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Christian Blog forgiveness

Weeds Are Flowers Too

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

A.A. Milne

If the guys on my dorm hallway at seminary had been the twelve disciples, then *Sean Fitzpatrick would have been Peter. Too say that ‘Surly Sean,’ as he was known, was rough around the edges is putting it kindly. Brash, quick tempered and occasionally foul-mouthed, he was far from the typical divinity student.
Sean looked like a shorter version of Tom Selleck, from the show Magnum P.I.–right down to the shorts and Hawaiian shirt. And just like the character on television, he was always ready with a playful insult.

I asked one of the other guys on the hall, “What’s with this dude?!” My friend told me that Sean came to seminary after his father died of a heart attack while they were on a hunting trip. The grieving young man was adrift, so his pastor suggested he come cross-country to attend seminary–thinking it might help the healing process. But Sean only lasted one semester; training to be a pastor was NOT his calling. This was no surprise to the rest of us.

Nevertheless, as I got to know my fractious neighbor, I realized he was a true brother in Christ who just happened to come from a different place than I did. Sean told me of growing up in Philadelphia, where Irish kids like him walked down the middle of the street to avoid being mugged. It was unimaginable, to a small town boy like me, who grew up where people seldom locked their doors.

We lost touch after he left seminary, but something told me Sean was back in Philly. So three years later, I looked him up. He was married and a recent father to a baby daughter. I reminded him that the last time we’d talked he insulted me. I won’t repeat what he said–this is a G-rated blog–but to him, these were terms of endearment. However, three years later, he couldn’t believe he’d talked to me like that! Clearly, Surly had sweetened. He even thanked me for being a good friend during a tough time in his life.

There are lots of ‘Seans’ out there, people who aren’t exactly like you or me, people who are hurting. And God loves them too. Remember one of the nicknames Jesus’ enemies gave Him? They called him a ‘Friend of Sinners’ (Matthew 7:43).

When Sean showed up at a seminary, he was like Zacchaeus in the Bible, up in a tree looking for Jesus. But most of us pious would be pastors avoided him, because we thought weeds aren’t really flowers. We were wrong.

For the son of man came to seek and save the lost.

Luke 19:10

*not his real name.

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Christian Blog Uncategorized

What was that, God?

Photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash

I once heard a story about a little boy who misheard part of the Lord’s Prayer. Where it says, “forgive us our trespasses,” he thought the people at church were saying, “forgive us our trash baskets.”

There’s actually a term for this. According to Dictionary.com, a word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of another word or phrase is called a mondegreen. In many cases, the misinterpretation gives the original phrase a new meaning. Like in the song, Purple Haze, when Jimmy Hendrix sings, “Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” but the listener hears, “Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

I wonder, do mondegreens sometimes happen when God speaks to us? After all, He doesn’t think or work the same way we do (Isaiah 55:9), so it stands to reason that His instructions could easily be lost in translation.

God: “You have enough stuff.”
Me: “I need a new truck!”

Or maybe we clearly hear what God says, but creatively interpret the meaning. This mistake cost Saul his kingdom, in 1 Samuel chapter 13, when he offered up burnt offerings to God as a stand-in for the prophet Samuel.

Something like this happened to me the year I turned forty, but not with such dire results. I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, “It’s time to get the music started.” I interpreted this to mean that I needed to begin a Christian concert ministry, record albums, and pitch my songs to Nashville publishers. To me, it was all or nothing–throwing the entirety of God’s resources up in the air at once.

But the Lord had something else in mind. He opened a door for my wife and me to share music in nursing homes and assisted living centers, making seniors feel better by singing their favorite hymns. My own gospel songs never made it to Nashville, but they still touched people–a few at a time. I know, because they told me so. Clearly, God’s plan to, “get the music started,” meant something more like passing out a bag of nickels one at time, rather than my grandiose ideas.

So that’s my, “What was that, God?” story.

Have you ever misheard God or misinterpreted what He said to you? If so, please share. I’d love to hear about it.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/09/05/what-was-that-god/

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change Christian Blog

Surfing Uncertainty

“Reality: what a concept!”

Robin Williams

About ten years ago, a severe ice storm crippled our area. Widespread power outages left many without electricity for days. Those without backup generators, that was most of us, were forced to adjust to reality–finding alternative sources for modern conveniences.

Not surprisingly, the people who coped best during this time were those who grew up in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Many of them spent their childhood creating things at home that the rest of us think only come from a store.

For example, during the power outage, my neighbors (a couple in their 80’s) simply put their perishable food items in a box on their back porch. The temperature didn’t rise above 30 degrees for a week, so they were good. Why didn’t I think of that? Another older couple had no heat, so they warmed up a cast iron skillet on their gas stove top to create a radiator!

When in a crisis, it’s a good idea to consult someone who has survived a few. Actor Alan Alda, 84–of T.V. show M*A*S*H fame–was recently asked in an interview how optimistic he was for his children and grandchildren’s future. Here’s what he told AARP magazine:

“With the world changing so rapidly, there’s no point in being optimistic or pessimistic about anything. You’ve just got to surf uncertainty, because it’s all we get.”

Alan Alda

Wow, that’s a wise way to look at life! But how do you surf uncertainty? Does this idea come with lessons?

We need only look to scripture for the answer.


Think of all the famous Bible heroes who successfully dealt with difficult circumstances. Many of these are mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, the Hall of Faith. These ladies and gentlemen surfed uncertainty, just as Alan Alda advises, and we know HOW they did it.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (emphasis mine)

We see this scripture in live action when the apostle Peter went surfing with Jesus–well, kinda sorta (Matthew 14:22-31). Remember the story? Peter walked on the water to meet Christ, but started to sink when he realized he was riding a huge wave; he took his eyes off Jesus and almost whiped-out. But, just for a moment, our fisherman friend was surfing–with God!

The world only offers two options: sink or swim. But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can walk on the top with Him.

Surf’s Up!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/08/29/god-surfing/

Categories
Christian Blog courage

The Source of Her Strength

“Picnic” by pigpogm is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In a recent Our Daily Bread devotional, Deep Rooted Faith, Xochitl Dixon tells the story of a 600 year old oak tree that stood next to a church in New Jersey. The tree had survived many storms (including several hurricanes) due to its extensive root system. It’s deep vertical taproot supplied strength and nourishment, while it’s horizontal roots spread beyond the tree’s canopy. Says Dixon, “Most of the life-giving growth occurred beneath the surface.”


My mom and dad were happily married for 49 years. Like many of their generation, my father made most of the decisions. He did the driving, arranged for major purchases, etc. The majority of the time, my mother deferred to him.

When dad died in 2007, the rest of the family wondered how mom would fare. Would she wilt under the strain of making ALL the decisions?

We shouldn’t have worried. After a period of adjustment, my mother began to blossom. She painted her bedroom sunflower yellow, learned to use the riding lawn mower, and traded the family van for a cute little SUV.

For nearly 50 years she let my father lead, yet all the while her tenacious fortitude was just beneath the surface. The secret of her strength was her deep roots in God. Mom was not overt in sharing her Christian faith, but the source of her strength was obvious to all who knew her. And when the time came for her to join my father in heaven, she did not seem to be afraid.

A few months after my mother died, I picked up her favorite Bible. Tucked within the pages was one of her “taproot” scriptures–written on a 3″ x 5″ card in her perfect penmanship.

What is one of your tap root scriptures? Please share, if you’d like.

Here’s one of mine:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)
Categories
Christian Blog vulnerability

Lost Four Words

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

It’s amazing how words frequently used in conversation come and go. During the Valley Girl craze of the 1980’s, phrases like, “Gag me with a spoon” and “That’s totally bogus!” were heard often. These days, we have new words and phrases to convey similar sentiments.

Today, I’d like to discuss a four word phrase that has fallen into disfavor. You just don’t hear it that much anymore.

It was my fault.

Personal accountability makes people feel vulnerable. And according to sociologist Brene’ Brown, vulnerability can be excruciating; people almost universally avoid it. In her popular TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability, she explains why: Vulnerability opens the door to shame— another unwanted emotion—so we look for a way to ease the discomfort. The shortest path is to blame others. Which, again, according to Brown, is a wrong way to deal with vulnerability.

Of course, the Bible is filled with stories of people who grappled with personal culpability. Some handled it well and some did not. I won’t repeat these at length, but here are two of my favorites.

Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit, and she blamed the serpent. But God held everyone accountable.—(Genesis 3) #wrongway

When King David was confronted, after he committed adultery and murder, he blamed only himself saying, “I have sinned.” –(2 Samuel 12:13) He admitted his accountability. #rightway

Back when I served as a worship pastor, I once convinced our church to sponsor a popular Christian recording artist in concert. I assured our parish council that ticket sales would cover the cost of bringing this person in. I was wrong. The concert lost $3000!

The first thing I did was start thinking of excuses. But as my wheels turned, the Holy Spirit burned something into my heart: “Say it was your fault.”

So I did. I stood before the church’s leaders and admitted that I blew it. However, to my surprise, they disagreed! “We voted to do this,” said an older deacon, “It’s on ALL of us.” And everyone agreed!?

I experienced God’s grace with skin on that night. All because, with His help I was able to say, “It was my fault.”

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 66:2

For a great story about a person who faced a vulnerable situation through God’s provision, please read this post by Musings and Roses.

Categories
Christian Blog vulnerability

Virtual Teacher Bootcamp

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With school about to start this fall–both in person and virtually–I recently attended our district’s Virtual Teacher Bootcamp.

Frankly, like many who arrive at anything called a ‘boot-camp,’ I wasn’t entirely prepared for the experience.

Day One: First thing out of gate, the drill instructor (technology teacher) handed each of us an iPad. “This is the interface your students will use for virtual lessons,” she said with a scowl. Ok, maybe she was smiling. “Starting RIGHT NOW, you are going to get COMFORTABLE with it.” I immediately envisioned using this particular Apple product as a rather awkward pillow.

Ten Minutes Later: “Now that you understand how to use your weapon (iPad),” said our jovial guide, “we will explore the software used for virtual lessons.”

Now that I understand!? I barely know how to wake the !@#$ thing up and find the appropriate app and we’re moving on!

By the way, !@#$ stands for silly.

A glance around the room turns up nothing but digital native millennials using their tablets with one hand and their phones with the other, chatting all the while about building their bitmoji classrooms. Suddenly, I feel like a tech dinosaur. Just take me back to the chalkboard and ditto machine days of my youth, I thought. This is too MUCH!

Uh oh, the drill instructor is headed in my direction. How do they sense weakness? I just knew I was about to be culled from the herd.

“You don’t have to stick your face in it, you know?”
“Excuse me?” I said. “I mean, excuse me, drill instructor, sir!”
“The fire hose, don’t try to drink from it,” she said with a wink.

My increasingly patient and benevolent teacher then asked a crucial question: “What’s just one thing you wish you understood better?” I admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that I was uncomfortable with using the G-Suite for Education (a cloud-based bank of Google productivity tools). “Well, you’re in luck,” she said. “Google has a Teacher Center with free online interactive training.”

That night, and every evening that week, I spent 30 minutes in my PJs watching how to videos with some sparkly-eyed teachers from Silicon Valley. By Friday, I felt like a pro.

Spiritual Application:

Money gained in the wrong way disappears. But money gathered little by little grows.

Proverbs 13:11

Substitute the word knowledge for money, and this scripture describes my experience. Lack of technological expertise limited my ability to succeed with the virtual teacher software. I compensated by trying (rather pridefully) to drink from the firehose. A better approach, as my teacher suggested, was to make up my deficiencies one by one–to step out of the stream.

The end of the matter is better than the beginning. So it’s better to be patient than proud.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Few of us like to admit we’re unable to do something–especially in a room full of techy teachers young enough to be your children! How embarrassing.

But when pride eventually gave way to patience, and I admitted my need for remedial help, I was I able to move forward. By the end of boot camp I was almost able to keep up with the young folks!

Lessons Learned:

You don’t have to stick your face in it. Start with what you know and then grow little by little.

It’s where you end up that counts, not where you begin. It’s better to be patient than proud.

You can do it. It just may take longer than you think.

We hope for what we don’t have yet. So we are patient as we wait for it.

Romans 8:25

Categories
Christian Blog devotional

Wet Paint

“27 February – 242/365” by Researching Media is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As a recent project, my wife and I decided to touch up some high traffic areas in our home with fresh paint. Each of us walked around one morning, with brush and paint can in hand, covering over blemishes high and low.

We finished the job as planned and were quite proud of our work. But there was a little problem: we didn’t mark where we painted. It’s hard to tell wet paint from dry of the same color, you know?

Well, I must have brushed against some fresh paint walking into the laundry room, because, next thing I know, my wife tells me I have a racing stripe across my backside! Later, our little terrier comes up to me sporting a white-tipped tail she didn’t have before. It actually looked quite fashionable on her.

I now know why signs that say Wet Paint, Biohazard, and Radioactive were invented.

Hey, someone needs to come up with a type of paint that goes on light pink and slowly turns white as it dries. I would buy some of that.

Anyway, after these two mishaps, we managed to avoid any further contact with wet paint, but the quote lover in me was intrigued. Searching for just the right words to describe our dilemma, I remembered these:

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”

Robert Burns

This actually comes from the poem, To a Mouse. Burns wrote it after plowing up a mouse’s nest in a field in November 1785. The rodent ran away unharmed, but the poet felt bad–knowing he destroyed its home just before the brutal Scottish winter.

But who knows what really happened to our little grey friend after the accident. Maybe it ran straight to Robert Burn’s house and moved in!


Being a child of God doesn’t make one immune to ‘mouse-haps.’ In fact, I’ve survived quite a few. I bet you have also.

Maybe that’s why my wife and I gave the poor mouse in Burn’s poem a happy ending. Like the Psalmist said, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more (Psalm 71:14).

Have you ever experienced a Romans 8:28 situation–something that seemed ALL bad right when it happened, but later turned out for the good?

Maybe our present circumstances are like wet paint–we need to let them dry before we brush up against them. This takes faith in God’s sovereignty, but sure beats getting paint on your backside!

Here are two of my favorite, let-the-paint-dry scriptures. Please share yours in the comments, if you like.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the work of your hands. –(Psalm 138:8)

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “you are my God.” My times are in Your hands.” — (Psalm 31:14-15a)


God’s Child
Things don’t always turn out the way we think they should.
Sometimes, we look to heaven and say, “God, it’s just no good.”
Until somewhere from the silence…comes a voice of love
Saying, “You’re My child, and that’s enough.”

When you’re God’s child it’s enough.
He is all you need when the going gets tough.
It doesn’t make much difference if the sailing’s smooth or rough.
You’re God’s child, and that’s enough.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” — (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Categories
Christian Blog

Turning on a Dime

My wife and I were out for a walk yesterday. It was a bright, early morning. Suddenly, my better half stopped, turned around and pointed down at something shining on the pavement.

A dime! I reached down to pick it up, but it wouldn’t budge; the hot sun, and perhaps a passing car, had fused it to the asphalt. No worries, most men of my generation carry just the tool for such a situation.

I took out my trusty pocket knife and pried the picture of our 32nd president from the pavement’s syrupy grasp. Check out a close up of the crater it left behind!

The face of FDR–that’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt–was relatively unscatched, but the flipside of the coin (the pavement down part) looked pretty icky.

Certainly not fit for a vending machine!

Again, no fear. Most self-respecting males, of legal age, have a secret solvent on the shelf. A few applications and a little elbow grease, and the dime was as good as new!


I’ve been friends with God since 1977. The journey began at the age of nine– when I received Christ as my Savior –but there have been many sticking points along the way. God has pried me from the pavement, cleaned off the ick, and put me back on the right path many times. As it turns out, he has a secret solvent too.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

It was during one of my polishing sessions, that the following thought came to me via the Holy Spirit:

Worship is repentance.

Worshipping God in Spirit and Truth means recognizing who He is, who we are and realizing the difference. Real worship is a clean heart recommitted to Christ.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

By His grace I have turned on a dime many times.

What’s your story?

Categories
Christian Blog forgiveness

Must Repentance Happen All at Once?

My blogging buddy Jeffrey has a daily series where he shares a scripture passage and then provides some brief thoughts. The topic this July 4th was, “Let it go,”– based on Colossians 3:13–and it was all about forgiving the faults of others because, after all, Jesus does the same for us.

Jeffrey is quite the wordsmith when it comes to encapsulating truth. And somehow, this pithy statement (below) jarred my memory about a rush to judgement involving someone who later became famous.

We’re all in the ditch. Who’s got the right to say I’m muddier than they are?

Jeffrey H. King, in Quote for 07/04/2020

I recently learned an interesting fact about country music legend Willie Nelson. In the 1950’s he taught Sunday School at a Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas! However, his pastor gave him an ultimatum–either stop playing music in beer joints, or stop teaching Sunday School.

Nelson, who told Rolling Stone magazine in 1978 that he once considered being a preacher, left the church (and organized Christianity) for good. Understandably, he was disappointed by a policy that arbitrarily condemned people like him. According to a 1997 interview in Texas Monthly, “Willie’s God was always willing to give a guy another chance.”

*Maybe it’s just me, but that pastor sounds a bit legalistic.

No, playing music in bars and teaching Sunday School don’t exactly go together, but was it REALLY necessary to give Willie such an ultimatum?

“Don’t conclude before you understand. After you understand, don’t judge.”

Ann Dunham

Instead of firing Willie, his pastor could have suggested starting a Saturday night concert series at the church, where Nelson and his music buddies played alcohol free shows featuring gospel and G-rated country music. Monetary donations for the musicians could have come from church members and the community. Who knows, maybe the “Red-headed Stranger” would have said yes?

That church missed a unique opportunity to reach people with the gospel.

This brings up the idea of repentance. It means the same thing between everyone and God–a turning around–but it doesn’t always happen the same way. Some have an all-at-once-life-changing testimony, but others do not.

Please observe the following crudely drawn illustrations:

My good friend, and brother in Christ, came up with a saying that’s a great example of the picture on the right:

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.”

Tom Myers

Just in case you’re wondering, the idea that people can repent in stages, and not just all at once, is in the Bible.

2 Kings chapter 5:1-19 tells the story of Naaman, a brave Syrian army commander. He was a successful soldier, and the king’s right hand man, but Naaman had an incurable skin disease called leprosy. Through a captured Israelite girl, he is encouraged to seek healing from the prophet Elisha.

The General is healed of his leprosy, and pledges—going forward—to worship only the God of Israel. However, he asks for forgiveness, when, back home with the King of Syria, he visits the temple of the pagan god Rimmon and customarily bows to the idol.

Elisha’s response? “Go in peace.”

So, there it is. One of the greatest prophets of Israel’s history didn’t condemn a man for wrongly bowing to an idol; he knew Naamon would keep turning left until he was right.

Something tells me, had they lived at the same time and place, Willie and Naamon would have been good friends.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Jesus –Luke 6:37

*Perhaps it’s hypocritical of me to judge Willie’s pastor. Like my buddy Jeffrey H. King says, let it go.

Categories
Christian Blog Giving

The Blessing Box

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.

John 1:16

In my little hometown, there’s a Blessing Box. It’s an old soda cooler repurposed by a kind family and filled with non-perishable food. People take what they need and leave what they can. The box has only been active for a few months, but it looks like items are both coming and going.

Whoever came up with this idea is an angel! A barrier to giving and receiving has been broken down, because those using the box can remain relatively anonymous–its, quite simply, take it and/or leave it.

A friend from South Korea once remarked that people in the West find it easier to show kindness than to receive it. Do you agree?

Frankly, I see her point, it’s harder for me to receive than to give. However, the early Christians in the book of Acts were comfortable with both.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone who had need.

Act 2:44-45

The passage above doesn’t mention in detail how the receivers responded to the gifts, but it appears both give AND take were welcomed.

Interdependent generosity still exists among Christians today.

My brother and sister-in-law live on eleven acres at the edge of a local city. Full Quiver Farms (they have seven children) is always abuzz with back and forth blessings.

The Boy Scouts need a place to store a massive trailer filled with canoes? Not a problem. “Park it in the back,” says my older brother. A friend’s mom was flooded out by a hurricane for the second time? “She can stay with us as long as she likes,” says my sister-in-law.

But the gate also swings the other way. When my brother’s family needs something (maybe a pickup truck and trailer) they reach out to their ‘blessing buddies’ and borrow it. Back and forth it goes, and it’s been happening for years!

Christians can be Blessing Boxes with skin on!



Take what you need. Leave what you can. But, above all, be blessed.

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/07/11/the-blessing-box/