College Devotionals - Week 1

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.

--Marcel Proust

Sometimes the very things we need to see, the smile of a child or the serenity of a sunset, are right before us, but our eyes and our lives are too distracted, too crowded to see them.  We try to create the opportunities to see such things, yet it seems to no avail.

Perhaps the challenge is in having new eyes.  The apostle Paul wrote, . . . now I see dimly as in a mirror, but then I will see face to face.  (1 Corinthians 13:12)  It is the presence of Christ in our lives that gives us new eyes to see.  And that is the discovery of faith.

Have a great week,

Tommy

January 19, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 2

Be still and know that I am God . . .
(Psalm 46:10 NIV)

If your calendar is anything like mine, and I suspect it is, it is filled with things that need to be done, important dates to remember, and appointments to keep.  Some of them are fun filled items like field trips at school and birthday parties.  Other items are a little mundane like doctor's appointments and staff meetings.

All in all they represent various aspects of our life—work, home, family, friends.  Each of them have a different importance at different times in our life, but they are all part of who we are.

Today as you go about fulfilling all those things on the calendar, right not add this item—time with God—it will be one of the best things you can do.  And you will become more fully the person God created you to be.

In Christ,

Tommy

April 20, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 3

I've been thinking of friends these days.  I have a friend in another city I call often.  My friend always has a kind and encouraging word.  Sometimes I call just to hear that reassuring voice.  Friends are an important part of our lives.  It seems we make a lot of friends through college.  Some of them will remain close to us throughout the years and their presence at significant moments in our life will enrich our life.

In one of his letters Paul writes,

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.
(2 Thess. 3:16)

That was Paul's prayer for his friends.   What would your prayer for your friends contain?  That their needs be fulfilled, that they would find peace or hope, that their questions would be answered?

I suspect we could come up with many things our prayers for our friends would contain. Perhaps the important thing is that we pray for our friends.  Friends are a gift.  They enrich our life.  They help share the joys and the sorrows we face.  They make life a little bit sweeter.  Pray for your friends today and give God thanks for them

Have a great week!

Tommy

September 25, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 4

This morning I, along with all the other dads, was invited for coffee and donuts with my daughter's 3rd grade class.  It was fun to be in the classroom.  Being there brought back to mind my third grade year.  We didn't have tables, we sat in desks.  No air conditioning was available, just a long line of windows we opened when it go too hot.  And, no, I did not walk five miles up hill both ways to school!!  I rode with my mother, who was my third grade teacher for half of the day.

I remembered going outside to play and the friends who were in my class.  When I was in third grade they called math, "new math."  They still call math, "new math," today but it looks nothing like the math I did in third grade.

In my daughter's class we played a game called Sparkle in which you spell words around a circle.  If the person next to you spells the last letter in the word, you then say "Sparkle" and the person on the other side of you has to sit down.  And so it goes until only one is left standing.  So today, I "sparkled' my daughter.  (Sorry, Kate)  I think last year she "sparkled" me

It was a great morning and I'm glad I went.  Life is filled with wondrous moments all around us.  Those moments enhance our life and bring great joy to us.  Enjoy those moments whenever and wherever they happen. 

Jesus said I have come that (you) may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10)

Have a great week in the Lord!!

Tommy

October 3, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 5

As I write this evening, I am watching both the ALCS Championship series between the Indians and the Red Sox as well as a college football game between South Florida and Rutgers.  It's difficult to give all my attention to either one.   It is obvious, however, that the players involved in these two games are deeply committedto success in their particular endeavors.

There are those times in life when our attention is divided and not clearly given to any particular activity.  At other times, we are so focused, it seems nothing else could possibly be happening around us.  The capacity to discern those times when we must be focused and those times when we can be less focused is very important.

Jesus understood the difference between the two.  Luke records that "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." (Luke 9:51 NRSV)  The term, "set his face" is a reference to the determination of Jesus to fulfill his God-given purpose.

Many things will not demand our full attention.  Fulfilling God's purpose for our lives happens only as we set our lives and our hearts in tune with God.

May God's grace be yours.

Tommy

October 19, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 6

A fresh coat of paint can really make a place look new.  We've been doing some painting recently, in the youth rooms upstairs.   And new paint really does make a difference.  All the blemishes, the scratches, the marks are gone.  The room is much more inviting and it even feels good just to be in that room now.   The room is up to date.   I think you would like what has been done.

Though we can't just put a new coat of paint on our lives to make it all look better, to hide all the marks and blemishes, we can have a new start. And that's even better than a fresh coat of paint.

Eugene Peterson captures the words of that familiar passage from the Corinthians by saying,  Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with Christ . . ., is created new. The old life is gone; a new life begins.! (2 Cor 5:17)

It is that newness of Christ that makes us the wonderful people God created us to be.  As you continue to search out the person God created you to be, remember the newness God brings to your life this day.

Have a great week!

Tommy

October 26, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 7

I remember a song from my youth that offered encouragement and hope to me in the younger years of my Christian life.  It began with the words, When I think I'm going under, part the waters Lord.  Those days when it feels we just can't get it all together; the days when we feel like we are bobbing up and down in the waves of life's ocean are tough days.  They come in some form to all of us at some time.

But if we will call out to God, God will hear us and respond.  The last line of that song has these words, Touch my life, calm the raging storm in me. God desires to calm the raging storms of your life and lead you through to the hope that tomorrow brings.

When the storms rage through the fabric of your life, let God touch your life with his calming presence.  May God bless you this week.

Tommy

November 9, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 8

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11 NRSV)

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  The suspense of waiting to open presents with family and friends still excites.   There's nothing quite like ripping into a package to reveal its contents and to shout with joy, &quotThat's what I've always wanted."   As I have grown older I have found even greater joy in giving gifts to family and friends.  It is quite true that I sometimes go overboard in buying fits for my family this time of the year.

I remember a year not long ago in which I was shopping for my wife.  I went into the store at the mall where a nice salesperson assisted me in finding the right gift.  Fortunately, my wife had made a list of a few things she would like to have.  But salesperson pointed out some other ideas and before I knew it I had selected not only what as on my wife's list but some other very nice gifts as well.  I was lucky to get out of their without applying for one of their store credit cards!!

Matthew's gospel tells the story of the wise men bringing their gifts to Jesus.  And in giving they found great joy.

We don't always have to give gifts to find the joy of giving.  We can give our time, our talents and our service.  This year our family will spend an hour ringing the bells for Salvation Army.  It's only 60 minutes yet it is a time of service I value and hope our children will value as well.

So this Christmas, enjoy the giving and receiving of gifts.  And remember, throughout the year, there are opportunites for you to give that will make a difference in the life of someone you may or may not know.

Have a great Christmas!

Tommy

December 13, 2007

College Devotionals - Week 9

T. S. Eliot wrote, To arrive where you are, to get where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.  It's a heartening thought that contains some pearls of truth.  For years we have been taught that anything worth doing demands our time and our work.  The adage, No pain, no gain, rings in our ear.

Certainly in many of your courses, your attentiveness to study and reading is a requirement.  It's not glamorous, and sometimes requires that you say no to other activities you might prefer to be part of.  But duty calls.

There are some similarities to life as well.  We could choose to follow the crowds.  It sometimes appears to be an easier path.  We could choose to turn a deaf ear to the call of our heart to engage in activities that make a difference in life, even if that difference is noticed by very few.  We could resign ourselves to the thinking that we just don't want to go through all the trouble to accomplish what we know we can accomplish.

In Matthew 7:14 Jesus said The way is hard that leads to life, and those that find it are few.  These words of Christ may at first sound harsh, but
remember that the life of which Jesus speaks is a life "abundant and free." It is a life filled with purpose and meaning and direction.  It is a life in which you life out your calling from God and in doing so you find greater joy, peace, and happiness than this world could ever offer.

As you begin a new semester of courses, and though the way before you may be filled with challenges, remember that God is with you in all you do.  That's a promise that will never fail.

God's blessings and peace,

Tommy

January 4, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 10

David, my son, and I watched our basketball team play on TV tonight--The Louisville Cardinals.  GO CARDS!!  They won and had one of their best games of the year.  We both were glad.  I always get nervous watching my team play.  Whether it's the Cards or some other team I favor, it can at times be nerve racking.  This past weekend the two teams I had hoped would win in the NFL both lost.  There have been times I have watched the Cards lose as well.

I much prefer the feeling of winning.  There are some good lessons to be learned in winning and in losing.  For one, there is something to be learned after each game-win or lose.  Life is a lot like that.  Each day, regardless of its expectations or outcomes has something to teach us.  Look for the lesson in this day.

Another lesson is that it's only a game.  That's an important truth to cling to.  In sports, there will be a tomorrow, win or lose.  The lesson here is keep life in perspective.  Cheer for your team, celebrate when they win, be sad when they lose.  Life is so much more than a game.  And there are so many more important things-your family, your health, your relationship to God to name a few.

Finally, as our Youth Minister, Dave, has taught many of us, "Be the Best!" In other words, pour yourself into what you do.  Pour yourself into life. My daughter has a picture on her door that she drew.  It has three words-"Live, Laugh, Love."  That's a good start to being your best in life.

Jesus told us I came so (you) can have real and eternal life, more and better life than (you) ever dreamed of.  (John 10:10, The Message).

Have a great week,

Tommy

January 17, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 11

When I woke up this morning there was snow on the ground.  Everything outside is white.  It's only about an inch but the biggest snow this year.  The kids are out of school.  It's amazing to go outside.  Everything is absolutely silent.  There is a clean smell in the air, and the white snow provides a blanket of seeming innocence to the landscape.  It's a beautiful sight.  I would like to just sit and take it all in for a while.

Things will change soon enough.  By this afternoon much of the snow will be gone and we will all be about our regular routines.  But for this morning, anyway, the world around me appears to be a winter wonderland.

All this brings to my mind two life lessons.  The first is this—there is a beauty around us all the time, so take the time to enjoy it.  Sometimes it just takes us looking with new and fresh eyes and the world around us and we will see the beauty that has so often escapes our view.

The second is this—each day brings new opportunities and adventures, embrace them as God's gift for the new day.  Of course, not every day will have a snow filled adventure.  But each day will bring opportunities your way as God works in your life helping you to become the person God created you to be.

Enjoy the day, throw a snowball, if you have snow; take in the sights; share a cappuccino with a friend.  Today is God's gift to you.

Blessings,

Tommy

January 22, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 12

As we had a staff meeting in my office recently, Keith commented, "You never know what kind of music you're going to hear in Tommy's office."  It's true. Somedays it's country, other days Christmas music, and here recently classical music.  I like a variety.

It's good to have variety in life.  It keeps us fresh and alert.  But variety also helps to keep us in touch with those who may be different from us.  One of the things I love about Lexington Avenue Baptist Church is our diversity.  We are not all the same.  We each approach theology and the spiritual life a little bit differently.

In college you are immersed in such diversity--not only about the theological but about life in general.  That diversity can help enrich your faith and deepen it.  You may not agree with all the thoughts and ideas you will be confronted it.  But I think you will discover a fuller and deeper faith in the process.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)

Have a great week in the Lord.

God's blessings and peace,

Tommy

February 8, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 13

We've been celebrating birthdays at our home recently.  Our son had a birthday in January, our niece had a birthday on Valentine's Day, our daughter had a birthday this week, our nephew has a birthday next week, and my wife has a birthday at the end of March.  I've had birthday cake and ice cream, carried in balloons, picked up wrapping paper, and blown out candles. It's been quite a fun time.

I've also been doing several funerals lately as well.  Funerals, in their own ways, are the celebration of a life lived and a love shared.  Odd, isn't it, how even in the midst of sorrow there can be a sense of celebration.

Life is filled with celebrations and sorrows.  In the midst of them all I have discovered the gift of God's presence.  Truth is each day is filled with the gift of God's presence for your life.  Look around today and you'll discover that gift.

Jesus said, "I'll be with you . . ., day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."  (Matthew 28:20 The Message)

Have a great week!!

Tommy

February 26, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 14

Kate, David, and I are watching Scooby Doo tonight before bedtime.  It's an episode that features the Harlem Globetrotters—Meadowlark Lemon, Curly, and Bobby Joe.  If you don't recognize those names, that's alright.  Scooby Doo goes back to the late 60s and early 70s.  It is a classic!!

There are some stories and characters that never lose their appeal.  They are, in other words, timeless.  That's the case with the story of God's love.  It is timeless.  No matter how many times it is told, or how many different ways it is told, the story still connects with our lives.  After the resurrection, Jesus told his disciples "You are witnesses!"  (See Luke 24)  In other words they had a story to tell.

We've got a story to tell as well. No one can tell it quite the way you are able to tell it..  When you get the chance to let someone see the difference God makes in your life, don't hesitate to be a witness.

Have a great week!!

Tommy

March 27, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 15

It has been raining off and on all day today.  The ground is pretty wet already so I'm sure that some areas will have some water problems.  It's a reminder that our problems come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.  The truth is each of us has problems of some kind or another.

It's how we handle those problems, how those problems handle us, that makes the difference in who we are.  Maybe it is about character.  Sometimes character is shaped by the problems of our life and at other times it is our character that shapes how we approach our problems.

Anne Frank said, Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

Character is important and the good news is that it is something we can work on each day.  Jesus said, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16 NRSV)

Have a great week!!

Tommy

April 11, 2008

College Devotionals - Week 16

The year 2008 was the 100th Anniversary of the classic summer song, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."  (Take Me Out to the Ball Game)  During the seventh inning stretch at baseball games the song is heard through stadiums across the country as fans join in singing this wonderful melody.  It was written by Jack Norworth in 1908 who didn'tattend his first Major League baseball game until 1940. The lyrics were put to music by Albert Von Tilzer.  It became an immediate hit. 

That songs like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" have an enduring quality about them should come as no surprise.  Some of the songs we sing in worship have been around even longer.  John Newton was the captain of a slave ship. His life was transformed, little by little, by the grace of Christ at workin his life.  Though many do not know his name or the story of his life, we do know the words of the song John Newton penned in 1772, over 225 years ago.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace has been sung by people from all types of musical ability in all kinds of locations.  The sound of God's amazing grace calls out to each of us in a melody uniquely our own.  Perhaps that is why this simple song means so much to so many.

Several weeks before John Newton died he said to a friend, My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:  that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior. The words of the song may be over 225 years old, but they capture the timeless truth of God's love for you and for me. 

Have a great week!

Tommy

April 21, 2008