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Reciprocity is a big word that simply means: You will get what you give.

Hear me correctly. I’m not saying give more just to get more. It doesn’t work that way because that’s not true reciprocity; that’s just plain selfishness.

Reciprocity is giving to others just because you have it in your power—and in your heart—to give, and it will “bounce back” to you.

Reciprocity is from your heart. God makes sure you get the return blessings.

And, by the way, if you have something you could give but you don’t give it, your “bounce back” becomes a world that is smaller and smaller, with greater scarcity.

Reciprocity is win-win. Selfishness is lose-lose.

When you’re kind to others, you help yourself; when you are cruel to others, you hurt yourself. (Proverbs 11:17)

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. (Proverbs 11:24)

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (Proverbs 11:25)

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Thursdays With Oswald—Whose Approval?

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Whose Approval?

     The Gospel of Jesus Christ awakens an intense craving and an equally intense resentment. Base on personal love for the Lord, not on personal love for men. Personal love for men will make you call immorality a weakness, and holiness a mere aspiration; personal love for the Lord will make you call immorality devilish, and holiness the only thing that can stand in the light of God. The only safety for the preacher is to face his soul not with his people, or even with his message, but to face his soul with his Savior all the time.

From Approved Unto God

As a pastor, if I endeavor to please men, I cannot call sin “sin,” nor can I call people to holiness before God. If I love the approval of people more than I love the approval of God, I must naturally water things down.

I must live for the applause of nail-scarred Hands alone.

Benefits In Delaying Sex Until Marriage

It’s nice to see some scientific research on this. In a very encouraging article from WebMD, researchers point out some great benefits of saving sex for marriage.

I encourage you to read the full article. And then, parents, have this conversation with your teenagers… again! You cannot repeat this often enough, because the message is so counter-cultural. In case you don’t have time to read the full article, here are the most important findings:

“Researchers say their findings are clear, that ‘the longer a couple waited to become sexually involved, the better that sexual quality, relationship communication, relationship satisfaction and perceived relationship stability was in marriage.’”

Couples who waited until marriage to have sex:

  • rated sexual quality 15% higher than people who had premarital sex
  • rated relationship stability as 22% higher
  • rated satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher

As a pastor I’ve counseled so many people who have damaged relationships because of pre-marital sex. I’ve had many tell me, “I wish we would have waited until marriage to have sex.” But I’ve never had someone say, “I’m so glad we had sex before we got married!”

Save yourself from the pain, by saving yourself for your spouse.

How Do I Love Thee

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. —Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Can you count the ways you love your beloved?

Can you count the ways you show your beloved your love?

Don’t get stuck in a rut. Find new ways to say your love and to show your love today.

Unhappiness Makes Me Happy

I’m not a sadist. Nor am I a pessimist.

But I am a child that is still learning that I cannot always get my way.

We’re getting ready to start 2011 with a week of prayer, and I’m going to open 2011 with a series of Sunday messages on prayer: The Perfect Prayer. But in studying more about prayer, I’m always confronted by this: Why are some prayers unanswered.

As I pondered that today, I thought about saying “No” to my kids. I love my children and I want them to be happy. They love pop (or “soda” for some of you, or “Coke” for others), and would drink it all the time if I said “Yes.”

Saying “Yes” to this beverage choice may make them happy now, but it would make them very unhappy later in life when they developed osteoporosis (from a lack of calcium), or had skin and eye disease (from a lack of vitamin D), or were losing teeth (from too much carbonation), or had developed diabetes (from too much sugar).

Our Heavenly Father sees my future even more clearly than I can see it for my children. He wants me to be blessed, which is why He must say “No” at times. I’m a child who doesn’t know what is best for me.

“Getting all you want would bring incalculable damage and grief to you. Be thankful for unanswered prayer. It may be a sign of God’s favor.” —R.T. Kendall

So as I’m growing in God I can say, “Father, I’m willing to trust you with the ‘No’ now, because I believe you have a better ‘Yes’ for me in the future.”

My temporary unhappiness with unanswered prayer makes me happy because I know God has something better for me. I’m going to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking, but I’m also going to keep on trusting my Heavenly Father for His very best.

Now What Will You Do With Christmas?

Now that Christmas is over, are you thinking to yourself, “Finally! I can get back to my normal routine”?

For some people, the past weeks have been a hectic whirlwind of activity, and the days leading up to Christmas seem like a blur. So now what?

I guess it depends on your attitude about the season. Was it just a regular, it-comes-every-year Christmas for you? Or was it an exciting CHRISTmas: the time to reflect on the birth of Christ? For those in the second category, we cannot—we dare not!—go back to a “normal” routine.

For those that encountered Jesus on (or near) the day of His birth in Bethlehem, look how they responded:

The Shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God.

Anna broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.

The Magi were overjoyed, and they bowed down and worshiped Him.

My prayer for myself—and for you, too—is that our encounter with Jesus this Christmas was so real, that we will continue to glorify God, and worship Him with overflowing joy, for the rest of the year. Let’s not just get through Christmas, but let’s make sure the reality of CHRISTmas continues to resonate throughout the year.

Last-Minute Christmas Shopping

Over the past couple of days, anytime I’m driving anywhere near a store, I’m slowed down by so many last-minute shoppers.

I understand that some shoppers procrastinate, some family members are hard to shop for, and some folks wait so long to share their wish list with you. But as I’ve engaged a few shoppers in conversation, one thing I’m routinely hearing is, “I’ve got to get just one more gift for….”

One more gift.

Just one more.

And maybe one more after that.

I’m not knocking generosity, but I would like to point out that there is something called Enough.

Maybe instead of buying one more gift for someone special, you could exchange your shopping time for conversation time.

Maybe instead of one more gadget, you could go on one more date.

Maybe instead of more presents, you could give more presence.

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say.

“More, more.”

I have God’s more-than-enough,

More joy in one ordinary day

Than they get in all their shopping sprees. (Psalm 4:6-7).

The greatest joy comes not from giving great gifts, but in being a gift to someone else. Enjoy God’s presence, and then give a present of your presence to a special someone!

12 Rules For Preachers

This was written by John Wesley nearly 270 years ago, but these twelve rules for preachers are just as applicable today. I’m going to mull these over a bit as I head into the new year, and I encourage you to do the same:

1.  Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time, nor spend more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

2.  Be serious. Let your motto be, “Holiness to the Lord.” Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.

3.  Converse sparingly and cautiously with women, particularly with young women.

4.  Take no step towards marriage without solemn prayer to God and consulting with your brethren.

5.  Believe evil of no one unless fully proved; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.

6.  Speak evil of no one, else your word, especially, would eat as doth a canker; keep your thoughts within your own breast till you come to the person concerned.

7.  Tell everyone what you think wrong in him, lovingly and plainly, and as soon as may be, else it will fester in your own heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

8.  Do not affect the gentleman. A preacher of the Gospel is the servant of all.

9.  Be ashamed of nothing but sin; no, not of cleaning your own shoes when necessary.

10.  Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them, and that for conscience’s sake.

11.  You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those who want you, but to those who want you most.

12.  Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel, and in union with your brethren. As such, it is your part to employ your time as our rules direct: partly in preaching and visiting from house to house, partly in reading, meditation, and prayer. Above all, if you labor with us in our Lord’s vineyard, it is needful you should do that part of the work which the Conference shall advise, at those times and places which they shall judge most for His glory.

Manslater = The Woman Language Translator

Sure could have used this a few times…

The Nativity In The Digital Age

Being the techy guy that I am, I really enjoyed this modern portrayal of the nativity.


Merry Christmas!

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