The Blog Entries:
December 16, 2014 History is not an endless succession of meaningless circles, but a directed movement toward a great event. God has a timeline. And, because of Bethlehem, we know where we stand on it.
The next great event is the Second Coming. There will be a sudden, personal, visible, bodily return of Christ. Jesus said: “I will come again” (Jn. 14:3). The author of Hebrews declared: “Christ will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting on him” (Heb. 9:28).
As Christ came, he will come. But he won’t come as he came.
He came quietly in Bethlehem. He will return in glory with a shout. “All who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out” (Jn. 5:28).
In Bethlehem, the just-born Jesus slept. Upon his return, “The Lord will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thess. 4:16).
At the first coming, few people noticed. At his second, “All the nations of the world will be gathered before him” (Mt. 25:32).
In Bethlehem, Joseph placed Jesus in a manger. At his return, Jesus will be seated on a throne: “The Son of Man will come in great glory, with all his angels. He will be king and sit on his great throne” (Mt. 25:31).
This Christmas, enjoy the fruit of the first coming, but anticipate the glory of the second. We live between the advents. Let the first one whet your appetite for the final one.
“What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns” (2 Pet. 3:13).
copyright Max Lucado, December 2014
November 10, 2014 “Thanks.” Just the word lifts the spirit. “Thanks” proclaims, “I’m not disadvantaged, disabled, victimized, scandalized, forgotten, or ignored. I am blessed.” To say “thanks” is to celebrate a gift, to see miracles in the midst of pain.
My young friend Rebecca does. Twelve-year-old Rebecca has spent the last four years in pain. “On a scale of one to ten,” the doctor explained, “she is a twelve every day.” Rebecca’s pancreas has shut down. After a dozen operations and changes in medication, no solution is in sight.
Pretty tough challenge. But Rebecca is a tough kid. She has fudge-brown hair, eyes that sparkle, a weatherproof smile, and a book of miracles. She showed it to me. I thought she was asleep. Her mom and I conversed in whispered tones in the corner of the hospital room. Homemade sketches hung on the walls. A covey of stuffed animals occupied the couch. Someone had sent a cookie bouquet. I eyed it.
“Mommy.” Rebecca’s voice was groggy.
“Can you show Mr. Max my Miracle Book?”
It’s a spiral notebook, edges weathered, adorned with crayoned flowers, stars, and an occasional clown. In the handwriting of a child, miracles:
“I slept all night last night.”
“Daddy snuck a puppy into the hospital.”
“Mommy is going to place a Christmas tree in the corner.”
Her body is in revolt. Her parents are concerned. The doctors are confused. But Rebecca has made a decision. She is going to choose gratitude. She thanks God for miracles. If Rebecca can find reasons to say thanks, can’t we? If Rebecca can find miracles in the midst of pain, can’t we?
Pray with me today for Rebecca. She needs another miracle. She’s facing her biggest challenge tomorrow: a Total Pancreatectomy with Auto-Islet Transplantation. Let’s thank God for Rebecca and ask him for a successful operation, blessings for the doctors, and a …
October 17, 2014 Max Lucado invites you to PRAY
We are unaccustomed to such images: Health workers clad in head-to-toe protective gear. Emergency response teams loading and unloading patients into awaiting ambulances. A journalist kneeling in the desert wearing an orange jump suit and somber face. Standing over him, a man in a mask wielding a blade; then using it to do the unthinkable.
Ebola. ISIS. World plague? Barbarism?
Are we living in a science fiction novel? Parents want to protect their kids. Hospitals want to help the sick. The world seems on edge. We feel helpless. Is there anything we can do? Absolutely!
It is time for us to pray. Here is my idea: PrayFirst- an Online Prayer Gathering, livestreamed on Monday, October 20, from 6:00 to 6:30 pm CST. We will join our hearts and ask God to help us. Can you join us for prayer? Can you help get the word out? Ask your church to announce it. Use your social media outlets. Tell your friends. Share the link below and #prayfirst. We really need help. We really need to pray.
Prayer is a pathway to solidarity. Rather than point fingers or cast blame, let’s bend knees and seek help. None of us has all the solutions, but all of us can pray. All of us, all over the world, are in this together. Let’s stand together in prayer.
Prayer leads to peace. According to the Apostle Paul, the first fruit of prayer is peace: “…let your requests be made known to God…and the peace of God will guard your hearts.” -Phil. 4:6-7Let’s take a stand against panic. Nothing good comes from a raging sense of fear. The best decisions are made in an atmosphere of calm. Prayer helps create this atmosphere.
Prayer moves the heart of God.“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” …
October 14, 2014 It was a wonderful thing to sleep in my own bed last night after 12 days of travel. This “Before Amen” book tour took me from Florida to New York City and half a dozen stops in between. I spoke at several churches, engaged in many conversations, and walked away with a distinct impression.
We are scared.
We can hardly process the images we see on the screen. Beheadings?! Epidemic?! Global plague?! Is this the Middle Ages? A science fiction novel? In addition to these bizarre events, we have the “common” ones of economic uncertainty and a seemingly deadlocked political system.
And we are anxious. Not since 9/11 have I sensed such angst.
One conversation was emblematic of the rest. A worker in a major studio asked me the topic of my interview. When I said, “Prayer,” she stopped and looked me in the eyes and said: “Oh, we need prayer.” She was accustomed to talking to strategists, generals, and politicians. She senses that we need help from a divine source.
“Would you like to pray?”
She nodded, disappeared for a moment, and returned with four friends. “They want to pray, too.” So we prayed.
Let’s do the same.
We are never without hope because we are never without prayer. Don’t give into anxiety. Resist the urge to panic. There is peace for the asking. The next time you sense a wave of despair, respond in prayer.
Fear seeps in when our trust in God wavers. The only time we should get scared is when something surprises God. If something takes God by surprise, we are doomed. Since God knows all things, we are comforted.
Fear is knocking on the door, but we don’t have to let it in.
© Max Lucado, October 14, 2014
September 29, 2014 Some people “get” prayer. They inhale heaven and exhale God. They retreat to prayer mountains and prayer events. They would rather pray than sleep.
Why is it that I tend to sleep when I pray? My mind wanders. My thoughts zig, then zag, then zig again. Distractions swarm like gnats on a summer night. Prayer giant? Hardly. Prayer wimp? Admittedly.
But, I am happy to add, I am a recovering prayer wimp. I discovered a few things about prayer that invigorated my prayer life. Here’s one:
All the prayers of the Bible can be condensed into a single prayer. And the prayer is a simple one. Just six lines. I call it The Pocket Prayer.
You are good.
I need help.
So do they.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
I let this prayer punctuate my day. I keep it in the back of my mind, ever within reach of my thoughts. As I drive through traffic…Father. Walking through the office…You are good. Stepping into a meeting…I need help. Looking at the stressed face of the receptionist…They need help. As the day draws to an end…Thanks. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I unpack the Pocket Prayer in my new book: Before Amen. It is a book on prayer for those who struggle to pray. If you’re a prayer warrior, perhaps this book will reinforce your calling. If you can relate to the phrase “Prayer Wimp”, then I’ve got some good news for you.
God will teach you to pray. Don’t think for a minute that he is glaring at you from a distance with crossed arms and a scowl, waiting for you to get your prayer life together. Just the opposite. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you and you will eat …
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 …