It’s Not Wrong, Just Different!

Two young and talented executives were arguing over the best solution to one of their company’s problems. Each had their reasons with supporting evidence that their solution was best. As an impasse was emerging, the debate turned to the deficiencies in the others plan seeking to prove the other wrong and their idea right. Finally, a senior executive was sought help these two move from argument to action. The young executives lit into a full-court press dismantling the others plan seeking to prove the mistake it would be to take on the other’s strategy. The senior executive let each have their say, stood up and said, “These possibilities are good and I can see them working, but one is not wrong and the other not right, they are just different. Consider a blend of the two or pick one.” The senior executive walked out the room.

 

Why could those young executives not see the truth that it’s not wrong, just different? Could it be they were so fixed on their idea that they could not think there may be another way? I know I faced something similar a number of years ago as I was on a missions trip in another country. I was so convinced I knew a solution to a problem, that my way was right and any other solution was just plain wrong. The blessing in all this was an older, wiser man on the trip pulled me aside and challenged me by saying, “Mike, your ideas are good, but so are other options, they are not wrong, just different.” Now sure, there are moral issues and civic laws where someone can be wrong but with many decisions or even food or unique food combinations, it’s not that they are wrong, just different.

 

The Bible challenges us in this area of being open to other ideas.

Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

It is all too easy for us to think that our thoughts, our ideas are the only possible solutions to the point that if people don’t listen and join in, we feel put off, offended, and even threatened. Yet God made us all different.

Acts 17:26 And He (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

We are uniquely created by God (see Psalm 139:13-16) and put on this earth to interrelate and learn from each other.

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

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

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

So maybe it’s not wrong, just different, and that difference may be a wonderful opportunity to be more inclusive, more open, and more accepting of others. This is how togetherness and unity is built. We are better for it and can experience the joy and wonder of being interwoven into a supportive community. How could you be more open to the differences of others today?

 

Church can and should be a great place to experience togetherness. If you don’t already have a church where you connect, we would like to invite you to our diverse church, Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Seeking to be more open to difference along with you,

 

Mike

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Creating a Unique Flavor in Relationships

There is a craze in the restaurant, food world that has been going on for a while. It is the fusion of different culinary traditions. These food fusions are unique blends of flavors that produce new, and quite delectable, tastes. Most people are familiar with the fusion of chocolate and peanut butter in the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. However, there are many more food fusions out there like teriyaki tri tip tacos, Kim chi Burritos, Ramen fries, and ‘S’MOreos’ (a chocolate Oreo with a tossed marshmallow inserted!) Wow, I really want to try that!! Actually I grew up with my own food fusions; macaroni and cheese with ketchup, jam and bacon sandwiches, and cream cheese on hot dogs. What food fusions have you enjoyed or created? There are as many as your mind can imagine, like peanut butter on hamburgers, marshmallows and popcorn, Ramon and grilled cheese, ‘cinnaburger’ (hamburger between two cinnamon rolls), poutine burger (poutine is a Canadian favorite of fries, gravy, and cheese and this fusion pairs it with a hamburger), red velvet fried chicken, and lobster dogs (hot dog topped with butter lobster). Ok I am really getting hungry, are you?

 

The idea is that as these flavors join together they create something complementary and wonderful! Now sure, there is a science to these parings and people go to school and study why it is that these flavors do create something better, but for most of us, they just taste great. It does takes a bit of risk and daring to try something new but it can be a whole lot of fun and you may discover a new favorite food!

 

This idea of food fusions is a great example how we as people can create new flavors in relationships. People are unique and different. We come from different families, backgrounds, cultures, and abilities and when we connect and build relationships with people not like us, we both benefit! We are sharpened as Proverbs 27:17 says…

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

As well, the Bible also speaks to the unique flavor in relationships:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.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.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

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

 

Creating the unique flavor of unity and harmony in relationships take some work and adjustment.

Romans 12:16-18 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

 

We have a beautiful world full of unique and wonderful people God has created, people we can grow in relationships with and discover some new and amazing flavors with. Maybe it’s that new family that moved in on your street or that new coworker transferred from another country or that new student at your school. How fun! What new relationship flavors could you be creating this week?

 

Church can be a great place to meet new people. If you don’t already have a church you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to our culturally diverse church, Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.

 

Excited to create new relationship flavors along with you,

 

Mike

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It Happens When We Give

Proverbs 11:25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

 

I was at my dentist office getting my teeth cleaned and the hygienist was very excited about something going on in their office. It was not that they were getting new equipment, or more benefits, or the latest dentistry gadgets. It also was not some office party or more perks. What she was so excited about was an opportunity to give of her time to volunteer for a day where this dentist provides free dental care for adults in our community! She was so excited and thrilled to use her talents and time to bless others and she was experiencing the giddy joy of giving. This is what can happen when we give.

 

This joy and sense of being part of something meaningful happens when we give. We have seen it as a nation as many have given to victims of hurricane Harvey and Irma. One spot on the news highlighted people from the city of Malibu, California sending truck loads of given items to those in need in Texas. The report focused on the great joy it was to help out and on the great blessing of those who will receive. When we give, so much happens! When we help those in need, they are encouraged not only with help for their physical needs, but refreshed knowing they are not alone in their plight.

 

The Bible encourages us to give.

Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Proverbs 22:9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

Proverbs 28:27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

What is given to us as a result of our generosity may not come back monetarily or in the form of some material want we have longed for, but something far more valuable. When we give we connect as a community, with individuals in need and with others who are also giving. Giving opens doors and creates an inclusive community. Giving brings on those joyful feelings of being a help and that the actions of giving do make a difference to those who receive. Giving also pushes back selfishness, greed, want, and materialism. Now sure, we can give out of pride and to be noticed, and that kind of giving only fuels the heart in which it was given.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

Giving is at the very heart of God, who gave His Son not only to show us a generous way to live, but gave of His life to deal with humanity’s sin problem.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins.

 

Giving is fun! Giving is a joy beyond measure. Giving fills the heart and puts a smile on your face. Giving is a great antidote for bitterness and loneliness. If you are a giver, you know this to be true. Why not give giving a try! Something amazing happens when we give.

 

Now yes, church is a great place to give, but mostly to learn about our giving God. If you don’t already have a church you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. It would a joy to connect with you!

 

Looking for ways to give more along with you,

 

Mike

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Let’s Laugh More

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

 

I was playing with one of my grandsons and the other day and I am not sure how it happened, but he took a toy out of the toy box and placed it on his head, and started chuckling! He said, “Look Papa” and put another toy on his head, as the other one fell off, then they both fell off because he was laughing so hard. Of course I had to join in and put a toy on my head and I started laughing. My grandson giggled even more as we both were laughing, putting toys on our heads. We kept going as our merriment continued until we both collapsed. It was so much fun and so refreshing.

 

Just a few months ago Forbes published an article in their online magazine called, “Six Science-Based Reasons Why Laughter Is The Best Medicine” by David DiSalvo. The article cites studies that reveal laughter is not only good for your physical and mental health, but good for your social interactions and relationship. Yes, a good giggle session releases endorphins, but even hearing laughter causes our brain to ramp up its activity as it seeks to figure out what’s so funny. Hilarity also brings people together in a shared experience, as laughter is a bit contagious. In deeper relationships, merriment is a desired quality, especially in a marriage. Couples who laugh together have greater relational satisfaction.

 

Chuckling, giggling, snickering, guffawing, hooting, snorting, and cackling bring much to life. The Bible encourages us to laugh more.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (there is…) a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Psalms 118:24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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.

Psalms 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

 

Now yes, we are to be careful we do not hurt with our humor.

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.

Rather we should be like the amazing woman in Proverbs 31:

Proverbs 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

 

Sure, there are a lot of circumstances where we are to be serious and times we should feel with those are hurting, but there is also a time laugh. Laughter is good medicine and we should laugh more! I can so easily let the stress of the day; the never ending list of to do’s, project deadlines, expectations, and obligations rob my joy and hold me back from times of laughter. It’s ok to laugh, and it’s needed. When was the last time you laughed so hard you could hardly stand? Let’s laugh more.

 

Church can be a place of fun and laughter. Sure we need to take God seriously, but God is also a God of joy and laughter. So why not try church this Sunday? If you don’t already have a church you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. It would be fun to connect with you!

 

Looking to laugh more along with you,

 

Mike

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Careful, Words Wield Power

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly (well) spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

 

Yes, words well spoken can bring beauty and be such a blessing. I can remember, as I’m sure you do too, those well said words that brought inspiration after an accomplishment, encouragement in a struggle, affirmation after a victory, comfort in a loss, and reassurance through the ups and downs of life. Words do wield a great power that when spoken thoughtfully bring splendor and uplifting to life. We each have that power.

Proverbs 15:23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!

 

Though words do pack incredible power, we tend to not be that careful with them. I know I have said some very hurtful, thoughtless, and unkind words in my life. Most of them were due to not thinking before I speak or not being sensitive to the people I was talking to. Words can bring healing, harmony, help, hope, honor and even humor. Words can also bring hurt, hindrance, hardship, harm, and even harassment. We need to be careful handling this power God has given us.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

The idea is to understand the words we express make a difference, make an impact, especially if we are a leader, or parent, or friend, or person of influence. Our words matter and we are to be careful when we speak.

 

Words matter, even as a customer in a store. I was in line waiting to place my order and a pre-teen child a few people in front of me used loud, demanding words with sharp, angry tones to place her order. You could tell the employee was discouraged by the demeaning words. That next day I was getting a beverage at a local coffee shop where the smiling barista asked politely how much whipped cream a person wanted, the customer just spouted in a gruff tone, “Enough!” The barista added a bit more and asked if that was enough. The customer just started at her and said, “tray!” The barista a bit confused asked, “Would you like a drink holder?” Which was met with the customer saying “TRAY!,” uncomfortably louder. The barista nicely responded with a smile, as she put the drinks in a holder. The customer grabbed the drinks and walked off, no “thank you”, no “have a nice day.” I don’t know how that barista felt, but I felt uncomfortable and made sure I said thank you.

 

The Bible book of James has a lot to say about our words, specifically James 3:1-12. It likens our speech to the power of fire that can get out of control and lay to waist our lives like a fire does to a forest. Likewise, the small rudder of a ship has the power to turn even a very large ship, our words, spoken by a small part of our body, have the power to change the course of our lives. Words are powerful to us and to others. We are to be careful for words wield great power.

 

What do the power of your words do? Do they bless? Do they curse? In that Bible passage in James our speech has dual power…

James 3:9-10 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Our words should bless, build up, and give grace. The Scriptures are clear.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

 

Let’s use the power of our words to inspire, encourage, affirm, comfort, and reassure. You could change the course of people’s day, and even your own.

 

Church can be a place where we are encouraged and challenged to use are words well. If you don’t already have a church you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. It would be a joy to have you join us.

 

Seeking to be careful wielding the power of words along side you,

 

Mike

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Be a Little Crazy, It’s Fun!

Ecclesiastes 2:24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,

 

There have been videos like this popping up all over the Internet. Maybe you have even witnessed it. I know we did one night enjoying an evening at Disneyland. The crowd was waiting for a parade. The parade route was lined with excited kids of all ages anticipating the joy and wonder they were about to experience. Some had been snacking on a favorite treat, enjoying every bite. Some were playing games to pass the time. Some were enjoying talking and laughing and just relaxing in their place. Now, there were a few whose expressions were NOT showing they were in the happiest place on earth! One poor older woman looked downright mad as the kids next to her kept edging closer and closer, invading her space. However, what caught my eye was an older couple, a bit dressed up, sitting quietly on a park bench soaking in the joy and buzz of the gathered parade watchers. Just as I glanced over and admired the big smiles on their faces, a new song came over the loudspeakers. As the song played on, the man said something to the person next to him, got up, and held out his hand to what I assume was his wife. She smiled big and with a twinkle in her eye gently took hold of his hand and gracefully stood. He escorted her to the middle of the street and the two started to dance. The people around them started to cheer. They danced with even more passion, with great smiles on their faces. It was pure joy! Yes, it was a bit crazy and some of their moves did not match their age! They were having a blast and so were all those who watched. Their little bit of crazy made it fun.

 

Honestly, life can get way too serious, yet truthfully there are some horrible, deplorable, disgraceful and reprehensible things that happen in life. For those times we do need to be serious and walk through them with wisdom and grace. However, there are times to have fun. Solomon, one of the wisest men that has ever lived, wrote this:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 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;

Life is full of moments to capture and experience, and being a little crazy helps usher in some fun, even to have fun at work.

Ecclesiastes 3:13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Some companies in wanting to create an atmosphere of fun get a little crazy and sponsor “Donut Day,” “Fun Friday Casual Dress Day,” “Hawaiian Day,” and more. I even heard of one company that brought in a taco cart, mariachis, and full on Mexican fiesta, including a piñata! That is a bit crazy, but fun.

 

See, these fun experiences make the heart glad and that is a good thing!

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

As well…

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

 

Yes, life is difficult and our world is filled with awful happenings, yet there are, and can be, times to be a little crazy and have some fun. It might even help to endure those trying times. How could you be a little crazy today and bring in some fun?

 

Now, when some people think of church, they think the opposite of fun, but church can be fun, even a bit crazy! So why not try church this Sunday? If you don’t already have a church you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. It would be fun to connect with you!

 

Looking for some crazy fun along with you,

 

Mike

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Attitude Makes a Difference!

Romans 12:9–10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

 

This past week, we had our house painted. It was long overdue as the paint was peeling in parts, faded, and just looking rather dingy. Actually, it was a little embarrassing, as most everyone could see the house needed some paint. Having finally saved up enough to cover the job, we sought recommendations and painters who could do all the extras needed.

 

Out of the number of companies and painters we looked into, one came over with a bit of a hurried air about him. At each turn of the house, he kept mentioning how difficult it would be and what work I would need to do so he could paint (move things, purchase things, prepare things). His attitude that this job was problematic and his expressions (he said numerous times, “Oh that’s going to be difficult!” “That’s going to be a lot of work.”) had me feel this job was overwhelming. It made me question whether this was a technique to soften me to a higher bid, but it also caused a question in wondering if this was just too much for him, or if he really wanted the job. As well, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the things I had to do if we chose to go with him. His bid was fair and his prior work came with high recommendations, but his attitude of how much work this would be did not sit well with me.

 

The next painter was happy to meet us, had a huge smile on his face, and at each turn of the house kept asking my wife what she wanted and telling us that we did not have to do a thing! He even suggested a few other ideas that my wife might also like, that would make more work for him, things he said he would do at no charge! He said that moving things and doing these extras were his job and said, “I am happy to do it!” His bid was also fair, but he kept throwing in things for free! His attitude made all the difference and we went with him. The week was amazing. He moved things with care, worked hard, and all his crew was friendly and intent on doing an excellent job. They were obviously having fun. What a joy!! The house looks great. My wife is ecstatic, and we are even going to give him a well-deserved tip (and still be under our budget!!). He has blessed us and we want to bless him.

 

God also used this experience to challenge me with the truth that our attitude makes a difference! This painter won the bid because of his positive, can-do, helpful attitude. His kind demeanor set my wife at ease, and the way he listened to her and let her process through the changes was just what she needed. She even asked if he could fix something that was not his problem and before you know it was done with a smile. His attitude made a difference. Attitude is a choice. Now, sure, our environment makes it easy or difficult to choose our attitude, but we do have the power to change our attitude. God even challenges us to choose a good attitude.

Philippians 2:14–15 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Philippians 4:8–9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

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

As we chose a kind, nice, encouraging, helpful, loving attitude, it makes a difference.

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

 

Our attitudes can truly lift others spirits, encourage, and even bring healing. What good, positive attitudes could you choose today?

 

Church can be a place where we recalibrate our attitudes. If you don’t already have a church you attend regularly, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net. We would love to connect with you.

 

Seeking to choose a great attitude today, along with you,

 

Mike

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