Saturday, February 26, 2011

It was hard to tell ...

I’m guessing that he was somewhere between the ages of thirty-six and eighty-four. He was engaged in a rather heated conversation pausing only to open the door for each Starbucks patron. As I approached, I noticed that his animated verbal exchange was directed into an empty palm. He had no phone; he had no one to respond. This lonely man’s conversation vanished into a weathered and soiled hand.

He wore several layers of clothing - not the least of which was, what might at one time might have been, a white boa. I am guessing that he was not aware of the puddle of water he was standing in. He probably didn’t even notice the wicking effect of the newspaper that over-stuffed his size eleven shoes into which his size seven feet wandered.

Nevertheless, there he stood; a sentinel at the local Starbucks coffee shop. I’d never seen him before. His presence was obviously disturbing to some of the guests. The young baristas were visibly unsettled by his presence.

He held the door open for me careful to look away so as not to make eye contact. I seemed to notice a slight toothless grin.

Standing in line, observing each and every person’s response to this poor soul, I could not help but wonder. Who was this person’s first grade teacher? What did he aspire to be when he grew up? What were his parents like? Did he have siblings? Did he play outside, go on family trips, sing and dance in days past? Was he a forgotten veteran; was he simply - forgotten? As far as I could tell he was a soul known only to God.

I found myself moving deliberately to the door, leaving my coveted place in line. “Excuse me sir”, I interrupted. “Could I buy you a cup of coffee?” I was wrong about him; his quiet grin of appreciation revealed two teeth. “Why, yes sir! Yes sir indeed!” he responded. He told me he just wanted a small cup, black; no cream or sugar. I ordered a small coffee, black, and a breakfast sausage sandwich.

I gave him his coffee and his sandwich. He simply smiled and slightly bowed.

I returned to the line; he returned to opening the doors for patrons, collecting shopping carts and to his his private conversation.

A passage from the Scriptures came to mind as I sat there with my coffee:

“Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father [that is, you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation], inherit- receive as your own - the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For when I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me. I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care; I was in prison and you came to see Me. Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You? And the King will reply to them, Truly, I tell you, in as far as you did it to one of the least [in estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” - Matthew 25:34-40

I purchased a cup of coffee - and a sausage sandwich for God today, and I was filled. What opportunity will He extend to you today to reach out to someone and by so doing feel His loving touch?

Be watchful; His opportunities are everywhere!

God bless!

Monday, February 21, 2011


“A Penny For Your Thoughts”

“Do not be conformed to this world - this age, fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs. But be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind - by its new ideals and its new attitude - so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” - Romans 12:2

“And God’s peace [be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things - fix your minds on them.” - Philippians 4:7,8

“Talk Is Cheap”

“It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that makes him unclean and defiled, but what comes out of the mouth; this makes a man unclean and defiles [him].” - Matthew 15:11

“However, let him who boasts and glories, boast and glory in the Lord. For [it is] not [the man] who is approved and accepted, but [it is the person] whom the Lord accredits and commends.” - 2 Corinthians 10:17,18

“Actions Speak Louder Than Words”

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power - making it active, operative, energizing and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing lines of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [that is, of the deepest parts of our nature] exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a fellow feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liabilities to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace - the throne of God’s unmerited favor [to us sinners]; that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good times for every need - appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it.” - Hebrews 4:14-16

“By this we come to know - progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [in Him]. But if any one has this world’s goods - resources for sustaining life - and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth - in practice and in sincerity. By this we shall come to know - perceive and recognize and understand - that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate and pacify) our hearts in His presence.” - 1 John 3:16-19

“Icing On The Cake”

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Wo began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ - right up to the time of His return - developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” - Philippians 1:6

Have a great week!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New workout program .... It’s Finally MANAGEABLE!

I’ve discovered a totally new workout program. It is completely manageable; sticking with it is not a problem at all. I call it, “Exercise By Osmosis”. I’m thinking of making a video ... nah; too much effort.

It goes something like this.

It is important to take personal responsibility for determining, within my own heart and mind, what I will do and what I won’t do. Often I fool myself into believing that if circumstances are right, if time permits, when it feels good, when it won’t hurt or make me feel the least bit uncomfortable, I will engage in a particular exercise. This has been a real stumbling block to my process. It is so much easier to not do it. That’s right; “JUST (don’t) DO IT!”

I have found by purposing in my mind to not do something I am successful in accomplishing what I am not going to do approximately 99.5% of the time. That percentage is remarkable! And, by doing absolutely nothing, nothing gets done! That’s right, the results are immediate!

This has been an amazing revelation. So many times I would work out, sweat, run home, jump on the scale, only to find that either I needed a new scale, or the immediate effects of my toil were not at all evident. If I got far enough back from the mirror, sucked in my gut and then tightened my muscles, took off my glasses and squinted ever so slightly, adjusted the dimmer lights and posed in whatever manner satisfied my need to feel good about myself, I could briefly convince myself that my commitment was paying off. I felt good about me!” But I had to keep going back! I mean, it was like a life commitment! Not only that, I had to do the same things over and over again “believing” that in so doing, change was taking place and that maybe, just maybe, at some point the reward for my effort would be evident. YES CHANGE WAS TAKING PLACE; THE ONLY PLACE I DIDN’T HURT WAS THE LEFT LOWER CORNER OF MY BOTTOM LIP!

Now, it’s simple. I watch others workout. That’s right. Just watch. No sweat, no sore muscles - well, I did buy a firm rated number 5 pillow on which to sit - but other than a bit of soreness “there”, I am perfectly unaffected. I bother no one, no one bothers me. I just watch it all happen.

Okay, okay I’ll admit it. I was pulling your leg, There is no, “Exercise By Osmosis”. But isn’t it odd that in many ways we “exercise our faith” in just such a manner? Although we don’t want to admit it, we purpose in our heart and mind what we will and won’t do. Oh, we might mention the words, “church”, “the Man up stairs”, we’ll comment that, “God only knows”, or casually say “thank God” in our general conversation, but engaging in a purposeful dialog about the love of Christ can simply be too uncomfortable. It’s easier to expect others to do it while we comfortably sit our blessed assurance on our spiritual number 5 pillow.

Here’s the point I would like to make, “there is no room on the sideline for the committed Christian; like it or not, WE ARE IN THE GAME!” And it is the love of God through us that is exercised freely and abundantly for His glory, not ours.

You see:

“(Even) if I (can) speak in the tongues of men and (even) of angels, but have not love [that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us], I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers - that is, the gift of interpreting the diving will and purpose; and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have (sufficient) faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love [God’s love in me], I am nothing - a useless nobody. Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned [or in order that I may glory], but have not love [God’s love in me], I gain nothing. Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy; is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited - arrogant and inflated with pride; it is not rude (unmannerly), and does not act unbecomingly. Love [God’s love in us], does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it - pays no attention to a suffered wrong. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, it hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails - never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end. As for prophecy [that is, the gift of interpreting the diving will and purpose], it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [that is, it will lose its value and be superseded by truth]. For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect) and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). BUT when the complete and perfect [total] comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away - become antiquated, void and superseded. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside. For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes], we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly); but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. And so faith, hope, love abide; [FAITH, conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and diving things; HOPE, joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; LOVE, true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three, but the greatest of these is LOVE! - 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Gotta run - time to workout!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fearful to Fearless through FAITH!

The unknown. So many things are yet, unknown. Mankind has discovered so many marvelous details and yet, so much remains unknown. If only we could create “it” we can know the essence of “it”. But mankind’s creations continue to be the amalgamation of existing elements. We may utilize them, but not create them. And so the essence of our “creations” remain unknown.

For some the unknown creates exhilaration and anticipation. For others unknown can bring about equal measures of anxiety and fear.

“When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business activity [and the painful effort] that takes place upon the earth, how neither day nor night some men’s eyes sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun; because however much a man may toil in seeking, yet he will not find out; yes, more than that, though a wise man things and claims he knows, yet will he not be able to find it out.” - Ecclesiastes 8:16,17

It is sanctimoniously naive to boastfully say, “I have no fear, I need no God; nothing affects me, “Que, sera, sera”. There are too many evidences to even list wherein those who might appear to take a fatalistic view of life, “what will be will be”, make use of every possible means to sustain it; if not for themselves, for the well-being of those they love. Emergency rooms, therapy groups, rehab organizations are full to overflowing with individuals sincerely searching for whatever “it” may be that will ease their hearts and minds - if only for a moment of peace.

“Do not gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! No one can SERVE two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot SERVE God and mammon [that is, deceitful riches, money, possessions or what is trusted in]. THEREFORE, I tell you, STOP BEING PERPETUALLY UNEASY (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, and about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet, your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are YOU not worthy of more than they? And [for that matter] which of you by worrying and being anxious can add one measure [cubit] to his stature or to the span of his life? And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence (excellence, dignity and grace) was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you men with little faith? THEREFORE do not worry and be anxious, saying, “What are we going to have to eat?” Or, “What are we going to have to drink?” Or, “What are we going to have to wear?” ... But seek for (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right], and THEN all these things, taken together, will be given YOU besides.” -Matthew 6:19:34

There are several key points to be made here. 1. We must get our priorities in order and not become the servant of two (or more) masters. It is by no means wrong to strive to be productive, to use our God-given talent(s) to excel and become successful. But has this drive become our master? Is there room for the God of creation in our “business plan” for life? 2. Simply being admonished to STOP in itself becomes frustrating if we are not given the means by which to STOP. Nevertheless, we are admonished to do so. What is the tool given to us to accomplish this task? 3. “O you men with little faith”. FAITH is the key component to successfully turn way from being “perpetually uneasy” and “worrying and being anxious”. 4. But where does this FAITH begin? By aiming at and striving after His way of doing and being right. By seeking HIM Who is the author and finisher of our faith.

Knowing personally the Author makes understanding the Book and the plan so much more fulfilling. The Bible clearly records the following:

“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned EVERY ONE to his own way; and the Lord has made to light on Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.” - Isaiah 53:6

Who is the “Him” spoken of in Isaiah?

“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as in an examples of] the righteousness of God - what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21

It is not enough to make mental acknowledgement of these verses. It is imperative that we make personal application of their truths, through committed and unwavering faith in Christ - and therefore apply His act of substitutionary love to our account unto salvation. At that point, although we still possess the frailties of man, the fears, doubts, and anxieties common to everyone, we have a promise:

“Casting the whole of your care - all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all - on Him; for He cares for you affectionately, and cares about you watchfully. Be well-balanced - temperate, sober-minded; be vigilant and cautious at all times, for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset], rooted, established, strong, immovable and determined - knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace - Who imparts all blessings and favor - Who has called your to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, established, and ground you securely, and strengthen (and settle) you. To HIM be the dominion - power, authority, rule - forever and ever. Amen - so be it!” - 1 Peter 5:7-11

Today, why go it alone? Turn it over to Jesus - in fact, turn it all (your life and forever) to Him.

Have a super day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

VALENTINE'S DAY - when I was a kid ...


I am not exactly sure how it got here. I vaguely remember those words coming from “old people”. You know, the ones who had no idea what life was all about? My body language betrayed my mocking attentiveness; “here they go again ...”

My head would tilt ever so slightly to the right and up, as I concurrently took a slow, deliberate deep breath. This was almost immediately followed by eyebrows lifting and eyes rolling up and to the right - all, as if perfectly choreographed. The only positive things I could rest my attention upon were: A. Sooner or later they would have to take a breath; B. There was a likelihood they would derail their train-of-thought by its exaggerated content; or, C. God, Himself, would deliver me.

I vaguely remember thinking, “When YOU were a kid THE DEAD SEA WAS JUST ILL!”

Now, I am here. I’m actually looking back at when I was a kid! Something is even more troubling ... I’M STRUGGLING TO REMEMBER!

I digress ... but I suppose I’ve now earned the right to digress, right?


When I was a kid I looked forward to Valentine’s Day. My parents would take me to the local Drug Store (Amario’s if I remember correctly). There, we would pick out a variety pack of Valentine’s cards with cute little character pictures and pithy little verses of love. The cards were located over by the television-tube-tester machine I think ...

Anyway; I couldn’t wait to arrive at home and choose which card was precisely the right card for the right person. I always saved a special card for Janice Bruns.

That night I could barely sleep. I was overcome with anticipation! Tomorrow I would surreptitiously deliver my cards and little packet of candied hearts upon desks of my classmates, and at the front doors of my neighbors. Amazingly, I actually received cards and treats from my friends. Looking back, they must have shopped at Amario’s too. Ah, but that didn’t matter; it was the act of kindness that counted - and the fulfillment of bringing a smile of satisfaction to the faces of those I cared about.

When I was a kid ...

Well, I’m not a kid anymore. Amerio’s shut it’s doors long ago. It’s television tube tester is probably on display somewhere in the Smithsonian Institute. I don’t deliver pithy little cards to the desks of my schoolmates or co-workers for that matter, and no doubt would be arrested by Neighborhood Watch if I was seen running from door-to-door. I do, however, wonder where Janice Bruns is today.

But, it is still Valentine’s Day. It is still a day we reserve on our calendar as a day to recognize those we care about. It is still a day of flowers, chocolates, cards and romance.

Perhaps, just perhaps, a random act of love would satisfy the nostalgic fulfillment of our youth. Is there someone you know who could use a word of encouragement? How about a note or card surreptitiously sent that simply says, “Someone cares”?

When I was a kid there was a little chorus we used to sing. I’ve long forgotten the verses but I remember the chorus very well:

“Jesus is my true Valentine, His heart was cleft for me. I cannot tell why He loved me so well, but He proved it on Calvary!”

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:37-39

Happy Valentines’s Day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


What threatens to tip your proverbial sanity scale? Work, school, study, planning, preparing, responding, reacting, kids, friends, spouse, parents, athletic programs, dance, music, cooking, shopping, cleaning, traveling, church, responsibility, care-taking, leadership, time, demands, health? Maybe it’s simply waking up to yet another day of it all.

When you feel overwhelmed even unplanned blessings become burdens; you simply can’t take anymore! Emotional paralysis replaces cognitive thinking and as much as you try to rise above it, you feel as if you are falling into a bottomless, dizzying whirlwind - ALONE!

King David, one of the primary writers of the Book of Psalms, a man acquainted with the thrill of great victory and the desperate abandonment of defeat wrote the following passage:

“O GIVE THANKS to the Lord for he is good, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure for ever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has delivered from the hand of the adversary. And gathered them out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the Red Sea in the south. Some wandered in the wilderness in a solitary desert track; they found not city for habitation. Hungry and thirsty they fainted; their life was near being extinguished. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. He led them forth by the straight and right way, that they might go to a city where they might establish their homes. OH, THAT MEN WOULD PRAISE [and confess to] the Lord his goodness and loving-kindness, and His wonderful works to the children of Men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good. Some sat in darkness and in the shadows of death, being bound in affliction and in irons, because they rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He bowed down their heart with hard labor; they stumbled and fell down, and there was non to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke apart the bonds that held them. OH, THAT MEN WOULD PRAISE [and confess to] the Lord His goodness and loving-kindness, and His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron apart. Some are fools, made ill because of the way of their transgressions, and afflicted because of their iniquities; they loath every kind of food, they draw near to the gates of death. Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivers them out of their distresses. He sends forth His word and heals them and rescues them from the pit and destruction. OH, THAT MEN WOULD PRAISE [and confess to] the Lord His goodness and loving-kindness, and His wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing! Some go down to the sea and travel over it in ships, to do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. Those aboard mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the deeps; their courage melts away because of their plight. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end - all their wisdom has come down to nothing. Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He hushes the storm to a calm, and to a gentle whisper, so that the waves of the sea are still. Then the men are glad because of the calm, and He brings them to their desired haven. OH, THAT MEN WOULD PRAISE [and confess to] the Lord His goodness and loving kindness, and his works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the company of elders. He turns rivers into a wilderness, water springs into a thirsty ground, a fruitful land into barren, salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. He [also] turns a wilderness into into a pool of water, and dry ground into water springs. And there He makes the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation’ and sow fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesses them also, so that they are multiplied greatly and allows not their cattle to decrease. When they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, trouble and sorrow, He pours contempt upon princes, and causes them to wander in the waste places, where there is no road. YET, He raises the poor and needy from affliction, and makes them families like a flock. The upright shall see it and be glad, and all the iniquity shall shut her mouth. Whoso is wise [if there be any truly wise] will observe and heed these things; and they will diligently consider the mercy and loving kindness of the Lord.” - Psalms 107

OH, THAT MEN [AND WOMEN] WOULD PRAISE ... this phrase is repeated in this passage several times. It causes me to consider that perhaps my personal challenges, through which I have been carried, need not be solitary experiences of past defeats for which I am profoundly ashamed and would rather arrogantly deny, but conquering words of testimony and confession to the Lord His goodness and loving kindness, and His wonderful works to the children of men!

You see, as we are truthful with ourselves about our need, as we are truthful and transparent with others about our dependence upon a living and loving God, HE SPEAKS to their hearts in ways our counsel could never reveal.

Do you know someone in need today? OH, THAT MEN [AND WOMEN] WOULD PRAISE [and confess to] the Lord His goodness and loving kindness, and His works to the children of men!

Hearts are waiting to hear what He has done for you ...