Get Up Again

The old adage says, “You can’t keep a good man down.”  I think it needs to be tweaked to say, “You can’t keep a godly person down.”  At least that’s what Scripture points out to us in Proverbs 24:16.  I read it again just today, and I love it!

It reminds me of the chorus in the Family Force 5 song, “Sweep The Leg,” that goes like this…

You can’t stop me

You can’t drop me

You can’t block me

You can’t break me

You can’t shake me

Don’t make me

C,mon!  If you belong to Christ, and you’ve been knocked down… get up again.  The fact that the writer of the Proverb said, “a godly person may trip seven times,” is significant.  In Jewish writing, seven was the number of completion… the ultimate.  In other words, a godly person may be completely tripped up by some situation, but they are going to get up every time and end up victorious because they cannot be stopped!

Boom!  There it is… Godly people, don’t worry about what has happened to you.  It may have knocked you down, but it hasn’t knocked you out.  Get up again, and just keep getting up.  You’re going to win!

Now let’s get out there and have a terrific Tuesday, people!

Feelings vs. Choices

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.

Bold Predictions

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?

Wrong Place, Right Time

As I walked across the parking lot and started to get into my vehicle after having preached in the Sunday morning service at a church in Texas recently, I noticed these little flowers growing in the midst of nothing but rocks.  No grass.  No other plants.  They looked so out of place.  But there they were… just growing and beaming brightly.  They brightened my day because they reminded me that God can cause us to flourish regardless of our situation.

I’m reminded of Isaiah 35 as I think of them today.  It is a chapter of hope.  It speaks of how God can bless when and where He chooses, regardless of how bleak the situation appears.

Today, you may be going through a difficult time.  Perhaps your health is under attack, like a couple friends of ours are right now.  Or maybe you’re facing some financial challenges that have your back against a wall like another person I know.  Or maybe you’re going through a drought in the area of friendships.

Know this… God doesn’t need your situation to be perfect… or optimal… or favorable… or even okay… to cause your life to blossom right now!  He can cause life to spring out of death.  He can cause health to spring out of sickness.  He can cause abundance to spring out of lack.  He can cause companionship to spring out of loneliness.

What looks impossible to you is possible with Him.  You may think you’re in the wrong place, but don’t worry because at the right time God can cause your life to push up through those desert rocks and bud… and bloom… and blossom into fullness!

Why not take some time to look up the 35th chapter of Isaiah today, and find encouragement there?  Even if you are not a believer in Christ yet, that chapter is full of the kind of hope I’ve found in knowing Christ personally and following Him.  I believe that if you’ll open your heart to Him, you’ll find that same hope.

9-Year Old Truth

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!

Christmas In July

Awhile back, PR31 and I decided that our family would celebrate Christmas in July this year.  The boys are on a break from school this week… My current work allows me the freedom to adapt my schedule… Hallmark Channel has Christmas movies on all week… QVC is selling like it’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday… Hobby Lobby is already putting trees and ornaments out on their aisles… So why not Team A?

We love Christmas in our family!  No seriosuly, we LOVE it!!!  The song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and we believe the song is right.  Christmas is a time when people speak more kindly… when they are more generous… when they think of others and not just themselves.  Add to that the fact that we Christ-followers who say that we ought to celebrate all God has done for us throughout the year.

Stir that all up in a bowl, and just makes perfect sense to us to celebrate Christmas in July.

There are sugar cookies being made… Christmas carols are being played… classic Christmas movies being watched… a Christmas tree has been put up and decorated… an elf is being hidden each night after the boys go to bed… Christmas crafts are being made… and even small, inexpensive gifts will be exchanged toward the end of the week.

What’s crazy is… despite the fact that we live in the Deep South and it’s well over 90 degrees each day this week… when the skies were overcast the other day, and the air conditioner was turned down a degree or two, and the small lights on the tree and mantle are shimmering, and the Christmas decor is hung, and a Christmas movie is on… well, it’s easy to forget that it’s July.  In fact, the other evening I was almost so absorbed in the moment that I had to really had to think about whether it was July or December.

You can call it ridiculous.  You can say it’s just positive thinking.   You can say we’re just tricking our minds into thinking what we want to think, and tricking our feelings into what we want to feel.

Yet, it hit me that we have some power in our lives that is really quite amazing.  God has created us with the ability to transform the way we think and feel by changing what we see… or maybe more accurately, by changing what we choose to look at.  I can look at the thermometer and see that it is 92 degrees outside with a heat index of over 100 degrees…  too hot to go outside and enjoy much other than a pool.  Or I can look at the thermostat and turn it down another degree to create the atmosphere which helps create a sense of joy and fun for my family.

All this reminds me that Paul told the believers in Rome to “…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”  And in II Kings 6, when an evil king sent a whole army to capture the prophet Elisha, his servant freaked out until Elisha prayed that God would help the servant see what he already saw… God’s army of angels with chariots and horses of fire completely surrounding the enemy army. What he saw changed his perspective.

That’s what I’m getting at today.  Instead of just looking at our situations and being baffled, or bored, or bummed, why not be proactive and decorate our world to reflect what it is more real and more in line with what God wants for us.  We might just be surprised.  We might forget the difficulties and challenges we currently face and relax.  We might just discover some extra joy we thought was only reserved for special occasions.

It’s up to us, though, to get out the decorations… roll out the cookie dough… and wrap the gifts… if we are going to change the way we think to point our emotions in the right direction.

So go ahead… toss a little tinsel… heat up a little ham… and have yourself a merry little Christmas now… in July!

A Little Help Here, Please

When I need help knowing how to cook something, I ask PR31… because she’s an amazing cook… and I am not. I can call her and tell her that I’m trying to follow a recipe but we are out of a certain ingredient, and she knows what I can substitute or whether I even need that ingredient or not.

When I need help buying a vehicle, I ask my father-in-law… because he is a wheeler-dealer… and I am not.  When I need help knowing how take better care of our garden or yard, I ask our friend Melba Balentine… because she has the greenest thumb I know… and I do not.
So when it comes to living this life in the best way possible, I need to get help from someone who knows more than I do. I need help from someone who has more experience… more knowledge… more wisdom… more ability… more power.

So it ought to make sense to anyone reading this that I’m glad to know that the God who makes something out of nothing is the One who is helping me make it through life on this planet.  I mean, He created this planet… out of zilch. And the galaxy it hangs in… and the universe that galaxy floats in.

He existed before time as we know it began, and He will exist after time as we know it ends.  He exists outside the space-time continuum and yet intervenes in my life within it.

So when it looks like there is nothing that can be done in any given situation in my life, it seems like a good thing to me that I have a Creator-Helper who doesn’t NEED something to MAKE something.  If your life is lacking something today, He doesn’t have to have any ingredients or materials to work with… just an invitation from you for Him to be involved in the process.

I need someone.  You need someone.  We all need someone to help us. Just ask.

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