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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Working on your marriage on Labor Day

I was nursing a cup of coffee when my cell phone rang early on this Labor Day morning.

It was an old friend that I had not talked to in some time.  We caught up for a minute before he got to the true meaning of his phone call.

His marriage was in trouble.

I was stunned.

I probed a bit.  It seems that life had just placed one barrier after another between them.  His focus had been on his career.  Her focus had been on the kids.  She had suggested counseling some time back, but they found excuses to not get help.  It wasn’t one thing…it was a culmination of years of negligence to their relationship.

Now they were strangers living in the same house and they didn’t like each other anymore.  Resentment was living in both of their hearts- and both of them had become selfishly stubborn.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

He thanked me for listening- and asked that I pray for him today.  I told him that I would pray for healing and reconciliation- and that they would be able to climb over any pride or misgivings they had about counseling.  I asked that he pray about it too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Marriage is work for all of us.  Our relationships need daily, continual attention.

We need to pray for and with our spouse on a daily basis.

Please pray for my friend on this Labor Day.  And let me know how to pray for you.

God bless marriages everywhere.

 

(*this post was published with permission)

 

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Flat

I’m flat right now.

Tired.  Exhausted.

Maybe it’s work.  Perhaps its the weather.  Maybe my schedule has created conflict in my attempts to be a good family member and friend.

I’m just in a bit of a funk.

Life contains peaks and valleys.  If you are like me, you don’t tend to embrace or celebrate the good times enough…but really dwell in times when life’s circumstances are kicking us in the shins.  Or the seat of our pants.

I have much to be thankful for each day.  My family.  My health.  My job.  A great circle of friends.  But the trials of life can diminish the good and cause me to dwell on the negative.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

I sometimes forget that I have a loving God in my life.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.  This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.  Psalm 34:4-7

Pride sometimes keeps me from seeking God first.  I think that I can fix anything on my own.

Life soon reminds me that I can’t.

The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

My prayer is to have the humility to let go…and let God lead me when my spirit is weak.  He’s always willing.

Let me know how I may pray for you this week.  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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Weeds

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Weeds.

Hollianne and I spent several days doing some landscaping last spring. We added some annuals and perennials to our existing plants around our house. It was fun to be out digging in the earth with the kids- beautifying our yard in the process.

Last weekend the boys and I decided to do some touch up yard work. Jack T. mowed while Britton and I cleaned up some of the areas that needed additional mulch.

There is one landscaped area in the far back corner of our yard that we rarely visit. Oh- you can see it from the patio and the pool, but we rarely get up close to that area. It’s a beautiful spot, with sunflowers, begonias and some knock-out rose bushes.

Once inspecting this area up close, however, we discovered that it was overrun with weeds. They weren’t detected from far away, but a closer look showed that these weeds had overtaken the once beautiful flower bed. It took us 20 minutes to eliminate all the weeds from this very small patch of ground.

Isn’t my life the same way? I have an appearance that I want my friends and family to see, but closer examination of my own life reveals my own set of weeds- a human tendency for sin.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. I John 1: 8-10

We often keep these sinful areas of our life hidden…not wanting others to see. We maintain strong exteriors while our inner thoughts and behaviors are flawed.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. James 1: 14

Just like that area in the very back of my yard, sin left unaddressed can cover our hearts like the weeds that cover beautiful flowers and plants.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5: 19-21

But there is hope for all, including me. While we are sinners, Jesus paid a sacrifice for us- so that we do not have to remain slaves to sin.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3: 16-17

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5: 21

Don’t let the weeds of sin cover your heart.

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” II Timothy 2: 19

Accept the saving promise of our Lord and Savior.

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

Let’s all commit to an examination of our hearts for unwanted weeds. I need your prayers- and let me know if I can pray for you.

God bless.

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What’s your Goliath?

My youngest son, B, is a huge football fan.  B has always been fascinated by linemen.  He likes to watch the guards and tackles pull and block…opening up holes for the running backs or protecting the quarterback.  He likes to think about these massive men as protectors.  Men that provide obstacles to the defense and keep the offense clicking smoothly.

Unfortunately, we don’t always have guards and tackles in our daily lives- instead we feel like we are being blocked and pushed around.  We are all burdened by obstacles.  Whether it is a real, physical challenge or something that’s in our head…and only we know about it.  These challenges are real for all of us.

It was a scary situation.  A rough group of Philistines had settled in across from the Israelite camp for a battle.  A nine-foot mountain of a man, Goliath, had come out and challenged God’s people to a fight.  For forty days straight Goliath had taunted and insulted the Israelite army and nation- and every soldier was terrified to take Goliath on in combat.  It took a young shepherd boy…David…to answer the challenge.  David was insulted by Goliath’s taunts and threats.  He volunteered for the challenge wearing no armor, and protected by only his shepherd’s staff, a sling and some stones.

We know the outcome.  David, acting on faith, defeated Goliath with one accurate fling of a stone.  One swing of the arm felled an armored, angry giant.

It’s not that easy for us, is it?  Work, relationships at home, physical or financial stress and other daily concerns can create giant obstacles for all of us.  And the giants seem to move around.  Once one Goliath is addressed, another (perhaps bigger) giant appears in our path.

We have been given guidance on dealing with our giants.  Let’s consider Paul, our great missionary from the first century church:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.  II Corinthians 12: 7-10

Paul had a physical obstacle that he fought every day.  Paul also had to live with a horrible past- a past that included the physical torment of Christians.  But Paul found power in his challenges.  Christ’s power was “made perfect through weakness” in Paul’s life.  Weakness became a source of strength.  We have that same promise today.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1: 2-4

Giants create incredible stress, but we have been called to look at trials as opportunities to refine our faith.  We can re-focus and call upon God for strength to handle the challenge, and try to look past the battle for the lesson it can teach us.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17: 20 

May we all seek the ultimate source of power when dealing with the giants in our lives.

God bless.

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Worry like the Philippians?

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Giving up our anxiety is easier said than done, isn’t it? We face an enormous amount of pressure each
day, whether it’s from work, home or society.

Stress can cause us to turn inward for answers…a reliance on self to
“fix” whatever situation we find ourselves facing. The Bible gives us great assurance that God
cares- and wants us to present Him with our worries. What a comfort to know that the same God that
created the heavens and the earth is also interested in our worries and
concerns!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

The next time you go to God in prayer- thank Him for the blessings you
have received in this earthly life. Also present your concerns to Him. Give your
worries over to God and ask for His wisdom and guidance in assisting you
through life’s valleys. We’ve been promised comfort and help. What a blessing!

God bless.

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