Thursday, October 31, 2013

Worst to First

It's sometime amazing how quickly things change. Last year the Boston Red Sox finished with one of the worst records in the American League while this year they had the best record and just wrapped up a World Series title. It may seem hard to believe that this can happen in just a year, but obviously the turnaround was fueled by practical & philosophical adjustments:

  • A new manager was hired: when your team underperforms and morale is poor a new voice in charge may be what is needed to motivate.
  • Team chemistry became an important value: careful attention was given to the blending of the team with input from key leaders in developing a positive team culture.
  • Difficult team members were replaced: character became a more important value than capability when overall talent became a secondary measurement to a humble, team-oriented approach.
  • A fresh, winning attitude was implemented: when you are dissatisfied with your results you have to decide that losing isn't an option and choose to adopt a winner's demeanor even before you start winning.
  • Unity breeds continued success: instead of assigning blame & creating cliques in the team you find ways to build camaraderie even if they seem simple (like growing manly beards.)
These are good, solid principles that helped change the fortunes of a team in one calendar year, but the biggest motivator is a hardened desire for things to change. Experiencing an IHHE (I Have Had Enough) moment  is the first step to our situations changing for the better.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who Am I?

Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men. 1 Chronicles 17:16-17

God had spoken great truth and blessing over David and his family--more than David could begin to comprehend. Imagine David's emotions and thought processes as he hears that while he has been actively pursuing God there has been a bigger plan ready to guide his family. In spite of all David's wrong actions & motivations God was working to bless him and his future generations. This is a scenario we wouldn't possibly believe if it was offered to us by anyone else, but it is a perfect picture of God's grace. 

I know I don't always make the right decisions for myself and my family. I can own up to a litany of poor decision making on my part that has resulted in difficult circumstances and rough years of healing. The one (imperfect) constant in the midst of that has been my desire to pursue God. I couldn't always define it, but I knew that I was chasing after something bigger than my own ambition. I desperately want to honor God through the way I follow Christ and lead my family even though it may not appear that way on the surface. Fortunately for my family (and David's) it's that passionate desire of the heart that God rewards. No matter how much I might get wrong (and that list grows daily) I know that I long to honor God with my life. I certainly wouldn't profess to a be a man of David's caliber, but I feel confident that God is ready to bless my family as well. It's my daily reminder of His abundant grace working in my life.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


That's a nasty word that is never really used in a positive statement. We rebel against the idea of someone in authority over us in this fashion as it speaks of repression & suppression. Even though we don't like the concept we practice it daily in our personal lives when we allow our circumstances to dictate our emotions and perspectives. 

What if we switched our thinking and started to dictate our response ahead of time? What if we decided to authoritatively choose to act with grace, patience, and stability regardless of the events of the day and the actions of the people around us? It's the principle of resolving what kind of person we want to be and acting like it whether things go the way we think they should or not. We're in charge and we should choose now what we'll do and it will come naturally in the middle of the moment.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Here's the truth as difficult as it may be to admit: I am not as good at things as I like to think I am. As difficult as this is to admit this is a trait that a lot of us probably share. We can often operate with an overinflated sense of self by taking a personal strength and magnifying it so much that we fool ourselves about its true value. It's a fine line of using what we have to our greatest capacity and overstepping our bounds as ego takes over. I have seen too many good leaders fall victim to this abuse and then wonder how things have crashed around them. 

The flip side to this is that we are also not as bad at things as we tend to think we are either. Crossing the line of self-effacement into self-abuse is an easy step for many. This is often a reflection of poor childhood experiences, a lack of positive mentoring, or destructive self-esteem brought on by the lack of realistic, loving influences. It can be just as devastating as we end up denying our own value leading to an aimless life that ends in harm either physically or emotionally.

The truth is that what we seek is a healthy balance between our positive & negatives attributes.  It's the person that is confident in Christ who is able to accurately measure themselves through the lens of God's strength. We will recognize the need for continued maturity but also celebrate where we currently are. It's the balance found in not overestimating or underestimating ourselves, but in recognizing that all of us belongs to God and He is working in our strengths & weaknesses for our betterment.

There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Looking Up

When we meet with our life group every other week I open the discussion with an extremely difficult question. We begin by asking each person to share their "high moment" from the week-describing something that was the best part of what they experienced. In all of my experiences in groups this is one of the most difficult questions to ask. It makes each of us carefully analyze our week and find something positive to share. Honestly, there are some weeks (and months) where this is more difficult than others. We struggle through the past seven days to find a highlight that is worth sharing. Sometimes it is a monumental event that we can't wait to talk about and other times we are sifting through the refuse of a nasty week to dig out a small morsel to cling to. The benefit of the exercise is that it gets us to open up to our group, but most importantly it is for us to see that God is doing something positive in each of our lives if we would take the time to find it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Better Together

As much as we may sometimes desire it, we were not meant to live independent of other people. God made that clear in Genesis when He created woman from Adam and said, "It's not good for man to be alone." While I am incredibly blessed with a fantastic wife I don't believe that God was only speaking about marriage & companionship. I believe He was giving us a bigger principle. He was
communicating how much better our quality of life will be when we surround ourselves with others. 

When we live in community we find that our lives are enriched as we care deeply for other people. We are able to step into areas of need and give them the opportunity to do the same for us. These friendships enrich our lives as we grow in the depth of our relationship and are able to move past superficial communication to something more meaningful. Our prayers move past the simple thought of blessing someone to understanding the specific need and revelation they need to mature. These relationships are not easy to develop and can be painful to maintain during tumultuous times. The sweet unity we find in sticking together and making this level of investment will affirm God's desires for us to grow together.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Parental Persuasion

I was honored to lead the funeral for a man that I did not personally know today. Most of my direct knowledge of him was shared by his son who is also a friend of mine. His stories of his dad helped me to shape the message I was able to share, but I found this man's true story in the lives of his children. His impact on them (and the whole family) was quite apparent. It was honor to meet their father through them and left me feeling as if I knew him in some small way myself.

We shouldn't ever sell short the impact we have on our children and family. We never know exactly how our words, attitudes, and actions will affect them, but we can rest assured that they will be a powerful influence. It's something my wife & I give a great deal of thought to as we try to do the best we can with our three girls. It's not a responsibility we take lightly nor will that opportunity end as long as we have breath. We'll just continue to pray fervently, lead them the best way we know how, and trust in God's strength through our weakness.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Offering Hope

Even though it fascinates me (and I have written about it several times) you never fully know the background story of the people you meet along this journey of life. When you choose to interact with them (even in some seemingly small way) you are potentially changing the trajectory of their tale. You have the opportunity to be a hero to someone who is desperate for hope. Will you take that risk? The rewards can far outweigh our embarrassment and validate our efforts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Avoiding Sin

In Romans 7, Paul writes in a painfully honest voice about his own struggle with sin. He says, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." He accurately describes the struggle we all face-the sinful things we want to stop doing, but just can't seem to stay away from.

The question we have to ask is whether we actually want to avoid sin. It can't just be about regret for poor decisions because that doesn't bring lasting change. Sometimes we even use excuses to defend our choices and make ourselves feel better: 
  • It's not that bad. 
  • At least I'm not doing what they're doing.   
  • I deserve this. 
  • I can't help it, it's just the way I am. 
  • I'm not hurting anyone so it's fine. 
  • As long as no one else finds out it's okay. 
When we lean on these excuses we are revealing that we don't hate sin enough to try something different. Honestly, we can't make permanent change solely through personal willpower anyway. We have to have the burning desire to stop destructive habits and start life-giving ones and pair it with humility that allows God to be the fuel that carries us through. We have to want to eliminate the sin in our lives and not just the consequences to gain godly power over our choices. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

365 Days Later

Today marks one complete year in my blogging life as I have posted every day since last October. It has been an exercise in discipline and self-development to maintain this pace. The past year has been an opportunity to share thoughts and invest in people from a distance and has been a ministry in itself. Some days were harder to write than others while some days created a flow of words that covered multiple blogs. I know I was writing for others but will admit that a great deal of it was for me as well. I don't know where this will end up but I'm planning to keep posting for now. Perhaps God has something bigger planned for this than I can see. Many thanks to those of you who read whether it's regularly or on a whim.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

It Matters

What are you doing? This isn't an accountability raid or an interrogation of present behaviors. It's a question designed to make you think about the significance of the things we do each day. Each decision we make and the subsequent action (or inaction) is either building into our lives or taking away from it. Even the simple tasks make a difference in our perceptions & attitudes which will flow into the development of our character. It's the difference in recognizing that our lives are made up of countless small events and choices or foolishly believing that only the big moments count in defining our lives. The first perspective yields more joy and causes us to leverage each day to its maximize potential.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Going Public

Today was Baptism Sunday at Northridge. While we firmly believe that there is no set time that a decision has to take place, we wanted to offer a special opportunity for people to go public with their decision to follow Christ. We have been praying for this day and asking God to lead people to commit their lives to following Him.

We've had several special-emphasis days like this in the past and you never know exactly what will happen. There will be surprises, introductions to new people, great moments of euphoria, and tears as some are overcome with emotion. There will be visible relief on their faces as they grasp the joy of their life-transforming decision, but we can't even begin to fully understand the complete depth of their journey and all that led them to this point. We choose to trust in what God has done in their spirit to bring them to the point of action. It's simply an honor to be a very small part in what they are doing and the bold proclamation they are making. Their authentic actions speak of the truth found in publicly choosing to follow Christ and our increasing passion to see even more lives transformed.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Return to Normal

After we experience sentinel life events (death, separation, turmoil, illness, poor choices, etc) we
often talk about our desire to get back to normal. The problem is that we can no longer return to what used to be. Our circumstances & life results have created a new normal that we must adjust to. No matter how much we might long for it the old status quo doesn't exist anymore. 

How will we adjust to this new standard? Continuing to search for something that isn't available will only frustrate us and those our attitude affects. Our ability to adapt will determine our sense of peace and our maturity. Our inability to adapt will heighten our level of discomfort and create rifts in our relationship with God and the people we care about.   

Friday, October 18, 2013

Expecting More

We have a powerful partnership with Vaughn Chapel Missionary Baptist Church here in Milledgeville. Their lead pastor, Tony Fraley, is a great man of God who is desperate to see churches come together and
facilitate change in our community. He & I meet regularly to challenge and encourage each other and are always looking for ways to partner together. Tony came to Northridge this past Wednesday night with several members of their church and shared with us and I am still meditating on the message that he brought and all that it means for my own life & the future of the church here. He taught out of 2 Kings 4 and the story of a widow that asked the prophet Elisha for help which was brought to her through a miracle of God providing oil based in part on her faith. Here are some highlights below (with some added commentary from yours truly) :

When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. (2 Kings 4:6 ESV)

  • Are we mixing our prayer with faith?
    (It's easy to say the words without actually believing God will do anything.)
  • Pray and apply faith with action.
    (Sometimes the answer to our prayer is revealed by taking action.)
  • If you don't expect anything you won't receive anything.
    (In other words, you get what you pray for.)
  • The essence of faith is expectation.
    (It's a waste of time if we aren't expecting God to do anything.)
  • Faithfully anticipate.
    (Look for God's specific response--it will be there.)
  • God gets frustrated with us when we don't expect Him to deliver.
    (He has shown us that He wants to bless His children. Shouldn't we look forward to that?)
  • Prayer is often the last thing on our list. We do everything else 1st.
    (This one hits close to home. It's time to stop operating solely on our own power & go to God at the beginning instead of the end.)
  • Expectation is the mental attitude of the faithful.
    (You've got to prepare yourself mentally for what God will do. It's not just an attitude, but an exercise in growth.)
  • Action is the physical attitude of our faith.
    (Don't just stretch your mind. You need to stretch your abilities, wallet, and calendar to make a difference.)
  • Your answer may come at any moment from any direction.
    (You can anticipate an answer, but God doesn't always work in the exact manner we have seen before. Keep your eyes open and trust that He's working in the best way possible.)
  • Do you believe He can do or will do?
    (This describes our view of God. Do we see Him as all-powerful, but withholding blessing or as a generous Father & King who wants to give the best to His children?)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tall Task

What do you do when the task at hand seems so overwhelming that you don't know where to begin? The mountain of problem(s) is larger than you are able to accurately evaluate and attack. You want to make changes and create impact, but it really seems too big to overcome. These are life circumstances that seem to overwhelm us at every turn.

  • Your marriage has been ignored for so long that scars have built up that deaden your sensitivity. 
  • Your addiction has such deep hooks in you that are scared to think about the innumerable steps in recovery.
  • It's been so long since you spoke loving & encouraging words to your children that the wall of mistrust is bigger and stronger than your willpower. 
  • Your passion for making a difference is tempered by the sheer volume of damaged, hurting people surrounding you and the deep strongholds that refuse to let them go. 
I'm reminded of a great quote from Pat Riley, general manager of the Miami Heat, who said (about the immense work in front of him), "I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I know what I'm supposed to do-I just don't know where to start." The truth is that we can look at our circumstances in the same light. When faced with this mountain we get to choose one of two reactions: be so overwhelmed that we are paralyzed with the enormity of the task or choose a direction and start ferociously working to at least see some progress. I'd rather invest effort in trying something than finding failure through passivity and fear.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Waste Management

Yesterday I wrote about the things that take up our time that might be misconstrued as time wasters even though they are beneficial (read that here.) Today we want to look at those things that actually drain energy from us. These might indicate ways that we squander our time and influence without realizing what we are doing.

We waste time when we:
  • Allow forgiven sin to continue to cause us shame. When we genuinely confess sin to God and seek His forgiveness, we have to leave that in our past. God has cleared the slate and we only damage ourselves when we continue to stay sorrowful once we are forgiven.
  • Make the same repeated mistakes without learning from them. We are all imperfect and will stumble in our thoughts, words, and actions. When we continue to do the same foolish things we are proving our own stubbornness and causing tremendous damage to ourselves and those close to us.
  • Ignore opportunities to share Christ with people around us. God is constantly placing people in our path (divine appointments) and we can choose to ignore these moments due to lack of recognition, fear of rejection, or apathy. This is wasting our personal story and a chance to change someone's life for eternity.
  • Fill our schedules with busyness that has no eternal impact. We can inflate our own ego by having a personal agenda that keeps us constantly moving but never influences the Kingdom. We waste tremendous time when we are consumed with creating a persona that has the appearance of impact, but really only satisfies our ego and deep need to feel valued.
  • Fail to see the value in our loved ones. We have a limited number of conversations, times of investment, and experiences with the people we love. We can choose to use each one wisely or allow our emotional state to short circuit these by either causing negative impact or having zero influence at all.
  • Put off what God is calling us to be part of. God will work through our choices and even our inaction, but we often fail to realize the significance of each day's opportunity to mature and develo our faith. 
We can work to eliminate the obvious small-impact time wasters in our life, but are we willing to tackle the difficult areas?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


We all have ways of wasting time by doing things that distract us from our purpose and derail us in pursuit of our goals. Some are deliberate while others are only recognized after the time is gone. It can be confusing sometimes as we may mistakenly mis-evaluate things as interruptions and distractions when they are actually pushing us in the right direction. These are things we do where we might feel we are being wasteful when they are actually beneficial to us. 

It's never a waste of our time when we:
  • Have seemingly directionless conversations with our children. This is time that can not be recovered once it is gone and we should value even the silly moments while we have them. 
  • Have quiet moments with our spouses. There doesn't always have to be a conversation for time together to be renewing. 
  • Invest in someone else. We should have someone that we are pouring energy into through prayer, conversation, and accountability. Immediate results may not be seen, but we need to be faithful to the intention of developing others. 
  • Rest. When this is used as justification for laziness we have missed the real meaning of taking a (brief) break. Rest is essential if we are going to operate at full strength and use our gifts & talents wisely. 
  • Practice silence. I have learned the hard way that you don't always have to speak to be heard. You can gain more insight and often offer more wisdom by observing & choosing the best time to interject. 
  • Praying. This seems fairly obvious, but when we pray without seeing the results we are asking for it can be frustrating. Know that even if you don't receive the response you think you should, the discipline of prayer is building you up spiritually. 
Tomorrow's blog will examine the ways that we actually waste our time and how we can limit those negative practices. 

Monday, October 14, 2013


At the end of today there will be 77 days left in 2013. I wrote recently about the days that were left in this year (read that here) and how they were challenging me to make the most of what was left. I wrote down some very practical objectives from a personal, family, and ministry perspective. I keep them easily accessible (thank you technology) so that I can read back over them and determine where I'm at in my progress. I'll check back on that list periodically, add an item or two, and even add more detail to existing desires. It's a system of self-accountability and refocusing myself on the things I have decided are important to me.

I don't always like the level of progress that I see and will find that sometimes I am forging powerfully ahead while at other times I am spinning in place without a lot of headway. It's almost easier to write down a lofty list of ideals and never check back on your progress. The truth is that when you take the time to determine your growth, you won't always be pleased with the results. The problem is that if you aren't willing to measure what you're doing, then it doesn't really matter whether you set goals or not.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shifting Meaning

Peace is a difficult concept for us--partially because we misunderstand its actual meaning. We tend to believe it's merely an absence of conflict while its pure form carries much more promise. In the depth of peace we find the hope of reconciliation, resolution of discord, and easing of disunity. It is a quiet confidence in spite of current circumstances and emotions. Peace is desperately sought after and only truly found in quiet moments of personal humility and contentment. It doesn't ignore the turmoil that may surround us or the disquieting tension of the unknown future, but allows us to find rest as we trust in God's perfect provision. I wager we would find greater (and better) peace if we grasped God's definition of it instead of our own incomplete, imperfect concept.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Words

Some like to think that you have to talk more to
get your point across (a trap that I sometimes fall
into) but there is power in simplicity and economy of speech too. Tonight it only took two words to say what matters most, "I do." They are words that convey much more than acquiescence to a rehearsed set of vows or an expected, timely response. They were words filled with passionate emotion and fervent dedication that echoed their depth of commitment. These are words shaped by past experiences that bring an even greater gratitude for present blessings. This private oath shared publicly give us a glimpse of the emotional intimacy between a couple. It reveals the trust that has been built between them and the firm foundation that will only be strengthened over time. It's a promise of stronger things to come that are forged in the fires of resilience, healing, and God's restoration. I'm honored to have had a front row seat while they were shared.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good Man

(speaking of all sound men) "...that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day."  Thomas Paine, Common Sense

This reflects the viewpoint that man is inherently good and and becomes evil only when he makes the conscious decision to be less than he is created to be. It supposes that we are stronger and possess higher levels of integrity than we often choose to display. It is an idyllic viewpoint that describes a passionate desire to see excellence in all people that is tempered only by those that refuse to live up to this ideal.This potential is what inspires us to boldly step out to be revolutionaries in the fight against oppression and champions of genuine justice for all people. It's a passionate desire that is fueled by the spark of righteousness that is part of all of us-a gift that only comes from God.

We are made to strive for higher ideals and a greater system of fair play. When we abandon that for the pursuit of personal gain and ego satisfaction, we also choose to discard the purity of our true nature. It's a matter of seeking the best of who we are designed to be and caring for fellow man instead of casting aside that goodness for selfish endeavors. History (and current society) is littered with the debris from choosing poorly. 

Which choice will you make? To do what is right even though it is difficult and ridicule is the potential reward or seek only individual gain that cares nothing for the plight of others, but inflates our own health portfolio? This is the quintessential question that separates positive innovators from negative oppressors.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Perfect Day

How would you answer someone if they asked you to describe your perfect day at work? Some might cheat the process by choosing not to be at work, but that doesn't really answer the question. Could you identify in positive terms what that would look like? It would mean that you have a clear vision of what you do, how to maximize the portions that matter the most, and a way to minimize the negative aspects that bog you down. It's the ability to recognize that there are certain things that feed our souls and energize us while also seeing the need to balance the task lists that are part of being disciplined. If we are to thrive in our area of calling we have to find the equilibrium of what must be done and what inspires us. That is what keeps positive when the weight of responsibility seems to grow too heavy.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Adjusting Intensity

It's playoff time in baseball-one of my favorite times of the year (even though as a Mets fan I don't get to experience it for my team very often.) Teams have played a 162 game season to get to this point and most of them have followed a fairly successful formula to be in a winning position. The interesting thing about baseball is that strategy you adhered to over the course of a long season isn't necessarily the same one you implement when survival is at stake. Players on the roster become willing to do things that are outside of their normal role, managers take greater risks earlier in games, and greater attention is paid to minute details by the entire organization. Emotions are high and focus is narrowed as everyone realizes the need to do whatever is necessary to succeed.

This philosophy leads me to a few questions: 
  • Am I willing to do whatever it takes when it really matters? 
  • Am I able to accurately perceive the season I am in and act accordingly? 
  • Can I sacrifice my own ego and agenda to find success when it's in immediate sight? 

Answering this in the affirmative reflects a willingness to bear down and work harder when the time demands it or to walk away from a job to focus our energies on our families. It's a level of maturity that can be difficult to achieve, but is necessary to succeed when it really matters. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Escape Plan

My wife & I are big fans of the show "Burn Notice." We love the action, the character development, and the unique approach to handling conflict and conspiracy theories. We joke with each other about how our lives are different from watching the show as I can now enter a room, quickly identify the exits, decide what in the room can be used as a weapon, and determine the angles that potential threats might attack from. It might prove to be a useful life skill at some point and certainly takes me up a notch on the tough-guy scale if I can pull it off. These acquired abilities would definitely make me a better spy (and hard-core pastor) but they can be devastating when they are applied to our relationships.

I have unfortunately witnessed the post-traumatic fallout of relationships gone awry from intentional (and unintentional) damage. The moment people walk into commitment they start identifying ways to escape instead of methods that guarantee success, are increasingly wary of threats instead of thinking the best of the other person, and are immediately on the offensive with weapons shaped by our words, attitudes, and actions. It makes for good television, but it is far from the best way to build a healthy relationship with people that we care about.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trying to Move On

Has someone ever done something to you that you struggled to forgive them for? I don't think any of us hasn't battled with offering forgiveness at some point. The most difficult forgiveness isn't always offered to others though, but can be what we deny ourselves. In his book, Moving Forward, Everett Worthington shares the intimate details of his own struggle following his brother's suicide. Early in the book he shares this simple truth, "The struggle is with yourself, and much of the work that needs to be done is in understanding your self, the circumstances of your biggest regrets, and the effect of these issues on your daily life."

Everett's painful personal story form the backdrop to this helpful book as he is starkly honest about his struggles with self-forgiveness. It's only in his own recovery that he is able to share true statements that help others overcome the pattern of self-condemnation. He says, " Breaking free from self-condemnation requires first that you become aware of the problem--and once you're aware of it, decide to deal with it." It's an honest and direct approach to an overwhelming problem. His main teaching and therapy principle is based on REACH forgiveness which carries you through five steps: Recall the hurt, Emotional replacement, Altruistic gift of forgiveness, Commit to the forgiveness you experience, Hold on to the forgiveness whenever you doubt you have forgiven. While it may appear to be formulaic it is more practical in terms of psychological and spiritual healing. 

It was difficult to read parts of this book and not because of the poor content. Everett's story of personal struggle with his brother's suicide painted a very real picture of someone who struggled through the very things that he was teaching. This is not an author spouting off theory, but one who had waded through the real battles of practical application. His intimate connection with God enabled him to find real healing and that is the premise of any genuine recovery from this kind of devastation. I recommend slowly reading through his book if this is a personal area of hardship. Meditating on each chapter will give the reader an opportunity to reflect on personal contributions to emotional struggles and find restoration through God's ultimate healing.

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

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Work & Wait

What do we do when we are:


The only way to make it through is to keep doing what you know is right. Trust in what God has done in the past and believe in His promise to never abandon His children. He will make things known & clear in His timing. We can't change the time frame, but we can keep placing our confidence in His coming answers to our prayers.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Coincidental God

I don't believe in coincidence. I know that sometimes it might seem as if things just happen to flow together at the right time, but I give more credence to God than I do to chance. This confident belief takes interesting circumstances and attributes them to the grand design of a sovereign King instead of trusting in happenstance. It doesn't take away from the "cool factor" of the occurrence, but it does help me pay careful attention when it happens.

If I hold fast to the presumption of God's design over coincidence then I have to observe each instance with respect and anticipation. Being in the right place to have a conversation with someone in need is no longer "lucky", but a choice I have to be obedient to where God is leading me. It's a grand adventure with unlimited potential for connecting, influencing, and bringing hope to people surrounding me. When I recognize that it's not my own deft orchestrations or personal power bringing success I can see where God is setting things up for the greatest impact.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Making Time

What are you making time for in your life? When you make certain decisions (to get married, have a family, accept a job, volunteer, follow Christ) there are responsibilities that along with those choices. With our limited resources of time and energy, we will only be able to invest in certain things. While choosing to act responsibly will limit the expendable time we have left, it is still ours to spend. The question all of us face is what we will do in those moments.
  • Do we increase the depth of our current relationships? 
  • Are we reading & learning as a leader? 
  • Are we wasting time in efforts that bring no return results? 
  • Are we finding pleasure in a hobby that keeps getting squeezed out of our daily schedule? 
  • Do we volunteer and give part of that time back to others with no expectations in return?
  • Are we finding time to rest and recover from the other parts of our week?
  • Do we consistently make time for exercise?
  • When are we devoting ourselves to our journey with God?
We will make time for the things that are important to us. Once we figure out what that is we might have to move our schedules around to make time for it all. We either go through the rescheduling or end up lamenting the lack of time we have for important things.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Need Thee

I stumbled across an adaptation of an old hymn last week that has been resonating in my head since I found it. That might be influenced by the fact that I've listened to it at least 20 times this past week. It's an incredibly beautiful & creative acoustic version of the hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour" with one man (Sam Robson) singing nine different parts. The harmonies are gorgeous and I certainly marvel at Sam's range and ability to work this together. It's not just the musical groove that draws me in however. It's the simplicity of understanding my deep need for God in every hour of my life. I don't want to only desire Him in tough situations or circumstances, but in times of peace and confidence as well. He is my King, my Heavenly Father, and the Lover of My Soul and I desperately need Him at all times. It's not just an acknowledgement, but an impassioned plea.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just One

This journey of life is often difficult. There are circumstances and events surrounding us that are often outside of our control. Our relationships go through rough patches with some of them becoming permanently severed in the process. Our minds work overtime as we try to make sense out of insensible facts and the decisions of others. We even fret over the outcome of the future even though we can barely make sense of today's happenings. Sometimes we will manage to push through these storms and be at peace. There are other times when it all seems to collapse at the same time and we become completely undone.

There is no magic button to have it all make sense or for everything to become instantly better. We simply have to remind ourselves that while we may not have seen this confluence of events God is not surprised or caught off guard. We recognize that we cannot manipulate all of life's events to work out for our own good and put our faith in a Father and King who is able to control what we cannot. We take a deep breath (sometimes through tears and often in frustration) and simply ask God for the strength and focus we need for this day.

We can't travel a journey of 1000 miles all at once and we won't arrive at a secure, confident future in a blink of an eye either. We trust God for what He brings to us today and seek nothing more. When we can pray this in confidence we'll find that God is giving us exactly what we need to persevere for this one 24 hour period. We'll then see that the difficult journey becomes more manageable when we only ask God to give us what we need to be strong today.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Keep Moving

I hate being interrupted when I'm talking to someone. I also hate it when my momentum is interrupted as well. I often feel as if I have a decent rhythm, but if I take my eyes off what is important I can quickly find myself off track. Constant reminders, task lists, and repeating the vision helps me stay focused on the right path. I have to speak the truth of a preferred future often or the malaise of an ordinary present reality takes over.