In The Game

Alex and Austin play an online, interactive computer game in which players can create games for others to play. Obviously, some of the game creators are professionals- or people with way too much time on their hands- and their games are highly popular in the daily rankings. The boys try lots of the games and occasionally even create one themselves, but they gravitate to those well-made, popular ones like everyone else.

The other day, Austin came running into the kitchen with great excitement, telling Angela, “The maker is in the game! The maker is in the game!” When Angela asked him what he was talking about, he explained that he had entered one of the games and discovered that the maker of that game was playing in it at the same time he was. For him, just knowing the maker of that game was “in there” playing along with him made playing at that moment so much more fun and exciting for him.

Now I know that life is not a game, and God is not simply a programmer who created the world and then left it to let happen what happens. The truth is, He never leaves “the game” of life we are living. He is always present. He told Joshua in Scripture that He would be with Joshua everywhere he went. And Jesus told His disciples that, even though they wouldn’t always see him “playing in the game,” He would be with them all the way to the end.

That means “the Maker” is in “the game” with you and me today! The Maker is in “the game!” We can communicate with the Creator. We can see what He intended for us. We can get to know Him a little better. When we don’t know what to do next, we can ask the One for whom nothing is hidden… nothing is unknown… nothing is secret… nothing is beyond possibility.

I know that we can go through life without seeing the Maker in “the game” with us, and that the times we really recognize He’s present are super special, but He is always in “the game” with us. There is never a moment He isn’t there. Or maybe I should say here. We can contact Him at any moment. We can get to know Him even better. We can ask Him to answer our questions and help us succeed.

The Maker of “the game” is right there beside you today. He’s praying with you. He’s helping you. He’s cheering for you to become all that He created you to be and accomplish all He wants you to accomplish in “the game” He created. So go ahead… Get a little excited… because the Maker is in “the game!”

Beyond Grand Master

I was playing chess with Alex last week, when I made a move that caught him off-guard. He asked, “How did you do that? I never saw it!” I explained that I had plotted out my moves three or four moves ahead, anticipating what his reactive moves would be to each of mine. Truth be told, he has not played very much, and it really isn’t a fair competition because I’ve played so much more than he has.

That concept of thinking moves ahead is nothing new, though. And I’m no great chess player. It is said that master chess players think as far as ten moves ahead, and make adjustments if their opponents make moves different than those anticipated by the master.

I was listening to someone on a video the other day who said, “God plays chess while the devil is trying to play checkers.” It was a funny statement. But as I began to think about it, I realized that the concept is right.

God knows the end from the beginning. He has thought through every move and counter-move possible in our lives. He has a strategy to make us victorious. And nothing the enemy tries can work. No mistake on our part can hinder Him from accomplishing His goal of bringing us to victory if we stay submitted to Him. He may make adjustments because of the poor decisions we or others make, but it won’t stop Him from winning.

And the game of life is practically rigged in our favor when we allow Him to maneuver all the pieces. He is beyond the level of grand master, and He is playing an opponent who would barely qualify as a beginner.

So today… don’t sweat what looks like a bad situation. The One who is beyond grand master has a strategy for your life, and He knows exactly where to move every piece to guarantee victory! Just let Him work His plan.

The Ultimate Mr. Fix-It

“Daddy, the Internet isn’t working. Can you fix it?”

Of course I can. I’m a guru. I’m a tech wizard. I’m capable of restoring all things electronic to functionality. Or I can at least unplug, wait, and re-plug the WiFi access point so the boys can get online again to watch the latest Nugget Noggin video.

They used to think that I could fix anything. Though they are now ten and seven respectively, they have learned that there are broken things even I cannot fix.

On the other hand, Angela can ask me to fix a lot more things now than she could when we first got married, lo, those 23 years ago. My plumbing, electrical, mechanical and woodworking skills have increased immensely. And yet, there are still broken things I cannot fix.

You know what’s amazing, though? There is never anything broken you can take to God that He cannot fix. If your life is in a million pieces, He can put it all back together. In fact, He loves it when you ask Him to fix the broken parts of your life. He loves that you would trust in Him and believe in His ability to right what is wrong… to mend what is torn… to repair what is wrecked… to fix what has fallen apart.

His Word says we should bring ALL our cares… ALL our worries… ALL our concerns… ALL our problems… to Him because He cares about us. We should hand Him all the pieces, and simply ask, “Daddy, will you fix this for me?” That kind of dependence melts a father’s heart and causes him to set about fixing what is not working.

You can trust Him with whatever is broken in your life today. He loves you. It would make His day to make things right in your life. And unlike me, you can count on Him to do it right every time because He’s the Ultimate Mr. Fix-It!

The Best Words

I once worked for a leader who was quite the wordsmith. He was not nearly as loquacious as me. He was simply very attentive to learning new words and using them effectively in conversation and public speaking. He had one of those “word-of-the-day” calendars on his desk, and he would often regale us with the words he had learned that day. It seemed he always knew the right thing to say in every situation, and always had the apropos word to make what he was saying clearer, or more powerful, or more heartwarming. With my own love for an expansive vocabulary, I have always been amazed and mesmerized by his command of our language. I suppose I’d like to be like him when I grow up.

Apparently, he was familiar with the words of Solomon found in the tenth chapter of Proverbs. Solomon paints a picture in those powerfully pithy statements of how godly people speak. He writes of the words they choose to use. In fact, he lists five types of words they choose to use:

1) Life-giving words – verse 11

2) High-quality words – verse 20

3) Encouraging words – verse 21

4) Wise – verse 31

5) Helpful – verse 32

I’d say that is a pretty good selection of words. Anyone who speaks that way is certain to be loved and appreciated. Someone who chooses their verbiage based on that list would most certainly sound more like God, and would make me want to listen.

What’s interesting is that Solomon doesn’t say that we need to know a lot of fancy words. He doesn’t say our words need to sound impressive the members of MENSA. He simply points out the kinds of words any of us can use in our everyday lives to reflect God’s character… and benefit others.

So, while I hope to learn some new words on a regular basis, I’m going to be sure to make my higher goal to elevate my speech to level Solomon outlines in Proverbs 10.

If each of us reading this today will make an effort to use these kinds of words on a daily basis, I believe and declare that we will soon see a difference in how people respond to us. In fact, they just might want to hear what we have to say.

How To Absolutely Know The Will of God

I have worked with teenagers and young adults for more than 2 decades now. One topic of interest always pops up for those who are Christ-followers… the will of God. I admit, I’ve had my fair share of trying to figure out what God wants me to do… when He wants me to do it… where I need to be doing it… etc., etc., etc. Sometimes, the harder I try to figure out His plan, the more confused I seem to get.

I know God has recorded every moment of every day of my life in a book (Psalm 139). I know His plans for me are good, plans that will prosper me and not harm me, that will give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29). And I even know that He orders/directs/determines my steps (Proverbs 16). So because I want to please and honor Him, I want to be in His will.

Over the years, knowing His will has been difficult at times, but just last week, something hit me between the eyes that I should have seen and known and understood long ago…

The key to always being in the will of God… to always being where He wants you to be, when He wants you to be there… is to walk WITH Him. The disciples were always in the will of God when they walked with Jesus and did what He told them to do, when He told them to do it, where He told them to do it, etc.

And if we will just make our effort that of making sure we are walking with Him, we will be right where we ought to be, doing what we ought to be doing. So, while I may not know where He is taking me on this journey, I do know how to stay with Him. And that is exactly what I intend on doing.

If you’re struggling to know His will for you, why don’t you join us on the journey? He’s calling out to you to come and follow Him today, too!

Do What You Do

I love to see someone do what they do best…

* Michael Jordan or Lebron James playing basketball.

* Drew Brees or Tom Brady playing quarterback in football.

* Duff Goldman making cakes.

* Bob Villa or Chip Gaines remodeling a house.

You know, God gave each of us special abilities to do something well. Doing that thing fills us with joy and fulfillment… and others love watching us do it because it inspires them.

In Scripture, when God wanted to manage a multi-national food crisis, he picked Joseph. When He wanted someone to lead His people out of bondage to the Promised Land, He picked Moses. When He wanted someone to protect His people, He picked David.

And when He wanted someone to build the place He would express His presence among His people, He chose Bezalel and Oholiab. Not only were they “skilled,” “expert,” and “master craftsmen,” God had also given them, “the ability to teach their skills to others.” In today’s terms, they would have had the skills and a YouTube channel to show the rest of us how to do it right.

You’re no different. God has given you abilities and skills which others watch in amazement. Don’t underestimate yourself because what you do is not what someone else does. Moses was a leader, Aaron was a priest and Joshua was a warrior, but none of them even came close to being the master craftsmen that Bezalel and Oholiab were.

So get out there, and do what you do. Wow the rest of us. And while you’re at it, why don’t you start a YouTube channel so the rest of us could learn a thing or two from you?

Explain That

The word of the day on my Merriam-Webster app is “retrodict.” It’s a verb that means, “to use new information to explain the past.” Wouldn’t that be handy? I’d love to be able to explain some of the things that have happened to me in the past. For example, we couldn’t understand why God wasn’t answering our prayers for our international adoption to go through… until years later when God miraculously gave us two sons biologically.

I bet that’s the way Joseph… of Old Testament fame… felt as he trekked across the wilderness from his home on the way to Egypt, having become the victim of human trafficking when his brothers sold him to some passing slave traders. It couldn’t have made sense. He probably had nothing to compare it to. He probably wondered why this was happening? How could God let it happen? What about his dreams… the ones God had given him?

I bet he still would have liked to have been able to explain what had happened in the past as he sat in an Egyptian jail, having been falsely accused of attempted rape by his owner’s wife when he would not give into to her advances. He had risen to the top of the hierarchy among the slaves in that home? Why did this happen?

I bet he still wished he could explain his past when he remained in jail, even after helping one of Pharaoh’s prominent servants get out of prison when he interpreted his dream. The man promised he would help get Joseph out, but he forgot… and Joseph remained in prison.

It wasn’t until Joseph had been remembered, interpreted Pharaoh’s troubling dream, been named second in command of the most powerful nation on the earth at the time, rescued his nations, and his brothers knelt before him begging for food to save their family that Joseph was able to retrodict… to use new information to explain the past. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers that what they meant for harm to him, God intended to use to save their family’s lives and thus fulfill the dreams He had given Joseph as a teenager.

Maybe today you can’t explain the stuff that has gone wrong in your life. Don’t give up. Keep being your best. Keep trusting God and honoring Him. There will be a day when He gives you new information which will make it possible for you to interpret, understand and explain what has happened to you in the past. One day, it will all make sense. Until then, let it be enough to know that day is coming, and God is with you.