Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Caring Takes Time

Our lead pastor shared a phrase in his message a few weeks ago that very accurately described something I often feel. He said, "I can't care for all the people I care about." It's a true statement that doesn't diminish individuals or genuine concern, but recognizes our limited personal capacity to connect.

I would reiterate his statement and also expand it to include the fact that I can't care for all the things I care about. This means that there are many programs, projects, initiatives, and ideas that I want to see succeed. The truth is that I can't give them focused attention due to my limited supply of time and energy. This doesn't indicate my lack of concern for something or my lack of understanding of its importance.

If I want to develop healthy relationships and direction attention where it belongs, I have to narrow my focus. Learning to fully engage in limited areas is a difficult lesson for a caring leader. Choosing to do otherwise deprives others of a chance to lead and leaves far too many people and projects uncared for.

Monday, March 30, 2015


If we want today to be a different experience than a year ago we have to change something in us. We either adopt lasting habits, learn new skills, take some risks, or choose to react in different ways to our environment. It's the changes we make each year that create unique experiences for us. If we are unwilling to engage in something new, we shouldn't expect to see something we haven't already seen.

Doing the exact same thing for 20 years doesn't give us 20 years of experience. It gives us one year of experience repeated 20 times.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Century Mark

I literally crossed a significant mile marker yesterday in my private life that I would never have thought possible. I have now cumulatively run 100 miles this year. I know it may not seem like much to some, but it's a big deal to me. For years I told myself that I couldn't run for several reasons and yet now I find myself having to refrain from running every day. It has become something that I greatly anticipate and find more joy in than I ever did when I was younger. It's funny how your perspective changes once you have a small taste of success.

If I hadn't taken the chance to see what my body is capable of doing I never would have discovered the satisfaction of running. If I had chosen to believe the things I told myself (your body won't allow you to run, you can't do this) my negative self-talk would have defeated growth before I ever attempted it. Sometimes the only way to shut up the inner negative voice is to jump into action and find out you're capable of more than you thought.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Writing It As We Go

Today we celebrated the life of a wonderful 93 year old man who graduated from this life earlier this week. It wasn't a difficult ceremony to officiate as we had so many stories to share of his kindness, laughter, strength, and love. It is a tremendous relief to be able to tell these tales of a life well lived and to do so with the firm confidence of his position in heaven today. 

As I talked with several of his relatives after the service they were thankful for the words that we were able to share at his service. I told them each the same thought shared by our lead pastor with me through the years. While we grieve our loss, the ceremony is easy because he has been writing it for us so well his entire life.

The truth is that we are all writing our legacies now. It's reflected in the way we treat people around us, our reaction to life, the lessons we share, and the way we allow our God-blessed personalities to shine through. We're writing it through our devotion to following Christ and the passion created by sharing that with other people. It's found in laughter, tears, discipline, mistakes, accepting blame, sharing kindness, and a heart that wants what is best for the people they love. 

It doesn't have to be a legacy of perfection by any stretch of the imagination. I'll settle for one of consistent, genuine trust in God and a willingness to share His grace with the people in my life. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Washed By the Water

There is something powerful about water and the spiritual imagery of renewal and washing things clean. It has always resonated with my soul and stirs up waves of emotion that I believe were planted there by God to call me to something deeper. When it is tied together with music it vibrates a spiritual part of us that responds in a more intimate way than other mediums. It brings a desire to seek out the blessings of water and the renewal of life that God brings even through difficult times.

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Even when Earth crumbles under my feet
Even when ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won't never ever let you down
I won't fall
I won't fall
I won't fall as long as you're around me

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Own It

My first real paying job was at Taco Bell in Ormond Beach. I was making minimum wage, which at the time was the grand sum of $3.15 an hour. I had done other odd jobs to make a few bucks now and then, but this was my first official employment.

I distinctly remember an instance where I was making the sauces in the back and accidentally used the wrong proportion of powder and water. It made the sauce very clumpy and unusable, but I was so worried about making a mistake that I labeled it and stuck it in the back of our walk in cooler. I didn't tell anyone I messed up because I didn't want to get into trouble so early in my employment.

The problem with that bit of history wasn't in the waste of a $1 packet of pizza sauce, but in my unwillingness to own up to my mistake. It's a common problem seen on many different levels in our communities. We are looking for other people to blame for our circumstances and do whatever we can to hide our errors. Instead of owning up to our poor choices, we try to find ways to deflect blame and refuse responsibility. I believe part of it is attributed to our desire to not look foolish, but instead we end up being people with no backbone or integrity.

If we want to be part of an honest, trusting, growing community we can't maintain this course. We've got to learn from our mistakes by admitting them when they happen and using that experience to teach us a better path. When we are unwilling to own up to our mistakes we remove the opportunity for growth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Life here is a fragile existence. We might pretend otherwise, but we are given reminders on a regular basis. It confronts us when relationships are devastatingly changed, those that we love pass from this life to the next, injuries and illness occur, or feelings are deeply wounded. We are far from unbreakable in this temporary existence.

How comforting is it then to have the confidence in knowing this life is not all we are meant to experience? We can gain peace in stormy seasons through our acceptance of the greater gift that waits with Jesus Christ and and the unbreakable life he offers

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Step Up

When you have the opportunity to have a positive impact that unifies your community you need to step into action. Recognizing the unique moment, sharing the vision, mobilizing a team, and fulfilling the goals are keys to change. It's the call of the church to lead the way in restoration and genuine compassion.

Harrisburg Community Center from Northridge Christian Church on Vimeo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Right Perspective

"The only difference between stepping stones and stumbling blocks is how you look at them"
Roy Williams, basketball coach, University of North Carolina

We will all face adversity and it will come in many different forms. No matter how we might try to avoid it there will be trials to test us. Our ability to persevere can be attributed in large part to our perspective.

If we can only see obstacles as stumbling blocks we tend to be crushed when we encounter them. If we begin to see them as stepping stones we believe something better is on the other side. This is the perspective that leads us to believe we can overcome these trials as we mature and discover hope in the process.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Forging Community

Our Arizona mission team worked together this morning to pull off our annual "Winner Winner BBQ Dinner" fund raiser. It was a success on many fronts including the tremendous generosity of people at Northridge, servant-minded volunteers, and the leadership of my wife.

These events are powerful as they give us a chance to bond as a team with a common objective in mind. When you are going to work together in a foreign culture it's essential to have a training ground to build unity. It's similar to a preseason workout that prepares us for the real work ahead of us. This practice run gets us familiar with each other while we build some sweat equity. It won't effectively prepare us for everything we will face, but it does help to know that we have each other's back when it counts.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Strong or Weak?

If you are someone who believes in the power of prayer and God's ability to answer, how would you characterize your prayer life? Would it be a devoted life of conversation with God defined by strong, bold prayers? Or would it be one marked by inconsistency and weak requests?

I've often found that we pray weak prayers because we don't believe God can deliver or we don't think we're worthy enough to have Him answer. The key to moving to a stronger discipline of prayer is to remember it's not about us, but simply our faith in His generous ability.

Friday, March 20, 2015

In Denial

Injuries are part of life in the amateur and professional athletic world. Almost all athletes will deal with an acute or chronic injury at some point. Even though it may be a fact of life for the skilled athlete it doesn't mean they always handle it well. My own athletic training experience reminds me of the psychological difficulties associated with physical injuries.

Last week I read an article in USA Today talking about off-season injuries that affect athletes. One of the pitchers interviewed, Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago White Sox, said of these injuries, "In this game, you deny until you die." I took it to mean you don't talk about how you sustained an injury away from baseball, but I think it also applies to the mentality surrounding injuries overall. If you are in complete denial you can pretend they don't exist.

There are two different ways to view this: it's about denying responsibility for our actions and also trying to deny the truth about the severity of our injury. The first motive is a protective mechanism to keep the truth away from others and even ourselves. The latter is an effort to pretend nothing is wrong so that we can keep the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to. Neither approach is healthy (obviously) and represent a deep desire for us to cling to a part of life we are unwilling to part with even if it's time for it to pass.

What we desperately need to make it through this phase is a health dose of honesty. While that may not make a shoulder repair itself any faster, it will set our emotional, mental, and spiritual lives on the right path for healing.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Take the Wheel

I subscribe to Seth Godin's daily blog and appreciate his wisdom and creative thoughts. Seth always writes challenging blogs from a variety of perspectives and I appreciate how he makes me think. He has a way of writing that often makes me say, "Wow!" as he pushes me to consider things from a different perspective.

He wrote a blog yesterday which I thought was a brilliant nudge to anyone who needs to take action in their life. In a few sentences he pushed all of his readers to take the risk of experiencing life as an active participant and not as a passive observer. It's worth reading and hopefully will spur any readers here to be more engaged in the life they lead.

Click here to read Seth's blog, "Along for the ride." 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Grace & Hope

One of my favorite artists is Josh Garrels, a uniquely gifted musician I stumbled on many years ago. He has a very smooth sound and I have only met a few people who enjoy him as much as I do. He has one song in particular, "Farther Along" that I have listened to several times in the last 24 hours.

I've always enjoyed the song, but was spurred to listen to it more intently recently. It is a moving song of grace and hope and the timing has been right for it to resonate deeply with me. It reminds me that I don't have everything figured out right now and yet I can have confidence in the future that God brings for me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Farther Along

I keep learning tough life lessons as I work at developing the habit of running. Today was another difficult moment as I barely eked out two miles of running before having to call it quits. This comes on the heels of a week where I hit five miles for the first time ever and followed it up with a good pace on another eight combined miles over two days. I know that there will be up and down days in this relatively new lifestyle, but I find myself a little discouraged because I think I should be farther along than I currently am. I've got to keep reminding myself that I've only been running distances for two months and that I can't expect large, consistent leaps on the journey.

This accurately describes many areas of my life. I make changes, work to develop new habits, and expect to see the results quickly. My impatience can often lead to frustration as I have told myself, "I'm doing the right things and I should be seeing results!" I've got to remember that the process of adaptation and transformation take time. Growth happens not just by doing what is right, but in the maturity found on the journey.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shuffling Around

Our house is full of life as we have three teenage daughters and three dogs living cozily together. Two of the dogs are puppies filled with energy and enthusiasm while one is an old dog without much of either. Our scruffy old dog (his name is Zeddie) sleeps most of the day when he isn't following my wife around the house or yapping when the two pups get too close to him. He also has this annoying habit of continually trying to move his pillow and dog bed around. Zeddie will work gruntingly for several minutes trying to arrange things to his liking and end up in nearly the same place as when we began. I've watched him pull his bed with his front paws as he tries to move it into the perfect position before finally collapsing into it. I'm not sure if he just gave up because it was too frustrating or if he actually believed that his hard work had produced an outcome (which it clearly had not.)

This method of solving discontent can be frustrating and wasteful. How often do we exert great levels of energy to move things around only to discover our efforts haven't produced anything? How many times have we instituted personal changes before finding out we haven't really gone anywhere at all? Instead of wasting our energy and being frustrated at the lack of results perhaps we should pause to carefully assess the reason for our discontent. Then we can begin to decide where we can make small tweaks that will alleviate some of the pressure we are feeling. We might find that it only takes a few small adjustments to make things better. It's certainly a better approach than moving rapidly without any idea of direction.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Grace based recovery ministries often use the phrase "rigorous honesty" to describe an essential element of healing. It's the idea that we have to consciously strive to be honest with ourselves while giving trustworthy people that same access. Rigorous is an accurate descriptor as it will involve hard work that will sometimes push the limits of self-control, discipline, and comfort. 

Part of the reason we are in need of recovery (and we all are) is that we have avoided complete honesty and have lived with easy versions of the truth. Usually this only includes the parts that we are most comfortable hearing instead of the complete story. Until we are willing to fully and consistently face the truth we won't be able to engage in the recovery we desperately desire.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Self Exam

What is our normal reaction when there is a conflict or other problem? Do we make assumptions about the people involved and the circumstances we are struggling through? Do we choose to think the worst about the motives of others? This direction tends to escalate conflict instead of resolving it.

When we are faced with these moments perhaps we should examine ourselves first before looking at others. Assuming a personal portion of responsibility can help to defuse situations before they escalate. It reveals a genuine humility that is necessary for healthy resolution.

Friday, March 13, 2015

On the Road

I just returned from a whirlwind 36 hour trip to Florida and back with my girls. We hit Islands of Adventure in Orlando with family to see each other & enjoy the park. It included a lot of driving and not much sleep, but it was perfect in every way. We had a blast on the rides and also in hours of singing, stories, laughter, and inside jokes. I'll need to find rest at some point, but I wouldn't have traded this dad, daughter, and family time for anything. Sometimes you just need to make things work out and you'll see great benefit in the end.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Defeat the Beast

The things we have done in the past can seem like a beast breathing heavily on our neck trying to devour us. Our previous choices take the form of a dragon looking to scorch us with reminders of what we have said and done. It may be that the past isn't distant enough for us to feel safe and we may not believe we have truly defeated it. It may also be that we have tried to bury it deeply and panic whenever someone walks over that ground. This beast forged out of our history can seem too overpowering to tame.

There is only one way to slay that creature once and for all and it doesn't come from our strength. We find it through genuine confession and God's forgiveness. Then God releases grace that we have not earned which gives us the weapon we need. He generously covers us with mercy that keeps the enemy at bay even though we deserve defeat. It is a battle that is won and a creature defeated without any effort on our part but surrender.

We need to remind ourselves that the dragon is slain. Our past sins and shame cannot hold us back once God has given us life. Now we can move forward and step confidently over the carcass of our past without fear. God's forgiveness bestows us with the courage to bury the past where it belongs and let that dragon be dead for good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Straight Ahead

When you know where you are going, it makes it somewhat easier to stay on course. I wouldn't take a drastic turn towards the east if I knew I wanted to be moving south. This is why it's so vital that we have some vision for our lives. 

This doesn't mean that we need to have every step clearly defined and determined for our future, but that we make choices with a destination in mind. With this focus we will grow increasingly cognizant of what might distract us from our true purpose and keep our focus where it belongs. 

A person who is dedicated to fulfilling their vision will refuse to make decisions that might hinder their journey. It's a key part of personal vision casting to define our ambitions and practice the behaviors to help make it a reality.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Just Wait a Minute

I meet a friend of mine each Tuesday morning for coffee and conversation. It's an important part of the week for both of us as men striving to stay on God's path for our lives. We are both early morning people so we meet at a local coffee shop when they open at 5:30. Inevitably, I am there a few minutes early and sit in my car waiting for them to open.

A truck pulled in next to me today and the driver got out to walk up the door. It was just a few minutes before they normally open for business and when the guy tugged on the door it was still locked. The disgust on his face was obvious as he walked away, got in his truck, and peeled out. Naturally, as soon as he drove away they opened the doors right on time. In his haste, he missed his opportunity.

How many times are we in a hurry and cause ourselves to miss an opportunity? We might feel like it needs to be presented to us at the exact moment that we want it, but we don't always get to dictate when events occur. If we are willing to show a little patience we might even find that we don't have to wait long for something to happen. When we aren't able to wait, we might miss our chance by just a few minutes. A little perseverance can be fruitful.

Monday, March 9, 2015


During winter it seems as if common colds, influenza, and stomach flu run rampantly through communities. Sometimes the sickness is so pervasive it's hard to remember when everyone around you was healthy. This season always leads to obsessive hand-washing, generous amounts of Germ-X, and even the ingestion of some apple cider vinegar in an attempt to avoid illness. Sadly, it doesn't always work as our best efforts are unable to keep us from avoiding the contagious disease. The infection is often too strong to avoid-apparently some people are just too contagious for us to avoid.

How contagious are we in other areas of our life? Are we so strongly committed to our beliefs that it begins to influence other people? Is there evidence of our convictions in our speech, attitudes, and actions that begins to impact those close to us? I don't believe we need to be forceful or pushy with our infectious behavior, but it should certainly make enough of an mark to be noticed and hopefully motivate others along the way.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Think First

Too often we speak in situations without giving careful thought to the words we use or the timing of our interjections. Just because we have an opinion on a subject (like everyone else) doesn't mean we need to always vocalize that opinion. I've learned through many failures and ill-timed comments we should guard our tongue more carefully and be judicious on when we choose to speak. There is an often repeated and yet true guide to help us determine when we should speak up and when we should be silent:

  • Can I verify that what I am about to say is the truth?
  • Is what I am sharing beneficial to others or just for my own gratification?
  • Will this motivate and encourage those that are listening?
  • Is it absolutely essential I share this or is it just an attempt at self-validation?
  • Is this truly a kind thing to say or am I using sarcastic humor and a passive aggressive attitude to communicate?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Single Vision

The world has always been changed by individuals who felt the tension between what is and what could be and then committed themselves to doing something about it. This dedication to positive missional living is a powerful force that brings about inspiring movements and radical transformation. There is no negating the influence of individual people, but those efforts are magnified exponentially when we work together. A unified community (even a small handful of people) can restore hope, rebuild trust, and and regenerate purposeful living. 

What are you doing to make this a reality where you live? Don't minimize the potential effectiveness of a singularly focused group of people living out their mission.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Push It

How do we know what we are really capable of doing? We won't find out by following the same old routines and methods. At some point we are going to have to push ourselves beyond our normal boundaries and try something new. To discover the edges of our personality and abilities we will need to go somewhere we've never been before, increase our intensity to a previously unseen level, and even attack our fears by stepping out in faith.

Life doesn't demand that we engage at this level, but it won't ever be different unless we do.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

That'll Be Our Little Secret

When I was younger I would periodically watch PBS and the Bob Ross show, "The Joy of Painting." I realize that may not sound very appealing to some people, but there was a certain specialness to Bob. He was very calming and had the tremendous ability to make a blank canvas into a masterpiece of nature. He would start with his palette of colors and in 25 short minutes end up with a beautiful natural landscape. 

Bob became a cultural icon due to his painting prowess (and awesome hair) but also his leadership skills. He had a way of making painting look easy enough that I could do it. His descriptions and demeanor actually made me believe that I could paint something like he did even though I never picked up a brush. Bob's teaching style was encouraging and even though you were watching someone paint it was engaging. 

That's what good leaders do. They have the ability to lead people through processes and inspire them to believe they can be successful. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


We are all programmed internally to seek love and acceptance. We might try to fight that urge through rebellion and nonconformity, but even that response is birthed out of bad experiences in seeking those things. Our desire for these can be beautiful and beneficial when it's channeled in the right direction. Sadly, the negative side surfaces when we settle for them in places that are unhealthy and unsafe.

As a Christ follower, I believe God put these desires into our DNA so we would eventually seek Him. Making them part of the core of our identity means we can't completely ignore this need even if our earthly experiences are less than fulfilling. It's the lack of completion by any other means that is intended to push us to seek them in the perfection of Christ. It's God's way of wiring us to desire Him above all things even if we struggle with making that our reality.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Play Ball!

The start of the baseball season is almost here and I am pretty pumped about it. I love all sports, but I am a huge baseball fan and have been loyal to my New York Mets for years. As a Mets fan the years of winning baseball have been fewer in number than I would like, but I still maintain my commitment to faithfully following them. Each spring I find myself with the same sense of anticipation and hope for success. Even if we don't look that great in spring training I always believe that we can do well once the real season begins.

There is something about the start of a new season that hints at the potential for success. It's what keeps me following a mediocre baseball team, but is also what keeps pushing me forward in seasons in my personal life. I always believe that the next season is going to be better than the current one and bring new successes. It's a positive outlook forged in hopeful expectation for new beginnings. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

More Than a Feeling

There are some days when you run farther than you ever have before and feel fantastic during and after it. Then there are the days when you struggle through a normal run and pray that your legs make it all the way back home. Regardless of the difference in feeling, there was running on both days.

Everything won't always be easy no matter how much I might desire it to be. The key to long term success is being disciplined enough to do the right thing even when it doesn't flow smoothly. Day to day focus on good choices and actions will deliver long term positive benefits.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hunker Down

The flu bug has infiltrated my home and sickened my family. My wife kicked it off a week and a half ago when she was laid up in bed for five days. Even though we tried to keep everyone at a distance it soon hit my youngest two daughters. My oldest and I thought we had avoided it and then she was struck with the bug this morning. At this point I am holding out hope that I can stay away from it even though the odds are not in my favor. No amount of disinfectant, vitamin C, and water seems to be enough to keep it at bay.

I suppose that the greater life lesson in this is found by admitting that even with the best preventative care, I can't stop all things from happening. No matter how much we prepare we won't always be ready for what is coming. When those events strike we learn to care for ourselves the best we can and endure until things get better. It's not a perfect solution, but if you can't avoid the tough times you have to find a way to survive them.