Lessons From a Milkshake

 

If the perfect food scored 100 on the food scale, I think milkshakes would come in at about 95. I like them.

But even milkshakes come with complications. Suppose, for instance, that you’re driving home late from somewhere and you stop and get a milkshake, as I’ve been known to do. There in the darkness of your car you insert your straw in the lid of the concoction and you suck.

Nothing.

So you suck again–harder. Still nothing. So you pull again and again. Finally you get a tiny taste of the marvelous liquid. You summon up all your strength and suck so mightily that your face implodes. Still nothing.

Clearly this calls for another strategy. So you tap yourself on the back of the head to make your face pop back out and there in the darkness of the car you take the lid off the milkshake and decide to drink it the caveman way. Bottoms up!

Only it’s thick and you can’t see in the dark. So you turn it up and tap it against your mouth. Nothing. So you tap harder … and harder … and finally the whole thing comes sliding down, baptizing your nose and mustache in the sticky stuff.

At least you get a little in your mouth.

Course you could always just use a spoon, if you have one handy. But if you eat it like that you may as well order plain ice cream. And you usually manage to drop some on your dress pants in the dark which gets you fussed at when you get home.

So I would score it like this. If a milkshake starts out with a value of 95, you have to take away 20 points for the guilt factor. (You know that voice that’s saying, “You’re gonna get fat if you eat that. Can’t you just feel your arteries clogging? Blah, blah, blah!”). Then you take away another 10 points for the sticky mustache and ten more for the frustration of sucking at the stuff without any results. Subtract ten more points for the trouble you’re going to have because you have to take your pants to the cleaners to clean away the milkshake droppings.

Your 95 point milkshake has dropped to 45 points. Brocolli on the other hand has just the opposite results. It starts out at about 10 on the good-tasting scale and ends up with about 50 points because of all it’s healthy attributes. I’ll spare you the story of how it happens.

But I ask you, what kind of scale is it when broccoli scores better than milkshakes?

Let’s be honest. If we’re going to get something good in life, we have to put up with some inconvenience on the way. We have to work hard. We have to trust the Lord, even when it seems things are not going according to plan.

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10).

Sometimes it easier in the short run to roll down the window and throw the stubborn milkshake away. Get rids of a problem but it doesn’t do much for my sweet tooth does it?

In any good thing that God has for us to do there will be times of frustration, discouragement, and times that you will honestly ask, “Is it worth it?” Yes, it is worth it. Stay in touch with the Lord. When the situation gets harder, call out more and more for his help.

Eventually the milkshake will melt enough to enjoy it.

Traveler

A bit different this week …

Traveler struggled wearily upwards, fatigue pulling at him heavily. Tiredness clutched his soul as well as his legs. Finally he stopped at a mountain highpoint in the forest at a vantage point that took in the valley.

He sank wearily down, laying his heavy pack to one side and resting his back against the rough bark of one of the tall pines that guarded the narrow path. The scene should have taken his breath as the late-evening sun painted the valley blue/green/gold.“Should have” but didn’t. He was beyond being healed by beautiful scenery. Life had closed in around him as he had been smashed by one problem after another. His brain ached and his eyelids sank as the sun drooped beyond the last trees.

He awoke to darkness. Well, kind of darkness, but not exactly. The moon and stars seemed to be smiling and laughing above and the night seemed more like a black velvet backdrop for millions of beautiful diamonds. He felt aware–aware as if his powers of perception had increased a hundredfold. Way down in the valley it seemed a Celtic piper began faintly playing a tune that caused tears to spring to his eyes.

Slowly the song drifted up the mountain. When it finally wound its way to him only one word rode the back of the haunting melody—“faaaiiiiitthfuuuul” it whispered. “Faithfuuuuuullll.”

Fascination paralyzed him as the music drifted round and round him, finally descending into the valley. Then it headed back, stronger and faster. “Faaaiiittthfuuuuul!” it crooned and shouted. Images began to flash in his head–like the time his child had been deathly sick but God healed him. “Faithful” the song asserted. “Faithful!” He saw the time when he didn’t have money to pay the rent and God helped him. “Faithful, faithful, faithful!” the song chirped.

Was it a word he was hearing? Was the music speaking? He saw the time that life hurt him so badly he could hardly breathe. He had asked God for help and things didn’t go the way he had prayed. He thought the Lord had abandoned him, but held on in faith and He came through.

Traveler bore heavy scars from that fray but somehow those scars were precious to him. “Faithfuuuuuuul!” The melody trailed off down the valley again. Soon it charged back roaring like a hurricane symphony.

This time other words added themselves to the one-word masterpiece. “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” the lyrics gained in crescendo. “ “All thy commandments are faithful” the wind answered.

“Because of God, who has faithfully kept his word, The Holy of Israel, who has chosen you.” (the Message) it seemed lighting flashed before his eyes. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” the music reprised. The wild music shot into the sky above his head and redescended in a hail of powerful words, “faithful high priest… he is faithful that promised… faithful Creator… faithful and just to forgive us our sins…faithful witness…”

Suddenly there was a powerful silence, a silence as awesome as the music itself. It was as if all nature built toward the finale. The song burst forth again with a climax that gave Traveler goosebumps,

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”

And just as suddenly the song drifted away and the man’s weighted eyelids won him over again. He awoke as the sun was reappearing, lightly nudging the mist which slept among the valley trees. “Whew! I’m not going to eat anymore anchovy pizzas before I go to sleep,” Traveler muttered rubbing the night from his eyes. But then he remembered the song. What a dream! What a dream… But somehow he felt different. The heaviness in his soul had disappeared during the night.

The situation he faced was the same but he had changed. He shouldered his pack, and set out briskly towards the summit, munching on a piece of dry trail bread. “God is faithful,” he sang. “Where did that song come from?” he asked himself. “Faithful? Yes. He’s faithful.”

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Think about it—“Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” Augustine
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Prayer team—

  • Pray that God would give the French a hunger for Himself. Pray that they see the need of a Savior.
  • Pray that God would touch people and move in the Bordeaux region of France, in the southwest part of the country.
  • Pray that the value of the dollar would increase against the euro. The fall in the dollar’s value has been devastating to the budgets of those working in France and Western Europe.

Public Opinion

“I could care less what they think!” You ever said that? You were probably lying weren’t you? It seems most of us care much more about what others think than we like to admit. Else we never would sport some of those outlandish hairdos that come in style at times.

My grandmother was a lady who loved the Lord very much but even she was influenced by public opinion. She and granddad took us to church when I was little, before my parents started to attend.

I can remember being in the car on Sunday morning when mamaw would pose some uncomfortable questions, like, “David, did you wash behind your ears?” What a question! What eight-year old kid worries about dirt behind his ears?

Mamaws do, though. Each grandmother is afraid that other grandmothers at church will look behind her grandchild’s ear and find a speck of dust. I can imagine the response, “What a terrible grandmother! Her eight-year old grandson has a speck of dust behind his ears.” (In my case it might have been a small garden).

What to do? There was no water in the car. No problem.

Mamaw had just the solution. She licked her finger and attacked the offending speck with gusto. I hated that! The same remedy worked if your hair was standing up in back. A bit of saliva stuck it down nearly as well as Brylcream (You remember don’t you? “You still using that greasy kidstuff? Brylcreem! A little dab will do you.” If you remember that, run quickly to the medicine cabinet. You need a BIG spoonful of Geritol). I wished grandma had worried less about public opinion.

There was one person, though, who never seemed to be too concerned about other’s opinion of Him. That’s the Lord Jesus.

One night we were having devotions with our children when they were young. I was reading one of the passages where the Lord was giving it to the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees, one of those generation-of-vipers type verses. My son Steve was about thirteen at the time and he remarked, “He was asking for it.”

But Jesus never spent a lot of time checking his polling numbers. He was more concerned about right and truth than popularity. He wanted to obey His Father. Politicians decide how to vote based on whichever way the wind is blowing at that moment. Statesmen decide their actions based on what they believe is right. It all depends on who the leader wants to please and who he’s working for.

Who do you want to please?

Your wife? Not a bad idea. Your kids? If you think you can, go ahead. The boss? It’s not dumb to worry about what he thinks. Your friends? People-pleasing isn’t necessarily bad if your first priority is God-pleasing.

Don’t you want to hear the Lord Jesus say, as you stand before Him on judgment day:

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matt. 25:21, NIV)?

It’s when people pleasing gets in the way of God pleasing that we have some big problems. Big problems.

Are you living to please Him? Are you obeying Him? Are you serving others because you love Him? Are you asking His will in every decision you make?

I want to please Him. And besides, I sure wouldn’t want God to clean behind my ears!

Have a super week in the Lord,

David

Think about it

“Chinese proverb—man who says it’s impossible shouldn’t interrupt the man who is doing it.” (Alton Garrison)

Prayer team

  • Here’s a praise report. About 3 years ago you prayed for a young minister who was having some serious problems in his marriage. He was out of the ministry because of it. You prayed with a lot of others. It’s been a long process of healing and restoration but the first of September the couple re-enters the ministry fulltime.
  • Pray for a French missionary in Lebanon who has a heart for Syria. They have had bombs fall in their city during these recent troubles. Pray for another French missionary in Jerusalem. They are confronted at times with terrorist situations
  • Pray for the city of Brignoles in the south of France. This young pastor needs someone to help in the three works where he is pastor.

Bottom Feeders

Once I was watching the weather on the evening news when I got bothered. Our friendly weatherman had just informed us that through four or five months of the year, we were two inches ahead of the normal rainfall.

That was good news because we’d been in a drought. He couldn’t let it lie though adding something like, “Let’s hope that old summer heat and dryness doesn’t stop the rain.”
“You turkey!” I said to the television screen. “Bottom feeder!” I muttered to myself. Why is it that we can’t stand prosperity? Each evening, the news reports treat us to all the worst things that happen in our area and if something good happens they try to make us fear that the something bad is lurking out there to steal it’s place. It’s not enough that it’s hot. We’ve got to have a heat index to make it seem hotter. Who can chill when he knows the chill factor?

“Yes, Jim. There’s a car in the ditch off of I-20. Traffic is backed up for a quarter of a mile. Better avoid that area.” “Yes, it’s a terrible story, this mother … blah, blah, blah.” “We’ll be right back in a moment with the video you can’t miss. A SUV clips a police car and is caught on video. Stay right there!” (“But I gotta go to the baaathroom!”)

There’s a little bit of vulture roosting in human nature, else they would never feed us such a steady diet of negativism. It’s not news when something goes right, when a movie star stays married, or when everyone is happy with the president, his congressman, and his wife. Give your wife flowers and she’s the only one who knows it. Shoot her and it’s national news (that’s not a suggestion).

And it’s even that way in church. I heard a group singing in a service one time and in the dead spot between songs the lady lamented what a cold winter we were having. “And they say this is going to be one of the hottest summers ever,” she mourned. I think there must have been some spiritual significance in there somewhere.

What if we expected good instead of bad? What if we thought about what is going right instead of what is going wrong? Our papers are full of twisted preachers, cheating corporation owners, ambulance-chasing lawyers, and politicians on the take. But not everyone is like that, not even the majority. But we begin to get the impression that everyone is like that.

David told us how he kept away from discouragement.

“I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil. Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me. No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. (Ps. 101:3-7, NIV)

David decided that gossip, sensationalism and ugliness weren’t on the menu at his house. He kept his eyes on people who were doing right and not the crooks. Maybe that was part of the reason that he was Israel’s greatest king.

A steady diet of negativism, gossip, and “I don’t know what we’re going to do”, will assassinate anyone’s faith. Let’s be careful about what goes into us because that helps decide what kind of people we will be.

Have a great week in the Lord,

David

A word from a reader
(I don’t usually do this but I felt it would be good to share this with everyone) “… I want to share something with you if you don’t mind. I am battling my 3rd bout with cancer (in my lung and bones). The chemo medicine (1 of 3) gave me congestive heart failure so they immediately took me off of it. I turn 43 tomorrow and my life is spent trying to
breathe through this difficult time. BUT, God showed me something so cool and so wonderful! Ready? “Turn worry into worship.” Instead of being all worried and discouraged, I sing! I praise! I rejoice in the God who loves me and all His children! I trust that no matter what happens, I am in the care of our Lord. Praise God!! He is so good. I don’t always get it right, but I try.”

Laurie

That’s a good attitude for every one of our situations. Let’s pray for
Laurie as well as another reader, Kayte, whose mother who is also
battling cancer.

Prayer team

  • A French website, Top Chrétien, has a very effective evangelism part on its site called “Connaitre Dieu” (Know God). Tens of thousands in Europe and Africa have responded to their invitation to receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Pray that even more would come to know the Lord.
  • Pray for a young French single who has expressed a desire to grow in God. Pray for another lady in France who has been separated from Christian fellowship, that God would give her mature Christian friends.
  • The great majority of French towns and villages have no Evangelical Church. Very few go to the Catholic Church anymore. Pray that God would establish churches and renew Catholic people in Jesus Christ.

Sweet Boy

Kids teach you things about God.

We’ve been in the States, visiting churches and preparing to go back to France. The bonus is that we’ve seen our kids and grandchildren more often. When you’re not around little ones for a while you forget things. For instance, babysitting one three-year old is equal to 25 hours of work breaking rocks with a sledgehammer. A five-year old can tempt a clinical psychiatrist to jump off a bridge. And three kids under the age of seven in the same room have the same effect on the orderliness of that room as a hand-grenade explosion.

I’ve also discovered that grandmas are much more patient than grandpas and that her grandkids can get away with things that her kids never dreamed of.

Little ones teach you other things too. Our daughter’s three-year old can be the sweetest guy in the world but when he’s pouty, just set out flares and tip-toe around him. The other day he was in a sweet mood and I took him in my arms, squeezed him to me and said, “You’re papa’s sweet boy.”

His response? His chubby arms tightened around my neck and he said, “You’re my sweet boy too, papa.” Whoa!

I thought about what little Micah said to me as we were singing a song in church Sunday. The words contain this line,

“…be blessed by our praise as we glory in your embrace, as your presence now fills this place.” (“O, the Glory of Your Presence” words and music by Stephen Fry, 1983 Birdwind music/Cherry Lane music).

“As we glory in your embrace.” I wanted to say to my heavenly Father, “You’re my sweet boy, papa.” I wanted to give Him as much joy as my grandson had given me a few days before. It was as if the Lord spoke His love back to me at the same moment.

I’ve been struck recently by what a joyless world we live in and how much effort we expend seeking joy. Joy is a fruit of being full of God’s Spirit but often we let difficulties and boredom rob us of our God-given heritage.

Have you looked for books on practical ways to experience God’s joy recently? Bible bookstore shelves are lined with works telling you how to tough your way through trials and how to be better than you are. You can buy a truckload of ideas on how to lead successfully or how to shine in your daily life.

But joy?

I did find one. Strange name though. “Psalms”? Still there was some good stuff about joy there. Listen,

“Let all who run to you for protection always sing joyful songs. Provide shelter for those who truly love you and let them rejoice.” (Psalms 5:11, Contemporary English Version).

We work hard, by His strength, to live a life that pleases the Lord. We stay up late and get up early to grab success by the ears. But isn’t experiencing his joy, his presence, and his love in our lives just as important?

Could it be that one moment in his presence, sunning ourselves in his love, could be as beneficial to us as all these other efforts? Can we possibly believe that God loves his people as much as he says he does?

“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.”(Zephaniah 3:17, Amplified)

Lord Jesus, you’re my sweet boy too!

Think about it—

“The limit of your leadership is who you are in the presence of God.”
Erwin McMann

P-team (prayer power team)

  • Still praying for the magazine. It’s ready for the printer. A bitlate this quarter so we need your prayers that the printer would do it quickly and well. Still need someone to step up when our computer graphics man leaves in the near future. Pray for God’s anointing on this issue—lives touched, changed, glorifying the Lord.
  • Pray for our African readers of the French version of Coffee Stains (which you saw a couple of weeks ago . There are so many needs. Pray for these people in Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Fasso, Central African Republic, Congo, Rwanda, and other countries.
  • Pray that I can communicate a desire to pray for France and the needs of its people as I visit different churches.

You’re special people. We love you and appreciate you.

David