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Smile 2

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Sometimes it take the smallest thing to make your heart smile.

Earlier this week, I was waiting in the foyer of my church for my son’s jr. high youth group to finish up.  Awana and a couple of Bible study groups are held on the same night. So, at the end of the night it’s not unusual for a small contingent of parents to be waiting in the foyer until all the groups are out.

When we saw the Awana kids file into the sanctuary for their closing, we all knew the wait was almost over. It had been silly string night, and because of this the little guys were all dressed up in Western wear. You could see they had a root-tooting good time shooting their teachers with Silly String until their teachers looked more like Cousin It from the Addams Family than anything else by the time it was all over.

So, we were waiting, making small talk, chit chatting, and waiting some more, when all of a sudden someone said, “the cubbies are singing, Oh, Happy Day.” At those words, all of the parents mobilized and rushed into the sanctuary to see the cubbies singing their hearts out on the stage complete with the song’s hand motions and cowboy hats perched precariously on their heads.

And, everyone else got in on the action too. Even if they didn’t know the hand motions, it’s hard to mess up the words, “Oh, happy day” was repeated with enough regularity to make anyone feel like they could join in.

In the few minutes those little cubbies sang that praise song to the Lord, and everyone else joined in, there was no one within earshot who didn’t have a smile on their face.

Take a listen to the song yourself.

After the song was over all the parents filed out to the foyer to wait some more, and even though we were in the same situation we were in before, you could just see that everyone was just a little more joyful.

It’s amazing what happens to your day when you look at the Lord and realize what He’s done for you because of His immense love for you. No matter where you are, what you’re doing or what you have to contend with, you can say, ‘it’s a happy day because You, Lord, are with me.’

“And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!'”

Nehemiah 8:10


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Raw cookie dough in cookie clumps.

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The other day, I was listening to the radio and Brian “Head” Welch was being interviewed. Now this guy, who was the guitarist and founding member of the band KoRn, has sort of an amazing conversion story. It’s one of those that we all love to hear because it shows the power of God, and how if it suits His purposes, He is fully capable of coming down and just BOOM, grabbing someone.

On thing that really struck me while I was listening to the interview was when Welch said that he found Christ and His love irresistible. Even though this guy’s story is amazing, and he’s written about it in “Save Me From Myself” and a devotional, “Stronger, Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality”, it was the word irresistible that really caught me.

How many of us can say that it was Christ’s irresistibility that caught us? Many of may say, out of habit, that God loves us, that He gave His life for us or that we love Him, but how many of us have experienced the love of God in such a way that we would categorize it as irresistible?

When someone says ‘irresistible’ I’m always reminded of my son when he was 5-years old and in kindergarten. He went to a school where it was just a half-day kindergarten, so, he was always home for lunch.

My son is an unapologetic lover of desserts. Many years ago, he informed me that not only was there dinner dessert, but there was breakfast dessert and lunch dessert too. The breakfast dessert I put my foot down about, but, every once in a while, I would give him a little lunch dessert especially after he had come home from a long day of  learning in kindergarten.

All of us have that one dessert that we just love, and for my son it’s cookie dough. Now, I know that you’re not supposed to give your children cookie dough because of the raw eggs and the fact that the experts say it could possibly kill them. But, since I’m not really one to listen to the experts, and since my son just adores the stuff, I’ve always gone by the motto ‘everything in moderation’ and have moderately indulged his love of it.

So, this one day I decided that lunch dessert was in order. In an effort to stream line things, I put his lunch down in front of him and off to the side on a separate plate, I put two little squares of chocolate chip cookie dough. These were accompanied with strict instructions that he needed to eat his lunch first and his dessert second. It wasn’t even a minute later that he moved from one end of the table to the other, taking his lunch plate with him, and leaving his dessert behind.

I immediately told him that moving around the table during a meal was rude, and he needed to go back to his original seat.

“I can’t go back there,” he said.

“Why not?” I answered looking from one end of the table to the other and not seeing what the problem could possibly be.

“It’s  too tempting,” he replied. “I’m trying not to be tempted by the cookie dough. So, I moved.”

I tried not to smile because he was so earnest in his desire not to give into the temptation of the cookie dough. Rather than get into trouble for eating it first, he moved so far way from it that it wouldn’t interfere with what he was told he needed to do first.

Because he loved the cookie dough more than anything else, it was irresistible to him.

Draws a picture of what irresistible is, doesn’t it?

When I heard Brian “Head” Welch describe Christ and His love as irresistible, then thought of my son and the cookie dough, it made me wonder about how many of us see God that way, as irresistible. To fall that deeply for someone, to allow ourselves to come to that point where we realize that we need to let go of everything else because there is nothing more important than being with that person we find irresistible, can be a frightening place to be, especially if we think there are other things that come before it.

Yet, it seems to me that we could make things a lot easier for ourselves if we just stopped fighting Him and the irresistible love He has for us, turned around and not only admitted that He is irresistible, but that there is nothing that is more important than He is.

“God, your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They are filled from the abundance of Your house. You let them drink from Your refreshing stream, for with You is life’s fountain. In Your light we will see the light”

Psalm 36:7-9




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Vintage children's blocks

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Do you ever think about the vernacular of a generation? Sometimes I do. There are times when my mind takes flight over the terrain of words. Usually, this is when I probably should be writing something, well, in reality probably has nothing to do with it, and should has a lot to do with it. Either way, my mind flies over to those words, then wanders over them slowly. What they sound like. What they look like. What they mean. Who says them. And a whole lot more.

I turn them over, like those little wooden blocks that children make towers to tomorrow out of before they all come crashing down around them, causing squeals of laughter, or tears of frustration and remorse. I guess you can say that I love words, and none so much as the common.

Today the word ‘fierce’ came to mind. As I turned it over and over, looking for its equivalent in today’s world, ‘sick’ came to mind, along with its predecessors, ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’, along with the almost unforgettable qualifier ‘totally’.

‘Totally fierce’ tumbled around my mind for a while, and with its implications of total abandon, protection and uninhibited passion behind it, I found I really liked the sound of it.

Fierce is an interesting word because it can be either positive or negative, depending on what side of the fence you are standing. I would think most people would look at it in its most basic definition of  being, “Extremely severe or violent; terrible” which sounds pretty bad, but it is also defined as, “Extremely intense or ardent” ( both definitions come from the free dictionary.

So, I got to thinking that this is exactly how God is. Depending on where you stand with Him, He is either the first or second definition. He’s definitely not any where in between. There is no gray area with God. He either seems fierce or extremely severe and terrible if you aren’t in relationship with Him through Jesus/Yeshua, or He is fierce about how He feels for you as someone who knows Him through Jesus/Yeshua.

It is very clear throughout scripture that the great I Am is fierce. He isn’t some wishy-washy god who changes on a dime to accommodate some vision of what some man thinks He should be. He is who He is and He cannot be anything else. He is fiercely who He is, which can be a little frightening at times because we don’t ever encounter that with anyone but Him. The intensity with which He feels, and the lengths He is willing to go to get through to us can be frightening, then when we are in relationship with Him through His efforts, not our own, the ardent and passionate way He loves us can be frightening in its ferocity.

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it, when you really realize that you are in relationship with the fierce One who created it all, including you, and that He is fiercely in love with you, there is no way to respond with anything but amazement, awe, and yes, sometimes even a little bot of fierceness ourselves.

“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:39

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Jousting is a sport that evolved out of heavy ...

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The West Coast Ultimate Jousting Championship is coming to my little rural, off-the-beaten-track,  neck of the woods very soon.

The California Mother Lode whose history is intertwined with the Gold Rush may seem like a strange place for knights to compete. Yet, thanks to one  modern-day Renaissance man, Patrick Michael Karnahan, who started a small celebration of the Celts and their culture 25-years ago, we are now the home to one of the most unique sports of the modern era.

Jousting had its heyday in the late Middle Ages into the Renaissance, and the sport has always fascinated me. I readily admit this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m an unabashed Tudorite and the Golden Prince himself,  Henry the VIII, was a ferocious competitor on the jousting field.

Armor of Henry VIII and his horse.

The modern-day knights who compete in this arena, train hard, compete hard and after you’ve seen them, you come away knowing why they were the rock stars of the Middle Ages. All this is set to be the focus of a reality show called the “Knights of Mayhem” that the National Geographic Channel is producing with the first episode slated to be shot in just a couple of weeks at the Sonora Celtic Faire.

Yet, the modern-day knights, through no fault of their own, do not have the benefit of the extensive training that their historical counterparts did. This is primarily because years ago, the training began when they were young boys. For many of them, by the time they were in their early teens, they were able to run and jump on to their horses when they were in full armor, something that would be unthinkable in today’s day and age. Because they were so young when they began their training their muscles and ligaments weren’t fully developed allowing their bodes to accommodate the strain the armor put on them and adjust its growth accordingly.

The armor of King Henry VIII and his horse at the Tower of London.

Even though many of those historical knights may not have seen combat, they were still trained as if they would. Not only that,  but for most of them being trained in combat was a way to stay close to the king, because whatever the king did, as a courtier you would want to do too.

This was especially true in the court of Henry VIII where the active and extremely athletic king had his fair share of courtiers who pursued the same activities he did. If you aligned yourself with the king and what he did, the better chance you had to get to know him.

Many of the courtiers gave up a lot in order to stay as close to the king as possible. They chose to live with him wherever he was, and, in doing so, they gave up their own wants and desires.  They gave up chances to spend time with their families at their own estates. Many times they gave up lucrative, profit-making ventures, giving them to the king as gifts. Basically they gave up their lives in order to have a relationship with the king. Of course, they then had the benefit of being close to the king and having him know who they were, something that others who lived in the kingdom didn’t have, and then, as now, it all comes down to who you know and who knows you.

And, this is what all of us believers in Jesus/Yeshua as the Messiah are called to do too. We are called to train hard just like the knights did, to align ourselves with the desires and activities of our king, and if that involves giving up everything that we may want in the process, then that is what we must do. Because at the end of the day, we are no different from those courtiers from long ago, even though we have had our price paid to enter the kingdom, we still must decide if we are willing to give up everything we may want and have to live at court with the king.

“In the same way, none of you can be my disciples unless you give up everything.”

Luke 14:33

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Map of world in speech bubble (transparent bac...

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With all the hullabaloo about the movie, “The Kings Speech”, which is very well deserved by the way, I started thinking about those people who stutter and those of us who listen to them.

My son is someone who stutters. He doesn’t stutter all the time,  but regularly enough that I’ve had to train myself to listen to him, which sounds odd when you think about it.

My son has his mouth exercises to help him with his stuttering, and ever since he began stuttering when he was about 6 or 7, I’ve had to train myself to sit patiently while he says whatever he needs to say.

In my most basic self this wouldn’t be an easy feat for me. Before I had him, it used to drive me up a wall, across the ceiling and down the other side whenever anyone spoke too slowly. But, an interesting thing happens when it’s someone you care about and love who needs that little bit of extra time and attention so they can get their words and thoughts out.

You just sit, wait and listen until they’re done. You don’t override them. You don’t speak over them. You’re just patient and give them all the time they need to express themselves.

Now, you would think that this experience over the years with my son would have given me a lot more patience with others who speak slowly or take some time getting their words and thoughts out, but, not so much. I only have that kind of patience with my son, with everyone else I still feel like I’m going up one wall, across the ceiling and down the other side. It’s only self-control that keeps my mouth shut.

So really my patience in this arena is person specific, and that specific person is typically my son.

Sometimes when he’s having a particularly difficult day, which really is not very often anymore, we sit for longer periods of time having a conversation because that’s just how it works out. And, at the end of one of those days I was reminded of how our God deals with all of His children in much the same way.

All of us, at one time or another, have come to Him to talk and find we stutter and stammer around trying to find the rights words, the right ways of expressing what’s going on in our hearts, our minds and our spirits, and, He just sits patiently waiting for us to get out what we are trying to tell to Him.

No matter how long it takes. No matter how inept we are at trying to express ourselves. No matter if we say the wrong words or can’t say them at all. He just sits and patiently waits for us, the very picture of patience that can only be born of  a deep and abiding love.

“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.”

Isaiah 40:28

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Sight is a funny thing, and what all of us think of when the topic is mentioned can vary. Yet,  on first glance, we all would probably go to our physical sight first. Especially those of us who wear glasses, or contacts, to whom people look like walking trees if we don’t have anything to help us see. But, there are so many different types of sight beyond the physical, there’s emotional sight, spiritual sight and more, the list can go on and on.

We focus on the physical because by and large, that’s where most of us live. Yet, it’s the emotional and spiritual sight where we can get the most blinded, the most deceived about what is true and real, and what is not.

For those of us who have some sort of help with our physical sight, we know how easy it is for us to see something that’s not true or real if we don’t have our glasses on. I mean really, if people look like walking trees without your glasses on, just about anyone can walk into your home, and, you wouldn’t even know they were a stranger until you got up close to them. Of course, you have your other senses to rely on, but if you just relied on your sight you’d be in trouble.

And, that’s for those of us who are near-sighted. Those who are far-sighted and need reading glasses have the opposite problem. If they don’t have their glasses on, they could think they’ve read something only to find out the words they thought were there, or that looked like they were there, weren’t there at all, which could be problematic to say the least.

When we have a problem with physical sight, we can get physical help that corrects the problems of sight and the perceptions that that issue can cause. But, what about when we have problems seeing emotionally or spiritually?

So many of us see our lives through a faulty mindset, or emotional place, that really skews what is real and true and causes us to believe lies about those very things.

How many times have you met a beautiful woman, or man, who thinks she, or he, is ugly? Or, a really intelligent man, or woman for that matter, who believe they have a less than average intelligence? Or, someone with an immense talent who thinks that it’s worth nothing? I could go on. I can’t tell you how many men and women I’ve met who believe blatant lies about themselves, because there are just too many. The thing that really strikes me though, is no matter how many times they are told the truth, they refuse to absorb it because they are unable to see it.

These things get set so early on in our lives, and to truly shake them is pretty much impossible without the help of God.

I know that there are some that would probably take me to task for such a statement, and tell me that they have shaken their insecurities without the help of an unseen God. They would say they that because of their own work on themselves, they are ‘healthy’ and ‘well’. I would reply that that too is a deception, a lack of seeing clearly. Because when your world turns upside down, and you are not clinging to the One who is truth and reality, then all those deceptions and insecurities come roaring back with a vengeance, probably far worse than they were before because they didn’t actually go away, they only went into hiding for a while.

One of the realities and truths that is so hard for our independent, ‘I can do it all’ natures to grasp, is that when our sight starts to go physically, or is gone spiritually or emotionally, there’s absolutely nothing we can really do about it without help from someone else.

We go get glasses or contacts or lasik surgery to help our physical eyes, but even these band aids cannot permanently fix the problem that is actually occurring with our eyes themselves.

And, even though we are open to getting help from someone else for out physical sight, for far too many of us we are not so pragmatic about the lies we believe, the spiritual and emotional blindness we carry around with us. We would rather try to help ourselves, instead of going to the only One who can truly cure our fuzzy, darkened vision. It’s kind of like if we chose to make our own glasses out of the bottom of glass bottles and wore them around believing that we could see clearly with them on.

Each of us probably has a million reasons for not wanting to go to Him and be cured, but the reality is every moment that we delay is one more moment of unnecessary blindness that we choose to live in as we walk around with our paltry homemade attempt at seeing truth, and fooling no one but ourselves.

“A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!””

John 9:24-25


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View from Sfunim Wadi - Mount Carmel Israel, P...

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People do the strangest things at the oddest times. Sometimes after a great victory in our lives we just do the weirdest thing, then can’t believe we’ve done it.

Today I was thinking about Elijah. If there was a hallway in heaven called, “The Great Prophets of God”, Elijah’s name would totally be there.

The funny thing about the gift of prophecy is that people seem to think it’s a really cool gift to have because they associate it with predicting the future and seeing what’s going to happen. And that is part of being a prophet, but basically it’s just about telling others what God’s telling you to tell them.  It could be for the future, but it could just as easily be for right now, to help you in your walk today.

It’s kind of like being a messenger. Scripture is very clear on the fact that being a prophet is not easy and many times people don’t want to hear what you have to say. I mean really, when you think about it, if they’re not going to listen to God Himself why would they listen to the person He sent to tell them His will?

But, in my eyes, Elijah did one of the coolest things of any of the Old Testament prophets. He called on God to burn up an offering in 1 Kings 18 in what could be called a ‘my God against yours’ match. The prophets of Baal went first. Now Elijah knew his God. He knew who God was. He knew what God could do. He had no doubt about the fact that his God was going to come down and dominate the competition. Elijah even went so far as to mock the prophets of Baal as they try to get their god to respond.

Of course their god didn’t show up. In fact my version of the events reads, among other not too kindly words for these prophets of Baal, “Then they did their lame dance around the alter they made.” 1 Kings 18:26

Yet, when Elijah called on God, He showed up in such a huge way that there was no doubt who was actually God. He not only consumed the offering Elijah had put out for Him, a water logged offering at that, but the fire He sent down obliterated everything, the offering, the 12 stones, the wood, the dust and all the water until there was nothing left. There was no doubt that not only was God God, but He was hugely powerful as well.

It was just a short time later that Elijah did the strangest thing. He ran away in fear, but not from God. He ran away in fear from a very powerful woman.

He seemed to have a moment of amnesia about who God was, and what He had just done, when Queen Jezebel put a death threat out on his head. And Elijah wasn’t just a little afraid, he was so afraid that he ran a huge distance in a short time to get away from the threat.

Then he left his servant behind, slept under a tree where an angel gave him food when he woke up, and walked for 40 days until he came to a cave in a mountain and spent the night there. That’s where God came to him.

And He asks Elijah a funny question. He says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?’ As if God didn’t already know what Elijah was doing there, as if He didn’t already know that Elijah was running for his life, that he was tired. He had seen God’s prophets killed and tried to give God’s message to an unresponsive people. Elijah was weary. He felt as if he were the only one left alive serving God, and he tells God all about it.

One question from God brought a floodgate of emotions from Elijah, and maybe, just maybe, at another time, in another place, he wouldn’t have been so honest with God about how he felt. How weary he was. How lonely and alone he felt serving this one true God.

God knew this and maybe that’s why He asked Elijah that most basic and banal of all questions. Because sometimes it only takes the slightest touch to open a wound.

We’re really not so different from Elijah, because when we’re in a spot like he was, feeling hurt, alone and weary, all it takes is a few words in a voice of caring to cause the floodgates of our hearts to open. Those few words take on another meaning entirely when we realize they are spoken by the God who is in love with and deeply cares for each one of us.

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Psalm 145:8










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