"Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness." (I Timothy 6:11)
I found these pigeons all hunkered-down on the roof of a church not long ago, desperately trying to get through one of the coldest days of the winter. Seemed like there was little they could do except stay together, look for a warm roost on a roof where the building's heat might be escaping, and endure the season's blast of frigid air.
At first glance it seems almost strange to see the Apostle Paul list "endurance" with such other important traits as "godliness, faith, love and gentleness." Those strike me as much more active sorts of qualities, requiring healthy decision making and self control. Isn't "endurance" simply the only thing we can do when we can't really do anything? The other qualities sound as though they're born from strength while "endurance" reeks of leftovers and weakness. "All I can do is endure it," I've often heard in times of pain and suffering.
Blog Posts by Dr. Gary Nelson
"...endurance..."Read More »from Endurance
"So watch what you do!"Read More »from Watch What You Do!
"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen! It would be better for him if a large millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown in to the sea then for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch what you do!'"
I've watched this flock of geese long enough to tell you that the big guy in the middle is a real leader. If he decides to move to the other side of the lawn to forage for food, the other geese follow. If he gets a hankering to jump in the water and paddle downstream to a new site, the rest follow. The flock has learned the benefits of following in the footsteps of their leader, so they observe and copy his movements.
Learning to follow is a critical lesson for us to master very early in our lives. Many of our skills are developed when we are very young children by observing and copying - following. I even remember a cooking class in Cub
Read More »from Character
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)
I was in a hurry as I headed back to the church from an early morning meeting. Sometimes folks ask me, "How do you determine what you'll write about on Wednesday? Does the message come first or the picture?" Honestly, it varies, but often (as it was this morning), when I saw the stark shadow of the tree stretching across the winter field I knew this was it. I stopped just long enough to take the photo. In the two minutes it took me to travel the rest of the way to the church, the clouds rolled in and the shadow was gone.
The writer of James is referring to the character of God when he writes that God is the one, "who does not change like shifting shadows." For us, some change is to be expected. Life would probably get rather boring if we never changed our taste in clothes, food, music, etc. When I see old
"...your light has come..."Read More »from Your Light Has Come
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you." (Isaiah 60:1)
The fall mums by the back door of the church office had long lost their beauty. Now they were just dried up stalks awaiting their trimming and eventual demise on the brush pile. As a matter of fact, they'd become annoying in the way their dried stems drooped over the sidewalk and got in the way as I tried to clean the snow from the walk or get to the trash can. I didn't even pay the flowers much attention as the water rolling off the roof began to encase them in ice. Then just this morning the gray, cloudy skies lifted, the sun came out, and the sunlight revealed another miracle. Nothing had become something. The light shining through the ice brought the flowers to life once more. Wow!
I think you can see pretty quickly where I'm headed with this. This is the season when we celebrate the gift of God's Light for the world in the birth of Christ. That Light
"...a little child shall lead them."Read More »from Get Excited
"The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)
There are reindeer tracks all over my front lawn in the middle of my Christmas decorations!!!!!!!!!!!
STOP! I don't want to hear your boring adult rationalizations reminding me these are just the tracks of the white-tail deer coming to graze on the carpet of acorns under our huge oak trees. It's December, it's almost Christmas, and we all should know what this means... THESE ARE REINDEER TRACKS! That's exactly what my father pointed out to me when I was young and exactly what he and I pointed out to my children. So... let's get excited for a change!!!
Regardless of what some might say, Christmas is not merely for children. I wonder if people say and live that as an excuse to reduce the powerful message of God's radical kingdom of peace to a mere children's game? Christmas
"... in a mirror dimly..."Read More »from Unknown
"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." (I Corinthians 13:12)
Life is full of mystery. Would we want it any other way? As much as we need to know and want to know, wouldn't life be boring without some mystery? Science helps us discover the secrets of our world so we can better care for our lives and God's creation. Science helps us work with what is... Faith invites us into what will be...
In relationships, too much mystery can create a problem. If I don't know enough about you it might be difficult to trust. If I feel like you don't know me (or want to get to know me) then hurt might shatter our relationship. Remember "The Newlywed Show" on television? Prizes were awarded to the newly-married couple who knew the most trivial information about one another, like what brand of toothbrush the other used. What if we interviewed the winners five
"...depressed..."Read More »from A Blue Christmas
"Singing to a person who is depressed is like taking off a person's clothes on a cold day or like rubbing salt in a wound."
Elvis moaned through a song about it... and many experience it -- a "blue Christmas." In the midst of the time when lots of folks feel so wonderful and special there are those who feel so awful. Their experience can include grief from a loss, the "blues" for a few days, or clinical depression. Regardless of the form, it hurts -- it really, really hurts. I think that's what the writer of Proverbs was trying to say in the verse below my photo, "Be careful with others because depression hurts." (Ironic, isn't it, a several hundred year old saying offering the same message as a current television commercial?) Depression hurts.
It's important that we recognize how much depression really hurts if we are to avoid rubbing salt in the wounds. Sometimes it's difficult for those of us who have never experienced clinical depression to
"...merciful and tender."Read More »from Strength and Tenderness
"Our God is merciful and tender." (Luke 1:78)
As you may recall, Patti and I were on the road last week giving teen depression seminars. After driving 1700 miles and standing in a glass box on the side of the observation floor of the tallest building in the northern hemisphere it was great to be home and have my feet firmly planted on the ground. While we were away a strong wind storm stripped most of the remaining leaves from these two giant oak trees that dwarf our home.
I enjoy the trees throughout the seasons as they display their many "looks" - spring green, summer shade, fall colors, snow laden, and this -- just plain bare. I know for many this "just plain bare" look often conjures up images of strength as we are treated to a look at the magnificent trunk and branches that can support the weight of so many leaves. (I know the leaves are heavy because I dragged most of them to the waste pile before the wind storm). Just think of what the lumber from
Read More »from Trust
"...trust in you."
"When I am afraid, O Lord Almighty, I put my trust in you."
Sometimes trust is easy, sometimes it's difficult. A variety of situations have resulted in "trust" being the focus of the day for me. How fitting, then, that my day should end with a tremendous test of trust. Patti and I are in Chicago today and tomorrow so I can give a seminar on "teen depression" for the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. We made a test run into the city this evening to scout out things and prepare for tomorrow. We walked around the block from the seminar venue and rode the express elevator to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). At the observation level on the 103rd floor they have a rather unique experience. Extending about four feet from the side of the building are 4 glass boxes. The picture above shows my feet (and the rest of me) separated from the street about 1300 feet below by 1 1/2 inches of glass. I am not a fan of
"...face to face..."Read More »from Face to Face
"There on the mountain the Lord spoke to you face to face from the fire." (Deuteronomy 5:4)
I chased these guys all summer. Generally, I'd never see them until it was too late. As I walked along, they camouflaged themselves among the weeds then jumped further away as I approached. A few days ago I was delighted when this fellow jumped right in front of me on the sidewalk. (I think the falling temperatures made him a little sluggish.) I sprawled out on the sidewalk and there we were -- face to face. I wonder what he wondered? I thought it was pretty special to lie there for a few moments and study him. (Patti managed to stand a few feet away and pretend she didn't know me.)
Anyway, face to face generally marks an important encounter. In the passage from Deuteronomy this face to face encounter between the Israelites and God provided the opportunity for the Ten Commandments to be communicated by God to Moses and the others. Businesses and governments recognize the