No tricks, just treats

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Our kids love Halloween.

After a round of trick-or-treating several years ago, we returned to our house to greet Halloween guests on our porch.  JT- probably four years old at the time- enjoyed handing out candy to all the costumed characters that entered our yard.

One family stood out more than the others.  Three small children approached our porch and we noticed that they didn’t have costumes.  They weren’t dressed up at all.

The kids looked disheveled and dirty.  Their parents were in an older van with cardboard taped across broken side windows.

The kids politely thanked us for the candy and walked back to their van- driving off into the darkness.

JT asked why they didn’t have costumes.  I responded that perhaps they didn’t want to dress up for Halloween, or perhaps money was tight- and the costumes weren’t a priority for them.

It clearly bothered JT.  He wondered aloud if he could share his costume…or even last year’s.  It just wasn’t fair.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27

Life isn’t always fair, but we should take solace that all of us are equal in the eyes of God.

For God shows no partiality.  Romans 2:11

God doesn’t care about the size of your paycheck.  He isn’t impressed with the car you drive or your job title.  God isn’t even concerned about your past.  He’s focused on you right now…and your potential for the future.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28

It’s pretty simply for us.  There are only treats in a relationship with God…no tricks.

God bless.

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A life worth living

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I’ve had a knot in my throat all week long.

My good friend Grady Bogue died two years ago this week.  I miss him everyday, but this particular week is always a tough one for me.  I cannot imagine how difficult it is for his family.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  Psalm 116:15

We’ve all been influenced and touched by special people in our lives. People who have lifted us up when we fell down.  Men and women who served as examples for us…through their words and actions.

I met Grady as a professor, but over the course of twenty years he became a mentor, advisor and good friend.

Grady was ethical, fair and treated everyone with respect.  He always used the right words on every occasion.  He was an intellectual giant, but a humble servant.  I stated in his eulogy two years ago that he was a champion for the underdog.  While he is gone, his lessons and example remain.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  1 Corinthians 15:22

Cancer took Grady’s body, but it could not take his spirit.

We need to seize everyday, every moment to make life better for others.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

Life is fleeting.  Try to make your life one worth living.  A life that inspires others.

“O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  1 Corinthians 15:55

I pray that all of us discover our God-given gifts and talents to help others.  It’s our duty…and our friends and loved ones deserve it.

God bless you, Grady.  I miss you.

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Are you bleeding?

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With three kids and a busy set of activities each week- someone is always coming home with a bump, scrape or cut of some sort. It may be caused by a fall or a skirmish on the field of play, but most of the time these accidents are unnoticed by our kids. Blood is a badge of honor from a hard-fought practice or game.

I was reading Matthew chapter 9 this week and recalled the story of a woman who had been bleeding for years.

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  Matthew 9:20-21

We don’t know much about this woman…only that she had been struggling with a physical ailment for some time. She had probably tried countless remedies over the course of her lifetime. We can guess that she was exhausted, tired and had given up hope.

Until Jesus.

She didn’t know exactly what to do or how to reach out to Jesus. She simply knew He was nearby. She drew close to Him and reached out to touch his clothing.

Jesus turned and saw her.  “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”  And the woman was healed at that moment.  Matthew 9:22

What faith. What hope. What courage.

When we are faced with adversity we often don’t know what to do. But Jesus knows what we need. We just need to reach out with that same hope…that same faith…and believe that He will help make us clean again.  He knows what we need before we even ask.

Let me know how to pray for you this week. And please pray for me.

God bless.

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What’s rocking your boat?

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My family loves the water.

We are a boating, fishing and swimming family.  The water represents a place of peace.  Tranquility.

Sometimes.

Some of my scariest moments have come on the water.  I’ve witnessed tornados, lightening storms and a hurricane evacuation during my lifetime.

It reminds me of a storm that Jesus and his disciples encountered on the Sea of Galilee.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.  And they went and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”  Matthew 8:24-25

The disciples were afraid.  Although they had just witnessed many miracles performed by Jesus, this storm had created anxiety and fear in them.

What rocks your boat?  Perhaps you are afraid of failure.  Maybe you are struggling with a broken relationship or a bad habit that you can’t seem to break.  Maybe it’s regret from the past.  I have my demons that rise up and interrupt my peace…storms that disrupt my life.

And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”  Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?”  Matthew 8:26-27

When doubt creeps in and disrupts our peace, we need to return to the One who provides all comfort.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

Whatever is robbing you of peace right now, I pray that you give it to Jesus.

Please pray for me.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Kicks that sail wide right

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Our son, Jack Thomas, is a kicker for the West middle school football team.  He’s learned something about kicking…you are only as good as your last attempt.

If any aspect of the snap, hold or kick aren’t perfect, then bad things happen.  It’s a game of inches…and it’s easy for a small mistake to push the ball wide left or right.  Everyone needs to be completely focused.

It’s just like life, right?

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7: 13-14

The path to follow Jesus offers lots of resistance.  Anger, bias, envy, selfishness and jealousy are distractions.  And like a kick in football, the slightest misstep can send us down a wide, destructive path.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

Fortunately- we have a coach that can fill our lives with peace, love and hope.

The width between the goal posts is only 23 feet and 6 inches.  But as a good kick travels closer to the target, the distance seems to grow much wider.  It takes practice.  The same is true for life…good practice makes it easier to deal with life’s obstacles. Prepare for life’s journey with scripture and prayer.

Please pray that I may better deal with distractions in my life.  And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

JT football 2015

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What to do when your neighbor is dying 

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Our neighbor has died.

John had been sick for some time. I hadn’t seen him in almost a year, as cancer had weakened his body and trips outside the home had become few and far between.

One day I saw a number of cars in John’s driveway. His wife, Grace, met me in my front yard and let me know that hospice had moved in. She asked if I would like to say goodbye to John.

I was embarrassed.  I had often asked Grace about John when seeing her out in the yard. I had not, however, visited with John in a long time. I had prayed for him for a year- but I hadn’t prayed with him. I had failed him.

I went into the house and said a silent prayer for John as he slept peacefully. He died late that evening.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  Ecclesiastes 12:7

I have since wondered about other neighbors in the same condition.  Not just those who are physically sick, but those who are spiritually troubled.

People with heavy hearts, tired souls and troubles that give them little hope.  Maybe it’s a bad relationship.  Perhaps depression.  Or maybe life has dealt them so many blows that it’s just hard to keep going.

These are our neighbors.  They need our engagement in their lives.  They need hope.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  I Peter 5:10

I pray for a greater awareness for pain and struggles that others may be dealing with.  I pray that I can help a neighbor with their burden…and that someone might have the awareness to help me when I am struggling.

Please let me know how to pray for you.  God bless you.

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