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“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing, endures all things. Love never ends…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you have emotional expectations, I can tell you I have limited means to fulfill them. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a life time. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you walk away, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will be your friend, I will be your confidant, and I will offend you.”

I have a particular set of skills; skills meriting a warning as ominous as that given in the movie Taken.

All who share my particular skill set understand the latent hazard that we represent.   We are a very dangerous subset of the population, easily blending into the masses.

However, our skills are often exposed despite our best attempts to befriend. The practitioners of the art of offense tend to be naturally gifted. We rarely have to think about our art.

We have an ingenious ability to select the most inappropriate combination of words.

 Our simple mis-timed questions can re-infuse the socially diffused.

We can build the harshest of corners by a mere sequence of honest observations.

We can block  social cues in a focused demonstration of our skills.

And that is without even trying.

The reality is that all humans are skilled in the art of offense but there are a special few who are masters.  The masters of offense have a unique ability to separate thought and love. Love should pilot thought. However, the truly offensive allow their thoughts to range far from the constraints of love.

Thought can be freed to search the bounds of circumspect.
It can peer past emotions and formalities for dispassionate assessment.
Thought can fly free beyond reality into blissful imagination.
It can dive deep into the depths of hidden meanings and intents.

Yet, thought unguided by love is destined to the shackle of disdain; the prison of all offensive masters.
Love is what frees thought to become all that it was intended.

Love allows thought to persuade.
Love soothes accurate assessment.
Love returns fragrance after thought’s searing.
Love hinders speculation.
Love binds lips opened by thought.

imagesCAENI4DCDespite my skills, I don’t want to be a hazard to others. I don’t want unfettered thoughts, freed to practice the skillful art of offense. I have tasted too often the bitter loss wrought by those skills. Since I can be naturally offensive, my focus must be on yielding to the mastery of love. My thoughts must cling to the course set by love. Love will faithfully guide thought to kind and patient response.  Love pulls thought from envy or boasting and away from arrogance.  Love enables thought to accept someone elses way and soothes thought’s resent and irritation.

Thought produces wonder actions.  Thought gives life to all of our gifts but it is love that produces the fruits of the Spirit in thought because love always returns to the Father – the source of love. Love delivers our thoughts to the Father; thoughts set upon the Father produce more love for the Father and our neighbor.

God is glorified only when Love and Thought are connected.

Thought and love cannot be separated for the Christian – it is our DNA.

Therefore, no Christian is obligated to live a life dominated by their offensive skills. Our warnings can fall away as our thoughts yield to His love because we are new creatures, created with a new DNA of love and thought.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making me a new creation.  Thank you for bonding my thoughts to your love.  Forgive me for breaking those bonds and allowing my thoughts to wander unrestrained.  Forgive me for not loving my neighbor as you do. I don’t want my thoughts to wander from you.  Tune my thoughts to sing your praise.  Let thy love, like a fetter bind my wandering thoughts to thee.(Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

John Newton, slave trader, abolitionist, minis...

“The glorious Gospel of the blessed God, with respect to its dignity, depth, and importance, may seem a fitter theme for the tongue of an angel than of a man; but angels never sinned; and though they might proclaim its excellency, they could not, from experience, speak of its efficacy. In this respect sinful worms are better qualified to preach to others, concerning him by whom they have, themselves, been healed and saved. Their weakness, likewise, is better suited to show that the influence and success of the Gospel is wholly owing to the power of God. It has, therefore, pleased God to ‘put this treasure into earthen vessels,’ [2 Corinthians 4:7] and to commit the ministry of his word, not to angels, but to men.”
~ John Newton

In honor of John Newton, former slave ship captain, Pastor, and author of “Amazing Grace”, who was born on this day in 1725.

Resources:
July 24 – Today in Christian History
John Newton Quotes

 

sayers“Why do you want a letter from me? Why don’t you take the trouble to find out for yourselves what Christianity is? You take time to learn technical terms about electricity. Why don’t you do as much for theology? Why do you never read the great writings on the subject, but take your information from the secular ‘experts’ who have picked it up as inaccurately as you? Why don’t you learn the facts in this field as honestly as your own field? Why do you accept mildewed old heresies as the language of the church, when any handbook on church history will tell you where they came from?

Why do you balk at the doctrine of the Trinity – God the three in One – yet meekly acquiesce when Einstein tells you E=mc2? What makes you suppose that the expression “God ordains” is narrow and bigoted, while your own expression, “Science demands” is taken as an objective statement of fact?

You would be ashamed to know as little about internal combustion as you know about Christian beliefs. I admit, you can practice Christianity without knowing much theology, just as you can drive a car without knowing much about internal combustion. But when something breaks down in the car, you go humbly to the man who understands the works; whereas if something goes wrong with religion, you merely throw the works away and tell the theologian he is a liar. Why do you want a letter from me telling you about God? You will never bother to check on it or find out whether I’m giving you personal opinions or Christian doctrines. Don’t bother. Go away and do some work and let me get on with mine.”
~ Dorothy L. Sayers

In honor of Dorothy Sayers, an English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian, who was baptized on this day in 1893.

Resources:
Today in Christian History
Goodreads > Dorothy L. Sayers Quotes

 

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruit.” Matthew 7:20

English: Recreational floaters on the Boise Ri...

My family and I recently floated the Boise River. While we waited in the rental line, I noticed a man in line before us. This man was probably in his fifth decade but he had a striking characteristic. He had fabulous legs. He did not have the legs of a middle-aged man. His legs were so distinct that I nudged my wife and whispered, “Check out the legs on that dude.”

the-razors-edgeThese were legs to be admired. They were chiseled masterpieces of bronzed muscle. The definition of his calf muscles hinted to a power unusual for a man of his age. The large veins that traveled along the inside of the ankle were visible up across his shins noting an uncommon endurance. It was obvious that these fabulous legs had been crafted over years of rigorous training and hours of intense activity. These sorts of legs don’t just happen.

These were the legs of an athlete.

It did not take much insight to determine what activity had crafted these legs. The tan-lines had distinct edges starting just above the ankle and ending just beyond the knee. However, the conclusive clue was what was missing. There was a feature normal to a man that was absent from these legs.

His upper body demonstrated a genetic ability to grow a furry coat. However, the legs contradicted his natural state. These legs had been groomed clean. There is only one type of athlete, who has legs that are muscled to the point of veins, tanned in this particular pattern, and shaven.tan-lines1

These were the legs of a cyclist – a long-time cyclist.

As I admired these fabulous legs, I narcissistically wondered what the person behind me thought about my legs. I wondered if my athleticism was as evident in my conditioning. As I glanced back at my own calves, giving them a little flex, I questioned how well my continence revealed the passions of my life to an examining eye.

Beyond my vanity, the important passion of life looms large. I really care very little about getting recognized for a great pair of legs. However, there are characteristics that I hope are recognizable in a casual observation.

Does the person next in line see self-control in my behavior?
Has my wife come to expect gentleness in my response?
Are my kids accustomed to patience and kindness in my reactions?
Do my co-workers consider me a peaceful person?
Would my biography describe me as a joyful and good man?
Am I recognized by love and faithfulness?

Our passions are obvious to those around us and the fruit of our lives are revealed in a myriad of manners. I hope that we all can be identified by characteristics that are more important than a fabulous pair of legs.

PRAYER: Father, I want to be known by the fruit of your Spirit.  I want to be recognized as a child of God.  Lord, continue your work within my heart.  Transform me into your likeness.  May the world see you in my life for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

English: Eric Liddell in Paris Olympic Games M...

Victory over all the circumstances of life comes not by might, nor by power, but by a practical confidence in God and by allowing His Spirit to dwell in our hearts and control our actions and emotions. Learn in the days of ease and comfort, to think in terms of the prayer that follows, so that when the days of hardship come you will be fully prepared and equipped to meet them. Father, I pray that no circumstance however bitter or however long drawn out, may cause me to break Thy law, the Law of Love to Thee and to my neighbor. That may not become resentful, have hurt feelings, hate, or become embittered by life’s experiences, but that in and through all I may see Thy guiding hand and have a heart full of gratitude for Thy daily mercy, daily love, daily power, and daily presence. Help me in the day when I need it most to remember that:

  • All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.
  • I can do all things through Him that strengthened me.
  • My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

‘Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen.’
~ Eric Liddell

In honor of Eric Liddell, Scottish Olympic champion runner portrayed in the film “Chariots of Fire” and missionary to China, who won the Olympic 400 meter race on this day in 1924.

Resources:
Today in Christian History
More Quotes from the Biography on Eric Liddell

 

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

I had a great swim the other day. It was a swim that finally felt right after a week of unsatisfying attempts. I have been getting back to regular swimming. A week was lost to business travel and my post – Boise Ironman 70.3 training break had stretched out longer than originally intended, resulting in irregular pool attendance.

Swimming technique goes quickly with inactivity. The delicate balance and timing of a smooth swimming stroke can easily be lost to a few weeks without a reminder. However, it is a wonderfully meditative sensation when one finds that intricate rhythm of a smooth free-style stroke.

I found my lost free-style stroke the other day and it was wonderful.

reachThere are three basic aspects of a free-style stoke. (Just a disclaimer, I have never been coached in swimming. Everything I know about swimming, I learned on Youtube and blogs.)

The Reach: The forward arm enters the water at a point inside the shoulder line and only fully extended under the water. I like to feel the full stretch of my forward arm timed with the rotation of my torso and exit of my other arm from the water in the recovery. The reach is important because it helps keep you from sinking. Also, a long reach increases the length of your arm which gives more power to the catch and pull phase.

catch 2The Catch & Pull: The forward arm should stay fully extended for a brief moment before “catching” the water – this enhances gliding through the water. The forward arm then catches the water with the hand and the forearm. It is important not to churn the water but to “feel it”.  This is where the power in the stroke comes from. The arm accelerates throughout the stroke as you rotate your torso using the power of your core, right up to the point of exit, when the hand passes the hip.

recovery 2The Recovery: Once the arm is pushing back (when the hand has passed the elbow) the elbow begins to straighten. When the arm exits the water, the elbow immediately begins to flex again, staying high with the hand close to the body. The exit of the arm is important because it causes the rotation of the torso, which reduces drag through the water and sets up a long, stretching reach of the forward arm.  It also let’s you breath – which is important.

All the aspects of the free style stroke need to be synchronized and balanced for an efficient swimming stroke. I have read that a swimmer with deficient technique can expend 50% more energy than one using a stroke that is balanced through the various stages. Swimming is unforgiving of poor technique.

All the stages of the free-style stroke need to be in balance and in rhythm. When it happens, swimming becomes easy.

reach 2I was thinking about the Christian life as I enjoyed re-discovering the rhythm of my swimming technique. The Christian life needs to be a balance between the future, the present, and the past – all blended into a seamless rhythm of continued forward progress; otherwise known as sanctification.

The Reach (Future): We are told to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). We have to stretch for this hope. When we are reaching for the hope of the Gospel, it lengthens us; we can glide through troubles and not sink into the cares of this world. In addition, a hope that is set on the full assurance of our faith corrects selfish motivations and gives power to our service and obedience in the present.

catchThe Catch & Pull (Present): The power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the present of the Christian life. The present is where we do the work of service and obedience. We reach forward to our hope, check our motivations and then catch the opportunities of our life. The power of our daily lives comes by faithfully using our God-given strengths, being sensitive to the Spirit (feeling His presence), and then pressing into our firm foundation. The key to a powerful present is consistently pressing into the Spirit throughout our day. We need to be consciously setting our mind on the things of the Spirit from the time we wake to the moment we close our eyes to sleep. That is how we make the most of the present.

recoveryThe Recovery (Past): The Christian has to learn how to handle the past. Lingering in the past will only drag us down. Therefore, we need to exit the past cleanly – forgiving who we need to forgive; confessing what we need to confess; correcting what needs to be corrected – and then immediately get back to the Hope that lays before us. It is this quick transition from past experiences to future hope that will lengthen our time for good works in the present, which give the Spirit more opportunities to manifest His glorious power in our daily lives.

The Christian life is a wonderful blend of future, present, and past. I know how easy it is to lose that precious rhythm:

I have neglected meditating on the Hope that I have been called to.
I have churned away trying to please God with my good works in proof of my salvation.
I lingered over thoughts of the past that have drug me to a stop.

20131001-235329Throughout those periods of life, I could feel that my spiritual life was not quite right. Consistency has always brought me back to the wonderful rhythm of a life synchronized with the Spirit. Whenever I am not feeling it, I still jump into the deep water of my Lord and Savior. Taking a break from God never is to your advantage.

Our helper, the Spirit, is the one who always corrects our deficient and inefficient living. Let’s get back to living in the Spirit, for His glory, in all the aspects of our lives – past, present, and future.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for allowing my life not to feel right. Thank you for giving me your Spirit to be my helper – to teach me and correct me.  Lord, continue to work in my life.  Show me where I am out of balance.  Help me to come into rhythm with your Spirit in all aspects of my life.  Give me a heart that Hopes in you.  Teach me how to exit cleanly from my past and immediately reach out to you.  Grant me the power of your Spirit to live every moment of my life for your glory. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Photographs: Swim Channel Facebook

QUOTE (Helen Keller)

English: Helen Keller. Français : Helen Keller.

“For three things I thank God every day of my life: thanks that he has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works; deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to–a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.”   ~ Helen Keller

“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.”  ~ Helen Keller

“If the blind put their hands in God’s, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose. ” ~ Helen Keller

In honor of Helen Keller, an American author, political activist, and lecturer, who was born on this day in 1880. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.

Resources:
This Day in History for 27th June
Helen Keller>Quotes

 

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