Beware of the Lions

I had the pleasure of traveling to Africa several years ago. It’s a fascinating continent and the beauty of the terrain and the warmth of its people make it a wonderful place to visit.

I’ll never forget the lions, either.

There’s nothing more incredible than watching lions in their habitat. They are stately, handsome and powerful creatures. Lethal hunters too. Watching them stalk and attack prey from the safety of our vehicles was an incredible…and eerie…sight.

Beauty and death. All in one package. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

Isn’t sin like that too? It’s enticing and fun to watch. It feels good too.

And while we are warned of the devil’s power, his tactics of deception often times make sin hardly detectable. Sin creeps into our lives and clouds our vision…changes our hearts. Before we know it, sin can overpower us.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The enemy is real. And he is ever-present.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

My prayer this week is to take an honest assessment of the sin in my life. I don’t want the attractive nature of sin to take my focus away from a full life with Jesus.

And please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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Hoarders

We adopted a rescue dog, Sky, almost 10 years ago. Sky is a terrier mix…full of nervous energy and excitement.

Perhaps it’s because she was on the streets and abandoned for a while, but Sky is a hoarder. She collects food, toys, food wrappers, containers and other household items- and she hides them in various places. Her favorite spot is her bed, which Sky will crowd with her “prizes”.

While hoarding sometimes has a negative connotation, I thought about another concept this week when I was studying the book of Psalms…where we are asked to fill our hearts with God’s word.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Psalms‬ ‭119:11-14‬ ‭

How do we store up His word? We’ve got to commit to seeking wisdom from the Bible daily.

Find a Bible study and commit to finishing it. Join a small group through your church. Commit to reading God’s word at a certain time each day. Download the YouVersion Bible app on your phone and read a plan with a friend.

If we store up God’s word in our hearts, it’ll spill over into every other aspect of our lives.

My prayer this week is to become increasingly intentional about reading and studying the Bible. I can do better.

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

God bless.

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When the room is spinning

I’ve been struggling with a bout of vertigo the past two weeks. My head spins if I make a sudden movement to the left or right. It’s even worse if I get up and down quickly.

I lose my balance easily too. It’s frustrating.

We aren’t sure what’s causing it. My doctor is hopeful that a round of strong antibiotics will help.

The only peace I have is to keep my eyes fixed straight ahead. If I stay focused on what’s directly ahead of me- I can keep my balance.

I guess that’s great advice for life, too.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25

I tend to get into trouble when I take my eyes off Jesus. It’s easy to do. Worries at work consume me at times. Or family issues distract me from my study of the Bible or prayer time.

Worse yet, sin can separate me from my walk with Christ. I’m too easily distracted by temptation or pride and forget the source of true strength and wisdom.

Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:27

This week I am praying for better focus. I want to be free from the distractions of life that burden me and keep me from truly walking with Jesus.

And please pray for some relief from this vertigo. It’s dampened my spirit.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Unexpectedly seeing Jesus

I was preparing to leave campus for home tonight when I saw a small sign posted on a bulletin board…”Open Bible Study; Thursday evenings at 7pm; room 215.”

I don’t know why, but it surprised me. Surprised by the sign. Surprised that I saw the announcement among a host of other flyers.

I walked to room 215 to see what was going on. And there they were…four students huddled over their Bibles talking about the quest for perfection through Jesus Christ.

We run into Jesus in unexpected places.

The Samaritan woman ran into Jesus unexpectedly in John chapter 4. In a period of pain and shame, He gave her a thirst for “living water.”

In John chapter 8, an adulterous woman received grace from Jesus.

Zacchaeus was considered a cheat and a sinner…a tax collector…yet Jesus called to him and invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home. We see this in Luke chapter 19.

Where have you last seen Jesus unexpectedly? Was it in a random act of kindness from a stranger? Perhaps it was an encouraging note from an old friend.

This week my prayer is to continue to seek Jesus everyday. And to illustrate the love and compassion of Jesus in my own, public walk.

“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

Please let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

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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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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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What’s your Titanic?

The Titanic sank 106 years ago this week. Approximately 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers died when the cruise ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. It’s considered to be the biggest maritime disaster in history.

The ship had been designed to be indestructible, but five compartments were punctured by the iceberg and the entire ship sank in a little over two hours.

Pride and overconfidence can create a Titanic situation in our own lives.

I sometimes get too comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps it’s a streak of success at home or work, or maybe it’s a sense of pride that I feel in my own abilities.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Inevitably, I then experience a “bump” that exposes my weaknesses. Life brings events that us that knock us down and can crush our spirit.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

The key to life is keeping a humble spirit….a prayerful, grateful spirit that guides our thoughts and activities.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11

Spending time in God’s word keeps us centered and humble. If we make our daily walk with Jesus our first priority, we will be better prepared to deal with life’s Titanic “bumps.”

My prayer this weekend is to willingly let go of any pockets of pride in my life. I desire an attitude of service, love and humility.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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