The Blog Entries:
September 21, 2015 Does one prevailing problem stalk your life? Where does Satan have a hook in you?
Some are prone to cheat. Others quick to doubt. Maybe you worry. Yes, everyone worries some – but you own the national distributorship of anxiety. Perhaps you are judgmental. Sure, everybody can be critical, but you pass more judgments than the Supreme Court.
What is that one weakness, bad habit, rotten attitude? Where does the devil have a stronghold on you? Ahh, there is the word that fits–stronghold–fortress, citadel, thick walls, tall gates. It’s as if the devil has fenced in one negative attribute, one bad habit, one weakness and constructed a rampart around it. “You ain’t touching this flaw,” he defies to heaven and he places himself squarely between God’s help and your:
–distrust for authority
Seasons come and go and this Loch Ness monster still lurks in the watery lake bottom of your soul. He won’t go away. He lives up to both sides of his compound name: strong enough to grip like a vice and stubborn enough to hold on. He clings like a bear trap; the harder you shake, the more it hurts.
Strongholds: old, difficult, discouraging challenges.
The term stronghold appears at least fifty times in the Bible. It commonly referred to a fortress with a difficult access (see Judges 6:2; I Sam. 23:14). When King David first saw the city of Jerusalem, it was an old, ancient, cheerless fortress inhabited by enemies. No wonder it was twice called a stronghold (see II Sam. 5:7,9).
The Apostle Paul uses the term to describe a mindset or attitude.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down …
September 4, 2015 My idea for the book Glory Days crystalized as I sat across the lunch table from a man in midlife misery. He described his life with words like stuck, rut, and stalled out. He’s a Christian. He can tell you the day he became a believer. But he can’t tell you the last time he defeated a temptation or experienced an answered prayer. Twenty years into his faith he fights the same battles he was fighting the day he came to Christ.
He didn’t say the words, but I could sense the sentiment: “I thought the Christian life would be better than this.” He feels disengaged and discouraged. It’s as if the door to spiritual growth has a lock and everyone has the key but him. He doesn’t know whom to blame. Himself? The church? God? He doesn’t know what to do. Change congregations? Change Bible translations? Slow down and reflect? Get busy and work?
My friend is not alone in the wilderness. The REVEAL Research Project wanted to determine the percentage of churchgoers who are actually propelled by their faith to love God and love others with their whole hearts. Researchers surveyed the members of more than a thousand churches. How many Christians would describe their days as Glory Days?
The answer? Eleven percent.
Eleven percent! If a high school graduated only 11 percent of its students, if a hospital healed only 11 percent of its patients, if a baseball team won only 11 percent of its games, if a home builder completed only 11 percent of his projects, wouldn’t changes be made?
The church has a serious deficiency.
We also have a wonderful opportunity. About 2.2 billion people on our planet call themselves Christians. That is approximately one-third of the world’s population. If the survey is any indication, about 2 billion of those Christians …
June 26, 2015 Our society seemed to take a seismic shift today. The decision of the SCOTUS regarding same-sex marriage has the potential to leave many Christians anxious and troubled. While those of us who hold to traditional marriage have a right to be concerned, we have no need to despair. What we need is a good dose of this Scripture:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Ph. 4:6,7)
It may seem that the world is changing fast, but is it really? The headlines may announce a decision of the Supreme Court, but the actions of our Supreme God are unaltered.
He is still the Creator, blessed forever. (Rom. 1:25)
He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:8)
His years will never end. (Ps. 102:27)
He needs no counselor; seeks no advice. He is equally everywhere. He never wearies, sleeps or struggles. He has never been confused, thwarted or contested. He reigns supreme over every detail of the universe. “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:35)
God is still God and His word is still sure. His sovereign grace never changes. Everything else may change. But He doesn’t.
So let’s replace our anxious thoughts with prayerful ones. “…in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known…” Now is the time for prayer and faith.
Something good will come out of this. Maybe now we can have this discussion where we need to have it. Face-to-face. In neighborhoods. Over dinner tables. Perhaps the hate-filled words will subside …
February 26, 2015 It was hard to forget the muddy water.
There is much about the trip to Ethiopia that I cannot remember. But I still remember the muddy water. Even five years later. I still recall the sight of the little boy filling the water pot with dirty, brown, muddy water.
His daily chores included a long walk through a dry valley on dusty trail that led him to a pool of dirty water. Donkeys drank there. Monkeys played there. And the boy got his family’s water there.
He had no other choice. He had no other source.
He was seven, maybe eight years of age. Dark skin and bright eyes. He had all the marks of a happy kid. I remember thinking: “The little guy deserves some clean water.”
Now, he has it. Thanks to gracious folks like you, thirty thousand people in the Oromia region of Ethiopia are about to have their worlds changed for the better. Last November, I came to you with a request. Would you help me raise a million dollars so that 20,000 people can have access to clean water? Boy, did you ever respond. Our goal of $1,000,000 was exceeded by 50%! We ended up with $1,556,331.93!
That’s 31,126 people who will receive clean water!
Thirty thousand! Imagine a baseball stadium full of happy Ethiopians. Now, imagine them shouting out a heartfelt “thank you!” On their behalf, may I say to you, “Way to go!”
Now World Vision will oversee the construction of 75 water wells. I can’t think of anyone better qualified to do this than the wonderful people of World Vision. They are currently reaching one new person every 30 seconds with clean water. This is the type of scale needed to solve the global water crisis. They provide water that lasts. The community engagement model of World Vision results in …
February 5, 2015 You might not find the cure for cancer. You might not crack the code on global warming, world hunger, or tainted water. But you can do this. You can make people happy. This mission requires no Ph.D. or M.D. It demands no funding or travel. Age, ethnicity, and gender are not factors. You don’t have to change jobs or change cities or change neighborhoods.
But you can change the world.
You can do this: make a hundred people happy. Intentionally. Purposefully. Practically. You can increase the number of smiles on our planet. You can lower the anger level in your city. You, yes you, can cause a hundred people to sleep better, laugh more, hum instead of grumble, walk instead of stumble. You can lighten the load and brighten the day of one hundred human beings.
You can do that.
What if you did? Suppose you took the “Happy People Challenge.” Make one hundred people happy over a 40-day period. Here is how it works.
Set out to create “100 extra mile moments” between February 9 and March 20 in which you intentionally seek to make someone happy by doing something more than you would typically do.
Share your experience in your neighborhood group, class or family, and on social media at #100happypeople.
Keep a journal in which you list the names of people and ways you tried to brighten their day. Make note of the moment. What did you do? What did you learn? What was the setting?
At the end of forty days, would your world be different?
Would you be different? I think you would be.
Would you join me in the challenge? Happiness-givers are made, not born. The inertia of self-centeredness has a strong pull. That is why the Bible has so much to say about sharing joy. Heaven knows, we need all the help we …
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 …