One of the greatest student ministry leaders in the history of student ministry as we know it, Jeanne Mayo, says, “Right choices eventually lead to right feelings or emotions.

I, for one, am glad she told me that.  I don’t know about you, but there are days when my emotions try to grab the steering wheel of my day… or my life… and override what I know to be true.  It’s on those days I have to remember that my feelings can distract me, deter me or even devastate me if I don’t keep them in check.

I had a youth pastor once… Hi, Dave, I’m writing about you… who taught me about the fact, faith, feelings train.  This simple idea says that the fact of God’s Word is like the old school steam locomotive.  It doesn’t need the rest of the train to be able to run.  The truth found in God’s Word runs on its own.  But faith… like the coal car… fuels our lives adding power to keep that locomotive running longer for us.  Feelings are like caboose.  Few trains even have them anymore.  They aren’t necessary.  The train can run without them.  But there is something neat about a caboose going by at the end of the train, waving to the guy riding in the caboose.  It gives us the warm fuzzies, but we could operate without it.

I am determined to live my life Making right choices based on the Word of God… written and spoken… believing and trusting Him implicitly.  And if my feelings would like to get on the track we’re on to tag along for the ride, they are more than welcome.  They just need to realize they are the caboose and not the locomotive.

This is sometimes easier written about in a blog than it is lived out of course.  Yet I am determined nonetheless.  As we head into this weekend, I hope you, too, will choose to make right choices which will eventually bring about the right feelings.

Have a terrific weekend!  I look forward to connecting with you here again on Monday.

If you have read my book, I Got A “D” In Leadership: Anyone Can Lead… or if you’ve read this blog much… then you know that I love watching NFL football.  My closest word picture for describing to PR31 how much I enjoy it is asking her if she knows how she feels when the Countdown To Christmas starts on Hallmark Channel, and they start showing the Christmas romantic comedy movies every day.  When she lights up at those words, I tell her, “And that’s exactly how I feel about watching NFL games during football season.”

Additionally, when I’m traveling by myself, I enjoy listening to the NFL Network on satellite radio.  One of those shows allows fans to call in late in the week and make bold predictions about how they think their team will fare in the upcoming week’s games.  The only guidelines are that you have to predict that your team will win, and give a legitimate reason as to why in the form of a bold prediction.  So, some callers will say their team will win by a resounding score because their defense will score three times… or because their quarterback will throw for 500 yards and four touchdowns.  It’s both entertaining and inspiring.

I think Christians ought to live that way.  We ought to make bold predictions about our life.. our spouse’s life… our kids’ lives… our friends’ lives.  We actually have a solid foundation on which to base these bold predictions… the Word of God.  God always keeps His promises, and never fails.  So, we can make bold predictions when we line our lives up with Him.

We can declare:

– By His stripes we are healed.

– No good thing will He withhold from those who live uprightly.

– My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

– God knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us.

– We will lie down in peace and sleep.

– He will never leave us nor forsake us.

– He will restore double to us for the trouble the enemy inflicts on us.

And there are a ton more bold predictions in His Word which we can hold onto.  The power of life and death is in the tongue, according to Solomon’s proverb.  So today, begin to speak those bold predictions out loud over yourself, your family and your friends.  Because if people can call in and make random guesses about the outcome of a football game, shouldn’t believers in and followers of the eternal God be able to make bold predictions rooted in proven truth?

In doing some research recently, I came across some info on Wikipedia about “lamp trimmers.”  These were people who served on board ships before electrical lighting was used.  They were specialists who would go around the ship every few hours to make sure the oil lamps were all burning brightly, since the only light under the deck of a ship was what these lamps provided.

These folks were skilled at knowing just how to trim the wick to make it burn the brightest and the longest.  They knew just how much oil to keep in the lamps so that they would not run out, but would not burst into flames if they got knocked off and broke.  In other words, they made it their life’s work to provide light for others.  And they did it consistently, faithfully.

We live in a world much like those levels under the deck of the old-time ships.  And we should be those who commit themselves to making sure we provide light in the midst of darkness.

Light gives hope.  Light shows the way.  Light reveals.  People in our lives need light.  Let’s be lamp trimmers.

The 58th chapter of the book of Isaiah in Scripture challenges us to help those in need, saying that not only will we turn the darkness into light by doing so, but that the Lord will also bless us bountifully for our efforts.

It doesn’t take much to bring light to someone’s darkness… a kind word… a thank you note… buying them a coffee or a meal… sending them an encouraging text… congratulating them when they have done well what they do… helping them when they are busy and feeling overwhelmed.  It doesn’t have to be overdone, just like the lamp trimmers didn’t overfill the lamps.

We can trim lamps at home… at work… at church… at the gym… at the restaurant… at school… online… anywhere.  And you know, as we provide light for others, we also help light our own path.

So, from the early outset of this week, let’s determine to be those who bring light to the darkness of anyone we possibly can.  Trim on!

Just this morning, our 9-year old, Alex, reminded me of a deep truth in some very simple terms.  He asked me if I’d like to play the new level he created on the Wii U game, Mario Maker.  He said, “I think you’ll like it… I call it ‘God’s Path’.”

Here’s a pic…

Alex then began to describe to me how it is laid out.  At the beginning, you get to choose one of two paths to take in the game.  Each has an initial challenge, with a slight difference… the challenge on the upper path (aka, “God’s Path”) has a green shell… the challenge on the lower path (aka, “the Devil’s Path”) has a red shell.  He informed me that green means go, and red means stop.  Then he told me that I would definitely want to take the upper path and face the challenge with the green shell.  By choosing “God’s Path,” there would be a few challenges along the way, but there would be plenty of “power-ups” provided also to help overcome those challenges.  But on “the Devil’s path,” there would be a ton of challenges which could not be overcome… no way to win.

He had my full attention at this point, and I couldn’t wait to play.  As directed, I took “God’s Path” first.  It was a breeze!  I zipped through it with no problems, and when I got to the end, it dropped me out of the tunnel at the top of the flag pole where I could get the highest score and an extra life.

Then Alex says I should try playing “the Devil’s path.”  I told him I didn’t want to because I liked “God’s Path” and would never want to take “the Devil’s path.”  He replied, “I just want you to see how hard it is, Daddy.”  How could I refuse?

So, I took the lower path.  What a train wreck! I’m already no gamer.  But this path was so full of enemies and challenges, without any power-ups to help me get past them, that I had to re-start over and over… and over and over… and over and over again.  And when I finally forced the game to the end, it dumped me out so close to the bottom of the flagpole that I could only get the lowest score possible.

Now, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I still cut… and I’m at least smart enough to see what he was showing me.  Talk about your armchair theologian!  This 9-year old kid just laid out for me the truth of the value of choosing to follow God’s plan for my life instead of the enemy’s way.

And on this Friday, I invite you to take a tip from Alex… choose “God’s Path” in real life.  Though you may face challenges there, too, they will be far fewer, and you will always have the power you need to overcome them.  Conversely, if you choose to take “the Devil’s path,” good luck with that.  It’s impossible to complete successfully, and it will cost you what could’ve been.

To quote the famous poem by Robert Frost…

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Truer words may never have been spoken… unless you count a 9-year old armed with a video game!

Our pastor shared a great illustration at church yesterday that I think applies to everyone… even those who don’t claim to know Christ and follow Him.  In fact, a lady who reads the blog regularly leaned over and said, “Sounds like that could be your next blog post.”  So, I’m sharing it with you today…

Our youth pastor, Blake, has really gotten into disc golf.  Like really gotten into it.  Like is playing tournaments all over the place… and winning.  I was talking with his parents after the service about it, and it’s a real possibility that, if he keeps going at this rate, he could start earning money playing.  Suffice it to say, he is pretty good… at least better than me. 😉

Pastor had Blake set up a goal… or a hole… or a net… or a cage… or whatever they call those things you throw the frisbee… excuse me, disc… into.  Then he had Blake take three throws at the cage.  Blake made the first two, but then missed the last one.  (We all know he missed on purpose.)

Pastor began to knock Blake for missing one throw.  He went on and on about it.  “Blake, I can’t believe you missed that last toss.  I thought you were good at this.  What’s wrong with you?” Then he pointed out that he could have spoken positive, encouraging words instead like, “Way to go, Blake!  2 out of 3 ain’t bad.  I’m so proud of you!”

We have a choice, you see, when it comes to how we are going to speak to people in our lives… our family, our friends, our co-workers, others we come across in the daily course of life.  We can encourage… or we can criticize.  It’s so unattractive when we criticize.  It doesn’t help the other person… or us… or anyone else listening.

But we have the power to lift people up each day.  In The Message paraphrase of Scripture, the Apostle Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:15, “Look for the best in others, and always do your best to bring it out.”  We can do that today.  We can do it tomorrow.  We can do it every day.
Let’s choose today to find something good and positive in every person and in every situation.  And then let’s choose to talk about those good things instead of the other stuff.  It doesn’t mean we’re not aware of the other stuff.  It just means we choose not to focus on it.

And let’s face it… 2 out of 3 really ain’t too bad after all!

Call it trite… or cliché… or well-worn… I still love the old question which asks, “If money were no object, what would you do with your life?”

I love it because it gets down to what we really love doing.  We all get that we have to earn money, unless you’re independently wealthy already… in which case, this post is definitely for you.  But what if you didn’t need money?  What if you were so wealthy that you would never run out of money?  What would you do with your life?

Ok, after you’ve quit your job, slept a lot, gone on all those amazing vacations, and bought all the stuff you want… what then?  What would you do with your life if you didn’t even have to begin to think about how much it might cost to go after it?

What would you go to bed thinking about, dream about as you sleep, and wake up thinking about?

What wrong would you right?  What cause would you champion?  What need would you meet?  What lives would you purposefully impact for the better?

Mental Intermission… Stop now and really think about this for at least 30 seconds. Set a timer. And go…

Welcome back.  Here’s my point… 

Is it possible that this very thing that you would do then is the thing you should begin doing now?  Ok, maybe you can’t do it at the level you would if money was no object.  But you could start.  You could try.  You could begin.

Dream the big dream.  Chase the big goal.  Live a life so meaningful that you will never regret it, and no one else will ever forget it.

So, what’s stopping you?  Are you going to let that prevent you from your destiny?

Go for it!

As you know if you’ve followed the blog at all recently, I am a fan of the TV reality show Small Town, Big Mayor.  One of the guy’s on the show… “Get Down Brown”… recently said this about someone, and it totally connected with me… “This guy ain’t got no quit!”

Now, I don’t care if it is grammatically poor wording.  I love the sentiment behind it.  He spotted someone who had the attitude that they were not going to give up… regardless.

I want to live like that.  I want people to be able to say about me that I “ain’t got no quit” in me.  No matter how challenging… I want to keep doing good… having a right attitude… loving others… serving others… pleasing God… being a terrific husband… raising my sons to be men after God’s own heart.  No quit!

Let me ask you… If “Get Down Brown” met you, could he say that you “ain’t got no quit?”  I hope so, because Scripture points out that if we won’t quit, we will eventually accomplish what we’re working toward.  It will pay off.

So, let’s commit to not quit.  Unless it’s bad habits. Definitely quit those. But as for all the good we’re working toward, no quit!

Over the years, I have operated in my gift of procrastination.  If I didn’t want to do something, I would just put it off.  It’s not a successful way to live typically, but it’s what I did.  I suppose I still do it occasionally.  I put off mowing because the weedeating and cleaning up is so tedious.  And because it’s like a million degrees out there in the summer.  But I should just be grateful to have land to mow… and the tools to keep it under control… and the health to be able to get out there and do it all… and the time to be able to do it.

Yet, sometimes, I still procrastinate.  Why?  It always looks so much better when I’m done.  I’m always proud of it when I finish and look back over the yard.  I feel like slithering vermin won’t be able to sneak up on my family as easily.  And there is the sense of accomplishment that accompanies a job well-done.

Yet, sometimes, I still procrastinate.  Don’t look at me so disdainfully.  We are all tempted at times to put off till tomorrow what could be done today.

We put off forgiving.  We put off making that phone call.  We put off taking that class.  We put off getting readers and just determine to hold the phone a little further from our eyes.  We put off asking for help.

Why?  Fear… worry… doubt.  What might happen?  What could go wrong?  How much will it hurt?  What if it doesn’t go the way I hope?

C. S. Lewis wrote, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”  But follow that up with Mark Twain saying, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

Think about it this way… What could go right if I went ahead and do what I should do?  What if it’s better than I expected?  What if it doesn’t hurt too badly, or is painless after all?

Either way takes faith.  Faith for the negative… or faith for the positive.

People nearing the end of their time on this planet would tell us to go on, and do it now.  You don’t know how long you’ve got left.  You may never get the chance again that you have today. Make the most of it.

Hug your kids.  Tell your spouse you love them.  Clean the bathroom.  Answer the call to ministry.  Choose a job you love. Get that degree.  Dial their number, and just apologize.

Don’t put off whatever it is that you’ve been dreading.  Go on!  Do it today!  Put it on the top of your to-do list, and then do it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Still reading?  Why? Put this down, and go on! 😉