Do you want to live a long and prosperous life?


Sounds like the start of an infomercial. But it’s not an idea birthed by late-night marketing professionals. It’s an ancient query, posed by David  in Psalm 34:12-14. He offers this rhetorical question, “Hey! Do you want to live life, loving your days and see good?” The question presupposes an affirmative response, “uhm, yes please.” He offers a succinct solution to what you seek. The answer isn’t found in super-secret-strategies or narcissistic navel gazing. It’s about living by grace.

Keep your tongue from evil and lips from lies.

Interesting. The first thing David tells his audience is to watch how they talk. David apparently knew that how we talk – to and about others in particular – has a direct impact on our lives. Does he mean that our words have some sort of karma-like effect on our lives? Or is he pointing out that our words can most often be the first source of trouble and pain in life? I think it is mostly the latter. If we speak unclean and unkind words to or about others, or if our speech is littered with guile, we partner with everything ugly and invite the same in our lives. Where you find sour speech, you will not find happy hearts. There is a symbiotic relationship between destructive words and decaying lives.

Turn from evil and do good.

It follows that next David urges a change in our behavior (but remember he first insists we change the way we talk). Turn away from evil – by turning toward good. The Psalmist posits that the way we abandon evil is to embrace good. Doing good is turning from evil. You pretty much can’t do both at once. Don’t bother making a list of things to “stop doing” and then try real hard to not do them. Change what you focus on altogether.  Most of us don’t have to turn away from great violence or other horrid vices. This is more about the small stuff. In any given day we are presented with a thousand opportunities to make a better choice, to choose a kinder course. To encourage. To give. To serve. To do good.  Take advantage of every opportunity. Make doing good an adventure. What good thing can you do for even one person today?  I wager that you’ll discover your life is richer. Doing good is the good life.

Seek peace and work to maintain it.

Nothing ruins life more than strife. And few things shorten life as fast. The one who would prize a prosperous life should pursue and protect peace. It may cost you your pride, but pride is worthless anyway. Seek to bring peace where there isn’t any, and protect peace by precluding the poisons of envy, accusation, and quick-offense. Peace doesn’t mean everyone agrees and has had their expectations satisfied. Peace means we honor one another enough to adjust our expectations. Peace means we stop feeling the need to control others. Peace means we treat others the way we’d really like to be treated. Peace means we look for opportunities to forgive. Peace means we assume the best instead of suspect the worst. Peace has to be protected; don’t we always protect our valuables?

Apparently David recognized that a long and prosperous life has more to do with our words, our actions, and our relationships than almost anything else. May the grace of Jesus Christ fill and flow through what you say and what you as it governs and guides your relationships.

Live long and prosper.

Arrogant Spirituality and Other Oxymorons


In the New Living Version, Proverbs 21:4 reads, “Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.”  Of note is that the scribe equates haughty eyes and a proud heart with evil. While this warning seems fairly clear from scripture, I am often struck by how easily people veil their arrogance with a cloak of spirituality.

It is not uncommon to hear someone imply, via criticism, that they are more spiritually aware, mature, sensitive, or otherwise superior. They know what the Holy Spirit would prefer to occur in a given meeting (although they’ve not spent the last week laboring in prayer and preparation for the gathering). They are acutely aware of how displeased God is with an event, song, statement or idea – and uniquely so, because they are the only individuals so enlightened – until, of course, they inform several others how displeased God is. They boldly defy the reasonable expectations and requests of leadership because they must obey God and not man (this means they must interrupt a service, must speak their mind, must act out of order, must be heard or seen… because God insists on it).

I observe this type of arrogant spirituality across the board – it is not the exclusive practice of one sub-culture. There exists the church leadership culture that is too sophisticated for tongues or prophecy, and too enlightened for such barbaric practices as healing or deliverance. In contrast are the groups that view themselves as a form of the spiritually elite, carrying the deepest and most profound and quite recent revelation from heaven – or the third heaven or fourth or seventh or whatever. It pains me in ways that mix nausea with embarrassment when I hear speech or see social media that asserts superiority, self-righteousness and outright arrogance. No such boasting is the voice of the Holy Spirit, but a different spirit altogether. The voice of the accuser isn’t just shame; he’s just as happy to flood our souls with feelings of superiority.

It is grieving to witness some who seem to believe they possess the parameters of knowledge to such a degree that they can (and do) answer every question, confront every heresy, and settle any argument. It is embarrassing to behold when one’s arrogance is only surpassed by their ignorance – when they distort and proof-text their opinion with a flawed premise and consequent flawed conclusion.

It’s not enough for the arrogant to disagree with you (that is their right), they also must inform you of their disagreement and where, how, and why you are wrong. This might be the thing I least understand. I don’t agree with everyone. There are some with whom I agree very little. But rarely, if ever, am I compelled to tell someone why I think they are wrong and I (clearly) am right. I can get along with you for a long way even if we don’t agree. I don’t need you to agree with me for me to love you and be kind to you and encourage you and enjoy your company. Unless it falls under my responsibility to protect those under my care, I really don’t need to discuss why you are (clearly) wrong. And no matter what, I am going to treat you with honor.

Personally, the most significant wounds I have incurred in ministry have been from those who have presented themselves not as enemies, but as benevolent “better-thans:” those who have come into my life, weighed and measured me, and found me lacking. Their complaint is usually opaque; it’s more a general feeling without specific infraction. I just don’t measure up to their degree of spirituality (interestingly enough I am usually too crazy or too conservative).

The problem with arrogant spirituality is just that: it is arrogant; it is condescending. It has no kinship with honor or humility. Condescension is not wisdom. Arrogance is not insight.  They are ugly and odoriferous both.

Further, arrogant spirituality is like the skunk which the bear must carefully consider swatting. He could swat it, but the resulting stink may not be worth the effort. When the impression is given that one is more spiritual, more aware, more discerning, more enlightened, or more sophisticated, it allows only a handful of responses: I can believe you and therefore submit to your superiority, or I can ignore you and thereby likely empower your arrogance by my acquiescence, or I can confront you (in the best way I know how) and risk the wrath of an offended spiritual giant who may act more like a toddler refused his toy. At the very minimum, the arrogant will be “hurt” by correction and refuse to accept any form thereof.

Basically, I am “done” with such arrogance. My being done with it will have no real impact on its ongoing activity.Nor will my assertion of “done” prevent further hurt inflicted by the arrogant. But I will do my best to keep my eyes on real spirituality. Spirituality should bear the character and nature of the very Spirit we claim to represent. One of the critical ways we do this is by doing “nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility [we should] value others above yourselves” (Phil 2:3). Did you see that? Real spirituality values, treats, considers others as if they were above us, not below us. Just as arrogant spirituality is an oxymoron, humble spirituality is redundant. To be spiritual is to be humble, honorable, and to treat people, even those with you whom deeply disagree, with profound respect.

Our genuine encounter with, revelation and illumination from, and ongoing influence of the Holy Spirit must absolutely produce in us a humility and kindness that is only surpassed by unfailing love and unyielding joy.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).

Thanks for reading,



Trash Talk

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James 4:11, “Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters” (NLT).


What if we didn’t? What if believers (the siblings James is addressing) ceased to trash talk? Yes, I mean the talk about others that is excused as concern, or sharing of frustrations, or venting, or whatever label is used to sanctify trash. I mean what if we didn’t?

People speak evil of others when they’re mad, or disappointed, or feel envious or resentful, or believe they’ve suffered some form of injustice. They present their grievances to others – again, clothed in the most pious pretenses – in order to gain sympathy and gather support. Really, it’s like holding court against someone: accusing them, presenting evidence, and demanding a verdict that favors your argument… except without the other party or person present, or even aware they’re being tried. The sentence handed down is silent scorn and harbored hard feelings.

Other times, trash talk is merely a mechanism to stroke our own ego at the expense of someone else. It works best if they never find out; that way we can use them again whenever ridicule of others becomes necessary to bolster our self-image (to remind ourselves or our audience of our superiority).

But what if we didn’t? What if – in cases where someone has actually hurt us – we had a Kingdom conversation with them? What if we asked humble questions and shared honest feelings? What if we sought to protect relationships and prized others above our own preferences? What if only fresh water came from the spring of our mouths – and we blessed God and others with our words? What if we trusted God to honor or promote us – and we focused on serving and honoring one another? Trash talk sullies every space it settles. No one benefits from evil speech. Everyone suffers from it. What if we didn’t?


Feel free to share if you like; and thanks for reading!

~ Dav

Positive Gossip


Gossip is a multi-billion dollar industry, just from the advertisement revenue.
No one admits to gossip; few acknowledge enjoying it. Even fewer appreciate being the subject of gossip.

Here’s the deal: if someone will gossip to you, they’ll gossip about you. And for sanity’s sake, don’t lie to yourself, believing that it’s anything less than ugliness. There is nothing helpful or healthy about gossip. It poisons the heart whether it enters from the lips or the ears.

But since we’ve found ourselves so conditioned to talk about others, here’s an idea: spread positive gossip.

Strike up a conversation by talking about the qualities or actions of a mutual friend or family member that you particularly enjoy or appreciate. Really pile on. And then, speaking of that, be reminded of how terrific someone else is. Then talk about them, too. Be careful – you might get really carried away. You also might fill your heart and mind with exceptional kindness toward and gratitude for others. You might delight the Holy Spirit by agreeing with Him about people He’s a fan of. You also might actually find yourself admitting to someone that you heard some really positive gossip about them.

And the same rule applies – if someone gossips positively to you, they’ll likely gossip positively about you.

Give it a try. Positive gossip may not be profitable, but it’s far and away more beneficial.

How to become better encouragers

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No one can argue against the value and importance of encouragement. The former post on this blog affirms the role that encouraging others ought to have in our lives. Every believer should leave others, especially other believers, better than the way we found them.

But how might we become better encouragers? We live in a cynical, critical and competitive world—encouragement may not be first nature to many. There is a way to develop an encouraging nature, to ready our hearts and minds for every opportunity to edify. In light of the scriptural imperative to encourage, and the powerful impact encouragement can have on others, consider the following as one way to improve:

Intercession (prayer for others) builds an empathetic, eager infrastructure for a lifestyle of encouragement.

First of all, intercession is a great gig all by itself without forcing it to be a means by which another virtue is developed. But in this case, since the shoe fits…let’s see how this works. What we’ll see is that the same basic principles that are at work in intercession equip us to become better encouragers. Here’s how:

Intercession agrees with Heaven about another person

When I intercede for someone else, I begin by considering what heaven says about them. (Not incidentally, intercession helps me regularly and affectionately thinking about others, instead of keeping my radar focused on me.) What do the scriptures affirm as true with regard to how God sees them, what He has done for them, and what is true about them in light of the finished work of Jesus? And further, what does the Holy Spirit say about them? His voice always encourages (consider that 1 Cor. 14 explains that His voice edifies either the speaker or the spoken to – only and always). These things are true about the person not because of their conduct, but because of their identity, calling and inheritance in Christ (Eph. 1:17-18). I pray these things, these truths, over the person. I agree with heaven about them. That is intercession. And, coincidentally, that carries right over into encouragement. I can “say” the same truths that I “pray.” I can (should) speak to people about and in the light of who they are because of what God has done for them in Christ, and about the joyful, hopeful, powerful implications thereof. Encouragement is agreeing with heaven about someone to their face.

Intercession Follows Love’s Promptings

Having considered and agreed with heaven, I can intercede further by immersing my heart and mind into the love of God for a person, and then praying according to Love’s inspiration. What does Love prompt me to feel or think toward them in the moment? Pray accordingly. The same is true for encouragement. Trust the leadership of Love. This is fantastic exercise to cultivate divine empathy for others. Again, I can “say” the same truths that I “pray.” Listening and responding to Love’s prompting is a powerful means of encouragement, enabling me to become a conduit of the love of God.

Intercession Gives Thanks

Reading Paul’s prayers of intercession, one cannot miss that Paul expressed gratitude toward God for those he prayed, even as he asked for great things for them. When praying over others, it is powerful and practical to pause and deliberately affirm before God how and why we are grateful for them. This, again, will condition us to readily express our appreciation to others. Gratitude is very encouraging, whether general or specific. Use both. Express gratitude for the “general” things about a person (that will help shape and enforce their sense of identity) and for the specific things they are or do (that will affirm their uniqueness and value).

With intercession, you are not the expert

When I pray for others, I am not primarily expressing my opinion to God. I don’t treat my opinion as the primary objective standard by which God should act. The same is true for encouragement; it is not primarily about my opinion. Encouragement is rarely advice. It should never have as its goal the desire to control or direct someone’s behavior, getting then to say or do or decide what I think is right for them. That is mentoring or managing – and those are based on a set of shared expectations, where a measure of control is granted to another party by permission. Encouragement doesn’t require permission, because it is not an instrument of control.  I can pray for you all day (and you may not even know about it), and I can encourage at-will without even asking. I seek only to grace you and not govern you. Encouragement goes in the gas tank; it does not reach for the steering wheel.

Leaving  people better than we found them: 

            Intercession and encouragement go hand-in-glove; they work well together. Both are grace-gifts that help us leave people better than we found them. They are happy habits, practicing one helps us with the other. I’d suggest starting with intercession, but don’t wait to encourage. After all, it is “today.”

Leave People Better than You Found Them


How many of you have ever needed the ministry of discouragement? I don’t mean talked out of a bad idea or steered in a different direction via the courageous confrontation of a faithful friend. I mean how often have you needed to have your courage revoked? No one ever needs that. Rather, people deeply and regularly need and benefit greatly from encouragement.

Encouragement is an essential, integral aspect of the Christian’s calling. The writer of Hebrews twice enjoins his readers to “encourage one another” (Heb. 3:13, 10:25)*. We are to encourage one another “as long as it is called today.” That means that if it is “today” then it is the right day to encourage someone. Encouragement is a regular, ongoing, daily exercise. Encouragement, in the context of chapter 3 of Hebrews, is a powerful means to keep our hearts soft and free from sin’s deceitfulness. In chapter 10, the readers are encouraged to encourage one another more and more as we see “the day” approaching – meaning the Day of the Lord. Encourage one another, more and more, with every day that draws us nearer to Christ’s return. That means that not only do we encourage one another daily, but that with every passing day we get better at encouragement, and that we do so more often. Daily, we should get better at leaving people better than we found them. Today is a perfect day to start.

* In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and 5:14 Paul uses similar language, urging his readers to continue encouraging one another regularly, and especially the disheartened.


Three Reasons for a Blended Worship Experience



Hey – I like new songs. I like fast songs. I like happy-clappy songs. I like songs that make me wanna move-what-momma-gave-me. I love the contemplative and prophetic songs that rise from fresh experience and heart-rending revelation. I also thoroughly enjoy songs that are older than I am, birthed from the passions of my predecessors.

I thoroughly believe that worship lists should be designed to include songs that are fresh and songs that are familiar. Specifically, I suggest that worship leaders include older songs in their worship sets. Here are three reasons why:

1.)    To awaken great faith.  

When you include a song that connects meaningfully with someone who has walked with Jesus for many seasons, even for a life-time, you provide an outlet for that person’s faith and love to be awakened and expressed. People generally are fond of certain songs because they sang them as a result of or in the midst of powerful moments or special seasons in their lives. And when they sing those songs, the testimony that song stirs, and the grace that has been deposited in their lives is stirred. Hot coals are fanned into bright flame. Deep waters spring up from the wells that landscape their journey of faith. This, by the way, is a terrific reason to include songs like this early – so that great faith might be awakened and carried into the rest of the meeting

2.)    To Honor Generations

And on that note, if you introduce an older song at the early (even at first) part of a worship gathering, you send a message to older generations that they are welcome here, that they matter, that their faith is important and their testimony is valuable. You present a stepping stone or a bridge (whatever metaphor you like) to them that enables them to join the room, to participate, to share. Hey – they might not even mind the dark room, loud subwoofers, wrinkled shirts and bonus-body-paint. They may feel like they belong– if someone would just honor them at the outset.

3.)    To Benefit from Testimony

Many of the tried-and-true classic songs (be they public domain hymns or choruses from the Jesus Movement) were forged in the fire of deep personal experience, or devout theological reflection. Their words carry boldness, glory, and often an intimacy that are rare and wonderful. The content – the actual lyrics – of these songs are too valuable to set aside simply because they were introduced in an era long gone, or by someone wearing an outfit we’d only see at a costume party.


Jack Hayford has said that the songs we sing build the constitution of our congregations. They make us strong; they make us grateful; they make us yielded; they make us joyful. They fill our minds with noble, pure, and powerful thoughts of God. They fire our souls with melodies of His grace and love. These songs come from the wealth of Christian experience and testimony through the ages. Our worship experience can – and should – include treasures old and new.