Intentionally Loving People

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

As believers, loving others is not to be an option, it’s to be a lifestyle. No one does that better than my wife Cheryl.

Recently we were on a 3 1/2 hour flight to San Francisco. I was in the window seat, Cheryl was in the middle, and a woman we didn’t know was in the aisle seat. I do some of my best work on a plane, so time seemed to pass quickly. I knew Cheryl was talking to the other woman, but didn’t pay much attention. I was in a zone and very focussed. (Cheryl’s always complimented me on being able to ignore everything around me :) )

At one point I looked up and Cheryl was crying…and so was this woman. Of course my first thought, as every man thinks when a woman cries, was “what did I do?” :) Once I realized it wasn’t about me this time, I said a little prayer for my wife…and went back to work. After we exited the plane Cheryl explained that this woman had just returned from her father’s funeral. Cheryl, who lost her father over a year ago, was able to minister to this woman on the flight to San Francisco. They traded contact information and Cheryl made herself available; all because of this brief encounter.

This week, Cheryl received this email:

I feel so blessed that in my time of need you not only sensed I was sad, but took the risk and reached out to me. I do believe fate put me in the seat next to you that day as you are still experiencing the same pain that was so new and raw for me. I will remember you and your act of kindness for the rest of my life. I will honor you, by following your example the next time I see someone in pain.

Thank you,

I love that. Seriously, I know I’m a pastor, but my church knows my wife is a better example of loving people than I am most days. She doesn’t love as a part of her ministry; she loves as a part of her heart.

Dear God, help me to love intentionally, like my wife does.

Do you know someone who is a model of intentional love? Pay tribute to them here.

Scripture Memorization, Week 27

Well, the week number reminds me that we are half way through the year. I hope you are enjoying the Scripture Memorization process this year and, more importantly, that it is making a difference in your life.

We’ve been looking at the Roman Road salvation verses for several weeks. The best way to get these is to simply click HERE for last week’s and go backwards. While we’ve been looking at how a person becomes saved; right with God, today’s verse points out the results of a person’s change of heart. If you claim to be a believer, then this should be the desire of your heart. Here is the final in this series of verses with this week’s memory verse:

I still have people joining into this process even midway through the year. Feel free to join us.

He Who Loves You, Watches Over You

One of the greatest feelings as a parent has to be watching your children sleep….

Knowing they are safe….resting…under your care…

I never got tired of knowing my boys were safe in their beds at night. It was a great time of day.

I wonder if God feels that way…

I wonder if God gets a charge out of watching over His children as they sleep…

I wonder if He smiles when He sees a child drift into dream land…

I’m reminded of these verses:

“He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

When you are sound asleep, God is on watch…like a proud dad!

As you go to bed tonight, capture the moment, imagine the emotion God has as He watches His child fall asleep.

My Current Heart Stirrings: Men’s Ministry

I did men’s ministry for many years before I went into vocational ministry. Recently I felt led to address the young men in our church. One Saturday morning, I invited men aged 35 and under to join me as I shared some thoughts with them. Basically I said to them what I wish had been said to me at that age. The response from the guys who attended has been amazing. They want more.

In the process of planning and praying for this event, God did something to my heart. I’m still processing all that means, but I know it involves being more intentional addressing concerns I see as a need for more godly men to lead in their homes, communities and churches.

This week I received this email. (Some details are omitted to protect the identity, although this email is one of dozens like it I receive each year.)

Hi, my wife and I attend your church regularly. My wife feels like I need to be more of a spiritual leader. I wanted to get your advice on what I should do as a husband to be more of a spiritual leader in my marriage and what it looks like. Thank you for your time.

Pastor, how would you answer that question?

God is placing a huge passion and burden on my heart for men, specifically young men who desire to be godly, but aren’t sure where to start. I’ve seldom met a man who didn’t want to do the right things, but I’ve met many who didn’t know how to get there. Mentoring and discipleship resources for men are rare compared to what’s available for women.

In the coming weeks and months, I’m going to spend more time addressing this issue here and in other venues. I’m even praying about a bigger opportunity to address this need. I don’t know what’s next completely, but I know when I stand before my God I want to have been faithful to His call.

Am I on the right track? Help me process this need and opportunity.

Men, be honest, do you need some help in this area of your life? Are you struggling in your roles as a man?

Women, what about your take on this issue? Do men need help learning to be godly men?

What are the best resources right now addressing this issue?

I’d love your input as it helps confirm and fuel my heart and thoughts.

Make Sure You Have at Least One of These…

Make sure you have at least one person in your life…

…Who is willing to say the hard things you don’t want to hear but need to hear…

  • Someone you trust…
  • Someone who knows you…
  • Someone with wisdom…
  • Someone who loves you…

Willing to tell you the truth…

It could save you, your marriage, and possibly your life…

Do you have someone like that in your life?

The Danger of the Mundane…And How to Fight It…

A danger exists in completing the routine tasks you have to do…

  • Routine assignments at work…
  • Routines in relationships…
  • Routines in physical activities…
  • Routines in daily quiet times…
  • Routines in weekly calendaring…

I call it the danger of the mundane…

The things we always do, things that we do everyday, as good as those things may be, can become so routine that they begin to be seen as more of a drag than a pleasure. If one is not careful, the routine becomes the only. our whole world becomes scheduled and predictable. I see couples struggle with this in their marriage and individuals in their careers. It’s common…even routine.

Some of the dangers of the mundane include:

  • You stifle creativity
  • You get bored
  • You remain unchallenged
  • You leave the best things undiscovered
  • You take blessings and other people for granted

Here are some ways you can fight the danger of the mundane:

  • Discipline time to dream
  • Find new ways to do old things
  • Rotate the schedule of when you do routine things
  • Delegate routine tasks if possible
  • Trade routine tasks with others…cross train for another position…
  • Be willing to try something new…
  • Always try to have some change in your life…

Have you ever faced the danger of the mundane? How did you fight this danger?

For further reading, you can see one way my wife and I addressed this danger in our marriage HERE.

3 Steps to Jump Start Your Spiritual Life

Have you been in a spiritual slump lately? Can you not seem to get out of the funk of the slump?

I have had several seasons of life where I simply didn’t feel close to God. Obviously, as the old saying goes, “I moved, not God.” I’ve learned a few things about the process of getting out of a spiritual slump.

Here are 3 easy ways to jump start your spiritual life:

Spend time in the right places – No matter how flashy we get, we will never escape the power of the Bible. Church serves a purpose in our spiritual growth. Prayer happens when we get alone with God. Some people encourage us in our walk with Christ and some don’t. Don’t expect to jump start your spiritual life until you are hanging out in the right places.

Discipline yourself – Supposedly if you do something continually for 21 days a habit forms that you can maintain. Years ago I was going through a difficult time, which led to a spiritual slump. Someone gave me some great advice. He said, “Read your Bible every day whether you feel like it or not.” I did. It worked. At first it was awkward, even mechanical seemingly, but over time, I fell in love again with God’s Word and my God..

Find accountability – Find one or two people you trust who will hold you accountable to this task. Give them freedom to ask if you have read your Bible, attended church, spent time alone with God, etc. Being accountable is always helpful, but especially during slump periods.

Did you want the process to be more difficult? It’s not…

Ready to start? Just Do It!

Be honest: Are you in a spiritual slump these days?

Scripture Memorization, Week 26

We are nearing the end of our look at what’s been called The Roman Road, a handy tool of verses helpful in explaining salvation to someone. I hope you are keeping up with each of these. It will give you a good purview of the book of Romans. If you missed any of these, see THIS POST for last week’s verse and trace back from there.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

Be honest: Have you ever completed the promise of this verse? Do you know for certain you are “saved”?

Is the Problem with the Gym the Same Problem with the Church?

Let’s face it…going to the gym can be brutal on the ego…

Recently Cheryl and I moved downtown. It was an intentional life change (You can read about it HERE.) Part of that move involved changing gyms. I now workout on the campus of our local university, Austin Peay State University. I love the facility. I’m a huge supporter of our local school. Cheryl and I graduated from there, but there’s only one problem with my new workout location.

Most of the people in the gym don’t look like they need to be there…

They are young, lean, fit, strong, beautiful college-aged gym people…

More so than my last gym where lots of people looked like me. :)

Recently as I was sweating like the oldies it got me thinking…

Isn’t that the perception of the church at times?

I can’t go there…because…everyone looks like they don’t need the church.

They are smiling, joyful, seemingly have-it-all-together people.

If my life is falling apart, why would I want to go there? I don’t fit in. I have nothing to offer. My life doesn’t match their life.

But then again, maybe because my physical body is out of shape is the reason I need to be in the gym…

And, maybe it’s why, when my life is a mess, I need the church…

BTW, behind the beautiful bodies in the gym may contain some messed up hearts and minds. And, behind those smiling faces at church may be some mixed up hearts and minds. (I wrote about that HERE.)

Let me make a deal with you…

I’ll keep going to my gym if you’ll give church another chance….

Be honest, have you ever felt you didn’t belong in church because your life was a mess?