Good Question

Albert Einstein, one of the world’s brightest minds said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.” The truth is when curiosity strikes and we begin to ask questions, something amazing happens in our brains. According to neuroscientists (like those out of Colombia University Center of Decision Science in an online paper, February 2017), questions trigger a mental reflex that hijacks the brain and seeks an answer. See our brains are not hardwired just to perform the same function, but God created us to think, reason, and learn! We were blessed with curiosity, to ask a lot of questions.

 

We see this natural curiosity with kids. Little kids have a lot of questions. I was out in our local grocery store picking up a few things and a frustrated mom hurriedly passed me in the narrow store aisle. She stopped right before me, frantically scanning the shelves. Yet what caught my attention was her little daughter who was expressing her blessed curiosity with a thousand questions: “Mommy, why are bananas yellow? Why is it called peanut butter when it doesn’t come from a cow? If sugared cereal is so bad for me, why does the store have it? Can worms burp? How come you always seem mad when you come shopping?” And after that question I choose to push on. Little kids have great questions, just ask any kindergarten teacher. It’s how we learn. Actually, one of the best paths of learning is to ask questions.

 

Asking good, probing questions is what helpful life coaches do. They are not some kind of guru or sage to tell us what to do, but help us discover through asking and answering searching questions. Jesus of the Bible is an amazing life coach as He asked some very good questions:

Matthew 6:27   And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Matthew 7:3   Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:15-16  15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

Matthew 14:28-31  28 And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  31 Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

 

These questions make us think. Some may have even hijacked your brain for a moment and opened the door of curiosity towards God, life, and faith. That’s great, and we should ask a lot of questions, especially seeking to understand God, faith, and the amazing life He has for us. The Bible encourages us to think!

Romans 12:2   Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

‘By testing’ means to ask questions. Yes, even the tough questions, for God is more than able to handle our curiosity. What tough questions come to your mind about God, faith, and life? Are any of those questions emotionally charged? If so, why?? Hmmm, some good interesting questions to ponder.

 

I know, for me, I don’t want to get too stressed or too intense that I don’t continue to be inquisitive. I used to get into a lot trouble by asking a lot of questions. I know some of the asking was to get attention, but mostly, I want to learn. There are so many interesting and intriguing realities in our world that fascinate me. As well, the more and more I learn of God, the more immense He becomes to me and the more insight I gain for life.

 

Let’s keep letting our brains be a bit hijacked by asking good questions.

 

Church is an amazing place to ask good questions and seek answers about God, faith and life. If you do not already attend a church, we would love to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. We are just now starting a teaching series about the intense questions Jesus asked. We would love for you to join us. Our web site has all the information for all our campuses: www.cypresschurch.net . Why not give church a try?

 

Being curious with good questions along with you,

 

Mike

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Trust Moves!

Everything in me wanted to turn right, but the GPS said the fastest way was to turn left, in the opposite direction of where I was heading. What should I do? Which voice should I listen to? The voice in my head or the voice of the GPS? I was faced with an issue of trust, a trust move. Would I take the risk to trust in this app on a phone that boasted of creating the fastest route, or would I take the more comfortable risk of trusting in my own thoughts? What would be my trust move?

 

When it comes down to the decisions of life, the directions or choices to make, we are faced with the same dilemma. Will we take the risk to listen to proven experts or go with our own thoughts? Both take an element of trust. I know with driving in Los Angles traffic, I do have a working knowledge of what freeways to take and what lanes seem to be the fastest, yet I have limited knowledge of what might be ahead; like traffic density, accidents, police activity (all of which are a regular part of LA traffic). So there I was, ready to turn onto the congested freeway when the app suggested a new route that would take me on a detour, yet bring me to my destination faster. This app calculated this new route because it monitored all the issues that slow cars down and found a faster way.

 

Don’t you wish there was an app like this for life? Well, in a way there is!! The Bible put it this way…

Proverbs 3:5-7  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.  

God has a way and plan for us.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

To engage that plan is to trust in Him. To trust in God is to seek Him.

Jeremiah 29:12-13   12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,           

For some, to call on God seems a little beyond their comfort. For others, to talk/pray to God seems as natural as talking to an old friend. Either way, it takes effort and trust to investigate God’s insights. The big question is, will you? And will you trust in what God says? The Bible does say…

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.

I chose to trust in that driving app and avoided miles of major slow-downs. I have also chosen to trust in the Lord, to soak in His wisdom from the Bible, and it has made an amazing difference. Sure, my life has ups and downs; medical issues, family struggles, death, disappointment, and more. But even with these rough roads, following God’s wisdom brings guidance, comfort, and even joy. As well, trusting in God has brought fulfillment and a deep satisfaction in life. What about you? Who are you trusting in to navigate life?

Church is an amazing place to understand God and grow in our trust of Him. 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 greatly enjoy the opportunity to journey with you through all of life’s travels.

Seeking to make some trust moves along with you,

Mike

 

Mike

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Kind Words are Valuable

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

Words matter and have a profound effect on us. We cherish comments, we prize praises, we appreciate accolades, and we treasure tributes. Words hold great value to us and deeply affect us. Especially kind words, fitly or aptly spoken. Words spoken appropriate to the circumstance, as this Bible proverb encourages, adorn us like beautify jewelry. We feel built up, invigorated, refreshed and even revived by words ‘fitly’ spoken.

 

I was going through some email just the other day and received a response to a question I had asked. In their response they share just a few words that were refreshing, like a cool drink on hot day. It was not much, just some words of application and an affirmation of our friendship. It not only lifted my spirits but strengthened my bond with him. His kind words were of great value to me.

 

The Bible book of Proverbs continues to help us use this value-giving opportunity of ‘fitly’ spoken words.

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Words that are sensitive, caring, courteous, kind-hearted, and thoughtful leave a lovely taste. It’s saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and offering authentic praise. These are also words of understanding and expressions of hope and love. It’s saying we care, we are sorry for another’s pain, and sometimes not saying anything, but letting our presence speak an abundance of words.

 

These ‘fitly’ spoken words mean we need to think before we speak.

Proverbs 16:20-21   20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.  21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.   

It helps to take a pause before we speak and even ask of God to give us wisdom so our words are gracious and kind. Words are incredibly valuable and we should take care in using them. For the truth is…

Proverbs 15:1  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:4   A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

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

Proverbs 12:25  Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.

 

Kind words are valuable, let’s use them well and use them often. You could make someone’s day with just a few words ‘fitly’ spoken. Will you?

 

Church is a good place to learn more of God’s wisdom so we can be wise in our words. 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 great to connect with you and share some valuable words..

 

Seeking spread the valuable words of kindness along with you,

 

Mike

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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

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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

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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

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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

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