Resurrection

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Art:

I completed this Ink with Pen and Brush a few years back from photos I had taken in downtown Anoka, Minnesota.  I like the architecture. The building seems to emerge from its very landscape, trailing the point of its noble steeple. I am not acquainted with any individuals in this congregation. I can only imagine that it, like so many older church buildings, could tell us a story of those who gather there. Often such stories include a bright beginning, a decline, for any number of reasons, and then once again a burst of new life!  Both the architecture and history of such congregations bring to mind our Thought—Resurrection.

Thought:

I had a dream this week. It wasn’t a long dream.  It was one of those dreams that evolve just before waking up in the middle of the night, or the last thing in the morning.  This was the one that awakened me. It was time to get up. Like many people I know, when I arise from sleep on any given morning, I may know I dreamed but I can’t recall what the dream was about. At best, I may have general recollections, but don’t ask me to describe it.  I couldn’t.  It was just a dream.  This was not like that. I remember it well.

The setting seemed suspended midair, like what you experience from the window of a 747 flying through elegant clouds.  A spacious hallway stretched forward with doors to the right.  I entered one set of doors into a large room.  It reminded me of a bright church fellowship hall.  In the room no more than four or five women, whom I did not recognize, were busy setting up tables.  They seemed in preparation for an event.  Overhearing their conversation, they were preparing a meal that would serve those attending the Memorial Service of a dear friend.

One person lamented, “How will we ever get along without her?”  Until now I had not said a word.  I’m not certain they were even aware of my presence.  But almost involuntarily I stated, “Resurrect her!”  They seemed startled by my directive.  What did I mean?  They knew she would be in the resurrection when Jesus returned.  But what are you suggesting?  Again, how I responded seemed a most natural reply: Resurrect—bring back to life—whatever you experienced in her life that you will miss. Reincarnate or re-embody the life of faithful service the Spirit of God was allowed to have flow through her. Resurrect her by carrying on the service she gave.

My dream was over. I was wide awake. Now, what am I to do with the dream?  I shared it with Marj over breakfast and I sensed to share it with you today. Why?  I’m not certain. Are you and I to be the resurrection of the service of someone we’ve  known and miss?    Could be.

Somewhere in my ‘awake time’ I read a thought I’ll share called: “The Four ‘M’s of History”.  In every movement it seems inevitable it will progress through four stages in their history.  This is stated in the masculine, but it is no less true in the feminine.

                                                                  The MAN                                                                                          A man is called to begin a movement.

                                                               The MEN:                                                                             Men are attracted to and closely follow the Man.

                                                               The METHOD:                                                                                             After the Man and the Men are gone, those remaining adopt the Method of the Man and Men.

                                                               The MEMORIAL:                                                                                    When it becomes clear Method alone doesn’t work, the Man is Memorialized.

I think the beautiful thing about these 4 Ms is not that the movement may stop with memorialization of great people who preceded us, but that in succeeding generations God raises up new Men and Women with a passion for continuing His good work in the world.

God’s work is constantly revitalized and expanded as followers of Jesus open our lives to the full power of the Spirit’s guidance. Our words and actions become a Resurrection of what we have witnessed and value in their lives as revealed in the pages of Scripture and their history.

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

2 Timothy 1:13,14

   

 

 

 

 

Unknown

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Art:

I did this Acrylic in black and white last summer while the weather was warm enough to paint in the garage.  I did this in a positive and in this negative form.  I chose this one to represent our Thought for this week–Unknown.

Today’s ‘Thought’ is the work of our middle son, Dan who is a psychologist.  I liked what he had to say and wanted, with his permission, to share it with you today.

Thought:

“It took me a month to get my head around what was going on in the world at large, and in my own world. After thinking about it and being asked questions about what to do, this is what I came up with.

“We are bombarded with information about COVID 19, the enemy, the killer! We have rapid fire predictions of how bad it could be! Some people are developing new scam strategies to take advantage of our fear. What is the fear? Is it the fear of getting sick, of dying? Is it the fear of global economic collapse? I say no, it’s the ruler of all fears, it’s the fear of the unknown!! What is the effect of the unknown? Well, it tends to create a sense of powerlessness through which we try to cope and live our days.

“Powerlessness is one of the most energy zapping, confidence crushing, and motivation destroying lenses through which we see the world.  As I work with people each day as a clinical psychologist, I hear how the fear of the unknown and powerlessness is crippling them and their spirits. Seeing the world through the lens of powerlessness makes everything worse. To name a few, it makes depression worse, anxiety worse, and it makes irritability worse. Individuals struggle, and when individuals struggle, relationships struggle.

“So, what do we do to manage this enemy? How do we deal with, no not COVID 19, the fear, and the powerlessness! “We”, every one of us, are doing everything that can be done to overcome the COVID 19 enemy; now it’s up to us as individuals to take care of ourselves and get out from under powerlessness. As members of the animal kingdom we have an instinct in the face of danger to Freeze, Flee, or Fight.

The main reason powerlessness is the ruler of all fears, is because when we sense its danger, we Freeze. The easiest way to overcome powerlessness is to use the part of our brain that lets us override instinct. We are the only species in the animal kingdom that has that ability. We can recognize that our Freeze instinct has kicked in, and we can identify why it has kicked in, and then we can choose to override that instinct with behavior, action, and doing.

“The Freeze response is like emotionally holding your breath and trying not to feel. Here are a few tips that I think will help you overcome the paralyzing effects of fearing the unknown, and the powerlessness it creates.

  • “First, recognize that the COVID 19 virus is real, and it does pose a threat to everything we know. In other words, we can’t be in denial about that.
  • “Second, Do, Do, Do, and override the instinct to Freeze. Since the Freeze response is like emotionally holding your breath, I encourage you to physically breathe with mindfulness. This means, several times a day stop and focus on your breathing and take several deep breaths, while focusing on the moment, and identifying the positive of life right then, in that moment. Also, while you are taking your deep deep breaths, think about what you ARE in control of this day. You are always in control of your choices, so choose self-care, choose to do something that will override the instinct to Freeze.
  • “Third, try to laugh! I know it’s difficult at a time like this but laugh. Laughter is a very healthy expression of emotion, and it releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural morphine and helps create a sense of calm. Increased doses of laughter should be part of everyone’s self-care plan. What better time to navigate your web browser to YouTube.com and find a new stand-up comedian you like, or something else that makes you laugh!
  • “Fourth, it’s okay to cry! Have you ever heard the expression “having a good cry?” Well, there is some science behind that. Tears excrete stress hormones, which reduces our stress, helping us feel better. So, it’s okay to cry.
  • “Last, recognize that when the pandemic is over, there will be a “new normal.” Life will be different. Just like after 9/11, life found a new normal. Babies will be born, people will get married, and we will laugh again, naturally. Embrace it. Accept it, don’t resist it. It will be different, but it will be good; we will all work together to make sure of that.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”                                           Philippians 4:13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversation

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Art:

 I painted this original Oil—inspired by a lesson from Jerry Yarnell–about 8 years ago. I enjoyed the time of day and the wilderness. I chose it to represent our Thought—Conversation. It was in conversation with a new neighbor, when we lived in Andover, I learned of his interest in wilderness sports. I sensed this painting might make a good housewarming gift. So, in conversation with a neighbor, I was led to take action with intent to benefit him. Taking action brought joy for both of us!

Thought:

Is it possible to have a conversation with God?

You might respond with a question or two of your own: What do you mean by ‘conversation’?  I did, what I often do.

First: I checked my NIV Exhaustive Concordance to see what Scripture says about ‘conversation’.  It appears only four (4) times in the Bible: Three in the Old Testament and one in Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, …”  The Greek is actually logos and means word.

Second: I checked the etymology. Comes from the Old French word of the same spelling, meaning “manner of conducting oneself in the world.” When you have a conversation, you listen closely and respond appropriately, so that our conversation is a true exchange of ideas…

Prayer may be requesting action from God (a petition) or, it may include thanking God for something (a praise). This may seem one-way, that’s a good thing, but not a conversation. More often, it seems like a speech to God. A conversation is two-way. God talks too.

“Why is it,” comedian Lily Tomlin asks, “that when we talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to us, we call it schizophrenia?”

I believe it is possible to have a conversation with God, where we talk to God and God talks back to us.   How does that work?  Here are a few Biblical accounts of ways people hear God:

  • a phenomenon plus a voice
  • a supernatural messenger or an angel
  • dreams and visions
  • an audible voice
  • the human voice
  • the human spirit or the “still, small voice”

I believe God’s choice of ‘how’ He may choose to converse with followers of Jesus—and, sometimes, those who are not followers—is His sovereign choice. But it does appear to me, the most common way this conversation takes place is at the spirit level of thoughts. God’s Holy Spirit, residing in me, and my spirit, converse through the thoughts emanating from the heart or mind.  The Apostle Paul seems to speak to this in his first letter to the Corinthians.

However, as it is written:  “No eye as seen,  no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit….We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit  who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us…For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 2:8, 12, 16

The “mind of Christ” residing in follower of Jesus, by virtue of the indwelling Holy Spirit, speaks to our ‘spirit’ through our mindful thoughts, resulting in two-way conversation.

Next time you are in thought, and talk to God, stop. Ask Him to speak to you about the subject.  Listen to the thoughts that comes to your mind.  Where might they be coming from?  Think about what you are hearing. Is the answer in keeping with God’s character of love?  What will you do with it?  If you don’t understand, ask again.  You may also go to someone you trust in Christ and ask for help. Young Samuel did not understand what God meant.  He went to Eli for help in understanding. After three times, God helped Samuel to understand through Eli.  See: 1 Samuel 3.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your                                                              hearts  and your minds in Christ Jesus.”                                                  Philippians 4:7

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”      Psalm 37:4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

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Art:

This week’s Art piece is the photo of a doll house I designed and built for a little girl a few years ago. Woodworking is another art form I enjoy. I chose it to represent our homes, where we have been confined to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Compliance puts some families, ‘at home 24/7’, at risk for added conflict. Most come up with creative ways to cope without ‘killing one another’. Others…, not so much.  All will experience some conflict and misunderstanding.  It’s a great time to refine the skill of our Thought for this week: Forgiveness.

Thought:

“Love is acting intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promote overall well-being.” — Thomas Oord, The Science of Love.

[1]“Love Means Getting to Say, “I Forgive You.”

“When you set out to forgive someone, it will help you greatly if you can set aside three common errors that have been attached to forgiveness in our society.

First: Forgiveness does not require reconciliation with your enemy.

“Reconciliation is two-sided, and both sides must be willing participants.  Even God himself will not steamroll over the will of another person.  If a person is sufficiently resolute in his or her heart and resistant to the Spirit of God, there can be no reconciliation.

Second: Forgiveness does not require you to forget what happened.

“It is simply wrong to say to another person, “Oh, come on, if you really forgave me, you would have forgotten it.”  You may never forget what a person did, and you may find that you treat them differently because you have learned something about their character that you didn’t know before, but you can choose to  love them for who you now know them to be, and support their efforts to grow.  Forgiveness lets people off the hook and frees us to love them.

Third: Forgiveness does not mean you stop hurting.

This is a common issue between a husband and wife when one has been unfaithful.  The offending party may ask for forgiveness, and the wounded one says, “Yes, I’ll forgive you,” but remains deeply wounded. The guilty one, who becomes offended and hurt because the other person is still in pain, says in effect “Stop hurting, so I can stop hurting! If you don’t stop hurting, that means you haven’t forgiven me. Forgiveness is the choice not to punish or seek revenge. It is not—it cannot be—the choice to stop hurting.  Forgiveness can come long before the healing is complete.

Once we make that choice to forgive, we will need God’s help.  Like love and faith and death to self, we cannot fully forgive without God’s supply of forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).  We can, however, choose not to punish the one who has hurt us, and we can ask God to help us be aware when we begin to entertain the idea of possible punishment or revenge.  Those ideas are often coming down the track long before they go into play, and we can see them growing larger in the corner of our mental eye.  That’s the way temptation works.  Temptation never hits you without announcing itself beforehand and giving you a choice.  You must be prepared to call out for God’s help to find a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).  It also helps to remember that: to forgive, is to love, is to be set free…and to know deep joy.”

A Question

How has it been going for you and yours these weeks under one roof nearly 24/7?  On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s been the conflict / misunderstanding level?  More importantly, what has been your personal ‘forgiveness’ level.  Ten would be near perfect.  Never too late to do the right thing.  Forgiving can become contagious when it infects a family member, who actually experiences it, without social distancing. “Love your neighbor.”  Forgiving your neighbor is in reality an act of Love.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  Colossians 3:13, 14

[1] Adapted from Living Without Lack, Psalm 23,  Dallas Willard

Neighbor

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Art:

Prior to moving to Hastings in 2010, our middle son lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. This Oil is a painting I completed from photographs taken in his St. Paul neighborhood.  I called these colorful homes my ‘painted ladies of St. Paul’,  recalling sites from a visit to San Francisco and seeing its now famous colorful set of historic homes called ‘painted ladies’. I chose this Oil as a visual reflection of our Thought for this week—Neighbor.

Thought:

Have you become more aware of neighbors since COVID-19 restrictions pretty much limited us to our homes?  Since my Anytime Fitness Gym closed, I’ve been walking outside.  I’ve noticed ‘walkers’ is no longer just dogs walking their owners! And it’s not just in Minnesota.  Our California son posted:

“A few days ago, I posted on Facebook about an experience my wife Suzi and I had while taking an evening walk. Here’s the content of that post.

“I just got back from an evening walk with my lovely bride. We’ve never seen as many people out on the walking trail near our house as we did tonight. Families and neighbors out walking together, walking their dogs, riding bikes. People were smiling and greeting each other like actual neighbors! Could a silver lining of the COVID-19 cloud include a chance for families and neighbors to slow down and connect? We hope so. It seemed like it this evening. May that increase!!”

“I received several comments on that post all saying that similar things were happening in their areas. Those are examples of people making lemonade. I watched a video recording of what John Maxwell presented live streamed on Sunday, March 22nd called “Leading Through a Crisis.” (I highly recommend following the link and watching all 4 of the presentations) In that presentation, John said that a crisis is a distraction. Distraction is the opposite of traction. Traction is when you gain ground and make progress forward. Crises pull us away and confuse our priorities.

“He [Maxwell] went on to say that nothing will cause you more anxiety than trying to control what you can’t control. When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade. Leaders help people regain traction during distraction.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’ve been reflecting on the familiar biblical phrase:“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s first mentioned in the Old Testament book of Leviticus 19:18. In the New Testament, Jesus states it first in Matthew 19:19.  The Apostle Paul quotes it in Romans and Galatians.  James, the brother of Jesus, said in James 2:8 “If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself” you are doing right.”

And who is my neighbor?”

An expert in the law once asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded with the need to love God… “and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” The expert’s follow-up question: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response was the story of the Good Samaritan who stopped on his journey to help a wounded stranger, alongside the road. Then, “Jesus told the expert, “Go and do likewise.”  Luke 11:25-37

“…Neighbor is an old English word that means, literally, “the boor who is neigh thee,” that is, nearby.  Not the bore who is nearby! A boor is a farmer, and a neighbor is the farmer nearby.  You are called to love those who are neigh thee—your family, your friends, your coworkers, the folks in your neighborhood, and, yes, even the “enemies” in your life, the ones who irritate, demean, frustrate, and mistreat you.” —Living Without Lack p. 177

One author wrote… “I was zooming on down the track of my life, focused on whatever it was I was doing, oblivious to other people around me.  I was deeply burdened when I realized that I had been living this way.  How could I love my neighbor if I wasn’t even aware of them?”

Sometime a life-changing event, like the current virus, can give one a new quality of awareness of oneself and others. You begin to see people with new eyes, with new appreciation and love, even though they have not changed.

Go for a walk…meet your neighbors, But, remember…

Love your neighbor…—by maintaining the 6-foot rule—and

as [you love] yourself.”—by washing your hands when you get home!

Have a great week neighbor!

 

 

Rejoice

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Art:

 This Oil painting was inspired by a lesson from the late Rob Ross, best known for his many years on pbs television.  It’s a stylized depiction of quiet woods and colorful sky, filled with imaginary bird songs and waterfall accompaniment.  Spring is ‘officially’ here! Spring we can see and hear is soon to follow.  I chose this piece for today’s Thought—‘Rejoice’—because that’s what we’ll do (especially this year) when we see Spring once again reopening a curtain of color and sound in our yards and neighborhoods. Rejoice!

 Thought:

In my reading of Paul’s letter to the followers of Jesus in Philippi last week, I was struck by his use of “Rejoice”. A new thought entered my mind I hadn’t had in perhaps hundreds of times I’ve read these verses.  How can this be? How can something ‘new’ come to us from the familiar?  It’s not because the scripture changed. I (we) have changed.  Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 13, “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…”  I believe the Holy Spirit focuses our ‘seeing’ in keeping with his leading in our development. So, what was it that struck my attention about Paul’s use of “Rejoice” in Philippians 4:1-7?  First the text:

 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

When I see the prefix ‘Re…’in a word I think, what does that mean?  What does it mean in this context?   Generally, it means to ‘do again’ or to ‘do over’ another time.  When I refill the gas tank of my car, I pull to the gas pump and ‘do again’ what I did the last time.  I believe the last part of Paul’s word “…joice” is ‘joy’.  What is Paul communicating here?  Simply put, I believe Paul is saying to the followers at Philippi: Your joy tank is low. Rejoice” or refill your joy tank.    What makes me think this is what Paul says in verse six, “Do not be anxious about anything,” I suspect ‘Anxiety’ with its worry, fear and unease is a sure sign the joy tank of delight, bliss and gladness is nearly empty.  It’s time to refill—to “rejoice”—the joy tank.  But, how?  I know how to refill my car’s gas tank.  How do I refill my own joy tank?

Paul’s answer seems to involve two simultaneous actions of my (our) will.

FIRST : Pray as Paul describes in verse 6. Talk to God about what I feel…what I don’t understand and… how I would like things to be instead of the way I feel they are. He is more willing to listen than I am to talk.  I can’t keep secrets…He knows already.  Sometimes I need to voice it to God, so I can hear it myself.  RESULT: v. 7 “Peace”!

SECOND: Guard my thinking. What I chose to think about gets stored in my mind and heart—my joy tank. What I think about is either ‘filling’ my joy tank or ‘draining’ it.  Paul offers the solution in Philippians 4:8-9.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice.

As this filling of my joy tank takes place, my anxiety, often evident to others, is replaced as Paul states it, “Let (you can’t help but allow it) your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (filling your joy tank to overflow!)”. “And (inside your heart and mind) the God of peace will be with you.” RESULT: v. 9 “Peace”!

Another way I feel Paul expressed the result of Rejoice—refilling my heart by thinking on these things—is in Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit (evidence of a fuller tank) is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Rejoice!

Now is a great time to not only enjoy the return of the Spring we can hear and see, but a perfect time—even with difficult news—to rejoice (refill) my joy tank to overflow!    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandemic

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Art;

“They’re back!”  I looked out our window facing the pond this week and there they were.  The pair of Canada Geese from last year returned. Ice was still on the pond, but I think they were ‘house hunting’ on shore for a new 2020 place to call home and lay eggs. I took a photo of one last year and did this Ink with pen and brush.  Why did I choose this Art piece for our Thought—Pandemic?

Canada Geese represent one of the created creatures that instinctively multiply.  Some love the geese, others hate the ‘mess’ the parents and offspring create.  The living coronavirus also multiplies.  I know of no one who likes it.  We dislike the health, social and economic ‘mess’ it creates.

Thought:

The coronavirus is on everyone’s mind. We are told that in the most classical sense, once an epidemic spreads to multiple countries or regions of the world, it is considered  a pandemic. Just this week U.S. scientists began using pandemic to define the spread of the disease known as COVID-19—coronavirus.

I do understand, but I think it unfortunate that the word pandemic itself, throughout history, seems always to be associated with the spread of harmful disease.  I am not aware of pandemic having been associated with the spread of anything positive that may also be contagiously transmitted person to person.  I’d like to suggest one—love.

I refer to a specific kind of love.  The word ‘love’ is the somewhat inadequate English translation of the New Testament Greek word transliterated agape.  It’s meaning is different from the definition behind other Greek words, even though they are also translated with the English word ‘love’:

  • philadelphia (love) expresses a brotherly kind of relationship
  • eros (love) expresses a sexual kind of relationship.
  • agape (love) expresses a God kind of relationship. “God is love.” 1 John 4:16.

This God kind of agape love is transmitted—communicated—person to person.  It is God’s desire for all his creation. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”  John 3:16

In the Old Testament, God created out of love.  “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image in our likeness, and let them rule… [have loving care for all God created].  Genesis 1:26 “And [God] saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31

In the New Testament Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”  John 15:9 “This is my command; love each other.” John 15:17

These two quotes are from two of my favorite authors.  I’ve quoted them before

“Love is born of an earnest consideration of the object loved.” Thomas Aquinas

 “Love is the disposition to bring good to the object that is loved.” Dallas Willard

 “People exist to love as Jesus loved, Indeed, the aim of God in human history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with himself at the center of that community—as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.” — Life Without Lack, Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23

 Jesus’ final command to all who have become his followers is to take the Father’s message of his agape love and infect as many as possible as you go throughout your daily life.  How?  By bringing the infectious love of God into the lives of those you contact via your “bringing good to them” and by that example.

May we see a pandemic of God’s love spread in our homes, communities, nation and the world.

With news media hurling stories of loss and change in the wake of coronavirus restrictions, many we know will be open to receiving a “cup of cold water” with love, in the name of Jesus.  People need personal peace, via God’s love, in a time of anxiety.

A Prayer:  How can I be a part of God’s pandemic of love to His/my world?

We may even be able to deal with some of the ‘mess’ connected with the coronavirus and the Canada Geese in our world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dehydration

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Art:

I haven’t drawn or painted many florals.  It’s not that I don’t like flowers, in fact flower gardening was one of my hobbies until we moved into our town home.  Last summer I took time to paint a few florals using a technique I’d never tried.  I decided to post this floral in Acrylic.

I chose it to help focus on this week’s Thought–Dehydration. Even non-gardeners know plants require an appropriate amount of water.  If they don’t get it, they will dehydrate and, if not attended, become unproductive at best or even die.

Thought:

 Ever been seriously dehydrated?  I was, once.  I’ll spare the list of unpleasant symptoms. I’ll just say, I wish never to go there again!

We know human ‘dehydration’ occurs when we use or lose more fluid than we take in, and our body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you soon become dehydrated.

In my meditation the other day I was drawn to parallels between physical and spiritual dehydration. What do our physical and our spiritual lives each require to properly function?

  • Physically, health care professionals tell us the average adult requires about 2 liters of water daily—not all at once! Depending on circumstances, the need may even increase.
  • Spiritually, it’s similar. Followers of Jesus’ spiritual bodies require daily ingestion of God’s truth. Psalm 1 says, “Blessed [spiritually hydrated] is the one whose “…delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.

Psalm 23 reflects this truth: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Jesus calls his followers his sheep.  As the shepherd he continues to restore their soul through the quiet waters of his words.  Revelation 7:17 continues this truth: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be the shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. “

 Let’s take a minute to unpack the Psalmists words “he restores my soul”.  He could have just as easily said: he restores my ‘mind’, or he restores my ‘heart’, to convey what I see at the root of his meaning. The “law of the Lord [water of God’s truth] that “he meditates on day and night” provides the spiritual hydration without which he cannot maintain health and thrive.  How does this work? There is a sense in which the mind is the most significant aspect of our lives because it is through our minds that we make effective contact with reality.

[1]“God has created us so that the ultimate freedom we have as individuals is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon and think about…The focus of your thoughts significantly affects everything else that happens in your life and  evokes the feelings that frame your world and motivates your actions.

“Thoughts are where we make our first movement toward God and where the divine Spirit begins to direct our will to God and his way.  We have the ability and responsibility to keep God present in our minds, and those who do so will make steady progress toward him, for he will respond by making himself known to us. One of the most powerful elements within the realm of our minds is that of ideas.  Our ideas form the belief system upon which we base our actions and decisions, and these in turn determine the trajectory of our lives.”

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed [spiritually dehydrated] and who correctly handles the word [water] of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well in John 4 reflects on the parallel need for physical water to sustain physical life and the need for the water of His words to initiate and sustain spiritual life.  “Everyone who drinks this water [physical] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water [Jesus’ words] I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13, 14

To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”  Revelation. 21:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Life Without Lack, Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23

Motive

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Art:

This week’s art is my Pencil drawing, four years ago, of Maggie our 11-year-old (tabby-with-white) cat. She shares our home with Tommy our (black tuxedo) cat, and Ginger our little Chihuahua. If you have pets you’ve observed many of their actions. Some are unique to the species—cats tend to sleep 18 hrs. per day—others may be unique to your pet.

When Maggie sits on my lap, and we look into each other’s eyes, I sometimes wonder, “Maggie, what are you thinking?”   I wonder if she may be reversing the question, “What are you thinking?”   Then there is the matter of ‘motive’.  Maggie, what’s your motive for that action?  Sometimes that’s easy to read.  She’s hungry and I’m behind on her feeding time.  “Feed me please!?”

Thought:

“Why did I do that?”  Or: “Why do I do that?”  It takes a simple number of words to form the question.  When it comes to the answer—my motive—It’s anything but simple.

What purpose did I intend when I did, or said that?

Was my motive or purpose to benefit someone else?

Was my motive or purpose to benefit myself?

Is it possible to have these simultaneously?

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”  John 14:23

Jesus also said, “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:12 -14

Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Love the Lord our God with all your hart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:  Love our neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

Return with me to my blog ‘Thought’ from January 3, 2019.

 “…Love is born of earnest consideration of the object loved— Thomas Aquinas.

What does Aquinas mean when he says “…love” ? The late Dallas Willard said, Love is the disposition to bring good to the object that is loved. Let’s put Aquinas and Willard together…

“…love [the disposition to bring good to the object loved ]…is born… [brought to life] …of earnest… [serious ] consideration… [mindful observation] of the object…   [entity or person(s)] loved.”  

Aquinas also said, love follows knowledge. The more consideration and time I invest in a relationship with you, the better equipped I am to “love” you in a way that allows me to do and say what brings only good to you.

I believe the single most important motive behind the action and words of Jesus followers is LOVE!

God recognizes this love motive in the harts of his children.

 “And you, my son, Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.  1 Chronicles 28:9

To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.  All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.  Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.   Proverbs 16:1-3

Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.”   1 Corinthians 4:5

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.”   1 Thessalonians 2:3
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”    James 4:3

Review The Motive questions:

“Why did I do that?”  Or: “Why do I do that?”

What purpose did I intend when I did, or said that?

Was my motive or purpose a love to benefit someone else?

Was my motive or purpose a love to benefit myself?

Is it possible to have these simultaneously?  YES

 

My Motivation Prayer

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”     Psalm 19:14

 

 

Trajectory

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Art:

This is Ink with Watercolor depicting an aerial view of Asbury Glen in Rosemount, Minnesota where Marj and I moved into our townhome two years ago tomorrow—February 28, 2018.  When entering from December Trail, take the first right. We are the second driveway on the right at 15007 Derby Circle.

Spring through Fall, we look out to the pond and its fountain through our dining windows.  I chose the painting for this week’s Thought—Trajectory—because we often watch the duck’s trajectory for landing on the pond, with its surface a good ten feet slope down from the closest patios. It’s a beautiful artful trajectory.

Thought:

 Fall afternoons in southern Michigan can be gorgeous!  This was a ‘number ten’ day!

Our family of four had just returned from one of Grandma Luther’s great Sunday-roast-beef-dinners. It was our weekly destination, following Sunday School and Church.

Marj, along with our two sons Jim and Dan, were all three down for a well-deserved nap.  I’m seated at our ‘chrome and Formica’ kitchen table, about to have an experience that would change the trajectory for the rest of our lives. I did not see this coming!

This is a short ‘back story’ to the experience I’m about to describe.

September, following high school graduation, June of 1956, I enrolled as a full-time student at Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois and completed a year and a half. Marj and I were married in March of 1958. I was out of school for four years in business for myself as an aluminum siding & trim installation sub-contractor. We were blessed with our first two sons. During our church’s 1963 Missions Conference, we were challenged to become missionaries, and that I should return to school full-time at Detroit Bible College as a Missions major.  I enrolled.

Here I sat, while everyone slept, attempting to get in a couple hours study before time to attend the Evening Service. I came upon—not for the first time, by any means—Psalm 1:1-3.  God, the Holy Spirit used the last four words, “Whatever he does prospers.” like lightening power from heaven in my heart.  This was my ‘Moses and the burning bush’ or ‘Paul on the Damascus Road’ experience. The experiences of both men changed the trajectory of their lives forever.  How can I make such a bold comparison?  Here’s how.

Moses and Paul were busy following what they believed was God’s direction for their lives. But for both, God had a new direction that changed everything.  As I said above, following that 1963 Missions conference, Marj and I were inspired that missions was the direction God wanted us to take.

While in high school we consistently heard from the Pulpit, that being a missionary was the highest calling a young person could pursue.  This conference enforced that message, and I was back in school.  Where would we serve?  Using my sincere logical thinking, I said, “O.K., If one is called to be a missionary, doesn’t it make sense to serve in the most difficult field you can identify?  We came up with Tunisia, North Africa, reaching a diverse population.  We contacted and met with representatives for Africa Inland Mission.  We began on that path.

The New Trajectory Experience

Then, on his beautiful Sunday afternoon at our simple kitchen table, came Jim Thomason’s ‘burning bush’ or ‘light from heaven’ message in the last four words of Psalm 1:1-3 “Whatever he does prospers.” Along with it, came the clear message that God’s work for us is not dependent on human logic; not dependent on geography; not on a specific vocation in ministry.  It is clearly dependent on the ‘relationship’ between God and me!  It was like He was saying, “You may serve in many different places.  You may serve with different vocational titles. But, I will be with you as you follow my direction ‘palms up’ and I will make the work ‘prosper’ according to My will.  Listen and follow!”

On that September afternoon, I adopted the words of Psalm 1:1-3 as my ‘life verses’ and have written them under my signature nearly every time I write it.  I’ve since served with seven separate titles, in three states and at nine separate addresses these 56+ years.

This trajectory changing experience became one of my most significant of manifold blessings from my Heavenly Father.  Blessed, to be a blessing!

“Blessed is the man

     who does not walk in the counsel

        Of the wicked

 or stand in the way of sinners

      or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD

     and on his law he meditates day

         and night.

            He is like a tree planted by streams

      of water,

     which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither.

     Whatever he does prospers.

 

Psalm 1:1-3 NIV