What feeds you?

fruit

Today’s Reading Lamentations 2:1 – Ezekiel 12:20

I am up a little early for a Saturday morning. I have a busy day ahead of me and we are going to start the day off with a trip to the gym. The weather has not been very cooperative in giving us opportunity to walk outside. In addition. this old body needs some major tuning up. So off to the gym we are going.

In preparation for us going back to the gym, I had to be more aware of what I was buying at the grocery store yesterday as I was food shopping. Nothing major, but more apples and less Oreos! It was a sad trip pushing the cart past Oreos, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butters. However, in the end I realize it would be counter productive to feed my body an excess of junk if I was going to the gym to try to get fit.

I think we all understand that process. Sometimes we follow it but sometimes we don’t. I think the struggle is with what ELSE are we feeding ourselves. In today’s reading there is power imagery during Ezekiel’s prophesy. The one thing that stuck with me is Ezekiel being told to eat the scroll containing the word of God. It was a strong reminder for me.

We need to spend a lot of time with God, not just try to fit God in on Sundays or as we are falling asleep. Read the Bible, Pray, Fellowship, Worship,  and Serve are all ways we can do just that. Look at that list again. How long has it been since you have done one of those things? What can you do today to change that? Who can hold you accountable? What will that look like once you get it done?

What is feeding you today?

What’s out there?

israelcheckpoint

Today’s Reading Jeremiah 48:1 – Lamentations 1:22

Fences…walls…barricades

Several years ago, my wife and I and our youngest son joined some other colleagues and their families and made the trek to Israel. It was the first time that I had ever been there and it was a great experience. The people and land that I had read about and been taught about since I was a child was right before me. It was at times overwhelming.

Two things struck me immediately as we began to tour the land. The first was just how compact everything was. When I had read the biblical accounts prior, in my head there was an idea that this was a vast land. The distance in my head between Bethlehem and Jerusalem was enormous. What I learned was that geographically that was not the case, however for the story of Jesus they still represent a great distance, the beginning and the end.

The second thing that struck me was the checkpoint system. For those that do not know, there are a series of crossings and checkpoints throughout Israel. These are done for safety and to control and monitor the passing of goods and people, particularly Palestinians, throughout the region. It was a jarring thing for me to see and to witness. Even years later, several of our encounters at checkpoints remain burned into my memory.

Our tour guide, was a wonderful man with a Palestinian heritage. He shared with us the impact of the story of Jesus from his own context in ways that I had never heard it before. He was a brother in Christ. His passion was so evident. Yet, he was forced to leave certain areas of the city by a certain time and had to leave us early several days. It was again a jarring reminder of fences, walls, and barricades.

Today’s readings spoke about the walls of Jerusalem as the army of Babylon surrounded it preparing to invade Jerusalem. I can only imagine the fear of the people trapped inside the walls as they were made aware of the invaders. The tension was probably rising daily. Even reading the passages the feeling of trouble rang from the pages(of my kindle).

See, that is the thing about walls, fences, and barricades. We often set them up to keep people out but they always keep us locked in. We separate ourselves from each other and live in fear of each other and the unknown. The walls, fences, and barriers make prisoners of us all.

It goes without saying that these barriers we create don’t always have to be physical. We try to hide away from others from fear or to protect ourselves or even from shame. We try to keep God at a safe distance from us with these walls at times as well. We struggle to connect with God because being in relationship with God creates change in us. The walls are a response to our fear from that change.

What are you trying to keep out? What are you trying to lock in?  Where is God trying to break down your walls?

I know…I Really do

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Today’s Reading Jeremiah 33:23 – Jeremiah 47:7

I want you to know before you read any further that I am the smartest person I know. I am not trying to brag and I am not trying to be obnoxious. I am simply trying to state the facts as I see it. It is a public service of sorts. It is the only thing that makes sense after all.

How else can I explain it? It can only be attributed to my intelligence. What is “it” you ask? Well, “it” is my apparent lack of every trusting what people said before I went off and did my own thing anyway. “It’ is my disregard for very good advice because I know a better way. “It” is my stubbornness in asking for advice or actually following the advice when given.

I suppose there is another way to look at “it”. I can define “it” as sin. In today’s reading, Jeremiah tells the people the word from the Lord and consistently the people do not listen. The people ask for the word from the Lord and when Jeremiah tells them, they do not listen. The see what has happened all around them and still…THEY DO NOT LISTEN.

I struggle. I really do, I struggle with this thing called pride. I get caught up in what I think I know or how I know better. I find myself drifting from time to time away from where god is leading. I need centering. I need to be anchored in the word. This time of reflecting on reading God’s word is helping me do just that.

It is helping me make this time a priority in my life. I want to listen. I want to listen. I want to listen.

How about you?

What does Hope look like?

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Today’s Reading Jeremiah 23:9 – Jeremiah 33:22

Recently, I read “Long Walk to Freedom”, the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. It was an incredible tale of perseverance against daunting obstacles. The more I read, the more I became shocked at how people can treat each other for many different reasons. Also, the more I read the more I felt filled with hope. Despite how we often treat each other, the human spirit is an incredible thing.

For me, the book was one that told a tale of just what power is contained within love, hope, and faith. If you love you feel as if anything is possible. If you have hope, you know better days are ahead. If you have faith in something, you take that love and hope into action. Nelson Mandela helped to lead his people, and in many ways the world, into a brighter future.

Today’s reading takes us to a people in need of hope. They are a people in turmoil and a people being displaced. All around them, there is trouble. All around them is fear. In the midst of that fear, Jeremiah buys some land. This land, becomes a symbol of a future hope. It is a symbol of love. It is an act of faith. God has led Jeremiah to this point. Jeremiah trusts in God.

Do you trust god with your future? Even in the darkest hour do you have hope? Does your faith in God propel you into action?

If not…why not?

Sammy Hagar is singing the soundtrack of our lives

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Today’s Reading Jeremiah 10:14  – Jeremiah 23:8

One foot on the brake and one on the gas, hey
Well, there’s too much traffic, I can’t pass, no
So I tried my best illegal move
A big black and white come and crushed my groove again

Growing up as a young man these lyrics were ingrained in me. Sammy Hagar was singing for ME. He had my thoughts and my desires and he put them over the radio waves for me. This song spoke not only for me but to me. I didn’t want to be confined by rules and limits. I was a man. I was free. I was independent.

Write me up for 125
Post my face, wanted dead or alive
Take my license, all that jive
I can’t drive 55, oh yeah

Even now, reading these lyrics and singing the song once again in my head, I almost feel a pang for the old days. No commitment, no fear, no worry, and no concerns. Or perhaps that feeling is heartburn from last night’s dinner? See that makes more sense, especially in light of today’s readings.

Reading through Jeremiah this morning was a reminder. A reminder that there are repercussions for decisions that we make. There are consequences and sometimes they can be severe. Sammy Hagar spoke to a generation and for a generation that thought they were being ignored and stifled by the world. Jeremiah is the instrument that God choose to speak to a world about God being ignored.

Jeremiah’s words remind us that we are not lone wolves. We are part of a larger community. Everyone matters and everyone is impacted by our decisions. When we ignore those in need, God notices. When we turn our backs on those on the margins, God weeps. When we worship at the gods of money, power, and prestige God sees that and angers,

So on this 55th day of reading (see what I did there), we are reminded that we are not alone. God is holding us accountable. We are strongest when we are faithful to God and connected to our brothers and sisters.

Do you value freedom more than people? Do you value independence more than the “other”?

What is God saying to you this morning?

Distractions are gonna get ya!

butterfly

Today’s Reading Isaiah 66:19 – Jeremiah 10:13

I often tease my wife when she forgets what she is doing or what she is saying by suggesting she was distracted by “a pretty butterfly”. We often kid around about it but the reality is, we all have butterflies we that are distracted by throughout the day. The question for us becomes can we identify and deal with those butterflies.

For me, it is often breaking sports news. I am intrigued by whatever the “talking heads” are talking about at any given moment. It is not unusual for me to tune them in and tune out the rest of the world for way too long. I have had to make changes in my daily routine to make sure these distractions aren’t too time-consuming.

The distractions in my life have not been life threatening and I do not think that they will be. However, those butterflies can become all-consuming and very dangerous. There can come a time when we lose track of time and surroundings and put ourselves and others in danger. This could come from things as innocuous as cell phones or as potentially troublesome as alcohol.

Today’s scripture readings point us to the ultimate danger of distraction. God’s words to the prophet Jeremiah are words of lament and warning. The people have lost their way. They have been distracted by focusing on the accomplishments that they feel come from their own hands. They are consumed with looking for other gods in many different places. Their distractions have caused them to neglect God. They had lost their way.

What can we do? How can we enjoy life and still remain close to God? Enjoy those butterflies but remember and worship not the butterfly but the Creator. Give thanks to God for the butterflies in our life but don’t let the butterflies take over our life. Ultimately every butterfly, every rainbow, and every blessing is from God. Let’s spend more time focused on the creator and less time on the creation.

Why not?

learn-something-new

Today’s Reading Isaiah 52:13 – Isaiah 66:18

We have entered into the Lenten Zone. Lent for many is a time for giving things up. This might be chocolate, television, or something else. It might even be greed, gossip, or envy. There are lots of things that we can give up as we move towards Easter, if we choose. We may also choose to give up nothing and focus our Lent experience upon something else.

Whatever your Lenten practice, today’s  scripture reading is something for us t latch on to. god wants to do a new thing in us. God is looking to bring us to new places and deeper points in our relationships. God is urging us to look at the world in new ways. Whatever stuff we are holding onto, this is the time to let it go. Focus in on God and the plans God has for us.

What new thing does God want to do in you? Are you ready?