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Scars

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

 

This is something I recently found that I wrote back in 2001.

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scar

Do you have any scars?

Webster’s Dictionary defines a scar as, “a marring or disfiguring mark on anything; the lasting mental or emotional effects of suffering or anguish.” Scars have been given a negative connotation in our modern times. Contrary to popular belief, there are many positive aspects of scars.

A scar can be an identifying mark. If you ever meet me, look closely above my left eyebrow. For you will see a scar, a unique mark that distinguishes me from others. John 20:27-28 gives an example of Biblical proportions. “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said ‘My Lord and my God!'” It was scars that allowed Thomas to identify the Son of God.

Our male species has a unique ritual of comparing scars. As strange as this may sound, it reveals yet another good thing about scars: they create a common bond. Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” We as Christians have the commonality of knowing that the scars, pain, and suffering that we cause Jesus with our sin brings us peace and healing through His sacrificial gift, Himself.

The most important thing is that scars tell a story. Mark 15:17-19 – “They put a purple robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him. And they began to call out to Him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to Him.” But wait, it gets better! Matthew 27:35, 39, 41, & 44 – “When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots… Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads… In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him… In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.” Praise God the story did not end there. Matthew 28:6 – “He is not here; He is risen, just as He said.” The ultimate scars (physical, mental, and emotional) tell the ultimate story.

I once heard someone say, “God will not search us for medals. He will look for scars,” to which one of my best friends jokingly added “He’ll probably want to start with my knees!” The more I thought about what my friend jokingly said, the more I thought he was actually right. Wouldn’t it be awesome when we meet the Lord face to face, if He sees scars and rug burns from where we have been constantly on our knees in prayer and humbling ourselves daily before Him? I long to have that kind of relationship with my Maker. How about you? May we never look at scars the same way ever again!

Photo Credit: By Lenore Edman

Don’t Give Up – It May Take Time

January 27, 2012 1 comment
time

Never forget the factor of time.

Many things can frustrate a leader. When someone you are leading does not immediately understand or pick up the skills you are trying to teach them stress can result. Time is a factor that we do not often take into consideration when we lead. Different individuals learn things at different paces. Other times you may not see evidence of your efforts until much later in life and sometimes you might not even see results in your lifetime…you just have to trust that it will eventually happen.

I went to a memorial service for my friend and former youth group volunteer Paul last weekend. Several people shared stories of how he had been a major part of who they were today. One person shared how they had asked Paul how he always knew what to say or do and Paul’s response was “I don’t know. I just do or say what I feel like I’m supposed to and everything else falls into place.” As youth, I know Paul had to have his times of frustration when he was working with us, but he never showed it. What he didn’t get to see was the results of his leadership – at this memorial service there were youth group leaders, Men’s Bible study leaders, worship leaders, and others who live their faith through whatever job they may do on a daily basis. All of this from the impact of Paul on our lives.

My single men’s small group at church has started studying the parables of Jesus. This week we studied the Sower and the Seed. The concept of the story is a farmer plants seeds in different types of soil (rocky, thorny, shallow, and good) and he discovers different results with each type of soil. One commentary mentions that the parable could be considered an illustration for the disciples as a reminder that regardless of what circumstances may come their way, they should never give up or be discouraged in their endeavors as things will happen in the proper time.

What factors do you tend forget as a leader?

Photo Credit: By lucianvenutian

6 Things I Learned In 365 Days

January 3, 2012 Leave a comment
learn

2011 - The Year of Learning

I am a big advocate of learning – if you’re not learning at least one new thing every day you need to reevaluate a few things. Learning enables growth mentally and it keeps you challenged. As I look back on 2011,  to say I learned a lot would be a huge understatement. Here are just a few of the highlights of my lessons learned last year.

1) Saying “Goodbye” is never easy – Last year I had two influential people in my life pass away. My best friend Jennifer’s mom Jolene passed away in March and one of my former youth group volunteers, Paul Fife lost his life in December. Both Jolene and Paul had a huge impact on my life and their deaths were unexpected. It’s just a reminder to always let people in your life know you love and appreciate them, as you don’t know much longer they will be with you.

2) Visit things that remind you of your childhood often – In November, I went to see the movie The Muppets and was transported back to when I was a child. Hopefully the Muppets are back and here to stay.

3) How much I rely on my iPod – I had to replace my iPod in 2011 after three years of usage. The hard drive was corrupt and as a result it wouldn’t work. I was without a functional iPod for almost a month. I love my music and this was truly torture for me. I couldn’t go running or even relax at home with music.

4) Just because things don’t happen the way you think they should doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing – I learned this in several different situations last year. One of the main ways was in my job/career path. I lost my job at the end of June and I am still job hunting to this day. The cool thing is there were several things I would not have been able to do if I had a job at the time. I’ve been blessed with amazing friends, an awesome church, and a great small group that have all made what would have been a difficult time much more bearable.

5) It’s okay to take a break when working to accomplish your goals – I have been 13 months without a Diet Dr Pepper, so I thought I would try to do the same with just drinking water. I went almost 3 weeks and got sick – the taste of water made me nauseated so I had to try something else while I was trying to get over my intense sinus infection. I didn’t go back to sodas, but I did go back to sweet tea. My goal is to get back on track within the next few weeks with just drinking water since I am finally starting to get over being sick.

6) It’s okay to be single for a little while – I intentionally decided not to date anyone in 2011. It was nice to just have some  “me time” and not have to worry about anyone else. Last year was not a good year for celebrity marriages: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries only lasted 72 days, Sinead O’Connor and Barry Herridge lasted only 18 days, and Katy Perry and Russell Brand lasted about a year. Relationships take work and you can’t just give up because it isn’t easy or convenient. Problems will occur that can’t be solved in 18-72 days. This time away from dating allowed me to refocus on how I could do my part in helping a relationship truly last.

What is one thing you learned in 2011?

Photo Credit: By Kathryn Greenhill

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

2011It’s hard to believe we are in the final days of 2011. As we look back on the last 365 days, several different lists have either come out or will be coming out within the next few days. What were the best movies of the year? What were the best songs of the year?

Here are my top 10 read blog posts for 2011:

10) Strength

9) Leadership Elements

8) The Church of Facebook – Community or Connection?

7) What Have I Gotten Myself Into – The Peachtree Edition

6) Big Brother – A Dissection of (Not So) Good Community

5) Baby Movin’ On Up…

4) Why I Do What I Do

3) “Every Single Man’s Battle” Has The Best of Intentions

2) You Make Beautiful Things

1) Remembering Paul Fife

May 2012 bring you blessings beyond your wildest imagination.

Christmas with the Coueys

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The Twelve Blogs of ChristmasIt’s hard to believe that Christmas is just two days away. I finished my Christmas shopping two days ago and just finished wrapping the gifts a few minutes ago. It’s so easy to focus on the present when it’s really the past that makes Christmas so significant. At a young age we learn that Christmas through the eyes of a child is something to truly experience.

Growing up, one of our family Christmas traditions was to wake up early on Christmas morning and crawl in bed with my parents. My dad would read the Christmas story straight from the Bible while my two younger brothers and I listened. At our young ages, we could in no way truly fathom how Mary and Joseph could travel by donkey to Bethlehem. We really couldn’t understand why Jesus was born in a stable and not in a hospital like each of the three of us.

As my brothers and I grew older and moved out on our own, the family traditions of our childhood were replaced with our own personal traditions. It has been exciting to see how my nieces and nephews have discovered the true meaning of Christmas. This year my youngest nephew is at the age where he is actually starting to understand who Santa Claus is and how presents will be under the Christmas tree. I am excited to one day have children of my own and to be able to start our own family Christmas traditions. It’s with genuine childlike faith (Mark 10:14-15) that we can truly experience the true meaning of Christmas.

What are some Christmas traditions that you and your family participate in every year?

 

Remembering Paul Fife

December 6, 2011 8 comments
Paul Fife

Paul Lee Fife (1961 - 2011)

When you look back at the life you’ve lived so far, do certain people come to your mind? Do you remember the people who had a meaningful impact on your life? On Thursday, December 1, 2011 the world lost such a Godly, amazing man who was a great encouragement to me over the years. Paul Fife volunteered with the youth group when I was growing up at First Baptist Church Smyrna.

One thing I will miss greatly about Paul is his sense of humor. He helped make the awkward teen years more bearable. I remember one year we had a talent show and they asked Paul to be a part of it. They asked him what he was going to do and he told them to put him down as “miscellaneous.” When it was his turn, he got up on stage and recited (off the top of his head) a poem about a mysterious woman named “Ms. Allaneous” – all of this he created right there on the spot. We were all laughing to the point of tears.

Another example of Paul’s sense of humor involved a guy I knew named Chris. Chris was new to the church and being the new guy, everyone wanted to introduce him to the people at the church. Chris was “introduced” to Paul at least 10-20 times by various church members and each time Paul played it off like they had never met. They would say “Paul, have you met Chris?” and his response would always be “No, I’m sorry…Chris was it? So nice to meet you!” Those of us that knew they had met were biting our lips trying not to laugh and make the person introducing them (for the umpteenth time) feel uncomfortable.

What I loved so much about Paul was that he was funny, but he knew when to be serious. He would ask you the tough questions you needed to hear. I remember hanging out with him and a few other youth, just sitting in the church parking lot on the hood of his car talking about life. Paul was so easy to talk to and made you feel loved. You knew you had his undivided attention. You also knew where he stood on his beliefs – he loved Jesus and he wanted you to love Jesus as much as he did, but not in an in your face, beat you over the head with a Bible kind of way. He genuinely loved people and making a difference in their lives.

Paul, you will be missed but I know you have all the angels laughing right now.

 

Life Lessons From The Black Crows

November 9, 2011 Leave a comment
black crow

Birds of the air don't worry, so why do we?

Today I was looking out the window and saw four black crows (not to be confused with the rock band that made the song “Hard To Handle” popular in 1990).  As I observed the birds, I noticed they were very free-spirited and just went about their business. They didn’t worry about living conditions, food, or really anything else for that matter. I immediately thought of what scripture tells us about worrying.

Matthew 6:25-34
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Why is it that we are so quick to worry and not immediately turn things over to God? Is it a pride thing? Is it human nature? Whatever it is, how do we change this vicious cycle?

What do you do to overcome worry?

Photo Credit: By Isa Sorensen

Pastor, Say It Ain’t So – Dealing With Depression

November 4, 2011 Leave a comment
depression

Photo Credit: By Lloyd Morgan

The other day I was on Twitter and was bothered by what I saw. I follow a lot of pastors, as they typically provide words of wisdom and encouragement. One pastor really disappointed me though and I won’t reveal his name, as I don’t know him personally or why he feels the way he does. He went on a Twitter rant about depression and Christians.

This pastor commented in multiple tweets that “Christians should not take medication to help them combat depression because it was of the devil” and “depression was due to a lack of faith.” How can someone who is supposed to be a man of God tell people they are suffering from a mental disease because they don’t believe like he thinks they should? He might as well tell people who have cancer that they have it because of their lack of faith. Seriously?! It’s people like this who annoy me and make me understand why people don’t like Christians.

I am very close with two people who suffer from depression and medication has greatly helped them. Depression is caused by altered brain structure and chemical function. Neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) become unbalanced. You can’t will yourself out of depression. Depression is not a weakness either. The first step is being diagnosed and realizing that depression can be treatable – it’s not something they have done or not done and they are not a failure if they deal with it. About 121 million people around the world suffer from depression in some form.

Learn more about depression.

 

It’s (Not) All About The Benjamins!

September 14, 2011 2 comments
watch

Time is one of many things a leader can invest.

I am leader in one of the environments at my church called Fusion. This cycle we are talking about the subject of investment. When people hear the term “invest” they immediately think of money. It’s not always about money. You can invest your time, talents, and so many other things.

My friend Susanne does something really cool for her Facebook status. She will find a word that has impacted her and provide the definition. It would go a little something like this (Susanne – this one goes out to you! (c: ).

“Invest: to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something…I like that word.”

She always follows it with “I like that word.” When I read that definition this morning it made me think…how can we as leaders invest in the lives of those we lead?

  • Be a great listener – People want to be heard. Don’t try to solve their problems, just provide a listening ear.
  • Celebrate with them – Birthdays and new jobs are just the beginning. In one of my previous small groups we always celebrated everyone’s birthday and it turned out that one of the guys had never ever had a birthday party thrown for him.
  • Mourn with them – Losing a family member is difficult and it’s even harder when you feel alone. It’s easier to go through the loss of a job with others supporting and encouraging you. A guy in one of my previous small groups lost his daughter to a childhood illness. The majority of our group traveled from Atlanta to Tampa just to be with him in his time of need.
  • Spend time with them – Be intentional about doing things with them. Go out to dinner. Grab coffee. Find out what they enjoy doing and do it together.
  • Remember the details – When you have conversations with people, remember things they tell you. You never realize how much it means to people when you ask them how their interview went or if they finished their big project at work. It makes them feel important.

How do you invest in those you lead?

Photo Credit: By mpclemens

You Make Beautiful Things

September 13, 2011 2 comments
Gungor-Beautiful-Things

"Beautiful Things" by Gungor is amazing!

Music is one of my passions. Hearing moving lyrics together with amazing instrumentation is just something that moves me. Last week at church we had re:Group (an annual small group leader training) and at the end of the night, the worship band played this song I had never heard. The lyrics felt like they were speaking directly to me – like they were written by me to a loving Heavenly Father who is providing for me and taking care of me. The song is “Beautiful Things” by the group Gungor. Here are just a few of the lyrics:

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

This song just reminds me that regardless of the circumstances that are going on around me, God can use them to make something beautiful. Even with all that is going on in my life right now, it is comforting to know that I have not been forgotten and that everything is not happening in vain.

Enjoy “Beautiful Things” by Gungor below.

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

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