Category Archives: Wisdom For Living

Billboard Theology

Traveling again.

A favorite thing, cleanses the emotional & spiritual palette plus provides connection with family, friends, and animals across the country.

Saw a billboard I’ve read many times before. Shook my head again at its incomplete message.

Wondered about how some do church the same way.

Billboard asks “Does advertising work?”, then claims “Just did!”

As if reading a message really means it ‘worked’.

Traveling hundreds of thousands of road miles over the years means my mind has taken in thousands of messages.

Yet, can only remember one that sparked a response, a visit to the place being advertised. Effectiveness percentage is somewhere in the 0.0001 range.

Truthfully, not very successful.

 

Yet….how many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people can recite John 3:16? Tell the Christmas Story? Recant the message of Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

Now, compare that to how many have a true, life-giving relationship with the Author of the stories. How many lives truly mirror the Rabbi, of Whom they claim to be a disciple?

Dare to dig deeper.

How much of our ‘church experience’ is geared toward remembering catchy phrases, song lyrics, saying “I was there!” for a certain event….

….compared to honestly evaluating our 24/7 lives by the measuring stick of the life of Jesus?

If true religion is to ‘care for the widows and orphans in their need, and keep oneself unspotted from the world’, how much of our religion is true?

If what He requires of us is to ‘act justly, love mercy, walk humbly….’, how many of us are doing what He requires?

If they will know we belong to Jesus because of our love,  if His high priestly prayer was for us to be “one”, as He and His Father (and ours) are one, is the world really seeing something that works?

Or are we feeding them cheap billboard theology, that can ‘parrot’ the principles, yet refuses to live lives that are changed by the Word?

Does advertising work? Sometimes.

Not nearly as much as truly being transformed by the power of Emmanuel, God with us, living lives that truly mirror the One we say is our Lord.

He IS Lord, whether we serve Him or not.

How we live reveals if He truly is Lord of our lives, or if we are parrots spouting billboard theology that simply clutters the landscape of life.

 

 

 

 

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Useless Diagnosis

 

Imagine a medical team.

Asking questions, running tests.

Using the best information and technology to determine the root cause of an illness.

An answer is given, clarifying the sickness.

 

Then, the medical team walks away.

No action plan, no remedy, no healing.

 

While diagnosis of the core issue is critical, diagnosis without action is useless.

 

Now imagine your own prayers.

 

Seeking to understand, pleading for answers.

And the Father, through His Word, His Spirit, His people provides a diagnosis.

 

“Grappling with anger and bitterness? Choose to forgive.”

“Struggling financially? Tithe, and make wise financial choices.”

“Feeling far from God? Choose to spend time in the Word daily, and pray often.”

“Seeking purpose? Share the Gospel. Feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless. Visit the prisoners”

“Identify sin in your actions? Repent. For real, repent and turn from those actions.”

Diagnosis without action is useless.

In fact, it can become more dangerous if we ignore what we’ve been shown.

 

Seek deep enough to discover the heart of the issue.

Stop long enough to begin the healing process.

Step forward different, forgiven, healed.


If You Could See

 

If you could see

Behind the scenes

Into the private corners of a life fully committed

To a Holy calling in an unholy world,

 

If you could listen in the silence of solitude

Beyond the noise of propaganda

Past the clamor of popular opinion

Deeper than the shifting sands of emotion,

 

 

You’d hear cries of agony

Offered long after dark.

 

You’d see tears of grief

Falling in silence.

 

 

 

You would see the weight of the burden, the magnitude of the mission.

Souls, lives, with eternity in the balance.

 

 

On your ears would fall offensive taunts, piercing accusations, hollow temptations

From an enemy who, although defeated, refuses to be silent.

 

 

You would see the Lover of our soul, the crucified and risen Savior, step in.

Piece by shattered piece, He picks up all of the brokenness….His own hands bleeding from the process.

With love He reclaims, restores, redeems.

 

You would hear His gentle whispers of love and affirmation. Claiming this life for His own purpose. For His glory. To reach His children.

 

Deep in the heart you would see a solid, immovable foundation that is beyond anything this world can offer. Immovable. Unshakeable. Determined. Relentless.

 

Held together by His Word and His Spirit.

 

 

If you could really see behind the scenes

You would not see the messenger

 

You would see the Master, His masterpiece, His message.

 


The Most Important Trip

Vacations, business trips, adventures.

Process of getting there, from here, are common:

Determine the destination.

Set the GPS.

Follow the turn-by-turn instructions.

Arrive safely at your destination.

There is one final trip we will all make.

We will start from wherever we are now, temporarily, into where we will reside forever.

This isn’t an optional trip, not one we can ‘opt out’ of.

We will all, eventually, embark on it.

With no exception, we will all make this final step in our journey.

Some of us will have no advance notice, no time to get ready.

Yet, we will go.

Are you ready for the final stage of your journey?

Determine the destination.

Set the gps.

Follow the turn-by-turn instructions.

Arrive safely Home

My job isn’t to convince, it’s simply to inform.

It’s up to you to accept, or reject, the information given.

My encouragement is to consider that you have the choice where ‘home’ will be after that final step.  While you cannot choose ‘if’ you will go, you can choose ‘where’.

I believe the message of the gospel, the message of the Cross, is true.

I believe God creates, redeems, restores, and receives all who have chosen to accept that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

I believe there is one Name under heaven given to us by which we can be saved.

I believe we have a choice to make, and that choice determines our eternal address.

I believe God loves us enough to respect our eternal choice.

While we had no choice where, and when, we would be born into this life, we have complete freedom to choose where we will exist for the next, more important life.

Determine the destination –  Heaven for eternity.

Set the GPS of your life to follow Jesus’ claim that He is the way, the truth, the life.

Choose to accept that He is, indeed, Lord of all  –  including you.

Follow the turn-by-turn instructions in His Word.

Arrive safely Home.


When Holiness Invades

Persistent heartache.

Perpetual “un-answer” to prayer.

Daily shame, constant reminder of falling short.

Heaven seems silent, distant, unreachable.

Yet you persevere, somehow.

For some reason planted deep within your soul, you continue with the routine.

Serve. Give. Pray.

Pray some more.

Give some more.

Cry a lot.

Then, in the middle of the mundane, the routine, Heaven shows up.

As Gabriel to Zechariah, the Father sends a message to you.

Gabriel’s first words: Don’t be afraid.

Then: Your prayer has been heard.

When holiness shows up, a holy fear is expected.

While our routines may seem mundane, ordinary, His message never is.

Don’t fear. Just, don’t be casual when the answer arrives.

The answer.

To your prayers.

Prayers offered faithfully, consistently.

Sometimes painfully, with tear-filled eyes and weeping words.

Yet, still offered.

While the Father is well able to intervene in situations we have not yet prayed about, His most consistent work is in direct answer to what we have persistently prayed.

His blessings most freely flow to those who consistently spend time praying, listening, learning.

Don’t give up that prayer.

Don’t neglect that consistent routine of kneeling, serving in His presence.

You just might be a prayer away from seeing Holiness to invade your space.

And when Holiness invades, everything changes.


Barking At Shadows

Early morning walk, darkness still ruling the neighborhood.

Podcast playing in my ear, doggie by my side.

Best time of the day.

Then, the busy street. Cars headed for work on the early shift.

Lights are bright, avoidable by looking away.

Turn up the volume of the sermon, hold the leash tightly.

And then, the shadows.

Dancing across the walking path, moving eerily across buildings.

Flashing around us in unpredictable patterns as the light of the cars from both directions battles to created confusion on the concrete.

And the doggie barks.

Skittish, jumping, not aware that her movements  –  while focusing on the shadows  –  might actually cause her to run into something dangerous.

Be at peace, little friend, the shadows cannot hurt you.

They can confuse, distract, distort.

But they cannot touch you nor slow down your progress.

Funny thing about shadows: they are fully dependent on Light for their very existence.

If we stop watching them, stop barking at them, we can focus on the source of the light to determine our best direction.

If we get distracted by the shadows, we might inadvertently rush off into something that truly could hurt us.

The doggie and I focus on the light. It will lead us home.

It will leave the shadows dancing, flailing, falling into the darkness.

We will walk forward untouched, undeterred, unhindered by their presence.

Stop barking at shadows today.

Simply trust, and walk in the Light of His Word.

It, and He, will lead you Home.


When The End Is Not The End

Nothing in this physical life is now, or ever will be, the end of me.

Nothing you say or do can touch, influence, or detract in any way how my journey will end.

Knowing that allows me to walk through every single day, every rock-laden valley, every sin-infested mess, every gut-wrenching heartache as if it is simply a temporary stop on a much bigger journey. It allows me to view any attack on this physical body as a last-gasp attempt by the enemy of us all to take my focus off the perfect, eternal, heavenly body I will receive when I see the Lover of my soul face to face. Some of those physical attacks may actually serve to usher me into His presence sooner.

I will focus my eyes on Him.

He’s the One Who taught me to live this way.

On the Cross. Mangled from flogging, bruised from beatings, gasping for breath.

Mocking, taunting, evil men  –  many pretending to know God  –  add insult to injury.

Surely now, at the end of physical life, He will rise up to destroy them and reveal Who He really is, where His power truly comes from.

Except, He knew what they only pretended to understand: the end of physical life is not the end.

It is only a doorway to the life that matters most, lasts the longest, and makes the greatest statement about who we are  –  and Whose we are.

No matter how great today feels, it is merely a cheap token of the splendor, the glory, the amazing reward ahead for those who are truly His.

No matter how dark, dreary, painful, tear-filled, seemingly hopeless today tries to appear, it is a facade – a smoke screen  –  trying to hide the rest of the journey from us. A journey, when walked in step with Him, that always leads to the unveiling of our real end: eternally healed, rewarded, loved, embraced by the full expression of Love Himself.

Until we are seeing Him face to face and feeling His embrace, it is not the end.