Encouragment

Coloring Between the Lines

Coloring Between the Lines

Encouragment, Faith
One day, not very long ago, my grandson Asher was in preschool coloring a picture. As he pushed the crayon across the page he announced, “Jesus never colored outside the lines.”  A few moments later, having thought more about his theological proposition he added, “But He probably never colored.”  To which a second boy responded, “But if Jesus did color he would have colored inside the lines.” The seed of this preschool theological discussion was planted during a time Asher was struggling with his own imperfections and mistakes.  I find it amazing that a four almost five year old can understand Jesus’ character better than many adults. Looking back at Jesus and the Gospels it is clear that some, if not many, thought Jesus was coloring outside the lines.  Healing on the Sabbath - outside th
The Dividing Line

The Dividing Line

Encouragment, Faith
The dividing line of all religion, all philosophy, and all worldviews is whether Jesus is God the Son or not. There is no in-between or nuance of position, there can only be the acknowledgment or rejection of Jesus as the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). Think of this as the Continental Divide, that line in the Rocky Mountains that determines whether water flows towards the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. When someone rejects Jesus as the Son of God it moves them in a certain direction.  They may be a good person, even compassionate and caring, but they are missing their real purpose in life. They may see Jesus as a good person, an interesting teacher, or a prophet of some stripe. They may even quote scripture, go to church, and do good things.  But the center of their world is not Jesus
Conflict:Peace vs. Control

Conflict:Peace vs. Control

Encouragment, Peace
What is it about humanity that desires peace and longs for conflict?  We want our lives to be as peaceful as a mountain lake on a still day; perfectly reflecting the world around us.  Yet, business, sports, novels, shows, even the news, must have conflict and challenge to hold our attention.  Essentially, we find peace to be boring, beautiful perhaps, but tiring. There is a third element that must be considered to understand the desire for peace. The element of control.   When our lives are filled with anxiety and worry, when there is trouble in the family, when our job is a frustrating mess, we may say we want peace but often we are really desiring control. Peace then is not defined by the absence of conflict but of maintaining some form of control in the conflict. Ever notice that when
Faith’s Review and Expectation

Faith’s Review and Expectation

Encouragment, Faith
The rented jeep struggles against the high altitude and rough road as we approach Engineer pass. Tucked away in the San Juan mountains of Colorado is a jeep trail called the Alpine Loop. The loop follows old mining trails past ghost towns, abandoned mines, and wonderful vistas. Once at the top of the pass we stop to take in the scene.  At this altitude, 12,800 feet, it's like you are looking the surrounding mountains in the eye. Looking back towards Animas Forks we can pick out parts of the trail that brought us here. From this angle, parts of the road seem to cling precariously to the mountainside. That experience happened many years ago during a Colorado vacation with our kids.  That day trip bouncing along the Alpine Loop is one of our favorite memories. Looking back at life now I ki
Worry, Stress, Anxiety, Oh My!

Worry, Stress, Anxiety, Oh My!

Encouragment, Hope
“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6–7, NASB95) Sounds simple, right? When worry, stress, and anxiety find their ways into our lives all we need to do is pile them on to Jesus and go along as if everything is hunky-dory, a-okay, zipadee do da - what a wonderful day. Can I tell you that over my lifetime there have been several times when it seems that Jesus and I were playing catch - pitching the anxieties of life back and forth? I’d throw them his direction and find some peace, only to have them return a few hours or a few days later. Do this often enough and it can make you anxious over your anxieties! Worrying about why you are worrying.  What I eventually learned is that there is a second part, well, actually a first part to this promise of God. The
Got Living Water?

Got Living Water?

Encouragment, Faith
There is a project in my garage waiting to be tackled, Grandpa Joe’s windmill. It’s a three legged prairie windmill that was originally used to pump water from a farmer’s well.  Grandpa originally restored it in the 70’s.  I always enjoyed turning it on whenever I visited. Lifting the lever to release the brake.  Watching the vane swing out, catch the wind, and steer the head into the breeze so the multi-bladed wheel could begin to turn. Originally, the rotation of the wheel was changed by the head to a reciprocal motion.  This motion was transferred by a rod to the pump which pulled water from the well. In John 7 Jesus declares, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
Freeze Frame: a Faulty Assumption

Freeze Frame: a Faulty Assumption

Encouragment, Seeing
Ever have this experience? You meet someone in a store, a restaurant, or out on the street. You know that you know them, but can’t quite place them or recall their name. Then you suddenly realize that it's the receptionist for a company you often visit, or the clerk at the convenience store where you buy coffee, or a teacher from a few years ago. We knew that knew them, but because they were not in their normal setting or dressed as we are used to seeing them we struggle to place them. It’s almost as if life is paused for others when we are not around. Stopped in a freeze frame like a paused TV show. Of course, it isn’t but, we often perceive it that way. This tendency spills over into other avenues. In a similar way, there is an assumption that people have no past, that they have alway
What’s In Your Barn?

What’s In Your Barn?

Encouragment, Faith
The barn is the most versatile storehouse on a farmstead. Most are multi-leveled and multi-purpose. A neighbor in my childhood had a three level barn. The lower level housed the animals. The middle layer was used to thresh and store grain; later it became a kind of machine shed. The top layer was used to store hay and straw. Of course, not all barns are the same and some have very defined purposes. Whether it is a multi-purpose barn like my old neighbor or a modern machine shed, the main purpose is the same - to protect the farmer’s treasures. Consider this observation by Jesus, “He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”” (Matthew 13:
Misplaced Hope

Misplaced Hope

Encouragment, Hope
There is a military philosophy called overwhelming force.  Essentially, the philosophy states that you bring enough firepower and manpower so that any battle becomes a “sure thing” instead of an even contest.  Yet, history has many instances where a smaller force trounced a larger, more powerful army.  The Bible also contains several examples such as David and Goliath, the Battle of Jehoshaphat, and Gideon’s army, to name a few.  How did these men triumph against overwhelming odds? Let's look at Psalm 33:13-17. The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works. The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered b
A Simple Word

A Simple Word

Encouragment, Faith
My great grandfather, Louis Reeser, had a knack for nicknames.  Not only could he come up with interesting names but they stuck.  It was a trait passed down from his father.  While his own nickname was a plain Lou, his brothers sported names such as Camel, Doc,and Pec.  His children, one of which is my grandma, collected names like Tinse, Cat, Tic, Rap, and Hud.  I never managed to acquire a Reeser nickname, although my brother was often called Daver. One time, when I was a kid, a Sunday School teacher was presenting the story of Esther.  Somewhere along the way she mentioned that I had an aunt named Esther. That was news to me!  When I asked mom about it she laughed and said that the teacher was thinking of Aunt Tinse. Grandpa Reeser’s nicknames stuck like glue. With a simple word the rec
Get Praising!

Get Praising!

Encouragment, Worship
There is something about music, particularly praise songs, that seeps deep into our souls. A few months back my grandfather passed away. During the funeral my grandmother sang along with every hymn without looking at the words. Not unusual until you understand that she has dementia. She barely understood why she was in church that day. She easily gets stuck in loops of thought, like asking umpteen times how old my newest granddaughter is. Repeatedly reading the Sunday funnies. Calling just about every male in our family “dad” and always desiring to “go home” even though she was at home. But she did not get stuck during the hymns and sang all of the verses to “It is Well” without glancing at the hymnal. It reminded me of Psalm 33:1-5.   Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For
An Unwanted Visitor: Ugly Words

An Unwanted Visitor: Ugly Words

Encouragment, Stuck
A few days ago I saw a possum sneak into our garage.  Just so you understand the lay of the land, our garage is detached from the house and is about 10 yards from the door.  I chased after the ugly critter, but it went behind the boxes and boards stored against the back wall.  I tried to scare it out but did not have time to tear the whole garage apart.  I don’t know about your garage, but mine is like a jigsaw puzzle. Needing to leave for work I decided to leave the garage door open a crack, hoping the visitor would leave of its own accord. Um, no. A day or two later I got a text message from my wife - “There’s poop in the garage!” O great, the ugly thing has moved in and begun to leave presents, just in time for Christmas. A few days later, and several more poop sightings I decided that