The First 48

Tomorrow I will turn 48 years old. As I reflect on the years, I use the title of the A&E television show, ‘The First 48’. I borrowed this idea from a former classmate who recently celebrated her 48th birthday. The opening line from the show states, “For homicide detectives, their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don’t get a lead within the first 48 hours.” Similarly, I suppose if a person doesn’t have direction in their life by the age of 48, their chance of success is greatly reduced. Like those critical first 48 hours of a murder investigation, one can say the first forty-something years of life are important. By this age, one is expected to have a certain level of maturity and achievement. However, it is never too late if it hasn’t happened yet. As I write in my book, Go Into The House, “The fact that you are still alive assures you that God has something for you to accomplish.”

There are many things I had envisioned achieving in my life by this point, but there’s still time. I certainly haven’t reached all my goals. In many ways it seems the years have flown by. There have been many significant events–marriage, fatherhood, career, ministry, divorce, as well as the daily highs and lows. Overall, I can say life has been good, even with the setbacks and disappointments. I have been blessed to experience some things that others may have only dreamed of. For that I am grateful, and don’t take those experiences for granted. Even my mistakes have taught me some valuable lessons, and I have grown from them.

I don’t know if I’ll have another “48” to live, but with whatever time I have left, I aim to do my best to fulfill the purpose God has for me. In some ways, I’m just beginning at 48. I believe there are new opportunities ahead of me. I still have a long bucket list, but I’m checking items off as I move ahead. I’m looking forward to a great future. Today I can say it’s been a good first 48.

(Image ©A&E Television Networks, LLC)

Represent Well

Not long ago, I saw an ad in a newspaper insert for an item I was interested in purchasing. I do not normally shop at that store, so I was not familiar with the layout when I arrived. When I got to the particular department for the item, I asked the young cashier where these items were located. She quickly and confidently told me, “We don’t carry those here.” I informed her that the item was in their ad flier. She opened the flier that was in front of her on the checkout counter and saw the item. At this time, another store employee was walking by, so she asked him where this item was located. He took me to the exact spot and actually gave me information on the different choices available.

As I thought about this incident, it reminded me that sadly, there are Christians who are like that cashier. We represent Jesus, and people are looking to us to point them to Jesus and what He has to offer. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know what’s in the “flier” — the Bible, God’s Word. Too often, people who are seeking answers are given misinformation. Like the cashier, these believers are not trying to be deceptive; they simply don’t know the truth. Thankfully, there are believers like the second employee who know the Word and can point people in the right direction.

If you are a Christian, let’s be like that second employee. Get into God’s Word. Read and study it, so we will know how to answer people who have questions. It’s our responsibility. If you’re not a Christian, and have been given faulty information, please don’t be turned off by those of us who don’t represent well. None of us has it all together. We are all works in progress. What you’re looking for is available. Find someone like that second employee who can guide you to Him. Better yet, ask God himself. He’s more than willing to show you.

Finishing Well

In a few days I’ll be 45 years old. Most likely I am in the second half of my life, assuming I may not live to be 90. As I think of some recent public figures who have passed away, I am reminded of my desire to finish well. These particular individuals to whom I’m referring had many great accomplishments, but may ultimately be remembered for failures at the end of their lives. I don’t want to be remembered for my failures, but rather as one who finished well. We all have had failures, but we can overcome them. It is possible to move forward past the failure and complete our journey in victory.

At what have you failed? It does not have to define you. You can overcome failure. We have many examples of people who have done so. What do you want your epitaph to read? Forget about the past and make progress toward that goal today. Our failures do not change God’s love toward us.

I believe there is more life to live. I believe my best days are ahead of me. God still has something for me to accomplish–and you as well. Let’s finish well!

It Gets Better From Here

Although my last name is Winters, summer is my favorite season of the year. Living my whole life in northern Ohio, I have become acclimated to the sub-zero temperatures that are common in January and February, and the multiple inches of snow. However, I prefer the warm weather and long summer days of July and August. Today is the Winter Solstice – the day in the northern hemisphere with the least hours of sunlight. When I think about December 21, I am encouraged as I think about the fact that from this day until late June, the days are getting longer.

You may be like many people, and are going through one of the darkest times in your life. Today is your winter solstice. Be encouraged. It gets better from here!

(Photo Credit: -ciaran Flickr via

Choice Day

Today is Election Day in the U.S. People all across America are voting on local school levies, referenda, amendments, judges, governors, etc. Voters will be making many important choices; some of which will have long-lasting impact. In actuality, every day is “election day”. Every day we make choices that affect our futures. Many of us are dealing with the consequences of choices and decisions made some time ago. Where we are today has much to do with choices we have made in the past. Some decisions are easy, while others require much thought, consideration and prayer.

Even after facing a major disappointment such as a divorce, job loss or family crisis, we still have a choice as to how we deal with the negative situation. Will it be happiness or self-pity? Forgiveness or bitterness? As I state in Go Into The House, “we can choose to ‘join the festivities’ or remain isolated.” Let’s make positive choices so that we can do everything in our power to position ourselves for a better tomorrow. Happy Choice Day!

Right Expectations

We often enter into situations—particularly relationships—with the wrong expectations. We can be surprised by an outcome when our expectations have been too low, or disappointed when expectations were too high. We can hope things will be a certain way, but they don’t always work out as we imagine they will. It could be that we fail to communicate our expectations to the other party. We can’t assume that other people know what our needs and desires are. Some people intentionally set their expectations low in an effort to avoid disappointment, but this still leads to unfulfillment and dissatisfaction.

Whether our expectations are high or low, if we’re honest, we must admit that we have them. Setting high goals is important, but we must also be realistic. Having the right expectation often involves doing the research necessary to obtain all the facts. The more you know about a particular situation, the more realistic your expectation will be.

What goal do you have? Gather all the information you can. Be honest about your expectation. Share it with those affected. This will help you achieve your objective. I’d like to hear what you think. Please take the monthly poll and feel free to post a comment.

More Featured Authors

I continue to meet many inspiring Christian authors. Here are four more authors and their books:

Amanda Stephan – The Price of Trust

Carly Richards is on the run. For the last two years, she’s skipped from town to town, ducking her dangerous and well-informed ex-fiance every few weeks, never settling anywhere for long. With the death of her parents, Carly’s vulnerability made her trust a man with an attractive facade. Now that same man has tracked her across the country, always nipping at her heels, preventing her from reaching out to anyone other than her God. Now she’s in Montana, and surely that is far enough away from Texas and her abusive past that she can rest. But her emotional scars are reluctant to heal, and Carly resists the friendliness of those in the small town she lights upon, especially handsome farmer Joe Baird. Without a car and money though, she has little choice but to dig in and begin building back up her savings so she can run once more.

Caught in the circumstances, the kind people around her begin to creep into her softening heart. God is at work, and she has to trust him to not only take care of her, but care for the the people she is learning to love. Carly must learn the Price of Trust.

Gail Dudley – Ready To Pray

In her latest book, Ready To Pray, Gail Dudley shares the life lessons that the Lord has poured into her life through her spiritual journey with Him. Whether these were seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, seasons of want or seasons of plenty, the Lord has been working in Gail’s life for many years, teaching her the disciplines of prayer and the power that comes through the life of someone who is obedient to calling on Him during all of life’s challenges.

Maurice Huff – The Choice That No Longer Haunts

The Choice That No Longer Haunts is about a young boy who is given permission by the Creator to come to Earth and confront the father who made the CHOICE to have an abortion. This narrative captures the imagination of the reader and culminates in the reality of God’s grace, and loving forgiveness. As a bonus, the story is told from a male’s perspective.

Teresa Ann Winton – Pieces of the Pearl: Memoirs of a Foster Child’s Triumphant Transformation

This book tells the true-life story of Teresa Ann Winton, who invites you to journey into the depths of her soul where a vulnerable and profoundly sad little girl once lived. Teresa’s unstable home left her exposed to abuse, poverty, and neglect. Foster care, a system meant to help the helpless, brought even more trauma and loss. But in spite of it all, Teresa forged ahead, refusing to succumb to despair.

In this poignant story, the author interlaces poetry and narrative, sharing her joys and sorrows, her triumphs and tears.

A second book, Tears in the Lilies, is due to release in spring 2011.