Categories
Christian Living devotional

A Winning Formula

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After I left full-time ministry, but before I became a teacher, I spent three years in sales with Frito Lay, Inc. I was a Route Sales Rep, which is a front-line position selling salty snacks to grocery and convenience stores.

One day, my boss was helping me set up a huge display of potato chips at a grocery store. It was five in the morning, and I had eleven more accounts to visit that day, so I was in a bit of a rush. Pulling a large cart stacked high with boxes of potato chips, I turned a corner too sharply and clipped a large display of pancake syrup at the end of an aisle. Several glass bottles crashed to the floor, creating a growing pool of sticky brown goo.

I know big boys aren’t supposed to cry, but looking at the mess I’d just made, I started to lose it. To my surprise, my supervisor didn’t berate me. Instead, he came over, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, “Are you ok?”

That’s how it really went down. No joke!

“These things happen,” he said calmly, “I once dropped a pallet of milk off a loading dock!” He then showed me a neat trick: pouring corn meal on icky messes makes them more manageable. After applying a few boxes to the chestnut colored goop, I was able to scrape up the whole mess and finish stocking my display.

My boss knew just how to help me recover from a set back. Instead of coming unglued, he came alongside, giving me the tools to cope with a challenging situation.

Years later, I analyzed what he did, and figured out his winning formula:

How to Come Alongside Someone in Need

  • Ask – “Are you OK?” Recognize that all is not well.
  • Acknowledge – “These things happen sometimes. I once did something similar.” Identify with the situation.
  • Assist – “Let me show you a trick for cleaning this up.” Offer to help.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Triple-A: it’s a winning formula for helping others.

Categories
Christian Blog

Answer to the Man

When I started my first job at 16, dad said to me on my way out the door, “Answer to the man.” “What do you mean?”, I asked. “Son, when you’re on the boss’ time, do what he says without complaining.” I took my dad’s advice that day, and it made all the difference.

The Apostle Paul, in prison and facing execution, said something similar to his young apprentice, Timothy.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

I’ve never been a soldier, but as a teacher on an army post, I rub shoulders with people in the military every day. One thing I’ve noticed is there’s an Army regulation for almost everything a soldier does. I once asked a military friend, “Don’t you think a ten point checklist to park and secure a combat vehicle is a little over-the-top?”

“What I think is irrelevant. I do my job and follow orders. Anything else is an indulgence.”

*SSG McMurtry (Just a cool Hollywood sounding name. Not the real guy’s.)

Impressive. “But what if there aren’t specific orders or regulations for something?,” I asked. “How do you respond?” “That’s when you follow the commander’s intent,” he said.

He explained that, in a combat situation, all written orders are assumed to be fluid. No plan survives intact once there’s contact with the enemy. The commander’s intent is a short statement written in bold print that essentially says, “Whatever happens, this is the most important thing to accomplish.”

VERY impressive. I started looking for commander’s intent statements in the Bible.

I found Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, who were living under intense persecution.

Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Philippians 1:27

And Jesus’ charge to His earliest followers:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:19

Answering to the man (God) can be challenging. If there was only an app called FaceofGodBook, with those little red numbers over the icon–you know, messages from heaven?

However, we do have the Bible, and we know what Jesus did, and we also have the Holy Spirit. And that’s enough to know the Commander’s intent.

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

Hooah!

Categories
Christian Living Discipleship

The Narrow Path

One of my favorite blogs is Devotional Treasures. Alan, who goes by the moniker holytreasurehunter, is a brother in Christ from the Kingdom of Fife.

Yes, I had to look it up. Fife is in Scotland, and it’s home to over 40 golf courses–including the world famous seaside links at St. Andrews.

On Devotional Treasures you’ll find simple stories about prayer, revival and walking with God. There are also amazing pictures of the Scottish countryside, along with wonderful scriptural applications to life.

What impresses me most about Alan’s blog, however, is how he comes across: he is simply a guy who takes walks with God and then writes about it.

Please check out Devotional Treasures; you’ll be glad you did!


Actually, it was a post Alan wrote on July 9th, entitled The Way of the Lord, that inspired this one.

As I mentioned earlier, the holytreasurehunter likes to take walks through the Scottish countryside near his home. One of his favorite journeys reaches its highest point at a place he calls the narrow path.

Photo by Alan from Devotional Treasures. Used by permission.

As you can see, this is most certainly a single person one-way walking situation! In fact, Alan says he often “steps up on the stone dyke to let folk pass.”

Anyway, the post refers to Matthew 7:12-14, about the narrow gate that leads to heaven. I kept staring and staring at that slim path in the picture until it dawned on me: there’s only room for one person at a time–with Christ in front leading the way!

Two days later, I opened a compilation of classic Our Daily Bread devotional readings. The entry for July 11 was entitled, No Place For The Devil.

The key verse was Ephesians 4:27, where Paul exhorts his readers to, “Neither give place to the devil.” According to the author, the word ‘place’ is important. The devil can’t fill the same ‘place’ as the Holy Spirit.

“It’s the narrow path!” I blurted out loud. If I’m filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit, there’s no room for the devil!

It’s just Jesus and me.

There’s one caveat, however: being filled with the Spirit means handing over the reins of life to the will of God (Romans 12:2). And the best way to know the will of God is to know the Word of God.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:105

Isn’t it amazing how a brother blogger and a devotional writer from 50 years ago worked together–within 48 hours of each other–to impress the same truth into another believer’s heart?

God is good!

Categories
Christian Blog patience

Right Now, It’s Like This, Part 2

Recently I shared, Right Now, It’s Like This, about our long wait for a new roof after a hail storm.

The roofers finally arrived that morning and began to work. They were here all that day and the next, and the roof was two-thirds finished. But the following morning they did not show up.

I called our contractor. He said the crew leader told him they were getting caught up on other jobs and would return the next morning. They didn’t. The contractor contacted them again, and they promised to return that afternoon at 4PM. Again, they didn’t.

My wife and I were beginning to think they weren’t coming back.

Two hours later,the crew finally returned and finished the roof. Well, almost. After they left, I went up to take a look. The ridge was not complete–they ran out of those type of shingles! And no one said anything about coming back. So I sent an urgent message to our contractor, along with a picture, but got no response.

At 8:45 the next morning, the roofers AND the contractor showed up with the needed materials and completed the ridge.

The 72 hours saga was over. During that time we had gone through a range of emotions, but by the time the roof was finished, the soap opera level reactions we experienced had given way to elation.

With the project behind us, our earlier worries seemed overblown. A friend who worked for years in the trades told me that sub-contractors who have plenty of work don’t always get in a hurry–“they know they will eat,” he said. Our contractor assured me as well that he wouldn’t have left us with a partial roof.

I guess we watch to much HGTV.

Later that evening, I turned to the scriptures for wisdom.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

James 1:2,3

That first day I saw the roofer’s ladder against the house, after weeks of delay, I thought the endurance part was over. In reality, it was only half-time. James said the testing of faith develops perseverance. I was thinking instamatic camera, but got 35MM. Oh, and I wasn’t too joyful about it.

Can you relate?

Photo by Sharon Snider on Pexels.com

Categories
Hope Perspective

The Sky is Probably NOT Falling

“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.”

Proverbs 11:27

In the early 1990’s, social psychologist Roy Baumeister began exploring the negativity bias–the widely accepted belief that bad has a stronger impact on people than good. His team conducted extensive research, hoping to find situations where a single positive circumstance was actually stronger than a negative one.

They couldn’t find any.

In fact, Baumeister and his colleagues discovered that negative life events are typically three to five times stronger than positive ones. In other words, it takes four compliments to make up for one put down.

He lays it all out in his 2019 book, The Power of Bad.

Here’s my favorite take away: our brains are hard-wired to focus on bad, but the rational mind can take this in stride by finding the good.

Baumeister recommends a positivity ratio of 4 to 1 (4 good to 1 bad).

Finding the good isn’t a new idea; it’s as least as old as the 1913 novel, Pollyanna. In the book, a young orphan named Pollyanna uses the “glad game” to cope with the circumstances and sorrows of her life.

Here’s how to play:

Always look for something to be glad about in any situation.

This makes sense. Maybe it’s why gratitude journals are so popular, while keeping an ingratitude journal is a non-starter.

But let’s take it all the way back to the first century. The apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God uses EVERYTHING for the good of those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28).

“Child, I got this. It’s ALL good.”

God

Finally, brothers, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/23/the-sky-is-probably-not-falling/

Categories
Hope

The Climb

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more room for God and His rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Matthew 5:3-4 MSG

Mark grew up in the affluent North Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, graduating at the top of his class from the prestigious Lake Forest Academy–one of Chicago’s finest private schools.

Since he was a kid, his dream was to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where his parents met. Mark applied and was accepted, and in the fall of 1996 he moved into the Freshman dormitory–literally across the street from the Pacific ocean!

Things went well, at first, but during his sophomore year–when students are allowed to move off campus–Mark started to party more than he studied and his grades nose-dived.

Late one night, after he drank too much at a party, Mark decided to drive himself home. Traveling at a high rate of speed on the Pacific Coast highway, he lost control–smashing through a guard rail–and flipped his car several times.

Mark sustained a major head injury and was in a coma for a month. When he awoke, there were significant physical and cognitive impairments. He had to drop out of Pepperdine and move back to Chicago for rehab.

It took almost a year for Mark to get back to himself, mostly. The visible injuries healed, but the emotional ones lingered. His dreams had been shattered, not just by one foolish decision, but by one after another–tumbling like dominoes.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve had a few “Mark moments” in life. Rock bottom is a hard place to be. But as low-as-you-can-go is also a good place to start climbing. That’s what Mark discovered, when one desperate day, he happened upon these words:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ

A paradoxical statement? Perhaps.

I think what Jesus meant is this: it’s easier to find Him when we come to the end of ourselves.

Hold on to the rope.

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https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/24/the-climb/

Categories
forgiveness Hope

Peace by Piece

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Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

During WWII, Matsuko and her family were among the many Japanese Americans forcibly interred in camps. For three years she longed to return to the farm near Salinas, CA where her husband Hayato’s family had grown strawberries for three generations. It was HOME.

Finally, the war ended and the Nakamura family returned. But as they stood across the road from their once well kept farm, it was clear all was NOT well. The strawberry fields surrounding their home were overgrown and the front door of the house gaped wide open.

Thankfully, a kind neighbor saved all the farm equipment, but the house had been ransacked. Almost everything of value had been either looted or destroyed.

Matsuko was particularly distressed that the pillagers smashed all of her mother’s china. Not one plate, cup, or saucer survived intact. She began that same day to sort the broken pieces, putting them carefully back together with glue.

One day her young son, Kato, asked her why she was going to so much trouble. After all, she’d only been able to patch together a few plates.

I must take things broken apart and make them whole again.

Matsuko Nakamura

Thank God for people like Matsuko who strive to make things right; who pick up the pieces (no matter how small) and put them back together again.

Is there something broken today that with God’s help you could “peace” back together?

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/03/peace-by-piece/

Categories
consistency Faith Hope Security

Plane Perspective

The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the unfaithful are trapped in their own wickedness.

Proverbs 11:5
My friend Jim’s Cessna 172

My friend Jim once took me up in his Cessna for a short flight. As we cruised over the tilled fields at 3500 feet, large round bales of hay on the ground looked like push-pins on a golden map.

That’s a bunch of hay!

As we flew, Jim shared some brief lessons about the fine art of flying.

  • Maintain a consistent altitude. Mostly straight and level is the way to go. The altimeter, which indicates altitude, reacts to where the airplane has just been–there is a delayed reaction. Because of this, it’s easy for a beginner to “chase” the dial, which leads to erratic flight.
  • If there is a mechanical failure. It’s time to find the safest place to land. Most people think if an airplane stops working mid-air there’s not much to do but prepare to meet God. In reality, it’s time to stay calm and remember your training; you are now in command of a glider!
  • Most crashes are due to pilot error. Make sure you’re fully prepared for every trip and don’t fly beyond your capabilities–EVER. Preflight inspections and checklists exist for good reason. Even a small aircraft has more systems than any one person can remember to check consistently. A written plan is needed.

Spiritual Applications:

Maintain a consistent altitude:

A consistent walk with God day by day is better than going up and down like a yo-yo. Don’t chase the dial; trust that God has you on the best path possible. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If there is a mechanical failure:

The only thing that’s the end of the world is the END OF THE WORLD. Most circumstances are not as bad as they seem. We don’t necessarily think like God or do things the way He does (Isaiah 55:8). So it follows, we don’t always know the true reality. The Bible contains many stories where God and some of the people on the ground didn’t see the situation the same way (my favorite is found in 2 Kings 6:8-17).

Most crashes are due to pilot error:

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:2). We can’t do what only God can (save ourselves), but God isn’t going to do what only we can: (maintain a healthy relationship with Him.)

“When God gives me a vision of truth, there is never a question of what He will do, but only what I will do.”

Oswald Chambers

That’s why a Christian pre-flight inspection–daily devotional time with God–is vital to spiritual growth.

Coming in for a landing.

May the ground rise up to meet you, but if it doesn’t, circle around and try again.

Regular David (me)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/20/plane-perspective/

Categories
Anxiety Christian Blog

A Brush With a Bobcat

“USA_D802921” by Drumsara is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

At twilight this morning, I crossed paths with a bobcat. A medium-sized wildcat native to North America, the bobcat is an elusive and solitary predator. The one I met was about the size of my miniature schnauzer, but with razor-sharp claws and teeth. He paused at the edge of the road and stared back at me as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Anxiety is a bobcat of sorts. It too is an elusive predator that specializes in chance encounters. Often appearing in a dusk or dawn moment of life, it pauses at the edge of the road and stares back at us as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Luckily, my brush with a bobcat ended peacefully. He vanished into the trees just after the brief stare down.

In keeping with the analogy, as a card-carrying anxious person, here are three things I do to manage my encounters with negative-“bobcat”-emotions.

Use Mantras: confront weak emotions with logic.
These are short positive statements said over and over to remind yourself what’s really REAL. My favorite mantras are from the Bible. This verse has gotten me through many a restless night:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Unplug: occasionally choose solitude over people
Spending time alone is a great way to recharge, recalibrate, and reclaim your emotional well being. This is a life hack Jesus used in his busiest ministry days; He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). When anxiety levels rise, try taking a break from anything with a screen–unless it’s a screened in porch!

Don’t fight the feeling: let it pass over you instead.
A soldier friend, who suffers from PTSD, told me he’s learned not to resist the traumatizing pictures in his mind, it only makes them stronger. Instead, he let’s them pass through until they weaken and disperse–like a brief storm.

Hopefully, I can wrap this up with a favorite quote from the movie, “Gladiator”

I knew a man who once said, ‘Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.’

General Maximus (Russell Crowe)

Bobcats and unwelcome emotions are bound to cross our path at times.

“_D802910” by Drumsara is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Smile back.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/29/a-brush-with-a-bobcat/

Categories
Hope

Have you gotten to “When?”

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And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. (Job 42:10a)

“If every Christian’s prayer was answered, ‘Yes’,” says the skeptic, “Who would benefit most, the Christian or the seemingly lost world?”

Ouch!

Come to think of it, looking from the outside in, Christianity COULD seem like a pretty self-centered religion. A typical prayer meeting in many churches features a group of people commiserating about their, mostly personal, “problems.” Such spiritual navel gazing is why a recovering addict once told me he prefers AA meetings for their unselfish ambiance.

Double Ouch!

Anyone who has read the book of Job, knows that the man at the center of the story endures an incredible amount of unjust suffering without blaming God.
However, Job DOES question his Creator,and THAT doesn’t go over well. The following is a summary of God’s response:

Just who do you think you are?

God

Thankfully, things improve for Job in the end, as God restores his losses. And the turning point comes when Job takes his eyes off himself and prays for his friends.

Folks I don’t know about you, but in some situations I just haven’t gotten to “when.” And, like Job, my state of affairs isn’t likely to improve in these areas until I do.

Life is full of difficult times, but someone out there has it worse than you do.

Admiral William H. McRaven

Have you gotten to “when?”

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/20/have-you-gotten-to-when/