Category Archives: Reflections

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Wiggle

“Life is not a struggle. It’s a wiggle.”

When I saw this “fortune” cookie, I laughed out loud. A wiggle? When I think of wiggle, I think of the Wiggles, a children’s musical group that my kids loved to listen to over a decade ago. I can still find myself singing along to those songs of a former season when they seep out of my memory bank. The other wiggle, the slow movements from side-to-side, are just that – movements. 

“Life is not a struggle. It’s a wiggle.” To me, this reminds us that through life, there is always movement. Only God is constant. We choose if we wish to wiggle forward or backward in every situation, with every response, etc.

Life is a struggle. Unfortunately, too many people think that there is an answer to remove the struggles of life. People think that a self-help books will have an answer. People believe there has to be a remedy to all of the problems they are facing. People think that when you “find” Jesus, the struggles disappear. This is all far from the truth. Yes, when you come to know Jesus and you follow Him, life is different; however, the struggles never go away. The only difference is you have the power to overcome through the Spirit of God. It doesn’t mean that the struggle will go away, but that you will have the strength to go around, go through, or knock down—whatever God wills! Just keep wiggling. May He continue to guide you through each movement side-to-side from now through eternity.

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20 [NLT]

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” – Ephesians 3:16 [NLT]

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Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Wisdom

I love Chinese food. I used to save the fortune cookies and give them to my daughter, but recently I’ve been cracking them open myself and seeing the fortune found within. I built up quite the collection on my desk and started to see the truth in them. May these “fortunes” bless you as they have blessed me.

“Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it.”

A professional is someone who is more advanced than an amateur. Today’s fortune cookie “wisdom” makes sense—a professional knows how to do something, when best to do it, and of course, can then do it. 

When I think about this term professional, I think of wisdom. True wisdom is defined as having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Wisdom helps a person to know not only how to do something, but when it actually should be done (if at all). There are situations in life when we may know how to do something, but we get the timing all wrong. There are moments when the greater act of wisdom is a response of not doing anything.

Each of us is on our own journey, and wisdom helps us to travel well. This wisdom comes from God (Ecclesiastes 2:26, Colossians 2:2-3). If you are ready for the best travel companion, draw near to God. He is the giver of wisdom. He will help you to be more aligned on His timeline. You can truly be a good professional, not just in knowing how to do something, but in knowing when to act and when to pause, when to speak and when to listen, when to stand up and when to yield. 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 [ESV]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Believe

I love Chinese food. I used to save the fortune cookies and give them to my daughter, but recently I’ve been cracking them open myself and seeing the fortune found within. I built up quite the collection on my desk and started to see the truth in them. May these “fortunes” bless you as they have blessed me.

“He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak.”

Everyone wants to be strong. At an early age, children will say look at my muscles. Kids will attempt to pick up heavy items to showcase their strength. When we get older and feelings are hurt, we try to be strong and not let anyone see our tears. We typically do not go around and tell people our faults and weaknesses. The fortune cookie message of today is, “He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak.”

Everyone believes in something or someone. When you believe in Jesus Christ, you are strong. It is in admitting you are weak and cannot save yourself, that you are in fact strong because when you believe, you receive. You receive redemption, restoration, and the same power that rose Jesus from the grace lives in you. The Spirit of God is within you. He is your strength.

Even still, we as Christians should not think that we will always feel strong. You won’t. There will be moments when you feel weak and honestly you and I are weak. We are human. We are finite creatures. Without Jesus, we are nothing. There will be moments when you feel weak and have doubts and feel like you do not have it all together. Do not try to make those moments go away. Do not try to deny the moments and put on a fake smile. When you doubt, ask God to help you believe. When you feel weak, embrace the One who is a firm foundation. Rest in His grace. Allow Him to be your refuge.

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’”– Mark 9:24 [ESV]

“O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.” – Isaiah 33:2 [ESV]

Weeds on My Leg

My neighbor always lets his weeds get 2-3 feet high. Sometimes as I am navigating down the footpath, a weed will rub against my leg and I jump in the air and quickly look down to make sure I’m safe. In my mind, I know that he never addresses the weeds. But even still, I look down because there is a small chance that a mosquito or spider or something else is crawling on my leg. I hate bugs.

When I was a pastor, I always encouraged people to look in the Bible to see the verses I was referencing in a sermon. It was important for me to point people to the actual scripture so that everyone could see what God says. Even though most of the time it is only weeds rubbing against your legs, every so often there is a mosquito or spider crawling on your leg. If you are looking in your Bible to see what God says, you can check for yourself. You aren’t trusting it’s a simple grazing of a weed. You’re able to know it is just a weed. This is important for your walk with Jesus—to know for yourself what God says. Yes, you won’t know it all. Yes, you won’t understand it all. But open up His Word and seek Him.

There are a lot of commentators of the Bible. There are thousands of pastors and theologians. Interpretations vary at times because people allow their own misconceptions and traditions to speak into the Word. People read what they want to read. People cherry pick. People have agendas. People are broken. I’m not suggesting that the last sermon you heard was wrong or that commentaries are bad. My pastor shared a great message from God this past Sunday, and my bookshelf is lined with commentaries. My suggestion, my desire for you is to always seek Him and His Word for yourself. Independent Bible reading and study should be a regular occurrence. What is God saying to you today?

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [ESV]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Spotless

I love Chinese food. I used to save the fortune cookies and give them to my daughter, but recently I’ve been cracking them open myself and seeing the fortune found within. I built up quite the collection on my desk and started to see the truth in them. May these “fortunes” bless you as they have blessed me.

“No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future.”

The past is the past. Perhaps the memories stay, the scars remain. Even still, the past is still the past. Unfortunately, some people cannot forget your mistakes. Some people cannot forgive your missteps. Sometimes you cannot let go of something from your past. Sometimes despite your efforts, the past keeps coming to the forefront of your mind, and things once “settled” are rehashed again.

But history is different from God’s vantage point. When you believe in Christ Jesus, the past is forgiven. The crimson stain is white as snow. Your sins are forgiven as far as the east to the west. Through Christ, you have a great inheritance—as a child of God, you are co-heirs with Christ. You truly have a spotless future.

When you hear taunts from your past, remember what God says about you. Remember that you are forgiven. Remember that you were bought with a price. Remember that you have been set free. Remember that you have a spotless future. You have overcome through Christ! Declare this today!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18 [ESV]

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” – Psalm 103:12 [NLT]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Kindness

I love Chinese food. I used to save the fortune cookies and give them to my daughter, but recently I’ve been cracking them open myself and seeing the fortune found within. I built up quite the collection on my desk and started to see the truth in them. May these “fortunes” bless you as they have blessed me.

“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” What a great reminder that “no act of kindness, however, small, is ever wasted.” Too often, we see people making grand gestures, and we cannot donate that same large sum of money. We see people helping out various organizations, but we can barely make a homemade meal for our own family. 

We get stuck when we think that our actions must be grandiose. We fail to realize that one act of kindness from time to time is not what we are called to fulfill; our kindness is to be a fruit of the Spirit evident every day of our lives. Typically, this kindness is not something displayed infrequently in big ways, but instead in small acts of kindness in the day-to-day living. 

Each act of kindness points to our loving, kind, gracious Father. Today, be ever mindful of your words and actions. May every word be drenched in kindness. May every action be motivated by lovingkindness. The world sees a lot of anger and bitterness and hate. Be kind. 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4 [NIV] 

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32 [ESV]

Loving Boundaries

Boundaries are important in every facet of life. This is something I am constantly reminded of during my day-to-day encounters. I had yet another reminder as my dog Max was nearly bit by an unleashed uncontrolled dog. The dog owner apologized as per usual, but this wasn’t the first time this very same dog came after mine as we took our daily walk. The question that continues to be posed to me every time I encounter a “free” dog is the same one—if we love someone or something, should we not want what we love to be protected with boundaries?

For some, there is this old saying that if we love something, we let it go—that if it loves us it will return to us. That is a wonderful saying; however, there is more to that statement. The real question is how we love first. Yes, if we love something—with a love like God demonstrated—then the freedom thereafter follows. It would mean that just as God loved, we love—and it would mean that as God gives us free will, then we respect each person (or dogs) free will thereafter. But with every relationship there should be boundaries, expectations, an order. This is biblical. This is loving. This is what God did and does still today. If we truly love something, we would want the protection. Being free without the protection is not love. It’s folly. It’s ludicrous. 

When we look at the Bible, we see covenants. This was a way for relationships to have clear understandings of expectations and boundaries. Kings did this with nations. People did this with other people. God did this with His people and His covenant is still in place with us even today. This is something we should continue if we want to function with harmony and order. This means dogs have suitable containment and leashes. This means having expectations and boundaries for relationships – family members, friendships, dating/spouse relationships. As parents, we give children a set of rules and permissions because we love our children and want the best for them. This is actually freedom. With all relationships, when we have these perimeters, we have a hedge of protection over what matters to us. Yes, there will be times people, and dogs, will overstep the boundaries and we should want to respond with grace and truth. In the end, love wins. Let us be a people of love. Let us be a people who speaks clearly, loves deeply, act in wisdom, and live for His glory!

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:5-11 [ESV]

Rabbit in the Weeds

My neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds has reached nearly 3 feet. It is a perfect hiding spot for a rabbit, that is, until my Labrador decides he wants to retrieve him. I keep him from having any success; however, this morning he did shock the rabbit he uncovered with his keen abilities. The rabbit, stunned and not really able to evaluate his options, ran right towards a pack of German Shepherds. He rebounded and finally found an escape route.

Watching the frazzled rabbit run from one point to the next haphazardly reminded me of how easy it is to get comfortable and feel safe somewhere only to find yourself under attack. This can happen in a relationship, at a job, in a circle of friends, and even at church. It is usually the people closest to us that hurt us most. We get comfortable. We feel safe. Then something happens. We all have moments, situations, events, etc. in life that shock us, open our eyes, hurt us, change us as people. We have the option to respond in whatever way we see fit. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we deny. 

When we run, like the rabbit, we are running from something, and there’s always a place we are running toward. Maybe we attempt to nurse our brokenness with some self-soothing methods that are almost second-hand nature. Remember the Golden Girls moments when the cheesecake came out of the fridge? Perhaps your soothing is going to the gym, taking a shopping trip, having a few (or more) drinks. We all have our vices; some of us have multiple vices.

Whatever your situation may be, spend time with God. Take refuge in Him. People change; God is unchanging. People are unfaithful; God is faithful. People are broken, not-perfect, and many times selfish; God’s love is unfailing, His ways are perfect, and He pours out His blessing in abundance. As you cling to Him, may you realize you were never meant to hide in the safety of the overgrowth—you were made to soar! The people in your life are not to be your safety net, but they are part of your life to love, to encourage, to serve. The financial security of a good job and money in the bank is not for you to sit back and coast through life, but to glorify God. Often, when you are chased from the overgrowth, you are led to right where you are meant to be at this very moment. Let the Spirit guide your steps from the weeds to all that He has awaiting. It might not appear to be better than the pile of weeds, but you can trust that God has a great plan. In faith, in obedience, in love – press onward and soar!

“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” – Psalm 143:8 [NLT]

“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:5 [NLT]

The Rudolph Nose

I had to chuckle the other evening as I drove home. I came across a deer-crossing street sign and someone had put a red nose on the deer. I said, “Look, it’s Rudolph,” as I passed by the sign. Then I pondered over what some may say when they see the same sign. I know that the sign is the property of the local government, and so technically the nose could be seen as defacement of property. Legal actions could be taken against the person who chose to apply the nose to the sign. At the same time, I found it comical. Please do not get me wrong—I am not in any way saying it’s okay to deface or damage property. What I am trying to express is how I saw this and had a laugh at the cute, comical image.

Over the years, I have found myself on a roller coaster ride with grace. When I was younger, I was happy about grace. I was glad that God gave me grace. I wanted grace. I was stingy and wanted to keep all the grace I could handle. As I got older, I started to learn more about the Law. I started to find myself a bit proud. I started to think better of myself. I sat myself up high. I was smug. I felt somewhat superior to some others. This grew as I attended university and increased my knowledge of the Bible. It’s interesting how we can grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and separate ourselves so much from grace, because we stand on knowledge. We hold tightly to Scripture, but so tightly that we miss the common thread of love. We like the feeling of being right, being justified, being a child of God. We miss the “all fall short” and the “love others” and “honor everyone.” We become a Pharisee and can be blind to it for a long time, even years later.

As the years pass by, I slowly find myself more broken. I find myself understanding grace more. I find myself needing grace more. I look back on the person I used to be and see how God has changed me. He has shown me that I was sometimes a stumbling block when I should have been a bridge. He has reminded me that the grace I receive, is the same grace that I should pour out to others. He opens my eyes to love simply and deeply—to not make life so difficult and draining. I have long ago realized that the greatest threat to my relationship with God is not Satan; it’s me. I am a long way from the follow-the-rules-down-to-the-last-letter kid I once was in school. I have learned to live, to love, to laugh. I have learned that a Rudolph nose, despite the defacement of property, is funny. I have decided to love anyway, to laugh often, to forgive freely. Life is short. We need a few more Rudolph noses and a lot more love. We desperately all need Jesus. Oh, how sweet the sound of His amazing grace!

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:7 [ESV]

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 [ESV]