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What I Learned in My Crusades to Ban Alcohol, Legalize Pot, Destroy Religion and Save the Nation

For the last 20 years I’ve been involved in some sort of “crusade.” I’ve argued that: Alcohol should be banned. Pot should be legalized. Religion should be destroyed. America should be delivered from crazy liberals. However, over the last several years I’ve been learning how to spend less time arguing, and more time encouraging people. And today I want to share my story in case you’re tired of wasting so much time arguing and debating. So if you find yourself getting sucked into debate after debate… if your blood pressure spikes every time you open Facebook and you want to change that then keep reading. By the way, after I share my story here’s what I’m not going to tell you to do: “Now, just stop arguing and be nice!” “Follow this nice little 5-Step Plan to be free from argumentativeness.” “Arguing is just a symptom of the flesh. So just kill the flesh.” Remember, this blog is called “Beyond Cliches.” So I try to do my best to avoid using powerless cliches to solve real problems. And my personal opinion is that many people who are prone to argue actually have a gift of exhortation that’s been twisted. So I don’t think God just wants to “kill” that part of you. I believe He wants to “redeem” it and use it for His glory. OK. So here we go… let’s turn the clock back to 6th grade when I was 11 years old.   Stage 1: Ban Alcohol! I remember my Mom telling me she thought I would be a lawyer one day because of how much I argued and debated. My Mom was, and is,...

Thankfulness Is A Choice

Is it possible to always be thankful? I think it is because the Bible commands us to. So how do we do it? How do we cultivate a thankful heart and attitude despite what’s going on? I don’t know. But I want to find out. I do know one thing though… thankfulness isn’t dependent on circumstances or things going our way. At least that’s true for me. For example, I’m a goal oriented person. I enjoy starting new projects, getting things done and taking steps towards my goals. I guess you could call me Type-A. And I realized there’s a danger to constantly living this way if I’m not careful to pause to be thankful. The danger is that I could always be living in the future and never take time to enjoy the present. This hit me hard this morning, let me explain… We have three kids, ages 3, 1 and 2 months. Needless to say we don’t usually get a full uninterrupted night’s sleep. But last night was harder than normal. Our Lily (1-year-old) is teething has a rash. So she woke up multiple times. And our 3-year-old, Emma Grace, loves life so much she bolts out of bed as soon as she can… which is usually before 7:00 am. So anyway, after a rough night I get up and immediately I’m in a grumpy mood. The thoughts going through my head include: I have to talk to Lacie about our whole “traveling in a motorhome idea” and let her know it’s not going to work if it’s going to be like this… I need rest to work....

Delayed Obedience Is Better Than Disobedience

Or at least at I hope it is. Recently, I met two new people. Shaun, was at a business prayer meeting I attended in Vancouver, WA (link to his blog) and Tim, is a pastor I met online (link to his blog). And they both essentially told me the same thing: “Josh, I’ve read your blog and I hope you keep writing on it.” I thought, Yeah, maybe I should start writing there more.  So I pulled up this blog to see when the last time I posted was and it was 11 months ago! Wow. And then I read my last post and felt convicted when I read what I wrote: When I heard, “to obey is better than sacrifice” I knew God was referring to something specific in my life: writing. More specifically, writing on this blog, Beyond Cliches. I haven’t been writing on here even though I believe God wants me to. I have a million excuses why I keep “putting it off”. Then I thought, Great, I’m not only disobeying God… I’m doing it publicly. How embarrassing.  Yes, I know. I shouldn’t care what other people think, only what God thinks. You’re right. But I’m just being honest about how I felt. Why? Because someone else may be feeling the same way about something and hopefully this helps. Plus, I appreciate it when people are honest in their writing. So that’s where I found myself this morning as I sat there sipping my coffee: convicted but motivated to act. Let’s be honest… it’s not easy to obey when you know in your heart you’ve disobeyed. Especially when it’s not the first time. There’s...

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

As I was praying this morning I was reminded of the verse that says, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” I didn’t remember the rest of the verse so I googled it and found 1 Samuel 15:22 which reads: “So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.” When I heard, “to obey is better than sacrifice” I knew God was referring to something specific in my life: writing. More specifically, writing on this blog, Beyond Cliches. I haven’t been writing on here even though I believe God wants me to. I have a million excuses why I keep “putting it off”. Some of my favorite are: I have nothing important to say. I should do everything with “excellence” so I don’t want to write on here again unless it’s quality writing. I don’t want to start writing and then quit like I did before. My time would be better spent in my prayer closet than writing a blog. And it was that last one that I believe God was confronting. I’ve gotten in the habit of waking early at 5:00 am, making my coffee and toast and then setting my timer for  60 minutes of devotional time. I’m definitely a creature of habit and I believe strongly in the value of developing good habits. So each morning (I don’t do this every morning) I wake up, take a shower, then go downstairs and make myself a green smoothie and a...

The Lost Art Of Saying No

No is a powerful and important word. And now that I have a 1-year-old daughter I use it now more than ever. “No Emma, don’t touch that!” “No Emma, don’t crawl up the stairs!” “No, Emma don’t take Daddy’s chess pieces!” I say no a lot. But I’m also learning that saying no is important in other areas of life. When I first became a Christian I was pretty much incapable of saying no. I’d say yes to every volunteer activity, church meeting and group. So much so that I wound up having a commitment 6-7 nights a week! And after a while I realized that being busy with Christian activity was not the same as growing spiritually. I also realized that I didn’t like to say no because I really wanted to please everyone. Fast forward 9 years and I no longer say yes to everything. In fact, I say no to most things. And I don’t feel bad about it. And it’s not just because I’m “too busy.” It’s because in order to focus on what I’m called to do I must say no to a hundred different things in order to focus on the big yeses. So that’s all I got today. An admonition to say no more often. For obvious reasons this message isn’t a popular one at most churches. But most churches focus on Christian activity instead of spiritual growth. Remember that. And remember that you only have one life to live. When it’s all said and done will it matter how many church activities you were involved in or that you took the time to know Him?...