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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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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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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Chased by my past in Nashville

I went for run in Nashville today. It was just before daybreak- and it was really dark.

My hotel was near the Tennessee Titans stadium, so I thought I’d enjoy a run through downtown and across the bridge to the football complex.

I love that bridge. We’ve walked it dozens of times over the years to attend Titans games. It gives you a beautiful views of downtown Nashville and the Cumberland River.

And the view from the bridge this morning didn’t disappoint. Although it was pitch black, I could still see the lights of the downtown buildings and the channel lights outlining the river.

But I wasn’t alone.

Soon after entering the bridge I heard footsteps behind me. I turned to look and saw a dark, shadowy figure about 20 feet behind to my left.

I picked up my pace. I thought that I might be able to put some distance between the stranger and me.

But I couldn’t. The footsteps seemed to get closer and the figure appeared to be gaining ground.

My heart was racing. Was I being stalked? Was I being chased? I didn’t have my phone with me. My mind was racing with bad thoughts. I had to get away.

I finally reached the other end of the bridge and ran down the ramp to the stadium exit as fast as I could. I looked over my shoulder to see that nothing was behind me. Whatever was chasing me had stopped.

I ran for another 20 minutes to allow the sun to come up. Daybreak would give me the courage to again cross the bridge.

But in the daylight, everything became clear.

As I crossed the bridge I determined that the footsteps I had heard earlier were my own. The echo of my own steps bouncing off the bridge walls gave the impression of a second set of footsteps.

And the dark, shadowy figure? Trash cans. Large, slim industrial trash cans neatly spaced alongside my running route.

It was all in my head. The darkness veiled my view of reality.

Guilt from my past can do the same thing. It can distort my thoughts.

Sometimes my past haunts me. Even though I repent and change course, my sin follows me.

Past sin can make me feel as if I’m not worthy. Imperfect. Unforgiven.

But that’s not what God says.

I, I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25

Our sins are wiped away. With repentance, God will “not remember your sins.”

We need to accept God’s forgiveness. We need to quit looking back.

And we need to move forward with confidence.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1

Let’s run like the lions.

My prayer this week is to forgive myself of guilt and sin from the past- and look forward with hope and resolve to be better.

And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Cracked

Hollianne and I were recently driving back from a dinner when a semi truck threw a rock into my windshield.

The impact created a crack that was less than an inch long.  It was just a little scratch.

The scratch quickly grew.  The damage now stretches across my entire windshield and has started to splinter off in a couple of new directions.  It’s now difficult to ignore the damage when driving the truck.

Isn’t that a lot like sin?

I sometimes let anger or pride overtake me in a weak moment.  It may not be expressed outwardly, but it’s there…just beneath the surface.  And while it might not dominate my day- it stays in my head and heart…and I can dwell on it.

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

Left unchecked, this sin can spread and grow into other aspects of my life.  It can leave me bitter, unfulfilled and angry.  It’s noticeable to others.

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

My prayer this week is to recognize the sin in my life- and to have the courage to confront it before it overtakes me.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Uninvited dinner guest

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Hollianne and I love to entertain. We enjoy having people over for dinners, cookouts or even hosting groups of our kids’ friends and teammates for a swim or an outdoor movie.  

We’ve recently met our match, however. 

In the wooded 40 acre wooded expanse behind our home lives a raccoon. A large, hungry raccoon. This creature waits until the dark of night before climbing our iron fence and rummaging through our backyard.  He turns over small tables and crawls over our furniture looking for a dropped morsel of food or a misplaced snack. 

He’s strong too, as he routinely moves barriers we’ve created to secure our trash. Daybreak often brings a task of picking up the remnants of his midnight snack- which he leaves littered across the yard. 

The raccoon even terrorizes our dog, Sky.  Sky refuses to go in the backyard after the sun sets. 

  
I can relate to this phenomenon in my personal life. There are uninvited traits and character flaws that expose my weakneses every day. Jealousy. Anger. Pride. These and other undesirable traits hide beneath the surface- waiting for the opportune moment to come out and hurt relationships with friends, co-workers and loved ones. 

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.  James 4:17

I know these traits exist, yet it’s a struggle to confront them.

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

Fortunately, we have help. 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I need to confront these traits and ask for help. I am weak, but He is strong. 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

Please pray for me to have the courage to face those pieces of my nature that separate me from Jesus. Help me break down barriers that keep me from having good, meaningful relationships with others. 

And let me know how I may pray for you. 

God bless. 

Oh…and by the way…raccoons struggle to figure out the science behind a set of good bungee straps. Thank goodness. 

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Secrets

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Our youngest, Britton, loves a good secret.

Let me clarify that statement.  Britton (a.k.a. B) loves to tell a good secret!  If you have something in our house that needs to be kept under wraps…birthday gift, family surprise or a trip location…it’s best to not let the big guy know.  With B there are NO secrets.  If he knows something, he tells it.  If he’s feeling something, you can see it in his face.  He’s one of the most transparent people I know.

How many of us have secrets that we don’t reveal?

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

Hidden pieces of our character and our human nature that we don’t want others to see.  It might be anger, greed or jealousy.  I have them.  There are secret rooms in my heart that I need to address.

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 all need to realize that there are no secrets with God.  He knows our thoughts and every weakness.

Secrets can consume us and keep us from walking with Jesus.  The best way to deal with secrets is to shed light on our problems.  Confess our weaknesses and ask for help.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

We have the ultimate Counselor.

Please pray for me to rid my heart of secrets.  And let me know if I may pray for you.

And don’t tell B what you’ve purchased anyone for their birthday.

God bless.

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