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    Graze Anatomy

    Gray clouds press in on my window.  Their soggy fingerprints blur the Olympic Mountains which, for now, are hiding across the murky Puget Sound.  I’m enveloped in grayness.  It prompts a question: 
    What lacks taste, color and shape but is the most prevalent molecule in existence?
     
    If you answered, “Water,” good on you.  The Carpenter from Nazareth transformed water into fine wine.  And He told the woman at the well, “Those who drink this water will thirst again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again.  The water I give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”
     
    Jesus’ friend, John, was given a larger-than-Imax vision of the New Heaven and the New Earth in which he sees the Lord say, “To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it.. … I will be their God, and they will be My children.”
     
     Here’s a question from the Good Shepherd who longs to lead you by still waters:
     
    “Thirsty?”
     
    “… Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in Me should drink …”  John 7:37-38
     
    Posted January 14, 2019

    Fruit of the Moment Club

    In this festive season as you wrap and unwrap those colorful expressions of affection, here’s a thought.  Why not unwrap a broken relationship and re-wrap it in healing words of LOVE?  Someone you know is struggling with loss or fear.  Here’s a roll of JOY to place around their drooping shoulders.  One of your friends is overcome with stress, longing to be enfolded in a shawl of PEACE.
     
    This trio of LOVE, JOY and PEACE is packaged with PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL.  You may recognize these as “the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”  Harry & David ship their nutritious delights monthly, but these flavors of the very nature of God are instantly accessible for you to give to family, friends, co-workers and strangers whom you encounter daily.
     
    Could you picture yourself operating a fruit stand, freely handing out an endless array of fresh reminders of the gift of God’s love and forgiveness?
     

    “Every good gift and every perfect present comes from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change...”  James 1:17

    Posted January 1, 2019

    Count On It

    In 1972 we were singing along with Bill Withers …
    “You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand.
    We all need somebody to lean on.”
     
    Are you banking on wealth, health, yourself or others?  Eventually all will disappoint, except One …
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
    Never rely on what you think you know.
    Remember the Lord in everything you do,
    and He will show you the right way. 
    Never think that you are wiser than you are;
    simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong …
     If you do, it will be like good medicine,
    healing your wounds and easing your pains.
     
    Are you sure of where you’ve placed your trust?
     
    “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”  Philippians 1:6

    Posted December 16, 2018

    The Family Table

    It was the fall of ’79.  Those fabled, Stargellian Pirates sailed past Montreal, Cincinnati and Baltimore to capture their fifth World Series crown.  Remember the Bucs’ signature song?  #1 on the R&B charts, it was Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” appealing to “my brothers, my sisters and me” to “get up, everybody, and sing.”
     
    Getting the whole gang together has become nearly impossible.  The family table has skidded from “endangered species” to “extinct.”  It struggles to resurface on certain holidays, but political correctness has laid so many verbal land mines which can clear-cut whole forests of family trees.
     
    What about saying grace?  Whatever happened to “the family that prays together?”  Will mentioning “our Father” offend or step on someone’s “rights?”
     
    When Jesus summarized His Father’s message to us in a single sentence, did He intend for our relatives to be among those “neighbors” whom we’re to love?  That stripe of love is patient, kind, humble, generous, content, non-judgmental.  You know, all the things that you and I by nature are not.  But Jesus is.
     
    Next time you take a seat at your family table, will you recall how much God loves you, then tell your face to reflect that love when you say, “Please pass the gravy?”
     
     
    “I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains – but if I have no love, I am nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:2-3
     
    Posted November 30, 2018

    What's The Good Word

    In It may be too early in the day to try to spell, or even pronounce, this gangly word:
     
    Onomatopoeia.  Does this help:  “on-o-ma-toe-p-uh?”
     
    Its roots are Greek, meaning “word making.”  This seldom spoken but often used figure of speech imitates the sound of what it’s describing.  Mumble through this list and see what I mean:  Bang, coo, oink, meow, roar, chirp, soothe, crash, pop, baa, boom, beep, bow-wow, choo-choo, fizz, hiccup, moo, screech, splash, toot and zap.
     
    This linguistic tool can add a splash of color or a soothing sound to your word making.  The Old Testament proverb reads, “Like golden apples in silver settings, so is a word spoken at the right time.” 
     
    Our discourse can be coarse or caring, harsh or helpful.  Will you join me in this whisss-purrred prayer today? 
     
    “Let the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Helper and my Savior.”  Psalm 19:14
    Psalm 1:1-3
     
    Posted November 17, 2018

    Up A Tree

    In 1914 one of poetry’s most beloved achievements was published. It begins….
     
    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    It was penned by Joyce Kilmer who, as an Army intelligence officer in Europe, was slain by a sniper in 1918. His love of the Creator’s handiwork lingers a century later.
     
    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    Civilization is framed by two trees. Eve and Adam disobeyed God’s warning to avoid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their sin, inherited by us, prompted God to dramatically demonstrate His love for you and me on a wooden cross. If Kilmer’s gift for bringing trees to life could give voice to these trees, what would they reveal?
     
    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

    As we marvel at these magnificent, ever-changing, forested festivals, may we dedicate some of their oxygen to give thanks to the brilliant Mind Who invented trees.
     
    Will you consider turning over a new leaf today to thank God for the tree that makes it possible for you to live in the protective shade of His love forever?
     
    “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3

    Posted November 2, 2018

    Believe You Me

    What do Johnny Carson and Pontius Pilate have in common?  (Hint:  It’s not Nebraska.)  Carson gained fame hosting “Who Do You Trust.” Pilate secured his place in history by asking Jesus, “What is truth?”
     
    Precious, lifelong relationships are taking sides on various issues, risking collapse.  Is resolution possible?  The psalmist wrote, “There is nothing a good person can do when everything falls apart.  The Lord … watches people everywhere and knows what they are doing.”
     
    Is ours an honest quest for truth?  Jesus declares, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  Not “What is truth” -- the real question is “Who is Truth?”
     
    What’s your answer?
     
    “You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”  John 8:32
     
    Posted October 15, 2018

    What's A Body To Believe?

    It’s getting dicey to distinguish between what's real and what isn’t. Why even “artificial intelligence” is no longer an oxymoron!
     
    Some folks claim they’ve been to heaven and back. But has anybody ever been to hell and back?  Yuma, yes, but hell, no.
     
    Are angels and demons really duking it out in the skies all around us?  C’mon, Jonah actually survived a cruise in a whale’s belly?  Spleen that!  And are we to believe that the sea cleared a dry path for millions of refugees to flee Egypt?  Then there’s the “miracle” of feeding thousands out of one kid’s happy meal. Oh, and the biggest stretch of all – God is born in a baby’s body, thanks to divine intervention, is crucified, escapes the tomb and goes back to heaven, promising to return and take His followers to be forever with Him.
     
    Preposterous?  Sure, if you use human logic to explain the supernatural. Could it be that what we lack to close this gap is FAITH? The kind of faith which comes only as a gift, not a reward. Have you unwrapped your gift of faith?

    “For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.”  Ephesians 2:8
     
    Posted September 30, 2018

    Seriously?

    It happens twice a year.  The day after New Year’s Day.  And the day after Labor Day.
     
    Our self-talk goes like this:  “No more pizza and frozen yogurt for you, Slim.  No TV binges.  It’s time to get serious.”  Back to work, back to school, back to the steady drumbeat of the rhythms of real life, aka normal.
     
    But is normal high on your list of pleasurable pursuits?  Are you relieved when you return to those, old familiar ruts?  Or do you grit your teeth and “Just Do It?”
     
    With your trust firmly secured to the Rock, Christ Jesus, those well-worn ruts of routine can become well-lit paths of peace.  At this point in your life is this your experience?  Seriously?
     
    “Listen to Me, My child.  Take seriously what I am telling you, and you will live a long life.  I have taught you wisdom and the right way to live.  Nothing will stand in your way if you walk wisely, and you will not stumble when you run.”   Proverbs 4:10-12
     
    Posted September 10, 2018

    Labor of Love

    When you start seeing TV commercials about Christmas, you know it’s almost Labor Day.
     
    Whose idea was it to salute the nation’s workforce by giving them a day off?  Some say he was a carpenter; others, a machinist.  Both must have been sad to see summer end and wanted one more backyard barbecue before tossing a tarp on the lawnmower and taking the snow blower in for a tune up.
     
    Our earliest ancestors looked to the moon to mark the change of seasons, just as our Creator intended.  All that transpires beneath that moon is fully known, caused or allowed by the One who also hung each star in place and gave it a name.
     
    He knows your name as well.  His genuine love for you sent His Son to take your place on that old, rugged cross.  There the Carpenter from Nazareth did the heavy lifting for us, the labor that paid for our sins. 
     
    Isn’t that worth celebrating every day, with or without a barbecue?
     
    Posted August 27, 2018
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