Archive for May, 2011


In my work role as an internal reliability consultant for my company I interface with everyone from the senior leadership of the company to the newly hired workers on the plant floor.  At our headquarters we speak in terms of “the 30,000 foot view” or “understanding the big picture”.  On the shop floor we talk about dealing with the issues of the day and working in the real world.  At times it can seem like the two views are not related at all, that they are not even from the same company.  Yet both of these perspectives reflect a portion of the reality.  To be successful as a company we must be able to view and meld both perspectives, as well as others, to build the most accurate picture of who we are, where we are going, and how to get to where we need to be.

I have had this thought of perspective repeatedly reinforced over the past couple of weeks.  As I flew from Atlanta to Memphis last week I could see 3 distinct paths that tornados took across the landscape below.  It was literally a 30,000 foot view.  My heart went out to the people that had lived in the path of those tornados and the loss that they suffered.  And I thought of those who had lost loved ones and I was sorrowful.  But then the Lord spoke to my heart… “This life, be it 5, 10, 50, or 100 years, is but a blink in light of eternity.”  This additional perspective makes a big difference.  For those who have a living relationship with the Father through His Son, Jesus, it is a life-altering difference.

A couple days later I read a similar sentiment in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4 verses 17 & 18.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

My prayer today is that each of us will draw closer to the Father so that we can catch a glimpse from His eternal perspective and that in so doing we will be changed a little more into who He has created us to be.

Have a blessed day and be a blessing!

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Our daughter Christin recently led a group of college students on a short-term mission trip back to Chattanooga, Tennessee where we lived for 18 years and she went to middle and high school.   Planning for the trip took about a year.  She arranged for the group of 32 students and chaperones to help at a children’s home, a homeless shelter, a nursing home, and a rescue mission.  What they were unable to plan for was the timing of the tornados that ripped across the southeast 5 days before they are arrived.  Chattanooga took a severe hit from the storms.  One of the areas hit was Cherokee Valley not far from Christin’s school.  Here are two of Christin’s stories from their trip. 

When we arrived in Chattanooga we began to follow our plan by going to the ministries that we had already arranged to help.  Since we had a large group we split into two teams and met with the leaders at the nursing home and children’s home.  All of our team was really motivated and we rapidly completed the tasks that were given to us.  At the children’s home there were a lot of tree limbs and clean up from the storm, but nothing like what we were to see a little later.

Because we made such good progress in our tasks, the suggestion was made to provide some storm relief in Cherokee Valley where a tornado had actually touched down and destroyed many homes.  So the next day we split up again with a group heading to Cherokee Valley the next afternoon.  When we got there we met at the small local church that had just barely been spared.  We met with the pastor and offered our services.  He was cautious at first and only gave us some “safe” jobs.  As we earned his trust he took us to an area of the valley that had been badly damaged. 

It’s hard to describe the damage and the overwhelming sense of loss.  On the side of the hill was a home that had sustained some damage, a little lower down was a home that was about half gone and across the street was a concrete pad and some cinder blocks where a trailer home had been a week prior.  In the matter of a few seconds these peoples’ lives had been radically changed, in some cases forever.  It was very sobering.  Our instructions were simple.  Pick up whatever we found and put it into one of three piles.  Anything wood that would burn was one pile, whatever was metal was a second, and anything that was of a personal nature into the third.  While the scope of damage made this daunting, we simply laid our hands on the first thing that was within reach and we began.

With 7 willing souls we made better progress than we initially expected.  Before long we had the grounds around what had been a home sifted into the three piles, but we had a problem.  The front wall of the home had fallen over and was covering material that we couldn’t reach.  The wall was essentially intact so we all got together and began lifting.  Although it was hard we were able to flip the wall over and continue our work.  About this time the owner of the home arrived – Ms. Bryson, the “mayor” of the valley.  Ms Bryson is 86 years young and I hope I am as spry at 86 as she is.  Ms. Bryson was called the mayor for the simple fact that she had lived in the valley longer than anyone else having arrived in 1949.  And for the entire time, 62 years, she lived in the same home… the one that was essentially a pile of ruble now.

We said we were sorry for her home, but we were glad she was unharmed.  Then she told us how she came to be alive.  Even though she had lived in the valley the longest she was by no means one of the old folks.  She said that it has been her habit to visit the old people in the valley to sit with them and provide the care that she could.  On the day of the storms she left her home at 4:00 pm to go sit with an elderly gentleman of 89 years.  By 4:30 pm her home was no more.  But by the grace of God she would have been in her home and in all likelihood would not have survived. 

She went on to relate about another one of her neighbors in the valley.  This friend was actually in her home when the storm struck.  She had been reading her bible and had knealt down to pray when her house was blown away.  She was lifted by the tornado and carried outside, but she was not seriously injured.  When the neighbor went back into her house looking for anything that she could salvage she found her bible with a nail through it holding it to the floor so that it did not blow away.   It was open to chapter 1 of Job where she read – The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord

As Ms Bryson was finishing this story Kara, one of our team, came up with a bible she found in the midst of Ms Bryson’s home.  It turned out to be the bible of her deceased daughter.   What a blessing to Ms Bryson and a blessing for us to be there to help and celebrate with her.

Well after these encouraging stories we moved on to help in the clean up with renewed enthusiasm.  Ms Bryson had a cinder block storage building against the hill at the back of her property.  It had been knocked over but it wasn’t shattered.  (BTW – I found what I now consider one of the neatest tools ever – a sledgehammer.  I think a sledgehammer would come in handy during exam week for stress relief.)  With it we made short work of the cinder blocks.  And under the walls we found TREASURE… we found glass momentos that weren’t shattered, pictures, and other momentos.  In the midst of all the devastation we joined with Ms Bryson in celebration of His Grace… for the sparing her and her neighbor when by all rights they should have died, for providing these two bibles, and for new friends who were expressing their love in a tangible way by helping the people of the community begin to recover from their loss.

Christin has several other wonderful stories from her trip.  The point that I take from this is that the most important ability is often Availability.  These young people made themselves available to the Lord and specifically asked for Him to use them.  And He honored their request.  When we are obedient we can be confident that God will use us in HIS ways to accomplish HIS marvelous purpose.

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A Walk with Cancer

A small group of 15 of us within our company at locations across North America joined together in prayer from March 9 – April 24.  We shared stories of God’s faithfulness, we looked at scripture, and we strove to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the places He put us during this time.  This blog is an outcome of that time. 

This blog is a means to continue sharing the faith with friends and co-workers.  For a few weeks I will post some of the more memorable postings from the our Easter 2011 journey.  I will also add new content. 

The posting below was from Day 3 in our Easter journey and describes the faith of a young woman battling cancer.

I took off yesterday to work a leadership conference at our church.  It was very exciting to see that many leaders, 2700, from all around the world gather to learn about how to more effectively minister.  I worked as a volunteer – meeting, greeting, and helping wherever I could.  I feel like I have 60 new friends from the many conversations that I was able to have with folks.  

I believe one conversation in particular was God-ordained for our prayer group.  The young woman, Jennifer, is 30 years old with a bright smile and dark curly hair.  As we spoke she alluded to how God has been so present for her especially through her treatments.  I asked and she shared that she is a cancer survivor with a year of clean readings.  I asked her long term prognosis and she said that her doctors told her it would return in 8 – 10 years, but she was totally convinced that the Lord who has brought her this far will see her through whatever lies ahead.  I asked about her beautiful curly hair (I once had a head full of curly hair too… once long ago it seems) and she told me it was one of God’s gifts to her AFTER the treatments.  She lost almost all her hair, but when it came back it was curly.  She had never had curly hair before.  

Now all of this was greatly encouraging for me, but then she got to the part that I think is for all of us.  She said that as she went through the treatments she continued to work.  At some point during the process her co-worker in the next booth told her.  “I just want you to know that your faith and strength have been such an encouragement to me.  They have made me look at my life and I realize I want what you have.  So I have gone to church and I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour”.  WOW!  And Jennifer then told me, “I don’t really want to go through the cancer and treatments again, but if God can use me to bring 3 – 5 people to know him through my cancer, then I think that is a great thing.”  A double WOW!

Lord Jesus, give us the kind of faith that says “Yes Lord, No matter what the cost”.  Give us the kind of witness Lord that causes people to look to You.  Give us the hope Lord that allows us to see the bigger picture through Your eyes.

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The Beginning

A group of friends from work decided to commit to one another to pray for our company and co-workers.  This blog is an outcome from that effort.  While this began as a Lenten discipline leading up to Easter 2011, several of us found so much encouragement in the shared journey that we have decided to continue to pray with and for one another.  Below is the initial posting that we shared.  I will also add a few other posts from that time, but for the most part I will share new material.

I have no idea who else might read this, but I hope that whoever joins us will either be encouraged in their walk with Christ or will be intrigued to enough to seek the One that we acknowledge as God Incarnate – Jesus Christ. 

This is our first posting from March 9

Good Day to You,

A few weeks ago as I was praying, I sensed that I was to make a special prayer effort during the lead up to Easter.  I am going to be more specific about praying for our company, or more precisely the persons within our company in their many different places and needs.  As I have allowed the idea to take shape I have thought of each of you.  I am asking you to consider partnering with me in this season of prayer.  This will begin Wednesday, March 9 and go through Easter.

Since I accepted this “nudge” from the Lord, several things have occurred which give me specific items to pray for.  The CP machine shutdown and the many persons affected by it…The announcements of significant amounts of other market downtime which reflects the difficult markets we live in…Labor -Management discord at several of our sites with P and FF being two with very specific needs at this moment…Health struggles by some of our co-workers…And over all this is the continual need of many that we work with to know the love and forgiveness that our Father offers in and through His Son, Jesus.

Here is what I am planning to do and I offer it up to you as potential ideas for you to consider.

I am going to pray a hedge of protection around the persons working in our company that they would be safe and live lives that bring them to meet Jesus…before it is too late.
I will pray for the leaders of our company and our mills, that they would have the wisdom and guidance to make good decisions.  
I will pray for those who are experiencing life disruptions because of the difficult work situations such as mill closings or multiplied workloads.  As many of you have probably seen, these life disruptions are often the mechanism the Lord uses to get our eyes on Him.
I am going to lift up the persons within the company who are battling illness, difficulty, and loss.
I will lift up my brothers and sisters in the Lord that we might be faithful, consistent, obedient children of our heavenly Father.
There will be times when this prayer is combined with fasting.  (This is completely dependent upon each individual and what they are able and feel lead to do.)

I do not want this to feel in any way like compulsion on my part.  If this is not something you are comfortable with, I respect and accept that.  This is going out as a blind copy initially since some of us will likely not be in a position to commit to this at this time.

I do not mind you asking others if they would like to participate, however I do have a couple of specific requests.  First, I believe that I, and whoever participates, must be respectful of our company’s rules and guidelines (to the extent they do not violate a clear writ of scripture).  That being the case, this will probably be the only e-mail sent during normal work hours.  In the future I will post in the evenings or early morning.  I would ask that you not let this activity interfere with your work either.  Second, I would ask that you prayerfully consider before you invite someone else to join.  This endeavor is specifically for mature believers.  

In closing I want to share a scripture that really impacted me the other day.  I bought a very small bible for traveling so I can have it with me at all times.  It is an NLT translation.  The verse is from 1 Corintians 4:20  For the kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.  That is my prayer today for each of us, that people can see the kingdom of God in our lives because we are living by His power.

Have a blessed day!

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