Survive and Advance

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I’m sitting in Indiana this morning, awaiting my favorite college team’s game in the finals of our conference basketball tournament.  It’s March Madness for us- and for everyone else who loves and follows college basketball.

You know the mantra…”survive and advance.”  It’s not always about winning pretty. You just need to win and advance to the next round.

Isn’t that what life as a believer is like?

We have seasons of life when work, illness, family strife or economic stress weighs us down. The pressure can be overwhelming at times.

But our God is a God of comfort. There’s blessed assurance that we are God’s children- and He is always watching over us.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50

My prayer this week is to remember that our God is an ever present source of comfort. I only need to seek peace through Him.

We can survive and advance.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

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Pet Peeves

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A student recently interviewed me for a class project. The questions focused on “pet peeves”…those behaviors or traits that tend to get under your skin.

I have a couple.  First, I don’t like it when folks remind me how busy they are…or how hard they are working. In this case, actions speak louder than words, right?

And I also frown when people bring problems to the table, but offer no possible solutions.

Jesus talked about bad behaviors often in the New Testament.

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23

We often think of sins categorically.  You know..you have the “big ones” that people can easily detect and are widely socially unacceptable. Then there are the “little ones” that are under the surface and not so evident…pride, deceit, lust and greed.

But God knows…and there is no category to sin in His eyes.  We know God’s pet peeves.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

My prayer this week is to acknowledge the sin in my life and focus on making modifications in my behavior. I want to be pure from within.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Hidden Actions

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When my daughter was a little girl, she would often hide her face when she got in trouble. If she covered her eyes and couldn’t see us- how could we possibly see her?  It was cute…and made it tough to discipline her!

I’m really no different, however. I often have that same sentiment when there’s sin in my life. I try to hide it deep inside…containing it in my innermost thoughts. If no one can see my struggle- maybe it’s not a distraction or something that I need to address.

But God knows.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.  Luke 12:2-3

He knows of my sin. He knows my innermost thoughts.

For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Mark 4:22

But God is faithful and forgiving.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

My prayer this week is to have the strength to address secret sin….to truly deal with those thoughts and actions that are keeping me from a closer walk with Jesus. Thoughts of anger, pride and selfishness.

Jesus wants to heal me. And thank God for this grace that flows so abundantly!

Please let me know how I may pray for you this week.

God bless.

 

 

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How many “likes” did I get?

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“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus‬ ‭26:1‬ ‭

We recently hosted a speaker at my workplace that talked about mental health and wellness issues. She informed us that one of the prevailing crisises in the mental health world is the false reality that social media creates.

Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Facebook.  And the pressure to create the image of a “perfect” life.

Perfect kids. Perfect spouse. Perfect lifestyle. Popularity.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing our experiences with others, it can become an issue for our own mental health when we start comparing the “virtual lives” of others with our own flawed, broken lives.  Comparison- it’s been said- is the thief of joy.

She spoke of another issue with the wellness pitfalls of social media…and that we can use it to create idols of ourselves.

What? Idols of ourselves?

When we go beyond sharing and move toward logging how many “followers” we have….how many “likes” we get on a certain posting…how many “shares” we receive from a particular photo….we are in danger of building an idol of ourselves.

This hit my squarely in the chest. I use social media to promote my workplace and region, but I often catch myself trying to say the “right” thing or following how many responses I receive on my posts.

My prayer this week is that I look at social media at what it truly is: a platform for sharing a message or to stay connected with others. And I will also pray that I use it for good…and not be consumed with the pitfalls associated with self-promotion and vanity. I want to let the Lord’s love and grace radiate through my words, thoughts and images.

Please let me know how I may pray for you, too.

God bless you.

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New Year, same old Broken Me

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According to a recent study, 80% of New Year’s resolutions have failed by the second week of February.

That’s now.

That’s sobering.

We’ve all done it one time or another.  Pledge to lose 5 pounds. Save more money. Better manage our time.  Spend more time with our family.

And the statistics say that by the sixth week of the year- we’ve already abandoned our attempts to better ourselves or start fresh. We quit trying.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Fortunately, God’s love for us never fails.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

There’s the promise of eternal life for the sinner.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

There is a never-ending source of grace for each of us.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  Romans 6:14

This week my prayer will be to stay focused on Jesus when life’s obstacles enter my path…and to stay encouraged when I have the desire to lose hope.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trust

img_7350How do we establish trust?

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review article reports on a study that presents three critical elements leaders need to build trust within their organizations:  positive relationships, good judgement and consistency.

Over 87,000 participants contributed to this research…and I agree that all three elements are essential to becoming a leader worth following.

The Bible says a great deal about these three qualities.

In terms of positive relationships, we are given numerous ways to build and edify others.

  • Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Bible gives us many ways to nurture and develop good judgement.

  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20

Consistency is encouraged.

  • Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58
  • Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37

God’s word is the ultimate leadership guidebook.

My prayer this week is to be more consistent in my daily study in the Word- and to commit these words to heart as I try to build more trust with all my relationships.

And please let me know how I may pray for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

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Free Lunch

Friday was a wild day.

Some unexpected news kept me in meetings all morning and I ended up having about twenty minutes to grab something to eat before my afternoon events started.

I darted to the Mexican resturant across the street from my office. The waiter asked if I wanted the usual (two grilled shrimp soft tacos with extra peppers and guacamole)- and I grunted out a distracted “yeah” while checking emails and missed phone calls.

After quickly eating my meal I headed up to the register. The manager, Renee, smiled and told me that there was “no charge.” Someone had paid for my lunch and left me a note.

“Thank you for all you do. Have a great weekend! Lunch is on me today.”

I was stunned. I quickly looked around the place to see if I could recognize who might have done this kind deed. Unfortunately, I was so distracted when I came in that I didn’t notice anyone.

It changed my day completely. I had been distracted…completely caught up in my work. I certainly didn’t deserve this gift, but I was grateful.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation is a gift…a gift we shouldn’t ever take for granted. And we’ve done nothing to deserve it.

Jesus freely died on the Cross to ensure that we can live with him forever in Heaven.

No matter how busy or preoccupied we become, we must never overlook this precious gift from Jesus. It’s so pure, so awesome…and completely free of charge for us.

My prayer this week will be to reflect more intentionally about the gift of salvation. And I want to me more focused on giving gifts to others…a smile, a kind word, a helping hand or even a free lunch.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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