Who is Watching?

surveillance-signs-y4397371-80618-l11955-lg (1)Have you ever had that feeling that you’re being watched? It may be more than just a feeling. Comparitech, a company that is known for its, Thousands of hours of in-depth tech research, has discovered, the world’s most-surveilled cities.

After studying the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, the researchers at Comparitech have discovered the top 20 cities in the world that are the most surveilled. Of the cities that made the top 10, all of them were in China except London and Atlanta.

The proponents of CCTV cameras say they are excellent tools to help prevent crime and to monitor the flow of traffic. There are many, however, who see a sinister use of this technology. Specifically, the detractors are concerned with the development of facial recognition and the prying eyes of big government: Will the use of this technology make for a safer society at the expense of individual liberties?

While big government might abuse and misuse this technology, it’s much different with our Big God. Solomon said the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3, NKJV).

When God sees the evil and the good in the world, we need to remember that His justice is balanced by His love, mercy, and grace. In Genesis 6:5, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; however, three verse later, we see that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

What does God see when He observes your life? May it be a life of justice, kindness, and humility (Micah 6:8).

Picker-Uppers and Put-er-Downers

judgment-1024x682-1-730x430Do you judge-mentally or are you judgmental? One is a well-reasoned response to a given situation, while the other is an irrational reaction. One investigates the specifics seeking the best outcome for everyone involved, while the other is condescending and self-serving in its handling of the facts.

A judgmental person thrives by focusing on your weaknesses and failures. As long as he can do that, he doesn’t have to think of his own puny performance and fatal flaws.

Paul challenged the church at Galatia to address this issue: “If a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. For each one will carry his own load . . . whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith (Galatians 6).”

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • When someone stumbles and falls, do I reject him or restore him?
  • Am I reaching out with a “spirit of gentleness?”
  • Do I have a “holier-than-thou attitude?”
  • Have I examined my life to deal with my own shortcomings?
  • Do I look for the opportunity to help carry the burden of the heavy-hearted?
  • Am I like the Good Samaritan, and try to do good to all?

Your answers to these questions may help you determine if you are a picker-upper or a put-er-downer. Which of the two are you?

Uniquely Kind

Unique means “one of a kind.” Today is your opportunity to be the one of a kind person someone will meet. Will you be unique with your kindness?

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Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32

Remember to, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~Colossians 3:12

mother t

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
~Mother Teresa

His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!  ~Psalm 117:2

Beating the Blues

HopeDid you awaken this morning feeling more down-and-out and less up-and-at-it? If so, you might identify with the “woe-is-me” mentality of Jeremiah who said:

“I’m the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God’s anger. He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. Yes, he’s given me the back of his hand over and over and over again. He turned me into a scarecrow of skin and bones, then broke the bones. He hemmed me in, ganged up on me, and poured on the trouble and hard times. He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.” ~ The Message

The sure cure for a case of the Monday Morning Blues is a long sip from this energizing Cup of Hope:  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

When Jeremiah began to focus less on his problems and more on God, his perspective changed.  He began to realize that the high tide of God’s hope has a rhythmic presence that’s just as certain as the appearance of the moon in the night sky.  He also concluded that the faithfulness of God is as cool and refreshing as an artesian well that never runs dry—it’s new every morning.

In the Psalms, David learned that the riddles of life are never solved through the emptiness of the world, but through the fullness of God’s blessing. He said: I did not understand until I went into the sanctuary of God; and, He offered this conclusion: God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever . . . it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.

As you work your way through today, remember that God is full of compassion, generous in grace, slow to anger, and boundless in loyal love and truth.  ~Psalm 86:15

Words and Worms at Sunrise

rooster-early-birdIf it’s true that the early bird gets the worm, then the authors of the Psalms must have harvested plenty of them.  Many of these poetic proclamations suggest the writers were early risers: My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up (Psalm 5:3).

Henry Ward Beecher may have been thinking of this verse when he said: The first hour of waking is the rudder that guides the whole day.

Whether it’s morning, noon, or night, I encourage you to set a time to reflect on the four verses below and use them as rudders to help guide your life:

  • Relax in His peace: “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Ps. 4:8).”
  • Refresh yourself in His mercies: “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made (Ps. 145:9).”
  • Rejoice in His love: “I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation (Ps. 13:5).”
  • Remain in His presence: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:1).”

 

I’ll close with this thought that’s worth thinking: Remember that it’s, “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:2-23).”

A is for Apple

apple-bobbing-boys-1920x675I was enjoying the sweet taste of apples long before I had ever participated in the homespun, spit-swapping, and germ-spreading, tradition of apple bobbing. Fact is, I almost drowned a time or two while I chased an apple around the inside of a water-filled wood barrel.

Apples are a tasty delight and a welcome addition to most diets, and they are also a definite plus to the pocket books of Washington farmers.  The typical orchard will produce 37,100 pounds per acre with a value somewhere between $12,500-$13,000.  The fertile ground of Washington contributes $18 billion plus to the state’s economy in apples alone.

When I eat an apple, my preference is Jonathan, Fuji, or Honeycrisp, but I doubt David had a specific variety in mind when he prayed: Keep me as the apple of your eye, and hide me in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 17:8).

As the apple of God’s eye, you are so special to God that:

  • He is aware of your sorrows—Psalm 56:8
  • He likens your prayers to the sweet smell of incense—Revelation 5:8
  • He floods your heart with His love—Romans 5:5
  • He blesses you with His mercy—Psalm 57:10

From out of all the orchards in the world, you are the apple that God has picked, and it is, “According to His great mercy, He has given us [you] a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (I Peter 1:3-4).”

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry          ~Psalm 34:15

Ryan Lochte: A Second Chance

Ryan Lochte

Most Americans were familiar with Ryan Lochte long before the Olympics began in Rio. Now that the Olympics have ended, it will be a long time before the people in Brazil will forget him.

As a member of Team USA, Lochte has been known as one of swimming’s fiercest competitors.   Today, however, he is known more for his lapse of judgment and his questionable antics.

Although his behavior has led to a loss of his four major sponsors including  Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops, has just signed the 12-time Olympic medalist as a spokesman to advertise their company.

Rider McDowell, CEO of Pine Bros said, “We all make mistakes, but they’re rarely given front page scrutiny . . . I’m confident that Pine Bros fans will support our decision to give Ryan a second chance.”

As someone who has needed a second chance on more than one occasion, I applaud the decision of Pine Bros, and I’m reminded that God also gives people a second chance. Think about an incident in Jonah’s life and this principle from the Proverbs:

  • After Jonah’s gut-wrenching experience, The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you. ~Jonah 3:1-2
  • A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance. ~Proverbs 28:13

Examine the lives of Jacob, Samson, Peter and Paul, and you’ll discover that God is the God of second chances. He is the God of grace, of mercy,  of forgiveness, and the God of beginning again.

As Paul said,  if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ~2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

imageWhen you were a kid your integrity may have been assaulted with a blazing childhood rant: Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Lying, however, isn’t in the repertoire of God—He’s the epitome of truthfulness and faithfulness:  God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent (Numbers 23:19).

The Psalms are replete with verses that testify of the faithfulness of God:

  • 15:4: He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.
  • 18:30: The Lord’s promise is reliable; he is a shield to all who take shelter in him.
  • 25:30: The Lord always proves faithful and reliable to those who follow the demands of his covenant.
  • 100:5: For the Lord is good. His loyal love endures, and he is faithful through all generations.

God’s faithfulness is more than just the subject of polite conversation, it’s a concept that sustains us in those where-the-rubber-meets-the-road moments of life:

  • The grief-stricken need to know they can trust God when he says: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).”
  • To the lonely and downcast, God promises that, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:2).”
  • The weak are energized by the potential of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • The overwhelmed often find comfort in the opening words of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd . . .”

God is not wishy-washy, He’s reliable and His, “word is firmly fixed in the heavens, and His faithfulness endures to all generations (Psalm 119:89-90).”

Regardless of your circumstances in life, remember this: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).”

The Ups and Downs of Life

rcWhen I was a freshman in college, one instructor required his students to memorize a motto of his.  I did, and I have never forgotten it:  It’s not what I can remember, but what I can never forget that constitutes knowledge; therefore, drill, drill, drill, and review, review, review.

Over the years I have been able to memorize many Bible verses, because I drilled and reviewed them until they were tucked away in my mind.  One of these is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

When I meditate on a particular verse of Scripture, I focus on the individual words within the verse so I can understand the specific meaning of each one of them.  The word “through” caught my attention this morning, so I reflected on some verses that use this word:

  • God led Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:22).
  • The Israelites were led through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5).
  • In Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd leads His flock through the valley of the shadow of death.

There are times when life seems like a roller coaster and you are tormented by a series of bone rattling, and hope shaking ups and downs.  These are the times that you need to kick the “I can’t” thoughts in the seat of the pants, and focus on the “I can” of Philippians 4:13.

 

The you should review its truth and drill its meaning:

  • Through Christ, I find the strength to face the obstacles of life.
  • Through Christ, God lavishes me with his strength to overcome (Ephesians 1:7-8).
  • Through Christ, you are blessed with God’s unwavering love and mercy (Psalm 103).

When you live your life through the strength of Christ, you will be thoroughly blessed:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.  ~Isaiah 43:2