The Emotional Cost of Framing Pictures
I went to a store to get an important picture framed. It meant a great deal to me and had a lot of emotion behind it. As a store attendant was assisting me, I commented that just looking at the picture made me want to cry. She shot back, “I cry with half of the people who come and get pictures framed.” The statement turned my head! After confirming that she really meant what she had just said, I asked her if she had realized when taking her job that there would be an emotional cost. She said, “No, but it’s worth it!” After further discussion, which frankly made us both emotional, I affirmed what we each knew. It is a privilege to help people process the most meaningful relationships and moments of their life.
God Sees Who We Are, Not Just What We Do
God is always pleased with who you are, just not with everything you do. Go back to one minute before you gave your life to Jesus. Did God love you then? Was He smiling down on you, or frowning? Did He suddenly have this cosmic epiphany and realize He really was head over heels in love with you? No! God felt the same way about us one minute before we received Jesus, as He did one minute after. He’s the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) God can be saddened in what we do, but He’s never disappointed in who we are. God is not disillusioned with you, because He had no illusions about who you are to begin with. Jesus is infinitely bigger than what you and I have seen Him do for us.
The Miracles We Don’t See
The servants at the marriage of Cana did not know a miracle was taking place, that water had turned to wine, when they carried a cup to the bride’s father for him to taste. They did not know what they had, but they were obedient anyway. I often don’t know if my words and actions will be a difference maker in the lives of those around me, but I just try and share, give, and love what God has given me for others. Some of my greatest experiences in life have been realizing that, even though I initially didn’t see it, God had enabled me to be the carrier of a miracle. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)
Attitude is Everything!
In flying, a pilot is trained to rely on his instruments and not his natural instincts. That’s why the principle instrument on an airplane’s dashboard is the artificial horizon, also known as the “attitude indicator”. It provides a picture of the plane in relation to the actual horizon, which you could call “reality.” Are you pointing up, down, or sideways? The artificial horizon is the main instrument alerting the pilot that the airplane’s direction is appropriate or unsafe. So, too, in life, our attitude is everything. And the greatest instrument God has given us to define and refine our attitude is His Word. The Bible says, “…the word of God… judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV) Keep God’s Word as the centerpiece of your spiritual dashboard, and you will have a healthy attitude, living a safe and blessed life.
Wake-Calls While Crop Dusting
Poor choices in life can cost us dearly. My wife Suzie’s first husband was a crop duster who died in a plane crash. It is a dangerous profession, from daybreak to dark, flying 150 miles-an-hour, 12 feet off the ground, missing power lines while applying seeds and pesticides to farmers’ fields. Our niece’s husband has also been a crop duster for 27 years. Recently, after losing a couple of fellow-crop dusters to accidents and having a close call where his poor decision-making almost cost the life of crew members, he told me he had decided to set an end date to retiring. He knew God had given him a wake-up call. It was time! What wake-up call is God giving you and me? And are we listening to His warnings? “Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart.” (Hebrews 3:15)
My Twin Brother and the Illuminated Cross
My twin brother, Joseph, before surrendering his life to Jesus, was living in Delhi, India. One day, as he was meditating in his room, when he opened his eyes, the outside door of his room was illuminated in the form of a cross. Immediately, he thought, “It’s Jesus! Jesus is the way.” A few days later, back in New York City, he discovered his whole family had become Christ-followers. Shortly after, he dedicated his life to Jesus as well. Forty years later, as he was telling someone about his encounter with the illuminated cross, they showed him historic documentation that hundreds of years ago, Christian craftsmen in Europe designed a door that displayed a cross in the hopes that God would use it to touch lives. We never know how God will use our simple acts of obedience to affect others.
Your Skin Gets Thinner With Age
Did you know your skin gets thinner with age? As the number of new cells produced decreases, our bodies make less collagen, the main protein found in skin which keeps it firm. As we age we also lose elastin, an additional protein which keeps our skin flexible. Lastly, as we grow older, we lose some of the fatty layer underneath our skin, making the skin seem even thinner. What’s the spiritual principle here? If we don’t allow Jesus to keep our heart yielded to Him, our thin skin may make us the grumpy old men and women we never wanted to become. Oswald Sanders described it this way, “Maturity is moving from a thin skin and a hard heart to a thick skin and a soft heart.” “Jesus, help us grow old gracefully!”
“I Don’t Know Who You Are!”
Recently, after upgrading my iPhone, out of habit, I asked Siri to call my wife. She shot back, “I don’t know who your wife is. Actually, I don’t know who you are…” Though I immediately laughed out loud, realizing I had not yet set up my new phone, I was also a tad bit hurt that my life was in some way invisible. As I reflected on this peculiarly funny incident, I realized that my feelings of being valued were deeply connected to my self-worth. It reminded me of an intense movie scene between a mother and daughter. The daughter had always felt she never measured up to her mother’s standards. At one highly emotional moment, the mother looked into her daughter’s eyes and tenderly said, “I see you! I see you!” All of us want to know what’s most important: the God of love sees us.
The Funniest Person Who Ever Lived
Would you think it was sacrilegious if I said, “God is the funniest person who ever lived?” I believe I can prove it. Let me start by asking: who’s funnier than the Inventor of laughter? Just Google, “Images of the funniest looking creatures” and you’ll see the genius of the most hilarious Artist who ever lived. So what’s my point? Have you stopped seeing the comedy and irony within your own life? If you never laugh at the crazy script God has written for you, the silly things you do, the bizarre circumstances and adventures you face every day, then you’re probably missing some of what God intended. Sure, God is simultaneously the most serious and complicated Person of all time as well. But, if we can’t laugh at life, we’ll never enjoy it.
What Gifts Have I Not Received?
Jesus said to the Woman at the Well, “If you only knew the gift I have for you.“ (John 4:10) “If you only knew…” It makes me wonder how many gifts Jesus wants to give me that I have yet to receive. I know and truly appreciate many of the gifts God has given me: everlasting life, forgiveness, health, family, friends, ministry. But, at times, I wonder what gifts I’m missing that He longs for me to have. What promises have I yet to believe in? What joys am I not walking in? The Bible tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 1:17, NIV) “Jesus, open my eyes to receive and praise You for the many gifts You have given me that I have yet to receive, and may actually leave this Earth having never opened.”
The Love of Fathers and Mothers
Is there anything more powerful than a parent’s belief in their children? At the marriage of Cana, when they ran out of wine, Jesus’ mother so believed in Him that she asked the attendants to do whatever He asked. She knew the call that was on His life, and I believe Christ’s humanity appreciated her affirmation more than we know. In a similar way, Jesus appreciated His Heavenly Father speaking from Heaven at His baptism, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.“ (Matthew 3:17, NKJV) Dads and moms, encourage your sons and daughters with your words, actions, and unconditional love. Our belief in them will be a wind at their back, a warmth to their soul, and may most define who they become.
Pop, Pop, Pop!
I once prayed for a woman with scoliosis of the spine, a significant curvature and twisting of her vertebrae. I didn’t know exactly what to pray, so I waited on God. After a while I said, “Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!” That was it! Eight pops. Nothing else. I felt foolish but believed I’d prayed what I’d received. Two years went by. One night, in another city, she walked up to me smiling. Remembering her, I was initially embarrassed, but before I could speak she blurted out, “I went to a doctor after you prayed for me, and he said I have eight vertebrae out. And I believe one day I’ll hear those pops and be healed.” I was stunned. God had once again chosen foolish things to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)