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Archive for April, 2011

Thimble

I stand by the edge of the vast ocean – usually in my imagination, not often enough in reality – and gaze at the endless expanse. I feel its ceaseless approach; pounding forward, hissing backward, every drop part of every other drop – one massive entirety that I can touch and feel, but which puts me in the smallest of finite places.

I can take it with me, but only a thimble at a time. That is my quota, my capacity. At some time in the future that I cannot now predict, I will live by that sea, able to swim and sail and float and frolic ceaselessly.

God Himself is that ocean. His love and wisdom and justice and power, displayed in a dying Savior who rose again, pound mercifully on our hearts with the message of His goodness. We are invited to let the waves wash over us, cleansing us; and to take a thimble with us, along with a promise of much, much more.

If you look at me, or any other believer, you’ll only see another flawed being like yourself, who has been given beach access and a thimble. I can only give you a tiny sample of the water of life. But, listen! Open your ears – hear those waves? Right there is the path to the shore. I’ll even walk with you partway if you’d like.

That pile of thimbles? I think I see yours right there.

Go. Wade in. Fill your thimble. The water is fine.

And, it’s free.

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Idle Idols

There are many words that can be used to describe God. Passive is not one of them.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

Psalm 147:2-6


Every single page of Scripture repudiates the notion that the true and living God is passive and uninvolved. It is safe to say that if the god you worship is idle, then it is also an idol. And who would want to worship a god that was too lazy to even give names to the stars? Even we can do that (albeit badly at times).

You are vulnerable, lonely, needy. Turn to the One who is active, powerful, and caring. He even knows you by name.

(Image credit: Hubble/NASA)

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The Right Tool for the Job

Outside my office window this morning is evidence of something I did yesterday (one of my favorite activities) – splitting some wood.

There’s a certain simplicity to wood-splitting. A log, a maul, and some muscle – that’s it. No other tools required.

Now I could have gone out and yelled at the logs to split. I could have kicked them, beat them with a trowel, or backed the car over them. None of that would have yielded the desired results. Even a chainsaw, which so quickly reduces the size of logs with a transverse cut, is not at all effective for splitting with the grain.

Maul and muscle.

When we consider the hardened hearts, the log-like stubbornness that we can face with our congregations, or family members, or friends, we have to remember that there is only one way to see the desired transformation. Truth, prayer, and love are the maul and muscle of spiritual progress. Nothing else splits the grain.

Let’s use the right tool for the job.

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Enough Misery

If you’re plugged into people and events and news on-line, you cannot help but be assaulted by the steady flow of misery and trouble that surrounds us.

It’s enough to drag you into a low-level feeling of unending angst.

Yes, there’s always an abundant harvest of bad news, each and every day. It will always be there if we choose to circle the drain with it. But we’re not designed to carry that sort of burden ceaselessly.

This is a good day to turn aside from the misery and set our minds and hearts elsewhere. Look up and out, not down and in.

  • A 2-minute gaze at a spring-flowering plant, rehearsing in your imagination what an absolute miracle this annual event is, will lift your spirits more than a tumbler of help-me-forget bourbon.
  • A 10-second hug with an affectionate child will activate far more endorphins than a finished blog post.
  • A secret smile given to a spouse for no reason whatsoever will brighten the day for both the giver and the glad recipient.
  • Five minutes sitting back, eyes closed, soaking in the sunshine with no tasks or deadlines allowed to intrude will energize for the tasks that will always be waiting tomorrow.

Things to delight in are all around. But don’t just settle for those. Far surpassing earthly delights, we have the opportunity to delight in the God who made it all.

There’s enough misery out there. Today, let’s resist the pull to wallow in it. There is wonder and wonderfulness out there awaiting – go find it. And, better still, go spread it!

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