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Category Archives: Joy

Of All the Ways He Blesses Us

If you start to count up all the ways that God blesses you, you’ll quickly find that the list is almost endless! He’s not limited in the ways He blesses and He seems to stop at nothing in His mission to show us just how much he loves us. Even some of His most hardened critics, if they were to be totally honest,  would have to admit that He does this kind of thing on a routine basis. He doesn’t just love us because He has to; He doesn’t just love us because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; He doesn’t just love us because we need it; All that may be true but that’s not why He does it. No…..He loves us like we love our own kids (and grandkids!)…….He just can’t help it!

His interaction with us is always motivated by love. Even in those times when we are receiving correction from Him, it’s always in love. The Father doesn’t just ‘have’ love, …..He IS love! And every single thing He does, or has ever done, is for our benefit and well being.  I’m grateful for good health. I’ve rarely been sick in my entire life. Oh, I’ve got plenty of aches and pains from some of my previous lifestyle choices but all in all, I’ve been really blessed with good health. There’s dozens of other things I could mention.

But, when I think of all the ways He’s blessed me my mind immediately goes to my family then my friends and the people who I’ve met, and gotten to know, along the way. So, of all the ways He’s blessed me one of the things I’m the most grateful of is by the people He’s brought into my life. At the end of our earthly run we’ll see it clearer than ever. The things that have made our lives rich are not fame and fortune or some other empty thing like that, but the people we’ve encountered, day-in and day-out, on the journey of life. So, I’m suggesting we make the mental adjustment now…..and put a premium value on our relationships so we can enjoy our lives to the fullest….starting today!

Thank you, Lord, for the people you’ve brought across my path!!

 

 

 

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“The Reason for the Season”

You’ve heard that phrase a thousand times. I hope we keep on hearing it. It’s just a reminder for us, ……and for our culture…and our generation to not forget ‘why’ we celebrate Christmas. I expect, for the people reading this blog, that you don’t really need to be reminded but it’s easy to see over the course of quite a few years that the message of Jesus gets ‘lost’ in the busyness of the season.

Retailers have capitalized on the opportunity to up their sales. It works! The big discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart start putting Christmas decorations out in October, just to get everyone in the mood! “Black Friday”, that Friday immediately after Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, ….if not THE biggest. “Cyber Monday” right after that is their thrust to encourage Americans to shop online. Again, it works!! And, the last few years, I’ve received hundreds of emails advertising all kinds of special deals on everything from electronics to vehicles. One of the newer email methods is doing a ‘takeoff’ on the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. There’s half a dozen or more companies sending me a different ‘special’ deal offer for twelve days in a row. I didn’t respond to any of ’em….but I bet a bunch of people did.

I don’t have a problem with observing the season as an opportunity to ‘give’Giving goes right along with what it’s all about. But it’s gotten so commercialized over the years that most of America doesn’t even notice Jesus in the middle of it. Add to that the push by the secularists, and the politically correct crowd (Lord, help us!!) to not even say Merry Christmas anymore…..It eventually gets on my nerves!

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with Santa Claus, Rudolph or Jingle Bells. Those things can add joy to the season……but, just being honest,…..it ain’t about them!

It’s about a Savior Who was born, Who came to the world to take away our sins and to enable us to have a personal,  one-on-one, relationship with the Creator of the Universe, Who chooses to be our Father!

It was the greatest show of love the world will ever know!

So, enjoy your family; enjoy a day or two off if you get ’em; enjoy the opportunity to receive and to give….but don’t forget about Jesus!

He’s the Reason for the Season!!

Room at the Inn?

There’s Just Something About ‘That Name’!!

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Fail Forward

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in life, missing the mark is always a possibility. In fact it’s inevitable that we’re going to fail at something. Whether it’s not making the 5th grade basketball team or coming up short for class president. Most of us experienced the heartbreak of not doing quite good enough early on in life. You know, if it’d just stop there it wouldn’t be too bad. We could surely overcome that class president thing and move on wih life. But, challengingly enough, it doesn’t stop there.

Every single thing we do in life the possibility of failure is staring us square in the face. It can be distracting and downright intimidating. Get yourself two or three of those heartbreaks in a row, which is not hard, and it makes for a really tough patch of life. It would be easy for anyone to get stuck in that same old pattern and let it set the course of their entire life. It’s happened all too many times.

But it doesn’t have to happen that way. Actually, failure has some profound potential if we just don’t allow it get the best of us. Failures provide some amazing learning opportunities and they can give us some incredible perspective if we’ll just let it.

Peter was one of those guys that failed. He didn’t just fail a little….he failed BIG! At the time Jesus needed him most he folded like a cheap lawn chair. Three times he denied that he even knew Jesus, once to a little 12 year old girl. You may have had some major blunders in your life but I’m bettin’ you haven’t had one that big. It would have been easy for that failure to define the rest of Peter’s life. But he had an encounter with Jesus after the resurrection and something miraculous happened; something so miraculous, in fact, that for the next 25 years he was the most important man of the planet as it related to the paln of God! That should be a source of great encouragement to people like us.

Failure is a strong word; and, just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you’re a failure! We shouldn’t allow our failures to define us. We should use them as a stepping stone to greatness. Learn your lesson, get back up and get going again, use your bad experience to help someone else. 

You’re gonna miss the mark; you’re gonna fall short, you’re gonna fail occasionally. But when you fail, …….fail forward! Failure is not final…..unless you let it be!

Oh, and don’t forget what really made the difference for Peter! That encounter with Jesus is the ‘clincher’!

It’ll work for you, too!

Here’s a couple more you might like:

Critics……..There’s One On Every Corner

“Nothing I Can Do About it Now”

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Making the Best of a Bad Situation

One sure fire thing you can count on in life is the inevitability of problems. It’s universal, in fact, and no one’s immune! These challenges come in a broad variety including, but not limited to, physical challenges, relationship challenges, health challenges, financial challenges and many, many more. Problems come in all shapes, sizes and forms, some are temporary while others may last a lifetime. Some might have simple solutions without a lot of stress, while others can be life altering, and in some remote cases…..even life threatening.

The list of root causes of these trials we experience in life is not a long one:

  1. We may be experiencing hardship because of our own decisions/actions
  2. It could be the result of someone else’s actions
  3. Happenstance (Stuff just happens!)
  4. Demonic activity
  5. The sovereignty of God

Nobody likes problems; I’m no exception. But what if these trials of life afford us an extreme opportunity to grow spiritually, …and as a human being?? If that’s true, and I believe it is, maybe our problems are not as bad for us a they ‘feel’. Here’s a few ways to look at your dilemma, to help you ‘make the best of a bad situation’.

Your trials:

  1. Tests your faith; God wants you to ‘know’ the quality of the faith you have!
  2. Helps build character; Few things are more valuable! It’s simple; trials build character!
  3. Help to ‘mature’ us; It helps immensely to bring us into our true identity!
  4. It may feel like it’ll ‘break’ you…..but it has the potential to ‘make’ you!
  5. Reveals impurities. It helps to reveal our ‘blind spots’.
  6. Have great potential to uncover ‘good things’ in you that are waiting to be exposed
  7. Some of the Father’s best work in us occurs during these times!
  8. In times of ‘desperation’ we’re likely to consider God. The Lord is ‘there’ in the midst of your trials!!
  9. Conforming Value; It’s all part of us ‘being conformed into the image of Jesus’!
  10. Experience is a great ‘teacher’! Gives you experience to help others with similar problems.

So, you see, our problems hold some great opportunities if we can make the ‘stretch’ to look at them from a little bit different perspective. How you react/respond to your problems could very well determine the duration of them. They have the potential to bring out the best in us. And, …..your perception of how bad your situation is…..may actually be miles away from reality!

 

What If It’s Not to ‘Break’ You,….but to ‘Make’ You?

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Anyplace With You

It was just a couple of weeks ago. I had bought Julie tickets for a Barry Manilow concert. Now, not one thing against Barry Manilow….great songwriter, great artist…..and as it turns out….not a bad performer, either. But, he’s just not up at the top of my list of entertainers that I would pay much to see do a “live” performance. It was the day of the concert and one of the girls she had asked to go with her, couldn’t. Then she called another of her friends who couldn’t go, either. I desperately suggested another person or two. I may, or may not have, even prayed about it! *(okay, I did! “C’mon Lord….help a feller out!) So, then, my number came up! She text me and said, “Well, it looks like it’s you”! I text back, “You think I’ll be the only ‘guy’ there?” She replied, “Probably!”

We had a great drive up to OKC. I always enjoy Julie. But, surprisingly, I found myself enjoying the trip and even anticipating the evening ahead a lot more than I expected. I did, however, leave my ‘man card’ in the car for fear that they’d frisk me at the door and confiscate it from me. But, seriously, I had this thought, “You know, ….anywhere with Julie…..is better than anywhere else, without her.” I’m not trying to be ‘gushy’ but it’s really true when I think about it. Well, the concert was a lot better than I anticipated. I did actually enjoy it! *Keep that to yourself if you don’t mind!

I think I also learned a ‘spiritual lesson’ from that trip. When you step back and think about the bigger picture….it’s actually true in our relationship with the Father, too. It’s inevitable, we’re going to go through a lot of tough circumstances in life. No one’s immune. At this stage of life it seems like a ‘no-brainer’ to me; Given the choice, I’d easily choose to be going through the hardest thing in life than to be sitting in the ‘lap of luxury’ without Him!

“Anyplace (or any situation in life, no matter how hard,unpleasant or painful it might be) with Him……is better than any other place without Him!” 

 

Disclaimer: Now, for those wondering, …..I do have my limits. I did skip the Luke Bryan concert due to another self-scheduled root canal (same with Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line and a few others). I’m tellin’ ya’, it’s hard to get a dentist to do a root canal on a Saturday night,…especially on a tooth that doesn’t need it!

Check these out….and pass ’em along to your friends:

God Moves Through ‘Influence’ ……. Not ‘Control’!

There’s Just So Much of This Stuff in Life We’re Gonna Have to Learn the ‘Hard Way’!

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Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear!

I see that several times a day when I’m driving. It’s a little helpful warning printed on the side rearview mirrors of nearly every car manufactured today. I’d guess that they have prevented quite a few accidents through the years.

I think about looking at the rearview mirrors in life, especially those incidents, events and happenings that have caused us heartbreak and emotional pain. It’s kinda amazing how, even though we’re far past those things, that they can come up in our mind during the ‘dark’ times. Then when we start to give attention to them, which is common, for the natural mind, the feelings and emotions we experienced then….somehow become real again. I think this is one of those things that the Lord would really love to help us overcome.

I struggle with things like this from time to time. It’s crazy how past failures can come back to haunt you mentally if you’re not careful. These things have the potential to totally distract us and even worse they can dominate our attention and thinking to the degree that we lose our entire focus. I don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t think the Lord wants us to fret over things that have happened way back in the past…..especially since we can’t do anything about them now. The joy that we ought to be experiencing in this life seems to dissipate for me when I get in this mode.

If we go back to the analogy of driving a car it makes sense to look at the rearview mirror from time to time. It’s a safety factor. But if you think about it….it’d be insane to keep your focus on it all the time and never look ahead. I think that’s the logic we should use in life. We should definitely keep our focus on the Father! Maybe it’s productive to glance back every now and then and learn from past mistakes….but to keep our focus on those things is sure to cause a wreck!

Similar posts:

You Can Live in the Past if You Want To…..But There Is a ‘Downside’

Keep Your Eyes On The Road!

Maybe You Should Quit Whippin’ Your Own A#$!!

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The Silver Bullet Lounge

If you were around in the ’80’s you’ll surely remember the Silver Bullet Lounge. The Silver Bullet Lounge was the name of the pub in a Coors Beer commercial. Coors introduced their Coors Light beer in 1978. It contained significantly less calories than their regular Coors beer, which appealed to anyone who was calorie minded. Beer lovers could enjoy their brew without compromising on taste (or so I hear! lol), and not worry about stacking on more pounds. I’m still not sure if that was a great win for our culture or not but there are plenty out there who would sure argue that it was!

Coors Light was produced in an attractive silver can that quickly took on the name, likely due to a brilliant marketing ploy by Coors, Silver Bullets. As far as I know Coors Light drinkers are still calling them that nearly 40 years later.

Just about the time my life was turning around that Silver Bullet Lounge commercial was airing on TV (you can watch it by clicking, here). The setting was in a local pub; everyone was happy and laughing, lots of friendly conversations going on; there was a real sense of community, authentically pleasant relationships and most of all….genuine joy! Now, whether or not that actually happens all the time is anybody’s guess but it probably does happen quite a bit. I thought, as I watched that commercial, “You know, if I could find a church that had that kind of atmosphere…..I think I might go”!

My impression of the church in those days  was that, almost everyone I saw didn’t really look happy or content. And, it seemed that all the good characteristics that the Silver Bullet Lounge had…..were somehow missing from the church. Now, agreed, that’s not a fair assessment of the church seeing that I wasn’t in it….but that’s how it looked from a distance.  But honestly, after all these years……doing what I do, I still see a lot of church people who don’t display any degree of joy. Kinda sad if you ask me.

Now before you get all twisted up about it,……I’m not advocating that you head on out to the Silver Bullet Lounge. (Although if you do, you won’t get any chastisement from me.) But I still contend that we should have all those qualities that they have there, in abundance around the church. It oughta be a happy place! There oughta be a lot of friendly conversation going on; People oughta be laughing….and laughing a lot! There should be an atmosphere of good, genuine and healthy relationships….all the time! If it was like that you might really be surprised who’d come and join in!

We could learn a little somethin’ from the folks down at the ‘ol Silver Bullet!

Check this one out:

Virtual Reality

Laugh a Little! …….. No, Make That a Lot!

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