One Thing Jesus’ Birth Taught Us about Being Human

"Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands" (1 Chron. 21:13b).


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David calculated the risk, and he decided. His words sounded wise, but soon seventy thousand of Israel would be dead, their corpses rotting in the streets.

And not enough tombs to hold them all.

Dear Flawed Person: God's Not Done with You

Hi. My name is Andy, and I’m a perfectionist.

It sounds romantic, I know, but it’s not. It’s paralyzing. I don’t take on new endeavors because of fear of failure. I never believe I’m good enough because there’s always room for improvement. Tasks take twice as long while I work on every detail.


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Yet no matter how hard I work, one thing has become clear: I’m still flawed. Maybe you are too. But there’s good news for imperfect people like you and me.

I Was Surprised to Realize This One Thing Is Missing from the Lord’s Prayer

Every time I pray I say, “Thank you.”

Thank you for the day, for the rain, for breath, for my family. You get the point. I say it a lot.




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But one day while pondering the Lord’s prayer—Jesus’ master course on how to pray—I noticed there’s one thing missing:

God Still Refuses to Ruin Your Calling

The last home we lived in was beautiful.

It is perhaps considered modest by American standards, but even on the day we moved out I remember thinking, This is a nice home.



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Upon entering you were stunned by the tall ceilings and the flood of natural light peering in through the wall-to-wall windows.

The master bathroom was embarrassingly lavish with a large jetted tub and shower combo, two walk-in closets, and two sinks.

Compared with the apartment living Katie and I were accustomed to, we were living like royalty.

But while the home was great, there was a problem.

3 Essential Tests That Will Transform Your Heart Forever

My wife and I have a weakness, and that weakness is called leftover pizza.

Leftover pizza is the one thing that will never go bad in our house. Sure, it might be tucked away in aluminum foil far back in the recesses of the fridge. But we know it’s there, calling out to us.

We’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or maybe a late night snack. I literally had a slice of pepperoni and black olive just before writing this post. I wasn’t hungry, but I ate it anyway. Why? Because it was there. And it was delicious.


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If I have such a hard time resisting cold, leftover pizza, I wonder what it was like for Jesus in the wilderness when he underwent temptation. At forty days without food, He was at the weakest he could be.

Then came Satan.

And it wasn’t just with food that he tested Jesus. In all, the enemy administered three tests he thought for sure would ensnare the would-be messiah.

These three tests are tests we all face on some scale or another. And they are essential tests God uses to transform our hearts.

Are You Making this Rookie Mistake in Your Walk with God?

“Come on buddy. Just jump.” I said. But I could see the tears begin to well up in his eyes.

A few minutes earlier he had been my fearless son. Now he was quivering and crying.

“I don’t want to. I’m scared.”

How I Failed American History and Became the Luckiest Guy in Oklahoma

My first F couldn’t have come at a worse time. I don’t know if there’s ever a good time to fail a college course, but this one felt especially inopportune.

On scholarship at a private Christian college, one condition of my financial aid was, of course, grade point average. Without the scholarship, attending the university was not a fiscal possibility.


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I’ll spare the details for another post, probably titled, Why I Suck at Forgiveness, but I will say this. I earned the failing grade. I did. I earned it. Nevertheless, I do believe my situation merited some mercy.

But the point here isn’t why I failed the class, but what happened as a result. My life turned upside down. I despaired.

I don’t fail courses. I ace them.

But I did fail.

What to Do with Your Weaknesses

I collected baseball cards when I was a kid.

For Christmas Granny and Papa often bought me a complete set of Topps or Upper Deck or Fleer cards. I knew before unwrapping it what the present was because of its oblong shape. (It was either that or a decanter of liquor.)

Being the weirdo that I am, I never opened the boxes. I knew they had more value in mint condition than if I got them out and played with them.


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So rather than mess them up, I bought a Beckett pricing guide so I could see how much individual cards in those boxes were worth.

One year I received a Topps 1992 complete box set. Checking the guide, I noticed a card from a couple of years before with a ridiculously high price tag and an exclamation mark after it.

Where's God When You Suffer?

Upon debate Katie and I decided to take our not yet one-year-old to the emergency room; Abram labored more and more with each breath. We had even administered two breathing treatments to him earlier in the day, but they weren’t enough. He needed more help.

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Furthermore, he refused to eat or drink, and the resultant dehydration compounded the problems. In retrospect, Abram’s pediatrician theorized that even though the x-ray that night showed negative for pneumonia, it was probably a false negative; the lack of fluids masked the condition.

How to Discern God's Will for Your Life

For a couple of weeks a few summers ago, I spent my lunch breaks in the car. Of course in Oklahoma the summers are usually a bit warm, so I would turn the ignition on my Dodge Boat and move it beneath a great oak tree that shaded a few parking spots at the tech school.


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But even in the shade and with the windows rolled down, sweat would bead on my skin, and by the 60 minute mark I’d be ready to pass out. Occasionally I’d turn the car on for a few minutes of manufactured cold.

I let the fake breeze hit me then shut the car back off.

But the heat was worth the cost of what it bought me those August days: peace. I sought in vain for some quiet place indoors. A place where I could be still without distraction. A place without interruption. But failing in that endeavor, I retreated to my vehicle.

What was the point of peace I so dearly cherished?


One Compelling Reason to Get More Sleep

I have a love hate relationship with sleep.

I’m an achievement oriented person which means I don’t feel good about myself unless I’m accomplishing things. It’s a sickness, I know, but God is helping me deal with it. That’s one of the reasons Sabbath is so important. (In case you didn’t know, I wrote a book about it.)



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Therefore I’m always trying to cram more into the day: just one more chore, one more email, one more blog post. I reached a point where I found myself staying up later and later and getting up earlier and earlier.

But I came to a profound realization that totally changed my outlook on sleep.

How to Prove to the World That God Is Good

Have you ever been to Sam’s Club or Costco on a Saturday?

If you have, you already know where I’m going with this. If not, you gotta go.



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If you can brave the herd of people meandering the oversized aisles buying their oversized goods, it’s worth the trip.

Why?

The Most Common Response When God Calls

Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

Whether it’s Satan or just my own insecurity, in the dark moments I hear the voices:

You’ll never succeed as a writer.
Who are you to write a book?

Yet what keeps me coming back to the keyboard even on those dark days is the sense of purpose I get from the act of writing.


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God has called me to write.

But my insecurities are not unique to me. In fact, the response is quite common. Take Moses.

The Best Bible I Ever Read

Sitting in that dark sanctuary four years ago, I felt a fire rising in my belly. On any other Sunday, I might have attributed it to bad pizza. But not that day.

It's Time We Redefine Worship

Worship isn't something you do on Sundays.

Sure that's part of it.


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Singing, clapping, raising of the hands. Yes, that's one iteration of worship.

But it's a shallow one.

Did Jesus Contradict Himself?

You may have heard your preacher quote Matthew 11:30 in which Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The verse brings comfort to us who are weighed down by the realities of life. Anyone who has trusted in Jesus has no doubt felt a huge burden lifted from his or her life.


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But if you were to go back to the previous chapter in Matthew's gospel, you would find a statement that seems at odds with light burdens and easy yokes:

Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:38 (ESV)

Last you checked, a cross isn’t very light. How can we reconcile these two statements? Did Jesus contradict Himself?

Do No Work Mentioned by Dan Miller!

I'm pleased to tell you that Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, mentioned my book on his internet radio show this past Friday!

How awesome is that?

If you want to hear it yourself, click here. He mentions the book within the first five minutes of the show.

If you've never listened to Dan or read any of his books, you need to do so. He's a wealth of information in the career arena.

Also, today's the last day to buy Do No Work at it's current price of $2.99. Hurry and grab a copy before the price goes up!

Still on the fence? Read what the latest reviewer on Amazon had to say about my book:

Unexpected, challenging, and motivational writing. . . Definitely worth the read!!

Click here to buy it on Amazon.




Why Isn't God More Obvious?

I remember watching an old interview with a well-known atheist.

He arrived with a gray suit, gray eyes, and an even grayer soul. I couldn't help but feel compassion for this man, even though it is his life's mission to destroy me.


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Not me, specifically, but everything I stand for: that is Christ begotten by God in man flesh, slaughtered as an innocent lamb, and raised on the third day.

Sometimes I am tempted to despise him, but then I realize that he's not as vicious as he wants to be. He's really a sheep in wolf's clothing.

"What would you ask God if you found out He was real?" The questioner asked the man.

What Happens When We Steal from God


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If you’ve been in church more than a couple of weeks, you’re familiar with Malachi 3:10. It’s probably one of the most quoted verses, the equivalent of Biblical candy.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Sounds awesome, right? What a great promise we have from God.


I can say with certainty that there has never been a time in my life when I regretted giving money (or anything else) to God. And I will testify that I've been blessed so much I'm bursting at the seams.

But there’s a dark side to the passage you may not be so familiar with:

Here's a Quick Way to Become a Better Parent

You’re probably a pretty good parent. You provide necessities, you wipe noses, change diapers, go to school plays. You’d take a bullet for your kids without hesitation, right?

But you’re not perfect. And it’s hard to be a mom or a dad, especially when you’re always exhausted. All your energy is spent just making sure your children don’t kill themselves.



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I pray to God almost daily that He’ll make me into the dad He wants me to be. And, in doing so, He revealed something that instantly made me a better parent.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

After I puked the second time they gave me a shot in the butt.

I was in the Vally View Hospital emergency room in Ada, Oklahoma. That was over two decades ago. But despite not being from Ada or anywhere near Ada I didn’t have to look the name of the hospital up; you don't soon forget a needle piercing your ass.

But the sting of the syringe hurt much less than the loss of pride at having to drop my drawers in front of the nurses.


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The first time I threw up was in my Granny’s car on the way to the hospital (so sorry Gran!). I’m pretty sure she drove straight to the dealership and bought a new car after that incident. I don’t know why I puked. Maybe it was the gallon of phlegm I had coughed up from my lungs and then swallowed.

You see I had pretty bad asthma. Attacks would come randomly and often wouldn’t get better even with a breathing treatment.

In this particular episode my family was visiting my grandparents in Allen, Oklahoma for spring break. What was supposed to be a week of fun and relaxation quickly turned south.

The second time I puked, though, I can tell you the exact reason.

At Last: Feast Your Eyes Upon the Cover of My New Book

At last I get to share with you the cover for my book, Do No Work, coming to a Kindle near you on May 15th. Without any more ado:

This Is the Reason You Have Nothing to Show for All of Your Hard Work

You work hard, right?

Of course you do. You work forty, fifty, maybe sixty hours per week. Then you come home and do housework. You wrestle the kids. You do homework. You bathe and feed them. But when you actually have a moment to step back and just breathe it’s easy to get frustrated.



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You feel like you're swimming against the current, and no matter how hard you try you can’t gain any ground.

Sound familiar?

There’s a good reason for this feeling. Something that, even if understood intellectually, is hard to follow in practice thanks to our fickle, demanding, needy flesh.

Maybe You're Not Ready to Fulfill Your Calling

“Who made you judge over us?” The Hebrew said to Moses (Exo. 2:14).

Answer? God did (Exo. 18:13). It was just a few decades later than Moses would have liked. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and slay an Egyptian he saw beating his fellow Jew.



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Things weren’t happening fast enough for Moses. He knew God wanted to use him. He knew God had plans for him. But he couldn’t wait any longer. He had to do something.

My Crackpot Theory Regarding the Age of the Earth

Scientists from 33 countries convened in Paris in 1967. They had a problem.

The earth was slowing down.



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This wasn’t a new revelation by any means. Newton’s 1st Law of Motion states plainly that an object in motion will stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.1

That force just happened to be ocean tides.2 But by the scientists' measurements, the earth’s rotation only slows about 2 milliseconds per revolution around the sun,3 not exactly a stunning figure. So what was the problem?

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know the Sabbath Commandment (And Then Some)

What if I told you that the fourth commandment holds the keys to beating down stress, worry and fatigue?

What if I told you that the Sabbath commandment could lead to inner peace and could tremendously strengthen your faith?

And what if I said that the commandment to "Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy" (Exo. 20:8) can help you get a grip on proper application of Old Testament law, on legalism vs leniency?

You'd turn straight to Exodus and start reading, right?

Sound far-fetched?

What if I told you that studying the fourth commandment did all of these things for me?


Does Life Ever Make You Feel Helpless? Good.

Have you ever felt helpless? Have you ever felt totally out of control?

There are things swirling around you that you can’t explain, don’t understand, can’t stop.

It kind of makes you dizzy, no?

Maybe you just can’t seem to get a grip on life. Guess what? That’s a good thing.


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A Story You Probably Won't Believe about the Birth of My Third Son


Abram’s birth gave Katie and me a scare.

I’m not one for birth stories. All that blood and mucus and meconium (a nice way to say poop) just grosses me out. But this is a story I find more than coincidental. In fact, you might not even believe I’m telling the truth.

Better Prayer: A Lesson from Jeremiah

I used to work at a greasy pizza parlor. We baked the pies directly on a stone above a blazing fire, just the way it should be. That oven would get so hot, I think I still have scar tissue from the burns.

The boss made the schedule in two week increments. One time she released the schedule, and I was supposed to work a Saturday night. But I didn’t want to work. So I intended to ask off. I was so confident that I could get off work, I even made plans with my friends for that night. I was seventeen.


Patrick Fore





I approached my boss to request off, and you know what happens next.

“No.”

Everyone else had already asked. I was sheepish. Now I had to either blow off my friends (and fun) or else push the issue, and risk losing my income source (by which I was able to have fun).

A conundrum if you will.



How Not to Pray


The disciples famously asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus responded with the Lord’s prayer. They did not ask him, “Teach us how not to pray.” But if they did He would he might have given them this lesson from the book of Jeremiah (in addition to the other things He told them).


Why You Shouldn't Care About Saving the Earth

There was this sweater that I loved. I’m kind of a sweater aficionado in general (they’re my grown-up version of the security blanket), but this was everything you could want: soft, versatile, hip, and it fit me perfectly. Oh, and the best part: my lovely bride bought it for me.


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While pulling it over my head one day, I ripped a hole in the armpit. My mother-in-law graciously sewed it back together, but not long after that the sweater got a small hole in the rib area that increased in size with every laundry cycle. Then I managed to stretch out the sleeves to the point where the arms would flop around and slouch toward my elbows. As time went on, the color started to fade. 
I wore that sweater so much it basically dissolved. 

One day I made the hard decision to throw it away. But instead of doing so, I set it next to the trash can just in case I changed my mind.

Finally one day I did the deed.

Why Jesus Chose Gethsemane

Jesus would have rather been anywhere else, but he chose Gethsemane on purpose.

His betrayer knew it well because Jesus often took his disciples there (John 18:2).

Photo Credit: Episcopal Florida (CC)




What he was about to do would be by far the hardest thing he’d ever done. Fasting for forty days? Elementary. Astounding the teachers in the synagogue? Raising a man from a dead? Nothing to it.

No, this was different. He’d felt pain before, but nothing like what was about to happen.

That Jesus went to a garden in order to begin the process of atonement was no accident.



The Lie Some Christians Like to Tell You about Being Rich

I won’t tease this one. I’ll give it to you straight. Here’s the lie:

The more money you have, the more evil you are.



Photo Credit: Reza (CC)




This lie is proliferated on several fronts:

In the political sphere.
From the pulpit.
In the workplace.
In literature and cinema.

Envy often fuels this sentiment, but I think there is something more underlying the argument.

What to Do If God Is Ignoring You

You pray, and you don’t feel anything.

You plead with God. Dead air.


Lee Haywood (CC)





Have you ever been there?

I have.


When God Stopped Talking to Me

A few years ago I read through the Bible in ninety days. It was exhilarating. It was exhausting.

That, coupled with the step of faith my wife and I took to be foster parents, led to one of the most intimate periods of my life with God.

I could feel his presence at church and when I prayed. There were multiple times when I felt God impressing things on my heart. Life was stressful and emotional, but it was all okay because me and God were tight.

Then one day it stopped.

No more tingling sensations in worship. No more direct messages from God.

I was still reading my Bible every day. Still praying. Still going to church.

Why was God ignoring me?


How to Get Peace (Even If You're Having a Really Bad Day)

Do you ever have one of those days?

You know, those days when nothing goes right. You make a big mistake at work. You get into a fight with your wife. Someone cuts you off in traffic. Your dog pees on the carpet.

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All of these little things keep adding up until you reach your breaking point. You just want to escape. You just want to lie down for a minute.


You just want peace.

But you can’t lie down. You’ve got emails to answer, bills to pay, and mouths to feed.


15 Things God Won't Tell You

Satan likes to get into your head and make you think thoughts that aren't true. He's especially good at using our prejudices, experiences, and weaknesses to make us think God is telling us something He's not.


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Here are fifteen things God won't tell you. So if you hear them, you know they're coming from someone else:


19 Things Satan Won't Tell You

The enemy is great at lying to you. He knows just what to say to distort your image of God. He knows how to tempt you and how to lead you astray.

But here are nineteen things he won’t ever tell you:


The First Step You Absolutely Must Take When Walking with Christ

So you've said the prayer. You've bowed the knee. You committed your life to Christ. Now what?

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It may have been hard to swallow your pride and admit you have sinned, that you rebelled against God. But now that you’re in the fold it can be even harder to know what to do next.

Believe it or not, the answer involves food.


One Simple Way to Be More Like Jesus

We all want to be more like Jesus. But the prospect of carrying a cross, of turning the other cheek, of loving our enemies is overwhelming.


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What if I told you there’s a simple way to start down that path of becoming more Christ-like? Here it is:

4 Ways to Be Positive (Even If You're Surrounded by Whiners)

You want to be a positive person. You really do.

But every time you try to think positively, someone grabs you and pulls you back down to earth. Maybe it's a snarky comment, a pessimistic outlook on your situation, or just plain whining. Whatever it is these people keep dragging you down.

And it's not like you can just cut them out of your life. These people are your family. They are your co-workers. Or worse: they are your (gasp) fellow Christians.

Maybe it's just time to join the whiners and pessimists. It would be easier that way. Besides, they seem to lead happy lives, right?


One Thing That Might Help You Overcome Fear

Let's be honest: frugality had nothing to do with it. Frugality was just a shroud for terror.

The master had different words for it:

You wicked, lazy servant!
Matthew 25:26

These two adjectives were the fruit of the servant’s fear. He didn't intend to be wicked or lazy, but fear had forced his hand.



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In fact, the servant’s plan had worked: he didn't lose the bag of gold (or "talent" in other translations) given him by his master. He returned it exactly how it he received it.

So why wasn't the master pleased?

Had he wanted the servant to do nothing with the money, the master would have simply kept it himself. He could have buried his own gold. Instead he wanted the servant to invest it, to multiply, to use it.


But the fear of loss was too great.

I don't know about you, but I can empathize with the scared servant. Despite knowing my calling, I let my writing skills lie dormant for years. I was distracted. I was afraid of failing. I was scared I would be exposed as a fraud of a writer.

But there is one verse in the Parable of the Talents that should help you and me overcome that fear.