The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Save the costumes for Halloween

The last time I went trick-or-treating, I was in fourth grade. I think it was fourth grade. I dressed up as a clown, complete with the rainbow colored wig and big poofy pants and even the false nose. And I enjoyed myself thoroughly. There’s something fun—maybe even liberating—about dressing up and pretending to be somebody else.

Too much after that age, though, I think trick-or-treating is usually frowned upon. You get weird looks if you show up on somebody’s doorstep in a costume with a plastic bucket begging for candy.

Grown-ups don’t put on masks and costumes. At least, that’s the general supposition by the adult world. And I find that entirely ironic, because adults are better at wearing masks and costumes than any other demographic in the world.

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

The three Duck Dynasty amigos (or amigas, more accurately), Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Samuel 16:7.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I’m not sure where the desire to dress up as someone else comes from, but there’s something fun about it. Wearing clothes you wouldn’t normally wear. Acting in a way you wouldn’t normally act. I mean, give me a Jedi robe, and all of a sudden I want to get in a laser sword fight with somebody. That’s not a normal inclination for me to feel.

But practically speaking, outside of Halloween or fall festivals or whatever you want to call it, a lot more people get up in the mornings and put on costumes than you think. Most of them are adults, and they do it every day.

They wear clothes they don’t like to impress people. They paint their face up to present an image that doesn’t really exist. They force themselves to act in a way that’s inconsistent with their values or their personality. They’re playing a part.

Know anyone like that? Or maybe you’re that person.

Maybe it started out fun. You got to pretend that you were someone the world calls important. You got to become what the world calls successful or beautiful or accomplished. And that’s a good feeling for a little while. But even the most fun costume becomes a chore after you wear it for a long time. And what started out as being liberating turned into chains around your ankles.

Granted, just because you wear clothes you don’t enjoy doesn’t automatically mean that you’re wearing a mask or that you’re covering anything up. But the people I know who have to dive in to a hugely competitive job market or a truly aggressive corporate environment have to put on a face that isn’t their own. Otherwise, they’ll never succeed.

But if you spend too long wearing a mask, covering up who you really are, you run the risk of convincing yourself that you are that person.

So often we are dissatisfied with the way we look or our lack of talent in a particular area, and we do everything in our power to change it. And that’s not necessarily wrong. We should always try to improve ourselves. But when that desire to change comes from an internal motivation that we aren’t good enough the way we were made, that’s different.

I’m a firm believer that people need to be who they were created to be. We don’t need to change ourselves. We don’t need to pretend to be someone else. We don’t need to exchange our gifts for someone else’s. God made us exactly the way He wants us, and if we try to change that, we’re telling Him that He doesn’t know what He’s doing.

So what if you’re short? So what if you’re tall? Too skinny, too round, too light, too heavy, too this, too that. So what if you have a big nose or a double chin? So what if your shoes can double as tugboats?

Know what? God made you. Yes, you have a responsibility to be healthy. Yes, you have a responsibility to live the way God has said is right, which means being true to God’s Word. But none of that means you need to put on a mask in order for others to accept you. Your real friends and the people who matter will accept you for the person you are.

So just be you. And save your costumes for Halloween.

Advertisements
Running for home base, Manhattan, KS

Make up your mind and say what you mean

Have you ever met someone who always says something different than what they mean? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of confrontation. Or maybe they’re not good at communicating. But either way you can never trust what they say because they never tell you what they mean.

I’m pretty passionate about communicating. That was my degree, but I think I cared a lot about it before I got my degree. I think 99.9% of problems in our lives can be avoided if we’d just talk to each other, but you’d be shocked to know how few people actually talk. Oh, people say things all the time. But there’s a big difference between talking and speaking.

Running for home base, Manhattan, KS

Running for home base, Manhattan, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 14:3.

A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him,
but the words of the wise keep them safe.

I think there’s a fear among Christ-followers that being too direct about anything will make us come off as overbearing or unattractive. And there’s some truth to that. I know direct people who don’t think about how they sound or how they’ll be perceived, and most of the time they come off as loud or abrasive. And, honestly, in most instances they come off as ignorant—just people spouting off because they don’t know better.

That’s the last thing any Christ-follower should want. But the opposite of direct is just as unattractive.

Do you know wishy-washy Christ-followers? Those people who are sort of weak-kneed, who will agree to anything just so they don’t rock the boat.

Whether you’re talking about something out of the Bible that God says or just a common sense part of life in general, people appreciate directness. Not rudeness. But direct and rude aren’t the same. People just think they are because so many times direct people are just plain rude about it.

Say something is going on at work that you don’t agree with and somehow you end up in the middle (because you’re just blessed). You have a choice on how you’re going to handle it. If you’re a Christ-follower, you have a responsibility to stand up for what is right, but you also have a responsibility to speak the truth in love. There’s that direct-without-being-rude concept I mentioned above.

Or, you can sit back and nod and smile and be overall noncommittal. That’s easy. Seriously, it is, especially if you don’t like conflict. There’s nothing easier in the world than to sit back in your chair and not participate in the conversation at all.

And maybe in some circumstances, that’s the best way to handle it. But if there’s something going on that you know is wrong, don’t you feel like you need to step in and stop it? If that’s the case, how do you do it without being rude? Do you waver and quaver all over the place?

You can, but nobody’s going to listen to you.

It’s like going into a fast food restaurant and trying to order a meal without telling the order-taker what you want. Have you ever tried that? Try it. Go into a McDonald’s and order something without telling the person at the counter what you want. They’ll look at you like you’re crazy. Or they’ll lose patience with you. Or they’ll ignore you.

None of that is what you want. You have to be direct. You have to know what you want, and you have to be brave enough to just say it straight out, without being rude about it.

First, make up your mind. Know for sure what you’re talking about. If you’re weighing in on a situation that you don’t understand, leave the room. Or shut your mouth. If you don’t know enough about the topic to be discussing it, just be quiet and claim ignorance. Know enough to know when to keep your mouth shut.

Secondly, don’t beat around the bush. Just say it. Don’t use big words to make yourself sound smarter. Don’t use phrases to make yourself sound experienced. People respond better to short words used well than to long words and phrases used to inflate their speech. Most people can see right through inflated language.

Thirdly, be humble. Don’t sit there and act like you know everything. Don’t scoff at people or roll your eyes. Be respectful. Be real. Be open. Be honest. Be kind.

If you litter your words with phrases that don’t mean anything or jargon from your industry, those are big red flags that tell everyone you’re compensating for something.

So say what you mean. Be direct about it, but maintain your sense of respect and humility. Don’t waste their time or your time filling your speech with words that don’t matter or analogies that don’t make sense.

If you know what you’re talking about, if you’ve made up your mind, and if you speak clearly and concisely without trying to impress anyone, guess what happens? You’ll impress people. And you’ll become someone people know is worth listening to.

Nothing poisons your perspective like frustration

What frustrates you? Bad drivers? Repetitive noises? Stupid people in large groups? All of the above? Like so many other things in life, frustration itself isn’t the problem. It’s what you do because you’re frustrated that can be damaging.

Frustrated people do stupid things. It’s the truth. I saw something yesterday where a woman was killed in a road rage attack. Seriously. Somebody got frustrated at her bad driving and killed her? Yikes!

But that’s a pretty extreme example. What’s a lot more likely to happen is that you quit your job because you’ve had a bad day… or a string of them. And maybe quitting your job is what you need to do. Maybe it’s the best choice. Maybe it’s time. Or maybe you’re just in a tight spot at the moment and you just need to give yourself space to calm down before you make a rash decision.

579286_51266544_screamingToday’s verses are Proverbs 14:16-17.

The wise are cautious and avoid danger;
fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.
Short-tempered people do foolish things,
and schemers are hated.

Frustration affects your perspective. When you get frustrated about something—regardless of what it is—it changes the way you see your situation, the people around you, and yourself. And not in a positive way.

Something about being frustrated turns me from a generally pleasant person into a grouch. A seriously serious grouch. And, let me tell you, it’s dangerous to be around someone who specializes in words when they’re in a bad mood. I know exactly what to say to cut to the quick, and when I’m in a bad mood, all I really seem to want is for other people to be in a bad mood too. Probably so that I don’t feel like so much of a failure.

That doesn’t excuse it, but it might explain it.

If your perspective is off, your behavior will be too. Nothing poisons your perspective like frustration. And kind of like what I was talking about in yesterday’s post, our enemy is looking for anything he can use to upset us or to get us emotionally twisted.

So what do you do? How do you handle frustration when you’re about ready to flip your lid? How do you stay calm when all you want to do is scream and cry?

I can’t tell you I have the answer, but I know what works for me.

But what I’ve learned about myself is that when I start feeling that way, I need to step back. I need to just take a deep breath and try to convince my shoulders to stop climbing up my neck. I need to get away from my desk and my computer and my ever-regenerating collection of emails and take a walk. Someplace I can take deep breaths. Someplace I can feel the wind blowing. Someplace where I can regain my perspective.

I have so much good in my life. I have so many blessings, so many friends, so many gifts. I have been given so much, and I haven’t done anything to deserve it. And instead of focusing on why I’m upset, I start focusing on the things that are going right.

I’ve got a job. I’ve got a family. I’ve got money to hike to Quiznos and buy a salad for lunch. Fall weather is back, and if I want a pumpkin latte, I can buy one. Give yourself ten minutes to think about the good things in your life, and I guarantee you won’t be as frustrated when you’re done.

Granted, you’ve got to face the same frustrations over again when you come back, but if you take the time to breathe first, you might see them differently. You might not, but trust me, it’s worth trying to calm down first before you do something rash.

So many times we do things in anger or frustration without really thinking about the consequences, and we shouldn’t. We should always consider the consequences before we act—not after. Don’t let your frustration become the reason why you do something foolish. Give yourself the time to calm down and try to see things in a different light before you do something you can’t take back.

In the heat of the moment, all you want to do is get away. All you want to do is make everybody else as angry as they’ve made you. But if you can hold on and maintain your calm long enough to get your head back on straight, you might prevent yourself from doing something you’d regret for the rest of your life.

You wanted to help with a new AlwaysPeachy devo book?

Now’s your chance!

Again. Sorry. Not a devotional. Just an extra post to let you know about something awesome that’s going on! So many of you said you were interested in sponsoring a year-long devotional book I went ahead and signed up for a Pubslush.com account. And guess what? It goes live today!

alwayspeachy.pubslush.com 

How does it work?

Just follow the link (alwayspeachy.pubslush.com) and you’ll be redirected to the campaign page for the AlwaysPeachy #3 project.

Click the big greet “Support This Project” button.

Then, you can choose how much you want to donate. You can select a specific amount in return for a reward of some kind. There are different rewards for each amount, ranging from Twitter shout outs to free books and even a plate of no-bake cookies made by yours truly. Or, if you’d rather give an amount that isn’t listed, just enter it in the space at the top of the page and hit Enter.

You’ll get to enter a credit card number, but your card won’t be charged until the project is fully funded. I thought that was kind of cool.

You only have 2 weeks to get on board, so if you want to be a part of this crazy idea, now’s the time!

I can’t even tell you how humbling it is to even have enough people reading this crazy blog that this could be possible. So thank you in advance! And rest assured, this book is going to be pretty awesome.

Actually, it’s going to be so awesome, it might even be peachy. 😉

Discouragement is our enemy’s greatest weapon

Pretend you’re a bad guy in a novel or a stage play. What’s the best way you can think of to stop the hero from accomplishing his task? Tie his girlfriend to a set of railroad tracks? Kidnap his daughter and sell her to a human trafficking ring? Manufacture ten thousand nasty, disgusting orcs and send them marching on your ill-prepared fortress?

Every story out there has bad guys in it who do everything in their power to stop the good guys from winning. But every tactic they take usually has one unifying purpose–to discourage them. The intent is to throw so many obstacles in their path–physical, emotional, relational–that it’s not worth it for them to continue.

But the irony of that tactic is that heroes overcome obstacles. That’s what makes them heroes.

Today’s verses are Psalm 19:7-11.964357_95421930_attached2

The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them.

Christ-followers have an enemy. You knew that, right? And it’s not the non-Christ-followers. It’s not other religions. It’s not any person you can see face to face. No, our enemy is far more deceptive than that, though he’d love us to attack the people around us.

Our enemy is a fallen angel, Satan, who hates God and hates everything God loves. And that includes us. But his tactics are the same as any other enemy in any other story–distraction and discouragement. If he can get us off topic, if he can get us off track, he will, and he’ll use any weapon in his arsenal to accomplish that.

For me, it’s my emotions. If Satan can twist my emotions and discourage me, I’m much more likely to get off track. I lose focus. I lose direction. I lose purpose.

He tells me nobody likes what I write, and I feel discouraged. So I stop writing. He tells me I’ll never be able to get healthy, and I feel discouraged. So I stop living a healthy lifestyle. He tells me that I’m not good enough to have friends, and I feel discouraged. So I stop reaching out to people.

Giving in to discouragement is so easy. It doesn’t take effort or intention or planning or anything. You just give up.

And that’s exactly what he wants. Why? Because God has a plan for you. God has a plan for your life, and God can use you to do amazing and tremendous and miraculous things that will help other people find Jesus. And that’s the last thing Satan wants.

So instead of trusting what you feel, start trusting what you know. I know my emotions deceive me. Satan can use my emotions against me, so I can’t trust them. Instead, I need to trust God’s Word. I need to hold on to what God has said is true, not only about my life but about me as a person.

God’s instructions are perfect and revitalizing. His Word makes people wise. His directions bring people joy. He’s never vague, and He never fails to reward people who follow Him. That’s fact. That’s truth. And if you ever doubt it, that’s not Him speaking.

So what do you do when you’re fighting discouragement? How do you handle it when the enemy is throwing obstacle after obstacle in your path?

Just stop.

Stop right where you are.

And rejoice.

Look at that obstacle and see it for what is–a sign that your enemy doesn’t want you to succeed but that your God is bigger than he is. And if that isn’t reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

When the enemy tells you you’re worthless, you remind him that God gave the most precious blood in all the universe to pay for your life. When the enemy tells you you’re talentless, you remind him that God made you to do something awesome. When the enemy tells you you’re unlovable, remind him what God sacrificed for your soul. When the enemy tells you you’re hopeless, remind him Who you belong to.

Don’t trust what you feel. Trust what God has told you. God’s Words are the best weapon you have to fight the discouragement our enemy throws at you. So use them. Remember what God has done for you. Mark it down, and the next time Satan comes after you, shove it in his face in Jesus’ name.

And sing. Or dance. Or spin in circles and jump up and down. Whatever.

Just celebrate. Because if you’ve got obstacles, that means you’re human. If you overcome them, that makes you a hero.

What to do when your God-calling feels stuck

What is something that God directed you to do in your life? Take a moment and think about it. Maybe it was a business decision. Maybe it was a relationship decision. Whatever it was, you felt God calling you to do it, and you did it. What happened?

Did it turn out for the better? Or has it turned out yet at all? Maybe all it’s done is make life more difficult for you.

I feel like that’s where I am right now, where I’ve said yes to what God was calling me to do and all it’s done is make more work for me. There’s so much to do and no time to do it in, and on the days I’ve got the time, I’m so exhausted from everything else that’s happening, I don’t have the energy. And in those moments you’ve got to ask yourself how sure you are that God called you to do what you’re doing. Because there’s always the chance you’re getting frustrated because you’re trying to force your way down a path that isn’t meant for you.

But if you’re confident? If you’re certain? If you know without a shadow of doubt that you’re doing what God would have you do, how do you manage? How do you keep hoping that what you’re doing for God is going to be successful when you can barely manage to get your everyday tasks done, let alone the ones God’s called you to?

Today’s verses are Haggai 2:3-5.

437922_60330474_heapofstones‘Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor? How, in comparison, does it look to you now? It must seem like nothing at all! But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’

Haggai is one of those little minor prophet books hidden at the back of the Old Testament, so not a lot of people have heard of it. In that portion of the Old Testament, reading the Bible isn’t very much fun. I mean, reading the Bible is always wonderful, but sometimes the content is depressing. And for me, minor prophets are depressing. Because it seems all they do is warn of judgment coming. Over and over and over.

That’s not all they do, but that’s what it feels like.

It’s a broken record. The prophets warn of danger. The people ignore them. God sends judgment. The people beg for help. Over and over and over again. And it’s just so much like America right now, it’s only uplifting for the fact that we’ve got to be close to the end, which means we’re one step closer to going home.

But Haggai was a prophet during the time that a dude named Zerubbabel was trying to rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. I posted some time ago about a guy named Nehemiah, who was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Zerubbabel was his predecessor. And Haggai came to Zerubbabel and Jeshua, his partner in crime, many times with messages from God. That’s what today’s verses are. A message from God to two men trying their best to fulfill their calling.

Think about the path these men agreed to follow. Rebuilding the Jewish temple after it had been annihilated. I’m not going to take the time to go into its dimensions, but the temple was HUGE. It was a massive, intricate structure with so much national significance. It was an enormous responsibility, not only to the people of Israel but also because God had called Zerubbabel to do it.

Take a pile of rocks and turn it into God’s holy temple again.

It wasn’t going to be easy. It wasn’t going to be fast. Not everyone was going to work their hardest, and not everyone even wanted it to happen in the first place.

In our soft American culture, we get this crazy idea from somewhere that when God calls you to do something, it’s going to be easy. And, folks, that’s just not true. If it were easy, anyone would do it. If it were easy, anyone could do it. But God called a Christ-follower to do it so He could give you His power–God’s supernatural power to overcome all obstacles. If God’s going to help you overcome the obstacles, that means the road won’t be smooth.

No, following your God calling isn’t easy. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the temple wasn’t finished in a day. It took a lot of days, long days with hard labor and the impending threat of failure, to complete the work. And that hasn’t changed just because it’s AD 2014 and not 520 BC.

But God’s Word hasn’t changed either. And His instructions are as clear as ever. If you’re sure of your calling, if you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, be strong and get to work, because God is with us.

Whatever you’re doing for God doesn’t depend on your strength. It depends on His. You just have to keep working. You don’t have to be afraid because God is right by your side cheering you on with every step. You know what you need to do. So just do it.

You won’t succeed overnight. You’ re going to have days when you work really hard but you see no noticeable improvement. And in those moments when you’re threatened to despair, remember what God said. Be strong and get to work. He’s with us, so we don’t have to be afraid of failure as long as we follow Him.

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

Find a penny, leave it there?

I dropped a penny in the parking garage two weeks ago. And it’s still there. What does that tell you? That I didn’t care enough to pick it up? That nobody else cared enough to pick it up? I think it’s a little bit of both.

Pennies aren’t worth much. At least, not to an American.

Isn’t it funny what we put value on? Because that’s really how money or other items of value work. That show everyone loves, Antiques Road Show, is only interesting because people find old junk in their attics that turns out to be worth a fortune. Why? Because someone is willing to pay a fortune for it.

Something is only worth as much as the value people place on it. And when you look at worth in those terms, it might change your opinion on the value of a lot of things—and people—in your life.
How much is your car worth? How much are your clothes worth? How much is your relationship with your best friend worth? How much is your peace of mind worth?

How much do you value those things, those people in your life?

Worth is a tricky subject because it’s different for everyone. We all place a different value on different objects and people. To someone who’s used to living in a city, a dishwasher is probably worth a lot. To me, who’s been fine without a dishwasher for years, they don’t matter a whole lot.

But if a random person sees a Trixie Belden book at a garage sale, they probably wouldn’t even stop to look at it. Me? I’d pay a good price to buy a Trixie Belden book I don’t already have. Because it’s worth something to me, even if it’s not worth anything to anybody else.

Today’s verses are 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

A penny I dropped in the Epic Center parking garage two weeks ago, Wichita, KS

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

We should be very cautious about how we establish or decide what something or someone is worth. So much of it depends on your perspective. This is one of the ways that Christ-followers really stand out from people who follow the world’s philosophy.

People in the world place high value on money, on fame, on self, on happiness, on doing what feels good. But that’s not the kind of life Christ-followers are called to live. That’s not to say that obtaining money and notoriety and happiness is wrong. But what are those things worth to you?
Are they worth more than your soul? Are they worth more than the people around you? Are they worth more than peace with God?

God has a different perspective, and we are called to look at our lives and our world through His eyes. So what matters to God? What has value to God? The example in the verses is mostly symbolic because generally you aren’t going to build a building using materials like gold and silver. But if you’re going to build anything, you want to use materials that will last. And that’s the point.

If you think about it, the things that are worth the most to God are the things you can’t quantify. Love. Faith. Peace. Trust. Obedience. Humility. Can you even put value to any of those? I don’t think you can.

Money is a tool as far as God is concerned, but it’s not something of great value. Think about it. The streets of heaven are paved with gold. Why would we need money in eternity when we’re going to be walking on gold and precious jewels? It doesn’t matter there. It’s not worth anything there.

The same is true of fame. What good is fame going to do you in eternity? Even if you’re the most famous person in the world, you can’t compare to the Famous One. Jesus Christ. God Himself. Your fame will mean nothing in eternity.

You see what I’m getting at. The things that the world tells us are important and valuable and essential to obtain during our lifetimes really aren’t. You can’t take it with you when you go. You realize that, right? So no matter how much notoriety and money and possessions you stockpile, you don’t get to take a trailer with you when you die.

So you’d better stockpile the things God says are valuable. If you’re a Christ-follower, your physical needs will be met in eternity. So it’s the other parts of your life that you need to cultivate—the relationships, the emotional wellbeing, the spiritual health—if you want to have something to say for yourself in the life to come.

The point, friends, is to put value on what God says is valuable. Don’t waste your time chasing what the world says matters because those goals will ultimately pass away. Pursue what God says is important, and it will pay dividends that will never run out.

That’s what true worth really looks like.