Categories
Christian Living Discipleship

Drawn to the Light

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

One night this summer, I accidentally left the garage door up with the lights turned on. It was three hours later before I discovered my oversight. As I opened the door that leads into the garage from the laundry room, I was greeted with a surreal sight: dozens of moths! They were on the walls, hanging from the ceiling and covering both vehicles like polka dots.

They all looked similar to this one.

I decided the best thing to do was to simply turn off the lights and shut all the doors. The moths will go nowhere in the dark, I thought: “I’ll deal with it in the morning.”

But early the next day when I opened the door, there were just a few little brown insects to be seen. Only when I walked to the other side of the garage did I discover what happened overnight.

Most of the moths had landed on the floor—fanning out from a night light. It was the only source of luminescence in the room, shining only 0.4 watts, yet most of them found their way too it!


This begs the question, just how much of God’s light does a person need?

King David wrote of God’s Word being a lamp for his feet and a light for his path (Psalm 119:105). This doesn’t sound like the airport runway lights I’d prefer, but it must be enough to find The Way, or David wouldn’t have said it.

Jesus Himself spoke about how just a little bit of the right stuff is a big deal in the kingdom of God. Remember the parable He told about having faith like a mustard seed (Mark 4:30)?

As an amatuer bread baker, it still amazes me just how little yeast is needed for a whole batch of dough! “Surely, one packet isn’t enough,” I tell my wife every time. But the balls of dough keep rising until they triple in size! Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to such an experience (Matthew 13:33).

As a child of God, out on life’s ocean, it’s often hard to find my bearings. And when I can’t see but a few feet in front of me, it’s tempting to pray for lighthouses, fog horns and flares–something BIG to show me The Way. However, like He did with Elijah, God often speaks in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13).

I suppose the moral of the moths is to tune in to the light of God we have, no matter how small. Flood light faith isn’t always needed.

God’s best to you in your journey.

Categories
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.

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 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 forgiveness Hope

There’s Something ALL Over the Floor!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

The other day I was hungry, so I went into the kitchen and made a sandwich. I also poured myself a tall, cold glass of lemonade. But the pitcher was pretty full and a tiny amount sloshed out on the floor. So I got a paper towel and wiped it up. Mission accomplished. I thought.

My wife comes into the kitchen while I’m eating, and as she passes the fridge she freezes in her tracks, looks down and says, “There’s something ALL over the floor!” I say, “Where?! I cleaned it up!” “Can’t you see it? Right there,” she says, pointing at an invisible spot in front of the Frigidaire. I’m crouching down like a golfer reading a line for a putt, but I don’t see it. “It’s sticky,” she says. “Did you spill some lemonade?”

BUSTED.

Isn’t this how we are with God sometimes?

God: “There’s something ALL over your life.”
Me: “Where?! I cleaned it up!”
God: “Can’t you see it? Right there.” (He points to my heart.)

Question: What’s a passing grade with God? My son asked me that once. I hated to break it to him, but I told him it’s a 100 A+. He looked at me with huge eyes. Even at nine years old, he knew getting a 100 all the time is next to impossible.

There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:11 NIV)

There is good news, as you probably know. God may not grade on the curve, but He DOES show mercy.

If you , O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that we can be reunited with you through the blood of Christ. Without Him, we could never make the grade. AMEN

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/06/20/theres-something-all-over-the-floor/

Categories
Christian Blog honesty

Just a Little Off Course

Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash

I read a story recently about a plane that crashed into a mountain because the pilot, while on approach to an airport, unknowingly followed the wrong navigational beacon. The cockpit instruments told him his true position, but he kept flying off course for over a minute–until it was too late. Post crash analysis confirmed: the pilot had not noticed a one-degree-per-second turn to the right. The autopilot was dialed to the wrong navigational aid.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14:12

The story above brings to mind the error of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the New Testament. They took God’s law and added their own rules to it. And just like the story of the pilot, following the wrong navigational beacon led to disaster.

For a fresh look at how this is still happening today, please read, Christian-Social identity or Spiritual reality? by Perth Girl.

Now, to my own story of getting off course from Christ. For most of my adult life I’ve struggled with social anxiety; last year, after suffering two panic attacks in as many weeks, I sought relief through mindfulness meditation.

Sitting quietly, one chooses a focal point–like the breath–and keeps coming back to it when distracted. The idea is to let your thoughts (good or bad) float by like clouds while you observe with curiosity. The result is like pushing a pause button on life, and it really helped with my anxiety.

I downloaded a couple of meditation apps, read some great books by mindfulness experts, and participated in live-streamed offerings. But the more I delved into mindfulness, which is rooted in Buddhism, the more I realized the navigational beacon of my teachers was Buddha, not Jesus Christ.

It dawned on me, I was taking a one-degree-per-second turn away from the Living God, inadvertently setting my auto pilot on the wrong flight path. Thankfully, I listened to the Holy Spirit and got back on course with Christ.

Jesus answered, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

I still meditate occasionally, but now I keep in mind where the true airport is!

Photo by Patricia McCarty on Pexels.com

For a different look at this same subject, please see my post, What Time is It?

Categories
Hope

An Alternate Past

Photo by Ashutosh Sonwani on Pexels.com

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

Last night, I had an intense dream. I was riding with my brother in his 2000 GMC Yukon, as he confronted me about my alcohol abuse. I listened, but then pointed to my recently imploded career and crumbling marriage as a hopeless situation that drove me to drink. My brother wasn’t buying it, as he brought up a mutual mentor of ours who’d always believed in us both. I feigned agreement, but simply wanted out of that SUV–somewhere where I could be alone with my addiction.

Clearly, this was a flashback to an alternate past; my brother sold that Yukon years ago! My ministry and marriage did indeed fall apart (in 2000), but I’ve never struggled with alcohol abuse, though it IS a family weakness.

Friend, I believe God rewound my life last night and showed me what COULD have been– had I not trusted His grace and followed His steps at a pivotal time.

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Psalm 37:24

I don’t know about you, but I tend to fixate on questions about my NEXT step, not the steps I’ve already taken. But in reality, they’re both on the same path, one that God has planned from start to finish (Ephesians 2:10).

Today, and always, may you and I trust God enough to stick to the main roads of His providence. AMEN

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/11/an-alternate-past/

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort

Teddy Bear Out The Window

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

My wife and I were driving to church this morning, and there he was: a little brown teddy bear lying face down on the shoulder of the interstate. Both of us agreed there must be a story behind this seemingly lost friend, one that involves a heartbroken little person.

Isn’t it interesting how we develop emotional attachments to objects like stuffed animals? Somehow, they generate security and help us self-soothe.

Until I was about 4 years old, my “teddy bear” was a small crocheted blanket the family aptly named, “Nasty.” I’m told (I don’t remember any of this), I refused to let go of Nasty long enough for him to be washed. And when my mother occasionally did coax my little comforter from my grasp—for a much needed bath–I stood in the utility room and cried the WHOLE time.

I still have Nasty. He is safe in a trunk with several other family heirlooms. Yet other adult appropriate security blankets have taken his place. A special co-worker, a much loved family member or mentor, or even a favorite chair, I’m sure you can relate.

Psalm 34:18 says that God is CLOSE to the broken hearted; He doesn’t keep driving when our teddy bears go out the window. He also helps those who are crushed in spirit; He sent an angel to comfort Jesus when he collapsed at the cusp of His own crucifixion (Luke 22:40-46).

And He will comfort you and me. Guaranteed.

Check out the very next verse of Psalm 34!

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

Psalm 34:19a

Hold on Teddy, Daddy’s coming…

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/09/teddy-bear-out-the-window/

Categories
acceptance forgiveness grace Hope Justice

That’s Not Fair!

slippery foot dangerous fall
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging.” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:17-19 The Message

It’s a privilege to spend most of my days teaching four and five-year olds. The miraculous mix of wonder, authenticity, and innocence found in young children is indeed a balm for the soul.

What a pre-kindergartener feels is right on the surface-there is no mask. Such an, “always keeping it REAL” approach to life is inspiring.

Take, for instance, my most recent encounter with a pint-sized Italian girl who speaks almost no English. Twice during class she abruptly stood up, put her little hands on her hips, and bellowed,”Non e giusto!” in her native tongue. A quick check with Google Translate solved the mystery. She was saying, “That’s not fair!”

Of course, it was something relatively insignificant–to an adult. Someone took her place in line; she didn’t get a turn. “Calma per favore,” I said in a pleasant voice–“Calm down, please.”

The next morning, I read the scripture above during my devotional time. Then God whispered, “You know, David, you act like a preschooler sometimes; you let people push your, “That’s not fair!’ button.” I have to admit, He’s right.

I often judge myself by my intentions but judge others by their actions. I take offense and contemplate vengeance without knowing all the facts. I presume to be wiser than God.

#bad recipe

According to Jesus, our response to an offense should be forgiveness (Luke 6:37). We are to desire justice, (Micah 6:8) not revenge.

“Calma per favore,” says the Almighty. “I’ll take care of it.”