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Faith Reflections: Waiting On God
« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2009, 06:44:28 AM »

Waiting On God
5 November 2009, 6:14 am

I don’t like to wait and I can’t think of anyone else who does either.  The “waiting room” at the doctor’s office definitely has a negative connotation.  What I’m reminde...

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Faith Reflections: The “Scarcity Assumption”
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2009, 07:44:43 AM »

The “Scarcity Assumption”
6 November 2009, 6:21 am



The man shuffled into Starbucks, his hand grasping the left hip pocket-area of his trousers, pulling up the left leg of his worn slacks, making it a full three inches shorter than the other.  His coat collar...

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Faith Reflections: Healthy Fear Born of Respect
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2009, 07:10:50 AM »

Healthy Fear Born of Respect
10 November 2009, 6:46 am

My father when he was a young man in the Army

My father was a six foot four inches tall Iowa farmer.  He was of thin build but he was strong!  I don’t think I feared him, but I had a healthy respe...

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Faith Reflections: Good from the Broken
« Reply #33 on: November 13, 2009, 08:20:46 AM »

Good from the Broken
11 November 2009, 5:57 am



The shattered bowl you see pictured here is one of 380 images I have for sale on iStockphoto.  I was drying dishes and dropped the bowl, breaking it into the two pieces.  I decided to photograph it.  The image was accepted by iStockphoto and has sold 20 times earning me $12, more than the bowl was worth whole!

It’s a reminder to me that if I can redeem a broken bowl, using it for some good, then certainly God can redeem, use for good, what is “broken” in my life.  I just have to put myself into His hands, accepting His call to carry out His purposes.  I’m so glad God’s into recycling!  You too?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes.” Romans 8:28

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Faith Reflections: Good News!
« Reply #34 on: November 13, 2009, 08:20:46 AM »

Good News!
12 November 2009, 6:05 am

“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” What a question!  Just give me the good news, of course I’ll be miserably curious (and worried) if I don’t let you give me the bad news too!

It’s interesting that the four books about Jesus in the Bible are called gospels, which literally means “good news.” Just wanted to remind all of us that God’s intentions for us today are all good, even through the bad stuff His intentions are all good!

“Good news makes you feel better.  Your happiness will show in your eyes.”(Provervbs 15:30)  Have a great day following close behind His sandaled feet.

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Faith Reflections: Hearing vs. Listening
« Reply #35 on: November 13, 2009, 08:20:46 AM »

Hearing vs. Listening
13 November 2009, 6:37 am



Humor me on this.  Try taking just ten seconds for this experiment.

What do you hear?  Give it your full attention.  What are you hearing right now?  Remember, ten seconds.  Shhhh!  Just listen.  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.  OK, experiment’s over.

There’s undoubtedly more than one sound you heard, probably even more than two.   I suspect you heard a sound you didn’t know you had been hearing.  Why didn’t you hear it before?  It wasn’t because you had a hearing problem but because you had a listening problem.  You weren’t really listening.

I’ve sometimes prayed, “Lord, speak to me.”  I now think that’s the wrong prayer.  I can’t believe God is hesitant to speak, it has to be that I’m not listening.  If God chose to speak in a big, deep, booming voice, or even if He whispered, I could depend on my hearing.  It seems, however, that God has chosen to speak in a way other that what we can pick up by our hearing.  He wants us to be listening.  A better prayer to pray is, “Lord, help me to listen for you.”

He may be speaking through what someone else is saying, and the person may not even realize they’re a spokesperson for God.  Sometimes God’s intention is to communicate to me the opposite of what the person is saying!  He also communicates through my experiences, events around me, and even my feelings.  Am I listening?

To decipher accurately such communication from God requires I have a working knowledge of His character and His ways. This is where an understanding of His Word and a connection to His people comes in.  Yes, it’s an inexact science, listening to God.  I’d prefer a big, booming voice or even a soft whisper from Him but that would only require hearing and not necessarily listening.  Obviously He will have none of that!  The Biblical proverbial writer reminds us that “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15)

As I’m sitting here at a Starbucks typing this up I’m hearing a great many sounds but I’m trying to listen to what God’s telling me.  My prayer is that in the midst of the noise you’re hearing, or even if you’re hearing the sounds of silence at this moment, that you’ll have been reminded, as I have by writing this, that we are to listen for God.  We can be confident He will speak!

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Faith Reflections: Poster Message I Created
« Reply #36 on: November 13, 2009, 08:15:03 PM »

Poster Message I Created
13 November 2009, 6:55 pm

faithshaken

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Faith Reflections: Security
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2009, 07:28:45 AM »

Security
17 November 2009, 6:58 am

Within a short drive of Refuge Ranch in Mexico, where our daughter Julie and her family live, there’s the ruins of an old hacienda.  It was probably at its full glory in the 1700s or there about.  It must have been magnificent!  It’s still easy to see how it offered protection from enemies.  There’s the thick, high walls with holes undoubtedly designed to shoot through from the inside while offering the marksman almost complete protection.  The picture shows a portion of the wall.

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, in him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:2)  We all have a yearning to feel secure.  One of the fruits of a strong faith in God is that we begin to feel, more and more, the security that we so deeply desire.  People, jobs, money, health, and whatever else we can think of that we might find ourselves trusting in can fall short.  God lacks nothing, and that means I can put my complete trust in Him.  It’s amazing how better the day can go when I am not driven or haunted by fears but see God as my refuge and fortress.  You too?

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Faith Reflections: The Enlightening Word
« Reply #38 on: November 19, 2009, 08:03:13 AM »

The Enlightening Word
19 November 2009, 6:13 am

Sleep evaded me last night, probably didn’t find it until abut midnight.  Then I awoke at 4:15 and sleep had already left me for the night.  At 11:00 last night I got up and searched for a psalm to read.  I found one that really reflected my concerns and worries, and offered great insight.  Then this morning (5 am) I picked up my devotional reading in 2 Corinthians where I had left off yesterday morning.  The apostle Paul’s words seemed to be written just for me.  What timing!

I was reminded by both incidents that I need to keep reading what God has written, that it was written for me as well as countless other millions.  I need to remember, as a preacher, that His Word is not simply the tool of my trade, but light for my own soul that I desperately need!

When the lights go out I never want to be without a flashlight close at hand.  The same goes for God’s Word!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

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Faith Reflections: Out and about Doing Good
« Reply #39 on: November 19, 2009, 07:05:09 PM »

Out and about Doing Good
19 November 2009, 5:26 pm



In the Family Circus cartoon Billy was often featured in a map-type drawing of his little world in which a dotted line plotted his meandering course from point A to point B.  What if someone were to plot out our path for the day?  Billy would have nothing on us!  In a given day most of us cover a fair amount of ground, and do it in a meandering way.

I like a phrase the gospel writer Matthew uses two times in reference to Jesus.  And Jesus went about…” (4:23 & 9:35)  Jesus did a lot of walking about.  He seems to have had a destination in mind on many occasions but, then again, He allowed Himself to be interrupted by a person in need nearby or diverted by a request to meet a need that was at a distance.  In fact, almost all of His miracles were not planned by Him or His disciples the very morning of the day they happened.  They just, well, they just happened!

Over the years I have had a growing awareness that God is scheduling me to be at a certain place at a certain time with a certain person without first consulting me!  I’ve decided my best approach to each day is to be open to His agenda and to allow it to preempt my agenda whenever the two conflict.

Actually, it’s rather exciting to live each day with the expectation that God is going to put us with people and in situations where He wants us to bring His influence.  Each of us lives in a specific set of circumstances that no one else on earth shares.  No one else has exactly the same network of friends and acquaintances or the same set of circumstances.  Each of us is strategic to God!

It prompts me to want to pray something to the effect, “Lord, where would you have me go today?  Who would you have me see?  What would you have me do or say?”

And Jesus went about…” Matthew tells us.  The upshot is that Jesus went about doing good, doing what God the Father wanted Him to do.  We all have places to go, people to see, things to do.  We can be a help or a hindrance, a delight or a drag, encouraging or exasperating, and, generally speaking, a blessing or a burden.  I for one want to be like Jesus and go about doing good.  You too?

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Faith Reflections: Patient Love
« Reply #40 on: November 21, 2009, 07:22:46 AM »

Patient Love
21 November 2009, 7:13 am

Charcoal drawing by Bob O'Neill.  He's now a volunteer at Toledo Hosptial. A great guy!Love and patience, that’s what Diann needs to exhibit toward me many a time.  The other day I didn’t handle a return at the store like she wanted, and so the receipt I brought back didn’t record things the way she wanted it to.  I leave stuff lay around in the garage, creating clutter she has to work around when she washes clothes.  Love and patience, that’s what I get from her.

So often we think of God as some stern deity with standards a mile high.  Well, He does have high standards, no doubt about that. He is, after all, holy, holy, holy!  Still, He has other characteristics that play into a relationship with me (and you too!).

The more I come to discover about God the more I realize He is a very, very, very gracious God to me!  I like how the apostle Paul put it to his Thessalonian friends.  You’re one of my “friends” on facebook so let me be so presumptuous as to make it my prayer for you!  “May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper understanding of the love of God and of the patience that comes from Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 TLB)

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Faith Reflections: Grocery Cart Theology
« Reply #41 on: November 22, 2009, 04:09:08 PM »

Grocery Cart Theology
22 November 2009, 3:49 pm

When I’m in a grocery store, I like to watch a child in one of those child-friendly shopping carts.  You know the kind; it’s where part of the cart is designed to look like a miniature car.  The child sits in the “car” and steers back and forth with the plastic steering wheel.  The child’s happy, living under the illusion that he or she is actually driving the car.

Of course, if you get into the candy aisle or the toy aisle, the child quickly figures out that the steering wheel doesn’t really bring you closer to the desired item.  The child turns around, finds a way to get his parent’s attention, and tries to have the parent move the cart closer to the item he wants.

It seems to me that this is how we humans often live.  God is at hand, but we insist on living under the illusion that we’re in charge and are steering our own lives.  When we really get desperate we might communicate with God and tell Him what we want.  We call that prayer.  However, much of the time we go through our lives whipping our plastic steering wheels back and forth, happily thinking that we can steer our own lives wherever we want.

God is sovereign, which means that He’s ultimately in charge.  This is really  simple logic: He made everything and keeps everything going.  He rules supreme.  He’s in ultimate control.

The next time we see a child in one of those shopping cart/cars, perhaps it can remind us that we should stop acting as if we’re in control and yield to the One who’s really meant to be in control of our lives!

“For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27)

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Faith Reflections: It’s ALL Sacred
« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2009, 07:30:45 AM »

It’s ALL Sacred
23 November 2009, 7:23 am

Today’s my day off from usual ministry responsibilities, sort of my Sabbath, my “Saturday” you could say.  Well, I DO need to do about two hours of work on the Thanksgiving eve message, that’s coming WAY to soon — Wednesday evening.  But I’m also planning on tidying up my aquarium (big koi & big goldfish make a mess!), picking up a few leaves, straightening up my workbench in the garage, editing some pics for iStokcphoto.com, etc.

I got to thinking….  I can please God as much as I go about these “chores” of the ordinary and mundane activities as when I was yesterday when standing before a hundred people a couple of times preaching His Word.  Yes, to God anything and everything can be and should be sacred in that it should be done with an awareness of His presence and with wanting to please Him.  For the follower of Christ there is no sacred/secular dichotomy.  It’s ALL sacred!  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Faith Reflections: The Creator/Sustainer Loves!
« Reply #43 on: November 24, 2009, 06:38:52 AM »

The Creator/Sustainer Loves!
24 November 2009, 6:37 am

The Creator/Sustainer loves!  Wow!  Think about it!  The source of all that exists is far more than a force, and energy that created and sustains everything.  He has revealed Himself to be personal!  Relationship is important to Him.  In fact, it’s been revealed that He created humans, somehow and in some way, in His own image!

Christmas is coming, and it reminds us that at a certain point in human history He came to us as one of us!  Amazing!  God in focus, that’s what Jesus is!  How we view Jesus is how we view God.  I like how Jesus puts it.  “The Father himself loves you.  He loves you because you loved me and beli8eved that I came from God.”  (John 16:27)

This is ultimately a friendly universe because the One who created it is friendly! And what really amazes me is that I can give God something He can’t create — a voluntary response from me to love Him and live for Him!  Life is good!

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Faith Reflections: “Leftovers” from the Thanksgiving Message
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2009, 08:34:19 AM »

“Leftovers” from the Thanksgiving Message
26 November 2009, 8:01 am

In movie editing they’ll often talk about the scenes that ended up on the editing room floor.  What I want to share with you is a couple of thoughts that didn’t make it into my recent Thanksgiving eve message, that ended up on the sermon editing floor.  Don’t worry!  They’re worthy thoughts, it’s just that they ended up not fitting my theme.  Being one not to waste a good thought…..

“You can’t feel stressed and appreciative at the same time,” writes best selling author Wayne Dyer.  I hadn’t thought of that before!  It’s amazing the positive side-benefits there are to being a thankful, appreciative person.  You simply feel better after a period of time in which you’ve sought to be consistently appreciative and thankful to others and to God.

“And be thankful” the apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:15.  Eugene Peterson’s The Message version of this verse says, “Cultivate thankfulness.”  We’re to be intentional about being thankful.  It doesn’t always come easily or naturally (that’s why we’re always and forever reminding children to say “thank you” when they’re given something).  Yes, we sometimes have to remind ourselves to be grateful.  It may be a little easier to be appreciative at Thanksgiving time, but we probably are going to have to work at it some the rest of the time.

I didn’t know that Shakespeare was much into prayer, but I ran across this prayer of his.  I didn’t include it in the Thanksgiving message, didn’t know if I wanted to be heard quoting Shakespeare (writing a quote of his, for some reason, doesn’t seem quite as peculiar).  At any rate, it’s a good prayer!  “O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”  Yes, Lord, my prayer too!

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