Drink As Much As You Want

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. Isaiah 55:1-3 excerpts NIV

MP900443670[1]Recently I read a newspaper report on troubling changes in teen alcohol use. Part of the problem was attributed to combining of alcohol with everyday beverages, from lemonade to energy drinks. Particularly worrisome is that fact that the amount of alcohol in one serving of these drinks is often greater than in 3-4 servings of traditional alcoholic beverages.

I imagine that any public criticism about these products will be countered with the industry defense, we tell them to drink responsibly. What a good idea. Drink, but only drink a responsible amount. I wonder, how much is that? Is it just enough to feel relaxed? Is it enough to make you the life of the party? Is it enough to make you sick?

The other problem is that drinking alcohol impairs judgment, relaxes inhibitions and encourages over indulgence. So how is it that people are supposed to be able to drink responsibly?

Of course there is one place we can go and drink all we want. We don’t have to worry about getting stupid or sick. We don’t have to hear people tell us we’ve had enough. We don’t even have to think about how bad we will feel in the morning. We can just drink to our heart’s content!

MP900401350[1]God invites you and me to come and drink in the blessings of God’s love. This is living water. It restores, revives and renews. It gives life and life more abundant.

Next time your soul gets thirsty, why not accept God’s invitation? Come. Come to the waters. Drink. Drink as much as you want. Drink in the love that gives eternal life!

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There’s Always Time For Praise!

Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Psalm 99:5 NRSV

Given who God is, and what God has done, there is one thing we can be certain of: God deserves our praise. God is worthy of all the praise we can give!

That tells me that sandwiched in between everything else that is happening today, I need to give God praise. From the moment my eyes awaken, until my mind settles into sleep, I want and need to give God praise.

Of course it isn’t practical to think that every thought will be one of praise. Some will be given over to work, others to managing daily affairs, and many will be spent thinking about my family concerns. But even in the midst of all those thoughts, God deserves a place.

So why not join me and carve out some space between all the analyzing, decision making and mental wandering you do today. Then fill that space with words of praise and thanksgiving.

Give God some glory. Extol God’s name. Speak a few words of praise to the Mighty King. Tell God how great God is, and how good God has been to you!

Rising

Painful Sacrifice or Loving Opportunity?

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NRSV

One of the sadder encounters Jesus had was when a certain ruler asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This man seemed to be a pretty good guy. He had done most everything right. He followed the commandments and lived a godly life. I imagine he just wanted a little encouragement from Jesus. He wanted to be told that he was on the right track, and that he should stay the course.

Jesus did tell him that he was on the right track and done pretty well. But staying the course was not what Jesus wanted. Jesus wanted this rich young ruler to make a major change. He wanted him to use all his wealth to bless the poor and needy.

MP900384779[1]Apparently that was too much to ask. That was more than he was willing to do. That was a sacrifice just too big to make.

I’m sure this ruler must have walked away discouraged. He must have thought about how painful such a sacrifice would be, and how unfair it was that Jesus asked him to do all that.

But Jesus didn’t ask him to make a sacrifice. Jesus asked him to take what he had and to use it to love the unloved and forgotten. Jesus wanted this young man to seize the day, and take hold of a once in a lifetime opportunity. He asked him to do something remarkable that demonstrated what God’s extravagant love could do in a faithful believer’s life.

MP900385339[1]I think if the young ruler could have seen it that way, he might have been more willing to step forward and respond. But he didn’t. He just saw it as a painful sacrifice, decided to hold onto his money, and missed his big chance to stand with Jesus.

The story reminds me of times when opportunities came my way that felt more like painful sacrifices. In those times I remember thinking more about what I had to give up, than what I could do as a co-laborer with Christ. Having to endure discomfort and make some big sacrifices often made me less willing to respond. But in the end, God’s gentle and consistent nudging always remind me of the privilege I have to share in God’s work, and to be a living witness for Jesus Christ.

From those times, I’ve learned that wise people count the cost, but they don’t let the cost keep them from loving God and serving Jesus Christ. They accept the sacrifice, and step forward in faith to seize the opportunities God places before them each and every day!

Keep It Going!

I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. Psalm 146:2 NRSV

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWorship isn’t just for Sunday’s anymore. Worship isn’t just done in hallowed halls, beneath stained glass windows. Worship is for life. It is for wherever we are, and for whatever we might be doing. Worship is for right now!

Of course, you already knew that. The problem isn’t knowing we should worship God in all we do. The problem is worshipping God in all we do. Knowledge doesn’t always translate into action. That’s because too many other things often get in the way.MP900314350[1]

Today’s video asks us to look inside ourselves to see what might be getting in the way of us worshipping God the way God deserves to be worshipped. Click here to watch it.

Then, give God some praise, and keep it going!

Tune In To Tune Out

“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NRSV

MP900387570[1]God says, “Be still.” Why? Because it’s hard to hit a moving target! It’s hard to talk to someone who isn’t listening, or who is too busy talking. It’s hard to teach a mind that is bouncing all around. It’s hard to heal a heart whose loyalties are divided by competing desires.

I want to know God, and I imagine you do too. But God told us that knowing comes when we are still. Knowing happens when we leave the distractions and challenges of our day behind. Knowing comes when we quiet the thoughts that preoccupy us, and turn from the worries that normally absorb our attention.

The prerequisite to knowing is being still. When we are still, we can know who God is, and what God is doing.

Being still is the prerequisite to knowing.

When I think of being still, I picture water in a pond. If the water is undisturbed and the wind quiet, then the surface is as smooth as glass. If just a single rain drop falls into that pond, it transforms that water into a beautiful pattern of rippled circles. Now picture the rough waters of a storm tossed sea. A droplet of rain lands in that sea, but it makes little difference in the waves, as they toss and turn.

MP900400015[1]Our minds are like that. God’s word, dropped onto the surface of a still mind, can create ripples of truth that transform the entire landscape of a person’s life. But revelation dropped onto the churning waters of a turbulent mind will probably pass unnoticed.

That tells me, we must tune out to tune in. We must tune out the world’s chatter, and tune into God. We must allow ourselves to release worry, and let go of fear. We must allow the peace of Christ to quiet us. Then we will be ready to receive the revelation that God has for us, and ready for it to change us!

beautiful girl portraitAre you hungry to learn? Be still. Are you wanting to know God? Be still. Are you longing to understand God’s ways and will for your life? Be still. Do you really want God’s touch to change your life? Be still. Then, start a conversation with God.

The bottom line is, when drawing close to God, do a lot of listening. If you do, it will change your life!

Be still. Tune in. Know God today!

Prayer:

God, you speak, but I am not always listening. Help me to just be still. Help me to turn from the noise and tune out the distractions that keep me from hearing you and knowing you. Then speak. Your servant listens. Amen!

Awe

Who Sees You?

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. Mark 16:15 NRSV

In a recent radio show, the commentator told the story of MP900439536[1]a group of students meeting with various leaders to discuss important concerns. The event lasted several hours, and during the meeting a popular rap star appeared. His arrival was heralded by loud applause. He stayed for only 30 minutes. While there, he made a few comments that were not particularly helpful to the dialogue, but were met with thunderous applause.

After the singer left the gathering, the students were asked why they paid so much attention to him. One student spoke up and said, “We listen to those we see.”

What a remarkable statement! I think he is telling us that the generation we are educating today listens to those we put in front of them. When we provide role models through the media that appeal to some of the most base and vulgar aspects of the human experience, we should not be surprised when those watching end up valuing what they are hearing.

Of course I have little control over the media and music of my day. But I am someone seen by others. MP900422593[1]Every year hundreds of college students sit in my classroom for 30+ hours a semester. I am one of the instructors my college puts in front of them.

So I ask myself, what do they hear me say? Am I modeling a life that respects others, that values truth, that loves, honors and serves Jesus Christ? I hope so. I also hope that when I leave the classroom my students have heard words that have built them up, that have inspired them to learn more, to make positive changes in their life and to seek God.

You are also seen by many others. Those who see you are listening to you, whether you realize it or not. What is your life saying to them? What kind of message does the time you spent with them leave them with?

In the early church, Jesus’ disciples made themselves visible and proclaimed the good news. Many who saw them heard and responded.

MP900442849[1]Today you and I are the disciples Jesus is counting on. People listen to those they see. When you are seen, let the love of Jesus shine through your every thought, word and deed!

True Boldness

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15 NRSV

MP900438373[1]When it comes to speaking with God, the writer of Hebrews urges us to approach God with boldness. Boldness is an interesting attitude. It sometimes goes with arrogance. Arrogant people tend to be more bold, but  their arrogance can blind them to their need for God. Driven people also tend to do bold things. The problem is their drivenness tends to deafen them to God’s call, and distract them from God’s work. Brave people can also be expected to be bold. The only problem is their bravery can cause them to ignore risks, and keep them from counting the cost before they act.

So what kind of boldness are we supposed to have when we approach God’s throne of grace? I think God wants the kind of boldness that comes from a humble heart. That boldness steps forward from a position of submission. That boldness recognizes our many shortcomings, and the great need we have for God’s mercy and help.

I also think God wants a boldness that steps forward in faithful expectation. After all, we go to God because we want help. We believe God has the strength, love and wisdom to step in and provide the grace that meets our needs. We pray because we are bold enough to expect that those who seek will find, and those who asked will be answered!

MP900401980[1]Humility and faithful expectation are two attitudes we can cultivate. Wise people don’t approach God with a bold arrogance, a driven deafness or with reckless bravery. They  approach in grateful humility and faithful expectation.

Go to God today with the kind of boldness that truly seeks God’s mercy and help in times of need.