My Monday Morning Cup: Life is Better When You Laugh

Good news doesn’t get as much attention as bad. We’re more apt to gawk at a car wreck than notice the planes successfully navigating the blue skies above. People doing bad things dominate the headlines, burying the good works of many. Good news is thrown in like a bonus, as if to say “Hey look, life ain’t all bad.”  Even then, it’s usually a story about someone doing something good amid an otherwise tough situation.

The old saying “Misery loves company” remains alive and well in our world today, despite our protestations of love and equality for all mankind. I get it. Bad things happen to good people. Living ain’t for sugar cookies.

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Back in the late 1970s, humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a bestseller entitled “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Pits?”  The book is a collection of humorous anecdotes about family life back in those days. People reading Bombeck’s tales were often caught laughing out loud, even in public.

My late niece, Natalie, used to say “Life is better when you laugh.” She was right.

It’s far too easy to get mired in the murky swamps of darkness and lose sight of the many points of light. We enjoy the freedom to choose where we focus our eyes. We can stare at the gloom and doom around us, crying “Woe is me!” or we can choose to look at the thousand lights of love and laughter surrounding us.

It’s Monday. Which will you choose?

I encourage you to run toward the light, remembering to laugh along the way.

Blessings.

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Psalm Saturday: Psalm One Devotional

Psalm One is one of the best known and most beloved psalms, summarizing the two roads of life people can choose: a) the way of the righteous and b) the way of the wicked. There is a right way and a wrong way. The right way leads us closer to God. The wrong way leads us further and further astray the longer we remain on it.

As we are often reminded viewing the nightly news, there is a Good and an Evil that exists in this world we temporarily call home. The battle between Good and Evil is certainly nothing new. It has existed since the earliest beginnings of time; perhaps even longer. We can choose to follow Good or fall prey to a lifestyle of Evil. 

Psalm One reveals the importance of how we think about God, describing godly living contrasted against the hazards of an ungodly lifestyle. For the original biblical audience, Psalm One serves as a reminder of their hope in the Mosaic Covenant. For you and me, it reflects a picture of two roads. One road produces blessings. The other road results in the bitter fruits of sorrow and destruction.

Psalm One

Living a life of obedience yields blessings, provides good spiritual health, and transforms our character and actions into something that is pleasing to the Lord. Without a healthy root system grounded in the Word, we are as sure to die spiritually as a tree is certain to rot. Following God leads to good things. 

The wicked have no concern for the things of God. They do not live to please the Lord.  Instead, they live to please themselves and satisfy their own passions. They have zero regard for living the spiritual life. A life lived simply to feed our own desires falls short of God’s plan for us. 

Psalm One ends with a warning of a future day of judgement in which the Lord will separate the godly from the ungodly, the righteous from the wicked, and the wheat from the chaff. It offers a stern warning reminding us to live our lives with the knowledge that one day we will be asked to give an account of the road we chose to travel. The road we choose is up to us. 

Psalm One makes it abundantly clear that a life lived trusting in the Lord and in full obedience to all He commands is the more profitable path to take.

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Are you ready to choose the right road?

I pray that you are.

God loves you. He does not wish anyone to perish. He gave His only Son so that we could be restored on a right path leading to a life lived in His presence forever.

Prayer:

Father God, I love you. I thank you for the grace and mercy you have bestowed on me and for giving me a second chance to follow You on the right path. Father, I pray that Your truth would be revealed to others and that they might come to know You as I have come to know You. Thank you for the truth of Your Word and the Wisdom it provides. Thank you for Your Son, through whom I am saved. Amen.

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The Good News and Insidious Truth About the Powerful Ways of Habit

Habits, like gravity, are a powerful force. Gravity keeps us grounded and stops us from floating off into the dark vastness of space. Gravity keeps planets on course and keeps order in the universe, ensuring things stay in their proper place until they have run their natural course. Likewise, good habits help us stay on track and keep our house in order. Bad practices, like asteroids crushing their way through the Milky Way or rogue satellites crashing down to Earth, disrupt our life, leading us astray and pushing us off course.

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Good and bad habits both gain strength through repetition. Practicing good habits transforms them into routine. The more we practice unhealthy habits, the greater disruption they exercise in our life. The ‘gravitational pull’ of our good habits increases the more engrained they become in us over time. However, unpleasant practices, like their good counterparts, also exert a great pull on us. Once a bad habit has us within its gravitational force, it is reluctant to let go, preferring to do whatever is necessary to keep us in orbit, until we spiral out of control.

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“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” 

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

“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.”

Romans 12:2 (ESV)

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

Proverbs 25:28 (ESV)

Good habits that aid spiritual growth include reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, consistent prayer, regular worship, playing an active part in your home church, helping others especially the poor and hungry, mentoring individuals in their daily walk, fasting routinely, meditating on God’s work in your life, and keeping our mind, heart, and soul healthy through eating right, regular exercise, and staying active.

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Breaking the chains of bad habits like addiction, negative image reinforcement, and self-debasement or overcoming past abuse, oppression, or enslavement doesn’t come easy. Truthfully, I’ve found that only through Christ can I rise above the forces that seek to keep me under their control and don’t mind destroying me in the process. Simply put, I found I needed Jesus to overcome unhealthy habits. Otherwise, it seems impossible.

But isn’t that great news? You and I don’t have to go it alone. Created in His image, we have a God who loves us and walks with us through the valleys and stands by us on the mountaintops. We are not alone.

How cool is that?

Go in peace and may your week be filled with abundant blessings.

RBantau_072017 Devo Guy