Thursday, May 31, 2012

Control Freaks

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Romans 8:24b

God loves control freaks. God died for control freaks. But control freaks rob their gospel of its power.

First off, you are not in control. Period. Okay, you can pick where you buy your latte but most of your life is in the hands of randomness, whimsy or even cruelty. Bad people do get good things to happen. Good people have terrible days. Homeless families were doing just fine a few months ago. People who were given up on leave the hospital. Over-protective parents get news of teenage pregnancies.  Spouses wake up one day and say, "No more!"

From my albeit personal survey, control freaks are more unhappy than most people if not more depressed. Deep down, they know most of their controlling ways yield little. It's a stressful, uphill battle to keep things (and people) under control. But God redeems.

God say, "Let me take over." God never moves without your ultimate end in view. And it is a beautiful end. While God may not step in and, poof, change your reality (do you really know the whole of what's going on anyway,) God will not be thwarted. Here comes Paradise.

When we take over, life is on our shoulders and, quite honestly, our shoulders aren't strong enough. Hope disappears because there is nothing beyond us and our own control.

Take a wider view today. Ask God what God is doing. Trust what God is doing. Don't become uninvolved. Just believe God's promise that "there's more" and let God sweat the big stuff. God is trustworthy. Hand over the reins. (but buy your won latte.)

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


What or who inspires you? Are you inspired at all? I love stories about people who were told "Can't" and did it anyway. Single parents inspire me. Young soldiers, Marines and sailors inspire me. Those in recovery inspire me. Those who adopt children inspire me. Andy, Ben, Bill, Rick, Alfred, Claude, Mike, Flossie and others have inspired me. Sadly, most that represent me in government (either side of the aisle) do the opposite. They suck the life out of me. Most movies and commercials dis-inspire me. Whining is a breath stealer as well.

To inspire is to fill with animation, to influence or to arouse. The word comes from Latin: to breathe into. It has the same root as the word spirit, as in Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God, which is alive in us today, is what God breathes into us to fill us with power and hope.

God wants to inspire you, to breathe life into you today. The Spirit is saying, "Give me a chance." Make room. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)


Jesus tells us that our heart will occupy the people and places and things we treasure. God shows us over and over again that his heart is with those who are poor, hungry, oppressed, imprisoned, widowed and orphaned. God treasures these people. Do we?
Practice heart health. What in your day breaks God's heart? Attend to that.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

Thursday, May 24, 2012


One of the easiest, least calorie burning, detached exercises of my day is pushing the "Like" button on Facebook. Boom. "Like" that.

I am afraid we have become a church who "likes" Jesus. Boom. You're liked, Lord!

Jesus never cared if he was liked. In fact, he wasn't. He threatened the status quo. People in charge knew they could not pontificate about "family values" when Jesus kept pointing out that they were doing nothing about elevating the pain and suffering of the poor, oppressed, widowed and orphaned.  Jesus' friends hid at his death.

Jesus never asked anyone to like him. He did ask people to follow him. And he told them it would not be easy. Liking is easy. Following is an investment.

Do you like Jesus. Good for you.

Will you follow him, more than in your mind? Even better.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Matthew 16:24 (NIV)


Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 136:1 (KJV)

My mother made me write thank you cards (real ones, not the token "thank you") before I could use my gifts. "Thank you" was a family value because my parents knew how much life depended upon the kindess and generosity of others.

I hear today of a people who are not so much thankful as they are entitled. Entitled, by right, to darn near everything. "You owe me." Young and old have bought into this.

Here is a challenge. Don't skip this or put it off. It will change your life. Honest.

Write down 100 things for which you are thankful. You will get bogged down after about 50 or so. It will not be easy. Press on. Become a thankful person.

Tell me how you did.

Here's a start.

I am thankful for
            1.       God

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:14-19


Do you belong to this world or another?

 I am not asking which world you physically live in. We all live in this one. I am asking, "Where does your soul/heart reside?"

This does get confusing. I cannot help but be physically in this world. Some days I love it. Some days I hate it. Many days, I am neutral. This is the physical world of birthday parties, humidity, stress, pizza, war, hunger, homelessness, Facebook, happy hour, illness, work and grandchildren. Mostly, I see what I like and avoid what I don't like.

Too many of us, including Christians stop there. We hope a few (How seldom can I pray or worship on Sunday and have it count?) well placed days will cause God to go lightly on us with the tough stuff. It does not work this way no matter how much we protect and wheedle God.

Truth is, we are residences to two worlds. The world Jesus speaks of above is one God is bringing into being through us spiritually. It is a healing world. It is one where pain and grief are overtaken by joy and peace. It is one that is not dependent on our circumstances but one which, in fact, can transcend them.

Will we live in this world God is building? The answer lies in our willingness to marinate in the Truth and only time spent with God will do that.

How much time are you willing to invest in God's reality?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


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 (NIV)

The sin of others is so obvious to us. Sin is written large all over the news. Sin ruins our day. We have no problem understanding sin…except when it is our own. 

When asked, "What sins do you repeat/find hard to resist/commit," I get crickets. Nada. Bumpkis. Zilch. Zero. We are vocal scholars when it comes to the wrongs of others but make a cottage industry out of our failure to examine our own hearts and naming our sins in order to address them.

What actions or inactions need forgiving in your life? Name them today. (Tomorrow, too. God wants to purify us.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Almighty

As he got out of the car Sunday, my youngest grandson, Kai, asked his mom, "Why do we have to go to church every week?" They worship at our church. She gave a typical parent answer about thanking God. Kai, pressed. "Is Poppi (that's me) God?" "No, honey, he isn't." "Didn't think so. He's not up in the air."
How many of us let someone be our God? Coach. Boss. Band Director. Spouse. Child. Celebrity. We do as they say, whether or not the true God thinks it's a good idea. Even if we don't think it's a good idea. We lose the ability to say "No" to false gods instead saying "No," to the God who loved us into being.
God tells us that if we listen to God, luscious fruit springs up around us even if things don't all go our way. In other words, if we let God be our God, we will thrive even when circumstances don't favor us. We know we have shifted gods when we are beat down, stressed, tired, angry, busy on a regular basis.
Who's God of your life? How are you training up the children in your life?
Then God gave the people all these instructions: "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. "You must not have any other god but me. Exodus 20:1-3 (NLT)

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
 Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NLT)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Jesus said this recently in Sunday worship:

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.  John 15:16-17

Three things hit me in this passage. You may find your own insights.

First, Jesus chooses us. I don't know about you, but on many days, I would not choose either of us. We can be selfish, preoccupied, and unreliable. Yet, the truth is, we are choose-able. As is.

Second, our job is to bear lasting fruit. We are to leave behind a yummy life for others as well as ourselves. God wants the world renewed to its Garden of Eden (or New Jerusalem) form. This takes a little sacrifice on our part and a lot of God. But God is up to it. Are we?

Lastly, Jesus wants us to serve each other; to lay down our lives for each other and so become channels of the great fruit God wants to grow in our lives.

How is your fruit crop? What can you do today to make it better, to let God work in and through you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This past Sunday, Jesus told me that I was a friend of God rather than being God's hourly worker. I always find that hard to believe.

Friends are important. Friends get to be way nosier into my life. Friends challenge and comfort me. Not everyone gets to do that. Friends can count on me as I expect to count on them. Friends take me seriously but not too seriously. Life is impossible without friends. They are the joys of life and the grease in tough times.

Most people are acquaintances even if we call them friends. Acquaintances know about us but don't know us. Acquaintances are not asked to make the investment in us that friends are asked to make. If an acquaintance leaves, we are fine. If a friend leaves, there is a hole in our heart.

Given that God makes a terrific friend, how good a friend are you to God?

You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you
servants any longer, because the servant does not know
what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because
I have made known to you everything that I have
heard from my Father.  John 15:14-15

Monday, May 14, 2012


I was in Dallas last week at a conference. I was struck by a profound insight of @JudWilhite, Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. He did an excellent riff on 2 Corinthians 5:12.

We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again,

but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us,

so that you can answer those who take pride in

what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.


Per God, it is not how spectacular your ministry (or work or achievements) is. For God, the measuring stick is the sincerity of our heart.


We are a people who salivate over metrics (statistics, rank, measurements of who is ahead,) and outward appearances. We spend countless hours and dollars trying to get approval, applause or awe from others. This is a bottomless pit that we cannot fill (but believe we can.) Exhausted and empty, we wonder if we measure up.


Why not back of the gas pedal a little today and embrace God's point of view. The real action is in the heart. Guard your heart. Fill it with good things. Externals may bring fleeting happiness. A sincere heart will bring lasting joy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Long View

My dad is 93. He recently observed that newer engineers get all caught up in current technology and problems but fail to see the effects of when their little piece becomes part of something bigger.

A recent National Public Radio story was about how ultra-right and ultra-left factions in political parties are making it near impossible for any constructive action to be taken. A middle of the road Republican senator observed that America's future is murky as a result of these ideological impasses.

People in need of mortgage assistance (I personally have dealt with this) are delayed and ignored among other indignities while financial officers make millions in bonuses for fattening the "bottom line."

To be sure, what we do today does matter. But so do the long term effects, which we as Americans, tend to ignore till there is a crisis. We love a crisis. But there are a lot of "dead" bodies littering the landscape as a result of waiting till there is a crisis.

Into the mix, we need to add the long view, the bigger picture. God does.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13

"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Job 38:4

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

God goes on, not willing to give up the long view

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Where in your dealings today do you need to give more thought to the long term ramifications of what you are considering? How would it fit in God's long view? Would it at all?