Solving Life’s Equations

addsup“They see, but they’re blind. They hear, but they don’t listen.” These are the paraphrased words of Jesus in Matthew 13.

While there are some people who simply cannot see and understand, because they lack insight, there are others who seem to see and comprehend because of foresight. For some people, life is an unsolvable equation, for others life is as easy as 1+1=2.

Here’s an example of what I mean: The total cost of a bat and a ball is $ 1.10. The cost of the bat is $ 1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? What’s your first response? There’s a good chance that your first thought is the ball must cost 10 cents. Look at the question again: The bat costs $ 1.00 more than the ball, so the bat must cost $ 1.05, and the ball costs 5 cents.

When I think of this little exercise, I think of what Jesus said: There are too many people who see with a blind eye and listen with a deaf ear.

Faith has nothing in common with eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear. Faith sees what the eye can’t see, and it hears what the ear can’t hear. The blind eye sees the prowling lion, while the eye of faith see Daniel’s angel.

Faith allows us to see beyond the sunset of the ordinary and it enables us to grasp the sunrise of the extraordinary (Hebrews 11):
• By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice
• By faith Noah built the ark
• By faith kingdoms were conquered and the mouths of lions were stopped9

Noah and Daniel were not blind—they saw what others didn’t see, and they heard what others refused to hear. Many of their contemporaries saw life as a ridiculous riddle, but for them the answer was simple: Trust the unknown future to the all-knowing God.

Trusting God in this fashion makes more than a nickel’s worth of difference, it’s the difference between sound and silence, night and day, and life and death.

Be A Benediction

Kind Words   Lift Spirits

Kind Words
Lift Spirits

Without going too far into human anatomy and the function of speech, I think I can safely say that the process of speaking begins somewhere between thought and action. I’ll take it a step farther to say that speech, at times, can be a poor substitute for the other two.

Speech or the act of “saying” something comes from the Latin word “dicere.” When dicere is wed to “bene,” the two give birth to the Latin word benedicere. “Well-speak” is the meaning of benedicere, and “benediction” is its identical twin.

An example of a benediction is found in Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Regardless of how you have spoken in the past, I encourage you to “speak-well” today. You are the benediction that someone needs, and the words you “well-speak” can be the encouragement that changes a life.

MIA: Two Vowels and the Letter “M”

miaPOW-MIA: The white stitching of these 6 letters is sewn on the bill of my black hat. The purpose and design of hats like these is to call us to duty, and that duty is to not forget and to always remember the sacrifice of those who served.

When I came home from work last night, I laid my hat aside and sat down in my chair. A little later I glanced at my hat, and my attention was focused on two vowels and the letter “M.”

The letters spell MIA (Missing In Action), and when I spin them around and rearrange them, they form a declaration and a question:

• I am!
• Am I?

As I think about this declaration and the question, I contemplate a conversation in Isaiah chapter six: “Whom will I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah responded: “Here I am. Send me!”

I get the idea that up to this point in his life, Isaiah was MIA. The item of importance is not so much what Isaiah was or was not, but whether I am or am not.

Can I make a declaration or must I ask a question?

• I am serving the Lord!
• Am I serving the Lord?

This declaration and question was at the heart of what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 9:35-37: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Is your place in the harvest a declaration or a question?
• I am praying earnestly for more people to join hands and work in the harvest.
• I am actively at work in the harvest.
• Am I earnestly and actively using my gifts and abilities for God’s glory?

MIA: I am! or Am I? Two vowels and the letter “M”—How do they define your life?

Life Links

Links Puzzle Showing Website ContentMy thoughts this morning are on a four letter word. You can rest easy, it’s not the “wash your mouth out with soap” kind of word. “Link” is the word that has my attention, and it means, “to bend, turn, lead and to bind, fasten, to couple.”

When I think of a link, I generally do so with the picture of a chain in my mind. Let’s put this picture on an easel and with a stroke or two of a brush we can refashion this image, and make it a useable tool for daily use.

Now that the image of LINK has been touched up, we can see it in a new light: Listen, Inquire, Note, Know

LINK is a very useable formula or tool you can use to deepen your relationship with God, and it is a concept that is seen in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Listening is an important first step in knowing God. This involves the reading of God’s Word and the intentional focusing of your mind on Him. Calm down, relax, and recognize His presence. Take a deep breath and focus your thoughts on the Lord.

I think it is important to Listen before we Inquire. We should let God speak to us before we speak to Him. Think about, God already knows everything there is to know about us; and, when we take time to listen we get to know more about Him.

Be curious as you read and Inquire:
• Based on the verbs in the Scripture what am I to do?
• Obey a principle?
• Claim a promise?
• Share a truth?

Keep a notebook and pen handy, because it helps to Note the thoughts you have been given. These thoughts do not have to be long poetic sentences and theological paragraphs. They might just be a word or two, something to do, or the name of some person.

Now it’s time to get to Know God in prayer. To know someone, honesty is important—be honest with God. Tell Him how you feel, share your aches, pains, and desires.

In Romans 10:17, Paul said: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” When you use the LINK formula, you are hearing God as He speaks to you and as you speak to Him.

What part of today will you take to “be still” so you can get to “know” God?

The Morning Essential: Caffeine

timcupI’m going to confirm what you may have suspected for some time: I’m a head-case. Not only am I a head-case, I’m a government certified, card-carrying, head-case!

Without boring you with too many details, I sustained a head injury while I served in the Air Force, and I’ve been plagued with daily headaches since 1972. Many different formulas have been prescribed to try to help me manage the pain, but nothing seems to work.

One of the pills I’ve tried consists of a blend of acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine. The acetaminophen is used to relieve inflammation and pain; the butalbital acts as a sedative relaxant; and the caffeine enhances the effects of the acetaminophen and butalbital.

Without the caffeine, the acetaminophen and butalbital would have some effect; however, for maximum effectiveness, the pill needs the presence of the caffeine.

I see a correlation between the effectiveness of the caffeine and the empowering and enlightening of the Holy Spirit that Paul wrote about in Ephesians: “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.”

I guess you can say my morning routine includes caffeine and more caffeine. I begin by popping a K-Cup in my Keurig, going to my chair, and sipping my coffee as I ask for God’s Spirit to enlighten me as I read His word.

I know that I need to start every day with a fresh cup of His wisdom, and I invite you to join me—sip it in and live it out.

A Step Behind

1downwardHave you ever had one of those days where you felt like you just couldn’t get caught up? Well, if you felt like you were a step behind yesterday, you may be an hour late this morning.

If you didn’t move your clock forward an hour yesterday, you may have some problems this morning. Instead of running a little late to work or school, you’re still falling backwards and need to leap ahead one hour—ASAP!

Time is an often discussed subject in the pages of Scripture, and Paul wrote of it in Romans 13: “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”

The Apostle continued this theme when he wrote to the churches at Philippi and Colossae. In both letters he called on Christians to “redeem the time.” The word “redeem” is the Greek “exagorazó,” and it means to buy up. Paul was challenging people to buy up every opportunity to do what’s right, because of the downward spiral towards immorality.

Regardless of what you did with your seconds of yesterday, it is what you do with your minutes of today that is important. Yesterday is gone, but each hour of today is a gift from God, and they are ripe with the potential to change the future.

This truth is the focus of a discussion in The Fellowship of the Ring: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us (J.R.R. Tolkien).”

The question is not: “Are you having the time of your time?” The question that truly matters is this: “What are you going to do with the time of your life?”


syndromeHand-Me-Down-Syndrome: I just checked Google, and I find no mention of it in a medical dictionary. Since this dreadful syndrome has afflicted most every person born into this world, its lack of mention is interesting

The first born child, often times, will not be fashioned by the hemlines of this condition, but she is directly involved in the distribution of this disorder. Prior to her birth, her mother, grandmother, aunts, and well-meaning family friends bought her cutesy, little pink girly dresses; and, within a few months she outgrows it all.

The Hand-Me-Down-Syndrome begins when the second child is born, and she gets the leftover hand-me-downs that had been previously worn by big sister. While this process is played out in many families, and it is a good money-saving practice, I received very little of what my older brother had worn. He was kind of a skinny, scrawny kid, and I was more robust—I much prefer robust to chunky!

This syndrome can manifest itself in either a negative or a positive fashion. As parents, we can pass-down unhealthy patterns of living (substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.), or we can be a guiding hand that provides positive re-enforcement.

Our children will mimic what we have modeled. Again, this can be either positive or negative. Paul gave a great example of this in his letter to Timothy: “I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also (2 Tim 1:3-5).”

Timothy was blessed by the powerful faith aspect of this syndrome. It began with his grandmother, was handed down to his mother, and Timothy dazzled the church as a fashion model of the faith.

How have you modeled your faith for your family? What are you handing-down and passing-on to them?

Head Games

skull3-01-111413-2344I came across some statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health concerning fear and worry. After reading the findings, I find myself fearing that people worry too much or, worrying that people fear too much.
The study by the NIMH indicates that:
• 60% of fears are over things that will never happen.
• 30% of fears are focused on things that happened in the past
• 90 % of fears are somewhat insignificant
• 88% are health-related fears (hypochondriacs)

The Anxiety and Depression Society of America has stated that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Uncontrolled worry can have a debilitating effect on a person’s appetite, relationships, job performance, and sleep.

Please pay attention to this: Whatever gets your attention gets you. The content of your thoughts determine the contentment of your life.

As you read this you might say: “You’re crazy! You don’t know what’s happening in my life!” Statements like this are externally focused. While it’s true there are times when we have no control over the externals of life, we do control the internals.

A key means of controlling the internals is to be introspective with a proper perspective. This is a technique that is at least as old as the Apostle Paul, who said: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”

It takes discipline and practice to make this a habit. This is because many people are born with a negative bias in the way they see life. Research indicates that the brain is more likely to focus on negative feelings instead of positive feelings.

The brain’s focus on negative feelings has been called the FUD Factor (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). When our thoughts are left unattended they wander into the wilderness of negativity and stumble into the cesspool of distress.

This is one reason Paul said that we need to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Some thoughts can be wonderfully captivating; however, others are so powerful in their negativity a person becomes a prisoner of his own mind.

How aware are you of the hundreds of mental-messages that flash through your mind each day? Is your self-talk wholesome conversation that builds your self-esteem and glorifies God? 1index When you begin to recognize the pattern of your thoughts, you’ve taken the first step into the transformation that renews your mind (Romans 12:2).


1Apgrind1I enjoy the quiet of the early morning hours. I sit in my chair, sip my coffee, and I reflect on God’s Word.

This morning, my thoughts have focused on the many decisions, some delightful and others rather dismal, that dot the pages of Scripture. One of the first to be made, was the decision of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; another was the misstep of the Israelites that resulted in a 40 year march through the wilderness; and, one more of the many was the challenge of Joshua: “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . (Joshua 24:15).”

My real focus, however, is not the decisions themselves, but the word itself—the word “decide.” Decide is de-cide. We find “de” on words like de-ice and de-frost, and think of the “de” as meaning something like “off.”

The curious part of the word is the four letter syllable “cide.” It appears in words like homicide, suicide, and infanticide. These words speak of the death of a human by one means or another. Then there are the chemically related death words such as herbicide and pesticide.

So, I ask myself: “How can decide be related to these other cides?” Even though Latin is a “dead” language, it still gives life to our understanding of the English.
Cide come from a Latin root which means “cut” or “kill.” The idea is that when we decide to do something, we are “killing off” all possibilities except for one.

When Joshua called on the Israelites to “choose,” he was saying: “It is time to decide on which side you’ll abide.” They could either stay where they were and live like their forefathers or they could decide to follow Joshua and serve the Lord.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he challenged them to decide to: “Seek what is above . . . Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.”

What kind of a CIDER are you? Have you decided to seek the things above or are you satisfied where you are in your spiritual journey?

prayerworldFIRST thing this morning, join hands and hearts with Christians in the Ukraine, and, PRAY for PEACE.

Psalm 63: O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.

For more information on the call for prayer in the Ukraine and for the Christians there, read this article: Pastors Hope All-Night Prayer Vigil Prevents Russia from Invading Ukraine