This morning I have the privilege of preaching at Shadow Hills Baptist Church here in Lubbock. After dreaming about hearing John Piper preaching in my head all night long that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him” (and I’ve never actually listened all the way through to one of his messages), I believe the Lord was “instructing me in the night watches” (Psalm 16:7) to preach on joy, and specifically how we can lose it. Here’s a quick summary of what I’m sharing there…
The most joyful people on the planet are believers in Jesus Christ.
The most joyless, miserable people on the planet are Christians, too.
Those who don’t have a relationship with Christ don’t know any better, and as they say, “Ignorance is bliss.” But those of us who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, then somehow lost that sense of His presence, know there is something missing.
I’d like to show you how that’s possible. How can someone who has experienced this amazing joy suddenly find themselves without it? [click to continue…]
Of all the nations who have drawn some borders and set up shop, perhaps none has a shorter and more mixed (some would say mixed up) pedigree than the United States. If the planet was populated by nothing but dogs, we’d be the mixed breeds – the hardy, loveable mutts who may not be able to point to a long pedigree, but will probably live the longest, love the hardest, and fight the fiercest of anybody in the pound.
To be an American is to be a delightful, maddening mix of contributions and contradictions, possibilities and problems. We’re a living demonstration of what can happen when you let “the help” run the kingdom.
To be an American is to believe in the power of the people. Your people, that is. It is to believe that authority resides in the will of the majority, even though at any given time the Commander-in-Chief was elected by less than 21% of the population. Or if that doesn’t work, maybe power can reside in the rulings of some Federal judge who can see things your way until the majority gets with the program. [click to continue…]
Hey. Come on in. Shut the door behind you.
Ha! No, you aren’t in trouble. I just wanted to show you something important, without a lot of distractions. You doing OK?
So, just curious… how’s your praise life?
Yeah, that’s probably what I would have said, too.
Yes, actually, that is what I wanted to talk about.
I wanted to share an experience that actually happened several years ago, but it totally changed how I approach my relationship with God – particularly praise and worship.
Well, yeah, praise and worship at church with the music and all that. But more importantly, praising God in my prayer time. You know that old hymn that says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy praise?” Yeah, well, the Lord showed me how to do that, and it was pretty life-changing. [click to continue…]
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever (Psalm 131).
Soul-check time: How “at rest” are you? The answer to that will make all the difference in your worship, and your work.
This psalm of ascent is the confession of a soul at rest – a “weaned soul.”
The first verse speaks of three things the psalmist has turned away from – a proud heart, haughty eyes, or a mind that tries to figure out the impossible. The common theme in each – I know my limits. And I know my place. I am free of selfish ambition and arrogance toward others.
Are you ready to start your ascent today? [click to continue…]
As you probably could tell from the last post, we got to spend a week with three of our grandsons last week here at our house. You may or may not know that I also spend 95% of my working time at home.
Do you see a potential conflict there?
The week was predictably (and wonderfully) less-than-productive.
Routinely as I would try to “escape” to the bedroom or office to get some work done, one of them would find me. The sweetheart crawler, the scary-smart walker, and the funny, nonstop talker. One wanted me to hold him, one wanted me to see and notice him, and one wanted me to engage in conversation – endless, looped conversation. [click to continue…]
His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5)
A simple statement of faith mixed with obedience at the wedding in Cana: “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
It’s the “whatever” that gets us in trouble, because we like to have answers and reasons for our doing.
And just like in this story, Jesus isn’t always inclined to provide those.
He told them to fill up the water pots, dip out, and take it to the head waiter.
To their credit, apparently they did all they were told without question.
How about you?
How about today?
Try this on as an affirmation: [click to continue…]
Have you ever felt as though you were good – really good – at something? I don’t mean false pride or arrogance. I mean being a person with faith. Faith in God. And almost as important, faith in yourself, at least in certain circumstances.
The word for that is confidence, and without it, you’re toast.
Have you ever moved confidently into a situation and blown it? I’m not talking about giving in to your weaknesses. I mean digging deep into the well of your greatest talent, knowledge, or skillset and serving up what they call “gopher balls” in baseball.
All of us can shrug off those areas of weakness. We know we won’t be perfect at everything. (You do know that, don’t you?)
But it’s hard to know where to go or what to do when we get hammered for what we think we’re good at.
I’ve seen a lot of that lately. I’ve had a few of those experiences myself, but I’ve also come across a variety of other people who’ve faced the same thing. Their confidence has been rattled, and they’re not quite sure what to do next. [click to continue…]
Turns out there was something almost as satisfying Monday night as watching Eddie Lacy, A. J. McCarron and company put looks of futility and bewilderment on yet another BCS opponent – a game, by the way, I have waited since 1966 to witness.
It was a commercial. For Dr. Pepper, of all things. Now as long as I’ve known anything about Dr. Pepper and commercials, they have always had some kind of big song and dance production. And this commercial was no exception.
What was exceptional was the song in the commercial. It sort of stopped me in my tracks. I actually hit rewind to see the thing again. (If you know anything about me and commercials, you will know this rarely happens.) If you’d like to see the commercial, it’s already on YouTube, and you can watch it here.
I didn’t run out and buy Dr. Pepper. But I did hurry to iTunes and found the song. I just discovered it was released on iTunes on January 7, the day the commercial ran.
The song is by the Nashville group Vinyl Hearts, and it’s called, “I Am.” You can hear it in its entirety by clicking below. Please, hear the song in its entirety. [click to continue…]
On this cold December night, when life, relationships and future hope seem more complicated than ever, I pray that that the Father of lights would give you the joy of His presence and the gift of simple happiness throughout the coming year, with the light of every new sunrise.
I pray that he would remind you often of how deeply you are loved, unforgettably engraved in the palm of His hand, steadfastly held by His grace day and night.
I pray that in an age where nothing seems to last, that the One who promised us a home with Him forever would keep the language and love of forever dancing in your heart and mine as long as you and I have breath. [click to continue…]