Ordering life the way we order gourmet coffee

If only we could order life the way we order gourmet coffee. Wouldn’t you love to mix and match the ingredients of your future?

“Give me a tall, extra-hot cup of adventure, cut the dangers, with two shots of good health.”

“A decaf brew of longevity, please, with a sprinkle of fertility. Go heavy on the agility and cut the disability.”

“I’ll have a pleasure mocha with extra stirrings of indulgence. Make sure it’s consequence free.”

“I’ll go with a grande happy-latte, with a dollop of love, sprinkled with Caribbean retirement.”

Take me to that coffee shop. Too bad it doesn’t exist. Truth is, life often hands us a concoction entirely different from the one we requested. Ever feel as though the barista-from-above called your name and handed you a cup of unwanted stress?

“Joe Jones, enjoy your early retirement. Looks as if it comes with marital problems and inflation.”

“Mary Adams, you wanted four years of university education, then kids. You’ll be having kids first. Congratulations on your pregnancy.”

“A hot cup of job transfer six months before your daughter’s graduation, Susie. Would you like some patience with that?”

Life comes caffeinated with surprises. Modifications. Transitions. Alterations. You move down the ladder, out of the house, over for the new guy, up through the system. All this moving. Some changes welcome, others not. And in those rare seasons when you think the world has settled down, watch out. One seventy-seven-year-old recently told a friend of mine, “I’ve had a good life. I am enjoying my life now, and I am looking forward to the future.” Two weeks later a tornado ripped through the region, taking the lives of his son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and daughter-in-law’s mother. We just don’t know, do we? On our list of fears, the fear of what’s next demands a prominent position. We might request a decaffeinated life, but we don’t get it. The disciples didn’t.

“I am going away” ( John 14:28).

Imagine their shock when they heard Jesus say those words. He spoke them on the night of the Passover celebration, Thursday evening, in the Upper Room. Christ and his friends had just enjoyed a calm dinner in the midst of a chaotic week. They had reason for optimism: Jesus’ popularity was soaring. Opportunities were increasing. In three short years the crowds had lifted Christ to their shoulders . . . he was the hope of the common man.

The disciples were talking kingdom rhetoric, ready to rain down fire on their enemies, jockeying for positions in the cabinet of Christ. They envisioned a restoration of Israel to her days of glory. No more Roman occupation or foreign oppression. This was the parade to freedom, and Jesus was leading it.

And now this? Jesus said, “I am going away.” The announcement stunned them. When Jesus explained, “You know the way to where I am going,” Thomas, with no small dose of exasperation, replied, “No, we don’t know, Lord. We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” ( John 14:4–5 NLT).

Christ handed the disciples a cup of major transition, and they tried to hand it back. Wouldn’t we do the same? Yet who succeeds? What person passes through life surprise free? If you don’t want change, go to a soda machine; that’s the only place you won’t find any.

Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).


Check out the 6-week Bible Study based on Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. It is available on Amazon. It is also available as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

Die bravely

Jesus grants courage for the final passage. He did for Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. When the pilot discovered he had terminal cancer, he and his wife went to spend their final days at his Hawaiian home. He engaged a minister to conduct his last rites and wrote out these words to be read at his burial service:

We commit the body of Charles A. Lindbergh to its final resting place; but his spirit we commit to Almighty God, knowing that death is but a new adventure in existence and remembering how Jesus said upon the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Death—“a new adventure in existence.” No need to dread it or ignore it. Because of Christ, you can face it.

I did. As heart surgeries go, mine was far from the riskiest. But any procedure that requires four hours of probes inside your heart is enough to warrant an added prayer. So on the eve of my surgery, Denalyn, I, and some kind friends offered our share. We were staying at a hotel adjacent to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. We asked God to bless the doctors and watch over the nurses. After we chatted a few minutes, they wished me well and said good-bye. I needed to go to bed early. But before I could sleep, I wanted to offer one more prayer . . . alone.

I took the elevator down to the lobby and found a quiet corner and began to think. What if the surgery goes awry? What if this is my final night on earth? Is there anyone with whom I should make my peace? Do I need to phone any person and make amends? I couldn’t think of anyone. (So if you are thinking I should have called you, sorry. Perhaps we should talk.)

Next I wrote letters to my wife and daughters, each beginning with the sentence “If you are reading this, something went wrong in the surgery.”

Then God and I had the most honest of talks. We began with a good review of my first half century. The details would bore you, but they entertained us. I thanked him for grace beyond measure and for a wife who descended from the angels. My tabulation of blessings could have gone on all night and threatened to do just that. So I stopped and offered this prayer: I’m in good hands, Lord. The doctors are prepared; the staff is experienced. But even with the best of care, things happen. This could be my final night in this version of life, and I’d like you to know, if that’s the case, I’m okay.

And I went to bed. And slept like a baby. As things turned out, no angel came. I saw no fedora. I recovered from the surgery, and here I am, strong as ever, still pounding away at the computer keyboard. One thing is different, though. This matter of dying bravely?

I think I will.

May you do the same.

Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).


Check out the 6-week Bible Study based on Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. It is available on Amazon. It is also available as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

Don’t worry about your life

During the economic collapse of October 2008, a Stamford, Connecticut, man threatened to blow up a bank. When he lost $500,000 of his $2,000,000 portfolio, he planned to bring a gun into the facility and take the lives of innocent people if necessary. As if a shooting spree would do anything to restore his loss. Fear has never been famous for its logic.

If there were no God, stuff-trusting would be the only appropriate response to an uncertain future. But there is a God. And this God does not want his children to trust money. He responded to the folly of the rich man with a flurry of “Do not worry” appeals. “Do not worry about your life. . . . Do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind” (vv. 22, 29).

Don’t follow the path of the wealthy bumpkin who was high on financial cents but impoverished of spiritual sense. Instead, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). This is the only occasion when Jesus calls us his “little flock.” The discussion of provision prompts such pastoral concern.

I once rode on horseback with a shepherdess through the Black Mountains of Wales. The green valleys were cotton-puffed with heads of sheep. We came upon one member of the flock that had gotten herself into quite a fix. She was stuck on her back in the rut of a dirt road and couldn’t stand up.

When the shepherdess saw her, she dismounted from her horse, looked at me, and chuckled. “They aren’t the brightest of beasts.” She righted the animal, and off it ran.

We aren’t the brightest of beasts either. Yet we have a shepherd who will get us back on our feet. Like a good shepherd, he will not let us go unclothed or unfed. “I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread” (Ps. 37:25 NLT). What a welcome reminder! When homes foreclose or pensions evaporate, we need a shepherd. In Christ we have one. And his “good pleasure [is] to give you the kingdom.”

Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).


Check out the 6-week Bible Study based on Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. It is available on Amazon. It is also available as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

Prayer is the practice of sitting calmly in God’s lap

My father let me climb onto his lap . . . when he drove! He’d be arrested for doing so today. But half a century ago no one cared. Especially in a flat-as-a-skillet West Texas oil field, where rabbits outnumber people. Who cares if little Max sits on Dad’s lap as he drives the company truck (oops, sorry, Exxon) from rig to rig?

I loved it. Did it matter that I couldn’t see over the dash? That my feet stopped two feet shy of the brake and accelerator? That I didn’t know a radio from a carburetor? By no means. I helped my dad drive his truck.

There were occasions when he even let me select the itinerary. At an intersection he would offer, “Right or left, Max?” I’d lift my freckled face and peer over the steering wheel, consider my options, and make my choice.

And do so with gusto, whipping the wheel like a race car driver at Monte Carlo. Did I fear driving into the ditch? Overturning the curve? Running the tire into a rut? By no means. Dad’s hands were next to mine, his eyes keener than mine. Consequently, I was fearless! Anyone can drive a car from the lap of a father.

And anyone can pray from the same perspective.

Prayer is the practice of sitting calmly in God’s lap and placing our hands on his steering wheel. He handles the speed and hard curves and ensures safe arrival. And we offer our requests; we ask God to “take this cup away.” This cup of disease, betrayal, financial collapse, joblessness, conflict, or senility. Prayer is this simple. And such simple prayer equipped Christ to stare down his deepest fear.

Do likewise. Fight your dragons in Gethsemane’s garden. Those persistent, ugly villains of the heart—talk to God about them.

Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).


Check out the 6-week Bible Study based on Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. It is available on Amazon. It is also available as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

Do you think statues of Confederate war heroes should be torn down?

Josh HuntWe would like to imagine that all questions have easy answers. This is not usually the case. I could argue either side of this. On the one hand, if we tear down every statue of every imperfect person, there would be no statues left. Many of our founding fathers were slave owners. And, if we found a statue that was 2000 years old of a slave owner, we would surely preserve it for the sake of history. There is just something about something that is old that feels like it needs to be preserved.

On the other hand, to celebrate the life of someone whose main accomplishment—the thing he is remembered for—is fighting for the right to own slaves… this is obviously offensive. (As I understand the Civil War story, there is actually more to it than the right to own slaves. I do think that was a strong driving force.)

Perhaps a compromise would be to move statues to a museum. Advocates of preserving the statues might be pleased that in this way, the statues would be protected. And, they could be given context. An explanation of this person’s life as a historical figure—not a hero could be provided.

I think I could benefit from the thoughtful consideration of thinking people on this one.

I have a prepared a small group Bible study on racism in America. See http://mybiblestudylessons.com/racism

Faithful in obscurity

The team needs more linesmen than quarterbacks.

The company needs more cashiers than CEOs.

The church needs more staff members, more deacons, and more Sunday School teachers, and more preschool workers than it  needs Senior pastors.

The kingdom of God needs more pastors that serve in obscurity than it needs pastors of mega-churches.

In every arena of life, we need more workers than we need bosses. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. It is not a boss shortage; it is a worker shortage.

Yet, the world says we need more leaders. More people at the top. More important people. We constantly hear appeals for us to “do great things for God.” “Dream great dreams! Rise above the ordinary! Don’t settle for mediocrity!”

God needs lots of ordinary people to do His work. For every Nehemiah, there are hundreds—no, thousands—of workers on the wall. For every Joshua there are thousands and thousands of people that simply need to march around the city and shout when it is time to shout.

Anyone can dream great dreams. Anyone can dream of being a great leader leading a great multitude of willing followers. “A man can only receive what is given to him from Heaven.” (John 3.27) Blessed is the man who plays second fiddle and plays it well. Blessed is the man who serves faithfully in obscurity.

Imagine John had dreamed of greatness. Imagine he refused to play second fiddle. Imagine if being John wasn’t good enough for him. Imagine he wanted to be Jesus. There is a word for a person like that: the Messiah Complex. Blessed is the man who serves faithfully in obscurity. A man can only receive what is given to him.

From Lesson #5 in the lesson Series, “Second Nature.” Part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service.

Where to find courage

Courage emerges, not from increased police security, but from enhanced spiritual maturity. Martin Luther King exemplified this. He chose not to fear those who meant him harm. On April 3, 1968, he spent hours in a plane, waiting on the tarmac, due to bomb threats. When he arrived in Memphis later that day, he was tired and hungry but not afraid.

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” he told the crowd. “But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

He would be dead in less than twenty-four hours. But the people who meant him harm fell short in their goal. They took his breath, but they never took his soul.

Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).


Check out the 6-week Bible Study based on Max Lucado’s book, Fearless. It is available on Amazon. It is also available as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

Jesus is in your storm

If you will receive Him in the middle of your contradictions and in your trick bag, He can take a storm and turn it into peace. When Jesus shows up in your messed-up situation, things change. When Jesus shows up in your stressed-filled, jacked-up scenario, ground gets covered quickly. When Jesus shows up—not simply because you hear His Word but because you receive His Person—He can close the gap of time, the gap of a situation, the gap of not enough and the gap of resistance. Jesus can immediately turn what looked like certain disaster into a supernatural miracle.

The principle is this: When you’re between a rock and a hard place or out in the middle of a storm with darkness all around you, receive Jesus into your situation. He will join you. Not only will He join you, but He can get you where you needed to go all along.

What’s best about that is that He can do it immediately. If He can cross four miles of sea in a wooden boat in less time than it would take to stick an oar in the water, then He can easily handle where He’s taking you.

When you hear His voice in the middle of your mess, receive Him. He wants to join you. He’s just waiting to see what you are going to do.

Tony Evans, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2010).


Check out the 6-week Bible Study based on Tony Evans, Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  It is available on Amazon. It is also available as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

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