Laugh More, It Helps

There is a wise truth from the Bible that says, “A joyful heart (laughter) is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22. Most everyone loves a good laugh, and we should, as it holds not only great blessings in life, but is good for us.

 

One of the joys of spending time with my toddler age grandsons is the times we laugh together. All three have an amazing sense of joy and laughter that has had me rolling on the floor with laughter. Like the time one of them crammed all their food in their mouth and looked at me and with muffled words said, “All done Papa” and as he was trying to say Papa at each ‘P’ food shot out of his mouth. Surprised at what happened he started to laugh and at each ‘Ha-ha’ of laughter more food came out and soon it was a machine gun fire of food as the laughter increased. I started laughing too, to the point where the food was coming out of my mouth. This was not the best in teaching polite table manners as we kept laughing and spraying food everywhere, but sometimes that’s ok. Then there was the time one of them was in the play room smiling from ear to ear, giggling and dancing away, I walked in and he said, “Papa dance!” So I did and as he looked at me, he fell on the floor laughing with big deep hoots. I asked him what was so amusing. He said, “Papa you dance funny!” I was glad my smooth dance moves were so entertaining for him!?!. These little guys know how to bring joy to life and they certainly bring great joy to me and my life. Laughter is truly good medicine.

 

Now sure there are times for other emotions. In all of life there are moments for all kinds of feelings and actions.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Unfortunately the older we get the more serious and sullen we take life. As well, our world is full of difficult and hurtful news; international troubles, political plights, economic worries, relational dilemmas, health anxieties, and the list goes on. This constant current of troubles and torments seems to be self-generating and increasing. This means that in order to bring laughter it will take some initiative on our part.

 

My grandsons are great examples of initiating the medicine of laughter. When they come over, they burst in the door with smiles and excitement to whatever fun adventure awaits. They inspire me, for regardless of the issues or troubles or stresses I may be facing, their joy and smile melts it all away. There have been many times I have been deep in stressful thoughts of projects and assignments due when one of the boys would come up to and say, “Fly Papa?” As he turns and takes his best Buzz Lightyear stance (one arm lifted straight up and the other arm by his side with his hand on his hip) and shouts in a deeper voice, “To infinity and beyond.” Of course I scoop him up and we fly around the house laughing as we go, and my stress is gone!

 

Psychologists and medical doctors agree that laughter is very beneficial.  Laughter boost our immune system, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes muscles, adds joy and zest to life, eases anxiety, improves our moods, builds relationships, enhances teamwork, defuses conflict, and makes us more approachable. Yes let’s laugh more, it’s really is good for us!

Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.

Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

 

Laughter should not be crude or at the expense of others

Ephesians 5:4  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be

thanksgiving.

So with good clean fun, we should seek to laugh more

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Maybe to watch a funny movie, or TV show, or go some good clean comedians, hang out with fun friends, read humorous literature, play games, go dancing, do something silly, and certainly laugh at yourself. Get your laugh on and laugh more, it really helps!

 

Some may think differently, but church can be a great place to laugh together with friends and experience the great joy God gives. If you do not already attend a church, we would love to invite you to Cypress Church or one or our branch churches. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . It would be fun to connect with you.

 

Seeking to laugh more along with you,

Mike

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Really Does Take Hard Work

The old maxim ‘hard work pays off’ still rings true, even in our world where the entitlement attitude reigns. I was waiting for my beverage at our local coffee shop and two young twenty somethings were waiting as well. They were talking about the end of school and what they were going to do. One spoke up, “How great you got handed that job. You’re smart, you’ve put in your time at school, you deserve it…” The other guy cut him off and said, “I don’t know about being all that smart. I struggled through quite a few classes, but I did NOT get ‘handed’ this job. I came in early, left late, did more than they asked of me, and I really worked hard for it…” The conversation continued as they walked out. I smiled because in this world of entitlement, this testimony of hard work was refreshing!

 

Some of you may have heard the stories that many of the amazing people of history were not handed their successes. They overcame obstacles, defeats, failures, disappointments and worked hard. Walt Disney was fired from a job and said he lacked imagination. Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark, but she kept surfing and won at the national level. J.K. Rowling struggled much of her life and was rejected some twelve times until one small publishing house took a risk on a book about a boy named Harry Potter. Colonel Sanders had a tough life and, at 62 years old, worked hard to create Kentucky Fried Chicken. I could go on, but these people did not get handed their success. They worked hard and put out that extra effort. It is the hustle of going beyond expectation and the grit of endurance.

 

God encourages us to work hard

Colossians 3:23  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

To work heartily is to give it your all, to extend effort. Yet, in this effort to see the higher calling of God, that God has given you the abilities you have, to put them to use for your good and for the good of humanity. So be the best teacher, doctor, sales person, engineer, nurse, manager, construction worker, city worker, church worker, volunteer you can be and supply a bit of extra effort.

 

In the extra efforts of hard work there is a satisfaction.

Proverbs 13:4  The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.  

It is like a runner’s high of completing a race, where we have done our best, investing the efforts of ‘sweat-equity’ and feel a sense of accomplishment. Because hard work pays off.

Proverbs 12:24  The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

Proverbs 14:23  In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 22:29  Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

 

We are to follow the example of the hard working woman honored in Proverbs 31:10-31 and the ant in Proverbs 6:6-8. Hard work is what it is; hard, difficult, awkward, tough, challenging, grueling, and arduous work! Yes the lazy river of entitlement is appealing, but it leads to nowhere, and away from the good and blessing to humanity God created you for. So…

Ecclesiastes 9:10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…

 

I was inspired by that young man to work hard at my marriage, loving my family, the job God has given me and every other area of my life…and yes to take times of rest in Lord along the way, but when I work, to work hard. Let’s do this!

 

As we work hard, we do need times to pause and enjoy God. Church is a great place learn about God and be challenged. If you do not already attend a church, we would love to invite you to Cypress Church or one or our branch churches. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love to connect with you.

 

Seeking to be work hard along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Present of Presence

It is amazing when we are fully engaged. Being mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually focused in the conversations, tasks, and relational moments we find ourselves in is a true gift. It is a gift that truly blesses others, but also opens the opportunity to shine as connected contributor to the community. Unfortunately, we live in a world with multiple distractions, opportunities, and demands that pull us away from being present. I walked into a store ready to purchase an item and the person behind the counter was looking at their phone screen obviously in conversation with someone over text, laughing and talking to themselves. They interacted with the phone, totally unaware that a line of people had formed. Someone in the line spoke up, “Excuse me, can we…” the person behind the counter shot up their hand, laughed at the screen, finished the text and looked up. As the transactions went on the employee kept checking their phone and would quick pick it up and type between customers. Most everyone in line was frustrated, some tried to ask questions but got no answer, and some just walked out. This employee was not present.

 

In our always connected world with 24/7 access, it so easy to slip into the social media world and away from engaging the moment. I face that same pull. One of our grandsons was over and as he was off playing and, being I had my phone handy to take those oh-so-cute pictures, I noticed my email box had a few new emails, so I decided to open a few. This led me to check out Facebook and before you know it I had stopped connecting with my grandson and was lost in email, Instagram, Facebook, and texts. My grandson noticed and crawled up in my lap, pushed the phone away and said, “Hi Papa, let’s play.” So I put the phone down and we had a wonderful time!

 

Connection is vital in our busy world. We need others in our lives to help us and for us to help them.

Hebrews 10:24-25   24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10   9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Too many people are lonely and face the struggles of life alone because we get so caught up in so much we don’t take time to be present and ‘all there.’ Connection takes a focus, a willingness to be ‘all there.’ The Bible challenges us to be present with God.

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

To be still is to cease striving, to stop and focus. Yes, most certainly with God, but also as we relate and spend time with others. To engage, even though it may be awkward. Relationship and interacting with others is awkward, but just like learning ballroom dancing it takes practice, and yes we will step on each other’s toes!

 

Being present will also give the gift to exercise and use our abilities. Each one of us has something we can contribute to our families, to our friends, to our church, to those we live around and to our communities.

1 Corinthians 12:7  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  

Now these contributions don’t automatically happen. It takes us being engaged, present to notice and participate. It means we need to be daring to try.

 

I think social media and an active and full life is wonderful, yet there is a present, a gift in the presence of being ‘all-there.’ One of my mentors said something to me long ago that I need to continue to be reminded of, “Where ever you are, be all there.” That’s the challenge today. You just might find a great blessing, a present in presence!

 

Church can be a great place to practice presence; presence with God and with others. If you do not already attend a church, we would love to invite you to be present at Cypress Church or one or our branch churches. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love to connect with you.

 

Seeking to be ‘all there’ along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maximizing Your Stretch

I am not sure about you, but the stretch it takes to be consistent in exercise is not my favorite. I know it’s good for me and I exercise most every day, but much of the time, it’s difficult. I know I am better for it and it keeps me mentally sharp, as well as improving my health, helping me to be in a better mood, and quite possibly extending my life. But the push to keep running, keep lifting, keep on that elliptical machine is not all that fun, nor does the stretch to do it cease. I know when I was training for a marathon, it was a stretch not only to lace up my shoes and start pounding the pavement, but also to prep to make sure I had enough water and to carve out the time to run. Now, yes the ‘runners high’ did and does kick in after stretching out to extend beyond, but it still required the effort to get and be stretched! The truth is, the stretch is important. Sure, stretching your muscles before the exercise, but also the stretch to go beyond.

 

This stretching reality of life hits all areas of life: work, home, friends, school, and the ups and downs of life experiences. At work we are stretched with projects and tasks we are either asked to do or take on that push us beyond. At home or in our relationships with friends we are stretched ever further as we seek to love and care for others in an unselfish way. At school the stretch is every day as we expand our knowledge and learn, and budget our time to get assignments done. Life’s ups stretch us to win well and not let our accomplishments take us down the road of arrogance. Life’s difficulties and even tragedies stretch our faith and emotions as we slog through the troubles of the day. In all this the question comes, how do we stretch well? How do we maximize these stretching moments? I believe an answer is found in three actions; to look up, look in, and look out.

 

To look up is to consider the God of the Bible. Jesus has said…

Matthew 11:28   Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Like a great coach, Jesus wants to walk with us in these stretching times not only to give us the needed rest, but also to get us back out there because we gain from these stretching trials.

James 1:2-3  2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

This steadfastness is an endurance and a building of our character. Much of character is built in times where we are stretched or in suffering through different trials of life.

Romans 5:3-5  3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

God’s deep desire for us is to be the people He created us to be and that takes good coaching through the trails and tough times of life. When we come to faith in Him, His Spirit is right there guiding us and helping us stretch well, maximizing our stretch! So look up to God and He will help you get the most out of your stretching experiences (see also James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Looking in is that natural introspection and considering of what we can learn from this time of stretching. Too often, we want to get to the end of the ordeal and yet there is much to gain from the stretching time of waiting. Waiting squeezes us, allowing us to see our issues and ways to work on them. In some of my stretching moments, my impatience is revealed along with my tendency to want to be in control. I am challenged to trust God and lean on Him as I wait.

 Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

 

To look out is to see that my life is not just about me, but the others God has placed in my life. My stretching can help me be a better person as I grow and learn. As well, my stretching and what I learn from it can help others who are being stretched in a similar way.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4   3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

If we want to improve, be better, be the people God created us to be, we will be stretched. To maximize these times of stretching is to look up to God, trusting Him to guide, look in and be a bit introspective, and look out to help others. Let’s maximize our stretch.

 

As we are stretched, church is a great place to gain perspective and learn. If you do not regularly attend a church, we would love to invite you to attend Cypress Church or one or our branch churches. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . You would be among others who are seeking to maximize their stretch as well.

 

Seeking to gain from the stretch along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hidden Beauty in Connection and Inclusion

“We’ve been buddies for over 60 years,” was the opening comments as he began the eulogy. “Our lives were intertwined where his life was an extension of mine, and my life an extension of his, and I learned a lot from him and he learned a lot from me.” As I listened more to this wonderful, beautiful story of two unlikely fellows making a choice to be connected and include each other in their lives, it was heartwarming, encouraging, and even challenging. They were as connected as if they were born into the same family, but even more so for their connection came from a willful choice to weave into each other’s lives and be there for each other. They fixed cars together, went on family camping trips and vacations with each other. They were best of friends, yet more. Their inclusion and connection enhanced their lives.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about the value of our interactions with others.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12   9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

We were never meant to go through life alone. Now sure some people have a lot connections and other have less, but it’s not the amount, it the willingness to include and be included. This is not easy in our individualistic, me-centered culture where we want people to connect and be included in our world without trying to weave together their interests and integrate their ideas, thoughts, and insights. That takes work, but there is a beauty in experiencing the enhancement of being connected. It’s seeing we can be better, and they can too, as we learn and teach each other, help and gain assistance, lead and follow, and give and receive. It is the mutual benefit of being connected and making the choice to be inclusive.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

 

So let’s be part, or continue to be part, of the beauty of connection and inclusion. Create some margin in life for interactions with others. Include people in your life and be willing to be included in theirs. You will be better for it and enjoy a beautiful experience.

 

Church can be a place to interact with others where we can connect and include. If you do not regularly attend a church, we would like to feel welcome to attend Cypress Church or one or our branch churches. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . You might just find your next best friend!

 

Seeking that beauty of connection and inclusion along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleep Really Helps

Yes, it is true. Sleep really does help. Health care professionals say it’s important and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says, “Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.” (See this web site for more: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why). Yet it seems a lot of people don’t seem to get enough and walk around sleep deprived. I was grabbing a quick, but healthy lunch at a local restaurant, and as I was paying for my food, the cashier got a bit confused and apologized saying, “Sorry, I hardly got any sleep last night.” My wife and I were out and greeted an employee handing out samples, and in asking how she was doing, she responded emphatically, “Exhausted!” We hear it at work, at home, at school, out shopping, almost everywhere people are either expressing how tired they are or looking wearied, drained, fatigued, and simply tired.

 

Now, there are a lot of reasons people can’t seem to get the sleep they need: busy life, medical issues, some medicines can cause insomnia, emotional issues, too much caffeine or sugar, having a new baby in your home, stress, pain, eating too much, watching too much TV, and the list goes on. As well, people react differently, and what affects one person’s sleep may not affect yours. Regardless, we all need sleep, and sleep really helps.

 

Medical experts and physiologists all agree that sleep is an important reality of life and truly helps our quality of life. There is also a spiritual aspect of sleep that really helps as well. First, we were created by God with a necessity for sleep and rest.

Psalm 127:2  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.

It is part of God’s design that we take time every day to sleep. Our human bodies need it. But secondly, it reminds us that we are limited, finite people and not some god-type being that has no limits. I knew a man who thought he was mentally superior to most, and that sleep was for the weak. Sure, he may not have required as much sleep as some, but it greatly affected his health. See, it is God who never sleeps. He is God and His power is limitless, but we are not God.

Psalm 121:1-4 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  3 He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.  4 Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

It is a comforting reality that as we rest God watches over us.

Psalm 4:8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 3:5-6  5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.  6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

 

A third reason sleep is good for the soul is that it puts us in a place where we release control. We humans love to be in charge and in control of much of what is around us. In sleep, we let go and rest from the efforts, toils, hassles, and having to be “on” in life. This time of release is important to recalibrate us and fuel us for the next day. It puts us in that place of trust in God.

Proverbs 3:5-8   5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  

 

Jesus says He will help us find rest if we seek Him.

Matthew 11:28  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

I know I have struggled with sleep at times, but I do know God designed sleep and that sleep really helps.

 

Though church is not designed to be a place where we catch up on sleep (though I’m sure some do), it is a great place to learn of our amazing God and that we rest, trusting in Him. If you do not regularly attend a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one or our branch churches. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to rest in the Lord with us.

 

Seeking to enjoy better sleep as you do as well,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Have Some Fun!

“Come on Trevor we are trying to take this picture, settle down!” Trevor’s dad reached for Trevor’s shoulder and with a firm grip pulling his son to his side. Trevor did stand there but began to make funny faces and dramatic poses as grandma, who was taking the photo, laughed. Trevor’s mom chimed in, “Trevor, will you calm down?!.” The other two kids were falling in line, yet just standing there with more tired and blank stares on their face. Grandma retorted, come on everyone smile, look like you are having fun like Trevor. Trevor took that as a cue to run, or I think he was pretending to fly, around the family yelling out, “Wheeeeee!” Mom rolled her eyes. Dad looked exasperated. The other two kids went back to their blank stares. Grandma jumped in and started to chase Trevor with a big smile saying “I’m going to get you.” Dad threw up his hands. Grandma caught Trevor and with a few tickles and a whisper placed him next to his. Grandma went back to her spot and snapped the photo. She handed the camera to the dad and with a wink said, “Let’s have some fun like Trevor!”

 

Kristi (my wife) and I observed this little scene as we were out on one of our date nights. To me it was a little vignette of life and I found myself identifying with most every family member. Life at times is exasperating with the pressures of deadlines, troubles, difficulties, and responsibilities. Life can also be that eye-rolling frustration of not working out as planned. As well, life can suck the life right out of you and we can be numbed and dazed at it all. However, there is Trevor and Grandma! They both seem to find the fun in it all and enjoy the moment.

 

This whole scene reminded me of my grandfather who taught me the art of having fun, even in the midst of difficulty. More than once he came to my rescue as I faced the hardship of growing up in an alcoholic family. As my dad would set off on one of his alcoholic induced rants, my amazing grandfather would bring in some funny story, some funny dance, or some funny faces and the tense atmosphere would change to laughter and joy. I wanted to be just like my grandfather. Now it took me a bit to learn the appropriate time to bring in some fun (I got into a lot of trouble being the class clown, but that is another story), and I am continuing to learn, but fun is an important part of life.

 

God wants us to have some fun.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13  12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;  13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

.Now, timing is important.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

It is all too easy to never plan for fun. When was the last time you really laughed? I mean that belly, I’m going to wet my pants laughter where you start to cry. When was the last time you really had fun? Yes we are all allowed to have fun. We just need to make time for it. Now of course our fun can’t be at the expense of others or that is hurtful or damaging. We need to enjoy it as a gift from God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

 

So have some fun!

Proverbs 17:22  A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Ecclesiastes 8:15  And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

 

Church can be a fun place to be and learn the fun life God has for us. I know our church is a place like that and especially around Easter time.  We have a wonderful Easter week planned with special services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join in on our fun.

 

Seeking to have some fun in life along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment