February 20 – Depth of Perception

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God’s Word is like a time machine. If you spend morning, noon and night reading it, thinking on it, talking about it, digging around in it, memorizing it, you will, at some point, go for a trip. And you will see things you never imagined. Most importantly, you will see answers.

I guess that’s why I’m a bit strange to some. Back when I had no time for the Bible, I was in the dark on a whole lot of things. And fear of the known and unknown dictated much of my behavior. But one day, somebody told me the Bible contained God’s Word, written straight to me… and that through it He gave insight to all who gave it priority.

I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went to work. At first, my mind struggled. Focus was a big issue because the words didn’t instantly start painting pictures. I realized later this was largely due to the dulling process of modern entertainment. My mind was used to sitting back while all the creative work of perception was done without my participation.

As I stayed with it, however, something remarkable began to happen. I would lose track of time and I would come away with marvelous insights. The Bible began to come alive to me with practical wisdom for my everyday life.

 I truly believe creativity is dictated by the depth of one’s’ perception. To the degree in which I can see, I can achieve. The creative soul starts with a notion (thought) that soon becomes motion (action). And that’s exactly what happens when God’s Word becomes a way of life for you and me.

Creative success follows. Why? Then you and I can see where we’re supposed to be going. So today, take a ride in God’s time machine. See what He has in store. Don’t worry; He’ll get you back in good time!

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. Joshua 1:8 Amplified Bible

Biblical Meditation: Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

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February 18 – Classy Conversations

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Just because something may be true doesn’t mean you go around blabbing it. And sometimes things appear one way when truly they are not that way at all. Those are the moments when you might be glad you don’t open your big mouth.

As a kid, I had a hard time knowing when to be quiet. Back then I was smaller than everybody else so I tried to make up for it with my mouth. One day I let my mouth get me into a good-size mess with some ornery older boys and they decided to teach me a lesson. Several of the neighborhood kids and I were all hanging out at the playground at the end of the block.

All of a sudden, I found myself peddling my “banana seat” bicycle toward my house as fast as I could go. The boys I had smarted off to were about 14 or so and I was only 11. All I could think about was beating them to my front door and diving in before they got a hold of my neck. But as I bolted into my driveway, my dad pulled in.

He surveyed the situation and gave those bullies a few stout words about picking on me. Boy, don’t you know my chest was sticking way out. I thought to myself, “Yeah, you’re not so tough now!” After daddy finished chastising the boys and they rode off, he quickly turned around and got right in the middle of me.

In no uncertain terms, he gave me the “how come” about my mouth. “Son, you better learn when to keep your mouth shut or one of these days somebody might help you shut it!”

I didn’t know it then, but having “class” about when to speak and when to listen is a Biblical principle. I often counsel friends and family members to take their matters to God in prayer first and ask Him for wisdom before they start sharing their ideas with others.

The primary reason I’ve made this a permanent practice in my life is because I’ve come to realize the hard way that words are like toothpaste; once they’re out of the tube, there’s no getting them back inside! So today I invite you to join me in allowing God to further develop discretion in our discussions. And maybe, that way, nobody else will have a chance to!

The Character First I WILL’s for Discretion:

I WILL choose my words carefully

I WILL practice good manners

I WILL listen to criticism

I WILL not make fun of others

I WILL turn down any invitation to do wrong

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6 New International Version

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

 

February 17 – You’ve Got a Friend

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Have you found yourself, lately, wondering who is really telling the truth? There seems to be more talking going on than ever before. More news, more talk shows, more magazines and all of them claim their information is true. But the sad reality is time has taught us to beware of what we hear in the media. So what do you do? How do you know which way to go? And how do you keep from feeling frustrated and confused? Is there a way to know the truth in the midst of deceptive messages?

Let me start by asking some key questions: Are you convinced in your heart that there is a God? Have you settled the matter in your heart that He indeed created the heavens and the earth (i.e. Genesis 1 in the Bible is true)? And do you believe that God sent His one and only Son into the world in order to save mankind (i.e. John 3:16-17)?

 If there are questions concerning any of these, you have a good place to start. Ask God if He really exists. Why not? If He’s God and He truly loves you, He won’t be offended in the least. If you are not settled on the accounts of creation, ask Him to help you clarify those issues. And if the whole “Jesus, the Son of God” thing messes with you and you’re not completely sure about it, ask God to shine some light on the answer for you. Until your heart is settled on those three questions, truth will forever be elusive.

And for those who say “yes, I am confident about all of those questions,” take a moment to re-read the focused verse at the beginning. Do you see the word Friend? That Friend is described as the Spirit of the Truth. When we received God’s Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior (believed in Him), He gave us a Friend. And that Friend is with you right now. But in order for Him to help you much, you have to give Him something with which to work.

Assumptions, theories, and intellectual ideas do nothing for Him. He deals with the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. And you ask, what is that? That is simply God’s Word, the Bible. As you feed on God’s Word, your Friend comes beside you and enables you to see the Truth in tangible ways. And the more you do that, the more the Truth begins to shape your thoughts, ideas, and actions. Then, when you hear someone talking about the economy or the state of the world, you don’t panic. You can rest knowing you have a reliable source, a Friend that will guide you into all Truth.

“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’ ” John 16:12-15 The Message

Biblical Meditation: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

November 5- The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

John 3:14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

We squint at absolute truth. It is so pure; our minds struggle to contain it. Truth, real pure truth, does not rely on reason. It doesn’t have to make sense. It is the truth whether it is ever accepted by anyone. Truth need not jockey for a place. Because the truth is the truth, places and people will ultimately be examined under its lens.

When Christ told Nicodemus the truth about the Son of Man (Himself), Nicodemus had no file for it. “The Son of Man must be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” But His statement was the truth, nonetheless. And this Nicodemus, a great teacher of the Jewish people, pondered and wondered on this truth for many mornings and evenings. Maybe he never truly understood it, but yet he continued to stand under the truth-laden messages of Christ until Christ was “lifted up” on the cross. Perhaps then he caught a glimpse. Who knows?

My prayer for us all is that we may so hunger for truth that we become willing to ignore the abundance of what we do know for a sliver of what we cannot comprehend. Because when this occurs, our pursuit of God will take orbit. And just as I envision it might have been for Nicodemus, Christ will gently develop room within us to contain what often cannot be explained, in order that it might remain. Amen.

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts]; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever.

 

February 4 – “That’s a Lovely Dress You’re Wearing . . . “

Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. Proverbs 28:23

“That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, Mrs. Cleaver.” Oh, Eddie Haskell always had something nice and kind to say for the adult population. But all the while, he was up to no good.

Leave it to Beaver is a TV land icon. Though set in the 50’s and aired in black and white much of the time, many of its ideologies shaped our culture.

Most of what I remember about the show promoted wholesome behavior and responsible conduct.

But it was old Eddie Haskell that you loved to hate. His flatttery was so annoying. He never called anything straight. Anything he said or did had to do with getting his way or pulling the wool over somebody’s eyes. And most of the time, when it came time to pay the piper, somebody else was paying Eddie’s bill.

Most of us don’t struggle to that extent. But, if we are honest, flattery comes a lot easier to most of us than a rebuke.

I don’t suggest we go around being “brutally honest” to everyone we meet. However, there are many times situations arise that call for us to issue a firm word or two on behalf of a friend or loved one. And if we are in the custom of playing the flatterer, we will miss the moment by a mile.

Lest this proverbial pearl comes across as if I was solid and firm-footed like old Wally Clever, I admit . . . God has worked long and hard on my “Eddie Haskell tendencies.”

December 24 – Then He Parted the Sea

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

We live in a world that denies miracles and begs for evidence and facts. Commitment is no longer a covenant if it’s not convenient.  But God’s light of truth continues through the ages to shine in the darkness, changing hearts from the inside out, whether the darkness likes it or not.  For this Christmas season and the end of an often tumultuous 2014, we had to share this true story of a couple we know and love dearly.  Please feel free to share as you might need to.  And may it make your resolve in an Almighty God solidify into an unwavering confidence that cannot be shaken. 

Merry Christmas!

Lorenzo and Jennifer 🙂

This is a very special anniversary for us and Cindy let me share this because we know someone out there may need it……

In high school I met this cute little cheerleader they called Pigeon. I took her away from a good, safe home and stole 18 years of her life. I didn’t set out to do this, but that’s what happened. We don’t live in a world that tolerates her kind of commitment. We don’t understand it and it makes us angry. When I look back my heart is so broken for her, but she knew about things that I didn’t understand yet. She talked to the sky and I didn’t understand that either, but I was glad she did because she found peace there. I would try to do better, but failed every time.

18 years later we were broke and homeless. I was shattered and I deserved it, she was gone and the only thing I knew to do was talk to the sky. I did and she was right, even without a promise that anything would get fixed, I had peace.

She didn’t know where her prayers would take her, but she always knew they were heard. Maybe for the first time ever, I wanted more for her than myself. I hoped her prayers would take her somewhere safe. They brought her back to me and I have had the most unbelievable, undeserved 18 years humanly imaginable.
Thank you so much God. Thank you so much Cindy for 36 years.
18~18~36

Exodus14:14 God will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” ….Then he parted the sea.

November 4 – Does Aunt Ruth Have a Beard?

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: And a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” KJV Proverbs 15:23

Sometimes I run out of stories to tell on myself. When that happens, I have to borrow one from Lorenzo or one of the kids. In today’s case, my husband will be the victim.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “uncouth” as “outlandish, awkward in appearance or bearing, boorish, rude, untrained, harsh or blunt, unrefined.” For some reason (ha), this word is one I recall my mom teaching me sometime during my childhood. Whether it was my bluntness or my baby sister’s blurted comments during the children’s sermon, apparently we needed to know the meaning of this word. (I can’t remember anything uncouth my middle sister ever said, so Robin, you’re safe. Forgive me, Em!)

But I digress. My husband is the subject of this devo. . .

My mother-in-law tells the story of Lorenzo being a very forthright little boy and speaking his mind at even the most awkward moments. One of those moments was at church one morning. Apparently, the woman sitting behind them somehow caught his attention. Upon observing her, in the middle of the service, he asked her why she had a mustache.

Well. Oops. Any parent out there has had moments like that. And the training continues, long after the toddler and elementary stage is over. But what about us adults?

The truth is, we can be so right, yet so very wrong. We can feel the need to correct or elaborate to others “how it really is,” whether we’re giving the updated weather report or the correct pronunciation for a word in our conversation. You see what I mean? Those interjected comments may be right, but we can be very much in the wrong in how we come across as a know-it-all or superior.

Everyone we encounter has been created by God. Each human being is worthy of respect and care, just because they exist. Learning our way around other people is a skill that can only be directed by the love of God. Yes, the truth is the truth. But truth must always be balanced by grace. Each of them help the other.

Lord, give me gracious words for my conversations. Let them ring true but be balanced by grace.

If we can keep up with our own adult conversations, being on top of the toddler’s comments will be a piece of cake!