You Get What You Don’t Pay For

Hollianne and I have a coffee problem.  It’s a bit of an addiction.  We love a good cup of coffee.  She and I sip on it all day long.

And I hate to admit it, but we’ve spent lots of money over the years on coffee makers for our home.  Machines that grind fresh coffee beans.  Coffee makers that allow you to make speciality drinks.  Machines that have more advanced settings than we’ll ever use.

And you know what? We’re always disappointed.  No matter how much we spend on coffee makers, eventually something goes bad. The heating element doesn’t work. The water reservoir doesn’t drain properly. The grounds drain into the coffee pot. 

A couple of months ago, Hollianne brought home a $19 coffee machine from Wal Mart. It was a basic Mr. Coffee brand- probably marketed toward college students. There are no special features…just a plain old coffee maker that you would expect to see in any number of hotel chains across the country.

And it’s perfect. The coffee is hot. Grounds don’t seep into the pot. It’s easy to use…and the flavor is incredible.

A wonderful product at a bargain price.

As believers, we have been given THE perfect gift…a gift that Jesus purchased for us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 

We cannot purchase the gift of eternal life. It was given to us by Jesus. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

A gift that we cannot buy…a beautiful promise of hope and peace. 

And unlike expensive coffee makers, Jesus will never let us down.

My prayer this week is that I’ll focus on the simplicity of the scriptures- and that I’ll reflect daily on the sacrifice of Jesus. 

And please let me know how I can pray for you.

God bless you. 

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Naked on the Highway

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Our family took a seven day trip to northern California this past week.  We saw great sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, three National Parks and incredible architecture in downtown San Francisco.

But what our kids will remember most wasn’t on the itinerary.

We saw a naked man standing on the side of the road on US Highway 1.

Completely naked. In broad daylight. In plain view.

Traffic was at a standstill, as all the automobiles traveling along our path were slowing down to watch the police try to “contain” this man.

Needless to say- this incident sparked much conversation in our car.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why’s he doing that?”

“Is he in trouble?”

While we don’t know the events that led up to that particular moment in time, we do know that the man was under much stress.  Great despair.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Psalm 34: 17-20

While you or I may never find ourselves naked on the side of the freeway, there are times when we feel vulnerable and unprotected.  Perhaps there is uncertainty in your marriage or in our family lives.  Maybe work has created an unsettling environment for us.  Whatever the cause, life can hit us with punches that we don’t expect and leave us reeling.

But when all else fails- remember that we have Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

My prayer for this week is to let go of the stress and anxiety that life brings my way.  I need to focus on the calming, healing power of Jesus…and ask for his help immediately when faced with uncertainty.

Let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

 

 

 

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Running Away from Home


I’ve returned to the region where I was born and raised.  On a weekly basis, I’m seeing faces and visiting places that I’ve not seen in decades.

It all came full circle last Thursday.  I was set to talk to a group of high school seniors at a rural high school in northwest Tennessee.  As we pulled up to the school- I was overwhelmed with memories from over forty years ago.

My dad was a high school basketball and football coach in the area.  Some of my most vivid memories involve those games.  Sitting on the bench with the team.  Watching dad make coaching adjustments at halftime.  And the bus rides to the road games.  Yes- the lengthy rides on those long, yellow school buses to little towns all over West Tennessee.

And here we were….forty years later…pulling into a beautiful school that time had forgotten.  The football field, the tiny gym- even the shape of the oval parking lot- was all the same as when I was a child.

All at once I had returned to my roots.  It seemed that those forty years had gone by in an instant.  I thought about my parents, my relatives in the area and those great players on dad’s high school teams in the 1970’s.  It was a time of innocence for me.  Purity.

I’ve experienced quite a bit of “life” since then.  Disappointment, heartache and pain.  I’ve hurt others and done plenty that I regret.  Life’s much more complicated now.

But it doesn’t have to be.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”‭‭ Joel‬ ‭2:12-13‬

God invites us to come home- regardless of how long we have wondered.  We are to bring our sadness and pain to Him….just return to Him with all our heart.  He’s “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…”

Jesus has provided an avenue for a homecoming…and I’m grateful for this road home.

Please pray for me to become a more complete husband, father, son and worker as I transition back to this region.

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

God bless.

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Overpaid


My son, JT, and I recently attended an NBA game to celebrate his birthday. We loved the pagentry of the arena and the passion of the fans as their teams made a final push for playoff spots.

We investigated team rosters to better follow the action. Interestingly enough, the online information also included their salaries. These men were all earning between $1-15 million a year to play basketball.

Ironically, it didn’t seem that all of these players were working that hard. The offenses were incredible, but the defense was non-existent. Players weren’t getting back on defense and the lack of effort to guard the offensive players was startling.

JT remarked that his youth league coaches would demand more effort.

We agreed that the coaches weren’t getting their money’s worth out of their teams.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

It’s a good thing that God isn’t so critical of my performance.

I’m flawed. I sin.

I struggle with a hardened heart.

I don’t deserve the rewards that God has promised me.

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21

But Jesus died for me. You too. He died so we could be saved from sin. And while I can never repay this sacrifice, I owe it to Him to put away all my sinful habits and to try and be the man that God desires.

I’m overpaid, but grateful.

Please pray for me to be more loving and forgiving. And let me know how I may pray for you.

God bless.

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Renewal

UT Martin graduation

I love going home to West Tennessee.

I had the pleasure of heading to UT Martin to assist with commencement earlier today.  One of the most satisfying moments while working in higher education is witnessing a graduation ceremony. There are lots of moments to celebrate in one’s life- and college graduation is one of the greatest.

My job was to welcome the graduates into the University of Tennessee family.  I congratulated them on their achievement and commended them for their perseverance.  Many had experienced some sort of hardship.  They had all encountered obstacles.  Some took a quick route to their degree…while others had to delay their journey due to illness, finances or other unforeseen struggle.  Their journey to the degree was irrelevant at this point, however.  They were graduating and moving on to a new set of experiences. I stood on that pine wood stage and witnessed these students enter a new chapter of their lives.  They were renewed.

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the hints that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16

We have all struggled.  We’ve all encountered stress and strife.  But Jesus Christ offers us the opportunity for renewal every day.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,…  Ephesians 1:7

What a blessing to have the promise of a fresh start through God’s love and unending grace.

Congratulations to all new graduates across our country this December…and thank God for the forgiveness and renewal offered every day through the blood of Jesus.

God bless you.  Let me know if I can pray for you.

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Hit and Run

I was hit this morning in Memphis.

I was stopped at a traffic light along Riverside Drive. I casually glanced up at my rear-view mirror just in time to see a red Toyota compact bearing down on me quickly. The driver was obviously distracted, probably checking her iPhone for a text message or changing her radio dial.

I braced for the collision- knowing that the impact was only moments away. The driver looked up at the last instant, applied her breaks, and then slammed into my bumper.

Before I could gather my thoughts, the light turned green and traffic started moving again. The driver behind me had her head in her hands- looking straight out her winshield to survey the damage to her hood.

I slowly moved forward and looked for a place to pull over. I turned on my signal to indicate a right-hand turn on Jefferson Street, hoping that the lady behind me would follow. I wanted to make sure she was o.k., survey the damage to our vehicles, and exchange insurance information if necessary.

I was glad to see that she had decided to follow me on Jefferson. I looked at her car in my rear-view mirror, but I could not see the severity of the damage. I looked for a good place to pull over and moved toward a lane of parking meters. Unfortunately, the woman behind me quickly changed her mind….turning and making a hasty retreat back toward Riverside Drive. She made a quick right-hand turn and was gone in an instant.

I was stunned.

Why did she drive off?

Why wouldn’t she want to see if I was o.k.?

Why wouldn’t she want to immediately check on her car?

My shock soon turned to frustration. My truck was o.k. (just a few scratches) and more importantly- I was o.k. I’m sure that her grill and hood were extensively damaged.

I thought about this incident- and the woman involved- all morning. Why did she drive away? She was obviously scared. Scared of my reaction. Scared to look at her car’s damage. Scared to look at the damage to my truck. She had a split decision to make a decision- and she decided to run. Away. Afraid.

My frustration turned in to sorrow later in the day. Did she not have insurance? How would she pay for the damage to her car?

It made me think about how many times have I participated in a ‘hit and run’ in my daily life. I have sprinted away from a relationship that desperately needs repair. I’ve ignored someone who desperately needs help- but it’s out of my comfort level to lend a hand. I make sure that I get in that last, painful verbal shot during an argument and walk away. I know that I fail others each and every day, and I pray that I can take a lesson from the accident this morning.

We are all going to fail. All of us fall short- even on our best of days. The true test of character, however, is how we respond and learn from our mistakes. Our eternal Father offers us a sense of peace if we are willing to own up to our mistakes, confess our transgressions and work to become a more complete person. He offers us a fresh start each and every day.

I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. Psalm 32: 1-2

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. I Peter 1:23

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the rusurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I Peter 1:3

I’m sorry that I reacted the way I did this morning. I pray that the woman who hit my truck is o.k. I also pray that the next time I am faced with an opportunity to ‘hit and run,’ I have the courage, wisdom and strength to make the right decision.

Have a good day- and God bless.

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