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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

No Mere Blue Sky

Seattle is not a city.  It’s a state.  A state of mind.  As Perry Como sang in his 1969 hit,
 
The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.
And the hills the greenest green in Seattle.
Like a beautiful child growing up free and wild
Full of hopes and full of fears
Full of laughter, full of tears
Full of dreams to last the years
In Seattle.
 
Another city sounds too good to be true.  It will appear at the end of time as we know it.  It was first “seen” in the mind of Jesus Christ’s close friend, John.  Called “the holy city,” “the city of God” and “the new Jerusalem,” it will descend from above and become heaven on a “new” earth, since today’s earth will have been completely demolished and recreated.
 
This miraculous metropolis will be cube-shaped, 1,400 miles on a side.  With 12-foot ceilings, it would be 600,000 stories tall, stretching from Canada to Mexico and from California to the Appalachians.  Spacious enough for billions – with a b – of residents.
 
This city is not a state of mind.  It will be a sin- and illness-free reality.  What will qualify you to legally reside in this holy city that’s full of hopes, laughter and dreams to last an eternity?
 
Posted August 14, 2018

Weather vain

Summer in Seattle tempts us locals to insist that the Emerald City is the most beautiful place on earth.  Property with waterfront or a view command top dollar.  Our temperate climate shields us from blistering heat.  July and August skies roll back the clouds, revealing snowcapped sentinels guarding both flanks of dazzling Puget Sound.
 
Whether it’s sports teams, business icons, educational and medical facilities or appealing weather, we’re prone to preen with hometown hubris.  Perhaps this gives us cover to minimize our rainfall and vulnerability to earthquakes, tsunamis and North Korean missiles. 
 
So what do we do with our bent to be bragodocious?
 
Speaking through His Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Wise men should not boast of their wisdom, nor strong men of their strength, nor rich men of their wealth.  If anyone wants to boast, he should boast that he knows and understands Me because My love is constant, and I do what is just and right.”
 
Centuries later God’s messenger, Paul, wrote, “Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.”
 
What or whom do you brag about?
 
Posted July 31, 2018

Going Under

Feeling “under the weather?”  His mortgage is “under water.”  It’s hard to buy a home in Seattle for “under half a million.”
 
Undernourished.  Underappreciated.  Underfunded.  It seems as if under is not where you want to be.  It connotes inadequacy, less than desirable.
 
But consider this star-spangled exception, written in 1887 by Rear Admiral George Balch.  Revised five years later by Francis Bellamy, this gleaming assertion of love and loyalty was adopted by Congress in 1942.  Want to say it with me?
 
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
 
Woops, we overlooked one “under.”   In 1954 one magnificent phrase was added:
 
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
 
Only those under His banner, under His pledge of protection will experience God’s gift of everlasting liberty and justice.  Are we, as a nation, under God?  Are you?

Posted July 15, 2018

Our Father

How close are/were you to your father?  How does he shape your self-image and choices? Did he gravitate to or away from you?  Was he a tyrant, a benevolent dictator or your cheerleader?

Madonna hopes her “Papa Don’t Preach.”  Eric Clapton never saw “My Father’s Eyes.”  The Boss recalls “My Father’s Home.”  John Mayer urges dads to “be good to your ‘Daughters.’”  Luther Vandross aches to “Dance with my Father” again.  Beyonce adores “Daddy,” “the man in my life who can’t be replaced.”  He was rarely around and never said he loved her, but Reba McEntyre honors “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew.”  Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle” describes my own Dad’s good intentions to “get together then.”

The “prodigal son” depicts God’s ideal father as generous, patient and unconditionally loving.  Indeed, God loves us so much that He sent His only Son from heaven to die for your sins and mine so that we could live with God both here and in heaven.
 
Have you invited God the Father to permanently adopt you as His son?
 
Posted July 1, 2018

Freedom

From the warm, swaying surf of Kealakekua
To the mountainous big skies ‘round Missoula
From the boulders that guard the shores of Maine
To the bluebell explosion on the hot Texas plain
There’s much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
 
In a nation that opens its arms to the world
We lie vulnerable to cultural confusion.
Such conflicting beliefs, can we hope for relief,
Or is “one nation under God” an illusion?
Yet, so much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
 
When our Anthem is played and our flag passes by,
Do we rise as one big family to attention?
Does blood spilled for freedom bring a tear to our eyes,
Or has respect been replaced by dissension?
Still, much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
 
My country, ‘tis of Thee, sweet land of liberty
May we always be free, under God, don’t you see?
 
Posted June 12, 2018

Coping?

T.S. Eliot ponders, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

This time of year life’s moments can tailgate, collide and stack up like the freeway at rush hour.  We’re celebrating graduations, engagements and weddings.  First-time parents are announcing the gender of their pre-born “womb mates.” And, oh yes, some of us are finally aging.
 
Life contains both highs and lows.  It’s a package deal – you can’t have one without the other. By the way, how are you coping?
 
Paul can relate. He experienced both extreme suffering (to the point of being beheaded by Caesar) as well as extreme success. His secret sauce:  “I can face anything because Jesus Christ is my strength.”
 
Like I said, how are you coping?
 
Posted May 28, 2018

What's the Use?

Why are you living at this time in history, on this spot on our planet?  There must be a good reason since design and purpose are embedded in every element of our universe.  Jupiter’s gravity shields us from careening asteroids.  Our precise distance from the sun keeps our water from vaporizing or freezing, making life possible.
 
Now back to you.  What can you do to make your small corner of the world better off than how you found it?  If that’s too daunting, let’s dial it back a bit, shall we?
 
St. Paul says God chose to be your Friend because His Son Jesus took your place and mine on the cross as payment for our sins. 
 
So, why are you alive at this time and in this place?  Try this on for size.  God has carefully placed you right where you are and is pulling for you to accept His love by wrapping your arms of faith around Him.  And He has positioned you to invite someone else to do the same.
 
Could this be God’s design for your highest and best use?
 
Posted May 15, 2018

Syruptitious

Just like melting butter slithers across the crest of a steaming stack at IHOP, our days run together, unnoticed, then disappear. In a flash another week has slipped away. And birthdays, oh my, they rush up to you quicker now than an Edwin Diaz fastball.
 
When we were kids, time moved like a snail. There must have been at least forty-eight hours in a day! We couldn’t wait to be bigger, older and independent. Well, now we have all three, perhaps too much of each.  
 
So, is your life today what you wanted it to be?
 
Centuries ago Moses wrote, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” Considering how things are stacking up for you these days, in what area could you use a second helping of wisdom?

Posted April 30, 2018
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