10 Things You Can’t Afford

Well, hello, all you Dave Ravers! It’s good to be back after a time away. This week’s Dave Rave comes from the experiences I’m going through and major transitions in my life; with new beginnings, turning corners, good things completed and in the past, and even greater things on the horizon. During transition, change of people, good, bad, the coming and going, the ebbing and flowing of life, there are ten things you can never afford no matter how much money you have, friends you have, health you have or don’t have. Here they are:
1. You can’t afford anger. I don’t mean by that, anger can’t be a good thing or even a godly thing. Jesus displayed anger. What you can’t afford is to allow anger to drive you to destructive and negative ends. It has to be beautiful anger; anger to right a wrong, not get revenge.

2. You can’t afford bitterness. If you’ve lived long enough you understand that everyone feels betrayed at sometime by the people they love the most. It’s the fact that you love people that allows them to get so close that they can hurt you. If you’ve been hurt, betrayed, join the club. It may sound trite to say it isn’t personal, but oftentimes it isn’t. What you can’t control is how other people behave. What you can control is the fact that you’re not bitter and revengeful and you allow things to go. It’s called forgiveness. You deserve it. You need it. So, give it away.

3. You can’t afford backward thinking. Backward thinking is spending most of your waking hours rehearsing how great things used to be, the good old days, back before your losses, your failures, your betrayals. Stop thinking about the past and start facing forward.

4. You can’t afford failure. Surely you know by now there is a big difference between failing and failure. Failing toward success is a good thing. Failure is a state of mind, a place we stay that predicts the future will no doubt be worse than the past.

5. You can’t afford negative thinking. Negative thinking will cut off all the powers of future possibilities. Stay away from negative people. Find positive, God-loving, life-loving people.

6. You can’t afford revenge. Stop thinking about how to get even with people in the past. Let them go. Someone did the same for you.

7. You can’t afford unforgiveness. Forgive those who have mistreated you and hurt you. You’ve been forgiven much. If you haven’t been forgiven, ask for it and you’ll receive it.

8. You can’t afford to live in the land of “what if?” What if this had happened? What if this person had come through? What if the stock market had turned around or the housing market hadn’t fallen out? You can’t afford to live in the land of “what if?”

9. You can’t afford “if only.”
This drives you crazy and shrinks your future. If only I’d said this, or if only I had not said this. If only I had gone to this thing or had not gone to the other. Stop it.

10. You can’t afford fuzzy focus.
All nine of these unaffordable attitudes and actions can be summed up in this one. They leave you with fuzzy focus. You need to fix your focus on the future. Face your fear, free your mind, find your voice and fix your focus on the future. What great future does God have in store for you? If you do that, you can see it. There are greater things lying ahead of us than ever, ever we could imagine. If only we will fix our focus forward, trust God and attempt great things with our lives.

That means you. Right now, where you are. Get with it. Time’s a wasting.

10 Ways to Wait

The only absolute guarantee you have every single day of your life is that you’re going to be waiting: Waiting at red lights, waiting in line, for the theatre, to eat, waiting in line for the bathroom, or at the bank. Waiting is an inescapable part of our life, but obviously in the economy of God, a very important part of life. So let me give you 10 ways to wait wisely.

1. Wait to worry.
The Bible is clear that we shouldn’t worry about the things we can’t control. So wait to worry simply means it’s senseless to worry about the things you can’t control and dumb to fail to control the things you can.

2. Resist the “flee or fight” impulse.
Waiting is frustrating so the impulse for some is to flee, just simply run away from the thing that’s causing you frustration. Others have a fight impulse. It’s tempting to bully your way ahead. Oftentimes the desired result can only be achieved with time. So it’s neither flee nor fight. Resist the impulse to push. Resist the urge to have it over with. Be careful with words like, “I can’t take this anymore,” “You’re killing me,” “I’m going to die if this doesn’t change,” none of which is probably true.

3. Surrender to the devastating love of God. Every single day, get up and recognize you’re loved. Surrender to that devastating love, that love beyond all reason, beyond all hope, beyond all measure; the love that’s stronger than any force or foe you’ll ever face, the love that says that no one can ever take from you or keep from you what God’s want for you.

4. Submit to divine providence. Though He may be silent, God is not still. Submit your will every day to the devastating providence of God. It may not make sense to you now but it will in the long run, because God has a plan and His plans always work out.

5. Plan ahead. Planning ahead in these downtimes simply means that I’ll buy a composition notebook and start journaling everyday. It may not be filled with the things you wish you were doing. It may be filled with things that you ought to be doing – like exercising, like reading and engaging your mind. It doesn’t matter whether your plans are working or not. There’s always a week to plan, so do it.

6. Expand your circle. During downtimes one of the greatest things you can do is go looking for other friendships because during these times of waiting, you have more time to engage in the things that you won’t have time for when things start back up again. How many times do we say to people, “We need to get together.” There’s just not enough time. While you’re waiting, that’s just exactly what you should be filling a lot of the downtime with. Enlist advisors, associates, make alliances.

7. Backlog your product.
I’m a writer and a speaker, an agent of change. My products are the things that I write or create. I don’t make widgets, don’t dig ditches, and I don’t pave roads. I don’t build tall buildings. It’s easy for me sometimes to excuse not making my product because there’s no immediate demand for it. You need to be creating your product now, backlogging it for when you need it. Thoughts, perceptions, and great ideas are lost if not captured now!

8. Houseclean and get lean. I do not mean by this downsize. I hate the word downsize because it’s just another excuse for quitting, for giving up, protecting the lazy man’s way. When we downsize, we downsize our expectations, our hope and anticipation. And just because you’re in a period of waiting doesn’t mean that your life diminishes or becomes smaller. It just means you’re going through a period that is necessary for the next leg of the race. Housecleaning simply means get rid of the things that you don’t need. If there’s unfinished business with you or your family relationships, get it taken care of now while you can. If you’re not going to wear it or use it within the next six months, you probably don’t need it.

9. Get up and get moving. During a waiting period, depression can set in. The more inactive you are, the more down you’ll feel. You talk to yourself and say, “Hey, why should I get up early? Why should I care? Why should I get dressed?” But let’s be honest. There are only so many TV reruns that you can endure. While you may be in a waiting period, you’re still employed. You’re employed by your Creator. You’re working for an audience of one. So, get up and get moving. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you put yourself into the mainstream of the flow of life. Not even God can help you when you’re glued to the couch or the bed.

10. Live life leaning forward. By this I mean live each and every day with great anticipation. This could be the day of the great breakthrough, or discovery you’re looking for. Do not allow yourself to downsize your dreams or give up on your great hopes and expectations. Live leaning forward every single day.

21 Reasons Why I Trust the Bible

The DaVinci Code has created another opportunity to talk about the historical, academic, spiritual, and social reasons why the Bible is trustworthy. As a student of the Bible for my entire life, I have studied it not only as a sacred text for its spiritual content, but also as literature and as theology from historical and critical viewpoints. After all these years, I still trust the Bible completely as my foundation for living and as the truth by which reality is framed and understood. So here are my top 21 reasons why I trust the Bible:

1. It is truth aimed at freedom. It’s not just truth for a certain set of people to use it to restrict the lives of others, or to condemn or keep them out. The truth of the Scripture leads to freedom. As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” So I love the truth that the Scripture teaches because it’s truth that leads to freedom.

2. It explains reality. The very first verse of the Bible is “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” When you look around and see a world of order and sophistication, you begin to see that the reality behind what we see and experience every day is a God who is creative and loves to create with His creation. It’s logical then, that He would communicate to us in a way we can understand, through the written word, and that He would sustain and perpetuate it.

3. It’s a solid foundation. Jesus warned about the man who built his house on sand and when the rains came, it was destroyed because the foundation wouldn’t hold. Each life needs a foundation for its ethical decisions and its moral behavior. The Scripture provides a solid foundation of ethics that will lead to the kind of morals that not only please God, but bear the fruit of a well-lived life.

4. It’s a first-hand account. The writers of the Scriptures were people who were there, who saw for themselves. They were giving us eyewitness accounts of exactly what happened. These were not people removed, talking to people about what they heard someone else say. They were there. They saw it. They smelled the smells. They had the emotional responses. They saw the life-change. They saw who Jesus was. These are the people who saw the Red Sea part, they saw the staff become a snake, and all the other amazing miracles and stories of the Bible were written by those who lived them.

5. It’s historically accurate.
One of the major writers of the New Testament was a guy by the name of Luke who was a physician and also a historian. He talks about in the first chapter of his gospel how he had undertaken to write the accounts of things they had seen, things they had investigated from the beginning, things that were true, things that were verifiable by outside sources.

6. It warns of false teachers. The Bible is very careful to tell us that there will be people who will take the truths of God spirituality and twist them into religious rules in order to gain a following by manipulation. Our need and hunger for God are powerful forces that can be easily used for destructive purposes. And the Bible warns us about how truth twisted can be damaging.

7. It equips us for life. The Bible says that it is the very “breath of God.” And as we read it, it is the kind of thing that will help prepare us for every point of life. It will equip us to do every good work that God expects and we desire. The Bible equips us to live with ourselves, in families, and in society.

8. It’s tested truth over time. As the Scriptures say, “The grass withers and the flower fades away, but the Word of God stands forever.” The truth in this Bible that was written over a 1400-year span by 40 different contributors has one theme and describes the behavior of mankind today as though it were the morning headlines. It’s as relevant and fresh with what we face, how we feel, and how we behave as it was in its own generation. As the old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

9. It endures change. Think of how the world is different today from the Biblical world. Who would ever dream in the first century that we would have cars, planes, travel to the moon, internet, heart transplants, and genetic engineering? And yet for all the changes, cosmetically and technologically, the Bible still endures because the human heart still longs for God..

10. It keeps your life out of the ditch. I love what Mark Twain said. “Most people are bothered by passages in Scripture they can’t understand. The Scriptures that trouble me most are the Scriptures that I do understand.” I’ve always felt the same way. It’s not the Scripture that I don’t understand that gives me problems. It’s the Scripture I do understand but am not doing that hangs me up. The more I ignore the Bible’s truth, the more I am apt to take the wrong exit on the freeway of life and wind up at a dark destination.

11. I trust the Bible because of its influence. An Associated Press article recently said, “The heads of a thousand major American companies and 1200 universities were asked which book had the most influence on their lives and by far and away the number one book is the Bible.” If it’s good enough for CEO’s and University Presidents and academicians, surely it’s good enough for me.

12. It feeds my soul. I love what David said in Psalm 119. “I’ve kept my feet from every evil path so I might obey your word. I’ve not departed from your laws for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” I agree.

13. It’s living and active. The sacred text reads, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The more I read the Scriptures, the more they read me.

14. It blesses whoever obeys it. The promise of Scripture is, “More blessed are all those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” I want God’s blessing and when I do what He says, I attract more of what He gives.

15. It warns of judgment. Everything in my soul tells me I will stand accountable one day for my life. The Bible tells me exactly what to expect. In Christ, I will never stand in judgment for my soul. Even then I will stand in judgment for my good works; how I’ve lived my life, how I’ve made my choices. It reminds me that all the blessings of God come with responsibilities.

16. It predicts the future. The Bible says that in eternity there will be a new heaven and a new earth. In that space where God dwells He will live with us and be our God. We will see Him face to face. He will wipe the tears from our eyes. Heaven will be greater than anything we could ever imagine. No more war, no death, no sorrow, no pain, no suffering, no cancer, no child abuse, no murder, nothing but joy and bliss greater than what we can ever imagine.

17. It promises us a future.
I love what Paul says when he said, “no eye has seen or ear has heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.” God, I have a great big imagination. I know it’s going to be an awesome place.

18. It offers hope. To the young it teaches us how to live our life. To the old it teaches us how to die. To the ignorant it gives us wisdom. To the learned it gives us humility. To the rich it gives compassion; to the poor it provides comfort. To the dreamer it provides inspiration. To the practical it provides counsel. To the weak it gives strength. To the strong it gives direction. To the proud it gives a warning. To the humble it provides exaltation. To the troubled it gives peace. To the weary it gives rest.

19. It establishes my worth. It is in the pages of Scripture that I learn God’s opinion of me. God values me. I am worth all the trouble He has gone through to redeem me. I am not worth my job, my money, my power, or my pedigree. I am worth loving because the Bible teaches me. Jesus loves me.

20. It teaches me to trust. In a world bent on its own selfish ends, who do you trust? When you can’t trust your government, your co-workers, or even your family, you can trust God. Without the Bible, I wouldn’t know the one thing God demands of me – trust. I’m saved by my trust, I’m sustained by my trust, and I’m freed-up and joy-filled by trusting Jesus, the lover of my soul.

21. I trust the Bible because to tamper with it comes with a warning. Few people remember that at the end of the Scriptures we are given a warning that says, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. If anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share of the tree of life in the holy city.”

Bottom line, we all need direction. We need guidance. The Bible provides that guidance. The Bible is the owner’s manual for the human life. When we buy a car, a motorcycle, any vehicle, it comes with an owner’s manual that tells us exactly what to do to not only operate, but maintain the vehicle. The Bible is the very same way. It is God giving to us the owner’s manual that teaches how to live and how to die. It teaches us how to be free and how to set others free. It teaches us how to end wars, to build families, to work well, and to leave a legacy forever. That’s why I trust the Bible. The question is, what do you trust? What are you building your life’s foundation on and will it hold in the time of storm which is surely to come?

10 Reasons Why I Believe in Jesus

One of the coolest songs I’ve heard in awhile is Brooks & Dunn’s runaway hit, I Believe. It talks about how a young man’s faith has grown and blossomed over time through the influence of a friend. I have to admit that my beliefs have been affected by time, by people, by circumstances, and by a lifelong pursuit of truth.

Because we’re in a period of time where there is so much controversy stirred up by The DaVinci Code book and movie about who Jesus is, and since Jesus has a way of entering back into the global conversation and sticking around like gum on your shoe, I thought it would be great just to list in the Dave Rave the 10 reasons why, after studying, loving, living, serving, and talking about Jesus for over 3 decades, I’m more convinced of the fact of His life and the force of His love than ever. So here are my top ten reasons why I believe in Jesus:

1. His durability. I am more than a little impressed that after 2,000 years of controversy, opposition, rage, and anger, Jesus still remains the only constant, durable message of hope the world has ever known. He just won’t be ignored.

2. His being “the” fulfillment of prophecy. The majority of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament is taken up with prophecies about the Messiah. Jesus is the fulfillment of all those prophecies, not just that He fulfilled prophecy, but He is the fulfillment of all of those prophecies. His life, ministry, and work were all predicted hundreds and hundreds of years before they ever happened and they occurred exactly as they were predicted and prophesied when Jesus could have had no possible control.

3. His teachings.
While we have tried to civilize Jesus in our culture, His teachings are indeed radical. As a matter of fact, if we followed His teachings to the letter we wouldn’t have the violence and war that we have today. His teachings are recognized as morally superior even by those who do not recognize His deity.

4. His life.
His life has been the subject of study, controversy, expose, and research. And because of the life He lived, the impact of that life still remains today. It’s a compelling argument to believe that He indeed was and is the Son of God, Savior.

5. His promises. Jesus promised, for example, that He’d come to give life, that He’d come to give rest. Jesus promised that His church would prevail. Jesus promised that eternity would be good for those who could believe. All the promises He’s made in my life have come true and I’ve seen those promises worked out in the lives of so many others. The best is yet to come.

6. His global impact. When billions of people around the planet today still claim the name of Jesus as the Messiah, as their Savior and Lord, it cannot be ignored. When Bono was asked about the viability of claims of Jesus Christ, he pointed to the global durability or impact through Jesus and His ministry even today as proof enough for him to follow Jesus.

7. His love.
His love is the greatest redemptive force on planet earth. He was a prophet of love. He preached and taught love and exemplified the greatest love when he sacrificed His life for us even while we were yet antagonistic toward Him and had nothing to offer.

8. His accomplishments. Think of it, Jesus owned nothing, wielded no power, held no office, didn’t travel far from His own home, and had only twelve official followers when he died. And yet from that small beginning, He has achieved an epic presence in the world for over 2,000 years. What He has accomplished can’t be measured and what people have accomplished in His name has made life better for everyone and continued to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.

9. His courage. When you study the life of Jesus, it was His courage in the face of opposition of beating, of mockery, of betrayal; His steadiness of purpose, and His singularity of mission that allowed Him to move forward even into spaces where He knew He would be betrayed and crucified. He was and is not only God, but man. And as man His courage is not only inspiring, but in every sense of the word, transforming because He lives in and through His followers. It is His courage that animates my life with purpose, hope, and joy.

10. His inclusivity. Contrary to what a lot of Christianity has become today, Jesus was and is an “includer.” While a lot of religious legalism today is intent on drawing the circle small enough to exclude people, Jesus was always a big-circle person. He drew the circle to include “whosoever will, may come.” He hung around people of questionable reputation. He chose in His inner circle those who had no connection to the elite. Jesus was an includer. He was as comfortable with the scholars of His day as He was with common, ordinary people, or prostitutes. You might say Jesus never met a person that He didn’t love.

These are my top ten reasons why I believe in Jesus. The truth of the matter is each one of us has to answer these questions for ourselves. The fact that I’m this confident and convinced or your mother is, or your brother, or your parents, or your pastor, or other people you know doesn’t settle the issue for you. The one thing I love about Jesus is that He will accept a “yes” or a “no” but never a “maybe.” Everyone has to make their choice and once they make the choice, that choice makes their life. Think about how important the decision to say “yes” to Jesus Christ as your personal God and Savior could be to your transformation right now and forever.

10 Things Worth Forgetting to Remember

This coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend. It is a time we stop and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that you and I might live free. But I’ve discovered over time that memory can be a two-edged sword, for I tend to remember the things I should forget and forget the things I should remember. So in an effort to help you to remember what you ought to forget, let go, and put in the past, and also remember what you can’t afford to forget you need to hang onto; here are my two top 10 lists, both the things to forget and the things to remember:

10 things worth forgetting:

1. Forget the slight done to you
by some unthinking person. They’ve forgotten it a long time ago, so don’t let it hold you hostage in this present moment.

2. Forget comparing yourself
to other people in your profession, your family, or your group.

3. Forget the casual comment
someone has made about your appearance or something you’ve said in the past. Don’t let it stick in your mind and drive you crazy.

4. Forget past victories especially when they become anchors that keep you referring to the past, rather than stepping-stones that allow you to advance into the future.

5. Forget the hateful words and slights sent your way by someone either in anger toward you, or frustration in the moment.

6. Forget giving people a piece of your mind–you’re gonna need all you have and more to seize the great opportunities God will be sending your way in the near future.

7. Forget getting even–period. No one wins at that game and it’s a waste of time.

8. Forget about what everyone owes you
. No one owes you their love, their time, or attention. The people who give it to you do so out of love.

9. Forget appearing to be cool and always in control. Don’t be afraid to laugh, be silly and enjoy life. No one can be “on” all the time.

10. Forget about what might have been if only you’d gotten the job, or signed the deal, or if only you hadn’t gotten a divorce, or broken a relationship, or done something stupid. The “if only” road is a dead-end road. Forget about it!

10 things worth remembering:

1. Remember that God has been faithful
to you every day of your life and will continue to be. You can judge God’s future performance upon the past evidence.

2. Remember you’re not in competition with other people, only yourself. You only need be the best “you” you can possibly be.

3. Remember, God will not place more on you than you can bear. So whatever you’re facing today or in the near future, God will be there to give you the strength when you need it.

4. Remember the future will be better
if you want it to be better. It all depends on how you choose. You make the choice to be bitter or better.

5. Remember your attitude is showing everywhere you go, so make it a winning one.

6. Remember no one owes you a thing, not even your momma, and especially not God. God loves you because He’s made that choice and in that choice, He’s given you the greatest gift anyone in the world could give you.

7. Remember everything, everyday, and everyone is a gift from God to be savored and enjoyed.

8. Remember people matter more than machines, dates, deadlines and getting our way in the moment.

9. Remember to live now.
It’s the only thing you have guaranteed. That’s why we call it the present. Wake up and live today to its fullest.

10. Remember to choose to be happy;
anything less is beneath you!