Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

Think on These Thinks from John Gray

GRANDPA SAYS --- “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Sometimes in the storm, we feel alone but a heart that trusts in God will always be a quiet peaceful place.”
 
“EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT THE WEATHER, BUT NOBODY EVER DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT – EXCEPT JESUS.”
SONG -> “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” | Lyrics: Scott Krippayne | Inspiration: Mark 4:35-41
“All who sail the sea of faith find out before too long how quickly blue skies can grow dark and gentle winds grow strong and suddenly fear is like white water pounding on the soul but still we sail on knowing that our Lord is in control
Sometimes He calms the storm with a whispered peace be still He can settle any sea but it doesn't mean He will not sometimes hold us close and let the wind and waves go wild sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child.”
----
Folks, there is simple prayer below (conveyed through song) that makes the request for Jesus to take the hand of one too weak to stand alone. One can always stand with the help of the hand of Jesus that lifts from the kneeling position to the presence of God.
 
When we read the account of Jesus’ saying to the storm --- “Peace, be still” (Mk 4:35-41), we need to remember that Jesus is always in control of our circumstances, and, when we trust Him, He will calm the raging inside our souls. When we find ourselves raging and tossing and turning on the inside, Philippians 4:6–7 tells us what to do --- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
 
Those who stand with Jesus stand, in the certainty of the forgiveness and love offered and delivered through His life, ministry, sacrificial death on the Cross and resurrection.
God has not promised to bring peace to every storm, but He has promised to give us peace through any storm if we will trust Him to take care of us.
 
SONG ->“WHERE NO ONE STANDS ALONE” | Lyrics: Thomas Mosie Lister | Inspiration: “When I felt safe and secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” (Psa 30:6-7)
“Once I stood in the night with my head bowed low in the darkness as black as could be and my heart felt alone and I cried Oh Lord, don't hide your face from me
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall with great riches to call my own, but I don't know a thing in this whole wide world that's worse than being alone
Hold my hand all the way every hour, every day from here to the great unknown take my hand, let me stand where no one stands alone”
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Relationship Inconsequential?

In today’s society, a relationship with God seems inconsequential to the majority of the world. We could blame it on the millennials like most everything else is now, but I don’t believe that’s  accurate. That’s like blaming the long hair hippies for everything in the 60’s.

 A 2017 Gallop poll showed that in 2001 90% of people believed in God and it decreased to 64% in 2017. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the poll but the numbers seem very possible. Just believing in God though is NOT a relationship. It takes much more than just belief to develop, nurture and maintain our relationship with God! That is a fulltime responsibility of ours! It’s not God’s responsibility to cultivate a relationship with us ! God does not need anything from us so what is He looking for in a relationship with us?

You cannot inherit your relationship with God from your parents nor anyone else. Your relationship is very personal.  The first step is believing God is the Lord God almighty. Then we can only begin our relationship with God through a relationship with Christ. John 14:5  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice Christ did not tell us that religion is the way to God but rather He Himself. It’s necessary to confess  Christ is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior. For me, the next step is to commit to Christ through baptism.

Ok, now I have confessed my faith in God and Christ and been baptized so I have done all that’s necessary for my relationship with God. No, that’s like saying to your spouse we’ve been through the marriage ceremony, so we have a relationship. No, you’ve started one that takes love, care and nurturing. What do I have to do to nurture my relationship with God?

The answer to that question is found in the Scriptures so study becomes a major commitment to nurture the relationship. Can’t I just go to church for the knowledge needed? No, church is a guide only to the Bible. Remember your relationship with Him is through Christ only so study.

What’s next? Prayer, communication is essential. God loves you and wants to hear from you. Philippians 4:6 ESV –“ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Is there anything else? Of course, but your relationship is not with me so study about being obedient to God’s commands, discover what gifts He gave you so you can serve Him, learn how you are to worship Him and how to conduct your life.

God has blessed us in many different ways. He wants us to be thankful! He wants our praise and thanksgiving especially for Christ and His sacrifice.

There is much more that could be said about nurturing our relationship with God so study and pray. Realize that God wants us to completely surrender to Him! II Timothy 2:15 –“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Be aware that Satan is not happy with your efforts to cultivate your relationship with God. He’ll stop at nothing to discourage you! 1 Peter 5:8, ESV: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Don’t let that someone be you!

F. LaGard Smith writes in Meeting God in Quiet Places, about the rich young ruler: “What Jesus undoubtedly saw was a heart that was unwilling to completely surrender to God. Whether possessions, career, or perhaps some relationship, something would always stand in his way. But for the fully surrendered heart, no sacrifice is too great.”

“Surrendering to God is the most difficult decision we will ever make. The prophet Joel reminds us that we are not alone when we face the moment of choosing: ‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” What Joel really means is that most of us live an entire life in the valley of indecision. To surrender or not to surrender that is the ultimate question of life!”

“Through His complete surrender on the cross, Jesus has already grasped the nettle for us. He has taken away the sting of death. All we need to do is to put our hand in His—to feel softness of His love and never let go!”

It’s never too late to start and cultivate your relationship with God! If you would like a study partner, there are a number of people at Southside that will welcome the opportunity!

Thanks Mike

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meeting God in Quest Places – F. LaGard Smith – 1992 – Harvest House Publishers – Used by permission

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God Is In The Details Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

"Do you think the odds are against you? If so, ponder the plight of Haman and the outcome of Mordecai in the book of Esther. God flip-flopped their stories. Haman began the day large and in charge. Mordecai began the day praying in the shadow of a gallows that bore his name. Yet from one moment to the next, Haman was humiliated, and Mordecai was given the keys to the city."

"The next time you hear someone say, “The devil is in the details,” correct them. God is in the details. He works in the small moments. The insignificant becomes significant because he is ever orchestrating the day-to-day details of innumerable lives through a millennia of time to do what he has foreordained to do."

From Mike: I believe many people think God only pays attention to the BIG matters of our lives. We should take comfort that everything whether large or small in our life matters to God!

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It's Time To Pray From Max Lucado's Daily Devotional


"Daniel was a young man when he was taken into Babylonian captivity. Later he realized that the seventy years of prophesied captivity were coming to an end, and he took the matter to the Lord. Now, if any person deserved to be heard by God, it was he. Yet in the presence of God, this holy man offered a brokenhearted prayer. The prayer so moved the heart of God that an angel was sent with this message: “From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard…” (Daniel 10:12 MSG)."

"Friend, the moment you bow your head to pray is the moment God lifts his hand to help. Your heavenly Father wants to hear from you. Are you desperate, without options? By no means. Now, more than ever, is the time to get down on your knees and plead for help."

From Mike: I've read some authors who urge you go to God in prayer and DEMAND of Him! Demanding does not seem like a humble heart but a proud heart. We are encouraged in Philippians 4:6 to pray - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Be patient, humble and continue to pray. 

The story of Daniel teaches us God will deliver on His time not ours!

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A Dramatic Deliverance from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Does your view of God include a certain relief and a dramatic deliverance? This is no small question. Indeed, that is the question. For most people, their summary of life reads, “We live in a beautiful but broken world, and we just make the best of it and die.”

"But God offers a better story, and his story ends in a better place. His story says our Creator made this world and did not destine it for brokenness. His death gave birth to eternal life. He arose from the dead and is recreating our world and invites all of us to be a part of it. One day he will restore this world to its intended beauty and reclaim his family, and we will live with him forever. That’s the story God offers. Is it your story? I sure hope so."

From Mike: We all probably know people with the attitude of "first you live and then you die".. God's story is a much better story. Share Max's writing with one of those people. You may not change their thinking but you won't know until you try. Share it and then let God go to work!

 

 

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GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”

This seemed to fit with yesterday's post from Max Lucado.
 
: “Let go and let God!” | “I can’t handle it, God can - so, I think I will let Him!”
“THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NOT 'LET GO AND LET GOD,' IT'S 'TRUST GOD AND GET GOING.' BE PATIENT. LET GOD ANSWER YOUR QUESTION ON HIS SCHEDULE, NOT YOURS.”
 
 “Jesus said, 'Don't be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.'” (Joh 14:1)
The truth is that working at “letting go” is just as much work as anything else we try to do for God and not nearly as easy to do as some folks may think.
 
Many folks believe that, if we are truly in a state of “letting go,” we will be able to cease from striving and struggling. But Jesus said --- “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luk 13:24). By striving, He means that we should be diligent, active, and earnest and that we should continually make every effort to overcome our sinful tendencies.
 
We will always struggle against life’s hard circumstances. The reality is that we struggle for a variety of reasons. One is that we have a weak faith. We just don’t have enough confidence (trust) in God to rest in the reality of His nature and have the peace that comes with a strong faith in Him. For instance, when trials come, do we really believe that ---“God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28)? If we know God intimately, we have faith in His plan and purposes, His love for us, His sovereign control over all circumstances in life, and we rest in the “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7).
 
Struggles are just one of the ways God strengthens us for the hard things life throws at us. Trials are designed to show us (and others) that our faith is real --- “Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns” (1 Pet 1:7).

In Christ, we can face the trials of life with grace and faith that whatever God has for us is OK. This comes from years of walking with Him, trial upon trial, struggle upon struggle.

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Troubles Come With Life from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

How do we survive the bitterly cold winds of life? When the account has no cash. When the marriage has no joy. When the crib is empty or the grave is occupied. Well Scripture offers a couple of starchy observations.

First, no one gets a free pass. Trouble knocks at the door of us all. Someone needs that reminder. Someone has been led to believe that the Christian life is a yellow-brick road. Consequently, when the inevitable bad stuff happens, the person is forced to face the tough questions about a God who didn’t keep his promises. To which God says, “Well I never made those promises.” God did promise, in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” Troubles come with life. We gain nothing by pretending they don’t.

No one gets a free pass, but we can believe this: one way or another, relief and deliverance will come.


From Mike:It will do us all good to remeber this!

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Decide Now from Max Lucado's Daily Devotional

 "Resistance matters. Long after acts of compliance are forgotten, acts of courage are pondered. In the story of Esther, Mordecai refused to bow before evil Haman. And his refusal to bow was the first link in a chain of courageous acts that led to the salvation of his people. Your resolve might be the decisive gesture that breaks the stronghold."

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The Joy of Certainty

At the doctor’s office a few weeks ago, there was a book titled A Little God Time which looked interesting, so I read a few devotionals. The title actually ended with “For Women” in different font but didn’t notice that part at first. There is a devotional for each day of the year, and they are actually fitting for both men and women. The publisher granted rights to copy on Southside’s blog so some of the material will start showing up.

“Yesterday we read about hearing God’s voice behind us, leading us down the path he’s chosen for our lives. Perhaps this idea isn’t entirely comforting to you. What about free will? What if I want to wander off the path a little bit? The idea of just blindly following someone, even God Himself, can seem a little daunting. What if His path is no fun?"

"Rest assured. You are not blindfolded, and He is not pushing you down His-or any-path. You will only hear His voice if you are listening. And the choice to follow His lead is entirely yours. But what a wonderful choice it is! Consider Psalm 16: [You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.]"

"He doesn’t just tell us which way to go, he shows us the path. And even better he is with us, joy and pleasure are ours-forever. Rest in the lovely assurance today and pray for the courage to surrender to His lead.”

My initial thought was of my grandchildren. They seem to think they have the world by the tail, but then again didn’t I think that at their age about myself? Even at 71+ years, I need this message!

Think about it!

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A Little God Time For Women – BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC – 2021- Used by permission

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Stand Out and Assist by Max Lucado

Max' s Daily Devotional

1 Peter chapter 2, verses 9 and12 read, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”

How do God’s people live in a godless society? Do they blend in and assimilate? No, this is the time to stand out and assist. We were made for this moment. This is no time to play around. You were made for more than social media and flashy parties. You were made to serve the almighty God and be a temple of his Holy Spirit. Society offers nothing. Hollywood can’t satisfy your needs. Madison Avenue makes big promises but leaves people naked of hope. Godless living is no life to live.

 

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The Hope The World Needs by Max Lucado

From Max's Daily Devotional:

You know, we’re caretakers of the message of Jesus. As you and I live out our faith, he is delivered into a faith-famished culture. We have the hope this world needs, but sometimes we forget. Billion-dollar industries are conning you by luring you into lifestyles that will leave you wounded and weary.

How about some examples? Pornography is one. Pornography, they say, is a harmless expression of sexuality. Hardly – it is as addictive as alcohol and drugs. Or this one: Whoever dies with the most toys wins. Take on the liability. Borrow the money. But your Maker tells you, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).

The lies are everywhere, and their consequences are devastating. Be careful! Don’t get too cozy in this culture.

From Mike: Max tells us that we have the HOPE this world needs.  I Peter 3:15 Message Translation: 

 "If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God."
 
If we become involved with the examples Mav gives in his writing, how can possibly fulfill I Peter 3:15?
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Life if not about you – it is about others by John Gray

Mike: Sometimes we wear our feelings on our sleeves. I did recently and had some bad thoughts towards someone else. I did not feel right about my what was going through my mind so I kept praying for God's help. He helped and I got over it. It did not really amount to a hill of beans as the old saying goes. This morning I remembered John's article. It helped so maybe it can help you!

Jonh Gray: To be offended is a choice we make; it’s not a condition inflicted or imposed on us by someone or something else.

GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “.”

“NO MATTER WHAT UNEXPECTED DISRUPTIONS, FRUSTRATIONS, OR DIFFICULTIES COME OUR WAY, WE ARE TO RESPOND WITH A CHRISTLIKE ATTITUDE.”

 "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Phil 2:3).

It is not strange that so many folks act as if personal offenses or slights, hurt feelings, differences of opinion and disagreements are sins against them. When our pride is challenged and/or slighted, the devil puts us on the ‘fast-track’ to making a mountain out of a mole hill or creating a tempest in a tea pot.

Folks, if we walk through life with a “Chip” on our shoulder, then a lot of things will “Offend” or “Trigger” us into giving Satan an opportunity to make a mountain out of a mole hill.  We can clearly see that when the Bible speaks of an offense, it refers primarily to some act or series of acts which lead someone into sin. However, irritations and annoyances have the unfortunate inclination to build into far worse bitterness and grudges, which are sins that a person has allowed himself to be led into - in many cases by his own devious mind.

Folks, we need to choose to love instead of pouting.  Focus on forgiving immediately and loving others, rather than the so-called “Offense”. Practice that, and you will begin to take less offense --- “Hatred stirreth up strifes; But love covereth all transgressions. (Pro 10:12) | --- “above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins [transgressions]:” (1Pe 4:8).

As God grows us, He transforms us into people who can love well. Pray for help to choose the God-honoring avenue.  We should forgive so much that it becomes second nature - our automatic response to irritations in our relationships with others should be --- “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:18) | “Strive for peace with all men …” (Heb 12:14).

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DARKNESS

I recently placed a piece on this blog about winter written by Max Lucado. Most people associate winter with darkness. This brought about thoughts of people that are experiencing darkness/winter in their lives. One older gentleman lost his wife at the beginning of summer. A former high school classmate lost his daughter to cancer and an additional one recently received a very bad prognosis about his health. Several years ago a boy of eight asked his mother why she gave him away when she delivered him to the State. Almost three years ago another boy of eight told me he saw the devil and evil people with pitchforks coming after him. People today are losing their loved ones to COVID. In every CASA family I’ve worked with there is drug abuse. Unfortunately, the children have followed after their parents. It seems as if darkness/winter is always present and affects all ages and walks of life.

The following are thoughts from F. LaGard Smith’s book, Meeting God In Quiet Places. He writes a chapter titled Darkness. He set out one evening on a walk to Stanton, England about an hour from his home. When he realized darkness was coming on him quickly, he hurried to get home. “Already, a  cold gloomy mist was moving in over the hills.”

“As I slowly made my way, almost by instinct, I couldn’t help but think of the words of the psalm, ‘You Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ In the deep darkness of that night, I was able to see more clearly than ever just how God’s revelation works in my life. The Bible is not simply the story of human existence, but that upon which I can depend in times of trouble. It is the light in my darkened world of “lostness.” No matter how adverse the circumstances, somehow it always gets me through.” Take note that he doesn’t say God takes away the darkness but gets him through it. Many expect God to eliminate the darkness, but He will see you through it.

Mr. Smith is able to get through his darkness because he has studied Scriptures and relies on God’s message. If you are not studying the Scriptures then don’t expect much help as you experience darkness. He writes: “For me, the Bible is neither a fail-safe mantra to be recited at the first alarm, nor a tag-along security blanket to ward off all potential enemies. Rather, it has become as familiar as the path to and from my home—so familiar, in fact, that I often fail to appreciate it fully until I find myself in some kind of trouble. But it is precisely in those special times of needs that his Word becomes my light, showing the way to safety.”

He continues: “The skeptic might point out that I only see the path by faith—in my mind’s eye. But that is the beauty of God’s Word. It is not only written on the pages of the Bible, but in the inner recesses of my heart, stored there for whenever I need to hear the Lord’s guidance. In times of spiritual darkness—whether I am confronted by temptation, haunted by fear, or overwhelmed by loneliness—I am better able to find my way out of it. It’s almost instinctive, as if I could actually see the way. Wherever I am, whatever the need, because of God’s word which is now part of my very essence , I am always in the grip of the familiar.”

Mr. Smith writes about seeking advice from his dad when he was alive then goes on: “My heavenly Fathers voice is not just a memory. Through His Word and through His Spirit, he speaks to me every day. He is literally with me at every moment. Never am I without his involvement in my life. Far greater even that being in the grip of the familiar, I am in his grip!”

“It must be similar to what King David felt when he wrote in his exquisite 23rd Psalm: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’ Not even the anticipate darkness of his own death was fearful for David, for throughout his life he had walked God on familiar paths. With God constantly in his life through good times and bad, he lived confidently in the presence of his Lord.” I added the bold to Mr. Smith’s words because they are important. David had an up and down life. Morally, he  had failed God and was punished with the death of his and Bathsheba’s first son, but he still hung on to God! We should also! Who else or what else is going to see you through your bad times?

Mr. Smith continues: “When all is said and done, it’s all about trusting God in the darkness, whatever the darkness be. Certainly, David would have expected nothing less from him who made the first light out of darkness—from him who first said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’!”

“If God could bring physical light itself into existence, why should I ever think that he could not shed his spiritual light whenever and wherever I might need it? Light to show the way when I am stranded in despair and lost in loneliness. Light to lead me in paths of right living. And, in the end, light to lead me safely home.”

When people are in darkness or have just gone through darkness, you often hear them ask “Why?”. My unspoken answer is “I don’t know”. It gives a feeling of inadequacy not to  able to explain their darkness. Explaining God’s mind is not a talent so that’s why I turn to the Bible first then writers like F. LaGard Smith and Max Lucado for their thoughts!

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meeting God in Quiet Places – F. LaGard Smith – 1992 – Published by Harvest House Publisher – Used by permission

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WRAPPED IN WINTER - October 1, 2021 by Max Lucado

Mike: If you are like me and have a hard time with the season of winter then the following devotional is for you! Winter is cold often dreary. The daylight hours are shorter and the dark of night comes too early. "Winter" is often used as a description when we are living through a time of troubles. Take HOPE from what Max writes.

Max: Winters are a part of life—some personal, some global—but all are powerful. Try as we might to bundle up and lean into the wind, the heartiest among us can fall. Nights are too long, and the question is all too common: Will this winter ever pass?

God has a six-letter word of encouragement: E-S-T-H-E-R. The book of Esther was written to be read in wintertime for the person who feels outnumbered by foes, outmaneuvered by fate, and outdone by fear. It’s as if God, in his kind providence, heard all the prayers of all the souls who have ever been stuck in an arctic February. And to every person who has longed to see a green sprig on a barren branch, he says, “Follow me. I want you to see what I can do.”

You Were Made for This Moment

Read more You Were Made for This Moment

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Jesus Values You by Max Lucado

Jesus’ love does not depend upon what we do for him. Not at all. In the eyes of the King, you have value simply because you are. You don’t have to look nice or perform well. Your value is inborn. Period.

Think about that for just a minute. You’re valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you’ve done, but simply because you are. Remember that the next time you are left bobbing in the wake of someone’s steamboat ambition. Or some trickster tries to hang a bargain basement price tag on your self-worth. Remember that the next time someone tries to pass you off as a cheap buy.

Just think about the way Jesus honors you, and smile. I do. Because I know I don’t deserve love like that—none of us do.

 

Mike: Many people spend their lives trying to earn love from others.  They want to prove their value in a marriage, in a friendship especially in a job. Unfortunately you see it in a child feeling he/she has to earn the parents love. In some cases that's true but not from Jesus. Yes, He has expectations of us but regardless of our failures He still loves. Think about Max's last sentence often today and tell God/Jesus "THANK YOU"!

Remember that He suffered and died for you. No one can be loved more than that!

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THE SPIRIT LED LIFE by Max Lucado

Max: You don’t have to hurry or scurry. The Spirit-led life does not panic; it trusts. In Ephesians 1:19 and 20 the apostle Paul reminds us that, “God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world.”

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 Mike: As you live if you pay attention, it's hard not to see people struggling. In the news and all over the internet the battle with COVID, refugees and the political fighting. But if you look closer, it's much closer to you than the TV or the computer. People at work, at church, and your neighbors. Maybe it's in your own home. Could it be you?
 
Max challenges us to "keep the power supply open". That power supply is prayer and the Spirit: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - English Standard Version -  "Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." God wants to be the vocal point in our lives and wants us to thankful for what he does in our lives. Your prayer needs not be long nor flowery just sincere. Trust Him! Try it! He loves you! That's a guarantee! Remember Max's last statement: You see, as God’s story becomes our story, his power becomes our power.
 
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Plug in to God’s Power by Max Lucado

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.

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Final Two Chapters of Facing Your Giants

Chapter 18

 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?”

 

Chapter 19 

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:

  1. The Stone of the Past;
  2. The Stone of Prayer;
  3. The Stone of Priority;
  4. The Stone of Passion;
  5. 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

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Generations

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.

Thanks

Your thoughts?

Mike    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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A PRECISE PRAYER - August 31, 2021 by Max Lucado


From Mike: Some like to mock those of us who talk about a personal rrelationship with Christ. Max's comments points to that personal relationship. Your relationship with Christ is YOURS and does not come about because you are a member of a group. Others can affect your relationship but it's up to you to cultivate a healthy, loving relationship with Him. He waiting for you!!

 

Max: Jesus will tailor a response to your precise need. He is not a fast-food cook. He is an accomplished chef who prepares unique blessings for unique situations. When the crowds of people came to Christ for healing, “One by one he placed his hands on them and healed them” (Luke 4:40 MSG).

Had Jesus chosen to do so, he could have proclaimed a cloud of healing blessings to fall upon the crowd. But he is not a one-size-fits-all Savior. He placed his hands on each one, individually, personally. Perceiving unique needs, he issued unique blessings.

A precise prayer gives Christ the opportunity to remove all doubt about his love and interest. Your problem becomes his pathway. The challenge you face becomes a canvas upon which Christ can demonstrate his finest work. So offer a simple prayer and entrust the problem to Christ.

God Will Help You

Read more God Will Help You

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