Monday, June 30, 2014

What do you Want?

Proverbs 30
7 Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:

If you had to write it down; If Jesus showed up right now beside you and said, “Ask anything of me, and I’ll give it to you,” what would you ask for? Take 5 minutes or take 5 days if you need to, but write it down. I read in the book of James today about asking, too. James tells us we don’t have because we don’t ask. He goes on to say that a lot of times we don’t ask because we either know that it’s against God’s will or we think it is.

So, my thought today is, “What do I want?” What do I really want? You see, when you know what you want, you know what’s important to you, and you get a clear picture of your priorities. Second, we have a God that longs to give to us. He gave us even his own Son. I believe that according to his word, that if he gave us the best in all of history, the best of all that is or will be, that he’ll also give to us freely smaller things. In human terms, if you’re able, and you joyfully give your child a multi million dollar mansion (so joyfully that you hire hosts of choirs to sing about it and go out of your way to provide the absolute best of the best), would you refuse them something as mundane as a candy bar, or a lawn mower, or a car?

To put it in God terms, if God gave us his most precious gift, his Son, (and gave it in extravagant manner complete with angelic choirs, signs in the heavens, and etc) will he not freely give us lesser things according to his will when we ask? What do you want? Ask him for it. Last night my wife asked to be healed, and she was, and she took our puppy for a run.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Promises Promises

James 1
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Promises.  I promised a lot when I was a kid.  "I promise I won't do that again."  Yeah, that was never true.  Now that I'm a man, I realize that my word means something, or should mean something.  I want my word and my promises to have weight, and not be the light fluffy stuff of childhood.  You see a promise is only as good as the person making the promise.  A promise from my wife has a lot more weight than the promise of a stranger or someone I work with.  

The Lord has made us promises, and that means more than the promise of men.  I don't know what kind of week you've had, whether a week of trial or blessing, but I do know that the Lord himself has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.  He's promised a crown of life to those that keep the faith.  He's promised to stick closer than a brother.  Rest well in his promises.  His word is true and will come through for you.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sausage Balls

Proverbs 25
16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need,
That you not have it in excess and vomit it.

Raise your hand if you love sausage balls. That's right, I just raised my hand.   For those not raised in the deep south, sausage balls are a delicious combo of cheese, breakfast sausage, and bisquick. I never had them before I moved to South Carolina, and I am quickly making up for lost time with them. They’re awesome. Perfect man food. Hot, spicy, cheesy, salty. Try it.

There was one time when I went a little overboard. Man, I felt like absolute garbage. I probably ate 1.5 dozen of those things, and then I was sick as a dog. I learned the hard way that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. From this verse, I take away the importance of knowing when enough is enough, and sharing your excess with others. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Build a House

Proverbs 24
3 By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.

Have you ever watched a construction crew build a house or a building? My dad is king of remodeling his house. He’s remodeled it to one degree or another a half a dozen times. Let me tell you, you can’t just hand any Joe Shmoe a hammer and nails and expect him to build a livable house. It takes knowledge and wisdom to build or renovate a house that’s livable and up to code.

I believe the same things are true for spiritual and emotional building. I want to provide a godly and loving family for my wife and kids. I’m not a very wealthy man, but I can provide a house, a family, with pleasant rooms and precious riches by walking with Jesus and obeying his word. I don’t have to be the strongest man on the block, the most handsome, the richest, or the most powerful. I just have to follow Jesus, and walk in his word. Today is a new day. If your week is off to a good start, continue building on that in Jesus. If yesterday was a disaster, give it to Jesus and start building fresh today. I’m praying for you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Biblical Fortune Telling

Proverbs 23
18 Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

Back to the Future. “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” said Doc Brown. He and Marty McFly were going to the future. And in the future, cars didn’t just drive on surface roads, they flew. I thought that was the coolest of the ‘Back to the Future’ movies. Marty goes to the future, and gets to see how things work out. He gets to see some of what is to come.

As Christians, we can look forward to our future. We can rest easy in knowing what our future holds. No one else can claim to know their future for certain. No other religion can make, and follow through, with such bold claims: Your hope will not be cut off. God is planning a hopeful and glorious future full of life, full of joy, and full of his presence.

Remember today, that no matter what the experts say, no matter what you feel, no matter what you ‘know’ is going to happen- God is in control, and as he tells us in the book of Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” God tells us over and over that he will not abandon us.  He will come through.  Believe in him, and receive his promise.  This is a new day. It’s the start of a new week. Trust in God. He’ll hold true to his word.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Proverbs 22
9 He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.

My Mommaw Lopez had a garden when I was a kid. She babysat me a bit when I was a little kid, so I spent a good bit of time in her garden. Ok, funny story. I was very allergic to gnats when I was a kid. Me ears would swell up, my eyes would swell shut. I’d be playing, and working in the garden, then boom. I’m like Will Smith in Hitch, all swollen up and zonked on Benedryl.

 Funny thing about a garden, though. You plant corn, and corn grows. You plant peas, and peas grow. In life, if you plant generosity, blessings grow. I hope you’re able to plant generosity this week, and that the seeds sprout, and grow to maturity-blessings for generations to come.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Guard Duty

Proverbs 21
23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles.

Guard duty. Most folks outside the Military probably don’t know that there’s at least 237 different kinds of guard duty. Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not a big exaggeration. When I went through Army Basic Training, we had Fire Guard- someone is always on guard in the barracks, Roaming Guard- someone was always patrolling the exterior of the barracks, and while on field exercises, you were pretty much expected to always be guarding something- your vehicle, your weapon, your buddy, the tree next to the guy your buddy is talking to. The military is big on guarding.

Why should we as Christians guard our words? To be on guard is to be watchful for threat or danger. To be a guard is to be a protector, a watchman, a first line of defense. We need to be on guard because we have an enemy. Our enemy would love for us to shoot of at the mouth and wreck our testimony, or our relationships. We need to be on guard because there is danger in our words; there is power. We need to be on guard because we can keep our soul from trouble. I don’t need any more trouble, and I’m sure you don’t either. Let’s be vigilant in guarding our words, and bringing peace to our souls.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Chicago Cubs

Proverbs 20
9 Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart,
I am pure from my sin”?

The Chicago Cubs. One of the clearest memories I have of my Pappaw Ellis is going over to their apartment with my mom, and he’d be sitting in his chair watching a Cubs game on WGN. I’ve never been much of a “watching sports on TV guy.” I’ve played baseball and football, and I love going to baseball games and watching a live game. He never talked much about baseball with me, but he was always watching it. There are a few things I could count on when I was a kid and we went to their apartment: 1. Mommaw Ellis had the best snacks. 2. Pappaw Ellis would be watching the Cubs play if at all possible.

Ask any Cubs fan and they’ll be quick to tell you, “Nobody bats 1,000.” Nobody gets it right all the time. Matter of fact, in baseball, if you can hit the ball 3-4 times for every 10 at bats, you’re a superstar, a hall of fame contender, you’re golden. It’s Friday. I don’t know what kind of week you’ve had. Maybe you’ve had a great week. Maybe you really messed stuff up. Nobody is perfect. But, we have a redeemer, a purifier, in Christ Jesus. Finish the week as strong as you can, and give it to him. Don’t focus on the failures, but on the WayMaker. I’m praying for you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Be a Good Man

Proverbs 19
22 What is desirable in a man is his kindness,
And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.

How to be a good man. There’s a lot of commentary on manhood, manliness, and even if it’s needed in this day and age. Do a Google search of manliness (with the content filter on) and you’ll see all kinds of opinions on what makes a man a good man, and what being a man really is. Some opinions range from the modern rendition- get all the money, sex, and fun you can get, to the more traditional renditions- honor, strength, and providing for others.

But what does the word of God say? Do you want to be known as a good man? Be kind. Do you want to be a man among men? Keep your word.  I know I try to make it complicated.  I think I have to do this and that, and be able to provide this and that for my family.  But in the end, what they really need is a good man, not a busy man or a richer man. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Junk Food

Proverbs 18
20 With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied;
He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.

Junk food. We live in a junk food society. And I admit it; I’m a sucker for baked goods. Cookies, brownies, cakes, and pies. Oh my. The number one diseases for our country are by and large caused by what we eat. They’re caused by what satisfies us.

This verse got me thinking. What kind of fruit am I producing from my words? Is the fruit of my mouth wholesome and healthy? By that, I mean this: I don’t cuss, but do I bless? Do I speak negatively about myself and about others? Do I have encouraging words and ‘bible word’ for people? Or do I gossip? Do I spread negativity? Do I curse myself and those I love by the fruit of my mouth?

The bible warns and encourages over and over about the power of our words. So, I encourage you today to eat healthy from the fruit of your mouth. Pass up the junk food words of gossip and negativity. When we get our words right, we’re feeding our hearts and our minds and our families the right kind of sustenance, and we’ll be stronger for it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Let Your Attitude Get the Best of You

Proverbs 17
22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

As I write this, I’m fighting a cold.  By the way, how is it in any way acceptable to go all winter without getting sick, riding a motorcycle all winter to and from work in freezing cold temps, and now that it’s hot I get sick?  I’m taking cold medicine and nasal sprays and anything else I can think of to try to get over this thing quick.  Honestly, I blame my Pastor.  That’s right buddy, I blame You.  I was healthy as I could be until after church on Sunday.

You see, last Sunday Pastor preached on slowing down, and even stopping and waiting on God.  I’m not good at slowing down.  I don’t do slow.  I do all in.  I do fast, efficient, and logical.  I don’t do slow; slow makes me mad.  And I hardly ever do stop. 

But, his sermon last Sunday challenged me.  I wanted to slow down.  I wanted to stop and wait for God.  I wanted to go at God’s pace, instead of mine.  And then I got sick.  And now I’m going slowly.  I’m thinking slowly; I’m walking slowly; I’m reacting slowly.  I’m reading slowly, and then I run into this verse.  I’m taking cold meds, but there is a better medicine, one that’s often overlooked when I’m at my normal pace: a joyful heart. 

So, today, I pray that God will fill your heart with the Joy of His Salvation, that the warmth of His love would follow you, and that He restores you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wait, What's my Motivation?

Proverbs 16
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.

What’s my motivation. I was a Theatre major for most of High School and my first year of College. One of the things an actor has to decide is his character’s motivation in a scene. What’s driving that character to act and react the way he does, and what drives him to say the things he says. What’s my motivation?

I’m reading, or rather re-reading, The Call by Oz Guiness. The chapter I’m on now is about living before an audience of One: living your life to truly please one person- God. That chapter and this verse have me really wondering: What’s my motivation? Who am I trying to please? I can rationalize pretty much anything, but God will weigh my motives.

If we live to please others, then we must be prepared to always be shooting at a moving target, since other’s opinions and tastes are sure to change. If we live to please God, then it cuts out all those hoops we find ourselves jumping through during the week, and the audience we seek is unchanging, and actively involved in seeing us succeed.

So, this week, I’d like to encourage you to consider your motivation: Is it to please men/women, or is it to please God? As I write this, I’m struck with how simple life would be, how peaceful it could be, to truly live before an audience of One.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Like a Wrecking Ball

Proverbs 25
25 The Lord will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.

I read a news story recently where this lady down in Florida was having some trouble with her neighbors, and decided to take matters into her own hands. Her neighbors liked to party, be loud, play loud music. I guess one day that little switch in her head finally just flipped. So, she comes up with an idea. She calls a heavy machinery company and hires a bulldozer and operator. Bulldozes the neighbors house while they’re out for a few hours. They get back right as the bulldozer is finishing off the house. Pandemonium ensues.

Being proud has the same effect with the Lord. Like a wrecking ball, he’ll tear down the house of the proud. I don’t want him tearing down my house when I’m out running errands or going to work. I don’t want him to flatten my family because we didn’t acknowledge him in all we do. But notice that if we are humble, if we turn to him to supply all our needs, God himself will establish our boundaries. We won’t have to hustle to get a leg up. It won’t be a struggle to make due. He will be our provider. That sounds like a really good deal. So, Lord, break through my pride. Help me to take a wrecking ball to my pride, that you would be my provider and that you would establish our boundaries. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Where Did all this Mess Come From?

Proverbs 14
4 Where no oxen are, the manger is clean,
But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.

Where did all this mess come from? My desk at work is messy. Not “hoarders, there’s 5 cats in there somewhere” messy, but you can definitely tell someone is using that cube for something. Work is messy. The neatest and most orderly work spaces, are the ones that never get used.

And that got me thinking that maybe the most productive areas in my life are the ones that are the most messy? Maybe I need the Lord to mess with me, and with my life, to get it producing revenue again? Messy isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. Messy takes diligence to keep it from getting out of hand. But you can tell work is being done when things are messy, and I know God still has a lot of work left to do on me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Watch Your Waistline

Proverbs 13
4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
But the soul of the diligent is made fat.

There was a time when I couldn’t gain weight. I ate what I wanted, but I was so skinny I thought that I had to try to gain weight. When I was 17ish, in addition to whatever huge dinner mom fixed, I’d eat a Dairy Queen double cheeseburger, large fry, with a glass of milk at 9pm to gain some weight. I made it up to a whopping 150lbs by the time I graduated high school. Those were the days. Now, if I even look at a cookie, I have to let my belt out a notch.

Yesterday, I talked about being fast, and the need to slow down. One of the reasons why I need to slow down, in addition to actually giving thought to my words, is that I can’t be diligent and fast. Maybe some folks can, but I’m not that good. I can do fast, or I can be diligent, but I can’t do both.

Being diligent requires a certain amount of care and thoughtfulness. Being diligent requires intentionality. Diligence isn’t sloppy, it doesn’t throw things together, it doesn’t cut corners, it doesn’t give a half hearted attempt. Diligence is acting as if everything you do is truly for the Lord and not for men: whether you’re at home or at work.

Diligence is hard. The attention to detail it requires uses up a good deal more effort and brainpower than just completing a task and checking it off a list. In this verse, we see that something amazing happens through diligence. Diligence puts meat on our spiritual bones. Diligently being about the work of the Father, keeps our spirits well fed. The alternative sounds pretty hungry. Craving and getting nothing reminds me of a tale Jesus told.

There was a young man who left the house of his father and went to a foreign land. After coming to ruin, he worked feeding pigs. The pigs ate, but the young man had nothing. He craved the slop that pigs ate, as he had nothing to eat. But then he remembered how it was in his father’s house. How everyone was well fed and cared for, and he determined to go back there.

I want to get as close to God as I can. I want my soul to be well fed. I want to have a “That’s a healthy boy!” sized soul instead of a scrawny, starving for any kind of trash that comes along soul. For that, I need to be diligent. Watch your waistline.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Have a Smoothie

Proverbs 11
5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

Life is hard; there’s no question about that: sickness, disease, death, weeds sprouting up in your work and fields, conflict, and valleys. Today’s verse reminded me of how much harder life was without Jesus. Sure, life can still be hard. But when I think back on how my life was before Jesus caught me, and how it is now, there’s no real comparison.

Even on the worst days now, I’m never forsaken, I’m never left alone, I always have a comforter. Even on my worst depression induced valley, Jesus is there. When I feel like I can’t go on, Jesus is there. When I feel like it’s all pointless, that I’ll never be what he created me to be and that I should just give up the fight and sin away- Jesus is there. Today, choose to exercise your righteousness (righteousness of faith in Jesus), and let God smooth your path. Your path may be tough; it may go straight up a rocky mountain. But, with him, it can be smooth and free from rocks that will trip us up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Joys of Owning a Puppy

Proverbs 10
12 Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.

Ah, the joys of owning a puppy. We bought a dog yesterday. Let me say this first: I love dogs. I think dogs are great, but, I know that dogs, especially puppies, can be a LOT of work. Last night, Jamie and I were reintroduced to the joys of a puppy’s small bladder and his needing to go outside about once every hour.

If my neighbors woke me up every hour to tell me they were going to the bathroom, I’d probably call the police. If my boss called me once an hour starting at about 10:30pm just to say he was going to the bathroom, I’d seriously consider having him evaluated.

But this puppy? Love covers all transgressions. We didn’t yell at him. We’re not sending him back. Why? Cause I love my daughter and she’s the happiest little girl in the world right now because she finally got a puppy. I love her, so I put up with multiple late night dog requests. Love covers all transgressions. Love the people, and pets, in your life today.  Jesus loves you and he died to cover all your transgressions. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Answer That Call

Proverbs 8
1 Does not wisdom call,
And understanding lift up her voice?

I have a secret: If someone calls me and I don’t recognize the number, then I don’t answer it. Ok, I know in this age of tabloid scandal that’s a pretty lame secret, but work with me. I have a contact list setup on my phone, so if someone on my contact list calls me, it shows their name, I answer. Done. But what happens when someone calls from a new number? What if someone I know and want to talk to calls from a number I don’t recognize? Do I recognize when wisdom calls, or when God calls?

Something I’ve noticed in my walk with God is that he rarely yells. At least in my experience, but your mileage may vary. When he speaks or when he calls, it’s not loud and boisterous, it quiet and intimate. Those moments where God shows up in thunder, smoke, and lightening, and the angel chorus of heaven lets out a loud rendition of the hallelujah chorus, in my life, rarely if ever happen. Maybe that speaks more of me than God, but I think most folk’s experience is the same. Ask more than a few folks and they’d probably agree: God whispers. As a side note, I think he has to whisper to keep from killing us with the full force of his voice or scaring us to death. Seriously. That voice is the sound that caused everything to come in existence. I don’t think I could handle hearing it full blast. Moving on.

What does wisdom sound like when it calls? The verses in the rest of this chapter describe wisdom calling out. Is it loud, or does it come in unexpected ways: an unknown number, if you will? This verse and the whole book of Proverbs says wisdom is calling out, but if I don’t hear it, maybe I’ve got the TV or the Radio turned up too much and I’m drowning it out. Maybe I’m too engrossed in work, or play, and don’t see wisdom at the city gate calling to me. Maybe I don’t recognize it for what it is, and like me not answering my phone, I don’t give it a chance to impact me and make me better. Maybe it comes in the form of an ant, toiling away storing up food, but I’m too busy stepping on them or spraying them with insecticide. Lord, help me to watch close, consider my ways, turn down the noise, and help me hear when you and wisdom call out to me. Give me a call; I’ll answer this time.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Solomon was Kind of a Jerk or The Case of the Amazing Invisible Car

Proverbs 7
7 And I saw among the naive,
And discerned among the youths
A young man lacking sense,

Have you ever been in a car accident? I have. The last one, a few years back, a guy totaled my car and aggravated some back issues I have. Funniest one: Jamie and I are at a grocery store in Princeton WV. At the time we had a silver Honda Civic. That thing was a car crash magnet (just wait, you’ll see). It was like it had an invisibility cloak. Nobody could see this car. I should have sold it to DARPA and given them a leg up on their invisibility camouflage. Anyway, we’re sitting in the car, in the parking lot, patiently waiting for this car to go by so we can pull out. Well, the car slowly comes at us. I’m thinking, “they’ll see us and stop, surely they can’t be thinking this space is empty.” Wrong. The car keeps coming, keeps coming...Bam! Runs right into us. I couldn’t believe it. We got out, and Jamie will back me up on this, an old lady gets out of the car and tells us, “I thought you were my niece.” Right, cause that makes sense. So we’re trying to figure out if the lady bumped her head or something at that point. Then, one of the old lady’s family members showed up and encouraged us to call the cops, “She’s crazy, she shouldn’t be driving. You should definitely call the cops.” I thought my family was tough. At least none of the Lopez clan have ever tried to run me down in a grocery store parking lot. Yet. True story.

Reading this passage today, I thought, “Man, Solomon is kind of a jerk. He saw this whole thing go down and didn’t yell out to this idiot and convince him to stop or impart some wisdom to keep him from evil. He’s Solomon for Pete’s sake! He saw this car wreck happen and didn’t do anything to stop it.” It would have been nice if we realized what was happening with the old lady and her niece and somehow got out of the way or stopped her. It would have been nice if someone had seen the crash conditions forming that wrecked my car and stopped me from leaving the house when I did or got the other guy off his phone so he would pay attention and not rear end me. It would have been nice, if someone would have stepped in a bunch of times and prevented catastrophe before it happened.

I don’t know if Solomon really saw this incident go down; I don’t know if he was really so close he could hear their conversation. I do know that I saw someone going down a wrong path, and I didn’t do anything either. I'm sure it didn't start out overtly wrong.   But things like this tend to take on a life of their own and a lot of people got hurt in the aftermath. A family split up. Maybe the friend wouldn’t have listened. Maybe they would have called me a jerk and told me to mind my own business. But, maybe they would have listened and a lot of pain and heartbreak been avoided. So, when I first read this, it was, “Solomon, you jerk!” Then it was, “Donnie, you jerk, you did the same thing!”

There are definitely some things in my past where I wish someone would have stepped in, yelled at me, thrown mustard at me, anything to get my attention and explain what the consequences of my actions would be if I followed through. Maybe Solomon felt the same way after the fact and wasn’t going to make the same mistake with his son. Maybe he kept quiet once, and saw what happened, and was determined to speak up next time. A lot can depend on us speaking up.  I'm not talking about  speaking up self righteously, or condescendingly. If you see a wreck about to occur, take a chance and say something in love. If God’s given you the ability to get those ‘Spidey Sense’ tingles of what is really going down: SAY SOMETHING. Maybe they’ll listen. Maybe they won’t. I don’t know. But give them a chance. If you see me doing something stupid, or you get a weird vibe about it, let me know. No really, let me know. I’ll do the same for you. And yes, I’ll probably use the phrase ‘Spidey Sense.’

Friday, June 6, 2014

Haters Gonna Hate?

Proverbs 6
16 There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

What do you hate? My kids think it’s a bad word. If you ever make the mistake of saying, “Don’t hate” or, “I hate when that happens” around them, you’re going to get some gasps of righteous indignation from my little kids. And you can be sure that they’re going to turn straight to us and tell on you. I think just last Sunday I got scolded for saying, “Don’t hate.”

I don’t really remember how ‘hate’ turning into a bad word got started, but I think it goes something like this: child A learned a new word, though not really knowing what it means, or just to be an ornery kid, child A told child B that they hated them, crying ensued, mommy and daddy made a new rule, and now that’s morphed into hate being a bad word for the Lopez kids. Don’t make the mistake of saying it around them. They’ll call you out, and tell on you. True story.

God hates. We don’t normally think about it. We in the Western world tend to think of God as this loving old man with a white beard, more akin to Santa than we care to admit. Or for some of us who grew up in very strict churches, God is that loving old man who will turn into the Emperor from Star Wars at the drop of a hat and hit you with that lightening stuff from his hands. But I never really thought about God hating anything: sure he’d zap me, but hate? What do I hate?

Hate is an intense, passionate emotion. It’s dislike to the extreme, hostile and violent. Do I hate the same things God hates? If not, then something is wrong with me. It means that my heart isn’t where God’s heart is or that I don’t truly grasp the horror of the things he hates. God has great capacity for love and mercy: the fact that I’m sitting here typing this right now instead of sitting in hell is proof enough of that. He also hates.

I think the things he hates (notice that it’s sin that he hates and not sinners) are the things that are most damaging to us spiritually and corrupt us. They are the opposite of what he wants for us and from our lives: a lying tongue, attacking the innocent, devising and thinking wicked plans, quickly turning to evil, lying when you know the truth, spreading disagreement among brothers.

I have to be honest, my first reaction to reading this was, “Those things are bad, no doubt, but I don’t feel a passionate response to those.” Maybe I’ve let myself get jaded? Maybe the cynic in me has taken over and just expects these things from people? Whatever it is, if I don’t hate the things that God hates, then I’m off track. If I don’t feel as passionately about God things as he does, then there’s still some work that needs to be done in my life.

I’m praying that God will stir me up. I’m praying that he’ll stir up the passion in me so that when I see these things, starting in my own life (removing the log in my own eye before the splinter), that I would feel the same way he does. I’m praying that I wouldn’t coddle that sin and let it continue to grow, but that I would hate it, and stomp it out. What do you hate?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Living Life in a Straightjacket

Proverbs 5
22 His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.

Harry Houdini. I remember first hearing about Houdini. Harry Houdini was an escape artist; he was a legendary escape artist. What bound him was irrelevant. He would bust out; he would break free from the chains or the straight jacket that held him. As a kid, I thought that was pretty cool.

As an adult, I think it’s bloody amazing. My body doesn’t bend like it did when I was a kid. And I also now realize that what made Houdini great was that he was unique. Busting free from bonds is difficult. It takes special skill, or physical abnormality in some cases, for escape artists to make their work go off without a hitch.

So my thought today is, Am I bound? Sin will bind us; iniquity will capture us. I think you can be a Christian and be bound, but I also think it’s akin to living life wearing a straightjacket. For those of us that aren’t Houdini, there’s only two options: Jesus or straightjacket. Jesus can get you out of the bonds; he can set you free from your captivity.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I Can't Drive Without a GPS

Proverbs 4
11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.

Ask my wife if I have a good sense of direction. She will probably giggle a little before she says no. She’s right. My sense of direction is utter garbage. A couple years ago, we were in Panama and we went to this mall for lunch (God bless the man who invented air conditioning). Not to be crude, but I went to the men’s room while we were waiting for our food. After our meal, as it’s a decently long ride to our destination, I decide that I’ll go again before we leave. It was right around the corner from where we were sitting and I had just been there 30 minutes earlier. I started walking off in the exact wrong direction. She just laughed and pointed me in the right direction. The other folks with us, Billy and Trish and Eloy, didn't know what in the world I was doing.  Jamie had to explain that if there's a wrong direction to go, I'll pick that direction.  I didn’t tell her that I had to stop and retrace my steps to find the table again. True story. Garbage sense of direction.

Left to our own devices, our spiritual sense of direction is as bad as my physical sense of direction. When I read this verse, I thought about my kids. They need direction. They need to be led in upright paths and directed in the way of wisdom. So do I. I need to stay in the word, to stay in close contact with Jesus, and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me and direct me so that I can guide my children and those I love that aren’t mature enough or willing to follow where Jesus leads. My kids are young and aren’t mature enough to follow Jesus on their own. That’s ok. I have family members that aren’t interested in Jesus, but I have influence in their lives.

I’m also reminded of Paul’s statement, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Wow. I need to step it up a bit. So, today’s thought is: How is my spiritual sense of direction? Am I following in Jesus footsteps? Am I leading those I love down paths of wisdom, and down upright paths? 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Simple Recipe

1 Timothy Ch 2.(MSG)
1-3 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Don't ever confuse what God wants from you and what he wants your life to look like.  Don't be led astray by our "more more more" culture.   Want to be in God's will?  Want to make an impact?  Want to live the kind of life God has planned for you?  Pray.  Pray in every way you can think of.  Live a simple, quiet, humble, and contemplative life.  This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. 

Lowes, Home Depot, and God

Proverbs 3
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

I like to thing I’m a pretty handy guy. I like fixing things. I can fix computers. I’m ok at fixing stuff around the house and getting better at it. I could easily walk around the hardware store for an hour just checking stuff out. I’m a DIY (Do It Yourself) kind of guy. I like being able to fix something rather than replacing it. An honestly, I like that I don’t have to pay someone else to fix it or replace it for me. I like being able to handle it myself and not depend on anyone else to get something fixed or running again.

But am I doing the same thing in my relationship with God? His word tells us to trust in Him with all our heart, and lean not on our understanding. His word says to acknowledge Him, thereby acknowledging our own weakness. His word says to not be wise in our own eyes. Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with fixing that old washing machine or patching a hole in the drywall. But God isn’t a DIY kind of God. He’s a DIWG “Do It With God” kind of God. Let’s make Him a part of everything we do today, and see what He does. Maybe he’ll make our paths straight. Maybe He’ll bless us. Maybe He’ll teach us. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll walk with Him and he’ll walk with us. DIWG and have a blessed day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Bodyguard

Proverbs 2
11 Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve seen the movie The Bodyguard. It had Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston in it. It’s not really a “Man Movie” so I’ll give you a brief run down of it to save you from having to watch it yourself. Whitney Houston’s character, a talented but high maintenance pop star, has a crazy murderous stalker, and Kevin Costner’s character, a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard to the stars, is tasked to keep her safe. Why do people have bodyguards? Because someone is trying to attack them and cause them harm.

Celebrities have bodyguards to keep them safe from photographers and crazy fans. The bodyguard’s job is to keep the guarded individual safe from harm. God’s word can guard over you and me in the same way that a bodyguard is tasked to keep a person from harm. Living with the word, and making it a part of your life, can guard you, watch over you, and deliver you from evil. If you’re having a hard time reading the word, or you have never really read the Bible, I encourage you to continue or to start. Hire the word to be your bodyguard. God’s word has a track record that’s unmatched.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

General Tso's Spicy Chicken

Proverbs 1
30 “They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.

What's the worst thing you've ever made for dinner?   I tried to make my favorite chinese food one time: General Tso's Chicken.  It's spicy.  It's sweet.  I love it. Except when I make it.  My version turned into this chicken covered in an almost impenetrable goo, with a spiciness that was off the charts.  Fail. Major disgusting fail.  Why was it so awful?  I didn't follow the recipe.

God gives us the recipe for a good life. He tells us exactly how to live happy, live peacefully, and how to walk with him.  Why do we end up eating "Impenetrable Goo Chicken" instead of General Tso's Chicken?  We don't accept his council, we spurn his reproof, and try to freestyle on a recipe that he's already perfected.  So if you went off track last week and ended up with goo, start fresh for this one.  I'm praying that God will help us all in following him, and following the recipe he's left us.  Above all else, remember that Jesus stands in the gap for us.  Jesus doesn't fail when we do.  He's the one who gets us through.  Bon appetit.