Category Archives: Life Lessons

Imperfect Me

Are any of you perfect? You might think you are, but I’d bet you’re not. I know I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty messed up.

Just today I was reminded how flawed I am. I’ve screwed up so much it ain’t even funny.

For one, I got into a heated argument with my wife which led me to say things in anger, things I wish I’d not said. Two, it was made obvious that I’ve made some poor decisions in parenting, some of which will haunt me till the day I die. Third, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, and tonight I wish I could roll back time (cue the Cher music).

On top of all the above, I’m facing issues for which I have no good answers, and I’m not even sure there are any. Do you know how helpless that can make one feel?

Wednesday night I shared an impromptu sermon based on something I had written earlier in the day, and today I was reminded of it. I had been to the church parsonage and seen the work being done, took a picture, and wrote the following.

This a blessing to behold, and further confirmation that God is not only doing something now, but will be doing something more in the future to bring glory to the wonderful name of Jesus.

And to be honest, I’m as clueless as anyone to what plans the Lord has for this little old church, but plans He has. We are just going to be faithful, prayerful, worshipful, and hopeful (not with an earthly hope, but one that rests in His promises that never fail)!”

Faithful. Just keep doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. Don’t be like the one who gets inpatient and steps out in his own strength to accomplish what is not in God’s timing. The results of faithless action never produce a positive outcome. See Proverbs 28:20.

Prayerful. If Dory had been a Christian fish, she might have said, “Just keep praying, praying, praying.” Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).

Worshipful. God deserves our worship. But not only that, some of the Israelite’s greatests battles were won when, instead of swords and spears, the first line of offence – their Spec Ops Choir – carried trumpets and lyrics into combat.

Hopeful. Why be worshipful? Why praise? Because we have a hope that is different from the world’s kind, the kind that is more like wishful thinking – like, “Now that I’ve picked the numbers, I HOPE I win the lottery.” No, we can be hopeful in fact, because God’s promises, when made, are as good as done – actually, they’re already done – in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20)!

I’m not perfect. I’m not a source of unfailing wisdom. I’m not the best husband, father, preacher, pastor, or anything. I have no clue how God is going to get glory from what He has planned to accomplish in my life, but I’ve read the first chapter of Ephesians, and one promise is that I’m going to bring him glory and praise (v. 12). It’s as good as done!

And, even though I feel pretty weak and helpless, He wants me to understand that what’s going to be accomplished will not be determined by my own ability, but His “exceeding greatness and power” which raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-20)!

So, even though I’m not perfect (which is an understatement), my faith is in One who is, and He keeps his promises (Prov. 22:6; Isaiah 55:11; Matt. 16:18).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family, self-worth, worship

Saved from Irrelevance: the MacBook and Me

This morning I was seriously thinking about walking away from blogging for the next 30 days, or so. Last night was just one of those nights when all the emotional energy I had was sapped out of me, leaving me awake this morning with little or no desire to be transparent, much less creative. So, what was one of the first things that came to mind? Walk away from blogging for a while.

Now, the big question is why would I think like that? Well, it’s not really that difficult to understand: I wanted to atone.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we like to act destructively in order to relieve stress or pain? Some people do it by drinking too much and getting drunk, while others shoot up drugs or watch porn (is this hitting home with any of you?). Many people, if not most, find some temporary comfort in doing something harmful or self-abasing in order to either punish themselves for something they feel they did wrong, or just prove to themselves they are as bad as they feel. Both options are tragic in their own right.

Why am I writing this? Well, what I am doing is the opposite of what walking away from blogging would do – I’m trying to make a difference.

If you have gotten this far I congratulate you. Most people, in my experience, would have tuned out by now, thinking the subject matter of this post is too emotional, depressing, or something. However, I am not writing this for anyone’s entertainment; I’m writing it because I need to.

And if I ramble, that’s because I am writing with no agenda, no editing, just to get this off my chest.

Anyway, last night was one of those nights that drained me, like I said. It was a night full of family drama, the kind parents sometimes have to go through when there are teens and young adults in the family. It’s that parenting thing that can be so hard…and the struggles within a marriage relationship…when multiple people get together, have differing opinions, different communication skills, and struggle to see things eye-to-eye. The single life does have its advantages in that one can just walk away when things get tense or uncomfortable – but not family. Family is hard work, and painful, too.

So, I woke up this morning, ready to quit blogging for a while. It just seemed like a statement I could make that would make me feel better. Really, the truth is nothing more than what I really wanted to have control over something. We can’t control other people (not unless we are tyrants, or something). Life itself is often nothing more than a four-wheel skid in a generally predetermined direction. Therefore, had I just announced that I was going to quit blogging for a while, I would have at least given myself a temporary emotional boost, one that said something to the effect of, “You are in control!”

But only God is truly in control, you know? The best I can do is remain faithful in the life He has called me to live. I will make mistakes; I will do things I regret; I will say things without thinking; I will hurt feelings; I will give advice today that tomorrow I may regret; and that’s because I am human. Even king Solomon, the wisest man on earth, made mistakes; am I wiser than him? All I can do is “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In a broad application of Ecc. 12:14, God will handle the rest.

I don’t want to walk away from blogging – although I would like my posts to become ever more relevant and impactful. Just like this computer I am using this morning – one that I rescued from the trash – even though I am not the fastest, sharpest, most up-to-date, and all that, God want’s to take what I do have and put it to good use for His purposes. It’s a much better feeling knowing that something I am writing will make a small difference, rather than feeling that temporary gratification of being in “control.”

Lord willing, even thought I am not the best at it, tomorrow morning I am going to be preaching on the topic of prayer – specifically  “Prayer that Works.” Much of what I preach is nothing more than something I need to hear myself, and this will be no exception. And just like this blog post, one that is an attempt to show I don’t have everything under control, but I’m still making it through another day, tomorrow’s sermon will be an example of God using a flawed, imperfect example of humanity to showcase his glory and grace.

So, if nothing else, I’m thankful for this old computer, rescued from the trash heap, for giving me the urge to do a little bit more typing. God knows how He is going to use it. He’s the one in charge and in control, not me.

Our county school system had relegated this “outdated” MacBook to the trash, but I rescued it from the crusher. After a cleaning up and cleaning out, it still works fine, just a little slower than the new stuff – just like me 😉

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Filed under blogging, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons

First Day, Old Lesson

Today is the first day of school in Chattanooga, so back to the school bus I go. Therefore, in honor of all those who get behind the wheel of the big yellow machines, the following is a short adaptation from my little book, Life Lessons from the School Bus.


Crazy Obstacles

Back when I first trained to drive a school bus, all drivers were required to complete an obstacle course. I don’t know what they do these days, but one obstacle that I had to overcome it worth remembering – the tennis ball row.

The obstacle course was tough enough, but one test that we had to go through seemed totally off the wall. It was the last test, the last trial, the last obstacle of the day. All one had to do was drive a school bus across a parking lot, but without touching any tennis balls. What’s the catch?

The right side of the bus, front tire and rear tires, was to go between two rows of tennis balls, the spacing of which only left 2 inches of clearance. In other words, you only had at most 2 inches on either side of the widest part of the back tires. Touch a tennis ball and you have to start over. Go over the tennis balls – you fail.

Really, I could see how this exercise taught precision driving skills, but what was the point. When on earth was I supposed to encounter a bunch of yellow balls on the highway? Little did I know, a day would come when I would see first-hand the purpose for this lesson.

The Real Test

A few months into my driving career, I was asked to fill in on a route in the county. The route I was put on took me way out into farm country…tobacco country. After picking up a few kids, my directions led me down a gravel road, way out amidst acres of Kentucky no-man’s land. It wasn’t too long until I came upon a creek. The only way to get across the creek was to drive my 15 ton bus over a homemade, log and plank bridge.

You have GOT to be kidding me!” was the first words out of my mouth.

“No, this is the way we always go,” said the boy noticing the terror in my face.

Trembling in my driver’s seat, my muscles hardly willing to obey my brain’s idiotic commands, I slowly began my crossing. Middle of the way through, as the bus was slightly rocking back and forth, I could see that my tires were barely on the wooden planks that lay across the logs. Then it hit me – “That’s why they had us drive through those tennis balls!

The next thought that came into my mind was, “If they had told me what they were training me for, I would have found another job.”

Life Lesson

The reason for the lesson may not be obvious until the need for application.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” -James 1:3-4

Sometimes we are called by God to go through tests and trials which we don’t understand. What we need to realize is that God knows what is ahead of us, what bridges we may have to cross.

Let Him do what He must to train you for the road ahead. You may be the one responsible for carrying someone over to the other side.

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Filed under Life Lessons, Parenting, wisdom

Got Sin?

The following also appears on my other blog, ProverbialThought.com.


Proverbs 28:13

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

Hidden Sin

Hidden sin is the stuff we hide from view, maybe even from ourselves. Hidden sin is the kind of sin we don’t want others to know about for fear of being embarrassed, judged, or condemned. Hidden sin could even be what we choose to label “character flaws,” “idiosyncrasies,” or simply “bad habits.” They are buried, closeted, covered, disguised, or even renamed in order to keep from admitting what they really are.

Do you sneak away to where no one will see? Do you wait till the kids are asleep? Do you clean up the mess so no one will know? Do you hide records and notes? Do you cover your tracks? Do you say it with a fake smile? Do you daydream about what you would do if you could get away with it?

Keep on, keep covering and you will never find relief; you will never find peace; you will never lose the weight of guilt; you will never, ever prosper.

Look at It!

There were so many times when I was younger that I was injured and didn’t want to look at the wound. One time I was cleaning an automotive valve grinding machine when I briefly touched my left hand to the sharp surfacing stone that was spinning at 5,000 r.p.m. In a micro second flesh was ground away to the bone and blood began to drip forming a puddle by my feet. I grabbed my hand with my other, called for help, then said, “I don’t want to look!”

Had I kept my hand covered, I would have never seen that the injury was not as extensive as I first thought. But had I kept my wound covered, denied it ever happened, and went on about my day, I could have bled to death, or at least lost my hand to a horrible infection. My life could have been changed forever.

Thankfully, I looked at my wound, then began to feel the pain, but then began a long healing process. Quite frankly, the same thing needs to happen with hidden sin. We need to admit the problem, deal with the pain, and allow others and God to bring healing to our lives.

Need Mercy?

Hidden sin is dangerous for many reasons. Hidden sin eats away at one’s soul and callouses the conscience to the warning signs of life-threatening disease. Though hidden, it is contagious and harms others.

Like the hidden ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories, the longer we keep it, the more deadly it becomes – and the more deadly we become. But to he who confesses, admits what he has, turns from it, and asks for help, there awaits mercy.

Got sin? Need mercy? You know what to do.

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Filed under Bible Study, grace, Life Lessons, wisdom

Decaffeinated Christianity

In an effort to keep you entertained and encouraged, even though I’m too pressed for time to press a shirt or French press some coffee, here’s a re-run…a repeat…a re-heated cup of truth. (Oh, and don’t forget to check out ProverbialThought.com)


Like vs. Love

I like coffee, but I wouldn’t say I love it. My wife and kids, on the other hand, are worth dying for. I love them. I only like coffee. I’m not going to jump in front of a moving train to save an espresso.

But there are times when I like coffee more than I like my wife. Every once in a while I want a cup of coffee more than a kiss or a hug. I still love my wife, but she won’t fit into the French press.

Now, it must be said that I also like tea. Thanks to the influence of certain English folk, my tea consumption has increased a thousand fold! Yet, tea is not coffee. Sometimes I want coffee more than tea. Sometimes tea needs to leaf me alone. There’s a big difference between loose-leaf anything and some medium roast Jamaican Blue Mountain. That’s real coffee, and I really like it.

What is Real?

But wait! That raises a question. What is real coffee? What is the difference between freshly brewed coffee and let’s say, uh, freeze-dried instant? Both are real, aren’t they?

Fake coffee. Whoever still drinks that stuff on purpose should be psychologically evaluated. Coffee is only coffee if it comes about as the result of gently ground coffee beans being caressed by steaming hot water. Chicory is of the Devil.

Instant coffee. It comes packaged in a jar, but it is made from real coffee. It may not taste as good as fresh-brewed, but it’s real, nevertheless. The worst instant coffee is still better than dandelion tea, believe me.

Nasty coffee. Even the stuff you find in a gas station, an army mess tent, or a crazy relative’s thermos is still coffee. Coffee is coffee, even if it tastes like road tar.

“Unleaded.” What I don’t understand is decaffeinated coffee. Sure, it tastes the same to most people, but why would anyone want it? Without the caffeine coffee is…well…it’s just not coffee. It has the look and taste, but no umph, no kick, no power.

Powerless

Decaffeinated Christianity is the same way. It looks like the real thing. It smells like the real thing. It tastes like the real thing. For crying out loud, it even outsells full-strength, real Christianity 10 to 1! People love it! They wear t-shirts promoting their favorite brand. Yet, decaffeinated Christianity is no better than decaffeinated coffee without the Power.

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT

What are you drinking?

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

Hurting

Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover


“I’ve lost my song,” my mother-in-law told me, as her tender heart broke into a million pieces.Today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Sometimes the pain seems relentlessly intense and hopelessly never-ending. During those times, the singer can’t sing, the writer can’t write and the artist can’t paint.

Each of us is born with a unique gift or ability, given to us by our Creator, so that we can fully express ourselves. Using the gift is a way of expressing our love and thanks to our Heavenly Father, a way to encourage others we meet along the way, and a way of joyfully immersing ourselves in our passion. We make time, knowing that we affirm ourselves and our God-given abilities as we express ourselves.

And then…unexpectedly, because we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we encounter heartbreak so overwhelming, it immobilizes us. We may be able to awaken each morning, get dressed and make it through our day; we may even remember to thank God for the blessings we know are still all around us. Truth is, though, we feel hopelessness inside. While we may be able to continue to function, we are not able to thrive.

Finally, knowing our spirits will break if we don’t get help, we fall to our knees beseeching our Father for the comfort only he can give. We quietly absorb the grace and mercy of being in his presence. His love surrounds us and our burden is lifted. We are renewed.

Once again, the singer sings, the writer writes, and the artist paints. It seems amazing, but the time spent away from the gift seems only to enhance the song, the words, or the painting. Yes, our Father created each of us with a wonderfully unique gift and gives us a time and place to use the gift. The greatest gift he gave each of us, though, is the freedom to have a relationship with him. He alone can replace our brokenness with joy and thanksgiving.

There may be several periods during a lifetime when the hurt seems greater than the hope. We know, though, because we belong to him, he is our hope, and there is nothing greater than him!

 

 

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Filed under Guest Posts, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

The Day After Father’s Day

Please forgive me if there are any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, but I am talking into my iPhone as I’m walking around in the rain (The seven can handle that kind of stuff, thankfully), waiting while a bus driver trainee is taking his test at the DMV. I had to bring a school bus down for him to test own, so I’m on the clock and writing a post at the same time. What do you think about that?

Anyway, today is the day after Father’s Day, and I wanted to share with you a thought or two that I had as I was standing in the rain.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I enjoyed preaching a great message that was very convicting for all men present, including myself. And I also enjoyed spending time with my daughters who I love very much. 

One of our daughters lives in Charleston South Carolina, so she’s not able to be here. But the other two were in church with me yesterday, and then later for a lunch which a church member graciously provided the money for. 

Last night we ate dinner at home, late, and that is when my two younger girls gave me the presents that they purchased (with their own money!). I have included a picture below.


My youngest daughter, Haley, procured for me the complete box sets of the first two seasons of the television program called “The Unit.” And by the way, that was a fantastic series of which I think they should have never canceled.

The other daughter, Katie, brought back something very unique from Norway. She found a wallet made from the skin of the Nordic moose! I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I know it had to cost more than something I would’ve gotten at Walmart.

After both presents had been opened, Haley asked a question which was very difficult, if not impossible to answer. She asked, “Which one is your favorite?” Now, I don’t know if she was being facetious, or if she was being serious, but my wife quickly answered for me: “That’s like asking which one of you he loves the most; he loves you the same, just differently.” 

This morning as I was thinking about the gifts my daughters got me, and the question Haley asked, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cain and Abel. I couldn’t help but think of Sunday morning and our worship. I couldn’t help but think of how so often we wonder if God loves us more or less than someone else, simply because of what we have to offer. I thought about what it must be like to be God the Father – our Abba – after a Sunday has passed. 

One of those gifts cost a lot of money (relatively speaking), while the others probably cost a lot less. However, based on the means of each daughter, both were a sacrifice. In the same way, when we go to church to worship God, the gifts and offerings we bring may cost one person a lot more than it cost another. But who are we to judge whether or not those gifts that were given were sacrificial? We don’t know the heart of the child, nor do we know the heart of the Father. All we can surely know is that if the gifts were given out of love, then they are of equal value. More so, if the Father truly loves his children, which He does, there’s nothing that can compare to those gifts given by the children who love Him.

So, in conclusion, this is not only the day after Father’s Day, this is the day after Sunday. What gifts of love did you give your Father in heaven yesterday? I have no doubt they are giving him a smile today.

Happy day after Father’s Day!

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Filed under Church, God, Life Lessons, Love of God, Relationships and Family, worship