Your First Steps Back Are the Hardest

Back in the good old days we didn’t need a GPS to find directions. We had a female-related-to-us-by- marriage sitting in the right front seat who said often, “At the next intersection, stop and ask directions. At the next intersection stop and ask directions.”

To which we, sure-of-ourselves-males, would reply, “I don’t need to ask. It’s just right up here, I’m certain.”

Thirty minutes later we would see a sign pointing in the opposite direction that informing us that the place we wanted to go was in the other direction from that which we had been traveling.

A good indicator of this was the cows and goats grazing next to the dirt path our car was traveling on.

Then we always had a choice. Continue reading

The Thirty-Four Dollar Haircut


Someone said, “Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.” I concur.

My theory is that if you look better after a haircut than you did before, you were really ugly to start with. For me, haircuts rank right up there with visits to the dentist. I put them off as long as possible, which makes things a bit shaggy after about six weeks.

The other day I knew I had to do something. The dogcatcher was looking at me strangely, as if I reminded him of a stray client. My ears had gone into hibernation it had been so long since they’d seen the sunshine. Continue reading

God’s Masterpiece

I probably scrambled to the summit of my career as a poet in the eight grade with this immortal effort:

There was a hog named Fat,
Who had a personal fight with a cat.
He hit the cat hard with all of his lard,
And knocked the little cat flat.

Kind of brings tears to your eyes doesn’t it, filled with deep symbolism and hidden meaning as it is? I’ve never again been able to climb those lofty heights of creativity.

Did you know that God is a poet? Have you ever read any of his gems? Listen to this:

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10, New Living Translation)

The word poiēma in Greek is translated as “masterpiece” here. We get our English word “poem” from it. Other versions render it as, “handiwork” (NIV), or “workmanship” (NKJV). The Message simply paraphrases it like this: “God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

Whether you’re talking about “masterpieces” or “poems,” poiēma represents something that God took a lot of time and care to get right. Can you imagine God leaning forward at His heavenly desk working to create you, the poem you are, the work of art that you are. He writes down a line then erases it. The rhythm sounds a bit off. (He’s probably using an ink pen writing calligraphy instead of using a computer).

Then a word in the poem doesn’t quite carry the power that He desires, so He scratches it out and walks around the room a few times, thinking, looking for just what He wants to say. Suddenly He has it and He runs back to write it down before it gets away.

The result is … David, and Johnny, and Ralph, and Judy, and Phyllis, and all of us. God’s masterpieces, the work of a master craftsman.

A poem pleases us but actually God created you to do more than lay there or sit there and look pretty. Maybe we’re more like a tool than a poem. He created us to carry out His will upon the earth and He uses us to do it. Do what? Well …

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Rom. 12:9-13, NIV.

If you’re really wanting to know how God wants to live through His workmanship read the rest of Romans 12. It’s simply powerful.

You’re not an afterthought as far as God is concerned. He made you for a reason, to carry out His purposes on the earth. My advice to you (and me): Get busy! Like I said last week, we certainly don’t earn our salvation but Ephesians 2:10 cries poignantly that if we are saved we’ll be busy expressing God’s heart through the way we live and serve others.


Christ did not say “Learn from Me to perform miracles.” Although He Himself performed miracles by His own power and wished that his disciples do so in his name. But he said simply: “learn of Me that I am meek and humble in heart.”
~ Angela of Foligno ~

visit our web site:

Miracle Solution for Lost Socks and Pacifiers

I’ve been at a pastor’s convention this week. The other morning my roommate lost his cell phone so I loaned him mine, he dialed the number and from a dark corner of the roomed came a, “bzzzz … bzzz … bzzz!”

It wasn’t a bumblebee but the missing cell phone.

Somebody ought to find a way to do that for everything. With the tiny inexpensive computer chips that are available today why not put one in your car keys? Lose them? Dial 1234 and “buzzz!” There they are in the garbage disposal, just where your two-year old put them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could dial 4321 and your missing sock would start buzzing under the bed? Or pacifiers? Why not pacifiers? If I had a nickel for every minute, every frustrating minute, I spent looking for pacifiers when our three were little, I would have already retired a rich man.

Pacifier lost? No problem, you just call it and it starts ringing. Or even better, what if you had it set up to play Beethoven’s Fifth symphony? You press a button and suddenly from under a chair you hear, “Dah, dah, dah dum! Dah, dah, dah, dum … dah dah dah dum, dah, etc.

And admit it. Wouldn’t it be funny to set off the pacifier while the little darling was chomping on it? My wife would have fussed at me but it would have been worth it. And it might help the sweet thing give it up quicker.

Or how about this? What if God had a “buzzer” in our heart and every time we got lost or strayed off the path: “ta da da dum!” or “buzzzzz!”

You know, I’m not sure that He doesn’t have something like that.

Prov. 1:22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD. (NIV)

Are you slipping away from God? “Bzzzz! Ta, da, da, dum!” Listen.

And if you respond when He calls there’s a tremendous promise just for you:


“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. “I’ll turn things around for you. (Jeremiah 29:12-14, The Message)

If your heart’s “ringing” answer! Getting found is the best thing that can ever happen to you.


Dr. Ben Carson is a world-renowned Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. Not bad for a child that was raised in extreme poverty by a single mother. He said “Everything changed when I began to read. I started to see myself as a smart person who could learn anything. The whole world opened up to me.” From Michael Hyatt’s blog.


What have you been reading lately that’s helped you? Share it with other Coffee Stains readers. Send me an email and I’ll share it:

Does God Play Hide and Seek?

When my grandson Matthew was little, he like to play hide and seek. Once he ran into his room and waited excitedly for me to find him.

It wasn’t hard. It was like looking for a twenty-pound mouse behind the door. “Where’s Matthew?” I wondered out loud knowing full well where the little guy was hiding.

Just in case I missed him, though, Matthew gave hints. Little cries of “wooo …” issued from his hiding place. I finally pulled back the door and grabbed a giggling little boy who was trying to run away.

It’s not hard to find someone who wants to be found is it?

That’s why I have a hard time understanding those who say they lack evidence of God’s existence. Paul says that they will be without excuse on judgment day because, “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.” (Rom. 1: 19- 21 ,The Message)

God reveals Himself in His creation. People often see him without wanting to admit it. Listen to the mockings of the atheist, Richard Dawkins in his book, God Delusion: “Such a bandwidth! God, who may not have a brain made of neurons, or a CPU made of silicon, but if he has the powers attributed to him he must have something far more elaborately and non-randomly constructed than the largest brain or the largest computer we know.”

Bingo! Mr. Dawkins.

Like little Matthew, the creation cries out to us to find this God that surpasses our limited human experience.

God also calls to us through his Word. If you read it with a sincere heart you’ll find that God isn’t hiding.

He reveals Himself especially in His Son Jesus. “Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’” (Jean 14:9, NIV)

These days He’s added a revelation through His Church. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 5: 22, 23)

Voices calling from all over, “Here I am! Find me! See me! Know me!” We’re serving a God who wants to be found and known. He’s not hiding.

Why is it important that we respond to his appeal?

God has called and called, drawn and drawn, but so many men have resisted Him. One day they won’t be able to close their eyes to Him but will experience the fruits of their neglect and contempt–their rebellion.

Church, keep calling out with God’s invitation. And if you’re among those who’ve resisted God, today is the day to turn your heart back and find the God who is not hiding.

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,
since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
“Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.
Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD,
since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
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.” Proverbs 1:22-33, NIV).

God wants to be found. Do you have your eyes open?

Hmmm …
“I’d rather be able to pray than be a great preacher: Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only to pray.”
D. L. Moody

To receive a free subscription to Coffee Stains, drop a line to: and ask to subscribe