Friday, September 23, 2011


Being GRATEFUL is a fear buster. I can't be GRATEFUL and fearful at the same time. 

Try it.

So, while we are commanded over 200 times NOT to fear, we are also commanded hundreds of times to be GRATEFUL and give thanks.

  • God is looking out for us. 
  • He wants us to be happy. 
  • He designed us to thrive.

Those who know me know that my conversation and prayers are filled with GRATITUDE. Being GRATEFUL, however, does not come naturally. I come from a long line of self-pitying, critical complainers. Ingratitude is my first nature.

For forty years, I have worked diligently to cultivate an attitude of GRATITUDE. Now it is habitual. My second nature. I have practiced gratitude, not because God commands me to, but rather, as a defense against bi-polar brain problems.

For much of my adult life, I have suffered from major clinical depression. Among all the other bad things related to serious depression, is the way it so thoroughly undermines an attitude of GRATITUDE.

I have an additional problem. I wrote the best selling Christian book on healing. I have prayed for thousands of people over the past 30 years, and many were healed. My first nature wants to rhuminate on that disconnect. 
  • I know God heals. 
  • I've seen it. 
  • Why then, are prayers for healing ineffective for me?
No one knows.

Since prayer doesn't work and doctors haven't helped, I focus like a laser on all the good in my life: 
a good marriage, nine powerful, interesting, loving children, work I love, friends to support me, even a friend who fixes my cars. I'm on airplanes a lot and not one of them has crashed. 
I live in San Diego...

When I look closely, there is so much to be GRATEFUL for.

I'm even GRATEFUL to pay bills. When I do it, S.D. Gas and Electric bring electricity to our house and trash collectors get rid of our trash.

I'm GRATEFUL for the farmers, harvesters, and truckers who get our food to us and I thank God for the money to buy it. Because I've spent so much time in the underdeveloped world, I'm GRATEFUL we have food at all.

And how about limitless, clean, running water? 

Practicing GRATITUDE in a thoughtful way makes being mad at God for what He hasn't done more difficult. It also undermines the fear and sadness agenda.

No one's life is what it should be. We all have pain to live through.

Therefore, "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving."
Psalm 50:14

He's looking out for us.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I sometimes ask this question during motivational talks. 
And then I get emails and calls from people who act on it. They do something big and it changes their lives.

Great stories are lived by those who act BRAVELY

The enemy of BRAVERY is, of course, FEAR.

FEAR wisely listened to sometimes keeps us safe and saves us from humiliation. 

  • When I was 16, I drove my motorcycle 90 miles an hour on the wrong side of the freeway. I should have listened to my FEAR, rather than hope for the approval of friends.
  • In high school, I should have listened to my FEAR of asking the hottest girl in school to go to a dance. Sure, I was relieved and happy when she said yes, but humiliated when she danced with every guy but me.
But more often than not, FEAR intimidates us into playing it too safe. 

God tells us NOT TO FEAR over 200 times in the Bible.

Jesus says,
"Don't fear anything. Risk all. Sell all and follow me."

Knowing Jesus as I do, I know he is simply looking out for us. He is not trying to make life difficult for us if we do radically follow him. Nor does he want us feeling guilty if we don't. He just doesn't want us to live BORING lives.

Before asking  
                              WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WERE BRAVE?

you need to ask two other questions: 
If the answer to both of these questions is yes 
you can be BRAVE

The big FEAR is death. 
If Paul is right, that to die is gain, then all the lesser FEARS add up to chump change. 

Being BRAVE may be no more complicated than thinking things through.
  • I was afraid to work as a missionary in Communist East Europe, but I wanted the adventure. I feared prison and got it, but it was a transformational experience and looks good on my resume. ALL GAIN
  • I was afraid to get married because I thought I would lose my freedom. I lost it, but gained so much more. ALL GAIN.
  • I was afraid to have children because I would be responsible to keep them from dying. We had 8 and they are nearly all adults, so, so far, so good. ALL GAIN.
I've planted several churches from scratch and started two mission organizations. 
All big risks. 
All big payoffs. 
All gain.

I know for certain that on my deathbed, I'm not going to say I wish I had taken fewer risks.

When God says DON'T BE AFRAID over 200 times, it is because he doesn't want us to miss the great, BRAVE adventure our lives can be.

Great stories are lived by those who act BRAVELY.

                     So ...


Friday, September 9, 2011


God enters his creation inside every child ever conceived. 
He knows, afresh, the world through the experience of that child.  


Really. That's what the New Testament says. Repeatedly.

"Jesus created all things and is connected to all things."
John 1:3-4 

 "Jesus created everything and he holds everything together."
Colossians 1:15-17

"Jesus created all and now sustains all."
Hebrews 1:3 

  • Jesus is there at your conception 
  • Sustains you throughout your life 
  • And into the next

We speak about inviting Jesus into our life at conversion and inviting him into particular situations. The truth is, HE has already included you inside HIS own life - inside his friendship with his Father and the Spirit.

Theologians sometimes depict God in heaven as looking 
The truth is, 
                    HE is inside us experiencing our lives with us: 
                                                                                               feeling our joy
                                                                                               feeling our pain
                                                                 working through it all to perfect us                                                                                                                                                                         
Paul says our life is hidden in God with Christ.

Jesus says,
 "I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you."
John 14:20  

What he means is: what happens to us, happens to him. 

More importantly, because we are ONE with Christ: what happens to him, happens to us. 
  • His life is in us
  • His death to sin and judgment is in us 
  • His resurrection is in us
All of this will be realized and experienced by us in due time. 


Monday, September 5, 2011


You were found in Christ - from eternity - before you were ever lost in Adam. He loved and chose you before you were born. As Paul puts it:

"God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will."
Ephesians 1:4-7
Your repentance didn't save you.
Your faith didn't save you.

God the Father, by the Spirit, through Jesus saved and adopted you 2,000 years ago.
We repent and believe the good news in order to say yes to his eternal YES.

Your decision to follow Jesus is your accepting God's previous acceptance of you. It's you saying yes to his eternal YES

When the prodigal returned home, he sought to work for his acceptance. He said,

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me one of your hired men."
Luke 15:18-19

The prodigal thought he had succeeded in un-son-ing himself and had to work for some  lesser level of acceptance. What he discovered is that he didn't have the ability to un-son himself. The father dismissed his so called repentance and threw a party in honor of the true son that he was, with all the honor & privileges of a beloved child.

The Father alone decides who are his sons and daughters and to our relief, he decided to adopt you through Christ before he even created the physical universe.

You can foolishly resist his acceptance and YES, for a time. But when you truly hear how good the good news is, how can you say no? The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus announces to you and every person in the world,

 "It's safe to come home."