Respect those folks

It’s the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. Like many of you, we’ll be hosting family and friends over a three day period. It’s a time for fellowship and food…and THE occasion where we are continually reminded to be thankful and aware of all our blessings.

I was reading in Proverbs a little earlier this morning. One passage struck me in the heart as I studied:

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Proverbs‬ ‭16:31‬

Gray hair is a crown. Gained in a righteous life.

This verse tells me two things. First, gray hair is a crown of glory…it symbolizes wisdom and discernment.

Next, gray hair is gained in a righteous life. It’s the result of life experience- and doing the right things for a long time.

This Thanksgiving holiday I will pray for a couple of things. I’ll pray that I take the time to observe and listen to those “gray” folks in my life. I’ll make an effort to watch their behavior and listen to their stories.

Next, I’ll try to realize that I’m starting to turn “gray” too. I’ll pray for more awareness that younger family members are watching for Christ’s example in me…and for me to share my failures and successes with them.

Experience is the greatest teacher.

Please pray for me to be more aware and awake this holiday season. And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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One extra hour

We experienced a time change earlier this month. Most of us enjoyed the extra hour of sleep that following Sunday morning!

What did you do with that extra hour?

In Acts 8 we read about how God used Philip with an Ethiopian leader who was traveling from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah, and Philip- prompted to intercede by the Holy Spirit- asked if he understood what was written in the scripture. The Ethiopian leader asked for help, and Philip engaged him in study.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” Acts‬ ‭8:35-36, 38‬ ‭

It was a gentle nudge by the Holy Spirit that led Philip to engage someone…and the results brought another soul to Jesus.

It was unplanned and it didn’t take long.

I’m easily distracted during the holidays. There’s always something that’s keeping me from focusing on what’s truly important.

My prayer this week is to slow down and listen…listen to what the Spirit is whispering.

It may only take an hour.

Please let me know how I may pray for you. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Forgotten treasure 

Hollianne and I scored a “big pick” many years ago.  

We found an 80 year old piece of furniture buried deep in an old barn in Greenfield, Tennessee.  It had probably been placed there decades ago.  And forgotten.

It was covered in dust and straw, but we could see the potential in it. A quick wipe with a wet cloth showed the deep, rich wood.  It would be perfect for our dining room.
But life got in the way.  Our family was  growing and our jobs got busy. We never got around to restoring that old piece of furniture. 

It sat in a corner.  Over the years it picked up lots of nicks and scratches from pets, indoor basketball games and tricycle crashes.  It was in plain sight, but we had forgotten it too.

We recently moved and finally decided to have it restored. It was delivered to our home yesterday. 


We couldn’t believe our eyes. The old wood shines with a new mahogany hue. The brass pulls and handles glow like a new penny. 

It reminded me of my own life.  Times I’ve felt forgotten and neglected. And it was a painful reminder of the times that I’ve neglected someone….or forgotten about their value.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Romans 4:6

We all have blemishes and imperfections.  We are forgotten…or we choose to neglect. 

But Jesus restores us and brings out the inner beauty.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
But God loves is anyway.  He loves us despite our faults and failings.  We are restored through his son Jesus. 

And those that we’ve neglected because they’ve hurt us? We need to remember that God loves them too.  

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:23-25 

My prayer this week is to work on the pain associated from being forgotten.  And to also work on my attitude toward those I’ve neglected.  

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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When Your New Housemate is Rude…

We’ve got a new housemate.

It’s of the four-legged variety.  We’ve recently adopted a rescue dog.  His name is Mack.

Mack was abandoned by his prior owners.  He’s still a puppy…only 18 months old, but already over 100 pounds.  Mack is going to be a big one.

Despite being orphaned, Mack is a loving guy.  He’s loyal and playful.  He loves to be with our kids and follows Hollianne around the house and yard like a house cat.  He and I love early morning runs around town.  He’s been a great addition to our family.

Well, almost.

Mack does have a flaw.  He’s a drooler.  And by drool…I mean an epic drooler.

It’s especially bad after he eats…or after exercise.  Bless his heart.  And to relieve the annoying presence of this substance, Mack will whip his head back and forth- and sling the drool all over trees, shrubs, furniture and…yep…humans.

It’s been a tough adjustment.

We’ve almost got the perfect pet.  Good-tempered, loves people, enjoys exercise, loyal and protective.  But a drooler.  It’s tough to overlook.

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20

Isn’t Mack like all of us?

We’ve all got imperfections to our character.  For some of us, we are well aware of these flaws- and know what we need to do for improvement.

Perhaps we have a temper.  Maybe it’s jealousy.  Still others struggle with pride or lust.  Or maybe it’s a strained relationship that we are unwilling to address…or forgive.

There are other flaws that we can’t do much about.  Perhaps it’s a physical limitation or an illness.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Matthew 5:48

God is perfect- and he made us “perfect” through the sacrifice of His son Jesus.  He also calls for us to strive for perfection- despite our flaws.

God calls us to work on those imperfections that we can address.  And we are also called to examine the good in others- and be willing to accept the things that we- or they- cannot change.

Even if it requires living with a little drool.

My prayer is to have the awareness and wisdom to work on my flaws this week.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you.

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Homesick (or Home sick)

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I got sick on a business trip this week.

Simply put, I was hit by a nasty virus late Monday night and spent the bulk of the next twelve hours in a fetal position on a hotel bathroom.  Fever and chills soon followed.  I could only think about getting home.

The normal six hour drive took me over nine hours to complete.  It was a miserable way to tour the state- a stop at approximately every fifty miles.

My temporary contition was minor considering what others are currently experiencing.  I have friends who have serious conditions and are struggling daily to live.  But my illness was a great reminder to all of us who suffer.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:29-31

We all struggle at some point. Maybe it’s stress.  Sickness.  Depression.  Work struggles.  Family strife.

These conditions are a reminder of two things.

First, we have a God of comfort and peace.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

And that while our lives on earth seem important, there’s a better place that’s prepared for us.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.   Revelation 21:4

Our suffering on this earth is temporary.  There’s a place of peace, joy and comfort in Heaven.  It’ll be the ultimate homecoming.

Please pray for me to fully heal from this stomach bug.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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A visit from Big Hank

I was sitting in a hotel lobby in Memphis a couple of weeks ago.  I was anxiously awaiting for a meeting to start- thinking about what might transpire over the next hour.  This meeting had the opportunity to be unpleasant.

I decided to try and relax.  I prayed a lengthy prayer.  I then took out my Bible and read through 2 Corinthians.

I later walked around the perimeter of the large lobby to think about how I would open the meeting.  How I would convey bad news and a disappointing outcome.

I returned to my seat and decided to pray again.

Then I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:4

Standing in front of me was a large man.  He introduced himself as Big Hank.

“Are you ok?”

I told him that I was doing fine…just preoccupied.

He explained that he had been watching me for the past 30 minutes.  Praying, meditating, reading and pacing.  Big Hank said that he could tell that something was bothering me- and he felt compelled to come over and pray with me.  I told him I would appreciate the prayer.

And pray he did.  Big Hank said a short prayer for me- for my comfort, peace and future.

And as quick as he appeared, he turned and walked across the lobby- and outside to the busy sidewalk.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

Pray for me to have better awareness of the needs of others.  Help me to identify pain and hurt- and have the courage to engage and provide comfort.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless you, Big Hank- wherever you are.

 

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The Summitt

summitt and girls

We lost a great champion this morning.

Pat Summitt died today at the young age of 64.  While she lived a full life- one that included eight NCAA women’s basketball championships, thirty-two combined SEC championships, Olympic excellence and 1,098 victories on the basketball court- Pat Summitt’s life was cut way too short.

Above everything else, Coach Summitt was a teacher.

Several years ago she introduced a list for leaders called the “Pat Summitt Definite Dozen.”  These twelve items were guidelines for leaders…a primer for her players and students…and a blueprint for leadership success for audiences of all ages.

While Coach Summitt’s words weren’t presented in a Biblical context, you can certainly make strong correlations between her thoughts on leadership and what Jesus tells us about working and living with others.

Pat Summitt’s Definite Dozen:

  1.  Respect Yourself and Others
  2. Take Full Responsibility
  3. Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
  4. Learn to be a Great Communicator
  5. Discipline Yourself so No One Else Has to
  6. Make Hard Work Your Passion
  7. Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart
  8. Put the Team Before Yourself
  9. Make Winning an Attitude
  10. Be a Competitor
  11. Change is a Must
  12. Handle Success Like You Handle Failure

Biblical parallels:

  1.  RespectDo nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2: 3-4
  2. Responsibility–  For each will have to bear his own load.  Galatians 6:5
  3. LoyaltyA friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  Proverbs 17:17
  4. CommunicationLet your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  Colossians 4:6
  5. DisciplineFor the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
  6. Hard WorkWhatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men...  Colossians 3:23
  7. Working SmartFor the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…  Proverbs 2:6
  8. Put the Team before Yourself- Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.  James 4:10
  9. Attitude–  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
  10. Competitor–  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  11. ChangeHave I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9
  12. Handling success and failureI know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

Coach Summitt’s Definite Dozen are a template for leadership effectiveness.  These guidelines and lessons were passed down for decades to hundreds of players, coaches and fans of basketball.

These same themes are relevant for those of us trying to become better Christians, too.  All of the principles outlined in the Definite Dozen are present in the teachings of Jesus and the word of God.

Let’s keep the family, former players, coaches and friends of Pat Summitt in prayer this week.  And let’s all reflect on the Definite Dozen in our own lives…and see how we might improve our own effectiveness.

God bless you.  And let me know how I may pray for you this week.

 

 

 

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