Be Optimistic

Personal Story: “Better” from

When I was in High School, I worked in the paint department at Sears. Mr Mahoney was an older man (maybe early 70s) who worked across the aisle from me in the sporting goods department. He was always smiling and would be the first employee to jump on the treadmill and start running to demonstrate the product to his customers. I was young, but remember thinking that I wanted to be active like him when I reached his age.

I didn’t work in his department so I had a pretty casual passing-in-the-stockroom-type relationship with him. When I’d see him, I almost always said, “How’s it going?” He always answered, “Better.” I never really gave it much thought, but one day Mr Mahoney didn’t come to work and the word around the store was that he had been admitted to the hospital for some sort of cardiac (heart) treatment. We wondered if he’d ever return, but after a month or so, he did.

He didn’t really run on the treadmill like he had done before, and we all wondered if he’d be able to keep up with the job. As I passed him in the stockroom later that week, I greeted him with my usual “How’s it going?” As soon as it came out, I felt guilty, but his response was still the same. “Better.”

That particular day, we had a little more time and so he went on to explain that every day was better than the one before. Even if things were looking down or not going so well, he knew that he was a stronger man and would grow through whatever circumstances he endured. He knew that each day prepared him for the next and that he was a better man each and every day in spite of his circumstances.

I think I became a better man that day too.

God’s Word:

Philippians 4:12b-13 – I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…… I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Romans 5:3b-4 – ….suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.

Philippians 4:8 – 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.

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Dad’s Word:

Don’t allow garbage thinking to enter your mind. When you watch scary or dirty movies, you invite crazy images and ideas into your mind. When you focus or obsess over things that make you depressed or sad, you will struggle to find hope. Sadness invites “self-absorbed pity-me” thinking which in turn brings more sadness. It’s a vicious cycle that only Christ can break. Think on Him. ‘Cause the opposite is true as well. When we think on Him…when we focus on Him, we see hope in the midst of chaos. We recognize His presence in the craziest of circumstances and we find beauty everywhere we go. He is always working in our midst and when we look for Him, we will find Him. Think on Him. Praise Him when you find Him – cause you will – you will find him – you definitely will.

Famous Words:

Still he (God) seeks the fellowship of his people, and sends them both sorrows and joys in order to detach their love from other things and attach it to himself.” – J.I. Packer

“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, I am. Losers on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.” – Dennis Waitley

“Optimism increases explorative behavior and innovation, which is why so many entrepreneurs are on the optimistic side.” – Tali Sharot

“There’s no such things as ‘idle thoughts;’ every thought reverberates in the body and constructs some reality, for good or ill.” – Leonard Sweet

“Mountaintops inspire leaders, but valleys mature them.” – Winston Churchill

“The shadow proves the sunshine.” – Switchfoot


Shadow Proves the Sunshine – Switchfoot


Three Translations and my thoughts

I read a post from Mark Batterson’s blog the other day that really stuck out to me. Here’s what he wrote:

Three Translations

Had a thought during one of the sessions today.

There are three ways to translate the Bible.  You can translate it with 1) your mind 2) your heart and 3) your life.

I think a lot of us settle for the mental translation.  But the end result is information.  And what happens is this: we learn more, do less, and think we’re growing spiritually. But not if that’s the only translation.

The second translation is emotional.  And the emotional translation may seem more subjective than intellectual translation.  But that is when our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God.  It’s not just information.  It’s transformation.  For the record, I think one person with one deeply held conviction will make more of a difference than someone with a hundred good ideas.

Finally, there is the life translation.  That is when we become a “living epistle.”  That is when the noun turns into a verb.  And that is how we change the world. At the end of the day, Jesus isn’t going to say, “Well thought good and faithful servant.” He’s going to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Imagine a church filled with people who are translating the Bible with their lives!

Anyway, I thought it was a great idea. The only way that the Bible makes a difference, is when it’s made a difference in our lives. If it’s only intellectual or emotional, there’s been no real change. The whole thing also reminded me of the old school praise and worship song “Holiness.” The chorus says, “Take my heart and form it. Take my mind transform it. Take my will conform it to yours, to yours, oh Lord.” Mind, heart, and will – sounds a lot like intellect, emotions, and life to me. Anyway, if Mark were gonna preach this idea, that’d be a great commitment song.

I’m also reminded of the old illustration of marriage. A young man may know (mind) a girl and have feelings (heart) for her, but she will not be his until he commits his life to her by saying, “I do.” Maybe we could restate it this way – A man may know the Bible and have a fond appreciation for it, but until he commits to living by it, he goes unchanged.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live by Your Word and not just to know it and appreciate it. AMEN.

John Commentary

Gospelofjohn Well, I’ve finally finished this process. We have been through the entire book of John with our students and I have typed up my notes. I have attached them here for anyone who would like to have my thoughts on these verses. I’m sure that over time I could add or change quite a bit of this, but this is where I am for now in it all.

Download John Commentary.pdf

It has been a fun process to study this book (My favorite part of my job.) Our students have grown quite a bit during this time together and I know that the fruit of this time will be incredible. For many of our students/branches, just as John 15 describes, God has lifted them up from the dirt, washed them off, and now they are able to grow and be fruitful for His Kingdom. I pray that’s true for me too. Lord, let me abide in You. Remain in Your hands. Labor for You and be fruitful for Your Kingdom. AMEN.

John 13

Gospelofjohn Here’s the newest commentary that I’ve written on John 13. I started the book of John a long time ago, and now we’re continuing through that book in our Wednesday Bible Studies, so I guess I’ll be adding to the original stuff that I wrote. Here’s what I learned today about John 13:

John 13 Commentary

Who would want to know when they were gonna die? Not me. But Jesus knew. What would that be like? How would you spend your last few days of life?

This story is a “type” or “foreshadow” of what Jesus is about to do on the cross.

Vs 1

Passover – a Jewish festival in which they partook of a celebration meal remembering how God had provided for them during the Exodus. They also remembered how God had saved them from the last Egyptian plague with the Passover lamb. The time of this celebration was the perfect time for the cross, because Jesus would be the new Passover lamb.

Vs 2

Jesus knew what Judas would be doing and yet He still treated Him well. Jesus served Him knowing that he would betray him.

Leonardo_da_vinci_the_last_supper The famous artistic portrayals of the Last Supper are pretty much all wrong. The disciples were not sitting at chairs around a table, but probably laying on low couches around a “U-shaped” low table. This is the way the Roman triclinium was arranged also. Jesus was in the center, with John at his right and Judas at his left. These were both honored positions. It is also probable that they leaned on their left arms so as to keep the right hand (the “clean” hand) free to grab food and partake in the meal. This meant that Jesus would have been facing John’s back and Judas’ would have faced Jesus’ back.

The foot-washing custom was normally given to a slave or even a crippled or mentally handicapped slave who was unable to do anything else. A water pot was kept outside the door for this practice. If there was no slave at the door, one of the group members would wash the others feet out of courtesy. No one volunteered this particular day, so Jesus stepped “up” to the task.

Vs 4 – 11

The Luke account of this story says that the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus answers their question with His own actions as He washes their feet. This is scandalous humility – for someone of Jesus’ standing to step into the lowliest of positions. God scrubs the feet of the creatures that He created.

Vs 4 – Jesus stripped his outer clothes – most likely down to a loincloth which would have been typical attire for a slave.

Footwash Vs 5 – Jesus actually washes Judas’ feet. Jesus had spent 3 years caring for this guy – clothing him, feeding him, etc and He knew that Judas was gonna betray him. (By the way, Judas had been stealing money from Jesus’ ministry the whole time.) Jesus washed Judas’ feet because he was re-enacting what was about to come – He was gonna die for the whole world – including Judas. Jesus did it to honor His Father – Remember his words in Mt 26:39 – “Not my will, but yours.”

Vs 8-9 – Peter’s unwillingness to have his feet washed was a normal response for an unbeliever – but Peter was not an unbeliever. On the other hand, by saying “wash all of me” he was missing the point to. He needed cleansing for daily sin, not to be rebathed (reborn).

If you consider this act of service a foreshadow of the cross, you realize that Jesus’ seemingly harsh words here in vs 8 come out of a deep concern for Peter and the other disciple’s acceptance of His later act on the cross.

Vs 15 – Again if you consider this act a foreshadow of the cross, the example to follow is not one simply of humility, but also one of self-sacrifice and laying down our lives for one another.

Vs 23 – “reclining next to him” should literally be translated “reclining in the bosom (or lap) of Jesus.” The Epistles of Pliny (the younger) refer to this as a place of high honor.

Vs 34 – Love as a commandment is an interesting thought. In the OT, their obedience to the commandments symbolized Israel’s relationship with God and marked them as a people who were set apart from the rest of the peoples. Love should be the mark that we carry setting us apart. It also symbolizes our relationship with God.