When Life Loses Its Taste

There are seasons, it seems, when life loses its taste. By that I mean that the things that once tasted savory or sweet no longer taste like anything, like sand.

I don’t believe, I don’t want or choose to believe, that these seasons are healthy, normal, nor helpful. I don’t believe they are indicative of reality – meaning a loss of taste does not mean a loss of an ability to taste. When life loses its taste, it is more likely a symptom of a deeper problem.

It could very well be that the issue is that one has had an appetite for the worthless. Like cheap chewing gum, worthless things lose their taste quickly and just become a chore to chew. The often-attempted solution is to get more gum, only to repeat the above cycle of disappointment.

Or, perhaps the things that should be joyful and rewarding don’t feel that way. I say, “don’t feel that way” because it is a feeling, not a reality. Relationships, family, hard work, achievement and improvement – those are all time-tested, God-ordained tasty morsels. They are gifts that meet the nutritional needs of our soul. So, what makes them taste bland?

If life loses its taste, it is because a lie has numbed our tongue. We tasted a lie. Some deceitful, discouraging accusation about God, ourselves, or the circumstances around us has been offered to us like the proverbial apple-in-the-garden and “chomp!” we’ve lost our taste. Things feel sad. The music of hope isn’t heard. The anticipation of good (joy) is flat. “What’s the use?” “I don’t care.” Passion disappears. Then comes cynicism, accompanied by criticism. If I can’t taste it, I don’t believe others can either; “who are they kidding?” Of course, this is quietly accompanied by deep jealousy over the apparent taste others are enjoying, but to acknowledge that someone else is experiencing a genuinely joyful moment is to acknowledge it is possible, and that the problem may not be “out there” as much as it is “in here.” Life hasn’t lost its taste, I have.

So, how do we recover? If a lie has displaced our taste, then the lie must be replaced. It isn’t easy to go lie-hunting; that too often leads to tail-chasing, introspective, too-much-like-Freud behavior. Instead of trying to look for the lie (which has already hidden itself into the landscape of your life), turn to truth. Just turn your eyes, your heart, your will, toward what is true. This seems to be what the Psalmist so often did, “I will…”

Consider Psalm 9:

  • I will give thanks to you Lord, with all my heart
    • Deliberate gratitude, fervently and deeply expressed gratitude is one of the most powerful and proven means of increasing our joy. It re-calibrates our thinking and speaking away from “woe is me” and forces a focus on the good we have received, and the good-will behind it.
  • I will tell of your wonderful deeds,
    • Rehearsing testimony and repeating good news strengthens our faith and repaints the canvass of our imagination with the truth of what the Lord has done.
  • I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your Name, O most high.
    • It is possible, it is prescribed, and it is powerful – to rejoice on purpose. Yes, literally just get-your-joy-on. It is like deciding to get out of bed. You just get up. And it isn’t a joy that is superficial or based on a mood or whim; it is a joy that is rooted in the person, nature – the Name of the Lord. Rejoicing in Him and because of Him is like slipping a long straw into the refreshing waters of eternal joy. We taste and see that the Lord is good. We rejoice in Him: His word, His ways, His will, His works, and then hope rises. Our perspective changes. Our countenance and conversation changes. Our taste-buds return.

When truth regains its rightful place, the power of the lie atrophies and dies. In fact, only when we first and most satisfy ourselves with gratitude, trust, and praise toward the Lord will we be able to enjoy the taste of all the things He graciously provides for our pleasure.

May you enjoy the feast available to you today – with thanksgiving.


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.

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

Grief’s counsel: Love one another.


In many ways I am a late-comer to grief. Providence has arranged for me to born late enough to be safely distant from the passing of older generations of family, and young enough to have most immediate family with me still. My wife lost her grandfather ten years ago, and although that was a seismic event in our lives, it was one of the few I have felt personally.

Until now. My childhood best buddy died suddenly just the other day. I am shocked over the shock that I feel. His death has led to a reclaiming and reopening of a chest of memories that time has buried under other boxes of life’s events. I sort through mental images that span from 9 to 19 and beyond. I have forgotten how much I remember. And in ways that seem irrational, I weep. With a death of a childhood friend, I feel, or fear-to-feel, the death of part of childhood.

Death makes the speed of life come to a screeching halt. Beside the grief of losing a loved one, another message resonates. Love one another. Love one another deeply and fiercely. Time and distance happen. Life happens. Love is greater. Loyalty is stronger. Handle with care the people and relationships God gives you. People: friends, family, friends… and family… people matter. Not one of them can be replaced. God has graced each of them uniquely to landscape our lives. They are here for us to love and encourage, and we are there to serve, love, and celebrate their lives. We are here, under God, to enrich one another’s lives.

I know we get annoyed. I know we prefer some people in smaller doses. I know that the fellowship of certain people actually aggravates us. I don’t mean to say we should discard healthy boundaries or sweep real problems under the rug. But if it is possible for love to cover a multitude of sins, let alone a handful of hurts, then let us love one another deeply and fiercely while we can. It strikes me that as Jesus was preparing for his last moments with his disciples, one of the most urgent commands he gave them was love. He implored them to “love one another; As I have loved you, you must love another” (John 13:34). The frailty and finality of life reminds us of the priceless and timeless power of love. Let us love one another. We’ll never regret loving generously. We might regret anything less.

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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.”