Dead Phone

I walked into my mobile phone carrier’s local store a couple years back to find out why my phone had died and would neither come back on nor charge back up. Just a blank, black screen. It wouldn’t even try to come on.

I signed in, waited my turn and finally was able to speak with one of their trained professionals.  He did all the things I had done to check it out.

Then he asked what seemed to me to be an absurd question… “When was the last time you turned it off & restarted it?” My reply was, “Never. Why would I turn it off? It’s my home phone as well as mobile phone. It has my email, internet & social media on it. I never turn it off.”

Problem Solved

He said, “I know what the problem is.” To which I replied, “Great! What is it?”  He said, “You need to turn it off and restart it at least once a week. That helps it recalibrate its software, find new transmitting antennas, etc.”

He hooked it up to power, held buttons down for what seemed like forever, and it finally started back up. I was amazed.

Duh!

But I don’t know why I was amazed. Isn’t turning everything off once a week to recalibrate what God instituted from creation? Isn’t it what He instructed His people to do when He was giving them ten incredibly important rules to live by? And isn’t it what doctors say that our bodies and minds absolutely need in order to function at top performance?

Rest. Take a break and the workaholics in this world think you’re lazy. Take a day off or a vacation, and some will think you are frivolous. Take a nap in the middle of the day, and some will think you’ve lost your mind.

Made To Rest

But like my phone, God designed us to shut down and recalibrate. Maybe you have to work on Sunday… like preachers. Make Saturday your day of rest. Maybe you have to work two weeks on-two weeks off like folks in the oilfield industry. Maybe your work is seasonal like teachers. Take the summers off.

You don’t and won’t accomplish more by running yourself till your Maker shuts you off against your will. Just give it a rest. You’ll be glad you did.

Now, I’d love to hear how and when you relax. Please comment on this post and share it with others… you know, those people “who really need to hear this.” 😉

A Texas Morning

I stepped onto the elliptical machine in the fitness center at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Waxahachie, Texas to get in my morning workout before grabbing breakfast and hitting the road.  As I worked through the settings in preparation for my workout, I came to the part where I would set the level at which I would exercise.  I chose middle-of-the-road that day… hey, at least I got up and exercised… and hit the “select” button.

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A New Level

Just then, a statement I did not remember reading before came across the display.  It read, “A new level may be selected at any time.”  At the time, I thought to myself that this was a good thing.  If I had selected a level that was not challenging enough, I could ramp it up and get a better result from my exercise.

I began pushing and pulling the arms on the machine.  I began stepping with my legs to turn the foot portion.  And soon I was zipping right along through my exercise.  As I pushed, I remembered that little statement when I was setting up the machine which said I could select a new level.

I realized that it was a little easier than I had thought it would be and decided to take my workout up a notch.  Sure enough, I achieved a new level of challenge.  But it was a good challenge.

More Than A Machine

And I thought to myself, “Hm… I suppose I could select a new level at any time in the rest of my life also.”  It’s true.  I can select a new level in my commitment to my wife at any time.  I can select a new level of quality and quantity in my parenting at any time.  I can select a new level in my relationship with the Lord at any time.  I can select a new level in my attitude, in my work ethic, in my talents, in my education, etc. at any time.

So can you!  No matter where you started, a new level may be selected at any time.  No matter how bad you’ve been, you can choose a new level at any time.  No matter how much you have lost, you can choose a new level at any time.  No matter how far behind you are, you can choose a new level at any time.

This is true of relationships, of work, of education, of finances, and even of our personal relationship with God.  God makes room in our lives for us to make progress… to grow… to expand… to flourish.  We don’t have to stay at our current level.

Going Up?

Let me ask you… What area of your life is it today in which you wish you could go to a whole new level?  Well, the only thing stopping you is you.  You may select a new level at any time.  So go ahead… Select that “up” button and go to a new level!

A Cold Day of Sightseeing

As we made our way from the tour bus up to the top of the hill just outside Jerusalem, the wind blew and sleet began falling.  It was a bitterly cold day to be out sightseeing in Israel, but when you’ve traveled 6,000 miles and paid as much money as we did, we were not planning to miss out on any moment.

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Bold Prayers

And what a moment that turned out to be.  Our illustrious guide, Ilan, told of how Joshua had stood right in that very area and asked the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still so that he could have time to attack and defeat the enemy with whom the Israelites were engaged in battle.  It was a bold prayer that Joshua prayed.

Ilan then told us about one of his favorite moments on that spot when pastor Mark Batterson challenged the group he had brought to Israel to pray a bold prayer in that very same place that Joshua had prayed his bold prayer.  Mark suggested they pray a bold prayer like Honi the Circle Maker prayed.  And Ilan told us of a miracle that had taken place as a result of the bold prayers they had prayed that day.

Who, Me?

It was at that moment, he turned to me… with sleet pelting us as we stood there shivering… and said, “Pastor Allen, lead us in a bold prayer.”  A bold prayer?  Me?  Sometimes I’d like to think that I have pretty decent faith.  But faith for bold prayers?  Prayers like Joshua, Honi or Batterson?

But something rose up inside me that cold morning… a measure of faith… faith a little bigger than a grain of mustard seed… and I asked people to begin sharing what bold request they wanted us to bring before the Lord.  Jokingly, one of the guys asked, “Could we pray that it would stop sleeting on us?”  We all laughed.

And then we prayed.

We prayed bold prayers for healing and open doors of ministry.  We prayed for restored relationships and the ability to overcome temptation.  It was a powerful moment… maybe my favorite moment of that trip to Israel.

You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me!

Then, just before I concluded the prayer I said, “And Lord, it sure would be great if You could make it stop sleeting so that we can see the wonderful sites here that we came to see in order that we could grow closer to You.  Amen!”

You would have had to have been there to experience it fully, but when we opened our eyes from that bold prayer, the sleet stopped, the clouds parted over the city of Jerusalem where we were headed next, and the sun shone through.  Our jaws dropped.  We looked at each other & just laughed.

The God who had stopped the sun & moon for Joshua at that same area had just answered our simple, bold prayer.  And suddenly we understood that He could answer those other bold prayers we had just prayed.

Bold Prayer, Anyone?

For the rest of the trip, anytime we encountered a challenge, someone would say, “Pray a bold prayer.”  We would ask, and God would answer.  Some were seemingly small requests like asking for the internet wi-fi to work on the bus so that we could communicate with our loved ones back home… and before we said “amen” we were connected.

Our Own Bold Prayers

It so inspired Angela and me, that she created us a piece of wall art with clips on it where we could write bold prayers on slips of paper and hang them up where we could see them everyday.  It says “Pray Bold Prayers” at the top and “Ephesians 3:20” at the bottom.  In between are our current bold prayers.

Some are for us.  Some are for others.  All will take God working miraculously to see them accomplished.  But the God who stopped the sun in its tracks… and stopped the sleet for sightseers… and made the wi-fi work for loved ones… is exceedingly abundantly able to do more than we could ever ask, think or imagine!

Who, You?

So, what bold prayer do you need to pray today?  Is it something others might consider to be seemingly small?  Or does it require a massive miracle?  Don’t worry about how small your faith seems.  Consider how big God is.  And pray a bold prayer!

In The Dark

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We were married for about twelve years before we had our first son.  We had wanted kids for seven years, and had even begun to pursue international adoption.  But nothing was producing the effect of bringing children into our family.

As I stated in an earlier post, the cup is always half-full in my mind… probably more like 3/4-full.  But I hit a point in 2007 when that cup seemed to drain down to empty.  I didn’t see the Lord answering our prayers to give us kids.  I found it difficult to minister to others as I wrestled with my own issue.

It was a dark time for me.  I didn’t want anyone to quote me another Scripture or say some cute little saying to me.  Things seemed hopeless.

I remember finally giving up out of emotional exhaustion and saying to the Lord, “Give us kids biologically… Give us kids through adoption… or just tell me that it’s not Your plan to give us kids.  I just can’t go on hoping and being disappointed.”

Still Dark

About that time, I read a verse in Scripture that caught my attention.  John 20:1 reads, “Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.” (emphasis mine)

While it was still dark.  That was where I was in life.  In the dark.  Feeling like hope had evaporated.  Stumbling through the dark, trying to do what I was supposed to be doing.

The thing that struck me though was that I knew what Mary was about to find.  I knew because I have heard the account my entire life and believe it for myself that she was going to find the stone rolled away and Jesus resurrected.  Hope was going to spring to life for her again in just moments.  She was going to encounter what she thought was impossible.

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Son-rise

But she didn’t know it yet.  For her, it was dark in terms of what time of the day it was and also for her emotionally.  She had no clue that within moments, everything would be okay.  It would be “game on” all over again for her.  Excitement would ensue.  Joy would overflow.  Dreams would become reality.

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And that’s when the Lord calmly assured me that if I would just keep walking toward Him, doing what I was supposed to be doing, the sun would rise in my situation just as the Son rose in Mary’s.  He let me know that the miracle was already in process and I just didn’t know it yet.

Miracle

For the record, within a couple months we discovered that Angela was pregnant with our first son.  True to His word, God came through.

And whatever you’re going through today, He will come through for you.  It may seem dark in your world right now.  Keep walking toward Him.  The miracle is already in progress.  You just can’t see it yet.  But you will!  You will come around a curve and find an answer to prayer, a dream becoming reality, a miracle in the making!

Time Travel

I wish that time travel were possible.  Don’t you?  If you could only travel to the past and back, what year in your lifetime would you travel to?

Failure Is Not Final

I would like to go back twenty years and tell myself after being let go from that first youth pastorate after college and having another door of ministry close that I shouldn’t lose heart.  Youth ministry was not going to be over for me.  In fact, believe it or not, in just ten short years I would be elected to lead a whole state of youth ministries.

I would tell myself to forget about those hurts and frustrations because, in time, their impact would wane and the life lessons learned from those tough times would set us up to have more wisdom in life.  I would tell myself that the Lord always provides, and so there was no need to worry about finances… even in taking that job that paid half of what we had been making, the Lord would end up helping us get out of debt.

Miracles Still Happen

After that trip, I would like to zoom forward ten years from there to the time when we were unable to have children biologically and the adoption wasn’t coming together.  I would tell myself to hang in there… to not give up hope.  I would tell myself not to despair because within a year we would be miraculously pregnant with the first of two boys.  Joy would flood our lives and wipe out so much of the pain and sorrow.  (I think I would also tell myself to sleep a lot more in preparation for those boys. ha!)

If Only

Oh, to be able to travel back in time and let myself know that there is light at the end of the tunnel… there is hope in the midst of despair… there is provision where there seems to be lack… there is fulfillment where there is longing.

Oh, to be able to travel back in time and tell myself that all those Scriptures about faith are true.  To be able to tell myself that God really does come through every time.  To be able to tell myself to be strong and courageous because God is bringing victory.

Transcendent Truth

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The old adage which fits this concept is, “If I only knew then what I know now.”  Or perhaps you prefer, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  Yet the truth that would be true for us to take back to our younger selves is still absolutely true today.  Jesus is that truth (John 14:6)… and He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

If you’re struggling today, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will it matter five years from now?
  • Will it matter ten years from now?
  • Will I care about this at all twenty years from now, or will it just be a part of my story to share with others?
  • What would I want my older self to come back and tell me right now?
  • What Scripture would have proved itself once more to be true in your life?

Well, maybe you can’t go back in time and tell your younger self the things you needed to know for sure back then.  And I guess your older self can’t come back and tell you the truths you need to hear right now.

Truth Lives On

But the God who existed before time began and will exist after the clock of time stops… the God who knows the end from the beginning… the God who recorded every day of our lives in His book before a single one began… speaks those truths to us from His written Word.  He also speaks them to our hearts and minds if we are listening.

Shhhh… Just Listen

And maybe, just maybe, He is even speaking to you right now as you read this blog.  Maybe He is saying…

It’s going to be okay.  Things are going to work out.  Miracles are on their way.  He is going to come through for you.  Don’t give up.  Let go of the hurt and hold on to His hand.

It is, you know… It’s going to be okay.  There are better days ahead.

FAIR WARNING:  THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST!

Choices

Everyone… no, really, it literally seems that everyone… is talking about the election for President of the United states which will take place next month.  Mud is being slung.  Opinions are being aired.  Decisions are being made.

But regardless of which side you come down on, everyone says we need to get out and vote.  And it is an important privilege we have as free citizens in this wonderful country.  When we vote, we say in essence, “I want this person to be my leader, to call the shots that affect how I will live.”

Get Out The Vote

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In Louisiana, we have a funny statement we use when we encourage people to cast their vote… We say, “Vote early and vote often!”  It’s a joke nowadays, but I’m sure there was probably a period in time when it was an actual practice.  People made their choice… again and again… and again. ha!

Smile or Glare

And the truth is, we each have the opportunity every day to vote early and vote often.  We have the privilege to choose kindness or unkindness.  I can either vote to be kind to others, or I can vote to be selfish, rude, and unkind.  I  can vote to smile at people or glare at them.  I can vote to speak words that build them up or words that tear them down.

Two candidates which produce two very different outcomes.  And it seems like the choice should be crystal clear.  Yet somehow, we seem to struggle with the decision.

Polls Are Always Open

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Each morning when we wake up, we have to decide all over again which lever we will pull.  And the struggle begins subtly within us.  But unlike our closely watched political elections for president here in the U.S., we can and must vote both early and often each day for which attitude will be supreme in our our lives.  The opportunity and responsibility is presented to us regularly…

Traffic jam?  Time to vote.

Someone in the store rude to you?  Time to vote.

Tough day at work?  Time to vote.

Kids misbehaving?  Time to vote.

You see, the Apostle Paul writes that our lives are never free from this kind of choice… the choice between being led by the Holy Spirit or being led by our own self-nature.  It was a choice that Adam & Eve made every day.  And it is a choice we each still make all throughout every day of each of our lives.

Which Lever To Pull?

I wish that I could tell you that I always vote the same way, that I always get it right and vote kindness.  But that wouldn’t be accurate.  And that’s why I’m so grateful for His grace.  He forgives my poor choices and lets me try again.  Yet I can tell you that I want to (and try really hard to) vote kindness regularly.

Voter’s Guide

Scripture tells us that one facet or aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is kindness.  It also points out that when God wants to bring about transformation in our lives, He treats us with kindness… It’s His kindness that leads to repentance.  How about that for fundamentally transforming people’s lives?

Change We Can See

At the retirement celebration for Rev. Joe Granberry, District Superintendent for the South Texas Assemblies of God, the Assistant General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God from Springfield, MO, Alton Garrison said of him, “When he walks into a room, he changes the atmosphere.”  And to quote the Sidewalk Prophets I add my vote, “I want to live like that!”

Make Our Lives Great Again

Do we realize that we can be the change we want to see in others?  (Thanks for letting me borrow that great quote, Ghandi.)  By simply treating others the way God treats us, we can change hearts… change minds… change situations!

What if we began to spread kindness on social media and in daily conversations?  What if we were kind at home, at work and around our community?

Let’s make it more personal, what is one simple suggestion you could give me and anyone reading this post to help us vote kindness on a regular basis?

Games

Our family loves playing games!  Hide and Seek… Tag… Kickball.  And we really love board games.  Recently, the boys have really been enjoying Monopoly, Jr.

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Not Good

It’s embarrassing when your five year-old and eight year-old trounce you at a game of Monopoly.  But they have beat me so many times.  Rarely do I pull off an upset.  And I’m really trying to win!

Turnaround

But I’ve begun to notice something recently in that game which really got me excited about life.  I discovered that one of us can be way ahead… with all the momentum going in that person’s direction.  They appear to be the odds-on favorite to win the whole game.

And then, all of a sudden, things shift.  We start landing on someone else’s properties.  They draw the right cards which give them cash and more properties.  And soon, things have turned in a completely different direction.  Suddenly, the one who was ahead is behind, and someone else ends up winning a massive victory.

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On A Dime

The same is true in our lives… Things can seem to be going downhill.  We can be encountering difficulties and challenges that make it look like others are winning and we might lose.  But God is control, and He can turn things “on a dime.”

Suddenly, the situation begins to turn in our favor.  Suddenly, favor abounds.  Suddenly, miracles happen.  Suddenly, the check comes in the mail.  Suddenly, a relationship is restored.

Scripture points out this truth in Luke 1:37 when the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

There is no situation so bleak, so hopeless, so impossible that God cannot turn it around in your favor at a moment’s notice.  He who calmed the storm instantly, and healed the sick instantly, and raised the dead instantly, and fed the multitudes instantly can absolutely turn your situation around today on a dime!

Don’t Give Up Now

So don’t give up now!  It’s not too late.  Hold onto hope.  Let your faith rise up.  Give God the opportunity.  You could be the big winner!

Let’s have a great weekend.  And why don’t you share this particular post with someone who looks like they are about to lose?  You’ll be glad you did… and so will they!

It’s “Thankful Thursday” again & today I am thankful for… my family.  I am a man most blessed to have the family I have.

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“The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)  That’s my life… God has shown me great favor by placing the treasure of Angela in my life as my wife.

She is the epitome of… no, the incarnate representation of… the Proverbs 31 woman.  She does all she can to support me & make my life easier.  She makes me laugh when she pretends to cry.  She is my best friend and confidant.  She is my loudest & proudest cheerleader.  She loves God for reals. (No, I didn’t mis-spell it.)  She has an incredible sense of justice.  She is talented, craftsy, loving, generous and an amazing cook!  Did I mention that she is also smokin’ HOT?!

So I’m thankful for a partner in faith & love with whom to do life together.

Da Boys

We weren’t able to have kids biologically for the first 12 years of our marriage.  We had decided that adoption was our best option, and even that wasn’t working out.  So you can imagine our excitement when out of nowhere the Lord miraculously helps us become pregnant with Alex.

We were thrilled!  And since we wanted more than one child, we stayed in the adoption process… which still didn’t work out.  And then two and a half years later, along came Austin.  Our delight at least doubled!

I’m obviously biased, but those boys are intelligent, funny, good looking, strong, talented, and basically amazing in every way.  (Told you I am biased. ha!)  And I can’t imagine life without them.  They keep us on our toes… and on our knees.

The Rents (aka The Units)

I feel so blessed that Angela and I each still have both our parents alive.  Both sets of parents have been in ministry for nearly 50 years and are people of impeccable character, honor and integrity.  They raised us to love and serve.  They have been so generous to us.

The legacy handed to us from our parents is almost unbelievable.  There are times I actually almost feel embarrassed for having such a leg up in life and ministry because of the homes in which Angela & I were raised.  We are reaping the benefits of godly parents and even godly grandparents on both sides.

Sibling Rivalry

I would put my sisters up against anyone else’s siblings.  They love fiercely, argue passionately, pray sincerely & give freely.  Sure they drive me nuts sometimes.  (Don’t all siblings?)  But I also wouldn’t trade them.

Growing up with sisters, I always wanted a brother. And while God did not see fit to give me a biological or adopted brother on the Chapin side of the fam, He did decide to give me three brother-in-laws… one married to one of my sisters and two from the Cumpton side.  Those guys are gold!  All three make me laugh like crazy.  One has my back whenever I’m being treated wrong, one keeps me up to date on tech-stuff, and one influenced the man of God I am today.

Lagniappe

In Louisiana, the Cajun French word for “a little something extra” is “lagniappe.”  And I don’t have time or space to list all the nieces, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, et al who make up my family.  But I can tell you this, I am a man most blessed when it comes to family.

Some we only keep up with on social media.  Some we only see from time-to-time.  But all are blessings from God.

And so this Thursday, I am thankful for all the family with whom God has blessed me.

What about you?  Do you have any family for which to be thankful?  Why not take to your social media accounts and give them some verbal applause?  Then challenge others to do the same.  Maybe, just maybe, we could generate a movement of letting those we love know that we love them and are thankful for them.

And before you go to bed tonight, how about taking a few moments to thank the Lord for the blessing of our families?