Wise words

Okay, with a title like that, you have to go straight to God’s Word, right?

I was in Acts 5 today and saw these words of Pharisee Gamaliel:

 “So I advise you to stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.”

If it is of our own doing, it will fail… But, if God is behind it… get out the way!!!

May what I be about today be what God is behind. Amen and Amen.

blessings

be inspired

sj

Take 5

There are a few songs that have been written recently that resonate with where I am in life.

This song is one that upon first hearing, I thought, this guy has been living my life and writing my thoughts down… It had the effect on me that I often find in the Psalms.

I would encourage you to close your eyes, calm your spirit and just listen to this song, and let it bless you.  Find 5 minutes and make time for this.

blessings

be inspired

sj

A quote to ponder.

English poet W. H. Auden in “Apropos of Many Things”:

“We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.”

I realize I haven’t posted this week.  It has been a full week.  I hope to get back into a rhythm soon.

blessings

be inspired

sj

Saturday quick thought

Because I am so attracted to focusing on grace, I must put effort towards proclaiming His truth. 

This is the great tension.

blessings

be inspired 

sj

The Author’s Voice

I have had the great privilege of getting to know some authors and communicators.  I recently had the experience of starting to read a book where I had heard the author speak at a conference.  I couldn’t help but hear the book in his voice.  I then heard him speak again, and I felt like I knew him… like really knew him… like we had been in an ongoing conversation.  Some of that is based on the style of his writing, but more than that… the more I read him, the more I felt a connectedness with him.

I am having a similar experience with my morning devotional this year.  It is penned by a guy I know from college days.  I can’t help but feel like I have a greater connection with the content because I can see him writing these words, they are very much in keeping with who I knew him to be back in our younger days.

I started to think about this concept of getting to know the author through spending time reading their writings, and getting to know the voice of the author through this process.  I think it is safe to think that this process can be reverse engineered.  The more time you spend reading an author, the more you get to know their voice.

Hoping the dots have connected for you already… but, I will challenge you with this…

How well do you feel like you know God’s voice?  What do you think you could be doing to get to know it better?

blessings

be inspired

sj

Gone from my sight…

My week started with attending a beautiful memorial service.  Beyond that I have found myself thinking a good bit about heaven lately.  I have so many curiosities about what the experience will truly be like and what it will feel like to experience the parts that I do know.

On the back cover of the order of service was printed a poem by Henry Van Dyke that really struck me:

“I am standing upon the seashore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says:  “There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight.  That is all.  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.  And just at the moment when someone at my side says:  “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:  “Here she comes!”

And that is dying.”

Poetic and beautiful words to describe a process that is hard for those of us left standing on this shore line.  I can’t help but think about watching my own mother become a “speck of white cloud” and then realizing that her size diminished in me.  But, there is hope to know that there were those on the other side, most notably her Heavenly Father running down the driveway to give her a hug as she returned home.

If I am being really honest, I struggle with being jealous of those who get to experience heaven, not in a suicidal thoughts kind of way, just realizing that my heart is truly homesick.

Let me live today in great anticipation of Heaven, and allow the homesickness to be subsided in me.

blessings

be inspired

sj

Otherliness… a practice

I have the unique privilege of getting to attend events that we host at Sandy Cove Ministries.

This past weekend was our fall couples weekend.  It was a great time and we had our good friends Jay and Laura Laffoon in as our presenters.  They are phenomenal.  Funny, witty, real, authentic and truly inspired teachers of God’s word.  Check them out at www.jayandlaura.com

Jay offered this suggestion while teaching this weekend and it really hit me as a powerful practice.  Whenever you are reading verses that speak to “otherliness” or what some have come to call “one anothering.” insert names into the scripture.  Obviously, for the purpose of the weekend, it was taught in the context of couples, but I think the principle and practice is transferrable.

Take for example Phiippians 2:3-4 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  

For me this would be transformed to:  Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress Beth.  Be humble, thinking of Beth as better than yourself.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take and interest in Beth, too.

This could work for anyone.  (and if you want to really stretch yourself, put in a name of an enemy or adversary) Mt 5:44

I used the word practice intentionally in the title, because I know for me, otherliness and one anothering don’t come naturally to me.  I require some practice.

Will you write out Philippians 2:3-4 with your spouses name?  a friend?  an enemy?

blesssings

be inspired

sj

The width of my hand

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that I have written something like this…

“how can it be?  my blog says the last entry is April 2014?”  and I think… what was going on in April… and then it dawns on me that it is 2015 and that April 2014 wasn’t this last April… wow…

I am hoping to get back up on the horse here with my writing, because I believe that God is doing something inside of me and I need to be obedient, because if there is one thing I am learning about more than anything in my faith, it has to do with obedience…. but that is a blog for another day… look I am already talking about my future writing 🙂

In just a few minutes, I will leave and join some friends to travel to a funeral.  It is a celebration of life and a homegoing.  And as I think about this beautiful person, I have nothing but fond memories.  I see a lady lit up with a smile and a laugh.

I start to think… Am I really living my life to its fullest?  What will people think as they prepare to attend my services?  Funerals make me take stock of my mortality… I don’t like to think about it, but it is real.  I read recently a post that pointed to Psalm 39:5 which states it this way

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
    at best, each of us is but a breath.”

So, I look down at my small hands and think… “why do my hands have to be so small?”  but really… I am being pressed by God to really take an inventory about what I am choosing to put my time towards. (i.e. taking a break from Facebook)

I encourage you to take a moment today and look down at your hand and think about what fills your time, and what will they say about you as they drive to your funeral… sobering thoughts I know, but important thoughts.

be inspired

be blessed

sj

“Neither do I”

So I am reading a great little book by one of my favorite bloggers and voices in our culture today…

Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker

I am barely in the book and he tells some pretty amazing stories… and makes some powerful points…

As I am reading this book, there is a reference to the story in John about the Pharisees trying to stone the adulteress, and in reading words that I have read over and over again, in a story that has become common knowledge… I heard Jesus speak to me… in a powerful way… it became a “moment”

It was powerful to me this morning and I am wondering if maybe you need to hear Jesus say this to you?

After Jesus shuts down this woman’s accusers in a classic way and they all leave… Jesus remains with the woman and has this exchange:

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11 NIV

In reading this passage today, I heard Jesus say to me “neither do I condemn you, go now and leaver your life of sin.”

I wonder if you are anything like me and you condemn yourself and pick up stones and are ready to cast them into the mirror?

Oh the power and love, true, ultimate love, in those words… “neither do I condemn you”  I needed to hear that today…

Do you believe that you are loved in that way?

blessings

be inspired

sj

A reason.

There is probably a reason that the bible says 365 times “Do not be afraid.”  Not a day goes by, where I don’t need to be reminded.

I was reading in John 14.27  “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

I don’t know why I find it so easy to buy what the world is selling.  It is easy for me to be troubled and afraid.  “What if this doesn’t happen, what if this goes wrong, what if we can, what if we can’t…”  the questions go on and on and get louder and louder.

The funny thing is… the message hasn’t changed… My wife and I have adopted Joshua 1:9 as a family verse/motto:  “I command you — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

We say it like this, “Be strong, Be brave, Never alone.”  (or if we are texting BSBBNA)

My prayer today is that I can shed this doubting Thomas persona and live into the peace of mind and heart.

I pray this peace for you likewise.

blessings

be inspired

sj