Grandma Lowe

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I grew up part of my life in Elimsport, PA…a town you’ve probably never heard of. It is just over the mountain from Williamsport, PA – which you probably have only heard of if you’re familiar with the Little League World Series.

Elimsport was this small, small town that had a General Store that was also where you cashed your checks and sent out your mail. My dad pastored the Baptist church in Elimsport.

In Elimsport there was a sweet elderly woman…I called her Grandma Lowe. I used to walk to her house often. She had these huge vines of Concord Grapes. I used to devour them each time I stopped by when they were in season.

But, Grandma Lowe had a huge impact on my life…because she used to teach me and share her wisdom with me. I learned so much from her and I knew she loved me. That was a big deal for a kid with a hard childhood.

It also taught me an important life lesson. I need mentors who are older and wiser in my life. I know sometimes it seems like older folks won’t understand you, there’s too much of a generation gap…but I’ve found that to rarely be true. They’ve often gone through what I am experiencing..and they have helped me navigate my life better.

I hope you work hard to find a few mentors in your life who can do your heart good..and share a little wisdom with you. Trust me…you need it. I know I do.

Be Like Me

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The area of North Galilee where many of Jesus’ disciples came from was an area known for being dedicated to learning the Old Testament scriptures..and having Rabbi’s who were calling disciples to follow them. They weren’t just known for fishing.

But, one thing we know is that the disciples like Peter, James, John, and Andrew…were of an age where they had an opportunity to be called to follow a Rabbi…but they didn’t make the cut.

When a Rabbi said, “Follow Me.” He was saying, “I believe you can learn to be just like me.”

So, imagine what it meant when Jesus shows up and tells Peter, James, John, and Andrew that “Follow Me.” Jesus was saying… “I believe you can be just like me.”

Jesus also calls us to follow him…and that means he believe in us too! I don’t know about you, but it makes me stoked that Jesus believes in me!

Zoom Out

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Sometimes, we need to change perspective. Circumstances can make us zoom in and get myopic just on what we’re going through – or what someone is doing to us or others.

But, if you were to watch a video that was all zoomed in on a knife plunging into someone’s chest….and that was all the context you were given…you could feel like that is violent and horrible.

However, if we took the same video and zoomed out and you saw that the knife was being wielded by a doctor who was cutting open someone’s chest to save their life…it would change our perspective.

That’s how life is a lot of times. We get drawn into our problems or a person’s actions – where we zoom in and it can blow up our day…sometimes our week. Yet, if we only zoomed out and tried to understand the context of what’s going on. When someone wrongs me or a friend of mine, often times it is because of their story or a wound they are carrying. If we zoom out we get perspective and it changes our take. It can also often lead to understanding and forgiveness.

Have You Ever Felt Hopeless?

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I used to listen to this song all the time by The Proclaimers called My Old Friend the Blues. The song began like this: “Just when every ray of hope was gone; I should have known that you would come along; I can’t believe I ever doubted you; My old friend the blues…”

If I’m honest, sometimes the blues is like an old, well-worn leather chair. It’s too comfortable, because it’s all too common. I just want hide my weary soul in the blues.

Many of us grew up singing this song, The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock. That song comes from Matthew 7:24-27. What’s interesting is that when Jesus is telling it…we often miss one truth. Both the wise man and the foolish man experienced storms, rain, and wind.

Building the house on the foundation of Jesus only keeps us from falling completely apart….but those storms, they still come.

But, another thing we often miss is the hope we can find in Jesus. I know Jesus is the Son of God…but he knows storms.

When Jesus hung on a tree nearing death…he cried out to the Father… “Why have you abandoned me?” You see, Jesus knew exactly what it felt like to feel abandoned by God. This is good news….because now when you are facing a storm and pray to Jesus….you’re not talking to someone who is out of touch with what you’re going through. He knows exactly what you’re feeling…and he can give comfort. Today, remember Jesus gets it…he understands where you are.

Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore

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Continuing with the music theme…I’ve been listening to a lot of Chris Stapleton. The song that hit me this week was, “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore.”

My dad was a pastor for 47 years. He wasn’t a scholar…he wasn’t a prolific speaker. But, he loved people. He put 100K miles on his car visiting people in the hospital and in their homes. When they were at their worst…he was at his best.

He’s the only man I knew that could walk into a funeral parlor and up to a family going through the worst tragedy of their life and say exactly only what needed to be said….and then right at the right time…he’d tell a joke and have this family who was just crying…laughing and smiling.

I didn’t get that gene. But, because of my dad’s example…I did hold a dying veteran’s hand in a hospital outside of Brainerd, MN. I jumped into counseling many couples in their marriages. I walked beside bros who were going through consequences of poor choices.

My dad spent hours and hours every week praying with people. His love for people was undeniable.

If there is anything we can take from his life…it is that when we have opportunity to be there for people…we need to jump at the chance. You never know what your words…your hand on their shoulder…just your presence will mean to them.

When I was in WA state…on a Saturday night…I came home from church and there was a sheriff in my driveway. He told me, “Son, I hate to break this to you like this, but your father was in a severe car accident and he’s been killed.”

Today I followed daddy down to church
And listened to the preacher read god’s word
We sang his favorite hymn but daddy didn’t make a sound
This afternoon we’ll lay him in the ground
Daddy don’t pray anymore
I guess he’s finally walking with the lord
He used to fold his hands and bow his head down to the floor
But daddy don’t pray anymore

I miss you Pops…thank you Jesus for allowing me to learn to love people from him! Let’s all love a little more…before we don’t pray anymore.

If I Could Kill A Word

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Eric Church’s song, “Kill a Word,” speaks to the idea that our tongues can do a lot of damage. We can make vain promises. We can tear someone to shreds. We can tell ourselves lies with words like “never” and “can’t” – and we can depress ourselves with words like “regret.”

“I’d poison NEVER…Shoot GOODBYE…beat REGRET…I’d hang HATE so that it can’t be heard…”

“If I could kill a word.”

“You can’t unhear….you can’t unsay…”

James 3 likens the tongue to a spark that starts a huge forest fire..and destroys miles of forest. The tongue is the most powerful weapon for good….and yet it can also be the most destructive weapon for bad.

We’ve all said things we regret – we can’t unsay. We’ve all heard things that still ring in our ears and hurt us deeply – we can’t unhear.

Today, prepare your mind to think before you speak…and use your words for good. Kill the bad words…the destructive words.

For those words that someone said to you that cause you deep pain…bring them to Jesus and let him heal those wounds. Jesus can bring you peace and joy!

Have a good day!

Momma, I’m Coming Home

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Times have changed and times are strange, Here I come, but I ain’t the same. Momma, I’m coming home… Ozzy Osbourne

I hear this song ring in my ears when I think of the day when I was shopping for gas grills in Home Depot near Ripon, CA – and my dad called me to let me know I needed to rush home, because my mom was not well.

I flew to Pittsburgh and then drove up to Erie, PA where she was in the hospital. I met with the oncologist and learned that she had metastatic melanoma of the liver and she was being released to hospice because she had only a few days.

As I flew out there…a thousand thoughts passed through my mind. My mom praying for me on her knees on Friday nights as I was out with my buddies partying. I remember her praying every early mornings and doing the My Daily Bread devotional every morning with my Pops.

While we had an up and down relationship during my high school years…she had no idea what finding her each night praying for me meant to me.

And now, I was flying to see her for the last time…Momma, I’m coming home!

Oh, how I wish I had more time…more time to tell her those prayers were answered. More time to prove to her that I was a good kid and could make her proud.

The takeaway I want you to have…is that no matter where you find yourself today – prayer makes a difference. Even when it seems to do no good…stay with it. God might be using those prayers years later to impact the heart of a rebellious big kid who hits a turning point in his life. It can impact a husband or wife who has walked away. A teenager who seems unreachable.

Hit your knees and pray…let Jesus do the rest!

I Don’t Have An Impressive Story

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I can’t tell you how often I hear this in small groups. At DCC, we encourage everyone to discover their story…know what parts of their past are making them believe lies about their present.

So, when people talk about their past…some people have had a rough time…a very hard life. It seems impressive that they are even alive, much less committed to Jesus.

But, then there is everyone else. They feel their stories don’t really matter. They had loving parents, lived a pretty normal and average life, and it just wasn’t that impressive.

But, that misses the whole point. Everyone has a story…and when you really look back on your early life…you’ll find that no matter how “average” you found your life…there were moments when someone made you feel stupid…or ugly…or less than. All it needed to be was a simple comment…but even today – you remember it.

If you believe (agree with) a lie about yourself…then you’ll also believe a lie about others….and ultimately about God.

If you haven’t taken the time to really go back and discovery your story…then I highly recommend you join a Wild at Heart group (men) or a Captivating group (women). The group will be a safe place for you to think about lies the enemy has sown a long time ago…that still affect how you live today.

Think You’re Tough?

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I grew up part of my life in rural town where it paid to be tough. If you were going to say some smart_ statement, you knew you might get punched. It was just how we rolled. We’d bail hay together, pick up rock together, mend fences together…and we’d play just as hard.

But, I do remember a time where a fight happened…and some of our group, well, they disappeared. They looked at the people we were up against and quickly retreated. (In hindsight, probably not a bad idea)

In James 1, we encounter this word hupomone – or perseverance. It’s a military word. It was used by the Greeks to describe a man who looked at the enemy coming towards him, saw that they were greatly out-numbered, and yet dug his heels into the ground and would not retreat – no matter the odds. What is more…he did this when all those in his unit…turned and fled.

James tells us that when we decide to respond well to a trial…a circumstance that greatly tempts us to sin…to do something damaging to our character. That when we decide to resist that urge to sin…that it builds the steel in our backbones…that will make us hold our ground no matter what the attack of the enemy brings.

So, we want to encourage you to build up this character in your life. Take stands, resist damaging your character, and if you do…it will only make you stronger against the enemy!

We’ve Given The Wrong Definition To Meek…

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In our culture, we are raised with this idea that the word Meek is a negative. That is is someone who shrinks back, who runs and hides, who is weak kneed, and is the opposite of bold.

But, that definition is not the true definition of the word Meek, when Jesus says “blessed are the meek!”

That word is derived from a Greek word that referred to a bit in a draft horse’s mouth. Have you ever seen a draft horse? Like a Clydesdale? They are huge animals and strong…they can pull just about anything.

Yet, a powerful horse is controlled by a bit. The word meek really means: Power under control.

I don’t know about you, but I look up to men and women who are bold powerful leaders, but they remain under control. I admire that quality, probably because I don’t often have it. Through my life…I’ve struggled with my temper or my passion. I can get intense. But, I so aspire to keep my passion…and my drive….but have complete control over how I express those.

I strongly desire to be MEEK!