February 23 – Found to Follow

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One of the toughest things in the entire world is to get boys to follow. That’s the truth, even if I am a boy. Many of my lumps and bumps came from not following whoever was in charge of leading me at the time.

Very rarely was it because I was being willfully defiant or stubborn. On the contrary, most of the time, it was a matter of memory; I’d forget the instructions about as fast as they were given. At that point, I would follow the first fun-loving notion that popped into my head. Now I’m a dad raising my own crop of boys and nothing’s changed!

I’ll never forget the time my Caleb almost spent the night at the zoo. He was about four at the time and all he had to do was stick with his big brother. That’s it. But between big brother’s own set of distractions and Caleb’s desire to go another direction, when it came time to board and depart, little Caleb was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Just about the time Caleb realized he was lost, the park security guard and his big brother came to the rescue. Now, if you were a bit panicked reading this, imagine being the parents hearing about it after the fact! Like I said, getting boys to follow is no easy thing, but very necessary.

In the case of Jesus and Philip, I see Jesus, like a big brother, looking purposefully for Philip. Now, the Bible doesn’t elaborate a whole lot about Philip’s particulars, but it is clear that Jesus sought him and instructed him to follow. The amazing part of the story is Philip’s response. With no questions, no qualifications, and no qualms, he obeyed. God knows, I want to be like that!

The truth is all of us have been sought after by the Lord. And like a big brother, He is telling us “Come, this way.” May we recognize His demands as divine direction. The Father has sent Him to help us get to the right destination without too many “bought lessons.” Today, I make a fresh commitment to pay attention and follow His lead, no qualms. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you!

 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. John 1:43-44 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

January 8 – The Total Package

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I like a good fight. I didn’t say I like to fight, especially when it comes to getting hit! Because I grew up watching some of the greatest boxers in the world on Saturday afternoons, I have a great appreciation for the sport of boxing.

Some of my favorite fighters were “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and of course, Muhammad Ali. It was like watching a chess match between fists when these men went at it. Every boxer had his own “style” and was often quite successful when he would stick to his game plan.   I

’ll never forget the first time I saw Mike Tyson step into the ring. Wow! What a fighter he was. Not only did he have the raw talent, and the fighter’s instinct, but he was well-trained. His coach, Costamatto, saw his potential when he was a boy and began to groom him to be a champion.   Tyson had the jab, he had a rock-solid defense, he was in great shape, and most of all he had a crushing punch. He indeed had the total package. Unfortunately, he made foolish choices and lacked character, and today he’s often referred to as “the champion that could have been.”

In the above verses, Dr. Luke accounts that Jesus grew up with the real total package. In my home, this is the highest priority for my little champions. I want them to grow up in an atmosphere that promotes strong bodies – inside and out, spiritual wisdom, and revelation of the grace of God.   For all practical purposes, life is truly a fight and each of us enters the ring every day, whether we want to or not. I don’t know about you, but if I have to fight, I would rather win! And if that be the case, let God’s Word be your gym and His Spirit be your coach.

Every day, get dressed in His strength, put on His wisdom, and let Him robe you in His grace.   Never take your eyes off these three keys. Say them on the way to work, while you cook dinner, and before you go to bed. Then watch yourself start floating through trials “like a butterfly” and stinging temptations “like a bumble bee.” You can’t lose with God on your side, the Holy Spirit in your corner and Christ as your example. You’ve got the total package!   When Joseph and Mary finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him. Luke 2:39-40  

Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:12

October 12- The Measure of a Moment

Make the most of every opportunity. Colossians 4:5 

It seems like much time is spent on things that are limited in their ability to weather the test of time. Somewhere along the way I picked up the phrase, “Is this duplicate-able?” (That’s technically not an official word.) This word reminds me to invest in those things that will carry on long after I’m finished with whatever it is I’m doing at the time.

The other night there was a sporting event on the television I really wanted to watch. But as I watched I couldn’t help thinking about other things I could be doing with this precious block of time that would have true significance in the grand scheme of life.

I am not telling you what to do concerning your TV, cable, or favorite sports team, for that matter. What I desire to communicate is that each of us should aim toward making the most of the time we’ve been given. Don’t waste moments you can’t get back doing a whole lot of nothing. Make every moment count. One day each of us will stand before the One who gave us our lease on life. We will give an accounting of how we spent His time, tools, and talents. He’s gracious, but He also rewards faithfulness. So, make the moments of today count for tomorrow.

February 5 – I Don’t Eat That!

For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them. Proverbs 29:1

What a privilege it is to be picky. Living in America, almost every one of us have our likes and dislikes. So, what I say from this point on is relative.

Food is one of those areas in which children demonstrate their preferences, quite early on, I might add. Texture, taste and timing of a meal often becomes a line of demarcation that promotes frustration for the stubborn one.

And if this behavior meets no worthy challenge throughout the tender years, then like “not so fine wine” the pickiness gets “NOT better with age!”

But like I said initially, we all suffer from some sort of lack of discipline and if we don’t allow wisdom to curb our hateful habits, we will look up one day and it could be too late.

So, today, if you don’t like to exercise, but you know it would help your circulation and cellulite storage program, do it anyway. If you don’t like the texture of vegetables or fruit or meat or much of anything else nutritious but you know your health depends on a change, make the change.

At the end of the day, what we think we don’t like may be just the thing that makes life worth living.

Lorenzo

February 2 – Walking the Line

Playing favorites is always a bad thing; you can do great harm in seemingly harmless ways. Proverbs 28:21 MSG

I am partial. I like the fall better than the dead of winter or the height of summer.

I like vanilla ice cream over chocolate. And I like a basketball court best of all when there are wrestling mats from wall to wall.

Yes, it’s true, even with people, I tend toward certain ones and shy away from others.

What’s funny is, I don’t like to think of my “partiality preferences” as favoritism. In my mind, that sounds too much like prejudice. I can see there is a difference between what I prefer and whom I choose to favor over another. But if I am not walking in wisdom, the line that separates the two can quickly disappear.

May my desire to treat all men as brothers and live wisely before them assist me in the “differentiation” process.

Lorenzo

November 14 – ‘Til I’m Old and Gray

Age is a crown of glory, when it is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs16:31

Before we got so smart here in the west, all educated and stuff, age meant something. It wasn’t just the grandkids who valued time with Gramps and Grammy. On the contrary, the wisdom of the aged is what kept the towns of old afloat.

I have even heard it said that in Jewish culture during Jesus’ day that it was improper for a man to speak in a gathering of men before he was 40.

It used to be a known reality…wisdom comes with wear! When you’ve been around a day or two, chances are you’ve picked up a pinch of understanding along the way.

In my estimation, our modern nursing homes are gold mines that are wasting away while the smarty pants of the day spend a fortune “trying” to figure out what Gertrude could have told them for free.

May the good Lord grant me some “gray hairs” of glorious wisdom and insight to guide me and mine through this narrow way of right living. Any fool can tell you what you want to hear. It takes a God fearin’ “hoary head” to call it straight.

Long live the senior souls!

November 11 – Heal ’em With Kindness

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 KJV

Johnny used to give me quite a tongue lashing in my early days of preloading his delivery car.

Route drivers like Johnny had their own system and delivery strategy to get the packages delivered in an efficient and timely manner. And that wasn’t necessarily how our preloading charts laid it out.

At first, his rants caught me totally by surprise and I really didn’t know what to do. I mean if I said what I wanted to say in response to his negative berating tone, I probably would have been fired on the spot. But I needed the job, so I struggled to find a way to endure the abuse. I tried everything.

Then finally one day, I just started making myself say thank you when he told me how stupid my load looked and how ridiculous it was for him to come in early enough to “fix my mess.”
After I got past the fact that I felt like I was being somehow dishonest for not giving him a piece my mind, it became pretty fun.

I would greeting with a overly jovial “Good morning Johnny!” And I started following him around with a smile and a “yes sir, you are right and I will get right to work on it.” Pretty soon, ol’ Johnny didn’t have much to say in the morning about his load or anything else.

When harsh words or attitudes mount an attack on you, it makes for a pretty miserable existence. And you won’t last long if you don’t learn to counter with kindness. I’ve witnessed the powerful hand of God come on the scene when I chose kindness over justice.

May today’s proverbial wisdom help us all do a little healin’ in our neck of the woods!

November 7 – The Quiet Game

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,  and discerning if they hold their tongues.  Proverbs 17:28 NIV

Sometimes quiet is hard to find in a home filled with thirteen humans.  No, that’s probably the understatement of the year.

At our nine-feet long dinner table, it can sometimes take a full five minutes to calm the entire crew into peace.  Just one giggle at something ridiculous, and there you go.  It’s over.

All of that said, finding and establishing peace and quiet is a worthwhile endeavor for us.  We’ve used basic correction, sending the errant one to their bed, temporarily withholding supper (not really!) and sometimes (maybe), bribes. But it’s so important to us that we keep working and training. (Daily . . .)

We want to imprint on our children’s hearts (and ours) that silence is golden. That truly, you look wise and are wise if you’re quiet, whether you’re actually very wise yet or not.  This brings up the point that we were given two ears and one mouth.  Purposefully.

Silence first means listening first, too.  It gives the Holy Spirit a foot in the door before we run straight over Him on our way to our next best idea or argument. It’s oh, so hard to do (see the book of James for a tutorial on the power of the tongue) but oh, so worth the pain.  And it probably includes the loss of appearing or feeling right all the time.  Ouch.

My dad just recently mentioned to me that a parent always “pays for their raisin’.” Yes, I agree.  But the “payin’ “ includes a pay-off if we grab the lessons we missed when we were young.

It’s never too late to play the “Quiet Game.”

Jennifer 🙂

October 27 – Trouble in River City

Become wise by walking with the wise;  hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. Proverbs 13:20 MSG

One of my favorite musicals is “The Music Man.” I’ve almost convinced our children that a musical is a work of art, but it’s an ongoing process. The life lessons available through a few ingenious songs are simply invaluable (the catchier the tune, the better . . . thank you Rodgers and Hammerstein)!

Well, if you know this story, you know that the townspeople of River City, Iowa, are mighty concerned about their young people.  Professor Hill has given them a hint about the town’s new billiard parlor and the trouble brewing as a result of it.  The whole musical centers around the community working to steer their youth towards the positive endeavor of a band.  Even though the Professor turns out to be a phony, his feeble efforts do help the kids make better choices and the band makes a debut. And amazingly, the kids influence the Professor to come clean and tell the truth for the first time ever.

Our lives will be the result of our associations.  How wise the Proverbs continue to be, thousands of years from the time they were written.  Though the trouble in River City seems small in comparison to our world, the concept still rings true.  The wise man looks perceptively at the one he calls “friend.”

The influence of those we hold close and dear can make or break the hopes we have for our days on earth. If we surround ourselves with fools, then fools we will become.  But walking with the wise means wisdom is on her way to meet us.  And that beats trouble any day.

October 21 – Everybody Plays the Fool Sometimes

Whoever loves instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating. Proverbs 12:1 AMP

Nobody gets it right every single time. On the contrary, we all have much to learn on a daily basis. No matter how old we are, school is constantly in session. We just have to be willing to admit we don’t know everything and be able to receive constructive criticism, and blame, in some cases.

Back when I was managing retail stores, my boss challenged me one day. He gave me three tasks that would have taken a couple of days each to complete, but he required I get them done in the remaining three hours of my shift. It was nuts!

Up until that part of my training, I was doing pretty well. Nothing I faced was outside the scope of a little hard work and a dab of common courtesy. But the assignment afore mentioned was ridiculous, unfair and absolutely impossible…I thought.

Of course I spent more time on what I couldn’t do because of lack of time and expertise than I did on the three tasks themselves.

The next day, my boss questioned my unsatisfactory results and let me squirm a bit before he demonstrated how to “get the job done!” To date, that moment in my life ranks high on my list of “game changers” because I was so sure that it could not be done and I was so very wrong. I played the fool that day.

I didn’t know how to empower people. If I couldn’t do it myself or hire it done, or boss folks around because I was paying them, I was dead in the water. Empowerment requires skill in the art of personal limitations, confidence in self-worth and wisdom of task individuality.

Before that day, watching my boss walk up to busy associates (that’s how he referred to his employees) and invite them to “take a look” at a little opportunity with him that “we had” that needed attention, I considered such action beggarly and weak. But I also had no clue about running a multi-million dollar enterprise that provided employment for close to two hundred “associates.”

Thank God I had sense enough to not play the fool twice and quit that day. And today, maybe someone will read this proverbial story just in time and let what they don’t know override what they think they know . . .and maybe they’ll play the fool just long enough to get the wisdom and grow thereby.