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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Welcome Difficulty!?!

 

James 1:2-4 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. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

A while back, I was watching a coach encourage his players. The kid was struggling in practice saying the drills were too hard, it was too hot outside, and was grousing, saying, “What’s the point anyway? The other team we are about to face is the best in the league!” The coach could see this player was a bit discouraged and that the difficulty of practice was overwhelming the team and that they were getting discouraged about the upcoming game. The coach called to one of his most improved players and asked him to run the field, just one lap. The kid did it with ease. As he came back smiling, not even out of breath, he looked at the coach and asked, “What was the point in that?” The coach then asked his star receiver to go out for a pass and his starting quarterback to throw it to him. They ran the play with incredible ease. They, too, came back with questioning looks on their faces, and as the quarterback handed the ball to the coach said, “How is that going help this Friday night?” Coach pulled up three linemen and asked them to push the training sled 20 yards. The three husky guys smiled, and with a little swagger in their step, walked over to the sled and pushed in with basically no effort. The rest of the team mockingly cheered their efforts because this task took no great effort. Just one of them could have done this with ease. Finally the team captain spoke up, “OK coach. We don’t get it. What are you trying to get us to see?”

 

The coach looked at the most improved player and asked when he first joined the team, how much he could run without getting sick. The guy said about half the field. The coach looked at both the receiver and the quarterback and asked how many receptions did they make all of their first season. Both looked at each other and said, “None!” One of the linemen beat the coach to the question and said they could not even move the sled their first year. Coach said, “We go through the rigors of practice and yes, it’s tough. Some of you have puked, nearly passed out, and most all of you were so exhausted you about cried.” They all looked at the most improved player and as he noticed the team looking at him, he announced, “Tears of joy, coach!” They all laughed. But coach went on. “We take you through the trials of practice to build your endurance, to bring out your best, and to do well as we face our opponents. So welcome the difficulty! Now get up and start running until I say stop!!” Coach blew his whistle and the guys started running with a new resolve. That most improved player yelled out, “Tears of joy, guys!”

 

Yes, life is difficult. Trials and tough circumstances hit us almost every day. Yet there is a choice to be trained by those trials and let them build character like patience, humility, perseverance, and tenacity. Trials also help us sweat out selfishness and squeeze out of us those not-so-favorable characteristics like insensitivity and pride. Many times we need a coach to guide us. Jesus is willing if we come to Him.

Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The ‘yoke’ this Bible verse is referring to is a wooden harness that two beasts of burden wear to ‘coach’ them, guiding them as they plow a field. Jesus says it’s not a harsh coaching He provides, but one that still involves work. Yet, it will guide us through the rocky fields of life. The key here is to listen and follow the coach’s lead. When we have a great coach like Jesus we can welcome difficulty and claim the reality in James 1:2-4. What difficulty are you welcoming today?

 

Church is a great place to connect and get reconnected with coach Jesus. 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.

 

Welcoming difficulty along with you,

 

Mike

 

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Honored and Marvelous!

 

Psalms 139:13-14 13 For You (God) formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

 

I was out with a few people for lunch the other day (Taco Tuesday at the Fish Grill. I love that place!!) to enjoy some time together and those amazing fish tacos! As we were waiting for our meal, the little preschool daughter of one in our group was enjoying being out with all of us, chatting and loving the attention. We were told she was late for her nap and soon would begin to shut down. She did as she crawled up in her daddy’s arms and nestled in and went fast asleep. We she did not wake up even as her dad went to get their meal, nor did she wake up through our conversation or the volume of the restaurant. She was perfectly at peace in her father’s arms.

 

This little sleeping angel was perfectly at peace because her dad and mom love her dearly. I have known this couple for years and they are wonderful people and amazing parents. They properly esteem their kids and hold them as precious gifts from God.

 

As she was sleeping away I could not help but smile knowing the great blessing she has in that she will constantly be reminded that she is honored and marvelous. The Bible is clear in Psalm 139:13-14 that we are all ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ We are all hand crafted by God inside our moms in honored reverent respect. That is what the ‘fearful’ means from Psalm 139:14. We were not just thrown together with no thought. We each were crafted with carful artistic intensity that reflects our Creator

Genesis 1:26-27 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

 

Psalm 8:3-5 3 When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You (God) have set in place, 4 what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

 

We are distinguished, extraordinary, set apart as special and miraculous, a marvelous creation of God! This is what the word ‘wonderful’ means from Psalm 139:14. Yep, you are both honored and marvelous.

Psalm 139:15-17 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, e God! How vast is the sum of them!

 

Oh that we would believe this great truth that we are honored and marvelous. Sure, still keeping a humble and gracious attitude that does not think we are deity and the world should revolve around us, but to let the truth soak in that God holds us in honored reverent respect, being knit together with careful artistic intensity. Because you are honored and marvelous!!

 

Church can be a place where we are reminded of our humble honored and marvelous nature. 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 be honored to connecting with you.

 

Thankfully for God’s work in creating me, along with you,

 

Mike

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Every Adventure Starts with a First Step

I love the insightful stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein. These are wonderful books, now made into movies. They highlight characters that are all too often like us humans. One such character is Bilbo Baggins, a pleasant Hobbit settled into his nice little Hobbit hole of a home in the peaceful, serene land of the Shire. His life was planned, organized, and this included plenty of time for occasional interactions with others, with much time ordering life and home, being busy about protecting his sedentary existence. When approached by the wizard Gandalf about heading out on an adventure Bilbo replied, “Sorry I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea – any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!” Bilbo, like many of us, was reluctant to the disruption of adventure.

Gandalf persisted, yet Bilbo retorted that he could read about all kinds of adventures and view maps of excited places. Gandalf countered, “The world is not in your books and maps. Its out there…you’ll have a tale or two to tell of your own when you come back.” Bilbo seeming a bit interested, yet fighting the fear said, “Can you promise that I will come back?” Gandalf honestly answered, “No. And if you do…you will not be the same.” At that you would think the story would have ended and Gandalf would have chosen another. However, something stirred in Bilbo that moved him to step out into a great adventure.

 

The Bible challenges us to be people willing to step out and do the hard work of taking the initiative.

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

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

A diligent hand is one that takes the initiative to step out into the great risky adventures of life. There is a richness beyond the monetary for those who step out their front door and walk into the adventures of life; meeting new people, trying new restaurants, using your skills and time volunteering at school, church, in your city, at a nonprofit organization, helping your neighbor, being kind to someone in need, taking a fun trip, starting a new hobby, and getting to know God better. These adventures all take efforts, but it is well worth it!

Proverbs 12:11 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.

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

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

It is a great temptation to spend much of our time and energies in a survival mode thinking we have no time for adventures, yet that may be just what our lives need. We need the change that comes as we stretch ourselves to venture out and make new friends, take that dream trip, go on a short term missions project, learn that new skill or craft, and get out of our comfort zone. We will be different, changed and no longer suffering the plight of a sedentary existence.

 

Though there are many examples of adventurous people in the Bible, one I like ”The Proverbs 31 Woman.” She is amazing. She has a great relationship with her husband, she has learned and works her talents and skills, she is involved in all kinds of business ventures, she helps the needy, and she cares for her kids and herself.

Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

She is a woman who takes the initiative and is willing to step out into the many adventures of life. Will you? What adventures are waiting for you?

 

Maybe it’s time to make time and take time to head out on a new adventure. Every adventure starts with a first step, what will yours be?

 

Maybe one of your next adventures is to attend church. Church is a great place to be encouraged towards the adventure of knowing 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. We would love the adventure of connecting with you.

Stepping out on some new adventures along with you,

Mike

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