Friday, March 26, 2010

The Choice - by Max Lucado

Another devotional I want to share with everyone. I used to ache for a career like George Lucas or James Cameron, now, I yearn to walk the path trod by Max Lucado. This is why:

The Choice
by Max Lucado

He placed one scoop of clay upon another until a form lay lifeless on the ground.

All of the Garden's inhabitants paused to witness the event. Hawks hovered. Giraffes stretched. Trees bowed. Butterflies paused on petals and watched.

"You will love me, nature," God said. "I made you that way. You will obey me, universe. For you were designed to do so. You will reflect my glory, skies, for that is how you were created. But this one will be like me. This one will be able to choose."

All were silent as the Creator reached into himself and removed something yet unseen. A seed. "It's called 'choice.' The seed of choice."

Creation stood in silence and gazed upon the lifeless form.

An angel spoke, "But what if he ... "

"What if he chooses not to love?" the Creator finished. "Come, I will show you."

Unbound by today, God and the angel walked into the realm of tomorrow.

"There, see the fruit of the seed of choice, both the sweet and the bitter."

The angel gasped at what he saw. Spontaneous love. Voluntary devotion. Chosen tenderness. Never had he seen anything like these. He felt the love of the Adams. He heard the joy of Eve and her daughters. He saw the food and the burdens shared. He absorbed the kindness and marveled at the warmth.

"Heaven has never seen such beauty, my Lord. Truly, this is your greatest creation."

"Ah, but you've only seen the sweet. Now witness the bitter."

A stench enveloped the pair. The angel turned in horror and proclaimed, "What is it?"

The Creator spoke only one word: "Selfishness."

The angel stood speechless as they passed through centuries of repugnance. Never had he seen such filth. Rotten hearts. Ruptured promises. Forgotten loyalties. Children of the creation wandering blindly in lonely labyrinths.

"This is the result of choice?" the angel asked.
"They will forget you?"
"They will reject you?"
"They will never come back?"
"Some will. Most won't."
"What will it take to make them listen?"

The Creator walked on in time, further and further into the future, until he stood by a tree. A tree that would be fashioned into a cradle. Even then he could smell the hay that would surround him.

With another step into the future, he paused before another tree. It stood alone, a stubborn ruler of a bald hill. The trunk was thick, and the wood was strong. Soon it would be cut. Soon it would be trimmed. Soon it would be mounted on the stony brow of another hill. And soon he would be hung on it.

He felt the wood rub against a back he did not yet wear.

"Will you go down there?" the angel asked.

"I will."

"Is there no other way?"

"There is not."

"Wouldn't it be easier to not plant the seed? Wouldn't it be easier to not give the choice?"

"It would," the Creator spoke slowly. "But to remove the choice is to remove the love."

He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses. Arms spread. Heads fallen forward. They moaned with the wind.

Men clad in soldiers' garb sat on the ground near the trio. They played games in the dirt and laughed.

Men clad in religion stood off to one side. They smiled. Arrogant, cocky. They had protected God, they thought, by killing this false one.

Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill. Speechless. Faces tear streaked. Eyes downward. One put her arm around another and tried to lead her away. She wouldn't leave. "I will stay," she said softly. "I will stay."

All heaven stood to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity poised to protect. But the Creator gave no command.

"It must be done ... ," he said, and withdrew.

But as he stepped back in time, he heard the cry that he would someday scream: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34)

He wrenched at tomorrow's agony.

The angel spoke again. "It would be less painful ... "

The Creator interrupted softly. "But it wouldn't be love."

They stepped into the Garden again. The Maker looked earnestly at the clay creation. A monsoon of love swelled up within him. He had died for the creation before he had made him. God's form bent over the sculptured face and breathed. Dust stirred on the lips of the new one. The chest rose, cracking the red mud. The cheeks fleshened. A finger moved. And an eye opened.

But more incredible than the moving of the flesh was the stirring of the spirit. Those who could see the unseen gasped.

Perhaps it was the wind who said it first. Perhaps what the star saw that moment is what has made it blink ever since. Maybe it was left to an angel to whisper it:

"It looks like ... it appears so much like ... it is him!"

The angel wasn't speaking of the face, the features, or the body. He was looking inside—at the soul.

Excerpted from

"It's eternal!" gasped another.

Within the man, God had placed a divine seed. A seed of his self. The God of might had created earth's mightiest. The Creator had created, not a creature, but another creator. And the One who had chosen to love had created one who could love in return.

Now it's our choice.

Monday, March 22, 2010


John 12:42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; (43) for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Remember those old tee shirts in the ‘90s that proclaimed “NO FEAR”? I always found that an odd thing to have to announce to the world. If no one surmised a person was afraid, why the need for that person to announce that they weren’t? It’s like telling someone you’re cool. If you have to tell people, odds are you aren’t.

Since the clothing line was so widely embraced here in the United States, it’s a plausible assumption that fear grips the hearts of everyone who endorsed the product.
Actually, it’s a fact that fear exists in all of us to varying degrees and those shirts were merely symptomatic of that fear.

I often act out of emotion.

Love for my wife and child keeps me working when I’d rather not.
Love of God gets me to Church on days I’d rather stay home.
Love of friends motivates me to keep in contact, even when thousands of miles separate us.
Love of many keeps me praying for others.

But what about fear?

I contemplate my actions and how they will affect my future, for fear of bringing harm to my wife, spiritually, emotionally or financially.
I’ve tried to take better care of myself since my son was born out of a fear that he might have to grow up without an earthly father, as I did.
Worst of all, I often fear sharing the gospel.
What if people ridicule me?
What it I’m labeled a “bible thumping nut job”?
What if I’m lumped in with the Catholic priests who molest children? Or the zealots like Joseph Kony who pervert the word to give themselves power over other humans?

While those are real thoughts, the one that hamstrings my efforts the most is the fear that people will simply stop listening. How can I communicate God’s love if the person on the other end won’t answer the phone? It’s a question I’ve wrestled with for years now. Unfortunately, it’s a wrestling match I’m having with the evil one and so far, he’s winning.
My fear has turned to inaction.

One of my favorite new quotes is from Max Lucado’s book, Fearless:

"The worship of safety emasculates greatness"

It’s almost as if the safety I’m worshipping is the ability to keep the ear of people I touch in my everyday life. But, by holding on to that, I’ve fallen into inaction. And, don’t believe otherwise, inaction is in and of itself, action… in my case, one motivated by fear.

So, I’m turning over a new leaf.

Another quote I’ve always loved goes like this “If you never try, you’ve already failed.”

Better to try and not succeed, than to sit on the sidelines, pretending I can get in the game tomorrow or the next day. Especially when there will come a day that has no tomorrow and if that day is today, what will I tell God when he asks me why I lived in fear?

Not Ashamed

This is today's "Answers for Each Day" devotional from Pastor Bayless Conley sent via The disciples were beaten, imprisoned and put to death for confessing the name of Jesus, yet far too often many of us (myself included) won't bring it up because we're afraid of something as silly as ridicule or due to fear of not being accepted/liked or because we want to fit in.

One fact I've learned over the last several decades: No one can fit in with everyone, but everyone can fit in with Christ.


I have a question to ask you today. Has there ever been a time when you were afraid to confess the name of Jesus? In John 9:20-23, we have the example of the parents whose son had been born blind but was healed by Jesus.

Look at their response when asked who healed their son,

His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself." His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."

How many Christians have held their tongue when they should have been giving praise to the name of Jesus? Praise for answered prayer, for the miracles He has done, but they were intimidated by unbelievers?

I was coming back from Africa when a Muslim man on the plane put a blanket on the floor, got down on his face and began to pray. This man was not ashamed at all about kneeling down on the plane in front of everyone.

I thought, "Oh, Jesus! How many times have Your people kept silent because they were afraid of what someone might think of them?"

Throw off the shackles of fear and timidity, and boldly take your stand for Christ!

Proverbs 28:1

says, The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

-Bayless Conley

John 12:42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; (43) for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Five Lives

If you knew you were going to leave this world in twenty four hours and ascend into Heaven, what would you do with the rest of your life here on Earth? It's a question often asked.

Spend time with family, say goodbye to loved ones, maybe scratch a few items off my “bucket list”? These are the first things that used to come to mind when I thought about this… until recently.

Have you ever had one of those times when there seems to be a conflux of information, all flowing together to send you a message? That’s happened recently in my life and totally changed my perspective on the question.

This picture has come together as jigsaw pieces found in recent devotionals, messages at our Church and conversations with the Godly guys in my men’s group. When it all coalesces, I can’t help but realize God is trying to teach me something. And, thankfully, I’m learning.

If I knew I was going to leave this life in twenty four hours and ascend into Heaven, what would I do with the rest of my time here on Earth?

Now when I consider that question, the first thing I think of is “who will I fail?”

There are people in my life that I have the unique ability to touch in a way only I can. You have them too; maybe they’re your spouse or a child, parent, a good friend, co-worker, neighbor or business associate. We’re all originals, one-off people unlike anything else God has ever made. With that comes the aforementioned unique ability to touch certain people as only you or I can.

What will I do when I’m in front of God and He asks me “What about them?” Make no mistake; I’ll immediately know whom He means.

My best friend from childhood.
Step Father.
My agent.
My cousin.

While I’ve tried to talk to each of them about God, tried to share the gospel, it’s fallen on unhearing ears. I won’t say “deaf” because they know I’m trying, but they don’t really hear what I’m saying.

When someone I truly love asks me to do something, I do my best to make it happen.

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

I truly love Jesus, and He’s asked me to come, follow Him and fish for souls. So, I’ll keep trying.

To answer the original question: I’d spend the last hours praying for God to soften the hearts of those I can uniquely touch, so that before I left this life, those five lives might be shown the way so they could follow me as I follow Him.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying, and continue to cast my nets in front of everyone else I encounter. At least, I aspire to do those things. But, I’m human and will stumble and fall for sure.

Father God,
Your plan for this world, our lives and eternity is the most amazing story ever told.

I admit my fishing skills are poor, my focus wanders and I’ve yet to fill my nets. This is more from lack of trying than lack of opportunity. Please forgive me, Father.

Thank you for continuing to cover my inequities with grace, even though I’ve done nothing to earn it, nor anything to deserve it. And thank you for giving me the chance to help save you’ve placed in my life.

Please keep me on track, Father. Place your hand of protection on my efforts to fish for souls, guarding this mission from both worldly and unholy assaults. You’ve called us all to this mission Father, please remind us frequently that this is what you’ve asked us to do and enable us to have the opportunities to open eyes, hearts and minds, so that your seed can be planted, nurtured and grown.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

(Cross posted from

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Serving Platter

Imagine you are sitting at a table, eating a grand dinner with many others, perhaps your parents, siblings, Grandparents and a few friends. As you look around, your heart is filled with happiness seeing those you love gathered there.

Then, something miraculous happens. Your dad hands you the serving platter with the main course. You take your share, which is the sustenance you need from this meal, and then you pass it on so that your loved ones at the table can have their share.

Now, replace your biological siblings with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Replace your Dad with our Father and replace the main course with your time, talents and treasures.

Are you taking only what you need and passing the rest to those who lack sustenance? Or are you simply hoarding it?

For far too long my wife and I hoarded it. The higher our serving platter grew, the unhappier we became. I think this is because, deep in our hearts, we knew we were hoarding the meal, preventing what our Father had passed us from reaching everyone He intended to receive it.

Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's Offering
41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Today, when you are passed the main course, it’s okay to take what sustenance you need, for our Father gave it to you for a reason. However, it’s not okay for us to become the end users for Father’s blessings.

I don’t think it’s called a “serving platter” by coincidence. So, when the main course comes your way, pass it on.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Protect This House

Genesis 2:24 for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

There is no mistaking the fact that God designed us to join in marriage, have children and raise them according to his teachings so that they could prosper, just as we should prosper from being raised by our God-fearing parents. God knew we would flourish in a strong family, built on his principles.

If love is the single most important ingredient in the bread of life, then our family is the oven in which it should be prepared.

Unfortunately, the number of families that function as God designed decreases every day, while the world’s population increases.

In this age, broken homes have become the norm. Many people embrace this idea as completely acceptable; they even contribute to it, and quite often turn a blind eye when families fall apart as if it’s not a big deal, when in reality it is a crime against the Lord – a broken covenant, one that was made to protect us.

God did not create us for an isolated life. If he hadn’t wanted us to be part of a family, we wouldn’t be born into one. We’d simply sprout from rocks or rise up from some primordial soup, wholly independent of one another.

Unfortunately, the family as God designed it is ground zero in a spiritual war that goes on every minute of every day. Men leave their families because they feel disrespected. Women leave their husbands because they feel unloved. Children are the victims in both cases, every time, without fail.

Pop culture romanticizes the broken home, tells us it’s a badge of honor to ride out a divorce, cements the idea that you are only in for what you can get out of it. Divorce lawyers advertise on late night TV, selling an end to marriage, as if it were a convenient new invention.

And the evil one laughs.

A wife left struggling to support her children alone often cannot devote time to the Lord, she’s simply too busy doing the job of two. Nor can she model that devotion for her kids. No woman was ever designed to be both parents.

A single father is often overwhelmed and confused, because he’s too busy working and trying to figure out how to be a mother, when God created him to be a father.

Children are left without solid role models on both sides, taught it’s okay to walk away when the going gets tough, and learn quickly that life is all about taking care of number one. These are flawed lessons that often lead to fractured lives and they perpetuate from generation to generation.

These are the pitfalls of not protecting our house, our home, our family.

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

As Christians, we are all called to pray for one another, so that, through our fervent supplication, our Lord will hear our pleas and help those we love.

We are also called to love our neighbors as ourselves.

So, with that in mind, I beg all of you who read this, to spend a few minutes every day, praying for God’s protection on the families of every Christian brother and sister.

And if you are a mother or father or simply a husband or wife and you feel your family slipping away, pray earnestly for the Lord to heal your home. Seek help through the Church and consult the Word every day.

He designed us to be part of something more than ourselves… but alone, we are prey for the devil, who prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I receive a daily devotional every morning from Crosswalk, written by Pastor Bayless Conley of Cottonwood Church in LA. There are times when I read it and think "I need to share this with Angie," or "I should send this to (fill in the blank)." Well, today, I wanted to share it with everyone. I looked for a place online to link to so you could read it there, but can't find one, so I'm cross posting it here.

Prayers and Preaching Yesterday we talked about how progressing towards spiritual maturity is a process that will never end in this life. There are two things I want to focus your attention on today that will help you in that effort.

The first is found in Colossians 4:12,

Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

If you are going to be complete or mature in Christ, you need the prayers of others. In the long haul, I am convinced none of us make it across the finish line without the prayers of other Christians.

The second is found in Colossians 1:27-28,

...Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

In addition to the prayers of others, you need to be under good preaching and teaching to become complete in Christ. Preaching promotes change while teaching promotes growth, and you need both of them.

Looking back at my Christian life, I can still remember messages that literally shook my world and changed me. I remember one in particular when I had been saved less than a month.

Some new Christian friends took me to hear an evangelist preach. I was blessed so I decided to go back the next night. That night I heard a message that changed my life. It was a message on the parable of the sower, and that night I fell in love with the Word of God. It absolutely shaped me.

To become mature in your faith, make sure you are under solid biblical preaching and teaching, and develop the prayer habit as well as soliciting the prayers of others.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There’s no “I” in “me”.

James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

How many decisions do we make in one day? Hundreds? Thousands? From “what do I wear today?” to “what should I do next?” to “How do I respond to that?” it’s obvious we have opportunities all day long to affect those we come in contact with at every turn.

Now, thinking of all those decisions, what would happen if we removed the “What I want” component from the deciding process? Instead of making selfish decisions, even little ones, but instead made decisions based on how they would positively impact those we connect with, how far could we shine God’s love into the lives of others?

Jesus calls us all to be a servant first and foremost, but no one can serve others if the central desire is to please one’s self. In fact, by trying to please yourself, you open the door for the evil one to slide in and nudge you down the road to ruin.

In Philippians 2:3, when Paul wrote “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” I think he had that in mind.

Imagine how much better this world would be if we all concerned ourselves with the prosperity of others in our decision making, instead of worrying about our own selfish needs and desires.

Today, I’d like to encourage you to spend one day consciously making an effort to make decisions based solely on the needs of those in your life and none based on your own needs. Conduct your home life to benefit your family and not yourself, work your job to benefit your employer and to earn money to benefit your family and church, be selfless in your recreation and extracurricular activities. Begin the day by praying that Jesus would protect this mission of selflessness, and at the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on how doing this has impacted the lives of those around you.

Father God,
You are the Almighty, without You, there would be no us, so who are we to allow selfishness to guide our paths, as if by doing so, we could control our lives.

I often act selfishly, Father, and for that I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

Thank you for allowing Your Grace to override my shortcomings, and for blessing me in spite of my selfish behavior.

Please place Your hand of protection on my heart, mind, body and soul today, so that I can be a selfless blessing to everyone I encounter, in Your honor.

I pray these things in Jesus’ name.


Cross posted from