Crazy Eights

I have heard the journey of self discovery described as a path, or long, winding road.  For me, this “adventure” is more like racing on a figure eight dirt car race track. Everything’s great rounding the outer curves.

Then it gets a bit hairy careening toward the center with all the other racing obstacles speeding tow hard the exact same spot in the middle.

Race enough laps and a crash is inevitable.

Eventually, the time will come when one narrowly escapes the mid-point – perhaps with a few scratches or banged up fender – and, entering the calm of the outside curves, has an epiphany.  

I’ve been so busy on this exhausting, anxious “adventure” to discover who I am, all I’ve been doing is driving in circles, getting nowhere.

 And beating the tar out of myself doing it.

My point is simple: if you find yourself on the crazy right track of finding the real you, pull off to the side.  Stop looking inward and begin looking Upward.  Just live.  Do for others.  Truly, selflessly love others.  Just be, and forget all the distractions and detractors.  Only when you stop looking for the real you and start seeking Jesus will God reveal who you truly are.

A Quick 1:00 AM Post

I don’t know what’s got you awake at this waaaaay too early hour.  If you’re up worrying about some situation, I want you to know you are loved.  

I want you to know you are not alone.  

I want you to know there is hope.

I want to remind you things look worse in the dark of night than the light of day.

I want you to rest.

I want you to rest in Jesus.

I want you to trust the Lord with whatever has you bugged.

I want you to realize God is greater than any trouble.

I want you to cast your cares on God, our Heavenly Father, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

I want you to remember you aren’t meant to carry your burden alone.

I want you to talk to God.  Pray.  Have faith.  Let go.

I want you to walk in the Lord’s strength.

I want you to experience the peace of Jesus.

I want you know you are loved, cared for, and never alone.

And I want you to sleep easy, confident in our Father.

Rest, dear friend.  You are loved.

Rejoice!

img_5530-1

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

Be glad!  The Lord God is your Heavenly Father.  He is not some theological construct.  Not an idea.  He is very real – the One Eternal Designer, Creator and Sustainer of All.

Including you.

God our Father is not only real, He is personal.  Jesus called Him Abba, which roughly translates to “papa”.  Our Father made a way by faith in and through Jesus Christ for you to be His child.

And God loves you.  That’s not some lofty ideal but the absolute truth. God sent His Son to die for you.

God loves you.  God cares for you.  God is with you.  Let Him be your comfort.  Find your joy in Him.  Go to the Lord with all your troubles and needs.  Trust in Him.  Stay in tHis Word.  Follow His voice.  

Rejoice in the Lord always!  Let His grace and mercy and love pour over you. Live in peace.  And be glad!!

Rest in Jesus and sleep well tonight.  There’s no fear in God.

We’ve Added On!

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. – Proverbs 17:22 [KJV]

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.

I’ve prayed.

I’ve wrestled.

I’ve started.

I’ve stopped.

I’ve fussed and fidgeted and wrangled and thought and thought and thought…

You get the picture.

You see, for a long time, I’ve wanted to write a humor blog.  Something to make people smile, laugh, chortle, until milk comes out their noses.  I really enjoy making people laugh, bringing them a reason to chuckle.

The problem has been a question of balance.  How do I balance ministry and humor?  What if the Humorist overtakes the Diarist?  What if, by being comical, I lose street cred?  What will the Old Time Religionists say?

Then it dawned on me.  What a hypocritical moron am I?  Street cred – what on earth?  Where did that come from?  And since when did I care one bit what the religious-at-heart think of me?  Who am I to write about not having fear while being afraid of what others might think?

The truth is, this is me.  I am an armchair theologist.  I am an encourager.  I am a teacher.  And I am a humorist.

And I need to use all of these gifts.  Otherwise they go to waste.  And isn’t it a slap in the face of God Almighty not to put the gifts He’s given each of us to good use?

Besides, it occurred to me while trying to find a comedy special on TV that wasn’t oozing with profanity and “f”-bombs that there’s no reason the devil should have all the laughs.  God created humor.  I want to use it for good.

For now, the Bouville Humorist will only be available on Facebook.  Eventually it will be expanded to WordPress and Twitter and other outlets.

The first post is out there.  Please find The Bouville Humorist on Facebook (@bouvillehumorist).  And please let me know what you think.  (Not that I’m pandering for approval, mind you.  But a bunch of “likes” and “follows” never hurt anybody right?)

And, don’t worry.  The Bouville Diarist isn’t going away.

Street cred.  Seriously…

Surely God Was With Him

rich_mullins

“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken-hearted.” – Rich Mullins at Carpenter’s Way Christian Church, Lufkin TX, 19 July 1997

“I went to an older Protestant gentleman that I’ve respected for years and years, and I asked him, “When does faithfulness to Jesus call us to lay aside our biases and when does it call us to stand beside them?” His answer to me was that it is not about being Catholic or Protestant. It is about being faithful to Jesus. The issue is not about which church you go to, it is about following Jesus where He leads you.” – Radio interview with Artie Terry, “The Exchange,” WETN, Wheaton, Ill., April 1997, quoted in An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, James Bryan Smith, p54

Twenty-two years ago this past Thursday, we lost an artist and ragamuffin who set religious conventions aside and left Indiana to follow Jesus Christ, to seek Him with his whole heart.  I am grateful Rich Mullins came along and so openly shared his very personal journey with all who would listen.

Think today I’ll dig out my copy of The Jesus Record and sing my praise to the Lord!

Her Long Brown Hair (or The Greatest Expectation)

800px-MeatloafWithSauce

She had long, brown hair.

I know she had long, brown hair.

And, when I go out to eat at American-style restaurants, I like to order meatloaf.

Meatloaf rocks.  And I am very particular about my meatloaf.  With one exception, it has to be topped with ketchup.  Not brown gravy.

Never brown gravy.

If a politician wants my vote, he or she will promise, if elected, to ban slathering meatloaf with brown gravy.  (And, here comes the one exception I mentioned earlier: Clive’s Roadhouse serves up a mean meatloaf with onion straws, mashed potatoes and brown gravy that will make the hardest construction worker well up with tears of gratitude after one bite.)

Here’s something else that never belongs on meatloaf.

Hair.

This is how I know the chef had long brown hair.  I took a bite of what had previously been delicious meatloaf, only to end up extracting from my mouth a roughly 8-inch long brown hair which had somehow broke free from it’s follicle and landed in my lunch.

I had expected ground beef, mixed with egg, onions and bread crumbs and baked to juicy perfection.

I had expected wonderfully carmelized ketchup baked on top.

I had not expected to need to almost eat a hair nearly as long as my forearm.

Nor had I expected the confirmation that my gag reflex worked just fine.

We sometimes build up amazing – unrealistic – expectations about life.  We were taught at an early age that, here in America, we could grow up to be anything we wanted to be.  Even president!

But, the truth is, we can be anything God wants us to be.  As the Lord promised His children:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).

We have dreams.  Make plans.  Set goals.  Sometimes they turn out.  Sometimes they don’t.  And, when our plans blow up in our faces, it can be very discouraging to say the least.

But, as Christians, our agenda isn’t supposed to be our agenda.  It’s God’s.

We should be pursuing His will.  Seeking His guidance.  Trusting in His grace and mercy.  Sharing His love.

Am I saying we shouldn’t dream or plan or set goals?  Absolutely not!  By all means we should plan and work to achieve.  What we shouldn’t do is get so wound up in our own schemes and desires that they become what we desire over God Himself.

Jesus should be our first, overarching goal in life.

As Christ pointed out, He is our only sure expectation:

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (ESV)

To quote 18th century poet Alexander Pope, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”  Granted, that sounds a tad depressing.  But not when we realize GOD is our hope.

Our only hope.

It isn’t that we’ve lost hope and now God is our last resort.  He’s the only true hope we’ve ever had!

So, here’s my challenge to all of you.  Do a quick heart check.  Are you more concerned with success or seeking the Lord?  Where is your treasure?  Is it in your bank account?  Your personal goals?  Achievements? Or is your heart set on following Jesus?

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

It’s no accident that, immediately after this passage, Jesus begins teaching us not to worry.  To trust God with all our needs.  To not toil for that which has no eternal value.

Expect God.  Seek Him.  Wait patiently on Him.  Let the LORD be your expectation.

Of course, you shouldn’t have to expect a long hair (brown or otherwise) in your meatloaf.  But maybe – just maybe – I need to ease up on the brown gravy issue.

(c) 2019 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved.

Know somebody who could use an uplift?  Please feel free to share this (or any other) article with anyone and everyone.

Please like or follow The Bouville Diarist on Facebook, on Twitter, or visit the website: http://www.bouvillediarist.com

How Was Your Day? (Or Count Your Many Blessings)

by Chris Courtney

There are certain, open-ended questions we should never ask.

Never ask someone, “How are you doing?”  All you do is open the door for a potentially  insincere (if not entirely honest) “Ok”.  Ask instead a more direct questions (How are things at work?  How is your mom?  How’s your health?  How have the [insert name of favorite sports team here] let you down this season?)

Never ask “Where is your faith?”  Seriously.  Never ever.  It’s a slap in the face of a struggling believer.

And never ask, “How was your day?”  Unless you want to open the floodgates of complaining and grumbling (“It was awful!  The boss yelled at me.  My husband complained about the Egg-and-Dairy-Free Tofu Kale Omelet I made for dinner.  My youngest drew a moustache on his sister’s face while she was sleeing – with a black permanent marker, which doesn’t even match her blonde hair.  And the cat destroyed my Bobby Goldsboro album [don’t even ask me how!]”)

Etc.

Etc.

And so on.

As with most things in life, there are two views: our skewed perception, and the right view.

God’s view.

You see, God’s goodness bathes our lives with His grace, hope, love and mercy at all times.  Even when we can’t feel it.

When we can’t see it.

When we can’t perceive it.

When we question whether He hears our prayers, or stays with us, or even cares.

Let’s look at the 103rd Psalm:

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! – Psalm 103 [ESV]

 

As believers, we are each the recipient of many, many great and wonderful blessings from our Heavenly Father.  Shall we count our many blessings?  According to to the above Psalm of David:

  1. We are forgiven of all our sins – our transgressions removed from us “as far as the east is from the west”
  2. We are healed of all our ailments
  3. We are redeemed from the hell sin provides, and given new life with Him
  4.  We are “crowned” with God’s never bending, never ending love and mercy
  5.  We are fulfilled by His goodness and revitalized
  6.  We are the beneficiaries of His justice and righteousness
  7.  We are blessed by God Who made His ways known to His people
  8.  We are the recipients of amazing grace and mercy from God Who chooses to be “slow to anger” rather than wrathful (a wrath we deserve through our sin, but are forgiven through His “steadfast love”)
  9.  We are treated with compassion by our Lord – just as a father has compassion for his children
  10.  We are known – in astoundingly minute detail – by our Father God Who created us.  Think about that one for just a moment.  God knows your weaknesses.  He knows your gifts.  He knows everything about you.  He has placed you in His great plan.
  11.  We are given eternal life through Him (through Jesus) – “from everlasting to everlasting”.  We are rescued from the brevity and pain of life ib this material world.
  12.  All of this is the loving, gracious, merciful gift of God Who is Lord over all.

David and many of the Old Testament saints figured out the secret to life.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

You have to take it on faith.

You have to take God at His Word.

You have to trust that what He promises will come to pass.

And, understand this:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. – Hebrews 11:13-16 [ESV]

This world is not what’s important.  It isn’t where our hearts should yearn for.  This place isn’t home.

It just isn’t.

I know not every illness gets healed on this earth.  I also know God can heal any disease.  He can also work through us to exemplify His grace, mercy and love to others.

Despite what we perceive, we need to keep our eyes on the prize, as Paul says.  Keep believing.  But keep a heavenly perspective.  It’s like my beautiful wife Jennifer likes to remind me when I’m feeling hopeless or down: will what’s got you bugged matter in a week?  A month?  A year?  A decade?  Most likely not.

Please know this: God is always with you.  He will work through those who love Him.  He will bring great things to pass.  We just have to keep faith, worship and praise the God Who so loves us and fills us.  Count your many blessings.

Name them one by one.

And see what God has done.

He lights your darkest path.

He fills your every longing.

Just look for Him.

See that our daily troubles and cares and worries are nothing compared to the greatness of our Father in Heaven.  Sometimes we just have to ask: what is important?  What does God treasure?

Now… knowing all this, let me ask you again.  How was your day?

(c) 2019 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved.

Know someone who could use a lift?  Please share this article with anyone and everyone.

 Follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Visit our website at https://bouvillediarist.com/, where you can subscribe via e-mail, or check out the Bouville Archives.

You are loved far more than you can imagine, by God Who is far bigger than we can fathom.

 

 

 

 

The Midweek Push: Whatsamottoyou?

800px-West_Seal,_Capitol_Square,_Columbus,_Ohio

Bob Hall from Christchurch, New Zealand [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

The United States of America: 50 states, 5 territories and a federal capitol district, each (well, most of them) with their own state / territorial motto.

Some of them are fiery, a reflection of the revolution that bore our country (Sic Semper Tyranus, or “Thus always to tyrants” [Virginia]; “Live free or die!” [New Hampshire]).

Others are a bit strange, certain to mean something to the locals but just odd-sounding without proper context (“John is his name” [Puerto Rico]; “By and by” [Washington]).

598px-2002_IN_ProofMy home state is the “Crossroads of America.”  (A shout out to my fellow Hoosiers!)

But my favorites are the inspirational mottos.

“God enriches” (Arizona).

“Samoa, let God be first” (American Samoa).

And, best of all, Ohio’s motto.  They went straight to the Bible for theirs: “With God all things are possible”.  Right from Matthew 19:26.  Verbatim.

It’s a beautiful motto to live by.

It’s a wonderful truth to cling to.

Here’s the bad news: we can do nothing on our own.  We are utterly reliant on God.

And, here’s the good news: we can do nothing on our own.  We are utterly reliant on God.

And God, our Heavenly Father loves us.  Cares for us.  Forgives us.  Sets our paths straight.

He knows our needs.  He hears our prayers.  When God seems silent, He’s not.  He’s working on our behalf.  He’s taking care of all the details.

And, when God’s timing is right… wow!  Be ready.  The LORD may move in ways beyond your dreams, beyond your expectations.  There is nothing beyond His ability.  Nobody beyond His grasp.  Nowhere He can’t reach you.  No one He cannot save.  No situation He cannot repair.

With God, nothing – nothing – is impossible.  Now that is a motto to live by.  Even better than Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you (Michigan).

(c) 2019 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved.

Please be a blessing and share this article with anyone who could use some Good News.

Please visit our website at https://bouvillediarist.com/

 

 

May I See Your ID?

Florida_Driver_License

I like the Kendrick Brothers movies.  They may be a bit corny but I always leave with something to think about.

Seeing their latest flick, Overcomer, was no different,  One of the overarching themes throughout the film is identity: who are we really?

Let me start with who we are not.

We are not helpless.

We are not hopeless.

We are not the sum of our failures.

We are not bullies teased us for allegedly being.

We are not the sins we have committed, the wrongs we have done.

We are not defined by our past glories – or pit falls.

We are not our job titles.

We are neither our accomplishments nor our misfires.

We are not anything definable in strictly human terms.

You see, we were each born with a purpose: to glorify and worship God.

We were born with a purpose, for a reason.

So… who are we?  The Kendrick brothers take us through Ephesians 1 and 2.  Here we find exactly who we are, as described by our Creator, Who formed and knitted together each of us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

That’s right.  Each of us was designed and put together individually by God, our Father, Who is Love.  Each and every human being is God’s unique creation.  Each of us has a purpose.

That means no one is useless.  No one is beyond hope.  No one is unlovable or unloved.

Take a few minutes, grab a Bible and a pen (and notebook).  Turn to Ephesians 1 and 2.  Prayerfully read the Word of God and joy down all the things He says we are in His name.

Then go back and read your list.

Then re-read it.

Let the Lord’s words sink into your mind and soak into your soul.  Understand He is talking to you.  Not just the apostle Paul.  Not some other Christians.  But YOU.

If you’d like prayer through this exercise, please e-mail me at bouvillediarist@gmail.com.

If you don’t have a Bible, check out Bible Gateway at https://www.biblegateway.com

If you have a moment, please share this article with someone who you feel would be blessed.

Finally, please remember to love others, and know how much God loves you!  He did, after all, send His Son Jesus to die for us.

For you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Midweek Push: Do Not Fear the Heat

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 7:7-8 [ESV]

Life gets rough. Circumstances come, sometimes through our own foolishness or failures; other times through no fault of our own, but simply because we live in a sinful, imperfect world.

But the LORD wants us to keep our gaze fixed on Him, not our circumstances.  Troubles come and go.  Problems rise and fall.

But God… He never changes.  He is the one trustworthy constant we have.

And the LORD says don’t worry.  Don’t sit and stew over circumstances.  Instead, pray.  Look to God.  Wait expectantly on the LORD.  He has a plan.  He will move when His time right.  And He will use whatever you’re facing to grow you stronger.

Think about Peter, walking across the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a raging storm.  He was walking to Christ and, as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he stayed upright.

But as soon as Peter switched his attention from the LORD to the storm, he started to drown.

And yet, who saved Peter?  That’s right: Jesus.

When the heat is on, and life looks bleak, don’t look at your troubles.  Look to God.  Fix your gaze on the One Who saved you, Who never eaves or abandon you,  Who sees you through every trial.

Tell God your troubles.  Ask for His help and guidance.  Keep the faith and trust that He’s going to do what needs to be done in His time.

And, until then, He will sustain and carry you.  God is your Father.  And He loves you beyond comprehension!

(c) 2019 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved.

Please share this message with friends and loved ones who you think would be blessed by it.

Visit us at bouvillediarist.com

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Contact us at bouvillediarist@gmail.com