Skip navigation

Category Archives: Spiritual Growth/Discipleship

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!

Advertisements

There may not be a better time in the life of a grandparent than right after your toddler wakes from a nap. All rested, peaceful, and anxious to cuddle with her grandfather, 21 month old Harper climbed up in my lap to say hi, rest her head on my shoulder, hold her blankie close, and stay…for a minute.

I left Harper’s house a little later thinking about how precious those moments are and how they just don’t happen often enough. So many grandparents I know don’t live near their grandchildren and those moments are nearly nonexistent to them. Ugh!

I realize the day will come when my grandchildren may not have time for Pops. I don’t look forward to that day. I’d rather just sit on the sofa with a lap full of little girl. I find myself reflecting on the moments I have with my three granddaughters, thanking God for the privilege of being their Pops. I hope I’m up to the challenge!

As I drove away the other day I remembered to pray 1 Timothy 4:12 over Harper, Olivia, and Caroline: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

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.

IMG_0046

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

 

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

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?

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