Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

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Ruled by Energy Reserves – Luke 14:12–14

March 4, 2020

“And he also said to the one who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or wealthy neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But whenever you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they are not able to repay you. For it will be paid back to you at the resurrection of the righteous.””

Let’s get together…someday.  The preferred response for delay.

We should socialize more, but not today.  It has been a long week of words, energy spent without much in return. I need time to recharge without a demand for more.

We should get together…without a ready reply. Sure, let’s keep it small; friends, family, and the neighbors down the way.

They won’t demand much, no conversations to carry, no drama to parry, no wary expectations.  It will be fun; no energy debt to pay, but actually a possible repayment, long delayed.

But what about the treasure in my righteousness bank?  There’s no banquet deposit from this type of party.

There is no spiritual value in yielding to the rule of one’s energy reserves.  If you want to be like Jesus, you might have to spend those reserves, without hope of like-currency return.  Deficit spending might need to be the norm.

Yet, we are not in a net-neutral world.  We have a limitless power reserve, which allows us to expend with nothing in return.  God created the world. Yet, He can’t give me an extra energy advance?

So, let’s get together, all you energy petitioners. Let’s have a banquet with the emotionally poor, disabled by drama, blind to truth, lame to norms.  It will be a long night at the end of a long week. 

Yet, it will be the most fruitful of walks by Faith when welcomes are exchanged in the boosted power of the Spirit rather than the puny reserves of an introverted nerd.

https://ref.ly/Lk14.12-14 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Smells Bad- Luke 13:8–9

March 2, 2020

“But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put manure on it. And if indeed it produces fruit in the coming year, so much the better, but if not, you can cut it down.’ ””

Have you ever considered that the “manure” you have gone through or are currently dealing with contains the essential nutrients of future righteousness?

God gives us what we need, when we need it, even when it doesn’t smell good!  He is serious about fruit production.

That smell you smell…That smells like righteousness!

My meditation for the day is gratitude for the “manure” in my life.
https://ref.ly/Lk13.8-9 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Ain’t Nobody Ain’t Got Time for This – Luke 11:2–4

February 27, 2020

“And he said to them, “When you pray, say,
“Father, may your name be treated as holy.
May your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation.””

Do you pray? I don’t pray like I want…like I should.

Pray without ceasing implies something preceding.  Praying without an end, no amen, necessitates a prayer with a ‘Good morning Father, it’s me again’.

Yet, sometimes we cannot find the time to begin again.  

Really?  How do we not have time to pray the prayer that we have been taught to pray?

The frequency of pray is not reflective of the faithfulness of the hearer but rather the faithfulness of the pray-er.

If you don’t know what to pray, then pray the prayer we have been given.  The best way to pray without ceasing is to begin and then begin again.  Let your prayer life have more introduction then conclusions and you’ll be well on your way to the best of run-on prayers.

We all have got time for that!

https://ref.ly/Lk11.2-4 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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“ENSLAVED” – Feb. 24

February 24, 2020

“Then He said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” Matthew 22:21

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

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I am a slave,
but I am not unique.
I am a slave,
but so are you.
We are slaves but
not in the way you think.

We are slaves of many masters.  We serve them all, typically without title but all hidden while still in the open.  Yet, their authority is enforced when the bounds of their reigns are transversed or challenged.  We were born into the bondage of our initial master, whose realm was established at the beginning, when it demanded our lungs to accept this new product called air.  Next, the bounds of nutrition were delineated through pangs in the belly.  The bounds of consciousness were defined by the needs of sleep.  As we mature, new bounds were yearly discovered.

We all labor to serve the Master of Flesh.  Our bodies demand obedience to biological needs, requirements for the preservation of life.  This realm redefines slavery as “self”.  You may say, “my body is not a master,”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Master of Flesh.  Try to exert your freedom from hydration.  Try to exert your freedom from food.  Soon, your flesh will punish your liberty with pain until you yield or die.  The Flesh is an unyielding task master.

Many live their entire existence solely under the tyranny of Flesh, laboring to satisfy its demands.  Some even cede more authority to the Flesh through addiction and/or neurosis.   Yet, all yield to the essential demands of the Flesh from the dawn of every day to its setting.

However, the flesh is not our only master.  As we mature, we enter the realm of another, the Master of Work.  Work’s realm includes all those activities mitigating Flesh’s tyranny.  I want leisure.  Therefore, I must work to be able to take a vacation.  I want amusement.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a hobby, go to a movie, eat gourmet food.  I want more comfortable housing.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a better home.  I want to be happy.  Therefore, I must work to be able to consume and feed my craving for happiness.

Work is not a private affair.  Work is a public engagement and therefore ruled by the cultural and governmental masters.  This realm redefines slavery as “citizenship”.  You may say, “my government is not a master.  I live under a constitution.”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Masters of Work.  Try exerting your freedom from taxation.  Try exerting your freedom to take another’s property.  Try exerting your freedom to live without clothing.  Try exerting your freedom to cry ‘fire’ in a fireless theater.  Transverse the bounds established by the Masters of Work and you will find your time relegated to satisfying the Master of Flesh.  You will become preoccupied with the necessities of existence because the means to mitigate the tyranny of the Flesh will be removed by the tyranny of Work.  Work is an unyielding task master.

We all yield to the essential demands of society in order to have a slice of the prosperity ensuing from our obedience as cogs in the economic mechanism of Work’s realm.  Even if Work could be freed from the Masters of government and culture, it can never be truly free because it resides in the realm of a third master.  Work cannot be free because work is not an end in itself.

The extent and quality of freedom in the flesh and work can only be experienced through obedience to the Master of the third realm in which we all reside.

The Master of the Divine inhabits a realm that was before the Flesh and before Work.  This realm defines the freedoms of those realms and our allegiance to those Masters.  God created the realm of the Divine.  He is the Master of all.  Yet, Satan rebelled against Gods’ rule and when he fell so did all of humanity.  You and I have been born into rebellion against the Master of the Divine.  Yet, we were not born free.  We were born under the tyranny of Satan, who bent the Masters of Flesh and Work into wicked task masters.  It was never meant to be this way.  The Divine has been redefined as “enlightenment”, “science”, “atheism”.

Our inward desire for liberty is an echoing call of creation.  We misunderstand it to be an inherent right of mankind.  It is actually a memory of creation, longing for a world ruled by the true Master; longing for a world where the flesh and work have no power to harm.  Our desire for freedom is incomplete.  It actually is a desire to be completely free to serve the Master as we were created to serve.

low section of man against sky

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Freedom is the freedom to do what we want.  When we are truly free, our nature takes us fully to God, the Master of the Divine.

So, I am a slave.  I am a slave to the Master of the Divine.  I live as an ambassador in the realms of the Flesh and Work.  I pay the requisite requirements to inhabit these realms, but they are not my Master.  I owe them no allegiance.  I will readily say my farewells to the Master of Flesh when the Master of the Divine bids me to return.  I will readily give what is due the Master of Work and give unto God what is His.

I am a slave to only one Master and He is good.  I will serve no other.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for serving other Masters.  Forgive me for forgetting that you have set me free to serve you fully as I was intended.  Thank you for binding me to yourself.  Lord, you know that I am prone to wander.  Let your grace, like a fetter, chain my wandering heart to you.  Take my heart and seal it in servitude for your courts above.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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“ADVENTUROUS PERSEVERANCE” – Feb. 17

February 17, 2020

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thess. 3:13

person pointing at black and gray film camera near macbook pro

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An adventure, by definition, is the unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. My wife and I embarked on an activity at the beginning of the year that is not unusual nor hazardous. Yet, adventure seems it’s most earnest title. The title might need to be categorized in order to do it justice. The adventure is more accurately described as an adventure of the mind. While still not unusual, it seems a little mentally hazardous to our self-esteem.

We have become rebels in the Code Red cult of weight loss. This particular cult is exemplified by specific rules; drink your water, get your sleep, eat real food, no snacking, and be done eating by 6:30 PM. Oh, and no sugar!

Our lives have been transformed due to this weight loss adventure. The adventure excitement emanates from when it is working, and swings to discouragement when it does not. One becomes a bit captive to the scale as rebels weigh every day. There is the adventurous excitement of fitting clothing long banished to the museum of “What I Once Was”. Then, there is the hazards of the plateaus of complete rule obedience yet the scale does not display equitable obedience.

These unusually hazardous circumstances baffles the mental resolve of any weight loss adventurer.

assorted map pieces

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This morning my scale sent me into the treacherous waters of uncertainty and questionable resolve. I had done everything right, earning the anticipation of celebrating seeing digits that I have not observed for 2 years. I don’t know why I create weight memorials in categories of 10, but I do. I excitedly anticipated the proclamation that I have once again entered into the 180’s weight class. For me, that can be 189.9 pounds. It simply means that I no longer will see a 1 and a 9 preceding the stubborn pounds that I am incrementally assaulting.

I have been on the frustrating plateau of the 190’s for a month and a half. Yesterday, the plateau of the 190’s was assaulted with monumental resolve and certainty. My morning  started with a chest and back workout of push-ups and pull-ups and ab-ups. Throughout the day, the rules of Code Red were followed like a good rebel religious zealot. The pincer maneuver, to ensure the success of this full assault, was a long bike ride augmented by the vigor of it being a windy day.

The assault had all the elements needed for a celebratory victory over the obstinate 190’s. Except, it didn’t. This morning arose with all the hope of a goal achieved only to be dashed by the reality of a 1.6-pound gain. Rather than basking in the celebratory light of realization, I find myself in the hazardous gloom of reality. Sometimes, when you do everything right, it simply doesn’t work out as planned and we rarely know the reason.

Expectation can be a hazardous adventure. Short-term expectations are the most hazardous. Perseverance characterizes the route through the hazardous barriers of unrealized expectations. One must trust the process, otherwise, hands flung-up in resignation will become the anthem of all our adventures.

Perseverance is essential for all adventurous endeavors; athletic, academic, career, relational, and spiritual. Perseverance is critical in the spiritual life of a Christian. Particularly, when we are residents in a nebulous plateau of spiritual doldrums. One might be doing everything right. One might make great assaults upon a goal with certain expectations only to experience regression and disappointment.

These are the times to trust the process. These are the times to trust the Perfecter.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a

Too often, we get fixated on the wrong things, just like my fixation with a number on a scale. My goal is not a number on a scale. My goal is to reduce the fat on my body. I want to be fit for all the benefits of fitness. Therefore, the short-term expectations of a scale display should not swing my resolve to such an extent.

empty highway overlooking mountain under dark skies

Equally, my spiritual resolve should not be dependent upon expectations that are surrogates of faithfulness. Our spiritual goal as Christians should be fruitfulness, blossoming from minds set upon the Spirit, eyes fixated upon Jesus, daily; even when we feel unfruitful. The perfection of our faith doesn’t follow a standard operating procedure, nor a regimented timeline.

Jesus is the perfecter of our faith. This means that He is perfecting our faith exactly in the manner that He intends. We just need to trust the Perfecter and keep our eyes fixed on Him while running our race even when the course before us doesn’t seem clearly marked out.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to praise you from the plateaus.  Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.  Teach me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit.  Thank you for the faith that you have pioneered within me and the perfecting of the faith, which you have already accomplished.  Lord, don’t stop.  Please continue to perfect me in the power of your Spirit for you glory and fruitfulness.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH” – Feb. 10

February 10, 2020

“And he said to him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’ And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’” Mark 10:21

grayscale photo of laughing old man

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Odd is the feeling when one’s career ahead is shorter than what lay behind.
There is a transition from hopefulness to practicality.
I don’t know where or when but I suspect the why.

Reality is rarely as alluring as hopefulness.
The basic element of every dream is hopefulness.
Hopefulness colors our perspective with the brightest spectrum of the rainbow.
Reality washes our imagination in the muted hues of monochrome.

Yet, day upon day delivers the lessons of reality.
Reality brings a clarity.
Reality brings a realization of the possible.
Reality brings the responsibility for the practical.

Reality teaches that decisions can be dubious,
plans can be fiction, and
the unforeseen can be pivotal.

A transition seems to correlate, for most, in those middling years.
For those whose hopes were in the lights, age comes with the dimming.
For those whose hopes were based on the worst, they were barely ever young.
But those whose hope endures, eternal youth perseveres.

Youth is not in age; youth is hope.

Many have sought the fountain of youth. It is not found in an elixir. Youth cannot be sustained through the preservation of body, coverings of current fashion, nips, tucks nor amusements.

Youth is internal, eternal.
Youth is not temporal.
An old man can be young.
While, a child can be prematurely old.

Rarely is the source of youthful exuberance acknowledged.
Youthful exuberance flows from the deepest of wells, hope.

Hope hydrates youth.
Hopelessness shrivels the thirsty,
youthful soul when faced with the reality of present and past.

Who was the youngest of all old men?
Was not the man,
who hoped beyond reason,
who hoped beyond biology,
who hoped beyond practically,
the youngest of all old men?
Abraham’s hope was in the promises of God and that hope resulted in agelessness.
Yet, his hope was not in the child. His truest hope was revealed when the child was demanded.

His truest hope was in the Giver of the promise, not the reality of the promise.
Take the reality away and the hope remained.
Abraham was the youngest of old men.

man person people italy

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Who was the oldest of young men?
Was not the man,
who hoped upon his means,
who hoped upon his piety,
who hoped upon his achievement,
the oldest of young men?

The rich young ruler’s hope was in all that he could grasp. When his truest hope was revealed, his youthfulness shriveled into an aged sadness.

His truest hope was in the blessings that he had but not in the Blesser.
Take the reality away and the hope vanished.
The rich young ruler was the oldest of young men.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

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Aging is a blessing. Aging reveals our truest of hope. The oddness one feels as we transition through life is a signal to an opportunity for revelation. The revelation of our truest of hopes. These revelatory opportunities will continue until all is taken away and there is merely the stepping into the promise. Hopefully, that step is taken with the exuberance of ageless youthfulness.

The Christian should be the most youthful of elder, because our hope should be ever increasing as we near our release to Jesus.
Stay young my brothers and sisters.

 

PRAYER: Lord, I want to live fully in the hope of your salvation.  I don’t want to put my hope on anything this world has to offer.  Help me to love you fully.  Help me to love you and not your blessings.  Help me to be joyful as I age.  I know that I have the tendency to be skeptical and grumpy.  May that not be me.  May I am joyful and happy as I take every step toward you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“Another Year” – Jan. 1

January 1, 2019

“And God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.”  Genesis 1:3

Another year has passed.  Another year is upon us.  The flow of time creates natural opportunities for retrospection and planning.  The first day of a new year seems like just a division, natural or otherwise, to review the year that has been and plan for the one to come.

I enjoy the optimism of considering what I want to do and become in the coming year and then creating the goals to make that happen.  All things seem possible on January 1st even though I know that they are not.  My lists of goals are too long.  I can’t possibly achieve all that I want to accomplish within a year.  There will be some goal that have to be sacrificed.  Therefore, I have to prioritize my goals.  I have to determine what comes first.

Prioritizing goals is a wonderful sieve of desires.  What can I live without?

I live a life of abundance.  My problems are only problems in my world.  The inhabitants of the vast majority of the world will view my problems as blessings. So, I sieve.  I sieve my hopes and dreams through the screen of “what I can live without”.

This process quickly reveals the gems of my life.  It also reveals that we are not that far removed from the low tiers of a hierarchy closely resembling the construct of Abraham Maslow.  I can get a little apocalyptic when taking my thought experiment to the extreme.

However, have you ever considered what your basic physiological needs, safety, food, water, shelter, etc., are?  As in any good apocalypse movie (other than the Matrix), mankind can be very resilient until you block out the sun.  Light is a basic physiological need.  The sun might be our essential physiological need.  Without the sun, we will have no food.  Without food, we will die.

My little thought experiment brought me back to my January 1st tradition of starting a new Bible reading plan.  As with any good Bible reading plan, it starts with Genesis 1 on January 1; “In the beginning…”

backlit clouds dawn dusk

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Consider what God did first in his order of creation.  He created the heavens and the earth.  God then created light.  God created the essences of life – light.  However, I don’t think that it was by accident that light was created before the sun and the moon.  God created light from himself.  He is the source of light and therefore the sustainer of life.  You can take  away the sun and the moon but that does not remove the light originating from God.  By the very order of creation, God holds all the essentials of our life including light.

Therefore, I can apply the most brutal of apocalyptic sieves, even the blotting out of the sun, and the final gem revealed is God.  I cannot live without God.

I believe the sweetest aspect of the New Year is the opportunity it avails us to evaluate all the blessings we have, even to the elemental levels of light, remembering how essential God is to our very existence.

He is the one  we cannot live without.

 

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for another year.  Thank you for all the blessings  you have shown me.  Forgive me for the poor priorities of last year.  Forgive me for forgetting to recognize my reliance upon you in all things.  I cannot live without you.  Lord, remind me of my need for you through this coming year.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“THE LOVING SAPPER” – Nov. 25

November 25, 2017

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love.”  John 15:9

Enthusiasm waned in perfect inversion to the length of the day’s shadows.  The time had finally come to end the work and return home, which was dictated by both light and energy.  The path he walked seemed inclined in all directions as he began the long walk home.  Each step trudged along with heel barely higher than the sole.

The workman had been poured out.  There was nothing left.  He had given his all. Effort and more effort lay all about him but he was glad to be done at least until dawn.  He was well accustomed to the long treading of the trail home and happily started upon his routine.

Within sight of rest, random ruminations were rudely ruined by the wreckage caught in the corner of his eye.  A familiar plot, normally flourishing, lay ravished.  He had never paid much attention but he had remembered this small garden as blooming and inviting, well maintained and refreshing but that was not this evening.

The workman did not know when it was wrecked.  Had it been today?  Could it have been some time ago?  He did not know.  It was not his plot.  It was not his responsibility.  He could walk on by and no one would care.  He could turn the other way and no one would stare.  He could leave this destruction for another without despair.

But that was not his way.

The workman lived amongst destruction.  He knew it well.  The gardens he tended were strewn with munitions; bombs buried beneath every patch.  Inattentive tilling could trigger untold devastation with years of lost effort.  The workman knew that some bombs were buried deep and hard to trip while other were  exposed and ready to explode with a breath.

He could see several mines that would inevitably be tripped by someone less attentive and unaware.  He could not simply move on.  It was not his way.  With a sigh, he wearily stepped out of his routine and into the blast zone of this particular plot.  It was now his problem since he too would be effected by any mis-step.

 

The workman moved quickly with the skill of a sapper and defused all that he could readily see.  It was not hard.  It simply took care and gentleness to remove the danger. Yet, his heart broke over the destruction.  This plot had been stripped of all pleasantness; left barren and uninviting.

U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician

The workman returned to the pathway where he had left his satchel.  He removed a small delicate flower.  It was all that he had left and it was all that he could give.  He carefully opened the soil in the heart of the plot and planted this small gift…a flower.


A believer’s heart is the garden where Christ has planted this sweet flower of his love.  It is the channel through which the golden stream of his affection runs.  ~ Thomas Watson


It had been a long day and the last thing he wanted to do was to stop for some fuel.  However, he did want to get home so where wasn’t really a choice.  So, he broke his routine and reluctantly swung his pickup into the gas station.  A swipe of the credit card through the fuel pump produced the annoying message “See Attendant”.  This was not the desired result for someone who just wants to get home.   Another swipe of a different card produced the same results.  “What a waste of time” was all he thought as he wearily trudged toward the store with heels barely higher than the soles.

He saw the familiar face of the attendant standing behind the counter as he entered the store.  However, her faced somehow seemed to be a mere shadow of itself.  As his turn in line came, the workman gave his usual greeting.  The reply was far from usual.  It was terse, verging on rude.  A quick glance into her eye caught a tear turning into a glare.

Clearly, something had happened that had wrecked her normally jovial spirit.  Had it been today?  Could it have been some time ago?  He did not know.  He didn’t really know her.  It was not his responsibility.  He could walk out and no one would care.  He could not engage and no one would stare.

He could leave her in despair but that was not his way…he said a prayer, it was time to get to the real work of the day, for he was a loving sapper.

PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for your love.  Help me to love others as you have loved me and your Father has loved you.  Help me to not ignore the hurting around me.  Help me to not selfishly protect myself from other’s issues.  Give me a heart the feels and desires to heal.  Give me the desire to share the sweet flower of your love that it may flow with your affection into the hearts of the hurting.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“LOW VALUE PROBLEM SOLVING” – Feb. 3

February 3, 2017

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.  Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!”  Psalm 72:18-19

The following is a devotion I was allowed to share with students at a recent NCFCA National Open tournament in Spokane, WA.  I hope you find it encouraging.


Iintel have been reading a book by Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, called “High Output Management”.  It is not a Christian book and I don’t know if Andy Grove was a Christian.  This is, as the title suggests, a book on management.

I read a statement in his book regarding the manufacturing process that I found profound enough to post it on Instagram (@blom.jd), which is the true measurement of a quote.  I believe this singular sentence encapsulates a truth that goes beyond the production of widgets or the motivation of employees.  He stated:

 A common rule we should always try to heed is to detect and fix any problem in a production process at the lowest-value stage possible.

Obviously, the context of his statement is manufacturing.  Simply, it is better to remedy a problem as close to the raw materials of a manufacturing process as possible.  It really is a common-sense statement.  It is always better to discover a problem before you make continued investments of time, money, intellect, and a myriad of resources.

However, there is a universality of this simple principle that goes beyond business.  Simply change the words, production process, and you may see a much wider application.

A common rule we should always try to heed is to detect and fix a problem in our relationships, friendships, school studies, debate case, speeches, at the lowest-value stage possible.  Doesn’t that make sense?

When is the best time to dump a problematic debate case or a cluttered speech?

At the last tournament, after you have invested much time and effort or
before the season even begins?

Obviously, it will be far better to address the problem before the season starts,
at the lowest-value stage.

It makes sense.

This morning I look out and see a crowd of individuals who are at a very low-value stage.  Now, don’t be offended; “he called me low-value”.  I did not.  I am observing that most of you are at the beginning of your potential.  You are at the starting line of a myriad of different paths.  Soon, you will be making massive investments in the subsequent steps on your individual paths that we call life.

Therefore, is it not sensible to try to detect and
fix any problems at this early stage in your life?

I can tell you as a middle-aged man who has had to address problems later in life, at “higher value” stages of life, that it gets much more difficult and messy the longer you wait to address a problem.  Therefore, my first advice to you this morning is to live by the simple principle:

It is far better to detect and fix problems when they are small and manageable,
before they become difficult and messy problems.

The Jonathan Edwards Collection 20 Classic Works Kindle EditionMy next advice is associated with how to detect and fix these small problems in our lives, which leads me to another book I am reading, the Complete works of Jonathan Edwards.  The other day I posted this quote from my readings to Instagram.

Let us endeavor to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent and self-righteous disposition.

I look out upon you all this morning, and I see the sovereign hand of God.  I see a generation being raised in the power of the Holy Spirit for the challenges of a time yet to come.  I see excellence elicited, skills sharpened, intellect ignited for what, I do not know but I do know that it is for a purpose.

This is all for a purpose.

Therefore, I implore you this morning hear Jonathan Edwards’ advice because I know of few problems that have a greater potential to seep into your life and ruin all of this wonderful potential then problems from the seeds of self-dependence and self-righteousness.  If you do not detect them early then they will manifest themselves later in your life, at higher-value stages, when it will be much more painful and destructive.

  • Take on an attitude of imperfection; continually, daily, seeking out problems before they are difficult and messy problems.
  • Endeavor to obtain and increase in the sensibleness of your complete dependence on God; it truly is sensible – learn what that means and increase in that understanding.
  • Start a practice of setting your eyes on Him alone. Learn how to control your mind.
  • Start a practice of mercilessly putting to death an attitude of self-dependence.  You are who you are by the grace of God alone.
  • Prune every bud of self-righteousness, before you and others are forced to taste its bitter fruit.

I earnestly encourage you, today, to live a life that endeavors to set your mind on the things of the Spirit.  Allow the Spirit today, through the grace of God, to increase your dependence on the one who has rescued your soul and be obedient to your calling.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray that you will reveal the roots of self-dependence, the buds of self-righteousness that we are harboring unaware.  Show us how sensible it is to depend upon you.  Empower us in our endeavor to live a life that is killing self-dependence and self-righteousness and glorifies you in all that we do.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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“GLORY OF THE BONSAI” – March 19

March 19, 2016

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith”.’”  Romans 1:17

CLF - Olmstead ParksHe gazes out the window upon a familiar sight.
The Big Oak swaying in the breeze.

Dominating the landscape, it sends limbs far into the sky.
Within it canopy, countless birds find rest and make a nest.

No river is too far for its driving roots.
It drinks deeply from an unseen source.

The Gardener delights in it’s canopy.
The Gardener delights in it’s cool shade.

The Gardener loves the Big Oak.

He looks at his small branches.
They don’t even eclipse the table.
Why don’t they reach the sky?

Although, he has tried.
He tries to send them high.
But every time, they’re clipped short.

It is as if he is bound and pulled down.

He looks at his shallow roots.
They don’t even fill the divot in the a rock.
He knows they need to go deep.

Although, he has tried.
He tries to send them deep.
But every time, they’re rolled in a ball.

It is as if he is contained and drained.

The Big Oak is so much better.
How can the Gardener delight in his canopy?
How can the Gardener delight in his cool shade?

The Gardener will never love him as that Big Oak.

Unseen hands rotate him and he looks out a new pane.

Malus_hupehensis01
He sees the Big Apple Tree.

Its branches are filled with fruit.
The harvest is full.  Worker’s baskets overflow.

It produces a 100 fold, maybe more.
It’s fruit will bless tables far and wide.

It’s roots pull in nutrients for each blossom to grow.
It’s branches are thick;
they can bear the load of fruit, multi-fold.

The Gardener delights in it’s sweet fruit.
The Gardener delights in it’s abundance.

The Gardener love the Big Apple Tree.

He looks at his single cone.
It is so very small.
He knows there should be more.

Although, he has tried.
He tries to grow more.
But every time, it takes so long.

It is as if he lacks the power to grow.

The Big Apple Tree is so much better.
How can the Gardener delight in his produce?
How can the Gardener delight in his abundance?

The Gardener will never love him as that Big Apple Tree.

Doors are opened.
People line up in single file, along every aisle.
He doesn’t know what for.

A party ensues.
Happy faces filled with congratulations.
Pictures are taken with a group all around;
But he doesn’t know what for.

The people leave and the doors are closed.
The Big Oak sees him through the right pane.
The Big Apple Tree sees him through the left.
Bonsai_IMG_6408He sits in a house of brick and glass.
He’s been given the best location; a centerpiece.
This house was built for him alone.

He resides upon a table of stone, made for him long ago.

Ribbons hang along every wall.
Awards and plaques are stacked in trophy cases.
They attest to his “best in show”.

The Gardener spends innumerable hours with him;
more than with the Oak or Apple tree.
Pruning every leaf, wiring every branch, binding every root.

The Gardener has made him a work of art.

The Gardener delights in his canopy.
It was never intended to provide shade.
The exacting artistry of the Gardener is reflected in every shape.

The Gardener delights in his produce.
A single fruit is precious.
The Gardener knows what He has given.

The Gardener is perfecting it all.

As long as he compares himself to those who have been given more;
As long as he believes that he is in control;
As long as he doubts the hand of the Gardener;

He will never know that he is the Gardener’s pride and joy.


I don’t know why some have been gifted with amazing minds while others struggle for a coherent thought.

I don’t know why some have been gifted to capture a stadium while other can’t even get their pet’s attention.

I don’t know why some have been miraculously freed from addiction while others continue  stumbling in their temptation.

I don’t know why some have been given health while others linger in affliction.

I don’t know why some have been given wealth while others have to scrape for every penny.

I don’t think we are supposed to know.

Consider the glory from weakness; blessed are the poor in spirit.
Consider the glory from hurting; blessed are those who mourn.
Consider the glory from humiliation; blessed are the meek.

Each is a pruning, binding, training.

We are called to live by faith, which is a gift of God.  We are called to live under exacting artistry of the One who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

Therefore, you can trust that all the pruning, binding, and training has a purpose.  It frees you to simply be.

You are being created into a work of art, exactly the way the Master wants you to be.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for perfecting.  Thank you for giving me gifts and depriving me of others.  Father, I place all my trust in you.  Help me to live by faith.  Help me to worry less about what I need for tomorrow and focus on the blessing I can be today for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

This post was inspired by the bonsai video and the amount of effort and time it took to create this tree.

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