Wednesday, February 28, 2007
JEREMIAH 44 (The Message)
Jeremiah 44

  posted at 6:02 AM  

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The following was written by Jim Rohn, famous "business philosopher."

We are not born with courage, but neither are we born with fear. Maybe some of our fears are brought on by your own experiences, by what someone has told you, by what you've read in the papers. Some fears are valid, like walking alone in a bad part of town at two o'clock in the morning. But once you learn to avoid that situation, you won't need to live in fear of it.

Fears, even the most basic ones, can totally destroy our ambitions. Fear can destroy fortunes. Fear can destroy relationships. Fear, if left unchecked, can destroy our lives. Fear is one of the many enemies lurking inside us.

Let me tell you about five of the other enemies we face from within. The first enemy that you've got to destroy before it destroys you is indifference. What a tragic disease this is. "Ho-hum, let it slide. I'll just drift along." Here's one problem with drifting: you can't drift your way to the top of the mountain.

The second enemy we face is indecision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity and enterprise. It will steal your chances for a better future. Take a sword to this enemy.

The third enemy inside is doubt. Sure, there's room for healthy skepticism. You can't believe everything. But you also can't let doubt take over. Many people doubt the past, doubt the future, doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the possibilities and doubt the opportunities. Worse of all, they doubt themselves. I'm telling you, doubt will destroy your life and your chances of success. It will empty both your bank account and your heart. Doubt is an enemy. Go after it. Get rid of it.

The fourth enemy within is worry. We've all got to worry some. Just don't let it conquer you. Instead, let it alarm you. Worry can be useful. If you step off the curb in New York City and a taxi is coming, you've got to worry. But you can't let worry loose like a mad dog that drives you into a small corner. Here's what you've got to do with your worries: drive them into a small corner. Whatever is out to get you, you've got to get it. Whatever is pushing on you, you've got to push back.

The fifth interior enemy is over-caution. It is the timid approach to life. Timidity is not a virtue; it's an illness. If you let it go, it'll conquer you. Timid people don't get promoted. They don't advance and grow and become powerful in the marketplace. You've got to avoid over-caution.

Do battle with the enemy. Do battle with your fears. Build your courage to fight what's holding you back, what's keeping you from your goals and dreams. Be courageous in your life and in your pursuit of the things you want and the person you want to become.

  posted at 5:46 AM  

Jeremiah 43

  posted at 5:40 AM  

“Submit a one-page (at most) draft…” Wow. Those words have rung loudly through my brain the last couple of days.

You see, I recently said that I would prepare a daily devotional for our church’s online Lenten devotional. Dan, our associate pastor who, as always, has done a phenomenal job with things, said that we should keep our submissions to one page (at most).

That’s a hard thing for me to do. It can take me a page just to say hello sometimes. Or to not say hello but just to say, well, nothing. I am the Seinfeld of writing I guess. “Hey, let’s write a page about … nothing!”

And I like skipped lines in my writing.

For …

dramatic …


And … lots of ellipses. (That’s those three little dots to indicate either an omission or a pause. I was about 35 before I knew what they were called … even though I really liked to use them.)

But, there’s a lot to be said for concise writing. I have written before that, in college, I did some independent studies on fiction writing. In those, my goal was to always say as much as I could in as few words as possible.

But even at that the things I wrote ended up pretty long.

Of course, much as it pains me to admit this, my college days were just slightly before personal computers came into use. That may be why I tried to keep my writing as tight as possible. Everything I wrote had to be re-typed fully … draft after draft after draft. I did own a couple of memory typewriters in college and those were helpful. One of them printed only on thermal paper with a dot matrix printhead. Several of my profs complained about that.

And, the town newspaper for which I wrote had a “portable” KayPro computer which I would sometimes borrow and lug up the three flights of stairs to my dorm room. Of course, “portable” back then meant about 650 pounds of hulking machinery with a very small screen that glowed with either green or amber letters. I forget which.

I am getting old. Thinking back to our associate pastor I mentioned – Dan – I have to tell you, he’s a lot younger than me. I have huge respect for him though. That is a change which occurs with age. Pretty much through your twenties, it’s hard to have much respect for those younger than you. It’s a very “human” thing, I think, to just sort of naturally assume that those younger than you couldn’t possibly know as much as you do. Of course, up until your mid 20s you don’t have much respect for those older than you either. Sometime in your 30s though it starts to sink in that you’d better start having more respect for those younger than yourself. By the time you’re in your 40s, that is really a necessity as you start to realize that you’re quickly reaching a point where there are more people younger than you than there are older than you. Wow. That’s a painful reality check.

Anyway, write a devotional in one page (or less)? This was going to be tough. I am writing this in Word actually and I surpassed the one-page mark about ten lines ago at this point.

This has caused me to think, though, about the “purposefulness” of what we do. So far, I think it’s highly questionable whether the last 10 minutes of my life have had much purpose as I have typed this.

(Have I ever mentioned that I pretty much type with just two fingers? My two “middle” fingers oddly enough. Lisa was watching me type with rather bemused (or should that be “amused” … I am not going to take the time to figure that out right now) curiosity the other day. We talked some about why I use my middle fingers to type with. The answer to that was very simple. They are my longest fingers so they are the ones to hit the keyboard first. How could I possibly type with shorter fingers? That just doesn’t make sense to me at all.)

Anyway, in John 4:34, Jesus says “my food … is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (The ellipsis indicates the omission of “he said,” by the way.) But, wow, what a statement of purposefulness that is! How could we possibly be more purposeful than to think of our actions as being our “food” – our very “sustenance” – that which keeps us going? Nothing could be more purposeful than that! If right actions are to be that which feeds you, then you’re going to be pretty careful in making sure that every action is correct and has purpose, aren’t you?

What a great way to lead our lives! Always for the glory of God. Always striving to make Him greater and ourselves less. That sense of purposefulness could lead to a full life like none other. Gone would be the sitcoms and the pages of writing about “nothing,” all replaced by a single purpose – living out the life that God – our creator – placed us here to live out. And that, quite concisely, is a very good thing.

  posted at 5:37 AM  

Monday, February 26, 2007
I read today that no one is easier to hurt than a person who is already hurting. I guess that makes obvious sense but I never thought of it quite that way before.

What I read made the analogy of someone with a painful splinter in their hand. If someone else should brush up against that painful splinter, the person might yell out in pain "Ow! You hurt me!" But, in fact, their reaction was really to the pain that was already there, not the pain caused by the person who brushed against the splinter.

I guess they call this "adding insult to injury" perhaps.

We have all known or seen people in extended states of emotional fragility. I need to keep this in mind when dealing with them.

This seems like a really dumb post now that I have finished it. Oh well.

  posted at 9:21 AM  

What is known as The Serenity Prayer was written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Most of us have heard it before and respect it for its call to turn over to God those things which are out of our control.

There seem to actually be a lot of stories as to the source of this prayer and there are also numerous extended versions of it. However, the following, best as I can tell, is the most accurate English translation of the original and full prayer as written by Niebuhr.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Long associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and various other twelve-step recovery programs, many people in recovery carry this prayer with them at all times. I actually have a cross that was given to me with this printed on it which I often carry in my pocket. One way or another, we are all sort of in continuous recovery, aren't we? I don't say that to make light of those with true addictions. I cannot imagine I'd have the strength to deal with that. But, in some way, aren't we all addicted to our humanity and the frailties that go with that? Don't we all need a reminder of the need to live by The Serenity Prayer? I am sure everyone will agree with that. (I will have to save the idea of of being "addicted to our humanity" for a future post.)

However, we all think of The Serenity Prayer as a prayer of acceptance ... a prayer of acquiescing ... a prayer of living our life with God, following God, and trusting God. Those are all good and important things. But when we look at and think of the prayer only along those lines, it's easy to miss or forget the third line "courage to change the things I can." While there is power in accepting what we cannot change, there is also great power in changing what we can.

I read a quote by Thomas Merton recently which really struck me as well. Here it is:

Christian asceticism is remarkable above all for its balance, its sense of proportion. It does not overstress the negative side of the ascetic life, nor does it tend to flatter the ego by diminishing responsibilities or watering down the truth. It shows us clearly that, while we can do nothing without grace, we must nevertheless cooperate with grace. It warns us that we must make an uncompromising break with the world and all it stands for, but it keeps encouraging us to understand that our existence in “the world” and in time becomes fruitful and meaningful in proportion as we are able to assume spiritual and Christian responsibility for our life, our work, and even for the world we live in. Thus Christian asceticism does not provide a flight from the world, a refuge from stress and the distractions of manifold wickedness. It enables us to enter into the confusion of the world bearing something of the light of Truth in our hearts, and capable of exercising something of the mysterious, transforming power of the Cross, of love and sacrifice.

The power of serenity nothwithstanding, there is indeed huge power in that third line of The Serenity Prayer. There is huge power in that ability to recognize the things we can change and to then have the courage to change them. Too often in my Christian journey, I can end up equating being a Christian with being milquetoast. That is a huge mistake. Jesus was anything but milquetoast and neither should we be.

Yes, we should accept the things we cannot change. Things like our past, outside influences, even our psyches to some degree. But, God, grant us the courage to change the things we can -- grant me the courage to change the things I can! That is a true calling in life ... something to which we are all called as a part of our journeys as Christians and as compassionate individuals who care about the world in which we live.

  posted at 8:52 AM  

Jeremiah 42

  posted at 5:56 AM  

Very few among us have been so fortunate as to not experience the pain, turmoil, and even agony of a break in relationship with someone who was once close to us. Steve Troxel of God's Daily Word Ministries has some good, though difficult-to-hear thoughts on this subject in this devotional.

Malachi served as a prophet to Israel about four hundred years before the birth of Jesus. He brought a message from God which reminded the people of His love and rebuked them for their disrespectful worship. But through Malachi, God ended the Old Testament with a prophesy about future restoration.

Malachi 4:5-6
"I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

Just over four hundred years later, John the Baptist, "the Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:14), began to preach a message of repentance. The purpose of John's ministry was to prepare hearts for the coming of Jesus; "Prepare the way for the Lord" (Matthew 3:3). But according to Malachi, John would also cause the hearts of fathers and children to turn toward one another.

When the Spiritual fellowship between man and God was broken, a basic void was formed in man's heart which led to a breakdown in his earthly relationships. The moment we lost the ability to walk in perfect harmony with God, we also became filled with self-importance and pride, and lost the ability to truly love one another; "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have {true} fellowship with one another" (1 John 1:7). Walking closer to Jesus allows us to walk closer with others; "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

God created us to be in fellowship with other people - even imperfect, hard to love people. Our quiet and peaceful times of study and prayer are essential for our Christian walk; but some of God's most important truths can only be learned as we stumble through difficult situations with others. Only there can we learn the difficulty of true grace and forgiveness; only there can some of our own deep sin (like pride, jealousy, and anger) be revealed.

Many relationships are filled with past pain - particularly the relationships between parent and child - but God's Word still stands as truth. He has provided the path to restoration; a path which begins with repentance, requires the cleansing of sinful pride, and leads to a heart filled with love and forgiveness.

Who do we need to reconcile with today? Full restoration requires the cooperation of both parties; but as a child of God, we can now cross the desert and begin to mend what is broken. Jesus died as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins in order that we may be reconciled with our Heavenly Father. He crossed ALL the way over and completely mended our shattered heart! Let's walk in the light of His love and take the necessary steps to humbly reconcile with one another.

  posted at 5:23 AM  

Sunday, February 25, 2007
Jeremiah 41

  posted at 7:10 AM  

Saturday, February 24, 2007
JEREMIAH 40 (The Message)
May we all have the strength to go where God calls us ... to bravely do what He tells us.

Jeremiah 40 (The Message)

  posted at 8:03 PM  

During Lent, our church is maintaining a blog of daily devotionals written by members of our faith family. Feel free to check it out if you like. I hope this is something we can keep going even after Lent.

Journey On Sidney First

  posted at 1:08 PM  

When Evan was just a baby, I started bringing him a keychain from each city I visit whenever I travel for business. It seemed like a good idea at the time. He could learn where various cities are located. Also, oftentimes, I try to find a keychain which includes a picture of what that city is famous for. So he could learn, for example, that Iowa is famous for corn. Sometimes I might even get him a couple of keychains from a particular city if I thought he could learn from them. I figured there were lots of lessons behind these keychains and, really, he looks forward to getting them when I come home. In fact, he now has quite a keychain collection. They overflow a box in his room. He has keychains from probably over 100 cities as well as 25 states and probably six or more countries.

But, as he's grown older, I have come to a bad realization. Evan may not look at these keychains later and remember a dad who loved him and wanted to teach him things. He may not remember the care with which I chose each keychain and tried to tell him about it when I came home. He may remember only a dad who had to travel a lot -- a lot more, in fact, than that particular dad would have preferred. But he won't remember my side of the travel. Instead, he will just remember that I wasn't there all the time when he was growing up.

I do not travel nearly as much as I used to but, still, there is no replacing lost seconds, minutes and hours with those I love.

  posted at 9:05 AM  

“Genius is nothing but a greater aptitude for patience.” – Benjamin Franklin

I believe that I am a relatively patient person ... most of the time. Others have told me so as well. Therefore, I must be a genius. I just thought I ought to let anyone who reads this know that. We need to all be on the same page on that.

(Just kidding, of course! I can get impatient waiting for ice cream to melt on a hot day.)

  posted at 9:01 AM  

Friday, February 23, 2007
Jeremiah 39

  posted at 9:26 AM  

Thursday, February 22, 2007
JEREMIAH 38 (The Message)
Jeremiah, sunk deep into a muddy cistern, his fate had to have seemed inevitable. The king had had an opportunity to prevent this from happening but he chose not to intervene.

But then along comes an Ethiopian court official -- perhaps almost a servant as much as anything -- and he pleads to the king that Jeremiah be saved. As an option, the king probably could have had him thrown into the cistern as well. But he didn't.

Jeremiah, probably still muddy from the pit, is brought before the king, undoubtedly clothed in kingly robes. It had to have been intimidating, being brought before the man who saved your life but who could also send you back to the cistern in a whipstitch. Jeremiah tells the king what the king probably doesn't want to hear but it is what can save the king and his family.

Jeremiah and the Ethiopian ... they both had callings ... huge God-sized callings ...and they followed. How I pray for the wisdom and discernment to know where God is calling me but there's more to it than that ... God calls us certainly to places outside our comfort zones and sometimes to places downright dangerous. Sometimes those are places of public bravery and sometimes private bravery inside our minds. We must all pray for bravery and strength. Philippians 4:13

1 Shaphatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling the people, namely: 2"This is God's Message: 'Whoever stays in this town will die—will be killed or starve to death or get sick and die. But those who go over to the Babylonians will save their necks and live.'
3"And, God's sure Word: 'This city is destined to fall to the army of the king of Babylon. He's going to take it over.'"

4These officials told the king, "Please, kill this man. He's got to go! He's ruining the resolve of the soldiers who are still left in the city, as well as the people themselves, by spreading these words. This man isn't looking after the good of this people. He's trying to ruin us!"

5King Zedekiah caved in: "If you say so. Go ahead, handle it your way. You're too much for me."

6So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malkijah the king's son that was in the courtyard of the palace guard. They lowered him down with ropes. There wasn't any water in the cistern, only mud. Jeremiah sank into the mud.

7-9Ebed-melek the Ethiopian, a court official assigned to the royal palace, heard that they had thrown Jeremiah into the cistern. While the king was holding court in the Benjamin Gate, Ebed-melek went immediately from the palace to the king and said, "My master, O king—these men are committing a great crime in what they're doing, throwing Jeremiah the prophet into the cistern and leaving him there to starve. He's as good as dead. There isn't a scrap of bread left in the city."

10So the king ordered Ebed-melek the Ethiopian, "Get three men and pull Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies."

11-12Ebed-melek got three men and went to the palace wardrobe and got some scraps of old clothing, which they tied together and lowered down with ropes to Jeremiah in the cistern. Ebed-melek the Ethiopian called down to Jeremiah, "Put these scraps of old clothing under your armpits and around the ropes." Jeremiah did what he said.

13And so they pulled Jeremiah up out of the cistern by the ropes. But he was still confined in the courtyard of the palace guard.

14Later, King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance of the Temple of God. The king said to Jeremiah, "I'm going to ask you something. Don't hold anything back from me."

15Jeremiah said, "If I told you the whole truth, you'd kill me. And no matter what I said, you wouldn't pay any attention anyway."

16Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret, "As sure as God lives, who gives us life, I won't kill you, nor will I turn you over to the men who are trying to kill you."

17-18So Jeremiah told Zedekiah, "This is the Message from God, God-of-theAngel-Armies, the God of Israel: 'If you will turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, you will live, this city won't be burned down, and your family will live. But if you don't turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, this city will go into the hands of the Chaldeans and they'll burn it down. And don't for a minute think there's any escape for you.'"

19King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "But I'm afraid of the Judeans who have already deserted to the Chaldeans. If they get hold of me, they'll rough me up good."

20-22Jeremiah assured him, "They won't get hold of you. Listen, please. Listen to God's voice. I'm telling you this for your own good so that you'll live. But if you refuse to turn yourself over, this is what God has shown me will happen: Picture this in your mind—all the women still left in the palace of the king of Judah, led out to the officers of the king of Babylon, and as they're led out they are saying:

"'They lied to you and did you in,
those so-called friends of yours;
And now you're stuck, about knee-deep in mud,
and your "friends," where are they now?'

23"They'll take all your wives and children and give them to the Chaldeans. And you, don't think you'll get out of this—the king of Babylon will seize you and then burn this city to the ground."

24-26Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Don't let anyone know of this conversation, if you know what's good for you. If the government officials get wind that I've been talking with you, they may come and say, 'Tell us what went on between you and the king, what you said and what he said. Hold nothing back and we won't kill you.' If this happens, tell them, 'I presented my case to the king so that he wouldn't send me back to the dungeon of Jonathan to die there.'"

27And sure enough, all the officials came to Jeremiah and asked him. He responded as the king had instructed. So they quit asking. No one had overheard the conversation.

28Jeremiah lived in the courtyard of the palace guards until the day that Jerusalem was captured.

  posted at 7:31 AM  

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
JEREMIAH 37 (The Message)
Jeremiah 37

  posted at 3:30 AM  

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Jeremiah 36

  posted at 6:01 AM  

Monday, February 19, 2007
I have always had this theory that most dust comes from socks. I mean, when your socks wear thin and eventually get holes in them, where do you think that the lost material goes? I figure it must become dust.

However, recently, a friend of mine attended a health and safety program. While there, he was told that studies of office air quality have shown that from 40 - 60% of all dust in an office environment is from exfoliated skin cells.

Come on ... say it with me ... "Ewwwwwww...."

  posted at 7:41 AM  

Jeremiah 35

  posted at 6:01 AM  


It seems like I am seeing an increasing number of cars these days with religious emblems or bumper stickers on them. You know what I am talking about. The fish symbol. The various witty sayings. The blunt sayings. The "in case of rapture, this car will be empty" stickers. I don't have a problem with any of those and in fact it's great that we live in a country where we can so publicly profess our faith.

Sometimes I wonder, though, about the intent and thought behind such symbols and stickers. Are we thinking that, because we have an ichthus symbol on our car, we have done our evangelism for the day, the week, the year, or our life? Do we really think someone will see our sticker about the rapture and think "Wow, I don't want to miss that. I'd better accept Christ today."

Those thoughts are, of course, rather ludicrous and surely no one truly has them when they peel the release paper from that emblem or sticker and press it to the back of their $30,000 vehicle.

I wear a cap much of the time when I am out in public. It has a silhouette of Christ carrying the cross on it, along with the words "Follow the Leader." Do I really think it's going to prompt someone to ask me about my faith? Hey, that's a nice thought but, no, I don't think that is likely to happen. I do get some favorable comments on it from time to time but those are always from current believers. No one has yet come up to me and said "Hi there, I'm a heathen but I really like your cap. Tell me more about that." :-)

So, why do I wear it? The answer is simple. It reminds me of whose I am, and how I am supposed to behave. It reminds me of my responsibility to walk the Christian walk and live out the principles of love, grace, and compassion at all times. For me, at this stage of my faith journey, that's important. It is still easy for me to lapse back into old ways, old thought processes, and focus on my "self" rather than others. My cap reminds me otherwise.

It reminds me that, amongst the people whose paths I cross today, I may represent the only opportunity they will have to see Jesus. It reminds me, too, that when I look at others, I want to see the Jesus of a hurting and hungry world that is crying out for the face of a Jesus of mercy, goodness, lovingkindness, love, grace and compassion.

So, until I probably lose it in an airport or someplace, I will keep wearing my cap ... as a reminder to myself ... not to those I encounter.

  posted at 5:35 AM  

Sunday, February 18, 2007
New York. Long Island. Hampton Bays. February 17, 2007. Mr. Vincenzo Ricardo, deceased, found sitting in his living room chair. Mummified. TV blaring.

Witnesses claim that his hair was still attached. Neighbors cannot recall seeing him since December 2005. Coroner says that he's been dead over a year.

Neighbors feel guilty. Vincenzo was diabetic, blind, and in very poor health. They assumed that he had been admitted someplace to a care facility.

Comments are made that "no one should go that way."

I am having a tough time with that comment. Not to be crass, but once his physical body on this earth had expired, it had expired.

Here's what I am thinking though ...

Mail was stacking up outside. No trash had been picked up. No bills had been paid. There had to be countless people who knew him or somehow had contact with him and none of them had seen nor heard from him in a very long time. I do not believe that any of those people were malicious or mean or purposeful in not seeing his death. But they didn't see it.

Yet Jesus' greatest commandment to us was to love one another. How can that make sense? I am sure that many of those who knew Vincenzo profess to be Christian and I am also sure that they feel very badly about his unrecognized death. And, of course, I am not saying that only Christians have a lock on loving one another.

What conclusion do I draw? We live in a society that makes it very hard to live the Christian life.

Had Vincenzo died 30 or more years ago in the same location ... had he died in any less "civilized" nation ... his body would have been discovered ... many months ago.

But Vincenzo lived now ... in one of the most "hustle bustle" parts of a country that is continually creating more distractions for its citizens.

We citizens chase those distractions here and there. New, improved, bright, shiny, exciting ... whatever it is, we chase it. We are constantly chasing the "things" of this world, limiting our ability to focus on those things on which we have been commanded to focus.

And the Vincenzos of the world -- those we are called to love -- are left to mummify in their favorite chairs.

Don't let anyone tell you any different ... it's hard to be a Christian in our current American society.

It is our responsibility to figure out how to change that ... how to break through the noise and the distractions ... to love one another fully, compassionately, mercifully, and with the grace that has been granted to us.

  posted at 7:34 PM  

Twice in the past 10 or so hours, I have come across scripture from Colossians 3. The Message translation is especially poignant. Here are verses 1 - 14 of that chapter.

1-2 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

  posted at 8:08 AM  

Jeremiah 34 (NIV)

  posted at 8:05 AM  

Saturday, February 17, 2007
The air was incredibly cold and the snow was very fine – the even consistency and texture of sand like that in a child’s play box. It started snowing early Tuesday morning and continued, never ceasing, for over 24 hours. It was not the big heavy flakes that accumulate quickly but yet, over time, it really added up – nearly 15” in total.

The winds blew straight out of the west, whipping the fine snow up, swirling it about in a violent frenzy, dropping it down in rippling drifts.

For several hours, it was beautiful. Freshly fallen snow. Communities gathered in their front yards, folks who hadn’t seen each other all winter, normal boundaries now hidden by powdery white hills and valleys. Distant neighbors shared snow blowers, helped one another, wondering when the plows would come and they could return to their normal lives.

And the plows did come. Things returned to what all considered to be “normal”. The plows forced their way through, taking the smooth, fresh drifts and breaking them up, creating jagged, rough edges visible to all. Edges that seemed to go with the “normalcy” of life but yet marked the end of beauty that once hid all ugliness.

Dark slush spilled forth, gushing through the white, revealing the truth within. Beauty eventually was completely hidden by the truth within.

And then there was a pause, ever so brief but a pause nonethless. The ugliness spilled forth, laid bare for all to see. It was painful to watch, the memory of white purity faded quickly.

But, a day later, it snowed again. 24 hours non-stop. The rough edges were smoothed, the black sludge disappeared. Beauty, peace, and calm ruled over all as the ugliness yielded to the newness. Rolling white newness that was there for it to forever accept.

  posted at 10:59 PM  

Regretably, I seem to come from a long line of people who live in the shadow of regrets. Not regrets for necessarily bad things they have done or sins they have committed. Romans 8:1-3 tells us of the foolishness of worrying over past sins. But rather they live with regrets of things that didn’t work out as expected. Things where they feel their life might have been “better” (whatever that means) had they taken a different path. As an example, I have known relatives who have spent years and years regretting a career change they chose. It’s horrible, really, to see the depression into which that can throw a person.

Because I have seen a lot of this in my family, I think that I could have easily fallen into it as well and, actually, I sit here today feeling like I have lapsed into it a bit recently. I really need to snap out of that feeling and I hope that this post will help me to explore those thoughts and change them.

I have to credit my wonderful girlfriend for, many years ago, setting me on a path where I try my best to live without regrets. She pointed out to me that the past is just that – past. There is no going back and changing it. The present is our current reality with which we must deal and the future is what we must seek. Both of those, of course, with God’s help.

And generally I do a decent job of not looking back and having regrets about the past. Not that I don’t want to learn from the past but rather that there simply is no point nor value in living under the constant gray cloud of regret. I have a friend who sometimes lapses into regret and I always know when it’s happening because he gets very quiet. I can tell that regrets are bothering him.

Recently, though, I have been having some things haunt me. Maybe not really “regrets” per se but more just thoughts of “how would things be different if …” And that is a rather damning and self-fulfilling line of thought. If you think about the past and try to play out how things would have progressed had you done something differently, you’re really trying to decipher an impossibility. Not a one of us can predict past events that never happened but yet folks who live with regrets are attempting to do exactly that.

So, what has been haunting me? A decision I made when I was 19 years old. I started my freshman year of college as a Pre-Med major. Actually, the small college I went to didn’t really have a Pre-Med major but they would sort of create one for you if that was what you wanted. During winter term of my freshman year, part of that had me taking Calculus I and Chemistry. I had a tough Econ class in there as an elective, too. I was doing okay in Calc and Chemistry and actually was part of an “advanced group” in both classes. But I really had to work hard at them. I was staying up late studying and getting up early in the morning. It wasn’t that I regretted not being involved with the “partying” that some students would fill their evenings with at the only bar in town. I didn't mind the studying nor the subject matter. Rather, though, it was that I was just getting tired of working so hard. I knew that some of the others in the same classes were not having to work as hard as I was yet we were all getting A's. (One of those guys who was a friend of mine went straight through in math to get his doctorate and now he’s a professor and an expert in String Theory if that helps give you any idea of what I was up against.)

So, at the end of winter term, I made a decision. I dropped Pre-Med and picked up Communications as my major. Honestly, I didn’t even know what Communications meant (I often joke that it prepared me for basically nothing) but I knew that it involved a lot of classes which I could sail through pretty easily. And that is exactly what I did. Gone were the extraordinarily late nights and early mornings of study. Gone was the specter of dealing with numbers and abstract ideas. Instead, I could write. I could read. I could go to plays and review them. I could study journalism and contemporary media. I became friends with my profs and graduated something like third in my class with a 3.93 GPA.

Don’t laugh but I was watching Gray’s Anatomy the other evening, using television to drown my frustrations of the day, and I really started to wonder what it would have been like if I had stayed with Pre-Med. How would my life be different today?

Unfortunately, back at that point in my life, I wasn’t doing a lot of seeking God as I chose a major and a career. Even at the small Christian college I attended, seeking God’s direction for your career just didn’t seem to get a lot of play back then. It’s a pity really. And I certainly can’t sit here today and think that God’s calling on my life at that time was for me to be a doctor. But, still, I have been mulling over in my mind how things would have been different. Could I have done more at serving and helping others? Could I have created a better life for my family? Could I have felt better that I was having an impact and doing God’s work?

I don’t know … and I never will know. As Lisa says, “the past is past” so I need to snap out of this. I may not have purposefully sought God’s direction when I was 19 but I can now. What I do today makes all the difference -- not the decision I made many years ago.

  posted at 8:48 AM  

Jeremiah 33

God's covenant of faithfulness to us is as unbreakable as the covenant that the sun rises each morning and sets each evening. So often we talk about maintaining our faithfulness to God but far beyond and way before that is God's unending faithfulness to us. It far out-reaches any semblance of faithfulness that we could have with Him. It is, after all, His grace, His love, and His mercy which bring all meaning to the life that we attempt to lead as Christians. God's faithfulness to us is the foundation of our journey with Him.

  posted at 7:37 AM  

Friday, February 16, 2007
Have you yet heard Toby Mac's new song, "Made to Love"? I really like it. Whenever I am feeling caught up in my "self" and in this world, it helps to pull me back to where I need to be, where I want to be, where I am called to be.

The dream is fading now I am staring at the door
I know it’s over cause my feet have hit the cold floor
Check my reflection, I ain’t feeling what I see
It’s no mystery

What ever happened to a passion I could live for?
What became of the flame that made me feel more?
And when did I forget…

That I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You
Made to adore You
I was made to love and be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And You said You’d keep me never would You leave me
I was made to love
And be loved by You

The dreams alive with my eyes open wide
Back in the ring You got me swingin’ for the grand prize
I feel the haters spittin’ vapors on my dreams
But I still believe…

I’m reachin’ out, reachin’ up, reachin’ over
I feel a breeze cover me called Jehovah
And Daddy I’m on my way…
That I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You
Made to adore You
I was made to love and be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And You said You’d keep me never would You leave me
I was made to love
And be loved by You

Anything I would give up for You
Everything I give it all away

  posted at 10:52 PM  

JEREMIAH 32 (The Message)
Jeremiah 32

A great story of faithfulness in seemingly unsurmountable circumstances, all in response to God's unending faithfulness to us.

  posted at 7:56 AM  

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Jeremiah 31

  posted at 5:25 AM  

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Well, my wonderful girlfriend wrote a post about American Idol a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s my turn.

In watching the first few shows of this season, I have been incredibly affected by comments made by two of the contestants. Both of them were teenagers, one girl and one boy. Their common comment which I simply cannot get out of my head was about how they have never before felt that one of their parents was proud of them. In the case of the girl, it was her dad and in the case of the boy, it was his mom who had never said those simple words – “I am proud of you.”

With both of these teenagers, when they made it through the auditions and their parents finally told them that they were proud of them, it was as if the sun had turned on for the first time in their lives. They reiterated that never before had they heard those words from that particular parent. It broke my heart to hear them say that. I wonder – did it break the parent’s heart to watch this played out on television?

I am not sure that, as adults, any of us really remember our parents telling us that they were proud of us. I do not remember ever hearing those words from my parents but I also do not remember ever craving to hear those words. I may not remember hearing the words but I also never had a painful hole from their absence.

Something about these kids on American Idol was making them truly crave hearing those words. Is that codependency? These kids were not going to be happy unless that particular parent was happy – unless they felt the love that would come from that approval.

Ever since he was very young, I have made a habit of telling Evan how proud I am of him and how proud I am that he’s my son. A lot of times I tell him this at bedtime but I look for other opportunities as well. I hope, frankly, that he gets tired of hearing me say it.

For these kids on American Idol, I am having a tough time having much hope for their relationships with their parents. I am afraid that they will always be chasing that elusive approval. Some parents just aren’t wired to show a lot of approval to their kids and unfortunately these kids seem to be blessed with parents of that ilk. And, to make matters worse, these kids seem to have linked their own happiness to the satisfaction of parents who can’t show it. How sad.

I hope and pray more than anything that these kids, as well as anyone else in their shoes, will discover the love of their Heavenly Father. A love that is there not because of something they must do or be but just because He created them. Yes, ultimately, I want God to boast in the good works these kids might allow Him to do through them but I want the kids to know that God is proud of them not because of things they do but quite simply because they are His. He created them in His own image. He created them out of love and with love. Once they know this, they will understand that they can break the generational chain of not showing love. They can pass their Heavenly Father’s love along to their own children. That is the way it can be ... and the way it should be.

  posted at 10:24 PM  

JEREMIAH 30 (The Message)
Jeremiah 30 (The Message)

  posted at 7:19 AM  

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
In verses 4 - 9, we're told to still pray to God, and to honor and worship Him, even during times where we might feel like we're in exile from Him. Pray through the difficult times. That is a good lesson for me.

When I was in Israel, I bought a little wall hanging thing for Evan which has Jeremiah 29:11 printed on it. I hope that he reads it frequently and takes it to heart as he grows up. Knowing that God has a plan for you personally is hugely impactful and is something that I often remind myself of.

1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin [a] and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD.

10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. [b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

15 You may say, "The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon," 16 but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David's throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile- 17 yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words," declares the LORD, "words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either," declares the LORD.

20 Therefore, hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: "I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: 'The LORD treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.' 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives and in my name have spoken lies, which I did not tell them to do. I know it and am a witness to it," declares the LORD.

Message to Shemaiah
24 Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 25 "This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You sent letters in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem, to Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, 26 'The LORD has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of the LORD; you should put any madman who acts like a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons. 27 So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? 28 He has sent this message to us in Babylon: It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.' "
29 Zephaniah the priest, however, read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet. 30 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 31 "Send this message to all the exiles: 'This is what the LORD says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has led you to believe a lie, 32 this is what the LORD says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good things I will do for my people, declares the LORD, because he has preached rebellion against me.' "

  posted at 4:41 AM  

Monday, February 12, 2007
I prayed and I prayed and all I got was David Rediess. Before you raise your eyebrows too far, let me explain.

Lisa and I have gone through a period the last few days when we have just had a lot of “life” hit us squarely in the face. Or would that be faces? Anyway, I won’t go into details but it’s been one of those periods when I have just kept finding myself wondering what was going to go wrong next. It could be much worse, of course. But it has been difficult to deal with all that life has been throwing at us. I’ve tried to put on a happy face but yesterday at church when one of our friends who told me that she can “read people and animals very well” commented that she could clearly see that I was in a bit of distress (and for once it wasn’t the intestinal kind which is sort of nice for a change in and of itself), it hit me that maybe I wasn’t keeping up as well as I thought I was.

Anyway, I was supposed to fly out this morning to go to Tampa for our company’s annual dealer meeting. I think a person could easily make the argument that the president of the company really ought to be present for such an event but I was really struggling with whether I was supposed to go. The icing on the cake had sort of been when we’d learned on Saturday that Lisa’s dad’s house here in town had had some flooding and broken pipes. That has been a story of its own. Perhaps for another post someday. Of course, he’s in Florida for the winter and while I am very pleased to have the opportunity to help, well, it was just one more thing on top of several others. Plus my knee has really been acting up lately and the thought of slogging it through airports wasn’t overly enticing. (If “slogging it through airports” seems like an odd phrase to you, I apologize. It is one of those phrases that I use but don’t really know why.)

I knew that I needed to pick up a co-worker on my way to the airport for our 6 a.m. flight so, even though I was undecided on whether to make the trip, I packed my bags and did all the stuff I needed to do in order to go. I think he was a bit surprised when he got in the car this morning and I told him that I didn’t know for sure if I was going.

Actually, I have gotten ahead of myself. Let’s back up a bit. Last night when I went to bed (okay, I think it was about 1 a.m.) I really prayed that God would help make it clear to me whether or not I was supposed to make the trip. Thoughts of all the stuff going on at home kept looming over me. Thoughts of a snowstorm rumored to be on its way. Thoughts of my parents not getting along with each other. All that stuff. I really, really prayed that God would help to give me the right answer. By that, I was really looking for some sort of “sign” to point me in the right direction.

But all I got was David Rediess. I almost never remember my dreams but last night I remembered one when I woke up and it was about David Rediess. In particular, I was having a conversation with him and for some reason I could see clearly into his mouth whenever he spoke, as though I was giving him a dental exam. That was odd. His teeth were in very good condition for 43 years old.

Now, I really can’t say that I have thought about David Rediess in quite some time. David was probably my best friend in seventh and eighth grade though. When I do think of David, I think of him as being my “Wonder Years Buddy”. Remember the television series, The Wonder Years? With Kevin and Paul and Winnie? Well, David and I were a lot like that. Except we were more like two Pauls than a Kevin and a Paul and we didn’t have a Winnie. But you get the picture. There was a girl we’d have loved to have had as our Winnie though. But that didn’t work out. She was rumored to be dating some high schooler. And then there was another girl who always seemed to like to tell dirty jokes to David and me. That was pretty weird and for the most part we didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. She was more than a tiny bit intimidating for me.

Anyway, David and I hung out together a lot at school. We tried together to figure out and make sense of all this stuff about girls that seemed to be pressing down on us. We had the distinction of probably being just about the last two boys in our grade to “bloom,” so to speak, and that gave us a certain camaraderie of commiseration. That wasn’t a lot of fun actually but life had brought us two awkward guys together during those early teen years and somehow, even though most things were unspoken, we knew that were kind of in the same boat figuring out all that grown-up stuff together … and worrying if we’d weigh 100 pounds by the time we were freshman in high school. That was because David had heard that boys who didn’t weigh at least 100 pounds got pushed down the stairs at the high school.

So here I was last night searching and praying for God’s direction and all I got was David Rediess. On our way to the airport, my co-worker explained to me that, by praying, I had done all that God really asks of me and now it was my place to decide what I was going to do about the trip. Warm and sunny Tampa or cold and wintry Ohio with a possible blizzard on its way? Live up to and fulfill my corporate duties at the dealer meeting or get things done at the office? Walk on the beach or pick ice out of my father-in-law’s house? Which would it be?

Despite wanting some divine sign and receiving a dream about David Rediess instead, I made the decision to stay at home. Let some others practice their skills at the dealer meeting and fill in for me. Ultimately, I knew I’d made the right choice when, this afternoon, the contractor we’d met with about George’s house made it clear that clean-up at the house is our responsibility - not his.

God works that way … if we seek Him, I believe that ultimately we end up with something good. Sometimes maybe there isn’t a clear right or wrong choice. Maybe God really doesn’t care whether I am in Ohio or Florida this week. But, regardless, I sought Him and I will do my best to follow Him. Even if all He did do was send me David Rediess.

  posted at 10:17 PM  

Jeremiah 28 (NIV)

  posted at 3:15 AM  

Sunday, February 11, 2007
You haven't lived until you've seen a talking urinal cake. Or at least that's what I have been telling myself the last few hours. You see, there's been a headline on for a video about talking urinal cakes that warn the urinator about drunk driving. So far, I have successfully resisted looking at the video.

I have checked into something else though. I read the other day about a website called which supposedly collects some information on you and then uses insurance actuary tables to determine when you're going to die. With a morbind curiosity, I decided to check it out today.

One of the questions it asks is whether you are "pessimistic," "optimistic," "neutral," or "sadistic." I didn't really understand the exact point of that question so I figured that I might as well go with the worst case scenario and select "pessimistic." It came back and told me I'd only live to be 57. Not too pleased with that prospect, I ran it again, choosing "optimistic" the second time. This time, it came back and said that I would live to be 93. Wow, that's quit a difference.

You're probably expecting me to now write about what a difference your outlook on life can make in regards to how long you will live. After all, for me at least, it was a difference of 36 years. Wow.

Well, that is when I decided to re-run the Deathclock using the "pessimistic" choice again and, this time, it came back and said I would live to be 81. Turns out the entire thing is a joke.

But it does play on our desire to know when our time will be up, when that will be all she wrote, when the fat lady will sing. If you really could know your exact time of death, at what point between now and then would you change the way you live? Is there a reason to not make that change today?

I think I will keep resisting watching the video on talking urinal cakes. After all, until I see that, I haven't really lived.

  posted at 10:53 PM  

Jeremiah 27 (NIV)

Through Jeremiah, God is telling the people of Jerusalem to accept their lot and to come under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Jere miah had wanred them to change their ways or they would face consequences. They had not changed their ways and, now that consequences were imminent, they were also not wanting to give in to those consequences. Much like we also often refuse to surrender to God and the power He holds in our lives.

  posted at 7:14 AM  

Saturday, February 10, 2007
In verses 7 - 11 of Jeremiah 26 (NIV), the religious leaders begin to rise up against Jeremiah and claim that he must be put to death. Even after that, he still stands by his prophesy of death and destruction for them unless they change their ways.

If you look back at verse 3, though (Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.), you will see that this all occured on the basis of a "perhaps". God told Jeremiah that if he would stand up once again and speak these things, then "perhaps" the others would change their ways.

In Christian circles we often talk about the necessity to be willing to be martyred for our beliefs. To be willing to die for Christ is really a necessary part of our walk. To be willing to come forward and shout our faith and bring others to Christ ... that is all part of the call.

But we must ask ourselves, are we really all that willing ... even for a "perhaps"? How often have I chosen to ignore even very simple opportunities to share my faith or to show Jesus' love? And in completely non-threatening circumstances. How often am I too caught up in my "self" to be willing to go to the wall for Jesus? And especially if it's "just" for a "perhaps"?

  posted at 6:06 AM  

Friday, February 09, 2007
DISAPPEAR by Bebo Norman
This played on my iPod recently while I was flying. How this seems to capture my feelings right now. Well, the first line reminds me of my feelings. I have to remember that I am God's and that my worth comes from Him, not from anything else, in order to embrace and carry the other lines.

On a day like this I want to crawl beneath a rock
A million miles from the world, the noise, the commotion
That never seems to stop

And on a day like this I want to run away from the routine
Run away from the daily grind that can suck the life
Right out of me
I know of only one place I can run to…

I want to hide in You
The Way, the Life, the Truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And You become clear
As I disappear

I don’t want to care about earthly things
Be caught up in all the lies that trick my eyes
They say it’s all about me
I’m so tired of it being about me…

I would rather be cast away
Separated from the human race
If I don’t bring You glory
If I don’t bring You glory
If I don’t bring You glory

  posted at 7:29 PM  

JEREMIAH 25 (The Message)
One must wonder what Jeremiah felt like. Called to bring a message of "straighten up and fly right or else" (to put it mildly) but yet repeatedly ignored. Yet he pressed on. God kept giving him messages, he kept delivering them, and the people kept ignoring them. He must have been horribly frustrated by all of that but He heard God and He acted.

This makes me wonder about the times God has tried to get through to me and yet I have ignored Him. I think of times when I was younger -- not all that long ago -- and I just didn't "get it". Looking back, I can see now the many ways in which God was calling me -- the many faces of Jesus that reached out to me -- yet I ignored them and continued to be full of my "self" and the things of this world. I was convinced that a better life came with money and belongings.

I think that I have changed a lot in that respect. I still have a long way to go though. A very long way to go. I am still very much full of my "self". I am very tempted by bright and shiny things and not as generous as I should be. This whole faith thing is a journey. I know I have missed God's voice in the past and I know that I am missing it many times today.

I pray though that I can become better at hearing Him and following Him -- living the life He calls me to. Better at recognizing Jesus' face in others and seeing the blessings in them. Better at making sure that I am not frustrating the Jeremiahs that God brings to me today.

1 This is the Message given to Jeremiah for all the people of Judah. It came in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah. It was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.
2Jeremiah the prophet delivered the Message to all the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem:

3From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah right up to the present day—twenty-three years it's been!—God's Word has come to me, and from early each morning to late every night I've passed it on to you. And you haven't listened to a word of it!

4-6Not only that but God also sent a steady stream of prophets to you who were just as persistent as me, and you never listened. They told you, "Turn back—right now, each one of you!—from your evil way of life and bad behavior, and live in the land God gave you and your ancestors, the land he intended to give you forever. Don't follow the god-fads of the day, taking up and worshiping these no-gods. Don't make me angry with your god-businesses, making and selling gods—a dangerous business!

7"You refused to listen to any of this, and now I am really angry. These god-making businesses of yours are your doom."

8-11The verdict of God-of-the-Angel-Armies on all this: "Because you have refused to listen to what I've said, I'm stepping in. I'm sending for the armies out of the north headed by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant in this, and I'm setting them on this land and people and even the surrounding countries. I'm devoting the whole works to total destruction—a horror to top all the horrors in history. And I'll banish every sound of joy—singing, laughter, marriage festivities, genial workmen, candlelit suppers. The whole landscape will be one vast wasteland. These countries will be in subjection to the king of Babylon for seventy years.

12-14"Once the seventy years is up, I'll punish the king of Babylon and the whole nation of Babylon for their sin. Then they'll be the wasteland. Everything that I said I'd do to that country, I'll do—everything that's written in this book, everything Jeremiah preached against all the godless nations. Many nations and great kings will make slaves of the Babylonians, paying them back for everything they've done to others. They won't get by with anything." God's Decree.

God Puts the Human Race on Trial
15-16This is a Message that the God of Israel gave me: "Take this cup filled with the wine of my wrath that I'm handing to you. Make all the nations where I send you drink it down. They'll drink it and get drunk, staggering in delirium because of the killing that I'm going to unleash among them."
17-26I took the cup from God's hand and made them drink it, all the nations to which he sent me:

Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, along with their kings and leaders, turning them into a vast wasteland, a horror to look at, a cussword—which, in fact, they now are;

Pharaoh king of Egypt with his attendants and leaders, plus all his people and the melting pot of foreigners collected there;

All the kings of Uz;

All the kings of the Philistines from Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and what's left of Ashdod;

Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites;

All the kings of Tyre, Sidon, and the coastlands across the sea;

Dedan, Tema, Buz, and the nomads on the fringe of the desert;

All the kings of Arabia and the various Bedouin sheiks and chieftains wandering about in the desert;

All the kings of Zimri, Elam, and the Medes;

All the kings from the north countries near and far, one by one;

All the kingdoms on planet Earth...

And the king of Sheshak (that is, Babylon) will be the last to drink.

27"Tell them, 'These are orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: Drink and get drunk and vomit. Fall on your faces and don't get up again. You're slated for a massacre.'

28"If any of them refuse to take the cup from you and drink it, say to them, 'God-of-the-Angel-Armies has ordered you to drink. So drink!

29"'Prepare for the worst! I'm starting off the catastrophe in the city that I claim as my own, so don't think you are going to get out of it. No, you're not getting out of anything. It's the sword and nothing but the sword against everyone everywhere!'" The God-of-the-Angel-Armies' Decree.

30-31"Preach it all, Jeremiah. Preach the entire Message to them. Say:

"'God roars like a lion from high heaven;
thunder rolls out from his holy dwelling—
Ear-splitting bellows against his people,
shouting hurrahs like workers in harvest.
The noise reverberates all over the earth;
everyone everywhere hears it.
God makes his case against the godless nations.
He's about to put the human race on trial.
For the wicked the verdict is clear-cut:
death by the sword.'" God's Decree.

32A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
"Prepare for the worst! Doomsday!
Disaster is spreading from nation to nation.
A huge storm is about to rage
all across planet Earth."

33Laid end to end, those killed in God's judgment that day will stretch from one end of the earth to the other. No tears will be shed and no burials conducted. The bodies will be left where they fall, like so much horse dung fertilizing the fields.

34-38Wail, shepherds! Cry out for help!
Grovel in the dirt, you masters of flocks!
Time's up—you're slated for the slaughterhouse,
like a choice ram with its throat cut.
There's no way out for the rulers,
no escape for those shepherds.
Hear that? Rulers crying for help,
shepherds of the flock wailing!
God is about to ravage their fine pastures.
The peaceful sheepfolds will be silent with death,
silenced by God's deadly anger.
God will come out into the open
like a lion leaping from its cover,
And the country will be torn to pieces,
ripped and ravaged by his anger.

  posted at 7:03 AM  

Thursday, February 08, 2007
JEREMIAH 24 (The Message)
I want to be a good fig!

1-2 God showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the Temple of God. This was after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah from Jerusalem into exile in Babylon, along with the leaders of Judah, the craftsmen, and the skilled laborers. In one basket the figs were of the finest quality, ripe and ready to eat. In the other basket the figs were rotten, so rotten they couldn't be eaten.
3God said to me, "Jeremiah, what do you see?"

"Figs," I said. "Excellent figs of the finest quality, and also rotten figs, so rotten they can't be eaten."

4-6Then God told me, "This is the Message from the God of Israel: The exiles from here that I've sent off to the land of the Babylonians are like the good figs, and I'll make sure they get good treatment. I'll keep my eye on them so that their lives are good, and I'll bring them back to this land. I'll build them up, not tear them down; I'll plant them, not uproot them.

7"And I'll give them a heart to know me, God. They'll be my people and I'll be their God, for they'll have returned to me with all their hearts.

8-10"But like the rotten figs, so rotten they can't be eaten, is Zedekiah king of Judah. Rotten figs—that's how I'll treat him and his leaders, along with the survivors here and those down in Egypt. I'll make them something that the whole world will look on as disgusting—repugnant outcasts, their names used as curse words wherever in the world I drive them. And I'll make sure they die like flies—from war, starvation, disease, whatever—until the land I once gave to them and their ancestors is completely rid of them."

  posted at 6:24 AM  

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
This is no silly pun or stupid joke -- it is an absolutely true story.

I was sitting in the Dayton Airport awaiting my flight when one of the airline employees got on the loudspeaker in order to announce a departing flight. Her intention was to say "We are about to begin the boarding process" but instead ... here's what came out ...

"We are about to begin the breeding process."

Needless to say, she was a wee bit embarrassed and she probably didn't make the situation any better when she later said "We're not really doing any breeding here this morning."

Again, an absolutely true story.

  posted at 7:16 AM  

Jeremiah 23 (NIV)

  posted at 4:43 AM  

“Inventing is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less material you need.” -- Charles Kettering Another famous Kettering quote is along the lines of "If you have always done it that way, then it's probably wrong."

  posted at 4:36 AM  

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Jeremiah 22 (NLT)

Lately, as evidenced by my posts as well, I am sure, by my attitude and behavior, I have found myself in a position of feeling like I just don't have much time for my morning reading and prayers. That is a horrible position because, when it happens, I feel like I am lacking so much. I was at a meeting last night when the leader spoke of what it means to be "in the zone." We've all heard that term -- usually coming from the sports world. However, for me, when I do make the time for reading and prayer, I can start to feel "in the zone" in my life. When I don't do those things, I feel anyplace but "in the zone". Someone else at the meeting spoke of how, spiritually, we should all be at a place where we always feel like we're "in the zone". I sort of wanted to scream "You know, that's a nice idea, but this is real life, man! How can I always keep myself "in the zone" when I have pressures coming from all sides? Pressures to do more and to do it faster. Pressures to keep my family fed, pressures to keep the families of the 45 people who work with me fed. Pressures to often be three or four places at once. Pressures to multi-task four or five things at once. Pressures to have my mind in 20 places at once and be able to easily switch between any of those places at any time! How can I stay "in the zone" spiritually in the midst of all that? I know that it is a nice, clear answer -- Jesus is the calm in the storm. Reside in Him at all times despite what else is going on around me. But yet, again, this is real life -- my mind is constantly pulled in countless directions. I get really tired somedays of being "the leader" -- the one who is supposed to have all the answers. Of being the one no one else wants to bring up a differing opinion in front of."

Okay, I unloaded a lot of baggage there (you can quit playing your mocking miniature violin now) and, yes, I can see the folly of several of the things I said ... I know many of the answers ... the better ways ... but doing them ... carrying them out consistently in "real world" time ... well, it's tough. That's all I can say.

Now, today, my reading is Jeremiah 22. This chapter has several verses about King Jehoiakim. As yoy may recall, my mother's maiden name was "Yoakam" which, as I understand, is derived pretty directly from "Jehoiakim". Note verse 21 of this chapter. Jehoiakim was not taking the time to listen to God. God was calling out to him but Jehoiakim was too busy.

Yeah, there's a lesson for me there.

  posted at 5:22 AM  

Monday, February 05, 2007
Jeremiah 21 (NIV)

  posted at 5:08 AM  

Sunday, February 04, 2007
JEREMIAH 20 (The Message)
Jeremiah 20 (The Message)

  posted at 7:26 AM  

Saturday, February 03, 2007
Jeremiah 19 (NIV)

  posted at 11:06 AM  

Friday, February 02, 2007
The following was written by Skip Moen.

"You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God." (Joel 2:26).

Praise -- The most common Hebrew word associated with prayer is palal. In most contexts, it means "praise." Think about that for a minute. Hebrew prayer is eight times more likely to be about praise than about petition. Even when palal is not used for praise, it is used for intercession. That means if palal is not adoration for God than it is intervention for another.

Do your prayers have the same ratio as the Hebrew mindset? Are you eight times more likely to burst into praise or make intercession for someone else than you are to pray for your own needs? In the Gentile world, this ratio is rare indeed. Have you ever wondered why?

We live in a culture that is very much the product of a different worldview than those ancient Semitic people whom God chose as His vehicle of salvation. Roots of individualism and human achievement dominate our worldview. Sandwiched between political autonomy and personal freedom, we have come to believe that the center of the universe is me. This personally focused orientation expresses itself in all kinds of ways, even religious ones. We even pray with an "I, me, mine" attitude. Do you need some examples?

When did you last intercede for your enemies?
When did you last praise God for eight benefits before you made a single request?
When did you last thank Him for every single trouble you are experiencing?
When did you honor Him for every single success you enjoy?
When was the last time your church spent eight times more minutes praising Him than sticking to the order of service?
When was the last time you spent eight times as much time glorifying His name in your daily devotion than you did telling Him all your troubles? (And, by the way, isn't it interesting that we call this time "devotion" when in fact it is usually nothing more than complaints and requests?)

Want to pray like Moses or Daniel or Elijah? Want to have fellowship with the Father like Paul or even Jesus? You'll need a change of perspective. You'll need a transformation of mind. You'll need some adjustment in the prayer ratio. Right?

  posted at 7:45 AM  

Link here for Jeremiah 18 (NLT).

This is the Old Testament "prophetic" reference to clay in the potter's hand which then comes up again in the New Testament. So much of this world puts emphasis on being "self made" -- being our own people who draw ourselves up by our bootstraps and reach success in this world. For many years, I very much felt that way. I saw myself as raised by my parents but really being my own "self" able to go out and make myself into whatever I wanted. I have, over time, learned several problems with that. First of all, I was created by God for a specific purpose. That fact cannot be avoided. Second, my childhood played a huge role, whether I like it or not, in shaping me into the person I am today. Finally, when I try to go against what God intended, and when I try to, under my own will, overcome the man I am, things are difficult. I stumble and fail, just like the clay being re-molded in the potter's hand. I have so far to go yet but I hope that I am starting to learn what it means to tap into and pursue the plan that God has had for me all along.

  posted at 5:45 AM  

Thursday, February 01, 2007
JEREMIAH 17 (The Message)
Link here for Jeremiah 17 (The Message).

As this points out, our natural tendency -- our "heart" -- is to put our trust in man and the things of man. It requires a purposeful transformation to turn that all over and instead focus on God. I have learned in my spiritual journey that that is best done when fully embraced in Christian community. I am sure that their are folks who simply through their own willpower and transformation can walk the Christian walk without the support of others in Christian community but for me it is much easier, and my life seems more effective, when held in community with other followers.

  posted at 5:54 AM  

Who Am I?

Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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