I Have Been Smoking the Bible

The man sheepishly admitted to the jail minister that he had been doing it; He had been smoking the Bible. “You have been doing what?” the minister asked. “I’ve been tearing out pages of the Bible, rolling tobacco and other stuff in it, then smoking it,” the man confessed.

This infamous conversation took place 20 years ago.

Back in the early 1990s, the State of North Carolina went tobacco free. Cigarettes were banned in our local prison. The prisoners, always known for their inventiveness, started drying out grass, herbs, banana peels—literally anything they thought they could smoke. They would then take the pocket New Testaments that the Gideon’s brought them, tear out a page, and roll whatever they had to smoke in them. The jailers went so far as to ban Bibles from being brought in for a while because they were aiding the prisoners in breaking the smoke-free policy.

My friend, Jimmy Haynes, (the jail minister) recalled how this 20 year old conversation had fueled his passion to become a Gideon (Gideon’s place Bibles in hotels, hospitals, and jails).

The detained man went on to say, “Before I tear out the page, I read the front and the back real good. I don’t want to disrespect the “Good Book”; I just need the paper to be able to smoke. So, I read Matthew Chapter 1, two or three times, then I tore it out, rolled up some grass and smoked it. I ended up smoking all of Matthew. I then smoked all of Mark and all of Luke. But, when I got to John, John smoked me! I was reading those pages so I could roll me a cigarette and the words of the Gospel of John convicted me and I gave my life to Jesus!”

My friend Jimmy was overwhelmed with God’s goodness. This man might never have read the Bible if the State hadn’t went smoke-free. Because it did, this inmate discovered a profound truth. You can’t read His word very long until His Word starts reading you. Or, as our young inmate would say, “I smoked the Bible until it smoked me”. For more on this subject go to https://www.newcovenantchurch.com/sermons/2018/3/10/a-spiritual-awakening



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SLOW Reps are Better Than NO Reps

She was screaming at me, barking out orders and calling me out by name, in front of everyone! This is not my normal and it messed with me.

Ok, it was at the gym and she was a trainer.

Though I have been going to this gym for a couple of years, I am not as consistent as I would like to be, but I am making progress. I’ve lost some weight, put on some muscle, and my cardio is better. On top of all of that, I enjoy going to the gym.

When working out, I generally choose a high impact interval training class by myself, or I work out on weights and the treadmill with my wife. I like doing both. It just depends on the circumstances. On this day, I decided to take the H.I.I.T class, which had 19 people in it. I was talking to a friend during warm ups and assumed we might end up as partners for the class. Just as it was time to grab a partner one of the trainers grabbed my friend. I was a free agent. Jess locked eyes with me, grinned wide, and pointed, “I want you, Nick”. Now you need to understand, Jess is a beast, one of the trainers at the gym that works out for hours at a time.

The workout that day went only two rounds. The only reason I’m still alive. Between each round there is a one-minute break. I have a difficult decision to make. Do I get a drink of water or do I breathe? You can’t do both. I choose to breathe. We start the second round and I am dying half way through—barely getting reps in while Jess is going strong, like the energizer bunny. She screams for me to give her more reps. By now everyone knows my name. Then she delivers the line I needed to hear. “Slow reps are better than no reps, Nick! Give me another rep.”

That’s one of the keys to life, right? We all know it. I don’t feel motivated today? So, give me one slow rep, no reps are not an option. Feeling depressed or discouraged? Call a friend or take a walk. You’re hurried and can’t get in a full day’s work or write a whole chapter? Read something inspiring.

Slow reps are better than no reps. Thanks, Jess. Words to live by.

For more on this subject, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhQzmCjXA_s&t=1506s


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The Paradox of Parenting

Paradox – A proposition that seems self-contradictory but in fact expresses a potential truth.

Yes, parents should know better. They have more life experience, maturity and resources than their children. They are the ones that must take everything they know and submit it to the greater cause of raising great young men and women so they can become productive citizens of society.

Recently, I spoke on three important parental focuses. The response to that message mandated I write this blog.

Here is my Big 3 when it comes to parenting:

  • Show your child unconditional love (which builds worth and value)
  • Help your child discover their unique difference (this develops identity).
  • Let them make low-level mistakes while still in your house (this molds maturity and confidence).

If every child experienced unconditional love, had someone reflect back to them their unique brilliance, and gave them a safe place to take risk and test their mettle, the world would be a wide and spacious place of creativity and productivity. Healthy people would be connecting with other healthy people in healthy relationships. Sounds like societal bliss, doesn’t it?

Yet, the greatest challenge to this type of success is the parent. The parent has to discipline himself/herself not to bulldoze forward, parenting in a style that maximizes their own strengths, willing to adjust their style of parenting to maximize the impact it will have on each individual child. If you have three children, you may have to offer correction, affirmation and instruction differently. If not, one child will thrive and another child will wither

The paradox of parenting is while the parent has all the experience, wisdom and maturity, they have to let the child take the lead in their own development and support them in a way that they feel it.

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The Smudge of Shame

Have you ever spilled something on your shirt? Sure. We all have. It is frustrating when dressed for an important occasion; we spill something on our pants or shirt that ruins the look. If the spill is bad enough it can permanently destroy our clothes and ruin our day.

Now most of us, upon realizing we had just spilled something on ourselves, would immediately attempt to keep the spill from becoming a stain. I have never been successful at this, but my wife, Tina, is. She has a college degree in clothing, textiles and merchandising, and understands fabric at a level comparable to a nuclear physicist understanding atoms. She can get any stain out of any fabric. Whenever I try to keep a spill from becoming a stain, I accidently create a smudge. A smudge is when you smear the spill around and make it bigger, deeper ingrained in the fabric and harder to remove.

The problem with a smudge is people can see I am clumsy and spilled something on myself, but also that I can’t clean up my own mess. Now imagine having to walk around all day wearing the clothes with a visible smudge on them. You might feel a little embarrassed or feel shame.

Sin—our deliberate wrong choice—is an event that leaves a mark on our soul. Though guilt is the conviction we did something wrong, shame tells us there is something wrong with us. I have heard that sentiment rebutted by this powerful statement: “Failure is an event, not a person.”

When we feel like we are the mess, we try to clean up the mess. However, we only smear around our mistake and create the “smudge of shame” we can’t help but see and other people do as well.

The good news is; Jesus died on the cross to deal with our sin and the “smudge of shame”. He, and He alone, has the power to permanently remove the spill (sin) and the stain (shame) that comes with it. Look at this powerful truth found in Isaiah 1: 18:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. NKJV

God has already provided for any mess you will make. When we sin, the best thing we can do is run to the loving Father, who accepts us where we are, and for who we are, and quickly moves to remove the stain permanently so shame doesn’t set in. That is my Papa. I hope you know Him and of His great love for you.

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