When Life Kicks You…

IMG_2788My son is a kicker on his high school football team.

It’s a tough position.  There are so many ways that kicks can go wrong.  There are bad snaps, holds and blocking. The wind, rain or cold air can impact the trajectory of the ball.  And sometimes- you just miss.

We often talk to our son about three things when he has a bad kick:

Learn from the past.

Focus on the present.

Realize the potential of the future.

Think about what’s happened and try not to repeat it. Turn your attention on the current kick, and try not to think about the last one. And finally…visualize a good, solid kick.

It’s a parallel to our lives as Christians, isn’t it?

Past mistakes and current struggles can separate us from Jesus. We are our own worst enemy….feeling stuck in sin and drowning in a state of despair.

Jesus offers hope.

Learn from the past. An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15

Focus on the present. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

Realize the potential of the future. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24

This week I want to focus on how Jesus defeated sin on the cross so that we might experience grace and forgiveness. My prayer will be to learn from my past, accept forgiveness and move ahead a better, stronger person.

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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Trust

img_7350How do we establish trust?

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review article reports on a study that presents three critical elements leaders need to build trust within their organizations:  positive relationships, good judgement and consistency.

Over 87,000 participants contributed to this research…and I agree that all three elements are essential to becoming a leader worth following.

The Bible says a great deal about these three qualities.

In terms of positive relationships, we are given numerous ways to build and edify others.

  • Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Bible gives us many ways to nurture and develop good judgement.

  • 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
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20

Consistency is encouraged.

  • Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58
  • Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37

God’s word is the ultimate leadership guidebook.

My prayer this week is to be more consistent in my daily study in the Word- and to commit these words to heart as I try to build more trust with all my relationships.

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

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Complainers

I was ambushed by a frustrated person this week, who was angry about a situation at work.

I listened for about ten minutes. At the end of their tirade, I was asked to “fix it.”

Fix it.

My response was to ask this person what solutions they had developed. What were the possible scenarios they had thought about to address their frustration?

“I thought that was your job…” was their response. “That’s why I came to you…so you can fix this.”

I suggested a couple of ways to address the issue, but neither option was acceptable to the person.

I asked them to take some time to reflect on possible solutions to their problem. If they couldn’t develop alternatives, I would need to move ahead with my own ideas on resolution.

I guess it’s a pet peeve of mine. If someone comes to me with a problem- they should at least bring a potential solution.

I’m such a hypocrite in my spiritual relationship with God, however. I realized this yesterday when I looked at my prayer journal.

I’m a complainer.

Oh….I realize that we are told to bring our concerns to God.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

But my prayer notes looked like a laundry list of situations that I wanted God to “fix.” Instead if asking for wisdom and discernment on how to deal with each problem- I just laid it at His feet.

I had also done a great job of casting my cares, but very little to reflect on the great things that God was creating in my life.

I was complaining, but not submitting.

I was pointing out the problems, but not focusing on the blessings.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalms 106:1

My prayer this week is to spend less time complaining to God. I want to first focus on all the blessings He has granted me and acknowledge all of the good that God is stirring in my life.

I also want to ask for wisdom when dealing with life’s problems.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Grateful for a good grade of grass

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I spent some time earlier this month at a conference in San Diego.  It was held on a beautiful resort just north of downtown.  The grounds were filled with acres upon acres of manicured gardens, flower beds and lakes.

One morning I was walking back to my room and noticed movement in a row of shrubs.  Thinking it was some sort of wild animal, I walked to the other side of the path…keeping my eye on the source of the commotion.  Suddenly, a human head popped out from under the bushes…and I realized it was only a gardner who was working on pruning the greenery.  He laughed- realizing that it must have been a strange sight!

I noticed that his shirt bore his name…Jerry.  I told him how much I was enjoying my stay at the resort- and commented that the grounds were beautiful.

After passing a few steps he called back out to me.

“Thank you, sir, for staying here this week.  Because of you- I have a job.”

Wow.

I was humbled by his gentle spirit…and his gratitude.  He was thankful for the ability to work and provide for his family.  What a blessing to hear this heart-felt comment from a total stranger.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

What can you show gratitude for today?  Is it your job?  Your spouse?  Your health?

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:18

We have all received blessings from Jesus.  Let’s take some time this week to reflect on those gifts and offer thanks.

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

I pray this week that I will focus on all the good in my life- and express my gratitude for those blessings.

And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless.

Count Your Blessings- Lyrics

 

 

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

I 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 heartWhatever 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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