Author: Dale Lovelady

What a Difference Love Can Make

First Church was a stately, old church located in downtown Central City. She had a rich heritage along with the other churches clustered around Church Circle. And she, along with the other downtown churches, had her share of people who were always dropping by because they needed something. The “regulars” came by just like clockwork. Louie was always drunk; I mean eyes-matted-together-slobbering drunk. His still being alive was a miracle in itself. Hank was one of the most colorful people to come through our doors. I looked forward to passing by him on the sidewalk because he always cussed me out—to music. He cussed everybody out to music. He had one of those contraptions around his neck that would hold a harmonica, and he walked up and down the streets playing the harmonica and his guitar—until he saw you. The harmonica would come out of his mouth and out would come some of the most vile language you ever heard—all set to music. He could shred. Hank had come from Nashville. He had begun to …

Are You Standing in a Flood, Mopping Floors?

I doubt this is true, but it sure struck a note with me when I read it. The story goes that years ago a certain mental institution devised a test to determine if a patient was ready to be discharged from its care. The patient under consideration was put into a room with a mop and bucket, and was instructed to mop up the floor. If he turned off the faucet filling an overflowing sink before he started mopping, he was considered sane enough to return to the mainstream of life. Over the last 50 years of ministry I’ve helped a lot of people mop up messes. Those who turned off the faucet first usually got their “rooms” cleaned up and livable again. But what’s really hard is not turning off the faucet (I’ve done that a thousand times). What’s hard is keeping the faucet turned off. I’m a lot like the Israelites of old. They would forsake the Lord; the Lord would discipline them by raising up foreign oppressors; the people would end up …

How To Communicate What’s In Your Heart

Charlie Shedd writes about two rivers that are flowing along smoothly and quietly—until they come together. At this juncture the water “boils,” spray is thrown into the air, and mud comes up from the bottom. After this turbulence, a few miles downstream the two waters flow smoothly and quietly again, now as one. But the newly formed river is broader, more majestic, and more powerful than either of the two were on their own. He goes on to say: A good marriage is often like that. When two independent streams of existence come together there’s going to be some dashing of life against life at the juncture. Personalities rush against each other. Preferences clash. Ideas contend for power. Habits vie for position. The waters boil and mud often comes up from the bottom. And you wonder where the loveliness has gone. But when you go downstream a few years these two lives are flowing smoothly and quietly again. But together they are more than either of them could have been on their own. There will …

Have You Limited Your Generosity?

I remember the first time I saw him put a check in the offering plate. I was sitting next to him in the choir. He didn’t make a big deal about it; just quietly took the check out of his pocket and dropped it in the plate. I have no idea what the amount was. But I wanted so badly to be able to do it, too. I was only 15 at the time; not old enough to work a regular job like he did. I cut grass for $1.20 per yard. In my mind, my twelve cents didn’t match up to a hand-written check. To me, the amount was more important than the spirit behind it. I turned 16, got a job, and opened a checking account. Each week I wrote a check and dropped it in the offering plate on Sunday morning. I can’t say I tithed every week, but I was pretty consistent. After all, we are to be good stewards. Right? Right. But tithing was about the extent of my idea …

Will You Wither or Glory Under the Heat?

These are some entries written in one man’s “journal.” They may sound like yours. I’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles… I’m not sure what to do… I’ve been spiritually terrorized… I’ve been thrown down… Even if you don’t write in a journal you’ve probably said similar things to yourself. Maybe even out loud. We’ve all felt the heat of circumstances beyond our control. Some of us wither under the heat. Some of us react in hurtful ways—towards others, towards ourselves, towards God. And some of us come through it glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes the difference? The Apostle Paul wrote those “journal entries” above. You can find them in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message). But he, in today’s jargon, did not put a period where God had put a comma. If you look in your Bible you will see that each of the above entries (even if worded differently) is followed by a comma. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not …

The Wedding You Don’t Want To Miss

Weddings. They come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Some take months to plan; some are spur-of-the-moment. Some are loud and filled with laughter; others are more reserved and reflective. But there is a common factor in most weddings: tears. Bridesmaids cry (I think I understand this one). Brides cry (I don’t understand this). Grooms cry (Well, at least one that I know of, but Shannon cries at anything!). Mothers-of-the-bride cry (I’ve heard it is because daughters tend to marry a man like their father; I don’t agree.). And fathers-of-the-bride cry; sometimes visibly, often only in the soul (I totally understand this). There is a special bond between most dads and daughters. A wedding marks the day all that changes. When the pastor asks, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?,” the father of the bride says, “Her mother and I.”  He then literally an figuratively steps back to place his daughter’s hand into the hand of the groom. The father is no longer the most important man in her life, someone …

New Patches For Old Mistakes or New Creations?

Legacy: consequence, effect, by-product, result, repercussion There are a lot of men who creep Into the world to eat and sleep, And know no reason why they’re born Save only to consume the corn, Devour the cattle, bread and fish, And leave behind an empty dish; And if their tombstones, when they die, Were not to flatter or to lie, There’s nothing better can be said Than that they’ve eaten up their bread, Drunk up their drink, and gone to bed. -Author Unknown What will be the by-product of your life? What ripples will you make in the pond? When you leave this world, what will the record say about the 1.75 cubic feet of space you used up every day for 25, 50, 75 years or more? What will be the repercussion of your life? No matter what stage of life you are living out, now is the time to make mid-course corrections. Jesus, in response to the Pharisees’ criticism about not practicing religion the proper way, said, “…who would patch old clothing with …

Stop Messing Up Something New In You

God wants to do something new in me. And I want Him to! The jungle is all-too-ready to overgrow and bury me during my careless times. I desperately need a pathway through the wilderness. I have built too many cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water (see Jeremiah 2:13). I know what a dried-up heart is like. I need some rivers of living water to flow through the dry wasteland. And the good news is God has already begun draining the deadness out of me and pumping new life into my parched soul (see Isaiah 43:19). Why would He do that for me? When I am haunted by this question, God, in His grace, firmly but gently drives me back to His love demonstrated on the cross. Milton Vincent, the author of A Gospel Primer, writes: God loved me so much that He was willing to suffer the loss of His Son (see John 3:16; Romans 8:32), and even more amazingly, He was willing to allow His Son to suffer the loss of Him …

Stop the Foolish Arguments of the Enemy

J. Wallace Hamilton landed on “The Unanswerable Answer” as a title for one of his sermons in A Faith for a Nuclear Age. He used 1 Peter 2:15 as his jumping off point: It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. The ominous shadows of persecution provided the occasion for writing this letter. The fires were stoked. The accusations were loud. The arguments were unfair. And the name of Jesus was drug through the mud. Maybe word reached Peter that these Christians were unsettled. What are we supposed to do? Give us some talking points, Peter. How do we answer these heathens’ questions? Hamilton writes, “And the Apostle tells them it will do no good. There is no argument that will stop an argument. The only thing that will stop an argument is not an argument, but a demonstration. The one unanswerable answer to the enemies of Christianity is a Christian.” That’s the way you “silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (NIV). Give …

Do You Feel Like Damaged Goods? Be Reclaimed!

My mother was a shopper extraordinaire. She could sniff out a bargain hidden in a concrete bunker twenty feet below ground level. That’s where she did most of her shopping. It wasn’t called a concrete bunker. It was a “bargain basement.” I spent a lot of time with Mom in bargain basements. Most of my clothes had the labels cut out of them, or were found on the “damaged goods” table, or were marked “slightly irregular.” John Ortberg would call the bargain basement the “department-of-something’s-gone-wrong.” A stain won’t come out. A zipper won’t zip. A button won’t butt. Undesired. It’s too bad that a lot of people look at the church much as I did the bargain basement—society’s department-of-something’s-gone-wrong. Damaged goods. The undesirables. At best, slightly irregular. Reality Check: God designed the church for undesirables.  Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. – 1 Corinthians 1:26 Paul reminds the church that many of them had been damaged by sexual …