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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What I do When I’m Hammered

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GREAT hammer!

Oh wait – you didn’t think I meant “hammered” as in inebriated, intoxicated, wasted or drunk did you?

So sorry.

I meant, “hammered” as in, “emotionally hammered,” “hammered by life,” “down in the dumps,” “feeling really low.”

What do you do when you feel like giving up? When you can’t go on? I could tell you all the usual stuff:

1. Man up (I like that one! Seems so, “manly.”).
2. Your grandparents had it worse (true – many were risking lives in wars that covered the globe and faced a depression without “government help” (oxymoron anyone?), so quit whining.
3. The sun will come out tomorrow (what if it doesn’t?).

But none of those helpful comments get me through. Here’s what does:

Hammer it out with God’s Word.

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Example of, “stating the obvious.” But fabulous artwork!!

Why God’s Word? Let me first state the obvious. About God’s Word, you see, it’s umm, how do I put this? It’s hmmmmm….oh I know!

It’s God’s Word.

Don’t let your familiarity with the phrase, “God’s Word” undermine its power. When we say “God’s Word,” we’re saying a lot.

The Bible says it’s “God breathed.” It’s “powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.”

God spoke, and there was light.  God spoke, and the world came into existence.

So God’s Word is kind of a big deal. And it can change you, your insides, your outsides, all of you.

But let’s keep it simple:

You’re emotionally hammered.
Life has just dropped on you like a ton of bricks.
You’re not sure if you can get up tomorrow.
Or even keep going today.

Or maybe you’re not that low. But you are having a stressful day. This is still the best route. Trust me.

You can type this on your notepad, take a screenshot on your phone, and make it your wallpaper.

Find a verse that speaks to your situation (google, “Scriptures on God’s promises” or whatever). A great example is Jeremiah 29:11. Powerful verse about God’s plans for His kids. Write it on a card. Or make it your wallpaper on your phone.

During the day when:

tension rises,
anxiety increases,
worry creeps in,
or panic sets in…

…pull out the card or your phone, and displace those feelings with what God has said. Read it out loud or to yourself. Then say it as a prayer to the Lord. Say, “I believe.” Repeat it. And let it sink deep into your soul.

And as you do this, try to do it with the innocent trust of a child. With the trust you imagine a child feels when coming to a loving parent or to Jesus. 

I seem to remember as a child being told that the Bible was God’s Word. I was amazed – what an awesome book! I couldn’t set another book on top of it. I couldn’t let it get dirty. I treated it with serious and severe reverence.Who wouldn’t?!?!? It’s God’s Word for goodness sake!! What a precious and priceless and incredible gift!

Take that piece of paper or notation on your phone, and in the midst of anxiety or stress or worry, hang on to it. Grip it like grim death. Trust it like nobody’s business. Repeat as many times as necessary – all day long.

You do that, and  God will use it to change your thoughts, and renew your mind and hammer out anxiety and worry and panic.

Instead of getting emotionally and mentally hammered, hammer out the voice of the enemy, with the Voice of the Lord

Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 
Proverbs 30:5 

God Speed,

David

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Best Bible Story Ever-When God Comes to Dinner

Hyperbole alert – I may have overstated that title – all the Bible stories are excellent! But for at least two reasons this one is great. I love Genesis 18, which Ray Stedman called “When God Comes to Dinner.” I just love the picture of God coming to dinner as a man.

First Reason this is a Great Story: Angels show up. And so does God. 

Abraham is hanging out one day, and three men walk up and have dinner with him. They start talking, and as the conversation unfolds, it becomes apparent that one of the men is actually God in disguise (some would argue the pre-incarnate Christ, but that’s a subject for another time). The language changes from “they said” to “the Lord said.”

Boggles the mind.

 
This story is not in Genesis 18. But I am Laughing Out Loud at it right now.

Now Hebrews 13:2 says we should show kindness to strangers because you never know – you could be in the presence of an angel. Whoooaaa. You could be buying a Big Mac or a Venti coffee from a guy and he’s actually an angel. A real life angel who FLIES through space and time and has actually been in the presence of God in a way I haven’t (Although he probably covered his eyes and feet (Isa. 6:2)). But that thought is a big hairy audacious deal.

Now to be clear, the other two men who come to see Abraham are, in fact, angels. So Abraham encounters not one, but two angels. And you gotta admit, any Bible story with angels is a great story.

But wait! It’s a lot more than that. The third person is God Himself! How amazing to be talking to someone and realize all of a sudden, “hey, this is not just some regular guy, this is like, THEE guy, the ONE, that like, MADE me!”  Remarkable.

Abraham had an awesome day that day (except for the fact that God told him He’s going to destroy cousin Lot’s town of Sodom).

Second Reason this is a Great Story: God says –
Nothing is too hard for Him.

God tells Abraham that next year Abraham and Sarah will have a boy. Sarah overhears from inside the tent and laughs to herself (she’s 90). Silently. And God hears the silent laugh (that is sooo like God…hearing even silent things).

And the Lord asks Abraham (and somehow Sarah gets in on the conversation) why Sarah laughed. And here’s where I laugh:

Genesis 18:15  But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He (the Lord) said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Hilarious. “No, but you did laugh.” So matter of fact. So straight up. And I read it as said completely emotionless and deadpan.

 
Actually, average person would have to wear flame retardant pants 11 times a week.

Sarah lies because she’s afraid. 
Before we think too poorly of Sarah, according to one Notre Dame study, the average person lies 11 times a week, even though it’s not God calling them out. But God hears it every time, just like He heard Sarah’s silent laughter.

In the face of Sarah’s disbelief, God asks a rhetorical question. In verse 14 He asks “Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Great question. Yay God!

If God spoke our entire world into existence, then making a barren woman pregnant is pretty much a cakewalk*.

And apparently, Sarah considered this, because somewhere between her lying and cynical disbelief and childbirth, Sarah believes. But you only know this by reading ahead.  How far ahead? Like 58 whole books ahead to Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:11 says: By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

Somewhere between Genesis 18:15 and Hebrews 11:11 Sarah must have considered that question “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” And she came to a most excellent conclusion: no. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. And He keeps His promises. Even the seemingly impossible ones.

Nothing is too hard for the Lord.  So you believe.

Believe and ask the question: What in your life is too hard for the Lord?

  • Your marriage?
  • Your attitude?
  • Your heart?
  • Your friend who is far, far from God?
  • Your kids?
  • A sin that you cannot overcome?
  • Your circumstances?
  • Your grief?
  • Your pain?
  • Your home?
  • Your job?
  • Your country?

What if? What if when God said, “is anything too hard for the Lord?” He was speaking a truth that applies not just to Sarah, not just to Abraham, but a universal truth that applies to you too? What if you woke up tomorrow, or next week or even next year, to discover that nothing is too hard AND He keeps His promises?

 For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus). That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20

God shows up. And nothing in your life, nothing, is too hard for Him.

Amen.

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I Like Big Buts and I Cannot Lie

13692630_sHey! If you read that and thought I was writing about something else and some song is stuck in your head, that’s on you and your poor music choices! And, I’m sure I have no idea what song that might be…just saying.

First of all – small buts (our “buts” will remain lower case through this post to designate their smallness). We all have what I’d call small buts. And it has nothing to do with your diet.

Here are a few examples of small buts:

  • but what if God doesn’t come through?
  • but I worry all the time!
  • but I’m afraid if I give to God, I won’t have enough!
  • but I don’t have time to serve God!
  • but my life is just going crazy; I can’t get to church.
  • but I don’t know if God will do what I ask.
  • but they won’t like me if I talk about Jesus.
  • but Sunday School ethics don’t work in the real world.
  • but I’m scared about the future.
  • but I’m not motivated.
  • but I don’t have all the answers.
  • but I don’t know where to start.
  • but I can’t.
  • but I’ll fail.
  • but I’ve lost hope.

You get the idea. And honestly, it’s implied in all of those buts, “I don’t trust/believe God” and/or “I’m not sure He’ll come through in the end.”

I’d summarize the above mindset this way: God is small. And I am all. Meaning, “I’m all I have, and God can’t take care of business.”

But David! One of those on your list is my but, and my but is HUGE! Big as a double-wide! And I don’t like my big but!”

No no no no no. No matter what your but is, it’s a small, tiny but. You just think it’s big because you lack perspective.

Check this out: I feel really small on an NBA basketball court, and I feel REALLY big in a preschool room full of toddlers.

That’s all about perspective.

If you’re comparing your but to yourself, your friends or the world around you, your but may seem big. But it’s not.

What’s bigger than your but (no giggling)?

God’s BUT (all caps to indicate it is large).

God wrote a book. It’s FULL of big BUTS (over 50). Life-saving, wonderful BUTS!

BUTS like:

BUT God remembered Noah and dried up the earth. Gen. 8:1
BUT God saved David from Saul. 1 Samuel 23:14
BUT God wakes me up, fills my lungs with air, puts a beat in my heart and keeps me alive day after day after day after day. Psalm. 54:4
BUT God is the strength of my heart. Psalm 73:26
BUT God brought me up from the pit. Jonah 2:6
BUT God raised Jesus from stone-cold dead to alive forever. Acts 13:30

Those are all live-or-die BUTS.  “BUT God” is a powerful phrase!

It turns reality upside down.
It saves the day.
It makes the bad good.
It makes the tired strong.
It makes the old new.
It makes the dead alive.
It makes the future bright.

“BUT God” changes everything.

Where have you lost hope? Where have you given into worry? Where have you given up trying? Where has fear kept you from doing what God has called you to do?

For every small “but” you and I have, God has a bigger “counter-BUT”.

You say, “But I’m worried.” BUT God controls the future.
You say, “But I’m too tired.” BUT God gives power to the weak.
You say, “But I will fail.” BUT God always wins.
You say, “But what if God doesn’t come through?” BUT God always comes through.
You say, “But I’m afraid.” BUT God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

No matter what small but is bringing you down, holding you down, keeping you from doing what God has called you do, God is bigger and badder and stronger, and is willing to act for His kids.

Remember I said it’s about “perspective?”

It’s NOT “God is small. And I am all.” That is the very definition of “stinking thinking” (thank you for a great phrase Zig Ziglar).

It is:  I am small. And God is all. 

God is all and proved His great love and willingness to act for you in this…BUT God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 

So every time a but enters your mind, or is spoken to you by some naysayer or weak faith person, that contradicts what God has already said, you answer back, “BUT God”…and you fill in the blank with God has said. 

And there is no bigger but than what God has said. He always gets the last word. And it’s always a good word.

Got it? Now go try something great for Him today.

Amen.

 

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10 Things You Gotta Know About Revelation

You gotta know these 10 things about Revelation. You just gotta!

1. It’s the book of Revelation not Revelations. Don’t say “I iz reading Revelations whilst Ma is cooks up some possum pie. It’s pertnear my favrit book. I think I’ll go read it by the cement pond.” That sounds ignorant all because you made Revelation plural. Don’t be ignorant!

It’s also not the Revelation of John. It’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Even if the heading in your Bible says the Revelation of John (the headings aren’t inspired – they’re put there by the publisher).

2. John is the writer of Revelation and a MUCH bigger deal than you. Or me.
John had left the fishing business to follow Jesus. He followed Jesus for three years of ministry. He saw people raised from the dead, and saw Jesus walk on the water. John was at the last supper, there when Jesus was arrested, there as Jesus died on the cross – in fact the ONLY disciple there – all the others fled. Jesus told John to take care of Mary (Jesus’ mother). He was there at the empty tomb; he was among the first to believe. Nobody has lived a life like John lived. 

Jesus loves you
    John could wear this shirt.

3. He was known as the “beloved disciple”  or “the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20).” It would not be an overstatement to say that John considered Jesus to be his “best friend.”

4. John wrote John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.

5. John is about 100 years old.

6. John is banished on an island for criminals – Isle of Patmos – by the Emperor Domitian. Why? Because he wouldn’t shut up about Jesus. This is where he writes Revelation.

7. John survived martyrdom. Tradition says that he was boiled in a huge basin of oil during a wave of persecution in Rome (I tend to believe it though there’s no conclusive proof). However, he was miraculously delivered from death. The apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

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John couldn’t do this re: Jesus. And so he’s banished. 

8. He pastors/shepherds the seven churches he’s writing to in Revelation 1.

9. John didn’t fail. 100 years old, boiled in oil, banished to an island for criminals, still a faithful witness for King Jesus, his best friend. John lived a life far beyond anything we can imagine. For all the base jumping, cliff diving, ice climbing and BMXing out there – it’s nothing compared to the life John lived.

10. You’ll never find out when it all ends by studying numerology or Bible codes or Scrabble boards or by counting cards in Vegas (just in case you were wondering). And that’s not the point of the book. Jesus says Himself that no one but the Father knows (Matthew 24:36). 

The point of the book is to encourage persecuted believers, that in spite of any emperor’s hatred and even murder of Christians, King Jesus wins in the end. The Christian life is not trial free, but trial proof, not persecution free, but persecution proof, not tribulation free, but tribulation proof.

The point of the book is this: King Jesus gets the last word, He wins in the end, and so take heart! He will draw all of His to Himself to live with Him forever. Amen.

 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
Revelation 1:8 (NLT)

 

 

Wonderful Counselor

What if God has a special message just for you?

Consider His name from Isaiah 9:6. Wonderful Counselor.

Wonderful. The Hebrew word (Isaiah 9:6) is not your normal wonderful, as in “I made a wonderful pancake!” or “Daddy – I almost made it to the potty!” Answer from exasperated Dad. “Wonderful.”

No – it is “wonderful” as in describing something only God can do. Like parting the Red Sea, raising Lazarus from the dead, or giving a man or woman a new lease on life.

And Jesus is the wonderful counselor. He gives counsel that only God can give.

“Yeah yeah yeah David – I’ve heard that a thousand times. Everyone knows that! It’s common sense.”

Ok. But do you expect Him to give you counsel? 

Because You should. You should expect to hear from this Jesus who is called Wonderful Counselor, all the time. You should expect to hear from Him:

  • Through His Word.
  • Through His Church.
  • Through Godly people. 
  • Through circumstances. 
  • Through His Holy Spirit.
  • Even through dreams (a little more rare, but He does).

Personally, I expect to hear from Jesus most of the time. And when I’m listening, I almost always hear.

This is why – personal testimony – when I’m not working on a Sunday – especially on vacation, if at all possible I never ever ever miss a chance to worship somewhere. Because I expect to hear from Him there and I usually do! I love that about Jesus.

holy hand grenade

Granted you have to be discerning about which church – church of the holy hand grenade won’t do it (Monty Python reference).

 

 

For 2000 years, since Christ rose on Sunday, true blue followers of Jesus have set a priority over all other things to worship their King on that day.

I thought about this a lot this week, considering the Wonderful Counselor, and here’s what I discovered:

  1. His most powerful counsel to me (like “changed the trajectory of my life” kinds of messages) have occurred when I was sitting in a worship service.
  2. All of His clearest and most concise counsel to me about my purpose in life came during a worship service.

The two most significant: when God called me to become a pastor, when He called me to start Fort Bend Fellowship (I wrote about it here).

So given the opportunity to hear from God in a place that is actually designed to amplify His voice, how could I miss? It’s like winning the lottery without spending the milk money!

Just consider – what if on a given Sunday morning God actually:

  • Has a special message for me that could make me the best father I could be for my daughters?
  • Has a special word that could make me love my wife better?
  • Wants to tell me to stop doing something (that’s not necessarily sinful) that will end in disaster?
  • Wants to tell me to start doing something that will make my family rich spiritually, emotionally or yes, even financially?
  • Wants to call me to a powerful mission and purpose that He planned before I was born?
  • Has a special word that will heal deep scars and damage in my life?
  • Has a special word that will pull me out of depression and into His light?
  • Has a word that will allow me to bless those I love in ways that I could never think of on my own.

The truth? He’s delivered every one of those messages to me through a worship service. He’s altered my destiny and that of my family through counsel He delivered through worship services. And so I’d have to be crazy to miss out on that.

“Come on David! Get real!! God could have delivered every single one of those messages somewhere else if you missed church! He’s not confined by you being there at the designated hour that He planned for you to hear it. He’s everywhere!”

True. But I don’t think He would have. Because my heart wouldn’t have heard it.

Think about it.  God calls the church the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. Jesus died for the church. Jesus said “I will build My church.” The church is His prized possession.

It’s been said that 90% of success is showing up. And if I can’t even show up to be part of His most prized possession on earth, how likely is it that God’s going to trust me with bigger things like earth shattering messages and missions?

Answer: not likely at all. And that’s the bad news. Because it means many are squandering a great gift that Christ has given them.

But the good news is the Wonderful Counselor is speaking! And He’s not speaking in code or a language that only angels can understand. He’s offering counsel that you can’t get anywhere else, to anyone who will just “show up” every day with an expectation of hearing.

The Wonderful Counselor is speaking:

  1. Expect to hear from Him. Wake up every day with the expectation that you will hear from Him today.
  2. Constantly put yourself in a position to hear from Him: through His Word, through His church. Head in expecting that He is going to speak.
  3. Act on what you hear. And watch Him work in your life.

 

And Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9

 

You’ll Make It Home

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. Psalm 24:1 NLT

 My first hunting outing with my dad, was dove hunting.


I was five. We lived in Waco, and drove to West (where the explosion was). My dad’s hometown was West. 

Amazing I hunt as much as I do today, because on this first trip, as

Print from my dad-reminded him of my brother, him and me.

we were walking through the high grass I got stung on my stomach (actually “tummy” – if you’re under six it’s a tummy) by a couple of hornets. 


I started crying, we went back to the car, and my dad pointed the a/c vent at my stomach to try to relieve the pain. We drove a bit, saw a tree in a pasture, and my dad “Why don’t we go sit under that tree? We might see some doves.” I agreed.

Dad’s Belgium made Browning 12 Citori…and hand biter.

We got out, and had to climb over a barb wire fence. He lifted me over first, then he began to climb over. He was holding his Browning 12. He had it open for safety. But as he climbed over, it got hung up, and closed on the skin between his thumb and hand.

 It cut through the skin, began bleeding quite a bit. He picked me back up, took me back to his mom’s house where he soaked his hand in kerosene (country antiseptic).

Here’s the point:
Stung multiple times.
Crying.
Upset. 
Dad’s hand hurt and bleeding.
Great day gone bad.

I never felt afraid.

I hurt. A lot! I was upset. A lot! I cried. A bit.

But was never concerned about my ultimate safety.
Never worried I’d survive.
I knew, that at the end of the day-I knew…everything would be OK. 

And! And! And!….get this: I was absolutely certain I would make it home.  Because my dad would carry me there. 

And in Christ, it is the same with you. 

God is sovereign.  
He’s in absolute control – and He will take care of you. You might hurt sometime. You might be upset. But just like me as a little kid:

 You will be safe in the arms of God. 
You will survive in the arms of God, 
You will be OK
 and at the end of the day
Everything will be OK
AND….you..will..make it…home. 
Because your heavenly Father will carry you there.



The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. Psalm 24:1 NLT

God Speed,

Pastor David

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