Thursday, July 31, 2014

Minor Adjustments

"Small shifts in our thinking can redefine the way the way we live."

Where do you need to shift your thinking?

  • Future goals
  • Parenting
  • Finances
  • Maximizing personal strengths
  • Community involvement
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Commitment to Christ
  • Church
  • Personal development

It might be overwhelming to think about the depth and width of wholesale personal change in all of these areas at once. If we can begin with a small shift in the way that we think about these specific parts, we can determine the next step in the right direction. The small beginnings will help us see incremental progress that will lead to success.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Up

It's not easy to write about an unhealthy communication trap that I am often guilty of falling into. It's much easier just to notice it in other people and be irritated with their habit than to do something about it myself. However, I truly believe it is a common practice that is detrimental to developing genuinely compassionate community. It's the relationship-killing practice of "one-upping."

This is commonly seen when someone shares a story of how difficult things are in their life and we feel the need to top their tale with our own. It quickly becomes a contest to see who can elevate their level of woe above the other. No matter how difficult a present life circumstance might be, we can swing the attention back to ourselves and diminish the other person in just a few sentences. This is not meant to include genuine stories of compassion for the sake of encouragement and reminding people that they are not alone. Sadly, those positive story-tellings are often the exception instead of the norm.

Why do we feel the need to "one-up" somebody? Is it a selfish desire to minimize someones experience and life trials by making our circumstances much worse? Without always recognizing it are we finding ourselves caught in a constant need for inflating our own ego?

Why can't we simply empathize with that person without having to tell our "greater" story? Even if we are wounded from the pain of our own decisions, would it hurt us to focus on the person in front of us? Imagine the difference in our families, workplaces, and community if we cared for the immediate needs of people without having to win the game of "who's situation is worse." Genuine compassion doesn't redirect attention back to ourselves.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back to School

I always experience a bit of nostalgia this time of year as the school year gets started. It reminds me of my days teaching high school and how much I enjoyed the camaraderie of the staff gathering back together after the long summer. There were always new faces of enthusiastic new teachers ready to change the world as well as the seasoned veterans buckling in for another year of influence and education. We would exchange hugs, handshakes, and slaps on the back as we talked about our summer adventures and learning experiences. There was excitement in the air as we anticipated great things in the coming year with the exhaustion from the end of the previous year temporarily forgotten in the past.

I found myself watching the first faculty meeting of a local high school from a short distance this morning as all of these thoughts rolled through my mind. I was excited for them and the new challenges their students would bring. There will be great triumphs this year for them and also great disappointments. They will have powerful opportunities to shape young lives and open up minds to new possibilities. These educators will have unique moments to provide encouragement and speak positive truth.

My prayer for all of our teachers and staff is that they would remember the value of what they are doing as the invest in this generation. I pray that they would recognize the power of influence and know that success is not always immediately measurable. I pray that they would stay focused on doing what is right even when it is difficult and would maintain their commitment to their calling. I pray that they would strive to understand the stories of their students and know that the issues they see on the surface reflect a complicated and sometimes difficult life. I pray for patience, understanding, and insight that helps when circumstances are difficult.

Their calling is a noble and difficult one and they have my highest respect for their daily efforts and investment. Thank you teachers and staff for your sacrifices and willingness to make a difference in our youth. Your impact is greater and longer lasting than you can imagine.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ready for More

We all possess finite amounts of energy: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. Our pattern of life demands that we pour out our energy reserves in various places. Many times we get to choose where we will invest our energies for the best possible impact, but there are also times when the circumstances dictate how our personal reserves are spent. The truth is that whether it is through the day-to-day pace of life or unexpected, unique situations, we will eventually run out of energy. People that are healthier (from a holistic perspective) are those that recognize when their levels are low and know what to do to replenish them.

To maximize our potential we need to be honest enough with ourselves to see when we have exhausted our capabilities. We also need to be self-aware enough to know what to do to fill ourselves back up. It's a wise person who not only correctly identifies a deficiency, but who also takes the time to work to refill their empty tanks of personal strength.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Owning the "Oops"

The Colorado Rockies are the worst team in the National League West division and sit 14 games out of first place. Last night, they chose to honor one of their better players, Troy Tulowitzki by giving away 15,000 jerseys with his name on the back. Sadly, the team misspelled his name on the jerseys that the fans received. That means that someone didn't do a quality check to make sure things were printed correctly before the big day. This also means that someone didn't know how to spell the last name of the best player on the Rockies either. It's an embarrassment for the organization and a tough day for a few employees in particular.

While this is a big mistake that is garnering national attention, it is also a big moment for the Rockies leadership. They could have chosen to cast the blame on one employee, fire them, and try to move on. They instead have modeled good leadership by owning up to the mistake and offering a new jersey in the future with the correct spelling. A true leader is willing to admit when they make a mistake without casting blame and then works to make the situation right. This is true of leaders in organizations as well as family leaders. Our willingness to own up to errors and work to correct them inspires loyalty and sets an example for others to follow.

It's inevitable that we will make mistakes, but we determine our reputation and legacy by how we respond to them.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tracking Progress

I drive a 1993 Volvo 240S that was generously given to me by my mother-in-law several years ago. It has served me well and is completely paid for which satisfies two important qualities in a vehicle for me. The engine runs well, but other features on the car are beginning to stop working. One of those is my odometer which stopped keeping track of miles at 212,559. I didn't realize this until I was checking my mileage for my next oil change and realized it hadn't moved. It really isn't a big deal since I don't plan on selling the car and the difficulty in removing the dash to fix it just doesn't seem worth the effort. It does mean that I can't accurately track how many miles I've traveled and have to use other methods to figure out my progress.

It makes me wonder how effectively I'm measuring progress in other areas of my life. How am I determining my spiritual growth? How do I know if I am a better husband and father? Do I know if I am moving closer to who Christ wants me to be? Am I better at thinking of the needs of other people or am I purely self-focused? Have I made some positive changes in my character and am I moving towards the man that I want to be? 

I need to figure out consistently accurate ways to measure these things if they are important in my life. If I'm neglecting to assess my growth then I'm deciding it's not that important for me to make progress.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Close to Perfect

Perfection is unattainable, but there are some times when the details come together in a way that is good medicine for your soul. What does that day of rest look like?

  • Waking up without having to get right out of bed, but spending the next hour in quiet, dozy, meditative thought and prayer
  • Coffee being ready when I finally rise
  • Two hours on our back deck with my wife, our dogs, and my Bible
  • A random conversation with a kind, older, out of town couple in the parking lot of the church
  • A lunch date with all three of my daughters filled with laughter and goofy stories
  • Running into that same older couple as we went to lunch
  • Parallel parking lessons with my oldest girl
  • Playing a card game as a family instead of lounging in separate rooms
  • A good nap with a puppy on the couch
  • Ice cream for dinner
  • Ending the night vegging with the love of my life.
I needed a day like today as refreshment from the weariness of the regular pace of life. It may not have been ideal for anyone else, but it was exactly what I needed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Remembering Mercy

Last week at the CIY Move conference I was tremendously blessed to serve with phenomenally talented, God-focused kingdom workers. Our worship was led by the Aaron Pelsue Band* and their devotion to God and relational transparency were palpable. There was one song in particular that resonated deeply with me-especially one line in particular: "I deserve all the worst, yet You offer mercy."

This is a simple recognition of who I am and what I have done that is cast aside because of great love of God for me. It is a phrase that gives me hope and reminds me of how much my Father cares for me, His son. It is a lyric that erases my horrible past and propels me forward to the promise of a better future. 

I am so thankful for His mercy that makes me clean and new when I have done nothing to deserve it.

Hear my cries Lord, Hear my plea
All around me, All I see
Are canyons of heartache, rivers of mistakes
They’re calling out, longing for me

Hide me under Your wings of grace
Let Your love be my hiding place
Wash me clean, come make me holy
For I deserve all the worst, yet You offer mercy
I deserve all the worst, yet You offer mercy

When I’m parched, Lord, give me drink
Pull me up from, on the brink
Dangers abounding, my head is pounding
It’s clouding up my clarity

O Lord have mercy on me

Kyrie, kyrie eleison, O Lord have mercy on me
Kyrie, kyrie, eleison

*Please check out their website and purchase their music online. Their songs are powerful expressions of worship and they are genuinely Christ-centered. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Listen to the Story

We all have our own story. Since that is true, that also means that everyone around us has a story as well. We just don't know all the parts of the tale of lives around us. Each story is powerful because it belongs to each of us and is a fundamental part of who we are. Imagine the change in our culture's compassion if we took the time to stop and listen to other people's stories. We might be surprised at what we find.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Sides

I recognize that I have a strong personality that sometimes can overwhelm a room. I've had to learn (and still continue to do so) to be part of the conversation in a room without having to dominate the entire dialogue. Faithful, caring mentors, good friends, and a loving wife have helped me to see how to intently invest in other people without overpowering everyone. It's the difference in being a pleasant aroma that quietly permeates a room versus being a 16 pound bowling ball that gets everyone's attention by slamming into the walls and furniture. Both will have an impact on everyone in the room, but one will be warmly welcomed while the other only hurts.

Are we cognizant of the positive and negative potential of our own personality? Will we give caring people the freedom to hold us accountable for how we leverage who we are? Are we willing to make the tough personal adjustments to be a more positive influence or are we comfortable with being a leadership bully? It's not that we have to stop being who we are, but that we learn how to lead without dominating the entire conversation around us.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living in Regret

There are many decisions in my own life that I regret. There are thoughts I have meditated on, words that I have spoken in haste, and behaviors I have chosen that I wish I could take back. My life's path is littered with the debris from immature decision making.

If it was possible to go back in time and correct these decisions, I would do it. I recognize that I could be in a much better spiritual, physical, and emotional state if I had avoided many earlier poor choices. I could be farther along in my own maturity. I could be in a more stable financial state. I could be a better husband, father, Christ-follower, and leader if I hadn't made so many other poor decisions. 

The reality is that I can't change any of those past choices. I can't erase them from the sum of my life's history and I am unable to remove the damage I have done to those around me. I have the option of being frustrated by this and lamenting what "could be" if I had lived differently. The better option is for me to recognize that this is where I am by God's generous love alone. Instead of living in anxiety over those life choices I will choose to move forward in humble acceptance of God's wonderful grace. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Built to Last

We have the potential to experience special spiritual moments that challenge and touch us more deeply than others. It could be a mission trip that changes our perspective, a week at camp that shows us new things about ourselves, or a week at CIY Move that exposes us to new direction for our lives. These become markers of maturity that we look back on with great fondness and that hopefully spur us on to something new and fresh in our faith. The great challenge is always in maintaining the intensity that we find in these moments.

It's obviously not possible to stay at the exact same level that we experience in these big events and in fact, we wouldn't want to. Being exposed to varying degrees of intensity makes each moment special and reminds us of the journey that we are on towards maturity. Each experience then becomes a catalyst that propels us forward toward God and teaches us something new as it becomes part of our faith history. Our hope is to take these occasions and add to them so that we maintain a steady commitment to a life that honors God. It's not a matter of relying entirely on these special times for impact, but combining them with our daily faith and watching God work in us all year long.

That is something that will last.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Get Ready

I just returned from another powerful week in Tennessee at the CIY Move conference for high school youth. I was honored to be the campus pastor this week which gave me an opportunity to invest in the lives of the adults that traveled with their high school youth. I had several adults admit to me that while they knew the conference was specifically intended to reach high schoolers, they were also deeply impacted.

Obviously, I wasn't surprised by this shared revelation. I would always tell our high school youth partners three things before we would head off to this conference:

1. Suspend your disbelief. Trust that everything we do will support the main point even if it may seem silly. If we (as adults) will engage in what's going on without being dubious our youth will do the same.

2. This event isn't for you. Please keep any negative talk away from our teens and preferably don't engage in it at all. If there is a legitimate issue please bring it to me so we can make it right.

3. Be ready for what God will do in all of us. Even though this event isn't for you, you will be impacted if you are open to it.

When we are willing to boldly share God's message our intended audience will not be the only ones affected. The message of surrendering your life and being transformed by the Holy Spirit is applicable to all ages. In fact, we will find nuggets of powerful truth in everything around us if we are willing to pay attention and do something with it once we receive it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sneak Peek

Have you ever purchased something online and been disappointed in the product once you had it in your hands? Or maybe you went to a new restaurant that friends had raved about only to be let down by what you ended up eating. Perhaps it was an experience somewhere that left you feeling shortchanged. After each of these you might be asking the question, "Is this really it?"

I can't seem to shake the urging of my soul that call for something more. This isn't a new thing for me, but it is something that continues to pull at my spirit. I continue to catch glimpses of something that is more glorious than just this simple, present moment. They are sometimes fleeting, but they are real and true at the same time. I recognize that this is part of God's grand story and that He wants me to see how all of my life (and others) fit into the tale He is weaving around us.

It's that understanding that brings great satisfaction in personal interactions, the power of spoken word, and the beautiful resolution found in music. All of these seemingly small pieces are pointing to our one true God and the massive tapestry of grace and love that we are part of creating. It is the confident comfort in this bigger story that fuels our desire to seek out depth in our relationship with Christ. This allows us to see how our present circumstances are a powerful part of something larger than even we can imagine. It's the sneak peek of something magnificent that inspires us to search out grander visions than just our own.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Listen Up!

What do you do when someone is trying to tell you something important? Do we take the time to set aside all distractions and focus on what they have to say or do we only partially commit our attention? I suppose that it might depend on who is speaking to us and the value we place on the words they will share. When it is someone we respect it changes how quickly we stop to listen. Our readiness to receive these words will determine how we take what is offered and put it into action.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Verbal Attacks

Imagine writing down on a card the most hurtful thing ever said to you and the most hurtful thing you have said to others. These are the words that trap us in the damage of our past and prohibit us from moving forward in freedom. These are the words that have affected our lives and shaped the way we handle our relationships. 

How do we move past these jumbled letters that have afflicted us so deeply? We can take the first step by taking that card littered with pain and throwing it away. We replace those words of pain with genuine expressions of encouragement and forgiveness. We refuse to allow the past to be the only thing that defines us and we replace it with the graceful hope of God's future. The resonating gong of this verbal litter hitting the trashcan symbolizes our pain and regret being cast aside. It's the sound of the beginning of our healing. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's Changed?

Here's a simple yet powerful truth: If Jesus Christ is alive then everything changes.

A man who can accurately predict his death and resurrection demands our attention. While it's driven by our faith in its veracity, it is so much more. The physical evidence of Jesus coming back to life is overwhelming if you take the time to examine it. There are eye-witness accounts that corroborate His demise and hundreds more (not just His inner circle of friends either) that will confirm His presence after death. If these are all true, then we are left with the choice of investigating what that means for us or rejecting the idea entirely. If we accept the truth of the resurrection then we need to recognize that other things change as a result of this catalytic event.

We are exploring that very idea this week at CIY Move in Tennessee. It's a simple premise that causes us to ask a personal question. If this is true, what changes in us? Are we willing to answer that? Are we willing to seek out personal change or can we convince ourselves that everything is fine the way it is?

I can imagine what path I would be on if I could not stand on this truth. I can attest to my life being entirely different because Jesus is alive. There is no other way to explain the gift of this life I have been honored to receive.

Monday, July 14, 2014


As a lifelong New York Mets fan, I have endured seasons of unfulfilled expectations, disappointment, and enjoyment at unexpected successes. My commitment to my team doesn't waver even if I am in the extreme minority. We have had great stars play for the team over the years and have also add over-achievers who quickly became fan favorites. This week in the baseball All-Star game we will have one representative on the squad, our second baseman Daniel Murphy. I've watched him over the last several years as he has worked diligently to enhance his skill set and make the most of his abilities. I read this assessment of him online last night:

Daniel Murphy is the antithesis of a star. There is no grace in his game. There is no flash. There is no sense of ease. His value stems entirely from function, not aesthetics, and because of this, he knew long ago that his only way to the major leagues involved walking a fine line. 

"I've always felt that at the point that I don't play the game with my hair on fire, I'm just not physically gifted enough to continue playing at this level," Murphy said. "So that's how I've always approached it." 

This level of self-awareness and dedication to hard work is an admirable trait for leaders as well. It requires us to be cognizant of our limitations and be willing to maximize our efforts to make the most of the opportunities in front of us. If we fail in either area we'll end up falling short of our leadership potential.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


There is a word that I caution people not to use when they are dealing with conflict or going through counseling. It is the word, "always" as in "You always say that" or "You always ignore me!" It can be a very unhealthy word in conflict resolution and can come across as extremely accusatory. When used in the wrong context it's a word without patience and grace. Even if it's used in a positive light, it's not completely accurate since none of us are constant enough in our reactions and character to make this 100% true.

I do know that it is a word that I can use to describe God. His nature does not change and His desire to rescue His children never fades. He has promised to be our refuge and that if we are faithful enough to ask for help He will answer. God doesn't necessarily answer in my timing or in the fashion that I would hope, but I do know with complete certainty that He will not abandon His people. When we accept that truth, there is peace that comes with a sense of certainty.

We sang a song today called, "Always" that speaks of that confidence and that God will always hold to His promises. I watched as people were deeply moved by the words of this song, not because of the excellence of the band, but because of the truth of the words that were sung. They resonate deeply within us as we all need a promise to hang onto when our circumstances seem to be constantly shifting. When we say that God will always be there for us it changes our outlook and lets us know where to go in our time of need.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Or Not

When circumstances are difficult and tension is mounting many people respond with the answer, "everything will work itself out" and "everything will be fine." While these are meant to bring us comfort in trying times and even deliver some hope, they aren't necessarily true. Things might work out to our liking and ease the tension we are feeling OR they won't. The question is: what will we do when things don't work out? Will we abandon our faith? Will we look for someone to blame for the lack of satisfaction? Will we spiral downwards into depression, guilt, and anger?

The truth is that sometimes things will get better OR they won't. We might be able to influence part of what happens, but we are really only able to completely control our reactions. I'm not sure that accepting this truth automatically brings peace. Hopefully we'll learn through repeated trials that our response to good and bad outcomes is the key to our faith development and personal maturity.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Contingency Plan

The big sports story of the day centers around NBA star LeBron James and his decision to sign with his
hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. This brings an end to his four year championship run with the Miami Heat and has shaken up the landscape for other free agents. Pat Riley is the president of the Heat who orchestrated LeBron's arrival and had made great overtures to keep him in south Florida. I'm certain that Pat is greatly disappointed in the decision (as are many Heat fans) and I know the sports shows will be full of predictions for what comes next. 

Just this week I was wondering what the Heat were going to do if their team didn't come back together they way they had imagined. Pat Riley is a highly successful leader and while he might have been knocked off stride, I am sure he has given thought to what his next steps should be. While Riley will have to revamp, I feel certain that he is not scrambling for alternatives at this point. He may not have the circumstances that he desired, but he also didn't wait until this decision was announced to start thinking of what to do. 

Effective, visionary leaders are always imagining possibilities and thinking through potential obstacles to be overcome. There will always be surprises in leadership and leaders with longevity learn to prepare themselves mentally for those occasions. Being completely unprepared for unexpected outcomes puts us further behind in making future adjustments.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Incomplete Vision

People often talk about having great vision for family, ministry, and community. I am a believer in being focused on that vision and putting all of your energies into seeing it become a success. The reality is that it's almost natural in the course of pursuing vision to run into roadblocks. When we find a huge obstacle in our way or feel that our vision is incomplete, there are some options in front of us:

1. Adjust our strategy
2. Adjust our vision
3. Abandon our vision
4. Persevere

Ranting about incomplete vision won't solve the problem. We either make adjustments that might be necessary for the next step, adjust our overall aim, or push through the difficulty to reach our goal. Each situation might call for a different answer, but stopping in the middle of the road won't accomplish anything.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Love Rekindled

I will readily admit that one of my favorite responsibilities as a pastor is when I am able to officiate weddings. Today I was able to preside over a remarriage for a couple as they came back together after being apart. Instead of an impersonal ceremony at the courthouse they decided to have it done here at the church. It was a simple crowd of two of our staff members and their beloved 16 year old dog. It was the best part of my day as it allowed me to be part of something very intimate and God-honoring.

I thought of several things today as I took part in this beautifully sweet ceremony.

  • The cliche saying that "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" is absolutely true. 
  • God is able to restore all things-not just some things, but all things.
  • Tough life lessons can produce deep-rooted love and understanding.
  • Don't take important relationships for granted.
  • Grace that is received from God and shared with someone else is incredibly powerful.
Sometimes a poignant reminder of what is important and a new beginning is what's needed for all of us.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pick One

I don't want to be too simplistic, but the truth is that we have two paths to choose in life. We can decide to forge our own way, rely on our own wisdom, and try to maximize our personal strengths based on what we think is right. Our other option is to take those same  things and trust God with the outcome. We might find a modicum of success doing things our own way, but we will be frustrated at some point with our own inadequacies. I guess the larger question to ask ourselves is, "What does it actually hurt to try things God's way for a while?"

Monday, July 7, 2014

Forward Focused

My office is a testimony to things in my past that are important to me. I have pictures and memorabilia of my time at Mainland High School, my first ministry position at Tomoka Christian Church, and special family moments. All of these collectible items might not mean much to anyone else, but they are extremely valuable to me. I enjoy the feelings that these things evoke and the memories of times shared with good friends that come to mind whenever I see them. As much as I treasure the past, however, I know that I must look to the future if I want to develop as a leader and mature as a person.

We didn't arrive where we are today without the influence of our life history. Unfortunately, we get stuck when we only look at the past and reminisce about the glory days. We have to train ourselves to appreciate our life experiences while looking ahead at our next steps of change and growth. It's an understanding that our history serves to give us momentum towards an even better future. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

One Direction

Knowing what direction to move in isn't always easy. We often make it more difficult than it should be because we rely entirely on ourselves instead of seeking God's wisdom. Humbling ourselves enough to hear what God has to say-even if it's painfully difficult-is the only way we can be assured of heading down the right path. When we have reached a point of exhausted desperation we have finally begun to open ourselves up to God's leading and perfect plan for our lives. Beginning with a simple prayer of submission, listening intently to where God directs us, and then being obedient to what He asks is the way to finding our true direction.

Father, I am tired of struggling to do things my way.
I am desperate for direction from You.
I want to follow Your lead for my life.
You know my heart and my desires.
Keep me in constant unity with Your Holy Spirit.
I trust You with my past, present, and future.
Reveal to me my next step.
Give me faith to trust You as I step forward.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Not Traveling Alone

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I have arrived where I am today. I used to say that I was a self-made man, one who had endured tough trials and managed to find success because of my personal drive and will. In retrospect, (and after having several helpings of humble pie) I gladly recognize that there is no way that could be a possibility if I am willing to be honest. If my current status was just the result of my personal supply of willpower, ambition, and focus, I would be very limited in my personal development and overall health. Instead, I am grateful to acknowledge the direct and indirect contribution of thousands of people to my journey.

I see the impact of the lives that God brought around me and continues to use to shape me into a better man than I could ever be alone. It's a powerful reminder that God cares far too much for me to let me ruin my life with my own decisions, but instead works faithfully to direct my steps down a path that leads to me being a God-focused man. It reinforces the simple truth that Pastor Patrick Morley shares in his books: "Because God is good, your life will not turn out like you planned." I'm forever grateful that God didn't abandon me to my own decision-making and poorly guided plan of life. I know that I am far from being complete, but I have greater confidence in this path from Him than I do in my ability to forge an independent life journey.

Friday, July 4, 2014

National Pride

As a celebration of July 4th and our Independence Day, I thought I would share one of the most beautiful versions of our national anthem that I have had the pleasure of hearing. Happy July 4th, my friends.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Predict the Future

Babe Ruth is arguably the best baseball player of all time. In 1930, he was awarded a contract that paid him $130,000 a year to play for the Yankees. His general manager at the time, Ed Barrow, was quoted as saying, "No one will ever be paid more." Contrary to Ed's forecasting ability, the average salary for a major league baseball player today is over $2 million. Obviously, good old Ed wasn't an expert at predicting the future. The truth is that most of us aren't experts in the practice of accurately predicting the future either. If we were more skilled at it, we would make better decisions in our present circumstances instead of being constantly disappointed by the results of our choices.

I suppose that leaves us with two directions: continue to do the best we can on our own with limited success or start trusting God to direct our future since He already knows what's going to happen. Doesn't sound like much of a choice to me even as I continue to struggle with that level of trust. I think part of it is a lack of faith in God's promises while some can be attributed to my stubborn pride that prevents me from accepting things that I may not want to hear. Beginning to trust God's promises instead of my own shaky predictions is the key to personal stability and maturity.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Just a Day?

Today is my birthday. I don't always do well with a day that celebrates me, but I have softened my stance in the last few years. Even though I don't necessarily love all of the personal attention, I have grown to appreciate the day for what it is.

I recognize that I have been given an extremely loving family that wants to let me know how much they care. As I get older, I also appreciate the gift of age as there are far too many reminders of the fragility and brevity of this life. Each birthday reminds me of the mistakes, successes, and learning opportunities of the past year. Being one year older also gives me hope for the potential of being better now than I was before.

I don't want to overvalue a birthday, but for too many years I refused to acknowledge it for what it was. Today I am grateful for the gift of another year to share life with those that are important to me. I might even find myself enjoying the simplicity of celebration. Perhaps I'm changing after all.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fight Club

I shared a song last week that has been resonating with me. I was listening to it again this morning and the
simple bridge "Our God is fighting for us always" was especially powerful. It reminded me of two different truths about God.

He is always fighting to get my attention and devotion. He works to communicate with me in so many different ways and wants to make sure that I focus on Him above all else. He knows that I am most fulfilled when I find my satisfaction in Him.

It also speaks to how He is fighting battles for me that I can't fight on my own and that I certainly can't win on my own strength. There are things happening in the spiritual realm that are beyond my comprehension and when I put my trust in my King, I can find victory through Him.

These are both comforting thoughts as they remind me that the Creator of the entire universe will do anything to have a relationship with me and that He will fight fiercely to protect the child He loves. It's so encouraging I could almost just repeat those words through the day to bring me needed strength and rest.