Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Self talk

Proverbs 23:7 in the King James: "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

In newer translations, the word change is pretty great:
"he is like one who is inwardly calculating...(he says one thing)but his heart is not with you." ESV

While the words are quite different, the message is the dealing with others, and dealing with yourself, it is the interior message that is the big one, the one to watch out for. A person can say one thing, but be thinking another. The message: be very careful about the inner words. What are we saying/feeling/owning inside?

I may be saying, "nice to see you" but be actually feeling annoyance at the interruption.
I may be feeling a bit irritated that I am not getting my way, while acting "just fine."
I may be smiling, while feeling pushed into some new practice, or territory.

Recently I have been self-talking in situations like this.

Saying within: "this is not that big a deal, relax"
Or: "this is going to be a good thing, be a part, enter in"
Or: "it's not that much money, and it will be cool, enjoy"

It is amazing what a bit of inner dialog, heading in the right way, can do to change the old, often selfish habits of the heart.

So join me, mutter some good stuff...and grow in Christian grace.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Door

Not sure I've ever been to a door quite like that.

Weighing 24 is one of a number of doors guarding the entry/exit points to NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain strategic center...a three-story building with complete support provisions, literally carved into the heart of a solid granite mountain.

Got to see it up close on Friday.

Never been in a place so secure, so protected against ultimate attack of any kind.

We had gotten to this point having driven down a winding, secured road, past check-points, with multiple ID checks and guards with guns on duty.

The door was being held open by various means, but if needed would be energized and the visible mechanisms in the door would begin a rapid process of moving that 24 tons of steel into the closed position. I wonder how loud the sound would be as it finally shut firm.

And I thought about the way God identifies Himself and the doors we face to the church: "What I open no one can shut, and what I shut no one can open" (Revelation 3:7)

To the church in Philadelphia He went on to say, "I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."

The word to that church that they would need, even when the door was open, was this: "endure patiently," "hold on to what you have," "overcome."

So if 24 tons of steel seem shut before you, my friend, take heart. God is the Master of open and closed doors. Today, have patience, hold on, be an overcomer.

Aren't you glad that God is the Master of open and closed doors?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


to change in form, character, nature or appearance.

Faith is a transformer. Fear withers everything.

Faith takes the very same realities in a situation that fear labels as "impossible" and "awful" and transforms them into "doable" and "adventure."

Fear turns a challenge into "I quit," driving courage and creativity and best effort into defeat...even before the contest is joined. Fear predicts a bad conclusion to it all. Faith leans forward and asks, "What if?"

In an actual contest...weight is critical. Check out wrestling.
In an actual battle...weaponry is often the key. Check out our defense budget.
When the match might be close...experience weighs heavily. Check out boxing.

In this battle...he was outweighed probably 2 to 1. His weaponry was laughable in comparison, home-made and common. He was only a youth against a top of career adult...and his meager experience was in a completely different arena.

But he had faith.

And in the gaze of faith he saw an opponent whose arrogance had led him to defy God Himself. He believed in a God that would more than make up the ground. He saw victory when everyone else saw living in caves, and on the run.

Before the battle was joined it was won.

You know the one I am writing of? David and Goliath. I Samuel 17.

You got faith? As you do, you will live in the vortext of transformation.

Need a faith lift? "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17

Transformation. Yes Lord.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ending well

In many of my contacts in the past months, the issue of how people end their committment to a fellowship or a relationship has come up.

A number of pastors have said to me, "they just disappeared." There was no exit contact. No note. Not even a phone call. Many times, this kind of treatment came, not from peripheral people, newcomers or noninvolved persons, but from core people, people considered to be close friends, trusted leaders. They just disappeared...poof and they were gone.

The hurts that can linger from this kind of relational mismanagment on both sides of the relationship, can be really destructive...doubting ministry, doubting relationships, doubting self.

Instead of these kinds of miscues, how about this as a departure process? (There can be real good that comes from a departure on both sides...along with the pain.)

Here is my short list of how we can all do it better:

1. Make the reason given for departure simple and clear - and don't blame "God" for it all. Sometimes we say "God is leading me" as an excuse for not being honest.

2. Until you are actually gone, do not use your financial support or lack of it as leverage. Remember that your giving is to the Lord - right?

3. Make the occasion of the words given to explain departure be in person and by prior arrangement. Don't "drop the bomb" in the foyer, just before someone has to go public. Don't put a note into the offering. Instead, set up a time to talk personally, even if it has to be briefly.

4. When you actually get to talk, begin the conversation with affirmation, telling the person what you appreciate in them, and how you have valued the relationship. The Lord will help them to linger on these words rather than the tough ones in the future.

5. Welcome future contact with the person, if either of you feels so led.

6. Assure the person of your prayers, even if will not be seeing them. And then do pray.

7. If/when that person comes to mind in the future, take it as from the Holy Spirit. Check in on them with a simple contact to express: "I was thinking about you today and just wanted to say 'Hi.'"

8. You may have more and better ideas, but if the above are done, even in part, it will help everyone deal with departures...and not distrust the future.

9. Finally, leaders should consider establishing an agreed-upon means of exit, incorporating things like the above - then feature these in a teaching, and put them into an always-available foyer-handout that can inform everyone as to the nature of this very important dimension of relational life.

The Kingdom of God: it is a Kingdom of relationships.

And remember - our relationships actually never end...even if some choose to just walk away now. How we manage in this life is a preparation for all of our managment in eternity.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentines Day

Valentines Day 2011

Lots of responses possible to this day.

Here are a few of the worst responses that come to mind:

The grinch response:
Ah this day is just to get people buying things...spending money. She knows I love her. Our love is not based on what you buy anyway...(so I'll ignore this opportunity to bless her).

The begrudging response:
Well, we'll do something on Monday, I guess. Better not stir up the negative. (And, after all, that will probably save having to do something special for a long time.)

The "get er done" response:
I'll go get her something and be done with it.

And here are some good responses:

The this-is-a-great-opportunity response:
I'll be creative with this, and make sure that in some way I really say, I love you. I'll express my love to her in a personal and real manner.

The wake-up-and-smell-the-perfume response:
I'll use this day to remind me that very frequently I need to convey my heartfelt love to my partner and friend. It is in giving (freely and lavishly) that the return of love is made possible.

Hey, guys, this is a friendly poke.

Make sure you don't squander this (albeit-commercial-social-custom), and instead of winning on this occasion, actually loose points with your mate. Go for it. Express your love meaningfully. Surprise her with your thoughtfulness. Take time to express and nurture love, one of the greatest qualities God puts in us, and to sow blessing into the second most important relationship of your life.

"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Live a lover's life..."
Philippians 1:9f - The Message

Happy Valentines!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I blog to share insights that I am uncovering from scripture. Today I sense that what I will share is especially for someone who will read this in the next hours.

So if this finds a quick application in your heart, an immediate context of need, do take it as a sign of God's care for you. This word will set you free as you follow what the Spirit of God directs you to do in response.

I was struck a few days ago by this word of Jesus to us: "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent" - you must forgive him." Luke 17:3-4 ESV

In that day to forgive someone three times in a day was considered most honorable.

This declaration more than doubles the "honorable" into what seems like the incalculable. (I can't see Jesus endorsing unforgiveness because that was sin #8!)

I note too that in this passage not only is generous forgiveness to be the standard, but also "rebuke" is to be a part of the process....not a caustic, condemnatory loudness, but an appeal to repentance and an offer to forgive.

And it is not all contingent on "justice, fairness," consequences etc...that is all God's business in the end, and should fill us with deep concern in the now, to do everything we can not to obstruct His final processes. But this is all about the action of grace.

We need it all...the loving appeal of rebuke, the confession, the forgiveness, the restoration, and the wonderful forgetfullness of grace.

May, "I forgive you," be frequently on our lips, and may it bring forth the presence of God in the one who has wronged us, and in ourselves as well.

Oh, and don't forget how this all begins: "Pay attention to yourselves!" Ah, could it be that we need to hear this as much as we need to give it?

"..and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."


Thursday, February 3, 2011


It is one of those times right now when there is enough world-impacting news to just keep watching and watching. Maps of numerous countries on the brink of violence. Information streamed across countless sites. People without number in the streets. World leaders making pronouncements. Countries playing politics in the midst of it all. And the weather!

I have found myself praying...not trying to understand everything, nor find a passage that relates, nor fret about potential outcomes...but I am moving in the direction of praying.

Things like: "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Praying for "kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness" and reminding myself - "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (I Timothy 2:1, Philippians 4:6)

Prayer in these times is not based on knowing exactly what to pray, nor being able to put feet to prayer, because of our proximity to the request, but it is about lifting to heaven our requests to a God who hears and understands...and mixes our prayers into the action from the throne. It is about filling our corner of the world with light and spiritual initiative. It is about belonging to our world right now, and not just looking on.

So, let us pray.