Category Archives: Max Lucado

Joy Unspeakable

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The first step to joy is a plea for help, an acknowledgment of moral destitution, an admission of inward paucity. Those who taste God’s presence have declared spiritual bankruptcy and are aware of their spiritual crisis. Their cupboards are bare. Their pockets are empty. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice; they are pleading for mercy….

They ask God to do for them what they can’t do without Him. They have seen how holy God is and how sinful they are and have agreed with Jesus’ statement, “Salvation is impossible.”

Oh, the irony of God’s delight–born in the parched soil of destitution rather than the fertile ground of achievement.

It’s a different path, a path we’re not accustomed to taking. We don’t often declare our impotence. Admission of failure is not usually admission into joy. Complete confession is not commonly followed by total pardon. But then again, God has never been governed by what is common.      
~Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven

Oh, the irony of God’s delight–born in the parched soil of destitution rather than the fertile ground of achievement.

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.  Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”  ~Mark 10:27

Not by works that anyone can boast.

The first step to joy is a plea for help,
an acknowledgment of moral destitution,
an admission of inward paucity.

Destitute.
Alone.
Helpless.

Then, after the confession — realizing He hasn’t left you but has come even closer! — that’s when the joy becomes unspeakable and full of glory for Him. Only He can take the worst of you…of me…and wipe it all away.  He doesn’t get angry that you let Him down.  He knew you were going to…before the foundation of the world.  But He loves you so much, He made a way for you to come to Him. 

Knowing how much you need Him.
And Him, alone.
Nothing else will satisfy.

You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him, you trust Him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  ~1Peter 1:8

Admission of failure is not usually admission into joy.

God turns everything upside-down.
He frees you from your guilty conscience.
You admit failure and He declares you holy.

Set apart for Him.

I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
~Habakkuk 3:18

ALIVE!!!

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ROAD. DARK. STARS. SHADOWS. FOUR. SANDALS. ROBES. QUIET. Suspense. Grove. Trees. Alone. Questions. Anguish. “Father!” Sweat. God. Man. God-Man. Prostrate. Blood. “NO!” “Yes.” Angels. Comfort.

Footsteps. Torches. Voices. Romans. Surprise. Swords. Kiss. Confusion. Betrayal. Fearful. Run! Bound. Wrists. Marching.

Courtyard. Priests. Lamps. Sanhedrin. Caiaphas. Sneer. Silk. Arrogance. Beard. Plotting. Barefoot. Rope. Calm. Shove. Kick. Annas. Indignant. Messiah? Trial. Nazarene. Confident. Question. Answer. Punch!

Peter. “Me?” Rooster. Thrice. Guilt.

Proceedings. Court. Rejection. Prosecute. Weary. Pale. Witnesses. Liars. Inconsistent. Silence. Stares. “Blasphemer!” Anger. Waiting. Bruised. Dirty. Fatigued. Guards. Spit. Blindfold. Mocking. Blows. Fire. Twilight.

Sunrise. Golden. Jerusalem. Temple. Passover. Lambs. Lamb. Worshipers. Priests. Messiah. Hearing. Fraud. Prisoner. Waiting. Standing. Shifting. Strategy. “Pilate!” Trap. Murmurs. Exit.

Stirring. Parade. Crowd. Swell. Romans. Pilate. Toga. Annoyed. Nervous. Officers. Tunics. Spears. Silence. “Charge?” “Blasphemy.” Indifference. Ignore. (Wife. Dream.) Worry. Interview. Lips. Pain. Determined. “King?” “Heaven.” “Truth.” “Truth?” Sarcasm. (Fear.) “Innocent!” Roar. Voices. “Galilean!” “Galilee?” “Herod!”

9:00 A.M. Marchers. Palace. Herod. Fox. Schemer. Paunchy. Crown. Cape. Scepter. Hall. Elegance. Silence. Manipulate. Useless. Vexed. Revile. Taunt. “King?” Robe. Theatrical. Cynical. Hateful. “Pilate!”

Marching. Uproar. Prisoner. Hushed. Pilate. “Innocent!” Bedlam. “Barabbas!” Riot. Despair. Christ. Bare. Rings. Wall. Back. Whip. Slash. Scourge. Tear. Bone. Moan. Flesh. Rhythm. Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Silence. Whip! Thorns. Stinging. Blind. Laughter. Jeering. Scepter. Slap. Governor. Distraught. (Almost.) Eyes. Jesus. Decision. Power. Freedom? Threats. Looks. Yelling. Weak. Basin. Water. Swayed. Compromise. Blood. Guilt.

Soldiers. Thieves. Crosspiece. Shoulder. Heavy. Beam. Heavy. Sun. Stagger. Incline. Houses. Shops. Faces. Mourners. Murmurs. Pilgrims. Women. Tumble. Cobblestone. Exhaustion. Gasping. Simon. Pathetic. Golgotha.

Skull. Calvary. Crosses. Execution. Death. Noon. Tears. Observers. Wails. Wine. Nude. Bruised. Swollen. Crossbeam. Sign. Ground. Nails. Pound. Pound. Pound. Pierced. Contorted. Thirst. Terrible. Grace. Writhing. Raised. Mounted. Hung. Suspended. Spasms. Heaving. Sarcasm. Sponge. Tears. Taunts. Forgiveness. Dice. Gambling. Darkness.

Absurdity.
Death. Life.
Pain. Peace.
Condemn. Promise.
Nowhere. Somewhere.
Him. Us.

“Father!” Robbers. Paradise. Wailing. Weeping. Stunned. “Mother.” Compassion. Darkness. “My God!” Afraid. Scapegoat. Wilderness. Vinegar. “Father.” Silence. Sigh. Death. Relief.

Earthquake. Cemetery. Tombs. Bodies. Mystery. Curtain. Spear. Blood. Water. Spices. Linen. Tomb. Fear. Waiting. Despair.

Stone. Mary. Running. Maybe? Peter. John.

Belief.
Enlightenment.
Truth.
Mankind.

Alive.
Alive.
Alive!

~Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him Savior

God’s Smile

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To accept God is to admit failure, a step we are hesitant to take.
We opt to impress God with how good we are rather than confessing how great He is.

We dizzy ourselves with doctrine.
Burden ourselves with rules.
Think that God smiles on our efforts.

He doesn’t.

God’s smile is not for the healthy hiker who boasts that he made the journey alone. It is, instead, for the crippled leper who begs God for a back on which to ride.

~Max Lucado

I’m begging for His  back…

Without faith it is impossible to please God… 
~Hebrews 11:6

When You Don’t Make Sense

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It’s easy to thank God when He does what we want.  But God doesn’t always do what we want.  Ask Job.

His empire collapsed, his children were killed, and what was a healthy body became a rage of boils.  From whence came this torrent?  From whence will come any help?

Job goes straight to God and pleads his case. 

His head hurts.
His body hurts.
His heart hurts.

And God answers. Not with answers but with questions. An ocean of questions. . . .

After several dozen questions . . . Job has gotten the point. What is it?

The point is this: God owes no one anything. No reasons. No explanations. Nothing. If He gave them, we couldn’t understand them.

God is God. He knows what He is doing. When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart. 

 (Yeah.  You know it:  Max Lucado,  The Inspirational Study Bible.)

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand;
I talked of things too wonderful for me to know.
~Job 42:3

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,”
says the LORD.
“And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

~Isaiah 55:9-10

Oh, LORD God, make me trust in You alone.  Let me remember Your words and delight in them.   You made a way through the veil for me to come into Your presence.  And You promised to make something of me, something beautiful for You to behold.  As You take me through these fires, help me to remember Your promises are yes and amen.  You have plans I do not know about and a future…a hope…waiting for me…with You…for eternity.  Help me see from Your perspective, not my own.  And when You don’t make sense to me, I will trust in Your character.  For You are good.  In Jesus’ name…

Faith Sees the Savior

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I stand a few feet from a mirror and see the face of a (wo)man who failed, . . . failed his Maker. Again. I promised I wouldn’t, but I did. I was quiet when I should have been bold. I took a seat when I should have taken a stand.

If this were the first time, it would be different. But it isn’t. How many times can one fall and expect to be caught? . . .

Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure, a promise breaker. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face. . . .

Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior.

Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees His blood.

~Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name

Sometimes looking in the mirror can be devastating. Seeing the ways we’ve faltered, failed or completely effed-up (excuse me) can hurt SO terribly that we choose to take steps to protect ourselves from the pain.

Some choose drugs. Some choose sex. Some choose alcohol. Some choose work. Some choose “good” works. Some choose laughter. Some choose food. Some choose _________.

Whatever it may be, it’s a way to escape the tragedy of our souls.

We need a Savior. And we need Him every. day.

Grace for the moment.
New mercies every morning.
Blood that covers ALL our sin — past, present and future.

Nothing is new to Him. He saw it all from the beginning. He isn’t surprised by the choices we’ve made. He’s not sitting up there, looking down on us, hoping hoping hoping, keeping His fingers crossed we’ll choose the right door. He knows what we’ll do. And He made a way for us…in spite of us…to be with Him.

His grace is everlasting.
His mercies are freshly bestowed.
His blood covers ALL our sins.

Praise Him!

Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

A Focus to Life

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I spend much of my time in prayer asking the Lord what He would have me do.  I’ll pour out my heart to Him of all the desires I’ve had to “work” for Him.  In my mind it’s as though I have not accomplished His will if what I am doing appears mundane.  Greatness has always been in the back of my mind. 

As a young woman I imagined I would be a missionary.  I knew I wanted to live my life for God in a way that would be of service to the lost.  I wanted to speak boldly for Him and bring many people into the kingdom from a “foreign” field.  I concluded all that was worthy was somewhere else.

I read this today from Max Lucado:

When do we get our first clue that [Jesus] knows He is the Son of God?  In the temple of Jerusalem.  He is twelve years old.  His parents are three days into the return trip to Nazareth, before they notice He is missing.  They find Him in the  temple studying with the leaders. . . .

As a young boy, Jesus already senses the call of God.  But what does He do next?  Recruit apostles and preach sermons and perform miracles?  No, He goes home to His folks and learns the family business.

That is exactly what you should do.  Want to bring focus to your life?  Do what Jesus did.  Go home, love your family, and take care of business.  But Max, I want to be a missionary.  Your first mission field is under your roof.  What makes you think they’ll believe you overseas if they don’t believe you across the hall?

Go home. Love your family. And take care of business.

You know, that just might mean playing that game tonight after dinner instead of “working” to reach others in the blogosphere.

I have a mission. 
I’m getting some focus back to my life.

Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. ~Colossians 3:23

Praise to God

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You are a great God.

Your character is holy.

Your truth is absolute.

Your strength is unending.

Your discipline is fair. . . .

Your provisions are abundant for our needs.

Your light is adequate for our path.

Your grace is sufficient for our sins. . . .

You are never early, never late. . . .

You sent your Son in the fullness of time and
will return at the consummation of time.

Your plan is perfect.

Bewildering, Puzzling, Troubling.

But perfect.

~Max Lucado

Let us always offer to God our sacrifice of praise. ~Hebrews 13:15

The Dungeon of Bitterness

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Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.  ~Hebrews 12:15 (MSG)

How does God do this? I just told Phat that I’ve got to let go of some hurts. Some hurts seem too deep to imagine they will ever go away, but to continue to hold on to them is only causing more hurt. And then I pick up my Lucado devotional to read this:

Bitterness is its own prison.

The sides are slippery with resentment. A floor of muddy anger stills the feet. The stench of betrayal fills the air and stings the eyes. A cloud of self-pity blocks the view of the tiny exit above.

Step in and look at the prisoners. Victims are chained to the walls. Victims of betrayal. Victims of abuse.

The dungeon, deep and dark, is beckoning you to enter. . . . You can, you know. You’ve experienced enough hurt. . . . You can choose , like many, to chain yourself to your hurt. . . . Or you can choose, like some, to put away your hurts before they become hates. . . .

How does God deal with your bitter heart? He reminds you that what you have is more important than what you don’t have.  You still have your relationship with God. No one can take that.

I’m ready to get out of this dungeon. I need to forgive. But, not forget. I do need to remember who is safe and who is not. Yet, I can’t continue to allow myself to be held prisoner by these hurts. 

I need help to do this.  It seems to be quite a stronghold in my life. 

Is this what’s meant by not giving the devil an opportunity?

And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.  ~Ephesians 4:27 (NLT)

I don’t want this bitter influence in my life anymore.  I want to be “right” with God.  The scripture seems to say our relationship with God is directly influenced by our lack of forgiveness toward others:

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  ~Matthew 6:14 (NASB)

He forgave me a debt I could never pay.  Am I going to continue to demand payment for an infraction others have done to me?  If I do, then what have I understood of His forgiveness?  He forgave me for sinning against Him, the Almighty God of the Universe. 

Perspective’s good.  It hurts to realize the truth.  It’s humbling, but it’s good.

I’m ready to leave this dungeon.  I’m tired of being chained to these hurts.  Please pray I won’t continue to let the resentment, anger and self-pity have control. 

The stench of betrayal is not as foul as the stench of unforgiveness.

Some Thoughts on Good Friday

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by Max Lucado:

It wasn’t right that spikes pierced the hands that formed the earth.  And it wasn’t right that the Son of God was forced to hear the silence of God.

It wasn’t right, but it happened.

For while Jesus was on the cross, God sat on His hands.  He turned His back.  He ignored the screams of the innocent.

He sat in silence while the sins of the world were placed upon His Son.  And He did nothing while a cry a million times bloodier than John’s  echoed in the black sky:  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Was it right?  No.

Was it fair?  No.

Was it love?  Yes.

Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love.  ~Ephesians 3:19

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I can’t understand it.  I honestly cannot.  Why did Jesus die on the cross?  Oh, I know, I know.  I have heard the official answers.  “To gratify the old law.”  “To fulfill prophecy.”  And these answers are right.  They are.  But there is something more here.  Something very compassionate.  Something yearning.  Something personal.

What is it?

Could it be that His heart was broken for all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry the same “Why?”  Could it be that His heart was broken for the hurting? . . .

I imagine Him, bending close to those who hurt.  I imagine Him listening.  I picture His eyes misting and a pierced hand brushing away a tear. . . .

He who also was once alone, understands.

When He saw the crowds, He felt sorry for them because they were hurting and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  ~Matthew 9:36

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.  ~Isaiah 53:6

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He looked across 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 soldier’s garb sat on the ground near the trio. . . .

Women clad in sorrow huddlled at the foot of the hill. . . . faces tear-streaked.

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.

The angel spoke again.  “It would be less painful . . .”

The Creator interrupted softly.  “But it wouldn’t be love.”

God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life.  ~John 3:16

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“It is finished.”

Stop and listen a moment.  Let the words wind through your heart.  Imagine the cry from the cross.  The sky is dark.  The other two victims are moaning.  Jeering mouths of the crowd are silent.  Perhaps there is thunder.  Perhaps there is weeping.  Perhaps there is silence.  Then Jesus draws in a deep breath, pushes His feet down on that Roman nail, and cries, “It is finished!”

What was finished?

The history-long plan of redeeming man was finished.  The message of God to man was finished.  The works done by Jesus as a man on earth were finished. . . .

The sting of death had been removed.

It was over.

When Jesus tasted the vinegar, He said, “It is finished.”  Then He bowed His head and died.  ~John 19:30

I’ve posted this song before, but I felt it might be a good way to remember on this day.  If you would like the lyrics, you can go here.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!!!

Getting Our Attention

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“He cares more about your character
than your comfort.”

I can’t give credit where credit’s due.  I heard that phrase years ago and have held on to it since.  I know it’s true.  He’ll move heaven and earth to get our attention, if that’s what He must do.

I love that about Him.

How far do you want God to go in getting your attention?  If God has to choose between your eternal safety and your earthly comfort, which do you hope He chooses?

What if He moved you to another land? (As he did Abraham.)  What if He called you out of retirement? (Remember Moses?)  How about the voice of an angel or the bowel of a fish? (A la Gideon and Jonah.)  How about a promotion like Daniel’s or a demotion like Samson’s?

God does what it takes to get our attention.  Isn’t that the message of the Bible?  The relentless pursuit of God.  God on the hunt.  God in the search.  Peeking under the bed for hiding kids, stirring the bushes for the lost sheep. 
~Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder

I’m so glad He doesn’t give up. I’ve been hiding under the bed recently. He keeps finding me…I keep running back…but, thankfully…

…He is relentless.

I love that about Him.

“Come back to the LORD your God,
because He is kind and shows mercy.
He doesn’t become angry quickly,
and He has great love.”

Joel 2:13