Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cooperating with God

(Photo Credit: OCLC Newsletter, June 2009)

"Today I am who I am because of God’s grace, and I have made sure that the grace He offered me has not been wasted. I have worked harder, longer, and smarter than all the rest; but I realize it is not me—it is God’s grace with me that has made the difference." (1 Corinthians 15:10, The Voice)

Henry Blackaby, in Experiencing God, said that God invites us to join Him in His work. Stan Nelson, one of my doctoral professors, talked about our calling to cooperate with God in what He is doing in the world. 

I thought of both of those statements as I read this morning's passage. (I guess that might be stating the obvious, since I wrote them here for you).

There is a wonderful cooperation between the grace of God and my hard work that makes me what I am. However, the indispensable part of the equation is the grace of God. Apart from God's grace, my work accomplishes nothing. Apart from my work, God is still God. He doesn't need me, but He wants to use me in accomplishing His purposes.

He also wants to use you. 

What will you do today to cooperate with the grace of God at work around you and in you?

I'd love to hear your ideas on how we can all cooperate better with God.  Leave a comment below.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Humble" Thanksgiving

 (Photo credit:
"You see, all have sinned, and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed." (Romans 3:23-24, The Voice)

"We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

On this Thanksgiving Day, we pause to consider the blessings of God. Unfortunately, our expressions of thanksgiving are often no more than a tip of the hat to God as we go on about the business of our self-sufficient lives. We speak words and prayers of thanks, but live as if it all depends on us.

Sometimes we are even aware of those in need and we pray for them, asking God to bless them and thanking Him that we are not like them. But, apart from the unmerited grace of God, we are like them.

My prayer for today is that I will remember how utterly dependent I am on the grace of God. I will likely be called on to offer the prayer at a large family gathering today. I am praying even now for The Lord to put me in the proper frame of mind.

"Happy Thanksgiving" seems a shallow greeting. Perhaps we should wish one another a "Humble Thanksgiving."

How will you cultivate a proper sense of gratitude today?
I'd love to hear your ideas on cultivating gratitude.  Please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Like Cats and Dogs

 (Photo credit:  Photobucket)
"I am not asking solely for their benefit; this prayer is also for all the believers who will follow them and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me. All the glory You have given to Me, I pass on to them. May that glory unify them and make them one as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may be refined so that all will know that You sent Me, and You love them in the same way You love Me." (Jesus: John 17:20-23, The Voice)

Jesus prayed for the unity of His followers in all places and at all times. This unity is a strong evidence that Jesus's words were true and that He was indeed God in the flesh.

I am visiting my daughter and son-in-law in their home for a few days. I have been watching their kitten and puppy playing together. I commented last night that it was like watching the way my kids used to play together.

How in the world can a cat and a dog get along so well? Because they are growing up in the same family. They have common parents.

All Christ-followers have the same Father, no matter what label we claim. When we celebrate that and play well together, we show the world that our message is true. When we act out our sibling rivalries, we send a confusing message.

How can you play better with your siblings who wear a different label?
What do you think?  Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Flowing and Blowing

(Jordan River.  Photo credit:
 "All the rivers flow into the sea, but the sea never fills up. The rivers keep flowing to the same old place, and then start all over and do it again." (Ecclesiastes 1:7, The Message)

Do you ever feel that way? You keep doing the same things over and over again and never finish? Makes me think of the 1970's song, "Dust in the Wind."

But, imagine with me for a moment. What if the rivers decided that, since the sea never fills up, we will stop flowing? The whole ecosystem would fall apart. Why?

Here's my "Aha moment" of the day: It is not the rivers' job to fill up the sea. It is the rivers' job to flow into the sea. The rivers accomplish their purpose in flowing, not in filling.

We may get frustrated because we don't see our jobs ever being completed? Could it be that our effectiveness is measured as much in the means as it is in the ends?

To clarify, I'm not talking about individual tasks never being completed. If that's the case, we have another issue all together. 
I'm talking about the big picture. I'm talking about why ministers never finish ministry and why teachers never finish teaching and why doctors never finish doctoring ... and why you never finish whatever calling you have.

We may be dust in the wind, but maybe God is using us to sand away someone's rough edges. Just a thought.

What can you do today to celebrate the means and not just the ends?
Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 25, 2013


God said to Moses, "I- AM- WHO- I- AM. Tell the People of Israel, 'I- AM sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14, The Message)

We who live in within the boundaries of time cannot fully comprehend that God is above time. He is I-AM--the eternal now. He does not look back to the past in memory. He is there. He does not look forward to the future with hope. He is there. This is, in the words of the psalmist, "so great that I cannot comprehend it." (Psalm 139:6)

Though we can't comprehend it, we can be shaped by it. Today, this present, is where we live and what we have. What will we do with it?

"The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds." (Jean-Pierre de Caussade, 1675-1751, The Sacrament of the Present)

How will you make the most of today?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gratitude Attitudes

(Photo credit:
  "Open your mouths with thanks! Sing praises to the Eternal! Strum the harp in unending praise to our God Who blankets the heavens with clouds, sends rain to water the thirsty earth, and pulls up each blade of grass upon the mountainside. He opens His hands to feed all the animals and scatters seed to nestlings when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the raw strength of horses; He finds no joy in the speed of the sprinter. But the Eternal does take pleasure in those who worship Him, those who invest hope in His unfailing love." (Psalm 147:7-11, The Voice)

As we begin Thanksgiving week, I wonder if we can begin to shape our gratitude attitudes around the awareness of who God is and what He does. Will we be thankful to Him? Will He take pleasure in us?

How did you worship Him with thanksgiving today?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Life in the Weeds

(Photo credit: Flickr)

"Still others are the seed tossed among weeds and brambles. The word has reached them, but the things of this life—the worries, the drive for more and more, the desire for other things—those things cluster around close and choke the life of God out of them until they cannot produce." (Mark 4:18-19, The Voice)

Oswald Chambers writes, "Beware of 'the cares of this world . . .' (Mark 4:19). They are the very things that produce the wrong attitudes in our soul. It is incredible what enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention away from God. Refuse to be swamped by 'the cares of this world.'" (My Utmost for His Highest)

We do not have control over how life comes at us. We only have control over how we respond.  Will the cares of this life drive us to drink, drive us to fret, drive us to overwork or over-eat, drive us to sleeplessness ... Or drive us to pray, drive us to trust, drive us to listen to God's direction and cooperate with Him?

What are the "cares of this world" that are clamoring for your attention today?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A PERSON Without Adjectives

(Photo credit: Somewhere on the internet ... I downloaded it to my computer several years ago)
  "Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice, and defend all those who have been passed over. Open your mouth, judge fairly, and stand up for the rights of the afflicted and the poor." (Proverbs 31:8-9, The Voice)

What is your attitude toward the poor? I have observed all of the following:
1. They are poor because of their own choices. 
2. You can't trust them. 
3. They won't do anything to help themselves. 
4. We should help them to show that we are compassionate people.
 5. We should feel guilty for what we have since there are so many who have less. 
6. We should make sure they have a Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas tree.

Not only have I observed those, I have felt those.

For me, the biggest challenge is to see a poor person as a person. I have the same challenge with a rich person. Or anyone who is different from me. It is such a temptation to evaluate based on outward appearances.

It happens in church (and it is nothing new): "If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewelry, don’t trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless bum crawls in with his shabby clothes and a stench fills the room, don’t look away or pretend you didn’t notice—offer him a seat up front, next to you. If you tell the wealthy man, “Come sit by me; there’s plenty of room,” but tell the vagrant, “Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there,” then you’ll be judging God’s children out of evil motives." (James 2:2-4, Voice)

Certainly there are ways that we, as followers of Christ, can stand up for the rights of the poor and afflicted and speak up for those who have no voice. But maybe the best starting place is too see someone as a PERSON without adjectives. Not a rich or poor person. Not an educated or ignorant person ... Not a happy or grumpy person ... Or any other modifier. This is simply a PERSON, created in the image of God and loved by God enough that Christ died for him or her.

If we are willing to start with a blank slate and let the rest unfold through conversation and interaction, we will know better how to respond effectively to each individual.

So, what do you think?  
I'd love to hear your response to my ponderings.  Leave a comment below.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Give Us Our Daily Bread

(Photo credit: Photobucket)
 "Two things I ask, O God. Sometime before I die, grant these humble requests: Eliminate any hint of worthless and deceitful words from my lips. Do not make me poor or rich, but give me each day what I need; For if I have too much, I might forget You are the One who provides, saying, “Who is the Eternal One?” Or if I do not have enough, I might become hungry and turn to stealing and thus dishonor the good name of my God." (Proverbs 30:7-9, The Voice)

Did you notice that both poverty and riches can have the same result?
If I have too much, I may dishonor God by trusting in my wealth instead of Him. If I have too little, I may dishonor God by giving up on Him and taking matters into my own hands.

Too much or too little is not a fixed number. God knows what each of us needs and what we are prepared to handle well.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11) He was teaching them the truth that prayerfully trusting God is to be the consistent pattern of our lives, rather than tossing up an occasional plea in times of crisis.

How are you demonstrating your trust in God's provision today?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.  How can I pray for you today?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Don't Be a Big Mouth!

(Photo credit: Photo Bucket)
 "Have you ever met someone who is overly eager to talk? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (Proverbs 29:29, The Voice)

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." (James 1:19, New Living Translation)

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." (Stephen R. Covey, The Seven a Habits of Highly Effective People)

Why did God give us two ears and one mouth? Could it be that He intends for us to listen twice as much as we speak?

My father-in-law is one of the wisest men I know. He once said, "I've never learned much with my mouth open."

What can you do today to be sure that you understand before you speak?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.  What is one technique you use to be a good listener?

Monday, November 18, 2013

True Treasure

"But whatever I used to count as my greatest accomplishments, I’ve written them off as a loss because of the Anointed One. And more so, I now realize that all I gained and thought was important was nothing but yesterday’s garbage compared to knowing the Anointed Jesus my Lord. For Him I have thrown everything aside —it’s nothing but a pile of waste— so that I may gain Him." (Philippians 3:7-8, The Voice)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), a nobleman who forsook a life of luxury to follow Christ, wrote these words:

"Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts!
Thou fount of life! Thou light of men!
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfulfilled to Thee again."

We've heard the saying, "one man's trash is another's treasure." In this passage from Philippians, the Apostle Paul was reversing that thought. In essence he was saying, "What I once highly valued, I now see as trash when I compare it to the value of knowing Christ."

When you are building your life on the accumulation of treasure, how much is enough? The answer is always, "Just a little more." That's why we return, in the words of Bernard, "unfulfilled from the best bliss that earth imparts."

What can you do today to refocus on the true treasure of knowing Christ?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.  What do you treasure most of all?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Ruler is Too Short to Measure God's Love

"Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings." (Ephesians 3:16-19, The Voice)

As I sit and write this morning, I am awestruck that millions of worshipers around the world will gather today to proclaim and celebrate the infinite love of God. From ornate cathedrals to underground secret meeting places, from storefronts to living rooms, from shade trees to barns ... Everywhere God's people are gathered, He is present. And His love defies measurement ("infinitely long, wide, high, and deep").
(Photo credit:

Certainly His love can be celebrated apart from the gathering of His people. His love is the same. But the celebration and awareness of it is not the same apart from the gathering.

With whom will you celebrate today?
Leave a comment below and tell us about your faith community.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hiding in the Shadows

 (Photo credit: "It's tough being born in the shadow of greatness"
 "Stay focused on what’s above, not on earthly things, because your old life is dead and gone. Your new life is now hidden, enmeshed with the Anointed who is in God." (Colossians 3:2-3, The Voice)
Sometimes I think we miss the truth that a personal relationship with Christ is not about making our lives better. It is about making our lives NEW. "Your old life is dead and gone. Your new life is now hidden, enmeshed with the Anointed".

In his classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “We tend to set up success in Christian work as our purpose, but our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life 'hidden with Christ in God' in our everyday human conditions."

I believe that the ultimate purpose of the Christian life is to display the character of Christ in every action, every word, every attitude. That means that I am always living in His shadow.

What can you do today that people might see His life displayed in you?
 Leave a comment below to join in the conversation.
I wrote another post on this topic on my Life Matters blog on February 1, 2011.  You can check it out here

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Landing Strip Available ... Keep on Flying

 (Barn Swallow, Photo credit: Photobucket)
"Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest." (Proverbs 26:2, New International Version)

A few years back, a wonderful young lady I know had broken up with her emotionally unstable boyfriend. He set out to enlist as many people as he could to join him in hating her by slanderous conversations and statements. I was corresponding and counseling with her on a regular basis as she walked through, not only the hurt of the loss of the relationship, but also her concern for the damage to her reputation.

During that time, I was also reading through Proverbs and The Lord spoke to me through this verse, which I shared with her to remind her that truth was on her side. She did not need to defend herself against these statements because the truth would eventually be revealed through observation.

We don't have control over what someone says about us. We do have control over how we live. An undeserved curse has no place to land on a life surrendered to Christ.

What will you do today to be sure there is no "landing strip" on you?
Comment below to join the conversation

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Don't Worry ... Be Happy .... Yeah, Right!

(Video Credit:  YouTube)

"Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone's coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound." (Proverbs 25:20, New Living Translation)

As a singer, I have often been told that my songs have ministered powerfully to those with heavy hearts. So, what does this verse mean? (AND how does it relate to those who aren't singers?)

Try this sometime: When you see someone who is heavy-hearted, tell them, "Don't worry! Be happy!"

Did it work?

Probably not.

Many years ago, one of my mentors told me, "A true friend is someone who laughs when you laugh and cries when you cry. Beware of someone who can only do one of the other." (Thanks,
Mike Whelan)

Happy songs only bless those who are already happy. Those with heavy hearts need grace and compassion. 

"Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2, New Living Translation).

Whose burden can you share today?

Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Living Sacrifice

"Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete." (Romans 12:1-2, The Voice)

How can we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice? Think through this prayer with me:

Lord Jesus,
Open my eyes to see You
Open my ears to hear You
Open my mind to know You
Open my heart to love You
I offer my hands to serve You
I offer my feet to follow You
I offer my lips to praise and proclaim You

How might our days be different if we came to The Lord with that attitude each morning?

How will You offer Yourself today?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Embrace the Mystery

"So don’t think too highly of yourselves; instead, stand in awe of God’s mercy ... We cannot wrap our minds around God’s wisdom and knowledge! Its depths can never be measured! We cannot understand His judgments or explain the mysterious ways that He works!" (Romans 11:20,33, The Voice)

When was the last time you were in awe of God's mercy? When was the last time you contemplated His ways and came to the inescapable conclusion that you can't figure Him out?

We are largely uncomfortable with mystery in our lives. In fact, I think we sometimes avoid what we can't understand, so we put God in a box and develop our formulas for explaining how He works.

But God can't be contained. These verses call us to stand in awe of, to be humbled by, and to embrace the mystery.

How can you embrace that mystery today?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Join Me on a Journey of Encouragement

Tomorrow, November 11 is the official launch of my new blog, "Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement."  Each morning, Saturday through Thursday, I'll be posting a few short encouraging words based on my personal Scripture reading for the morning.  I take each Friday off for a social media fast.  I'd love for you to join me on this encouraging journey by subscribing either to the RSS Feed or by email.  Within the next few weeks, I will be offering a special offer for all new subscribers.  Sign up and stay tuned.