And Life Goes On…

I was doing just fine until that moment I was not.

Have you ever been there? Life is flowing – small bumps – daily struggles and successes – and then

The wonderful part is even in the and then God isn’t surprised. He isn’t caught off guard – stressed  – gnashing His teeth – or calling a meeting with His executive teams.

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.

Losing someone you love alters your life. It is just the way it is. And nothing will be the same again because of the loss. One moment everything is fine and the next they are gone. And in the frenzy of funeral arrangements, family arriving, friends and casseroles, there is the comfort of time stopping. Reality takes a backseat and for a few days nothing is normal. And that’s a good thing.

But then Monday morning comes. You find yourself sitting at the Drive-Thru at McDonald’s ordering coffee and a biscuit and the reality of just how your life will never be the same hits.

God is close to the brokenhearted. He knows how we are feeling and as only a Good Father can do, comforts us. He brings into our lives others who understand exactly how we are feeling. And somehow, while life is never the same, it becomes a different normal again.

Grief takes time. It sheds tears. It gets angry. It feels alone at times and at other times it feels surrounded by love. It smiles again. It enjoys the sun once more…all in time.

It is the Divine Hope of the Lord Who holds and comforts us through every moment until we are able to move forward again.

I challenge you to reach out to God. He is an ever-present, loving, forgiving, supportive Father. Whatever you are going through today – however life finds you as you read this devotion – know that God is for you. You only need to reach out to Him.


What I Learned From My Dad

My Dad passed away Wednesday morning. As pragmatic as I am, it is difficult to write those words let alone say them.

Several days before Dad left for Heaven, a tree was down on the property, and I needed help clearing it. Since he and I spent many a day with chainsaw in hand moving limbs and clearing brush, I asked him to help me. Some of our best conversations were made over the rumbling of a chainsaw in between cuts. But on this day, Pop was tired. I joked with him that he was just getting lazy in his old age; but something inside of me knew, this was the last time we’d work outside together – and it was.

Arrangements are being made. People are visiting the house, calling, bringing food, and sending love. Friends are so crucial at times like these. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard my Dad say that to those who were grieving and even more, how many times I have repeated his words. And now more than ever, I want to remember all that he taught me.

My Dad was a preacher, but he was a husband and father first. There weren’t two James Franklin’s – what we saw and heard preaching on Sunday mornings was what we saw and heard in our home. He preached what he believed, and he lived it even more. I can’t say I always willingly accepted my Dad’s profession, on the contrary. There were times I hated going to people’s houses. I hated waiting in the car while Pop listened to yet another person’s troubles. Funerals, hospital visits, domestic disputes, loss and sadness – growing up our days were filled with everyone else’s problems – and at times, I resented my Dad’s dedication to it all. While my Dad played baseball with me, taught me how to tie my shoes and ride a bike, bought me my first razor, and kicked my tail when I needed it, he was different from all the other dads. His job called him to do things other dads didn’t have to do.

I asked him one time why he chose that job. He chuckled at me, and with that spark in his eyes which always popped up when he had a point to make, he answered me firmly, “I didn’t choose this, God chose me to do this, and I just obeyed…just obey, Mike.”

And he did obey, living his life in service of others, loving everyone he came in contact with.

I’ve often watched my Dad as he walked in and out of the house, the church, to ballparks, and into his favorite restaurants. Never once have I doubted Who walked beside him. My dad walked with Jesus Christ everywhere he went.


The Top 20 Things He Taught Me –

20. Before you open your mouth to give someone advice, listen to what he or she has to say.

19. The hardest lesson in life to learn comes just after you choose NOT to tell the truth.

18. Scraping up your knees comes with learning to ride a bike – it is in the process.

17. When you mess up, go back to the basics. Fundamentals are just as important in life as they are in baseball.

16. When someone is laughing at you – laugh with them.

15. Look people in the eyes when you talk to them.

14. Check the fluids in your automobile or suffer the consequences – it’s a good idea for life too. There’s something to maintenance.

13. If you use someone’s tools or anything from the kitchen – put it back where you found it.

12. Always return something you borrow from someone better than when you borrowed it.

11. Regret is more about what you didn’t do than what you did.

10. You can be the best tasting piece of chocolate in the box, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like chocolate

9. Be the man you would like your daughter to marry.

8. When things are going well, a person’s true character is evident. That’s the time you learn what a person’s priorities are.

7. You don’t always have to start at the beginning, but you do have to start somewhere.

6. It isn’t about impressing people, it is about connecting with them.

5. Life doesn’t happen. Life is…

4. The most powerful name in the universe – JESUS – call on Him.

3. Don’t ever give up on anyone, especially yourself.

2. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and forgive again.

1. Love people – there is something of value in everyone – sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find it.


I love you, Pop. You will be missed. 




Your Step Up

Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. It is so hard to keep a positive attitude in the midst of failure. None of us like to fail. We are judged based upon our performance. We are applauded when we win. We are paid when we are successful in our jobs.”

How do you view success and failure? Is it based on money? Gold medals? Status? Power?

Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

God knows the importance of goals. He knows that as human beings we need to have plans and desires to strive to be better people. Sometimes though, it is our failures that make us the people God wants us to be. How we handle failure is more important to God; in fact, how we handle failure may be our success.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, and an incredibly intelligent man stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We need to understand sometimes when our plans do not work out the way we wanted, it brings us closer to where God wants us.

Oral Roberts, an evangelist, used to open his sermons with, “Something good is going to happen to you today!”

All of us have expectations and when those are not met we feel weary and disappointed. But God tells us in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

If we do not give up… the key to success…the answer…

Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

Do not give up. See what the world deems as failure as your step up to what God has for you next. Rely on Him when you feel weary and know that He will deliver in His time.

King’s Highway

Psalm 119:44-45, “I will always obey your law,  forever and ever. 45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Sometimes, I hear people complain about how confining the restrictions are which Jesus puts on our lives. People who feel the Bible inhibits them from fun, from expression, and from freedom of choice; however, such a thought process is actually just the opposite of following Christ.

Romans 6:17 tells us, “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.”

The word “slave” doesn’t sound like freedom to me. When I think of the word slave, I see chains, bondage, sweat, and tears. I see individuals who are not individuals but owned as livestock and herded from place to place. I see desperation and grief.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The way of holiness is not a track for slaves, but the King’s Highway for freemen.”

Obeying the laws God has set before us allows us the freedom to be the people God intended for us to be, giving us an open door to paradise.

As Americans, we value our freedoms. From the authors of the First Amendment we are guaranteed freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government for redress. These guidelines, these parameters, these structured laws have given us something no other country has as fully as we do – FREEDOM.

Spiritual freedom is like skydiving. Have you ever wanted to jump from an airplane? At 13,000 feet the skydiver will have 60 seconds of free-falling fun, breath taking views, and pure thrill! At 2500 feet the diver will pull the parachute and guide the ropes to land safely on the landing pad. To jump without the parachute would mean death – you might get 60 seconds of pure exhilaration, but when the minute is up, the ground is going to come pretty fast and hard.

Freedom comes when what we desire to do comes to fruition through the ability to do it, by a given opportunity, which will leave us with no regrets or harm.

Living under the obedience and guidelines of God gives us the freedom to live abundantly.

John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Study the Word. Know what His guidelines are for your best life. And live life freedom under His protection.



I see life in seasons. I’m not sure when that started or who told me to see it that way, but it is a lens in which I view life.

Summer is my happy season. When things are fun in my life; when the kids come to visit; when the grandchildren are running around; when Connie and I are hanging out – that’s a Summer for me.

Spring is a beginning for me. Maybe I’ve started a new project. Or in the church, we are preparing for a mission trip, or iReach, or a new sermon series. Spring is preparation and newness for me.

Fall is a harvesting time. It is fruits of the labor. It’s how I feel when all the grass is cut at my house, the garage is cleaned up, my “Honey Do List” is complete, and I can go fishing. That is  my Fall feeling.

Winter is sadness, grief, loss. It is that time when tragedy strikes, or I’ve lost someone or something of value to me. Winter is a time in life for reflection and thought. It is that moment when one has to stop and take in the struggle and pains of life.

Seasons come in and out of life. It can literally be Spring outside, but Winter in our hearts. And that’s ok.

One of the most important aspects of grief is owning it. Not hiding from it – owning it. Sometimes grief wants to own us. When we are in the middle of a tragedy and we do not know how to put one foot in front of the other, it is key to know where the source of strength can be found. Sometimes we feel like there are so many questions and there are no answers. It’s ok to feel that way because the truth is, there are so many questions and we all want them answered immediately.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10

When we experience loss, sometimes we just need to feel the presence of someone near us. God demonstrates this in a powerful way. He is our support. He will hold us up. As people who love God, we must demonstrate the same to those who are experiencing loss. It isn’t about what we say, it is about what we do. Be a presence for those who are grieving. Let them know you are there to help.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”- Isaiah 43:2

God tells us that He isn’t just an onlooker in our times of despair, He will pass through the rivers with us. He will be beside us in the fire and keep us from being burned. Never doubt the importance of others during times of hardship. God is not only there for you, but He will send people to help you walk through the “Winter.”

If you are experiencing loss and grief at this time in your life, know that God is near. Reach out to those who offer to help. Stay close to God through your local church, the scriptures, and prayer.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” -Psalm 46:1-2

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” -Psalm 119:50.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

-John 14:1-4

How do you define Ministry?

What is ministry? If you define it as, “What you do, preacher…” your definition is not entirely correct. What I do is how I serve God; but how do you serve God?

Ministry comes from the Greek word diakonos meaning “to serve.” Websters gives several definitions but the one I like the best is “a person or thing through which something is accomplished.” So, my question to you is: What is God accomplishing through you?

We minister in several ways:

1) Through Worship

Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Psalm 95:6, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”

Psalm 99:5, “Exalt the Lord our God; worship at His footstool! Holy is He!”

Give God the praise and honor and glory He is due. Show Him the reverence the King of kings deserves. Be grateful to Him for all that surrounds you. Shout His name in celebration of His Lordship.

2) Through Service

Matthew 23:11, “The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Philippians 2:1-4, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Acts 20:35, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Jesus came not to be served but to serve; He asks that we do the same.

3) Through witnessing

John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””

Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

We are called to spread the word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Think today about your ministry. How are you serving God and others? How are you praising His name? How are you spreading His word. Write down your plan of ministry. Be an ambassador for Christ.

In the Middle of a Battle

Whether it is financial, relational, or physical, we are often in the middle of a battle. When we are there, our faith in God’s delivering power may be the very element. He is trying to teach us. We know God honors faith; and Jesus challenged us to maintain faith and a willingness to put our trust in Him regardless of the situations of our lives.

Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Matthew 17:20 – “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”

Yet, there are times in our lives when God is teaching us other lessons.  Sometimes the emphasis isn’t upon our activity, but God’s.  Often the focus isn’t our faithfulness but God’s showing His faithfulness. Sometimes, the focus is on someone else, and God uses our circumstance to teach lessons others need to learn.

In the end, we learn to rest in Him, whether by difficult times, joyful occasions, storms, droughts, sunny days, or prosperous events. The manner in which our lives have been designed and molded forms us in God’s purpose and plan for our personal lives.  In short, we become the people God intends us to be as we respond in faith regardless of the situation. We come to a point where we see His purpose for our lives fulfilled. And in each situation, God wants us to see His faithfulness.

One of my favorite Bible stories is a story of ordinary events, typical humanity responding to circumstances of life. As with our lives, the events of this story mold the lives of the persons involved. It is a story about people like you and me, facing life circumstances and finding God’s faithfulness in the midst of life.

A famine strikes the land of  Israel and a Hebrew family, Elimelech, Naomi and their two sons, move to Moab in hopes of finding better conditions. Moab, a nation on the east side of the Dead Sea, was just next door geographically but was light years away philosophically, religiously, and morally. While there, the sons marry two women from Moab, Orpah and Ruth. Tragically, Elimelech and both the boys die; Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws are left as widows in a land foreign to Naomi. She decided to return home to Israel. Orpah, one of the daughter in-laws, returned to her family in Moab; but, Ruth, the other dauther-in-law, committed to stay with Naomi.

Ruth 1:16 – “But Ruth replied, (to Naomi) “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.'”

Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem together. They were accepted by Naomi’s family there. A prominent land owner named Boaz noticed Ruth and asked his workers to be kind to her and her mother-in-law. He left extra grain for Ruth to pick up, glean, in the fields. Boaz took Ruth as his wife, bought Naomi and Ruth out of debt, and provided the two ladies with loving care. The result was provision in their lives though they had both been widows.

Sometimes the focus isn’t on our ability to demonstrate faith, but God’s loving faithfulness to us in tragedy. The story of Ruth and Naomi demonstrates God’s interest in our lives. Simple women living in Godly ways are noticeable to God. All He requires is a willingness to serve Him as our God. Just as He cared for the details of their individual lives, He cares for all the details of our lives.

You may be in a situation through no fault of your own; it may simply be tragic circumstances. Be assured God will show His faithfulness to you. He will restore, renew, and care for you. Trust in His faithfulness.