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Category Archives: Character

I remember standing on the bridge with the barrel of grass clippings in my hands and the next thing I know I’m laying on my back in the dry creek struggling to get my breath, moaning, and wondering what happened. Fortunately, my neighbors heard my moans and cries for help and saved the day. It was almost dark and would have been a long cold night in the creek. Sherri was out of town for the weekend. Now, over four months later, I am back to work, doing relatively well healing from five fractured vertebrae and two broken ribs. My back hurts most of the time but not nearly as bad as the weeks immediately following the accident.

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Granddaughter Harper making all things better!

What have I learned?

I’ve learned that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams with hundreds of friends who have faithfully prayed for me. My gracious neighbor Rusty has mowed my yard several times. Lots of folks brought food, chocolate shakes, and sent hundreds of words of encouragement and love. The five other couples in our prayer group have led the way praying for me constantly. The incredible Edmond Police Department has “had my six” from the start. First on the scene was officer Nate Fountain who not only escorted the ambulance to the hospital but also stuck by my family for the rest of the night. Other officers have checked on me several times everyday. It is a great honor to serve these amazing men and women as their chaplain.

I have learned that patience is required to heal properly. I want things to move along so much faster than they actually do. God has a purpose in moving me through the healing process day after day, seeing gradual improvement and finding encouragement each day.

I have realized God’s protection sometimes involves tragedy at some level. He uses physical pain and suffering to teach us his ways and how to truly trust him for the outcome. I know I could just have easily been paralyzed, had a horrible traumatic brain injury, or I could have died.

I have amazing clients who have faithfully continued to support me and take part in my recuperation. As I returned to work, their interest, patience, and continued compensation, all provided constant encouragement and blessed me beyond words.

Thank you…

  • The many who prayed for my healing.
  • Sherri, who has been so totally faithful and helpful these past months.
  • Those who supported Sherri in those first few weeks after my fall.   I’m not a good patient.
  • The incredible hospital nurses who took care of me for ten days.
  • My favorite people who brought me food to eat!
  • The cops who dropped by to help, talk, and brought chocolate shakes.
  • My family who showed so much concern during my recuperation.
  • My clients who continued to pay me as I healed.
  • The employees I chaplain who called, wrote, visited, and prayed for me.
  • My Panera Church buddies who prayed.
  • Mike, Sherman, Matthew, Michael, and Larry who stayed with me at the hospital and helped me move!
  • My orthopedic physician who watched me carefully and provided great care.
  • Krista, who aggressively led the way in my recovery turnaround.
  • My chiropractor, who just in recent weeks has had a hand in relieving so much pain.

 

Now, a little over four months from the Friday evening I fell off that bridge, I am much better. I am working everyday, working out three times weekly, am 26 pounds lighter, gradually taking on more physical tasks at home and in the yard, and finally getting peaceful sleep.

My advice to you is never fall off a bridge and fracture five vertebrae and break two ribs! Seriously, always take care of those you see are in need. Your provision and help may be exactly what they need at the time. Above all else, pray for those you know who are in need. Never be hesitant to ask God to heal. And finally, expect God to use you when you make yourself available to Him. People have made a difference in my life in the last four months no matter what they did for me!

“As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” Psalm 138:3 NLT

 

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I have enjoyed success most of my life. Failure never seems to set me back very much and quickly turns positive for a variety of reasons. Hardship consists of things not going as planned, which does not mean things do not go well. I live a blessed life, full of close friends, great relationships, a wonderful wife, kids who love me and now, granddaughters who are just perfect. My health never holds me back and I enjoy a variety of activities that keep me moving. I exercise by working in my garden and yard. I walk with my wife and have a job that keeps me on my feet most of the day. A lot of people would choose my life over their own.

Life became more challenging the first week of October 2014, when I noticed a slight tremor in a muscle on top of my left hand.  It became more pronounced over the next couple of months to the point that I went to a neurologist in February 2015.  She diagnosed it as something called Essential Tremor.  That struck me as odd because I did not see much about it that was essential!  Over the next year I watched the tremor become more and more pronounced.  Last February, my doctor finally diagnosed my condition as Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a long-term disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. The symptoms generally come on slowly over time. Early in the disease, the most obvious are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression and anxiety are also common, along with sensory, sleep, and emotional problems. (Wikipedia)

I have a tremor in my left hand.  I have a slight tremor in my left foot that I can feel but cannot see.  I have some slight balance issues and shuffle my feet a little more than I used to.  My vision is presenting some bothersome challenges and my handwriting is getting smaller.

Having said that, I am doing really well.  I am on medication to deal with the tremors.  I have adjusted my diet and try to exercise and stay active.  Nothing has changed really.  I’m still doing everything I want to do.  However, I stay off ladders and am more careful than I used to be.  I am still working full-time and at the age of 63 I have no plans to slow down as retirement age nears.  My doctor has said she sees no reason why I cannot plan on working many more years.

Professor and theologian Wayne Grudem also has Parkinson’s disease. He says, “Parkinson’s usually does not shorten a person’s life expectancy very much, but in any case, I’m happy to live as long as the Lord wills that I live, and to keep on being productive for as long as he enables me to do so.”

Dr. Grudem quotes Psalm 139:16, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

I truly believe that God doesn’t waste anything in our lives and has a purpose in allowing the challenging issues with which we have to deal.  The apostle Paul had to deal with something in his life he referred to as a thorn in his flesh.

2 Corinthians 2:7b-10 NLT says, “7b …So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Dr. Grudem shares his thoughts regarding Paul’s thorn in his flesh. “After some study of 2 Corinthians 12:7, my own conclusion at this point is that there is not enough information in the text to decide what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. There are reasons that can be given in support of all three main possibilities: (1) a physical ailment of some kind; (2) a demon that was harassing him; or, (3) Jewish persecutors. The fact that we are unable to decide conclusively has some benefits, however: it means that we can apply this text to all of these kinds of situations in our own lives, when the Lord in his sovereign wisdom decides not to remove them from us.”

Dr. Grudem continues, “Whatever Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was (and centuries of work by Bible-believing interpreters have failed to turn up a definitive answer), Paul realized that God allowed it to remain with him “to keep me from exalting myself.” (2 Corinthians 12:7), that is, to keep Paul humble before the Lord. So the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

I am choosing to look at my Parkinson’s disease as my thorn. It will serve as a constant reminder to keep my mind and life focused on the things of God. It will remind me how blessed a life I have had so far. It will remind me that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and, in God’s power, I am made perfect in my weakness.

For some reason God wants to use Parkinson’s disease to make a difference in my life and the lives of others.  I have already used the condition of my health in conversations with employees I chaplain who are struggling with other health issues.  Parkinson’s disease is something in my life that I have accepted and intend to use as a blessing.

Pray for me.  Don’t hesitate to ask God to heal me.  But also pray that God uses this disease in my life in a mighty way.  Thank you in advance for your prayers.

The “One Anothers” of Scripture

Love one another (John 13:14)

Accept one another (Romans 15:7)

Be gentle to one another (Ephesians 4:2)

Be patient to one another (Ephesians 4:2)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Be compassionate toward one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)

Weep with one another (Romans 12:15)

Rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15)

Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)

Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)

Honor one another (Romans 12:10)

Prefer one another (Romans 12:10)

Do not judge one another (Romans 14:13)

Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)

Comfort one another (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Do not be arrogant against one another (1 Corinthians 4:6)

Carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)

Serve one another (Galatians 6:2)

Make allowances for one another (Colossians 3:13)

Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Pray for one another (James 5:16)

Do not slander one another (James 4:11)

Do not grumble against one another (James 5:9)

Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)

Be clothed in humility to one another (1 Peter 5:5)

Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)

Minister gifts to one another (1 Peter 4:10)

Stimulate love in one another (Hebrews 10:24)

Fellowship with one another (l John 1:7)

Our problems always seem to have something to do with our finances, kids, husband or wife, job, or health. Trials, hard times, difficulties, problems, something that distracts us from what needs to be done, or something that totally consumes us.

How do you handle this stuff? How do you deal with the problems in your life that always seem to overwhelm you and keep you from living life in a way that brings fulfillment and meaning? In the midst of everything that seems to drag you down and keep you from being happy, how do you live your life productively?

Think about it. What is robbing your life of meaning? Why? What can you do to change it? Let me encourage you to take some time and consider how things are going and what you need to do differently to live a more meaningful life. You may need to get away for a couple of days, or learn something new. You may need to make some hard decisions and stop some form of destructive behavior in your life. You may need help. Ask for it. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends and family. If family is distant and friends are few, then pursue opportunities to put people around you who will help.

Relief may come in the form of service. Much of the time when we are struggling with our own problems, what we need most is to do something for someone else. Volunteer and make a difference someplace. Get your focus off yourself and onto others. It will help.

“The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4 NIV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

I took my sons, Michael and Matthew, turkey hunting on a Saturday morning. We were up early and sitting in the field at daybreak waiting for the turkeys to come off their roost and eat. We called them in and after a while the first “Tom” showed up. Michael waited patiently for him to get close enough to shoot but this Tom was kind of nervous. He finally turned to leave and Michael took his shot…and missed!

We had done everything right. We had the right gear, gun, and ammunition. But Michael missed the shot. He missed his opportunity! Have you ever missed your opportunity? Have you worked at preparing well, gotten everything in its place, and then missed your shot, your opportunity?

Opportunity in our life is defined by our purpose. You need to discover your purpose. I believe you were created for a purpose. Our responsibility is to identify it.

A friend of mine recently posed these questions:

  • For what are we searching?
  • Why were we created?
  • Do we believe in our potential?

 

My friend encouraged us to answer these questions honestly and with no regard for our pride. He encouraged everyone to do what he or she could with what they had wherever they were. You may feel like you are of no value where you are and doing what you do. But you are of great value to God and have incredible potential. Take intentional steps toward reaching your potential and making a difference in the lives of the people around you. Don’t miss the opportunities before you each day!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

My purpose in life is to love God. And I have said for years that all of life boils down to relationships, ultimately one’s relationship with Christ. Loving God and loving others means we realize it can be especially difficult to love others when others have not loved us. But if we allow the behavior and shortcomings of others to influence how we choose to live our own lives then we will never truly love others the way God wants. We will “hole up” in our home or in our heart and never see others benefit from enjoying a healthy relationship with us.

What does loving others mean to you? For me, it means giving, being a blessing, serving, sacrificing, and deferring to another so they will benefit. Sometimes this is easy. Other times it is really hard. I get selfish, hurt, or focused elsewhere on stuff and activities that do not keep me on track to make a difference in the lives of others.

Frankly, you will do a better job if you are making a difference in the lives of others. Find an opportunity to build healthy relationships. You can do it. Civic groups, clubs, churches, and other organizations can provide the platform for healthy relationships all of us need in our lives. Go make it happen!

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:30-31

The other day I was looking out the front window of my home and saw the neighbor boy running up the sidewalk, wearing his Superman t-shirt and cape.  He had his hands out in front of him and I am sure he thought he was flying.  I watched as he stumbled, fell and hit the pavement with both knees and hands.  It startled me but for some reason I just kept watching.  He rolled over and sat on the pavement crying and yelling for help.  In just a moment his ever-vigilant dad was kneeling at his side, holding his little hands and checking out his bloodied knees.  And then, all of a sudden, it occurred to me who the real Superman was! 

I turned 60 the other day.  It was painless but it certainly was not missed or forgotten.  Whether it be well-intentioned friends and family, or just the fact that I do not consider myself “old,” my 60th birthday did not go unnoticed.  I genuinely believe that the next 15 to 20 years will be my best.  I am a better husband and father than ever before.  I am slower to speak and more quick to listen.  I even notice glimpses of wisdom every so often.  I enjoy less not more, simple not complicated, easy not hard, and am more easily entertained than ever.  I have always valued people but now find family and friends more important and significant than I did even a few years ago.  I love entertaining movies, good spy novels, wine, sitting on my deck at night, driving my Jeep,  shooting all of my guns, and spending time with my kids.  My life is much better than I deserve.

At 60 I enjoy work in ways I never did before.  Maybe because my job is not work to me.  It brings me great joy and fulfillment.  It is obvious to me and a few others that being a corporate chaplain is what God “wired me up” to be.  I get to talk with people all day, direct them to what and Who can help them, and hopefully make a difference in their life.  And I actually get paid to do it!

Twenty years ago I was 40.  I rode my first “century” bike ride.  I was raising teenagers.  I had only been married 15 years! My dad was still living.  There was no gray in my hair.  In fact, all of my hair was still on my head!  And, it did not hurt to get out of bed every morning.

What about the next 20 years?  Well, I promise to be a better husband and a man Sherri can count on.  I promise to be the absolute best “Pops” whenever my kids decide to give me grandchildren.  I promise to chaplain and make a difference in the lives of people for as long as I stay healthy.  Retirement is not in the plan.  And I promise to love you, whoever you are, and lead you to the only One who can truly make a difference in your life!

What is a critical spirit?  You know the answer to that question if you are frequently on the receiving end of someone’s critical spirit.

The dictionary defines criticism as “an act of criticizing; to find fault; to blame or condemn.”

A critical spirit is an obsessive attitude of criticism and faultfinding that seeks to tear others down.  We’re not talking about what some refer to as “constructive criticism.”  The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to “build up,” not to tear down.  It is always expressed face-to-face, never behind the back.

If you have a critical spirit, you dwell on the negative and seek out flaws in others.  You complain and are usually upset about something.  You generally have a problem with something and end up whining about it.  You can’t control your speech or temper and you gossip a lot.

What does God say about it?  Take a look at Romans 14:10-13:

“Why do you criticize and pass judgment on others?  Why do you look down on or despise others?  We will all stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of ourselves.  Let’s no longer criticize, blame, and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide to never be a stumbling block, obstacle, or hindrance to anyone.  (Jon’s paraphrase)

How do you get rid of your critical spirit?  First of all you recognize that your critical spirit is a spiritual issue in your life.  Murray Mayfield defines a critical spirit as “a negative attitude that focuses on real or imagined faults with no thought toward a biblical or practical solution.”  Learn right ways to privately and gently confront others when you must.  Recognize that, more often than not, your criticism is sinful.  Get to the place where you can see others the way God sees them…lovingly, with grace and mercy.  After all, that is how He sees you!

Some of the above information is taken from a copyrighted article by Dale A. Robbins.

So many people have made a difference in my life.  So many have left their mark on me.  So many have made me better.  No one more so than my parents.  Others include pastors who fired me, teachers who inspired me, coaches who invested in me, friends who were patient with me and held me accountable, and an incredible wife who challenges me each day to be better.

A couple of years ago God challenged me to make a list of extraordinary men in my life.  These men had to have lived lives that had passed the test of time.  And, I had to have relationship with them.  They could not be men who I merely knew about.  After much thought my list ended at four.  I did not cheapen what “extraordinary” meant.  The dictionary defines extraordinary as “beyond what is ordinary or usual.”  It seems to me that it is much more than that.

The four men include my dad, Judson, who passed away a couple of years ago.  No one has left as big a mark on my life as he did.  He will forever be my hero.  Kent has been my friend and mentor for many years and is the best example in my life of a successful businessman who ministers in the workplace.  Steve is a business owner and one of my clients.  He is passionate about discipling men and running a business that places a high value on making successful employees.  Tom is character defined.  He is a man of great vision and is leaving a legacy of great godly character.

None of these men set out to make a difference in my life in particular.  Making a difference is what sets them apart.  Pleasing God in all that they do is what makes them so extraordinary.  Are you leaving a mark on the lives of people around you?  Are you making a difference or just wasting your life?