Your problems don’t matter. Feel better now?

Today my iPhone screen shattered. Again.

Also, an ant (or something) bit me.

A customer service agent was exceptionally rude to me. I did not feel served. And may no longer be a customer. (But at least he still has a job.)

I fussed with my dear bride. Twice.

And none of it matters.

Because both of my daughters kissed me on the cheek. 
My wife and I are deeply in love.

We have real friends.

The sun is shining through rainclouds. 

God is still on the throne.

And I have chicken and veggies to grill.

If the last year of my life has taught me anything worth sharing, it is this. 

99.9% of the time, the worst thing that happened to me today is better than what has happened to many others since the sun came up.

And usually, the situations we empower to rob us of our joy, are not worth the time it takes to retell their gory details.

On any given day, nearly every day, the news could have been much worse.

I know this, because sometimes, very occasionally, when the phone rings--- it really is THAT bad.

So I try to remind myself. 

In the eternal balance, my problems today probably don’t even matter.

And I do feel better. Don't you?

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21 People You Need Out of Your Life

Christians are called to love all people. 

We are not however, commanded to invest into, approve and enable every person we know.

These 21 people do not enrich any area of your life except your prayers.

21. Users, chronic takers and freeloaders

20. Abusers, whether cruel or simply uncaring

19. Losers, career criminals and the serially selfish

18. Haters. Not critics, destroyers. Get the difference.

17. Doubters, who practice purposeful disbelief in every dream, vision or plan God gives you

16. Liars, double-talkers, back stabbers and false witnesses

15. Flatterers, pitch people and sweet talkers

14. Unaccountable ministers, prophets for profit (“Prophetutes”) and preachers without pastors

13. Giants of flaky faith: No one who attends church less often than they watch Sunday football, or who goes wherever they “feel led” each week has a “word” for you. If God wanted to give you an unexpected Word that badly, He could use a child, or an (actual) ass. 

12. Self-servers: fair weather friends who make covenants of convenience and break cheap words  

11. False family: Blood is thicker than water, unless it is thinner. Understand “who’s who.” If you know where you stand, it’s harder to fall.

10. Old flames, careless crushes and yo-yo relationships are death to true love. Don’t keep looking for healing where you already found hurt.

9. Dangerous possibilities: This one is for the married folks. Burn the little black book on your wedding day. The thing about options, is you only use the ones you allow yourself.

8. Devil’s advocates: not speaking of voices of balance or caution, but champions of subtle agendas

7. Naysayers, down-talkers and brow-beaters

6. Dare-devils, ring-leaders and trouble junkies

5. Unconditional supporters: No one needs someone to cheer in the stands while they run headlong into trouble. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

4. Gold-diggers, power hunters and mind gamers

3. Manipulators, guilt-trippers and string-pullers

2. Gossips, backbiters and talebearers --- (BTW, he that heareth the tale is a talebearer as much as he that telleth the tale!)

1. Distractions:  People who’s presence in your world removes your focus from your purpose

Everyone can be some of these some of the time.

But some relationships are defined by these characteristics.

Cleaning up your circle of trust may be painful. 

But entertaining bad influences is a choice to fail.

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Five Reasons Why I Didn't Hate the Movie Noah

My name is Shules Hersh. I saw Noah. And I didn’t hate it.

The first step is admitting you have a problem. Right?


This is not an endorsement of a film; nor a defense of a person. This movie had holes. Big ones.

And I know nothing of the character of those involved.

I’d never even heard of Darren Aronofsky before last week. And I know I’ve seen one before, but as I write I cannot think of another movie that stars Russell Crowe. I'm legendarily weak on pop trivia.

I don’t agree with the entire perspective of the film. And I’m not casting in my lot with the atheists. 

If you are one of the many who refuse to support this movie out of conviction, I honor that stand.

I am not asking you to compromise.

My heart is to present a bit of balance.

First, a brief critique. 

The script was thin in many places. The dialogue squirted like Cheese Whiz. 

The environmentalist propaganda bordered on nauseating. The wardrobe was suspect.

And I have had it up to the gills with garbled British inflections passing as “ancient speech” in every SyFy epic.

And there were no doubt, several biblically dubious moments.

Still, amid the piercing cries of outrage and disgust, it feels like a few words from another viewpoint could be of value. 

Yes. I am a minister.

Yes. I hold a literal, theologically conservative view of the Bible.

Yes. I do affirm the five solas.

And yes, I rather enjoyed the film overall. 

Here are five reasons why I didn't hate the movie Noah.

Kindly hold your stones while I state my case.

1. I did not expect a church service. Hollywood is not responsible to preach the Word or win the world. That’s us.

I went to church on the same weekend I saw the movie. So I didn’t go to the movie seeking a sermon. 

I expected a dramatization inspired by a short story in scripture. And I got it. 

Possibly 30 minutes too much of it. But I got it.

2. I appreciated the homework that was done. No, it was not the flood story as recorded in scripture. But it didn’t annihilate that story either. 

The movie insisted on killing off the line of Cain; even going to great lengths to ensure that Ham and Japheth must marry daughters of Seth.  

And as goofy as the rock dudes looked, they were based on a record of fallen angels found in the apocryphal book of Enoch, from which our own New Testament quotes. 

The guy is an atheist. He could have just made stuff up. 

Instead, he tried to find ancient/sacred texts to flesh out the details of a summarized biblical account. 

I don’t buy what he’s selling with some of that stuff. But I’m gratified by the artistic endeavor to hover near Judaic sources.

3. Noah wanted to kill mankind off. So did God, FYI. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” 

The movie starts with a self-righteous Noah taking an “us” vs. “them” approach. WE live and THEY die. Because WE’RE good and THEY’RE bad. 

Then, he catches a glimpse of the evil in his own soul and realizes that all humans are fallen. His reaction is to seek the end of the race. 

He finally learns that the Creator is out for redemption.


4. The opening Creation montage was stunningly beautiful. Yes, it did imply that each “day” spoken of in the biblical creation week refers to eons. 

Again with the atheist thing. 

They could have mocked the biblical account. 

Instead, they made a serious attempt to respect it from their perspective. And let’s not pretend that evangelicals have not proposed the same concept. 

I’m gratified that our Bible was treated with dignity by unbelievers. 

5. “They” are talking about “us.” I like that. Even when they get it wrong. We’re in the press. We’re making headlines. 

We get an opportunity to answer questions, field phone calls and post articles. 

Why is it that when preachers bend the Bible and dumb-down the gospel, we call it compromise at worst, and relevance at best; but when unbelievers miss the mark, we scream “heresy” and riot in the streets of Facebook?

I for one, am pretty pumped when our heroes hold the headlines.

Well, I guess I’ve gone and done it.

I accidentally defended Hollywood.

Thanks for holding your stones while I got that off my chest. 

The movie was nowhere near perfect. Not factually or artistically. 

I’m not saying you should see it. I’m not taking the Sunday School class.

But it was pretty gripping. It had some great cinematic and thematic moments. 

Also, it had no explicit sex scenes. That was a cool change of pace.

I would like to apologize to you Mr. Aronofsky, for the pummeling you have taken in the evangelical gauntlet.

I hope we didn’t confirm your worst fears about us.

We're not trying to be closed-minded. We have just suffered a lot at the hands of Hollywood.

Please don’t misunderstand our caution. 

We just really love the Bible.

I pray that someday you will meet the Reason for our passion.

Because you will understand why we feel so strongly about it when you know "the Creator." 

His name is Jesus.

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Ten Things A True Friend Will Tell You

Piers Morgan probably wishes someone had informed him that his audience was nowhere near as impressed with him as he was. 

Because we all need "that friend" who will get real, rather than "just being nice."

A true friend will tell you when:

1. Your breath reeks.

2. Your logic stinks.

3. Your habits are bad.

4. Your mind is closed.

5. Your fly is open.

6. Your speech is long -- and embarrassing. 

7. Your partner cheats.

8. Your idea is flawed.

9. Your value is being take for granted.

10. Your self - image is out of focus.

But above all:

A true friend will always remind you of your greatness when you can only see your faults. And they will celebrate your triumphs passionately, without a hint of jealousy.

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How to destroy a relationship in five easy steps

"First ya' take yer lard..."

Those five words are how my mother's Cajun gal pal began the description of her method to cook nearly every meal.

Because some ingredients can be counted on to produce the same results in any recipe.

After years of observing many master chefs boil pungent stews of misery, and adding in my own memorable crocks, I have compiled the basic method to cook up a disaster in any relationship.

Early in our dating years, I lied to my wife about something which I believed was inconsequential to maintaining her trust. It was her response, and the ensuing near-loss of the woman I knew God had meant for me, that taught me much of what you'll see below.

Love is as strong as death.

But trust is what keeps it alive. And trust is easy to kill.

With Valentine's Day fresh in the rear view mirror, it's a good time to take stock of your personal pantry, and to be sure that no trouble is cooking in your kitchen.

If you catch a glimpse of your heart in the lines below, it does not make you bad. It makes you human.

The trouble begins when you choose not to look inside and remove trouble before it is established.

How to destroy a relationship in five easy steps

First you take your personal needs, desires and interests and elevate them above those of your partner. You may truly believe you are a loving and caring spouse or significant other. But the test is simple.

If it does not sacrifice its own good for the good of the other, it is "like," NOT love. And "like" loses its ability to hold people together long before the business of love is complete.

Second, you begin to use manipulation as a tool to make the other "feel" loved, cared for and protected. Yet often, you are moving them in a direction which serves selfish motives.

You may deeply care for the person. You may even believe you love them.

But if you are incorporating them into your life plan, you haven't found love. Because LOVE melts down your whole world, mixes it in equal parts with someone else's world, and creates a brand new, unified planet of "you"--- out of what once was "us."

Third, you start with the "little" white lies. You know the ones. They're totally harmless. Right?

It's not that you're doing something evil. It's just that he or she might not see it your way. They might not understand.

So, it is in both of your best interest if you just fudge a bit here.

WRONG! White lies are the Black Plague of love.

Fourth, you begin to compartmentalize your life for "privacy." My wife and I don't even have separate checking accounts. You ARE your lover's keeper. And you have only the world you share.

Fifth, you begin to resent his/her intrusions. This is the point at which the tree of selfishness that began as a tiny seed of "innocence" in step one, has drilled deep roots into your garden of goodness and has borne a full crop of poison apples.

If you ever find that the love of your life can annoy you with their presence in "your business," you need to go find your axe and make it your life's work to cut down the tree of separation.

It all begins and ends with the question of love. 

Do you care about his/her good more than your own? 

Then you my friend, have found the ultimate condition of human goodness. You are in love.

Ignore the recipe above.

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15 nuggets of old-fashioned "horse sense" to make you smile

Horse sense is that kind of down-to-earth, good common sense that seems NOT to be nearly as common as one might think.

Recently, I preached on the topic of Good Old-Fashioned Horse Sense. Folks seemed to enjoy the ride, so here are a few quotes to keep the topic galloping on. If you know what I mean.

Share your favorites!

Feel free to add your own humorous pearls of earthy wisdom in the comments below!

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Some days you bleed all over the uniform

You are taught and conditioned to present your strength in public at all costs.

You must fake it 'til you make it. 

Bear your burdens with dignity.

You are a leader. You don't expose your wounds to the ranks.

You are a warrior. 

You wear your boots tightly laced, your cap perfectly tipped; and your metals pinned in regulation order to your chest.

But some days, you bleed all over the uniform.

Some days you just can't pretend it doesn't hurt.

Sometimes the betrayal hits too close to home; the grief sits too heavily on your heart, and the frown just can't be turned upside down.

So what's a bleeding leader to do?

Exactly what every other soldier should do by instinct. 

Fall on a comrade. Bleed among brothers. Sorrow with sisters.

If you can never be real with your followers, you don't have any.

Everybody bleeds.

And real leaders don't fake. They overcome.

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Don’t Forget the Sugar in the Cupcakes

You know how when you’re fasting, or eating a hyper-restrictive diet, you leave the Food Channel on in the background for hours on end, in some kind of voyeuristic/masochistic peeping-Thom ritual?

Oh, you don’t? Well I do.

Don’t you judge me! I can psychoanalyze myself for free.

Anyway, that’s what I do sometimes.

And this one contender on Cupcake Wars? She had it all.

She was quick, creative, viciously competitive, looked good in an apron, and she had already earned the respect of the judges in previous rounds.

Next, she dished out a batch of decadent, dark chocolate pastries with bodacious frosting and gorgeous decorations.

The judges bit in eagerly. After a few tense moments, one asked tactfully, “These have a bit of a bitter kick, no?”

With an admirable poker face, our contestant responded confidently. “They’re intended to honor true chocolate devotees, of which there are many. I wanted them to really scream ‘chocolate’!”

The judge eyed her steadily. 

“You forgot to add the sugar, didn’t you?”

As this talented young entrepreneur exited the stage from her final round, I imagine she learned a lesson that will be a strong thread in the fabric of her success to come.

The frills only add-value when the basics are in order.

A Rolls Royce seat does not make a junkyard Pontiac into a luxury car.

No matter how advanced your master of the trade, regardless of how cutting edge your company or product may be, you must always keep your focus on the fundamentals.

Because you’ll never be so good that it doesn’t matter when you forget to put the sugar in the cupcakes.

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It's All About the Money

Most people say that it is not all about the money. 

"Money can't buy happiness."

"There are a lot of miserable rich people."

"Money is not a good reason to do anything."

"Rich people think all that matters is money."

"Big companies only care about money."

"Preachers are always all about the money."

These are a few of the common platitudes regularly offered by way of wisdom, from people who believe themselves to be less shallow than those for whom it is "all about the money."

But I think it really is all about the money for most of these folks. Maybe even more so than for many wealthy people.


>You choose to accept a miserable job because of the pay

>You live in a bad school district because you just "aren't one of those people" across town

>You go to your wealthier friends begging for a loan often enough that it gets awkward

>You DON'T go on that mission trip, dream vacation or marriage retreat year after year

>You stress about your checkbook regularly

>You find money issues are tearing at your marriage

>You think you'll never accomplish your dreams without a lucky windfall

>You have "become realistic" about your goals because you have to make a living

Then, it actually IS all about the money for you.

Don't get mad. Just get motivated.

If you live in a first world nation, and you are able of body and/or mind, it really doesn't have to be all about the money anymore.

I'm not saying you'll be financially free tomorrow. But I am saying that someday soon you will be.

If you make some serious decisions right now. 

You face the same choice in life that I do. 

Must you be ruled by money issues, or can you rise above the tyranny of  liquidity and make money work for you?


You can. 

Please do.

Step one: Admit that it actually is all about the money for you.

Step three: Commit to a mentor or coach who will not let you be ruled by the deity of dollars.

Which makes Step Two really important: Stop resenting or judging the rich people in your world and assuming that they are "all about the money."

They have learned to make money work for them. You still work for that money...

Sometimes we peek through people's windows and judge them. 

That makes it a bit awkward when we realize we were looking in mirrors.

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Warning! This was my biggest mistake.

Joe Fernandez is the CEO and Co-Founder of Klout, a free service which measures your influence across various social networks and rewards you for that credibility.

If you use social media as a means for marketing in business or ministry, and fail to use this excellent resource, you are nuttier than a King Size Snicker’s bar.

But from the time he founded the company, Joe unsuccessfully pitched his concept 150 times, and heard a “NO” from 130 investors over a period of 18 months. 

Mr. Fernandez had a recent conversation with Inc. about why it took so long to get "buy in" from the investors.

My biggest mistake? I Kept tweaking my story. If someone said, "This would be really cool for advertising," I'd refine my pitch to focus on that. The next person would say, "I like the idea, but advertising is dead! It should be more analytics focused." 

Okay folks. This is me clearing my throat into the mic.

I’m going to address my colleagues in ministry for a moment. You don’t have to stick around.

If you read on, don’t get mad about this being a rude post.

You were warned. 

My generation of ministers has lost something invaluable in the rush to be more “missional, seeker sensitive and culturally relevant.”

We have come to be defined by our qualifiers and not our nouns.

We are not Christians. We are “Jesus lovers.”

We are not on a mission. We are missional.  

We are not soul seekers. We are seeker sensitive.

We don’t see sinners saved. We see “seekers connected.”

We are not the local Church. We are “a vibrant community of Christ followers” with a coffee bar and skinny jeans.

Obviously, I’m overgeneralizing and using far too broad a brush to paint the details.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with much of what is named above. Some of it may even constitute a wise and effective approach to this generation.

Unless we get it twisted.

Unless the methods and trends become a ring in the bull’s nose.

Unless our identity becomes defined by our approach, instead of by our King.

Unless the gospel becomes secondary.

Then you get Spirit-Filled preachers born on the pews of Pentecost, with ministries forged in the white-hot coals of Azusa, who feel compelled by cultural convention to shut the fire up in their bones.

Then you get third generation baptists who have a hard time acknowledging that you MUST believe on Jesus to be saved. And you get fifth generation Pentecostals who are embarrassed by a message in tongues.

Then the cart has gone before the horse. The ring has led the bull. The tail has wagged the dog.

Is it possible to be so seeker-sensitive and missional that you become finder-unfriendly and Great coMISSION unfocused?

I believe it is. 

And I fear we have.

Every other world-view has deeply radicalized in my lifetime.

Fundamentalist Islam has declared itself.

Radical Liberalism has gone mainstream.

Right-Wing Fascism has entrenched itself in the conservative movement.

Marital Equality and Right to Life issues have blown families  and friends to smithereens.

Evangelical Atheism has gone militant.

Heck, even the Girl Scouts of America are kicking up some serious political dust clouds.

Only Western Christianity has cooled to a noncommittal room-temperature.

The church of today no longer represents a belligerent minority of counter-cultural love mongers who practice civil disobedience and demonstrate radical cultural leadership through vigilant truth-bearing.

It is now a benign passel of humorously ignorant, if irritatingly annoying dinosaurs, on a dutiful death march to align the trends of the flock with the whims of the den.

The Christian Right is not an army of revolutionaries, but a convenient voting bloc. 

Our cultural Christ offers social righteousness in place of bloody salvation; and He asks for precious little in return. 

Domesticated preachers in full-blown mid-ministry crisis call this "relevant worship."

The kids these days call it boring and unconvincing.

Is it any wonder that my generation has forsaken the Church?

Some of us have become like the dashboard navigation system that gives tentative directions. 

You might want to consider possibly leaning toward a right turn-ish somewhere around the next 50 or 500 feet. You know, if it's cool with you. Or you could just grab a latte and cruise past it too. Whatever. Oh, I see. You are continuing straight ahead. I don't feel like it's really my place to judge these things, and I try to leave it up to the police to decide after an errrrr-- incident. (We avoid the word 'accident.' It's been used as a scare tactic.) I'm not the judge. But SOME navigation systems would say that's the Grand Canyon you are driving directly into. But you're always welcome in this car. And we'll never make you feel like you're headed for a precipice.

How useless is that? Not to mention, in-freaking-credibly annoying.

The Millennials are not a Prodigal Generation. 

But they have been served by Prodigal Preachers-- preachers who have spent our heritage on popular opinion.

And we have failed to win the world to our version of their trends.

So we have lost on all fronts. 

We have denied our identity and silenced our own voice.

And we have lost the interest of the audience we set out to appease.

We gave them THEIR pitch for OUR product. 

And they are not investing.

May I suggest that we try telling OUR story and sticking to it?

We could dance with who brung us. Put a ring on it and swear off other lovers.

You know... Buy the truth and sell it not. Even at a discount...

In the words of Joe from Klout:

I kept spinning in circles until I finally decided to pitch the company I originally wanted to build. My refined story was, and still is, that I want to help every person in the world understand his influence and be recognized for it. My clarity and confidence in the idea was what made my core investors sign on.

I think the Apostle Paul crossed this same river on a similar bridge at one time in his ministry.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (AKJV)
2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Perhaps a similar approach would be effective in our generation.

I know. I know. That’s just crazy talk.

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