Saturday, August 27, 2016

When You Hold A Grudge

Someone has done something you don't like.  So now you treat them differently than you did before.  And you have a negative mindset or attitude towards them.  What you are doing is holding a grudge.  Bitterness has crept into your heart.  And, friend, that's not a good thing.  Not at all.

When you hold a grudge.....

You are only hurting yourself.  Do you think the grudge you are holding is punishing the other person or teaching them a lesson?  Guess what?  It's not.  The person you're punishing is yourself.

You are letting the past control your present and future.  Life is about moving forward.  But your grudge will keep you looking backward.  And you can't make progress in your life when you're holding on to whatever is behind you.

You are acting nothing like Jesus.  He forgives your failures.  He hangs in there with you when you do wrong.  Your holding on to a grudge towards someone is the exact opposite of how Jesus acts towards you.

Trust me when I tell you, holding onto a grudge is not the way to go.  Nothing good will come of it.  But forgiveness is far better!  It frees you up to live your life, fixes broken relationships, and helps you treat people the way you want to be treated.  Remember that forgiveness has been shown to you, so the best thing you can do is show it to others.  That's when you're really reflecting the character of Jesus, which is a mighty good thing!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

We Must Communicate

I remember it well.  Years ago I watched the Paul Newman movie "Cool Hand Luke" for the first time.  One scene that stood out to me was when the inmate said "I can eat 50 eggs."  And then he attempted to do so.

But there was another scene that stood out even more.  One of the men who was overseeing all the inmates was noticing a problem.  So this is what he said:  "What we have here is a failure to communicate."  
What a line!

The older I get, and the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that an overwhelming majority of life's problems can be traced back to one thing:  A breakdown in communication.

We all (including me) can fail in this area at times if we aren't careful.

Here's usually how it goes:  We get something on our minds.  And it involves another person.  It can be about something like a plan, goal, expectation, concern, frustration, or proposal.  But the other person doesn't seem to be on board with what we are thinking or expecting.  Now it could be that the other person is bull-headed and stubborn.  But maybe the real reason we feel resisted or ignored is that we have failed to clearly communicate our thoughts or expectations to this other person.  

How can people know what we expect if we don't clearly tell them?  And how can people make changes if we don't let them know they need to?  Listen, only God can read minds.  People can not.  So because of that, we need to open our mouths and talk to each other.  

It requires honesty, courage, and effort.  But it's essential.  We have to open up and tell each other what we are thinking and how we are feeling.

Communication.  It's vital to relationships, businesses, and even churches.  We have to talk with each other.  When we do, there can be peace, order, and positive change.  But when we don't, there is chaos, tension, and failure.

Don't assume that people know what's on your mind or in your heart.  Don't drop hints and hope that people will catch on.  Just open up and talk to others.  Tell them what you think and feel.  That's how you get results.  And that's how life gets better for everyone involved.

Let's all communicate.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I stood by her bed and listened as she reflected on her life.  She knew that her death was not far away.  For many years she lived on this earth, and sickness was now overtaking her.  But what she said to me that day was really touching.  Having to speak slowly, she got out these words about God:  "When I'm hungry, He feeds me, and when I'm naked, He clothes me."  I smiled and held her hand a little tighter when she said that.

Thankful. That's what kind of heart she was revealing.  Even in her final days, she was grateful for all that God has done for her. 

Regardless of who you are, where you live, what you do for a living, or how your life is going, remember this:  God is good.  He feeds your soul with rich blessings from above, and He covers your heart with righteousness.  He satisfies your longings and He cleans your soul.

In life and in death, we can always be thankful.  Just like that good woman in her hospital bed, you and I can count our blessings today.  When we do this, we are giving God praise for all that He is and all that He does.  And when we do this, we are reminding ourselves just how good we have it in Him.

May gratitude fill our hearts today.  And may we express it to God and our loved ones.  That makes life better for everyone.  And I'd be willing to bet it brings a smile to the face of our good God who takes great care of you and me.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What God Can Do

I met Carla this week for the first time.  She's from Indonesia.  And her story is really something special.
A few years ago, Carla had a stroke.  It did a lot of damage to her.  And she was confined to a wheelchair.  Unable to walk, she was discouraged and depressed.  The doctor told her that she would stay in that chair and not walk again.  This greatly bothered her because she wanted to get back on her feet.
One day, she was in a church.  While there, she noticed a big cross at the front of the sanctuary.  When the worship service ended, she asked her husband to push her in her wheelchair up under the big cross.  So he did.
When she got under the cross, Carla prayed.  She told God she wanted to walk again.  And then she asked Him to heal her.
That was on a Sunday morning.  Two days later, she was at her doctor's office.  Guess what happened?  Carla got up out of that wheelchair and walked.  And she's still walking today.  She's walking so good that now she is a member of the local YMCA and is getting fit.
Carla's story gives us a little glimpse into what God can do.  And if case you're not sure yet, I'll let you in on the secret.  God can do anything.  Seriously.  Anything!
Luke 1:37 tells us "nothing will be impossible with God."  And Mark 10:27 reminds us, "For all things are possible with God."  Combined, these two verses teach you and me something very important:  God can do anything, anywhere, with anyone, at any time.  He is unlimited in His power and unstoppable in His will.
God is strong.  How strong?  Well, He's strong enough to handle anything you and I go through.  Actually, He can more than handle it.  With ease, He can change everything up and make everything better.
Is your health deteriorating?
Is your marriage failing?
Is your bank account empty?
Is your emotional state unstable?
Is your depression getting worse?
Is your life getting dark and bleak? 
Try God.  Cry out to Him in prayer.  Express your pain to Him and your neediness of Him.  Ask Him for help.  And when you do this, know that the God who can do anything will hear you.  And He will do whatever is best.
Maybe He will answer your prayer exactly how you want.  Or maybe He will answer it in another way that you haven't considered yet.  But either way, know this:  God, in all of His might, will look after you, take care of you, and help you in this midst of your hardship.  One way or another, at the right time, and in the right way, He will come through.
Yep, Carla's story is wonderful.  But not shocking.  It's just one of many reminders that God is simply amazing.  And it helps us remember there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that He can't handle.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Impress Or Impact

I sat in a meeting yesterday with a doctor and some nurses.  One of the nurses pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of her husband.  I told her it was a great picture and then asked her if he is "a cool guy."  She looked at me and said, "No, he's not a cool guy.  He always tells me he's not so much here to impress people as he is here to impact people.  And I like that about him." 

Wow!  That's a great way to think.  And a great way to live.

As I reflected on that, I realized that at some point we all reach a fork in the road on the journey of life.  And we have a choice to make.  Will we live either to impress people or impact people?

Think about it...

To impress people is to do what is popular, but to impact people is to do what is right.

To impress people is to focus on how things look, but to impact people is to focus on how things are.

To impress people is to gain a spotlight, but to impact people is to make a difference.

To impress people is to say "Look at me", but to impact people is to say, "I'm looking at you." 

To impress people is selfish, but to impact people is selfless.

To impress people is for a temporary pleasure, but to impact people is for a lasting legacy.

To impress people is to waste time, but to impact people is to maximize moments.

Ask yourself this question:  What did Jesus do when He walked this Earth in bodily form?  Did He impress or impact?  The answer is obvious.  He came here to impact.  He came here to serve, bless, help, and save others.  

I think that nurse's husband has the right mindset.  He's here to impact.  He wants to make a positive difference in the world and leave it a better place when God calls Him home.

Let's do something positive and productive with this life we have.  Rather than trying to impress people, let's impact them.  That is a life well lived, and that brings glory to our awesome God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Calvin's Artwork And Five Dollars

One of my life's greatest blessings has been a friendship with the late Calvin Miller.  I always looked up to him and respected him for his preaching, writing, and artwork.  That guy could do about anything.  He's in Heaven now, and I'm happy for him.  But I sure do miss him from time to time.
Years ago, Calvin had a cabin in New Mexico.  And in this cabin, he kept his paintings.  He truly was talented as an artist.  Anyway, some of his friends and church members would go and stay at his cabin from time to time.  Calvin had always hoped one of these people would notice his paintings and say something about them.  But for a while, nobody said anything.  Not one of the guests acknowledged or praised his artistic creations.
But one day, that changed.
A little girl came up to Calvin one Sunday.  She tugged on his coat, so he knelt down, got eye-level with her, smiled, and listened to what she had to say.  And this was what she told him:  "Dr. Miller, I saw your artwork in your cabin, and it was really good.  I liked it!"  Filled with gratitude, Calvin reached into his pocket, pulled out a five dollar bill, gave it to the little girl, and told her, "Thank you sweetie!  Take this and go buy yourself some ice cream with it." 
The happy little girl went running down the hall and waving her five dollar bill in the air while shouting with joy.  A few minutes later, after learning what had happened, the child's father walked up to Calvin.  With a sheepish grin on his face, he said, "You know, Dr. Miller, I liked your paintings too!"
Ha!  I love that story.  It's one of my favorites.  :)
Calvin took pleasure in people acknowledging what he had done.  It made him feel good when he knew that his work had meant something to someone.  Aren't we all at least somewhat like that?  Sure we are!  We all like to know that our efforts matter to someone.
Could it be that God also delights in our praise?  I think so.  Why wouldn't He?!
God has done far more than painting pictures.  He has created, protected, sustained, loved, accompanied, blessed, redeemed, and saved us.  Through His son, Jesus, He has poured out blessing after blessing on us.  And it seems to me that just as that little girl gave Calvin a little praise, we ought to give God some praise.  Actually, we ought to give Him A LOT of it! 
May we all take the time to tell God what we like about Him.  Let's compliment Him on His amazing attributes.  Let's thank Him for His generous gifts.  Let's praise Him for His awesome accomplishments.
We don't do this because He somehow needs it.  And we don't do this in hopes that God will give us a five dollar bill.  No, we do this because God definitely deserves it, and He delights in the praises of His people.