Shutting down the engine of angry retaliation.

The engine of anger often starts as someone inserts your key in the ignition of your emotional engine by offending you, disregarding you and even unfairly or unjustly hurting you or your reputation. They might push themselves into your interior space of the vehicle of your life by taking over your personal career place and position themselves in the comfort zone you have adjusted to your seating preferences. They may even tell you, “You know nothing about driving or maintaining this vehicle” or say unkind, disrespect and completely dishonest things about you. They may even sabotage the vehicle of your life and void your plans to do certain things and go certain places. They may try to take your vehicle by misrepresentation and manipulation and finally they may steal your precious and classic means of transportation only to crash and destroy it. Their haunting words will then hang in the air mocking and taunting us as we stand with our hearts severely dented and damaged. Midst the broken and dangerous glass, there seems little hope of your vehicle being usable again.

At this point, we might hear the engine still running and we see the wheels are still round and remember the fuel tank is quite full of potential to inflict revenge and retaliation. As we look and assess the damage, feeling the pain involved in every detail and aspect of the injustice of this incident … we might ponder the actions we could take to inflict greater damage and pain on the perpetrator of this awful mess. Anger is roiling up in us and we sense the power we have to take our rightful revenge and retaliation.

We have all been at this accident scene. Someone has wrecked the vehicle we were driving at the time and caused damage to what was important and valuable to us. We have all been crushed in our hearts and experienced the damage to our lives. We were angry. We have all sensed the power we might have in the engine of angry retaliation as we pondered our actions. We may have even been overpowered and taken the course of retaliation only to find we are the ones that were damaged further in our seemingly rightful revengeful actions.

David suffered tremendous emotional damage and heart searing pain as his very son, Absalom attempted to steal his rightful kingdom by taking over his position as King. It was a horrible incident to see unfold and even more painful to behold as we see David deeply weeping, scarred and crushed in the consequences of the aftermath.

Still in the midst of Absalom’s rebellion, David realized that he must shut down the engine of anger and retaliation. No matter what Absalom had done to him and even though David might be angry; David decides wisely to turn off the desire to inflict revenge and destroy his son. His words written centuries ago remind us to shut down any engines of revenge and retaliation, we may find ourselves near. We ponder on the ways of God and not on our feelings of anger.  We are quiet in our spirit as we let God quiet us with His peace. We pray for His guidance. The damage that revenge and retaliation inflicts will often bring more pain and hurt and some of it will come back upon us. It is far better to trust in the Lord.

Be angry and do not sin, ponder in your heart on your bed and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:3-4, ESV).
Suggested Reading … Psalm 4

A time beyond the times of our lives.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NASV).

Our lives unfold each day, new and unknown yet to be intertwined with unique moments, unexpected joys and challenges and endless social, business, personal and relational involvements and activities. Every event, whether seemingly insignificant or staggering in its importance will flow into a season of developing and evaporating time and be woven into the legacy of our having lived a life on this earth. Thus we have times and seasons for both planting and harvesting, building and tearing down, searching and finding, holding and letting go, finding and losing, effort and reward and joy and sadness. The seasons of our lives are many but they are also fleeting as we spend and appreciate the times for scattering and gathering, affection and loneliness and silence and speaking. Many seasons are followed by reflections, adaptations and changes through the events and moments being experienced at the time or having just pasted by into our memories.

So an intriguing and yet disconcerting question often lingers around our days of living … bouncing around our senses like the contrasting taste of bitter and sweet or the colors fading or brightening in beginning or ending of a day. The question floats about us as we feel fulfilment and satisfaction but taunts us a bit like a tiresome bully as we go through regrets and failed expectations. The unassuming and yet complex question is ancient yet relevant to each spontaneous moment and every intentional act and purposed direction. The question is and will always be … “Is our life, simply the time, made of all the moments and events; or is there a deeper meaning to our lives than simply the times of our living?

The writer of Ecclesiastes struggles alongside each one of us as he assesses life and its meaning. He identifies the ageless and unifying quandary of all human existence by proposing a staggering truth in his redaction assessment of the futility in our living out our days in the vapor-like eluding and passing of the seasons in our lives. “”Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, NIV).

Yet, in the frustrating hopelessness, there is something more. There in the midst of the death of seeing and sensing nothing of meaning, something is alive in the going beyond. Something is budding in the slight touch of green cracking open in new hope. Life is always present midst the dying. A bird sings in the new morning because there is always life beyond the time which has past. There is always new life in life.

It was in the dying of our Savior, that we were given life. The Gospel will always bring new life, restoration and redemption from all hopelessness. The meaning of life is in the continuance of the abundant life our Lord brings. His life comes to us in His abiding and His abiding continues into eternal life. Meaning in life is found in His ways and that meaning extends into a time beyond the times of our lives.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NIV)

Making a U-Turn

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!” (Luke 11:17, ESV)

      We have all gone down the wrong path a time or two in our lives. We have all chosen to disregard the danger signs our friends or family have held up cautioning us slow us down. At moments we have also sped by the signposts of guidance that our Heavenly Father has offered, warning us to turn around before we are hurt or damaged by our own sin and selfishness. At these moments, stubbornness boils up in our hearts as we are determined to go our own way, simply because we want to. Oblivious to the numerous potholes in the road we are on and averting our eyes from the possibility of loose rocks hitting us, we speed forward. On and on we go, rounding the curves with crumbling shoulders at unsafe speeds. Ever pushing forward in the way, we want to go.

Upon our arrival in the land of promised bliss and pleasure, we often find ourselves in a destination of bitterness and disappointment. We find damage on the inside and outside of us. When signposts are ignored and the road conditions are disregarded, there will be consequences in our lives.

Yet even in this place of broken promise and emptiness with seemingly nothing but regret as our reward there is always the opportunity of a U-Turn. The U-Turn sign tells us we can make a complete turn in the opposite direction. We can go from the hopelessness of broken-ness to the hopefulness of grace. Our Heavenly Father stands waiting to love us and extend to us the blessings of His grace.

Jesus told the story of “The Prodigal Son” to show the unlimited grace of the Heavenly Father has towards His children. The “Son” claimed his inheritance while his “Father” was still alive. He took all the money, turned his back on his Father, traveled to a place far from his home, and spent it all. Eventually, in desperation, he came to his senses. “He said, ‘I will go back to my Father, and say to him, Father I have sinned…’” The good news is that the Father never gave up on his rebellious Son, and welcomed him home (Luke 15:11-32). The Son took advantage of the U-Turn opportunity and we can too.

No matter what road we have traveled down, we can turn around. No matter what pig pen we find ourselves in; muddied, broken and eating the rejected slop around us, we can always turn and go home. The most important moment will never be about where we were but about where we are. Taking advantage of an U-Turn opportunity allows us to travel in a completely different direction. Making a U-Turn in our lives through repentance allows us as prodigal children to return to the blessed relationship as full heirs of the Heavenly Father. Coming back to the welcoming arms of the Good Father, allows the true wealth of His love to redeem the mess, we have made through our stubbornness and foolishness. In all of the world, there is no better place to be than to be at home with the Heavenly Father. Is it time to make a U-Turn in your life?

“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 11:21-24, ESV)


In the deepest anguish, a soaring hope …


Theodor Galle after Jan van der Straet Jeremiah Published 1613 Print
National Gallery of Art, NGO Image, Public Domain

“My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:20-26, ESV)

Christians can do it without much thought. We can trivialize a significant reality by reducing the notating meaningful Scripture verses to cliché like slogans. These sloganized verses are then printed, painted, inscribed on plaques, notes, canvases and posters. This in some ways allows the verses and the truth contained in them to become more like tokens or decorations then living expressions of praise, prayer, worship to our Redeemer or testaments to His attributes and provisions to us in the midst of our elation or discouragement.

A favorite set of verses for most Christians comes from the book of Lamentations. These verses speak of the faithfulness of God and about His mercies and compassion flowing to us and covering us gracefully and in fresh ways each and every day. The rhythm and flow of the words in these verses lends itself to being remembered and endearing. For many generations, the truth contained in both the hymn and verse, “Great is thy faithfulness” have been a comfort and a strength to countless Christian believers. The soothing balm-like comfort of God coming to renew our spirits each and every day is both significant and powerful. While it is vitally important to memorize God’s Word and hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11); we must never neglect to bring the fullness of the context and the depth of all emotion and content to all Scripture. In the complexity of everything transpiring and every nuance flowing forth in the words and phrases of the verses, we still appeal to the Holy Spirit as we seek the deeper contents and the relevancy to our own relationship to our God and those around us.

Before Jeremiah ever expresses his hope and strength in the faithfulness of God and His abundant and redeeming and healing mercies; he pours out one of the most heart wrenching and descriptive laments recorded in all of the Old Testament Scriptures. Jeremiah uses numerous metaphors in fullest of expressive ways to accentuate his deepest anguish in suffering along with his unfaithful nation the sadness, brokenness, isolation, judgment of being separated from the God he has loved and trusted.

Jeremiah feels cast aside, neglected, torn, forgotten, pierced and left as a dead man as he pours out the deep anguish of his soul. Almighty God, who had so richly provided and blessed His chosen people has turned away from those He had chosen and Jeremiah lives out that reality as feels God has abandoned him as well. The deepness to that sense of abandonment moves Jeremiah to weep for the nation of Judah as he longs for his God to remember His people and come with His steadfast love to them again. We must read the preceding lamenting verses before we ever claim the hopeful realities Jeremiah proclaims will strengthen our faith. The pivotal verse comes as Jeremiah turns in the midst of the deepest anguish to again put his trust in God trusting in God’s steadfast love alone. The great truth is not simply about God’s new compassion for each day. The great reality will always be … In the midst of the deepest pain and suffering; it is the great faithfulness of God’s steadfast love in gracefully pouring out His mercies ever fresh and new in each and every day which will free our hope in Him to soar from any and all anguish around us.

Suggested Reading … The full and complete 3rd Chapter of Lamentations

Wispy tufts releasing their life in the wind …



It is a small delicate flower of the prairie. This slight little plant was treasured by the Native America people for its medicinal properties and is commonly called “Prairie Smoke.” It is one of the earliest harbingers of spring and quickly blooms and slowly releases it seeds to the wind.

It is easy to ascertain how the plant was named, looking at its wispy waving hair-like tufted flowers each holding dozens of strands to carry the tiny seeds aloft to perpetuate the species. The small flowers resemble miniature campfires with the fine strands billowing up as smoky signals of the promise of new life.

In this minor little flower that is hardly noticed as its showy presentation occurs over such a short duration a multitude of events play out. The slender shaft appears quite quickly from its somewhat broad ferny leaves reaching upward with its developing flower head. The flower reaches a given height and then droops as it waits for pollination. A honey bee must pry open the fused bud which will then become a tiny fruit. The fruit will mature and the stem will turn upright bursting open with wispy tuffs of smoke to eventually release their seeds to float on the wind to a new place to repeat this amazing life cycle of the simple little plant known as “Prairie Smoke.”

All of this small scale pageantry is accompanied by intense contrasting colors of the ferny leaves and deep crimson dipped flowers and subtle slightly nuanced hues of the wispy strands of the tufted seed heads. All this design and all this color embedded and planned into a simple little flower. All this dramatic play and show that hardly a soul will see looking across the sea of the virgin prairie. If the Master Creator placed all this beauty, splendor and care into a simple flower on the prairie, does He not care about each one of us? Will He not create in us, something of beauty and splendor and will He take care of all of our needs?

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30, ESV)

Suggested Reading … Matthew 6

solomon and sheba

Public Domain – Edward Poynter, 1890, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Wikimedia Commons


Clay quite ordinary or a vessel extraordinary …


“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay and you are the Potter. We are all formed by your hand” (Isaiah 64:8, LB).

      There is a story in every vessel made by the Master Potter. There is a place where the clay is lifted from the earth, a chosen place noted for its color and hue. This unique and special clay looks like ordinary mud to most but to the Master Potter, it possesses the needed qualities to make a priceless vessel. The Master Potter carries this handful of clay back to His workshop. There He places the chosen clay unto His potter’s wheel. Slowly He begins to turn the wheel moistening the clay with care and expertise. The clay begins to take the shape imagined by the Master Potter and although it was just mass of soil moments ago, He now begins to shape and form the structure of a vessel. The Master’s hands are firm but ever gentle applying pressure exactly as needed.  He is pushing and kneading, softening and pulling, creating lines and markings while lifting and rounding off the edges of unfolding vessel.

If the clay is defective or stubborn, it must be put aside or mixed with other clay of better qualities. If the clay is supple melding itself to the intention of the Master; the shape of the vessel begins to resemble the perfect design the Potter has purposed it to be. When the vessel has been turned and fashioned into its intended form, it must dry a bit in the air as the Master looks over His vessel. The Master Potter tenderly watches so no one disturbs the vessel in its unfinished state. He protects it from careless workers tempted to consider the vessel finished. He also stands by His vessel ready to turn away any vandals, who might steal such a beautiful designed vessel.

After a time, the Master Potter takes the vessel to the kiln to temper the clay into a substance strong and stout. As the heat rises, the vessel becomes stronger and stronger until it reaches a point of strength needed for its purpose. Still the Master Potter is not finished with His masterpiece. He brushes the vessel with a protective glaze returning it to the kiln to permanently set the glistening finish.

The vessel now completely resembles the masterful design and it shows the intent, skill and completed craftsmanship of the Potter. The vessel now bears the mark of the Master Potter and is of great value. The beautiful vessel is finished, complete in purpose and revealing excellence simply because the clay yielded itself freely and completely to the creative, caring, loving and skilled hands of the Master Potter.

Where throughout the entire process of becoming a vessel, does the clay ever give anything? To become a priceless vessel, it only has to trust and yield to the Master. At what point in this purposed course of action of being formed and conditioned would there be any reason for the clay to refuse the touch of the Master Potter’s hand? At what stage of being molded, turned or fired, does the clay know; what is needed or required for it to be a true vessel worthy to bear the mark of excellence in its strength, beauty or function?

Why are so resistant to the Master Potter? Why do we as the clay, value our ability and wisdom so important as to make ourselves into a vessel of our own design? Why would our design be better than the Master Potter? Why do we do we want to escape the trials that would temper us in faith, when we should be trusting in the Master Potters watchful eye as He lets us be fired appropriately to make strong in His love? Why are we not willing to let Him apply a liberal coating of grace to make us glisten as we show His touch and presence? Why are we as the clay so unyielding and untrusting? There is an amazing thing about our God. He as the Master Potter never ceases to love us and remains ever attentive and fixed on us as the clay. His only desire is to create a masterpiece in the vessel that we will become the legacy of our days lived out on this earth and into eternity. His purpose is to make us a vessel of quality and beauty and one that will bring Him glory. In spite of all of our rebelliousness, this Master waits with a patience beyond understanding for our repentance and the yielding of our hearts to His touch, so He as the Potter can finish his work in us.

So what will be the story of the vessel of clay that God wants to make of your life? Will you allow Him to mold and shape you? Will you trust Him as He allows trials to temper and strengthen you? Will you allow Him to cover you with grace so you can shine with His love as a vessel of His creation and purpose? Let Him be the Master Potter with the clay of your life. Let Him make you, the useful and beautiful vessel He wants you to be.

Suggested Reading … Isaiah 64