Tag Archives: Life

Old Habits Die Hard (And So Does Sin)

For thirty plus years, my parents kept the kitchen trash can in the pantry. After remodeling the kitchen a few years ago, they moved the location of the trash can. That hasn’t stopped me (even years later) from going to the pantry to throw something away at least once when visiting. It’s maddening! It does make it easier to see why we sometimes continue to struggle with the same sins over and over again. Just like old habits, sin becomes almost ingrained in us. Romans 7:17-19 says, “ As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

I do manage to find the trash can. Actually, it even seems to get easier to take my garbage to the right place the more that I do it. Old sins die hard, but they do die! Do not be discouraged––your sins of yesterday cannot defeat your Savior of today!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Jesus saves me all at once but he changes me little by little. ~Pastor Steven Furtick

It’s better to break out little by little than to stay in chains for eternity. ~Pastor Steven Furtick

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Wash That Gray

Some of you may remember the 80’s jingle for Clairol Hair Care: ۰♫ I’m gonna wash that gray right outta’ my hair ♪۰ Heck, I remember it even though I’m quickly approaching the 36 year mark (real quick–it’s tomorrow). That may not seem all that old to some of you but the gray hairs that appear in my facial and chest hair is a continual foreshadow of things to come (and my wife takes every opportunity to remind me).

Not to sound cheesy but that could have been a commercial for Christ. While the signs of aging are eminent in my body, my soul is as new as eternity is long. Christ came to make me new; to wash out the gray hair, unwrinkle the skin, give me eagle-like vision, and renew the heart of a worn and tattered soul.

Starting to feel old? Take comfort in knowing that your heart is brand spankin’ new if you are in Christ. Go out today and conquer the world––while physically you may be inching toward the grave, spiritually you have just been delivered!

Manure Happens!

Playing outside at my grandparents house one weekend as a kid, my brother and I discovered a pile of dirt over a little embankment that lead down to the garden. The knoll was the perfect launching pad for us to jump right into the cushiony pile of dirt. I’m not sure how long we played in the dirt but by the time we were finished, we had dirt in our ears (and every other orifice not covered by clothing). When my mom and grandparents came outside to see what we were up to, they made us aware of the painful reality that what we thought was dirt was actually manure for fertilizing the garden. I haven’t jumped in any unidentified piles since.

Manure happens! Don’t sit there and waller’* in it. Stand up, clean yourself off, and move on. You can let your past either haunt you or help you; one way or the other, it will determine your future. These situations are not meant to shake you as much as they are meant to shape you but the choice is yours. Nobody likes manure but it happens. Get over it and leave it behind (no pun intended)!

*waller’: southern for wallow, meaning to roll about in the mud; to indulge in something uncontrollably.
I am not southern but I am in the south and “when in Rome, you do as the Romans do!”

Hallmark Mom

Tina recently shared an interesting insight with me that came out of shopping for a birthday card for her mother. After reading several cards to find just the right one, she identified attributes that she too would like to possess as a mother. In other words, she was so moved by the many endearing words used to describe mothers in greeting card messages that she aspires to be a mother like that herself, the kind of mother typified in a greeting card. Tina wants it to be a challenge when Megan goes to buy her a card, an experience where every card is such a reflection of her own mother, that it requires careful contemplation in choosing the right one, the one that most closely depicts the exhaustive elements of her mother’s beauty.

What a great ambition. This has inspired me to do the same––to be a Hallmark Dad and a Hallmark Husband. Not to fit some stereotypical greeting card non-sense for the sake of conformity, but to epitomize that which is admirable and upright; to be the type of person that could be the inspiration for a greeting card message instead of the deviation from one; to be the rule rather than the exception; to be a benchmark by which all other fathers and husbands are measured.

How about you? Are you worthy of carrying the Hallmark seal on your back (think old ‘90s marketing campaign of flipping the card over to check for Hallmark branding)?

6 Minutes to Impact

It was kind of ironic––on Tuesday, the local Christian radio station here in Charlotte mentioned that the last two years had been one of the safest stretches of time for commercial airline travel in the US and then, of course, two days later, Charlotte-bound flight 1549 plunges into the Hudson River. Astoundingly, everyone survived and there were no serious injuries.

Can you imagine though?

3:24:00  You’re 1 of 155 passengers sitting in a plane on the tarmac waiting for a routine flight to take off.
3:24:54  On the intercom, “This is the pilot, prepare for takeoff.”
3:27:01  At 3,000 feet in the air, you hear an explosion on one side of the plane and feel a jolt followed by another with the plane beginning to go down.
3:28:05  On the intercom, “This is the pilot, prepare for impact.”
3:30:30  Your flight impacts the Hudson River.

Life can change drastically in 6 minutes. Friday, the same radio station interviewed Mark, a listener that was on that flight. He said that he had determined that “this was it” and that he was ready to die. The DJ asked him what was going through his mind. “Regrets,” was Mark’s response. Would that be your response? Sure, Mark has been given a second chance to turn those regrets into results but most of us wouldn’t be so lucky.

If you knew that you were going to die in 6 minutes, what would be your regrets?

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

What will you be doing 6 minutes from now? Loving on your spouse. . . playing with your kids. . . pursuing your dream. . . calling a friend or family member that you haven’t talked to in a while. . . living a life worthy of your calling. . . eliminating your regrets.

Don’t go back to idle, casual, regrettable living. Live a life with intensity, intentionality, and fulfillment. Live a life where your regrets are laid to rest long before you. THIS is your second chance. Start now––who knows what might become of you in 6 minutes?

I’m Such A Tool

What is it with stuff that breaks around the house? I mean, how come no matter how many tools I acquire, I never seem to have the one needed when something breaks?

The other day, the automatic garage door opener broke. This one appears to have seen better days in its 14 years of use so I was dead set and headstrong on getting a new one. There was just one tiny obstacle: the CFO said “No!” I even showed her the chewed up gear deep inside the openers encasing thinking that she’d be convinced (as I was) that it’d be easier and more economical just to replace the unit in its entirety. WRONG! Instead, she scoured the net for the exact part needed to fix it and then had the gall to find a local dealer who carried it. We did manage to save $130 or more. (They should let my wife run the US Automakers.)

Since we decided (Yes, I said ‘we.’ When “the boss” says “no,” you follow suit or suffer. Haven’t you heard the saying, “happy wife, happy life!” Besides, ‘we’ are one.) . . . as I was saying, since we decided to go the replacement part route, I imagined this would prove a little more difficult than the “just popping out a few screws and securing them into the new unit” idea I had, but hey, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?

Now I can remove sutures like nobody’s business but when it comes to tinkering with machines, forget it. Five minute jobs turn into an eternity (thanks Dad) and I lose my patience (and sometimes my religion). Why should this situation be any different? There’s nothing like coming home from a long day’s work to put your feet up for over 4 hours . . . on a ladder . . . arms extended indefinitely above your head . . . wrong tools in hand . . . scowl on face . . . staring into a box that is nearly as Greek to me as a nuclear bomb . . . and grumbles of sweet nothings coming from my mouth. Worse yet, I think by some cruel fate, the designer of this unit happened to be a lefty. Nothing wrong with a lefty of course (Tina and my dad are lefties) except that it makes for a very daunting task for this left-hand challenged Carter-Oosterhouse-I’m-not.

BAM! No, that’s not the same exclamation you hear from chef-extraordinaire Emeril Lagasse, that’s the sound of my derrière hitting the concrete as I stepped off the ladder onto the edge of the toolbox. No lie, my keister and the floor had a meeting. I did finish though, one backache, a cut leg, two filthy hands, and a bruised ego later, with five or so hours to spare before I had to get up and start all over again the next day.

And yet, I am still blessed beyond measure. Darned if it isn’t hard to see that in the moment sometimes (thanks Tina for putting it into perspective for me). I left a decent, secure job in a paid-for car that runs to come home to a warm house with an equally warm spouse, an A-B honor student, and a hot meal waiting for me on the table. I have a garage, a garage door opener, and the money to fix it when it’s broken (the ability is another thing; the Holy Spirit must have gotten me through). Then, I still had the strength to drag a battered and bruised but otherwise healthy body into a cozy king-sized bed next to a beautiful wife who rubbed my back (and my ego) so that I could catch some zzz’s before the start of a brand new day. Life may not always be kind, but God is good and His love endures forever. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:1, 24).

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28 NIV

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. ~2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV

Speech Impediment

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ~ James 1:19-20

This is my prayer for me. This is what I’m asking you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to stand in agreement with me on, that is, keeping my trap shut; it’s what I really suck at. I continually tell my daughter not to say anything if she doesn’t have anything nice to say but find that I don’t really practice what I preach. I am sometimes (or maybe even more often than I recognize) callous with people, including my own family. There have been several occasions in the last couple of weeks that have brought me to this realization. I detest this about me, or more importantly, detest how it likely makes people feel; I am sick of myself and need a change!

Don’t get me wrong, in spite of myself, I’m still a “success” by most people’s standards. I still have friends (that aren’t necessarily like me), I develop great rapport with my patients, I am a trusted and respected team member at work and church, my wife and daughter love me anyway, and most of my family still speak to me. But is it because they have learned to overlook that about me? And how many people have I hurt in the process of “being myself?” Would I even like me if I was my own best friend?

When used with discretion, being direct with people can be a good quality. That’s just not me though––I‘m abrasive instead of assertive, my comments can be hurtful rather than helpful. When I look back over the years, I think I’ve been (and am) a real horse’s rear at times. You may not see it (thank goodness) but that’s because writing is a little different. I have time to formulate my thoughts, proofread what I’ve written, and hold it to rigorous standards. That’s exactly the kind of model that I need to apply to the words I speak. Easier said than done.

Like the praise song, please pray that the Lord would change my heart to demonstrate the righteous life of God that is within me. That He would give me the discipline and ability to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, saying only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs and benefiting those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

That’s the “speck in my eye” right now. Do you have a vice or shortcoming for which we can stand in prayer together?