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UpWords with Max Lucado

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    Posted: 16 July 2018 at 06:18

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Water for Your Soul
by Max Lucado

Where do you find water for the soul? Jesus gave an answer one October day in Jerusalem. People had packed the streets for the annual reenactment of the rock-giving-water miracle of Moses. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down a people-lined path to the temple. He did this every day, once a day, for seven days. “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37-38).

He “stood and shouted” (NLT). The traditional rabbinic teaching posture was sitting and speaking. But Jesus stood up and shouted out. Forget a kind clearing of the throat. God was pounding his gavel on heaven’s bench. Christ demanded attention.

He shouted because his time was short. The sand in the neck of his hourglass was down to measurable grains. In six months he'd be dragging a cross through these streets. And the people? The people thirsted. They needed water, not for their throats, but for their hearts. So Jesus invited: Are your insides starting to shrivel? Drink me.

Internalize him. Ingest him. Welcome him into the inner workings of your life. Let Christ be the water of your soul.

Toward this end, I give you this tool: a prayer for the thirsty heart. Carry it just as a cyclist carries a water bottle. The prayer outlines four essential fluids for soul hydration: God’s work, God’s energy, his lordship, and his love. You’ll find the prayer easy to remember. Just think of the word W-E-L-L.

Lord, I come thirsty. I come to drink, to receive. I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. My sins are pardoned, and my death is defeated. I receive your energy. Empowered by your Holy Spirit, I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. I receive your lordship. I belong to you. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through you. And I receive your love. Nothing can separate me from your love.

Don’t you need regular sips from God’s reservoir? I do. I’ve offered this prayer in countless situations: stressful meetings, dull days, long drives, demanding trips, character-testing decisions. Many times a day I step to the underground spring of God and receive anew his work for my sin and death, the energy of his Spirit, his lordship, and his love.

Drink with me from his bottomless well. You don’t have to live with a dehydrated heart.

Receive Christ’s work on the cross,
the energy of his Spirit,
his lordship over your life,
his unending, unfailing love.

Drink deeply and often. And out of you will flow rivers of living water.

From Come Thirsty
(c) (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004) Max
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Practicing the Presence
by Max Lucado

How do I live in God’s presence? How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? A sheep grows familiar with the voice of the shepherd. How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas:

Give God your waking thoughts. Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you step out of bed, step into his presence. I have a friend who makes it a habit to roll out of his bed onto his knees and begin his day in prayer. Personally, I don’t get that far. With my head still on the pillow and my eyes still closed, I offer God the first seconds of my day. The prayer is not lengthy and far from formal. Depending on how much sleep I got, it may not even be intelligible. Often it’s nothing more than “Thank you for a night’s rest. I belong to you today.”

Give God your waiting thoughts. Spend time with him in silence. The mature married couple has learned the treasure of shared silence; they don’t need to fill the air with constant chatter. Just being together is sufficient. Try being silent with God. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 niv). Awareness of God is a fruit of stillness before God.

Give God your whispering thoughts. Through the centuries Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers, prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting.

Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. By giving God your whispering thoughts, the common becomes uncommon. Simple phrases such as “Thank you, Father,” “Be sovereign in this hour, O Lord,” “You are my resting place, Jesus” can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. You needn’t leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. Just pray where you are. Let the kitchen become a cathedral or the classroom a chapel. Give God your whispering thoughts.

And last, give God your waning thoughts. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on him. Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his mercy. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise: “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4 niv). If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

From Just Like Jesus
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1998, 2001) Max Lucado

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Untangling Life's Knots
by Max Lucado

It’s your best friend’s wedding. “I’ll take care of the reception,” you’d volunteered. You planned the best party possible. You hired the band, rented the hall, catered the meal, decorated the room, and asked your Aunt Bertha to bake the cake.

Now the band is playing and the guests are milling, but Aunt Bertha is nowhere to be seen. Everything is here but the cake. You sneak over to the pay phone and dial her number. She’s been taking a nap. She thought the wedding was next week.

Oh boy! Now what do you do? Talk about a problem! Everything is here but the cake ...

Sound familiar?

It might. It’s exactly the dilemma Jesus’ mother, Mary, was facing. Back then, wine was to a wedding what cake is to a wedding today.

What Mary faced was a social problem. No need to call 911, but no way to sweep the embarrassment under the rug, either.

When you think about it, most of the problems we face are of the same caliber. We’re late for a meeting. We leave something at the office. A coworker forgets a report. Mail gets lost. Traffic gets snarled. The waves rocking our lives are not life threatening yet. But they can be. A poor response to a simple problem can light a fuse.

For that reason you might want to note how Mary reacted. Her solution poses a practical plan for untangling life’s knots. “They have no more wine,” she told Jesus (John 2:3). That’s it. That’s all she said. She didn’t go ballistic. She simply assessed the problem and gave it to Christ.

It’s so easy to focus on everything but the solution. Mary didn’t do that. She simply looked at the knot, assessed it, and took it to the right person. “I’ve got one here I can’t untie, Jesus.”

“When all the wine was gone Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine’” (John 2:3).

Please note, she took the problem to Jesus before she took it to anyone else. A friend told me about a tense deacons’ meeting he attended. Apparently there was more agitation than agreement, and after a lengthy discussion, someone suggested, “Why don’t we pray about it?” to which another questioned, “Has it come to that?”

What causes us to think of prayer as the last option rather than the first?

From A Gentle Thunder
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2006) Max Lucado

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America, You Exist by My Power
by Max Lucado

Every national privilege can be traced back to the hand of God. If we have liberty, we can thank the One who came to “proclaim liberty to the captives... to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NKJV). If we enjoy a robust economy or a high tide of justice, we don’t limit our thanks to senators or the Supreme Court; we thank God.

Tally this up. God makes the boundaries. He determines the leaders. He dispenses the blessings. And America exists by the power of God. Can we afford to forget this--can we afford to sever this single, silver strand that supports the whole framework of our republic?

Only at terrible risk.

“If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed” (Deut. 8:19, NLT).

“America,” God says, “you exist by My power.” That’s the first reminder. But God doesn’t stop there. A second reminder commands our attention.

America, you exist for My glory.

Recall what God said through the prophet, “I will demonstrate my glory among the nations” (Ezekiel 39:21, NLT).

God does not need the United States in order to advance His cause. He lobbies no country and depends on no government. “No, for all the nations of the world are nothing in comparison with him. They are but a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales. He picks up the islands as though they had no weight at all. The nations of the world are as nothing to him.  In his eyes they are less than nothing--mere emptiness and froth” (Isaiah 40:15, 17 NLT).

Suppose--just suppose--God’s glory became America’s prayer and priority: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory” (Psalm 115:1). Suppose our elected officials daily asked.  How can we honor God in our decisions? How can this school introduce students to God? How can this army promote the name of God?

Remember, who manages the hearts of rulers? Who prompts the decisions of kings? God does. God can change a nation.

For that reason, we must pray--pray with all our hearts--that America would turn back to God. 

“Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake” (Psalm 79:9).

Copyright Max Lucado
Turn, Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 2005

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Guilt and Grace
by Max Lucado

Sometime ago I read a story of a youngster who was shooting rocks with a slingshot. He could never hit his target. As he returned to Grandma’s backyard, he spied her pet duck. On impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck was dead. The boy panicked and hid the bird in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching.

After lunch that day, Grandma told Sally to help with the dishes. Sally responded, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!” So, Johnny did the dishes.

What choice did he have? For the next several weeks he was at the sink often. Sometimes for his duty, sometimes for his sin. “Remember the duck,” Sally’d whisper when he objected.

So weary of the chore, he decided that any punishment would be better than washing more dishes, so he confessed to killing the duck. “I know, Johnny,” his grandma said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you.” (Steven Cole, “Forgiveness,” Leadership Magazine, 1983, 86.)

He’d been pardoned, but he thought he was guilty. Why? He had listened to the words of his accuser.

You have been accused as well. You have been accused of dishonesty. You’ve been accused of immorality. You’ve been accused of greed, anger, and arrogance.

Every moment of your life, your accuser is filing charges against you. Even his name, Diabolos, means “slanderer.” Who is he? The devil.

As he speaks, you hang your head. You have no defense. His charges are fair. “I plead guilty, your honor,” you mumble.

“The sentence?” Satan asks.

“The wages of sin is death,” explains the judge, “but in this case the death has already occurred. For this one died with Christ.”

Satan is suddenly silent. And you are suddenly jubilant. You realize that Satan cannot accuse you. No one can accuse you! Fingers may point and voices may demand, but the charges glance off like arrows hitting a shield. No more dirty dishwater. No more penance. No more nagging sisters. You have stood before the judge and heard him declare, “Not guilty.”

From In the Grip of Grace
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1996) Max Lucado

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Diving into Life Headfirst
by Max Lucado

Steve Lyons will be remembered as the player who dropped his pants.

The White Sox were playing the Tigers in Detroit. Lyons bunted and raced down the first-base line. He knew it was going to be tight, so he dove at the bag. Safe! The Tiger’s pitcher disagreed. He and the umpire got into a shouting match, and Lyons stepped in to voice his opinion.

Absorbed in the game and the debate, Lyons felt dirt trickling down the inside of his pants. Without missing a beat he dropped his britches, wiped away the dirt, and... uh oh... twenty thousand jaws hit the bleachers’ floor.

Within twenty-four hours of the “exposure,” he received more exposure than he’d gotten his entire career: seven live television and approximately twenty radio interviews.

Fortunately, for Steve, he was wearing sliding pants under his baseball pants.

Now, I don’t know Steve Lyons. I’m not a White Sox fan. Nor am I normally appreciative of men who drop their pants in public. But I think Steve Lyons deserves a salute.

I think anybody who dives into first base deserves a salute. How many guys do you see roaring down the baseline of life more concerned about getting a job done than they are about saving their necks? How often do you see people diving headfirst into anything?

Too seldom, right? But when we do ... when we see a gutsy human throwing caution to the wind and taking a few risks ... ah, now that’s a person worthy of a pat on the ... back.

So here’s to all the Steve Lyons of the world.

Here’s to the Miracles, a choral group out of Memphis, Tennessee, made up of the mentally retarded and the stout-hearted. Just see if you can listen to them and still feel sorry for yourself.

Here’s to the hero of the San Francisco marathon who crossed the finish line without seeing it. (He was blind.)

Here’s to the woman whose husband left her with a nest of kids to raise and bills to pay, but who somehow tells me every Sunday that God has never been closer.

Here’s to the single father of two girls who learned to braid their hair.

Here’s to the grandparents who came out of retirement to raise the children their children couldn’t raise.

Here’s to the foster parents who took in a child long enough for that child to take their hearts--then gave the child up again.

Here’s to the girl, told by everyone to abort the baby, who chose to keep the baby.

Here’s to the doctor who treats more than half of his patients for free.

Here’s to the heroin-addict-turned-missionary.

Here’s to the executive who every Tuesday hosts a 5:30 A.M. meeting for Bible study and prayer.

Here’s to all of you reckless lovers of life and God, who stand on first base because you paid a price to get there.

So what if you forget about pleasing the crowd and get caught with your pants down? At least you’re playing ball in the pros.

Most of us aren’t even in your league.

From In the Eye of the Storm
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1998, 2001) Max Lucado

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Traveling Light
by Max Lucado

I fell asleep in the Louvre.

The most famous museum in the world. The best-known building in Paris. Tourists are oohing and aahing, and that’s me, nodding and snoring. Seated on a bench. Back to the wall. Chin to my chest. Conked out.

The crown jewels are down the hall. Rembrandt is on the wall. Van Gogh is one floor up. The Venus de Milo is one floor down. I should have been star struck and wide eyed.

Denalyn was. You’d have thought she was at Foley’s Red Apple sale. If there was a tour, she took it. If there was a button to push, she pushed it. If there was a brochure to read, she read it. She didn’t even want to stop to eat.

But me? I gave the Mona Lisa five minutes.

Shameful, I know.

But it wasn’t my fault. I like seventeenth-century art as much as the next guy ... well, maybe not that much. But at least I can usually stay awake.

But not that day. Why did I fall asleep at the Louvre?

Blame it on the bags, baby; blame it on the bags. I was worn out from lugging the family luggage. We checked more suitcases than the road show of the Phantom of the Opera.

I can’t fault my wife and daughters. They learned it from me. Remember, I’m the one who travels prepared for an underwater wedding and a bowling tournament. It’s bad enough for one person to travel like that, but five? It’ll wear you out.

You think I’ll ever learn to travel light?

I tell you what. Let’s make a pact. I’ll reduce the leather bags, and we’ll both reduce the emotional ones. After all, it’s one thing to sleep through the Louvre but quite another to sleep through life.

We can, you know. Do we not dwell in the gallery of our God? Isn’t the sky his canvas and humanity his magnum opus? Are we not encircled by artistry? Sunsets burning. Waves billowing.

And isn’t the soul his studio? The birthing of love, the bequeathing of grace. All around us miracles pop like fireflies--souls are touched, hearts are changed, and...

Yawn. We miss it. We sleep through it. We can’t help it. It’s hard work carrying yesterday’s guilt around.

It’s also enough to make you miss the magic of life.

Then let’s get rid of the bags! Once and for all, let’s give our luggage to him. Let’s take him at his word! “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 NLT).

From Traveling Light
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2004) Max Lucado

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Because He Chooses To...
by Max Lucado

Love. We’ve all but worn out the word. This morning I used love to describe my feelings toward my wife and toward peanut butter. Far from identical emotions. I’ve never proposed to a jar of peanut butter (though I have let one sit on my lap during a television show). Overuse has defused the word, leaving it with the punch of a butterfly wing.

Biblical options still retain their starch. Scripture employs an artillery of terms for love, each one calibrated to reach a different target. Consider the one Moses used with his followers: “The LORD chose your ancestors as the objects of his love” (Deuteronomy 10:15).

This passage warms our hearts. But it shook the Hebrews’ world. They heard this: “The Lord binds [hasaq] himself to his people.” Hasaq speaks of a tethered love, a love attached to something or someone. I’m picturing a mom connected by a child harness to her rambunctious five-year-old as the two of them walk through the market. (I once thought the leashes were cruel; then I became a dad.) The strap serves two functions, yanking and claiming. You yank your kid out of trouble and in doing so proclaim, “Yes, he is as wild as a banshee. But he’s mine.”

In this case, God chained himself to Israel. Because the people were lovable? No. “GOD wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important--the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors” (Deut. 7:7–8 MSG). God loves Israel and the rest of us because he chooses to.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2007) Max Lucado

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Welcome Home
by Max Lucado

I came home one night to find the place unusually quiet. Molly was gone.

She’d slipped out unnoticed. The search began immediately. Within an hour we knew that she was far, far from home. Now, if you don’t like pets, what I’m about to say is going to sound strange. If you do like pets, you will understand.

You’ll understand why we walked up and down the street, calling her name. You’ll understand why I drove around the neighborhood at 10:30 P.M. You’ll understand why I put up a poster in the convenience store and convened the family for a prayer. (Honestly, I did.) You’ll understand why I sent e-mails to the staff, asking for prayers, and to her breeder, asking for advice. And you’ll understand why we were ready to toss the confetti and party when she showed up.

Here is what happened. The next morning Denalyn was on her way home from taking the girls to school when she saw the trash truck. She asked the workers to keep an eye out for Molly and then hurried home to host a moms’ prayer group. Soon after the ladies arrived, the trash truck pulled into our driveway, a worker opened the door, and out bounded our dog. She had been found.

When Denalyn called to tell me the news, I could barely hear her voice. It was Mardi Gras in the kitchen. The ladies were celebrating the return of Molly.

This story pops with symbolism. The master leaving his house, searching for the lost. Victories in the midst of prayer. Great things coming out of trash. But most of all: the celebration at the coming home. That’s something else you have in common with Molly--a party at your homecoming.

Those you love will shout. Those you know will applaud. But all the noise will cease when he cups your chin and says, “Welcome home.” And with scarred hand he’ll wipe every tear from your eye. And you will dwell in the house of your Lord--forever.

From Traveling Light
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2001) Max Lucado

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You Are Not a Victim of Your Thoughts

Life has a way of unloading her rubbish on our doorstep! Your husband works too much. Your wife gripes too much. Your boss expects too much. Your kids whine too much. The result? Trash. Loads of pessimism, guilt, anxiety--it all piles up. And what about the Pharisees? They killed Christ in their hearts before they killed him on the cross.

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. Could that be why Paul writes, “Love...keeps no record of wrongs?” (1 Corinthians 13:5). We do have a choice. Paul says we do when he writes, “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Selfishness, step back!  Envy...get lost! You are not a victim of your thoughts. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others? Absolutely!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com and find resources at MaxLucado.com

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2018 at 09:33

Nevertheless...
by Max Lucado

And the king and his men... spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” ...Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).
2 Samuel 5:6-9

Did you see it? Most hurry past it. Let’s not. Pull out a pen and underline this twelve-letter masterpiece.

Nevertheless.

“Nevertheless David took the stronghold...”

Wouldn’t you love God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless she led a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless he mastered a trade. Didn’t read the Bible until retirement age, nevertheless he came to a deep and abiding faith.

We all need a nevertheless. And God has plenty to go around. Strongholds mean nothing to him. Remember Paul’s words? “We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4 NLT).

You and I fight with toothpicks; God comes with battering rams and cannons. What he did for David, he can do for us. The question is, will we do what David did? The king models much here.

Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention. One proclaims God’s strengths; the other lists your failures. One longs to build you up; the other seeks to tear you down. And here’s the great news: you select the voice you hear. Why listen to the mockers? Why heed their voices? Why give ear to pea-brains and scoffers when you can, with the same ear, listen to the voice of God?

Do what David did.
Turn a deaf ear to the old voices.
Open a wide eye to the new choices.
Who knows, you may be a prayer away from a nevertheless. God loves to give them.
Peter stuck his foot in his mouth.
Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt.
The Samaritan woman had been married five times.
Jesus was dead in the grave ...

Nevertheless, Peter preached, Joseph ruled, the woman shared, Jesus rose -- and you?

You fill in the blank. Your nevertheless awaits you.

From Facing Your Giants
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2006) Max Lucado

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Headed Homeward
by Max Lucado

Aging is God’s idea. It’s one of the ways he keeps us headed homeward. We can’t change the process, but we can change our attitude. Here is a thought. What if we looked at the aging body as we look at the growth of a tulip?

Do you ever see anyone mourning over the passing of the tulip bulb? Do gardeners weep as the bulb begins to weaken? Of course not. We don’t purchase tulip girdles or petal wrinkle cream or consult plastic-leaf surgeons. We don’t mourn the passing of the bulb; we celebrate it. Tulip lovers rejoice the minute the bulb weakens. “Watch that one,” they say. “It’s about to blossom.”

Could it be heaven does the same? The angels point to our bodies. The more frail we become, the more excited they become. “Watch that lady in the hospital,” they say. “She’s about to blossom.” “Keep an eye on the fellow with the bad heart. He’ll be coming home soon.”

“We are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which means our bodies will be made free” (Romans 8:23).

Are our bodies now free? No. Paul describes them as our “earthy bodies” (Phil. 3:21 MSG). Or as other translations state:

“our lowly body” (NKJV)
“the body of our humble state” (NASB)
“these weak mortal bodies” (NLT)
“our vile body” (KJV)
“our simple bodies” (NCV)

You could add your own adjective, couldn’t you? Which word describes your body? My cancerous body? My arthritic body? My deformed body? My crippled body? My addicted body? My ever-expanding body? The word may be different, but the message is the same: These bodies are weak. They began decaying the minute we began breathing.

And, according to God, that’s a part of the plan. Every wrinkle and every needle take us one step closer to the last step when Jesus will change our simple bodies into forever bodies. No pain. No depression. No sickness. No end.

This is not our forever house. It will serve for the time being. But there is nothing like the moment we enter his door.

From Traveling Light
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2001) Max Lucado

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Quiet Heroes 
by Max Lucado

Quiet heroes dot the landscape of our society. They don’t wear ribbons or kiss trophies; they wear spit-up and kiss boo-boos. They don’t make the headlines, but they do sew the hemlines and check the outlines and stand on the sidelines. You won’t find their names on the Nobel Prize short list, but you will find their names on the homeroom, carpool, and Bible teacher lists.

They are parents, both by blood and deed, name and calendar. Heroes. News programs don’t call them. But that’s okay. Because their kids do ... They call them Mom. They call them Dad. And these moms and dads, more valuable than all the executives and lawmakers west of the Mississippi, quietly hold the world together.

Be numbered among them. Read books to your kids. Play ball while you can and they want you to. Make it your aim to watch every game they play, read every story they write, hear every recital in which they perform.

Children spell love with four letters: T-I-M-E. Not just quality time, but hang time, downtime, anytime, all the time. Your children are not your hobby; they are your calling.

Your spouse is not your trophy but your treasure.

Don’t pay the price David paid. Look ahead to his final hours. To see the ultimate cost of a neglected family, look at the way our hero dies.

David is hours from the grave. A chill has set in that blankets can’t remove. Servants decide he needs a person to warm him, someone to hold him tight as he takes his final breaths.

Do they turn to one of his wives? No. Do they call on one of his children? No. They seek “for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel... and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her” (1 Kings 1:3-4).

I suspect that David would have traded all his conquered crowns for the tender arms of a wife. But it was too late. He died in the care of a stranger, because he made strangers out of his family.

But it’s not too late for you.

Make your wife the object of your highest devotion. Make your husband the recipient of your deepest passion. Love the one who wears your ring.

And cherish the children who share your name.

Succeed at home first.

From Facing Your Giants
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2006) Max Lucado

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God's Translator 
by Max Lucado

There were a few occasions in Brazil when I served as a translator for an English speaker. He stood before the audience, complete with the message. I stood at his side, equipped with the language. My job was to convey his story to the listeners. I did my best to allow his words to come through me. I was not at liberty to embellish or subtract. When the speaker gestured, I gestured. As his volume increased, so did mine. When he got quiet, I did, too.

When he walked this earth, Jesus was “translating” God all the time. When God got louder, Jesus got louder. When God gestured, Jesus gestured. He was so in sync with the Father that he could declare, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11NRSV). It was as if he heard a voice others were missing.

I witnessed something similar to this on an airplane once. I kept hearing outbursts of laughter. The flight was turbulent and bumpy, hardly a reason for humor. But some fellow behind me was cracking up. No one else, just him. Finally I turned to see what was so funny. He was wearing headphones and apparently listening to a comedian. Because he could hear what I couldn’t, he acted differently than I did.

The same was true with Jesus. Because he could hear what others couldn’t, he acted differently than they did. Remember when everyone was troubled about the man born blind? Jesus wasn’t. Somehow he knew that the blindness would reveal God’s power (John 9:3). Remember when everyone was distraught about Lazarus’s illness? Jesus wasn’t. Rather than hurry to his friend’s bedside, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God, to bring glory to the son of God” (John 11:4). It was as if Jesus could hear what no one else could. How could a relationship be more intimate? Jesus had unbroken communion with his father.

Do you suppose the Father desires the same for us? Absolutely. Paul says we have been “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29 NRSV). Let me remind you: God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus. God desires the same abiding intimacy with you that he had with his son.

From Just Like Jesus 
Copyright 2001 Max Lucado

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Stunned By His Grace 
by Max Lucado

I was mulling over a recent conversation I had with a disenchanted Christian brother. He was upset with me. So upset that he was considering rescinding his invitation for me to speak to his group. Seems he’d heard I was pretty open about who I have fellowship with. He’d read the words I wrote: “If God calls a person his child, shouldn’t I call him my brother?” And, “If God accepts others with their errors and misinterpretations, shouldn’t we?"

He didn’t like that. “Carrying it a bit too far,” he told me. “Fences are necessary,” he explained. “Scriptures are clear on such matters.” He read me a few and then urged me to be careful to whom I give grace.

“I don’t give it,” I assured. “I only spotlight where God already has.”

Later I had a great thought. A why-didn’t-I-think-to-say-that? insight.

If the subject resurfaces, I’ll say it. But in case it doesn’t, I’ll say it to you. (It’s too good to waste.) Just one sentence:

I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment, but I’m still stunned by his grace.

Story after story. Prayer after prayer. Surprise after surprise.

Seems that God is looking more for ways to get us home than for ways to keep us out. I challenge you to find one soul who came to God seeking grace and did not find it. Search the pages. Read the stories. Envision the encounters. Find one person who came seeking a second chance and left with a stern lecture. I dare you. Search.

You won’t find it.

Seems to me God gives a lot more grace than we’d ever imagine.

We could do the same.

I’m not for watering down the truth or compromising the gospel. But if a fellow with a pure heart calls God Father, can’t I call that same man Brother? If God doesn’t make doctrinal perfection a requirement for family membership, should I?

And if we never agree, can’t we agree to disagree? If God can tolerate my mistakes, can’t I tolerate the mistakes of others? If God can overlook my errors, can’t I overlook the errors of others? If God allows me with my foibles and failures to call him Father, shouldn’t I extend the same grace to others?

One thing’s for sure. When we get to heaven, we’ll be surprised at some of the folks we see. And some of them will be surprised to see us.

From When God Whispers Your Name
Copyright 1994, Max Lucado

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The God of Great Grace
by Max Lucado

He doesn’t speak. He removes his robe and takes the servant’s wrap off of the wall. Taking the pitcher, he pours the water into the basin. He kneels before them with the basin and sponge and begins to wash. The towel that covers his waist is also the towel that dries their feet.

It’s not right.

Isn’t it enough that these hands will be pierced in the morning? Must they scrub grime tonight? And the disciples ... do they deserve to have their feet washed? Their affections have waned; their loyalties have wavered.

Look around the table, Jesus. Out of the twelve, how many will stand with you in Pilate’s court? How many will share with you the Roman whip? And when you fall under the weight of the cross, which disciple will be close enough to spring to your side and carry your burden?

None of them will. Not one. A stranger will be called because no disciple will be near.

Don’t wash their feet, Jesus. Tell them to wash yours.

That’s what we want to say. Why? Because of the injustice? Because we don’t want to see our King behaving as a servant? God on his hands and knees, his hair hanging around his face? Do we object because we don’t want to see God washing feet?

Or do we object because we don’t want to do the same?

Watch Jesus as he goes from disciple to disciple. Can you see him? Can you hear the water splash? Can you hear him shuffle on the floor to the next person? Good. Keep that image.

John 13:12 says, “When he had finished washing their feet ...”

Please note, he finished washing their feet. That means he left no one out. Why is that important? Because that also means he washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. He gave his traitor equal attention. In just a few hours Judas’s feet would guide the Roman guard to Jesus. But at this moment they are caressed by Christ.

That’s not to say it was easy for Jesus.

That’s not to say it is easy for you.

That is to say that God will never call you to do what he hasn’t already done.

From A Gentle Thunder
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1999) Max Lucado

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Praying the Lord's Prayer
by Max Lucado

Here’s an example of how the Lord’s Prayer can guide your prayers:

Our Father

Thank you for adopting me into your family.

who is

Thank you, my Lord,
for being a God of the present tense:
my Jehovah-jireh (the God who provides),
my Jehovah-raah (the caring Shepherd),
my Jehovah-shalom (the Lord is peace),
my Jehovah-rophe (the God who heals),
and my Jehovah-nissi (Lord, my banner).

in heaven,

Your workshop of creation reminds me: If you can make the skies, you can make sense out of my struggles.

Hallowed be thy name.

Be holy in my heart.
You are a “cut above” all else.
Enable me to set my sights on you.

Thy kingdom come,

Come kingdom!
Be present, Lord Jesus!
Have free reign in every corner of my life.

Thy will be done,

Reveal your heart to me, dear Father.
Show me my role in your passion.
Grant me guidance in the following decisions ...

On earth as it is in heaven.

Thank you that you silence heaven to hear my prayer.
On my heart are the ones you love.
I pray for ...

Give us this day our daily bread.

I accept your portion for my life today.
I surrender the following concerns
regarding my well-being ...

Forgive us our debts,

I thank you for the roof of grace over my head,
bound together with the timbers and nails of Calvary. There is nothing I can do to earn or add to your mercy.
I confess my sins to you ...

As we also have forgiven our debtors;

Treat me, Father, as I treat others.
Have mercy on the following friends
who have wounded me ...

Lead us not into temptation,

Let my small hand be engulfed in yours.
Hold me, lest I fall.
I ask for special strength regarding ...

Our Father ... give us ... forgive us ... lead us

Let your kindness be on all your church.
I pray especially for ministers near
and missionaries far away.

Thine--not mine--is the kingdom,

I lay my plans at your feet.

Thine--not mine--is the power,

I come to you for strength.

Thine--not mine--is the glory,

I give you all the credit.

Forever. Amen.

Thine--not mine--is the power. Amen.

From The Great House of God 
Copyright 1997, Max Lucado

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Angels Watching Over You
by Max Lucado

One of my friends recently took a heart-stopping mission trip to Vietnam. He and two companions set out to smuggle Bibles and money to Christians there. Upon landing, however, he was separated from the other two. He spoke no Vietnamese and had never traveled in Hanoi. Imagine his thoughts, then, as he stood in front of the airport, holding a bag of Bibles, wearing a belt of cash, and knowing nothing more than the name of his hotel.

Taxi driver after taxi driver offered his services, but he waited and prayed. Finally, knowing he needed to do something, he climbed into a taxi and spoke the name of the hotel. After an hour and a thousand turns, he found himself deposited at the designated place. He paid his drivers, and they went on their way.

That’s right, “they” drove off. The front seat of his taxi had been occupied by two men. Only later did the uniqueness of this fact strike him. He saw hundreds of taxis during his days in Vietnam, but not another one of them had two drivers.

Angels minister to God’s people. “[God] has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go” (Ps. 91:11 NCV).

Billy Graham reminds us, “If you are a believer, expect powerful angels to accompany you in your life experience.” But what if you are not a believer? Do angels offer equal surveillance to God’s enemies? No, they don’t. The promise of angelic protection is limited to those who trust God. Refuse God at the risk of an unguarded back. But receive his lordship, and be assured that many mighty angels will guard you in all your ways.

God sends his best troops to oversee your life. Imagine the president assigning his Secret Service to protect you, telling his agents to motorcade your car through traffic and safeguard you through crowds. How would you sleep if you knew D.C.’s finest guarded your door? How will you sleep knowing heaven’s finest are doing just that? You are not alone. Receive God’s lordship over your life. Heaven’s many, mighty angels watch over you.

From Come Thirsty
Copyright 1995, Max Lucado

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Doubtstorms
by Max Lucado

The following is excerpted from Chapter 13 of In the Eye of the Storm.

On Sundays I stand before a church with a three-point outline in my hand, thirty minutes on the clock, and a prayer on my lips. I do my best to say something that will convince a stranger that an unseen God still hears.

And I sometimes wonder why so many hearts have to hurt.

Do you ever get doubtstorms? Some of you don’t, I know. I’ve talked to you.

I think you are gifted. You are gifted with faith. You can see the rainbow before the clouds part. If you have this gift, then I won’t say anything you need to hear.

But others of you wonder...

You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

- about starving children
- about the power of prayer
- about the depths of grace
- about Christians in cancer wards
- about who you are to ask such questions anyway.

Tough questions. Throw-in-the-towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm.

The light came for the disciples. A figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. Perhaps they were looking for angels to descend or heaven to open. Maybe they were listening for a divine proclamation to still the storm. We don’t know what they were looking for. But one thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for
Jesus to come walking on the water.

“‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

And since Jesus came in a way they didn’t expect, they almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

And unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God’s lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them.

When the disciples saw Jesus in the middle of their stormy night, they called him a ghost. A phantom. A hallucination. To them, the glow was anything but God.

When we see gentle lights on the horizon, we often have the same reaction. We dismiss occasional kindness as apparitions, accidents, or anomalies. Anything but God.

“When Jesus comes,” the disciples in the boat may have thought, “he’ll split the sky. The sea will be calm. The clouds will disperse.”

“When God comes,” we doubters think, “all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain.”

And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper.

From In the Eye of the Storm
Copyright 1991, Max Lucado

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Facing Your Grief 
by Max Lucado

“David sang this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, and gave orders that everyone in Judah learn it by heart.” (II Samuel 1:17-18 MSG)

David called the nation to mourning. He rendered weeping a public policy. He refused to gloss over or soft-pedal death. He faced it, fought it, challenged it. But he didn’t deny it. As his son Solomon explained, “There is...a time to mourn” (Eccles. 3:1, 4 NIV).

Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and--one more--face your grief with truth. Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didn’t want the Christians to “carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.” (I Thess. 4:13 MSG).

God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, he will tell you the truth about your loved ones. They’ve been dismissed from the hospital called Earth. You and I still roam the halls, smell the medicines, and eat green beans and Jell-O off plastic trays. They, meanwhile, enjoy picnics, inhale springtime, and run through knee-high flowers. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth? They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in heaven.

And won’t you see them soon? Life blisters by at mach speed. “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Ps. 39:5 NIV).

When you drop your kids off at school, do you weep as though you’ll never see them again? When you drop your spouse at the store and park the car, do you bid a final forever farewell? No. When you say, “I’ll see you soon,” you mean it. When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, “I’ll see you soon,” you speak the truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.

So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands. He knows the sorrow of a grave. He buried his son. But he also knows the joy of resurrection. And, by his power, you will too.

From Facing Your Giants
Copyright 2006 Max Lucado, W Publishing Group

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