Educators & Investors

I am thankful today for those people who invested knowledge & wisdom into me. 

I’m thankful for youth pastors like John Hatcher, Randy Trotter and David Wilson. They poured spiritual truth into me faithfully  and consistently. It paid off, gentlemen.

I’m thankful for teachers like my 10th grade geometry teacher who would dress up occasionally as “Mental Man” to help us learn a subject I struggled with… or Mrs. Koch, who taught me how to write a 5-paragraph paper so I would be ready for college. I still use the Pythagorean theorem to this day when working with wood. And almost every sermon I preach begins as a 5-part outline.

I’m thankful for professors like Dr. LeRoy Bartel who taught me to be passionate about accurately studying & presenting Scripture… and Dr. Linda Robins, who pushed me out of my comfort zone to teach me… or Dr. Amy Alexander, who proved to me that there are actually books out there that I would enjoy reading… or Dr. John Wycoff, who showed me there are depths to God that I can appreciate but might never understand this side of eternity. I am in large part the man I am today due to your investment.

And I’m thankful for leaders like Don Wiehe, who taught me that common sense and spirituality flow very well together… and Doug Fulenwider, who exemplified leadership in some of the most minute details that he probably doesn’t know to this day that I took note of… Others benefit now from the time you took to school me hands-on.

Too Many To Name

I’ve left out too many already. The truth is, we each have a large number of people who influence us, invest in us, educate us. We are who we are and can do what we can do because others have poured themselves, their knowledge, their wisdom, their understanding, their experience into us.

Is there someone in your life who poured themselves into you and helped shape you into who you are today? I’d love to hear who they are and how they gave you their knowledge or insight. Please comment below with their story.

Extra Credit

And for all you overachievers- you know who you are- take time right now to read what Proverbs 2 has to say about seeking wisdom, knowledge, insight and understanding.

And then, why not take a moment to shoot them a text, email, social media message or call? I believe it will make their day.

princeofpeace

Citizen Up

I voted today.  Not that I felt like most of the candidates fit my worldview.  I certainly don’t attest to the integrity of most.  But I voted because it is my privilege of a citizen of this nation.  And I proudly wear the sticker.

But I’m not just a citizen of this country in which I live physically…

A Prince, A King & A Kingdom

Isaiah prophesied about Jesus Christ that He would be called the “Prince of Peace.”  Well, since He is a Prince, then we know that His Father must be the King of Peace.  And since there is a King of Peace, then there must be a Kingdom of Peace.

Now, when a person chooses to make God the King of their life, then they become a citizen of His Kingdom… a Kingdom of Peace.  And that makes believers citizens of Peace, the place where they dwell.

Provision & Protection

The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:7 that, as citizens of God’s Kingdom, we “will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a place I want to live… a Kingdom where the King exceeds my expectations and the Prince protects me.

But do we?  Do we dwell in peace?  Do we let peace guide us and direct us?  Do we let peace determine how we think, speak and behave?  Do we prove that we are citizens who live in a Kingdom of Peace ruled by a King of Peace and His Son, the Prince of Peace.

Bought & Paid For

My freedom to vote was bought by others who put their lives on the line for me to have that right here in my earthly country.  And my right to live in the Kingdom of Peace was bought by the Prince who put His life on the line to offer me citizenship.  When I voted today, I affirmed and celebrated my citizenship.  And when I choose to live in peace, I affirm and celebrate my citizenship in God’s Kingdom.

Peaceful Sleep Tonight

So, since my Heavenly citizenship overrides my earthly citizenship, I do not have to fret about the election returns tonight.  I’ll probably watch… and I have an opinion.  But regardless of the outcome of this election, my citizenship in the Kingdom of Peace is secure.  At the end of the night, “In peace I will lie down and sleep,” (Psalm 4:8) because my citizenship affords me that freedom and privilege.

If you are not experiencing peace in a significant way in your life right now, I’d like to encourage you to renew your citizenship in God’s Kingdom of Peace.  The only ID you will need to show is that you have accepted His Son, the Prince of Peace… Jesus.  And then live in that peace that He offers to you.

Peace… It’s a great place to live!

Driving Dread

Most times when I travel a long distance by car or plane, I find myself dreading the drive and seeing it as a necessary means to get to a desired end. And so I end up a little more tense… a lot more bored… and probably somewhat more of a drag to be around. It’s like I forget that the journey can be a fun part of the trip.

The Great Ice Cream Search

On one trip as a family, we decided to make the driving part of the trip a fun part of the whole experience. We determined that we would spend the night twice to break up the trip. We found fun siteseeing activities to do. We even made up our minds to find the best ice cream places all along the way there and home.

And you know what? I enjoyed that trip a lot more. There was less stress. It was more fun. And it actually seemed to pass more quickly than I thought.

And do you know why? Because I was enjoying it rather than enduring it.

Destination Disease

Do you ever catch yourself putting up with life instead of pleasantly pursuing it? It’s easy to get caught in the trap of having what has come to be known as “destination disease.” That’s where we think things will be better when we “arrive” at some point in life… when we accomplish that dream… when we reach that goal.
But there can be joy in the journey if we choose to see it & grab hold of it. And that can happen when we recognize that our good God made this day. Since He made it and has good things in store for us… since He created it & has everything completely under control… then we can choose to rejoice & be glad in it.

Enjoy!

Let me challenge you today… enjoy every moment with your spouse, your kids, your parent. Soak in all the great things about your job. Rejoice in the blessings you have today.

And the good news is… God made tomorrow also & so can already know today that you can rejoice then as well!

Challenged

You’ve gotta love it when your eight-year old calls you out…

I’ll admit, I’ve allowed myself to become somewhat undisciplined in the area of exercise. But I’ve had enough, and so I am determined to get back to premium condition.

This morning that meant attempting at least 100 push-ups in sets of twenty-five. Alex was awake and decided to do some with me. I asked him how many push-ups he thought I could do in sets of twenty-five. He told me he thought I could do 125 and so I set out to show him that I could do it.

Called Out

I finished the first set of twenty-five. And as I sat down to rest between sets, he says, “Just think, Daddy, if you would have done just one more, you would have done better than you thought you could.”

Inspired

Okay, sure, it stung a little. But it also inspired me. I realized that I could do more than I had set in my mind. I recalled that the Navy Seals say that most people quit at about 60% of their potential. And so I determined that I may not be a Navy Seal, but I can at least do what my eight-year old believes I can.

I did thirty push-ups in the next set. Then thirty-five in the next. (Yes, I’m trying to impress you. Ha! But don’t be too impressed, I scaled back down to twenty and then finished with fifteen.)

More

I’m not typically a guy who always has to push for more… unless it’s dessert. But I was reminded today that I can do more when I need to.

So can you. Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t quit believing. Don’t stop at the point where you know it’s manageable. You can do one more!

“Anything is possible if a person believes.” (Mark 9:23 NLT)

Ask

Our sons don’t mind asking us for practically anything.  They make extensive, detailed Christmas wish lists. They ask us for their favorite snacks. They ask us to do favors for them. They ask regularly.

Receive

And you know what? Quite often they get exactly what they ask for. Only if they ask with a wrong attitude or for something that would not be good for them do we usually say “no.”

Sure, you could say we spoil our kids. I don’t view us as extravagant, though. We simply love them and want to bless them.

Invited To Ask

The same is true for those of us who have been adopted into God’s family. As His children, we are allowed… dare I say, even invited… to ask Him for what we want.

Smiles All Around

And He delights in blessing us as His kids. He enjoys giving us not only what we need, but the very desires of our hearts. He smiles on us with His generosity and then smiles more when we smile at receiving His blessings.

So, let me ask you today… What would you like God to do for you?  If you’re His child, why not ask? If you ask with the right attitude and it won’t harm you, don’t be surprised when He gives it you.

Just one verse later in Matthew 7, Jesus says, “For everyone who asks, receives.” There is nothing wrong with asking. Don’t be shy. Don’t be timid. Just come right out with it and ask the Lord to do it for you.

Today I am thankful for… seasons.

Fall is probably my favorite because living in the Deep South means at least six months of sweltering heat, and Fall means a break from all that sweating. It also often means vacations in the Smokies, making s’mores over an open fire and the onset of some major holidays.

Of course, I love Winter because it brings the joy of Christmas and all that goes along with it. I love everything from Black Friday sales… to Christmas music being played everywhere…  to time with family that we rarely get to see.

And it leads right into New Year’s. Ahhhh, the start of a new year offers such hope and potential. I love committing to work out more and eat better. I love setting goals. I love starting over.

But then there is Spring. And I love it, too. It’s a great season. Everything in nature is springing to life again. And I’m so ready by that point to have longer days again. Yes, it is indeed a great season.

And for all of my complaining about the oppressive heat of summer, the truth is that it’s the best time of the year for playing in the water sprinkler, going to camp and kids being out of school. So, I guess I can’t complain too much when it’s that great.

You know, I guess I should just relax, rejoice and enjoy each season of life that comes like I do the seasons of nature. There truly is a season for everything.

What’s your favorite season of the year? And what has been your favorite season of life so far?

Common to the human condition is that, when we go through a difficult situation in life, we are tempted to feel like we are alone… like no one else has gone through this. Or at the very least, they’ve never experienced it like we have.

So, we pull back from those who love us and who could help us navigate that challenge successfully. In so doing, we make ourselves feel even more isolated in our struggle. And as we see ourselves as more isolated, we tell ourselves that no one cares or understands.

From there, the enemy enters the picture and begins to emphasize our alone-ness. He drives a wedge deeper between us and our support network. As we begin to feel worse about ourselves for pulling away from everyone, he points out that we must be bad… that others don’t have the kind of thoughts or feelings we do… that others wouldn’t respond the way we are.

And so we isolate ourselves more out of fear… fear of someone finding out what we think or feel… fear of someone finding out we don’t have it all together.

But that’s just what the enemy of our souls wants. He wants to separate us from the crowd. Why? Because, as Alton Garrison has said on many occasions, “It’s the banana that gets separated from the bunch that loses its skin.” The enemy uses a divide-and-conquer method.

The truth is, you’re not alone. You’re not alone in what you’re feeling or thinking. Not only have others felt and thought those same things throughout history, some of your friends are feeling and thinking them right now.

What it takes to break through to some sense of feeling normal is to:

– press back toward those in our support network with whom we are closest

– open up and talk about our thoughts and feelings

– and ask if others have felt like that and thought things like that.

When we find out we’re not alone in our struggle, we begin to realize that it’s okay to face challenges and have to work through them. God gave us each other to help overcome.

Together means we don’t have to face the challenges on our own. Together, we know to pray for each other. Together, we can overcome our challenges.

 So no matter what you think or feel right now, know this…

You’re… not… alone.