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On God's Terms

  "Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life!" Jeremiah 21 Watching the grandkids is an amazing blessing. The little ones require constant vigilance and energy. There is a reason we normally have our children when we are young! They do life at a head-spinning pace. I get a big kick out of their constant negotiations. "One more show, then bed." "A piece of chocolate, then green beans." "Two more stories, then bath, then snack, then bed." It's entertaining, but at some point, the negotiations end and they receive the terms of how it's really going to go.  King Zedekiah found himself in a real dilemma. The Babylonians were on their way to destroy Jerusalem and he was powerless to stop them. He decided to go into negotiations with God, "I'll ask your prophet for help God and then you do a miracle or something and se

Robbed

  "Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things." Jer. 5:20-25 As I looked at the credit card statement, I was thoroughly confused. Furniture? Restaurants in different states? I thought the credit card company mailed me the wrong statement. Nope, it was ours. A quick call to my sweetheart confirmed my suspicion. Our card was hacked. Someone robbed our card numbers and used them for a shopping spree. The card was immediately shut down and, thankfully, we were not obligated to pay the fraudulent charges. Even still, we felt some of those feelings of being wronged and violated. As Jeremiah recorded the words of God, it must have struck him as sad as it does us. First, God lays out the appropriate responses his people should have had towards him, respect, fear, and awe, but didn't. Then, he informs them of the consequences. They deprived themselves of blessings. They effectively robbed good things from themsel

Love and Respect

"So again, I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:21-33  So, it has finally happened. Nearly 24 years ago, we welcomed our last little princess into the world. As excited as we were, her three big sisters rivaled us in enthusiasm and joy. They had a living, wiggly little doll to play with and they just couldn't get enough. We tell people she came with "some assembly required" as her pulmonary vein was not connected to her heart. We almost lost her. This weekend, I will "give her away." Honestly, I don't like that phrase. In time and eternity, I could never give her away. I'm her daddy forever. However, as with her three sisters before her, I have to come to terms with the reality that another man will soon become her No.1. She, like her sisters, has chosen well and I believe everything good for their tomorrows. Although a single man, Paul was acutely aware of the monumental si

Remove, Renew, Restore

"Don't keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart. O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me... Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you." Psalm 51 After experiencing unsuccessful steroid shots in my shoulder (translation: It still hurt!), the doctor decided it was time to take a closer look. "How about that?!", he says, looking at the images on the screen. My aging rotator cuff had severed and needed to be renewed. During my appointment after the surgery, he showed me the cause of my injury -- a nasty looking bone spur that he had to remove. In time, I'm told, with exercise, it will be restored to full strength. As David stood there shattered in the midst of his own wicked choices, he was painfully aware of what needed to happen. He knew, like we know, he could not undo the cause for his guilt, shame and sleepless nights. What he needed only God could give him. He needed soul surgery. The si

Our Present Troubles

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." II Corinthians 4   "Ouch!", that little barb stuck deep. I could see my careless words had, once again, landed with an unintended sting. Back to the way too familiar doghouse I go. Trouble. "That can't be right.", I say to myself. I know we made a few additional purchases and ran into a few medical bills, but "Whoa!" Trouble. "Don't do it! Don't do it!", I'm yelling at myself in my own head. Everything in me wants to return fire as Jesus' words echo in my ears, "Turn the other cheek." Trouble.  Paul (and Jesus for that matter) never undersold the reality of troubles in this life. "All kinds", Jesus said. In this chapter, Paul uses words like pressed, persecuted, and pushed down. He tells us that th

Just Passing Through

  "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered -- how fleeting my life is." Psalm 39  I'm the Monday drop-off and pick-up. The teacher slides the minivan door open, unbuckles her from her car seat and with a hug, a kiss on my cheek and an "I love you pop-pop!", off she heads into preschool. Yesterday, I dropped her mother off for kindergarten with a hug, a kiss on my cheek and an "I love you daddy!" Two little girls separated by 25 years by the calendar, but by nothing in my heart and mind. I have no doubt that David pondered such thoughts as his little kids ran all around the palace underfoot providing laughter and joy to him only to turn around and bump into their children. The brevity of life is often times lost in the busyness of life. At best, each of us is but a breath. A lifetime, a moment -- both are fleeting, water spilled on the ground unable to be recaptured. In his reflections, David remembers and

Common Ground

 "When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some." I Corinthians 9:19-27 So, how does a Caucasian, English-speaking, middle-class American talk about Jesus with a group of hut-inhabiting, indigenous people in Panama who do not speak English? That was the question I was talking with the Lord about all day before the evening gathering where I was slated to preach through an interpreter. During that day, I noticed one of the family matriarchs had placed an old pot with fresh water at the bottom of the ladder that led up to her hut. No dirty feet were getting into her house! That familiar picture allowed me to share with the people that Jesus came to take our dirt/sin away so we could come into the Heavenly Father's house. Paul faced the same challenge everywhere he went with the Good News of Jesus. His audiences were as diverse as any. Diffe