Be Grateful! Today is Especially Delicious.

Great wisdom from Nacho Libre!

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“Be grateful, Juan Pablo, today is especially delicious.

“Today is especially delicious.”

Nacho is talking about food – but you can apply that attitude to life.

In spite of Thanksgiving being a favorite of many, we often don’t “get it.” It’s all about gratitude.

God’s will (or a major part of it) is pretty simple. You get this one concept, then you are on your way.

The concept is…gratitude.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thess 5.18

See that “will of God” part there? It’s like it came from an instruction manual or something. Crazy.

 

Dennis Prager wrote the most insightful thing:

“There is a secret to happiness, and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.”

He speaks in terms of happiness – I’m going to speak in terms of joy – meaning the result of trusting the God who is OVER the circumstances.

All joyful people are grateful people.
No exceptions.

You meet someone with a bounce in their step, a smile on their face, a cheer in their voice – you’ve just met someone who is grateful.

All ungrateful people…are joyless.
No exceptions.

You meet someone who is bitter, hardened, down all the time (no joy) – you’ve just met someone who is ungrateful. Every. Single. Time.

Joy and gratitude – always, always, always together. Joy and ingratitude – cannot fit together in the same body. Ingratitude is like a pushy fat kid that forces joy out of your body. Joy and gratitude are polar opposites.

Want more joy? Easy. Practice gratitude.

“But David – gratitude is HAAARRRRDDDD!!”
That’s ridiculous. Here’s me being ridiculous:

I remember trying to send a picture on my iPhone, and it wouldn’t send.

It made me angry.

Embarrassingly angry. Like “poking the touch screen furiously trying to make it go” kind of angry (makes me laugh as I type it’s so ridiculous).

Now really…how dim is that? I have a phone that transmits messages…like magic…through the AIR!!!!No wires!! No carrier pigeons!! No note tied to a rock and thrown through a window like Ernest T. Bass! I just type words onto the magic mystical glass andee832-bass my words fly…they FLY through the air to another person who then reads my notes – sometimes half way around the world!!!

I’m like Aladdin with my magic lamp (only it’s a phone), I personally know people in other parts of the world who walk a mile three times a day for water, but I’m incensed because I can’t send a picture right at the moment I want to. Silly.

 

Be thankful.

You have a brain, breath in your lungs, a beat in your heart. Today is especially delicious.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thess 5.18

 

Amen amen.

 

 

___________________________

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The Best Fear

I’m sitting next to a lady in a board meeting this morning, and she’s brushing something away. I asked, “What was that?” She answered, “A spider!” Quick as a flash I wrote out the phrase to the left and passed it to her. Because I was trying to be helpful, that’s why!  🙂

Here are some of my favorite fears (not mine fears personally, just some that amuse me. Except metrophobia – fear of poetry – I’m all over that):

Geniophobia: Fear of chins

Paraskavedekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th (the day, not the movies, don’t be watching that rubbish)

Ablutophobia: Fear of bathing (if you have this just stay downwind)

Pantophobia: fear of everything (Charlie Brown’s)

The Best FearZeusophobia: fear of God or gods (don’t over-analyze this. Not saying you should fear Greek gods – it just fits with the list….sheesh).

People today do not like to talk about the fear of God. Because fear is a bad!pablo (1)

Everyone wants to be all,
“I’m Fearless” and
“No fear” and
“I Ain’t Skeered” and stuff.

And many Christians don’t want to talk about fear at all in relation to God (and it is true that a Christian has no fear of judgment from God). Some of you right now are wringing your hands that I’ve written about fear and God together in the same sentence.

In spite of our hand wringing, way back in the Old Testament God says (it’s God’s Word right?) the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” Proverbs 9:10.

In the early church, in Acts 2:43 – NIV says awe came upon all the people. That word “awe” is an incomplete translation. Acts was written in Greek, and Greek word was phobias – phobia, fear.

When we think of “awe” – we think of looking at the stars, seeing a sunset, seeing the mountains.

But it is much more serious than that. Peter preached to these people a short time earlier and said: “God made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified,” (Act 2:36). He’s saying, “you KILLED JESUS!” Their response? To CRY OUT (caps mine) “what shall we do?”

Wrong “great and powerful” one.

So they are considering this great God whose Son they killed – a God to be feared! Acts 2:43 says “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” It was the natural response to understanding the great and powerful God (not Oz-this great and powerful one is no man behind a curtain).

A short time later, Ananias and Sapphira were killed by God for lying to the church, and the same word is used and translated, “fear” came upon the church Acts 5:11.

It seems like we have to deal with that word “fear” along with the word “God”.

With the fear of God, it’s a both/and situation. Both love and fear. 

Let me see if I can give you an example that helps us understand better.

I used to love Batman. Forget the Batman of the old 60’s TV show. I’m talking about Batman from the recent movies. Back in the 80’s, when the first one with Michael Keaton (really? Mr. Mom??) came out, there was a scene before Batman was famous. No one knows who he is, and he’s capturing a criminal.

This is how I remember a scene from that movie (don’t run to watch it, it won’t live up to my memory):

They’re in a dark building. Batman comes out of the shadows, out of nowhere. The criminal is trying to fight back, shoot back, but he can’t even lay a hand on Batman. Out of the darkness comes a punch, a trip, and finally the guy, in desperation and exasperation, cries out “WHO ARE YOU?” And in an instant, Batman is in his face – and in a low voice says “I’m Batman.” Then BOOM, Batman comes down on him like a ton of bricks.

It is a fantastically incredible moment in the movie (I’m yelling this enthusiastically right now)!!

It’s incredible because Batman is terrifying, powerful, seemingly invincible, uncontrollable, mysterious, and dangerous!

You don’t have to fear harm IF you do good, but the fear is still there. It makes you watch your step, be careful, walk a straight line. You don’t want to get on Batman’s bad side. But you want him in your town! Because Batman takes it to the bad guys.

That’s something like the fear of God.

God is to be feared! It is true that He is a God rich in love and abounding in mercy to those who run to Him. But it is also true that He hates and judges sin and sinners.

God is:
terrifying
powerful
invincible
uncontrollable
mysterious
dangerous 
but…He is good.

God is unlike any other. When I see the wickedness in the world, when I’m concerned about the future, when I hear of evil men doing unspeakable things to the defenseless, I don’t need a kindly grandfather in the sky who pats everyone – good and bad alike – on the head and mutters soothing and meaningless words.

No – in the face of relentless and ruthless wickedness, I need the God of Revelation 19:15: From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations…He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

That is a God who has the kindness and the power to right all wrongs. And who is to be both loved and feared.

When I think of that God in the middle of the dark night…I’m able sleep because He is in control.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10.

God Speed

 

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A Sure Fire Way to Defeat the Devil

How do you do defeat the devil? I have some really stellar ideas! Check these out:

1.Garlic around your neck and a stake through his heart!
Oops. That’s vampires.unwre

2. A silver bullet!
Oops. Confused again. That’s werewolves.

3. A bullet or crossbow bolt in the head! Gotta destroy that brain!
Oh man…that’s zombies.

4. Vulcan death grip!
No good. You gotta be a Vulcan. And they are fantasy.

you-better-be-ready-zombie-apocalypse-girl-pink-gun-demotivational-posters-1328341947

The truth might sound stranger than all that fiction. In the end, right before Armageddon (kind of like the Zombie Apocalypse but for real), God says this in Revelation 12:11, about some folks who defeat Satan: And they have defeated him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”

#2 in that passage would be would be “Go public with your testimony” – in person, on social media, everywhere! #3 would be “die to self, live for Christ.” But I want to focus on #1: they defeated Satan by “the blood of the Lamb.”

“By the blood of the Lamb” sounds a little weird out of context, and some folks make it even more bizarre.

You may have heard folks talk about “pleading the blood of Jesus.” “Jesus we plead the blood of Jesus over this problem. I plead the blood of Jesus for a new BMW. I plead the blood of Jesus for an anointing of cold hard cash.” That’s whacked.

You might as well pray, “Jesus I pray some magnificent voodoo over my problem,” because it’s just as much a magic formula as voodoo! It’s NOWHERE in the Bible. It’s pure rubbish.

What God means by the “Blood of the Lamb” is this:  Jesus shed His blood for you and me. 

When a soldier sheds his blood – it means he took a bullet.

In the Old Testament – the priest would offer a sacrifice animals for the sins of the people. The animal’s blood was shed.

In the same way, Jesus shed His blood for us. Jesus died for us. No magic blood. No strange voodoo. When you hear, “The blood of the Lamb” you should hear “Jesus gave up His life for me and my sin.”

By the blood of the lamb.

So How Do I Defeat Satan with the Blood of the Lamb?

When Satan accuses you and says you’re not good enough – you agree with him! You say, “That’s absolutely right. I’m not good enough! I’m not good enough for God. I’m not good enough for my wife/husband/kids/etc.! I’m not good enough for me! I’m not good enough.”

Then follow with this:
“But I’m not counting on my goodness or my awesomeness to make me worthy. If I am, then I’m doomed just like you are Satan! I’m counting on Jesus and the shedding of His blood – that washes away my (get this-it’s so good) ALL of my sin. Every bit!”

Jesus didn’t die to make really good people great.
Jesus didn’t die to make better people the best.
Jesus didn’t die to make average people excellent.
Jesus didn’t die to make adequate people above average.

Jesus shed His blood to make (these are straight from God so brace yourself)  wicked sinners, with nothing to offer, who are bound for hell

completely pure and forgiven and fit for heaven.

pablo

So when you hear that voice of accusation in your head, that voice that says, “God doesn’t want you, He’s not going to forgive you, you’re a trainwreck, you’re a mess, and you make Him sick!”, think of Ephesians 2:13, which goes like this:

But now you have been united with Christ Jesus…by what?
You’re sinless life?
You’re stellar acts of faith?
Your great witnessing ability?
NO NO NO NO.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus… (here’s that phrase) through the blood of Christ.

So praise God!
I’m not good enough, but He is!
I’m not strong enough, but He is!
I’m not holy enough, but He is!
I’m not pure enough, but He is!
I’m not anything enough!
But His great love for me is more than enough, and saved me and keeps me saved.

Do you want to defeat Satan? You just keep telling that accusing voice, “I’m not enough. But Praise Jesus. He is. And He shed His blood for me, to make me not just good enough, but to make me most excellent.”

In Jesus, you are most excellent.

Amen, amen.

 

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Stay Hungry

Stay.pngWhen I think of the phrase, “stay hungry,” I think of muscle men with arms as big as my waist throwing iron around (not “irons” like for getting wrinkles out but, “iron” as in heavy weights).

Some folks think of Steve Jobs because the phrase, “Stay hungry, stay foolish” seems to be attributed to him at least as a motto (meaning push forward and attempt things that others say can’t be done).

Good words.

But I’m talking about something of much greater value:
Staying hungry for God. 

Maybe you’ve lost your hunger for God. Maybe you’ve never had it. Maybe you had a voracious appetite for God and His presence and His power and His majesty, and life beat you down or you got distracted by your job or stuff or money or sex or any number of other things and that hunger kind of disappeared.

Whatever the case, getting hungry for God is the best thing you can do for yourself. Now obviously God’s Word and prayer and weekly worship and Jesus are essential for a hunger for God. But below are five principles that will amplify that hunger.

Five Thoughts on Staying Hungry for God:

1.Realize it’s your responsibility to stay hungry. Not your mommy’s or your daddy’s or your husband or wife or kids or anyone else’s! Not even your pastor’s! It’s up to you to take responsibility for yourself and keep that appetite going.

Here’s your motto if you need one (this is SO great so brace yourself): “Look for God. Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.” -Elizabeth Gilbert. That’s one of my favorite quotes of all time. I have no idea about the context – but as a stand-alone quote, it’s AWESOME.

Look for God.

Get that picture in your mind- your head is AFLAME! You’ve got to have WATER, or your head will BURN! You’re desperate for water!

Got it?

Ok. Now transfer that to your attitude regarding your need for God. Your life is AFLAME, and you are desperate for God! So chase after Him! 

Declare right now, “I’m responsible for increasing my hunger for God! And so I’m going to be all about that! Whatever it takes. Like a man with his head on fire looks for water, I’m looking for God.”

2. Refuse to go BACKWARD. Go FORWARD with Christ. 

Just bail on the, “woulda coulda shoulda” self-talk. We can all agree we shoulda done some things differently. But dwelling on it is going nowhere good. It’s dragging you down. Yesterday is over. Learn what you need to from it. And let it go.

Did you get that? LEARN what you need to from it. Then let…it…go. Don’t rehearse yesterday. Don’t replay yesterday. Don’t regurgitate yesterday. LEARN from it and move FORWARD. With Jesus.

This is what Paul was talking about when he said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

STRAIN to move forward with Jesus, and REFUSE to go backward anymore (and when you do glance backward, remind yourself to move forward and give it to Christ).

3. Do things you’re afraid to do even though you’re scared of what people will think. Because I’ll let you in on a little secret: they’re going to judge you know matter what!

Do good?
Judged.
Do bad?
Judged.
Follow Jesus?
Judged.
Follow the devil?
Judged.
Do what God wants you to?
Judged.

JUDGED JUDGED JUDGED JUDGED.

You’re going to get judged and looked down on and talked about no matter what! Why not get judged for doing something excellent for Jesus?

Nothing kills a strong hunger for God like hearing His call and fading out because of fear of others. When that happens, you’re making others greater than God and making God less than others. The Bible calls this the fear of man – Proverbs 29:25.

Fear of man? Hunger killer.

Get judged for attempting something Jesus wants you to do. 

4. Realize, if you can talk yourself into a bad mood, bad attitude, or bad mindset, you can talk yourself into a hunger for God.

We talk to ourselves all day long every day. Someone (with way too much time on his/her hands) counted all those thoughts and guesses we have between 12,000 and 60,000 a day.

  1. Over 90 percent of our thoughts are the same as the day before.
  2. 80 percent of those thoughts can be negative.

That means if you’re in the shallow end of the pool of thoughts per day like me (12,000 per day), you’re thinking over 10,000 REPETITIVE thoughts and 9,600 NEGATIVE thoughts.

John Wayne said (this is so great too), “Life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid.” 9,600 negative thoughts a day repeated from the day before seems really stupid. And yes, I know even that statement is negative. But we gotta know where we are to get where we want to be.

Those thoughts have to change to increase your hunger for God.

So talk to yourself! A recent study indicates geniuses talk to themselves anyway! Say things like David said to himself in Psalm 43:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God!” He contradicts the bad mood with the good news of God’s Word.

Do that all day long. Every day. Tell yourself the truth of God’s Word. Preach it to yourself. You’re preaching a message – it’s up to you whether it’s negative lies or God’s truth. All. Day. Long.

Preach to yourself. All. Day. Long.

5. Get around hungry people (this is probably the most important).

If you hang around a bunch of salad eaters who judge you for every ounce of fat and every carb you eat, you’re gonna have a hard time gaining weight.

If you hang around a bunch of folks who are stuffing food in their mouth at every turn, you’ll probably do that too. When my wife was pregnant the second time, I’d look at her stomach, then look at mine and think, “I’m not so big!” and I’d eat and eat and eat. But at the end of nine months, her stomach “poof!” disappeared! And mine…didn’t. Live and learn.

To maintain your hunger for God, you’ve gotta get around hungry people. Where will you find them? 

In a church.

100% of truly God-hungry people are in a church. Being hungry for God with no church is an oxymoron. It’s like “jumbo shrimp” and “pretty ugly” and “government efficiency.”

Once you get in there, get passionately involved and look for those folks who are hungry for God. The ones who just seem to have a hotline to God and live a life of faith regardless of what’s going on in their lives.

Get close to them (not in a stalkerish kind of way-bad form). Hang around them. Ask them how they stay hungry for God. Watch how they stay hungry for God. And imitate them (Paul said to do this).

A soldier is in a platoon, and a football player is on a team because they can’t win alone. And neither can you. Get around people who are hungry for God and do what they do.


There you go. Five things you can put into practice right now to increase your hunger for God.

Do you want a strong heart? Get a life. Get a life by getting hungry for your Creator. He’s here and He’s available and He searches the whole earth to strengthen those who are committed to Him.

So stay Hungry. Stay hungry for God. 

 

 

 

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Jesus says, “Never give up.”

1995 Baseball season – at a game that has been voted in one poll the greatest moment in baseball history, a gray, older ball player, took off his cap – and for 23 minutes received a thunderous applause from the fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Cal Ripkin – called the nonstop shortstop – became the greatest iron man in baseball history.

Not an iron man because he had more runs, home runs, greatest hitter. But applauded because, for 2,131 games, he did ONE thing.

He showed up.

And played.

When hurt.

When not hurt.

When tired.

When energized.

Day after day,

after day,

after day,

after day,

after day,

after day.

He showed up.

He became symbolic of many of the virtues that seem to be disappearing from American sports: hard work, persistence, and modesty. He fought the good fight.

He fought the good fight.

Maybe you are discouraged today. Maybe you are disappointed today. Those are powerful enemies.

I’m here today, to tell you what God says.

He says fight the good fight. Keep pushing, keep striving, keep going.
Fight the good fight. Gut it up. Don’t crawfish. Don’t crawl. Don’t complain, gripe and whine. You keep going.

You got a problem? Take it to God. My new favorite sentence in the Bible, Luke 18:1 says “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.”

Jesus says, “Never give up.”

Amen and amen.

Need Staggering Results?

PoohI love Winnie the Pooh and I’m not giving up my Man Card because of it!!  He really does have so many great quotes. If you’re gonna take my Man Card, you better come up with a better reason. Like the fact that I love the latest version of Cinderella. Who wouldn’t?? It’s MAGICAL.

But anyway – it really IS off-putting when you lose your way.

Maybe you’ve lost your way at some point. man card

You look around and observe your surroundings and think, “Wait! I wasn’t supposed to be here! I was supposed to be wayyyyyyy over there. How did this happen?”

Might be in a  small way. No giant glaring sin. Just this unsettled feeling that you loved Jesus more or trusted Him more sometime in the past than you do now.

Or maybe you’ve lost your way in a BIG way. You’re MILES from where you intended to be now. And maybe it was sex, drugs and rock and roll or something like that. And you’re thinking, “how do I get WAY back over THERE where I wanted to be?”

There’s great little phrase if you need to know…

Small adjustments + strong commitments + timebig results.

FullSizeRender (2)
Found this online and am posting it for self-validation after Cinderella comments. 

Now absolutely God will call you to make some big adjustments. Count on it.

But consider this:

When aligning the wheels of a car, an extreme wheel alignment – for a car that will swerve across the lane into oncoming traffic, means a mechanical adjustment of half of an inch.

A half an inch is minute (as in tiny, not time)! Insignificant! Nobody measures half an inch as substantial!

And yet that half an inch is the difference between two tons of metal:

a. Smashing into oncoming traffic in the other lane or,
b. Going in a straight line down the highway.

That’s a “staggering” difference.

In the same way, some small adjustments in your life can have a great, great impact.

Many of us need some big results in our lives:

  1. Maybe your need your faith reinforced. It’s weak and faltering, and you’re just one big ball of stress and worry!
  2. Maybe you need your hope renewed. You are hanging on by a thread. Almost ready to give up.
  3. Maybe you need your love restored. In your marriage, friendships, in your kids. Maybe you need your love for Jesus restored.

Faith, hope, and love are big ticket items. And we may conclude, “I need to do something DRAMATIC to get back on track!”  But sometimes the answer lies in doing something small, faithfully, over a long period of time.

Dwight L. Moody – famous evangelist in the 1800s, founder of Moody Bible College. Look him up online and read about him. He said this:  “There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.” 

Look at your life. What are some small adjustments that you could make that would produce staggering long-term results?

We know that going from no exercise at all to hitting the gym for 45 minutes a day for ten years would produce staggering results. In the same way, small changes in our spiritual lives will produce staggering results.

It could be something as simple as taking 15 minutes every day to read God’s Word, or taking five minutes to talk to your Heavenly Father every day about your concerns, or affirming every day that you’re going to seek to know Christ better and love Him more.

Regarding daily effort and time, those are small changes.  And yet, they can produce staggering long-term results.

Consider a commitment to read God’s Word 15 minutes a day (the average person squanders four hours on TV and spends nine hours on electronics every day). God promises to those on the wrong path, that His Word will get you on the right path (Psalm 119:105). With that in mind, consider:

Just 15 minutes a day in God’s Word equals…
54,750 minutes or 13,687 hours over ten years.

Listening to God – for 13,000 hours over ten years, with a learning attitude, will produce STAGGERING results. Results like direction, peace, more love, less hate, more faith, less doubt, more hope.

That can mean the difference between misery and success, life and death. So what are you waiting for? Where do you need to make small adjustments to change the trajectory of your life? Anybody can do it, so get going!

There’s another little motivational saying that goes with this:

A year from now; you’ll be glad you started today.  

So let’s get going.

Amen amen.

 

 

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