Selflessness and coffee

Coffee talkRecently, I experienced the Starbucks pay it forward phenomenon. It was cool, yes, but when you pay for the coffee of the people behind you, are you really paying anything forward? I mean, you are paying for theirs basically because someone paid for yours. There is nothing inherently selfless about that. You can get a hundred cars who will do that. The only selfless person, the only real giver in that scenario is the person who started it. They are the one who will reap the eternal reward.

You see, the Starbucks drive-thru line paying it forward phenomenon is warm and fuzzy and makes internet creepers happy, but it’s really just an example of the world’s way of giving. It is giving after receiving. It is not selfless. It is not unconditional.

Jesus went to the cross for us because of His great love for humanity, and there isn’t a one of us who is qualified to pay Him back. All that God does for us is unmerited, undeserved. All His wondrous promises are laid before sinners like a banquet for which we did not buy a ticket. That’s His very nature. He loves and He gives.

John 3:16 says, for God so loved the world that He gave.

Oh, that we would do the same.

My heart song

Unto youUnto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

I don’t even want to think of the mess I would have made of my life if not for the Lord. Can you imagine what situations He must have saved us from? The tragedies we have avoided? I have had struggles aplenty, but they have not destroyed me and my hope remains intact because I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. His mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness endures to a thousand generations.

Unto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

My future is bright because I have given it to Him. My heart is fulfilled because my future is in His hands. God is good and He’s never failed me. I’ve seen Him turn my mourning into dancing. I’ve seen Him turn my mistakes into wisdom and knowledge and understanding.

Unto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

I’ve seen Him. I’ve seen the Father. I’ve seen His awesome power. I’ve seen His tender loving kindness. All these things are there for the asking. All for the children of God. All for humanity… the heart of God. We are His beloved. You are His beloved. Your very life and future sent Jesus to the cross. Don’t let it be in vain.

Unto you, oh Lord, do I bring my life. (Psalm 25:1 AMP)

Things I learned from Pretty Woman

Slippery little suckersThe way I reference movies in this blog, you’d think I was a major movie buff like my friend Bo or my cousin Marcia. I’m really not, but I tend to think of examples from movies to make my point. Who knows why.

So, you know that scene in Pretty Woman where he tells her that she’s a very bright, very special woman, and she responds, “the bad stuff is easier to believe”?

Why is this?

This morning I read a scripture that I’ve seen a thousand times, but in a new light. (Amazing how that happens if you stick with it.) John 16:33 AMP says, I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

It’s a really good promise, right? And it’s easy for us to believe the first part of this verse, but the second part? Not so much.

I know very well that in this world I will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but am I equally confident in the promise that He has overcome the world, and deprived it of its power to harm me?

That’s harder.

Through His work on the cross, Jesus Christ overcame the world, for me. But to live my life inside the protective benefits of His accomplishment, I have to believe it and act on it, by faith… taking steps, even leaps, without seeing the floor. His Word and His promises will sit there with no power unless I believe them and act on them.

So this morning, I thanked God that through Him, I am an overcomer. I thanked God that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I reminded the devil that he is defeated through the all-powerful and all-encompassing Blood of the Lamb which covers me and my family. And I forged ahead.

And when I slip and fall, which I tend to do, God will catch me and perhaps exclaim, “Slippery little sucker.”

A year has gone by

A year has gone by in a blink, and yet much has changed. The ground around her grave marker is level and the grass has filled in. Her grandchildren are taller and more amazing, if that’s even possible.

Her laughter is softer in my mind, but the lessons I learned from her are as sharp as ever. The warmth of her hugs has faded but her legacy burns brightly.

Life has moved forward and things have changed, but our faithful Father God has not. Jackie is missed here on Earth, but she’s rejoicing in Heaven with many loved ones. And God’s loving arms have encircled those of us left behind without ceasing. He is so good.

There is joy here, there is love here. There is family here.

My heart aches and soars at the same time.

Love you, Jackie.

Love… for the win

Love for the winI love the movie Little Women. In one scene after Great Aunt March passes away, Marmee exclaims about the old, drafty house she left behind, “Her blessings became a burden because she couldn’t share them.” That may be the only thing to come out of that particular actress’s mouth that I have ever and will ever agree with.

…Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything… (From 1 Peter 4 The Message)

What do you have to offer? Offer it. What do you have to share? Share it. And love like your life depends on it. Do it so God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and He’ll get all the credit. I can’t say it any better.

Be the miracle in someone’s life. Be the conduit through which God helps someone back to their feet. That’s real love. And yes, I know it can be risky. We’ve all felt the sting of giving love that isn’t returned or is mocked. But that’s the very definition of love. We give it even when it isn’t deserved. Jesus certainly loves us whether or not we deserve it. And if you think about it, do any of us really deserve His love? I know I don’t.

So if I’m supposed to be like Him, then I have to love like Him. Love sent Him to the cross. And through His perfect love for me, I am saved.

Love won on Calvary. Love still wins today.

Mortal combat

Mortal combatLife and death are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) You can bring life to something, or you can kill it stone dead. Your mouth, your words, it’s all your choice.

I recently heard a preacher talking about dealing with sickness, and specifically how to believe God for healing. He made a point that I may have heard a thousand times but I heard it differently this time. I heard it in a deeper and more all-encompassing way and it changed my thinking completely.

He said, “You have to speak to the sickness like it’s a living, breathing entity that’s trying to kill you.” He was specifically talking about cancer. He said, “That cancer is a deadly enemy, and its sole purpose is to kill you. One of you is going to die; either the cancer will die, or you will die.”

In that moment, I saw in my mind an image of a massive oak tree with branches spreading out to all the areas in our lives where we have to engage in this kind of mortal combat. There is much beyond just sickness. The truth is, we need to attack whatever it is that comes against us with this ferocity; speak to it directly, with faith and in authority, and command it to go.

How do we get that authority? We get in the Word and find out what God has to say about it. Then we believe it; really believe it and not question it. You can’t make an enemy leave you alone unless you are convinced of its defeat. You can’t command that thing to go unless you have the revelation knowledge and understanding that Jesus bore that on the cross so you don’t have to.

And you know what? It doesn’t make sense to me that I have a right to tell sickness to leave my body because Someone else paid the price for my healing. I don’t fully understand why Jesus did it, but it’s my job to know that He did, and armed with that information, I can step into battle and win.

Tweak me, oh Lord

Tweak me oh LordRecently, I was reminded of a Bible story about a Pharisee and a tax collector who went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee was very pleased with himself saying, “Thank You that I am not like these other people. I’ve got my life together.” The tax collector buried his face in his hands and said, “I’m not even worthy to look in Your face, but I repent of my sin and I want to make things right with You.”

The story concludes like this: I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14 AMP)

Which one are we?

No matter what a giant in the faith we may be, at times we all need a course correction. The only One that didn’t was Jesus. But He was tender enough before The Lord to be open to tweaking. Remember when He said, “If there is any other way, please let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless, thy will be done”?

Many cups will pass before us all. We get to decide how we’re going to handle them. I’m open to God’s tweaking. Are you?

Joy comes in the morning

Renee, Sister Dodie, and Terry

Renee, Sister Dodie, and Terry

I’ve been bursting to share this happy news with my blog readers. My father-in-law, Terry Mize, has married a precious woman of God and I am thrilled for them.

Renee Garner is a woman of great faith and a teacher of the Word at Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. Sister Dodie Osteen, along with Paul Osteen and Lisa Osteen Comes jointly performed the marriage ceremony. They all wanted to be a part of it. It was short and sweet… just my kind of wedding.

Renee lost her husband of over 40 years two years ago, and as you know, my precious mother-in-law, Jackie, went to be with Jesus a year ago. So it makes perfect sense that the two left behind, who happen to be lifelong friends anyway, would get hitched.

The Bible says that weeping may endure for a time, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5) We’ve got joy this morning.

God is a faithful God and it tickles me to see the happiness and energy that these two are bringing each other. Lynn and I are honored to stand next to them in ministry and we are excited about the future of Mize Ministries. God’s got good things in store so stay tuned!

Tough love

Love is the principal thingNo one wants to read the love chapter. It’s not fun. It’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s really hard. And if you read it closely, line by line, it’s even harder. So here’s your opportunity to read it… with me… and let’s feel how difficult this is, together.

Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

It does not demand its own way.

It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

That’s 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT). And it’s not even the whole chapter… just six lines. Talk about tough love… geez.

Love, forgive, move on. I’m working on it.

Shifting shadows

Shifting shadowsThere is change on the wind. I pulled out a sweatshirt this morning and huddled under a throw blanket while sipping my morning brew. I have embraced the reality of truly needing reading glasses in order to see my phone, especially first thing in the morning. These are new things. Summer is coming to a close and fall is inching closer. Sure, we’ll still reach 100 degrees another time or two before it’s gone for good, but we’re almost there. And you know what? I like it. Actually, I love it.

I love change, I totally embrace it. It’s invigorating. It does not rock me because no matter what changes all around me, I know that my God doesn’t.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NLT)

He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

What exactly is a shifting shadow? I had to really think about that. What I came up with is a picture in my mind of a tree. The sun is shining from one side of the sky, creating a shadow on the ground. Now fast forward several hours and the sun is in a different place in the sky, and now, so is the shadow. That’s a shifting shadow. It moves with the passing of time. The tree looks different in the changing light. The ground underneath looks different in the changing light. The shadow will move all around throughout the earth’s rotation, and things will look different at different times of the day. Things will be different. That’s life, but not God.

God doesn’t rotate. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

You have a new job? Same God.

New home? Same God.

How about this one… a new normal? Same God!

Isn’t that a comfort?

New environment, same God.

Whatever new challenge you’re facing, whatever life-change you’re dealing with, God is the same God that has always been there for you, with you, and in you. He does not change, and He will not leave. He is not a man that He can lie. He is trustworthy and steady and faithful. You can trust Him.