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How To Go From Sourpuss To Joy


sun-151763_640Once my friend Scott and I were standing in a long line in a brand-new building supply store in Luxembourg. A grand-opening sale and great publicity worked to perfection and people scurried everywhere like ants on an anthill that someone had just kicked.

We watched the young lady at the front of our interminable line robotically checking everyone out. I’m sure she was a bit overwhelmed with the crowd, but a machine would have displayed more personality.

So I said to my friend Scott, “Do you think we can make her laugh?”

He was pretty sure we could and when we got our turn we teased and laughed with her. Before we left she was a jolly old soul.

Cheerfullness Isn’t Far Away

Which makes me think that joy isn’t far away for most of us. All we have to do is dig away a little sand and cheerfullness bubbles up like a hudden stream in the desert.

Christians have a reputation of being a sour lot and let’s admit it—often it’s true. But why? If anyone has a reason to be glad it’s those who have an inheritance like ours.

We’re even commanded by our joyful God to be joyful. Now I know that when we say that joy is a commandment, that’s often just something else to feel guilty about.

“I’m supposed to be joyful but here I am sad. I’m just not what I ought to be.” Continue reading

Big Problems–Is God Evening Up the Score With Me?

Two friends sat at a table. One drank coffee, the other a diet coke. Herman says to Ralph, “Did you hear that our friend Freddie is going through a terrible trial?”

“No,” Ralph replies. “I wonder if he sinned and if God is punishing him.”

The next week they’re talking again. This time Herman is drinking diet coke and Ralph is drinking coffee. Ralph says to Herman, “Did you hear about Daisy? They say she’s got cancer.”

“Well, you know how gossipy Daisy is. I won’t say she’s being punished but, well …” Herman says to Ralph.

The next week both of the friends are drinking coffee. “Did you hear about Fred?” Herman asks. “Lost his job. His wife left him and he found out he’s got athlete’s foot.”

“Do you think he did something to make God mad?”

At the end of the month the two get together again. Herman says to Ralph, “The doctor says I’ve got a terrible disease.”

Ralph says to Herman, “I lost my job.”

Both of them wail in unison, “What did I do to deserve that!”

Is God Evening Up the Score?

Often in the face of trouble, there is a sneaky little voice that whispers that if something goes wrong in someone’s life, divine justice is evening up the score. Continue reading

How To Stop Dropping the Ball



Some friends invited me to accompany them to the “Red River Shootout”—the Texas-Oklahoma college football game (thanks Kevin, Nathan and Jonathan).

Now my football allegiance goes to another team in red (which doesn’t win as often as Oklahoma) but Texas-Oklahoma is a classic. And it was a great chance to spend time with friends I don’t see often.

We were seated with Oklahoma’s fans on their end of the field. I discovered that they aren’t particularly fond of Texas, and I was glad my friends in their orange shirts and caps were big enough to defend us all.

Actually, the fans in front of us were super nice and we chatted during the game. The ladies behind us, though, had evidently been raised by wolves or drunken sailors. That’s another Coffee Stain for some other day.

I was amazed to watch Oklahoma’s team in warm-ups. When the quarterbacks threw to their receivers I didn’t see one dropped ball. I wasn’t always paying attention, of course, but the quarterbacks were sharp and the receivers outstanding.

When the game started, though, it wasn’t always like that. On one play, I think the Texas defensive back was off somewhere eating a hamburger because the Oklahoma receiver was all by himself. He might have caught cold, he was so open. Continue reading

Low On Courage? Try These Six Ways Back To Confidence

football-1005498_640I like those old football movies where the coach fires up his down-trodden players at halftime. The other team is up 73-0 but the coach, who resembles Ronald Reagan, restores their courage with a passionate speech.

“Win one for the Gipper!” (And everyone under 40 says, “Who is the Gipper?”)

Supercharged with energy from the speech the team explodes from the locker room and goes on to win the game 74-73.  (When you are Hollywood you can make it come out  however you want).

But, how do real-life people who love the Lord, get a refill of courage when they find themselves in a corner, trembling like a bucket of jelly?

Here are six more courage-givers.

1.         You tell yourself God’s truth over and over. Sometimes it seems all your enemies have united against you. Sickness, financial problems, relationship problems and depression cause you to want to run and hide.

But there is no place to hide. What to do?

Don’t be paralyzed by fear, Pray! Remind yourself of God’s promises, then act! You latch on to God’s word and hold on like the swordsman who grasps his sword and swings it until his hand is stuck to it.

2.         Praise God in the face of your enemies. It looked like old king Jehoshaphat was getting ready to bite the dust. His enemies united to attack him. These powerful armies threatened to destroy him. Continue reading

Hide Your Veins When There’s a Nurse Around—Courage #2

The other day my wife and I were at a restaurant with my daughter Christi, who is a nurse. I noticed she was looking at the veins in my arms.

“You’ve got good veins daddy.”

Kind of makes me nervous when a nurse looks at my veins like that. But, it also encourages me to think that if doctors and nurses have to get life-giving medicine into my body, they won’t have to dig around a long time.

So get your veins popping out and I’ll inject the medicine you need to get into your spirit so that you can get healed from paralyzing fear. Why is it important? Think about this story.

One of my friends told me about an experience his father had when the father was a little boy. The youngster climbed a tree and was afraid to come down. He yelled for his mother.

She came out on the porch of the house, saw him, and with a disgusted looked turned and went back into the house.

The family lived in the country and undoubtedly the little one had been impressed by hunters shooting game out of trees. For some reason he thought his mother was going into the house to get the hunting gun in order to shoot him out of the tree. (She wasn’t).

The little fellow was so scared he turned loose of the tree and endured a tooth-jarring collision when he hit the ground.

Sometimes fear makes you do irrational things. That’s one of the reasons why you need to be en-couraged.

So David, let’s continue the conversation we started last week. Tell me. How do you get courage when your courage tank is empty? Continue reading