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The Life of Kindness


At the corner of an intersection that I drive by regularly is a cross. I don’t notice it often in my car, but I do see it on my bicycle when I ride by.

I don’t know who it represents, but I do know it represents the life of someone that ended at that spot. I am not certain but I really don’t believe I have ever prayed for the family of that person until today. 

Sweaty from the miles of riding I came to the intersection to turn toward home, but there was a car there. I glanced over toward the cross to see the hunched over body of an elderly woman pulling weeds and removing debris. 

I peddled on but in my heart there was the twinge that I should pray with her. I slowed checked traffic and peddled back up the hill to the intersection. The woman was moving a pile of rocks near the road to where the cross was. Without saying a word I picked up stones and helped her. She meticulously put each one in its place. I helped her as best I could and when finished we both stood and just looked. I asked her how she knew the person who’s cross was the reminder. 

She said, “Oh, I don’t know them, but I know their family. I just saw it needed care and thought I could do it.” 

Mary went to the tomb to give it care and saw the risen Lord. I didn’t see the risen Lord but I did see an angel today. What might God bring to you if you stepped out and did something kind? My new friend and I prayed together and left the sacred spot. 

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“Trusted” in Him

Mark 10:17-31

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

This is the center of the story that is commonly called the rich young ruler. Striking is the address of the young man toward Jesus. He is clearly submitted to Jesus’ authority  to provide him instruction and direction. He calls him teacher. Jesus though is interested in something more. Jesus is asking him for his trust. Perhaps an even better word would be dependence.

The issue is not lordship in Authority, but rather lordship in Protection. Essentually the young man is willing to follow Christ instruction, but he is not willing to depend upon Jesus. What follows this discussion is even more interesting. We see the author, Mark, drive the point home to us the reader by examining the disciples reaction.

The disciples are a voice in the stories of Jesus that ask a question we might have as well, “if the rich can’t be saved who can be? ” clearly, they thought the young man had it all going on. I think their view was an accurate worldly view of the situation. In regard to following this young man had what it took. Yet, Jesus was not looking for followers in that sense but for “dependers”.

In a way, doing what Jesus says is much easier than believing him. If we believe him we have to give up on ourselves. The world tells us at every corner to believe in ourselves. Jesus says don’t believe in yourself believe in me.

A great aspect of this is realizing my wealth doesn’t buy the right stuff. I find that hard to imagine let alone believe. But life teaches this if we are listening. God wants us to see our poverty in the important areas. Our efforts are like people riding stationary bikes on an ocean-liner. They are moving but it has nothing to do with them. Jesus offers to be the captain of the ship not by becoming the captain but in allowing us to know he is the captain.

Jesus loved the rich young ruler, but he doesn’t invade his trust he only asked for it. He asks for your trust. Key to your giving it to him is the ability to recognize your need even in the face of all your ability.

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“Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

I have read this list many times in the past but not realized that it is not a list but a path. The path of selfishness leads to a place where God’s power is not present. It’s progress is slow, gut wrenching and depressing but nonetheless clearly spiraling away from God’s provision.

It starts with the thought of self interest to the point of “love” but it is never really loving. It is material in nature but not spiritual in nature because it assumes at the core of value things matter most. MY THINGS must be guarded more than His ways. The change of focus leads to a devastating adjustment in priority. Such a blinding change that we become unable to steer our lives through the maze of challenges and instead ram through barriers into a path of destruction that impair nearly every positive relationship.

The greatest damage being to the most vital of all relationships that being our walk with God. So closed is our vision that we move on like Samson blind that the power has gone out of our lives soon to be blind to life itself. (And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.)

What is the cure? “Understand this. . .” Is at the start of the list. See the potential of destruction from the top of the hill before rolling off in a wagon without steering. “Not my will but Yours. . .” A prayer for His way and your protection from self.

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They are putting up the new suspended ceiling in the north wing. I took this picture of one of the workers. I thought for a moment about the safety of the situation.

Then another thought came to my mind. We sometimes go to great lengths to attain to where God is. We will pile one thing upon another hoping it’ll bring us up enough. The trouble is our pursuit sometimes leads to our downfall.

It would be far better if God would come down to us, not lowering his standards but reaching down to where we are. This is the message of the Gospel: Christ came down to us. There was a risk involved but it was a risk He took. That risk is the cross. Fascinatingly, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me.”

He was lifted up on a cross but then laid down in a tomb. In the fall “he was bruised for our iniquities.” His suffering was enough and he was raised again!

The result is I don’t need to climb to God but rather I kneel at His cross.

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“And David took the crown of their king from his head. He found that it weighed a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone. And it was placed on David’s head. And he brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount.” (1 chronicles 20:2)
In today’s weights the crown tips the scale at 75 lbs. At the market value of gold in today’s economy the crown would be valued at $1,120,590 in gold alone. Putting it on David’s head was a publicity stunt.
I’m sure there were a few chuckles as David set there wearing it. The previous verse though makes it clear that David was not a part of the battle where the crown was won.
Perhaps the exploits in the field of battle we’re getting to David’s head even more than the crown.
A careful comparison of this passage with the passages of Samuel reveal that this is near to the time of the incident with Bathsheba.
One of the big challenges of life is not to read your own press clippings. A big head can lead to big problems.

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Finally got a bird down on the ground yesterday and now today things get even better. Charlene’s uncle’s farm has been a wonderful place to hunt but this last winter they cleared off all the brush. Not sure how to sneak into a good place there so I arrived about the time they would start gobbling so that I could anticipate where they were.
Moving through the timber birds gobble both to the east and west of the corners of the property. I set up on open area I’m unwilling to put a decoy out because I don’t want to scare one from the roost. Not very many gobbles once I’m seated I hope I haven’t scared them.
At fly down a bird starts gobbling strong just to my east not more than 150 yards and I’m facing north. I scoot around the tree facing the right direction and there’s a deer crossing down through the ditch beside me. She whistles. The tom goes quiet. Strong gobble straight north of me I scooch back to where I was.
Now there’s a loud gobble straight in front of my gun northwest. A hen crosses the ridge in front of me running south. And even louder gobble and there he is, probably 50 yards out.
I’m looking down the barrel judging his distance. He starts to wattle my way. He can’t be more than 35 yards from me and I let a load of five’s head his way. The bird spins and heads away from me, the hen takes off to the south and a second gobbler flies over the brush pile about 40 yards away. I think about shooting but don’t bother.
I can’t believe I missed him. I dropped my gun two days ago and knocked the front site loose, but I had test fired to make sure it was still true. Maybe he had jumped in the air and was still milling around up at the corner of the property I quickly crawled his direction. He was at 41 yards when I shot at him, but nowhere to be found now. I stood to my feet in despair and there he was 3 yards from where I was standing, piled up.
I found this stump not more than 5 yards from where I had shot for a picture. Great morning!!

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Okay, I’ll Admit It!

I haven’t written anything for a long time. I could say, “I’ve been busy” but so have a lot of other people. I will just say, for now, I am recommitting to writing something every now and then. How is that for resolve!

I really can’t think of any reason for why I haven’t written more lately. Okay, that was a lie, but besides my bike, hunting, vacations and the joy of pastoring very few things interrupt my schedule. But why go back to writing now? It is really a simple answer, something I read.

What thrilling article did I read you might ask. Well for starters it wasn’t an article, but rather a passage from the Bible. (Amazing that that book would be inspiration, huh!) The inspiration is from a rather amazing metaphor/revelation. I will just post it as written:

27  Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.
28  Does one crush grain for bread?
No, he does not thresh it forever;
when he drives his cart wheel over it
with his horses, he does not crush it.
29  This also comes from the LORD of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom. (Isaiah 28:27-29)

What a visual statement! How does the miller extract the unique and valuable qualities of dill, cumin and other spices? In a word, through careful beating. The Lord wants to extract from us valuable growth. How will he do it? In the same strategic ways of “careful beating”.

I really don’t like being pressed. It annoys me. I am sure that it can’t be good for me. God says otherwise. He believes in my eternal values and squeezes them from me. Or should I say better squeezes them into me! The process takes patience on His part and mine. I can so easy try to escape the mill! The key to remain is not in seeing the mill’s process, but in trusting the person running the mill! 

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