"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God's Greatest Gifts

I was asked to give the devotion at our opening faculty meeting for the School of Education and Professional Studies at Samford University, where I teach, today. I've delivered invocations, pre-race devotions, spoken in front of thousands of people, and taught for more than 30 years. Nevertheless, today I was nervous and I'm not sure why. So, I'd like to share that devotional with all of you. I think that God gave me the words to say and just maybe it will hit home with you as well.
When my daughter, Ashley, (who is now 24) was about 6-years-old I called her a "character." One day she asked me, "What's a character?" I explained to her that me calling her a "character" was kind of like calling her a "mess" or "funny." But, I went on to teach a Dad lesson. I also told her that "character" was God's heartbeat in you that helps you do the right thing even when no one else will ever know and that I believed that good "character" was a gift from God.
We find the following words in God's word -- I Peter 4: 10 - 11
10 God's gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully. 11 If you speak, you should do it like one speaking God's very words. If you serve, you should do it with the strength God provides. Then in ALL things God will be praised through Jesus Christ.
I believe that God has given us gifts that we don’t know we have because we haven’t listened to His ever present voice through the words of others, through studying His word, or through prayer. So, over the past few years I’ve tried to listen more attentively and God has taught me so much. He has taught me to have a little more patience, to be more humble, to have respect for others even when I don’t understand them. And, maybe above all, He has taught me to never minimize, discount, or dismiss another’s feelings because when I do, I minimize, discount, or dismiss Him!
My devotion OR challenge for all of us as we begin this new school year is to allow everything that we do in our daily walk – in the classroom – in meetings – in the stillness of a moment be TOTALLY-COMPLETELY Christ centered. If we do this, then we have accomplished much toward showing the grace that God exemplified for us through sending Christ as our Redeemer.
A few days ago I posted this quote on my Facebook page as my status update. It's received a lot of feedback and I think it is appropriate at this time ...
"A simple conversation, smile, kind deed, or helping hand may have an eternal impact on someone's life. Never minimize the seeds that may be planted by an act of kindness. God can take a seed that lands on a fertile heart and grow it into an amazing landscape of hope."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Storyteller Challenge

Sometimes it just gets downright hard to put words on the page. I have so much to share and yet, when I sit at my computer there are moments when I can’t write. Some call it writer’s block. I call it, “I have too much in my head syndrome.”

Days go by and we see and feel things that deserve to be written about or the story should be told in some other way. Yet, we don’t do it. Some ignore their gift of writing and others just don’t notice their surroundings. My problem is that God gifted me with the ability to see things in a different way – to describe the circumstances at hand in common words – to tell a story. The bottom line is that I’m a storyteller and right now, I’m having difficulty telling them! That’s a hard place to be when you are a storyteller!

So, my GRACERUNNER Journal for today is about being a storyteller. How does one become a storyteller? How do you have the ability when others don’t? I guess that the answer is fairly simple – I can’t run like the wind. I can’t hit a 90 mile-an-hour fastball. I can’t play golf without almost killing myself or someone else! One of my gifts, as I see it, is to tell the story at hand. It’s an opportunity to describe, create an analogy, share a moment, or paint a picture with words.

My plight has been that I have too much going on around me and I have not been paying attention to the little things. I have not been able to generate stories because of all the hustle and bustle in my life. But, the past few days I’ve been enjoying my last days off before we start the fall semester at Samford University, where I teach. It’s also the last long vacation I’ll have for a good while because of our TEAM 413 event schedule. I have truly relaxed during this time! It’s hard for me to do – but, I’ve done it! And, I’m going to do it for a few more days too!

To help me tell the stories that I need to tell, I need YOUR help. Each time we put someone in a TEAM 413 running shirt, I tell them that there will be a story behind that shirt! I’ve heard many of your stories and they are terrific! We need more….so, here’s the deal. Send me your best TEAM 413 “shirt story” including a picture of yourself in one of the shirts. I, along with our panel of “professional” judges, will choose the top three stories and with your permission, we’ll publish them in our GRACERUNNER Journal and possibly include them in my second book, “Cobalt Blue Sky Days – Stories of God’s Grace.”

Send your stories to chris@team413.org by September 15. We’ll notify the winners and send them a couple of TEAM 413 shirts of their choosing. We want to tell your story and others want to read about God’s amazing grace! Get busy and tell us about your “shirt story.” I’m looking forward to hearing from many of you!

Under HIS Grace…