what is happening and how it happened...and the consequences for our lives.

For instance, I'm reading Eugene Peterson's CHRIST PLAYS IN TEN THOUSAND PLACES and find him doing the same thing. Here's how he puts it regarding Mary, the prime witness to the resurrection of Jesus.

"In the resurrection stories, marginal people (in this case, women) play a prominent role in perception and response. Mary Magdalene, perhaps the most marginal of any of the early followers of Jesus, is the chief resurrection witness and the only person to appear in all four accounts. The only fact we know about Mary Magdalene before she joined Jesus was that she had been possessed by and delivered from "seven devils." The "seven devils" could refer to an utterly dissolute moral life or to an extreme form of mental illness. Either or both of these pre-Jesus conditions, coupled with being a woman in a patriarchal society, puts her at the far edge of marginality.........and in contrast - in our day we give such place to celebrity endorsements." pp120-121

Jesus died in substitution for our sinfulness.

He rose again, proof that his death was sufficient for all.

The Father's kiss of life was upon Him forever.

And it was so certain, that even "marginal witnesses" could play a major role in it all.

Feel like your ability to talk about Jesus is a bit marginal?

Join the Mary gang this Easter.

'cause it's all about Jesus, not me or you.

Happy (Early) Easter.


Thursday, March 19, 2009


Thursday, March 19, 2009


Writings, pictures etc....anything designed to arouse sexual desire.

There is a lot of it out there...magazines, tv, movies, internet, art...indeed it is anything - designed to arouse sexual desire.

As if we needed more encouragement.

I've lived a long time in a body that doesn't need a lot of assistance. Seems like sexual desire is one of God's better,high impact design mechanisms - if unharmed by other things, it will rage on blissfully until most all of the fires of life have died down. (Some tell me that is around 85 :)

So, it always is going to be a factor in all of our lives. AND it needs to be managed appropriately or it will create havoic. The power of it will spill over into babies, and diseases, out-of-control life patterns, rages and death, depression and craziness.

Good thing is, as powerful as it is, if not allowed to get out of control, it will take care of its own pressures and needs. I've never heard of anyone exploding because they haven't had sex. :) In a wonderful way, God has built pressure relief into the system. Don't have to focus on it, for it to maintain itself.

Lots of people, not knowing that, come to places where they assume they are simply driven. They leave the exercise of good taste and self-control on the shelft and just cater to what can become almost animalish behavior. (I'm being pretty blunt today, right?)

So what do you do if you don't want to be taken over by lust, but are surrounded in the context of your life with it?

Like, what do you do if your roomate is feeding on it...or your computer buddy is loading up with it....or the walls are getting covered with it...and there is no basic escape?

Here are some ideas that have helped me...

1. Put as much distance as you can between you and the junk. I remember once when I worked in a steel mill and one of the men started telling a filthy sexual joke. I didn't know what to do, but all of a sudden I just started singing a silly song. He stopped speaking. I stopped singing. He started speaking again. I started singing again. We all stared and that was the last time he told his jokes around me. Distance...best if its in yards, or barriers etc. But put as much distance as is possible between you and the junk.

2. Wash each day just as thoroughly as you got grimey. Washing our insides is just as important as our outsides. The Bible says it plainly: we wash our insides by getting the word of God inside of us. Memorize verses, read passages, put up your own clean notes in parallel places to their dirty stuff.

3. When David went out against Goliath (the giant warrior - who was mocking him and telling him he would make a porno poster out of his beheading) - he did so with a buddy. A buddy who is committed to the same battle as you is so strengthening. You can process what is happening and how you are doing together. And the power of agreement in prayer is truly awesome. "If two of you or more agree..." Two is much better than one...there is exponential strength in partnership. So ask God to show you a buddy who doesn't want his mind and life crudded by the junk.

4. Ask God for supernatural intervention in your situation. One of the first thoughts that came to my mind when thinking about this kind of situation was of Daniel and company - living in a very corrupt time...and thrown into the fire to be roasted alive. And when their tormentor looked into the large furnace where they had been thrown, the fire was not burning them. When Daniel was thrown to the lions they did not eat him. God can supernaturally sustain and protect even when the fire is all around and the lions haven't eaten for days. Ask Him to help you.

It is an ancient truth: "Who will see God? Only the clean-handed, only the pure-hearted; men who won't cheat. Women who won't seduce." (See Psalms 24 - The Message)

May God help us as we journey towards 85....to so occupy these bodies that even our sexuality brings praise to His name, trust in His grace and power, and a straight-ahead gaze with pride.

For Jesus...not junk.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


March 17, 2009


Love -

Well, I came up pretty short again yesterday.

I had something all worked out in my head, set my heart on it, and made plans to pull it off.

And it didn't work...slowly and successively in fact, it went up in smoke... and I got frustrated, even angry and fussed and fumed for a very long time....all the while, telling myself I will not fuss and fume.

I went to bed and tossed and turned, and I finally said, "I am not getting up so early for the meeting in the morning." So the alarm was not set for me.

But right when the alarm should ring, shortly after 5am. I was awake...hmm. (Not a usual behavior.)

So this morning after my 6am board meeting, I came to the office very early and began to read scripture - beginning in Joshua - great stuff there about being strong and going with the Lord's presence. But as I read and prayed I felt that there was more that I should focus on - like on where I was just hours ago, and the famous passage on "love" in I Corinthians 13.

For maximum benefit today, get a Bible, and read that chapter over a few times.

I read it once and colored in some important words...like every verb addressed to the reader.

I read it again and began to scratch down some ideas....what follows here.

And something fresh and important to me began to emerge....hope it helps you too.

LOVE IS.....

This...(+ves) Not this...(-ves)
1.Patient 1.Envious
2.Kind 2.Boastful
3.Rejoicing/joyful 3.Proud
4.Protective 4. Rude
5.Trusting 5.Keeping track of wrongs/keeping score
6.Hopeful 6.Delighting in evil
7.Persevering 7.Failing - quitting

And from that process, as I pondered Insights/ideas began to emerge...

1. Each column has an equal number of listings. Hmmm...real love has to do with positives accentuated in our lives, and negatives avoided. Not just one-sided. Am I getting stronger on one side and weaker on the other? Might signal the presence of God-real love.

2. The -ve column is helpful to tag me with a more accurate behavioral read. If I imagine I am loving, but then exhibit pride, keep score so I can devalue, and fail to actually express love. I haven't got it.

3. I look at the positives and reflect that #2-5 are all headed in one direction: to encourage, uplift, express grace and all are "other" focused. Real love in me lets me live out this truth: It's not about me, it is about them....if I really have love. It's the kind deeds, the patience, the manner with which I celebrate the other's success and good times. It is about the way I watch out for and protect my brothers, and the way I believe in them and help them to keep coming on with greater strength that measures my love.

4. On the other side, notice (2-5) how negatively focused not having love can make us....arrogant, big-talking, unmanerly, ME-centered. This is not love. I don't like being around people like that...including me, when I give place to that junk.

5. Love, when it is within us and growing, settles us down. We become more at home with ourselves....There is no need to envy, boast, act pridefully and keep track of others behaviors (only to pull them out at the right time to really get a dig in). Yuk. Been there. Done that.

6. Sometimes I have tended to set spiritual gifts up very high...like prophecy, tongues, special gifts of knowlege....but Paul does the opposite. He sets love up very high...and lets the special gifts of God find their appropriate places in that protective shelter....unless we want to become empty people with a gonging impact (see :1).

7. Finally, I note that three times in these verses we are encouraged towards perserverance and process...."patient, perserveres, never fails."

So, last night I was real low on love....the real stuff. Real big on myself. And finding again some grace and truth to keep pushing on....the word and presence of the Spirit of God is always like that.

Oh God, in Jesus' strong name, we ask you to help us to continally grow in love.



Thursday, March 12, 2009


March 12, 2009


Saw a picture in the paper a few hours ago....a man who had been burned horribly, years ago, has survived and risen to the challenges of making a worthwhile life while still carrying profound scars.

Fire can be awful. It can turn life on end in seconds.

That's why a promise in Isaiah is so striking..."when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God....your Savior." 43:2ff.

I like to think of it this way....the hottest places of life, the places that could "fry" you, won't - when you have the Lord as your Companion.

Life has hot places...like the "hot" place those of you are in, who read this from Afghanistan.

But actually, for all of us it can get "hot" - when the income gets drained, when illness comes our way, when someone's actions affect us in ways hard to control, when self-will plays into terrible choices and awful consequences...when death takes someone from us that we love. It can get hot in a heartbeat.

The word of the promise is "when you walk through the fire" not "if you walk..." God is not surprised by any of our hot places. Jesus sweat drops of blood...it got so "hot" for Him just before the cross.

Then, as we look to God, it becomes His deal. "You will not be burned." It is His word. His promise. Time for Godsbestos. In the fire, but not burned up. Heat but no panic. Surprized but not alarmed. Concerned but not without faith.

May we today, if in a very hot place, be like the three young men, who one day found themselves in a furnace - bound with ropes, destined to fry........but then they looked and saw Someone in the furnace with them....and walking around at that.
It was God come to save them.
It was God's special Agent, sent with a bundle of Godsbestos.
The ropes that had tied them up burned off and they got up and walked around too with their special Agent....."unharmed."
(Read more in Daniel chapter 3)

May we today turn the hot places of life into faith encounters with God.

Beliving for Godsbestos...with you.


*Godsbestos - a word coined from God + asbestos.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Resume

March 11, 2009


Lots of job hunting going on.

Lots of resumes being polished up and sent.

Lots of exaggerations being written. :)

And I think of one written (without any exaggeration) by a guy named Paul....in the first century.

His lines have been preserved to this day....deemed that important and real.

And here is his resume.

We commend ourselves in every way...
"In great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
in beatings, imprisonments and riots;
in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
in purity, understanding, patence and kindness;
in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and in the power of God;
with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report;
genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
known, yet regarded as unknown;
dying, and yet we live on; beaten and yet not killed;
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich;
having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

II Corinthians 5:3-10....from a letter written by Paul.

The resume of a "servant of God"....one constantly at God's disposal.

Traits often of "oh no" to people...but used by God powerfully.

May we live our lives building a resume that God deems great
...through the seasons of life that God so allows.

May we indeed be...........servants of God.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009


March 10


Still reading through the Bible this year.
Now I'm up to Deuteronomy 15....
and daily there is stuff in the reading that is relevant to the times.

Like this paragraph:

"If there is a poor man among your brothers
in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you,
do not be hard hearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.

Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs....
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart;

because of this
the Lord your God will bless you in all your work
in everything you put your hand to.

There will always be poor people in the land.
Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers
and toward the poor and needy in your land." (:7-11)

May our open hearts
lead to open hands.....
and an open heaven over us all.



Monday, March 9, 2009


Monday, March 9

- it's the hebrew equivalent of "stop," "quit," "take a break."

From this word we get our english - sabbath.

And from various places in the Bible and a lengthy tradition in our church cultures, we get a day set aside (in various ways and at various levels - and sometimes not at all) to enact a sabbath.


But for some it has become a day to go to church (the short version so we can hurry home to get-er-done?), and then eat a big meal and then watch tv....football? hockey? soccer? track?....(there will always be something on.) Hmmm....that doesn't seem like sabbath.


It has always been meant for much more.

Like a focused time of considering God's ways and nature...getting absorbed in His presence.

Like a time to express ourselves to God in honesty and in reverent awe...taking stock, straightening out our lives.

Like a time to just "be still and know that (He) is God."

Are you very good at just being still?

Do you, like I, find that you tend to see things more clearly and hear the Spirit of God more plentifully, when you are still? (It works that way in the physical world too.)

It's Monday as I write this.

So how was our Sunday?

Ours was spent in Woodland Park, Colorado, about :45 minutes into the mountains, west from Colorado Springs. Jackie and I got up, got quiet for a season, got ready and drove to Woodland Park by 9:45.

We were overjoyed to see a great friend from the past there, who was leading worship. He had his two young sons eagerly involved with him and that enriched the time as well. It was good worship: lingering, real, responsive.

Then I spoke to the people on the theme "Follow Me" - an expansion of the blog I entered a few days ago. I was speaking to tear-filled eyes at times. It was good.

Then Jackie and I followed a couple who had invited us to their home for dinner and fellowship...15 minutes further into the mountains....to a striking home, set on a hill, overlooking the mountains. Deer in the yard...along with wild turkeys. And lots of birds! Wow.
We lingered long in depth conversation and left feeling we had taken some big steps towards friendship.

Got home at about 5 - and settled in for a quiet evening - with some calls from family that were very good.

It was a very good shabbat.

Hope yours was too. (If not, why not plan the next one a bit more carefully? - only 6 days away!)



Thursday, March 5, 2009


March 5


I keep coming back to this major deal:
of all the cultures and times and places Jesus could have entered to live His life and complete that most critical, instructive portion of His great mission on earth...He chose the first century, in Israel.
How He actually lived and what He modeled...is not just 'a life well lived that finally saw it's point in the cross, resurrection, and ascention.'
What I am seeing more clearly all the time, is that there are huge lessons for us in the culture He chose to live in and the way He discipled His followers.

For instance...

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (Jesus' 4 biographers and close associates) all record Jesus saying frequently (19 times) that one of the key's to getting life with God started and walking it out entirely well is to "follow Me."

"Follow Me"....I think about what that short directive actually means.

I used to think of it in rather strange terms: "follow Me" gradually became "take the broad strokes of My words and apply them as you can." And that has ended up for lots of us in - "go to church once a week, give up a small portion of your earnings, read the Bible every day and pray."

But as I ponder this clear, insistent call of Jesus to those who would be close to Him, I am seeing some things I have often missed:

Jesus wants us to be with Him....not just to believe in Him and (hopefully) see him in eternity. He wants us to be with Him now...follow me means at minimum I want to be with you, stay close to Me, let's travel together, let's be best friends.

Jesus, in asking us to "follow," implies that He will always be in front of us. His call for us to follow is a promise to always be leading us.
He will always have already gone into the places where we now find ourselves.
The key to our lives then, will be learning to tune into His presence in places where we often might not be thinking about Him.
Like disciples in the storm....we tend to get so overwhelmed by the potentials of what this storm could do to us....We tend to forget to focus on what Jesus can do through the storm and that He is only just feet away from us, getting sprayed by the crests of the waves too. (See Luke 8:22ff) I know that I tend to do the fear thing frequently....and need to be reminded, I am a follower of Jesus, and He is right there just in front of me right now, right here. Oh God, open our eyes.

Jesus, in asking us to follow, asks us to walk....not run. He asks us to pace ourselves. His pace is the model, not ours. Our pace is to be taken directly from His. We are followers.
And this is where so much of His choice of this culture, place and time hits me. Literally, if you said "yes" to Jesus call back then to "follow," it probably led to a three mile walk today....and a ten miler tomorrow....you were always walking!!

Ever try to hold on to the frantic feeling that life often brings to us while you are walking?

I have found often that taking a walk is a wonderful way to calm down.

So I wonder that Jesus was in fact saying: "Follow me. I'll show you how to live with me and stay calm and get what I think is important done today. Follow Me...let's go."

Jesus, in asking us to follow, invites us into relationship with Himself. Walking with a person is a wonderful way to learn how to open your hearts to one another. Some of the deepest times I had with my Dad - the sex talk :) - were while we walked.
Too many times, contemporary versions of Christianity have turned us into sitters - passive disciples - and note takers...
but Jesus turned His followers into walkers and open-hearted people, living out their days close to Him. Hmmm....

"Follow Me."

I heard that call over 50 years ago....and I am still learning what it means.

Welcome to the long walk.

May we all measure whether we are truly followers of Jesus by an increase continually in open-heartedness, careful pacing, and confident closeness in our relationship with Him.

A follower - with you.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


March 4


Bottom line for me through most of my life: anger is wrong.

When people get angry it is because they have a problem inside. ("So, get over it!")
Anger hurts people.
God doesn't like anger.

So...avoid anger, don't explode, walk away and cool down, get yourself under control.
Stop it before it hurts someone.

So...I am a simmer-for-a-long-time guy - I'm a bury-your-feelings-and-hope-they-go-away guy.

And then
I am reading through the Bible and come to the book of Numbers and in just over one chapter (11-12:9) I read -
"his (God's) anger was aroused,"
"the Lord became exceedingly angry,"
"the anger of the Lord burned against the people,"
"the anger of the Lord burned against them."
And when that deep emotion comes from God....people are turning white, falling down, dying, repenting, going in new directions and acting really humble. (Read it in these chapters for the full context.)

A key tempering insight comes out in a prayer in chapter 14 - "the Lord is slow to anger."

And how many of us have read it too often with an internal edit: "the Lord is NO to anger."

That last statement is untrue.
God gets angry.
Not just "back then" - but now.
And His white-hot fury fries our pride, and bends our knees and drives back the darkness and evil in our world.

When anger finally breaks out in me it is sometimes the selfish kind - I am just put off greatly by something - but more often, it is the kind that is accompanied by tears, the tears of deep longing and sadness, the anguish of hope unfulfilled, the rage against injustice. And I often feel that the second kind is beginning to approach God's kind of anger.

So the word today might be this - be slow to anger too, but be angry at the right things. Quit always holding this deep well of feeling and action in check.
Let your heart be stirred up and your mind race with the rage of the way things are around you.
Get mad at the victories of the enemy...and the weaknesses of the church.

Let the tears flow too - and let the change come that only passionate responses can bring.

Oh God, may our anger be Yours.



Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2, 2009


I am reading and greatly enjoying Eugene H. Peterson's CHRIST PLAYS IN TEN THOUSAND PLACES - 2005, Eerdmans. It is a treasure of how to think about your spiritual person.

Tucked in along the way are great numbers of references to literary sources.

This one was an "ahh" moment for me a day ago...

It is from lines written by a great poet - W.H.Auden...

"I love to sin; God loves to forgive;
The world is admirably arranged."

"I love to sin."
...that made me smile. Not thinking of a sin...but reveling in his simple honesty. Had I ever heard anyone admit that before? Had I ever admitted that to myself?
So, in four short and direct words, Auden has put a smile on my face....a smile of relief....and I wish that I could read more of him right away. With that kind of candor, I could learn much.

"God loves to forgive."
...that made me want to shout. I have always known that God forgives, if...... I have known that God has made a way for forgiveness......that His forgiveness is forever and that His forgiveness comes with gifts attached....most noticeably, peace, and joy and heaven.

But...."God loves to forgive??" -
....and I thought about how often I have been performance oriented in my forgiveness....and how so often, finally and begrudgingly I have issued forth just enough forgiveness to make life tolerable again.

And God loves to forgive?....He gets joy out of it? He celebrates it? He welcomes us when we come asking? Wow God!! Wow!

"The world is admirably arranged."

So that the messes we get into can be fixed.

So that the heart of darkness that we find ourselves bearing can become light again.

So that we can hardly wait until heaven....when the "lovers" will meet.....and the dance begins.