February 26 – Scooter’s Big Day

 

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Do you remember the last time you tried to give your dog a bath? Our son Nathaniel tackled the job recently, and I was excited to be walking by the dining room window so I could catch some of the drama.

I have never seen a dog with such a stalwart opinion about getting wet, much less, being shampooed and combed with a brush! I can’t say that I would normally have equated a dog getting a bath with “discipline,” but the “not pleasant” and “painful” part of a verse in Hebrews I came across some time ago assures me I’m making a safe analogy!

Obviously, our dog hasn’t reached the point in training that she experienced “peace” while taking a bath. In fact, the comical part of the whole thing was her unwillingness to surrender to her present circumstances. She wiggled and squirmed like a greased pig.

Still, Nathaniel was stronger and determined, and the bath DID happen. Oh, how like that I can be. Wrestling with God like my arms are stronger, when all I have to do is take the plunge….fall into His loving embrace and ride the storm until the dawn.

Those stormy times train me to walk in peace and assurance, knowing that the Captain of my ship is fully aware and fully in charge.

You know, I don’t know who was wetter and soapier…Nathaniel, or Scooter. Make no mistake, God will roll up His sleeves and get dirty and wet right there with you, no matter where you are or what you are doing. And you’ll come out better for it by the end, knowing you weren’t alone!

Jennifer

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

Biblical Meditation: John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

February 5 – Divine Connections

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My life is made up of a series of divine connections. As far back as I can remember, I can see a glorious thread of people, places, and things that were strategically placed in my path, ordering my steps.   Going to college in Weatherford, Oklahoma, represents one of those major connections for me.

For all practical purposes, I was not academically qualified to advance into higher education after high school.   My test scores were low and I had not taken some of the necessary basics to enter college as a freshman. But God had placed Donna Hillis in my life to assist Him with getting me to the next phase of the journey.   Donna was my closest friends’ mother and she had witnessed my life take shape over the course of about four years. She knew the “good, the bad and the ugly” of my story. Most importantly, she knew God had a plan for my life that involved me leaving Oklahoma City and getting a college education, regardless of my test scores.

To this day, I don’t know what allowed Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) to give me a shot, but I am very grateful. Five years after arriving on that campus, I graduated with honors, but more importantly, I was on track for a head-on collision with destiny.   It was at Southwestern that I answered the call to ministry. It was at Southwestern that I discovered my gift of communication. And it was at Southwestern that I met my best friend, Jennifer Travis.

Only God knew this little girl from Custer City and I would one day marry and begin to build a family of many precious children who are even now bridging gaps and mending hearts all over this planet. I didn’t have a clue.   And all of that was connected to Miss Donna’s willingness to play her part in my story.

God has connected you and me to somebody’s story because this life is just an over-sized jigsaw puzzle. So never underestimate those simple little nudges spurring you to lend a hand.   Play your part and God will play His…the results could change somebody’s world!  

Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God: God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. Luke 2:27-32

Biblical Meditation: John 17:20-23, Romans 12:1-5

January 22 – Ears to Hear

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Mr. Alexander wouldn’t let me off the hook. I had a habit of making excuses for my irresponsible actions.

I realize now that my behavior stemmed from a reluctance to obey authority. It wasn’t blaringly obvious, but it fueled my occasional tardiness and lack of excellence in the classroom.

When I would walk through the door to Mr. Alexander’s office, ready to give an array of excuses for being late, he would say, “Close the door and read the sign.” The sign on the back of the door read:

EXCUSES

Excuses are tools of incompetence

that build monuments of nothingness

Those who are good at excuses

are seldom good at anything else.  After having to read that sign in my teacher’s office more than a hundred times, I began to see some real change in my habits. I wasn’t “cured” overnight, but I did begin to take responsibility for my actions.

Mr. Alexander would say, “When you make excuses for poor behavior or for lack of obedience of a command, you are seeking to persuade the other party to be okay with your behavior and lack of consideration of their time. “ Wow.

Obedience is crucial in every arena of life.

It is one of the highest forms of responsible living. We all have a higher authority we must submit to, and ultimately, as a believer, God is that authority. But if we can’t obey those who are in natural authority over us, chances are we aren’t following God very well either.

Take time to do a self-examination of your attitude. You might even ask your spouse or a close friend to help you (if you are really brave). Are there areas in your life where you are making excuses for disobedient behavior?

If you find anything, don’t let shame beat you up. Just tell God you apologize and ask for His help. Start practicing by “letting your yes be yes and letting your no be no.” (Matthew 5:37) The following “I WILLS” from Character First help enforce an obedient attitude:

 I WILL obey my authorities immediately

I WILL have a cheerful attitude

I WILL complete all that I am expected to do

I WILL not complain

I WILL go the extra mile

When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. John 10:4 The Message

Biblical Meditation: John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

January 19 – Pattern of Three

of-three-strandsIn all God does, He weaves layers of meaning. That’s why studying how it all began on planet earth yields so much insight for daily living.

For instance, take the account of the day when God hung lights in the heavens. In my estimation, it is not coincidental that there are three elements of light; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars.

Based on an underlying 3-in-1 theme that occurs throughout the Bible, I believe God is giving us a clue to building a sturdy foundation of bond and balance.

Think about the dynamics that constitute a family: dad, mom, and children. In the order God prescribes, the male (dad) comes before the female (mom) and the children are the result of their union.

However, each role is beautifully bonded by necessity. Neither is more important than the other, yet role-respect is key and vital to their overall success. That’s why it is a sad and sick strategy when modern culture strives to manipulate the delicate strands of this holy institution.

Blinded by selfish intelligence gone wild, the ignorant and in-charge often seek to make changes that would in essence eliminate life as God designed it. Thank God for divine intervention!

Today, look for the “pattern of three.” It may come in the form of three individuals seeking your help in same, yet different, ways.

It may be the same piece of news coming to you via three different people in three different locations. And it could even be something as simple as the eggs you whip for breakfast.

Whatever and whomever might be used to remind you, let it be just that; a reminder of how God braids, bonds, and balances life. For if He cares about the little details like “1-2-3,” surely, He can and will take care of you and me!

 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Genesis 1:16-19 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

 

January 16 – Law and Order

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The other day I was pulled over by a police officer as I traveled through a small town in Oklahoma. I rolled through a stop sign and by the time I realized what I had done, it was too late.

The kind officer stated to me the obvious and commenced to doing his job. Although I meant no harm and my actions were accidental, for all practical purposes, I had broken the law and thus warranted correction. That may sound a bit harsh, but in reality, law and order are the basic building blocks to everything that exists. And if they are not adhered to, chaos and confusion will destroy all that is good and right in the world.

God is the original law giver, so, His spoken words are literally ‘law in motion.’ And it is by that law all created things find their unique place and function in the grand scheme. This is insightful for all who desire to comprehend God’s way of establishing calm in the midst of chaos.

First, you have to accept the God-given right and responsibility to call forth law and order in a particular situation. At that point, don’t try to re-invent the wheel.

Take time to research laws God has already established. From Genesis to Deuteronomy, you will find all you would ever need to build a solid moral “right and wrong” compass. From there, order your steps accordingly. You may have to rename some things and get rid of others.

But whatever you do, make sure that your physical actions align with the laws you verbally legislate. And if you should ever find yourself floating through one of life’s stop signs like I did, refrain from the urge to complain. On the contrary, take time to thank the Good Lord for the reminder and make the needed adjustments, quickly, if possible!

 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear;” and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9-10 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”January 

January 14 – The Sky’s the Limit

The Four Seasons

Often, the difference between a good idea and a great one is time and space. Take for instance, growing potatoes.

This vegetable is one of my favorites, especially the red ones. But my success in growing a good crop has not been all that great, to say the least. Truthfully, up until recently, I haven’t been willing to give much attention to the process.

I’ve just been content with buying them from the grocery store when I need them, even though the flavor is not what I want. But the other day I was visiting a good friend and caught a glimpse of what might be causing my potato dilemma. He has some cut “potato seeds” waiting to be planted and at the time of this writing, it’s early spring where I live.

Being a novice in the whole garden game, I had somehow missed the right time element for planting red potatoes. They require a certain amount of seasonal space to mature. Therefore, I can’t just throw them in the ground in May or June and expect a good harvest, no matter how much I hope and wish.

It seems to me that God has strategically placed time and space as governors on all that he has created. Everything from plants to people are guided and directed by seasons of time and space.

The natural “skies” God has set over us are there for our protection and provision. In Genesis, God used the expanse, i.e., the sky, to separate water from water in order to create a continuous canopy of moisture on the earth. This allowed all living things to receive just the right amount of water at just the right time.

Word to the wise today: Consult the Creator before you fly. Stay within the guidelines He gives you, let His words comfort, not control you. Don’t force the altitude; He already knows how high you can handle. Never forget, He wants to see you soar more than you do.

 Then God said, “Let there be firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. Genesis 1:6-8 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven…

January 4 – What’s Your Name?

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I grew up in Midland, Texas. We moved away when I was 12, but it is still “back home” to me. If you went there and interviewed some of my old buddies, you wouldn’t find out much. This is not because they have been sworn to secrecy.

It’s because they know me by my nickname, “Jude.” My mom says that the old Beatles song, “Hey Jude,” described what life would be for me and those I encountered.  I would “take sad songs and make them better.”

 It wasn’t until we moved to Oklahoma that mom required me to start using my birth name. I will never forget that day as long as I live. I felt like I had put on shoes that weren’t mine.  To me, “Lorenzo” was my dad, not me.

Oh, how I struggled! Teachers would call roll and I wouldn’t even answer because I wasn’t accustomed to my real name. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I encountered the power of my identity. I was reading this passage in Luke around the Christmas holidays and there it was.

It jumped off the page. “And you are to give him the name John.” The next few verses described why his name had to be John. It was all about the purpose for which he was born. At that moment, I went and looked up the meaning of Lorenzo Leon.

The meaning of Lorenzo is “crowned” and Leon is “brave lion.” I have to tell you I laughed when I read that my name meant “crowned lion.” (I put my first and middle name’s meanings together.) I saw myself as anything but a lion, let alone a king. But that is right were God nailed me between the eyes.

God planned before the ages for me to bear that name for His purpose in the earth. And even though “Jude” had a place in my life, it did not adequately describe my destiny.

What’s your name? Find out the meaning and post it somewhere you will see it daily. Start calling yourself by the meaning. There is a great book I use that gives scripture connotations so I can quote God’s word over my name.

The book is called “The Name Book” by Dorothy Astoria. If you are anything like me, you will be overwhelmingly surprised at how insignificantly you’ve viewed your name and contribution in the sight of God.

God wants all of us to know He plans to use our name in the service of His Kingdom and we or no one else has a right to discount it. So, let Him unlock your name today and introduce you to the you He sees.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” Luke 1:13-17 NLT

 Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1