Tense Truths

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How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You (Psalm 139:17-18).

Quantity and Quality.  That’s how to measure God’s thoughts toward you. And in both distinctions, His thoughts toward you are immeasurable. [click to continue…]

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hateCNN had an interesting story yesterday.  The headline: “When Christians Become a Hated Minority.”  Like so many other current cultural debates, it assumes that Christ followers are camped out on one issue.  Maybe that’s because that issue is the one place, seemingly, where the world has managed to join forces with the tide of popular opinion.  Now anybody who speaks out against homosexual behavior or gay marriage is a hate-filled bigot.

The article fairly raises the question of whether Christian-haters are the new bigots.  It points out that many believers avoid saying anything about, well, anything for fear of the backlash.

This raises a painful question for Christians:  Why are we being trampled on?  It sure seems that anywhere you turn anybody and everybody has the right to say whatever they want, do whatever pleases them, and demand to be accepted.  But let somebody mention Jesus or the word “Christian” and the arrows fly from all sides.

Here’s the problem:  We’re asking the wrong people. [click to continue…]

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Shepherd Birth

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever (Psalm 131).

Soul-check time:  How “at rest” are you?  The answer to that will make all the difference in your worship, and your work.

This psalm of ascent is the confession of a soul at rest – a “weaned soul.”

The first verse speaks of three things the psalmist has turned away from – a proud heart, haughty eyes, or a mind that tries to figure out the impossible.  The common theme in each – I know my limits.  And I know my place.  I am free of selfish ambition and arrogance toward others.

Are you ready to start your ascent today?  [click to continue…]

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cross

“Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…”

And the multitudes surrounded Him, and shouted words of praise
As He rode a strong young donkey through the holy city’s gates.
Everything they did exalted Him; they praised Him as their King,
But He never smiled in victory – He never said a thing.
And they all surrounded Him again in just a few short days,
But their cries had lost their ecstasy, their words had lost their praise.
Everyone through sticks and stones at Him, they mocked and cursed His name,
And the man they worshiped as their King hung on a cross in shame.

They all said, “Crucify! I’ll live the way that I want to live.”
They said, “Crucify! The Man asks for more than I can give.
Yes I love Him, but He simply doesn’t fit my plans,
And the only way to do what I want is to crucify this Man.”

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One of oneTurns out there was something almost as satisfying Monday night as watching Eddie Lacy, A. J. McCarron and company put looks of futility and bewilderment on yet another BCS opponent – a game, by the way, I have waited since 1966 to witness.

It was a commercial.  For Dr. Pepper, of all things.  Now as long as I’ve known anything about Dr. Pepper and commercials, they have always had some kind of big song and dance production.  And this commercial was no exception.

What was exceptional was the song in the commercial.  It sort of stopped me in my tracks.  I actually hit rewind to see the thing again.  (If you know anything about me and commercials, you will know this rarely happens.)  If you’d like to see the commercial, it’s already on YouTube, and you can watch it here.

I didn’t run out and buy Dr. Pepper.  But I did hurry to iTunes and found the song.  I just discovered it was released on iTunes on January 7, the day the commercial ran.

The song is by the Nashville group Vinyl Hearts, and it’s called, “I Am.” You can hear it in its entirety by clicking below.  Please, hear the song in its entirety. [click to continue…]

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I

Someone once told Matt he was like the man with the five talents in Jesus’ parable.  He was not limited to just one ability, but was blessed with multiple skills.  It was a bad interpretation of the word “talent,” but Matt appreciated the sincerity of the compliment.  And truth be told, Matt is that kind of guy.  Smart.  Articulate.  Funny if you catch him on the right day.

But lately Matt hasn’t felt like a man with one “talent,” much less five.  The tough economy has him working three different jobs to make ends meet.  And while Matt is good at shooting from the hip, lately he’s been handed a fist full of criticism in just about every area of his life.

“God,” he says, “You’ve picked the wrong guy.  I need you to find somebody else to do this.  Or You fix this.”

“No,” comes the reply from heaven.  “It’s not my job – it’s yours.  It’s not somebody else’s job.  It’s yours.  Now stop trusting yourself.  Stop looking at the problem.  Watch Me. Trust Me.  And do it.”

Can

Teri always referred to John as her rock.  But little did she know how much she really depended on him until the weeks after his sudden death.  [click to continue…]

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It usually starts in the fingers and toes.  Then blitzes the middle of the back, radiating out from there.

It’s cold.  Oh baby, it’s cold.  And those extremities start to go into rebellion.  They just…don’t… want… to… moooove.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  Throw on the socks, wrap up in the blankie, and you’re still shivering.  Body parts you usually ignore are sending you a signal – Do something now! Your ears – normally quite the lady or gentleman – are getting a bit irritate with all this.  Your already-cold nose starts running – for cover.

Oh baby, it’s cold.

For relief, you look outside for some sunny encouragement.  What you find are swelled up birds, vapor-blowing animals, and icicles on your icicles.  The ground is so frozen that even with the howling wind (was that a chill that just ran up your back?), nothing moves. [click to continue…]

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Rush and Hush

by Andy Wood on December 20, 2011

in Tense Truths

‘Tis the season to rush and hush.  Hurry up and wait.  Get rowdy, then reflective.

Yep, it’s Christmas.  Number 54 for me; you do your own math.  And without fail, the previous 53 brought the same curious mixture of busy-ness and stillness.  No reason to expect anything different this year.  Not sure I’d want to if I could.

No doubt about it, we’re in a hurry.  Rush to the shopping center.  Rush to the party (ahem, “fellowship”).  Rush to the gift wrap. Rush to the country to see Grandma.  Rush to do the normal stuff like school and work and church so we can rush to some other activity.  We’re in such a hurry for Christmas, my Thanksgiving turkey got run over by a reindeer!

All the while we keep on fussing about being so busy and hurried.  But I’ve decided the hustle is as traditional as visions of sugarplums and lights on the trees. [click to continue…]

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He was careless in the conflict, and a bit presumptuous in the battle.  Unaware of the schemes or the true power of his enemies – unaware at times of who his enemies actually were – he went down, wounded in the battle.

This is not your typical military operation.  This is a spiritual battlefield, known for its invisible armies and stealth weapons.  Known also for its enormous array of spectators – some cheering you on from heaven, others just watching a battle they themselves should be engaged in.

Lying there, ashamed, in pain, and afraid, it’s easy for discouragement and fear to have the final word.  But deep in his spirit another wounded soldier’s testimony from long ago begins to stir his broken courage and will: [click to continue…]

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Jason meant well.  But his efforts to help the butterfly-to-be only ended in disaster.  For days he had watched the cocoon and wondered what it would produce.  Finally he noticed a tiny opening in the cocoon’s wall.  On the other side, the new life form was struggling furiously – desperately – to be free of its self-designed prison.  Feeling compassion for the little creature, the boy found a sharp knife and carefully cut the cocoon’s wall in order to relieve it from its struggle.

The butterfly soon died.  Its wings were grossly deformed, and it was unable to fly.  What appeared to be a struggle was actually the process by which the animal’s wings are formed.  Jason had short-circuited the process, and the results, though unintentional, were tragic.

You and I are very much like the butterfly.  We are often wrapped up in our own kinds of cocoons – alone, stifled, limited, longing to be free.  Sometimes these are prisons of our own doing – addictions, bondage to sin, broken relationships, stupid decisions.   At other times our cocoons are thrust upon us in the form of disappointments, losses of loved ones, extended illnesses, or the abuse of others.  Either way, the results are the same.  Why do we feel so alone?  What in the world is God up to?  Where will we ever find relief?  When will we be “free to fly” again?  How will we make it through another day? [click to continue…]

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