Reflection

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October 3

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Hydrated vs Unsatisfied.

I rode my bike two days this week. I would have ridden three if I had not had an eye doctor appointment yesterday (Wednesday). Both days the temps were in the 90s with high humidity. Just the way I like it! Typical Indiana weather…in August! Highly unusual for October but I love and took advantage of it. People ask me how I do it. Not only do I like that kind of weather (it is easier on the joints), but there is one key ingredient: hydration. As I got ready to ride one of those days, a lady who is a nurse commented on me riding in the heat. When I told her I liked it she said, “Hydration. Stay hydrated.” I reassured her I did. I have two insulated water bottles-one of Gatorade Zero and one of water-which have been partially frozen so I have cold drinks for my ride.

This came back to me today as I read from John 4-Jesus’ exchange with the Samaritan woman at the well. In the exchange found in verses 7-14 Jesus asks for a drink.  Her inquisitive nature opens the door to one of Jesus’ greatest statements: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a well of water welling up to eternal life.” (verses 13-14)

Of course Jesus is not speaking of physical water. One will be thirsty again. But to drink of Him leads to satisfaction. That doesn’t mean that to come to Him ends all need for more. My hunger and thirst for Him never ends. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for he shall be satisfied.” (Mt.5:6) But it does mean the end of my searching and longing for satisfaction and meaning to life. It does mean peace has been found. Jesus knew the woman at the well was empty. He also knew her search was hopeless without Him.

So I see this going two ways:

  1. He is the one who is the answer to my (and everyone else’s) longing and searching.
  2. May I never stop hungering and thirsting after Him.

“Father, You have the answers to all the longing and searching people go through. You answered mine. But may I never cease hungering and thirsting for You. May I always long to stay hydrated.”

October 1

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

My title for this devotion is Meaningful Words vs Blowhard, Empty Words.

I need to make a confession. I’ve been reading through Job in my morning Quiet Time and I’ve had trouble concentrating. I know the basic backdrop of Job.  He has it all. All but his life is taken away.  He has three “friends” who become very accusatory of him. He must have some hidden sin. He’s really not the righteous person he pretends to be. He is in rebellion against God. Blah. Blah. Blah. I’d say sarcastically “some friends they are” or “with friends like that who needs enemies” but I digress. You see…that’s not the whole story. They pretend in their blowhard, empty words to pretend to speak for God. They pretend to know God’s thoughts.

They don’t. If I was Job I’d say, “Take a hike!” In chapter 22, Eliphaz accuses Job of being wicked. In the margin of my Bible I highlighted verses 21-30 and noted it as Accusation of Job’s rebellion. Well, it appears Job has questions of his own. But they are not accusatory questions like I might raise. No. Just the opposite. He raises the fact that He cannot understand God because of the “bigness” of God. (23: 8-17).

Why is this important to me? Because I feel the same way at times. Wondering what I did to “deserve” the treatment I’m getting. I question my commitment. My walk. Am I holy? But it doesn’t come down to what I think or who I am. It comes down to what God thinks and who He is. Take a moment and read Job 23: 8-17 and see if doesn’t give you that perspective. It did me. “He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

“Father, may my commitment to you only grow stronger through the daily struggles-be they big or small-I face. May I see the words of others- if they do not reflect You and Your Word- as blowhard, empty words which cannot affect or change Your view of me.”

September 19

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Little People vs Feeling Little.

There are many people who feel little or insignificant. They have been made to feel less than someone else due to status, wealth, position, race, or even job. And others have done a great job at making them feel that way. But I stand on pretty solid ground when I say we were never created to feel that way. As they say “we all put our pants on the same way.” I have yet to see someone stand their pants up and jump into them. (That is wrong is so many ways!) 🙂

However, having just returned from an awe-inspiring trip to Alaska, I can speak of feeling little-in a good way. For example. take a look at  these pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can your thoughts not be drawn to Psalm 8:4- “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers. the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

We were never made to feel small in another person’s eyes. As Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “There are no little people.” No matter what society says, we are on equal plane, but when it comes to God and His creation, it is humbling to realize how important we are to Him. And yet…how small we are.

“Father, Your majesty overwhelms me, humbles me. No matter what others think of me, I’m important to you. Thank you that I matter to you.”

 

Weekend Extra

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

I wrote this while on vacation last week but had no internet service nor did I take my computer so I thought I would enter it as a weekend extra.

My title for this devotion is Man vs God.

There is a discussion/debate that has gone on for years and continues to this day. And unless I miss my guess will go on until Jesus returns. The discussion/debate? Who made the earth? Who created what we have? Was it the evolution of animal and man or was it God?

After today(Friday), my vote is God. ‘Course it always was, but even more after today. Today was a most amazing day. It began with a tour of Skagway by trolley. Skagway came about because of the Gold Rush and a few resilient people.  It is still a town of a few resilient people-more during tourist season than in the vicious winter. Ghost town is a more appropriate name. But in the afternoon we took the train to White Pass. I’m not sure I have seen as much beautiful scenery as I did today.

And all that ran through my head (after Tuesday’s all day boat ride, Wednesday’s stop at Icy Straight Point, and today’s stop at Skagway) were the words of Scripture: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the earth show His handiwork.” (Ps.19:1) Then when I came back to the room and Jo napped, I read this: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!…When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps.8:1,3-4)

All I could think of was the beauty of what God created. Much of it untouched. A waterfall in the middle of the forest. The rapidly flowing water. The glacier between two mountains. Absolutely stunning scenery. Beautiful blue water. I had and have a hard time writing it off to man’s work. Or chance. Or a big bang.

“God you have created a majestic thing of beauty. The heavens. The earth. Thank you for giving me a wonderful opportunity to witness it first hand. Yes, human ingenuity made the railroad and the Alaskan highway and the landmarks. But YOU! You made it all. Man could not have done it!”

Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. We had a camera but I needed them NOW! 🙂  The top 2 and the first on the left is from Skagway. The latter two are from Glacier Bay (Saturday’s all day ride). I even got to see the glacier calve. Talk about amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 27

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

My title for today’s devotion is Today vs Tomorrow.

My mind is all over the place this morning. No, I’m not ADHD and have trouble concentrating as a result. Two visits yesterday to the hospital-one for a man who had surgery then to return to follow-up; the other during that second time to visit a friend who has suffered a stroke. Three actually, each one worse than the other.  To add to that Jo and I are leaving today for Ohio so she can visit her sister before our trip and to follow-up with Medicaid and make funeral preparations to divest some of her sister’s money. I have this devotion to enter and a sermon to work on before we leave. A visit to the eye doctor yesterday told me I may finally have cataract surgery (which is not a bad thing). We also have the trip to Alaska to get ready for by Monday. Most of this is future, i.e. tomorrow.

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” A man laying in a hospital bed with a stroke that (at this point) has affected his right side and speech had been talking about going to a neighboring town to eat rib-eyes (even though I hardly ever eat red meat) the past few times we have talked. It was always tomorrow. “We’re going to have to go there Bill. You, Jo, and us.” Tomorrow. Someday soon. In this case, tomorrow may never come.

The trip might be put on hold depending on his health. Jo mentioned it. I hope not, but who knows about tomorrow?

Of course, God does. But I’m not privy to that information. James 4:13-15 put it this way: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year’…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ “

Tomorrow is not a sure thing. No guarantee. But I know I can trust my all-knowing God for the unknown future.

“Father, please take my scattered mind and settle it. Focus my heart on today and not worry about tomorrow. You know about tomorrow; I don’t. So I place it in Your unfailing hand.”

August 22

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Being Childlike vs Acting Childlike.

There is a young man in the church who thinks I am the “cat’s meow.” Scary, I know. He is 2 y/o so it would be easy to say he doesn’t know any better. 🙂 And I would agree. I love his mom and his dad but he comes more often with his grandmother. About 6 months to a year ago I gave him a 3 Feet Please bear because he had seen one in my office and reached for it. I made a friend for life! This past Sunday his grandmother told me his first words where “See Passy Bill.” (No comment on that please. 🙂 ) He waited patiently in the kitchen with her then made his way to see me.  I was talking to someone and he waited to say hi and for me to hug him. When I saw him, I said, “Excuse me” and picked him up and gave him a big hug. After church, he was at my office waiting and desired my attention again and I was happy to give it to him (along with a hug and another bear). I. LOVE. LITTLE. KIDS.

I was reminded of him this morning when I read from Matthew 21. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people were crying out “Hosanna!.” The religious leaders were indignant: “Do you hear what those children are saying?” Of course, He did. And He certainly didn’t discourage them!! On the contrary, Jesus loved children. He even used them as an example of the kind of faith we needed to have. We need to be childlike.

Then I read the story of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33.  One word describes it: U.G.L.Y.  He undid everything his father did right. Until he is captured. There is an interesting sequence of events recorded:

  • V.10- God speaks and neither Manasseh nor the people pay attention.
  • V.11- Manasseh is captured and bound with hooks and chains
  • V.12- Manasseh cries to God and God listens. He restores Manasseh to his kingdom.
  • Vv.14-17- Manasseh did what he should have done to start with. Trusted God and with childlike faith undid what he did.

That 2 y/o boy shows a childlike faith and love for me, which I happily and readily reciprocate.  Manasseh did not show that toward God. He arrogantly defied God and did his own thing. That begs a question: What kind of faith will God find in me? Will he find a childlike faith or one where I’m acting like a child?

“Father, please find in me a faith in you like that young boy  has in me. Waiting for you. Joyful in your presence and your loving hug.”

August 19

Monday, August 19th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Open Mouth vs Closed Mouth.

I woke up this morning to the sound of a cricket that seemed to be right in my ear. I don’t mind hearing them when they are outside and I am inside. Or if I’m outside with them. I’m not too fond (translated: I can’t stand it) when I am inside and they are too. I finally pin-pointed where it was coming from, but that thing was so loud it fooled me. It was actually outside the kitchen window. Okay, so I let it go. But the guy wouldn’t shut up! He wouldn’t take a break from rubbing his legs together. He had to continually let me know he was there. After almost 45 minutes I finally said, “Enough” and turned the outside light on and went outside. He is no more. Silence. Sweet silence!

I know he was only acting according to his nature. Just like a bullfrog bulls. A skunk skunks (badly). A bird chirps. A cricket cricks. It is his nature to announce his presence by rubbing his legs together. Unless…someone comes around. Then he actually stops. He had actually stopped letting me know he was there when I went outside but I found him hiding.

Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Like the old adage attributed to Abe Lincoln: “It is better to keep your mouth shut and thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Why do I feel like I always have to say something? Why can I not just keep my mouth shut? Sometimes when I speak, I speak words of good, words that might be considered wise. But sometimes I “open mouth and insert foot.” I need to be more selective when I speak and what I speak. I don’t always have to be heard. Those people sometimes get squashed.

“Father, may I choose wisely when to open my mouth and when to close it. The cricket who kept chirping is no more. May it not be that people long for me to be no more in their presence because of my mouth.”

August 12

Monday, August 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of the Wise vs Words of a Fool.

There is no question that words have power. Listen to the babbling of a politician or pundit. Listen to a drill sergeant. Listen to a teacher/professor. Listen to a coach. Listen to a false teacher or preacher. Words have the power for good and for evil.

The words of Proverbs 12 ring out in their truthfulness and forthrightness. I’m going to put those verses here and let Scripture speak for itself.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (v.15)

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (v.16)

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (v.17)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (v.18)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (v.19)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (v.22)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (v.25)

Those words of Scripture speak for themselves. No commentary is needed. The only question which remains is what can I/what can you do to make my/your words life-giving instead of life-sucking?

“Father, help me to measure my words. Help my words to be words of wisdom. Words that give life. Words of truth. Words that build up. Transform my words today.”

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Notice: Due to a mess up of notification (My site is unstable or something like that) I have had to go to Feedburner. The WordPress notification was sending an https address instead of an http one, therefore sending the wrong site address. Several have notified me. Ryan says you will probably have to sign up again to receive notice of a new post. I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for being patient.

August 6

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Blind Faith vs. Faith in the Unseen.

I know there are people who struggle to have faith. They are pragmatic in their approach. Like Thomas they won’t believe unless they see. Unless they see something tangible, or unless they can touch it, they find it hard to believe.

There are also those who have blind faith. Like someone who dives off a cliff or a rock into a body of water without first checking out the danger, they leap. They leap into the unknown and call it faith. I prefer to call that blind faith. It is my contention that an uninformed step is not really faith at all.

There are also those who cannot see yet believe. I’d like to think I’m in this camp. I have not seen God and yet I believe. I have not physically touched God and yet I believe He exists. I’m certainly far from an expert in all of this and being able to logically and adequately convey my thoughts is not a strong suit of mine. But I am aware that God is bigger than I can imagine and He owes me nothing. Even though He wants my praise, He does not depend on it. He is totally capable of being God without my approval.

Solomon’s prayer of dedication sums it up well. “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house I have built.” (2 Chron.6:18) God is so much more than I can think or imagine. He cannot be contained by a building or in a building. His presence and power is endless. His existence is far beyond my understanding. But I believe. That is not a blind faith. It is a faith rooted in truth. It is rooted in having “seen” Him. I’ll stand with the person who said, “Because God is great, He will be sought; because God is good, He will be found.”

“Father, You have made yourself known. Not by sight or touch, but by actions. My trust is not a giant leap into the unknown. It is a step into proven waters. May my faith continue to grow.”

July 31

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

I actually wrote the bulk of this Monday morning at Jo’s sister’s apartment that would see us for the final time that day. I was going to title this An Observation. But this morning I went back to it and reworked some of it, mostly by adding some thoughts. But when I reworked it this morning I decided on a different title:

Stretching vs. Atrophy.

Here is the reworked devotion:

This Monday as I read my devotion from “Faith” from an Our Daily Bread collection of devotions, knowing today would the last day we would ever see this apartment and all that has taken place over the last month or so, I had to make some observations. The author’s devotion was on Stretching. As I sit down to have my Quiet Time,  the apartment is quiet. The outside is quiet. My soul is quiet and at rest. Today we pack up and move what remains in Vicki’s apartment. It has been a “stretching” experience in so many ways.

For Jo it has stretched her far beyond her comfort zone. I have not seen her cry like she has in a long, long time. Maybe after my second bike accident when I was seriously injured and the ensuing trauma which followed. Jo has had to go to bank after bank-back and forth-many times. Talk to Job & Family Services (a government agency…’Nuff said0. Apply for Medicaid for her sister. Become POA.  Make future funeral arrangements. Nursing home. Hospital. Phone calls. Way, way, way out of her comfort zone.  She’s a saint putting up with all she has.

For me it was giving up the routine of my job. Not being there for what I consider my responsibility has been hard. It has been hard to leave for weeks (3 of the last 5 to clean out this hoarder’s apartment. Scrubbing on my hands and knees to clean up…stuff. I cannot say enough about how Ryan and Diana (youth pastor and secretary) have held down the fort. Nor can I praise the leadership of OVCF enough for letting me come and go as I have, telling me “you have got to take care of your family.”

Stretching is painful. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery and stretching was vital to recovery of motion. I’ve had meniscus and collarbone surgery. Stretching was vital to recovery.  One of the most important recovery mechanisms after a bike ride is stretching. In the life of the Christ-follower, stretching is vital to growth. It hurts to stretch muscles that want to curl up and atrophy. It hurts to stretch spiritual muscles that will do the same. But it is absolutely a necessity. Stretching helps us to focus not on what has been but on what will be. In our lives, stretching will help us focus not on what we have been, but on who we can become. It is easy to see ourselves with all our failures and shortcomings, but God looks beyond that to see who we are as His new creation through the power of His Spirit.

“Father, thank you for stretching me. Thank you for giving me (sometimes) unpleasant situations that challenge me to break out of sameness and safety and step out onto the water. As I take those steps-present and future-help me to keep my eyes on You, not the waves kicking up. And help me to remember this is all in your plan for me. Stretch me where I need stretched.”