Every Man For Himself


cruzThis morning as I watched Senator Ted Cruz speak from the Senate floor, I became engrossed in the details he shared about what had happened to the original 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and the sacrifices they made in their quest for liberty. These were well-educated, successful men who had all they needed for themselves and their families yet they valued liberty more than their security. As a result many lost everything they had. Most of them had nothing to gain personally and everything to lose when they made the choice to put their signature on one of the most well-known documents in history, certainly in America’s history. Their personal sacrifices were made in part because they saw the bigger picture. They knew what they would have to endure for the remainder of their lives in order for generations to come to live in freedom would be worth it. They knew the costs yet they were still willing to lend their signatures because it was not about them, it was about freedom.

selfieAt this point I will now do what I vowed never to do when I was a teenager – sound like an old person complaining about “young people these days”. Heaven help me. But seriously, have I become that person I disliked so much as a teen or were the older folk really right and I was just a dumb teenager? Or is there something truly disturbing about the behaviors of the next generation? I’m not sure but there are a few things that I do know for sure that I’d like to share. My generation certainly had issues, there’s no doubt about it. Like all younger generations, we were viewed as self-absorbed, lazy, know-it-alls who were lacking in knowledge of what the “real world” was like. And while every younger generation, including the current one, has plenty of those same qualities to go around, I dare to ask the question – is it just me or are young people today, generally speaking, taking self absorption to a whole new level? The good kids, the questionable kids and the completely rogue kids today all seemed obsessed with themselves. I’m pretty sure they spend more time taking pictures of themselves than they do anything else in their lives and the term “selfie” will soon be an official dictionary word if it’s not already. If I never see another duck face selfie again I’ll be just fine but I somehow doubt that will happen. Social media and reality/competition television shows have driven the desire and pursuit of instant fame through the roof. The need to have more Instagram and Twitter followers than anyone else they know is bizarre to me. And the lengths at which they are willing to go to become known is scary. And I’m pretty sure the use of the word “scary” when referring to young people throws me directly into the old people category.

But it’s not just the young people in our society. Adults too are willingly crossing moral and ethical lines to get ahead in the workplace and justifying destructive and hurtful behavior because they “deserve to be happy” no matter who gets hurt in the process. We’re living in a time where the sacrificial mindsets of the 56 individuals who signed the Declaration of Independence would be mocked and ridiculed. Maybe it is just me but it seems that there are fewer and fewer people who are truly willing to sacrifice so that others (outside of their immediate family and friends) would benefit. It’s an every man for himself kind of world we’re living in.

declarationAnd as I listened to the devastating consequences that many of those 56 men and their families endured because of their dedication to the cause of independence, I questioned how we all can be so selfish and so unwilling to sacrifice at that level today. What has changed in our human nature since their time? What would those men and their families think of us today if they could see how we treat the freedom many of them sacrificed everything for?

And then my thoughts went, as they often do in those melancholy moments, to my Lord and Savior. I thought of the ultimate sacrifice that He made on our behalf. I thought about how different my life would be if Jesus had thought “I’ve got nothing to gain personally and everything to lose by sacrificing myself.” I thought of what my family’s lives would look like if He only thought of Himself in that moment instead of knowing that His personal sacrifice would give freedom and liberty to those held captive by sin for generations to come. I thought about how different our world would be if Jesus had an every man for himself mentality instead of an attitude of “my life for every man”. I gave thanks in that moment that no matter how discouraging things may seem to me at the times when my focus is on the negatives, I know that if I’ll just turn my thoughts back to Jesus, I find peace.

freeMy peace is in knowing that when I was still a self-absorbed, lazy, thought I knew-it-all young person, He loved me. My peace is in knowing that when I’m a self-absorbed, lazy, think I know-it-all “somewhat middle-aged” person, He loves me. My peace is in knowing that because of Him and the sacrifice He made, there is hope for those who are drowning in their hopelessness. My peace comes from knowing that the only freedom that REALLY matters is the freedom HE died for, the freedom from the bondage of sin. My peace comes from knowing that I live in a country where I can still be free to share the good news of the freedom in Christ thanks to the 56 men and their families that sacrificed so much for that freedom a long time ago. My peace comes in knowing that I have the choice to be that crabby, “somewhat middle-aged” person complaining about young people or I can choose to love them as Christ loves them and as He loved me at their age. My peace comes from knowing that the Son set me free therefore I am free indeed.

 

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Talk Is Cheap


I watched the Presidential Debates last night like many Americans. And according to Twitter, my go to “authority” on people’s reaction – I was not alone in my thoughts that both candidates can say things that sound right and good, but until they back it up with action, then their words are nothing but more empty promises. Both spent countless hours preparing for the opportunity to tell the American people what they believe will bring about change and both shared their action plan for backing up what they said. The problem is that much of what they say does not line up with what they have done or will do in the future. Sometimes there are unforseen obstacles that prevent them from keeping their campaign promises. Sometimes it’s other people not doing their part in the process. Sometimes they run out of time before they can accomplish what they set out to do. And other times they simply don’t believe what they say is even possible but they say it anyway because they think it’s what we want to hear.

As Christians, we are often like politicians – we talk a good talk but our words don’t line up with our actions. We too face challenges and timelines that we use as excuses to prohibit us from acting on what we say. Many times we choose not to act when we should be choosing to persevere in trusting God, like we say we do. We may say we trust God to fix our situation but then we do things in our own abilities to bring about the outcome that we believe is best. We tell God we trust Him with our finances but the first time we’re short on cash for the monthly bills the first thing we do is skip tithing to our church. We tell our co-workers we believe in and trust God but when the rumors of lay-offs surface we are among the first to display panic and worry. When our marriage begins to fall apart we pray to God proclaiming our trust that He can restore it. But when our spouse tells us they don’t want to try to work things out, we cry out to God and ask how He could let this happen and question whether He really cares or not. We attend church and read our bible saying all along we believe in the promises of God and we trust Him when He says all things are made new in Christ (2Cor. 5:17), that is until the moment the enemy whispers in our ear that nothing has changed and that we’re the same old person we’ve always been and our doubts and insecurities begin to once again consume our thoughts. Just like the candidates in the debate last night, we may believe 100% that what we say is the truth in the moment that we say it. But as soon as we come up against an obstacle or our circumstances change, we may find ourselves no longer having trust in the words we spoke when everything appeared to be going our way. We can suddenly find ourselves doubting the very truth we previously spoke with such certainty.

I read a quote recently that I can’t get out of my mind. It said “Believing God exists doesn’t make you a Christian, acting like God exists does.” It really make me think – when I say I trust God in a particular situation, do my actions show it? Do my thoughts align with the promises of God that I say I believe in? Is my life proof that I believe God is who He says He is, and that He can and will do what He promises in His word? When you say you believe in God and trust Him in all areas of your life, you can bet that there are people watching to see if the way you live your life reflects what you say you believe. Whether it’s your children, co-workers, family, friends or neighbors, they are watching and they see how you respond the moment something goes wrong. Our spiritual maturity is most effectively demonstrated to others when we act in accordance to God’s promises and not according to how we feel or what we think.

Non-believers, the lost and lonely are looking to those of us who shout out our beliefs to back them up with action. When we tell others they just need to trust God with their situation, we must show them what that looks like by staying the course and remaining faithful to our walk when the going gets tough in our own lives. When our paychecks are short our children must see our trust in God through our obedience to tithe even when the numbers don’t add up on paper. Our co-workers need to see authenticity in our lives so that they know that when we say we’ll do something, we mean it. Our closest friends and family must witness consistency in our lives by our being the same person around them as we are in public to others. Our neighbors don’t need to see our boyfriend leave our home on Sunday morning to head back to his own home just before they watch us drive off to church. The stranger in the store who recognizes us from their first-time visit to our church on Sunday should not overhear us gossiping about someone to our friend on the other end of our cellphone. If what we say we believe doesn’t line up with how we act, we are nothing more than a talking head to the lost.

How do your actions line up with the words you speak? Do people know you’re a Christian because you say so or does the way you live point others to Christ? As Christians it’s time for us to stop being all talk and no action. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is because if we can learn anything from the presidential debates it’s this – talk is cheap, people want to see that you’re for real. They want to see some action. It’s time to show our trust in Jesus by our complete surrender to Him as Lord in all areas of our lives. It’s time we let people see who Jesus is by living a life that glorifies Him and demonstrates that He is worthy to be praised. The advice is the same whether you are a Christian or you’re a candidate for the office of President of the United States – the time for talk is over, it’s time for action.

Fear of Commitment


When I hear the term “fear of commitment” I immediately think of a runaway bride. Others may think of a stereotypical ladies man who is afraid to commit to a relationship. But I want to share my thoughts on another fear of commitment I see in our culture today. Let me begin with the many worthwhile things that we regularly commit to. Some people are committed to their workout routine. They faithfully show up to the gym each day to ensure they fit their workout in before they begin the rigors of their busy day. This is a worthy choice because those who are committed to a healthy lifestyle are typically more concious of the foods they eat and are in overall better health than the occasional exerciser. Then there are those who are committed to their favorite TV shows. I admittedly fall into this category (don’t judge). Their DVR is set up and ready to record with the priority order set. Their personal plans revolve around their TV viewing routine. They will turn down offers to join friends for other events if it means they would miss an episode of their show. They even plan parties for season finales complete with a theme, food and decorations. There are also those who are committed to their children’s athletic activities. They sign their children up for a different sport each season and endure a grueling schedule of practices and early Saturday morning games all in the name of commitment. And under the same category of sports enthusiasts are those committed to their favorite team. They (we) clear their schedules to make sure they’re parked in front of the TV whenever their team (Jacksonville Jaguars) is playing a game that will air on national TV. And if they happen to live in city that is home to a college or professional team, they are sure to have season tickets and game day is an all day event of pre-game festivities and post-game celebration after a big win.

But there’s a different kind of commitment that is lacking in people’s lives today. Many people today find it very easy to commit to workouts, TV shows, sporting events and teams but can’t seem to commit to faithfully following God. Many easily find time in their schedules to ensure they never miss a day at the gym or a moment of their TV show but can’t find the time to attend a bible study or to show up to church on Sunday. Others are commited to ensuring they have much deserved time for themselves and what they want to do, but they can’t find any time in their day to spend a moment talking with God through prayer. Still others show up to the weekly pick up game with the guys or the Bunko game with the girls but for some reason have no room to fit some bible reading or prayer into their busy day. And even if you remove the Christian faith from the equation, there are many non-believers today who are more committed to their career, their hobby, their “cause” they support, or pretty much anything more than they are committed to their own marriage or family. We live in a world that will enthusiastically dedicate their time and energy to almost anything but fears committing to the very things that deserve their devotion.

But then it happens. There comes a moment in our lives when we need God. It may be a financial or health crisis. Or our marriage may be headed toward divorce and suddenly our priorities completely change. We begin to pray for God to move in our situation and make everything better. We cry out for God to heal our disease or restore our marriage. And while it’s a good thing for us to seek God in our times of need, He must be a priortiy in our lives during both good times and bad. We want God during those times when we need Him to move upon our situation but many are unwilling for Him to permantly move into their lives. Many times we run to God when we want Him to fix our problem but once it’s over we return to our own ways of doing things because it’s too hard to be committed to surrending our lives and completely trusting that God knows what is best for us. We want God to come into our lives like a fairy godmother and wave a magic wand to make everything better. We want Him to fix everything without any long term commitment on our part. It is during our times of desperation that God becomes our priority. But many times the commitment ends when the crisis is over.

As Christians we have become lazy in our faith, unwilling to put in the time and obedience that is required of us in order to experience victory this side of heaven. We agree that Jesus died on the cross for our sins – and because we believe, He is our Savior. But for Him to be Lord of our lives, we are required to submit our lives to God and obey His commands. To be a disciple of Christ requires commitment on our part. And commitment like that isn’t easy. It requires a lifestyle change. It means we have to rethink our priorities and make adjustments where our commitments are concerned. We need to be less committed to the things of this world – even the good things like exercise, children’s activities and entertainment – and be more committed to the things that have eternal value like connecting to spiritual family through the local church, reaching the lost, obedience to God’s word, devotion to our marriages, giving of our time and resources and our own spiritual growth.

Maybe it’s time to do a personal evaluation to see how you spend your time. What are you faithfully committed to? Do you rarely miss a day at the gym but consistently have excuses for why you can’t make it to the bible study you signed up for? Do you religiously attend every one of your child’s sporting events but regularly miss Sunday church services? Do you take pride in the fact that you’ve seen every episode of your favorite TV show without fail but you can’t seem to find time in your busy schedule to pray or read your bible. It’s time for Christians to get over our fear of commitment to our faith. It’s time we reevaluate how we spend our time and understand that for real transformation to take place in our marriages, our finances and our lives it’s going to take real commitment on our part – commitment to lay down our lives to the One who laid down His life for us. Once you experience the love of Christ and the indescribable peace and joy that comes from being a committed follower of Christ, you’ll never be the same. So why wait, it’s time to fearlessly commit to the One who committed His life to you. And when you do – you’ll never be the same, that’s a promise.

I Want Results


I am admittedly a fan of the show The Biggest Loser. One of the things I like best about the show is the unexpected twists and turns that keep you guessing as to what shocking game twist they will come up with each season to keep things interesting. The current season of “No Excuses” is certainly not lacking in unexpected game changers. In a recent episode, two of the contestants were so upset by the decision of the producers to allow all previously eliminated contestants from this season to return and compete for the opportunity to be in the finale that they quit the game altogether. Of the three remaining contestants who chose to stay on the ranch, Jeremy lost the weigh in and was forced to compete with all the eliminated contestants for the final spot in the finale. His situation made him so frustrated that he became completely distracted during his workout and was putting forth very little effort to participate. Dolvett, his trainer, noticed Jeremy’s lack of effort and pulled him aside to ask him what was wrong. Jeremy explained that he was mad and didn’t even feel like trying because he was now in jeopardy of losing the game.

Dolvett’s response was wisdom-filled advice that could apply to all of our lives. He told Jeremy that his problem was that he was in love with the results when he needed to be in love with the work which would lead to the results. He explained that Jeremy was only focused on his desire to get to the finish line. But what he was missing was trust in the process that would get him there. Dolvett encouraged him that if he loved the hard work and the discipline that was required more than his desire for the end result and he put his trust in the process, then he would achieve the result he was after. Refocused, Jeremy worked out harder than he ever had and was able to beat all the other contestants for the spot in the finale.

As Christians we many times become focused on the result (getting to heaven) and miss the process entirely (a relationship with God). I remember when I responded to the message of the gospel and the promise that if I asked Jesus into my heart, believed that He died for my sins and that I was forgiven, that I would spend eternity in heaven. I responded because I wanted to be sure that I would go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me because I believed in Him. But after my initial response to the gospel, I returned to the same way of life I had been living by doing whatever I wanted to do, not what God desired for me to do. I returned to the actions and behaviors that had made me so miserable before and had created so much drama in my life. I returned to the very things that initially drove me to the realization of how desperate I was for a Savior. My problem was that I was in love with the result – I wanted to go to heaven when I died and I wanted God to bless me. But I didn’t want to give up my own desires in order to follow Him and seek His will for my life. I wanted the result without the process. I was unwilling to surrender my life to God in order to be transformed into His image. I wanted Jesus to be my Savior but not my Lord.

Life continued and I kept doing the same old things but expected different results because after all, I was saved now so I thought things would be different. But because of a lack of true repentance and surrender on my part, things were the same as they had always been. Through God’s grace, I ended up attending a church that taught about discipleship and Lordship – two terms I had never heard before. I learned that nothing was every going to change in my life if nothing ever changed. I had to stop trying to run my own life and trust in God to be the Lord of my life. I began to fall in love with the process of building a relationship with my Lord and Savior. I began to trust in His will for my life as I lived in obedience to His word – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I surrended to God’s will for my life and I began to experience changes. I was re-focused on trusting in the process and not looking only for the results. I began to be more joyful than I had ever been. When everything wasn’t going exactly as I wanted, it no longer consumed me. There was much less drama in my life and I had peace even in the midst of challenges and difficulties. My attitudes and my behaviors changed as I spent more time working on my relationship with Jesus through reading and studying His word and spending time in prayer. I was encouraged and hopeful but no longer condemned. I felt freedom from the hold that sin had on my life and healing for the wounds that had been part of me for so long.

I learned from faithful followers of Christ who gave of their time to disciple me and teach me how to not just believe in God for salvation, but to follow Him as His disciple. I was forever changed because of their willingness to pour into my life. By putting my trust in the process of discipleship and growing in my relationship with God through obedience, I got the results I desired. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I am assured that I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior. Now that’s what I call achieving the results you’re after.

Nobody Loves Me


There is a worship song that says “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” It’s one of my favorites because it’s a reminder that the measure by which I am loved is solely based on what God did for me when He sacrificed His son on the cross. Because of God’s love for me and His forgiveness of my sins, I am no longer separated from Him and I have the assurance of spending eternity with my Father in Heaven. It is the litmus test by which I measure whether I am loved or not. The definition of litmus test is this: a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive. The determination of whether I am loved or not is solely based on the fact that God loved me so much that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone (including me) who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. That is the basis for which I am loved. Not whether I feel loved or not. Not whether someone who I thought loved me told me they no longer do. Not that someone who was supposed to love me and take care of me didn’t. The reason I know that I am loved is because God said so in His Word.

But many people determine whether they are loved or not based on how fulfilling their personal relationships are in their lives. They “feel” loved when someone treats them well and meets their emotional needs. But as soon as that person fails to do so, they begin to feel unloved. They falsely believe that when someone rejects them or disappoints them that they are no longer loved. While it may be true that they are no longer loved by the individual, it does not mean they are not loved. The only love that will never fail to meet our physical, emotional and spiritual needs is God’s love. People will undoubtedly let you down, but God’s love is unfailing.

Right now there may be someone in your life who is failing to make you feel loved. Or maybe someone you thought was there for you has given up on you and you feel the hurt of rejection and disappointment. Maybe your spouse has run out on you and you feel alone and think nobody loves you. But there is One who loves you more than anyone here on this earth can ever love you. And He will never leave you nor forsake you. His love is unconditional, everlasting, and unfailing. His love is healing, comforting and liberating. His love has no limits and knows no bounds. His love is giving but it won’t cost you. His loves brings clarity to your confusion and light to your darkness. His love is pure, forgiving and redeeming. His love covers you and strengthens you in times of weakness. His love drives out fear and builds up faith. His love is immeasureable and secure. His love cleanses and restores. His love is protective and inviting. His love fulfills and completes. His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

Going Dark


One of my all-time favorite TV shows was “24” – to this day I’m still holding out hope that a “24” movie is forthcoming. When the lead character, Jack Bauer, was entering into a situation where he would no longer be in communication with his command point, he would always say “I’m going dark”. That meant they would not be able to reach him and there would be no contact whatsoever until it was safe to do so. When Jack was in his “stealth mode” the object was for him to not be exposed. He was to be unseen and unheard. If the mission became about him, it would all be over and the mission would fail.

I see many Christians who serve the church, their family and friends, their community, and even complete strangers with the same “stealth-mode” mentality. They understand that if their ministry to others becomes about them and not about God’s mission to reach the lost, then the mission will fail. They essentially go dark in order to remain unseen so that God may be seen through them as they selflessly serve others.

I’ve had the honor and privilege to visit Kenya, Africa where I met a couple, who quietly and with no fanfare at all, have served the orphaned children of their community for over 20 years. They have an incredible testimony and a story worth telling. But many years ago when they first arrived in Kenya, they felt God told them that if their ministry ever became about them, it would cease to exist. Because of their incredible love for the children they serve and their abounding humility, they have fiercly guarded themselves against pride. Their ministry has grown beyond anything they could have ever imagined. And they know that if they were to share their story in the United States, they could greatly increase their financial support and further the ministry to reach farther than they ever could with their meager support. But what would be lost is the ability to transform lives through the power of God. Because the ministry is not about them, the impact is far more reaching because God is able to show Himself mighty by meeting their needs time after time when they put their trust in Him. For that reason, they do everything they can to ensure they remain camouflaged and unseen so that God may receive the glory for the hearts that are transformed through they tireless and humble work.

Their story is so extraordinary because humility is the most difficult thing to possess and very few of us have it. And just about the time you think you got it, you’ve lost it. Everything in our culture screams “it’s all about me”. We are programmed to think about ourselves first before thinking of others and that we deserve to have it all so why not look out for number one? No one else is looking out for you, right? But humility says to put others first by giving up what we think we deserve. It means we treat others as if they are more important than us. How often, outside of God’s Word, do you hear that message in our world today? Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself less often. We cannot consume our own thoughts. We have to re-train our minds against what we are bombarded with on a daily basis and we must learn to think of others first. And because this goes against everything in our human nature, when it occurs God is glorified because there is no way other than by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can put others first. We just don’t have it in us. And when we do people will be drawn to Him and not us.

Are there areas of your life that need some camouflage? If you think you don’t have a problem with pride, there’s red flag number one. Trust me on this one, you do not want to get so full of yourself that it will take a humiliating moment to bring about more humility in your life. I know from my own experience, just about the time I thought I didn’t have a pride issue, God showed me just how much of one I did have. (Matt. 23:12, Prov. 16:18). We all need a reminder sometimes that it’s not all about us. Ask God to show you the areas of pride in your life and then when He does, repent and go dark.

Blind Obedience


Have you ever heard the term “blind ambition”? Most people have, but could you define it if someone asked you to? My son recently asked me what it meant and like most parents faced with a difficult question, I picked up my laptop and googled it. There is not an exact definition for the term but here’s the best explanation I found: “Blind Ambition is simply that.  You do not have a particular ‘focus’ as to where you are going, or what you want to do.  You just KNOW you want to do something, but where exactly you are headed is uncertain.  You can’t make up your mind, yet you’d do anything to anyone to get there as quickly as you can.  Make sense?  I thought not..but it’s true.”

It’s kind of like having a goal, having the ambition to reach the goal, going full speed ahead toward it but having no specific plan on how you will achieve the goal. It’s when you just “go for it” without really thinking it through first. Like the definition above states – it doesn’t make sense and you don’t know what the results will be but you do it anyway.

So that got me thinking. What if all followers of Jesus Christ practiced blind obedience – the kind of obedience that doesn’t always make sense but you do it anyway. As believers we don’t obey a set of rules, but as an act of love we are called to obey God’s commands not because we have to but because we want to. We shouldn’t need to know all the details and know how everything will turn out. All we have to do is to trust God and obey what He calls us to do. He is certainly not required nor should we expect Him to explain the “why” behind every opportunity He gives us to obey Him. God doesn’t need us to fully understand all that He asks of us. But He does want us to completely obey. Besides, we would be beyond overwhelmed if God showed us the “big picture” of every aspect of our lives.

So why do we feel such a need to know what’s coming next? Why do we find it so hard to just obey the step that God has placed before us? Pride and fear are two obstacles that get in the way of blind obedience. We believe we know better than God what the best plan of action would be or we’re too afraid to step out in faith and do what He has called us to do. What is it that you know that God has told you to do that you’re waiting for the full picture to develop before acting on it? Could it be that God is giving you the opportunity to practice blind obedience and to trust Him even though it may not all make sense right now? In John 14:15 Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands.” It’s not complicated or difficult to understand. Do you love Jesus? Then just obey Him, even if it means you can’t see beyond the first step. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

When You Live To Be 100


This past weekend we celebrated the 100th birthday of my grandmother, Sissy, as she is affectionly known by to her family and friends. It was a celebration of a life that began in 1912 and has been witness to many incredible events throughout this century. Sissy began working as a telephone operator when she was just 16. At the time, she was the youngest employee to ever work for the phone company. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee which she and her three sisters and two brothers helped maintain in order to provide for the family’s needs. I believe it was through her humble beginnings she developed lifelong habits that are worth sharing and learning from.

Wash your face before breakfast – I’m sure this habit was necessary growing up for Sissy because her day began long before breakfast with chores on the farm. She came in after morning chores to “wash up” for breakfast. She still does this every day. I know that I need to “wash up” in the Word before I start my day. The spiritual cleansing that comes from beginning the day with God sets the tone for the entire day.

Have something sweet with every meal – Sissy has a dessert with every meal. Now that may sound crazy for those of us desperately trying to watch our weight but her small indulgence at mealtimes prevents her from a fullblown, whole cheesecake meltdown that might occur if she deprived herself. Every day she has 1 small chocolate donut at breakfast, 1 small chocolate chip cookie at lunch and a 1-scoop ice cream cone after dinner. Moderation is the key that has allowed her to enjoy the things she likes while maintaining self control.

Get excited about the small things – Every day at 3:00 pm Sissy looks out her window with great expectation as she anticipates the delivery of the day’s mail. She if filled with joy when there is something in the mailbox that is meant just for her. Too often we miss the pleasure of the small things in life because they become too routine for us.

Make molehills out of mountains – Whenever something big happens in Sissy’s life that would send others into a stressful frenzy, she seems to have a knack for letting it roll off her back. She doesn’t waste her energy and emotions on getting upset about the things she knows are ultimately in God’s control and chooses to spend her energy and emotions on the people that matter most to her

Keep a routine – Sissy is as predictable as they come and has been for as long as I can remember. She wakes up at the same time every day, washes up, has breakfast, reads the paper, has lunch, watches the same soap opera that she has watched for over 45 years and then enjoys a little afternoon nap (which she vehemently denies). Knowing what your day holds and the peace of knowing the One who holds it in His hands takes the guesswork out of how to respond when the routine is interrupted. She knows what her plans are every day and when the unexpected happens she turns to God and trusts Him with that which is out of her control.

Tell your story often – I’ve heard them all a hundred times but I still enjoy hearing Sissy tell the stories of how she started with the phone company, how she met my grandfather, what it was like to live during the Great Depression and where she was when JFK was shot. She loves to tell her story to anyone who will listen. And no matter how many times you tell your story there’s always a part that someone may have not heard before. Or there is someone out there who needs to hear your story, that needs to know they are not the only one who has experienced what they are going through. Tell your story and tell it often.

Make an actual phone call at least once a week – Sissy is pretty hip but she she is definitely not up to speed on social networking and texting. She uses her old rotary dial telephone to keep in touch with her friends and family. There is something special about a real phone call and hearing the voice on the other end that is lost through emails, texting and social media. People need to know we’re willing to take the time to pick up the phone and call them. I bet right now there is someone you’re thinking of that you should call.

Put on your make-up when you’re expecting guests – Even at 100 years old, Sissy still takes time to care about her physical self. As difficult as it can be for her she puts on her make-up, sprays a little perfume and combs her hair when she knows someone is coming to see her. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20) and we are never too old to take care of ourselves and our bodies in honor of God.

We may not live to be 100 years old but we sure can learn some valuable lessons from someone who has. I know I definitely have. Thanks Sissy.

Excuse Me, You’re In My Spot


All companies and organizations have a structure or hierarchy that determines the level of responsibilities and decision-making. An organizational chart is used to diagram the company structure, roles and how they relate to one another. In the military it’s called the Chain of Command. The thing that they all have in common is that there is always a top position. There is someone who is ultimately held responsible for the overall vision or mission and who is in charge of overseeing everyone below them. They are rewarded whenever everything goes well but they are also held accountable when things do not go as planned whether they were involved directly or indirectly. Many times they get the credit for work done by subordinates but they can also take the fall for others’ mistakes. It is a huge responsibility to be at the top of the pyramid.

Marriages and families are like a company in the sense that someone is ultimately in charge. The person at the top of the org chart of a family may rely heavily on their support staff such as their spouse, their children, or extended family. But there really can only be one Head of Household, at least according to the IRS. And just like in the corporate and military worlds, sometimes the lines of responsibilities may be crossed or the 2nd in command may have to step in and take the lead for a period of time due to certain circumstances. But in all families there is typically one person who is considered the man or woman of the house.

In Ephesians Chapter 5 God describes His org chart for a spiritual head of the household when He says “for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.” In a marriage God defines the role of the family CEO as belonging to the husband. However, there are many obstacles that can come between a man taking his designated role within his family. Sometimes he may unwilling or may not be equipped to lead the family spiritually. But in other situations the husband cannot occupy the position that God intended for them to be in because there is someone else already occupying that role. I was one of those people – I complained that my husband was not being the spiritual head of our home yet I was the one standing in the way of his promotion into the position that was created for him. There can only be one CEO or Commanding Officer and until that position is vacated then no one else can be promoted into it. It is the same in a marriage. There can only be one spiritual head of the home and while there are many reasons why the husband may not be operating in that role, in my case the problem was me. I was attempting to possess something that was never intended to be mine in the first place. But my husband was too much of a gentleman to just “put me in my place”. He waited and allowed the Holy Spirit to bring conviction upon my heart.

You may be in a situation where you are the spiritual head of your home because your husband is not willing or able to occupy the position. Or if your spouse is deployed or travels with their job and is unable to operate in their role for much of the time then you may have to step in and be that position until they can and will assume it for themselves. But if you are constantly battling with the question of why your husband is not acting as if he is the spiritual head of your home even though he is equipped to do so, ask God to show you if the position is available to him. It just may be that it’s already occupied and your husband cannot be promoted until you are willing to humbly step aside. There will always be difficulties within a marriage when the husband and wife are not in the role God intended for them to be. If that is your marriage, it may be time to say “I’m sorry, I”m in your spot.”

Prison Break


I confess – I watch too much television. One of my favorite new shows is Alcatraz, a drama that revolves around the prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco and the efforts of a team of investigators to track a group of missing prisoners who mysteriously reappear decades after they disappeared from the prison. On a recent episode an inmate appeared at the home of a friend who thought he had died while being held prisoner at Alcatraz. When the friend saw him he said “I thought you were dead! When did you get out of prison?” The inmate answered, “When you’re in prison, you never really get out. You just move from one cell to another.” Many people today are being held in captivity. They are a prisoner to some form of bondage, desperately seeking the key to freedom. They believe the key lies in the “ifs” of their lives. If I had more money. If I was with someone who really loved me the way I deserve to be loved. If I could forgive them for what they did to me. If I could just find a way to overcome this addiction. If I could lose 50 pounds. If I could get a better ____________ (fill in the blank…….job, car, house). If only I were prettier, smarter, funnier, more confident. They keep wandering from one cell to another searching for their elusive freedom.

What I found in my own life is all of your “ifs” can be overcome. You can conquer every perceived obstacle and still be a prisoner. The freedom most find is only a temporary freedom and after the initial break from captivity they find themselves right back in bondage. They may have found short term liberty in a new relationship, new job or a move to a new geographic location, only to find that what they thought was freedom was simply a move from one prison cell to another. There is only one true key to freedom and it is found in Jesus Christ. He alone is the lasting key to a life of liberty. It was never God’s plan for you to be captive. His desire for you is to live a life without limits, an open and expansive life. (2Cor. 6:11-13 MSG).

If you are prisoner to the bondage of addiction, lonliness, insecurity, depression, unforgiveness or anger it is time to be set free. It’s time to break away from that which holds you captive and seek the only One who can truly set you free. All you have to do is ask. Jesus stands waiting to open the door to the wide open, spacious life. (Matt. 7:7). Isn’t it time you break free? You have nothing to lose and your freedom to gain.