Thursday, April 28, 2016


This morning I'm preparing to teach the first study in the book of Ephesians with a group of men.  I've taught this book many times, but each time I come to the first chapter I'm amazed!  I can't help it. To see what God has done and why he did it overwhelms me.  His love and grace, his plans and provisions are more than I can even imagine.  

How can I comprehend all this?  How can I teach it to others when it overwhelms me?  I stand before these first verses silent as I see that grand and wonderful work of God.

It begins in this way,  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with EVERY blessing in the heavenly places in Christ...."

In just the first passage, the first prayer of praise I have to stop and let those words cascade over me.  Who is this God?  Why did he do this?  How can he love us that much?  Doesn't he know what I'm like?

It's because of the answers to those questions that what he did is so wonderful.  This morning, as I read Ephesians 1, I'm left speechless and thankful for a God who overwhelms us with his great provision for all we need. 

What a wonderful glorious God and Father!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Struggling to trust

I wonder why it's so hard to trust God
He has always been faithful
He has always cared
Even as I write these words he holds my hand
But I struggle to trust Him

I think that's why he brings storms
A storm focuses my attention on two things-
my problem and a solution

When all hope is gone
when I have nowhere else to turn
and finally turn to God
I discover he is there

I think that's why he brings storms
They help me focus on him

When the disciples were in the boat
And Jesus slept in the back
He let them struggle
until all hope was gone
Only then did they come to him 
to ask for help

Only then did they lose all hope
only to find faith

"You are the trust of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest sea.
You still the roaring of the seas
The roaring of their waves."

But you wait until I finally
in despair
come to you

I'm still struggling to trust
I wish I could tell you
I always trusted God

I don't

I'm still trying to do it myself
but when I fail completely
and all hope is lost
I come to Him and he 
is always there

It's a struggle to 
stop struggling
and trust

But gradually
I find
that as I completely fail
and come to him
He graciously calms my storms

His kindness and love
is always sweet
even when
I struggle to trust

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Quote of the day

This quote comes to me today from a homeless friend of mine.  He's a great believer and walking with God.  Here was part of his note to me this morning,

"Every little act counts; all moments build up to that great moment."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pleasing to God

I'm not responsible for you.  I don't have to make you think like I do.  I don't even need your approval.  And, most important, I'm not interested in winning an argument on issues of life with you.  You might love me or hate me, it doesn't matter.  You might think I'm too narrow minded or too religious, it doesn't bother me.  You might call me names, I don't mind.

And, I am not responsible to you.  I don't owe you an explanation of my life or views.  I don't owe you anything but to love you well.  

In fact....I have to tell you....I don't really care what you think of me.  You don't even have to like me.  I don't mind.  I can't live for you.  I must not live for you, I have to live for another.

The only one I want to please is the God who made me.  If by chance you agree with that great, but even if you don't like my life of trying to please God it doesn't change my course.  I'm not here to make you happy or make you feel like you won an argument with me because I don't intend to argue with you about anything.

I want to please only one, God.

I want to conform to his views, his nature, his heart.  I want to please God.

The author of Hebrews wrote these words about the life of another,

Hebrews 11:5-
"By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God."

The commentary on his life was that he was pleasing to God.  

That's what I want too!

I want to live for him!  I want to please God.  That will mean I may not please you.  You might dislike me for my views and words, but I'm not here to please you, sorry, I'm trying to please God.

And, as our culture moves away from truth and God it will divide me from the culture around me.  Here's what it will look like- gradually I will be more and more politically and culturally incorrect.  As culture redefines "right and wrong" I will gradually be vilified, but I'm not trying to please the culture....I'm trying to please God.

So as you watch me lovingly be politically and culturally incorrect understand my goal....I want to be pleasing to God!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The weight of your shadow (revisited)

This is a post from 2008.  These words continue to challenge me even today.  I thought I would share them with you once more. I hope you enjoy these musings from eight years ago.

This evening I've been thinking about the lives that have been changed or influenced by the shadow of my life as our lives pass each other. I have been thinking about it as I reflect on my son's life. As I mentioned in the last post he turned 33 today. In my thoughts over the last 33 years I have thought about his life and the lives of others who have found themselves in the shadow of my passing. I will be honest that there are some I have hurt and others I have helped. I have cared for many, but I'm sure I simply didn't see some who were looking to me for help, friendship or encouragement. In this life we will never really know the impact of our lives on the lives of others. Some we have helped, some we have disappointed. The weight of our shadows is much more than we realize. That's why Jesus told his disciples that the most important thing we can do in our lives is to love God first, and then love one another. What he was communicating was that the most important things in our lives are our relationships with God and each other. My impact on eternity is closely connected to how I treat others as my shadow and I pass by. As I have thought about this I have been reading notes from people whose lives have been touched by the shadow of my life. Some have been changed, some were hurt or disappointed by me, some were helped and others found direction as I shared what God had done in my life. All of these thoughts and lives make me keenly aware of the weight of my shadow. Our shadows are much heavier than we will ever know. When you have a moment read Philippians 2:1-11 and pray about the weight of your shadow as the sun rises on the new day ahead.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Molding me

We each become the person we really want to be  

Daily we are cultivating the person 
that will be remembered by others  

Moment by moment we make decisions
that etch that person more clearly 
into who we will forever be

We become the person we really want to be

Like clay in the hands of a potter
I create the vessel that is me

A cruel word here
a hidden sin there
an angry response in a moment
all make an impression
on the clay that is me

And in time that clay hardens
and others see the work of my life

Some choose a different style 
of pottery
They are more intentional,
less careless

They gently seek another outcome
With a softer touch they return
a harsh word with love

They respond to a hurt with a prayer

When they lose something precious
they release it to God and choose

The clay forms differently for them
It's a softer vessel, gentle lines
Its very look speaks of grace
as the potter responds to the grace
 received from God

As his vessel hardens it looks so different

It's attractive, appealing, refreshing
It's a vessel that gives a smile, a kind word
a gentle touch no matter what is done to it

As the years pass I'm daily molding me,
the vessel I will be
The clay hardens and I reveal to the world
the work of the craftsman

A work of love and grace or
a work of selfishness and resentment

When I see an older person I know
what they did with the clay that is them

The vessel is set, the work is done
and in their face, in their words
they tell me of their hearts

Moment by moment I'm molding me

Lord, guide my hands that what comes
out when the vessel is done
a vessel that looks like you

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Content in Christ

The most prolific weed in the Christian life is pride,
the rarest flower is contentment.

This morning over coffee a friend said, in just a few words, something that pierced my soul.  He's a good friend of many years and has earned the right to say the hard things to me.  If you had been listening in it would have seemed to be nothing at all, but the words sunk deep into me with this realization....

I am not content!

I'm quite aware that pride is my most prolific weed and contentment my most rare flower, but without realizing it I had let the weeds of pride choke out that rare flower of contentment.

It happens so subtly, just as weeds slowly take over a garden, but it happened.  

I so want to be content in Christ.  To be content with being nobody, resting in him to be all I need.  And yet, the weeds grow, pride sneaks in.  

Paul wrote of this, that this rare flower of contentment is something to be learned when he said,

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." 

It's so elusive.  The reality we often find ourselves in pricks our ego, offends our pride and tempts us to be offended.  It's so subtle!

Once more this morning I had to come back to this- I will only find joy and peace as I find it in my contentment in Christ alone.  To rest in Christ as the place of ultimate contentment is the best weed killer on the market.

So what does it mean to be content in Christ?  It means my identity, my worth, my place in this world, my reputation and everything else about me is tossed in the trash bin that I might be in him alone.

And, if he does anything with that....all the better because he will get the glory.

This rare flower of contentment is beautiful and the fragrance is wonderful, but if I'm not careful the weeds of pride will choke it out.  Once more today I'm rediscovering the beautiful and rare flower of contentment in Christ.

Saturday, April 09, 2016


The dreaded sign of any trip- 

"Detour ahead"

 The path was chosen, the course clear, our destination intentional and then, to make the trip even more difficult....a detour.

It's unavoidable in driving.  There may be an accident ahead, traffic construction or weather issues.  Detours promise I will still get to my destination, but not as I had planned and not when I had planned.

My own life has been full of detours, routes I never planned or anticipated.  I'm sure you have seen them as well.  The problem with a detour in our faith is we easily lose our way, lose sight of the goal and wander off course.

A detour will present itself for any believer who decides to pursue God.  It always happens.  It might take moments or days to get back on course, but we dare not forget where we were going.

All through the bible our relationship with God is described as a walk.  A walk has certain elements to its success- a start, a destination and the path to get there.  Often, as we walk with God a detour can come.  It might be as simple as a distraction, a health issue, a family crisis, a job change.  Detours happen in every life.

It's not the detour that is ever the problem.  

The problem comes when we forget where we were going and wander off to other passions and desires.

One of my favorite crusty old prophets is Amos.  In his book he travels north to speak to Israel about the detours they had taken.

In chapter 5 he speaks to Israel on behalf of God,

"Seek me and live;
do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
    do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
    and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
Seek the Lord and live,"

The nation of Israel had taken a detour.  

They were religious, there's no doubt about that, but in the beginning the goal was to seek God.  Now, with many detours behind them, religion had become the goal and they missed the original destination- knowing and seeking God himself.

God, through Amos, is telling them, don't forget where you were going.  Your many detours have caused you to miss the destination completely!  Remember where you were trying to go!  

As my GPS does, it was time for them to remind themselves of the original goal.  Don't forget, in spite of detours along your path, the goal is to know and seek God.  

Make sure your spiritual GPS is set on the goal of seeking and knowing God so the detours won't cause you to lose your way.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Hard hearts and fallow ground

"Sow with a view to righteousness, 
Reap in accordance with kindness; 
Break up your fallow ground, 
For it is time to seek the Lord 
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you."
Hosea 10:12

Great photo, isn't it?  Very appealing, eye catching.

No, not really.  It's just hard, dry, unused ground....

producing nothing, 

making nothing,

helping no one.  

In the early hours of this morning, as I wandered between sleep and wake, I thought about this verse...."break up the fallow ground."  

In the night hours, out of nowhere came this verse I hadn't thought about in a while.  I'm sure God was speaking to me about me and so I take some time this morning and meditate on that verse.

Fallow is not a word we use these days, but it's familiar to any farmer.  It's land that isn't doing what land was designed to's just sitting there.  It might have potential, but until the farmer does something with's simply fallow. 

And, if it sits too long it becomes hard and unproductive, not producing anything, not doing what land was meant to do.

My heart is like that too.  When I'm not breaking up the fallow parts of my heart with the word of God, with prayer, with time with God, it becomes hard, sterile and cold.  

"Break up the fallow ground" demands I am aware of my dry places and I do something about it!  If I don't....If I let those fallow parts of my life alone they become hard.  Hard to God, hard to his word and hard to others.  

And, to be honest, when my heart hardens prayer is the last thing I want to do!

It would be easier if God said, "Let me break up the fallow ground of your life" but he didn't.  He told me to do it.  So if I care at all about growth, being of value to God, making a difference in the world and eternity it means I have to get dirty!  

I have to get out the plow (God's word), find those hard, dry places in my life and break up that soil with God's word and time with God in prayer.  

I have to break up that dry ground, seed the word in those places and dig out the weeds that might have grown while I ignored that part of my life.  

It takes time with God, time in prayer, time in his word, time to listen to him.

Hard hearts and fallow ground.  Not exciting stuff....but watch a farmer as he takes a plow to that ground, turns it over, breaks it up and plants his seed.  Then come back a month later, two months later and see what happened.  Even hard hearts and fallow ground can be places of great blessing if we refuse to let our heart stay hard, dry and fallow.

And what a difference a little work makes in fallow ground!