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UpWords with Max Lucado

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**Robert E. Lee IV **

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 February 2018 at 09:29

Secret of Forgiveness

You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you. Is it still hard to consider the thought of forgiving the one who hurt you? If so, go one more time to the room. 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? Keep that image.

John 13:12 says, “When he had finished washing their feet. . .” Please note; Jesus finished washing their feet. That means he left no one out. Why is that important? Because that means he washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. That’s not to say it was easy for Jesus. That’s not to say it’s easy for you. But that is to say, God will never call you to do what he hasn’t already done!

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Sleeping Trouble

Millions of Americans have trouble sleeping!  You may be one of them. Only one other living creature has as much trouble resting as we do.  They are woolly, simpleminded, and slow...sheep. Sheep can’t sleep!  For sheep to sleep, everything must be just right. No predators. No tension in the flock.  Sheep need help.  They need a shepherd to lead them and help them lie down in green pastures. Without a shepherd, they cannot rest.

Without a shepherd, neither can we!  Psalm 23:2 says, “He, (the Shepherd) makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”  Who’s the active one?  Who’s in charge? The Shepherd!  With our eyes on the Shepherd, we’ll get some sleep. Isaiah 26:3 reminds us of the promise,  “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

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A Pasture for the Soul

When God gave the Ten Commandments and it came to Sabbath rest, His message was clear: If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do!  You know we need to rest. For a field to bear fruit, it must occasionally lie fallow. And for you to be healthy, you must rest. When David says in the 23rdPsalm, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures,” he’s saying, “My shepherd makes me lie down in his finished work.”

With His own pierced hands, Jesus created a pasture for the soul. He pried loose the huge boulders of sin. In their place He planted seeds of grace and dug ponds of mercy.  Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of the shepherd when the work is completed and he sees his sheep rest in the tender grass? Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of God when we do the same?

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Trust Your Perfect Guide

The story is told of a man on an African safari deep in the jungle. The guide had a machete and was whacking away the tall weeds and thick underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked in frustration, “Where are we? Do you know where you’re taking me? Where is the path?” The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied, “I am the path.”

We ask the same questions, don’t we? We ask God, “Where are you taking me? Where’s the path? Oh, He may give us a hint or two, but that’s all. If he did give us more, would we understand?  No, like the traveler, we are unacquainted with this jungle. So rather than give us an answer, He gives us a far greater gift...Jesus gives us Himself. He says in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always to the very end of the age.” We need that reminder!

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Use a Portable Prayer

Some people excel in prayer. They are the SEAL Team 6 of intercession. They would rather pray than sleep. Why is it I sleep when I pray? It’s not that we don’t pray at all. We all pray some. Surveys indicate one in five unbelievers prays daily. Just in case, perhaps?  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them a prayer...a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Could you use the same?

Father, You are good.
I need help. Heal me and forgive me.
They need help. Thank you.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Here is my challenge for you: Every day for 4 weeks, pray 4 minutes. Then get ready to connect with God like never before!

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Whispered Reminder

In Matthew 6, Jesus prayed: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

A prayer that begins. . . May I not view you as a distant father, but as one who has come to earth and understands the challenges and temptations of my life. Be near me today, whisper reminders that you’re close. My friends need you today as they make difficult decisions in their workplace and in their families. Show them you are closer than even their earthly fathers. Thank you for hearing me and listening to my pleas. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray this, amen.

Here’s my challenge for you! Every day for four weeks, pray four minutes; and get ready to connect with God like never before!

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Prayers Don't Get Graded

Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers. We tend to do the opposite. The more words the better! We emphasize the appropriate prayer language, the latest prayer trend, the holiest prayer terminology. Against all this emphasis on syllables and rituals, Jesus says in Matthew 6:7, “Don’t ramble like heathens who talk a lot.” There’s no panel of angelic judges with numbered cards.

Wow, Lucado, that prayer was a ten. God will certainly hear you! or
Oh, Lucado, you scored a two this morning. Go home and practice!

Prayers aren’t graded according to style. If prayer depends on how I pray, I’m sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, then I have hope.

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A Tabulated List of Grace

A couple who resorted to do-it-yourself marriage counseling resolved to list each others’ faults and then read them aloud. The wife gave her list and he read: You snore; you eat in bed; the list continued. When the husband gave her his list, she smiled. He’d written his grievances, but next to each he’d written– I forgive this. The result was a tabulated list of grace.

Imagine you are before the judgment seat of Christ. The book is opened and the reading begins--each sin, each deceit, and each occasion of greed. But as soon as the infraction is read, grace is proclaimed. Jesus says, I forgive this. Registered forgiveness! No humiliation! No shame! Because in heaven you will be in your sinless state--happy to let God do in heaven what he did on earth. He will be honored in your weakness!

From When Christ Comes

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There's a Better Way

Anxiety weighs down the human heart (Proverbs 12:25 NRSV). But there’s a better way. Invite God to speak to the problem. “Capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV).

Slap handcuffs on the culprit, and march it before the One who has all authority! Jesus says, “Get away from here, Satan!” And as the discerning, sober-minded air traffic controller of your mind, you refuse to let the thought have the time of day.

Lay claim to every biblical promise you can remember, and set out to learn a few more. Give Satan no quarter. Give his lies no welcome. Resist the urge to exaggerate, overstate, or simplify. Focus on the facts. For all you know, God may want you to be a poster child for growth. What you can do is pray and trust!

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A Time Claimed for God

A friend described to me her daily ninety-minute commute. “Ninety minutes,” I commiserated. “Don’t feel sorry for me,” she smiled, “I use the trip to think about God.” She went on to describe how she fills the hour listening to entire books of the Bible. She recites prayers. By the time she reaches her place of employment, she’s ready for the day. She says, “I turn my commute into my chapel.”

Is there a block of time you can claim for God? Perhaps turning off the network news and opening your Bible. Set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier. Rather than watch TV as you fall asleep, listen to an audio version of the Bible or a Christian book. Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).

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Let Him Fix It

I’m sure you’ve had an appliance you may have tried to fix, but with no success. So you took it to the specialist. You explained the problem and then...offered to stay and help fix it? or hovered at the workbench asking questions about the progress? How about threw a sleeping bag on the floor so you could watch the repairman at work?  If you did any of these things, you don’t understand the relationship between client and repairman. The arrangement is uncomplicated. Leave it with him to fix it!

Our protocol with God is equally simple. Leave your problem with him. God doesn’t need our help, counsel, or assistance. Please repeat this phrase: I hereby resign as ruler of the universe. When God is ready for us to re-engage, he will let us know. Until then, replace anxious thoughts with grateful ones. God takes thanksgiving seriously!

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Stop Being Uneasy about Your Life

Worry has more questions than answers, more work than energy, and thinks often about giving up. There’s not enough time, luck, credit, wisdom, or intelligence. We’re running out of everything it seems, and so we worry.  But worry doesn’t work. You can dedicate a decade of anxious thoughts to the brevity of life, and not extend it by one minute. Worry accomplishes nothing.

God doesn’t condemn legitimate concern for responsibilities but rather the continuous mind-set that dismisses God’s presence. Destructive anxiety subtracts God from the future and tallies up the challenges of the day without entering God into the equation. Jesus gives us this challenge: “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously; and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:32-33).

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A Greenhouse of Prayer

All people are God’s people--including the small people who sit at our tables. Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to God.

Parents, we can do this. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we don’t, we’ll take our fears out on our kids! A family with no breathing room suffocates a child. Fear can also create permissive parents who are high on hugs and low on discipline.

How can we avoid the two extremes? We pray. Jesus makes no comments about spanking, sibling rivalry, or schooling. Yet his actions speak volumes about prayer. Each time a parent prays, Christ responds. His message to moms and dads? Bring your children to me. Raise them in a greenhouse of prayer.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 May 2018 at 08:48

God's Loving Pursuit
by Max Lucado

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." ~~ Psalm 23:6

Dare we envision a God who follows us? Who pursues us? Who chases us? Who tracks us down and wins us over? Who follows us with "goodness and mercy" all the days of our lives?

Isn't this the kind of God described in the Bible? A God who follows us?

Moses can tell you about it. He was forty years in the desert when he looked over his shoulder and saw a bush blazing. God had followed him into the wilderness.

Jonah can tell you about it. He was a fugitive on a boat when he looked over his shoulder and saw clouds brewing. God had followed him onto the ocean.

The disciples of Jesus knew the feeling of being followed by God. They were rain soaked and shivering when they looked over their shoulders and saw Jesus walking toward them. God had followed them into the storm.

John the Apostle was banished on Patmos when he looked over his shoulder and saw the skies begin to open. God had followed him into his exile.

Lazarus was three days dead in a sealed tomb when he heard a voice, lifted his head, and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus standing. God had followed him into death.

Peter had denied his Lord and gone back to fishing when he heard his name and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus cooking breakfast. God had followed him in spite of his failure.

God is the God who follows. I wonder... have you sensed him following you? We often miss him.

Through the kindness of a stranger. The majesty of a sunset. The mystery of romance. Through the question of a child or the commitment of a spouse. Through a word well spoken or a touch well timed, have you sensed his presence?

His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.

From "Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended 
to Bear"

Copyright 2001, Max Lucado

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When Christ Comes
by Max Lucado

You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you've ever heard fills the air. The sound is high above you. A trumpet? A choir? A choir of trumpets?  You don't know, but you want to know. So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up.

As you do, you see you aren't the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store. The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the clouds.

And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None. From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color-spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels.

They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky. North. South. East. West. Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, "Holy, holy, holy."

The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship. Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: "Holy, holy, holy." Between each word is a pause. With each word, a profound reverence. You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don't know why you say the words, but you know you must.

Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet. The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns-and there he is. Jesus. Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King. He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud. He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration: "I am the Alpha and the Omega."

The angels bow their heads. The elders remove their crowns. And before you is a figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know: Nothing else matters. Forget stock markets and school reports. Sales meetings and football games. Nothing is newsworthy. All that mattered, matters no more, for Christ has come.

February 15, 2006

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 May 2018 at 09:32

Running Away from the Father
by Max Lucado

When I was seven years old, I ran away from home.

I'd had enough of my father's rules and decided I could make it on my own, thank you very much. With my clothes in a paper bag, I stormed out the back gate and marched down the alley.

Like the prodigal son, I decided I needed no father. Unlike the prodigal son, I didn't go far. I got to the end of the alley and remembered I was hungry, so I went back home.

But though the rebellion was brief, it was rebellion nonetheless. And had you stopped me on that prodigal path between the fences and asked me who my father was, I just might have told you how I felt. I just might have said, "I don't need a father. I'm too big for the rules of my family. It's just me, myself and my paper bag."

I don't remember saying that to anyone, but I remember thinking it. And I also remember rather sheepishly stepping in the back door and taking my seat at the supper table across from the very father I had, only moments before, disowned.

Did he know of my insurrection? I suspect he did. Did he know of my denial? Dads usually do. Was I still his son? Apparently so. (No one else was sitting in my place.)

Had you gone to my father after you had spoken to me and asked, "Mr. Lucado, your son says he has no need of a father. Do you still consider him your son?" What would my dad have said?

I don't have to guess at his answer. He called himself my father even when I didn't call myself his son. His commitment to me was greater than my commitment to him.

I didn't hear the rooster crow like Peter did. I didn't feel the fish belch like Jonah did. I didn't get a robe and a ring and sandals like the prodigal did. But I learned from my father on earth what those three learned from their Father in heaven.

Our God is no fair-weather Father. He's not into this love-'em-and-leave-'em-stuff. I can count on him to be in my corner no matter how I perform. You can, too.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tikkabuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2018 at 10:03

Have You Heard the Clanging Door?
by Max Lucado

Nine-year-old Al trudges through the London streets, his hand squeezing a note, his heart pounding with fear. He has not read the letter; his father forbade him to do so. He doesn’t know the message, but he knows its destination. The police station.

Young boys might covet a trip to the police station. Not Al. At least not today. Punishment, not pleasure, spawned this visit. Al failed to meet the family curfew. The fun of the day made him forget the time of day, so he came home late and in trouble.

His father, a stern disciplinarian, met Al at the front door and, with no greeting, gave him the note and the instruction, “Take it to the jailhouse.” Al has no idea what to expect, but he fears the worst.

The fears prove justifiable. The officer, a friend of his father, opens the note, reads it, and nods. “Follow me.” He leads the wide-eyed youngster to a jail cell, opens the door, and tells him to enter. The officer clangs the door shut. “This is what we do to naughty boys,” he explains and walks away.

Al’s face pales as he draws the only possible conclusion. He has crossed his father’s line. Exhausted his supply of grace. Outspent the cache of mercy. So his dad has locked him away. Young Al has no reason to think he’ll ever see his family again.

He is wrong. The jail sentence lasts only five minutes. But those five minutes felt like five months. Al never forgot that day. The sound of the clanging door, he often told people, stayed with him the rest of his life.1

Easy to understand why. Can you imagine a more ominous noise? Its echo wordlessly announced, “Your father rejects you. Search all you want; he isn’t near. Plead all you want; he won’t hear. You are separated from your father’s love.”

The slamming of the cell door. Many fear they have heard it. Al forgot the curfew. You forgot your virtue. Little Al came home late. Maybe you came home drunk. Or didn’t come home at all. Al lost track of time. You lost your sense of direction and ended up in the wrong place doing the wrong thing, and heaven knows, heaven has no place for the likes of . . . Cheaters. Aborters. Adulterers. Secret sinners. Public scoundrels. Impostors. Church hypocrites. Locked away, not by an earthly father, but by your heavenly one. Incarcerated, not in a British jail, but in personal guilt, shame. No need to request mercy; the account is empty. Make no appeal for grace; the check will bounce. You’ve gone too far.

The fear of losing a father’s love exacts a high toll. Al spent the rest of his life hearing the clanging door. That early taste of terror contributed to his lifelong devotion to creating the same in others. For Al -- Alfred Hitchcock -- made a career out of scaring people.

You may be scaring some folks yourself. You don’t mean to. But you cannot produce what you do not possess. If you aren’t convinced of God’s love, how can you love others?

Do you fear you have heard the clanging door? If so, be assured. You have not. Your imagination says you did; logic says you did; some parent or pulpiteer says you did. But according to the Bible, according to Paul, you did not.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

...Paul was convinced. Are you? Are you convinced that you have never lived a loveless day? Not one. Never unloved. Those times you deserted Christ? He loved you. You hid from him; he came looking for you.

And those occasions you denied Christ? Though you belonged to him, you hung with them, and when his name surfaced, you cursed like a drunken sailor. God let you hear the crowing of conscience and feel the heat of tears. But he never let you go. Your denials cannot diminish his love.

Nor can your doubts. You’ve had them. You may have them even now. While there is much we cannot know, may never know, can’t we be sure of this? Doubts don’t separate doubters from God’s love.

The greatest discovery in the universe is the greatest love in the universe--God’s love. “Nothing can ever separate us from his love” (Rom. 8:38). Think what those words mean. You may be separated from your spouse, from your folks, from your kids, from your hair, but you are not separated from the love of God. And you never will be. Ever.

Step to the well of his love and drink up. It may take some time to feel the difference. Occasional drinks won’t bedew the evaporated heart. Ceaseless swallows will. Once filled up by his love, you’ll never be the same.

The fear of love lost haunted young Al. But the joy of a love found changed the disciples. May you be changed. The next time you fear you hear a clanging door, remember, “Nothing can ever separate us from his love” (Rom. 8:38).

Excerpt adapted from Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch by Max Lucado (W Publishing Group, October 2004).  For more information on Max Lucado, visit www.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: 10 May 2018 at 10:01

Bumping Life Off (Self) Center
by Max Lucado

Blame the bump on Copernicus.

Until Copernicus came along in 1543, we earthlings enjoyed center stage. Fathers could place an arm around their children, point to the night sky, and proclaim, “The universe revolves around us.”

Ah, the hub of the planetary wheel, the navel of the heavenly body, the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue of the cosmos. Ptolemy’s second-century finding convinced us. Stick a pin in the center of the stellar map, and you’ve found the earth. Dead center.

And, what’s more, dead still! Let the other planets vagabond through the skies. Not us. No sir. We stay put. As predictable as Christmas. No orbiting. No rotating. Some fickle planets revolve 180 degrees from one day to the next. Not ours. As budgeless as the Rock of Gibraltar. Let’s hear loud applause for the earth, the anchor of the universe.

But then came Nicolaus. Nicolaus Copernicus with his maps, drawings, bony nose, Polish accent, and pestering questions. Oh, those questions he asked.

“Ahem, can anyone tell me what causes the seasons to change?”

“Why do some stars appear in the day and others at night?”

“Does anyone know exactly how far ships can sail before falling off the edge of the earth?”

“Trivialities!” people scoffed. “Who has time for such problems? Smile and wave, everyone. Heaven’s homecoming queen has more pressing matters to which to attend.”

But Copernicus persisted. He tapped our collective shoulders and cleared his throat. “Forgive my proclamation, but,” and pointing a lone finger toward the sun, he announced, “behold the center of the solar system.”

People denied the facts for over half a century. When like-minded Galileo came along, they imprisoned him. You’d have thought he had called the king a stepchild or the pope a Baptist.

People didn’t take well to demotions back then.

We still don’t.

What Copernicus did for the earth, God does for our souls. Tapping the collective shoulder of humanity, he points to the Son--his Sonand says, “Behold the center of it all.”

“God raised him [Christ] from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church” (Ephesians 1:20–22 MSG).

When God looks at the center of the universe, he doesn’t look at you. When heaven’s stagehands direct the spotlight toward the star of the show, I need no sunglasses. No light falls on me.

Lesser orbs, that’s us. Appreciated. Valued. Loved dearly. But central? Essential? Pivotal? Nope. Sorry. Contrary to the Ptolemy within us, the world does not revolve around us. Our comfort is not God’s priority. If it is, something’s gone awry. If we are the marquee event, how do we explain flat-earth challenges like death, disease, slumping economies, or rumbling earthquakes? If God exists to please us, then shouldn’t we always be pleased?

Could a Copernican shift be in order? Perhaps our place is not at the center of the universe. As John Piper writes, “God does not exist to make much of us. We exist to make much of him.” It’s not about you. It’s not about me.

The moon models our role.

What does the moon do? She generates no light. Contrary to the lyrics of the song, this harvest moon cannot shine on. Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch-black, pockmarked rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. Let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration, yea, verily, romance. The moon reflects the greater light.

And she’s happy to do so! You never hear the moon complaining. She makes no waves about making waves. Let the cow jump over her or astronauts step on her; she never objects. Even though sunning is accepted while mooning is the butt of bad jokes, you won’t hear ol’ Cheeseface grumble. The moon is at peace in her place. And because she is, soft light touches a dark earth.

What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors?

Such a shift comes so stubbornly, however. We’ve been demanding our way and stamping our feet since infancy. Aren’t we all born with a default drive set on selfishness? I want a spouse who makes me happy and coworkers who always ask my opinion. I want weather that suits me and traffic that helps me and a government that serves me. It is all about me. We relate to the advertisement that headlined, “For the man who thinks the world revolves around him.” A prominent actress justified her appearance in a porn magazine by saying, “I wanted to express myself.”

Self-promotion. Self-preservation. Selfcenteredness. It’s all about me!

They all told us it was, didn’t they? Weren’t we urged to look out for number one? Find our place in the sun? Make a name for ourselves? We thought self-celebration would make us happy...

But what chaos this philosophy creates. What if a symphony followed such an approach? Can you imagine an orchestra with an “It’s all about me” outlook? Each artist clamoring for self-expression. Tubas blasting nonstop. Percussionists pounding to get attention. The cellist shoving the flutist out of the center-stage chair. The trumpeter standing atop the conductor’s stool tooting his horn. Sheet music disregarded. Conductor ignored. What do you have but an endless tune-up session!

Harmony? Hardly.

Happiness? Are the musicians happy to be in the group? Not at all. Who enjoys contributing to a cacophony?

You don’t. We don’t. We were not made to live this way. But aren’t we guilty of doing just that?

No wonder our homes are so noisy, businesses so stress filled, government so cutthroat, and harmony so rare. If you think it’s all about you, and I think it’s all about me, we have no hope for a melody. We’ve chased so many skinny rabbits that we’ve missed the fat one: the God-centered life.

What would happen if we took our places and played our parts? If we played the music the Maestro gave us to play? If we made his song our highest priority?

Would we see a change in families? We’d certainly hear a change. Less “Here is what I want!” More “What do you suppose God wants?”

What if a businessman took that approach? Goals of money and name making, he’d shelve. God reflecting would dominate.

And your body? Ptolemaic thinking says, “It’s mine; I’m going to enjoy it.” God-centered thinking acknowledges, “It’s God’s; I have to respect it.”

We’d see our suffering differently. “My pain proves God’s absence” would be replaced with “My pain expands God’s purpose.”

Talk about a Copernican shift. Talk about a healthy shift. Life makes sense when we accept our place. The gift of pleasures, the purpose of problems--all for him. The God-centered life works. And it rescues us from a life that doesn’t.

But how do we make the shift? How can we be bumped off self-center? Attend a seminar, howl at the moon, read a Lucado book? None of these (though the author appreciates that last idea). We move from me-focus to God-focus by pondering him. Witnessing him. Following the counsel of the apostle Paul: “Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV).

Beholding him changes us. Couldn’t we use a change? Let’s give it a go. Who knows? We might just discover our place in the universe.

Excerpted from:
It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado

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A Cloak Of Love
by Max Lucado

Do you own a cloak of love? Do you know anyone who needs one? When you cover someone with concern, you are fulfilling what Paul had in mind when he wrote the phrase "love... always protects" (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NIV).

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament is known for its word study, not its poetry. But the scholar sounds poetic as he explains the meaning of protect as used in 1 Corinthians 13:7. The word conveys, he says, "the idea of covering with a cloak of love."

Know anyone in need of a cloak of love?

A few years back I offered one to my daughters. The whirlwind of adolescence was making regular runs through our house, bringing with it more than our share of doubts, pimples, and peer pressure. I couldn't protect the girls from the winds, but I could give them an anchor to hold in the midst. On Valentine's Day, 1997, I wrote the following and had it framed for each daughter:

I have a special gift for you. My gift is warmth at night and sunlit afternoons, chuckles and giggles and happy Saturdays. But how do I give this gift? Is there a store which sells laughter? A catalog that offers kisses? No. Such a treasure can't be bought. But it can be given. And here is how I give it to you. Your Valentine's Day gift is a promise, a promise that I will always love your mother. With God as my helper, I will never leave her.  You'll never come home to find me gone. You'll never wake up and find that I have run away. You'll always have two parents. I will love your mother. I will honor your mother. I will cherish your mother. That is my promise. That is my gift.

Love, Dad

Know anyone who could use some protection? Of course you do. Then give some.

From A Love Worth Giving
Copyright 2002, Max Lucado

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

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In the Storm

After Jesus’ disciples fought a raging storm for nine cold hours, at about 4:00 AM the unspeakable happened. They spotted someone coming on the water. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. (Matthew 14:26 MSG). They didn’t expect Jesus to come to them this way.

Neither do we. We expect him to come in the form of peaceful hymns on Easter Sundays or quiet retreats. We expect to find Jesus in morning devotionals and meditations. We never expect to see him in a divorce or a foreclosure. We never expect to see him in a storm. But it’s in a storm that he does his finest work, for it is in storms that he has our keenest attention.

Jesus replied to the disciples’ fear with an invitation worthy of inscription on every church cornerstone and residential archway, “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14:27).

Read more Fearless

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