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Veterans have impacted our lives by their sacrifice. Their selfless example stands in stark contrast to our self-centered culture. The implications are profound, especially for followers of Christ.
All gave some.
Each man and woman who has served has put their own lives on hold for the good of others.
When Kelcy and I worked in a ministry to the military, we met hundreds of soldiers. They came from all walks of life, but they all had this in common: They gave up their own freedom to serve others. Their schedules, their choices, even their haircut became property of the United States.
They committed to selflessly serve our country, dedicating years of their life and buckets of sweat and blood to securing and maintaining our freedom. They did this for little pay and less glory.
Today, as I picture their faces, I am struck by Paul’s words.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Every day thousands of men and women get up at O-Dark 30 and do just that. They humbly travel the world, going wherever they are sent, putting aside their own desires and following orders. They deserve our respect and admiration. So do those who have gone before them.
All gave some. Some gave all.
Let’s show appreciation and gratitude to those who are still with us.
- Thank a veteran today. Their selfless service secured our freedom.
- Pray for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Pray for their safety, their well-being, and the families they often leave stateside.
- Ask these questions: What is my response to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice? Is it changing the way I’m living? How am I putting others ahead of myself?
Also read: “Remembering my Grandfathers”
FOLLOW my blog by signing up for emails on the top, right hand corner of the page. Thanks! – Joe
“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” - F.B. Meyer
This weekend I conducted an unscientific poll on the blog. Thank you so much to all 82 people who participated. Here’s a graphic representation of the results:
Here are a few of my observations:
- I’m praying for that 1 person who doesn’t pray because they feel there’s no point. I have been close to thinking that in a few dark times in my life, but have never quite gotten there. My heart goes out to them. I pray God will open Himself up to them, and that someday prayer will be a natural outflow of renewed relationship with Him.
- For those of you who said, “I pray a little”: thank you for being honest. Prayer at meals reflects thankfulness. Prayer during emergencies is evidence of reliance of God. I encourage you to take the next steps in prayer. Branch out. My next posts in the prayer series I’m preparing will help you.
- To those who “I need help growing”: Me too. This is where I placed myself. That may surprise some of you. My personal assessment is that my spiritual life is quite lopsided. I have grown strong “Bible muscles” from years of training. However, in recent years my growth in prayer has not kept pace. I strongly desire for my prayer life to grow as vital as it was when I was a young man of 20, and then grow beyond that point.
- To those of you who said, “I pray often” and “I pray constantly”, please pray for this series. I hope it will inspire deeper, more regular connection with the God who calls us to seek Him in prayer.
Look for the next installment in the series coming this week.
Do you have your own observations on the poll? Please leave a comment below.
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The results of this poll are helping me shape a series on prayer. Make sure you enter your email address and click “Follow” on the top right of this page. Then you’ll get an email each time I write a new post.
Prayer is a vital component of our relationship with God. I hope this series is helps strengthen your connection with Him.
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- Leave comments below to get the conversation going.
Have you ever gotten stuck?
I once owned an old Chevy truck. My favorite thing to do was to jump into the old beater, drive it out into our un-mowed field, and blow donuts. Imagine a 350 4-Barrel engine wound right up, screaming through an exhaust that’s full of holes. Goldenrod and mud flying through the air. Me bouncing all over the seat with a big, stupid grin on my face. Good times. Great stress relief.
(I know, I’m a bit of a redneck.)
Well, one day I was having so much fun that I slid right into a mud bog. I buried the truck so deep in the mud, right up to the axles, that it took me most of the rest of the day to get it unstuck. Please take 1:42 to watch this video:
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be cheering for this guy by the time it’s over.
Have you ever gotten STUCK in life?
It’s no fun. But I’ve landed in a sticky spot before, and wondered, “How am I EVER going to get out of this?” I didn’t see any hope of getting out of the predicament I was in. I had to make some tough choices. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
1) Do not get out of the driver’s seat.
If I was stuck in that river, sitting in the cab of that truck, I might have bailed out. Just swam to shore.
Nobody would blame him for saying, “The heck with it! I’m too stuck. There’s just no getting out of it.”
And I’m sure you’ve been there. Sometimes it’s easier to throw our hands up and say, “Look, I’ve got an overwhelming amount of excuses. Who could blame me for quitting?” But is that really what you want, to start a pattern of quitting when life gets tough? Who’s going to make that movie? I’d rather hang in there, take control of my own life, and do something. Anything.
But don’t think I’m telling you to “go it alone” and that “it’s all on you”. It’s not. In fact, here’s “29 Reasons to Hope” that will point you to the One who you can count on to show you the next step when you’re stuck.
So, if you’re already stuck, what do you do next?
2) Back up and try another approach.
In this case, the driver wisely saw that his efforts weren’t going anywhere. Trying the same exact thing any longer would only have dug him in deeper. So what did he do? He backed up a few feet, to the point of his last steering decision, and took another approach.
Where did you go wrong? Is it possible for you to back and correct the wrong turn? If you can, then do it.
Sometimes you can’t go back. Something broke. You’re immobilized. You just can’t move yourself.
If that is the case, you need to bring more resources to bear. That’s why I’m careful in my life to make sure I’m connected to people who can pull me out of a rut when I need it. Not just anyone can truly help you when you’re stuck. That person has to be un-stuck. They have to have traction of their own so they can pull you out. They need to be healthy enough to give you help that actually helps you out of the hole.
Valuable friendships with trustworthy friends don’t just happen by accident. That’s why my wife and I are super-intentional about developing those relationships. We might not need them today. But we might tomorrow. You never know.
Read More about developing those types of friendships: Why I Go To Church Part 1
3) Drop the hammer!
Often what gets us un-stuck is focused forward motion. Effort!
Sometimes when things don’t go our way we get frustrated. We start believing the lie that life will always be this way. We’ll always be dealing with these same problems. Things will never change. I’ve got news for you. That’s not true! Every day we get to make choices that effect the outcome of our future. That’s the beauty of free will. So don’t get lulled into believing that things will always be the same.
Take a look at this inspiring video of soccer player Lionel Messi. It doesn’t matter whether he’s slide-tackled, fouled or cheap-shotted. This guy never stops moving forward, no matter what gets in his way.
What would that kind of intensity do for you?
Maybe it’s time to charge forward toward your goal with renewed focus. Speaking of renewal…
4) Keep those wheels turning.
If you’ve been stuck for any length of time, you might be just about of fuel. I know you’re exhausted. If you’re out of gas, maybe it’s time to refuel.
Take a minute to read this post about refueling. And if you’re often feeling empty, maybe you need to consider switching up your routine. If you feel like all you do is work, you never get any rest, and the days just blur together, then this post about work and rest is for you.
Once you learn how to refuel on a regular basis, you will find that you get stuck less often. And when you do break traction, you will have the resources on hand to get un-stuck.
5) Don’t forget to celebrate!
My favorite part of this video is the very end. The guy holding the camera lets out a “Woo hoo!”
Hey. With what you’ve been through, don’t forget to celebrate when you climb up out of that hole. Take some time to thank a friend who helped you out when you were stuck. Let them know you’ll be there for them when they’re in the same spot.
For me, that also means thanking God for giving me the fuel and the traction I needed, for not leaving me stuck. I’m not under any illusions about my limitations. I am joyfully dependent on Him. I know I need Him to walk me through every single situation that life finds me in. And He does. He’s always there for me.
Keep these 5 steps in mind the next time you’re stuck. And let me in on the celebration when you climb up out of that hole!
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Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on us. Where we live, (Broome County, NY) a State of Emergency is about to take effect. Strong winds will almost certainly knock the power out for days, especially if you live away from the city center.
Here’s how to prepare before the power goes out:
1) Get water.
If you’re on city water, you’re probably ok. But if you’ve got a well like we do, the pump doesn’t work when the power is out. If that’s the case, you need water for 4 things. 1 – Drinking. Figure a gallon a day per person. 2 – Washing. Hand sanitizer is great, but it’s not fun to wash your face or brush you teeth with. 3 – Cleaning. Again, it’s hard to wash dished with just chemicals. You’ll need to keep everyone healthy. 4 - Flushing the toilet. “Eww, gross!” I know. It’s an unpleasant reality, but if you don’t have water in the back of that magical device, your life will stink. (sorry, couldn’t resist)
2) Get food.
What can you eat without cooking? Do you have enough in your house to last you if the grocery store doesn’t have power for 3 days? You don’t need to go crazy, but it might be worth preparing a couple of meals now in order to eat them in the next day or two.
3) Get gas.
Even if you don’t have a generator to run, your neighbor might. And believe me, you’ll want to have a can full of gas when he offers to loan it to you to run your refrigerator. Go fill your gas cans, as well as your car’s gas tank. You might be glad you did.
4) Charge everything.
Cell phones, laptops, flashlights, kindles. Whatever you’ve got, charge it. Then make sure you’ve got batteries for what needs it. Even your laptop can come in handy to charge your cell phone via a USB cable.
5) Put away everything that’s not nailed down.
That kitschy lawn gnome could really ruin your day if it comes through your window at 80 mph. If you haven’t already, go grab everything outside that could turn into a projectile.
6) Wash everything!
Got any dirty laundry? Dishes? Need to vacuum? Do it now. 48 hours from now you might be loving the fact that you did that while you still had the aid of appliances.
7) Check on your neighbors.
Now that you’re ready to weather the storm, take a look around. Is that little old lady down the block going to be ok? Does she have a way to heat her home if the power goes out? Is there anyone else checking on her? Does she have all her medications? Don’t assume someone else is taking care of it. Share your preparedness with others.
Alright. If you’ve covered those points, you’re reasonably prepared. Congratulations.
For more info go to the Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness site.
God bless you as we head into this storm. I’ll be praying for your safety. Let’s look out for each other!
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I started the joewickman.com 8 months ago. My goal was, and is, to simply help people. I’ve made a wealth of mistakes so far in life, and I want nothing more than to share what I’ve learned with you. I can’t wait to take it to the next level soon. (More on that later.)
These are the most-read posts so far:
What would you like me to write next? Please comment below.
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Lance Armstrong took us all for a ride.
For years he lived out an all-American comeback story. Defying death by surviving cancer, he rode to victory in the Tour de France 7 times, dominating his sport. He established the LiveStrong foundation, raising millions of dollars to battle cancer. His life inspired millions.
Unfortunately, the hero has fallen.
The United States Ant-Doping Agency released a 1,000 page report documenting his team’s abuse of steroids. Their deceit is being called, “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
Tremendous consequences have been leveled against the former hero:
- He’s been stripped of his titles.
- He’s been banned from the sport.
- His legacy is now marred.
It’s easy for us to look and say, “Wow. That’s ugly! I would never do that.”
The truth is we’re tempted to cheat on a daily basis. Whether we’re tempted to cheat on a test, our taxes or our spouses, we face the same decisions Armstrong did. Once we tiptoe into deception, we find it harder and harder to get out. Lies have a way of growing bigger and bigger until they blow up in our face. What once seemed innocuous grows into a terrifying beast. Then it turns on us, and we’re shocked to suffer the consequences.
You and I may be tempted to lie about a small thing. We may be tempted to embellish to make ourselves look better, or to cut corners in order to get ahead. It’s never worth it.
Here’s 3 Reasons not to be a Cheating Cheater:
1) ”Your sins will find you out.”
Perhaps more real painful are the stories that hit closer to home. You discover you friend has been cheating on their spouse. You learn your trusted business partner has been cheating you. You find out your kid has been lying to you about where they’ve been spending their time.
What was meant to be kept hidden will eventually be exposed. We can be sure that, eventually, the truth will surface. When they come to light, these discoveries are like a bombs going off, exploding relationships.
2) Trust is fragile.
It’s also valuable. Once you break it, you might not be able to put it back together. Lance Armstrong is 41. No matter what he does from here on out, he will never erase the stigma that has now been attached to his name. People will never be willing to extend him the trust he once had. That’s gone forever.
The ties that hold our relationships together can be snipped in a snap. The good news is that repair is possible through forgiveness and the rebuilding of relationship. But that takes time. It takes effort from both parties. And it’s a process that may not land you back in the same spot you started in.
3) Cheating never gets you where you want to go.
Nobody wakes up and says, “Today I’m going to begin implementing a plan to embarrass myself and let down everyone I love.”
But when we take even one step in deceit, we’re stepping in that direction. We arrive at our ultimate destination after thousands of footsteps in the same direction. If we’re not careful, we’ll eventually reap the consequences of our multiple missteps taking us somewhere dark. Be careful where each day’s steps take you.
It’s time for us to reassess our own integrity.
- Are walking in truth?
- Is there any deceit in us?
- Are their any lies we need to get out of before they consume us?
Do it now. Take action. Confess. Have that awkward conversation and begin rebuilding trust.
Start brand new today. You’ll sleep better tonight.
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15)
For more help:
- Relationship Rescue
- Life Without Worry
- Pull the Plug: When You Should Kill a Relationship
- Nuclear Fallout: Life After Relational Death
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