Job 6:14 – Be Kind

‘ “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.’ Job 6:14

There is so much blame and anger in the media and society today, and we are inundated with negativity. Being immersed in so much negativity ends up having a huge impact on our ability to interact with others for their benefit. The real problem is, we don’t always recognize that negativity has not only affected us, but we are now promoting that same negativity in our speech and actions.

Job has been hurting and his friends are trying to help, but so far the help has come in the form of judgement. What Job needs right now is kindness, an ear to hear, an offer of support and encouragement.

I think the picture above is a perfect way to show the importance of kindness in the lives of someone who is hurting. The sky is dreary with no sign of the sun. The rain is falling steadily, and there is no real shelter in sight. However, an unlikely source of help has positioned themselves to extend a kindness in the middle of a dark moment. Does it change the circumstances? No, but it makes an impact on the one struggling.

Believers in Christ are no less immune to the negativity around them. We can feel the same tug toward anger or despair that anyone else feels, but we have something inside us. We have the inexhaustible love of God that we can use to make a difference in someone’s life. We have the message of true love from a heavenly Father that will not only make a bright spot in someone’s day, but will extend into a brilliant eternity.

Someone around you today is hurting. You don’t need to change their world. It’s not your job to do that. Just show kindness. It is in that small thing that we show God’s love and power at work in the darkness around us.

Job 5:8 – Motives

‘ “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause,’ Job 5:8

As Eliphaz speaks to Job, he says some things that ring true to the Christian’s ear. A lot of things! It is not necessarily the things that he says that are trouble, but his motivation in saying them.

Again, Job is suffering from the loss of his children and all that he had. He is struck down with a horrible skin disease and is in constant pain. He is still trying to lead his wife well, but he is in a dark place as he wrestles with what is happening in his life. His friends come to his side, and that had to be an encouragement at first, but now, are they really trying to help?

Eliphaz’s approach here is one of moral superiority or false piety. He is secretly wondering what sins Job has been involved in that are getting him such a direct punishment from God. He is there to help, but he is not taking into account the person of Job as well. He is more interested in elevating himself.

He has just pointed out that Job is one who lifts up and build into others, but moments later he begins telling Job how he needs to get right with God. Is that wrong? Well, not exactly, but it is not helping Job to be preached at in this way.

What we know is that the Bible says that in all of this Job has not sinned. Job has done nothing wrong, and even in his lament, he has not sinned against God because of how he feels in this trial. Eliphaz is overlooking the integrity of the person in front of him. And failing to meet him at his need.

For some reason, Eliphaz takes this opportunity to twist what He knows of God’s goodness and desire to be sought out by man, and is using it to try to make Job feel a guilt he does not need to bear. Job did nothing wrong to be in this circumstance. He is in the middle of a spiritual battle. What he needs is encouragement.

We need to take care that we don’t run off at the mouth and twist truth to speak to the woes of others. We need to be aware that using God’s Word to beat others down and feel guilt and shame is not how we should act. God will judge, and taking that position of authority from Him is a dangerous game.

While God does want us to confess our sins, and we do need His forgiveness for our sins, we need to remember that bad things happen despite our best efforts and actions. Extending grace to others when they hurt is a way we show the kindness of God to others. Where can we show the truth of God today by showing love rather than judgement?

Job 4:5 – Accusation

‘ But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.’ Job 4:5

Here we begin the real meat of Eliphaz’s speech to Job. He has just commended Job for his faith and how he build people up what are hurting or weak, but now he levels an accusation at Job. “Now that you have a problem, you have given up!” He says that Job basically does not practice what he preaches.

If only that were the end of it, but he goes on to hint that Job has been involved in something evil and God is just punishing him for that evil. If only Job had actually been living a godly life, he would not have a problem.

Our sin can cause consequences in our lives. If I steal a car and go to jail, I should not lament my time behind bars. I asked for it. However, this is a fallen world and sin can have an effect on anyone – not just the person who did the deed.

Eliphaz is correct in that we are all going to be judged for our actions by God one day, but we need to take great care in explaining suffering as an immediate punishment. Sometimes the suffering is intended to make a person stronger. We don’t know what God’s plan in the suffering is until He is ready to reveal it.

My takeaway today is to be careful in judging. It really isn’t my job to do so, and I usually don’t have all of the facts. Accusation has the tendency to make a person elevate their position of authority beyond what they really have. Mistakes are made when we go there.

Perhaps if Eliphaz had been able to see all of the discussion between God and Satan he might have kept going with the encouraging words to Job. Perhaps he would have seen that in a fallen world, bad things happen to good people. Read on. He didn’t.

Job 4:3-4 – Reputation

‘ Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.’ Job 4:3-4

how are you seen by others?

Job has finished his initial lament and cursed the day he was born. His pain, both physical and emotional, is almost palpable, and his three friends have sat with him for seven days and night, on the ground, without speaking – until now…

First up is Eliphaz. Some think he was the oldest of the trio because he spoke first. He may have been a very wise man. One thing he does before giving Job his advice is to give his opinion of Job. In the opening verses to this chapter, Eliphaz gives us another snapshot of the man Job was, and it is a good one.

Basically, he says to Job, “You are a good man, and you have built into men. You have strengthened them with your words, and you have made men be able to stand up straight even when they are carrying heavy burdens. You have come alongside those who are struggling and given them hope. Job, you are an example of encouragement to others.”

As I read the words of Eliphaz, I had to think, “What am I known as? How do my closest friends see me? Am I an encourager to the weak and struggling? Am I a person who comes alongside those who cannot stand and lifts them up? Am I building people who will then go build people?”

I can’t answer my own question. That is the thing about a reputation. It is built by one person, but can only really be seen by others. We can go through life thinking we are doing the right things in the right times to build that good reputation we are after, but we won’t really know until someone tells us. All we can do is ask God to guide us to where He sees we need to go to build well.

Job built well. He is hurting, but he had built into these men and others well enough that they would come to him in his time of need. He built into them well enough that a friend would tell him the difference he has made in the lives of others. Job had a solid reputation and it was confirmed by someone who knew him well.

So, the call to action is two-fold. First, build a reputation to be proud of by staying close to God and obeying His Word. Second, if you know someone well, and they have a good reputation in your eyes, let them know it. Be that encouragement to them. You may never know how much they need it!

Job 3:25-26 – I Got a Bad Feeling About This

‘ For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes.”‘ Job 3:25-26

At the end of chapter 3, Job has finished the lament of his birth. The pain he has and is enduring simply makes him wish that he had never been born. He is not the only one to ever feel that way. When the weight is heavy and we see no way out, it is easy to slip into that way of thinking.

An important distinction to make here is that Job did not wish to die, he simply wished he had not been born. Job is not looking for a way out of this trial. He is still in it. Miserable? Yes. In pain? Definitely. Seeing hope? Probably not. Suicidal? No.

What Job realizes in these two verses is that he had a feeling something bad was going to happen. He didn’t know what, and we don’t get a whole lot of info about it other than he had a fear. It would be wrong to try and say exactly what he was afraid of, but one would not be reaching to say that as a Dad who prayed for and made sin offerings for his kids, he likely feared for their welfare, and now they were gone. I know that as a Dad, it is always in the back of my mind that I hope my kids are ok.

I believe that God uses His Spirit to speak to us and give us little warnings from time to time about bad things that could happen if we continue down the path we are on. The question is, what do we do to make sure that we are paying attention?

I think Job was paying attention to that feeling, but in his grief it might have been harder for him to see it. As I said, he made offering for his children in case they had sinned before God (Job 1:5), and that is a man who is acting on faith when he gets a feeling.

My takeaway from this passage is that God is always speaking to me, and I need to be listening. I can look back after making it through some of the trials I have endured and see that not only was God there the whole time, but He was actually PREPARING me beforehand or at least offering me opportunities to be prepared. I just didn’t always see or hear those opportunities.

God speaks to us in a still, small voice. It will serve us well if we are keeping our hearts in tune to that voice and what it says. Anytime we get a bad feeling it just may be God telling us to take a minute and get ready for trouble. We may or may not avoid it, but we can be ready and know that He will go through it with us!

Job 2:13 – Friends

‘And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. ‘ Job 2:13

You gotta have friends.

Friends. You ever wonder why the TV show was so popular? It was more than the humor and the acting. It was the portrayal of friendship we saw on the screen. To be clear, there are a number of problems with the content of the show, but one thing that always shined was that they were a tight group. They had rough spells from time to time, but they knew that they had someone who would be “there for” them. We all want friends we can count on.

Job had three friends who came to him in his time of pain. Just like the TV show, some of their ideas and words would prove to not be entirely accurate, encouraging, or God-honoring, but one thing you have to give these guys is that they were there for him.

The preceding verses say that they made an appointment to come to him and that when they saw him they tore their clothes and wept over his plight. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. Think about that for a minute. SEVEN DAYS AND NIGHTS – ON THE GROUND. These men were dedicated to their friend.

We also see that they were willing and able to sit silently. Job had been through a lot, and he was not out of it yet. The guys were smart enough to know that sometimes when someone is in pain, the only thing you can do is be there for them. Words aren’t sufficient. The pain can’t be imagined. When you can’t know what the other person is feeling then all you can do is make sure they know you are there for them. These were those kind of guys.

Nobody is perfect. I have never gone through this book intentionally before, and I know that these guys are not going to be everything that Job needed them to be, but you have to admit that they were friends who cared. I have some good friends out there that I care about, and I am seeing these three friends of Job as real examples of how a friend should act when their friend is in pain.

Job 2:10

‘But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. ‘ Job 2:10

Started reading the book of Job this morning and I plan to get back in the habit of posting here about what I am getting from my reading. Hoping it will be an encouragement.

So, in Job 2:10 we see Job telling his wife she is speaking foolishness. At this point in Job’s story, I think we need to look at what has just happened. Job and his wife just lost their wealth, their servants (I believe these were not slaves, but valued employees), and worst of all, their ten children. Right after that, Job is struck down with boils from head to toe.

Since the Bible tells us that Job is a man of integrity who acted as much as possible as a blameless man, I think we need to give Job a little leeway here rather then think he is saying his wife is crazy. I think he saw her pain and while he felt the same pain, he also was still trying to lead his wife in her walk with God by pointing out to her that her words were an affront to God.

Just as Job sacrificed for his children, In his pain, Job was trying to take care of his wife. Some translations say that he said she was acting like a godless woman. He was just trying to help her see that despite the circumstances, God is still with is.

Difficult times in life will hit us all. Tragic loss makes it very hard for us to see God. Seemingly endless trials leave us feeling alone and weary. No matter how dark it is, God is there and He wants to bring His light in to your life. We can expect bad to come with the good, but we can know that we have the love of God to carry us through it!

Listen Up!

This week was a short week at work. I enjoyed a long weekend with my wife to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and that landed me back in the office on Wednesday morning with a pretty hefty pile of things to catch up on and a pretty meeting-heavy day. The goal was survival! No time for taking time, and too much to do to spend time thinking about things.

Yeah. That was not going to work. When you are in a position of leadership in an organization, you need take time where it needs to be taken. If you don’t then things are going to get missed and it is going to hurt your team.

Not every conversation this week had significant weight, but there were several that were very important, and a couple of those seemed pretty unimportant at first listen. I won’t say that all of the conversations were fun, but they were significant in one way or another.

A couple of things to remember about conversations at work:

  • Your superiors want to know you are listening. Give them the attention they need to gain confidence that you are on top of the situations that concern them.
  • Your team wants to know you are listening. The concerns they have may not always be pivotal to the department mission or goals, but they are important to them. Make them feel valued.

One last thing. Work conversations have a time and place. At work! Take care not to bring too much home with you. You need a break from work, and your family might not need to hear about it either. When we bring work home, it makes them feel like they don’t matter as much as they should. Keep things in balance.

I’d like to say I have this under control, but let’s face it, we all have room to grow! Listening to those around us will give us those opportunities. Just listen!

Goodbye 2018

Another lap around the sun has taken place and we find ourselves again staring at the fresh landscape of a new year.  Look at that!  Still in the package and everything!  I hope it is easier to open than 2018 was.  You just gotta hate that hard plastic shell…  Whoops. I digressed!

Over the last several years I have tried to take time over the dwindling days of the year to reflect a little bit and to cast a vision for myself for the coming year.  I don’t like “resolutions”, but I have tried to set goals, and some of them actually have been accomplished.  I’d like to think that a couple of them have even helped me be a better man, husband, and dad.  These reflective moments are good for us.  Hindsight is foundational for future endeavors.  I think I heard that from some semi-intelligent fella.

Hindsight is foundational for future endeavors. – Tom Tanner

I guess it is time to get to it.

2018 was a good year, but a challenging one as well.  Two kids in college full-time out of state, some vehicle issues that were more than just a little bit trying, some struggles on the professional front (admittedly partly of my own making), starting a new part-time job, and a more than a fair share of hectic schedule just to name a few.  As a result, I have been feeling pretty stretched and tired.  It is probably not that much different from the struggles you have faced.  We all have our own load to carry.

Over the last month or so, I have been really working on getting myself better organized.  I spend more time writing things down so I don’t forget them.  I find myself prioritizing my lists so I get the big things done all the time. I find myself scrutinizing the list to make sure that I am not only getting things done, but that I am getting the right things done in the right time frame.  I am doing a lot of writing!

I have developed my own little planner for the work week as well as a back-up planner for evenings and weekends.  They are not perfect, but they have been effective for me, and I think that I will need them even more as 2019 dawns on me tomorrow.

This is going to be another big year with a lot of challenges.  I have a daughter graduating from college, a son entering his senior year, and I am even going back to school to complete my degree!  We have a couple of trips planned, a vehicle issue on the horizon, and those are just the things I know about!  There could be a whole lot more by the time I sit down in 365 days to write the wrap-up for this year.

So, as is my custom, it is time to draw back the curtain to show the #wordoftheyear.  That word I will use as my reminder of where I need to keep my focus to keep moving in the direction I believe God is sending me.  So, without any further ado…


Not exactly inspiring, is it?  Can’t say I felt a goosebump when I picked it.  Had some other options with a little more “panache” like “Determined”, “Purpose”, “Driven”, or even just taking a minimalist approach and going with “No!”  I could have chosen anything, but when it comes down to it, I really feel like this is vital for me in the coming year.  There is gong to be a lot on my plate, and I don’t mean food.

So, in my #Schedule, I will be adjusting the following items (and probably about 500 more I don’t know about yet) into my daily and weekly routines:

Time with God – I need this.  I managed over the past year to only miss one day of reading my Bible, but I would be lying if I said that I put a ton of effort into it.  Some days I was checking the box, but other days I was clinging to a life ring.  I want to make this year different by scheduling 10-15 minutes every day to reading a short passage and journaling what God is telling me.  Will I get a perfect year?  We will see!

Time with my wife – I need this.  God gave me an amazing woman that He knew I would need to be that perfect complement to my life.  We are individuals, but we are one.  I may have the job to lead our home, but I do it with her at my side.  We have faced some tough stuff together, and we are not done!  The kids are one step closer to taking their big steps, and I need to make sure I am giving her the quality time she deserves to keep us connected for our next chapter.

Time for friends – I need this.  The past year I have been more withdrawn, and I feel it.  I have pulled back from people, events, and other opportunities to engage with people.  I have done some of it because I have been busy and I know other people are busy too, so I don’t want to be a burden, but I do have to ask myself if that has at least sometimes been a clever excuse.  I need to reconnect with some of the guys in my life.

Time to learn – I need this.  I have been stepping back from reading a lot of fiction and have been trying to read books that actually helps me grow.  Don’t get me wrong. We have a need for entertainment too, and that is why we have Netflix!  Just kidding.  I am going to try to read at least one good book per month on personal development, leadership, spiritual growth, marriage, mentoring, etc.  Combining that with the materials for college, and you can see how I will need to have that scheduled appropriately to get it all in.

Time to work – I need this.  It is more than just paying the bills though.  I have a home that needs some repairs. I have the desire to go out to my woodshop and roll around in man-glitter.  I need to have things to do that make me feel like I have accomplished something.

Time to be still – I need this.  I know it sounds funny, but I will need to schedule time in to do nothing.  “Nothing” does not mean couch-surfing either.  Nothing means to just be still and let my mind dwell on God in prayer.  This needs to become a daily discipline for me.  It is more than just a devotional time.  This is probably the area I need to focus on most over the next year.

There are a lot of other things that will make the list on my schedule.  I pray that by the end of the year I will be able to look back and see where I had a good year because I took the time to schedule things.

What is your plan for 2019?  I’d love to hear it!  I hope your year will be one committed to #RelentlessGrowth.

Make It Right

I like home improvement shows on TV. If I had the time and money to do it, I would possibly become some type of groupie for the likes of Norm Abram, Tommy Silva, Chip Gaines, and my personal favorite, Mike Holmes. These guys are masters at what they do, and I would love to learn a few things from them.

What could I learn?

Norm – What a craftsman! The skills he has in making furniture and cabinets is nothing short of amazing. I loved watching him on the New Yankee Workshop on Saturday afternoons. His deft skill at transforming wood into beautiful creations always left me with my jaw hanging. I know that I can give some credit to the miracle of television, but seriously, did this guy ever make a single cut wrong? If so, I never saw it!

Tommy – I think this guy could build a house with a salad fork and a spaghetti noodle. Tommy has such an encyclopedic knowledge base when it comes to construction! I have watched him work with steel, concrete, wood, brick, metal, plumbing, and drywall, and he seems just as comfortable with one as he is with another. He never seems to get overwhelmed by a project. He just reaches into his bag of tricks and makes something amazing.

Chip – First of all, I have never seen anyone who looks like he enjoys what he does more than Chip. What a nut! Second, I see a guy who has taken what he loves and has turned it into a career that expands and diversifies, but still keeps him doing what he loves – making old things new.

Then there is Mike – Mike has had a few different shows on television now, but I first saw him when he was doing Holmes Makes It Right. On this show he would go into a house where someone had started a renovation on their home that had gone horrible wrong. (Usually through a shady, inexperienced contractor) He would spend the first half of the show listening to the homeowner tell their story, digging through the project to find all of the mistakes and pointing them out to the camera, and ripping all of the bad work out to get to a clean starting point where he would begin to “make it right.

When it comes to home improvement projects at my house, I do not do a lot of furniture building or major construction. I also am not planning on flipping my renovating it for a resale. I am more involved in little projects to make it a little more habitable or fixing something that has broken. I have learned things from all of these guys that have helped with the situations I encounter in my little projects.

One of the things I deal with on a regular basis is the fact that my house was not built by professionals. The old Manor was put together over 100 years ago, and on her best days, she has some issues that need to be addressed. On others… Well, we just remind ourselves that we do love living where we do, and how thankful we are for the ability to own a home!

Over the last 100 years, our house has seen a number of changes in wiring, siding, plumbing, additions, etc. Over 100 years, wood has rotted and been replace, concrete has cracked and been patched, foundations have settles, and walls have shifted. When putting shelves up, the joke is always, “Do you want it to look right or do you want it to be level?” Yep. It is just that bad sometimes.

I think it is for that reason that I like Mike Holmes so much. His specialty of taking what is wrong and making it right again intrigues me. I see things in my house that need to be set right, and some of them are just not possible in my skill set or financial situation, but I still want them to be right! So, I have become pretty good at “fudging” it.

“Fudging It” – The art of crafting a facade that will fool the eye into thinking that things are as they should be while covering the fact that things are actually anything but the way they should be. (See also: Religion, Rationalization, Fooling Yourself, Wasted Effort, Whitewashed Tomb…Get the idea?)

When I go into a project at my house, I look for materials that will cast my abilities in the best possible light. Lately I have been enjoying using distressed, salvaged lumber and leaving it unfinished and raw. This method covers up the occasional mis-measured board, or poorly beveled cut. It looks intentionally flawed, and therefore, acceptable! Yep. I like this.

It also makes me look like I am a better wood worker than I am. I am improving, but I have a long way to go. I am learning new things, trying new tools and methods, and I am seeing results, but it will take a lot of practice before I gain the skill of the icons mentioned above. I realize that my work, while not terrible, is not perfect. I make no bones about it. I’m not satisfied with what I can do. I want to be like Mike, Norm, Tommy, and Chip!

So, it will take study, trial and error, and a #RELENTLESS determination to keep disciplining myself in the methods until it becomes second nature to me. Who knows? Maybe I will be on HGTV one day! (Not likely, but we can all have a dream…)

I started reading through the book of Romans the other day. Paul does such a great job of expressing our need for God’s righteousness in our lives. He explains our situation in sin, the price required for our sin, and the payment of that sin by Christ. Because Christ was willing to lay down His life for us, His righteousness was given to us, and we are free from the penalty! This is the message of the Gospel!

I loved what Paul said in Chapter 1, verse 17:

This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” – Romans 1:17 NLT

Mankind can be compared to my old house. There was a day where the walls were straight and the floors were level. There was a day when the wood was not rotten, and the roof had no leaks. It was new, and it was as it was intended to be.

When God put Adam and Eve in the garden, they were perfect, just as God intended them to be. After they made their decision to push aside that perfection in favor of a desire for self above God, the decaying power of sin began to take over their lives. They were perfect, but then they were dying and in need of intervention in order to have a relationship with God.

God, in His wisdom, grace, and mercy, provided a way to keep a relationship with Him, and extended it to all mankind. That way is His Son. The promise of a Savior was given to mankind and came to fruition in Jesus who lived a sinless life and died a sinner’s death so we could live forever.

That death “made us right” in His eyes. Our sins are no longer counted against us. Am I perfect? Nope. Not even close, but through Christ’s death, my leaky, rotted life is covered and strengthened by His righteousness. My flaws are still there and can be seen, but I don’t need to be ashamed by them. They are now a testimony of how God can take the damaged and make it whole again. God #makesusright.

The project that is my life will go on until I die. As I learn more about how God wants me to live, uncover more of the things in me that need to change, and give control of those areas to Him, I will be re-made into what He wanted me to be. It takes time, and it may look like nothing is happening at times, but He is working His master plan to make me whole.

If you want to experience that same renovation in your life, reach out to God. Admit your sin and need for Him. Lay what you have at His feet and ask Him to take control of it and to change you for His glory. Get yourself acquainted with His plan by reading His Word. Find some teachers who will help you learn how to discipline yourself and provide accountability.

I think one of the most important things you can do is to then take the big step to tell others how He is making you right. Share the struggles you have and praise Him for how He is giving you victory over sin, guilt, and shame. When we are willing students of God and put ourselves in His hand for transformation, we can be sure that He will #makeusright.