Finding Joy by Leaning on God.


I lose stuff all the time. I lose keys. I lose books. I lose papers, letters, and notes.  I lose my wife every time Kristi and I go into Wal-Mart and split the shopping list to save time.

Thankfully, most things that we lose show up again.  The keys are always right where I put them.  Papers and letters and notes are usually found in a stack of similar items.  My wife calls me from her cell phone and tells me which aisle to find her.

But there are times when a person loses their joy.  You can see it on their face and in their eyes. You can hear it in their voice.  You can sense it from their body language.

Pastor Randy Frazee talks about the source of Joy we have as Christians in his book Think, Act, Be Like Jesus. When we feel out of touch with the joy of being saved, we need to return to the source of our joy.  Consider Pastor Frazee’s words:

We all will have good and bad days. We will all experience life’s ups and downs. But has life robbed you of your joy, or are you growing in this virtue? What does your face reflect to others? What does your attitude communicate about your faith? Happiness will be all too fleeting, but the joy of Jesus is available to your soul right now. When trials arise, choose to lean on him, and you will find his joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12

The Things You Don’t Have to Pray About

There are some things, important things, that you don’t have to pray about. 

You don’t have to pray and ask God if you should be faithful to your wife. 

You don’t have to seek God’s answer in prayer about whether or not you should become a Christian. 

Praying about when to start reading your Bible seems a little silly, too. 

God’s wants all of these things, and so much more! He has told us already. There is nothing more to add. 

This is also true when it comes to serving. God wants us to serve. He puts us in churches to serve him, to serve one another, and to serve the world with the gifts he has given us. 

Consider this story by Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch. In Craig’s book, Confession of a Pastor, he tells about a man who knew the answer to serving was Yes, even before he was asked to serve. 

I love the story about the guy who waited patiently in line to greet his pastor one Sunday after the sermon. “Pastor,” this eager, sincere Christ follower said, “I have only one thing to tell you. My answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?”  
The pastor looked at him, confused, and, smiling awkwardly, fell back upon the pastor’s safety net: “God bless you.” The pastor politely brushed the man off and turned to greet the next parishioner.  

The next week, the same guy waited in line and repeated the same words. “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now what’s the question?”  

The pastor pondered this enigma. Wanting to get to the bottom of it, he invited the young man to lunch. Over a midweek meal, the young man once again blurted out the intriguing mantra: “Pastor, my answer is yes. Now what’s the question?”  

Finally overcome with curiosity, the pastor asked, “Can you please tell me what you mean by that?”  

The young man smiled and, with passion, began, “Pastor, I was hooked on everything bad, about to lose my family, sliding down a slippery slope toward certain destruction. Then Jesus intervened.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “Because of what Jesus did for me, my answer to you is yes. You are my pastor, and I’ll do whatever you need.  

“If you want me to rock babies, I’ll rock babies. If you want me to usher, I’ll usher. If you want me to mow the churchyard, I’ll be there at 6 a.m. every Saturday. My answer to you will always be yes. Now, what’s the question?”  

When it comes to your church (assuming you have one), what’s your answer? Is it, I’ll pray about it, while you look for an escape? Or is it… 



Living Life Too Quickly Appreciate God’s Wonders

We miss out on a lot of blessing when we rush through life focused only on the next appointment on our schedule or the next task on our to-do list. 

While reading the musing of a friend of mine, I was reminded of the importance of slowing down enough to appreciate the wonderful things God is doing. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Stephen Dollar’s book, Glimpses of Glory: Living His Grace, about two observations he made about the sunsets God sends to us day after day:

The first was that God in His sovereignty, grace, omnipotence and majesty has been doing sunsets ever since the dawn of creation. God is an expert sunset maker and creates lots of them. In fact, just hang around for twenty four hours and another one will come along. It is comforting to know that we as believers in Christ serve a God who can do such a creative wonder. 

 The second observation that was beamed into my spiritual memory is that a sunset becomes a personal blessing only when I slow down, shut down and bow down long enough to see it. Does God’s sun only set on the lake during vacation? It would seem that way by me! Yet, I can just as readily see a sunset at home, at work. in the nitty-gritty here and now. Oscar Hammerstein II said in his song: “A bell’s not a bell ’til you it, A song’s not a song until you sing it Likewise, a sunset isn’t a sunset until you “see it.” 

 “Lord, help me to learn to see Your glory and majesty in season and out of season. Lead me to slow down along the loumey and look up.”  

I hope you can slow down long enough to experience God and all of his wonders. 

Why Church Matters

I get to be with people during some of darkest moments in their lives.  Funerals, tragedies, surgeries, terminations, divorce…everything from broken hearts to shattered dreams.  In such moments I hear people say, “I don’t know how people make it without a church family?”

Most of us acknowledge the value of having a church family, but there are times that stand out in a person’s life when being connected to a church family is absolultely crucial.  I stumbled across a reminder of this fact while reading an old book, Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybles.  The story Bill writes is too good to keep to myself:

I had just finished presenting my weekend message at Willow and I was standing in the bullpen, talking to people. A young married couple approached me, placed a blanketed bundle in my arms, and asked me to pray for their baby.

As I asked what the baby’s name was, the mother pulled back the blanket that had covered the infant’s face. I felt my knees begin to buckle. I thought I was going to faint. Had the father not steadied me I may well have keeled over. In my arms was the most horribly deformed baby I had ever seen. The whole center of her tiny face was caved in. How she kept breathing I will never know.  All I could say was, “Oh my . . . oh my . . . oh my.”

“Her name is Emily,” said the mother. “We’ve been told she has about six weeks to live,” added the father. “We would like you to pray that before she dies she will know and feel our love.”

Barely able to mouth the words, I whispered, “Let’s pray.” Together we prayed for Emily. Oh, did we pray.

As I handed her back to her parents I asked, “Is there anything we can do for you, any way that we as a church can serve you during this time?”

The father responded with words that still amaze me. He Said, “Bill, we’re okay. Really we are. We’ve been in a loving Small group for years. Our group members knew that this pregnancy had complications. They were at our house the night we learned the news, and they were at the hospital when Emily was delivered. They helped us absorb the reality of the whole thing. They even cleaned our house and fixed our meals when we brought her home. They pray for us constantly and call us several times every day. They are even helping us plan Emily’s funeral.”

Just then three other couples stepped forward and surrounded Emily and her parents. “We always attend church together as a group,” said one of the group members.

It was a picture I will carry to my grave, a tight—knit huddle of loving brothers and sisters doing their best to soften one of the cruelest blows life can throw. After a group prayer, they all walked up the side aisle toward our lobby.

Where, I wondered as they left, would that family be, where would they go, how would they handle this heartbreak, without the church?

There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.

Consequently, I received this book from two people who have been a crucial part of my extended church family for many years now…

Thanks William and Julie!


Contentment in Christ Leads to Great Joy.


Remember Eeyore and Tigger in the Winnie-the Pooh books? For Eeyore, no matter what amazing circumstance came his way, doom and gloom remained the focus. For Tigger, bouncing through life without a care in the world, he never perceived anything to go wrong. In our daily lives, it is easy to have the attitude of Eeyore while wishing we could have the outlook of Tigger two quite extreme viewpoints of life. The biblical brand of joy is not simply overcoming our inner Eeyore, nor is it strolling through life in ignorant bliss; rather, it is to be found in facing each day’s ups and downs through the contentment Christ offers.

— From Randy Frazee, Think, Act, Believe Like Jesus

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

Forgiveness May Be The Most Difficult, And Most Necessary Thing We Can Do.


Every now and then I stumble across a story about forgiveness that merits special attention.  Randy Frazee shares a story about radical forgiveness in his book Think, Act, Be Like Jesus.

The following story is an amazing display of God’s love and a strong example of how radically a life can be changed by Christ.

Chris Carrier of Coral Gables, Florida, was ten years old when a man became so angry with Chris’s father that he abducted Chris. The kidnapper burned him with cigarettes, stabbed him numerous times with an ice pick, shot him in the head, and then dumped him out to die in the Everglades. Miraculously, Chris survived and was found. His only lasting physical effect from the ordeal was losing sight in one eye. His attacker was never captured.

Carrier became a Christian and later served as a youth pastor at a church in Florida. One day, he received word that a man named David McAllister, a seventy-seven-year-old frail and blind ex-con living in a Miami Beach nursing home, had confessed to committing the crime all those years ago. So Carrier headed to Miami.

Did he take a gun? Did he plot revenge on the way there? After all, now the tables were turned. The old man was helpless, just as Chris had been when McAllister tortured and shot him, leaving him for dead.

No. Revenge wasn’t Chris’s motive, as it had been his captor’s. Carrier was going God’s direction toward forgiveness. And, amazingly, yes, even love.

Chris began visiting McAllister regularly and often read the Bible and prayed with him. Through these visits, Carrier eventually led McAllister to his Lord.

Carrier said, “While many people can’t understand how I could forgive David McAllister, from my point of view, I couldn’t not forgive him. If I’d chosen to hate him all these years, or spent my life looking for revenge, then I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the man my wife and children love, the man God has helped me to be.”

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:33-34

A Better Measure of True Love

img_0009We need a better measure for love.  Love is more than a feeling. Love is more than a preference.     We learn love from the One who first loved us.  Love is the context of all of God’s interactions with us.

Pastor and author Randy Frazee, in his book Think, Act, Be Like Jesus, explores the problems associated with the word “Love”:

There is likely not a more abused word, particularly in the English language, than the word love . We don’t have a good method to rate the degree by which we are expressing the emotion. As a result, we love chocolate, and we love our children. The same? Of course not, but how does one differentiate the meaning? We love the latest song on the radio, and we love God. Again, while those two concepts come from entirely different places in our hearts, we use the same word to describe our feelings for each.

In the Bible, the love God shows us is the ultimate measure of love.  True love, love that is from above, is sacrificial. As Christians, we love others with the love we have received from God.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

A Holy Understanding of Matrimony


Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriage challenges couples to look at God’s purpose for the institution of marriage.   Here is a excerpt to provoke some good thinking about God’s true goal for us in the marriage relationship:

What if God didn’t design marriage to be “easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Genesis 2:23-24

A Rest Is the Holy Reward of a Hard and Fruitful Week

Tonight, Thursday evening, I am on the verge of my weekly Sabbath (Kristi and I are both off from work on Fridays). Perhaps on Friday you will be looking forward to your sabbath rest. 

Remember the importance of resting in the Lord. When we cease from our striving, lay down our tools and our anxious worry, we make time for God to meet with us and reveal Himself to us. 

Eugene Peterson always expresses such a thought better than I can. In his book Christ Plays in 10,000 Places Peterson says:

The capacity to see God working in our place in creation (our workplace) and to respond in resurrection wonder requires detachment from the workplace. How do we cultivate such detachment? Here it is again: Keep Sabbath.

— Eugene Peterson


Strong Church, Strong Community

Strong, biblical, churches give strength to communities. 

I stumbled across another quote by author and pastor Randy Frazee. This excerpt appears in The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew by Michael Wilkins. 

Pastor Frazee writes of the “connecting church.” He illustrates how the church overcomes three problems by connecting people to three crucial ingredients of community. Biblical community overcomes individualism by connecting people to a common purpose, which overcomes the problem of isolation by connecting people to a common place, and then overcomes the problem of consumerism by connecting people to common possessions.