Oct 292009

Chemistry. Sodium. Na. A silvery, soft metal that you could cut with a knife. Sodium reacts exothermically with water. It’s more fun to say that it BLOWS UP!

Chlorine. Cl. A greenish gas. Smells like bleach. No wonder, bleach has chlorine in it! We use it to disinfect things. Why? it’s kinda POISONOUS! Which leads me to oatmeal. I mixed a little of both of these into my oatmeal the other day, hoping for a bacteria-killing explosion! Just kidding. I was hoping that in it’s NaCl, sodium chloride, salt form, it would add flavor to my too bland oatmeal. That morning, I mixed some with the water in my cup and dumped in some oatmeal. After waiting for it to settle down, or in the case of oatmeal, to set up, I took a bite. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! I added more salt and tried to mix it in.

As I worked my way further down, the oatmeal became salty, saltier, saltiest! The last bite cured my tongue like a piece of meat. What happened? In my haste, I didn’t get the first salt mixed well and it settled to the bottom of the cup. It was saltier than the Dead Sea! What good did that salt do?

What good do I do? Jesus said:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13

Apparently I’m salt. If I’m a Christian who carefully sits in the church pew, holding my Bible tightly, hoping that no sin will rub off on me from touching others, I’m like salt that never gets out of the shaker. If I’m a Christian who barges through life like a bull in a china shop, smashing my beliefs into whoever I meet, I’m like the unmixed salt in the bottom of the oatmeal. disgusting and worthless. If I’m a Christian who becomes so like the world around me that I cause no flavor change, I’m like salt after water runs through it. Dissolved and without flavor. All that’s left is a little dirt, ready to be discarded and walked on.

God, help me to be salt today, mixing thoroughly through my world, blessing it with the flavor that only Your love can bring!

shared 10/29/09

Oct 292009

The pastors had gathered for their regional planning meeting. In addition, they were to celebrate God’s delivering power in their lives with a special worship service. While they were waiting for the service to begin, discussions broke out among them:

“Yeah, you should see my baptismal rate from 2009 so far! I’m breaking my own record!”

“All except mine. I’ve got the top this year!”

“You both are nuts! The only thing your dunking rate is related to is coffee and doughnuts!”

“Look, you all know that programming is more important than stats. Mine will make me a shoe in for Pastor of the Year Award again this year. I’ve got the space in the foyer already set aside for the second trophy!”

On and on they went. Arguing about who was the most skillful, charismatic, persuasive, creative. Who would get the greatest recognition. Suddenly, the door opened and the regional leader walked in. Overhearing the harsh and critical words, he silently walked to an empty chair. Taking off his suit coat, he rolled up his sleeves and tucked his tie in.

A nervous hush spread over the room as he made his way, still silently, to the kitchen, the recent target of complaints and criticism. Soon, he re-entered the room carrying a towel and a large pan of water. Carrying it to the end of the closest row of seats, he knelt down, reaching under the narrow conference table. Taking the shoe of the man in front of him, he untied it, removed the sock and began washing it. Shocked gasps broke the silence as all eyes were riveted on this strange activity. Finishing with the first man, he proceeded down the row.

Coming to the end of the first table, he reached for the next shoe and looked up to find the face of the one who, moments before had been the source of the loudest boasts.  Leaning forward sharply in his chair, Peter  pulled his feet back and said,”No, Jesus, You can’t wash my feet!”

Jesus looked up steadily with love and acceptance.”Peter, if you want to be part of Me, I must wash your feet.”

Always a man of extremes, Peter responded,”Then wash my whole body, Jesus!

Do I rely on a name badge to let people know that I’m a Christian? How can they tell? Jesus had a short and powerful answer:

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

By how? By how we love each other. Lyrics from a popular 60″s song went like this:

“and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,

and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Not by a sign, not by parading around carrying a Bible, not even by the fish emblem on the car. No, Jesus said that everyone would know us. Everyone! Not by these stereotypical things, but by our love. Let’s pray that God will give us great opportunities to show that love today!

Oct 222009

When m way oldest daughter was little, I used to gather her into my arms, hold her head against mine, and whisper her creation story.

“You were a waited for, planned for baby”, I would say.

“Mom and I waited for years until we were ready to give you lots of time and attention.

Mom even had surgery to be able to have you!

I remember when you were conceived. I was there. We created you out of the love in our hearts!”

I would tell her about the night before she was born as we waited for the contractions to progress. How we finally went to the hospital. How I hobbled on an injured foot to be in my coaching spot next to the bed.

“I know where you came from”, I say.”I was there.”

“We would nap together, you resting in the crook of my arm, against my chest.”

She snuggles deeper, my arms grow tighter as I say,

“I made you, you have my name, you are mine!”

Our Heavenly Father says,

“everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”Isa 43:7

“You have My name,” He says.”I formed you, I made you!”

Just as my daughter needs to know exactly where she is in my heart and who she belongs to, so we need to know that our Father has given us His name and reminds us that He knows exactly who we are and where we came from. What a beautiful expression of value! What security we can have in Him!

9/24/09 workplace devotional

Oct 192009

He was big, bold, proud. King of the hill and he knew it.  A 16.5 hand American Saddlebred! He was my trailriding horse, and what a lively ride he was. We had just returned to the farm from a long trail ride and had turned the horses loose to head back to their home pasture. Wandering through the gate from the barnyard, they paused to enjoy some lush grass.  I was impatient to get them back into the pasture and began waving my arms and stamping my feet to keep them moving. My horse was grazing in front of me, his head pointed to my left. As I continued to pressure the horses to move, he stamped one of his huge rear hooves in irritation. Then he kicked out behind him in anger. My impatience caused me to be oblivious to both of these rebellious signals as I continued to move forward.

Suddenly, he wheeled away from me and violently kicked out behind him. In an instant, I turned my body to the left. I felt a terrific impact on my right side as I was slammed up against the barn wall. Gasping for breath, I staggered through the barnyard, focused only on getting to the car. My wife and girls were scared to death and asked me what was wrong. By then, the pain was setting in and I could feel my ribs grating against each other like a handful of gravel. “Take me to the hospital”, I gasped. Slumping in the front seat, I turned sideways to take the pressure off my right side. My youngest daughter held my hand and gave me something to focus on as I concentrated on each breath.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12

Later, in the ER, I discovered that I had 4 broken ribs, three of which had been broken twice. I had 3 floating pieces of rib in there! As I lay in the bed, I realized that my quick turn to the left didn’t fit with the oblivion, the lack of attention I had shown while herding the horses. A firm brush, or shove, of angel’s wings moved me enough to save my life. If I had not moved, I would have taken the kick in the face, or more likely, in the center of the chest. My doctor told me that this could have easily stopped my heart!

Saving grace! God intervened my my life to make His power obvious to me and to those around me. He does it, not because He has to, but just because He can. God speaks to us, but rarely through the spoken word. God speaks to us through miracles that happen in our daily lives. Has He performed a miracle in your life? Don’t keep it to yourself. Bragging on God is so fun! Spend your day knowing that He loves you enough to show off His power in your life!

10/19/09 workplace devotional

Oct 172009

My daughters know that they can count on two things from me no matter what.

Scene One: I’m sitting in a favorite chair, engrossed in a good book in one hand, tall, ice-cold glass of Coke in the other. Eventually I notice one of my girls standing next to me with an expectant look on her face. I know what they want and they know they are welcome to it without asking. What is it? A nice, healthy swallow of whatever it is I am drinking at the time! [Yes, it is always non-alcoholic!].

Scene Two: After a good meal, I look up to find my daughter standing right next to me, but facing away from me. That’s my signal to back my chair away from the table, open my arms, and let her snuggle into my lap! This can happen at any time. Early on a cool Sunday morning, after a hard day at school, when she isn’t feeling good.

While these two things may not seem to have much life value, they are symbols of something greater. My girls know that they can count on me loving them no matter what. They know I will share whatever good things I have with them. They count on acceptance and security from me. They know that whatever happens in their lives, they will always have a place in the circle of my arms.

How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights. Psalm 36:7-8

Just as they can count on things from me, so they can count on things from their Heavenly Father! Priceless and unfailing love that provides an “always there” refuge. Love that lays out a feast for them and that gives them a delightful drink! You and I can experience that love right here, right now.

There is nothing we can do to make our Father love us any more or any less than He does right now. His love is a gift He gives freely and lavishly to all who will accept it!

9/28/09 work devotional.

Oct 172009

Recently, I had one of those days.  Projects not going well. Pressure from too many directions. And then, a coworker made a disparaging comment about a process I had been working on. One that required collaboration from more than one department. One that I had put a lot of energy into for months. I responded sharply. Later on that day, I did it again with another coworker! I felt justified in my actions because they had commented without taking the time to understand.

Later that night, I realized that one reason I had gotten upset at the moment was that I agreed with them!  The process in question  wasn’t working ideally, despite my efforts. I became defensive. The troubling thing was this: I realized that whether I felt justified in feeling the way I did, I had no justification for responding the way I did! They deserved a calm and reasoned response from me.

With a little [or maybe a lot] of heavenly grace and pressure, I gathered staff around me, the two I had spoken to and others who had overheard, and confessed to them. What a relief! How many times have I missed the chance to reach out in confession and healing? Because of my pride, my rightness, unwillingness to take the first step.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Our heavenly Father is all about relationships. My relationship with Him. My relationships with others.

He is not about fault. He is all about reconciliation, patching, healing, renewing. Do you have  a broken relationship? Maybe it’s just a small chip, maybe it is a gaping hole. With a brother, a parent, a child, a friend, a coworker, a wife? Fix it and fix it now! It is NOT about fault, about who said what to whom first, about who rightly holds 51% or more of the blame. It is about healing and mending and bringing back together. It is going about our Father’s business.

shared 10/5/09 work devotional

Oct 162009

Shaking hands is a habit that began hundreds of years ago. When traveling, most carried weapons for protection, a sword, a spear, a club. Typically these were carried in the right hand. When a stranger approached, potential danger was assumed. To clasp right hands with someone meant that neither of you were armed. It was a measure of trust.

My 16 year old and I took a long walk several nights ago. She was too restless to sleep. As we walked, I grabbed her hand and we walked for a long time hand in hand. Talking, laughing, sharing things from her day. Every once in a while, one of us would release the other’s hands to point at something or make a gesture. Always, her hand would seek mine again as we continued our walk.

In Psalm 73, the writer is complaining to God about his enemies. Finally, he comes to his senses and realizes what he has been doing.

“I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you,’ he says. What a jerk I’ve been!

One version says “I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox…” What was I thinking!

Then he continues,

Yet I am always with you;  you hold me by my right hand.”  Psalm 73: 22-23

Did you notice? He said his RIGHT hand! God wants us to rely solely on Him. He wants to be the protector. He wants us to trust Him enough to lay down our weapons and quit fighting on our own.

Are you ready to trust Him with your RIGHT hand today?

Shared 10/08/09 work devotional

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