Tag Archives: character

Stop trying my patience …

A common prayer is for more patience. But God doesn’t always give patience, He give opportunities to grow patience. That doesn’t seem to always work. I would rather have patience and then put it to work. The root word comes from Latin and means quality of or in suffering, enduring hardship. Yikes. Who wants that? Nobody. But we all have it. And it seems people lose it all the more quickly these days.

We lose it with our kids. We get frustrated at work. We honk at the car in a nanosecond after the light turns green. Our buttons may be different, but we all have them and they all get pushed at times. We get triggered due to the smallest of things. We have knee jerk reactions to just the mention of a name.

For example, does your blood pressure rise and you won’t hit something if I type the word ‘Trump’ or ‘Hillary’? Then maybe you need to work on grace in your life.

I have a real flaw in my life with me finishing other people’s sentences. They pause in a thought and I will fill the gap. My brain works too fast. They take a breath, and I jump in. They blink, and I’m on to the next conversation. Phone calls … you have about 30 seconds before I’ve lost interest. I shouldn’t, but my patience is far from maturity. I am learning though. It’s selfish of me, and I hate it. But I still do it. Why? Because my patience isn’t perfect.

But I know someone with perfect patience. And if anybody has a reason to not be patient, it is this person. He puts up with rebellion, mockery, and immaturity. He is ignored, rejected, and cheated on. Yet, He stays perfect in His patience. His love is long suffering, and His mercy is as deep as the ocean.

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me as the foremost Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Tim 1.16)

He is this way with me … and I need it. And He is this way with you. If you are still around as the New Year rolls in, count yourself blessed as one who has benefitted from His perfect patience. For if I was God, I would’ve zapped me – and you – long ago.

So let me get a bit pragmatic. How can we work on patience?

  • Pause, breath, count to ten.
  • Respond, don’t react. There is a difference. One is controlled by circumstances, the other keeps self control in spite of the circumstances.
  • Look for a silver lining. What can you learn? What good can result from going through the circumstances?
  • Find healthy ways to release steam. Exercise – I shadow box to a heavy bag occasionally.
  • Take a step back if necessary and if possible. Back off and get a different perspective. Or simply just get away from it. I escape to movies or to the mountains. These two detox me from busyness and from my buttons being pushed.
  • And remember who is in charge. It’s God, not you. So trust Him.

So, 2020. It’s here. And may I be more patient in 2020 then I was in 2019. And thank you Lord for your perfect patience when I lose mine.

Grace … Get it, Share it, Appreciate it

I met a guy this weekend. A young man that understands grace in a way that I never really will. Scripture tells us that the one forgiven much – loves much. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I am a sinner and I know I don’t deserve His grace … but I also know I am loved and forgiven based on His grace. But the story I heard this weekend just reminded me how huge God’s love really is – an ocean doesn’t even come close to describing it, for an ocean can be measured. Yes, huge, but still measurable. God’s love is even greater. Wow!

So, Grace.

This young man had a rough background. He has done some intense criminal activities, and still could face prison time. But you know … I saw tenderness, humility, and a love for others. He said if he went to prison, he was okay with that. He would just share God’s love there. Wow.

Years ago, I was blessed to travel with a ministry group. Once, a former Hell’s Angel travelled with us sharing his story. Just like this weekend, I was in the presence of someone who understood great forgiveness, great grace, and had a deep love for God.

Scripture tells us that the one forgiven much – loves much!

Neither of these guys were perfect. They both were still growing in the grace and love of our Lord. But they both reminded me how much I too, and you too, need God’s love and forgiveness.

But we often forget it – take it for granted – and don’t even care about showing it. One of the saddest memories in my ministry was the response of a church member when we were doing an Purpose Driven Life Weekend in Louisiana. I scheduled prayer meetings for various small groups in homes scattered throughout the community. One of the homes was owned by a person that had made some unwise decisions in the past … had confessed to his small group and asked for forgiveness from God and from them. And I was the leader for the prayer meeting, not the home owner. But another member said it was inappropriate and I should move the prayer meeting. When I discussed forgiveness and grace with the ‘disappointed member’, they said we shouldn’t forgive and that we forgive way too much. Again, wow. I asked if we should accept his tithes and offerings, let him sing in church … after all, he had asked for forgiveness. They stared in disbelief I would even ask. Once more, wow. But this wow is in my disbelief.

Now, where am I on this scale? Too often a bit too unforgiving and lacking compassion. Too often forgetting how much He has forgiven me. I’ve softened as the birthdays have piled up. It helps me understand how in John 8, when Jesus wrote in the sand – it was the older ones who dropped their rocks and walked away first. We realize how messy we really are … and how great His love truly is.

So … don’t wait till your my age to appreciate His grace. Know now, live in it now, and let the world know – we are forgiven.

Be blessed.

Todd, one with muddy shoes.

It Was a Good Day

It was a good morning. This morning, I was honored to lead the Men’s Bible study with my Thursday morning group. The regular leader was in Louisville at conference. I was excited about this. I warned them I had not been behind the pulpit for a while so they should get comfortable because I was catching up!

ONE – It is good to be trusted. These guys had only known me a short while but they took a chance on me. What a great statement about the Christian family. We take chances for each other. We look for opportunities to help others use their gifts and talents for Kingdom work. What a great statement of trust in the family of God.

TWO – It is good to use my gift. I love to teach, to dig into the Word and share it with others, to challenge myself and others with Biblical application, and to see the Word come alive for life today. When the Spirit gave us gifts (which He does to every believer), He expects us to use them. What does it say when we know God gave us something and we just let it sit around?

THREE – It is good to be part of group, a fellowship of believers. I spent the first part of the hour in getting to know them better. It is great to be connected. We were created as relational beings and we need each other.

And FOUR – It is good to be challenged from the Word. We dug into 2 Corinthians 10.1-6 and looked at the principles of the spiritual battle going on in our mind. I encourage you to look at this text and dig in some. But something I often overlook when I dig into this text are the key components of Paul’s character.

Paul was being attacked. False teachers and others where coming against him. They came against him hard. He was defending his ministry. But how did he respond, what was the character of his defense – not with vengeance or anger.

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!—  I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.

Paul responded with three basic characteristics – he was compassionate, he was courageous, and he was confident. These three qualities are described of Paul and they show how we too can respond in times of conflict and hardship. I can dig into these later, but space is limited here (and so is your time)

So the challenge to you (and to myself) …
… Who are you encouraging, trusting, and prodding to use their gifts for Kingdom work? (read Hebrews 10.24)
… How are you using the gift God gave you? (read 1 Corinthians 12.11)
… Who is your group, your posse, your peeps? We need them – and they need you! (read Hebrews 10.25)
… And, what truth has God challenged you with lately? (read Psalm 119.105)

These made my day a good day – it can to the same for you!