Saturday, December 31, 2016


As 2016 ends today, here are the 10 Most Read Posts of the year on this blog:

#10 - 'SIR2' - originally posted way back on January 30, a blog on what happened when I walked into the gym one day and some muscle dude called me 'Sir.'

#9 - 'PRE-OWNED' - from February 23, a blog about some of my experiences around the world with ... driving.

#8 - 'ATTACK' - about the inevitable attack on your life from the enemy as a follower of Christ - published October 16.

#7 - 'BEST' - this blog was written on September 6 about always believing the best - my motto for living - the top read blog in a month-long September series about what I've learned from 35 years of ministry.

#6 - 'NATION' - published on July 8, describing the dependence of our country on a God who loves us, especially in light of some of the terrorist attacks of mid 2016.

#5 - 'SECRET' - there was a healthy blog response on April 28 when I decided to post some secret things about my life.

#4 - 'BAHRAIN/DUBAI' - a follow up on our November trip to the Middle East - published the day after our return on November 13.

#3 - 'SECRET2' - the day after the fifth most read blog post this year, I proposed to reveal Joelene's greatest life secrets.  It was a bait-and-switch blog.  I'd never do that, but you looked anyway.

#2 - 'RELIGIOUS' - a March 13 blog about the difference between rebellion and religion along with a personal confession.

And the #1 blog post of 2016 by far -- from August 21 titled "WARS" - a post about generational warfare in the church centered around worship.

It's been a great year being with you here.  Thanks for reading and following.  I look forward to more posting in 2017.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


If you've lived very long at all, you've walked through a season of life you might call 'the desert.'  You've been through dry times.  For some people, 'the desert' pretty much describes and defines the year that has been 2016.

That's legit stuff.

Jeremiah says, 'You will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.'  (29:13)

God isn't playing Hide and Seek with you but just not coming out.  Remember that when you were a kid, when the person hiding from you hid in a place so good you just gave up looking and went to watch cartoons and left them in their hiding place the rest of the day?

That isn't God.

Seek the Lord and He will be found.

A lot of people complain about being thirsty and dry and then do nothing to drink.

'I'm so thirsty.'
'Well, here's some water.'
'No, I'm so parched and dry.'
'I'm telling you, there's water right here.  Come drink!'

... and He will be found.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


The greatest delivery system of God's love ... is you.

And right now maybe you're saying to yourself, 'That's a really bad idea because I know me.  God, You got this one terribly wrong.  You need a better system than to trust me with this gift.'

You've heard people say, 'He thinks he's God's gift to the world ... she thinks she's God's gift ... '

Guess what?  You really are.

In fact, I give you permission to say that this week - 'I'm God's gift to the world' - provided you keep it in context.

It's like God is going, 'The best gift I have for the world is right here -- it's David -- it's Shelly -- it's Jim -- it's Rachel -- it's Gary.'  It's me.  It's you.

Christmas says God loved you - when you were His enemy - when you were running from Him - and He came to you when you didn't care about Him.  It was a sacrificial, understanding, covering love extended to an offender when the offender wanted nothing to do with it.

You are God's gift of love to the world.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


It isn't that you love God.

People get confused by that, but the story of the Gospel isn't about you discovering God.  It isn't about you searching for God.  It isn't about you loving God.  It's about God's love your direction.

At the center of our lives is one decision we each must make -- one question that must be answered:  Is God good - does He love you - is He willing to provide everything you need for a great life?
Or, Is God not good - does He not love you - so do you have to take what you need to make it?

In other words, trust God - or - trust you.

That was the choice Adam and Eve had to make in the Garden.  They decided to trust themselves and make their own way.  As a result the Bible says they - and we - basically said:  "I like this better than I like You, God.  I want this more than I want You."

And if you scroll through the pages of the Bible right after that, you see the story of humanity unfolding -- racism, favoritism, pride, selfishness, sexual sin, dishonesty, anger -- it's all there.

The Gospel isn't about you loving God.  It's about God's love your direction.

And it becomes who we are -- people who break things.  We break promises, we break trust, we break other people.  The Bible calls that sin.

Even with all that, God still came for us.  He said, "I'll purse you.  I'll chase after you.  I'll love you even when you don't love Me.'  And He sent His only son into the world to save us from our sin and from ourselves.

That's the whole amazing story of the Bible and it's the beautiful story of Christmas, that God pursues you, and that He loves you very, very much.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


Christmas is a time for waiting.  For most of us, not our favorite thing.  But it's everywhere this season:

You wait for a parking spot at the crowded mall.
You wait in line at Target.
You wait with your kids to see Santa.  Sometimes that line has a sign that says:  'Wait time from this spot is ... 30 minutes.'

Wouldn't it be great if life came with some signs?

If you're a single woman, there could be a sign that read:  'Six months until you meet Prince Charming.'  That would be a great sign because that way you could get yourself prepared -- stop biting your nails -- quit chewing tobacco -- things like that.

'In three months, you'll have a job that brings significance to your life.'  People are waiting for that to happen.

'In two years you'll be a father.'  Plenty of people would love to see that sign in their life -- unless you're 58 years old, then maybe not so much.

'In six months, no more depression.'  That would mean the world to a lot of people.

The problem is, life doesn't come with signs and we don't like waiting very much.  Waiting reminds us we aren't in control.  But there's a faith that's produced in us when we wait.  Character is formed when we wait.

That's what's happening right now.  Advent.  Christmas is a season about waiting.  The word 'Advent' means 'arrival,' and waiting is always involved when we're excepting someone to arrive.

We're all waiting with anticipation right now to open gifts -- we're waiting for the relatives to show up in the driveway so we can get on with making memories -- sit around the table and eat and laugh and make memories.

It's happening right now.

Waiting reminds us we aren't in control.

They waited for Jesus to arrive, too.  He came the first time as a baby and ultimately He was nailed to a cross to die for our sins -- in our place -- as our substitute -- because He loved us.  Then He went away and sent the Holy Spirit and said, 'I'm coming back in awhile and when I do I'm going to make everything right.  There'll be no more disease, no more hurt, no more pain or loss.  I'm going to make things right again.'

We're waiting for that day.  That waiting is part of what we're excitedly reminded of this season.

Merry Christmas.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


We're people driven by our appetites as well as by our belief that our actions will make us happy.  You do what you do because you think in doing it you're going to be satisfied ... fulfilled ... it will bring you joy.

Everything you do is driven by your instinctual desire for happiness and pleasure.  You do nothing that isn't driven by that.

The Bible drives counter to that.  It speaks of a celebration of Jesus being better than everything else.

Psalm 4:7, for example: 'You have put more joy in my heart than they have when grain and new wine abound.'

In other words, "Let others have what they want.  Let them pursue all the world has to offer.  I've tasted some of that and what I can say is, 'God, You're still better.'"  

There's more joy to be had in You, God, than in any of those.

I'm not saying you can't experience pleasure in anything other than God.  Of course you can - and you do.  But I'm saying you won't experience the fullness of joy possible for human beings outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Do you have an appetite for that?

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


My mother used to wrap gifts for our kids prior to the big Christmas day.  She called it 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.'  There was one small, inexpensive gift for each day preceding Christmas, getting everybody in the mood for the magnum opus that is December 25.

We have continued the tradition she began by wrapping 12 small gifts for our own grandchildren so they can enjoy the whole season rather than wait for one great day.  Their parents send us the videos daily of the grankies opening the gifts.  Over the past five days we've had our eldest grankie, Elias, here with us while his parents were on a trip.  So we got to see it up close and personal.

Every day, whether in person or on video, you can see the delight in a child's eyes as they find a gift under the tree and rush to open it as soon as they wake.

No greater joy than right there - children teach us how to be joyful.

But it seems as we get older, we have a harder time with joy.  It seems to fade.  We're great through the first part of our lives, but joy starts to disappear with the adult years.

I get it.  Life gets complicated as you mature.  You're aware of more.  Experiences weigh you down.  Pressure rise.  Responsibilities grow.  Family - job - life.

It's almost weird.  We become a little cynical and suspicious of people who have extra amounts of joy.  What's wrong with them?

But joy is something our hearts are desperate for.  So we try to make it happen on our own.  We buy better gifts - we get more stuff - we medicate joy with thrills or alcohol or drugs.

But what if the timeline of our lives was joy rising rather than sinking?

The Gospel of Luke says the angel told the shepherds: 'I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'

Joy is something our hearts are desperate for.

My question is, why did we need joy reintroduced to the world at Christmas time?  Where did it go?

Let's go back to the beginning.  God, the source of all joy, intended it for everyone.  He declares everything good.  He makes it - it's good.  He makes it - it's good.  He makes it - it's good.

But Adam and Eve want the one thing they aren't supposed to have.  Sound familiar?

Evil is introduced into the world.  Sin comes in and creates distance from God - and joy begins to decline ... everywhere.  Satan starts to steal joy.  Evil comes in and breaks us down.  It ages us - it sours us.

So what does God do?  He sends His Son at Christmas.  It's the re-arrival of joy into the world.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 19, 2016


In the movie, 'ELF,' the main character Buddy says to the store manager:  'Smiling's my favorite.'

I love that.

Here's how we get the 'smile' in Jesus.

'If you obey My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love.  I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.'  (John 15:10, 11)

Not only will your smile be full, it will overflow.  The more you obey God, the more joy you get.  That's designed to lead you into greater life and greater joy.  It's designed to lead you into God's way which works, rather than your way which doesn't work.

For instance, God says in His Word:  'This is how marriage works.'

That isn't a suggestion.  It isn't God trying to bully you or spoil your fun.  He's saying: 'I made marriage.  It was My idea.  I know how it's supposed to work.  So listen to Me on that.'

He does that with money - and with parenting - and with rest - and with sex - and with work - and with life.  Our ability to live what John calls the abundant, joy-filled life is found in our obedience to how God wired the universe to work, not in how you or I think it should work.

Is anybody a worse enemy to you than you?
Has anyone lied to you more than you?
Has anyone broken more promises to you than you?
No.  You're the primary problem - I'm the probably problem.

You might be saying, 'Yeah well, you don't know what I married.  Crazy, that's what.'

OK.  But let's move that over to the relationship between you and Jesus.  In that relationship, who's the crazy one - you or Jesus?  Of the two of you, which One is unbelievably faithful and which one is altogether unfaithful?

I'm just asking.

And what has been His response to you in light of that?
Has He walked away from you?
Has He gotten angry at you?
Has He sought revenge on you?
Or has He loved you more and more in spite of your actions?


There's only one legitimate reaction to that news.


And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Some people try to make God like a vending machine where He automatically gives you what you want - but that isn't God.  Vending machines will give you things you don't need.  Vending machines will give you stuff that will kill you.

God never gives you something that's bad for you.

Does a parent give a child everything he/she asks for?  Of course not.  Do parents still deeply love their children?  Of course they do.  Why do we get that with our earthly relationship, but it escapes us with our heavenly relationship?

God said, "I'll meet your needs."  He never said, 'I'll meet your greeds.'

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Some people want a guarantee before they obey God.

"God, once You promise me it's going to work, then I'll do it."

But God says: "That doesn't require any faith.  I want you to believe when you don't see it - and I want you to obey when you don't understand it."

Every single time God tells you to do something, it's a test of who you're going to believe -- God, or what you think is the right thing?

I'll be real about it -- some of God's commands seem unreasonable -- some of them are certainly inconvenient -- others seem flat out impossible.  But they're there for our benefit because our Heavenly Father knows best.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to do something that made no sense to you?  And you thought, 'What do they know?  They're old.'

Now looking back, can you see any wisdom in what they were saying?  We all can.

God is wiser than your parents.

So when God says, 'When people hurt you and abuse you and misuse you, forgive them,' does that sound like the right thing to do to you?  But because God said it, it's right.

You're building your faith and that's the foundation of a great life.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I'm assuming you've experienced both doubt and belief.

For some that's playing out right now because a lot of people these days don't believe in Christmas.  They believe in Christmas lights - they believe in Christmas trees - they believe in Christmas parties and Christmas gifts and Christmas eggnog -- but they don't necessarily believe in CHRISTMAS.

Not in the first six letters, at least.  Not in what it was all meant to be about -- that there was a God who loved the world so much He sent His only Son in the flesh - as a baby - to live sinlessly and walk obediently to a cross to be nailed there, sacrificing Himself for our sins because He loved us.

They don't believe in that.

But that's the real story of Christmas -- that God came down from heaven to become One of us.

The picture above is about skepticism sponsored by the American Atheist Association - the 'other AAA.'

'Dear Santa:  All I want for Christmas is to skip church.  I'm too old for fairy tales.'

Research tells us that 92% of people believe Jesus was a real person - but less than 50% believe He was God's Son.

So since they seem to be winning that theological war, why aren't the atheists content to just talk about being personally happy and leave the church out of it?  Why is there such an emphasis and attention on skipping church and denying Jesus with the skeptics?

Here's why.  Because they understand it's in the local church that people come to a place of life-altering faith in Christ.  It's in the local church where they begin to live that out.  It's in the local church where lives are changed and real freedom is experienced.

That's why the atheists want people to skip church.

Skepticism may be alive and well - but so is faith.

And be blessed.