Category Archives: Words of encouragement

Our Global Reboot

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“Come away by yourselves to a || SECLUDED|| place and rest a little while” ~ Love, Jesus (Mark 6:31)

Perhaps God is using this world-wide pandemic for a global #reboot. People all over the earth who were ‘continually coming and going’ have halted their busy-ness and find themselves in a ‘secluded place.’ In the stillness of these moments, let’s take time to re-evaluate our priorities and realize what is truly important.

Over the last few weeks, we have had a front row seat to witness healthcare workers, National leaders, state leaders, local leaders, truckers, grocery workers, business leaders, ministers, athletes, celebrities and ordinary citizens come together like never before in history to work for a common goal. We are witnessing God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” in action!

When this #pandemic storm passes, let’s never go back to our “old normal.” Let’s use this experience with #covid_19 for a time to reset to a new normal where we eliminate the clutter in our schedules and embrace God’s command to love our neighbors.

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12: 30 – 31

“We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan.” Romans 8:28

 

Pray with Your Eyes on God – Not Your Difficulties

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“Then Peter called to him: ‘Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water.’ ‘All right,’ the Lord said, ‘come along!’ So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.”

Matthew 14:28 – 30 TLB

We may not be called to walk on water, but we do walk through periods of tumultuous circumstances in life. Right now our world is battling the pandemic virus COVID-19, and we are being tossed about in uncharted waters of a global shutdown. Every time we turn on the television or scroll through social media, we are inundated with a flood of bad news. If we focus on the swirling waves of difficulties surrounding us, we can easily feel like we are being swallowed up by the surge of life’s problems.

Peter experienced a rather unusual example of God’s power when he went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. His faith in Jesus gave him the courage to throw his leg over the side of the boat and step out into the stormy sea.  However, his faith wavered when he realized what he was doing. Once he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the crushing waves around him, he began to sink.

Like Peter, we often start out with great intentions. We may be “prayed up” and filled with holy confidence before we begin to face the day. But once we wade into the undulating sea of life, our faith begins to falter, and we sink in despair. We feel ill-equipped to navigate the storms that batter us. Yet this doesn’t mean that we have failed. When Peter’s faith faltered, he immediately reached out to Jesus. In his time of greatest fear, he called on his Savior to rescue him.

When you are afraid of the troubles that swirl around you, keep your eyes on Jesus’ power rather than your own inadequacies. Call out to Him for help, and He will rescue you from the stormy seas.

“We have to pray with our eyes on God ~ not on the difficulties.” ~ Oswald Chambers

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:31-33

Choose Faith Over Fear

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Get vaccinated with a dose of Faith.

Read Psalm 91 aloud (below), and let the power of His words melt away your anxiety and fear. As you read the psalm, you can turn it into a powerful prayer to the Lord in behalf of you and your loved ones. God is greater than the hardships we face, and no problem is too great for God…not even COVID-19!

While He has us in a world-wide Holy Time-Out, you can replace panic with peace by spending time feasting on the soul food of His Good News, not the constant social feed of bad news.

God is teaching us to trust in HIM — Not the economy, not the stock market, not your job or your bank account.

Put your faith in the One who has overcome the world and rest in the shadow of His wings.

Choose Faith over Fear!

Psalm 91 ~

Whoever rests in the shadow of the Most High God
will be kept safe by the Mighty One.
 I will say about the Lord,
“He is my place of safety.
He is like a fort to me.
He is my God. I trust in him.”

He will certainly save you from hidden traps
    and from deadly sickness.
He will cover you with his wings.
Under the feathers of his wings you will find safety.
He is faithful. He will keep you safe like a shield or a tower.
You won’t have to be afraid of the terrors that come during the night.
You won’t have to fear the arrows that come at you during the day.
You won’t have to be afraid of the sickness that attacks in the darkness.
    You won’t have to fear the plague that destroys at noon.
A thousand may fall dead at your side.
Ten thousand may fall near your right hand.
But no harm will come to you.
You will see with your own eyes
how God punishes sinful people.

Suppose you say, “The Lord is the one who keeps me safe.”
Suppose you let the Most High God be like a home to you.
 Then no harm will come to you.
No terrible plague will come near your tent.
The Lord will command his angels
to take good care of you.
They will lift you up in their hands.
Then you won’t trip over a stone.
You will walk on lions and cobras.
You will crush mighty lions and poisonous snakes.

The Lord says, “I will save the one who loves me.
I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.
 He will call out to me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him in times of trouble.
I will save him and honor him.
 I will give him a long and full life.
I will save him.”

 

 

 

The Sunrise in Your Soul

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Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those living in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of Peace.

Luke 1:78 – 79

Watching a sunrise is one of the most peaceful experiences on earth. As the newborn day peeks out of its cradle, an ever-changing palette of soft pastels paints the sky ‘s fresh canvas. While fringes of the sun’s light become more visible, the silence of dawn is softly interrupted by morning songs of birds – blending harmoniously together in a cheerful symphony of praises to their Creator. The cool morning air gives way to the warmth of the majestic solar glow.

In the few minutes it takes to pause and watch the sun pull itself up over the horizon, there’s a perpetual feast for the senses that can transform your spirit and set the tone for your day.

Jesus came into the world as “God’s Sunrise.” (Luke 1:78) His dazzling light shines brightly on the darkest caverns of our hearts and illuminates the path to peace – the path to the One true God.

Starting each day basking in the light of His Word, will refresh your soul and provide you with hope, guidance, and perspective for any circumstance you face throughout the day.  Trust Him to take your hand and guide you – one foot at a time – down the path to perfect peace.

Take time to pause in His presence, and be transformed by His Son-rise in your Soul!

Related Verse:

With every sun’s rising surprise us with Your love, satisfy us with Your kindness. Then we will sing with joy and celebrate every day we are alive. Psalm 90:14

3 Truths about Trash-Talk

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May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

God often uses ordinary events to teach His children valuable lessons, and this particular lesson involves something extra-ordinary:  garbage. More specifically…rotten garbage.

Our normal trash collection day is Monday. But a couple of weeks ago, garbage pick-up was suspended due to tropical storm warnings from Hurricane Irma. By the time the next collection day rolled around, the rancid stench from the two-week old trash was over-powering.

I knew it was exceptionally awful when my son (who seems oblivious to bad smells) commented about the odor. He took out the trash from our kitchen and came back in yelling, “Mom! Something’s ROTTEN in the garbage can!”

Those words reverberated  loudly in my ears the next morning when I read Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t let even one ROTTEN WORD seep out of your mouths…” I flashed back to a moment a few weeks before in the car when my son was driving on the highway. Traffic up ahead was stopping — but he was not slowing down. As we zoomed toward the rear end of a flat-bed tractor-trailer, words spewed out of my mouth that shocked both of us.

He quickly slowed the car to a stop and looked over at me in the passenger seat with his jaw dropped open in disbelief.  The noxious words filled our car with a foul aroma — a lingering odor that polluted our relationship for days. A simple, “Stop the car — Now!” would have worked, but I dug down deep in the garbage pit instead for my expletives. Not a proud mom-moment at all.

As I continued to read Ephesians 4:29, these words pierced my heart, “Instead only offer FRESH WORDS that build others up when they need it the most.” The trash-talk that seeped out of my mouth was far from “fresh” and did nothing to build up my son.

I immediately went to “clear the air” with him and asked him to forgive me for not only letting the rotten words flow, but also for allowing the atmosphere to become putrid between us over time. I shared with him how his description of the smelly garbage opened my eyes (and my nose!) to what my foul language had done in the car that day. I promised to aim for using only good words to communicate  grace.

Now every time I take out the garbage, I am reminded of these lessons, and I hope they can serve as reminders to you, too :

Trash-Talk Truths from a Trash Can

  • Rotten words pollute and corrupt.
  • Fresh words build others up.
  • Good words communicate Grace.

The words we speak…or text, write, post, tweet or email..have the power to build up or tear down. So many harmful words are communicated today in haste, whether from our lips or our keyboard. If we simply pause and think before we speak, we can prevent careless words from slipping off our tongues or the keys of our keyboard. Likewise, by withholding harmful words, we can prevent the malodorous consequences they may cause.

Use the power of words to build others up when they need it the most. Make each word a gift — our words may be the only glimpse of God’s Grace that others hear.

Related Scripture:

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.        Psalm 141:3 (NIV)

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. Proverbs 15:28 (NLT)

 

The Problem with Bubble-Wrapped Lives

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“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.” James 1: 2-5 (Phillips)

I’ll admit it. I wish I could bubble-wrap my sons to keep them free from injury, loss, rejection, failure, heartbreak, insults, or any other painful misfortune life might hurl in their direction. Especially now that my youngest son is driving, I dream about this possibility whenever he leaves the house with keys in hand!

But I recently read about a fascinating experiment in the Arizona desert where scientists attempted to create a perfect living environment for plants, animals, and humans under a protective biodome. This closed ecological system grew fruits, vegetables and trees and was sustained with purified water and air, nutrient-rich soil, and filtered light – a seemingly ideal habitat.

However, the perfect environment did not produce perfect results.

After a period of time, scientists noted a baffling phenomenon. After reaching a certain height, trees in the biosphere toppled over. This puzzled the scientists until they discovered a missing element in their biosphere. They forgot to include wind! Trees need wind to develop strong roots. When winds blow against trees, their root systems grow deeper, which support them as they grow taller.

We wish our lives could be lived in a virtual biosphere, free from the tensions and strains of outside influences. Yet, when daily challenges push against us, they are strengthening our “roots” and producing true patience and endurance, which will equip us for the journey ahead.

So if we bubble-wrap our kids, protecting them from all of life’s struggles, we are setting them up to topple over as adults. They will never develop deep roots of character, perseverance, and resiliency. Without trial-and-error learning, they won’t develop the problem solving skills they need as adults. And, most importantly, we risk losing the opportunity of teaching them to turn to God for help, which deepens their spiritual roots.

Remove the protective layer and allow their roots to grow deep so they will one day stand independently and tall!

“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life…” James 1:12a

 

Don’t Widen Home Plate

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

I just read the verse above about the “narrow gate” when my dad forwarded the following article to me. It shares a valuable lesson not only about coaching, but also about parenting…and, most importantly, the narrow road that leads to life:

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. Well, in 1996 Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Pointed side down.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls.

“And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over these seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Bobby. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of throwing the ball over it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? What do we do if he violates curfew? What if he uses drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

Then he turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful….to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

(copied post – author unknown)

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