Brand New

Everybody likes a second chance.  Everyone likes the opportunity to get a “do-over.”  God does one better!  He actually allows us to become “new” again!   Beyond forgiveness, beyond cleansing, he makes us righteous through Jesus.  He gives us a fresh start!

What will you do with yours?

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”            2 Corinthians 5:17

What’s Age Got To Do With It?


I have been having a lot of conversations lately with my friends about getting older.  The big reason for the conversations is that I turned 60 a couple of weeks ago. The conversations have been interesting to say the least.  Some people feel like life is pretty much over. Some want to cling to the past.  Some are discouraged.  Some look at their graying hairs as a symbol of life passing by much too quickly and they feel as though the best of life is behind them.

I couldn’t disagree more!  

I fully understand that when we’re younger, we have more energy, perhaps we are physically stronger, and it’s a little easier to muster up our drive and determination.  Those things however, shouldn’t cause us to be discouraged.  Instead, we should think about the things we have going for us … the things we have to offer!  Actually we have a lot to offer!  Just think of our life experiences.  We’ve traveled down roads that our young friends have yet to travel. We have life experiences and wisdom that only comes from living and learning. We have most likely experienced every emotion there is.  So … we bring a lot to the table!

As I think about my remaining years, I’m excited about my opportunities.  I get to pass on my life experiences and expertise to a new generation.  I can help those younger than me avoid some of the mistakes I made.  I can enjoy my family in a different way now that I’m PaPaw instead of just Dad.  And, I can still contribute and lead in my family and in my workplace.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 20:29 … “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.”  

So, I’m determined to enjoy this phase of my life and use my life experiences and all I’ve learned to make my remaining years even better than the past.  The best is yet to come.  When it comes to living life to its fullest and enjoying the journey …. I have one question ….

What’s Age Got To Do With It?

What do you think?

Dream Killers


We all have dreams. We all have things we dream of being and dream of doing. But sadly most people never realize their dreams. I heard motivational speaker Zig Ziglar say once that everyone has a song in them, but most people die with their music still in them. The BIG QUESTION is Why? I believe there are a few primary reasons many people never realize their dreams. I call them Dream Killers:

1. Pursuing dreams without God’s help – I firmly believe that all of us are created for one primary reason … to bring God glory. When we pursue dreams without seeking God’s direction and help, we are asking for trouble. Scripture tells us in Proverbs 16:9  “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

2. Not believing you can do it – A lot of dreams die because we talk ourselves out of them. If you don’t believe you can … you probably can’t. You have to believe in your dream and your ability to pursue it.

3. Listening to the negative opinions of others – It has been my experience that people who are always negatively criticizing others are the very ones who never try anything themselves.

4. Not getting started – You can’t finish if you don’t start! Procrastination is a dream killer! You will never achieve your goal or dream if you don’t get started.

5. Not working on your dream every day – Usually, dreams aren’t realized in one big moment. Usually, they are realized over a period of time and by completing many small steps along the way. To realize your dreams you have to make sure you work on them every day.

6. Not being willing to pay the price – Every dream worth pursuing has a cost associated with it. It may be time, discipline, practice, or even money. The big question is .. are you willing to pay the price.

7. Lack of flexibility – When dreams are too rigid, they can be crushed by the events of life. Goals and dreams have to be flexible enough to be adjusted and modified as life happens. You might even learn that your original dream was not big enough as your situation and circumstances change.

Well, that is my list of seven big dream killers. What do you think? Are there more that you think can be added to the list?

The Power of Choice



A lot of people live their lives defined by their circumstances. They feel stuck. They feel a sense of hopelessness in life or in some particular situation they are facing. If you have ever been there, I don’t have to tell you that it’s not a fun place to be. Living life defined by your circumstances can be miserable. The good news is … you don’t have to live that way!

Recently, I read a great story about two brothers who appeared on a talk show:

The first brother was asked to come out and tell his story.

He was divorced, broke, unemployed, angry about life, unable to control his emotions and had problems with alcohol abuse.

When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have? My father was an abusive alcoholic and I was destined to turn out like this, it’s all his fault!”

The second brother came out and was asked to tell his story.

His story was different. He was a successful businessman. He had a happy marriage, a great family and happy children. He lived in a beautiful house, was well-respected in his local church and community, and was a fun guy to be around.

When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have? My father was an abusive alcoholic and I didn’t want to turn out like him, so I focussed on improving myself and becoming the best person I could be.”

I believe this story is a great reminder that we aren’t to be defined by our circumstances but by our choices regarding our circumstances.

It’s true that we don’t always have control over what happens to us. Sometimes circumstance are beyond our control.  But … we CAN choose our response to our circumstances.

We can choose to take a constructive path, not a destructive one.

We can choose to think long-term, not short-term.

We can choose to focus on our responsibilities, not just our rights.

We can choose forgiveness and restoration of relationships, not bitterness and anger.

We always have the power to choose!

So … The big question is …. Are there some different choices that you need to make?

The Big Leadership Scam

Is an insane pace necessary for good leadership?

In his excellent book Replenish, Lance Witt makes this observation: “We have been scammed into believing that an insane pace is simply the price tag of effective leadership.” He later makes the statement, “You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul.”  I couldn’t agree more!  Every day I talk to people who are running on empty.  They are simply worn out, burned out, and longing for a life that is more simple and provides them a little breathing room.  But, for some reason they can’t find a way off the treadmill of busyness.  It seems they are afraid that slowing down will brand them as an ineffective leader.

I have to admit that I’m not exempt from the rat race.  There have been numerous times in my own life when I have fallen for the scam.  I equated my fast pace and involvement in a lot of activities with good leadership and success.  So, I tried to function at warp speed … and … in the process, it warped my soul.  I became a different person and my leadership was negatively affected.

My personal leadership was affected as I sacrificed the things that really matter in life for the things others were imposing on me.  Time with God and my family suffered.  My health suffered as I dealt with mounting anxiety and stress.  The result was a different me.  I was living at warp speed, and my soul became warped.

It is impossible for your “inside” to change without your “outside” following suit.  Sooner or later, it all catches up with you.  It wasn’t long before my professional leadership began to negatively change,  I wasn’t happy on the inside and it eventually made it’s way out.  My daily interactions with others was affected and even though I was moving at a fast pace, my productivity decreased.  My attitude was negatively affected.  I was constantly trying to take on more responsibility and trying to figure out how to get more done.  After a while, the constant drive to accomplish more hijacked my soul. I had bought into the scam.

For me, my eyes were opened when I began having anxiety attacks.  If you have never had them, you don’t want them!  If you have, you never want them again! I genuinely believe God used the attacks to get my attention and open my eyes to the madness I had bought into.  The attacks cause me to do a serious life evaluation and make some adjustments to how I did things.

I turned my attention back to God, my family, and my health.  I began to carve out time in each of those areas and make them the priority.  I began to manage my time more effectively instead of allowing everyone else to manage it for me! I slowed down the pace of my life. I began to set goals and break them down into manageable action steps. I made a plan and began to work it.  I also began to set aside some time to recharge and refresh my spirit.

The results …. I began to rely and trust in God to help me through each day. The anxiety went away.  I began to feel more fulfilled.  My family was happier and my productivity at work increased.

My take away …. “An insane pace is NOT necessary for good leadership!”  Matter of fact, it is simply a tool the enemy uses to keep us from paying attention to what is really important!  It’s a scam!

I know it may be difficult … I know it might seem unproductive …. I know it is counter-intuitive in our hurry and scurry culture.  But I believe to be an effective leader, we simply need to follow God’s instructions.  In Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  That may be the best leadership principle I have ever heard!

What do you think?

I’m Thankful for …

"That Grace Thing"


It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just around the corner!  Now it’s time to break out the left-overs and eat turkey prepared in every way  imaginable for the next few days!  It’s also an easy time to forget about all we have to be thankful for as our sights get set on Christmas.  Can you believe it’s only four weeks away?!

As I reflect on this Thanksgiving and the many reasons I have to be thankful, there is one BIG thing that keeps rolling around in my mind  … I am so very thankful for the Grace God shows me each and every day.

Grace is an interesting thing.  Grace is everything God does for us even when and though we don’t deserve it.  I don’t know about you, but I’m in desperate need of God’s Grace every day.

So often my priorities get out-of-whack, I focus on myself, my own little kingdom, and not on God. I wish I could say that I always live with God’s kingdom in view, but I don’t.  I wish I could say I love God’s glory more than my own, but I can’t.  I wish I could say that I live in complete submission to God, but the truth is there are far too many times when I want my own way. I wish I could say that I always want God to be in control, but there are times when I want to take the wheel of my own life and do my own thing.  I wish I could get handle on all of these things and so many more in the way God would have me to. But  it doesn’t always work that way.  Just like all of us, I’m involved in a daily spiritual battle.  The evidence is clear and regular to me everyday.  I need God’s Grace!

I am forever thankful for the Grace God has shown me through the perfect life of Jesus.  I am thankful Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life to provide an example for how I should strive to live. I am thankful that He was willing to sacrifice Himself on the cross for my sins and shortcomings.  I am thankful that He rose from the dead.  I am thankful that Jesus sits at the right hand of His Father to intercede on my behalf when I fall short of the holiness He desires of me. I am thankful He has done … and does …. all of this for me even though I don’t deserve it.

I am thankful for His incredible grace!

What are you Thankful for?


For this I am Thankful ….

“I will… not forget the glorious things God does for me. He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with love … He fills my life with good things … He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry … He never bears a grudge … He has not punished us as we deserve for our sins.”

Ps. 103:2-11 (LB)

Dealing With Holiday Stress

It's easier than you think!


I love the holidays.  There is an excitement that comes with the anticipation of Thanksgivng, Christmas, and the thought of a brand New Year!  However, all of the activities surrounding holiday celebrations can bring an added degree of stress into our lives.  A lot of “stuff’ gets added to our already busy lives.

As you approach this holiday season, here are a few stress reducing tips from scripture that can help you reduce your stress level, be thankful, and  and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Philippians 4:6-9 (ESV)

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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

1.  Quit Worrying – Paul says  “Do not be anxious about anything.”  When  you are filled with worry, your stress level goes up and it is almost impossible to have an attitude of thankfulness and joy.

When you think about it, worrying doesn’t fix the past and can’t shape the future.  Worry simply messes up today!  Worrying is unreasonable and unhealthy!

2. Make prayer a priority – The passage says … “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  So often, when there is a lot going on, or we are stressed, the last thing we do is ask God for help.  We try to handle everything on our own. Have you ever heard someone say, “I have tried everything, I guess all that is left to do is pray?” The scriptures tell us the FIRST thing we should do is pray!  Matt. 6:33 says to “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and then the rest of life works.

3. Change our thinking – Paul provides an example of the kinds of things we should think about:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  So often when we get stressed, we begin to allow negative thinking to begin dominating our thought life.  As we dwell own negative things, the stress and anxiety in our lives increases.  Paul provides great advice and tells us to change the way we think!

Finally, Paul shares the result of dealing with our stress God’s way …

Philippians 4:7 (ESV)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

He says God will give us a peace that is beyond our own comprehension, and He will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!  Now that’s exactly what I’m looking for!

The holidays are such a great time of year and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be thankful, and to experience the joy the season should bring.  I have decided that I’m not going to worry, to make prayer a priority, and to change the way I think … what about you?

I feel better already!

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Have Mercy!

         mercy 2

In my message today, I shared a story of my getting a careless driving ticket as a teenager.  Way back in 1973, the ticket carried a hefty monetary penalty of $220.00.  That probably would be the equivalent of about $500.00 today.  Back in those days, I was about 16 years old and living at home with my single mom and little sister.  Finances were tight!  My uncle called the judge I would be appearing before and explained our financial situation and ask him to consider punishing me in a way that wouldn’t cause our little family financial hardship.

On the day of my court appearance, I received a verbal lashing from the judge and a reminder that my fine could be $220.00 plus 6 months suspension of my license, plus months of probation!  Scary!!!  However, when he pronounced my actual sentence, he said, “today I’m going to show you mercy,” and he sentenced me to 6 months probation … no money … no license suspension!

That day, as a teenager, I learned the meaning of the word “mercy.”  That day, the judge demonstrated genuine compassion, expressed in genuine help … selfless concern expressed in selfless deeds.  He offered kindness in excess of what was expected or demanded by fairness … kindness and sympathy to someone  in distress.

Our scripture today was beatitude #5:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.    Matthew 5:7 (ESV)

As believer’s, Jesus says that when we practice mercy towards others, we will be blessed and God will have mercy on us.  So, here are some questions I asked my self:  Is my life characterized as someone who offers kindness in excess of what is expected or demanded?  Am I a merciful person?  I think I need some work in this area.  How about you?