I love the meme I saw on social media last week which read, “It doesn’t snow in Louisiana… It pollens.”
It’s that time of year when the greenish-yellow powder dusts everything that sits still for thirty seconds or more. It’s that time of year when antihistamine is part of my daily regimen.
So you can imagine my delight when this morning while I was sipping my coffee, eating some cereal and having some time alone with the Lord, I heard the rumble of thunder and then a downpour of rain. You see, the driveway has been coated with so much pollen that it just wouldn’t come clean. Using the leaf blower only created yellow clouds which settled in other places… only to be replaced by more pollen. But a good hard rain… well, that was just what we needed to wash away the bee and butterfly dust.
You know, sometimes our lives get coated with guilt and regret because of the things we’ve said or done. We may or may not verbalize it to anyone, but it lays there like that greenish-yellow pollen, tinting us till we don’t look like our normal selves and creating an allergic reaction in others around us. But we don’t have to live that way. We don’t have to wear that guilt, shame or regret. If we will turn it over to God, He will wash it all away… just like the rain washing the pollen right off our driveway.
David… a guy in the Bible who cheated on his wife with the wife of one of his closest friends and comrades in arms, and then had the guy killed when the woman turned up pregnant, was later called a man after God’s own heart. How does that happen? Well, in Psalm 51, he comes clean with God. He asked God in the second verse of that song to wash him clean from his guilt. And God did!
He will do the same for you today. All you have to do is ask Him, and the rain of His mercy and forgiveness will wash the pollen of your guilt and regret away in an instant.
There are a few puddles on the driveway as I look out the window right now. Their edges are not tinted yellow. They are not ringed with remnants of pollen. They are clean and clear.
That’s how your life will be if you’ll ask the Lord to wash away your guilt today. That’s why Jesus came and died. It’s what God wants. He’s not trying to hold anything against you. He wants to wash it all away. Just ask.
There may not be a more guttural display of manly competitiveness than that of arm wrestling. Pit two men against each other in a test of sheer arm strength till veins bulge in their foreheads and necks, and people will gather around to watch. Pit me against either of our sons, Alex or Austin, and no one would pay the price of admission.
Why? Because it’s no contest. Their bodies have not yet developed muscles to the point whereby they would have enough strength to defeat me. Simply put, I would win every time.
I remember challenging my parents to arm wrestling when I was younger and winning many times, only to realize in later years that it is because they were letting me win. I was so disappointed to discover that I wasn’t as strong as I had thought.
You know, the enemy of our souls is a lot like a little kid arm wrestling their parent. That kid doesn’t stand a chance unless he is allowed to win by the parent. The kid would lose every time. And the truth is, Scripture tells us that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.” In other words, because God lives in me, when the devil challenges me, I can win every time. He’s just out-powered. It’s no contest. The only way the devil can win when he comes against me is if I let him win. But as long as I oppose him… as long as I put up any resistance at all… he simply cannot overcome it.
There is this myth which floats about mankind which says what is going on in the spiritual is an epic battle between good and evil… that God and the devil are equal opposites, and we just have to wait and see who will win. That is misguided thinking. The angel who rebelled against God and became who we know as the devil was a creation of God who was instantly defeated the moment he opposed God, and he has been living a defeated existence ever since. There is absolutely no comparison or competition.
And since the Creator of the Universe lives in those of us who have accepted Him, we have that power in us. This means the devil is no competition if we will simply offer resistance.
I don’t know how he has flexed his wicked muscles in front of you today, or how he has taunted you to sit down at the table and grasp hands, but when he says go, just hold tight… give him a wink… and then slam his wrist through the table… because he doesn’t stand a chance of winning if you oppose him with the One who is greater living in you.
So get out this week and arm wrestle the devil if you must. Just remember… you can’t lose as long as you offer resistance!
Today, we have much to celebrate. We celebrate today because Alex and Austin share a birthday… or maybe I should say… a “re-birthday.” On this day, three years ago, PR31 had the privilege of leading both boys in prayer as they accepted Jesus Christ as the Forgiver of their sins and the Master of their lives.
In Scripture, we find that Jesus called it being “born again,” and the idea stuck with His followers. Being made right with God and adopted into His family is a lot like having a whole new birthday.
So this day is written on our “Remember” board in sharpie. This day pops up in our photo memories on the phone. This day is for celebrating.
You see, that day in 2016 marked the change of their eternal destiny. Now, they are children of God, not just children of Allen and Angela. Now, they have a future full of joy and hope spent with their loving Creator. Now, they do not have to worry if they are not perfect, because they have a Savior who is, and He is sharing His perfection with them… just because they asked.
If you’re not right with God today, don’t let another moment go by. Do what Alex and Austin did on this day three years ago…
1) Admit you blow it and do wrong things sometimes.
2) Accept that Jesus was punished and executed in your place for those crimes you commit against God when you do wrong.
3) Ask God to forgive you for past wrongs and help prevent you from future wrongs.
4) Invite Him to be in charge of your life, guiding you… leading you… directing you.
Do that today, and guess what? You’ll share a re-birthday with Alex and Austin! And that, my friend, is something to celebrate!
P. S. – If you make that choice today, would you let me know so that I can tell Alex and Austin their choice helped someone else? It would mean a lot to all of us!
Someone reading this right now needs to know this, and you know who you are…
We recently stopped by unannounced to drop something off at a friend’s house. We didn’t know whether they were home or not, but we decided to stop by anyway. We rang the doorbell. No open door. We knocked. No open door. We were beginning to think our friend wasn’t home when we saw the doorknob begin to turn and heard the tumblers activate. At that moment, we knew the door was about to open to us… even though it had not opened yet.
If you’ve been waiting on the Lord to open a door for you, and it hasn’t happened yet, just know that it is opening soon. It may not have swung wide open yet, making it possible for you to walk through, but it is indeed already opening. The knob is turning. The tumblers are activated.
I know it may feel like it is taking awhile, but Isaiah 22:22 lets us know that the Lord is in charge of opening doors. It will stay shut till He says it’s time to be opened, and we cannot force it open. But once He says it’s time for it to be open, no one can keep it shut to you.
Hang in there. Keep your eye on the knob and your ear open for the tumblers. The door is about to open soon!
And the winner of this year’s Christmas song of my heart is… drum roll, please…
Such A Strange Way To Save The World!
It comes at the Christmas account from the vantage point of Joseph, and it hits at the heart of how confusing all the stuff God was doing in his life seemed to be at the time. Joseph had to be full of why’s. And the chorus of the song reflects what some of them might have been. Check these out and see if you can relate…
Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade
Why Him with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl
Now I’m not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the World
As I listened to that song weeks or maybe months ago for the first time this Christmas season, it resonated in my heart. I have my own list of why’s. The season of life I’m in right now brings with it a fair share of them.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t listening. God certainly spoke to Joseph. It’s not that Joseph wouldn’t obey God. Indeed he did every time the Lord directed him to do something. It’s just that Joseph was caught off-guard and confused by how God was working. So he had some why’s.
You probably know what that’s like, too…
– Why did your loved one pass away?
– Why did that relationship not work out?
– Why didn’t you get that job?
– Why haven’t you been able to fulfill your dream yet?
Listen, don’t give up on God. I know He may not be doing things the way you’d want or the way you think He should, but you can trust Him. Stay close to Him. Ask all the why’s you want. Then listen, and obey, as He answers and directs.
Joseph ended up fulfilling prophecies, protecting the life of the Savior, raising Him to be a godly man who knew Scripture and treated people with respect. Joseph played an incredible role in the life of the only begotten Son of God. Joseph influenced the man side of Jesus in a powerful way. Sure, he had his why’s, but his why’s didn’t stop him from listening and obeying.
And here’s the rest of the story… Your why’s won’t keep God from working powerfully in you, through you and for you. You too can be a why’s man- or woman- and still make a huge difference in this world.
So, if you’re going through a challenging season in life right now and you have a lot of why’s, put this song on repeat, and let it reassure you that it’s all going to work out.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
It’s His name… the name we celebrate at this season of the year. Say His name, and you spark controversy. Say His name, and some people get uncomfortable. But I love that name. It’s the sweetest name which will ever grace my lips, or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s that name. Jesus.
Luke 2:21 points out, “Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, He was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel before He was conceived.”
Jesus means, “He saves.” In Hebrew, it is more properly “Yeshua.” It is a variant of Joshua.
It was a common name among boys and men in the time when He was born. I love that. He did not attempt to set Himself above or apart by His name. But His name defines His purpose. He saves. And in fulfilling that purpose, His name did indeed become set apart.
When I hear that it is a variant of Joshua, I also love that because Joshua was a servant… a soldier… and a seeker. And that defines Jesus for me as well. His life exemplifies what it means to serve others. He fought and defeated the enemy of our souls. He sought deeper relationship with His Heavenly Father, and each of us deeply longs for that connection… whether we realize it or not.
This name that was given to the Babe of Bethlehem is the name which Scripture says is above every other name. It is the name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He Lord (Master) to the glory of God the Father.
This is the name of the only begotten Son. Yet, in His coming, living, suffering, dying and rising, He made it possible for all of us who accept Him to be adopted into God’s family. So He is no only child anymore.
This is the name we cry out when we are in trouble, or need, or sorrow. This name has weight, holds power & carries authority.
I love that He was given a name before He was conceived. Most of us were in the natural. But here’s the thing… God gives you a name in the spiritual even before you come to know Him, love Him and serve Him. And the name He gives you speaks to your purpose and destiny. He has a name for you that in eternity will only be known between the two of you because you will be that close.
This Christ-mas, stop for a moment and ponder that name. The name we think of so sweetly as belonging to the Baby in the manger. That name changes lives. If it has not changed yours yet, please let me know. I’d be honored to introduce you to Him.
Yesterday, a computer game the boys play had an update, and they ended with all these extra powers and abilities that they couldn’t get before. Austin tried to explain it to us, but it was like he was speaking a foreign language. He kept going on about how each one could do these new and wonderful things they couldn’t do before. He said some of them were even “overpowered.” As he went on talking about how he just couldn’t believe how amazing this update was, he blurted out, “I’m overpowered… with joy!”
You know, that’s what joy does for us. It strengthens us. It powers us up. It gives us what we need and more to be able to face the day and win. Nehemiah told God’s people in his time that God set aside days on their calendar when they should be celebrate. In some ways, they felt bad to celebrate. They realized they didn’t live perfect lives. They knew the challenges they faced. They weren’t even sure they had the emotional strength- and therefore the physical strength- to celebrate. Nehemiah went on to tell them that the joy of the Lord would be their strength.
God doesn’t intend for us to live down in the mully-grubs. He wants us to live life to the fullest. But sometimes we check our bank account, and we don’t think we have the strength to celebrate. Or we check the doctor’s report, and we don’t think we have the strength to celebrate. We check our social media feed, and we don’t think we have the strength to celebrate.
Maybe today, you need to let the joy of the Lord be your strength. If you’ll let Him fill you up inside, you can live your life “overpowered with joy!”
Have you ever felt so alive that you wonder how you could call what you thought was living before actually alive? Lately, I feel like I have come into an epiphany as it relates to my faith. It’s as if I’m reading and hearing Scriptures for the first time which I’ve read and heard my entire life. When I talk with the Lord, it is with more confidence in Him… in His love… in who He has created me to be and in who He has made me into by adopting me as His son.
But to feel this alive comes at a price. It means facing challenges you never foresaw. It means being willing to look at life through a new set of lenses. It means having to… painfully… admit that I had not achieved the fullness God has for me.
This kind of newness of life comes from the passionate, and maybe sometimes even desperate, pursuit of knowing God even more closely, loving Him even more deeply, and serving Him even more sincerely. I may have more answers than I did before, but those answers have opened up a whole new world of questions. And with those questions, I find myself digging deeper into Scripture… making sure I find quality and quantity time to talk with the Lord so I can ask Him about the answers to these new questions… and more quickly moved to shower Him with thanks, gratitude, acknowledgment and adoration.
The result? I am alive!
No, all my challenges have not been overcome. All my problems have not been solved. All my issues have not been resolved. But most of those things are external. What is happening inside of me is overpowering all of that. And soon, if it hasn’t already begun to, it will impact and invade all of that external stuff.
I don’t know what kind of challenges or crises you are facing today, but you don’t have to face them with dullness and lifelessness inside you. Bring your real problems… those authentic questions you’ve been afraid to ask… your frustrations and limitations… bring them all to God. Ask Him to get involved, and you’ll find that He will. As He does, you will begin to experience life seeping back into you. That seeping will turn into a trickle… that turns into a flow… that turns into a flood! You’ll be more alive than you could have imagined before.
Jesus said that He came to give us a full life, an abundant life. Let’s not settle for less!