Posted by: playingmanyparts | July 1, 2015

The Fear of the LORD – Proverbs 1:7

Proverbs 1:7 & 33

The Universe

The Universe

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

but whoever listens to me will lie in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

I am taking a journey through Proverbs this month.  I want to read a chapter a day and really focus in on a verse or two that jump out at me.  Today I start with the fear of the LORD.  It seems to me as I study the Old Testament that we serve an awe inspiring God who we often box up into a neat little package, and we forget that we serve the God of the Universe.  We serve a God who SPOKE the world into being.  HE IS MIGHTY!  The people and Moses were overwhelmed by His presence.  We should be too.

As the lines between right and wrong seem to grey and narrow.  Let us keep our focus on our call to both love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to fear him for all we are worth.  As a loving child of my father, I want to always seek his face, and walk after Him in obedience.  In order to do that, I must LISTEN to what he says to me from our daily conversations. I have to seek his words, his wisdom, his heart.  How should I follow Him today?  I will have to ask him.  I will have to enter into His presence and actually talk to him.  How is your daily walk?  Are you engaging in study and conversation with the author of the Universe?  What is He teaching you?  What is He speaking to your heart?  What does he want you to leave behind?  What does He want you to pick up?

Father God, forgive me for always wanting to talk and ask for favors instead of entering into deep meditation and prayer.  Help me dive deeper into the waters.  Help me seek you more, listen to your more, and sit in silence more waiting on you to speak in your time and way.  Give me grace, give me love, and show me your wisdom that binds me to you and helps lead others to you.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | June 27, 2015

Are We Still Looking for A King of This World?

Matthew 22:36-40

Love Wins36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

I dive into this pool knowing I will most likely drown.  I know I will be disliked and probably argued with.  But as a Christ follower, I too wonder how to react to the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday here in America.  Again, as a Christ follower, I always try to go back to His word and what he said while he was here when making decisions.  I ask myself how I think he would want me to demonstrate His love to a hurting world.

I could probably fill up volumes about how guys like Abraham, Issac, Joseph, King David and King Solomon to name a few are most likely some folks who will be in heaven that did NOT subscribe to “God’s plan of one man and one woman.”  I could talk about sin and if some are worse than others and what may be meant in the New Testament where it mentions homosexuality, sexual immorality and drunkenness, but I think all of that misses the point.  I think we miss this entirely.

Christ “did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”  In every situation when he ministered and talked to people, Jesus loved them first.  He did not condemn the hurting and confused, nor did he judge them.  He was kind and gentle.  More importantly, when asked what the greatest commandment was, he said to love God and others.  How does my condemnation of someone’s acts show them Christ’s love, especially if all they know of Christ is what I am showing them??

So I wonder, are we like the religious leaders of Jesus day?  Are we looking for a king, or president, or government to change the world and save us while our hearts wander farther and farther away from Him?  Would Jesus be as harsh with us as he was with them?  How have we ministered to the homeless and the fatherless?  The women at the well?  The Samaritans among us?  Does denial of rights, condemnation and harsh words demonstrate my deep love of God and others to a watching world?  Am I loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind while loving others as myself?  Jesus demonstrated that love by spreading out his arms and dying for me!  Am I willing to die for my LBGTQ brothers and sisters?  Are you?  How does love win in my life today?

Heavenly Father, in a world so dark and hurting, help my light shine.  Help me to be close enough to Christ that I radiate his love for all.  Give us wisdom, courage, and the unconditional love you demonstrate, for each person you put in our lives today.  Help us to love you and love others as we should in every single situation.  May your light shine in and through us.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | May 19, 2015

To Know His Voice – John 10:1-5

John 10:1-5

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.  2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  3 To him the gatekeeper opens.  The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

I used to think this passage was so hard to understand because I don’t personally know any shepherds.  But the text indicates that the Jews and the disciples all sort of scratched their heads at this one.  So what is Jesus getting at here, and why all this talk of animals following him through doors?  To me, I hear him again using my relationship with my dog and something that happened a couple of weeks ago to teach me a life lesson from his words.

I was out walking my dog a few weeks ago on a bone chilling rainy night when we happened upon a lone puppy out and wandering about.  He didn’t have much interest in us, and in fact quickly walked away from us when we tried to approach him.  We were near a very busy street in town and I feared for this little guy’s safety as he seemed determined to wander into the street.  I was desperate to reach him and read his tags so I could return him home, but no call or whistle would bring him closer to us.  After a while, we were able to get close enough that I could grab his collar and get him to safety.  He simply wouldn’t respond to me, he didn’t know my voice.  This point was made even clearer as my own dear dog continued to obey my every command, sit, stay, come, sit, stay while the lost one just looked at me with absolutely no recognition.  My dog knew my voice, and knew me and what I was trying to do and so he easily obeyed me.

So I wonder, whose commands do I hear?  Whose voice do I recognize and respond too?  Have I trained and practiced following the voice of Jesus enough to easily hear and recognize it?  Have I had long walks and talks with him where we communicate and I learn to hear him?  Or am I following the voice of my own wants and desires, or worse. . .the voice of the thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”  I know that in training and working with my dog, it takes daily practice, it takes time, and lots of repetition.  And once again I hear the still small voice calling me to more time, more prayer, more depth.

Father God, thank you for your patience with me.  Thank you for continuing to show me your will and you way.  Help me cut out the clutter, noise and all the distractions that keep me from time with you today.  Let’s sit together and practice talking.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | May 7, 2015

Deep Roots – Psalm 1:1-4

Psalm 1:1-4

He is like a tree planted by streams of water

He is like a tree planted by streams of water

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

I am meditating today on this portion of Psalm 1.  I want to slow down a bit, take in maybe less scripture but try to imprint it more deeply and this seems to me like a beautiful place to begin.  The Psalms are for me a place of deep thinking and quiet peace.  I come back here in times of trouble and in times of rest to soak up the essence of God.

To me, the Psalms are proof that the all merciful God who sent Jesus to save us was the same yesterday as He will be tomorrow.  The rock found here who loves without end is the same one that we see in the Christ of the New Testament.  And he paints an incredibly calm picture here of the life of the Christian.  A tree planted by steams of (living) water.  How I long to go to that place and sit and meditate and talk with and learn from God.  In that place, I can put off the worries of this life and just be a barefoot child again, dipping my feet into the cool waters of wisdom shaded by the protection of my fathers body as he cradles me in his arms and shares with me all things.

A picture of the perfection of creation, restored once again.  How I long for Heaven and Home as I mediate on the goodness of the grace and mercy of the Father today.  As I delight in his law and how it protects me from harm.  Can you feel Him?  Can you see the streams and that deep rooted tree, the safety of its shelter; the shelter of following the perfect will and way of God?  He is calling to us to come home.

Oh my Father, I thank you for your Word.   I thank you for your son.  I thank you for your grace and mercy.  I seek your face today as I rest beneath the shelter of you.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | May 4, 2015

Obeying Leads to Freedom – Psalm 19:7-10

Psalm 19:7-10

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;  8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.  10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

It hit me as I was training my dog last week, obedience leads to far greater freedom and joy than running after my own desires ever can.  I am trying to train my small dog to be off-leash.  It is hard work, takes much consistency, and is initially a bit hard on us both.  However, once he is trained to obey my every command, he may have far greater freedom than he ever would have untrained and on-leash.

As I was walking my dog and thinking about this, I realized our faith journey, the one where we learn to love the Word of the LORD and seek him as our Master is very much like the relationship I am trying to build with my dog.  He thinks it is best for him to go running after every squirrel, bird and bunny that he sees.  Me though, I can see the whole picture, the car on the next street over that isn’t looking for him and the big mean dog in the yard 5 doors away.  I want to keep him from harm and train him to trust me.  But he sees none of the danger, he just knows I am keeping him from what he wants.  How very like my dog I am, especially in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  If I would but learn to listen to his gentle, wise commands, and follow him with loving devotion, he can keep me out of much trouble and lead me to a life of abundance and freedom with Him.

His law will revive my soul, make me wise, rejoice my heart and enlighten my eye if I would let it.  Those are all his promises to us about his word.  It is more valuable than much fine gold and sweeter than honey. . .why do I continue to fight him like it will crush my spirit and taste like vinegar. . .he has promised us much more if we would but follow and seek Him.

Father God, forgive my unbelief.  Help me seek you word with all my heart, help me run after you and your word as if it is the only thing that matters.  Fill me with the knowledge of you and write your commands on my heart.  Help me follow you more closely, read your word more fondly, and love you deeply.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | April 10, 2015

Intentional Change – Galations 5:22-23

Galations 5:22-23

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

God has placed on my heart a desire for change down deep in my heart.  He calls me daily to walk closer to him, to watch him, to mimic him, and to become more like him.  I try so hard to do this, and I guess looking back through my life I can see a slow trajectory of improvement, but the change is very very slow and hard to measure.

I was re-reading part of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography this week and came across his system for tracking his mastery of 13 Virtues and realized that I too could use a similar system to track how I am doing on my 9 Fruits of the Spirit.  I know God isn’t interested in score cards and he has no interest in any chart I make, but I want to do something.  I know that God desires that I grow in wisdom and in character and especially in love for others.  In order to do that, I need to be purposeful.  I need to track what I am doing so I can make an honest effort at change.  So I have my list and I will be focusing on one each week.  Then, I will go back and start all over again at the end of week 9.  So next week’s post will be about love, and hopefully I will be able to put some circles in my box next week for love!

Father God, I love you and because I love you, I submit to your authority.  I recognize that I need to put my faith into action and very much want to do that.  Help me learn much through my struggle to become more like you.  Give me strength, wisdom, and love to become more like you.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | April 6, 2015

We Need A Bit More Grace – 1 Peter 4:10

Why you gotta be so rude?

Why you gotta be so rude?

1 Peter 4:10

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Oh how I desire God to meter out his justice.  I love to imagine that person who cut me off getting what they deserve.  Or how about that co-worker who was overly judgmental about the completion of that project we did, wouldn’t I just love for them to get what they have coming.  That rude person in the check-out line just needs to be fired, and that truck driver on the road should not have a license!  But what about me?  Am I getting what I deserve??

It is so easy for me to see the judgment I think folks have coming, but how am I doing on my call from 1 Peter to administer God’s GRACE in its various forms?  You guessed it, not so good.  Holy Spirit check time?

Love = hardly

Joy = on my days off

Peace = while I am sleeping

Patience = never

Kindness = to those I like

Goodness = I might have feed a homeless person last week

Gentleness = I played gently with my dog yesterday

Self-control = I didn’t yell at that guy who took my spot Saturday at the store

Seems I have a long way to go and much work to do.  I LONG to be more and more like Jesus, I want him to trust me to serve others and administer grace to them, so I guess I better get to praying about all those gifts I am lacking.  More time in the word, more time in prayer, and more time at peace with my savior should do much to help me get back on track and be more ready to go.

Father God, thank you so much for not keeping score, but for lovingly encouraging me through your word to be more like Jesus and less like the world.  I know works are not required, but I so want to put my faith and love for you into action that tells a watching world how very much I love you and serve you with my whole life.  Thank you for your grace and mercy, that you don’t always send me what I deserve, but what what I need. . .thank you for your grace.  Please help me be grace and mercy to all those you put in my path.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | March 28, 2015

Faith Check – John 7

John 7:3-38

Rivers of Living Water

Rivers of Living Water

On the last day of the fest, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

These words of Jesus in John 7 cause me to stop and think this morning.  I wonder how I am doing.  Are rivers of living water flowing out of my heart?  I am afraid not.  Most days I am lucky if I get a few minutes of thanks and prayer in, a few stolen moments of quiet time with my Bible and then maybe a minute or two to speak words of kindness to those closest to me.  But am I making time to allow rivers to flow from me. . .no.  If I am honest, what usually flows in the heat of the day as I am rushing around is far from that pretty picture of rivers of living water. . .more like a cesspool of waste and anger.

That leads me to wonder, maybe it is my lack of seeking Christ and taking the time to really drink him in that leads to such dirty water.  The over flow of my heart can only be provided by Christ when I have filled myself with him. Perhaps 5-10 minutes of quick reading and an even quicker whispered prayer in the mornings isn’t enough anymore.  Maybe with the great muck of toxic sludge surrounding me everyday I need a bit more time to ensure my heart is filled to the full with Christ, not just injected with a quick shot.  No wonder I am more swamp monster than river dweller.  I sure hope you are doing better than I am at producing rivers of living water for all those you encounter.  I am off to bathe in that river of clean, clear hope.

Father God, forgive my lack of time with you.  Help me find ways to carve out more and more time to sit by the river and learn from you.  Help me make time to read, to think, to thank and to praise you more every single day.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | March 17, 2015

Oh How He Provides – John 6:1-14

John 6:12-13

What He provides

What He provides

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”  So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

Life seems filled with problems and issues.  Some our own, others brought on by our proximity to other people and all the stuff they are dealing with.  But to be engaged in this world seems to mean that trouble is always just around the corner.  I have been praying for a loved one for a long time.  This person has some struggles that make life a bit difficult, but they seem unwilling to remove themselves from the things that ensnare them.  It seemed like they had given in and just decided not to deal with those things, and I was quite honestly mad at God for that. I love this person very much and I want them to struggle through, be convicted, grow, and then get better.  Several days of conversations and prayer had me at a bit of a dead end, not even sure how to pray anymore.  Wouldn’t you know it, today, suddenly, God began to open doors.  Doors of honesty and doors of hope and healing.  This person was convicted to be completely truthful and many things now make sense.  The key word is convicted.  I began praying for conviction in this person’s life a few weeks ago, and just when I had given up, God stepped in and did it.  This person still has a long way to go, but every time Jesus steps in, he provides more than we asked, with plenty left over; just like this story from John illustrates, He always provides more than enough.

How about you?  What do you need to trust God to provide?  What problems or people do you need to turn over to him?  He will provide, you can trust him.  Rarely like we ask or imagine, He always hears, always knows the need, and always provides more than enough.

Father God, forgive my wicked adulterous heart.  Forgive me for my lack of faith in you and your goodness.  Forgive me for always wanting to know it all and be in complete control.  In truth, I control nothing, and I would only botch it if I was.  Thank you for loving me, for loving him, and for convicting him.  Continue to work in his heart and life.  Continue to convict, convert and grow him into the man you want him to be.

Posted by: playingmanyparts | March 7, 2015

Speaking Truth Without Anger – Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:15 & 25-27

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

Speak the truth in Love

Speak the truth in Love

It has been a hard couple of weeks for me with my ministry at church.  I won’t go into all the details here, but a recent committee meeting where I felt lead to challenge several people left me hurt, angry, and ready to give up.  This morning it all came to a head in my own mind and I was thinking that I needed to leave the committee and perhaps the church and move on to a group of people who are more willing to change, or who have already arrived on this issue that is central in our church right now.

Wouldn’t you know it, that is when God stepped in and gave me a message.  It started in the form of a devotional that has not made it to my inbox in weeks.  Today, I got these awesome words from Francis Frangipane about what I am becoming which lead me right to my Bible and God’s words for me today in Ephesians 4.  And there in Ephesians I felt the anger and disappointment melt away.  I felt God telling me that I am to stick it out.  I felt him encouraging me to relax and try to speak more lovingly to those who don’t yet see.  I saw the cross and Jesus yelling. . .”forgive them father.”  Tears running down my face i repented of my anger and asked God to renew my love for my brothers and sisters and asked him to give me the courage and the words to continue to ask the hard question. . .how would Jesus approach this situation. . .what words would he use. . .what attitude of heart. . .and are we being him in this situation?

Where does God what you to speak out in love.  Where does he want you to find healing and restoration within his body?  How is he challenging you to grow and become more like Christ??

Father God, thank you for your awesome power and for never ever leaving us alone.  Thank you that even in these small matters of faith you lead and guide.  Thank you for the grace and the gift of Christ, who from the cross looked at me and said father forgive her. . .she is one of mine.  I wonder in full gratitude for all you do.  Amen

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