About Me

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Blogger, Christ-follower, Encourager, Friend, Husband, Dad

Monday, July 7, 2014

I've Moved

(photo credit: bostonmagazine.com)

As of today, July 7, 2014, I won't be adding any more posts to this site.  It will remain live for archival use for the foreseeable future.  I am not shutting down.  I am relocating.  Please join me on my new site


Same content plus much more on a new platform.  Stop by to join me soon.  I'll leave the light on for you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

TOMORROW!

If you enjoy my posts, I'd appreciate it if you would "SHARE" this on Facebook and even add a few words of recommendation. (I really appreciate those who did yesterday)

(photo credit: youtube.com)

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On Monday, July 7, I am moving my blog to my new WordPress site: www.drgerrylewis.com.  

This new platform will include blog posts (Life Matters on Monday, Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement on Tue-Thursday & Saturday), book recommendationspodcasts (hoping to launch Your Church Matters by the end of August), ministry and personal growth resourcesand lots more. 

You will have the opportunity to subscribe to posts via email and select what kind of posts you wish to receive.  Everyone who subscribes to my email list will receive a free copy of my new eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom. I'm excited about this new chapter and I hope you will plan to join me on the journey. 

Click here to get started on your subscription and to get your free eBook.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2 Days to Go!

(photo credit: kickstarter.com)

If you enjoy my posts, I'd appreciate it if you would share this on Facebook and even add a few words of recommendation.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On Monday, July 7, I am moving my blog to my new WordPress site: www.drgerrylewis.com.  

This new platform will include blog posts (Life Matters on Monday, Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement on Tue-Thursday & Saturday), book recommendationspodcasts (hoping to launch Your Church Matters by the end of August), ministry and personal growth resourcesand lots more. 

You will have the opportunity to subscribe to posts via email and select what kind of posts you wish to receive.  Everyone who subscribes to my email list will receive a free copy of my new eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom. I'm excited about this new chapter and I hope you will plan to join me on the journey. 

Click here to get started on your subscription and to get your free eBook.

Friday, July 4, 2014

3 Days Left!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On Monday, July 7, I am moving my blog to my new WordPress site: www.drgerrylewis.com. 

(photo credit: inhouseprint.wordpress.com)

This new platform will include blog posts (Life Matters on Monday, Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement on Tue-Thursday & Saturday), book recommendationspodcasts (hoping to launch Your Church Matters by the end of August), ministry and personal growth resourcesand lots more. 

You will have the opportunity to subscribe to posts via email and select what kind of posts you wish to receive.  Everyone who subscribes to my email list will receive a free copy of my new eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom. I'm excited about this new chapter and I hope you will plan to join me on the journey. 

Click here to get started on your subscription and to get your free eBook.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

4 Days to Launch!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On Monday, July 7, I am moving my blog to my new WordPress site: www.drgerrylewis.com. 



(photo credit: nasa.gov)

This new platform will include blog posts (Life Matters on Monday, Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement on Tue-Thursday & Saturday), book recommendationspodcasts (hoping to launch Your Church Matters by the end of August), ministry and personal growth resourcesand lots more. 

You will have the opportunity to subscribe to posts via email and select what kind of posts you wish to receive.  Everyone who subscribes to my email list will receive a free copy of my new eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom. I'm excited about this new chapter and I hope you will plan to join me on the journey. 

Click here to get started on your subscription and to get your free eBook.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

5 Days and Counting

(photo credit: inspiredconference.wordpress.com)


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On Monday, July 7, I am moving my blog to my new WordPress site: www.drgerrylewis.com. 

This new platform will include blog posts (Life Matters on Monday, Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement on Tue-Thursday & Saturday), book recommendationspodcasts (hoping to launch Your Church Matters by the end of August), ministry and personal growth resourcesand lots more. 

You will have the opportunity to subscribe to posts via email and select what kind of posts you wish to receive.  Everyone who subscribes to my email list will receive a free copy of my new eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom. I'm excited about this new chapter and I hope you will plan to join me on the journey. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

A David and Goliath Tale

(photo credit: frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com)

Have you heard of the Goliath Bird Eating Spider?  If not, click the link and/or check out this YouTube video. WARNING: Arachnophobes should probably skip the video. I’d never heard of this gigantic tarantula until last night, when Mrs. Sweetie and I spent time with an amazing young woman and her family.  A 2009 graduate of Azle High School, where she was a classmate and friend of our favorite son, she went on to complete a BS in Chemistry from Baylor, and is now working toward an MS in Sustainability from Arizona State. As a part of this degree, she leaves tomorrow to spend the next 27 months working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, West Africa, teaching 7-10 grade chemistry.

Oh, I almost forgot … she’ll be teaching in French.

She told us last night about the application process: page after page of yes or no questions.  Are you willing to live for 27 months in a mud hut without running water … electricity … a toilet? Do you understand that you are likely to contract malaria while you are there …that any mail from home will take at least 6 weeks to arrive and will likely have been opened by the time you receive it … that the nearest PC volunteer on your team will be 70 miles away?

She also told us that the natives like to initiate visitors by throwing the Goliath Spider at them to see how they react.

This is a 23 year-old girl, for crying out loud!  On her blog, she lists the top 10 reasons why she is joining the Peace Corps.  Number 1: I believe that Christians should be leading the world in service to others. If we are truly following the teachings of Christ, Christians should be the kindest, most loving, giving, and compassionate people on the earth. Not only that, but we should be willing to do anything on faith, if God has called us to it. One of the first things I heard about the PC was, ‘there aren’t a lot of Christians in the Peace Corps,’ which was not only shocking to me, but disturbing. If what I said above is true, then people who aren’t Christians are doing a better job of acting like Christians than we are.”

Her story reminds me of the David and Goliath story in 1 Samuel 17. Space available here does not allow the whole story, but here are David’s words to Goliath in verses 45-46: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me.”


Our lives matter so much to God that He promises to be our strength, our source, and to fight our battles for us if we surrender ourselves to Him. Your Goliath may not be a giant spider, but you have access to the same God.

Question: What "Goliath" do you need a new perspective on right now?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Something About Larry

(Larry Landers: October 15, 1958 - June 16, 2014)

By the time I met him, signs were already there, albeit unrecognized. He had been described as a bit aloof, uncomfortable socially, a hesitant conversationalist. But that was ok.  He, like me, had a wife that could carry a conversation, and we were comfortable just being along for the ride.

It was apparent that our children were quite fond of each other and so the dreaded “get acquainted lunch” was scheduled. We were already in love with their daughter, and they with our son. It was an enjoyable lunch in a safe, public place, and I think we all knew that day that our lives and families were destined to be intertwined.

Not long after that first lunch, the symptoms became more pronounced and after months of tests, the fearful diagnosis came: early-onset Alzheimer’s. That was March of 2012 and he was 53.

By the time they were at our house for a few days in January 2013 for wedding dress shopping (the selections being more varied in Fort Worth than in Amarillo), his confusion made conversations difficult and public excursions tension-filled and frustrating.  So, while the girls shopped, Larry and I stayed at home, sharing burgers and a “Lord of the Rings” marathon; two naturally quiet fathers-in-law-to-be, making the most of the situation, and secretly enjoying our escape from Bridal Boutique into Middle Earth.

Larry managed, accompanied by his Mrs, to walk his daughter down the aisle to marry our son on June 8, 2013.  With the help of friends and family keeping watch over him, he made it through the day.  Six months later, he got to see his other daughter graduate from college. He knew he was proud on both of those days, though I’m sure he had moments of uncertainty about the source of his pride.

On Monday, June 16, I wrote this post on Facebook: My friend Larry Landers, father of my precious daughter-in-law, won his battle with Alzheimer's about 23 hours ago. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, as Larry did, will find that statement difficult. But the truth is that Larry has crossed the finish line victoriously while this disease stood helplessly by with no way to prevent him from stepping into eternal health, peace, and joy. This is not goodbye. It is congratulations and we'll see you in a little while. 

I was glad to hear, at his funeral service, stories about the man I never knew: the real Larry; the young man I would have enjoyed fishing and hiking with; the one whose brilliant mathematical mind I would have benefited from; the one who knew that his life mattered to God and who brought up his daughters to know the same.

So many families have a “Larry”.  I wrote this to encourage you to remember and celebrate the real person when you are weary of the one whose mind has been stolen by disease.  There is still something special about your “Larry.”


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Collecting Memories

(High class piano movers: 6/13/14)

I once had a great collection of cheesy souvenir coffee mugs that came from every place I vacationed.  The more it screamed, “I am cheap, but I have the name of this place in big, bright letters,” the higher its chances of making my collection.

Then I got married.

Mrs. Sweetie ever-so-sweetly began suggesting that my collection was not consistent with the kind of home d├ęcor atmosphere we were trying to create. I didn’t know we were trying to create one, but I was smart enough to know what kind of happy wife atmosphere I wanted to live in, so my collection went to my office. 

If she had known what she was getting into, she might have gone with the mug collection. I sold one of my old guitars about a month ago, so I am down to 5 guitars, 2 mandolins, a ukulele, and an accordion. Our living room has a spinet piano and a baby grand. I came home yesterday with an antique upright piano that I bought on eBay for $1.

You read that right: one crisp George Washington.  Ok, it was eBay, so it was an electronic transaction and they only got 67 cents, but you get the picture.  I got a beautiful antique piano for a dollar!  It is in terrible playing condition, but it will never be played.  I am going to use it to make a custom desk for my man cave/home studio.  And I got it for a dollar!

Of course there were a few dollars added to get it here.  I had to drive to Shreveport, Louisiana to pick it up (4 hours one way). So that added a tank of gas in the truck.  I had to wait until after work to go, so that added a night in a hotel. And it was in Shreveport, so it added a big seafood meal at Ralph and Kacoo’s.  And I needed help loading it, so that required that I take a strong person with me, feed him said seafood meal, and pay him a little something for helping me out.  For the several hundred dollars I spent on the trip, I probably could have found one closer to home.

So, how expensive was that piano?  A dollar! All the other dollars were associated with my most treasured collection: my memory collection. The person I took with me, a recent college graduate, grew up in my church.  I have been a part of his life since he was in elementary school and he is like another son to me. I couldn’t put a price tag on the shared experience of those 23 hours. 

Our lives matter so much to God that He lets us share the journey with friends. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”


No matter how the desk turns out, it was a dollar well spent

Question: How are you investing in friendships?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Book Cover!

Hey, Friends!  Thank you SO MUCH for your input on the cover for my new book.  I never expected such a response.  The final tally was 68 votes for "A" and 56 for "B."  We read every additional comment and you helped us come up with "C."  We are on schedule for release in print and on Kindle in July. I will send out word when they are ready.


Monday, June 9, 2014

How to dress for Success

(photo credit: floridatrend.com)


Mrs. Sweetie and I were having lunch recently when we got a good chuckle.  A young couple was at the register to pay their bill.  The man was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Tattooed AND Employed.”  Good for him!

I have heard the following advice many times: “Dress for the job you want, not for the one you have.”  That reminds me of a fellow student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1980’s that wore a suit and tie to class every day to show that he was serious about his studies.  I wasn’t that serious about studies.  About God, yes.  About studies, not enough to wear a suit and tie every day.  Even in my years as a pastor, folks pretty much knew that if they saw me in a suit and tie on a weekday, someone was deceased.

As I was leaving for my first interview with the team that was selecting an Executive Director for Harvest Baptist Association (my current job), Mrs. Sweetie said, “Are you wearing that?”  My response: “Yep!  I don’t want this job.”  Of course, now that I am 6 years into this job that I really love, I know that I would have made a much worse impression if I had worn a suit and tie.

There are at least three truths about me and clothes.  One is that I probably have more clothes than the average man. I’m not sure why and I don’t spend much time worrying about it.  The second truth is that probably 90% of my clothes came from thrift stores or garage sales.  I do require that my underwear comes in an unopened package, but pretty much everything else is open. The third truth explains both of the other two: I would rather spend my money on other things besides clothes.  This is why I have 10 golf shirts that cost me a total of less than $50 instead of 1 that cost more than $50.  And if I wear a different one every time I play golf, those 10 shirts will last me for about 15 years before I start repeating.

Did you know that the Bible talks about dressing for success?

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:10-18, New International Version)


The job that I want is not so much about location as it is about preparationOur lives matter so much to God that He is more interested in our success as Christ-followers than our success in the job market.


Now that I have my “under armor,” which previously owned shirt looks good for today? 

Question: Can you think of some practical ways to put on the armor of God?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Help Me Pick My Book Cover!

Friends, I am in process of producing my second volume of collections of my Life Matters column/blog.  This one will include everything from 2005-2012 and will be about 230 pages.  My editorial assistant and I thought it would be fun to do an unofficial and non-binding poll to select a cover for the book. Please leave me a comment with "A" or B".  Thanks for playing.


Monday, June 2, 2014

How to be happy with your choices

(photo credit: jimbonham.com)

Have you ever thought about what “super hero power” you would like to have?  Flight?  X-ray vision?  Probably the one I most often think about would be the ability to be in more than one place at a time.  Sometimes it feels like there are too many opportunities, too many responsibilities, and too little me.

This past weekend was one of those times. There were four places I wanted to be: the high school graduation of my nephew, the high school graduation of my next door neighbor who is like another daughter, the wedding of a young lady who grew up in our church, and the funeral of a friend and mentor.  Four places I wanted to be; the one I chose would, by necessity, eliminate others.  How could I possibly be happy with one choice and have no regrets about the others?

Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).  No pressure!

I once heard someone say, “The road is narrow, but we get to use the whole road.”  That stuck with me, and the more I have thought about it, the more I am convinced that it is Biblically sound.  I did a search of the concept of choices in the Bible. Here’s what I found: the word “choice” is found 34 times in the New International Version, “chosen” - 125, “chose” – 45, “choose” – 66, “choices” – 0. The vast majority of those occurrences are talking about God’s choice, not ours. Hmmm.

Here’s one that is talking about ours: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

It seems that the pivotal choice for us is whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15), which sets the direction of our lives (Matthew 7:13-14).  Within those parameters, we are able to exercise some discretion in our choices. So, here are some of my thoughts on some filters that will allow us to make good choices without regrets.  If I choose A over B:

1    1.     Will my choice do anything to dishonor God or undermine my life’s choice to serve Him?
2.     Can God be glorified in my choice and will I behave in such a way that He will be?
3.     Can I make this choice joyfully?
4.     Are there ways I can demonstrate faith, love, and respect in the choices I decline?

Sometimes, choices are really no-brainers.  When they aren’t, our lives matter so much to God that He doesn’t leave us without resources. 


Choose joyfully.  Love deeply.

Question:  What are some ways you can think of that help with filter #4 above?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your perspective.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Oh, Grow Up, Ya Big Baby!

(photo credit: multiplemayhemmamma.com)

Grow up!  I’ve both spoken those words and had them spoken to me. Sometimes (rarely, I’m sure), it is because I might have been behaving in a slightly juvenile manner.  One of my friends used to say, “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” 

I’m pretty sure that, “Grow up!” whether aimed at me or from me, says more about the speaker than it does about the target.  It likely means that the speaker is irritated, inconvenienced, or maybe embarrassed by the actions of another. And it rarely results in growth. 

Try these out sometime: (1) Tell your grass to grow and see how it responds. (2) Tell a puppy to grow up and stop chewing your shoes and tinkling on the floor. (3) Tell a baby to grow up and stop crying. (4) Tell a middle aged preacher/writer to grow up and stop using the word “tinkling” in public.

I had an “Aha” moment during my devotional reading this morning. Along with my Bible, I also read through a devotional book each year.  This year, it is the classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.  Here is a quote from this morning’s reading:

“So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful.  Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God.  In essence, Jesus was saying, ‘Do not worry about being of use to others; simply believe on Me.’ In other words, pay attention to the Source, and out of you ‘will flow rivers of living water’ (John 7:38). We cannot discover the source of our natural life through common sense and reasoning, and Jesus is teaching here that growth in our spiritual life comes not from focusing directly on it, but from concentrating on our Father in heaven.”

I can’t tell you how many times, as a pastor and church consultant, I have wanted to tell people to grow up and stop being spiritual babies.  I’ve preached those sermons and heard those sermons preached.  But here’s the problem.  People don’t grow physically, emotionally, or spiritually because someone told them to try harder to grow.  Healthy people with healthy habits will grow in all those ways, not because they are focusing on growth, but because they are focusing on a lifestyle that will result in growth. 

Spiritually, that means focusing on obeying God and following Jesus … Reading the Bible and praying, not to grow, but to converse with God … Going to church, not to grow, but to worship God together with His people … Getting involved in various ministries, not to grow, but because we love Him and want others to know Him.

Our lives matter so much to God that He never tells us to “Grow up!”  He just shows up and shows us how.


Look up, child!  

Question: What is hindering your growth?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your perspective.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Let's make our own conspiracy

(photo credit: diabetesmine.com)

I was driving through a small town in the Texas panhandle a few days ago. It was already past my bedtime, which means it was dark.  (I get up early, so I go to bed early. Some have suggested that age has something to do with that. I suggest that they mind their own bedtimes). Now, back to my story.

So, driving through this town, I saw one of those scrolling LED signs outside a business establishment.  The date was May 13.  Here’s what the sign said: “Happy Holidays!

My first thought was, “Wow!  They really need to update their sign.”  My second thought was, “OMGoodness!  The same Secularists who have stolen Christmas are now out to get Mother’s Day!  First, they won’t let us mention Jesus!  Now, they are taking away Mama!  What’s next?  Let me remind you that, after bedtime, my SQ (sarcasm quotient) really ratchets up. Let me also remind you that this is not necessarily good news.

For anyone who doesn't know, I should tell you that I am not offended by “Happy Holidays.”  I wrote a couple of Life Matters columns back in December, 2011, where I addressed that. (Happy Holidays, Dec 5, 2011 & The Truth About Happy Holidays, Dec 12, 2011)  So, I’m thinking, just like the “Holiday Season” starts with Thanksgiving in November and runs through New Year’s in January, maybe this business was celebrating the season between Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day?

Some wag once said, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not all really out to get you.”  I guess that could be adapted to say, “Just because you’re a conspiracy theorist doesn’t mean they’re not really conspiring.” Maybe there really is a conspiracy to steal Christmas.  There is certainly an undeniable dismissiveness (at best) or loathing (at worst) for evangelical Christianity in many of the upper echelons of government and academia. We are certainly made to look like total dolts and/or hypocrites in most Hollywood productions.

I’m still not much of a conspiracy theorist.  My third thought, on seeing the “Happy Holidays” sign on May 13 was, “Maybe they just put that up to draw some attention.”  Maybe some of the people who are angry at or dismissive of Christianity just really want some attention.

So, let’s start our own conspiracy.  Let’s take seriously the words of Jesus: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)

What if we conspired together to give attention to enemies like Jesus gave attention to His?  What if we conspired together to give skeptics and critics a reason to believe that our lives, and theirs, matter to God? What if we conspired together to give people the impression that their ideas matter as much to us as we would like for our ideas to matter to them?  Maybe our holidays would be a little happier and maybe we would have more impact on our culture.

Just a theory.

Question: How would joining this conspiracy affect your life?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your perspective.


Monday, May 12, 2014

I'm just sayin'

(photo credit: twitter)

“Christians should not be whiners or jerks. No, I am not referencing anyone in particular. Yes, you can quote me.  That was my Facebook post Friday morning.  I said it in a conversation earlier in the day and it seemed worth sharing.  (Writer’s occupational hazard).

Some of you know that Life Matters appears in both blog and newspaper column format.  Some may not know that I write another blog almost every day. Dr. G’s Morning Cup of Encouragement is posted every day except Friday (pretty much).  You can find it at www.drgencouragement.blogspot.com . I’d love to have you join my community there.

When I wrote that blog this morning, I thought it might be worth sharing with my Life Matters readers.  So, here it is.

"But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, 'Do not answer him.'" (Isaiah 36:21)

There is a long back-story to this verse that is beyond the scope of this post. (It may, however result in a good sermon sometime). For our purposes today, let me just say that sometime around 700 BC the Field Commander of the Assyrian army was publicly taunting the representatives of the king of Israel. He basically told them that their God could not save them from the might of the Assyrian army. Instead of getting into a shouting match, or a negotiation, they listened and said nothing (following orders given by their king).

A few days ago, I heard some good advice to leaders: "Sit down, shut up, and listen." In our increasingly strident and argumentative culture, there seems to be a belief that arguments are won by volume and/or violence. We feel that we must shout louder or hit harder. And if we don't hit harder physically, then we must hit harder with our words. After all we have to stand up for what we believe!

The responses that we often give may actually call some of our beliefs into question. I am wondering today how some situations might be different if we were to pause and pray before we speak in these situations ... If we were to ask God what we should say ... If we were to ask God IF WE SHOULD SPEAK AT ALL.

What if "just sayin'" were preceded by "just prayin'"?

Question: What are some strategies you might employ to be sure that your words are guided by God?

I think that’s a pretty good question.

I heard another good quote this week:  “Choose being Godly over being great.”  There may not be a better example of that than the words we choose. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks … But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:34; 36)

Our lives matter so much to God that He cares about what and how we speak. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 5, 2014

How to never have another bad day

(photo credit: entrepreneur.com)

When my kids were little, we often read to them the classic children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

We've all had those days, right?  The day starts off with a malfunctioning alarm clock or a headache or an early morning phone call or text message.  It gets us off on the wrong foot. As Mrs. Sweetie says, “Some days I wake up grumpy. Other days I let him sleep.”

And the day continues: late for work … intolerant boss … insubordinate employees … unreasonable customers … unreliable vendors … indigestion after lunch … spilled coffee … speeding ticket on the way home … you get the point.

And then there are those days that put the previously mentioned events in perspective:  a bad medical report … death of a loved one … divorce papers … civil litigation … really bad days.

What if there were a way to never have another bad day?  Well, sign me up!

Actually, I’m already signed up.  If you were to ask me when was the last bad day I had, I couldn't identify one. If you don’t know me, you might think I’m either exaggerating, flat out lying, or that my life has been amazingly trouble free.  Not so.  I have experienced every one of those things I mentioned, with the exception of civil litigation (and the divorce papers were my parents’, not mine).  If you've read my columns over the past few weeks, you know that I have suffered deep loss and grief recently.  And yet, I can’t think of a bad day.  How can that be?

The secret is perspective.  My perspective is that life is not made up of days, but of moments.  Even in the darkest days (and I have had some stretches that were so dark that medication was necessary), there are still moments where I can see God’s grace.  On the worst of days, there are God-moments: a note, phone call or email of encouragement … an unexpected hug … encouraging words from the pages of Scripture … words of affection, appreciation, or affirmation … and sometimes nothing more than remembering some of God’s promises to those who belong to Him.

Joshua 1:5 - I will never leave you nor forsake you ... Matthew 28:20 - I am with you always, to the very end of the age … Philippians 4:7 - The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus … Jeremiah 29:11 - I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future … 1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Our lives, and our days, matter so much to God that He invades our moments with reminders of His goodness.


Goodbye, bad days.  Hello, God-moments.

Question:  How can you begin to shift your focus from days to moments?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your perspective.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Safe!

(photo credit: timesdispatch.com)

At least 90% of the time, I write this blog from my rocking chair in my living room.  It is my place to meet with God each morning, consume much coffee, and be inspired. I’m working on getting my home office/man cave set up where I can work/write/record for long, uninterrupted periods of time, but the mornings will still begin in the rocking chair.

I've occasionally written from other places like church parking lots, coffee shops (coffee = necessary writing tool), and even waiting in line for the ferry to Vancouver Island.  Today it is the table in my dad’s dining room.

God came and took our Thingy (my stepmother: Life Matters, April 7) to be with Him early last Thursday morning. We celebrated her life with memorial services, conversations, food, friends, and music for all of this past weekend.  Now that most everyone has gone home,  Mrs. Sweetie and I decided to stay for a few more days and help Dad out with some things.

When I spoke at Thingy’s memorial service Saturday afternoon, I referenced a passage from Psalm 116.  The New Living Translation of verses 15-16 says, “The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.” [emphasis mine]

While meditating on those verses a couple of weeks back, it occurred to me that Thingy was about to be released from the chains of cancer, MS, and the wheelchair that has been her constant means of transportation for 20 years. 

As I shared those thoughts, I reminded those gathered that we should never say that she lost her battle with cancer.  Cancer did everything it could.  It took her final breath at 12:50 a.m. Thursday morning.  But since she is now more alive than she has ever been, cancer has walked away the loser.  Thingy was quite the athlete in her day and softball was one of her specialties.  I told them that, on Thursday morning, she slid head-first into home plate and God shouted, “Safe!”  Then she stood up, Jesus dusted her off, and she ran a victory lap around the bases.  Completely. Ultimately. Healed.

I share that thought today for a couple of reasons.  One is that I have chronicled my journey with her illness in my column and blog writing for the past several weeks--partly as my therapy and partly to share with you what God has been teaching me—and we all needed to write the closing paragraphs on this chapter.

Another reason is that I suspect someone (or several someone’s) reading this may be walking through some difficult days with one of your loved ones. Our lives matter so much to God that He wants us to see the big picture.  He wants us to see that those who belong to Him do not lose in death.


The chains are gone … Safe!

Question:  What do you need so that you can see the death of a loved one as a victory?

Leave me a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Let's Make it Simple.

As a long-time preacher, I appreciate preacher jokes.  Like the preacher who noticed his wife sitting on the front row holding a little sign with one word: KISS.  After the service, he told her how much her expression of affection encouraged him and that he almost blew her a kiss back in response.  She informed him that she was not blowing him a kiss.  She was reminding him to “Keep It Short & Simple”.

Or how about the seminary professor who told his “preacher boys” that there were three parts to a successful sermon: (1) Stand up and be seen; (2) Speak up and be heard; (3) Shut up and be appreciated.

Please do not use either of those messages on your pastor.

The late Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, was a preacher of sorts.  He certainly was not a Christ-following gospel preacher.  In fact, he was one weird and really “out there” dude.  But he had a message: “Simplify”.  If you use a smart phone, you can probably thank Steve Jobs (or curse him on those days when you would like to throw that smart-aleck piece of technology in the nearest dumpster).  There was a time when some of us carried a beeper to be reachable, a walk-man to take our music with us, and either a calendar/notebook or one of those little personal digital assistant things to keep up with important dates and appointments.  When we added a big ol’ mobile phone, we had a ton (or at least several pounds) of technology to carry around. Mr. Simplify started asking what would happen if all those could be combined into one simple piece of equipment and voila! Hello, iPhone!

(photo credit: idownloadblog.com)

Now, I don’t intend for this column to be an apologetic for Apple, iPhone, or technology of any sort.  I am a significant consumer and user of technology for both personal and professional purposes, but that is not relevant for this conversation.

My point today is that we all need to simplify.  I’m not talking about going back to a simpler time.  Though I can understand the appeal, that option is not really open to us culturally if we are going to fulfill the purpose God has for us in the world. I’m talking about a less complicated, convoluted, and frenetic approach to life.  I’m talking about listening to the Master of Simplicity (Jesus, not Steve Jobs), who said:

"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.’” (Matthew 6:31-33, New Living Translation)

We don’t need a more complicated message.  We need a clearer message.  We don’t need more stuff.  We need more focus on the reality that our lives really do matter to God.


And that is simply profound. 

Question: What is one thing you can do TODAY to regain that focus?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your perspective.