As I was talking with the Lord a couple of days ago, I thanked Him for “putting up with me” because I don’t always get everything right. No matter how hard I try, I am not perfect. I miss an opportunity He gives me. I don’t have an attitude like His. Or maybe I’m more self-absorbed than I should be. But whatever the case, I get that I don’t always live up to who He is and what He has done for me. So, I simply thanked Him for putting up with me.

That’s when He stopped me. He said that He doesn’t “put up with me.” He said instead that I am His child, whom He loves and desires to bless.

It took me a minute to wrap my mind around that. How could He love me and want to bless me when I don’t always get everything right. Then I began to think about my boys and how I feel toward them as their daddy. They are never a hassle to me. They are not people I “put up with.” They are my pride and joy. I love them like crazy. No, they’re not always perfect. Sure, sometimes they don’t act the way I wish they would. But that doesn’t change my love for them… nor my desire to bless them and help them.

And in that moment, the fog cleared away for me. God isn’t mad at me when I’m less than perfect. He doesn’t view me as a hassle. He doesn’t feel like I’m someone He simply has to “put up with.” No, He loves me deeply and wants to bless me anyway.

And He feels the same way about you. He offers you His “no hassle guarantee” today. You can be sure that you never have to feel like God is putting up with you. He loves you just as deeply, and He wants to bless you just as much.

So, today, let Him lift your chin. Admit that you’ve blown it and move forward, but don’t hang your head in shame. Don’t doubt His extravagant love for you. Don’t believe He wants to withhold His blessings. No, He wants you to know that you will never be a hassle to Him. You are His pride and joy! Live like it today, and watch Him smile!

P. S.- I am so excited to share this as my 500th post!!! Thanks to all of you who read my musings on life.

Note: Personal Post

The double doors at the back of the church’s sanctuary opened, and there she stood… dressed in that gorgeous white gown that didn’t hold a candle to her beauty. Her dad walked her down the aisle, handed her off to me, and minutes later we both said, “I do!”

It was 23 years ago yesterday and, next to accepting Christ so I could be accepted into God’s family, that was the best decision I could have ever made. Scripture says that a guy who finds a wife finds a good thing and favor from the Lord. Amen to that!

Angela has been, is and will always be the best wife I could have possibly hoped for… in fact, better than I could have hoped for. It is my honor, joy and privilege to be her husband. I love that we have spent the last 23 years together, happily married… and I’m looking forward to spending the next 23 years with her… and the 23 years after that… and the 23 years after that. That would make us each over 100… and that would be a good start!

If you were to ask me what makes a great marriage work, I would say it comes down to what Jesus said in John 15:13… that the greatest way to show your love for someone is to lay down your own life for them… not dying physically, but setting aside your own selfishness to prefer them, help them succeed, bless them, meet their needs.

Angela exemplifies that. She lays down her life daily to make sure our marriage and family works. It’s how she tangibly shows me that she loves me. And it makes me love her even more. It makes me want to do the same for her… times 100!

I’m sure there are a lot of other great reasons that I feel like we have a great marriage, but she is my best friend… my closest confidant… the person who knows me better than anyone other than God… and still loves me anyway… just like God. She lays down her life in love each day to make my life great. Love is not a feeling… it’s a choice… it’s a commitment to give… to serve… to prefer someone else over yourself… to help… to share. To love is to lay down your life for someone else.

I talk a lot publicly about how smokin’ hot she is, and how she is the Proverbs 31 Woman (aka PR31) who does it all, but what makes her incredibly attractive is this crazy, ongoing, relentless effort she puts into sacrificing herself out of love.

Yes, I totally realize how blessed I am to be married to her. I’d marry Angela all over again, every day of the week and twice on Sunday. And I plan to lay down my life for her every day, too.

If you have the privilege of being married to someone like this, why not celebrate them in some way today to let them know how much you appreciate their selfless sacrifices for you. If you’re loving spouse has passed away, but they lived and loved like this, take a moment to reflect on how awesome they were and thank the Lord for the time you had together. And if you’re not married, you can apply this principle to your friends, neighbors and co-workers to make a huge impact also.

Choose today to say, “I do,” to living a life of self-sacrifice. It’s the best way to love! Just ask this guy!

I have a friend who has worked for a major U.S. corporation for a number of years, and several months ago the company announced that they were moving his entire division to another country. All the jobs would be given to people from that country, and everyone working in that division would be let go before the end of this year. However, there would be three transitional jobs which would last for about a year and a half to help wrap everything up for the move which people working for the company could apply for. So, my friend applied for the three jobs… along with about a hundred other employees.

The company had said they would be meeting with people by the end of this month to let them know if they still had a job, and yesterday was my friend’s meeting. We, and plenty of others, had prayed that God would give him favor and bless him with one of these jobs. Going into that meeting, he had a 3% chance of getting one of those jobs.

But he didn’t get one of those transitional jobs. When he went into the meeting, the three people across the table from him began talking to him about work that he wasn’t exactly familiar with. It sounded like they were talking as if he already had the job. Finally, they said something, and he asked what they meant. They then told him that the company didn’t want to lose him, and so they were transferring him to another division… an up and coming division with great promise. On top of that, his pay would remain the same and he would retain his benefits. And instead of the job being a transitional, year and a half job, this would be a job with their typical four-year contract. Interestingly, my friend only needed to work three and a half more years to lock in healthcare for he and his wife in their retirement years.

In case you think you misread this story, you didn’t. God gave my friend a job he never applied for, lost no pay and kept all the benefits. God took his 3% chance, added 97% plus to it and did something for him that he didn’t even know to ask for.

When I think about that, I think about how Psalm 77:19 reflects on how God parted the Red Sea to give the Israelis a way of escape from the pursuing Egyptians who wanted to take them back into slavery. The water parted and stood up like two walls creating a completely dry path for them to cross through. The Psalm writer calls it, “… a path no one knew was there.”

Maybe you’re facing a situation today that seems impossible. Maybe you only have a 3% chance of success. Maybe no one gives you any hope. Listen, God has ways to answer your prayer that you haven’t even thought to ask Him about. He has paths no one knows are there. He has medical treatments or healing you didn’t know existed. He has people who will cut you a check and put it in the mail who didn’t even know you needed finances. He has the right person waiting to meet you who will be the connection you needed.

The verse of Scripture our boys are memorizing this week says that some things are an impossibility for us as humans, but with God all things are possible. Even getting a job you didn’t apply for.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear and doubt. Instead, today give your situation to God, and trust Him to come through for you… even if He needs to make a path no one knew was there!

I’m going to assume that since you are reading this, you must be human. And since you are human, I will also therefore suppose that you have faced hurt or unfair treatment in your life… like the rest of us. You’ve probably been wounded by people who were supposed to be for you, on your side.

When that happens, it’s normal to feel emotional pain, to feel betrayed, to wonder why this bad stuff is happening to you. That’s okay initially. And some wounds are deep enough that they just simply take longer to heal. That’s understandable.

But at some point on the journey, we need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The question then becomes… What will you do with the bad stuff that has happened to you in life?

In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, we read the story of someone who was done really wrong by those who should’ve been closest to him. His name was Joseph, and God had given him big dreams for his life. As he began to share these dreams with his family, his dad discredited him, and his brothers hated him for the dreams. They hated him so much that they started to kill him, but decided to sell him into slavery and tell their dad a wild animal ate him.

There is no doubt that Joseph was done wrong. But it got worse for him before it got better. Though he excelled as a slave for a high-ranking Egyptian leader, he was falsely accused of attempting to rape that man’s wife… and whose word do you think they believed, the slave or the lady? So Joseph was sent to jail.

In jail, Joseph excelled again and even predicted the futures for two servants of the king based on their dreams. They promised to remember him, but one was executed and the other forgot Joseph for a long time. Finally, Joseph was called upon to interpret a dream for the king, and it was then that he rose to prominence as the second in command for the entire nation of Egypt.

A famine ensued, and Joseph’s brothers showed up to get food from Egypt where Joseph had led a successful food saving and distribution plan. When they showed up, Joseph was confronted with a choice. There stood the very guys who had done him wrong. And it was within his power to set things straight.

In that moment, Joseph chose to give God credit instead of giving his brothers blame. Yes, they did bad things to him, but he chose to instead focus on how God used the bad they had done to work for all their good. He probably didn’t see it in the pit or the prison, but he certainly saw it the day they showed up to buy grain from him during the famine. Perhaps that was why he wept so intensely… the sudden understanding of how God had used the bad to set up the good.

I guess the question before each of us today is the same one Joseph faced that day his brothers showed up… Will I choose to give God credit or give those who did me wrong the blame they deserve?

God promises that He will set the record straight on our behalf, and that He will work everything that happens to us in life… the bad as well as the good… for our benefit and His credit… IF we will let Him.

The choice is ours today… Credit or blame? Let’s choose to see how God has worked things out for our good and give Him credit. In the end, we will win with a choice like that!

I slowed the minivan to a crawl as we passed the house… slow enough for PR31 to look up the driveway into the garage and case the situation. “Nope, doesn’t look like there’s much there. Let’s go to the next one.” So, we did the drive-by, and headed for our next target.

A couple neighborhoods down the road from us a mile or two have an annual neighborhood-wide garage sale. This year, about 15-20 homes participated in the sale. It was a last-minute decision for us to try to hit some of the sales. The weather was cooler than normal, and there had been a few sprinkles of rain that morning. We didn’t get out till about 10:00am, which is hours too late to get the good stuff at a garage sale, but a great time to slip up on someone ready to give up and get rid of stuff at rock bottom prices. And since we had to go into town to run a few errands anyway, we figured we would have some fun and hit some sales.

The problem was that the rain had caused most of the families to move all the items they were selling into their garages. Now, you would probably think that this is no big deal. But you would be wrong. Psychologically, in my humble opinion as a garage sale expert, most people would prefer a “yard sale” to a “garage sale.” We want to be able to pull up near your house, cast a glance up the driveway, and determine from the comfort of our own vehicle if you have anything that looks of value enough for us to stop, park the vehicle, unbuckle, get out of the vehicle and walk the steps that it would take to get us to the desirable items in question. If we can’t see the merchandise available… or if it just looks like a bunch of clothes and videotapes instead of tools, electronics, sports gear, furniture and antiques… we will probably do “the drive-by.”

Now, to be fair here, we could have cost ourselves several great deals on some really cool stuff that Saturday… just because we weren’t willing to stop long enough to invest some time and interest looking into what people had to offer. It could absolutely have been our loss. People could have had the very things we were looking for, but we will never know because we did “the drive-by.”

Here’s the thing, in life lots of people do the exact same thing… just with people instead of garage sales. We look at someone and try to quickly evaluate whether or not we want to take the time and effort required to invest in a relationship. And while quality relationships should be more about what we can offer than what we can get from the other person, too often we do “the drive-by” because we don’t think there is anything positive in that person that is worth us stopping.

Look, sometimes we strike out at a garage sale… or with a person when we stop and “take a chance.” But sometimes we get surprised with a great bargain for a minor investment of ourselves.

Jesus was no “drive-by” kind of guy. He would stop at every person possible to see if He could connect with them, offer them love… or healing… or hope. And so many times He was rewarded by a new-found follower or friend. Sure, He struck out with some of His stops, but that didn’t cause Him to shift into “drive-by” mode. He just kept stopping and checking to see the value in people.

Sadly, too often I have been in “drive-by” mode with people. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some great friendships simply because I didn’t stop to see the value in those people. I’m not proud of it… just stating a sad fact. But I don’t want to live like that. I want to be like Jesus… stopping at every person… looking them square in the eyes… smiling… and seeing their value. I want to make it home to Heaven at the end of this life and show the Lord all the great finds I came across during my time on this planet.

So, if you wanna “drive-by” a garage sale, that’s one thing, but let’s all strive to stop when it comes to people!

We would accomplish so much more in life, and make greater impact. It’s what Jesus did… and people saw that He was different because of it. It made them love Him, appreciate Him, and follow Him. People have value simply because they exist… created by God, in His image… loved by Him.

What if we just esteemed people more and demeaned them less?

Author’s Note: Excited to share this 400th post with you today!

Sometimes the boys try to explain a video game to me, and it sounds like they are speaking a foreign language. Sometimes PR31 tries to tell me how to cook something or what she is doing with a craft, and it seems like we must be from different countries because I can’t seem to understand what she is saying.

But there is a language all of us understand… and crave. That language is encouragement. We all know it when we hear it, and we each need to hear it daily.

I was speaking at a conference recently, and I sat in on the other sessions when mine was over that morning. One of the speakers shared a University of Washington study from ten years ago which showed that students between the ages of 12-17 hear negative statements at a rate of 30 negative statements to 1 positive statement. My guess is that teenagers aren’t the only ones hearing that many negative statements in life. If it isn’t someone else, we sometimes speak negatively to ourselves.

That’s why it’s so important to speak “up.” Speaking the language of “up” means keeping our words positive, uplifting, helpful, good, and encouraging. It’s a foreign language to many people. They have rarely or never heard it, and so they don’t understand it very well. But instinctively, they know there is something about it that they like. And like any language, if we will practice, we can not only hear it and understand it, but we can begin to speak it.

I want to be fluent in the language of “up.” I want every word that comes out of my mouth to be tinged with hope and joy. I want to see people’s frowns turn into smiles when I speak this language to them. I want to hear from people that their life improved after I spoke this language of encouragement and inspiration to them.

It’s funny to me that we always think of Heaven and God as being up because Heaven is too difficult to locate, and God is not restricted or limited to one location or direction. But isn’t it interesting that we think of Him and where He lives as “up?” He is the originator of speaking this language called “up.” Even when He has to challenge or correct, it is in such a way and with the desire to lift us… “up.” And since my life revolves around knowing Him intimately, loving Him deeply and following/serving Him faithfully, I want to speak His language… the language of “up.”

We can learn this language and become fluent, and in so doing begin to bring transformation to the lives of those whose paths cross ours each day. Don’t let an opportunity to make such a significant impact pass you by today. Send the text, make the call, pay the compliment, offer the encouragement, share some hope… Speak up!

Oh, come on… You didn’t seriously think I could stop with one lesson from my favorite Christmas movie, Elf, did you?  Here’s another great takeaway… As Buddy “the Elf” grows up in the North Pole, he is trained along with all the other elves about Elf culture.  He learns that there are three points in “The Code of Elves.”  What we learn from one of those points is that, “There’s room for everyone on the nice list.”

Everyone.  I like that concept.  I’m a people person.  I like to include people rather than exclude them.  I like big teams, big groups, big clubs, big crowds.  Where there are lots of people allowed in, someone has an open heart and open arms.  And “the nice list” has room for everyone.

In other words, we can each choose to be nice… today.  We can choose to have a great attitude even when things don’t go our way.  We can choose to be generous even when our funds are low.  We can choose to love and forgive and release even when people have treated us wrongly.  We can choose to help someone out even we are tired and don’t really feel like it.  We can choose to smile, give, serve, help, and love.   We can choose to speak words of encouragement, hope, kindness, dignity and joy. It’s called being nice.  And we can be added to the nice list today by our choices.

This concept of Santa having a naughty and nice list isn’t anything new, though.  God has a list that He will check as we each face eternity.  It’s not a list to be scared of because He has made a way for everyone to be added to His “nice list.”  He doesn’t expect us to be nice enough on our own to make the list.  He sent His Son, Jesus, as the perfect nice list Guy, who would take our punishment… you know, for those times when we aren’t quite so nice… so that each of us could be on that eternal “nice list” no matter how naughty we’ve been up to this point.

Better yet, He helps us to be nice as a reflection of what He’s done for us… It’s like He put us on His “nice list,” and then said He would help us live that way.  II Peter 1:3 tells us, “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.”  That means, if we will choose to be nice today, He will help us live it out.

Some people think they are stuck as “Scrooges” in life… that there is no hope of them ever making the nice list… but that’s just not true.  If we learn anything from my favorite Christmas movie, it ought to be that people can change… can have their name moved off the naughty list and onto the nice list.  And while Santa may be fictional in the way we know of him today, God is most certainly real.  He wants to help you be nice all throughout your day.

So, whether you’re on the field, on the job, or even on your sickbed today, ask the Lord to put you on His eternal “nice list” and then help you to make the choice to live like you’re on it!