IS COMPASSION DEAD?

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OVERCOME THE CIRCUMSTANCE

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.”  (II Corinthians 2:8). Don’t allow desperation to drive your decisions.  “Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.”  (Psalm 27:14)

The circumstances of life are not your destiny.  Find your place of service and determine to walk in it, “be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15:58)

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY 2015

Committing and decommitting is over now as National Signing Day is well underway all across the landscape of college football.  No more I will or I won’t.  No more I did or I didn’t.  Today is the final day of decision when commits become actual signed contracts between student-athletes and their college of choice.

Many of these student-athletes will have great opportunities to display their talents on and off of the field by choosing to focus on both their academics and athleticism while others will be distracted by the hype and hoopla of college life.  Some will make it to graduation and stardom on the field.  Others will fall by the wayside without either.  Perhaps others had better athletic skills but cannot meet the academic requirements of their school choice.  They will have to go the community college route to seek to meet those requirements.  Some will be discouraged by the intensity and high standards of it all and sadly do nothing.

But for today, they sign contracts, both the colleges and the student-athletes.  The students will be hailed as the finest available and looked upon as the future for their college teams.  It will be a good day for many with high hopes of success and perhaps even very nice careers in the NFL.

But they have to sign on the dotted line.  The commit has been evasive at best, illusive at times, and allusive from some, but not past today.  You have to choose, you have to sign the contract, and your choice is made public for everyone to know.  You have to get off of the fence, no more campus visits, phone calls from coaches seeking you out.  After today, it is clear who is where and with whom, without assumption, presumption, or conjecture.  This is it.  “. . . choose for yourselves this day . . .” (Excerpt from Joshua 24:15 NKJV)

Such is life.  We have to make choices that will have lasting effects upon our lives.  The choice will not allow us to bounce around any longer or second-guess ourselves.  We cannot merrily waltz our way through life without firmly stating and demonstrating our choices about life.  And really, no choice is a choice.  This is it.  Marriage, job, house, car, bills, civic duty, church and faith . . . all of these and more require decision or choice.  They require signatures . . . binding, obligating, contractual, all of the things that will not allow one to just walk away but hold one accountable to contract requirements.   The covenant works both ways.  This is it . . . “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.   He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”  Psalm 37:5-6 NKJV

The Lord’s commitment is sure.  Where is yours?

COMMITMENT ISSUES? REALLY?

There seems to be trouble with the word ‘commit’ these days.  It is highlighted by the National Signing Day and all of the hustle and bustle for the best high school football players available by schools all across the land.  Many have committed (or so we thought) while some have decommitted (a new word I think).  Now we’re hearing of a university decommitting from their scholarship commitment to a young athlete, leaving the young man to search for someone else to commit to him so that he can commit to them.

These are the young man’s words:  “I felt lost and hopeless.  I mean, I had shut down my recruiting and basically gave everything to those guys – my commitment, my word and everything.  Now my commitment and your commitment isn’t the same thing.”

This is too much.  What happened to the phrase, ‘your word is your bond?’  What happened to a contract being sealed with a handshake?  What is the problem with the word commit?

It’s showing up everywhere!  More and more people have commitment issues related to their ‘love’ interests, friendships, business relationships, and even with relationship with God.  Longstanding institutions are finding it difficult to survive because of commitment issues.

I love you but I can’t commit (Isn’t that a misnomer?)  I want you on my team but I want to grayshirt you (after offering the scholarship).  We can do business together but . . .  I believe in the Lord, but I am not ready to ‘commit.’

It seems there is always but . . . not the one with two t’s, just one, which communicates ‘no commitment.’  There is always an underlying current, a risky possibility, a remote chance, a shred of doubt or something that keeps people from using the word or execute the action of commit.

Committed?  Really, are you all in with no holdouts, no hidden agenda, no reluctance, no hesitancy or doubt?  Really, because if you’re committed, doesn’t that mean to entrust something (That is a form of trust I think).  Commitment carries weight because each party realizes it is binding upon both of them. (Usually!  But, the language is in transformation, obviously.)  And, the agreement obligates (It did at one time!) parties to perform certain acts or to deliver on certain matters mentioned in the commitment.

Well, National Signing Day is almost here and we will see how these commitments pan out.

But every day presents opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to some things such as our relationships, our institutions, our businesses, values and principles without which our whole society will be in turmoil.  Do we really have society without trust or commitment?

That may explain some things.

A PUPPY’S TESTIMONY

At about 8 weeks old, Koatch, pictured here, has learned a lesson that many adults struggle with in this Christian journey, following the Master!

This little pup will not be left behind.  He has had an obstacle course of bushes, shrubs, grasses, steps and fast walks, and he still keeps up.  When necessary, he runs with all of his might, he will not be left behind!  He is tough!

His young life is more secure keeping close to his master.  He seems to take pride in crouching under his master and lying as close as possible with a moan as if to say that this is a place of security and comfort.  He cries when to left by himself.

Should it be this way in following Christ?  He says to us, ‘follow Me!’  Keeping up and not losing sight of Him is a secure place that offers new life and knowledge for the destiny that He leads us on.  Staying in focus upon the Master gives us confidence in a peaceful place in this journey . . . He knows where we’re heading!

The key is in learning how to follow.  Whatever you do, keep up and don’t lose sight of the Master!   Prayer, study and meditation in His Word, and obeying what He has said are sure ways to follow the Master.  Those are the elements of focus for this journey.  Hear Him when He speaks, ‘focus your eyes upon Him,’ obey Him in the things that He has said . . . that is how to follow and keep up.  Through every condition, circumstance and situation, following Him where He leads will keep us in the paths of righteousness and protected from snares or temptations of life.

That’s what Koatch does!  He runs with his eyes on the master’s feet.  He listens to every step and command, and tries to obey every command.

Every time he has to climb a steep or incline, he has the benefit of a master who waits on to make sure he makes it.  Every time he appears to lose sight of his master waits for him to regain sight and find his way.  Imagine, God has His eye on you too!

Rejoice in the hope offered us by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, power, and wisdom for this journey.  He keeps us close in the race to not only follow Jesus, but to also endure it until its end.  Make every effort to hear Him when He speaks, focus upon Him, and obey His every command.

That is what this 8 week old puppy has learned in order to survive with his own tender life!

MOVING ON UP TODAY

The daffodils are pushing up . . . hurriedly and with determination to blossom forth with their beauty and presence in God’s created fields.  It is deliberate with the slightest hint of warm weather!  These bulbs are pushing upward to bloom.

Nature’s progress is ever changing with the seasons that come and go annually like clockwork.  Sometimes each season may be extreme in its strength and influence upon the conditions of the atmosphere and land mass.  They may have interruptions of warmth during the cold season and cold in the warm season.  But other elements of nature respond to what they feel and their nature dictates during these interruptions.  For these daffodils, its nature says it is time to push forth with new life to blossom with rich color, aroma, and classic beauty.

There is something in each of us that moves upon us to stand to contribute with rich and powerful meaning what has been planted deep within our souls.  There is a time for us to step into our destiny, to realize our possibility on a higher plane than our job responsibilities, or a deeper level than financial obligations, or even beyond our interactions and connections with family and friends.  Something should engage us and move us to a place of purpose and meaning in life that will offer us our greatest feeling of fulfillment and joy.

This drive within comes from something bigger than we are and more noble than we can conceive within our own minds.  The motivation is stronger than the constraints of environment or the limitations of conditions and circumstance.  This strength reaches beyond the reservations of our own hearts or boundaries of our minds to overcome shortcomings, feelings of insufficiency, or inabilities.  In fact, this urgency to produce or to contribute is divine . . . and we cannot help ourselves.

The daffodils, at the slightest hint of warmth, are decidedly and anxiously moving with deliberate velocity to bloom in a new season.  It may be a bit early, but whose to say that they won’t survive.  This drive is divine and a part of their nature.

What is there driving you onward and upward?

“I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Philippians 3:12b NKJV

THANK GOD FOR OLD FRIENDS

An old friend stopped by and it was good see him.  He is a precious relationship that has had meaning from 40 years ago.   We were young then and full of energy and possibility.  Thank goodness for the passage of time and God’s grace to still be alive to be wiser to appreciate the promise and possibility that we’ve been able to realize along the way.

As college mates we marched in the band together and interacted on campus during school activities.  We enjoyed college football rivalries and going to the big game.  We mastered registration (the old of doing it with the long lines) and kept up with our class regimen. We lived next door to each other where we shared the fun and mischief of dormitory life.  We achieved in the midst of all of the college craziness. We graduated!  We were all smiles then with not a worry in the world.  We were playful and mischievous with only ourselves, most of the time, to think or worry about.  It was a great time in our lives.

We’re men now:  husbands, fathers (of daughters mind you), grandfathers, employed with seniority, and people with influence within and beyond our communities.  We’re ‘known in the gate’ for lives that have meaning beyond our play and enjoyments.

Thankfully, we’re older and wiser now.  The experiences of life have taught us many great things, things we’ve needed for this life, but things that could only be had through the course of life and experience.  Real feelings and real focus have been the means of our learning experiences.  One has to listen and observe well to understand with clarity so much better ‘under the circumstance or condition.’  And these situations, circumstance, conditions, or even feelings became our teacher and we were and continue to be the disciple.

My friend’s appearance was a reminder of the grace that is ours to experience life daily.  His walk through the door brought memories of what once was but now is.  And what is seems so much better with the beautiful landscape of life.  Our grey hair, a more tempered walk, a distinct look of insight or perception, the use of choice words of wisdom, a realness that only life can bring, an embrace that warms with passion, eye contact that conveys I’m really your brother, and a departure with mixed emotions of love and longing.

I cherish friendship!  I cherish my friend!   It is not a daily interaction but one that is near and dear to the heart, enough to overcome the passing of time.  We’re friends today . . . I think we will be friends tomorrow!

SO YOU WANT A GOOD WOMAN?

You say you want a wife . . . a virtuous woman!  Well, consider this when looking for one and ask yourself ‘am I the kind of man that appeals to the virtuous woman?’

Think about it!

She changes her name and her home to be with you, including her family and all that she knows.

She marries you and moves in to build a home with you (in that order).  Her body changes and grows to accommodate new life, enduring labor and the unbearable pains of child birth to deliver children that bear your name.  She sacrifices over and over again . . . perhaps too much at times for you and your family.

Until she departs this life, everything she does, from cleaning the house to taking care of parents, child-care, earning, advising, ensuring your comfort and relaxation, partnering in your adventures, maintaining all family relations, everything that benefits you and your family . . . sometimes at the cost of her own health , hobbies and beauty, she offers unselfishly.  She endures the good and the bad, the better and the worse, and the richer and the poorer.

So who is really doing whom a favor?  And whose noble deeds are really on display in the relationship?

She is a virtuous woman, whose giving and sacrifice is akin to divine sacrifice, ‘for God so loved the world that He gave . . .”

Appreciate the woman in your life, ‘always and forever.’  Because being a woman is a beautiful thing, and being the virtuous kind, well, “. . . her worth is far above rubies.”  (Proverbs 31:10b NKJV)  In other words, invaluable!  She is to be treasured, praised and loved. 

So, you still want a wife, the virtuous kind?  Well, before you get her, make sure that you are the man for this virtuous woman.  “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.”  “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”  (Proverbs 31:23 & 28 NKJV)

Make sure that you’re a good man for a good woman, with maturity, mentally and spiritually, who can sit among the elders with dignity and integrity.   And make sure that she is praised by you!  Be the man for the woman, the virtuous man for the virtuous woman.

 Adapted from Prince Phemy Davi Afolabi’s version, posted on John Dumelo’s Facebook page.

THE BUDDING CAMELLIA DURING WINTER

The Camellia, a shrub whose leaves are seen here, produces a waxy, perfectly shaped bloom of beauty in winter landscapes and conditions, maintaining its dark, glossy green leaves as another unique form of ‘the evergreen.’  This one produces a bi-colored flower of red and white. At a glance, it looks like a rose, but closer examination reveals a character and beauty all its own.  In warmer climates, this shrub can grow into a tree.

This bud caught my attention today on my stroll in the backyard.  With everything around it brown or tan and lying in wait for the warmer season, this Camellia is full with its green leaves, brown flowers that have expressed their beauty in spite of very chilling conditions, and these buds that await opportunity and the right time to open up to lend its beauty to the landscape.  These buds, when opened, will stand out because of their life and beauty during a challenging time for much of creation.

There are people who stand out to make a difference during the harshest of times.  They look for opportunities for service or giving without much concern for notoriety or gain.  They are people who look at life unselfishly and empty themselves that others might be aided in the struggle of life.  These kind of people follow something outside themselves, a power greater than any they may observe or feel.  They look beyond the ordinary or common to follow the lead of deep passion rooted in eternity.  They are willing to lose everything because they have already gained everything.  They have seen God!  Have you seen God?

In the Bible, men came inquiring, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21 NKJV)  Still, today’s world conducts an inquiry every day in much the same way . . . “we wish to see Jesus.”   Are there yet budding ‘followers of Christ’ who can introduce Him to others that might also ‘follow Him?’

Seeing God makes the difference in life and springs forth into budding opportunities to live with purpose and meaning while telling others about Him.  Serving this present age becomes a passion when one sees the Lord and decides to follow Him.  That is the ‘follower of Christ’ mandate.  Instead of pondering whether one should be on the right or the left, can we be ‘behind?’  Can we FOLLOW Him?  Can today’s Christians get behind the Lord to follow Him through denial of self, taking up the cross of service and sacrifice, and serving the needs of others?

This shrub has brown, fading flowers and a host of buds awaiting their chance to bloom.  They represent the past and possibility!

Is that a good description of your life . . . some brown, fading blooms but a host of buds awaiting their chance to bloom?  You’ve done some good things . . . but are there buds awaiting to blossom into greater works?

You’re not finished yet.  There is still meaning and beauty to share into the lives of others that are searching and hoping for something better.  The glance, glimpse, or perhaps the closer examination of your personal witness of following Christ will be the proving point for many to find the reality of possibility and potential.  You can find it and others can too when WE are willing to follow Him!

Does the camellia describe you?  As it warms up the landscape with its character and beauty, you too can shine in abundance of characteristic Christ-like beauty in the midst of these harsh and hard times!

Share your abundant life and witness of Christ with others!  By following Him and denying self, in these harsh and challenging times, we may find life, full of the abundance of evergreen and budding possibility.

Right Now or Not Yet!

Are you so caught up or overwhelmed by your right now moments that you cannot fathom the thought of ‘not yet’ moments?

The present is now and many of us are carried away by attitudes of immediate gratification.  We want it all and we want it now.  We’re also being told to spiritually expect a “Right Now God” to move on our behalf with our own time frames or ‘your season’ is now.  In a culture that is focused upon the feelings and desires of the individual, it is commonly thought that ‘my need or desire’ is an immediate priority for not only ourselves, but for God as well.

I’m thinking that the element of “not yet” is a profound component of our experience with God.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be necessary for The Book to say, “They that wait upon the Lord . . .” (Isaiah 40:31); or David’s declaration in Psalm 27 to “Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord” would not have relevance to our Christian pilgrimage.

Not yet means that there is a future to our lives filled with blessing and promise.  It means that I must look forward with anticipation and expectation for “. . . those things which are ahead,” (Philippians 2:13).  It means that timing is everything sometime and that my time may not be my destiny’s time.  And, it means that I must be faithful enough to “know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Think about it this way:  Our misery is sometimes self-inflicted by our unwillingness to wait for the ‘not yet’ that is to be revealed in us.  Don’t allow desire, lust, or ambitions so control your feelings that you become overwhelmingly impatient and cannot/will not wait.  The wait may be your blessing.  And don’t ever forget this, the Lord knows when and how to bless each of us and the blessing(s) are not usually in concert with others’ blessings.  You don’t have to try to keep up, just keep an attitude to “. . . lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1)

God has plans for us, many of which we cannot handle right now!  The ‘not yet’ of our lives may have much more meaning for us and for the kingdom than we can fathom or appreciate ‘right now.’  So, remember that God is bringing us along to a place where ‘not yet’ becomes ‘right now’ with entirely new realities.

Settle down . . . calm down!  Cease demanding your desire or season!  You shall be and you shall have what He has for you:   “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

 “One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you, Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine, so for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.”  Lyrics from “One Day at a Time”