Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thank you to all who follow!

This week (Week 35, Through…) marks two years of writing devotional thoughts on this blog.  I cannot believe two years have past.  I consider myself a fairly organized person and a rules follower.  However, there are times in my life where God throws a wrench into my organized ways.  This blog is a perfect example.  If it were up to me, I would have started at the first of a year.  God has a sense of humor.  In the midst of writing on my Random Ramblings blog I felt this call to write out some of my favorite devotional thoughts I had used through the years.  And there you have it.  I started on week 36 of 2011.  So, my year begins around the first of September. 

Anyhow, I want to thank all of those who have followed and shared my devotional blog.  Continue to share any of the thoughts you feel can be helpful to others.  Send traffic my way.  Subscribe if you want an email reminder each time I post.  I look forward to what God places on my heart for this next year.  I hope to make these in to an eBook or two in the near future.  Thanks again for your support.


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Monday, August 26, 2013


Week 35:

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Recently, Rick Atchley, preaching minister at The Hills Church of Christ, came to preach at our Church. During his sermon, he mentioned a passage that he has a love-hate relationship with. It was the above passage from Isaiah. He loves how God says that He will be with us. The hate part for him was the word “through”. And in this passage’ sweeping rivers and fires do not look very attractive to go through. The reality is there will be tough times we will all experience and must go through in this life.

As I heard him describe this, I began reflecting on my journey, especially the last 5 years or so. Two things came to mind for me around this passage. First is the obvious, God is with me through it all. Second, is the “through” I have faced and must face. I will divide the “through” into two types; what I have been through and what I must go through.

So, let’s start with the obvious, God is with me. It is comforting to know that God is there. It is also comforting to know that God, through Jesus, experienced living on earth. I can look back in hindsight at difficult times and see God’s hand and presence through what I experienced. And, at times, I have felt God’s peace and presence in the midst of dark times. For those of us in the Faith, we can see and know God has, is, and will be there.

Now comes the undesirable part…”through”. As I look back on my life, I realize that there have been difficult and dark times I have had to walk through to be who I am. God has used all of the grief, pain, emotional distress, ridicule, and the like to build me into who I now am. I am able to relate to others who are experiencing similar situations. Not only has God walked with me through those times in my life, He has allowed the wisdom gained for them to help me be a conduit of His love, mercy, grace, and message to others. I haven’t faced physical threat or suffering for my faith, but that does not mean I have not faced darkness and challenges because of my faith. The evil one attacks where he believes he can hurt me the most.  

Another part of this for me is the personal work I have had to do in order to become the man God has created me to be. I have had to face ugliness about myself, both the sinful parts of me and the plain undesired parts of me. The parts of me that I do not like either because someone rejected me because of those parts, or the lies the evil one sends my way that I believe. In order to open myself up to God’s love and grace, I have had to look at the source of those parts. When I begin to look at the truth about myself, it is sometimes a dark journey I must go through. However, when I have taken that journey, God has been faithful to walk with me every time.  

Finally, I have to be aware that my journey continues. Because of that, I will face more difficult situations that I must walk through. Storms will come and go in my life. Yet God will be there. Furthermore, I will have to face more parts of myself that I have denied, hidden or repressed. Around this personal work, I am reminded about what Rick Warren mentions in The Purpose Driven Life. He contends that I cannot run from the tests placed in front of me. If I do, then that particular test will show up over and over until I go “through” it. God will walk alongside me as I do and I will be a better and stronger man because of it.

I want to note that I would not be where I am in my journey had God not sent men into my life who invited me to take part in a Crucible Project weekend. Since then, it has been an amazing journey with God. I urge men who want to continue to grow into who God intended them to be to consider participating in a Crucible weekend. It is life-changing.


1. Name a time where you experienced God walking with you through a storm or through darkness.
2. Where did you notice him during the difficult time?
3. In hindsight, what good came from the difficult time?
4. What is a hidden dark place for you that you need to look at and allow the grace of God to cover? (And it doesn’t necessarily have to be sin)
5. This week, pay attention to where in your life God may be asking you to reveal or uncover something you have put in the dark. Ask Jesus to walk alongside you as you work through this part of your life.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

This day...

This day…

Week 34:

Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

I have mentioned before in other posts that I struggle with living in the present at times. I tend to be one who looks ahead and fantasizes what will happen next. I regularly will catch myself looking past what I am currently doing in anticipation of “tomorrow”. Although this mindset is helpful in planning and being proactive, too much looking ahead has me missing out on the “now”.  

This passage reminds me to live in the “now”. I had a Bible professor in college who once said, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”. He never referenced a verse when he made this statement. However, I can see how this statement can be formed from the core of this verse as well as others like James 4:13-15 and Philippians 4:6. Here are a few guiding thoughts for me as I look at this passage.

First of all, planning is good, but it is only a guide. I can plan all I want for tomorrow, however, I still have to walk through a day that has many unknowns. I have to deal with people and people don’t always see things how I see them. They don’t always act as I expect them to act. God will also place people and situations into my day that I did not expect. Two proverbs come to mind when I think about this concept: Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” And, Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Ultimately, plans are good, but God’s will is likely to be different than what I have planned. And…people are on their own journeys as well. Their journey is not my journey.

A second thought I referenced in my blog post Destination. I continue to live my life as if I’m looking to “arrive”. I look to a far off destination instead of working through a journey. When I live like this I miss what is happening in the “now”. I also live in anticipation so deeply at times that when I do arrive at a destination, I find it wasn’t what I had hoped for. Furthermore, when I live this way, I see destinations that seem to be out of reach and I become discouraged. It is okay to dream and have a vision of the future, but when it drives me, I lose sight of what this passage is about.

A third thought is this: Each day comes with a unique set of circumstances. No two days are alike. No matter how boring or routine the day may seem, God still makes it unique. A challenge for me when life seems to get boring is to look where God is working. I may not see visible signs of His work in my life therefore; I must look at the lives of others. If I am daydreaming and looking to tomorrow, I miss the work God is doing today. When I see God’s work in others, it inspires me to move in that moment as well.  

Finally, when I devote some time each day to recognizing blessings in my life and giving thanks for those blessings, it brings me into the present. I notice God more when I take time to notice His blessings, even in the midst of a rough day.  

The core of this passage (and the ones that relate to it) is an area I need to focus on more in my life. I must live in the “now”, be open to God’s will for the day, enjoy the journey, look to others’ journeys, and count my blessings. Putting these thoughts into practice will help me be present for today. Today is the day. 


1. Describe some ways you live for “arrival”.
2. What are some journey steps you may have missed by living for the future?
3. Describe a time where you had plans but God’s purpose made that day an about face?
4. Looking back at that situation, what did you learn? Where did God take you?
5. This week, write down ten blessings in your life as you start each day. Pay attention to what God does each of those days.  

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Catch them doing something good...

 Week 33:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I catch myself focusing so much on the negative in my world. I have been a teacher, coach, and principal for over 20 years as a profession. In that time, I have spent a lot of energy correcting, training, problem-solving, reacting, and re-directing students (and sometimes parents). Now, I do not feel for the most part that I have been a negative teacher, coach, and principal. However, I catch myself on the side of making sure things are done right and well. This has led me at times to only focus on what has needed adjustment.  

In the process of this behavior, I have blinded myself to many of the positive things occurring at the same time. I realize that I have focused only on “getting better” or “getting it right” and missed catching people doing something good. This is especially true in my current position as principal. So many things that come to me are negative situations that require some correction and re-direction. A challenge for me is to recognize that there are so many good things happening and that the correctable is just a small percentage of the bigger picture.

Two areas I have challenged myself to improve upon: One is to catch them doing something good (and acknowledge it). The second is to remind those who need correction that they themselves, at their core, are good; we are just dealing with choices for the most part. Now mind you, I have a long way to go in this area.  

The first one, catching them doing something good and telling them so, is probably the hardest for me. I am so attuned to making sure everything is right, running smooth, within boundaries, etc. that I miss noticing and/or mentioning the good stuff. One thing I have found for myself around this is that looking at life this way has numbed a lot of joy for me. It is time for me to make an intentional effort to look for the positive and acknowledge it verbally. A side note for me: I notice that in negative situations, I tend to look for the positive outcome or “silver lining”. This is only a comforter for me. It is not the same as looking for the positive as the positive is occurring. This is a muscle that needs to be intentionally developed for me.

The second area I have actually been able to incorporate and do a better job practicing. Again, I note that I have a ways to go, but this muscle has been flexed. In the midst of accountability and correction, many times I pause and send some sort of message that who I am dealing with is good at his/her core. God created him/her as good and He did not change his mind. It has become important to me to send something positive to this person to counter the shameful message he/she may carry. A step further for me would be to point out one of the characteristics from this passage that I see specifically in this person’s life.  

I pray that God will continue to reveal in new ways the positive message of His word to me. I want to continue to see His word at work in a practical way in my life and the lives of others. That would be a far cry different from the way that I used His word in the past…which was looking for passages to refute, judge, rebuke, and generally make sure things were done right. It’s time for me to catch them doing something good.


1. Which person have you been? Have you been the one who corrects more than notices or vice versa? Explain. Give examples.
2. Of the characteristics from this passage, which ones do you notice most as they occur?
3. Which ones do you notice least?
4. What do you think the reason for both would be? What do you suppose in your life influenced you in this way?
5. Ask God this week to reveal to you where these characteristics are being practiced. Look for ways to catch someone doing something good and voice it to him/her.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

What is God saying...?

Week 32:

Genesis 50:19-20 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

I actually wrote another thought (Good from bad…) from this same passage in in Week 14. However, there are so many practical lessons from Joseph’s life and particularly his attitude in this passage.  

I find myself being the opposite of Joseph in so many situations. When I am criticized, or left out, or not chosen for something I was expecting, or even when I am rejected, I tend to become defensive, unforgiving, and bitter. When bad things begin to happen, I begin to question my life and decisions. I begin to play the victim of life situations. As I grow older, I hope that I am learning better to be like Joseph and look underneath the negative to see what God is doing.

Many times in my life people can say things that seem cold-hearted, insensitive, critical, hateful, etc. For so much of my life I would take this so personally. I would become defensive and bitter. In fact, I would at times even become vindictive. This passage sends a convicting message to me around this sort of reaction. Over the last few years I have begun to look differently at these negative messages that I perceive were, or are aimed at me.  

What have I learned from Joseph? First of all, I learned that what may be intended as evil toward me may still be used by God to put me in a position to do His work. Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him. They sent him away thinking they would never see him again. Other unfortunate things still happened to Joseph, yet God used it all to set Joseph in a place to save a nation. People may intend harm for me, yet God can use that to His purpose. At times, I may see what good thing God has made out of the situation. Other times, those things are yet to come. Faith allows me to keep going.

Secondly, no matter what the intention or how a message is delivered, God may still be speaking through the situation. I believe that Joseph truly was gifted. However, as a young man, he might have been a touch immature with his use of his abilities. God used some harsh dealings by Joseph’s brothers to grow Joseph up a bit. There are times in my life where someone has not handled me the way I would like to be handled, yet God is still speaking to me through them. What I am beginning to attempt to ask is, “What is God saying to me in this situation?” I must discover what I need to learn from this. The person dealing with me may very well be wrong, but God still can be teaching me something from this situation.  

A third thing that Joseph may have realized was that what his brothers did to him had less to do with him than it did their own jealousy of him. Joseph was younger and more favored. That was their father’s choice. That was painful to the older brothers. Instead of being indignant with dad, they took it out on Joseph. The brothers did not get something they wanted and they blamed Joseph. Many times, what is aimed at me has little to do with me and more to do with what others want and are not getting for themselves. I end up becoming their target for their discomfort. When I am able to see this, I can dismiss any negative message I might believe about my character.

If I am able to put these three things in perspective, then it allows me to have a Joseph like attitude. I can see that God had bigger plans and used my situation to get me ready for those plans. I am also better at letting go of bitterness and forgive those who have been harsh. What may be intended for harm, God uses for His purpose.  


1. How have you been able to relate to Joseph’s story?
2. Where have you seen things intended for harm turn out to be something good in the Kingdom of God?
3. Where recently has someone handled you in an improper way, yet God was still speaking through the situation?
4. Describe a situation in your life where you may want to drop bitterness realizing that what was aimed at you was less about you and more about the person blaming you?
5. Spend some time this week in reflection. Look back and see where you ended up doing good work for God out of a bad situation. Thank God for how it turned out.

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