The Birth of “Yes!”

I wonder if I’m the only speaker who ever said something, then later said to himself, “That was right, but …”

Recently I was preaching. I shared something I had heard.

“When we’re dealing with God we say, “Lord, the answer is yes,’ what’s the question?’”

Warming to the subject I noted, “We should hand God a blank check with our signature at the bottom, then say, ‘God, fill it in for whatever amount you want to.’”

The attitude is right. “Lord, anytime, anywhere, any place.” That is what we should say to what God asks.

The truth of the matter is, though, it sometimes takes us a while to get there. I want to be totally obedient to the Lord, but sometimes when God speaks to me, there are all sorts of things that start squirming inside of me saying, “No!”

And that’s the crux of the thing. The process of getting from, “I don’t want to!” to “Lord, not my will but your be done,” is critical. It’s during that time that we grow.

If we just hand God a blank check with our name and tell Him to fill in the amount, there’s no growth for us there. We need those agonizing moments in the “Garden of Gethsemane” to help us grow.

I don’t think the Lord want docile robots, who obey without thinking. We’re men and women who love God, but are full of all sorts of dreams, weaknesses, aspirations, faults, strengths.

Maybe, instead of saying, “The answer is ‘yes,’ what is the question?” we should say, “Lord, tell me what you want and help me to get to the point where I can say ‘yes.’”

You see, growth comes in getting to the point of saying, “yes.” Continue reading

What’s the Password?

These days I’ve got more passwords than brains.

Everything demands a password and most warn direly, “Choose something that’s not easy to guess. And don’t use the same password for everyone of your online  sites.”

I understand. But …

What do you do when you struggle to remember one of them? Twenty different passwords? Did anyone say “scrambled eggs inside my head?”

Jesus tells us in this passage that it’s not just those who know the password, “Lord, Lord” who get in. It takes more than that.

It’s not just the one who noisily casts out demons or prophesies. Some of those are going to be left out in the cold (or the hot).

No, the ones who please God and enter the Kingdom are those who build on the rock by obeying the words that Jesus gives us here. Jesus says there are going to be “many” who try to strut in on their spiritual gifts and they’re going to receive the message, “username or password unknown.”

They’ll fume in frustration as those who build a solid foundation of obeying Jesus’ words in their everyday life enter into the good things that God has prepared for those who love Him.

Miracles, prophesy and casting out demons are all good. But, that’s not the foundation. Doing the things Jesus teaches here is the foundation.

During the course of a life rain will fall, floods will rise, storms will crash down upon us. When we build our house on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and his teaching, we will withstand the onslaughts.

When our house is built only on feelings or experience and the storm attacks, there is a crash a ‘comin.’

People were touched and moved by Jesus’ teaching and preaching. He didn’t teach like the mealy-mouthed teachers of the Law. Authority accompanied His words.




Doing as “Do” Lets Us Do

When I was in high school I used to play dominos with my brother Charley, my friend Ricky, an older friend nicknamed Buck, and an African-American friend whose nickname was Totsie.

Totsie owned a little cafe in our end-of-the-road village and our domino game was a weekly highlight for awhile. You could probably hear us before you came inside the place because bragging and talking loudly played a vital role in impressing your opponents. When someone had a good domino he would slam it on the table for maximum effect and the others would make appropriate comments.

And there was always plenty of laughter and teasing.

Occasionally, Totsie would study his hand an extra long time before playing, probably wishing for a better solution than the dominos staring back at him. “C’mon Totsie. What are you gonna do?” I never forgot his response.

“I’m gonna do what ‘do’ lets me do!”

That was his colorful way of saying that he was going to do his best with the dominos he had. He usually did, too.

I’ve thought about that a lot in the years since. There have been many times in life that I wished that I had more resources to work with. How I’ve longed to see different situations or wished that I could do other things—maybe even envied others’ opportunities and open doors.

Mope Or Act?

But you know what I’ve learned? You can mope all day long because things aren’t the way you wish they were. That changes nothing. The best thing is to do what “do” lets you do. Take stock of your assets and do what you can with what you have.

I think one of the biggest enemies to accomplishing something in God’s kingdom is “the will of God.” Don’t get me wrong. I try my best to follow God’s will for my life. Things just don’t always happen the way I figured they would. So many “wait on the Lord” and do zilch. Zilch for the Lord anyway.

“God just hasn’t opened a door,” they whine. Look around–there are open doors everywhere! Maybe it’s not doing what you want to do but the opportunity is still there.

I heard a pastor tell of an interview that their oversite committee had with a young, aspiring pastor. The year before the young man had preached only one time. The committee insisted that if they were to continue recognizing him as a preacher in their denomination he was going to have to preach more than that.

“What will you do if we don’t recognize you again as one of our preachers?”
the older man asked. “Why, that won’t stop me! I’ll go to the nursing home and preach. I’ll go to the street corner and preach.”

“You’re just lying,”
the first pastor retorted.


“You’re just lying. They haven’t moved that street corner or that nursing home have they? It was there all year long but you didn’t go. Why should you go this year?”

Ouch! While we’re looking for God’s will, it’s nice to do what we can do now–what “do” lets us do.

Back in high school, when I played football we had scores of plays we had to learn. And sometimes we would forget what we were supposed to do on a given play.

Coach Mac’s opinion at times like that? “If you don’t know who to block on a play, just knock the daylights out of someone!” (Slightly edited version for publication).

If you can’t do what you want to do for the Lord for the moment, “Do as “do” lets you do.”

I know a young man in Paris. He doesn’t preach but he’s putting a super website online with all sorts of helps for Christians. It has cost him some money and loads of time but he’s “doing as ‘do’ lets him do.” Others get involved in evangelism programs; some reach out to children in their community; others have a burden for older people…there are all sorts of possibilities.

The common denominator between all these people? They’re involved. They may not be doing what they dreamed they would do, or even what they feel called to do, but they are doing what they can with what they have.

Maybe you’re sitting around waiting for more resources, better opportunities, or for that thing that the Lord “called” you to do, to open up. All that is good, but while you’re waiting, look around at all these needs, all these opportunities crying for a compassionate touch.

Then, do as “do” lets you do.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecc. 9:10, NIV) or as the Message version says, “Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!”


“He promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into the future. We do not need to know what will happen tomorrow. We only need to know he leads us and ‘we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light)

How To Keep God From Working In You

When I was in Luxembourg a friend told me a story that was supposed to have happened the day World War II struck the little Grand Duchy.

A powerful German army, like a Mac truck with its motor warming, waited on the other side of the Moselle river from Luxembourg.

The order to attack came down and was put into action early in the morning of May 10, 1940. Luxembourg was a neutral country but the Germans wanted to go around the powerful forts in north France which made up the Maginot Line. Luxembourg and Belgium were the shortest line between the two points.

The Grand Duchy’s minuscule army offered no resistance. Still, when the German army began to cross the bridge over the Moselle river that divided the two countries, a strange site greeted it.

A single customs official stood before them, much like the famous Chinese student standing before the tank on Tiananmen Square, I suppose. He cried, “Halt!”

Well, he was courageous but it helps to be courageous WITH a large army behind you and his bravado didn’t change a lot. According to the story that I heard, he passed the war in a work camp in Germany.

One man can’t stop an army … can he?

Incredibly Strange

Let me tell you something strange—one man can stop the powerful hand of the God who created the universe from working in his life ! I know it sounds outlandish but a little earthworm like me can keep God from accomplishing what He wants to do in my life.

The customs official in our story above could be us. The powerful river of God can be dammed up by a tiny “Halt!” of unbelief, or fear or selfishness. “Stop, God!” And he respects that.

Fear blocks so many blessings. Faith in our hearts walks hand in hand with actions that are based on that faith, so if we don’t act out our faith, we block the good things that God promises us.

How many times have we resisted God because we loved our sin more than we loved his presence and his blessing? We wanted his help and we even dared to say, “I don’t know what God doesn’t keep his promises in my life!” But we knew perfectly well we were disobedient.

It’s always easier to blame God.

A little fellow like me can stop God’s action in his life??? Astounding! … incredibly sad.

It’s so dangerous to adopt that attitude.

“ If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.
But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand …
I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you- …
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
(Proverb 1 :23, 24 26, 32, 33, NIV)

It’s evident that the writer of the Proverb is speaking of those who don’t follow the Lord Jesus, but we can also stop God’s working in our lives.

Watch out! Don’t do it! God comes to bless you. Let Him do it.


“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King


The “Ungoofer” Machine

The screen fills with the face and white teeth of the handsome television reporter. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today we’re talking with Professor I.M. Goofy about his new machine–the “Ungoofer.” It takes negative things and makes them positive.”

Next to our famous television announcer stands a little man in a white lab coat. His disheveled, thinning hair looks like it has been out in a high wind. Thick glasses magnify dark, sparkling eyes. “Tell us about your machine, professor Goofy.“

“John, this new invention of mine will revolutionize the way we live. Take this huge hamburger for example.”

He lifts a triple-decker hamburger from the table in front of him. “This triple cheeseburger will cost you about 1200 calories in your diet. But …” here he cackles triumphantly… “Let’s put it in my Ungoofer machine and see what happens!”

Next to him a strange contraption about the size of a microwave oven hums and flashes. The nutty doctor puts the hamburger in, adjusts the dial and the machine explodes into action. Bells and whistles sound. In the background the music from “Stars and Strips Forever” blares.

After a few minutes, the contraption dings and Professor Goofy eagerly retrieves a hamburger that looks as if it had been on the receiving end of an airstrike. “Voilà, the little man proclaims. Your 1200-calorie cheeseburger only has 100 calories now.”

The announcer eyes the remains with distaste wondering if anyone would have the stomach to eat the doctor’s wonderful sandwich. “That’s not all,” the scientist cries. “This wonderful machine takes all the calories out of milkshakes, Snicker bars, and cheesecakes.”

“That’s very interesting, Professor Goofy. We’ll take you back to New York now. folks. It’s all yours Tom.”

Somehow I doubt if the good doctor is going to make a lot of money with his invention.

I needed a machine like that, though, in some of the counseling sessions I’ve participated in. Just like the doctor tried to let people enjoy the pleasures of chocolate without broadening their waistline (wasted line), if I could figure out a way to let people continue in their sins without reaping the wages of sin, I would be rich.

The problem is that the law of sowing and reaping is an eternal truth. You can’t plant spinach and reap peaches.

Once in Luxembourg a couple came to me wanting help. Their whole situation flaunted disobedience to the Lord. I saw the problem quickly and I knew the answer. But I also strongly suspected they weren’t willing to change.

We spent a lot of time with them and tried to be patient but in the end they drifted away, still happily disobeying the Lord. Still miserably reaping the consequences. They needed an “Ungoofer” machine to turn their dumb way of living into something good. I didn’t have one.

Have you been looking for an “Ungoofer Machine” to get you out of a bad situation? If so, why don’t you try my foolproof solution?

Really repent of your wrong acts before the Lord. Don’t just ask Him to forgive you. Pray that he will change you. Put your faith in the Lord Jesus to help you.

Then if you’re suffering for stupidity and disobedience—Stop! Don’t think that God is going to suspend the laws of sowing and reaping just for you. Begin to sow good things.

James Baldwin has well said, “People can cry easier than they can change.” Change is tough but essential.

If your marriage is goofed up because of pornography, do what you must to get loose from this plague. If your job is goofed up because of laziness and lack of focus, get to work! If your friendship is goofed up because of neglect and jealousy, find the time it takes to make it work. If your health is goofed up by horrible eating habits, alcohol, or tobacco, make the changes necessary. If your spiritual life is destroyed by laziness, unbelief, and lack of commitment, get on the ball. Seek God.

We’re going to reap what we take time to sow.

It’s not as easy as popping things into the Ungoofer Machine. It takes commitment, time, and it takes God’s power. We can’t do it without Him. We need His help. He can change the bad into good.
Here’s how Eugene Peterson paraphrases James counsel to us:

“Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

“So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:12-19, The Message).

No machines or quick fixes will do it. We must change by His strength and our decision.
Think About It—
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Jim Rohn