The Blog Entries:
September 16, 2014 A few months ago I wrote an article for CaringBridge.org, a group dedicated to providing encouragement for those enduring life’s challenges. I want to share it with you in hopes it might be a blessing to you as well. —Max
As a pastor for more than three decades, I’ve heard more than a few stories of heartache and hurt. Health scares, financial woes, relationship valleys: everyone I know is going through a hard time to some extent, and probably everyone you know is as well.
So what should we do when people share their turbulent times with us? Here are a few dos and don’ts.
Do tell them they’re not facing this time alone. Offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Be available to run errands, care for kids, or provide a meal.
Don’t make the situation about you. It’s tempting to share your personal story—or that of a loved one—but this makes the conversation all about you, not about the person facing turbulent times. Focus on the person who is hurting.
Do urge them to make a plan. Hard times are a petri dish for brainless decisions, so help make a plan for getting through. And then help them stick to it.
Don’t enable foolish behavior. If your friend is in debt, a shopping spree won’t help the situation. An affair won’t mend a struggling marriage, and you can’t fix a drug addiction with more drugs. Stupid won’t fix stupid.
Do encourage forgiveness. Forgiveness can take time, but it’s the key that releases us from a prison of bitterness. As long as someone’s trying to forgive, they are forgiving.
Don’t advise revenge. If someone’s been wronged, the desire for retribution can be hard to ignore. Revenge can feel sweet for the moment, but then what? The after effects of lashing out won’t help anyone get …
August 8, 2014 I wrote this prayer for my daughter’s wedding. Please receive it as a prayer for you marriage as well. —Max
A WEDDING PRAYER
Would you take these two,
of dust and bone,
Born of flesh, then you,
Would you make them one?
Would you speak again
The words you spoke
When Adam slept
And Eve awoke?
Would you let your wine
Replace our water.
And look with grace
On this son, this daughter?
Oh Lord of Eden
In your majesty
Where there were two.
This is the prayer
We lift to you.
by Max Lucado
written for the wedding of Jeff Jones and Sara Lucado, August 1, 2014
December 25, 2013 It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. As moments go, that one appeared no different than any other. If you could somehow pick it up off the timeline and examine it, it would look exactly like the ones that have passed while you have read these words. It came and it went. It was preceded and succeeded by others just like it. It was one of the countless moments that have marked time since eternity became measurable.
But in reality, that particular moment was like none other. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.
The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierce-able. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.
God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.
God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.
God had come near.
He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were unmanicured, calloused, and dirty.
No silk. No ivory. No hype. No party. No hoopla.
Were it not for the shepherds, there would have been no reception. And were it not for a group of star-gazers, there would have been no gifts.
Angels watched as Mary changed God’s diaper. The universe watched with wonder as The Almighty learned to walk. …
October 17, 2013 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.
(Ps. 92:12-15 NIV)
I have been given a rare gift: a free Sunday morning. I have eagerly chosen to spend it in attendance at the Stone Briar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. I have come to hear the prince of preachers, Chuck Swindoll. Sitting behind Chuck in worship is like watching a child on Christmas morning. Chuck sways, then smiles, then sways again. He glances at the choir, then the orchestra, then at the hymnal. His voice soars over ours.
At the appointed time, he bounces into the pulpit. He’s approaching 80 years of age, but you wouldn’t guess it. His voice rings with the same clarity and certainly it did 29 years ago when I first heard it on a cassette tape. (Remember those?) I was living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The tape contained a lesson from a preacher to preachers about preaching. He spoke of the expositional sermon as the highest craft.
Today, I am listening once again to the master craftsman.
He positions himself in a pulpit like a symphony conductor before an orchestra. He flows from paragraph to paragraph with steady energy and clear thought. He scarcely consults his notes, he constantly studies his audience. He quote scriptures as often as he reads them. His listeners never budge. I am watching Rembrandt at work.
I first met Chuck at a booksellers conference in 1991. In an autograph line, he shook the hand of each reader, looked each person in the eye and said, “I really hope you enjoy this book.”
Yesterday, at a book signing, I did my best to look …
October 14, 2013
Sometimes life feels like it’s shutting down all around us. The government shuts down. Communication with our teen cuts off. Our marriage is on the fritz. Our health goes on hiatus. Everywhere we turn, life is shutting down. How do we get through? We can’t logic our way past the problems. Or yell our way out. And we certainly can’t drink our way to an exit ramp.
Let’s be honest. Life can be pretty rough, and sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. Just ask Joseph. Remember him? Jacob’s son—the one with the coat of many colors and brothers from two different mothers? Those brothers threw him into a pit, and it went downhill from there. Abandonment led to enslavement, then entrapment and finally imprisonment. He was sucker punched. Sold out. Mistreated. People made promises only to break them, offered gifts only to take them back. Life shut down. Sound familiar?
But Joseph never gave up. Bitterness never staked its claim. Anger never metastasized into hatred. His heart never hardened; his resolve never vanished. He not only survived; he thrived. He ascended like a helium balloon. An Egyptian official promoted him to chief servant. The prison warden placed him over the inmates. And Pharaoh, the highest ruler on the planet, shoulder-tapped Joseph to serve as his prime minister. And then he used this authority for great good. It’s not hyperbole to state that he saved the world from starvation.
What did he know? How did he flourish in the midst of tragedy and difficulty? Joseph knew that in God’s hands intended evil becomes eventual good. He worked a plan and he trusted God. He knew that, with God’s help, he would get through. This is still true today.
To be sure, the times are difficult. Just as Joseph did, we face governmental uncertainty, family dysfunction and …
September 12, 2013 A prayer written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil held Saturday, September 15, 2001. It seems fitting as we remember the anniversary of 9/11 to share it once again. Permission to copy is granted and encouraged.
We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.
But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.
There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)
We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.
And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.
Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.
Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.
And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do …
August 14, 2013
September 11 is fast approaching. How will your church remember the 9/11 anniversary this year? It seems that in the dozen years since our country’s heart and skyline were ripped apart, we still struggle with how to spend this day that represents such pain and, even to this day, fear. It seems to me that the church should lead the way in this effort.
9/11 has come to serve as a day of remembrance for the many trials we have endured as a nation over this past decade. The continued threats and anxiety created by ongoing terror threats have become, if not normal, an ever present stressor. We wonder if we’ll ever be free of that sense of unease in our daily lives. The Boston bombing served as a reminder of this new reality. Violence continues to tear at our country from within – the mass shootings in Arizona, Colorado, and Sandy Hook. The unthinkable stories of the innocent victims and instant heroes in these situations have seared our consciousness, leaving us reeling with grief and disbelief. Natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Sandy, and other destructive forces have scarred our land and our people.
We are weary. We wonder: will we get through these turbulent times? The answer from the pages of the Bible is a resounding YES. The story of Joseph reveals that even when life hits us with multiple blows, with God’s help, we will overcome. That’s why, on a day like September 11, the church should gather and remember that what man intends for evil, God can use for good. Joseph faced a famine in his day, and he focused all his efforts on bringing life and nourishment to all. Today we face a famine of hope. As God’s people, let’s dispense courage and sustenance to our generation, …
July 18, 2013 My cellphone contract is up. So, I am a candidate for a new smartphone. A week of shopping has made me wonder: am I smart enough to buy a smartphone?
HTC, iOS, WWDC, S3, Samung, G-U-L-P. How many models are there? How many options can one brain process? Carriers, updates, data plans, and sizes…someone help me! 3G, 4G, LTE, GSM, HSPA+. NFC, GPS, PPI. Dual-core, quad-core. Five megapixels, eight megapixels. Android 4.1, Android 4.2. iOS 6, iOS 7. Q10, Z10. Google Play, iTunes, iCloud. Windows Phone 8 (or is it Windows 8 Phone?). BlackBerry . iPhone 5, iPhone 5S. Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung Galaxy S4. HTC One. Nexus 4.
Leaves me longing for the day of wired telephones in the living room. I remember when my parents bought an extension for their bedroom. We thought we had moved ahead one century! Hang on to your hat, Alexander Bell.
Changes happen so fast these days, can anyone keep up? By one estimate, there are some 37,000 smartphones on the market today. That was a month ago. Odds are the number is now 38,000. Increasing at the rate of the national debt. Are you kidding me?
I am glad, really glad, that talking to God does not require a smartphone. Jesus taught us to begin our prayers by saying, “Our Father in heaven” (Mt. 6:9). More specifically, our “Abba in heaven.” Abba is an intimate, tender, folksy, pedestrian term, the warmest of the Aramaic words for “father.” Formality stripped away. Proximity promised. Jesus invites us to approach God like a child approaches Daddy. No special training required. No monthly plan needed.
Stunning, don’t you think, that the highest conversation in life requires nothing but an open heart and a “Dear Father?” How gracious of God to keep it simple.
Even more gracious of Him not to require a smartphone.
June 27, 2013 See if the following sounds familiar:
The definition of truth is: “Whatever is most expedient at the moment.”
Christians are relegated to the outer margin of society.
Marriage is defined according to personal preference.
No sexual act is taboo or off-limits.
Immorality has seeped into the church.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been reading the news, it does. If you’ve been reading the Bible, it does as well. These phrases portray every culture in which the New Testament church began. Ephesus, famous for her temple orgies. Corinth, a seedbed of immorality. Rome, no friend to the church. The Christian movement was birthed in a maternity ward of contrarian beliefs.
Is the church returning to its birthplace? The move to redefine marriage is the most recent of a string of events that suggest we are entering a new normal. If so, here is the good news: the Bible was written for times like these. The church flourishes in times like these. Scripture exists to help the church thrive as citizens of heaven and strangers and exiles on earth.
In such times, our call is clear:
“Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night…” (Philippians 2:12-15 MSG)
In changing times, hold to the unchanging hand of God. Embrace what is true. Anchor to what is right. Set your heart on heaven. And have faith. The Lord who began the church will sustain it.
Max Lucado© 2013
June 14, 2013
Every child is born with a unique blend of strengths and characteristics. Don’t see your child as a blank slate awaiting your pen, but as a written book awaiting your study.
What is the S-T-O-R-Y of your child?
1. What is their Strength? Master pianist Van Cliburn, at the age of two, could pick out a song on the piano simply as a result of listening to lessons going on in the adjacent room. His mother spotted this and, as a result, gave him daily lessons. The little kid from Kilgore, Texas won the International Tchaikovsky Piano competition in Moscow. Why? Because a parent spotted a skill and strengthened it.
2. What Topics turn their heads? Numbers? When are they delightfully lost in a project? John Ruskin said, “Tell me what you like and I’ll tell you who you are.”
3. What is their Optimal setting? Pine trees need a different soil than oak trees. A cactus thrives in a different environment than a rosebush does. What about the soil and the environment of your child? Some kids love to be noticed. Others prefer to be hidden in the crowd. Some relish deadlines and challenges. Others need ample preparation time and help. We each have a different optimal setting.
4. How about Relationships? When it comes to people, what phrase best describes your child?
“Follow me, everyone.”
“I’ll let you know if I need some help.”
“Can we do this together?”
The loner is not necessarily aloof; the crowd-seeker is not always lacking focus. They may be living out their story. In which environment does your child flourish? And, when do they say:
5. “Yes!” What gives them satisfaction and pleasure? Do they love the journey or the goal? Do they like to keep things straight or straighten things out? What thrills one person bothers another. The Apostle Peter liked …