I’m the greatest…I think.

fishing

I remember a situation that happened over twenty years ago.  My supervisor asked me to represent him at a state-wide meeting in Nashville.  I was just going over to take notes for him, but I was so honored to be asked to represent my office.  I was proud to be recognized for my work- and I felt as if this was a “reward” for my efforts at the office.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I was called upon to give remarks on behalf of my boss and the work of my office.  There I stood- in the middle of a crowded room- stammering and tripping over my words.  I was unprepared to make a talk that day and I left the meeting embarrassed and with a healthy dose of regret.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2

It was a great lesson for me (and a long ride back to Knoxville).

Has this ever happened to you?  We feel self-sufficient and overly confident in our ability to handle life.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  Romans 12:3

We need a grounded approach to life.  We must continually examine our lives for shortcomings and ways to improve.  We all need a dose of humility every now and then.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 14:11

My prayer for this week is for us to have humble hearts…and look for ways to lift others up.

Please let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Coaching lessons from a Blue Devil

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What are the qualities of a good coach?  We immediately think of people who can develop great game plans…or individuals who are flexible and can make quick adjustments during a game.

The horrible shooting tragedy that occurred in Chattanooga last week gave me a new perspective on coaching.

Our Governor, Bill Haslam, was visiting Erlanger hospital to visit the wounded from last week’s attack on the Navy reserve center.  The wife of one of the wounded soldiers stopped the Governor and informed him that her husband had always admired the Duke University basketball team- especially head coach Mike Krzyzewski.  A comforting message or word from the coach- she said- would mean so much to the critically-wounded soldier.

This set a plan in motion.  Within a couple of hours the story surrounding this soldier had reached Durham, NC and the head of the Duke basketball program- Coach K.  The coach’s travel schedule was hectic, but he created time to contact the soldier’s wife and others caring for the soldier at Erlanger hospital.

He also recorded a special message for the wounded soldier:

This is Coach. I have an important message for you.

You’re on a great team down there in Chattanooga, with all the doctors and the medical staff. But I need you to do your part. I need you to be strong.

The basketball season starts in the fall. We want you sitting courtside.

We want you ready to get into the game.

The young soldier heard the message late in the day.  It was a lift for all involved…the wounded, the family and the hospital staff.  Coach K took quick action.  He engaged.  He understood the situation.  He was empathetic and encouraging.

Sadly, the solider died the next morning.  Coach K’s contact and sincere encouragement, however, had been a real lift in the spirits for all involved- including the wounded serviceman.  He had made a difference.

We all have the ability to be a coach.  What other things do good coaches do?

Set Vision

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

Good coaches trust God to guide their plans.  They listen diligently for God’s instruction when leading others- and go confidently toward their goals.

Engage Others in the Process

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  1 John 3:16

Coaching and leading are about relationships.  You can’t be an effective coach without engaging others.  We exist to help and serve.  We need to demonstrate to others that we care about their lives, hurts, fears and successes.

Develop the Talents of their Team Members

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

Good coaches recognize the gifts and weaknesses of their teams.  They constantly work to help individuals better- either on the court, in the office or at home.

Stay Calm

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

Good coaches keep calm when the world seems to be falling apart.  They are in touch with God’s ever-present sense of peace and wisdom…and they feed off of this strength.

All of us have the ability to coach.  It may be with our children, a neighbor or a family friend.  I pray that we all look for ways to engage and encourage this week.  Showing the love of Jesus to others is, after all, a contact sport.

God bless you.  Please let me know how I can pray for you- and remember the people impacted by the attacks in Chattanooga last week.

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When your kid hurts

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My kid is hurting.

We’ve spent the better part of two years trying to diagnose and treat a sports injury for one of our children.  It’s been a frustrating 24 months…with one treatment followed by another in an effort to alleviate a painful, nagging condition.  We’ve driven to sports medicine clinics all across the state in an effort to find a solution.

We should count our blessings.  While it’s been frustrating, the condition is treatable.  There are many other children facing much more serious situations than what our family is experiencing.

You know the feeling.  Perhaps it wasn’t a sports injury for your child- but there are many “hurts.”  Maybe they’ve experienced disappointment or rejection from a difficult situation at school. Perhaps your adult child has lost a job or experienced stress with their family.  Regardless of the age or situation- it’s tough to see your kids struggle.

We want to protect our children- to shower them with love and take the hurt away.  This response is natural.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Just like we long to protect our children, God cares and wants what’s best for us- His children.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 118:6

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31

While on this earth we will always long for comfort.  What a blessing that this help is unlimited and available to all.

Please pray for me to be more aware of those who need to be comforted. And let me know how I may pray for you.  God bless you.

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Labeled

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“We are what we believe we are.”  C.S. Lewis

Our family has been on an extended trip across the West.  One of the first impressions we make on people we encounter is the “uniqueness” of our accents.  We are immediately labeled as Southerners…and all the preconceived notions that come with it!

Have you ever felt labeled?  Sometimes we just can’t outrun our past.  Perhaps we’ve made distinct impressions on others because of something that we said or did when we were younger.  Maybe it was a mistake we made- unfortunately- in front of a large group of people.  Labels can be hurtful and damaging.

Jesus was labeled.

And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son?  Is not his mother called Mary?  And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us?  Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Matthew 13: 53-57

Despite hearing His teachings and seeing the miracles, many Nazarenes could not fathom the greatness of Jesus.  They had known Him from his youth.  How could this ordinary man be the key to salvation and eternal life?

Of course- this scene from Matthew and many others captured in scripture did not define Jesus.  He was labeled all of His life.  Ordinary.  A fraud.  Common.

But Jesus knew His purpose and mission and He fully embraced His calling.

How are you labeled?  How do labels limit your effectiveness in your walk with Jesus?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

I need to remember it’s not where I started- or even where I am.  It’s about where I want to be.  I want to be a Christ-follower.  That’s the label I want.

Please pray for me to lay aside all obstacles that keep me from pursuing the truth.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Freedom

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Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  1 Peter 2:16

It’s the biggest birthday party of the year.  Tomorrow marks the annual celebration of our nation’s independence.  We show our American pride through parades, firework celebrations and red, white and blue-themed parties with friends and family.  We are a young bunch…a nation established just a little over 230 years ago.

July 4 is an important date to recognize our freedom as a country, but each day of our lives presents an opportunity to celebrate the independence granted through Jesus.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

The apostle Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Galatia.  The birth and death of Jesus had freed people from the Jewish ceremonial laws and restrictive customs, but the citizens of this region had taken advantage of this independence.  They were falling away from the truth and were turning to false teachers and doctrines.

Paul encouraged the Galatians to return to the freedom created by Jesus.

For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5: 13-14

I am no better than the Galatians.  The world is filled with temptation and sin.  We have choices in life, and I find it difficult to make daily choices that reflect a walk of truth, love and compassion.  With freedom comes responsibility.

My prayer for today is that we all walk toward Jesus.  Let us continually seek truth- and let us have the strength to continually live lives worthy of the freedom given to us from Jesus.

Please pray for me to have this strength.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

Celebrate freedom and independence from sin today.  It’s the best birthday gift ever.

God bless.

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