Nov 302019
 

It’s easy to read the Bible and lose sight of the practical application if you are not careful. Psalm 23:5 says “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.” I think of David and his enemies, Philistines and giants and such, and find it hard to relate sometimes. I’m not going to war with people trying to kill me, especially not any giants. And for me, the image of a cup spilling over, or an oily head is not a good thing. But when I think about what that really means, it blesses me.

Think about it. The Lord prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies. The Lord will bless me so my enemies will see. Not just where they can see, but right in the middle of them. When my enemies are around me, with me, looking at me, considering my demise, smirking and plotting my destruction . . . That’s when and where God chooses to prepare a banquet for me. That’s where He annoints me and fills my cup with blessings overflowing. That’s where He honors me by showing my enemies just how much He loves and cares for me.

So the next big question is, who is going to be watching God bless me? Who are my enemies? Probably not big Philistine giants. Maybe someone at work? Or someone at school? Someone in your neighborhood . . .

 Posted by at 8:34 am
Oct 262019
 
Buster thinks you’re never too big to be a lap dog

Living in a small house with two big dogs can be challenging.  At 123 and 152 pounds, Joy and Buster Brown (aka “Buzzard”) are not easily ignored.   You can’t lock them in a little dog carrier.  You can’t really hold them in your lap, even if they want you to. It’s difficult to put anything out of their reach.  And I’m still doubting the wisdom in teaching Joy to open the refrigerator.  Life with two big dogs is just crazy sometimes.  But the other day, I thought of something even crazier.  Why don’t people keep 150 pound cats in their house?  

Imagine what it would be like to live with two Mountain Lions in your house.  They are in the same weight class as our dogs.  They have teeth that could chew you to bits, and claws that could rip you to shreds.  They have more than enough strength and weight to pounce on you, knock you to the floor, and literally bite your neck off.  But strangely, none of this is the reason people don’t live with 150 pound cats. 

A Happy Buzzard

Buster Brown has teeth that could chew me to bits.  He has claws that could rip my flesh.  He can and has knocked me down on occasion when we run and play.  My arm fits inside his powerful jaw.  I know because I’ve had it there.  Just this morning, he had my wrist in his mouth.  One crunch and I would be without a hand.  Either Buster Brown or Joy could probably kill me if they wanted to.  Both together certainly could.  So why do people live with big dogs but not big cats?  It’s not the size, teeth, and claws that count.  It’s something else.  It really comes down to one thing.  Trust.

I don’t trust Buster with my dinner on the table.  I don’t trust Joy with the refrigerator open.  I don’t trust either of them with fried chicken scraps in the garbage.  But when we are playing and tussling around the house, when Joy grabs my arm in her big jaw to try to pull me outside to play, when I go to sleep at night and leave the bedroom door open for them to come in at any time, I’m trusting them with my life.

I know my dogs aren’t perfect.  But I also know they respect me as master.  They know I am lord of the house.  They trust me to lead the small pack that is our family.  In their own way, and in at least some sense of the word, they love me.  And I love them.  And because I can trust them to love and respect me, they enjoy the blessings of my love, and my house. 

Buster and Joy Sharing a Bed . . .But wait. Why does Buster have my shoe?

Oct 162019
 

My grandfather was always up to something.  He always had a plan, a hobby, a project to work on.  Even when he got old, he didn’t sit still for too long.  When health finally forced him to stop, that’s when he went on to be with the Lord.  I remember my grandfather as a guy who never stopped moving forward, looking for the next thing to build, the next place to go, the next person to help . . .  He didn’t just talk, he did.  With this as his attitude in life, the advice he gave me one day appeared to be a little out of character.

Emotionally, I was going through a rough patch in life.  From the outside perspective, it looked like things were going well for me.  Life was working out just fine.  I had a house, a family, a job . . . but I was not content.  I couldn’t figure out what I should be doing next.  Should I be working harder?  Should I be doing more?  Or should I just be happy with things the way they were?  That’s when my grandfather told me “Sometimes, you just coast.”

“Sometimes, you just coast.”  It sounded like good advice at the time and I’ve never forgotten it, but recently, I have wondered if it is really true.  After all, the Bible says we should run life as a race.  Run to win.  That doesn’t sound like coasting to me.  On the other hand, there are also stories in the Bible where God told his people to relax.  To stop striving.  He would fight the battle for them.

I think my issue was that I was confusing coasting with drifting.  Now, maybe my grandfather wasn’t purposefully so choosy with his word, but even so, I’m glad he said “… sometimes you just coast …” and not “… sometimes you just drift …”   Drifting is aimless.  You just go wherever the currents of life take you.  Coasting is still purposeful.  When you coast, you still aim toward the goal. You still move in the right direction, but you stop striving so hard to get there.  You stop pumping the peddles of the bicycle like crazy, relax a bit, lift up your head, and enjoy the breeze as you coast toward your goal.

In life, there are always hills to climb, times when you have to peddle hard just to make progress.  Times when you feel like giving up, like you will never make it to the finish line.  That’s when you build strength and character by keeping your head down and pushing the peddle with perseverance.  But if that were all there was to the journey of life, most of us would give up before reaching the destination.

I’m glad there are times when we can coast.  Times of resting and refreshing and being content.  The important thing is to know when to coast, to recognize and enjoy it when you can, and to always keep steering in the right direction.  I guess that’s what my grandfather was trying to tell me years ago.  Sometimes in life, “you just coast.” 

 Posted by at 7:22 am
Sep 192019
 

I think life is like selecting your coffee amount in a single serve coffee machine. You can select 6 ounces and play it safe, or you can go for 8 or 12 ounces and fill your cup to the brim. If you fill it to overflowing, you might spill some. It’s the price you pay for a cup full of blessings. It might be a little messy. You may even burn your fingers and get hurt. But the alternative means living with less potential, and less blessing, all because of a fear of losing some. Definitely, fill it to the brim.

 Posted by at 1:37 pm
Jul 232019
 

Alexa has taken over my house. She now controls my lights, my security cameras, my thermostat . . . she even controls my grocery list. And I love it. It’s just so bloomin’ convenient.

Some people would think I am crazy, giving Alexa (really Amazon) such complete information about the workings of my life. I do admit it concerns me a little bit sometimes. So, I ask Alexa, “Are you spying on me?” She always responds emphatically, “No.” Good enough for me.

The thing is, it doesn’t really take a whole lot of assurance of privacy for me. I don’t assume I have much of it anyway. Whether I am home, or at work, or at the store, or at church, on a wilderness trail, or simply sitting on the deck in my back yard, I try to live my life as if someone is watching all the time. Because, Someone is.

May 312019
 

John 18:40 of the Bible (NET version) says “Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.” Remember Barabbas? When Jesus was arrested, Pilot gave the people a choice to release one man. Barabbas was the guy the people chose to release rather than Jesus. I think it’s bizarre that the people demanded a REAL revolutionary be released so they could hold Jesus for crucifixion, accusing him of being . . . a revolutionary.

The Jews accused Jesus of declaring himself king and thus trying to overthrow Rome. It was an excuse. A ploy they used to trap Pilot in a corner where he had no choice but to hand Jesus over for punishment. Amazingly, their very actions brought about his crucifixion and set in motion the miraculous events that birthed the biggest “revolution” of human history.

It never ceases to amaze me how blind and confused sin and evil can be. Sometimes it even encourages me. It makes me realize that evil does not require my efforts to defeat it. If I maintain my integrity and, with a good attitude, continue to do right, evil will in time often bring about its own destruction. Perhaps it is true that all evil needs to prevail is for good men to do nothing. But maybe the “something” that good men should do does not require us to strive against every evil we find in the world. That’s exhausting. Perhaps the “something” good people should do is to faithfully work at doing, and being, good ourselves. Then as God’s lite shines through us, darkness disappears.

May 112019
 
Picture of peonies

Romans 1:20 says that creation teaches us about God, that we can learn about God’s nature simply by looking at his creation. With the reality of that truth sinking in my head, I am beginning to wonder what I could learn about God simply by taking a few minutes today to examine his creation?

What do the Spring flowers teach me? What can I learn about God from the peonies by the mailbox? Does a yellow dandelion in my yard say something about God’s character? When I smell the wonderful aroma of a Magnolia blossom, why is my brain filled with a sense of awe? And what about the spider lilies, whose leaves are dying? They will be hiding in the ground, unseen until the fall, when they will explode out of the ground to paint their fiery red display across our yard, proving that life has been there all along.

What can I say? If a few Spring flowers are my teacher, then I must know that God loves beauty, and color, and intricate, surprising shapes, smells, and textures. He wants us to see it too, for he scatters it everywhere. But he doesn’t leave it too long. He doesn’t want us to get used to it and start ignoring it. Even though it may be gone for a while, it comes back, and we appreciate it all over again. There are different flowers for different seasons. And even in the Winter, there are icicles, frost, and an endless variety of snowflakes. And by my driveway, even if they have to peek from under the snow, will be the buds on the camellia bush, a beautiful promise of the coming Spring.

Apr 192019
 

Sometimes God allows bad things to happen so that he can get glory. We see this clearly in John chapter 9, among other places in the Bible. Am I the only one? Or are there other people who don’t like that idea? God might let me or someone I love suffer because it’s better for him? That sounds a bit selfish and egotistical to me. Until I realize something . . .

God doesn’t need glory and honor to himself. He doesn’t need us to tell him how great he is. He has no ego or inferiority complex that needs to be fed by our praise like some Hollywood movie star, strutting about for the camera. No, God is complete in himself. God needs to get glory and praise because that is what we need, not because that is what he needs. So, when bad things happen so that God can be glorified, even that is really for us. Because he loves us. Because he wants what is best for us. And what is best for us, is to see him in all his glory.

Jesus’ death on the cross is a perfect example of all of this. Jesus suffered tremendous pain so that God could be glorified, right could win, and we could see him as savior and Lord. The pain and the suffering pointed a blinding bright spot light on the love of God as the “star of the show.” In the grand finale, when he bursts from the grave, we stand and cheer or bow and worship at the amazing acts of God. And as we give our accolades to him, he says, “The show was for you. I did it all for you.”

 Posted by at 6:43 am
Dec 152018
 

Well, after three months, we have one puppy left, and it’s getting harder and harder to let him go.  Just this morning, I already had to clean up poop and pee, and there is still a mess in the garage to deal with, but the puppy is still here.  I haven’t killed him yet.  In fact, I want to keep him around more today than I did when he was first born.  I’ve been thinking about why that is.

Buster Brown sleeping on his stuffed dog

Love is the key to all this.  When dealing with all the hardship caused by puppies, the poop, pee, chewing, waking in the middle of the night, etc. there are really only two emotional responses that can happen.  Either you decide to love them anyway, using that force which is always patient, always kind, always bears all things and never fails, or you can decide to move in the other direction.  You can let resentment build, let frustration grow, embrace anger, set your jaw and determine to get rid of the troublesome vermin as soon as possible. 

Option B is what causes little puppies to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere to starve.  Option A, an even stronger force, has the unfortunate side affect of puppies sticking around longer than they should on occasion.  Sometimes it even causes a lifetime of hardship.  But it’s a lifetime of hardship that is chosen because of a decision to love.  For me, I’d rather have the troubles of option A than the heart of option B any day. 

So, the puppy is still here.  And if it turns out that he is still here a year from now, don’t judge me too harshly just because I chose option A.  I learned it from my Father who, from the beginning of time, chose option A for me.

Oct 312018
 

So there’s this lady who painted herself all white, and wears all white clothes. She stands real still and pretends to be a statue. She’s a real person, pretending to be a facsimile of a real person. That’s her job. People give her money to pretend to be a fake person. Shucks, I gave her money.

It’s funny. Instead of art imitating life, it’s life imitating art imitating life. The curious part to me is why is it so fascinating to look at? I guess it’s because it’s hard to believe a real person could stand so still and look so fake. But why should that be interesting? There are plenty of people in this world who are going nowhere and constantly faking it . . . and most of them even get paid for it.