You Get What You Don’t Pay For

Hollianne and I have a coffee problem.  It’s a bit of an addiction.  We love a good cup of coffee.  She and I sip on it all day long.

And I hate to admit it, but we’ve spent lots of money over the years on coffee makers for our home.  Machines that grind fresh coffee beans.  Coffee makers that allow you to make speciality drinks.  Machines that have more advanced settings than we’ll ever use.

And you know what? We’re always disappointed.  No matter how much we spend on coffee makers, eventually something goes bad. The heating element doesn’t work. The water reservoir doesn’t drain properly. The grounds drain into the coffee pot. 

A couple of months ago, Hollianne brought home a $19 coffee machine from Wal Mart. It was a basic Mr. Coffee brand- probably marketed toward college students. There are no special features…just a plain old coffee maker that you would expect to see in any number of hotel chains across the country.

And it’s perfect. The coffee is hot. Grounds don’t seep into the pot. It’s easy to use…and the flavor is incredible.

A wonderful product at a bargain price.

As believers, we have been given THE perfect gift…a gift that Jesus purchased for us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 

We cannot purchase the gift of eternal life. It was given to us by Jesus. 

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

A gift that we cannot buy…a beautiful promise of hope and peace. 

And unlike expensive coffee makers, Jesus will never let us down.

My prayer this week is that I’ll focus on the simplicity of the scriptures- and that I’ll reflect daily on the sacrifice of Jesus. 

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

God bless you. 

Standard

No need for a Hail Mary

img_0098Last week’s Tennessee/Georgia football game was one for the ages.

A capacity crowd of 92,746 witnessed it live from Stanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.  Another 4.2 million college football fans watched it on television.

The storyline went something like this…

Georgia scored a go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds remaining to lead 31-28.

Thousands of Tennessee fans turned off their television sets, computers and radios and missed what happened next.

The ensuing kickoff got the Vols just inside Georgia territory.  Tennessee quarterback  Josh Dobbs had time to run one play…a Hail Mary pass into the Georgia end zone as time expired.  (see the play here)  Tennessee wins 34-31.

Statisticians later gave the Vols less than a 1% chance to complete the pass and win the game.  Think about that…a 99% chance for failure.  Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39

We are faced with challenges everyday.  Worry and fear can overtake us and leave us feeling helpless. But the sacrifice of Jesus gives us victory over all obstacles that this life can present.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  I John 4:16

There’s no need for a Hail Mary when it comes to life on this earth.  We have all we need for victory.

Please pray for me to worry less- and to trust in Jesus more.

And let me know how to pray for  you.

God bless.

 

Standard

Outside


I went outside to pray this morning. 

It was just before daybreak. There were no signs of the sun or stirring animals. The only other presence I felt was the rustling sound of leaves from a cool breeze. 

As I worked through my prayer list I slowly noticed the emerging signs of a new day. Birds began to chirp. Crickets started to call out in a pleasant rhythm. The deer and squirrels made faint noises as they began to stir around deep in the woods. 

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. Psalm 145:5

And then the sunrise. 

The light quickly chased the darkness away. Colors of grey, blue and orange pushed back remnants of the nighttime sky. 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

I didn’t go outside this morning to intentionally take in God’s handiwork. But it became an overwhelming experience for me. It brought me peace. It let me focus. It warmed my heart.  It calmed my broken spirit. 

I challenge all of us to change up our prayer routine this week. Get outside and go to a different spot. Read from God’s word and meditate on His love for you. And then meditate and pray while surrounded by God’s creation. 

And remember that you are the greatest example of God’s handiwork. 

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

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

God bless you. 

Standard

Labeled

IMG_6227

“We are what we believe we are.”  C.S. Lewis

Our family has been on an extended trip across the West.  One of the first impressions we make on people we encounter is the “uniqueness” of our accents.  We are immediately labeled as Southerners…and all the preconceived notions that come with it!

Have you ever felt labeled?  Sometimes we just can’t outrun our past.  Perhaps we’ve made distinct impressions on others because of something that we said or did when we were younger.  Maybe it was a mistake we made- unfortunately- in front of a large group of people.  Labels can be hurtful and damaging.

Jesus was labeled.

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son?  Is not his mother called Mary?  And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us?  Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Matthew 13: 53-57

Despite hearing His teachings and seeing the miracles, many Nazarenes could not fathom the greatness of Jesus.  They had known Him from his youth.  How could this ordinary man be the key to salvation and eternal life?

Of course- this scene from Matthew and many others captured in scripture did not define Jesus.  He was labeled all of His life.  Ordinary.  A fraud.  Common.

But Jesus knew His purpose and mission and He fully embraced His calling.

How are you labeled?  How do labels limit your effectiveness in your walk with Jesus?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

I need to remember it’s not where I started- or even where I am.  It’s about where I want to be.  I want to be a Christ-follower.  That’s the label I want.

Please pray for me to lay aside all obstacles that keep me from pursuing the truth.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

Standard

I’ve lost my son

IMG_1083

My son, JT, was gone.

Hollianne, the kids and I were living in a residence hall on the UT campus back in the winter of 2011.  We had just returned to Knoxville for my job, and we were living in Laurel Apartments until we could find a house.

It was a Sunday morning and Hollianne had gotten up early.  She peeked into the living room where JT had been sleeping on a couch.  He wasn’t there.  She looked in the spare bedroom in the apartment- thinking he had crawled into a bed with his siblings.  He wasn’t there either.

She then noticed that the door to the apartment was unlocked.  Panicked, Hollianne woke up the rest of the family and we began the search for our missing son.  We ran up and down the hallways of Laurel apartments- calling his name.  We asked the student worker at the front desk if she had seen JT…even called the campus police.  He was nowhere to be found.  We feared the worse…that he had wondered outside the building and into the Fort Sanders neighborhood during the darkness of the night.

Fortunately, a woman who was cleaning the study lounge emerged into the lobby and announced that there was a little boy asleep on the couch.  It was JT.  A review of the security cameras showed him leaving our apartment in the middle of the night and sleep-walking into the student lounge.  There he was- safe, unharmed, well-rested and lacking any recall of what had happened during the night.  It was the scariest 15 minutes of our lives.

Remember when Mary lost her son?  Luke chapter 2 tells about the scary situation when she and Joseph realized that they couldn’t find Jesus.  They had been visiting Jerusalem and Jesus decided to stay behind- without telling his parents.  They traveled back to Jerusalem and found Jesus teaching in the Temple…after a three-day frantic journey and search.

Mary also knew that she would eventually lose Jesus again to death.  John chapter 19 tells us that Jesus spoke to his mother, Mary, as he was dying on Calvary’s cruel Cross .  Can you imagine the suffering she felt watching Jesus endure such horrible physical and mental anguish?

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:30

But the story doesn’t end there for Jesus, for Mary…and for you and me.

John chapter 20 tells us about the stone that was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb.  And about the empty tomb…and about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and the Disciples.  And of the incredible power that came to those that believed in Jesus…those that were committed to continuing His work to seek and save the lost.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:11

The story only starts with Mary losing Jesus.  His awful death was the beginning of a great new story of hope and love and faith.  He lost His physical life, defeated sin and death…and on the third day He arose.  He arose and granted the ultimate sacrifice…the forgiveness of my sins.  I could have been His lost son, but He has fulfilled a great promise to continue loving and caring for me.  And for every one of you, too.

He arose.  Thank God.

God bless you all.

Standard