Use This Broken Vessel

Father, I enjoy our time together and I really feel incomplete when we don’t connect like this first thing. I want to praise You this morning for Your minute by minute presence in my life. Every day You help me, encourage me, direct me, correct me and more! Everything You do for me is because You LOVE me!

Colossians 3:12b (<< click here)

Lord, since You chose me to be a holy person that You love (12a) I must clothe myself “with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility gentleness and patience.” (12b)

This list may be short, but Lord it is a lot to process! I am not complaining whatsoever; I just want to get every possible benefit from it! So much to take in and learn from.

“tenderhearted mercy” – compassion (NIV), bowels of mercy (KJV), heart of compassion (NASB) Lord You call me to love others without reservation – to extend to them the love You extend to me

“kindness”– not harsh or rough, not brutal but a genuine desire to be benevolent to others – caring

“humility”– not full of myself, but thinking of others and their needs and feeling first

“gentleness”– amiable, mild, not severe or rough

“patience”– the beauty of provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain without complaint, loss of temper or irritation

Wow! This is not a little list but a BIG list! And really it boils down to clothing ourselves with Christ! It is a lot to live up to. On some of these fronts, I have a decent handle most of the time but sometimes I fail miserably and of course, patience is often a struggle.

Lord, all I can do is to give myself over to You every moment of my life! I see You working through me. I know there is still a lot of “bad” me to work around or sometimes through but with all my heart, soul and mind, I truly want these attributes – Your attributes – to shine through in how I live my life. Use this broken vessel to touch others, to love others, as only You can.

As the old song goes,

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.” 
~ Daniel Iversion, 1926

June 21st, 2015, Sun, 6:26 am

Don’t Wait! Do It Now!

Oh my, Father, what an absolutely beautiful day! A warm bright sun… still some color on the trees…thank You, Father for the gift of Your majesty!

Matthew 5:25-26 (<<click the green)

I’ve been trying to break an old habit. In order to keep relatively even wear on the slacks I wear to work I rotate them but the old habit I had was not hanging them up right away when I took them off. For years I would lay them down nicely, first one pair, then another, then another. Quite often I wouldn’t hang up them up until the next rotation started. Bad, bad habit!

But I must say that for the most part that habit has been replaced! I am now a regular hang ‘em up guy! I also put my shoes back into my closet daily and I keep the top of my dresser clear of clutter! Yay! (Karen appreciates it, too!)

It is much easier to deal with things when they are little before they start getting bigger and out of control. In today’s mini-parable, Lord, Your advice is to take care of things before they get any bigger, if not, they can get out of control quickly – with tragic results. My study Bible* states,

‘In Jesus’ day, someone who couldn’t pay a debt was thrown into prison until the debt was paid. Unless someone came to pay the debt for the prisoner, he or she would probably die there.”

Way too often we are too embarrassed or stubborn or maybe even apathetic, to deal with confrontational things when they are small. It just seems easier to avoid them altogether. But, Lord, Your way is based on love. And love wants to address things right away – to make amends while things are easier to mend. Following Your way keeps things moving along. May we make a habit of fulfilling Your will here on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Nov 8th, Wed, 10:49 am

They’re Just Leaves…Right?

So many times today, Father, I felt Your presence – affirming, directing, correcting. I am grateful that You are ever by my side. Whatever comes my way I am not alone. All praise goes to You, Almighty God!

Matthew 5:23-24 (<<click the green)

Yesterday, I realized water was backing up in the large drainage ditch the cuts through our property. I figured that leaves were the culprit. We have lots of trees, hence lots of leaves. So I put on my big rubber boots, got my handy dandy rake and headed back to check things out.

Leaves were for sure part of the problem but a fallen tree and several chunks of wood were greatly restricting the flow or water trying to get through. After some tugging and pulling and a fair amount of raking, the water was released and the backup was cleared.

Relationships are so important, especially as followers of You, Lord Jesus…and this directive from You proves that point. Every time I read this passage of Scripture, it makes me pause and think. We hear You speak of loving and forgiving each other quite often but that’s not what You are saying here. This is another perspective entirely. We are challenged to look at our relationships from the viewpoint of others, not just our own.

Putting this into a modern day mindset, if we are interacting with You and we are working on our end to draw closer to You and we “suddenly remember that someone has something against [us] we are to stop right where we’re at and “Go and be reconciled to that person.” Then, as the Message translation stresses, “and only then”, are we to come back to working on our relationship with You.

Do I do this, Lord? Do I even think about it? If I do think about it, do I just sweep past it? If I just ponder on it for a bit, it can become really complicated. Most translations narrow the field a little in specifying that that “someone” You are referring to is a “friend” or a fellow “brother” or “sister” in our relationship with You. It would be overwhelming to try to remember our interactions with every person we encounter. But we must also keep in mind the Apostle Paul’s admonition. “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

So what are we talking about then? There’s no way we can know what other people are thinking but it is quite often obvious if someone has a “grudge” (MSG) or “a grievance or legitimate complaint” (AMP) against us. Again, it’s about relationship.

How often do we let “leaves” accumulate in our relationships? How are a few “leaves” going to hurt anything, right? But anything that restricts the “flow” of our relationships with others is a problem. Sometimes when we check things out, we find that it is more than just “leaves”. Sometimes we find bigger things that must be dealt with if we are going to clear the backups in our relationships.

Lord, help us to keep clear our relationships with others so that our relationship with You is unhindered as well. Amen.

Nov 7th, Tues, 7:41 pm

Tinder Accumulator

Father, as I look out my office window I am in awe of Your creation. Heavy rain and strong winds last night and calm and serene this morning…pools of water here and there and leaves – lots of leaves – everywhere! There is still some green, a little orange, and a lot of yellow. The intricacy of our world never ceases to amaze me. I love every season You have blessed me with in my part of the world. Every one of them has a beauty all its own. Thank You, Father, for the thought and love You put in Your creation!

Matthew 5:21-22 (<<click the green)

tinder /ˈtindər/ noun
    dry, flammable material, such as wood or paper,
    used for lighting a fire.

I must admit, Lord, that I am a tinder accumulator. And that is a dangerous thing. To do what it does, tinder is not a huge thing. It is a group of small things. If you want to start a fire for roasting hot dogs or warm your home, it can be a very good thing. But too much of a good thing can become a problem

Too much tinder can let a fire get out of control and it is easy for us to let a bunch of little things pile up in our lives. Instead of letting things go, we begin to stockpile them. Something said that offends us, something done that hurts us. What is best is to cast those things aside but so often we don’t do that. We prefer to hang on to the tinder – a pile here, an accumulation there. It can become difficult to let them go. We get used to having our own little pity parties and all that tinder is a good place to party.

But, Lord, what happens if a spark comes flying our way? Unfortunately, almost anything can set us off and with too much tender around us, we just can’t control it. We quickly go up in flames!

Today’s passage speaks of not committing murder, and thankfully I am not tempted in that area. But then, Lord, You go on to say that where murder brings judgment, so does being angry with someone. And that is an area in which I struggle. When a little spark flies my way my accumulation of “tinder” – things said and done – can quickly engulf me.

Lord, help me to get rid of my “tinder”. May I rid myself of the little things that can pile up into big things. May the anger that comes my way have nothing to ignite but may it fizzle and float away like a puff of smoke. Instead, may I be an accumulator of love. May Your love pour out of me putting out even the fires of others, showing that love is the answer – that You are the answer. Amen.

Nov 6th, Mon, 7:25 am

For Better, for Worse

Father, what a week it has been! It has been full of its challenges but Your presence has made all the difference. I am so grateful that Karen’s back surgery went so smoothly and that we got home with no problem. In some ways the last several days have been taxing but…I don’t want this to sound corny but…what a privilege it has been to serve my wife! She has cared for me for 31 years (and counting!) and this week I have been blessed to give back, if only for a few days. And I have another whole week to help her in whatever way I can. May I have the heart of a servant as we go through this week. May my love for her be strong, so much so that I cannot help but express it in a multitude of ways. Thank You, Father, for the great blessing of a wonderful helpmate and friend.

Lord, there are so, so many relationships that are on the rocks. Couples bicker and fight and let the smallest of things come between them. Maybe initially it is not too impacting but all too often it multiplies and eventually becomes a wedge between two people who at one point would have done anything for one another.

On June 14, 1986, I vowed to love Karen, “for better, for worse” and that simply does not have an expiration date. I am here for her and she is here for me. We by no means have a perfect relationship but we love each other and as Your word says, “love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8b) Your love is the example by which we live. You forgive, You forget and we move on. Your love is totally unconditional. I don’t live up to that standard in totality but with Your influence and strength, I strive to do so more and more each day. What better investment can I make than in my relationship with my wife?

The first part of verse 8 is my goal,

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other…”

Lord Jesus, may that not only be the goal in my marriage but may it be my goal every day of my life. It is surely a challenge but may I strive “to show deep love“ for everyone that crosses my path. May I live my life as You did. Amen.

Nov 5th, Sun, 7:43 pm

Doing it right for once.