The same hand that pushed the rock from the tomb can shove away your doubt. The same power that stirred the still heart of Christ can stir your flagging faith. The same strength that put Satan on his heels can, and will, defeat Satan in your life. Just keep the power supply open. Who knows, you may soon hear people asking, “What’s gotten into you?” You see, as God’s story becomes our story, his power becomes our power.
From Max: I believe we make the mistake the Welsh woman made. She lived many years ago in a remote valley and felt it worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after installation, the power company noticed she’d barely used electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no, we’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights to see how to light our lamps.”
We’re prone to do likewise. Depend on God’s Spirit to save us but not sustain us. We turn to him to get us started and then continue in our own strength. Scripture urges us “keep in step with the Spirit.” He directs and leads, we obey and follow. Plug in to his power, and leave the switch turned on.
From Mike: At our baptism we receive the Holy Spirit. Go back and reread Max's last two sentences. Don't waste what God has given you. He meant for the Spirit to lead you to a happier, more fulfilled life!
BTW: Max is dealing with some health issues and has requested prayers: "Within the last few weeks, I have been diagnosed with what is called an ascending aortic aneurysm. To be honest, it is a serious issue," Lucado says in a YouTube announcement. The medical condition is an abnormal bulging and weakening in your aorta at the point before the curve. If an aortic aneurysm ruptures, it can cause life-threatening bleeding.
David knows he is at the end of his life and talks about not what he had accomplished but those things he had intended to accomplish. He intended to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant. David had expected to dedicate his final years to building a shrine to God. Preparations were made but his intentions did not happen. Max says a conjunction, “but” happened: “Conjunctions operate as the signal lights of sentences. Some, such as “and” are green. Others, such as “however” are yellow. A few are red. Sledgehammer red. They stop you. David got a red light.” God told David that he would not build the home for the ark because of his warring and bloodshed, but his son Solomon would build it.
We all have “but God’ moments in our lives. The question is what we do with them. Max tells the story of Willem. Willem’s passion was to serve people as a minister. He moved to the coalfields of southern Belgium to begin his service. A mining disaster injured many of the workers, so he threw himself into nursing and feeding these people while ignoring his own needs. He wore old, tattered clothes and lived in a simple hut. He gave his salary to the people to improve their lives.
Willem’s superior came to visit, and Willem’s lifestyle shocked the church official. He told him that this was not the proper appearance for a minister and dismissed Willem from the ministry. He was devasted because all he wanted was to build a church and serve people to honor God.
David faced his disappointment with turning the “but God” into a “yet God”. Even though he was not allowed to build the shrine to God, David said “yet” God has provided for me my whole life. His attitude was: Who am I to complain?”
David trusted God.
Willem in spite of his hurt and anger stayed the coal village not knowing where to turn. He noticed an old coal miner bending beneath an enormous weight of coal and begin to sketch the weary figure. Although Willem did not know it he discovered his true calling.
Max closes the chapter:
“Not the robe of clergy, but the frock of an artist.”
“Not the pulpit of a pastor, but the palette of a painter.”
“Not the ministry of words, but of images. The young man the leader would not accept became an artist the world could not resist Vincent Willem van Gogh.”
“His “but God” became a “yet God”.
“Who’s to say yours won’t become the same?”
Max opens this chapter: “He vies for the bedside position, hoping to be the first voice you hear. He covets your waking thoughts, those early pillow-born emotions. He awakens you with words of worry, stirs you with thoughts of stress. If you dread the day before you begin your day mark it down: your GIANT has been by your bed.”
Your giants stay with you almost every moment of the day. They throw doubts at you about most everything. How do you face your Goliaths? By facing God first!
Max offers this thought: “Focus on giants----you stumble. Focus on God----your giants stumble.”
David selected five smooth stones for his sling shot when he went to face Goliath. Max relates these five stones to the “five stones” in our lives to help us face our giants:
- The Stone of the Past;
- The Stone of Prayer;
- The Stone of Priority;
- The Stone of Passion;
- The Stone of Persistence.
1. Prior to David facing Goliath in battle, he was responsible for overseeing Saul’s sheep. He killed a bear and a lion that were after the sheep. When David volunteered to face Goliath, he reminded Saul of these past deeds. He remembered that God had enabled him to kill both animals. Max gives this encouragement: “Catalog God’s successes. Has he not walked you through high waters? Proven to be faithful? Write today’s worries in sand. Chisel yesterday’s victories in stone. Pick up a stone from the past.”
2. Throughout David’s ordeals especially before facing Goliath, he prayed. When David prayed in preparation, God blessed him but at the times he did not pray like seducing Bathsheba he was not in favor with God. “God will keep in perfect peace all who trust in God, whose thoughts are fixed on God.” Isaiah 26:3 MSG.
Max comments: “Invite God’s help. Pick up the stone of prayer.”
3. Max says: “See your struggle as God’s canvas. On it, he will paint his multicolored supremacy. Your cancer is God’s chance to flex his healing muscles. Your sin is God’s opportunity to showcase his grace. See your struggles as God’s canvas.” Make God your priority and watch him work.
4. With great passion, David ran toward his giant. Max writes: “David ran towards his giant. Do the same! What good has problem-pondering gotten you? You’ve stared so long you can number the hairs on Goliath’s chest. Has it helped? No. Listing hurts won’t heal them. Itemizing problems won’t solve them. Categorizing rejections won’t remove them. David lobotomized the giant because he emphasized the Lord. Pick up the stone of passion.
5. Goliath had four brothers who might have decided to act David. He had four extra stones in that case. He was persistent in his preparation. David was not going to give up.
Max closes the chapter with this: “Imitate David. Never give up. One prayer might not be enough. One day or month of resolve might not suffice. You may get knocked down a time or two … but don’t quit!
Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission
Recently, I finished the book, The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. Heard a lot about the book but never bothered to read it. It was in a box of books I bought in an online auction, so it seemed like a good opportunity to read it. It begins with telling the story of the lives of men and woman just prior to World War II and follows them through the war and afterward. The vast majority of the people were ordinary folks with a few celebrities and politicians in the final chapters.
Mr. Brokaw writes about the patriotism and commitment these people held for our country. There was racism against African Americans, Asian people and Native Americans. Women were ill-treated as well. All of these people were treated as second class citizens, yet they were very patriotic. Their way of life and beliefs were in danger. When the war ended, most of them came home to restart their lives with a devotion to their family, commitment to friendships created during the trying times of war, a strong dedication to employment and the community they lived in. He does not mention religion very often, but it seems most of them also had a desire to live their lives based on a belief in God. Lives were lived based on lofty standards!
Being a child of that generation, the book brought back thoughts and memories about my childhood. Many of these memories are good because of the lofty standards and principles but yet there is sadness because the values of today do not seem all that lofty. Each morning school started with the pledge of allegiance. Hats were always removed during the National Anthem, and everyone was on their feet. It seems now we are never sure what will happen. The radio station in my car is tuned to Duck 93.3. Each day at noon some grade school class in the area repeats the pledge of allegiance followed by a recording of the National Anthem. That’s great!!
For my generation, the big changes started in the 60’s. In 1962 the Supreme Court took prayer out of public school. American flag burnings to protest the war in Viet Nam became acceptable, other protests against the “establishment” occurred and there was a noticeable increase in drug use. Cults begin to flourish. Racial issues continued to grow.
The 1970s are remembered as an era about women's rights especially as abortion was made legal. Gay rights came to the forefront. My memory is that people living together without marriage was wide spread and acceptable.
The 1980’s biggest issues were the rise of AIDS; abortion became more of a political battle and cable channels invaded our TVs. MTV and other like channels brought on moral issues. Movies became more risqué.
The 1990’s found divorces growing the number of single parent families. Kay taught four-year-old kindergarten in a Christian private school. In her class of fifteen students, seven came from broken homes. The previous trends of the generations continued to expand.
For me, the 2000’s continued the past trends expanding and becoming even more acceptable. Gay marriage, the birth of children outside of marriage, and the continuation of decaying morals is still rising.
In the final chapters, Mr. Brokaw uses a quote from former Senator Daniel Inouye: “The one time the nation got together was World War II. We stood as one. We spoke as one. We clenched our fist as one, and that was a rare moment for all of us.” Unfortunately, I don’t think a book about a great generation will be written about my generation. As our differences expand, we don’t seem to do anything as one!
Keep in mind these are the memories and thoughts of a 71+ year old. Your memories of the generations may be different, but I believe you will agree that overall the nation has moved further away from God. Many of our political leaders are now making a huge push for us to become a socialist country. I believe many of the tenets of Marxism/socialism are against the Gospel teachings.
Romans 13:1-2 “Every Christian ought to obey the civil authorities, for all legitimate authority is derived from God’s authority, and the existing authority is appointed under God. To oppose authority then is to oppose God, and such opposition is bound to be punished.” I’ve read a number of commentaries about these verses over the years and must admit the lack of a clear understanding. Many times I look at our leaders and ask God “Why him or her?”.
One of my former bosses told me to never present him with a problem without presenting possible solutions as well. I’ve stated what I see as a problem so in keeping with Bill’s instructions, the only solution that includes me is to hold very tightly to my Christian principles and pray. It does not seem that most of our government leaders lean on God for guidance. It’s apparent they feel they possess all the wisdom needed. We need God’s intervention, and my prayers are for that daily!
Hopefully, we can return to the style of the Greatest Generation. They were far from perfect, but I believe life was much better.
Mike: Notice that Max writes with special emphasis on "all your needs". God does not limit us to just some needs but Philippians says EVERYTHING. Nothing about us is inconsequential to God. Notice Philippians also tells us to be thankful to Him. He loves us like no one else! Try Him!
Max: Jesus was attending a wedding with the disciples and his mother, Mary, when she approached him with a seemingly irrelevant problem. “‘They have no more wine,’ she told him” (John 2:3). Mary presented the problem, Jesus commanded a solution, and the wineless wedding was suddenly wine flush. And we are left with this message: our diminishing supplies, no matter how insignificant, matter to heaven.
Listen, if Jesus was willing to use divine clout to solve a social faux pas, how much more would he be willing to intervene on the weightier matters of life? He wants you to know that you can take your needs—all your needs—to him. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Read more God Will Help You
Ms. Neese was my fourth-grade teacher. She fit the typical image of a teacher in the early 1960’s. She always wore a scowl, wore her hair in a bun, wore dark dresses that came well below her knees. Ms. Neese wore something extra, a large black onyx ring on her right middle finger. The ring was not just a piece of jewelry, but it was for a far more ominous purpose. It was for thumping me in the head when I misbehaved. Sometimes she thumped even before I misbehaved. She seemed to know what was in my mind. Very few of the boys escaped a good thumping on occasion. Never did she ever thump a girl. If she was around today, she definitely could not be a teacher.
At times when faced with a temptation, a thump on the head happens. It’s not Ms. Neese but the Holy Spirit thumping to keep me from giving in to the temptation. Part of my prayer is for the Holy Spirit to keep thumping so sin can be avoided! However, I do not believe the Spirit wears an onyx ring.
We all need some thumping in our lives from time to time!
According to Philippians 2:7, Jesus took “the very nature of a servant.” He became like us so he could serve us. He entered the world not to demand our allegiance but to display his affection.
He knew you’d be sleepy, he knew you’d be grief stricken, and hungry. He knew you’d face pain. If not the pain of the body, the pain of the soul. He knew you’d face thirst. If not a thirst for water, at least a thirst for truth. And the truth we glean from the image of a thirsty Christ on the cross is: Jesus understands.
When we feel lonely, knowing someone understands can make all the difference. You can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely if you don’t feel known. And you can be alone but not feel lonely if you are known. God became flesh, so we would always feel known by him.
Read more God Will Help You
What I've been through myself, on my way back to you”
When we are in the midst of the problem, it’s difficult to see a way out. When we have limited resources, it’s difficult to imagine being able to work with what we have. But God already knows how he will solve your problem, my friend. And God has infinite resources. You are the human; he is the divine being. Let Him help you. Let him intervene.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of the one who is standing next to you. What bewilders you does not bewilder him. When you present your needs to him, he never, ever turns to the angels and says, “Well, it finally happened. I’ve been handed a code I cannot crack. The demand is too great, even for me.”
You may feel outnumbered, but he does not. Give him what you have, offer thanks, and watch him go to work.
Read more God Will Help You
From Mike: As I thought about Max's message, it brought to mind my relationship with God. From a young age I've always believed in God. The problem was that belief alone was not enough and belief alone is not a real relationship. It takes much more. The relationship relies on my desire, prayer, study of the Scriptures, and obedience as major parts of the relationship.
As I've worked with CASA familes, I've found two things in common with them all: drug abuse and no relationship with God. These things have destroyed the family. If only they would grow their relationship with God, they could take to heart Max's message.
Think about your relationship as you read Max's message! God wants the relationship! Go to Him!
Max: We can calmly take our concerns to God because he is as near as our next breath. This was the reassuring message from the miracle of the bread and fish. In an event crafted to speak to the anxious heart, Jesus told his disciples to do the impossible: feed five thousand people.
You aren’t facing five thousand hungry bellies, but you are facing a deadline in two days, a loved one in need of a cure. On one hand you have a problem. On the other you have a limited quantity of wisdom, patience, or time.
Typically, you’d get anxious. You’d tell God, “You’ve given me too much to handle.” This time, instead of starting with what you don’t have, start with Jesus. Start with his wealth, his resources, and his strength. And before you lash out in fear, look up in faith. Turn to your heavenly father for help.
Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
Remember that as you read Max's devotion that gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians. It will improve not just your life but the lives of those around you. If gentleness does not come naturally, then work at it and pray.
How many disasters have been averted because one person refused to buckle under the strain? It’s this kind of composure Paul is summoning when he says: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:5-6 NIV).
The Greek word translated here as “gentleness” describes a temperament that’s seasoned and mature. It envisions an attitude fitting to the occasion, levelheaded and tempered. This gentleness is “evident to all.” Family members take note. Your friends sense a difference. Coworkers benefit from it.
The gentle person is sober minded and clear thinking. The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others God is in control. Pursue this gentleness. The Lord is near. You are not alone. You may feel alone, you may think you’re alone, but there is never a moment in which you face life without help.
God is near—be anxious for nothing!
Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
Max tells the story of Rogers Cadenhead who registered the domain site www.BenedictXVI before the new pope was named. As a Catholic, he did not want the money from selling the domain to the Catholic church, but he did want three things from the church when they needed the domain: 1. one of those hats; 2. a free stay at the Vatican hotel; 3. complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.
Max goes on: “Makes you wonder what happened that week, doesn’t it? It may remind you of a week of your own. Most of us have one, or more. Do you have a season in which you indulged, imbibed, or inhaled?”
“King David did. Could a collapse be more colossal than his? He seduces and impregnates Bathsheba, murders her husband, and deceives his generals and soldiers. Then he marries her. She bears his child.”
At first, David believes all is well, but the feelings of guilt are still simmering. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up: all the juices of my life dried up. Psalms 32:3-4 MSG.
Max invites us to underline II Samuel 11:27: The thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” God has been silent all through David’s sins but now he will be silent no more.
God sends Nathan, a prophet, to David. Nathan tells David a story about a rich man with flocks of sheep who took the only sheep of a poor man and slaughtered it for a feast. David is incensed and says the rich man should die and restore the poor mans sheep fourfold. Nathan then tells David that he is the rich man. David no defense because he knew it was true.
Through Nathan, God tells David that he had provided for him and blessed him, yet he had through his actions treated God with contempt. God is hurt by David’s actions. Max writes: “David had soiled God’s reputation, blemished God’s honor. And God, who jealously guards his glory, punishes David’s public sin in a public fashion.” David loses his wives to other men for all people to see and the child of his adultery dies.
Numbers 32:23 ……. you can be sure that your sins will track you down. Colossal collapses will not leave us alone. They keep coming back to haunt us. Max says: “Unconfessed sin sits on our hearts like festering boils, poisoning, expanding. God takes your sleep, your rest. Want to know why? Because he wants to take away your sin. He will not rest until we do what David did: confess our fault.”
“It’s time for you to put your third week of March 1987 to rest. Assemble a meeting of three parties: you, God and your memory. Place the mistake before the judgment seat of God. Let him condemn it, let him pardon it, and let him put it away.”
David is well over sixty years old and his age beginning to show. Nathan told David after his affair with Bathsheba that “The sword shall never depart from this house.” 2 Samuel 2:10. Nathan knew that David’s house would always be troubled because of David’s sin. David’s children are not a blessing to him. Amon, David’s son, raped his half-sister, Tamar, then discarded her. She was desolate and moved in the home of David’s son Absalom. David was very angry with Amnon but did not confront him or punish him.
Max writes: “It was time for David to step up. Display his Goliath-killing courage, Saul-pardoning mercy, Brook-Besor leadership. David’s family needed to see the best of David. But they saw none of David. He didn’t intervene or respond. He wept. But wept in solitude.”
Because of David’s inaction, Absalom fled to Jerusalem to live with his grandfather for three years and David never tried to see his son. Absalom returned to Jerusalem and for two years David avoided him. In fact, David neglected all his children. Another son, Adonijah, staged a coup against his father and David did nothing.
Max writes about David: “David did so much well. He unified the twelve tribes into one nation. He masterminded military conquests. He founded the capital city and elevated God as the Lord of the people, bringing the ark to Jerusalem and paving the way for the temple. He wrote poetry we still read and psalms we still sing. But when it comes to his family, David blew it.”
David prayed about many things, but it seems he was too busy to pray about his family. He did not treat his family with the sense of priority he should have. Max says: “Your home is your giant-size privilege, your towering priority. Children spell love with four letters: T I M E.”
When David’s final hours were evident, he needed for someone to nurse him but there was no wife or children to serve and comfort him. A young woman was brought in to care for David, a woman he did not know! Max’s thought: “He died in the care of a stranger because he made strangers out of his family.”
Max’s closing thought of this chapter: “Succeed at home first.”
Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing - Used with permission
Never forget, what you embrace defines you and sends messages that influence all who observe your conduct. Do not be deceived - your words and deeds speak from who and what you “Really” are.
by John Gray
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So each worshipper (Tuned to Christ) is following the same compass that will direct them to God.
From Mike: Paul writes in Romans 7 the following verses which describes my life:
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
These verses also decribe the war I'm in with Satan. When I resist him, he may flee temporarily but he also waits around the corner to tempt me again causing guilt because of my failure to resist. If they also describe your life. we can take hope in Max Lucado's words that follow:
Guilt sucks the life out of our souls. Grace restores it.
No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul. He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians—an ancient version of a terrorist. Yet, Paul gave his guilt to Jesus. Period. He surrendered it to Jesus. As a result he could write, “I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” (Philippians 3:13-14 TLB).
What would the apostle say to the guilt-ridden? Simply this: “Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy. Trust in his ability to forgive. Cast yourself upon the grace of Christ and Christ alone!”
Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
Everyone is looking for something in life. Generally, we look for multiple things which is to be expected. Hopefully, a relationship with God is the priority. My relationship with God has not always been number one. Now that I am older I better understand that NOTHING is more important than improving that relationship, I spend a lot more time in prayer and reading in an effort to improve the bond.
A significant function of that bond is my service to Him. In my younger years personal evangelism was a stressed in the congregation we attended. There was a fair amount of guilt because it was not a talent I felt I had. A true confession: there is still some guilt but there are other ways that God can be served. One of those ways is using authors’ thoughts and encouragement on this blog for the readers. Hopefully, God finds it acceptable.
When I visit a nursery to buy plants the first thing I tell them is that I have a black thumb. Sell me something that does not take a lot of care. The following was a posting on Facebook recently that struck home:
We cannot force someone to hear a message they are
not ready to receive. But we must never under estimate the
power of planting a seed.
If I can plant a seed with someone concerning their relationship with God, then he will take over the growth of that seed. Praying about that seed is then important. Down deep many people are looking for more!
This morning I planted a seed by emailing the following from Max Lucado:
“HE IS ABLE TO DO WHAT YOU CANNOT - July 8, 2021
What will happen if your job disappears? Or your health diminishes? Or the economy takes a nosedive? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes? He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
God calmed the fears of Isaiah, not by removing the problem, but by revealing his divine power and presence. Rejoice that God is able to do what you cannot do! Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your heavenly father increases.
Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World”
I know nothing about your relationship with Him nor how you may serve Him but here is a thought. Use a Bible passage or your favorite spiritual writer to drop someone a note or email. Now pray for God to grow that seed!
Hopefully, as you read Max's thoughts below you will find comfort in them. Notice that he uses the word "Let this love happen". God is not going to force His love on you. Open your heart with prayer so He can come in. As the saying goes: "if you keep doing the same things" don't expect change. Work at this to gain more happiness!
The reason God loves you is that he has chosen to love you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. These are his words: “I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Romans 9:25 THE MESSAGE).
Let this love happen in your life, and prepare yourself for a new day. As God has his way with you, he will not let you live with your old hatred and prejudices. You’ll begin to see people in a different way. The neighbor down the street? He’s not a person who forgets to mow his lawn; he’s made in the image of God. God loves a diverse creation, and God’s love finds beauty in the collage of humanity. Life will become less a chore and more a stroll through God’s art gallery. This is how happiness happens.
Read more How Happiness Happens - Finding Lasting Joy in a world of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations