How to Live your Life

I drove across rural West Tennessee to attend a funeral this morning. It was a memorial event for a man who died too soon…much too young.

I only knew this fellow by our interactions through the University of Tennessee at Martin. He was heavily involved in our fundraising and advocacy efforts. I considered him to be a tireless promoter of education.

But at his memorial service, I learned much more about him. I learned of his roles as a husband, a father and a grandfather. I learned about his love of music and how he played the piano growing up in church.

The most powerful comment, however, came when the minister spoke of his decades of teaching Sunday School classes. The preacher said, “as good as Melvin was at preaching God’s Word, he was even better at living it out. His daily walk was a Sunday School lesson.”

Powerful stuff.

It’s a reminder that studying the word of God is important. But living it is equally as important.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

I’ve thought about that statement all afternoon as I drove home. Is my walk a living example of the teachings of Jesus?

My prayer this week is to be aware of my influence. How can I show God’s love through my daily interactions with family, friends and coworkers? How can I show gentleness and grace to others during this holiday season and beyond?

I want to be intentional about my walk with Jesus…and how that flows into everything else I do.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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What Defines Your Life?

46926910_1171007609722558_3611263589727338496_nAs I creep toward 50, I’ve been spending lots of time reflecting on the past…and looking at how I want to define my life going forward.

And you know what?  The secret to life isn’t too complicated.

I propose that life’s purpose is determined by three simple things.

Your life will be defined by people, relationships and experiences.

And we need to be intentional about each.

  • People:  We need to surround ourselves with good people. People that lift us up, inspire us and make us whole. We should seek out others who project the lives we want to live…those that have character traits that we desire.

Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. I Corinthians 15:33

  • Relationships:  Life isn’t a solo activity. We are surrounded by people who are hurting and are crying for help. It’s our job to interact with those around us…to notice needs and offer help.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

  • Experiences:  How are we spending our time? We have limited hours in the day, so we need to maximize each of them.  Prioritize your hours, days and weeks to make sure that your time is well-spent. Make sure you are investing time in experiences that are fruitful and helpful.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

My prayer this week is to be more intentional about the future. I want to invest in people, relationships and activities that add value to my life…and help others.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Skipping Thanksgiving

We’re skipping Thanksgiving this year.

The stores in my hometown are already filled with Christmas decorations. Holiday wreaths adorn neighborhoods mailboxes and doors. Social media is filled with photos of friends displaying their Christmas trees. Holiday music is on the radio.

I’m not sure why. Thanksgiving is an important season of reflection and gratitude. A time to pause with family and friends. A time to count our blessings.

But we’re barreling right past it toward Christmas. A missed opportunity to celebrate all that we are thankful for in our lives.

It’s not surprising, actually.

How often do I stop during the day to reflect on the blessings in my life?

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

God has richly blessed me with a great family, incredible friends, my health and a job that I love. I’m so blessed.

Yet I don’t pause and say “thanks” nearly enough.

I skip thanksgiving every day, if I’m not careful.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

My prayer this week is to pause more often…to stop and thank God for the blessings in my life. My family. My health. My friends.

And especially, Jesus Christ.

I don’t want to skip thanksgiving ever again.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you.

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Tug of War

The college where I work really celebrates Homecoming in a big way. One of the student traditions is a huge tug of war competition called “Rope Pull.” Literally hundreds of people- including alumni- come out to watch student groups compete against one another.

As I watched this week, I couldn’t help but think about my own personal tug of war. The daily struggle between doing good or allowing my selfish desires to take control.

Pride. Selfishness. Anger. Resentment. Greed. All of these feelings cloud my thoughts and let the pull of sin take over. A losing battle of tug of war.

Fortunately, Jesus won the fight over sin. We may lose a battle, but Jesus has won the war.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the means of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

While our sinful nature can cause us to stumble and fall, we can be confident that God will always provide hope, escape and relief.

My prayer this week is to examine my heart for hidden sin and bad habits- and to have the courage to pray for strength to deal with it.

God loves the humble in spirit! Let’s recognize our struggles and resolve to do better.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Will you hold my baby?

I was recently traveling on a crowded flight on a work trip. My row was full, but fortunately I had an aisle seat.

Just across the aisle was a woman traveling alone with a toddler and a newborn. She had her hands full….literally. The infant was crying and the toddler was all over the seats, floor and aisle. The mother looked exhausted.

The toddler and I struck up a series of short conversations while we waited for takeoff. She asked lots of questions.:

What’s your name?

Where are you from?

Where are you going?

What are you reading?

Do have babies at home?

I enjoyed our interactions, and it seemed to keep the toddler occupied (and give her mom a break).

Shortly into the flight, the toddler announced that she needed to go to the bathroom. Her mom said that the baby had just gone to sleep, and asked if she (the toddler) could wait until the plane landed.

The kid couldn’t wait. It was an emergency. She needed to go NOW.

Frazzled, the mom looked across the aisle at me and said:

“I hate to ask you this, but can you please hold my baby while I take my daughter to the bathroom?”

She looked sad and anxious. I’m sure that she had weighed her options and determined that her best solution was to ask a stranger to hold her sleeping baby while she assisted her toddler.

“Of course,” I replied. She reluctantly placed her baby into my arms. I held her sleeping child for about 5 minutes until the family returned to their seats.

“Thank you,” the mom said with tears in her eyes.

I sat back and processed what had just happened. This woman trusted a stranger to hold her precious baby so she could help another child. She was out of options and had to throw her trust into me.

Trusting your baby to a stranger.

Have you ever felt so desperate that you didn’t know where to turn?

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

Our faith is tested daily. We have health obstacles, work issues and family troubles. Sometimes challenges in my life are so complex that I can’t see an answer.

But I have to remember to let go and ask God for guidance.

This week my prayer is to not rely on my own wisdom, but to ask God for solutions and inspiration to address life’s challenges.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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When Life Kicks You…

IMG_2788My son is a kicker on his high school football team.

It’s a tough position.  There are so many ways that kicks can go wrong.  There are bad snaps, holds and blocking. The wind, rain or cold air can impact the trajectory of the ball.  And sometimes- you just miss.

We often talk to our son about three things when he has a bad kick:

Learn from the past.

Focus on the present.

Realize the potential of the future.

Think about what’s happened and try not to repeat it. Turn your attention on the current kick, and try not to think about the last one. And finally…visualize a good, solid kick.

It’s a parallel to our lives as Christians, isn’t it?

Past mistakes and current struggles can separate us from Jesus. We are our own worst enemy….feeling stuck in sin and drowning in a state of despair.

Jesus offers hope.

Learn from the past. An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15

Focus on the present. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

Realize the potential of the future. 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

This week I want to focus on how Jesus defeated sin on the cross so that we might experience grace and forgiveness. My prayer will be to learn from my past, accept forgiveness and move ahead a better, stronger person.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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What Makes a Team

In January of 1969, the upstart New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts in what was considered one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.

Most people remember Joe Namath’s famous prediction of a victory over the heavily-favored Colts. The bold statement made national headlines just days before the game.

What’s lost in the story were the contributions of the coach, Weeb Ewbank, and an eclectic mix of veteran and rookie players.

The Jets were successful because of their team environment.

What are the traits that create a successful team? I think that there are five:

  • Show gratitude
  • Invest in people
  • Listen
  • Celebrate achievement
  • Be someone worthy of trust

Coach Ewbank did all of these things in 1968. It was a true team effort.

We know that the Bible has quite a bit to say about teams:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Jesus Christ died to give us freedom from death and power over sin. While He suffered alone, He never intended for us to face life’s obstacles by ourselves.

We need teams.  We need spouses, family, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christianity, my friends, is a team effort.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Who are your teammates in your daily walk with Jesus?

My prayer this week is to strengthen my team…to encourage and lift up those around me so that I may also be encouraged.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless you!

 

 

 

 

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Walking with the Father

I see an awesome sight most mornings.

My neighbor walks his son to our local elementary school everyday. I get watch them as I leave my house for work. They walk and talk for the three block journey to the school.

What a great experience it is for the dad…starting his day with his son.

And what an opportunity it is for the son, too. What protection and comfort he must feel! He’s starting the day with his #1 fan by his side!

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! Luke 11:10-13

I realize that I have that same opportunity. Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us…ready for us to come to Him for comfort, counsel and peace.

My prayer this week is to be more intentional about my time with God. I want to make more time each day to go to Him in prayer. To ask for advice. To seek comfort. To offer appreciation for the blessings in my life.

I want to experience the Father.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Friendly Faces

Dr. Andy Holt was perhaps the most recognizable educator in the state of Tennessee in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He was a gifted speaker and creative problem solver.

But perhaps his best trait was how Dr. Holt treated people. He had a big smile, a compassionate heart and a knack for making everyone around him feel special.

Dr. Holt had a famous speech about the “friendly faces” around the University of Tennessee. In his mind, culture was critically important and he felt that friendly faces- a positive attitude and willingness to listen and help- were essential to shaping a better university.

“Do all things without grumbling and complaining, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world….” Philippians 2:14-15

I believe Dr. Holt was on to something.

As Christians, we have a hope…good news about grace and eternal salvation. We need to share this hope. How do we do this? A positive attitude. A loving spirit. A friendly face.

How will you show a friendly face to your family and neighbors this week?

I pray that I may demonstrate a genuine love for those around me- and that my actions mirror a heart filled with the love of Jesus.

Please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Comparison is a Thief

Like many of you, we are dog people. We’ve got two rescue dogs that keep us entertained and laughing.

Mack and Sky have similar stories. Both were abandoned as pups and were hungry for attention and permanent homes. But that’s where the similarities end.

Mack is a laid back pup that is grateful for anything. A rub on the head. A treat. A long walk. Whatever the day, he’s just grateful to be with you.

Sky is different. She’s never satisfied with what she has…but wants more. Take her for a walk? She wants to go farther. Give her a snack? She’ll ask for more. Rub her back or belly? She’ll cry when you stop.

Her biggest issue? Comparison. She will let you know if her meal isn’t comparable to Mack’s portion (although he outweighs her by 80 pounds). She’ll check out Mack’s treat before she’ll enjoy her own. It’s a running joke around the house…Sky just can’t fully enjoy life.

I’m not altogether different.

Like Sky, I often compare my life to others and let that dictate my own happiness.

A better car. A nicer house. The perfect family.

Comparison robs me of happiness.

Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Be content with what you have. Take notice of the blessings God has given you. He is faithful and gives us all we need.

This week my prayer is to focus on my blessings, and to be content with my present situation.

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

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