Give It Away

Presently, I’m reading the book “Letters by a Modern Mystic” by Frank C. Laubach.  The book is simply his entry journals from his time in the Philippines from 1930-31 when he was attempting to modern mysticlive in a conscious moment-by-moment relationship with God.  His aim was to literally be thinking about and/or talking with God each and every minute of his day regardless of what he might be doing.  I would highly encourage you to go pick up a copy.  I’ve provided a link at the bottom of this entry that will take you straight to this book on Amazon.  Anyway, let me get to what I want to share from this gem.

As I was reading today Laubach’s entry for June 1, 1930, he made a statement that was incredibly simple, yet crucial for a vibrant relationship with the Father and non-negotiable if we are to make a difference in the lives of those placed in our path.  Here’s the passage:

“This week with its failures and successes has taught me one new lesson.  It is this: ‘I must talk about God, or I cannot keep Him in my mind.  I must give Him away in order to have Him.’  This is the law of the spirit world.  What one gives one has, what one keeps to oneself one loses.  Do you suppose that through all eternity the price we will need to pay for keeping God will be that we must endlessly be giving Him away?”

After reading this and re-reading this several more times, I began pondering what my typical day looks like in relation to my awareness of God throughout my day and how much I give Him away.  I wouldn’t say I’m a complete failure at this, but sadly most of my days are spent simply surviving the day, living in a much smaller story than I was meant to live.  But I’m intrigued by same question Frank Laubach posed….”What would it look like if I were in constant, minute-by-minute communion with the Father.”  Heck, what would it look like if it were just hour-by-hour….if I made a concerted effort to think about and talk to God just once every hour of the day.  My guess is that my world would be much different, less stress, less worry, more joy.

I’m convinced that my world would be drastically changed and that is a good thing.  But what I believe would be  impacted most, would be those around me.  Think about it!  If we were to be continually focusing our thoughts, motives, actions, and hearts on God, the lives of the people around us would be transformed.  How would I parent differently, how would that impact my relationship with my wife, what about the high school students I teach each day, and most importantly, how would my life impact all the people that come across my path that are hurting and searching and crying out for hope, something to believe in?  The implications are huge…the stakes are eternal!

In Psalm 19:14 the psalmist says:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

We aren’t after this just for our sake.  If we’re living out the mission of Jesus (to bind up broken hearts and set captives free), then our calling, our desire is that our lives not only impact others, but transform their hearts.  So, could it be that Laubach’s lesson really is at the heart of the Gospel?  Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that the two greatest commandments were to love the Lord and love others.  So, we must give Him away to others and in turn that continually draws Him closer to ourselves.  Sounds accurate to me.

So, are you continually giving others Jesus?  Giving them love, forgiveness, grace, truth, boldness, compassion, hope?  This is the way to the heart of God.  How I long to know and live from the heart of God.  Let us give Him away!

Click to go get the book Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank Laubach.

Know Your Role…and Your Goal

baseball

As a life-long baseball fan and one of four generations of Dodgers fans in the Cook family, I was super excited to hear that a couple of weeks ago, we Chattanoogans, were going to be given a very special opportunity.

See the city of Chattanooga is home to the Lookouts, the Dodgers AA minor league affiliate. Now, since I live about 10 minutes from the stadium, I try to take in as many games as possible throughout the summer. But 2 Wednesday nights ago, something extraordinary was being afforded to us. The Dodgers’ ace, Clayton Kershaw, was going to be making a rehab start here! Certainly no team wants its ace to be hurt or placed on the disabled list. However, if it’s going to happen to CK, I’m glad to be a Chattanoogan!!!

Now for the bad news…it was taking place on a night when I was called to be at my post of duty for my church. Being a music minister, Wednesday night rehearsals are a big deal. After one of my friends offered me to join him in his front row seats, I had to decline so I could be at my post. I had to know my role! This begs the question – where have you been called where you might not have been as faithful as you could have or even should have been?

Because I wasn’t at the game, doesn’t mean I didn’t follow the progress and take in as much of the radio broadcast as possible. I also took to social media to get updates from the fans in attendance. Many reports were complete with pictures of CK in his “Lookouts” uniform. For those of you who might not be baseball fans, Kershaw is an amazingly gifted talent. He is only 25(ish) years old and has already won two Cy Young awards. He has, arguably, the best curve ball in Major League Baseball today. Which leads to my next point…

I saw several tweets from folks who weren’t impressed with his stuff while watching at the local stadium. Then there were a couple of tweets comparing this kid disparagingly to other Hall of Fame pitchers! Here is my issue…

In Chattanooga, Kershaw’s goal wasn’t to show off his filthy nasty ‘stuff.’ His goal wasn’t even to win the game (would have been nice – but lack of defense didn’t help him any)! This was a REHAB start…his goal was to get through about 80 pitches without reinjuring his back. While the Lookouts lost the game and while the local pitching aficionados weren’t impressed, Kershaw accomplished his mission. Since being activated from the DL, he’s won his two appearances and looked extremely sharp doing it!

But the spiritual application here is, to me, obvious…we have got to know our goal! If not, we could be sidetracked; we could be brought down by the naysayers. Stay vigilant in what He has called you to! We all have our position in the army of the Lord – know your role and know your goal….

He will take care of the rest!!!

Tim Cook
TJM Leadership Team

Five Ways to Celebrate the Women in Your Life

Woman

May is the month we celebrate Mother’s Day.  I am convinced that each of you have a mother or a woman that you love dearly in your life.  As men we become too busy and have trouble speaking “woman”.  The focus of this list is, doing something.  Don’t just go out for dinner, buy a card.  Spend some time and effort to express your affection and appreciation.  Here are some easy practical suggestions to help you celebrate the women in your life.

  • A thank you letter – Don’t just buy a card.  Write a letter that expresses what she means to you and all the ways that she has impacted your life.
  • Create a Playlist or CD – Music is the language of the soul.  If you have a hard time expressing things with words find the music that does.
  • Breakfast In Bed – This can be great especially if you have kids.  Create an experience she will enjoy.  Do it without complaining or grumbling.  If this is out of your comfort zone – stretch yourself and try.  This has always been an event that I have enjoyed with my family.  Check this site out for some Ideas.
  • Give Mom the Day Off – You can get creative with this idea.  Take care of the errands, chores, meals, pets and kids.  I can assure you if you do this well, she will appreciate it and you will grow to appreciate her more when you see all she does.  Take this idea the extra mile and take her to a spa day while you cover all these areas.
  • Spend Time With Her – Gifts are great but experiences and time together bring more lasting satisfaction.  Time is the real language of love.  Spend time with your mother or wife in activities that she enjoys and she will remember and cherish the time.

A Couple Extra Ideas

  • Coupons for services or things they need.  This website has a funny and practical list of coupons you can even print out.
  • Plant flowers she loves – I have done this several times.  She loves it.  The flowers are there to enjoy all summer.
  • Serve Organizations that Serve Women – There are so different organizations that need you.  You are needed!  The strength and energy that you could bring to impact a family or organization are priceless.  This is a great idea if the women of your life are long distant.  Go serve and send a letter to your loved one telling them of how you served in honor of them.

Okay guys, I wanted to make it simple, practical and easy.  Give me your ideas.  What have you done to serve the women you love?  Give some ideas.

Mark Carpenter
TJM Leadership Team

Power of the Tongue

speaking

This past weekend I was privileged to attend a men’s breakfast at one of the best churches I know of in our area (Stuart Heights Baptist).  We had a great time and those guys really know how to put on a breakfast.

During the meeting we talked about the Power of our words.  Throughout this week I have continued thinking about this subject, thinking often about the impact our words have on those around us.  I think Proverbs 18:21 says it best: The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 Some time ago I read that if we had equipment that was sensitive enough we would still be able to detect and hear every word that has ever been spoken by receiving the sound waves still reverberating through the atmosphere.  Yeah I know, its probably a far-fetched sci-fi thought, but can you imagine, being able to hear Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, or Jesus actual words as he gave the sermon on the mount, or the words he uttered on the cross!  Or how about, “let us make man in our own image”?  Wow!!!

What words from history would you most like to hear?

As I let my mind run for a few minutes with this “sci-fi” thought, all of a sudden it hits me.  Oh no, how many of my own words are still reverberating out there.  Man, I wonder what percentage of my own words would I like to delete from the atmosphere so they could never be heard or felt, again.  Then another thought hits me – my words have already found their mark on the hearts of those I love the most, and I’m struck again by the truth of the Proverbs passage from above… sobering thoughts.

This gives me a stronger desire to measure my words – to listen more, think more, and speak less.  The New Testament book of James has some great instructions for us about our words and the potential our tongue has for blessing AND cursing.  Join me in spending some time considering this.  I encourage you to strongly consider brother James’ words, especially from James chapter 3.

Wally Hindman
TJM Leadership Team