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Category Archives: Relationships

September 2001 we met for the first time.  It was supposed to be a couple’s Bible study but it turned out we needed fellowship and prayer support more than Bible study.  Nearly every week since then (16 years at this writing) we have met in each other’s homes, eaten a whole lot of truly great dinners, enjoyed some fellowship, shared prayer requests, and prayed over each other.  We have raised each other’s children and now we’re raising grandchildren.  We have been to weddings, graduations, funerals, and retirement receptions.  We have laughed and cried together, enjoyed the best of times, and dealt with the worst of  times.  But, we have always been there for each other…always.  There is nothing I wouldn’t do for the other 11 people in my “Monday Night Group.”

Today all of us sat on two pews at St. John the Baptist Catholic church in Edmond and struggled through the funeral mass of Diane’s father.  We are at the age that we have begun to bury our parents and other family members all too often.  Today  all of us sat and prayed for Diane.  We were right where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to be doing.

Everyone should have a “Monday Night Group.”  I realize, however, that most people don’t.  The average life of a small group in most churches is 13 weeks.  When whatever curriculum they are studying that quarter ends the group typically breaks up.  Sixteen years ago none of us had any idea we would still be meeting together every week.  But we are and there does not seem to be any reason for us to stop anytime real soon.  So, we’ll keep on meeting, praying, and being there for each other until God has a different idea.  I’m glad, because this group of people is what God meant for the church to be and it is the best church experience I have ever had.  Go make yourself a small group that makes a difference in your life.  Do it now!

Just so you’ll know, there is nothing better than time with your granddaughter!  It really doesn’t matter if she is asleep or awake, happy or cranky, clean or, well, you know.  I am a blessed man with three wonderful granddaughters and grown children who have turned out to be pretty special parents.  Their mom taught them well.  We were so fortunate to have the whole crowd at our home on Memorial Day.  I sat at the end of the dinner table out on the deck and looked over my family.  It made my heart happy!!!

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Pops getting some quality time with Harper Steele Beaty.

June 2, 2016 I sat beside my wife during the funeral service thinking about the many old friends who sat near us. We were there to remember Bernice who had been one of those old friends. 34 years earlier I had joined the staff of the Putnam City Baptist Church where Sherri and I found some of the best friends we have ever had. Bernice and her husband, Charlie, were among those friends.

We are part of a group of six couples from Putnam City who have celebrated New Years Eve nearly every year since we all got together so long ago. Sherri and me, Charlie and Bernice, and the Coys, Staffords, Harris’, and Browns had my ministry in common. They each volunteered in the church in some phase of ministry I was responsible for. Some of the group had known each other since childhood. Terry Coy and I met in college. We shared life, kids, and ministry. Those days were very special to me.

I suppose the group will continue to celebrate New Years Eve but it will be very different without Bernice. We have scattered over the years. That is one reason we continue to get together at least that one time each year. I left Putnam City after nine years on staff to run a counseling ministry. Terry and Sandy Coy moved to Fort Worth. Two other couples left Putnam City for other churches. But through the years we have remained friends. Why? Because all of life boils down to relationships and friends are worth keeping. It does take some effort to maintain relationships. Proverbs 27:10 urges us to “never abandon a friend.” Charlie needed his friends around him today, and we were there. We were there for him, and we were there for each other.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17

As a minister I love officiating weddings; especially when I know the couple and have invested in their lives. So to have the opportunity to officiate my daughter’s wedding was a special treat for me. But what if I cried? What if I could not continue with the ceremony? A daddy is supposed to cry at his daughter’s wedding. Right? I had officiated the wedding of my son, Matthew and his beautiful bride, Ali just seven months before…and I cried. But it all worked out to be a perfect day and wedding.

The first time I knew I was in troubDSC_1248le at Emily’s wedding was as I walked my beautiful bride of 36 years down the aisle…and cried, although it was silently and I covered pretty well. Then as the doors opened and I stood there with my precious daughter on my arm facing the crowd of people who were there to express their love to Emily and eat my tacos, I cried. I walked her down the aisle and ever so gently, cried my eyes out. It was such a precious time for her and for our family. I was finally giving her away to a special guy who adores her and is a wonderful husband for life.

Steele’s best man was his dad, Russell who finally asked me that question every father either dreads hearing or has anxiously anticipated, “Who gives this woman in marriage?” “Sherri and I,” I replied. Then I took my place in front of the couple and throughout the service, struggled keeping it together. It was fun and having the opportunity to officiate my kid’s weddings is an incredible experience for me.

I try to keep from developing unreasonable expectations. I think getting through the weddings of my son and daughter without showing any emotion is pretty unreasonable. So, my expectation of crying at my daughter’s wedding went fulfilled…and I survived.

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

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.

I heard his voice yesterday. I opened the package from my cousin and it was a cassette tape of his mother’s funeral years ago. In the service my dad spoke for a few minutes and then prayed. It was the first time I had heard his voice since he passed away two years ago.

Seeing what it was, I went and got my wife’s cassette player, took a seat in my recliner, and listened to the tape by myself. I cried. I cried again as I thought about the experience earlier today. I am crying now as I write this. His voice was comforting. His voice took me back to a time in my life when my dad represented stability and security. He was larger than life and in him I could find no fault. He shared with me absolute and unconditional love. For a long time he was the most important person in my life.

I call my wife a couple of times each day. Sometimes I think it bothers her but usually I just want to hear her voice; to know she is there and that all is well. I call my kids, usually for no reason at all, other than to hear their sweet voices and know that they are alright. I call my mom nearly every day just so she will know the comfort of a son’s voice. And after all these years, I wish I could call my dad and hear that comforting voice on the other end of the telephone.

Who do you need to call today? Whose voice is precious to you and represents all that is good in your life? Don’t neglect those voices. Make the call because someday the only way you will hear that voice is on an old cassette tape.

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?

I recently listened as a man explained what it meant to truly forgive someone who has wronged you in some way.  He defined forgiveness as a decision to release a person from the obligation that results when they injure you.

Years ago one of my closest friends betrayed me in our relationship.  He shared information from our conversation with another person.  Doing so nearly cost me my job.  I had assumed we were speaking in confidence but he obviously felt it was necessary to share the conversation with another person.  It nearly destroyed our relationship.  It impacted our families in a hurtful way.  It made things very awkward with mutual friends.  It was not a positive experience in any way…until forgiveness took place.

Eventually he called and asked to see me.  We met over lunch and he humbly asked for my forgiveness.  With some degree of reservation I forgave him.  But it was still rather awkward around him and I struggled trusting him.  But that was years ago and the decision to forgive him has nurtured a renewed and precious friendship.  Not until I released him from the hurt he caused did we move forward in our relationship.  Today we enjoy time together and I count him among a group of very special and old friends.

If you are choosing to withhold forgiveness then you are holding yourself captive along with the one who wronged you.  Forgiveness brings you freedom.  It gets you out from under the heavy burden of unforgiveness.  Forgiveness is a decision you make and can result in restored relationships.  Make a decision today to forgive!

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Matthew 6:14