Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Love Poured Out but Filling Up


“…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” -
Rom. 5:5

 Today is, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day! I love this day. It’s filled with candy, flowers and love. But I’m not exactly sure why it’s today? I’m sure its roots are the Roman God’s weird celebrations from thousands of years ago. But for us twenty first century people, I’m glad it’s a beautiful celebration of love. 

 

Celebrations of love are a good thing- or better said, CAN be a good thing. I guess it depends on the source and kind of love. Because, truth is, love is one of those slippery words that comes and goes. Today we love the Kansas City Chiefs, but next year, if they lose to the Raiders, we’ll think they stink. Today, if we win the lottery, we love our God who provides, but tomorrow, when we have five dollars in our checking account, we feel abandoned and alone. 

 

We so easily forget that God’s love, the true love, is sure and solid and strong. It isn’t dependent on circumstances (Phil. 4:11-13). When we come to know Christ, His love is “poured out within our hearts.” When we surrender our lives to Him, he grants us the Holy Spirit who supplies love over and over and over (and over). 

 

Ephesians 1:13 reminds us: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Though we are forever sealed with the “Holy Spirit of promise,” the maintenance of that “seal” is so important. Though the sealed love doesn’t require us to earn it over again (it’s forever sealed), the choice to live in it is ours. 

 

Regardless of the circumstances, God’s agape love is solid and sure. Again, that is the love that is “poured out within our hearts.” The challenge is the maintenance of that love within our hearts. Like someone said, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” There are so many sneaky ways that we replace that love with other things. First Thessalonians 5:19 reminds us “not to quench the Holy Spirit.” Though we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we still can leave Him out of the picture. Though we have a comfy heavy coat to wear, we decide to go outside in a t-shirt. Guess what: in February, we get cold! Why wouldn’t we wear the coat? No great reason except that we want to be in control. Too often our pride rules and we make dumb decisions when we leave God out of the picture.

 

But when we leave the Holy Spirit alive and well and in control in our hearts, hope rules the day. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect around us but it does mean our heart is full inside of us- full of the Holy Spirit of promise. 

 

May we all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Whether we’re with our sweetheart or alone, may we all rest in the awesome love supplied by our awesome God. He made a way for us by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Now, through Christ, we have true fellowship with God. We can now experience and live in His love for us.

 

Enjoy the candy and don’t forget to smell the roses but enjoy the ultimate 

celebration of love in the presence of our awesome God who chose and chooses to love us all over again. 

 

As the love of God is poured out on us, may we pour out that love on those around us.

 

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

www.lifeaid101.com

 

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, January 5, 2024

Family, Part Two


“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing people. The opportunity to meet highly talented athletes, pastors and politicians has been such an honor. All reinforced (mostly) the creed that “the harder we work, the higher we climb” for fame and importance. 

But, over the years, I’ve learned an important lesson: there is more value in who we are than in what we do. Yes, being a hard worker is important. But the integrity of our soul and definition of who we are speaks with more consistency and integrity than simply working hard. Fame and importance are legitimate strengths but love and service might be less obvious but longer lasting.  

So, the people that I’ve encountered in this life who are important and famous are not necessarily actors and professional athletes but are people who have hearts of love and integrity. 

The most important people to me are my family. Each and every one of them is a gift. Like all of us, they come in all different sizes and shapes, filled with the ups and downs that every single human possesses. Some of them have gone on to the next life with God and others weren’t born too long ago. But all are important. 

My dad and mom, Pelham and Mildred Staples, and Jeanie’s dad and mom, Burton and Marion Beadle, are and were amazing men and women. They worked hard to love on their families and raise awesome kids.

Jeanie’s sister Holly, is such a true friend with Jeanie and her brothers, David, Brian and Bill, are great men. Trent, Holly’s husband, has been a good friend as well.

My brothers, Pelham, Marc and Bob, have been and are amazing role models for me. Their spouses, Jean, Sally, Brenda and Lisa are amazing as well. My dad, being a career Air Force physician, meant we moved a lot growing up and my dear brothers were always there to take care of their youngest brother Joey.

Jeanie, my beautiful bride, was and is such a wonderful gift. She is easily my best friend and has been such an encourager and support for me. 

Elizabeth, our oldest daughter, has been such a blessing. With such a huge servant’s heart, she is a wonderful mom and wife. Mark, her husband, is a great dad, husband and friend to me. Their kids, Reese, Lucy and Griffin, are a bundle of joy and energy and so, so talented. 

Eric, our son, has been a blessing as well. Always faithful and supportive, he loves his kids and Jennifer, his amazing wife, so, so much. He has been a great friend to me as well. Jen is a great mom and wife to Eric. Their kids, James, Reid, and Felicity are growing, energetic and so, so talented as well.

And so many amazing friends from over the years. Too many to name, but faithful and selfless friends, all there during my up’s and down’s. 

Yes, those are “famous and important people” I’ve encountered in this life. Of course, all the credit goes to our awesome and wonderful God. All the “fame” is really His. He produces amazing people to be about His will. Our responsibility is to yield ourselves to His plans and stay true to Him.

As we head into 2024, I want to “Thank You Lord” for all of these amazing people that You have brought into my life. The “encounters” have been such a blessing. I pray our lives continue to cross.  And I pray our “encounters” with You, Lord, continue to deepen and widen. Thank you for being “with” us in this life. 

Certainly, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus this season, we are celebrating the choice You made to be “with” us. You didn’t have to do that. You are certainly an awesome God. We didn’t deserve it, but you made a way, through Jesus, that we might have an intimate relationship with You. Not only did you send Jesus as a baby, but You sent that Jesus to die on a cross for our sins that the door would open for us to have a relationship with You. The connection that you enabled for us through family is even deeper with you. 

All we can say is “thank you” Lord, for being our Savior and for our wonderful family. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

www.lifeaid101.com

 

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

What Is That To You?


“Peter…said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him,”…what is that to you? You follow me.” -John 21:21-22

A while back, I’d promised to occasionally call on my hero, Oswald Chambers, to share his thoughts on LifeAid 101. This morning I was reading in his most famous writing, “My Utmost for His Highest” and his words hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I don’t doubt for a second that God called me into the counseling world- the privilege to step alongside people and help them “bear their burdens.” But what He did not call me into was taking responsibility for their burdens. A lot of us parents, grandparents, and …people take on unhealthy amounts of responsibility for others. You might have read this devotional before, but let it sink into your soul. Enjoy Oswald (better said, enjoy God through Oswald):

 

•••“One of the hardest lessons to learn comes from our stubborn refusal to refrain from interfering in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s plan for others. You see someone suffering and say, “He will not suffer, and I will make sure that he doesn’t.” You put your hand right in front of God’s permissive will to stop it, and then God says, “What is that to you?” Is there stagnation in your spiritual life? Don’t allow it to continue, but get into God’s presence and find out the reason for it. You will possibly find it is because you have been interfering in the life of another— proposing things you had no right to propose, or advising when you had no right to advise. When you do have to give advice to another person, God will advise through you with the direct understanding of His Spirit. Your part is to maintain the right relationship with God so that His discernment can come through you continually for the purpose of blessing someone else. Most of us live only within the level of consciousness— consciously serving and consciously devoted to God. This shows immaturity and the fact that we’re not yet living the real Christian life. Maturity is produced in the life of a child of God on the unconscious level, until we become so totally surrendered to God that we are not even aware of being used by Him. When we are consciously aware of being used as broken bread and poured-out wine, we have yet another level to reach— a level where all awareness of ourselves and of what God is doing through us is completely eliminated.  A saint is never consciously a saint— a saint is consciously dependent on God.”•••

It is SO good to, in God’s will, care and love others but not so good to take responsibility for others. I’m in charge of me and how I show up. It doesn’t mean I love any less. The truth is I’m able to love even more when I’m staying in His care, dependent on Him. May we all love the Lord our God and, in His care, love those around us.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©     www.lifeaid101.com

 

 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

What Things Have Mattered Most to You in Life?

 




“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” -Matthew 6:33

It is amazing how our “what matters the most” list changes over the years. Back in the day, my priorities were football, soccer, hunting, the Cowboys and the Rangers. Oh yeah- and getting my allowance on Friday mattered too! And now, faith, family and friends make all the difference. That list changes as we grow older and wiser. 

Age and wisdom don’t necessarily go together. We like to think that gray hair equals wisdom but unless we’re learning along the way, we keep repeating a lot of the same mistakes. The “matters” of life make all the difference. 

Someone said, “Let the God who created you also be the One who defines you.” It makes sense that the Creator would have more wisdom than the created. And how awesome that the God who created us desires that personal relationship with us. He could have created us then left the stage, to move away from the mess of our lives. But He desires a personal relationship with us and and the more we stay focused on His “matters,” the more at peace we are. 

He has always “stayed the course” and continues to be our Rock and our Fortress. The matters that really “matter” to me are of vital concern to Him. I’m convinced that God loves to watch football games. I think He loves comebacks in sports- of course, Jesus’ return will be the ultimate comeback win. The God-given priorities of this life are of vital concern to Him. Those are the things that matter the most: faith, family and friends.

Faith in our marvelous God makes all the difference. God has been such a blessing. He has always been faithful and true to His nature and His will. He has always been there for me- in trial and difficulty as well as blessing. I am so thankful for His love. 

Family has been such a blessing. My beautiful wife Jeanie has been more than I could have ever dreamed, these 40 plus years. Eric and Elizabeth have been wonderful kids and their spouses, Jennifer and Mark, have been such a blessing. Our grandkids, Reese, Lucy, Griffin, James, Reid, and Felicity, have been wonderful. Our extended family, other Staples’ and Beadle’s, have been a blessing as well. They all “matter” because the roots in the Staples and Beadle families carry integrity and love. Not perfect for sure, but loving and faithful. 

And friends have been such a blessing. Through different seasons of this life, God has brought so many wonderful friends- not just “many friends” but “friends that stick closer than brothers.” Friends growing up in Fort Worth, friends as we raised our family in Branson and friends as we’re moving through this new season of life. 

May we all make sure that the things that matter in our lives are the things that truly make a difference. May we seek our wonderful God first and His priorities in our lives.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

www.life101.com

Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

True Friendship


“A man of too many friends comes to ruin but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” -Proverbs 18:24

We humans weren’t meant to live life on our own. We were obviously designed by our awesome God to share life together. But so many of us are soloing through this life. Proverbs 17:17 (and a zillion other verses) reminds us that “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Can we have too many friends? Yes. It’s not how many we have but how deep the friendships go that matters. 

It’s being sure that the friendship has depth. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” -Prov. 27:17. Friendship is a verb, not a noun. “Sharpening” sounds good but the truth is it involves sparks and heat and friction. Someone said that a true friend is someone who is willing to stab you in the front. I thank God I have and have had those kinds of friends in my life! (though I don’t like the truth they share sometimes :))

I have been super blessed my whole life to have had several awesome friends in several different friendship areas. There are common attributes in all the men and women that God has used and is using to shape and mold and chip away at this mess called Joey Staples. There are too many friends to name but there are five qualities that I see in the lives of these wonderful friends God has brought into my life who I admire so much. They are all attributes of love.

Steadfastness. None of my friends are perfect. But they are solid to the core. No doubt, their depth is because of their relationship to the Rock itself,  Jesus Christ. They are able to stand strong because He is more than able to bear the burden. 

Patience. If a friendship is a dependent relationship, it doesn’t work very well. “I’ll love you if…” never lasts very long. I am so thankful that my friends have been willing to be patient with me. We are all still under construction and friends who are willing to hang in there make all the difference. 

Tough love. I’ve made mistakes over the years and my best friends have been willing to lovingly confront me, speak truth in love and make me better. Not fun all the time, but all a part of why God designed us all to be relational and connected with each other. 

Empathy. My best friends have been spot-on honest with me, but they have also been super understanding. Yes, they have been willing to confront and correct me, but they have also been patient and understanding. That’s the definition of true love and at the heart of empathy: understanding and a willingness to share the load with me.

Fun. A flaw in my temperament is a tendency to take life way too seriously. Though some of my friends have warped sense of humors (seriously), I love their humor and laugh and appreciate their willingness to slow me down. I really do think that Jesus had a great sense of humor. I can just imagine some of His comments to the disciples. At just the right time, it brought smiles to their faces and settled everyone down. 

Again, thank you to all my dear friends. Some of you have gone on to the next life and I look forward to seeing you again one day. I am just so thankful for my older and younger friends, for my family friends, for my ministry friends, my adult kids Eric and Elizabeth and for my beautiful wife Jeanie. You have all been so loving to me. I do value YOU so much. God has used you in so many ways and I want to again say THANK YOU and that I love you.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

www.lifeaid101.com


Note: I try to post to the blog every few weeks. If you would like to receive the blog posts by email, you can subscribe to "parenting 101 by email" on the blog. Please pass these on to friends that could use the encouragement. If you’re getting this email yet you already receive the posts from blogger, let me know and I’ll remove you from this mailing list. Thanks. Have a great day in the Lord -JS

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Fifteen Hundred Miles and Loving It

 


Fifteen Hundred Miles Traveling and Loving It

 

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” - Romans 5:8

 

Love is a verb. It’s not a word to describe an action, it is an action. God’s love toward us is like that. God “shows” His love toward us, not “showed” His love toward us. He’s always loving us! Why? Because we are His.

 

Jeanie and I just got home from a wonderful, ten days of travel. We went to Baton Rouge first and spent great time with her family. We love them so much and the South Louisiana cuisine is SO good- yes, we ate well. Then we travelled northeast to Nashville to be with our son Eric, his wife Jen and their three kiddos. We had a blast at soccer games, playing games and running in the yard. 

 

From Branson, south to Baton Rouge, northeast to Nashville, we figured we travelled around fifteen hundred miles. We went around in a great big circle. And it was worth every single mile because we got to be with people we love. Love does that, it goes, and it loves in the going. 

 

I just read the United Nations report that four thousand people have died across Libya due to the catastrophic flooding. They added that more than nine thousand people are still missing and presumed dead. At some point the numbers overload our brains and the “thousands” do not compute. We understand six teenagers dying in a car wreck and we mourn the loss, but thousands dying is just too much. But the numbers never overwhelm our awesome God. God loves each one of us uniquely. 

 

As a young teenager, I was at a Young Life Youth meeting my freshman year in high school and my wonderful leader, Tom Wilson, shared with the group, “Did you know that if you’d been the only person alive on planet earth, Jesus still would have died on the cross for your sin? He loves you that much.” What he said pierced my heart. I’d gone to church my whole life but at that moment, I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. Yes, our loving God loves mankind, but more specifically, He loves each person, individually.

 

You might ask, “What difference does it make?  He loves everyone and He loves me.”  Somehow when I’m thrown into the pot with everyone else, it’s different than knowing my loving God desires connection with me. He knows us and loves us with such intimacy. God’s love is a verb and if we’ll give Him room, He will fill us with love, joy, compassion and understanding. When life is hard (and it will be), He will be our “Rock and our Fortress, the place we can run to and be safe.” 

 

May we all rest in the love that God showed but mostly in the love that God is showing. That’s where true peace exists. 

 

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

www.lifeaid.com

 

 

Monday, June 19, 2023

Dad


“Honor your father…” –Exodus 20:12

This Father’s Day, as I do every Father’s Day, I want to honor the wonderful legacy of my father, Pelham Staples. This year, I’m a day late with this one, but my dad’s legacy is timeless. 

 

My dad was born April 3, 1919 in Roopville, Georgia on a cotton farm. He was the fourth son of seven kids. After serving in World War II, he married my mom, went to medical school and practiced medicine for his whole career. But his main focus was always his four boys, of which I was the youngest. 

 

My dad died suddenly in 1988. He was my father, my hero and my security. When he died, my world stopped for a while. Even though it was 30 years ago, it seems like yesterday. I still miss him very much. The sting of grief has definitely turned into something sweeter than before, but I know that a part of me is gone and will never return. I also know that I have a heavenly Father that is more than capable of filling that void in my heart left on that cold December day. And I am so thankful for my wonderful family! 

 

It’s funny the things we remember about those that we love. When I think of my dad, I  remember things he said. He was a man of few words and language meant a lot to him.

 

“There are a lot of things worse than dying.” He often spoke of the sadness of lack of love within family, living a life of empty conceit and the importance of living life to fullest. I saw my dad die a lot through his giving spirit and unselfish attitude. He was a giver. 

 

“Worrying doesn’t stop the rain- besides the farmers need it.” Seldom did he comment on the rain-instead he rejoiced in who was receiving the blessing. My dad’s agrarian background often showed in his appreciation of nature. We’d be driving along, and he’d comment on “the beautiful crops.” 

 

 “Joey, I’d love to decide for you, but I’ll only decide with you.” I went to him for so much counsel. “Should I go to Baylor? What should be my major? What do I do after college? Should I marry this beautiful girl named Jeanie? Should we move to Branson?” With all the questions came that same response. He knew I needed to own my life, but he was always there for me.

 

After he died, as we sat at visitation at the funeral home, an old pickup truck pulled up in front and a well-dressed Mexican family filed out of the truck, 4 girls and the mom and dad. It was Gonzalo, my dad’s helper at our ranch, and his family. They had driven all the way from west Texas to honor my dad. They came over to my mom and the brothers and introduced themselves. Then he pulled up the cuff of his pants to show us his lizard skin boots. “Your father gave me these boots. One day he noticed my boots were old and worn out and right there on the spot he took off his boots and gave them to me. I will never forget Dr. Staples and I come to honor him.”

 

My dad would be the first to say he was far from perfect. But he was a dad that loved. I am so thankful I got to be his son, and that I can live the rest of my life to honor him and my heavenly Father.

 

Happy Fathers day!

 

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

www.Lifeaid101.com