Abandoned coffee

IMG_0716For Hollianne and me, one of life’s greatest joys is a hot cup of coffee before daybreak.

Our boys are coffee drinkers too.  Or- should I say- coffee pourers.

My boys are notorious for preparing a fresh cup of coffee, doctoring it up with their favorite sweetener…and then leaving it on the kitchen counter.  For hours.

They get out of bed with lots on their minds…last minute homework, packing duffle bags for football practice and getting ready for school.  Breakfast is almost an afterthought.

And so is their coffee.  Cups filled with cold coffee adorn our countertops each day.  Forgotten.

I have a parallel in my spiritual life. I’m great about reading my Bible each morning. Praying too. But the busyness of the day soon provides a big series of distractions.

Duties at work, home and in my personal life consume my mind and daily activities. My self-centered nature prevents me from reflecting on the words of God…and from praying throughout the day.

In short, I’m a reader and listener…but not always a “doer.”

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25

I have this great gift- a daily, unlimited source of grace, hope and forgiveness.  Yet I leave this joy untapped.  A cold up of grace and hope that often goes unused throughout the day.

My prayer this week is to be more intentional of reflecting on God’s love. I want to drink of His love and mercy and let it impact my whole being…all day, every day.

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

God bless.

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Down and out

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I received an interesting birthday gift on Sunday…an injury to my back.

It was sudden and unexpected. I was running and lifting on Sunday morning, and was flat on my back just a day later.

As I laid in my bed on Monday, all I could think about was getting my mobility back…just to be able to walk again without pain.

What a difference 24 hours makes.

Isn’t life like that?

I was reading the story of Joseph this week. We know that Joseph was the favorite of his father, Jacob. This favored status made him the target of hatred from his brothers.

Jacob’s brothers conspired to kill him. They instead decided to throw him into a pit, and he was eventually sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.

You know the rest. The Lord granted Joseph great favor in Egypt, and he went from being a slave to the chief administrator of Egypt.

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’ So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’          Genesis 41:39-41

Joseph went from favored son…to fearing for his life…to slavery…to a position of high honor.

What a difference a few years can make in our lives.

We have a wonderful promise through Jesus. A promise that our realities today- however difficult our current circumstances may be- don’t completely define our future.

My prayer today is that I will look beyond my current condition and seek God’s will for my future. I want to see how my current situation can lead me to a better walk with Jesus.

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

God bless.

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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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Graduation: 10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago

IMG_7650.jpgI had the honor of speaking at a commencement ceremony at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville last week.  It was an exciting afternoon- with happy graduates, proud family members and smiles everywhere.

As I began preparing my remarks, I realized that it was the 20th anniversary of my graduation from UT.  It was an exciting time.  I had just accepted my first “real” job on a college campus, I was about to marry Hollianne, and we were preparing to move to Ohio to begin our lives as a married couple.

Looking back, I realized how much I’ve learned in those twenty years.  I decided to share ten of these life lessons with the graduates.

10 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago:

10) Every decision you make in life impacts someone else.  Think about the implications of every choice you make.  One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.  Proverbs 14:16

9)  The job isn’t ever just about you.  The opportunity to have your job is a privilege.  Treat your coworkers with care…as equals.  Success is earned by working together as a team.  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! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

8)  When it comes to “being in the know”, those who talk a lot usually aren’t in the know.  Idle talk is useless in the workplace.  Be a part of the solution…not a part of the problem.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

7)  Take tasks off your boss’ desk.  Leadership is a lonely activity.  Those that we serve in the workplace have numerous demands on their time, and they need to find people that they can trust.  Become someone worthy of that trust.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Matthew 5:41

6)  No task is too small for you.  Humility is a wonderful thing.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 14:11

5)  You are replaceable.  No single person is essential to the success of a business.  You will never be bigger than the organization you serve.  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

4)  Everybody has a first name.  All people have worth.  All people deserve our respect.  It is essential that we know those people around us who are investing in the success of our organization.  Get to know their interests, their joys and their pain.  Invest in them.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Philippians 2:3

3)  Whatever task you are asked to do, do it with all your heart.  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…  Colossians 3:23

2)  Dinner with your family is important. We are all busy.  We will never complete our to-do lists at the office.  But it is essential that we invest in those that we love…and that love us.  The work will always be there.  It’s important to build our relationships with those that bring us joy and renewal, too.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  1 John 4:7

1)  When you don’t know what to do, remember to do no harm until you do.  Find good, trusted mentors and seek their counsel.  Wisdom comes from careful reflection and life experience- so seek help from those you trust when faced with difficult decisions.  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

Let’s pray for all the new graduates- high school and college- this week.  May they find success and peace during this period of transition, and may they glorify God in all that they do.

God bless you.

(reprinted from May 2015)

 

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