Category: short devotions

Turn Your Speakers On

I listen to music at my desk while I work (I love Spotify!).  I have the old fashioned speakers that plug into my computer.  They have a separate power button and volume control and since I’m cheap I turn the power off to them each night to save a penny.

There have been several times that I start Spotify and no music comes out.  I immediately get angry and I’m tempted to throw the speakers across the room.  Seconds before I go ballistic the speakers are saved because I realize that I didn’t turn on the power button.  It was not the components fault for not producing sound – it was my fault for not enabling them to do their job.

How often do we do that to God?  We get angry because He doesn’t speak to us when it really is our fault that we are not tuning in.  Before you get mad at God for being silent, make sure everything is turned on and that you are listening.

Psalm 81:8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me.

Hannah thanksgiving

 

I Keep a Messy House. Can We Still Be Friends?

I’ve been seeing the blog post “I Keep a Clean House. Can We Still Be Friends?” for the last couple of weeks.  Ok, you know I can’t pass this up.   Let’s get to the point: My house is messy (some may say dirty).  I’m happy that you have a clean house.  You may be a clean freak for all I know.  If it makes you feel better, than clean to your hearts desire.  I don’t really know why anyone is concerned because they have a clean house or a clean car or a perfect yard.  I’m not sure I understand why you’re worried about offending anyone.

I am messy, some may say a little dirty.  I don’t always clean up the sink before going to bed.   My truck gets washed when it rains.  My windows get cleaned when I can’t see what my neighbor is doing.  I have a dog that sheds 365 days a year and she is tri-colored so guess what: Her hair shows no matter what color my clothes are!

I wish my excuse was some kind of Spiritual Declaration – “There are starving children in Africa.  How can you spend time cleaning when you could be feeding them?”  Or, an Artsy Fartsy “I live in my creations. Not in my cleanliness.”  Or, “I’m too busy too clean and too cheap to hire help”.

Look, some people just can’t clean. Maybe they weren’t taught to clean.  Maybe they are so depressed that they can’t clean (I think most fit here including me).  Some are not able to physically.  Life is hard and the hard gets in the way of cleaning.  I wish cleaning made me feel better.   I wish I felt relaxed  as some replied to the “other” article but that’s just not me.

If you stop by without warning, I may stand on my (also messy) front porch because I don’t want you to see my messy house.  I hope we can still be friends even though I may be embarrassed.  I might not invite you over for a visit.  Please don’t take it personally.  I just need to clean first.

Matthew 23:26  Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

beagle

reference: http://herviewfromhome.com/i-keep-a-clean-house-can-we-still-be-friends/

Stairway to Heaven the Irony

Let’s talk about change.  I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s – that’s 1960’s and 1970’s for those of you born after 2000!  We had a battle in the church during that time over Rock music.   We actually had sermons and books written about it.  If you haven’t heard, it’s from the devil himself.  Some of the classic reasons were 1) evil lyrics 2) the beat – many called it syncopation 3) lifestyles of the musicians 4) It was bad and loud and it was leading kids to dance, sex and drugs.   I clearly remember attending meetings at Youth For Christ which defamed any kind of Rock music and following the meetings we were supposed to go home and burn our vinyl albums.

One of the most popular songs of that era was ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin.   If you don’t know all the evilness of this song, please google it.  There is enough written about it to keep you busy for the weekend.   I never bought into all the negative hype on Rock music.  Of course there is bad stuff in it but there is bad stuff in everything.

Advance to 2011.  Seeker churches are the ‘in thing’: Everyone dresses down in casual clothes, talented musicians play contemporary music, open auditoriums and chairs instead of pews, simple messages of hope and grace.  Hey, if it is bringing people into the Kingdom I’m all for it.  Don’t tell anyone but one of these churches played the above mentioned songs in church!  What would Bob Larson say?!!

There is an irony of course.  I’m not sure what those speakers in the 60’s and 70’s would think about playing this music in church.  If it is truly Satanic is it still Satanic if Christians are singing it in church?  What about that syncopated beat? Drums?  I doubt that these performers are old enough to remember those lectures.  They probably never burned their vinyl records or played them backwards to hear the hidden messages.

Sins come and go.  God stays the same.  We all need to get closer to Him.  Don’t worry about the irony – just keep walking closer each day.  Don’t build idols.  Don’t follow anything that leads you astray.  God is bigger than Rock music.  I’m not sure about Country music but I know He can win the battle over the stairway to heaven.

John 9:16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

 

Allergies

Warning: This article discusses peanuts, tree nuts, red dye, milk and dairy products.  Anyone who is allergic to these should use caution.

What has caused the explosion of allergies?  I was born in 1960 and I didn’t know anyone who was allergic to food.  If any of you are that old, did you know anyone with allergies?  I visited my kid’s middle school a few years ago and ate lunch in the cafeteria.  They have entire tables for allergy free foods.   If you want to bring in a snack to a classroom today you need a computer program outlining what is acceptable.  Class lists now list banned foods from nearly 3/4 of the class.

I’m no scientist and I didn’t research to see what the theories are.  I’m sure I will get some quality feedback trying to educate me.  Maybe its linked to climate change?  I’m not downplaying allergies.  They can be very serious and I feel for people who suffer from them.  According to a local pastor, there can be no nuts on his church property or four of the members will die.

What have we done to ourselves and our society to make this drastic change in 50 years?  Is it genetic tampering?  Chemicals?  Pesticides?  I’m serious….how did this happen so radically and in such a short time?  We are supposed to be the healthiest nation and yet we are obese (me included) and we suffer from every food ailment possible.

What was meant to be a blessing has turned into a curse.  Do you know why?

Genesis 9:3   Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

food

 

 

Protesting Vice President Pence

Another week, another protest.  Another week and we will see support for the protest and support against it.  If you thought the anger would end after the election, you were wrong.  Even if Hillary had been elected, the anger and protests would have continued and it may have been worse.

There are three ways to react to a situation, movement or belief.   We can protest, support or be  apathetic.  When we join a side, it is very difficult to see the other side.  It goes both ways – that’s why there is very little agreement in today’s political state.  All of us are seeing events from “our” side and “our” side only.

Let’s take the Mike Pence speech at Notre Dame.  Students walked out quietly to protest his speech.  Some of us (me included) blasted them for being snowflakes or hater tots.  My side said they were “disrespectful”.    The other side declared this a “peaceful protest” and supported the student’s free speech.  In their opinion the students carried out a protest in the correct way.  President Obama addressed ND students in 2009 and was heckled by anti-abortion activists.  Were they disrespectful or were they correct in what they did?  Were they disrespectful or exercising free speech?

Who is right and who is wrong?  Maybe both and maybe neither.  All of us vote by our heart, beliefs, opinions and values.  Opinions change and in time, history’s opinion will change as well.

Let’s look at the most famous situation that ended in support and protest:

On a Sunday before Passover, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem.  Crowds gathered to cheer Jesus as he rode into the city.   A week later the crowds yelled for Jesus to be crucified.  We have always wondered if some of the same people cheered one week and turned the next week.   Beside the amazing turn of events in one week, there were two other issues going on:  People on the ground at that point really didn’t know what was going on (for real).  Many of those cheering in the first week had false expectations that Jesus was coming to be a king and that he was going to free the Jews from Rome.    They were cheering but for the wrong reason.   A week later the people were paid or told by their leaders that Jesus was a fake and needed to be killed.   Those people thought they were right as well.   What’s even more amazing is that another group of people sat at home on both of those occasions and were apathetic or ignorant to the whole situation!

If social media and 24 hour news were present in Jerusalem during that week, the city may have been destroyed by protests.   On the other hand, the end results probably wouldn’t have changed.  There would still  be people who thought Jesus was going to save the Jews from Rome and those who wanted him crucified.  The only difference would be the amount of hatred, yelling and name calling between the two sides.

Screaming on social media would not have saved Jesus from the cross.  The 24 hour media could not have rushed the Crucifixion before God’s timing.

So what is the answer?  We study.  We learn.  We try to be as educated on issues as we can.  We have civil debates to compare ideas.  We love through differences and we show grace and tolerance.  What we don’t do is share hate for hate.  We don’t ridicule.  We don’t denigrate the other side.  We never strike out in violence.   I have to confess that I fail at this often.  I get too angry and judgmental.   I post nasty comments.  Friends point it out and I confess and delete and try to do better.   Tomorrow is another day.  I hope I do better but I won’t promise!  Sorry for my offenses and for keeping me in check.

Matthew 26

 

Sin Tax

We are moving into an era of “Boutique Taxes” as I call them.   A better term is probably “Behavioral Taxes”.   This is not a new idea but it is quickly picking up popularity.  The idea started as “sin tax” and it was gladly put on alcohol, tobacco and gambling.  Conservative America didn’t fight them because it was a tax on “sin”.   The “sinners” didn’t object because they enjoyed their sin so much they didn’t care if it was taxed.  They admitted it was wrong and in some kind of weird thinking “they deserved the tax”.

Our governments are always looking for a new income stream to fund burgeoning budgets.  Instead of blanket taxes that make everyone mad they are turning to these focused taxes.  Here are a couple of examples:

Gasoline tax: a penny here and a penny there and no one is supposed to notice.  The money is supposed to go to road improvement but does it really?

Marijuana tax: can’t beat them….join them and tax it.  I mean really….who is going to object to this tax?  No one.

Soda tax: https://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/its-not-rocket-science?utm_term=.egqN7EQ8WW#.cmzMB4ePkk.  I believe this will take off like the space shuttle.  Add a little more fuel and this will be everywhere by 2018.  I don’t care about the other sin taxes but this one will hurt me when it comes to my neighborhood.  Or….will it help me to stop a nasty habit?

Our governments have got on to something.  They can raise taxes and be socially correct.  They can punish people for non accepted behavior and even make changes in said behaviors.   How many have stopped smoking because of the cost and attention?  Will the same happen with sugar?  On the other hand they can legalize illegal behavior, control it and earn income from it.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

Let’s take this concept to a broader scope (because you know the government will).  What if they tax divorce?  How about abortions? (oh, yes that could be another blog coming!)  Salt?  Obesity?  What if they take it farther – taxing churches that have certain views?  Bibles?  TV?  Twinkies? Ice Cream?  Is this an over stretch of our governing bodies or are they right in being the big brother and taxing “bad” behavior?  Should they be permitted to legalize behavior in the name of tax and control?  How about prostitution?  Gambling is already out of the box and will never go back.  Our states even promote it with their lotteries.

If a small potato chip bag goes from $1 to $2 because of a salt and oil tax will you stop eating them?  Will a poor person stop?  We’ll see.

Romans 13:7
Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
mountain dew

Left Over Spirituality

I had left over chicken cacciatore for lunch today.  I microwaved it for 2 minutes and took a bite – it seemed ok.  When I dug down to stir it up the bottom was still ice cold.  I nuked it another minute and stirred and then ran it for another minute.  It turned out pretty good but I’ve had microwaved leftovers that could frighten a dog’s pallet.

There are a couple rules about leftovers: 1) The food needs to start out great  and be appropriate for heating up later.  Ex.  A quick stop at McDonalds may seem like a good idea when in a hurry but don’t ever microwave a Big Mac and fries.  Just trust me.  2)  It needs to be fresh – a microwave is not going to help “dead” food with mold on it.  3)  Eat it fast before it starts to go downhill.  Microwaved foods seem to have a half life and can’t be heated a 3rd time.   4) When in doubt, throw it out.   If a fresh run to McDonalds is better than the leftover, don’t eat it.

So….One of the problems in Christiandome is people constantly feeding others old leftovers that are warmed up in the microwave.   For my generation, it was choir and quartets on Sunday nights.  I could see the mold growing from the back of the church!  Fresh food in that period was hippy Jesus music.  That sound was tough and spongy when I tried to serve it to my kids.

What are you eating now?  Leftover prosperity gospel?  Warmed up end times doctrine?  Stir fried house church?  Grilled King James only scripture?  Maybe you are one of the 30-40 somethings that would rather starve than eat another re-heated meal that gave so much nourishment to your parents.

Here’s an idea.  Grow a garden with the food you like.  Make something fresh and delicious that makes you healthy.  Just remember, that no carb diet or vegan diet or gluten free food that YOU love may not be good for your kids in ten years.

Mark 2:22 (NIV)

22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

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Want to be a millionaire?

The common line is….”I just wish I could win the lottery.”   Or….”I’ll be working until the day I die….I don’t know what retirement is.”   Some of us justify our poorness by saying “my treasure is in heaven” or “I’m richly blessed in other ways.”  All of those may be true statements.  Wealth is a tricky creature.  There are new get rich schemes started every day.

I made the decision at a young age to own a business.  Other than part time summer jobs while I was in school I have never worked for a company.   For me it was a passion.  Of course I thought I’d get rich along the way but that wasn’t my driving force.  But when my company bottomed out in 2009 I hit rock bottom with it.  Two things bothered me – 1) It was my baby and it was dying and I had to do something to save it; and 2) I immediately thought that I was too old in my 50’s to recoup the loss and rebuild it.   For the first time I wished that I had gone another path – school teacher, pastor, or anything that was paying a pension.    I won’t get into the depression topic but you know that was rough.

The crazy thing about wealth is that we all work to get it.  Some of us make it to “wealth”  but most of us get to the level of “getting by”.   “Getting by” is a very subjective term and worthy of a whole different article!

Here is the crazy point that I’m getting at:  I started my business in 1980.  I bought my first Apple Macintosh in 1985 (I still have it).  I sweated a lot of trials and frustrations over the last 36 years trying to make it.  I could have easily bought $10,000 of Apple stock, taught 6th grade and I would be worth almost $3 million dollars today plus a pension.   Did I miss the opportunity?   Yes but I could have bought $10,000 in stock in 2007 and I’d be worth $740,000 which is far better than my business did in that time period.

Opportunities don’t disappear.  Yes they change.  The hard part is knowing what will be an opportunity and what will be a failure.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started out close to the same time as me.  I don’t need to tell you who made more money.  Someone will come up with the new opportunity today.  I don’t care how many times you have failed in the past, you can be a part of the new thing today.  If not today, maybe tomorrow.

God doesn’t want you living in a shelter.  He has opportunities laid out before you every day.  Wake up tomorrow and look for them.  You might be surprised what you find.

Ephesians 5:16  Make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
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Don’t Believe the lies

It’s a brand new year…again.  Time to set goals and to reflect on the past year.  My encouragement for this year is “Don’t believe the lies”.  We all battle the attacks of the enemy in some way.  For some we may be too fat.  For some we may be too old (or too young).  For others we may be worthless or without talent.  I’ve said it before that I battle with “Failure”.   Here’s my example today:

I’ve been playing the stupid (I call it stupid because it is very addicting!) game of ‘2 Dots’ on my phone.  I hit a level that I couldn’t pass.  Immediately I began to believe that I wasn’t good at the game and that I was a failure because I couldn’t pass one level.  God pointed out to me (as a lesson) that I was battling over level 775.  “If you are not good at this game, how could you have won 774 games before this level?”  Good point I said.  “Remember when you got frustrated at level 50 and you quit and deleted the app only to download it again the next day start over?”  Yes I said and I now I’m at 776 because I finally won 775 as I began writing this.

How many times do we look at one failure and believe that our whole life is a failure?  How many times have you loved your children but you sulk when you lash out in frustration or weariness and believe that you are a bad parent?  How many times have you sinned and felt like God will never love you again?  How many times have you ended a project and say you will never try again?

Don’t believe the lies.  You are not called to failure and you are not called to quit.  If you do it wrong this time, throw it out and start over.  God doesn’t love you because you are successful.  He loves you because you are you.  Count the 775 things that you have done right and don’t worry about the one that has you frustrated at the moment.   You have way more successes than failures.  Remember that!

Luke 1:37
For no word from God will ever fail.
hannahpraise

Just go to sleep

I had the great pleasure of babysitting two of my grandaughters last night.  The youngest is three and recently had the earth shattering experience of losing her nuk AND her crib at the same time (she has very bad parents 🙂 ).  I had the challenge of getting her to sleep and for an hour while I laid on the floor beside her tiny little bed and she held my hand (finger).  Fortunately, the bed was the perfect height for me to rest my elbow on the floor and rest my arm against the bed without holding it up in the air.

It’s beautiful loving moments like these when the writing side of my brain takes over and I begin comparing this love to God.  Thoughts like – He is right beside us, there is nothing to fear; All God wants is for us to hold His hand and be loved; God’s love is so simple, we don’t need to do anything to win His approval; Don’t complicate God’s love, just reach out and take hold of Him; There is nothing we can do that will separate us from His love.

And then she sneezed all over my face!  You got it, those beautiful tender thoughts kind of vanished very fast and I had enough.  Those tender loving thoughts turned to “just go to sleep!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I was and I am still joyful about my grandkids (I’m babysitting again this weekend).  I do love those tender moments just like God loves tender moments with His children.  But there are times, I’m sure, when God is tired of hugging and rocking and just wants us to get on with what we are supposed to be doing.

“Just do what you are told to do”.  It might be getting some sleep.  It might be eating our food.  It might be cleaning our room.  Just do it.  Savor your love moments with God but when its time to get up and do something; get up and do it!  Don’t hang around and milk the love moments when it is clear that you have a job to do.

Exodus 14:15
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
cakes