Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper 
in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. Psalm 84:10

Even though the action required to open a door may not seem like much, it takes a special spirit to do it right. It involves a genuine sense of humility that is reflected in the willingness to faithfully serve without seeking higher honor. This position requires a passion for people and for making them feel welcome. It takes devotion and a dedicated heart that is willing to do even the smallest task for the sake of a bigger cause. Most importantly, it reveals an intense love for God and a deep desire to share that truth with everyone who passes through that door.

I have had the tremendous pleasure of serving with a man who not only understood this calling, but lived it out through his generous spirit. Even as we celebrated his life today and grieved for our loss, we recognized how many lives were impacted by his simple yet intense desire to hold the door. Thank you for humbly leading the way my good friend. I'll look for you at the door in God's house when that time comes.

*The flowers pictured were placed at Henry Sheppard's door this weekend in honor of his incredible service & life model.*

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not So Good

"It's just a matter of bringing it every day. It's when you're not at your best, when something's off--those are the days that define you. You better figure out a way to do it because the pitcher doesn't care, the other team doesn't care, and your teammates are relying on you." Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

It's easy to be excellent when everything comes easily. There are those days when you feel as if you are operating at the peak of your strengths with incredible energy reserves and intense focus. Then there are the days when you feel as if you are running backwards in chest deep mud in ill-fitting shoes while carrying cinder blocks. It might seem easier to just quit and go home (or leave home) but that isn't the answer either. There are people that depend on us to be committed and consistent--whether that is in our calling, our family, or community. Our character will be revealed in our dedication to doing what's right regardless of the level of difficulty. We become stronger people as we maintain our level of dedication and focus on developing perseverance. The bond of our relationships will strengthen and we'll find that the sweetest victories are in the times of struggle and not in moments of ease.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Division of Forestry

The old expression is that you can't see the forest for the trees. It indicates how we can become so focused on minute details that we are unable to see the big picture of what God is doing. We also find that we can't accomplish great things because we neglect to see how the daily small things are building up for the future. Taking a step back will give us a greater perspective on our part in God's grand design. It should encourage and motivate us to keep moving forward. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Full Day

The day has been full as the schedule has been packed and emotions have ranged from sorrow to frustration and to elation. It has been marked by incredibly sweet gestures in honor of a godly man who has passed to heaven. It has been filled with hugs from people who have been gone from the church & are returning to reaffirm their commitment. The day held the excitement of a young lady who couldn't wait to be baptized and commit her life to Christ. It was the prayer of a recently engaged young couple for God's blessing as they begin this journey of life together. The day was marked by investing in other people through prayer & guidance. It ended with a gathering of 30 people on our quiet lake property with simple worship & a comforting word.

Each day holds the promise of being this full. Open your eyes to look for the possibilities and don't dismiss the potential opportunities when they present themselves. Life will be more full and more rewarding if we do.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

One Direction

We had an outside work day at Northridge this morning and had about 30 people knock out a
tremendous amount of work in a short period of time. As we were working one of my friends commented, "It's amazing what you can get done when you have a group of people focused on the same purpose." While it's not the most profound thing I have ever heard, it is most certainly true. It applies to work crews, athletic teams, bands, the cast in a play, a restaurant staff, and a short term missions team. Our combined energy and focus will enable us to efficiently accomplish more than if we worked independently.

While we may accept it as truth, we still struggle to put it into reality. There has to be intentional effort to align ourselves under one purpose and find a way to work together. Imagine the differences in our churches, families, and communities if we would put this into practice. If we can humble ourselves to make it work we'll find fulfillment in the journey and in our results.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hazy Image

Do we see ourselves as we really are? Are we living with an accurate assessment of self or are we calling self-delusion our reality?

We often overestimate our strengths and underestimate our weaknesses. It's a distorted evaluation of the person we actually are that is fueled by our need to protect ourselves. Under the guise of presenting the best image we have told ourselves the same lie for so long that we believe it's the truth. This skewed viewpoint may even appear to be successful from a distance, but will eventually implode (and explode) under the light of reality. 

Recovering from this is not an easy endeavor, but is necessary for maturity, genuine relationships, and spiritual success. We need to bathe in humility, experience brokenness, and give trusted people the freedom to speak the truth in love while grasping the beautiful grace that God offers to His desperate people.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Refusing to Settle

I was driving today and listening to ESPN radio (as I almost always do) and overheard an interview with Jim Mora, Head Football Coach at UCLA. He was hired before last season and charged with bringing their football program back to a point of championship contention. He was being asked about the upcoming season and said, "We are building something. It won't happen immediately, but it will last." This is obviously a man that is able to see the big picture of what he is doing at UCLA. It's not about winning more games than the year before, but about building a program of integrity and excellence that will contend each year for championships and develop young men of character.

Sadly, in our own lives, we quit before we see the results of our hard work. This reveals our desire for instant gratification instead of having the patient perseverance to develop over time. Part of this is a lack of understanding of where we are trying to go & what we are working to build. We have to understand that when we are investing in our futures we can't expect an immediate payoff--in fact, there may be short-term setbacks that are setting us up for long-term success. 

The truth is that we want something that lasts longer than a season. It's a reflection of our desire to be part of legacy of tremendous value. Understanding and implementing this approach is the difference between visionary and mediocre leadership.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

See Me

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; 
Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong-- then guide me on the road to eternal life. Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message)

God, You already know my heart. I am the one who struggles with its condition. You know me far better than I know myself and while I wallow too often in my own insecurities and fickle spirit, I pray that what You see is a man that wants to love You.

Please remove from me those things that offend You and create in me a willing heart to let those things go. I submit to You and Your authority in my life. My hindrances are of my own construction as You have removed the barriers and obstacles between us. While I may imagine a wall to overcome, I am the one who keeps building it up. 

Renew my mind today, Father. Refresh my spirit and fill me with a powerful sense of Your presence. I desire to know You as intimately as You know me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living on the Edge

Do you remember the warnings from cautious mothers-don't get to close to the edge! I remember walking along the wall next to a river or a canal and my mother hollering out this caution. In my years of mission trips to Arizona this was a common utterance from the mothers on our trip to our young, acrobatic team members climbing in the canyons. They were really only trying to keep us safe. Their intent wasn't to hold us back, but simply reflected the fact that they didn't want us to fall & be hurt.

As we get older we forget to have people around us who can warn us about the edge. We dance up to the point of danger and still need people in our life who can pull us back from the point of harm. As we fill our schedules we get far too close to the edge of temptation, burnout, selfish pride, foolishness, and financial ruin. Without proper balance & someone watching out for our safety we will fall. Just like a fall from a great height the abrupt stop might damage us severely or it can take our life. 

It's not worth the risk to find out if we can survive the impact. Just because God can restore our broken pieces doesn't mean we ignore wisdom & common sense and dance on the edge of the cliff of personal destruction.

Monday, July 22, 2013

To Trust or Not to Trust

Do I trust God?

There are sentinel moments in my life when I have answered this question in the affirmative. When I chose to follow Christ, when I left Nashville and the restaurant business to teach high school, as I left MHS to enter into ministry, and when we departed Florida for a new life in Georgia my answer was obvious. I trusted God when my wife was diagnosed with cancer and when we found out we were pregnant and were unsure about the health of our child and my wife. There are these momentous occasions when I can stand and say, "Yes! I do trust You God!" 

The true depth of our trust is not found in the leaps of faith however, but in the daily discipline of life. We reveal how much we trust God by the thoughts that we allow to dominate our mind and flow out into our speech. We show our trust through our prioritized tasks and goals for career & family. We reveal our trust in the intimate moments of integrity that shine a bright light on our true character. 
Trust in God is discovered more in day-to-day life than in triumph and tragedy. It's the small moments that build a foundation on which the grander decisions can be made.

Trusting in God doesn't mean that He gives you everything you want & ask for. Trusting doesn't mean that you agree with everything that happens as God answers your prayers. It does mean that you have more confidence in His provision for you than in your own ability to discern what you need. It's revealed through the small moments that build a foundation on which grander life decisions are made. Trusting God means that you submit to His will and honor Him regardless of your circumstances.

Do I trust God? I answer that question every day through the way I live.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stirring Thoughts

I admit that I am a sucker for a good quote. I love a thought-provoking statement that causes me to reevaluate my position or challenges me in new ways. I find that I am a collector of quotes and read back through those that I have written down. It's important (in my humble yet accurate opinion) for us to reflect on the influences that cause us to think. This exercise is our way of achieving good mental health by stretching the boundaries of our thought processes. As I looked back over my notebook of challenging thoughts, these are some that have recently pushed me.

  • You can't lead without the willingness to be different, to do what's difficult, and to be misunderstood. It's called courage. -Rick Warren
  • The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us. -Billy Graham
  • An expenditure of words without an income of ideas will lead to conceptual bankruptcy. -Ravi Zacharias
  • Character is what a man is in the dark. -D.L. Moody
  • No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying.  -Leonard Ravenhill
  • If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.  -Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. -Jim Elliot
  • Just because you see the problem doesn't mean you understand the problem. -Carey Nieuwohf
  • Ministry leaders often drink a poisonous cocktail of narcissism and isolation. -Scott Thomas & Tom Wood

Saturday, July 20, 2013


One of the greatest things the enemy has done to men is to convince them that they are alone. We 
have believed the lie that no one has it as bad as we do and that no one has done the things we have. We have accepted the fallacy that our failures are unique and everyone has it together more than we do. The whispering voice of the enemy tells us that it's best for us to just keep trudging along and if we get ambitious to aim for "good enough" but no higher than that. It's time that we recognized these falsehoods and started seeking truth.

We are not meant to travel this journey alone. We were created with the need for other people and we  are healthier when we give others the right to speak God's truth into our lives. There is no new sin under the sun, God's best is still greater than the worst thing we have done, and His grace and mercy outweigh all of our sin. Don't settle for mediocrity, but pursue excellence in our own spiritual devotion, in our calling, and in our families.

These truths destroy the excuses and lies of our enemy and empower men to boldly lead our families, communities, and churches. It's time for us to be strong, courageous men of influence the way God has called us to lead.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Much Ado

It is a given that we will have conflict with the people in our life. There are unmet expectations, frayed nerves, and internal and external personal pressures that can create friction in our relationships. Unfortunately, we don't always healthily  address this tension in a timely fashion. We work up a scenario or conversation in our head that causes you stress. We begin to imagine that this person thinks the worst about you & is working against you. Our anxiety level skyrockets as we magnify the problem by worrying about things that haven't even happened yet. When you find yourself drowning in this unresolved (and sometimes self-imposed) conflict you are left with two choices. You can choose to keep maintaining a destructive inner monologue or enter into reality and seek to resolve the problem without adding your preconceived notions to the fire. 

Here are a few keys to doing this in healthy way:
  • Pray carefully for God's wisdom & peace.
  • Pray for the other person and the receptivity of their spirit.
  • Enter into the conversation with no agenda but peaceful resolution--not victory.
  • Listen intently without forming your reply as they speak, but be genuinely engaged in their perspective.
  • Do your very best to be at peace with them & the situation regardless of their reaction. 
A healthy, peaceful resolution has to start with us first. Understanding that our efforts are far more about our personal journey with God than anything else can fuel that momentum in a healthier direction.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Boiling Point

I don't always express my frustration well. My level of dissatisfaction and poor management can make this difficult as situations & circumstances seem to exponentially explode. I have learned (through very tough lessons) how to handle it better than I used to, but I still have to remind myself to respond in healthier ways.

How should we handle inevitable frustration?
  • Pray: God will see things that we can't and understands how this scenario plays into His plan to continue to develop us. Seek His peace that passes our ability to understand.
  • Practice humility: You might find that you are part of your own frustration level. Don't elevate yourself above others and think that you are not part of the problem.
  • Gain perspective: There are always things that we don't completely understand. Take a deep breath and step back to see things differently. You might discover there is very little substance to your frustration.
  • Ask if an attitude shift or a circumstance adjustment is needed: Frustration may be alleviated by a change in ourselves before we seek to change what is causing the friction.
  • Clearly communicate: This is best done outside of the inflammatory emotion of the moment. Once you are able to process things calmly use an economy of words & deeds to helpfully express your thoughts.
  • Move on: Sometimes the best advice is to simply get over yourself. It's amazing how quickly some frustration goes away if we decide to not let it affect us.
It's inevitable that we will all be frustrated with people and events. Not allowing it to overwhelm and incapacitate us is the key to survival.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Many baseball players will tell you that what separates a decent batter from a great batter is the ability to hit the curveball. Lots of players can connect when the ball is straight and even at high
speeds they can eventually catch up to it. It takes patience, an adjusted swing, and quick recognition to put the ball in play. If you don't make the necessary alterations to your timing then you can be assured of seeing curveballs more frequently.

Sometimes it seems that your own life throws you a lot of curveballs. It feels like every little thing is more difficult than it should be and there are layers of complications to even the most mundane tasks. Plans go awry and just when it seems like you might catch a break you find yourself falling flat on your face.

The principles of success in life really aren't that different from baseball. You've got to call a brief timeout to catch your breath and regain your focus. Once you realize that things coming at you won't be at the same pace or intensity you can make the necessary spiritual, emotional, and mental adjustments to find success. It's not easy (I know I couldn't hit a real curveball) but with concentration, practice, and a peaceful mindset you will find they don't catch you off guard as much as they used to.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Singular Focus

Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you. 
(Romans 14:18 MSG)

When we describe someone as single-minded it is not always a positive term. Saying that someone only has one thing on their mind is most often a dig at their inability to be flexible in thought. It can even be used to describe someone infatuated with satisfying their physical needs with no regard for the people around them. When that single focus is on Christ however, it describes a person with properly aligned priorities. It describes someone who recognizes the unique opportunities God provides for growth & vision fulfillment each day. This person is confident, driven, loving, gentle, and self-controlled. 

Singularity of purpose can be a character attribute or flaw depending on our focus.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Response Time

We will all make mistakes. We often blame it on lapses of judgment, mismanagement of resources, and the words & actions of other people. This doesn't change the fact that we have sinned, but
allows us to assign contributory blame in an effort to assuage our guilt. The evidence still proves that what we have done in the darkness has now been brought into the light and the experience is not always pleasant.

In the aftermath of discovery (and hopefully repentance) we are essentially left with two choices. We can continue to berate ourselves emotionally and verbally for our transgressions or we can humbly accept God's infinite forgiveness and move forward. One path devolves into a cycle of self-pity that debilitates us spiritually, derails us missionally, and neuters us evangelistically. The other (wiser) path creates a catalyst for spiritual transformation through our deep need for God's grace and our unwillingness to settle for anything less than our Father's best. The first path is born out of an overestimation of self while the second gives credence to our desperate need for a perfect, loving, personally invested King.

To stubbornly reject this gift of forgiveness from God is to devalue everything He has done to restore us as His people. Choose wisely.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Economy of Time

Earlier this morning I was reflecting on my career of nine years of athletic training/high school & now ten years of ministry. I hit me that it has been 19 years since I left college at the age of
23-a year later than I expected since I took time off for financial reasons. I didn't think much about it then (it just seemed necessary,) but now I see a year that could have been used for other things. I understand the perfection of God's plan and that it was simply part of my story, but it makes me think very carefully about the time I have right now. 

I don't want to waste the moments that I have been given--each day that passes is another day closer to my children leaving the house and the decrease in my direct influence in their lives. Each day that passes is another day of preparation for the future that is gone--whether I used it wisely or not. The people that I pass by will not be in that same location again--not in the same moment of need. Each interaction is uniquely crafted by God and we can either speed through & waste it or invest our full energy into downloading the most potential energy from it.

Time is one of our most precious commodities--it's interesting how callously we treat this valuable resource that we say we are eager to protect.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stop & Go

Good leaders are usually applauded for their ability to forge ahead in difficult times. They are congratulated for their gift of visioncasting and how they create a culture of winning in those they
lead. These visionaries are credited for persevering in adversity and for refusing to lose sight of the path they have committed to following. Their tenacity is an enviable quality and books are written about their ability to struggle to the top with their people. There is another quality of a leader that is often forgotten and certainly much less celebrated. It is found most often in the biblical role of leadership found in a shepherd.

Much like other leaders, a shepherd will protect their flock and are constantly aware of the desired destination of their sheep. They work diligently to make sure that those they lead are provided for (being fed) and that no outside dangers cause them harm. There is a constant effort to keep the flock together as an isolated sheep is vulnerable to attack and most certainly won't reach the desired end. We forget however that a good shepherd also knows when it is time for the flock to rest. He (or she) understands the need to regulate pace and find time for recuperation. It may seem counterintuitive to stop when the demands of the journey are so great, but down time will rejuvenate & refocus everyone. 

A good leader is able to maintain speed when necessary, but also sees the value in pulling to the side of the road to catch your breath. It's a wise balance of rest & perseverance that leads to fulfilled objectives and healthier people.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fast as Lightning

We have had a stormier-than-usual summer here in Georgia. There has been a tremendous amount of rainfall and it is usually accompanied by gusting wind, peals of thunder, and brilliant flashes of lightning. We had a storm roll through earlier this week that was very threatening and didn't give us a great deal of warning. In one swift moment, we were blinded by a bolt of lightning as the thunder sounded simultaneously with the sizzle of electricity. The boom shook the house, immediately
knocked out our power, and fried our modem and router. It must have hit a transformer nearby as I found a piece of burned ceramic in our driveway after the storm (see picture on right.) Even though we felt like this came out of nowhere we realized that the storm had been building for some time before descending upon us.

It's no different from many of the devastating moments in our life. It seems like it hits us all out once & out of nowhere, but this release point has been building pressure over time. Moments of infidelity are forged out of careless thoughts, wandering eyes, and ignoring boundaries. Financial ruin is shaped by overspending, selfish purchases, and a lack of planning. The pain and aftermath of suicide is built through ignored depression, unwillingness to ask tough questions, and lack of compassion. The damage from each of these is as devastating as a lightning strike.

The best way to avoid the repercussions is to actively work in prevention mode before the storm hits your horizon. Don't get caught resting and falsely believe you're immune, but make the daily, disciplined decisions to prevent destruction before it happens.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

God on My Side

The pace of life recently seems frantic. There are difficulties to overcome, crises to manage, futures to plan for, and balance to find. It is not always easy to make the right choice and to persevere through these stormy seasons. The good news is that I have confidence in the fact that God is on my side. I am blessed with a heavenly Father who is working actively for me and not against me. How different would it be if this were not true? 

Where would we be if God wasn't working actively to protect His children? What would we look like if God wasn't right next to us trying to reach us? What would our lives be like if God wasn't healing & raising us up?

If it had not been for The Lord on my side, tell me, where would I be? O, where would I be?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In Excess

We talk about everything in moderation, but shouldn't there be some things that we have in excess in our lives?
  • Purity
  • Forgiveness
  • Devotion to God
  • Prayer life
  • Generosity
  • Faithfulness to the King
  • Pursuit of His vision for our lives
  • Fidelity to our family
  • Worship
  • Genuine love

Are you seeking an abundance of the right things in your life? This can't just be wishful thinking, but has to be lived out in daily discipline and life goals.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quick Change

On the surface most of us don't have a lot of reasons to be joyful. Finances are tight, jobs are uncertain, self-esteem is shaky, our parenting is inadequate, our health is unstable, and our future is cloudy. We can find more things to complain about (ie. government, church, community) than we can find to be encouraged by. If you observe our history you see that things really haven't changed. There has always been inequity, oppression, stupidity, selfishness, turmoil, and illness littered throughout the lives that have come before us. What has made us believe that things should be different for us?

Circumstances may not change, but our reaction to them certainly can. We have the opportunity to wallow in bitterness or ask God to transform our attitude. When have I allowed God to turn my sorrow into joy? When have I allowed Him to change my perspective on my circumstances so that I might see Him at work? When have any of us shifted the weight of our present status so that it no longer burdens us, but becomes light as we experience His deliverance? Our confidence and hope must be centered in a King that has shown His benevolent and merciful character to us throughout history. Our confidence in His great unchanging love is the key to the change of heart necessary for us to be joyful when it seems to make no sense. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Man Up: A Winning Review

It's a not-so-hidden secret that men struggle with identity and how to succeed at being godly men. 

We end up striving towards goals that society tells us are important and becoming successful in ways that don't really matter. Men climb a ladder that they believe leads to the fulfillment of their goals & objectives to only find out that we are still left feeling bereft of genuine accomplishment. The book Real Win by Colt McCoy & Matt Carter directly addresses this gap and bring us into this quandary together by stating, " All of us know the awkward feeling when we start to wonder if we've got our ladder up against the wrong wall."

McCoy & Carter partner together with unique backgrounds as a star athlete and a highly successful pastor to write an excellent book intended to help men focus on what matters most. They are able to offer a fresh perspective from different experiences that speaks directly to the heart of what men are searching for and how we choose to conduct our lives. The book is sprinkled with real life applications from two distinctly different viewpoints of success that end up highlighting a shared need for God's direct influence. They open up by quickly establishing what a real win is ultimately based on: "The real win for a man is built on two simple but strategic components--who you trust and who you serve."

There is nothing earth-shattering about this book & no brand-new, previously unknown truths are revealed. Despite this I found myself nodding in agreement throughout the book and feeling encouraged by their plain statement of what a godly man should look like. Their simple, yet powerful premise is "Every man has things in his life that he's either pursuing or that he turns to in an an attempt to feel fulfilled, valued, satisfied, or relieved. Yet God has designed us in such a way that the only thing that can satisfy that place in us is Him." This describes the futility of man for generations--recognizing that there is a greater call on our lives and the emptiness we find when we settle for anything less than God.

I found this book to be challenging without being confrontational. McCoy and Carter wrote honestly from their own experience of mistakes and never alienated me as a reader. It felt like a journey of discovery as we found out what it means to pursue the right goal as God-driven men. I would recommend this book to men at multiple stages of their faith discovery & would even recommend that wives read it with them to gain better insight into the faith journey of their spouses. It's the most effective way to find McCoy & Carter's ultimate definition, "The real win means trusting The Lord, walking with Jesus, and living your life in the way He defined it."

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

This Time

Who knows exactly why we are here right now? It's obviously ordained as God's will (whether we recognize God's deft orchestrations or not doesn't negate His plan) but there are also valid reasons why we are in this moment. I firmly believe that if we are willing to ask God (and quietly wait for His response) that He will give us an answer. A dilemma exists when we drift through our existence without paying attention to the grander purpose we've been created for.

Far too many people choose to be oblivious to the way our lives rub against each other creating friction that alters our shape and ultimately our identity. Ask God to open your eyes to see who He has placed around you to influence and be influenced by. Willingly seek opportunities to make an impact in your community as you live boldly. Step up to lead and be part of the active movement of God's church in this moment and location. Open your ears to hear & answer the relentless call of a King that longs to involve His people in a revolution to redeem a lost and broken world.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Better Together

I feel more tired than I think I should today. It has been a full slate of events--at least through lunchtime. I was up early today and met a good friend for breakfast giving us a chance to talk and share with each other. I then worked with a crew to help move a colleague into their new house (which we finished about two hours ahead of expected.) When I came home I finished the yard work that my wife had begun that morning even though she honestly did the lion's share of it.

It might seem like a day with unconnected events, but all three things point to the need for someone else in our life. We need other people to be part of our personal development. We need a group of people who are willing to work together around a common cause. We need a life companion who will help us on this journey as we share in the hard work and endurance life requires to succeed. I'm tired at the end of this Saturday, but also deeply satisfied in the relationships that I am blessed to have as part of my life.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Simple Life

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We have a hard time believing that Jesus is all that we need. I think we struggle with it because it seems too simple. Due to the way that we manage our human relationships, we expect there to be religious hoops for us  to jump through. We are looking for rigorous tests of endurance, physical challenges, and intellectual acrobatics that will determine our worthiness. We are all conditioned for the survival of the fittest.

In His supremely counter cultural way, "simple" describes exactly how God set up this relationship for us. It's a matter of us accepting what He offers and choosing to commit our lives to following Him. Through our pride and ignorance we add layers of complication that don't exist. For us, it actually takes more faith to grasp this gift of freedom than it does to believe in a complicated system of moralistic behavior modification.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I'm Free

I am a patriot. I love our country and have immense respect for those that have paved the way for us to take part in the liberties we have. I don't regard this freedom lightly, but appreciate the boldness of men and
women who were willing to do what was right even when it was difficult. My value of freedom is a key part of my family's life in a national and in a spiritual sense. This value is only perfected when we also submit to Christ's authority and allow Him to release us from the power of sin. While we pause to celebrate the beginning of a blessed nation today I also want to be reminded of the freedom that God offers for His children. One gives us the opportunity to live differently in the short term while the other provides the impetus for life change & influence for eternity. The good news is that both of them are worth celebrating--even more than once a year.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Memory Loss

They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them. (Psalm 78:11 NIV)

How quickly we forget what God has done. In good times we forget how much we depended on Him. In tough times we forget how He has delivered us in the past. It only takes one generation that ignores God for a family to forget where they came from. If we believe that God is the one true solution then we should make sure that we are providing constant reminders of His goodness. It's the only way to stay centered on what matters most.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Once a Year

I don't usually do a lot of celebrating on my birthday. It's not because I refuse to acknowledge my
age, but simply because I don't want a fuss made over me. I love to spoil other people and make a big deal over their special days, but I am usually content to pass through my own with little to no fanfare. This year seems different to me however and it is causing me to reflect a bit more on the life that I have been blessed to lead. As my Facebook notifications blow up with birthday wishes, I am drawn to the stories that I share with each person and their genuine affections for me. Each year that passes reminds me of how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and sojourners on this path of life. Forty-two years is worth celebrating when it allows me to have the people in my life that God has brought to me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sum Total

Our current status is a reflection of our past experiences and our reactions to them. While we cannot change the reality of the previous influences in our life, we get to determine what power they hold over us.

I shared details of my own life history with my children tonight--things that they had not known to this point. They are not always comfortable to reflect on, but I also recognize the way they have shaped me. The life that I have been blessed with and the healing that God has done in me paint a picture of the grace that is freely available regardless of our past. It's a perfect representation of God's ability to take what has been intended for harm and turn it into something beautiful.

Very few of us have a picture-perfect history. We can either choose to replicate the flaws that have affected us or by grace allow Him to reshape & improve us in spite of that past.