Monthly Archives: August 2017

Yours and Mine

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I walked into a crowded restroom, and seeing all the stalls were taken, I moved to the handicapped door. But just as I opened it, a woman clearly needing that stall came through the restroom entrance, so I stepped away. Her response was,
“What is it with you people? Why are you so afraid of using our stall? Do you think we have cooties or something?”
Due to the number of people listening, and my shock, I said nothing.
Yesterday, while I was walking downtown, a tourist was taking a picture of a popular local icon. Since I was about to walk right in front of it, I stood aside so as not to photo bomb. His mocking response was, “You don’t have to hide – I wasn’t taking a picture of YOU!”
Like a dog heeling by her Master, I heard a firm warning,
“Leave it…”
So I smiled and walked past, but I felt the deep burn of wanting to bark and bite his ankle.
Geesh. People are so easily offended these days; and I’m very offended by there offendedness.
Which is to say, I haven’t “reckoned the old man dead” or, in my case, “old woman”. I have not “made myself nothing” as Jesus did; and I’ve forgotten to pick up my cross and follow Him. It’s such a teeny tiny cross compared to His. It’s as if Jesus, hauling a world’s worth of groceries out of the car, asks me to carry the single roll of toilet paper, and I complain it’s too heavy. What if I believed “underneath are His everlasting arms” actually carrying it himself, but LETTING me “help” Him, like a toddler in training?
How would our world be different if we each carried not only our own roll, but bore the roll of the one who “pooped” on us? (Pardon the visual, but exchanging the word “sin” for “poop” really brings it home for this mother of eight).
Jesus does the clean-up; we are just his trusty side-kicks, holding the roll.
I’m gonna try to remember next time somebody offends me to pray, “JEEESUUSS, clean up on aisle 12!” and, as the old hymn says, yield to His “cleansing flood”- for me first, and the other guy, too.
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Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord
forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13

When they hurled insults at him, (Jesus) did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.” 1Pe 2:23

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Phil.2:5-8

In the same way, reckon yourselves dead in relation to sin, but alive in relation to God, because you are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 6:11

(Jesus) told all of them, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself,” (stop being self- centered) “pick up his cross every day, and follow me continuously”. Luke 9:23

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Running Free

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Our seven-year-old Annie was learning to ride a bike. Struggling to stay sunny-side up, she’d weave between trees and parked cars like a drunken sailor as I shouted, “Look OUT! Don’t run over Mr. Rude’s leaf pile!” (A coveted landmark of our neighborhood.) and, “Pedal faster!” Of course, to her little mind, if she couldn’t control the bike going slowly, how could the answer be, “Pedal faster!”? But she obeyed, and it worked. She flew a block and a half and returned. Nailed it.
I recall like a scene from a classic movie in slow motion, Anna dismounting starry-eyed, like an astronaut returning from the moon, helmet under one arm waving to her cheering crowd of one with the other. Together we rode to the park. She pedaled her little Kermit the Frog legs to break the sound barrier. Her blond curls, an aerial banner proclaiming, “Land of the free! Home of the brave!” Her face radiating joy and amazement at accomplishing the impossible; she’d discovered what aviator John Gillespie Magee meant when He penned these words:
“…I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the silver skies…”
There is an “Annie Sensation” that occurs in the spiritual realm. That glorious freedom: running in obedience to God. David says to the Lord in Psalm 119:32,
“I run in the paths of Your commands, for You have broadened my understanding.”
Sometimes I think, “How can I run in His paths when I can’t even walk in my own?” But when I trust that He knows even more than stuff like “pedal faster”, and I do what He says in His Word- not partially, but wholly- I behold the aerial view, and I “slip the surely bonds of earth…”; the surely bonds of self.
A true Free Spirit is one led by the Holy Spirit. And like the writer of “High Flight”…
“… I Put out my hand and touch the face of God.”*

* Read the poem and the story behind the writing of “High Flight” by aviator John Gillespie Magee. It’s a great depiction of our life in Christ.

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Anyone Who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. But if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed! -from John 8:36

We are not children of bondage (the law), but of the free (the grace of Jesus Christ). -From Galatians 4:31

You have been called to live in freedom, but don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

Fairest of All

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Last week big trucks filled with colorful fiberglass animals were parked on the street this side of town. Today the Ferris wheel is up. Soon the sweet smell of cotton candy, snowcones, and cow manure will waft across this little town, and I’ll be up to my elbows in grease from the latest deep-fried fad. Fried green smoothies maybe?
I find in myself the little kid jumping up and down with delight at the remembrance of bumper cars and tilt-a-whirls of years past. OK, yeah -that was me slumped over the side of the squirrel cage, vomiting pink popcorn onto the people below, but I’d begged Cindy Shelton to stop flipping the cage, so it was NOT MY FAULT!
Ah, the memories evoked by a county fair.
Anyway, tickets are available now, so I’m picking mine up and soon I’ll be breathing it all in. The mere anticipation keeps me energized.
I experience similar emotions when I contemplate heaven. I’m not talking about the ridiculously twisted version of fat little naked cherubs playing harps on clouds, brought to you by Satan, Inc. I’m thinking of the real heaven, where nobody’s gonna be lying, hating, hurting, or emaciated by addictions. Where every longing- be it laughter, love, or quiet, is fulfilled, and people from “every nation, tongue and tribe” (Revelation 7:9), will be gathered at His place. Just think of the music from THAT cultural festival!
When I see the signs of Jesus comin’ to town, I think about all He is, and the anticipation keeps me going strong. We don’t know everything about heaven; the Lord wants us to love Him for Who He is-not for the prize behind Door Number One; plus there’d be a stampede bigger than Walmart’s Black Friday, if we knew all that heaven held.
But if the beauty of His creations, what is known of Jesus and His presence in my life is any indication, heaven is worth the ticket; which has already been purchased by the cross of Christ. Pick it up now, for the great adventure. We’ll be elbow-deep in the love of Fairest Lord Jesus.

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For the price of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

In the last days… People will be lovers of themselves
…proud, abusive, disobedient… ungrateful, unholy, without love…slanderous, without self-control…treacherous
…conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of spirituality, but without power. From 2 Tim. 3:1-5

No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking marrying and given in marriage, up to the day no enter the arc; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came. Matt. 24:36-38

You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come in an hour when you do not expect him.
Matt. 24:44

Content Mint

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I was making a watermelon-feta- mint salad the other day and it got me thinking about mint. It grows wild in a stream behind our home. I love the fragrance, the freshness, the stepping-into-coolness to gather a bundle; and what is it about something growing wild? I’m going to throw a few watermelon seeds next to the mint to keep it company. With dairy cows nearby for cheese, I’m dreaming of a ready-made salad.
Back to the mint.
It’s just there, year after year, doing the hula to the music of the stream, looking beautiful. It doesn’t grunt or strain to grow, it doesn’t uproot itself in a panic during dry spells; in fact, it has quite an extensive root system, cultivated, I suspect, in the years of drought this valley has endured. The plant drinks what’s given, and the outcome is inevitable: growth, leaves, reproduction, repeat. Its minty-greeness is a vibrant contrast to the dried thistle soon-to-be tumbleweed in this desert valley.
I started thinking about the comparison of two lives described in Jeremiah 17. The first belongs to the person who trusts in human potential; himself and others. He is described as a shrub in the desert, living, but thirsty, always seeking more, and in the end, parched and dried up. The second illustrates the person who relies on the Lord: “…like a tree planted by water, that sends out roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
We who live in Christ don’t have to invent growth. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” stated the apostle Paul. It’s a done deal. We simply plant ourselves in the abundant stream of everything He is, and stay put. Droughts and heat will drive our roots down, and there, in deepest darkness, we discover the crystal waters, the subterranean things of Christ, revealed only in those times of secondary growth.
Dwelling in Christ, we dance the hula in the stream of His love, bear fruit, reproduce, offer what we have to others, repeat.

It was mint to be.

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They are… planted in the house of the Lord; …even in old age; they bear fruit and are fresh and flourishing. Ps.92:13a,14a

The Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your soul even in drought…and you will be like a watered garden…Isaiah 58:11

He who delights in the Lord and his instructions will be like a tree planted by the river that brings forth fruit in season; his leaf will not wither; and whatever he does prospers. Ps. 1:3

If anyone does not remain in Me…he will wither. John 15:6

All-Purpose Cleaner

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It’s a ticking bomb found in public places, randomly detonating with the roar of a lion. I’m talking here about automatic flush toilets. They mean well, but do we really need our backsides sprayed with an international smorgasbord of bacteria? For those with weak constitutions, do NOT google “germs and automatic flush toilets.” Let’s just say it would be safer and more convenient to simply have automatic dispensers marked, “E-coli, Streptococcus, Hepatitis A and Who-Knows-What-All”, that we might contaminate ourselves at leisure.
Enter, wipes. Wipes of every kind. Y’got got yer diaper wipes, facial wipes, hand wipes, disinfectant wipes, personal wipes, scented, unscented, hypoallergenic, MI-free, paraben-free and alcohol-free; with aloe, vitamin e, and…green tea— I’m guessing for those times when sucking on a wipe just seems the right thing to do. Then there are organic wipes, flushable, quilted for extra comfort, triple-layered, and one that boasts of our evolutionary progress, “Made with 99% water!”
The one I recommend is the one you have handy when your phone drops into the toilet as you leap off the seat before the detonator blows.
Like unseen bacteria, spiritual contaminants continually mist us—sometimes jetting us—and, like a lion, seek to devour: pop-up porn, e-mail ads, and Facebook rants. As if that weren’t enough, we have the deadly schemes of our own secret, hateful, and desperate little thoughts, encouraged and lauded by the devil himself.
Thankfully we have a better—than—a—wipe, all-purpose cleansing solution:

God’s Word, the Bible. That humble, no—frills, dusty little book on our shelf, reaches to the unknown areas of our souls in need of cleansing and refreshing. It’s a hot shower in a handy carrying case. Simply open, read the instructions and apply daily.

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…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word…” Ephesians 5:25,26

Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

Just think how much more the blood of the Messiah will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. Hebrews 9:14a

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:25-27