I grew up in a suburb of Houston, TX.  I still have family there.  My wife has family in the Houston area.  I have lot of friends across South Texas.  And what Harvey has done to their homes and churches and businesses… is heartbreaking.

One friend shared an article from the Washington Post about how many trillions of gallons of water have rained down on the Houston area as part of the storm.  The numbers are staggering, mind-boggling.  And there could be more, though I pray there is not.

And I am overjoyed to see people begin to band together to begin the rescue and recovery effort. I encourage everyone who can to give… to go serve, helping to clean up and restore… to encourage those who are living through this disaster that they are going to be alright.

Some people feel like there is no use for them to try to help in such a massive situation because they feel like they can do so very little.  But something leapt out to me as I thought about that this morning… This crazy big storm was made up of individual drops of rain all coming together at the same time and the same place to make a significant impact.  And while those bazillion drops of rain created this disaster, our “drops” of love, hope, generosity and service could add up together to make a positive impact.

Your one “drop” matters.  Don’t withhold it because it seems small.  Together, all of us can do something to make a difference!

I can still remember a junior high English teacher telling me I was so sweet that she wished  she could take me home with her… over 30 years ago.

I can still remember my youth pastor trusting me to lead an entire youth service in his absence… over 20 years ago.

I can remember the times when a former professor championed me in a moment that felt like failure in ministry… more than 20 years ago.

I could list numerous instances from decades ago of times when people affirmed me.  Why?  Because, as Dick Foth writes, “Affirmation has a long shelf life.”  People don’t forget when we affirm them.

Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue (or rather the words it speaks) has the power of life and death. We get to choose.

Choose to affirm. Decades from now, those you affirm today will still remember & find life in that.

It happened somewhat unexpectedly.  It was there… inside me, but dormant.  Till about a year ago.  Life changed, and I discovered this newfound joy… writing.

I speak publicly, and have regularly for more than two decades.  So it’s not that words are new to me.  If you’ve followed the blog, you know that I enjoy the stage and the microphone. And that won’t go away anytime soon.

But what I didn’t see coming was how much I would enjoy sitting at the desk, pecking out keys to capture life… and truth… and encouragement… and hope… in words on paper… or screen.  Unlike preaching, when I write, no one is usually around.  Well, the dog doesn’t count.

Sure it’s still communicating.  Of course it’s still using words to convey thought. But it’s a whole new world to me… all this blogging and publishing stuff that writers do. And yet it has somehow awakened something in me I did not know I had. Something planted there by God before He ever formed me in my mother’s womb.

Let me ask you… Is it possible that you have something in you yet to be discovered?  Is there something wonderful currently dormant in you?  What if you began to excavate around that area of your life and uncovered something truly special which you and others around you could enjoy?  Maybe it’s completely different than what you used to do… or do now… or think you’ll always do.

Why not take some time this weekend and find something inside you that is longing to be let out, longing to be shared with others?  Who knows?  You may be the next Picasso… or Mozart… or Steve Jobs… or…

Spread your wings a little… the air is great up here!

One of my favorite new TV shows kind of snuck up on me and made me like it.  It’s the story of a man who has a dream.  His dream is fleshed out in his 95-point plan to make his town of 456 residents… D’lo, Mississippi… the greatest town in America.

Small Town, Big Mayor features Mayor John Henry Berry’s pursuit of bringing his hometown back from near-extinction… and I don’t want to miss an episode.  My attraction to the show goes beyond the fact that it is pure… and clean… and humorous.  It’s the hero… the champion… the tip of the spear this guy has chosen to be for his town.

I love that he saw a need and decided something had to be done to fix what was wrong.  I love that he came up with a plan… probably more than what anyone else had done. I love that he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to set the example of what it’s going to take to make the dream become reality.  I love that he loves that town and those people enough to put up with some of their goofiness (and their ridiculous ideas of what they think a mayor ought to do for them) because he has the greater good in mind.  I love that he is willing to get out of his comfort zone to help others, and to ensure that his plan is working.

I guess I watch for a few laughs.  But more and more I watch for inspiration.  And I find myself wanting to live passionately like Mayor John Henry Berry.  It reminds me how Jesus loved and served people.

On tonight’s episode, he was teaching his daughter how to operate a track hoe to help him fix a busted water main.  She didn’t think she could do it.  In that moment of her insecurity in her own abilities, he told her that she COULD do it… that she had his blood flowing through her veins.

That’s when I was reminded of those times when I don’t think I can do something, and the Lord says gently to my heart and mind, “Sure you can, son, you’ve got my blood flowing through your veins.”

You may not find a humorous reality TV show inspiring… or motivational… or spiritual, but I do. At least this one.  And so I cheer for Mayor John Henry Berry.  I’m going to keep watching as he whittles away at those 95 points one at a time till his dream becomes reality.  Go get ’em, Mayor Berry!  You can do it!  And you’re inspiring us to believe that we can, too.

We all wear down over time.  God showed us how to take a break and come back strong.  It happens when we sleep each night. Our bodies rejuvenate.  It happens when we take a day off each week.  We all need a hard reset every once in awhile.

And I love that David says in Psalm 23:3 that the Lord “restores my soul.”  Our soul is our mind, will and emotions.  My thoughts and feelings definitely need to be restored sometimes.

The cool thing to me is that when you break the word “restore” down, you get two words:

1) Rest.  When we rest and the the Lord restores our souls, He gives our brain and our hearts a break from their normal stress and strain of life. And who doesn’t need that occasionally?

Ever had a business meeting… or a toddler… that made your brain feel like mush by the end of the day?  Rest helps your mind reset and be ready to go again.

Rest is essential to being restored.  Restoration can’t take place unless you take a break.  You can’t restore an old car or an old building without shutting them down and taking them out of commission for awhile.  The same is true of us.  We have to stop and rest to be fully restored.

2) Ore.  Honestly, this is the one that excites me because I didn’t see it at first.  When God takes us through a season of restoration, He mines out the good stuff which has been deposited in us, but has been hidden by other junk over time.

We have gems… jewels… precious metal… thoughts, and beliefs, and feelings, and ideas, and dreams which we would never really realize are there if it wasn’t that He mines them out of us during times of restoration.

I wonder how many of us miss out on extra strength of mind, will and emotions because we will not rest.  And I wonder how many dreams, ideas and feelings we never discover because we will not be still long enough for them to be uncovered by all the clutter of life?

I’m in a season of life right now that has offered me extra rest and extra mining of ores in me.  And I love how He restores.  Let me encourage you to get a good night’s sleep most nights… take one 24-hour period off most weeks… take a vacation most years… and take an extended break most decades… all for the purpose of restoration.

Our six-year old, Austin, has lost four teeth in the past month, but this last one hung on the longest. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tooth that loose that wouldn’t let go.  At first, we just knew it was going to come out right away like the others.  And then it didn’t. And it didn’t.  And it still didn’t.

At first it was kind of funny.  We could all joke about it.  But it was a front tooth, and the looser it got, the more difficult it became for him to eat. And the more difficult it became to brush his teeth.  It was becoming more frustrating for him than enjoyable.

He could blow air through his lips and the tooth would flap like a flag in the wind. But it wouldn’t come out.  We even pulled gently on it, but to no avail.  When we tried tying floss around it to get it out, it began to hurt too much.  And yet that tooth hung there like it could flop out at any moment.

We had planned a s’mores celebration when the tooth came out, and we had already delayed it a day or two.  The waiting was becoming more and more frustrating.  It was taking all of the fun out of losing a tooth.  We had gotten serious enough that we were even praying and asking the Lord to intervene and cause that tooth to come out.  Truth be told, I think each of us were tired of waiting.

Then, as the boys were playing yesterday afternoon, it popped right out and landed on Alex’s nose.

There was sudden elation and celebration.  I was just waking up from a short nap when I was informed that I had better light the fire because it was time for s’mores… Austin’s tooth had come out.  We all rejoiced… and enjoyed a round of s’mores.  I think they tasted better because we had to wait for them.  In fact, I think our joy over that tooth coming out increased because we had endured such frustration waiting on it.

You know, none of us really like to wait.  We humans are an impatient bunch in general.  And the longer we have to wait for something… like a healing… or a job… or a relationship… or closure in a tough situation… or for a legal matter to be settled… or for someone to apologize, the more easily we become agitated and frustrated.  That’s our choice, by the way, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

And yet, when the dawn finally breaks over a dark night of waiting in our lives, it seems like our joy is greater.  So, what if we could learn that somehow, and embrace the wait in light of the greater joy we will experience because we had to wait for it so long?

I certainly don’t have that all mastered… just seeing it myself in light of a loose tooth, and believing that my own joys… my own s’more-worthy celebrations…  will be greater and more enjoyable because I have to wait longer than anticipated and longer than desired.  And if more joy is the result, well then, maybe I can hang on a little while longer to experience a deeper, more fulfilling joy… and an extra s’more.

If you’ve read the blog, you know that I’m a minister, and I am not ashamed of that in any way. In fact, I feel privileged to be called to such a special role.  So, obviously, my blog often has a spiritual point which goes beyond the initial level of being positive, uplifting, encouraging and motivating.

Then there are nights like this when I’ve just gotta get my preach on.  Sometimes truth is just so good to me that I have to share it with someone.  Tonight… its you.

I kept dwelling on that quote I posted yesterday.  PR31 had said it, and it just rang true in my heart as something I needed to meditate on.  So it’s been rolling around in my head and heart since last night, and a little more has come to me…

1) Praise today like the victory came yesterday.  In other words, if God had done something amazing for you yesterday, you wouldn’t have any problem thanking Him today for it.  And you wouldn’t think anything of telling others how good He’s been to you.  Well, go ahead.  What’s stopping you?  Oh, the miracle hasn’t happened yet?  Well, don’t let that stop you.  God has done tons of other great things for you already.  Begin thanking Him for those, and just slip right on over into thanking Him for that miracle you need right now… that answer you need right now… that job you need right now… that healing you need right now… that provision you need right now… that favor with your boss, or spouse, or neighbor you need right now.  Thank Him as if He’s already done it.  That stirs up your faith and belief that He will come through for you.

(C’mon, somebody! I told you I was gonna preach.)

2) Pray today like the victory is coming today.  When you ask God to come through for you, believe He is going to do it… today.  Don’t make your prayer so weak and ineffective that you are only asking God to eventually come through for you.  That lacks the faith which puts a smile on God’s face when we ask Him for something.  It’s like we don’t really expect Him to do it for us.  Believe for things to turn around at school… today!  Believe for things to turn around with your health… today!  Believe for things to turn around at work… today!  Believe for things to turn around in that relationship… today!  If you’re going to ask God for something that only He can do, then why not go the rest of the way and believe Him to do it today?

3) Prepare today like the victory is coming tomorrow.  Plenty of times in Scripture, God told His people to get ready because He was going to bless them or give them victory the next day.  You know, when we have something big we need to do the next day, we know that we are down to the wire and have to get everything in place so that we are ready for it.  In the same way, when we praise God for a victory like it already happened… and pray like He’s giving us the victory today… we had better prepare today like the victory is coming tomorrow.  If you knew that tomorrow you’d be healed… or promoted… or recognized… or forgiven… or provided with all the money you need… what would you need to do today to be ready for that?  Well, what’s stopping you?  Get after it!

Listen, God wants to bless you.  He wants you to be a part of His family… a child of the King… royalty.  Accept that.  Accept Him.  And then praise, pray & prepare each day!