Good Name

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This was the cornerstone verse for Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. He said in an interview with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “I am always conscious of keeping my name in good order. Doing that, I believe, has been paying dividends for me even now, because in the restaurant business we have to do things right each and every time, not just sometimes.”

This is a challenging thought…doing the right thing every time. But we know it to be true…whether it is college football coaches or leaders in the church or ourselves…one indiscretion can ruin everything. You may still have the finances but family is torn apart, life purpose is destroyed and respect is lost. May we make the right choices today to keep a good name.

Someone is Watching

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I take it that since the year 1984 came and went over 2 decades ago, George Orwell’s classic is no longer a required reading in high school. But the phrase “Big Brother is watching” is still a part of our culture. Big Brother was Orwell’s fictional leader in Oceania and was watching every citizen all the time for “their own good.” Of course, he was watching for Oceania’s good not the citizens.

However, we do have Someone watching us all the time in every place and He truly is looking out for our good. And since He is all knowing and Sovereign, we do not need to fear His watching but rather trust His watchful care over us.

Treasure Chest for You

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If you knew there was a treasure chest full of silver, gold and jewels buried in your backyard, would you be quick to call the back-hoe rental place and start digging? Would you ignore sleepiness, bad weather or the season premiere of The Bachelor to get in the yard and start digging? Would you even be willing to dig with your shovels and picks if a back hoe was not available? Well, probably in your home is this type of chest and it is the Bible. In these 66 books, written over 1,000s of years ago by 35 scripts is a treasure trove of instruction, knowledge and wisdom that is better silver, gold and jewels. For many years, I was too pride to dig into it and at times now still too lazy to do it. But when I do…oh my!! I find gems and nuggets left and right. Praying that you take time this week to find yourself some nuggets.

How’s Your Fuse?

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It was just after 630 in the evening and I was driving to church to teach a Tuesday evening class. As I approached an intersection, a white vehicle blows around a red vehicle and crosses the intersection without stopping at the stop sign. The red vehicle then accelerates and passes the white one on a hill and then promptly slams on brakes.

Of course, by now I am just coasting down the road and being super mindful of what is going on. As the red vehicle goes over the hill, the white one makes a hard left and u-turns and almost blows my doors off going past me the opposite direction. As I crest the hill, I see the red vehicle fish tailing straight towards me in my lane. I hit the brakes and he was able to correct before blowing past me towards the white one.

What in the world?!?! What caused these men to take a 2.5+ ton weapon and swing it around carelessly? What set them off? Was one guy going too slow for the other or not responding quick enough in the intersection? Or was there something deeper – a fight that started earlier in the day, a girlfriend that has been going out on the other? Regardless, was that craziness worth whatever the “issue” that prompted it?

Then, I thought about some of my own reactions to things. I might not be doing a 180 in the middle of the street but how often do I get frustrated because I have to wait an extra 30 seconds or even 5 minutes? Or when people don’t know how to drive as well as me (at least in my opinion), do I turn to others or even myself and complain? Seriously, what good does that do?

As I saw it, these guys must have short fuses…may I work on having a longer fuse and practice the fruit of the Spirit, peace, patience, kindness. How about you? What makes your fuse go off? Do you need a longer one?

Step #1: Fear the Lord

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Leaders are lifelong learners. The easiest and most effective way to learn more is to read (or listen to) more books. In 2014, the Pew Institute found that over 25% of American adults had not read a single book in 2013. This was triple what the number was in 1978. Don’t be like the crowd.

Are you in business? Read business books. Are you a parent? Read parenting books. Are you a spouse? Read marriage books. Are you a leader? Read leadership books. Do you relax? Read novels. Why not challenge yourself to read a book a month (or a week)? It will be life changing.

Golden Words

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A word spoken at the right time can change one’s life. How do I know? Because my life was changed. The word was choose. I was in a place in my life that because of my own choices and decisions, in a nutshell, was a disaster – emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically. But I was slowly crawling out of it through the Word of God, a great counselor and friends. However, it was HARD work.

Early one morning when the alarm went off and I didn’t want to get up to read my Bible let alone go to work, the song that played was I Choose Joy by Larnell Harris. (Check out this OLD music video of the song.) The word that jumped out to me was choose. It was empowering! I could choose to stay in bed and even skip work but what good would that do? All I had to do was look around me and know that my choosing the lazy way or the unhealthy things were leading me to places I never wanted to go back to. However, I could choose to flip the covers back, step onto that floor and start choosing the better way.

To this day, the power to choose right or wrong, good or better, better or best is still empowering me to move forward and not slide backwards. How about you? Do you have a word that was fitly spoken that is changing your life?

Filter the Tongue

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This morning I was pouring the last cup of coffee and noticed a lot of grounds in the bottom of the coffee pot. When I opened up the coffee maker basket, the filter had pulled away from the side of the basket and there were grounds all along the side and on the bottom. The filter was there but it did no good if it did not cover the entire basket. Earlier this month during my pastor’s sermon, I realized that I have a filter that I am not using and it is causing “grounds” to get into places I don’t want. Pastor Steve’s message was from James and the point was how to tame the tongue. At the end he listed seven taming practices that I have started using to filter both what I say but also what I post:

1. Be slow to speak. (James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...)

2. Do not make empty promises. (James 2:16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?)

3. Do not curse. (James 3:10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.)

4. Do not criticize. (James 4:11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.)

5. Do not boast about future plans. (James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”)

6. Say what you mean and mean what you say. (James 5:12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.)

7. Admit your faults. (James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.)

I am not going to say that I will always do this (see #2 above) but I am going to make it my goal to strive to apply this filter a bit more and tame my tongue.

Slow to Speak

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When I was living in Russia, learning the language was a slow go and I understood long before I could speak it. In that in between time, forming sentences in my head during conversations would take so much time that they would have moved on to something else. This taught me a great lesson: my opinion is not always necessary.

I am still being taught this and the Lord never fails to give me opportunities to practice. It is an old saying but true…we were given two ears and one mouth. We should listen twice as much as we speak. Let’s be wise and work on our listening skills this week. May the bunny ears be a good visual reminder.

Who are You Hurting?

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I am blessed to serve women who struggle with food issues through First Place 4 Health. One of these women said to me, “I had an AHA moment…when I get mad at my husband I head to the pantry for pretzels!” My response, “Well, that really shows him.”

This is just a small example of how we can self-sabotage ourselves. Being cruel (mean, unkind) will not only hurt the person you are being mean to but will also hurt yourself. Are there attitudes you have or actions you are taking that are self-sabotaging to you? Identify them and then choose to change. Easy recipe but hard to do – do it anyways.

Grow in Wisdom Get Better Looking

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What I am about to say needs to be written in very, light pencil with an eraser near by. My thinking on this proverb maybe more based on what I hope then what the Lord is saying here but…here it goes. I believe as we grow in the wisdom of God we will be better looking because wisdom is an outward ornament that is a crown of glory. It motivates me to stay in the Word for sure. Proverbs also says that grey hair is a crown of glory but I am heading to my stylist every six weeks to remove that crown. :)

Wounds from a Friend

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At first glance, this proverb seems backwards….how can wounds show faithfulness? But it is so true. Only those who love you and have your best interest in mind will tell you “hard” things. I am so grateful that in my life I have several “scars” that were caused by friends. I probably bristled against them at first, but in the end it brought about transformation. May we have friends like this in our lives and may we be a faithful friend.

Seek Counsel

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A friend called me last week and asked about confronting someone concerning slander this person was spreading. I was not the only one whom my friend called. He was seeking wisdom from others before “waging war.” There have been some Facebook posts, Instagram replies and emails that I have sent that I should have sought wise counsel before sending. In the end, it only brought (at best) a loss of emotional energy and (at worst) relational destruction. Let’s seek wise counsel in all that we do. We are better together!