A Special Day Everyday

BirthdayplateWhen I was a kid, Mom made birthdays special by allowing her children to pick the menu for supper.  A few days in advance, she would ask: “What do you want me to cook for your birthday?”

I knew if I asked for Mom’s special chocolate cake, I would receive it for dessert. Asking with the hope of receiving is part of life’s journey, and it’s one of  the themes of the Bible:

  • Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7)
  • If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).
  • Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).

A wonderful promise found in Psalm 55:16 encourages you to call out to God: As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. This verse is evidence of God’s desire to have a relationship with you.  When you call to Him:

  • You can enjoy the blessings of an abundant life (John 10:10).
  • God will help you face your fear and give you the strength you need for your journey (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • You can be assured that God will be a place of refuge for you (Psalm 46:1).

Why limit yourself to just one special day out of the year, when everyday can be a special day with God?

A Capital Problem in the Capitol

United-States-Capitol-Building-in-Washington-DCWhen a business begins to run low on capital, the wealth of the company is diminished, and it can eventually lead to bankruptcy.  A current example is the present tailspin being experienced by Valeant Pharmaceuticals.  The price of the stock has ranged from a 52 week high of $263.81 to a closing price of $69.04 on Monday.  Tuesday it lost another 50% and closed at $33.51 a share.

While this capital loss is a concern to the company, its employees, and the investors, it’s been a real punch in the gut to Bill Ackman.  Due to Valeant’s nosedive his hedge fund lost $1 Billion in a single day.

Bankruptcy is not limited to being just a capital problem.  It can also be a Capitol dilemma.  The legislative branch of our government is over its head in debt and at least knee deep in a bankruptcy of morals.

The solution is not Hillary, nor is it Bernie.  The answer is not going to be found in Donald, Ted, Marco, or John.  I think the remedy to our woes is a fresh resolve to embrace godly principles.

Call me “old fashioned,” but I still believe the Bible, and what the Psalms and Chronicles say concerning the blessings of God on a nation:

  • Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Politics has never solved the capital problem in the Capitol, maybe we should give repentance and prayer a chance.

National Nap Day

yawnToday is the only way a person can make some sense out of Daylight Savings Time.  You may ask: “What’s so special about today?”

Today is National Napping Day, so go ahead and enjoy a big yawn and a little shut-eye of a nap.  When I was a kid, I detested nap, but I’ve become quite an expert in this somewhat healthy habit.

The Wall Street Journal has provided and infographic that will make a daydream believer out of you.how-to-take-the-perfect-nap_52261da483ffd_w1500

Resting from the labors of life is one thing, but you also need to remember to rest in the Lord:

  • Psalm 23 reminds us that God will revitalize and restore us.
  • Matthew 11 is an invitation to come to Jesus for rest
  • Revelation 14:13 is a promise of that day when God’s children will rest from their labors.
  • Even God rested on the 7th day after He had finished His creation.

Any day can be a cupcake day; but a nap is like the frosting that tops it off.

 . . . May God Bless You With Sweet Dreams . . .

Describing the Indescribable

indescribable_title_widescreen_16X9Thomas à Kempis was a member of a Dutch Augustinian monastery that was associated with a group known as The Brethren of the Common Life. His main task was to focus on the spiritual life of the novices. To accomplish this, he wrote four booklets between the years of 1420 and 1427.  Of the four, The Imitation of Christ has been translated into over 50 languages.

Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, was so fond of this book that he read a chapter a day from it. These sentiments were echoed by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, who said it was the best summary of the Christian life he had ever read.

The theme of Kempis’ work can be summarized in this quote: “We must imitate Christ’s life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most characteristic important thing we do.

Kempis once described God as being “unflappable, unfluffable, indecipherable, and indescribable.”  Wise as he was, Kempis’ description of God was no match for the one given by David in Psalm 62: God is our rock, salvation, defense, expectation, glory, and He is the rock of our strength and our refuge.

I encourage you take a few moments to read and then meditate on the words of this wonderful Psalm:

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. ~Psalm 62

Opera Not Opra

opdivaWhen you think of going to the Opera, you may think of classical music and orchestras.  In Norway, people think a bit differently.  To them and a growing number of the computer literate, the meaning of Opera has changed.

Opera is a sweet technological melody that flows from a company that’s based in Norway.  This pioneering developer has introduced a new version of its desktop computer browser that incorporates an enticing feature.

The software engineers at Opera have written their code, so it automatically blocks annoying spam and unwanted advertisements. This allows the web pages to load faster, and it creates a web environment that has increased privacy and security.

The need to turn down unwanted noise and unhealthy distractions is nothing new; and, the root of the problem may be your innate nature that can be as curious as it nosy.  As someone one once warned: Curiosity killed the cat.

A frantic, unfocused, and undisciplined life will eventually lead to a life that is physically fatigued and spiritually exhausted.  This is one reason Moses prescribed a practical solution to the curious needs of the Hebrews:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. ~Deuteronomy 6

The purpose of frontlets is to prevent a horse from getting spooked or Blinkers.french.6-23-13.BL_distracted and to keep it focused on the road ahead.  Moses said God’s Word will do the same for you.  Godly principles act as Opera’s ad blocker: They filter out the unwanted and unnecessary noise of the world, and they create an environment that is in harmony with His will.  

 

 

The Pick-Me-Up Principle

christianencouragementsecularencouragementThe season ended much differently for the Denver Broncos than it did for the Minnesota Vikings—especially Blair Walsh.  Confetti and ticker tape parades were the focus of the Broncos’ fans; however, some Vikings’ fans were thinking more of a hangman’s noose.

During the season, Walsh had made an NFL-high 34 field goals. With time running out, all the Vikings needed to defeat the Seahawks was a field goal.  Everyone assumed Walsh would kick the ball through the center of the goal posts, but it sailed wide and the Vikings season came to a sudden end.

While many of the Vikings’ fans attacked Walsh on social media, a group of first graders in Minnesota decided to share some encouraging words with the much-maligned kicker.  One of the students, Allie Edwards, said, “Blair was really sad, and we wanted to make him feel better.”

To see how the class reached out to Walsh, you can watch this video:

The actions of these children reminds me of one of the great pick-me-up principles of the New Testament:

If a person is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. Watch out for yourself so that you are not tempted as well.  Practice carrying each other’s burdens. In this way you will fulfill the law of the Messiah. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is really nothing, he is only fooling himself . . . So then, whenever we have the opportunity, let’s practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith.    ~Galatians 6

Blair Walsh was blessed because Allie Edwards and her classmates heard opportunity knocking, and Walsh was encouraged by their little hearts that were large with empathy. Who will you bless and encourage today?

The Solid Rock

Rock-Climbing-ChecklistChristians can be perceived as being an odd bunch of people.  This might be due in part to the language of the New Testament; Jesus encouraged His followers to be light, fruit-bearing, and wise and serpents and harmless as doves.  He also reminded them that they were to be in the world, but not of the world.

Do you try to blend in with the rest of the world, or do you stand up and stand out for Jesus?

Some people struggle with a delinquent desire to fit in with the rest of the world, and they adopt questionable maxims at the risk of divorcing themselves from the message of the Master. At the heart of His message is the need to build your life on the right foundation.

The Christian faith is rupicolous in nature, and Jesus is the Rock or foundation on which you are to build your life.   When you live in His presence and among His principles, you’ll enjoy His blessings.  The words of Moses confirm this:

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My teaching will drop like the rain, my sayings will drip like the dew, as rain drops upon the grass, and showers upon new growth. For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; you must acknowledge the greatness of our God. As for the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a reliable God who is never unjust, he is fair and upright.  Deuteronomy 32:1-4

What are the core principles that guide your life?  Do they provide a solid foundation or are they little more than sinking sand?  Do they leave you choking in the dust of the world or do they fill your lungs with the pristine mountain air of faith?

Peyton Manning Retires or Goodbye Omaha

peyton-manning1Four years ago, Peyton Manning joined the Denver Broncos.  Before he stepped on the field for the first time, he first waked through the locker room to meet the

In this era of super-sized egos, Manning was a rare gem.  He loved and respected the game, and it showed on that April day in 2012 when he shook hands with the guys on the practice squad, the backups, and the starters.  Every one of the Broncos already knew who he was, but Peyton wanted to know each of them.

Most people who follow the NFL were pretty sure Manning’s career was over, so no one was surprised when the news began to leak out on Saturday night.  To show respect for his fellow Broncos, Manning had sent each of them a text before his final decision to retire became public.

As I think about the way this famous man has managed his life, I’m reminded of a couple of Scriptures:

  • Romans 12:3: I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.
  • James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
  • 1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time

I hope aspiring athletes will remember Manning less for his signature “Omaha” and more for the manner in which he has respected the game and the way he continues to invest in the lives of others.

Title, Deed, and Ownership

Title-DeedsWhen I woke up this morning, to the rhythm and words of an old gospel hymn.  The four-line chorus reminded me of a precious truth:

Now I belong to Jesus,

Jesus belongs to me,

Not for the years of time alone,

But for eternity.


Of the 19 words in that refrain, the word belong stood out more than the rest.  It occurred to me that when you belong to Jesus, you should be longing for a relationship with Him.

During a debate with some skeptics, Jesus spoke of the key to this relationship: The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God (John 8:47).

When you listen and respond to God’s words it’s evidence that you belong to God, and it’s the first note in a harmonious relationship with Him.  Paul spoke of this relationship, and who you are in Jesus:

  • Ephesians 1:7—In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
  • Ephesians 1:11—In Him also we have obtained an inheritance
  • Ephesians 3:12—We have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
  • Colossians 2:9-10—As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving, and you are complete in Him

When the feelings of doubt and despair try to take root in your heart, remember that you belong to Jesus.  His desire is to have a relationship with you, and He will watch over you as a shepherd does his flock.

 

Psalm 100:2-4

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!

Serve the Lord with gladness;

Come before His presence with singing.

Know that the Lord, He is God;

It is He who has made us, and we belong to Him;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,

And into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Wit and Wisdom Personified

dr-seussIf he were still living Theodor Seuss Geisel, would be 112 today.  Although I never met the man, I appreciated the wit and wisdom of this man who was better-known by his pen name Dr. Seuss.

As a tribute to him, I want to share a couple of quotes from some of his books:

  • You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.
  • I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
  • Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
  • So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!
  • Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
  • You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not!

The writings of Dr. Seuss remind me of another wordsmith; Solomon said, “A well-spoken word at just the right moment is like golden apples in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11).”

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. ~Dr. Seuss