THEN WHAT? – A pastor friend told me about how Jesus delivered him in his early 20’s out of alcoholism and a promiscuous lifestyle. But, even though he had been truly born again, the temptations didn’t stop. In the process of having his life restored, he decided to take piano lessons. During his first lesson, the female instruction made an aggressive pass at him. Newly married, but for a moment tempted, after her suggestive invitation, he turned and said these insightful words before walking out, “Then what?” Instead of metal colliding and a tragic collision of lives, there was the sound of screeching tires and cheering angels. “Then what?” Brilliant! How many marriages would have been saved if these courageous, discerning words had been spoken to end a journey that had absolutely no future?  

REUNIONS ARE UP AHEAD – The death of someone we love is hard. Though there may be much to remember and appreciate, death always has a real sting. It hurts to say, “goodbye.” Something feels unfinished. We want more time with them. We want to see them again. I believe it’s partly because their life isn’t finished. The silver lining for those who die knowing Jesus is that their eternal life is really just beginning. We should take comfort in that reality. Followers of Jesus will meet again. This truth is infinitely more real than any of us can presently comprehend. The promises of God are true for all of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We are not like those who mourn without hope. Incredible reunions are ahead, and that blessed hope should comfort all of us.

WHY I LIKED WEARING A MASK – Though there are only a few reasons I’ve liked wearing a mask during Covid, I still appreciate them. I can sing, pray and even talk to myself without people thinking I was crazy. But with all of my verbal liberty to speak aloud in public places, I’ve noticed there are words that I say to myself that are quite unhealthy. At times, I found I was critiquing myself negativity, referring to who I am in a derogatory way. So I’ve asked God to help me speak life, hope and affirmation, even to myself, because that’s really how He sees me. I know the words I speak will either produce life or death in me. Perhaps, even after the mask restrictions are completely lifted, I’ll periodically go for long walks wearing a mask so I can continue to sing, pray and have lengthy conversations with myself. Or, maybe I’ll just do it without a mask? HA!

“I SEE YOU!” – Every baby in an orphanage cries to be held. That’s actually a good sign. It’s when they stop crying that tragedy steps in. For, at that point, they’ve given up. Are you crying out for love? Wonderful! The God of love wants to hold you; to comfort you. I remember watching a movie about a mother and daughter who had a strained relationship. It seemed, no matter what the daughter did, she couldn’t get her mother’s approval. Then, in the movies climactic finale, the mother looked into the heart-broken daughters eyes and said tenderly, “I see you! I see you!” It made me cry, touching a need each of have. Does anyone see me? God answers this universal question, saying, “I’ve seen you at your lowest. And, if you’ll let Me, I’ll rescue you and shower you with My love.”

LEARNING HOW TO LOSE – A highly successful college quarterback made it to the NFL but didn’t succeed. As he reflected on why, he transparently acknowledged, “My father taught me everything about winning, but nothing about losing.“ His revelatory comment is both sad and brilliant. Looking back over my own life, I’ve learned far more from my losses, than my wins. Whatever character has been formed in me has been forged in the furnace of personal affliction, not on the altars of public adulation or self-gratification. We can’t receive the grace needed to process life properly unless we bow low enough to receive this merciful handoff from God. Believe it or not, there is a Humble Servant sitting on a throne in Heaven. If winning was everything, He would have come to Earth as a Superhero, and not a seemingly unimpressive zero.

WHAT AM I CHASING? – The son of an American political icon wrote “I have been given everything that I coveted — a beautiful wife and kid, a loving family, wealth, education, good health and a job I love, yet always on the lookout for something I can’t have. I want it all.” He wrote. “No matter how much I have — I want more.” Tragically, his abandoned wife eventually committed suicide after he had a countless number of affairs. The word “lust” has been defined as, “longing for that which is forbidden.” It is insatiable! The Bible says, “There are three things that never say, “enough.” (Ecclesiastes ?) When is enough, enough? My father had his picture on the front page of the New York Times the day after he died. Sadly, he spent his life building a resume, but never left a legacy. Is what I’m chasing really worth it?

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THREE QUESTIONS PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW – John Maxwell has written more books on leadership than anyone in history. Recently, he was asked to speak to United Nations ambassadors from every nation of the world, for two hours. His message was this, “There are three questions every person you are leading wants to know about you. Do you care about me? Can you help me? Can I trust you?” How revealing! All of us are leading or will eventually lead someone. So we need to know what the people we will lead want most from us. Frankly, people don’t primarily care how much we know; they mostly care about how much we care. Life is not primarily about, “What’s in it for me?” It’s about JOY! Jesus, Others and You. The Bible says,  “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Love well, and you will have lived well.

WHO DO I THINK I AM, ANYWAY? – The other day I was attending an inner city, public worship service in a rough neighborhood that had recently experienced a rash of murders, overdoses and suicides. Finding a parking spot a block away, I saw an overturned garbage pail and thought, “this must be pretty commonplace.” After walking passed it, the Holy Spirit challenged me to go back and clean it up. My immediate thoughts were, “I’m not here for that. It’s disgusting, and I don’t have either gloves or the tools.” These self-serving reflections were followed by God asking me, “So, you’re here to help this broken community, and yet what I’m asking you to do is beneath you?” I then thought of the verse, “What did you come out in the wilderness to see?” I turned around, got dirty, and picked it all up. Who do I think I am, anyway?

EXPAND YOUR FEATHERS – In life, fitting in will only get you so far. At some point, accept the obvious truth, “God has given you a one-of-a-kind script so that you can in some way stand out, not just blend in.” God never made an average anything! He’s only made exceptional everything’s. I’ve known some extraordinary huggers, brilliant smilers and hilarious laughers. Your unique grace may not make headlines on Earth, but will certainly receive a smile from the God of Heaven if you begin to be and do what He has gifted you to be and do. We are created to spend a lifetime learning how God made us exceptional, and then to let our life shine. I always get a kick out of male turkey and peacocks who expand their feathers and tell every female watching, “Look at me! Aren’t I amazing?” It’s true. You are. Expand your feathers! 

WHY I WAS BORN? – Every walk through a home improvement store and wonder what certain things are? You know they must have a purpose, but you’re without a clue as to what it might be. How about you? Do you know why you were born? 74% of Americans say they actually don’t know. What makes it even sadder is that 84% say they know they were born for something. It’s heart breaking to think that most people go to bed each night with little or no purpose in life. So, let me end the suspense. The Bible says, you were created for one primary purpose, “To be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.” (Roman 8:29) That’s it. To be like your Creator. It will take a lifetime, and you’ll never feel like you’re acing it, but that’s still your purpose. Christ in you; you’re only hope of glorying God.

IT’S FINE WITH ME!” – A friend of mind, through no fault of his own, got into an accident that totaled his car. As he reflected on it, He told God, “If that’s the way you want to treat your stuff, it’s fine with me.” It wasn’t a smug comment. It was an accurate assessment of who actually owned everything in His life. The Bible says, “We are not our own, we were bought with a price.” God created me for His pleasure. Everything I have belongs to Him. I’ll take nothing I see with my natural eyes into eternity. You’ll never see a U-Haul following a hearse. So, I want my attachments to be with only those things that cannot be taken from me. It’s not just a safe way to live, it’s believing this Bible truth, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the Earth. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:) 

ONLY GOD CAN CREATE LIFE – We can’t create life. We can’t even redefine it without deforming it. At best we’ll create a monstrosity of what God intended. We live in a world where deformity is being called normal. The truth is, only what God intended is normal. What man’s imagination produces is often a mangled misrepresentation. You can redefine your gender and sexual identity, but from God’s point of you, you’re not a mistake. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image and likeness of a loving Creator. Man playing God always ends badly. It’s a short-lived mistake, fueled by pride and a rejection of reality. None of us are everything we want to be, but we are each given all that we need for living a healthy life and becoming like God, as He intended. (1 Peter 1:3)