Man Up!

Lots of confusion about what it means to be a man these days (and at least since the 1970’s). A few years back a government entity thought the “pajama boy” ad lead_largewould really get men psyched up about discussing health insurance (this ad brought to you courtesy of estrogen!).

Hot chocolate or pajamas are fine but what Einstein thought THAT would inspire men? It was immediately ridiculed to death (a sign of some sanity out there).

And maybe in part, a reaction to the pajama man-child culture, “Duck Dynasty” beards Untitledhave become all the rage. Add military service, and a sleeve of tattoos…you look like you eat nails for breakfast!

I saw a guy with a fierce beard at the gym. For three weeks I thought he was completely jacked! Then realized he was actually skinny to moderate. But the aura of that beard just shown around him like some testosterone infused cloud.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that while looking manly is excellent, it is in no way indicative of “manliness,” or “maturity (see Anthony Scaramucci’s recent gutter tirade).” You really don’t know if you’re looking at a man or a scared self-centered child trapped inside man’s body.

So what is a man?

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV)

WHOA! Now that is a manly verse. And God used Paul to write it.

Paul was an epic man:

  • First century Jew = epic beard.
  • Rugged to the core. Beaten for preaching and left for dead outside of town. Got up and went back into town. Kept preaching. Who does that??
  • Viper latches onto his arm. “Shakes it off” Taylor Swift style, right into the fire.
  • No use for quitters. Canned John Mark for quitting.
  • Didn’t run from fights. Instead preached radical (and true) stuff that caused riots.
  • No fear.
  • NEVER had a cat. Look it up. 2 Hesitations 2:6

Paul had all outward trappings of virility. But what are some of the things he would say are “manly?” I’m gonna give you two that might not often come to mind.

A real man:

1. Embraces his insufficiency. Even boasts about it.

“But I’m bad to the bone! I’m tough as nails! I have muscles, and my muscles have muscles! I post fitness selfies of my muscles all…day…long.”

Are you badder than prostate cancer? All the muscle tone in the world won’t stop it pajama-boy-3from killing you.

“But I meant mentally tough, David. I’m mentally tough! GRRRRRRRR!”

Really. Will your “mental toughness” keep Alzheimer’s at bay? No. In fact, it can steal every ounce of mental fortitude you possess, until you have no mind at all.

Undeniable truth of life:

there is no such thing as a bullet proof man (or woman).

You are NOT the biggest and baddest. God is.

After God told him His power works best in weakness, Paul of the awesome beard said quite famously:

I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Paul was a survivor who cheated death over and over again. But his success came from43766371_ml knowing he was weak and ordinary, empowered by a God who was strong and extraordinary.

Any man that recognizes his insufficiency and relies on the limitless power of the all sufficient Master of the Universe…is on his way to being a real man.

And a real man…

2. Can afford to be gentle.

I rarely hear that “real men” are gentle. Because it is a dog-eat-dog world! If it’s all on me, I cannot afford to be gentle. I’ve got to use all weapons at my disposal to get my way. I’ve just GOT to:

  • Get all I can.
  • Can all I get.
  • Sit on the lid.
  • Poison the rest. 

And of course, the natural extension of that attitude is sometimes a man becomes a human-hand-grenade-with-the-pin-pulled-out-ready-to-go-off-at-the-drop-of-a-hat. And NOT safe to be around. Never know when they’ll just…BOOM.

But Paul the riot-starting-viper-burner (Acts 28:5) says:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Phil. 4:5

If God is near, has my back, really REALLY means things like Romans 8:28 He’ll-work-all-things-together-for-my-good-and-really-cares-about-me…

I can afford to be gentle.

I can afford to be gentle at work, with my family, with others. I can be safe for others to be around.

NOT passive. NOT defenseless. Willing to bring the heat when appropriate. But safe.

atticus_scout
Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird – gentle, proactive, strong, epic.

 Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

How much better to speak softly because you have a big God? You can afford to be gentle because you’ve got a God who is bigger than any stick.

So grow a massive beard if you want! Get ripped from head to toe! Shake off vipers! Do NOT under ANY circumstances take a picture in a flannel onesie whilst drinking hot chocolate! Good Grief!

And take these two truths on as your motto:

  • I’m insufficient but filled with a limitless all-sufficient God.
  • I can afford to be gentle because my limitless God…is near.

That’s the goal. Amen amen.

 

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Life Like a Toilet

I read a beautifully heart-warming story about a middle school in Oregon that was faced with a unique problem. Many girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the restroom. After they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Finally, the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all of the girls to the restroom and met them there with the custodian.

She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance guy to clean one of them.

He took a long-handled squeegee,

dipped it into the toilet,

then cleaned the mirror.

Surprise! The girls no longer put lip prints on the mirrors.

A mirror was made to reflect, not to kiss.

Truly life changing truth:

If you don’t get your purpose right, your life can be like a toilet.

Your purpose is multi faceted and involves your gifts and skills and experiences and personality, and it will unfold over a lifetime. BUT...if you do this every day – you’ll be on your way:

Every day seek to make Him look good.
And all will be good.

Simple. Profound. Jesus said it this way,

 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A great prayer to start the day:

Lord, let everything I think, say and do today, make You look good.

Amen.

 

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Winning Gone Wild

Winning isn’t everything, winning is the only thing.   Vince Lombardi

AS a young kid our house was on a street half way up a hill. At the bottom of the hill, water would collect after rain. Often the water would sit for days or weeks and grow green algae in it. The water was so dirty that as a kid, I kind of assumed it was sewer water (it wasn’t).

About fourth grade, a buddy of mine (we’ll call him Mortimer) and I came up with a great game. We had an empty Coke can. This was when Coke cans were still made of tin. Pretty hard and impossible for a kid to crush.

To win, you had to hit your opponent in the head with a water filled Coke can, as he flew by on his bike as fast as his legs could go. Best game ever.

First up! Mortimer, standing on the curb, throwing that can at my head as I flew by on my bicycle!

It’s a miss. Nothing but air! My turn.

Mortimer rode by as fast as the wind. I hurled that can of sewer water with all my might!

Rats. Clear miss. His turn.

This went back and forth for a while with no winner. We were either a) really fast bike riders or b) kind of uncoordinated. You decide.

Then it was my turn to throw again. I reared back that tin Coke can filled with vile liquid. Mortimer flew by, his skinny legs pumping that bike as fast as it would go. I threw as hard as I could. Mortimer ducked. But not far enough.

14747486 - bam. comic book explosion.

I HIT HIM! I HIT HIM! SMACKED HIM IN THE SIDE OF THE HEAD I DID!

Oh, glorious day! I hit him! Praise the Lord! The victory was mine! I was the triumphant champion of the sewer water throwing competition!

What happened next was quite shocking.

Little Mortimer fell off his bike and lay in the street with a bloody head. He seemed to be hurt. Who would’ve EVER seen THAT coming??????? Not us! You’d have to be a fortune-teller, witch doctor or clairvoyant to guess that outcome.

Young broken-headed Mortimer was whisked off to the emergency room by his parents, and the fun was all over for that day (never fear – he was fine the next day but for some strange reason not in the mood for another round Coke-Can-Smash-To-The-Head).

We were so stupid 🙂

WINNING ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST THING

Every day people go out into the world to win, without thinking through the consequences of winning. What will you win? What is the prize?

Wins the girl! Uh oh. The prize is losing his family, estranged from his kids because he happened to be married to another.

Wins the deal! Bad news. The prize is jail and/or the destruction of the company because the deal included normal business stuff you “just gotta do” to succeed (Enron, Arthur Andersen, Worldcom,  the list is endless).

Wins the job! Oops! The prize is kids losing the kids because the hours are not compatible with familial interaction.

Wins the promotion! Wow! The prize is a spiritual train wreck because there’s just no time for trivial and frivolous pursuits like Christ’s church or Christian community in a small group or Sunday school because this particular promotion requires you sacrifice everything for the company.

Wins the guy or girl’s hand in marriage! Yayyyy! Except the prize is a marriage that careens off into spiritual nothingness because the thought was, “they’ll join me in spiritual pursuits AFTER we get married!” They rarely do.

Wins fame and fortune! Uh oh. The prize is a string of marriages, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, craziness and sadness (read biography of any number of superstars).

Winning isn’t everything. It all depends on what you win.

It’s been said that you can climb the ladder of success only to find that your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. 

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO WIN?

You SHOULD run to win. You SHOULD live to win. But ask yourself, “Win what?”

Mortimer and I could’ve saved ourselves some pain and blood (his blood not mine) if we’d just thought things through BEFORE we tried to smash each other’s cranium with a can.

The Apostle Paul was all about winning. All of his life he pursued “the win.” But it wasn’t the right win until Jesus grabbed hold of him. Then, his race became very specific. He said,

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:25

There’s only ONE race that matters and ONE win that completely satisfies and blesses. And that’s the race of following Jesus with all our heart soul mind and strength. Loving Him, blessing Him, following Him. And He gives to all who run His race the prize that never fades, never flounders, never falters – the prize of life forever and ever with Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion
Hebrews 12:1-2a (NLT)

The way to win…is to run the race God has given you, and run it with your eyes always always always on Jesus.

 

 

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Unhinged Rage In America: What Can Christians Do?

It’s a mixed up, crazy, shook up world.

  1. A man shot up a ballfield last Wednesday for the express purpose of murdering conservative Republicans.
  2. Kathy Griffin recently did an ISIS-inspired photo shoot holding a mock Trump severed head dripping blood.
  3. Kathy Griffin then cried that she was being bullied by the man (and his family) who’s mock bloody head she held. Because they tweeted something.
  4. The head of the DNC, Tom Perez, has been going on repeated cussing sprees at multiple official DNC events in front of children (as opposed to a one-time slip of the tongue). At the California Democratic Convention, Chairman John Burton led the crowd in a “f*** Trump” chant while waving his middle fingers. The crowd eagerly participated. These two leaders represent one of the two national political parties in the United States.
  5. “Antifa” (meaning antifascist) groups, wearing all black and covering their faces, have been spreading violence, setting fires and smashing windows across the country. Because nothing says antifascist like rioting against free speech?
  6. Madonna said she has thought of blowing up the White House.
  7. A “Shakespeare in the Park” production of Julius Caesar by the Public Theater in NYC features a President Trump lookalike being stabbed to death.
  8. CNN HOST (official representative of the network) Fareed Zakaria tweeted about the production of Julius Caesar where a Donald Trump lookalike is repeatedly stabbed to death saying it was “brilliantly interpreted,” and “a masterpiece.

So how do you respond to this unhinged rage? And make no mistake, all of the above is evidence of violent, hate-filled and unhinged minds.

I suppose you could:

  • Cover your face, wear black and have a riot against those you disagree with.
  • Blow some things up.
  • Make your own mock decapitated head of folks you disagree with.
  • Go on your own cussing spree against those you disagree with.
  • Try to verbally incite violence yourself.
  • Write plays where folks you disagree with are murdered.
  • Call people vicious names.

Those are all real alternatives.

And they will only result in amping up the depravity and violence, both verbal AND physical. So not best alternatives for someone trying to make the country better and live a life that honors Jesus.

Here’s a different take:

  • Call for a Katy Perry-style world group hug (click here for my previous post on this).
  • Hire Kendall Jenner to give rioting antifa or gun wielding shooters a Pepsi (dumbest Pepsi ad ever-you can see it here).
  • Hold signs that say, “Jesus loves you antifa! He wants to free you from your facemask and black pajamas!”
  • Hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

One word: ridiculous.

What can you do?

Here are my thoughts on ways to combat a discourse that has become both verbally and physically violent, dishonest and profane:

  1. Pray. Yes even though I ridicule the effectiveness of global group hugs and healing power of Pepsi, I really REALLY REALLY believe the words of the Creator of everything when He says over and over and over to “pray about everything.”

    Pray for God to change violent and hate filled hearts.

    Pray for God’s light to shine on all those who have turned to violent activity and violent speech.

    Pray that God changes their hearts (like He did Paul) or renders them impotent to do harm.

    Franklin Graham has tirelessly been calling our country to prayer over the last year.  “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

  2. Be light. “You are the light of the world—let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14, 16‬ ‭NLT‬‬ (I wrote a whole post on this here (click link). Reject the wickedness and hatefulness of the culture (don’t embrace it) and shine the light of Christ in every situation (you won’t be perfect, but if you give it a shot you’ll be better than most).

  3. Don’t use violent or crude or profane language. Seems obvious right if you love Jesus right? It’s not. There was actually a trend of “cussing pastors” for a while. Profanity is a crutch most often used by those opposed to God, not those on His side. It’s absurd for someone to argue the King’s positions using the enemy’s language (not flesh and blood but evil spirits in heaven places).

  4. Argue forcefully!

    Debate with conviction!

    Argue with power!

    But argue the King’s way. Full of light and intelligence and goodness and kindness and love. Don’t be a red-faced Bible screamer, but be a force for good in word and deed AND ALSO forcefully and aggressively arguing for right, as a representative of the King.

History has been changed by people of faith arguing from faith with power.

Faced with as much profanity and crudeness and hatred and violence as can be imagined, Martin Luther King Jr. argued forcefully with conviction and power and argued the King’s way…ultimately at the expense of his own life. And brought great change. As he said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

According to the Church historian Theodoret, in the fifth century, a monk named Telemachus traveled to Rome and to the Colosseum. Upon seeing the gladiators fighting to the death, Telemachus ran into the arena to stop the bloody fight.

“The spectators of the slaughter were indignant, and inspired by the triad fury of the demon who delights in those bloody deeds, stoned the peacemaker to death.”

When the Emporer heard of Telemachus’ death, he was so moved that he brought an end to the bloody games of the Colosseum.

It’s an evil hate filled world. And the King has left His representatives here, not to act like the world or fight like the world, but to make a big impact on the world. Always His way.

Amen, amen.

 

 

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Do Dogs Go To Heaven? How About Cats?

I actually wrote this many years ago, but an excellent dog rescuing friend had a dog die recently, and it reminded me how important this question can be for some.

But before I get to the most important question, I must dispense with some other items (warning: skip below for the answer if you’re allergic to cat-bashing).

Do cats go to heaven? 

The stuff of nightmares this beast is.

Of course not. That’s like asking if the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3) went to heaven. Cats are a result of the fall. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that there were no cats in the Garden of Eden. It wouldn’t be paradise if there were cats there. 

Am I making this up as I go along? Absolutely.

Charles Portis, in one of my favorite books, True Grit, said it this way, through his character Mattie Ross:

“I have known some horses and a good many more pigs who I believe harbored evil intent in their hearts. I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces? Some preachers will say, well, that is superstitious “claptrap.” My answer is this: Preacher, go to your Bible and read Luke 8: 26-33.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Brrrrrrr. Scary…

But enough of this silliness!

If you have a cat, I love you too. And you can replace “dog” with “cat” throughout the remainder of this post because I have no authority (Biblical or otherwise) upon which to rest my cat opinions.

So on to the main question! Do dogs go to heaven?

1. The Bible doesn’t say they do. The Bible doesn’t say they don’t. So no one can answer with certainty. If someone speaks with certainty on this issue, quit listening. They are puffed up and full of themselves.

2. There will definitely be animals in heaven. See Ezekiel 47:9.

3. Billy Graham’s answer (it’s a great one): In response to a little girl who asked this question, he is purported to have said: “If that’s what it takes for you to be happy in heaven, God will make sure your dog is in heaven.”

Excellent answer! Takes #1 into account. And speaks the very essence of God’s loving description of heaven – a place of no pain, no suffering, no sorrow (Rev. 21:4). Heaven is a place that Jesus called “paradise” – knowing what that word would mean to us.

4. Joni Eareckson Tada (a woman who take the promises of God very seriously), wrote the best answer of all time (in my estimation):

 “If God brings pets back to life, it wouldn’t surprise me. It would be just like Him. It would be totally in keeping with His generous character….Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential to see Scrappy would be pure whimsy-utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous. It’s not that animals have souls or that God owes Scrappy anything, but heaven is going be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the joy of our Great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children.” (from God of All Creation by James Robison)

That answer gives me high hopes. I’ve had some great dogs that I loved dearly. Great dogs that I cried over when I lost them.

I must admit that for years, I thought this was a stupid, stupid question. But as I’ve grown older, and a little (teeny tiny bit) wiser through experience, I must admit – it’s a good question.

God blesses us with every good thing-James 1:17. And for many, pets have been a most excellent thing. They’ve been gifts from God that have blessed us, been loyal, and been a source of great friendship, comfort, and love, in times of great need.

Will your dog be in heaven? I can say this with absolute certainty: the God who loves you extravagantly will see to it that your pet will be there if that’s what you need for heaven to be paradise. And I agree with Joni – it would be just like our God to have your pet there.

Be blessed. I happen to know that your heavenly Father is quite fond of you. 

David

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How Can I Fight ISIS If I’m Not Military, Police or Katy Perry?

The world is a horribly dark place as evidenced by the Islamic terrorist blowing himself up along with 22 kids and parents in Manchester.

And what can I do about horrific darkness like Islamic terrorism?unnamed
If you are in the military, you have a specific role in fighting the darkness.
Do it well. We’re for you.
Praise God for you!

If you’re in law enforcement, you also have a very specific role in fighting the darkness.
Do it well. I’m for you.
Praise God for you!

But if you are not in the military or law enforcement, and following Christ, what can you do? I mean really – what can we do beyond virtue signaling on social media – “I stand with Manchester! At home! I changed my profile pic on Facebook!” Beyond declaring group hugs and no borders and no walls like Katy Perry (who coincidentally lives in a bullet proof bubble with armed security and a wall around her house).

If I’m serious about following Jesus, and I sincerely want to make a difference, isn’t there something I can do?

God actually has a word for you.

In the very beginning, it was dark. In fact, there was nothing. And out of nothing, God created everything. And He said, “Let there be light.” And instantly, there was light.

The darkness was driven back by God’s light.

Fast forward many years, Jesus walked the earth, and He famously said,”I AM the light.” John 8:12IMG_0850

You could accurately proclaim, “That Jesus is lit!”

And about 60 years after Jesus was born there was a very dark city called Ephesus. Half a million people and none of them knew God. Instead, they worshiped the Roman god Diana or the Greek god Artemis. The worship included a lot of dark stuff including temple prostitution and horrific rituals.

Jesus (The Light) showed up in this town, in the form of a little church full of His followers.

And God told says to them in Ephesians 5:8, “For once YOU were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!
And they, “Lit it up.”

So with that all in mind, His word for you?unnamed (1)

Be the light.

Not everyone can get in a jet and drop a MOAB on a hornets’ nest of dark hearts plotting murder and mayhem. Not everyone can go undercover and find people plotting the death of young girls leaving a concert.

But everyone who has Christ can be His light.

So do it. Be the light of Christ to change hearts and minds wherever God has called you to live and work. Ask God every day to use you to shine a light into the souls of people all around you.

Can that really make a difference?

Christ’s light is so powerful that when it shined into the soul of a seething murderous monster named Saul, it changed him into the greatest Christian to ever live – a man named Paul who God used to write half the New Testament.

And here’s the payoff:

The light you shine today might just fight back the darkness in a heart that could do tremendous evil tomorrow.

 

So in this dark and evil world, get lit! And light it up everywhere and every way you possibly can. unnamed (3)

“You are the light of the world—let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14, 16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Amen amen.

 

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Dip Cone Hair and Simple Life

891d3-conesThis is a picture of my hairstyle a while back.

Yes, the dip cones to the left are an exact representation of my hairstyle.

I’d like to say it’s more “Jimmy Neutron” than Dairy Queen to increase my “cool factor,” but that’d be stretching it.

This isn’t on purpose mind you – it just happened that way. Hair got a little too long, a little too free with the gel and…voila! DQ Dip Cone hair!

I noticed the DQDC resemblance in the mirror, and told a couple of friends “Look! I have dip cone hair!” to which one responded, “you absolutely do – did you do that on purpose?” “Yes! And tomorrow I’m going for a Hunger Buster belly!” OK…sooo not really.

I want the simple life.

A church member with a biting wit was giving me a hard time just two days before. In response I emailed her – “I’m leaving the ministry… getting a job at Dairy Queen in Gonzales (my daughters and I go to that DQ when at a friend’s ranch in the area). I will be their new “dip cone” guy. I dip the cone and then turn it upside down before I hand it to the customer. Then I smile sweetly (I’m good at that). That’s the life for me. No harassment. No stress. Just honest simple labor .”

Sweet, sweet lady. In response she emailed back “Is this the part where I say, “You’re good at being a dip?” The love of the Lord was all over her.

It got me thinking though.

Great job dipping cones. Nothing else to do. No complications, no worries. Just fill the cone, dip it, turn it upside down before handing it over. Creamy perfection.

And if you do it right…everyone loves you. People all over town saying “love the dip cone guy!”

My life isn’t like that at all.

There are regular complications, issues, and…you can do the right thing, and sometimes people will still hate you for it. Jesus mentioned that we should expect that.

And life is never free of stressors. Even the dip cone guy has stress. “Red alert! Red alert! The chocolate’s too hot! I turned the cone over, and it plopped onto my shoe!” Then he’s banished to the fryer and a life of chronic grease induced clogged pores and Crisco hair. Talk about stress.

What I really want, is a Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego kind of life.

They were told if they didn’t worship the king’s statue they’d be thrown in the fiery furnace. Their response?

Something like this: “Hate us – we don’t care! Throw us in the fiery furnace – we don’t care! We won’t worship your statue!”

That is so bold and excellent. I want to respond like they did! BUT…I want to already know beforehand that it is reeeeaaally gonna be OK.

Like God is whispering in my ear “I’ve got your back on this! Act a little more uppity! Wave that freaky dip cone hair around and say something like ‘whether God rescues me or not, I don’t care! Cause I’m one faithful bad mamma jamma!’”

That’s NEVER happened to me.

God does tell us beforehand that He’ll always be here and never forsake us (Deut. 31.6). But it seems that more often than not, He shows up (great Biblical point coming…wait for it…wait for it…) while we are in the fire. He shows up in the middle of our inferno and carries us safely through.

That’s what He did with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego:

He (Nebuchadnezzar) said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25

Not hurt. Not burned. God with them.

Are you in the middle of a fire right now? Look for God. He’ll be right there with you and will never, ever leave you.

Amen amen.

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