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March 30

Monday, March 30th, 2020

Someone commented a few days ago on my other blog that they hadn’t heard me say much about the C-virus which is capturing everyone’s attention. And may I add, captiv(e)ating them?  My answer to her was simple and short: information overload. I’m convinced one can only hear so much of a subject before shut-down. For example, suppose if when we were together and talking all I talked about was cycling, my bike, cycling, 3FeetPlease, and cycling, you would eventually go into shut down mode, extremely tired of my “one man band.” I feel the same about the virus.  What can I add that hasn’t already been said?  I feel my purpose during this time is to talk faith not fear. It doesn’t hurt to stay informed, but there is a point of overload.

What amazes me though-and it’s not just about this- is how clueless some people are. People who live in ivory towers pontificating about circumstances, events, etc they are really out of touch with. People making judgments- be they political, medical, or otherwise-who, in my eyes, are nothing but fools. Sure there are some who are putting their money where their mouth is. But then there are those who spout off and have no clue. They can take a year off work and not get hurt. Then there are those who make insensitive remarks but then scramble to cover their tracks.

Did you know the Hebrew word for foolish and simple (used in Proverbs) means “thick, dull, sluggish”? It’s what we refer to as “clueless.” Hmmmm.

It’s not like I’m excusing myself. I’m not. I can’t. I’ve made some really insensitive comments myself. I’ve been clueless. But it’s time to stop. For me. For you. For all. Let’s take the “in” off insensitivity.

“Father, help me to be more aware of what I say and how I say it. Help me to weigh my words and not be so insensitive. And help me not to pass on information which is bogus.”

March 18

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

How’s this for a kick in the teeth or a slap in the face?  All Scripture is from Proverbs 18.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (v.2)

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the foundation of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (v.4)

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Vv.6-8)

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (v.13)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (v.21)

Need I say more or add to them? It is a malady that runs through my veins and is in my blood. I’m not alone. We would all do well to “keep our trap shut” as my grandfather used to say, and weigh our words.

“Father, it is easy to see the devastation my words bring. Help me to show restraint and remember death and life come from the same place.”

February 21/Weekend

Friday, February 21st, 2020

My title for this devotion is Quick vs Slow.

There is no question in my mind that I’m getting older. In fact, at age 67 I think it is safe to say I’m on the “other” side of the equation. That has given rise to several realities. I don’t work out early in the morning any more because my joints can’t take it. I don’t have the stamina physically I used to. I used to ride every day-20-30 miles a pop-and relish it. Now I need a day in between to recover after a hard ride. I no longer run or jump or do foolish physical things that tax my body. Moving is not something I offer much to anyone unless I can get others to come along. I do things at a slower, more measured pace.

I’m reminded of James 1:19-“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” So its okay to be quick, but it is also okay to be slow.

  • Be quick to hear. I don’t do many things quick these day. Jo laughed at me/with me the other day when I said I’d run down the hall of the church building to get something for her. I don’t run. But I do need to listen. I do need to hear the needs, the hurt, the pain of others. And actually, I hear it louder and clearer these days.
  • Be slow to speak. I don’t speak as quickly as I used to. Because I hear or listen, I respond slower. I don’t spout off like I used to with know-it-all words. In fact, a few months ago someone came into my office to speak with Ryan and me about a concern he had. After he left I had all sorts of questions and rebuttals.
  • Be slow to anger. I’ve calmed down a lot. I never was one to blow up but I did allow my emotions to rule sometimes. Now I’m more measured. And my age has taught me to choose the hill I want to fight and die on.

Three simple phrases that pack a ton of weight. “Father, help me to exhibit these qualities each day. Help them to be a part of me, no matter how old I am.”

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I was late posting this because I was at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indy at 7:00 for this little guy’s heart cath with possible angioplasty surgery.

Alexander continues to amaze the doctors. Christine texted he came through great so I’m anxious to hear what the results are. Please continue praying for him and his family.

February 11

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

I wish I was alone in this. I wish I was the only one who experienced this. I wish it was an isolated case and it died with me. I’ve done it (sadly and ashamedly) and had it done to me. I’ve seen it done to others as well.

What is it?  Well, let me give you two Scriptures and see if you can figure it out:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:1-2

And I’m suspecting you know of the ensuing words related to the tongue (a further commentary on verse 2). I also hope you can see my quandary. We are quick to judge and criticize, to put down and to sweep aside someone who stumbles BUT forget to look into our own mirror and to check our tongue.

Nobody’s perfect…making mistakes, or stumbling is a fact of life. We all do it. What we don’t need is someone pinning us down, stepping on us, criticizing us, judging us or body-slamming us, all while forgetting they are sinners, mistake-makers too. The air of superiority some develop is just as sinful as what and who they are pointing their fingers at. Sounds a bit Pharisaical to me.

Instead of shooting someone down-especially with our tongue-maybe we ought to harness our judgment gun and empty our bullets.  Maybe an effort to assist and to pick them up would be more in order. If we did that, more people would not need bullet-proof vests that cover their hearts.

“Father, help me to be so careful in my judgment of others. Instead of shooting them down or even pinning them while are down, help me to holster my gun and lend a hand to get up.”

February 5

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Giver vs Taker.

There are tons of different people in this world. You know that.  We all do.  There are Go-getters and there are lazy people. There are Dreamers and there are “Today-ers.” There are Leaders and there are Followers.

There are Givers and there are Takers.

Now to clarify: I’m not speaking about money. I’m not talking about those who want handouts. I’m not even talking about selfish vs unselfish people.

I want to look at it from a different angle. I want to look at it from the standpoint of encouragement, of what you or I do when it comes to the emotional need of another. Paul says encouragement is a spiritual gift (Rom.12:8; I Cor.14:3-4). How cool would it be to have Joseph? No, not that Joseph. Another one. You might know him as Barnabas? (See…we don’t even know him by his real name).  This quality was so evident in his life the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”

We live in an age when encouragement is needed. My sister-in-law is living in a long-term care facility at this writing. I wonder how many there never see any family or hear a kind word? Remember the old song “Home, Home on the Range?” It has the lyrics: “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word/And the skies are not cloudy all day.” Many people cannot sing that song because they don’t hear an encouraging word at all.

So…are you a giver or taker of encouragement? Do you sit around wanting it and expecting it or do you make an effort to give it? Wouldn’t it be cool to be known as “the son (or daughter) of encouragement?”

“Father, life is hard enough as it is without living in discouragement. When I see someone today who looks lonely or is all by themselves and alone, help me to practice encouragement. Help me to be an encourager to someone today.”

January 13

Monday, January 13th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Life vs Death.

It’s been “one of those weekends.” Now…when those kinds of words are used we tend to think, “Oh boy. Here it comes. He’s going to lay out his sob story about all that went bad, how his weekend was the weekend from h-e-double hockey sticks.”

Relax!  It’s not that at all! Since Friday’s devotion-January 10-I have continued reading Proverbs 10-11-12-13. All weekend long a common theme ran through my reading.

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” 10:11

“When words are many, transgressions in not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” 10:19

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” 11:12

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” 12:25

“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” 13:14

See what I mean? Notice a common theme? Words. All weekend long I read about my words. Bookended by 10:11 and 13:14. My words can build up or tear down. My words reveal who is in control within me. My words can either lift someone’s burden or make it heavier. There was no way I got off the hook this weekend. It culminated in today’s Scripture- 13:14.

To be honest though, the one that struck me the hardest was actually 12:25. Do I realize; do I remember; do I remind myself that my words can either add to or lift a burden? “Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” 25:11

“Father, touche’. Your sword struck paydirt. My heart. My mouth. One day at a time-may my words be words of life to someone, not words of hurt, despair, discouragement, or even death.”

December 9

Monday, December 9th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Lasting vs Passing.

It is not unusual to hear or say-and I have-that Thanksgiving should be and is to be more than one day out of the year. Thanksgiving should be 24/7/365. The inference (although it is more than just inferred or implied) is that the spirit of Thanksgiving is so dominant in us that it weaves its way into every day of the year.

What would that mean if I said, “Christmas ought to be every day of the year? Does that mean we ought to have candy and cookies and eggnog and gifts and the other trappings of Christmas all year ’round? (I can say you will have a hard time with me saying no when it involves chocolate. But I digress… 🙂 )

In all seriousness, what does that mean? Seemingly endless shopping? No. Lights and decorations all year ’round? No. A tree in the foyer or living room? No on all counts. To say Christmas all year ’round is to have the attitude we find in Philippians 2: “Have this mind (attitude) among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Paul had just been talking about doing nothing out of selfishness or conceit. But instead, we are to look out for the interest of others.

THAT’S the spirit of Christmas! Humility. Selflessness. Who couldn’t benefit from an attitude like that displayed? Giving our lives away for the sake of the Gospel.

“Father, may my life exhibit the Christmas spirit of humility and selflessness all year ’round. May Christmas not be just a once a year event but a lifestyle of giving myself away on a daily basis.”

November 29

Friday, November 29th, 2019

My title for this devotion is God-speak vs Me-Speak.

Okay, so it is Friday, November 29, 2019.  Thanksgiving Day is over. Many spent the day enjoying family; laughing and joking; playing games; most importantly, speaking gratitude to God for His grace, goodness and provision. Words of good. Words of gratitude. Words of praise. And rightly so.

But those good words should not end-neither for God nor for others. But for many they will. It is like a switch is flipped the day after Thanksgiving which says, “Okay, that’s enough!” If only we could learn more completely that gratitude should be a part of us, something that flows from our heart, joints, ligaments and out of our mouth. Words.

That is why my Scripture reading hit me this morning with full force.

Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the wise man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’  (Jer.9:23-24)

We have spent this past week hopefully in gratitude to a magnificent, awesome God. Why stop? Why suddenly be self-centered? Rude? Self-enamored? All about me?

“Father, may my heart and may my speech be filled with gratitude to You. May it continue on and not end just because Thanksgiving Day is over. May my speech be God-speak and not Me-speak.”

October 30

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

My title for this is Truth vs False.

When I was a kid I remember my parents watching a game show called Truth or Consequences. I don’t remember how it was played but the title itself sort of gives it away.  It gives away a life principle actually: tell the truth or there will be consequences. How well I remember being told, “Tell the truth. While there may be a punishment for your wrong, it will be worse if I find out later you lied.”

That is a great life principle. Period. Proverbs 30:7-9 are interesting verses. He asks 2 things: 1) Help me not to lie; and 2) give me what I need lest I take extreme measures to satisfy my need. It is the first one that I focused on this morning.

You see, I have to go to court today to testify on behalf of a friend. While I love and support my friend, my ideal plan is to stay out of the spotlight-even anonymous.  Not that I fear for me. I don’t.  But a subpoena is a subpoena and I am REQUIRED to be there. Jo and I have talked and she put it well: “This is (name of a past situation) all over again. Tell the truth. That’s all you can do.” She’s right. I have nothing to hide and any question asked of me will get one answer: the truth.  So the words of Proverbs 7 stay with me today.

“Father, not just today in a courtroom is truth to be told. All the time. All situations. Let me remember that while telling the truth at all times my hurt, the consequences of a lie are much greater.”

October 19/Weekend

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

My title for this is Listening First vs Speaking First.

It seem this past week has been the week to write and concentrate on speech, on what comes out of the mouth. I read Proverbs 18 & 19 together and chapter 18 goes with that flow.

There’s a saying when speaking about James 1:18 where it says we ought to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry.”  They say, “God has given us two ears and one mouth. There’s a reason for that.” After reading Proverbs 18, I see that even more. LISTEN:

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”  (6-7)

“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (8)

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (13)

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (15)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (21)

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity, than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (19:1)

You get the point. I certainly do. It is time to listen better and speak less.

“Father, help me to heed my own words. Help to listen better, even listen twice as much as I speak. And when I speak, let them be words of life.”