Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The morning arrived. I was so excited to share what I had prepared. I was driving along one of the main roads in my city, and I noticed a billboard. I almost missed it, but caught it just as I was passing it. It said, with big bold letters, "What impression are you leaving?".
Have you ever had one of those moments when you know this particular thing is just for you?
I felt that way when I read the billboard!
See, we are all leaving an impression of some sort. We are all telling a story with our lives. Some of us are leaving an impression of worry, others stress. For some, it's the impression of having it all together. For some it's anger, regret, or an unforgiving heart. All of us are leaving an impression with our lives.
As you think about the day ahead of you, or, as you look back, what impression did you leave? If the people around you could tell you the imprint you left on them, what would they say?
It took a Heineken billboard to remind me that we are leaving an impression with our lives. I don't know about you, but I want to leave an impression of kindness, love, acceptance and grace.
Friday, November 25, 2011
As our two sons get older, my wife and I have more of these moments of looking back to when they were little (I know, a little pathetic, but that is what's happening). This week I was thinking about our oldest son's first birthday. It was a big deal, a first-born son party blowout.
Man, it was happening.
We had family and friends around us. We had food, streamers, cake, candles and - wait for it...
a C-L-O-W-N! Yup, a clown!
My friend dressed up in this crazy clown outfit that was way too small (we nicknamed him Wedgie the Clown ever since). When Ian appeared in that clown outfit, our oldest son responded in a way that we did not prepare ourselves for: HE SCREAMED HIS LITTLE LUNGS OUT! It was a bad scene; it could have scarred him for life, but since he was only one, he has no memory of it. We sure do.
Without the clown outfit, our son loved Ian. Once that suit was on, everything changed.
I look back and laugh at that moment, but it also makes me stop and think about how at times in life we live with a mask on. At times, we pretend to be something that we are not.
We wear the "I am okay" mask, the "I am important" mask, the "I don't need help" mask, the "I am the victim" mask, the "I don't care" mask... for some, a mask is a way of life.
I ask this: If we live life trying to pretend we are something we are not, is that really living? Is that the way life was meant to be? I know this idea can be taken too far, and some might, but don't you think that living from a place of integrity, honesty, truthfulness and authenticity is a better place?
Yes, we wear masks for all kinds of reasons, but I want us to really look at them and ask ourselves: Is this really living life the way we were meant to live?
If you reading this, I want to encourage you to stop clowning around, and consider taking the mask off.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The other day, my youngest son Paul had tickets to the London Knights hockey game. If you are reading this, and you live in my town, you know who they are. If you don't know, the Knights are the local Junior hockey team. He had two tickets and he wanted to take a friend with him.
We drove to his friend's house, picked him up, and headed downtown to where the Knights play. Not far from this friend's house is an intersection with traffic lights. As we approached the lights, I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. This person (a woman) was running the red, as I proceeded to turn right on the green. I thought to myself, "Self, what is she doing?". Just as that thought brushed over my mind, I heard my wife's voice saying, "What are you doing? You just ran that red!!!"
A quick check of the mirror proved that she was correct, I ran the red!!! For the next ten minutes we discussed my infraction. At the end of the discussion, she asked to drive (not kidding).
It got me thinking how easy it is to be there, but not there. I had no excuse for what I had done, other than that at that moment I was somewhere else in my thoughts.
Life can be like that. We can go through the motions each day and miss moments with our kids, friends, co-workers and even our spouse. It's as if we are there, but not there. It can even happen at times in a walk with God. If I understand one thing about God, it's this: He is trying to have a conversation with all of us. The problem lies in the fact that we are not always present, not always listening... not always aware.
This Christmas, let me encourage you to not miss the amazing message of Jesus. It would be easy to be there, but not, in this season. Take time to slow down and allow yourself to be there! You might discover that He is trying to get your attention.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Four Vietnam vets, framed for a crime they didn't commit, help the innocent while on the run from the military. They entertained for only a few short years but left an impression on many who watched.
One of the crazy characters was "Mr T". He had a mohawk, lots of jewelry, and carried a mean attitude wherever he went. One of Mr T's favorite words was "fool" (said with his forehead creased). He could place the word in the perfect spot to describe the actions of someone who would get in their way: "I pity the fool that..." (I know you can hear him say it, it's okay to admit it).
Lately, I have found myself thinking about that word: fool.
I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit (say that ten times real fast) this past September, and Henry Cloud did a session on the differences between a wise person, a foolish person and an evil person. This session has stuck with me.
The idea that he presented was this: when we hear truth from someone about our lives, we can do a number of things with that truth. We can be wise and adjust ourselves to the truth by receiving it and making necessary changes to ourselves, or, we can respond by adjusting the truth by deflecting it, making excuses, becoming defensive, etc.
Interesting how we respond to truth spoken to us.
Let me ask you: when you hear truth from a friend, boss, or someone close, do you adjust yourself and take steps to make the changes necessary? Or, do you adjust the truth to make yourself feel better?
If someone has been courageous to speak truth to you about an area of your life, let me encourage you to be wise, not a fool. I have seen how often I have been a fool about things in my own life, and I have witnessed others behave the same way.
Next time you receive some hard truth, adjust yourself. Do the hard work to make the changes.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
If you know the story, it's about a guy who takes time to spend every Tuesday visiting an old professor who is dying of ALS. They spend time discussing a variety of subjects, such as love, forgiveness, how to treat others, meaning, hope, life, and yes, death.
Death. It's not something that we like to think about or talk about. We all know that it's a part of life, and yet we still do everything we can to avoid it. If you have ever bought anti-aging cream, you know what I'm talking about.
There was a line in the play that knocked the air out of me, kind of like a punch to the stomach that makes you gasp for air. Morrie looks at Mitch and he says, "(Death)'s not a dirty word. I am dying, and I can live with that. I've got news for you, Mitch, my friend... you are dying, too... just a lot slower."
Sitting there and hearing that line, I started to wonder how my life would change if I really lived as if was dying. How would it change how you live? Would you love more deeply? Forgive more freely? Mend family issues? Get together with your friends more often? Would you take a closer look at faith?
I am not sure if you are a person of faith or not, but Jesus tells us that if we really want to be about living, we must die to self. He explains that we must pick up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow him... then we will know what it means to live.
We all hope that we live a long, full life, but what if today was really our last day? I know that if it was my last day, I would make sure that I was letting those who are close to me know that I love them deeply. What would you do?
Thursday, October 6, 2011
This past July, my oldest son Dave and I spent a week in Nairobi. It was an amazing Father son trip with many different experiences that left an impression on both of us.
One of the experiences I had was preaching in the slums of Korogocho. This is one of the largest slums in Nairobi. When we arrived at the church, we learned that the church was built on a dump... literally, the ground was previously used as a dumping place. Between a few of the buildings we could look across the Nairobi river where the dump was still active. There were children searching for their daily meal... in the dump.
It's not everyday you get to see this type of thing firsthand.
I will never forget our visit to this church. I will never forget the smells. I will never forget the church experience - three hours long. There is one more thing that I will never forget; how thankful the Pastors were for what they had. They were dripping in gratitude to God for all that He had provided. We could hear it in their words. We could see it in their excitement as they showed us around.
What these men taught me was we can be thankful, no matter what our circumstances may be.
There is this verse in the Bible that tells us that we are to be thankful "in" all circumstances. One of the many things that I learned from my trip to Nairobi is that being thankful in all circumstances helps me rise above whatever my circumstances may be.
Whatever your circumstances are, find a way to be thankful, it can help you rise above it!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Here is what I was talking to God about: I was asking him to help me pray a big audacious prayer. I mean, asking him to help me pray over something that might be way out of my comfort zone. Here is the thing, I pray for my friends; I pray for my family, sons, wife. I pray for the needs of others in my life but I have found lately that I have not asked God for something big and crazy.
I have read the Bible a few times, and from what I see, the early church prayed some big stuff. We see in the Old Testament that people prayed for walls to fall down, or that the sun would stop in the sky, and God answered.
I am not sure about you, but I want to see a movement of God like that in my generation. I want to be part of a group of people who really believe that with God, all things are possible.
So, next time you are alone and you are talking with God, ask him to give you that outrageous thing to pray about. Ask God to do what seems to be the impossible and see how He answers.
The way I see it, there is no better way to live.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
"What kind of legacy do you want to leave?" I was convinced this question would end the night with a bang. This is a group of very smart, passionate 20 somethings, and they will love the question. I was so wrong! Many of them had this blank look on their faces.
What emerged was that they really don't think about that question. They are more concerned with living in the moment, the now. As the facilitator of this group I began to have this panic moment (inside of course, can't let them see that). I had to pull another question out of the air, we had to end well.
It hit me. (Thank-you Jesus)
"Okay, how about this: If I took each of you and paired you up with a teenager, could you tell that student to follow your life?" The question was followed by good silence. Talk about looking in the mirror of your life. I wanted them to really wrestle with how they were living life, and this question got them thinking and talking again.
I don't know how you live life. I don't know who you follow. But I want to ask you this one thing: Are you living your life in a way that you could invite someone to follow your example?
If I were to take someone and pair them up with you, could you look at that person and say, "follow me, I will show you how to live life the way God intended us to live"?
Maybe we need to stop thinking about a legacy and start living in a way that others could follow. I don't know about you, but every once in a while I need to look in the mirror and see how I am living life.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Last week, my wife and I were invited to a friends house for a campfire. The evening was filled with great laughs, stories, and big questions.
One of the guys in the group, whom I had just met, turned to me at about 12am and said, "So, you are a man of God... tell me what the key to life is". Something you should know about me is that I don't focus well after 10pm (I have been given the label "party pooper" by many). At this moment, I am looking around the campfire to see who he is talking to. Man of God? Somebody else must have just showed up.
WOW! What a question for any time of the day. What is the key to life?
I dogged the question by asking a question about himself, but he was on to me. He picked up that I was trying to buy time to think about a response.
I looked at him and I said...
"The key to life is to figure out how to love God with everything you have and to love others!"
I don't know what you think the key to life is, and I don't know how you would have answered that question, but I believe with everything in my being that life is about seeking God and loving him with all that I have. One day, Jesus told some people that we are to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. The way I see it, that covers every area of life.
You can pursue a lot of things in life, like happiness, money, stuff, popularity, education, family... and there is nothing wrong with those things. That is, unless they get in the way of loving God with your whole life.
When you think about the key to life, I hope you will give consideration to loving God with your whole life.
When we live this way, we begin to discover the key to life.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
There used to be a very simple answer to that question: married or single. Today, status can mean all kinds of things, especially since Facebook has become so popular. We post our status for all to see and comment on. Your "friends" can even reply to your status to let you know what they think.
I was talking to someone the other day and he told me that he was on "permanent disability". He talked so matter-of-fact about it. I asked him, "is this what you believe about yourself?" He told me that this is what his status is, that the doctor put that on his file. As I sat there wondering about his status, I began to wonder if maybe he had just bought into it, and that that is all he could become, "permanently disabled".
In our culture we love to label things, we love to place a status on someone. What I see happening is that when we do this to ourselves and others we end up living up to that status. We end up putting limitations on ourselves because of "status".
The way I look at it - the status that matters the most is the status given to someone by God. See, when we become part of God's family, we get a new status.
The status is:
I don't know about you, but I think I would prefer to live up to these labels. Especially the "new creation" one, man, I need that!!!
If you are looking at your life and you are living up to some other status, let me encourage you to consider these new ones. It might just be the status that helps move you forward in life.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
There has been something that has been aching inside of me now for some time. I could not put my finger on it but I think I am getting clarity.
My private ache is this: I have turned my walk with God into a profession. Because I work in a church I have seen how I have allowed my "public passion exceed my personal devotion to him" (I read that found myself identifying).
During an extended time away from work it became real clear to me that I was not loving God/Jesus with my whole heart, mind and strength. My job was getting in the way. Jesus tells us that we are to love him with our whole being and I was missing that.
Have I walked away from Jesus? Not at all but I know that I have allowed my walk with him to become professional. The intimacy of my walk with him was missing. My love for him had faded.
There is this funny movie that stars Will Smith and Kevin James. You might remember it - Hitch. It's a movie about this guy who has developed a business of hooking people up, essentially helping them find love. It's very funny if you have never seen it.
There is this scene where KJ character confronts WS character and he tells him he doesn't get love. WS character yells, "love is my life", KJ responds, "no love is your job." I was in a hotel room in Kentucky with my family when that scene unfolded and I thought this is me. My walk with God has become my job. (don't you hate it when movies reveal something about yourself)
You probably don't work in a church like I do but maybe you are a church going person, I want to ask. Have you allowed your walk with God to become routine or ritualistic? Is it so predictable that you are bored out of your mind?
Today maybe together we can find a new path that will have fresh new steps to it. Maybe today we can say no more ruts or routine. Maybe today it can become new and alive again.
It might just be me but I know I need to change something.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
One of the things that I love to do is ask questions. It doesn’t matter if I am standing in front of a thousand people giving a "talk" or sitting with someone in a coffee shop. I feel that questions can open us up to think and discover.
A good question will shake us up to make us think about how we are living.
Here is my question for you today…
Do you know what your purpose is? Do you know why you are on this planet? (I know that’s two questions)
I have been spending some time over the past year thinking about my purpose. I have asked why am I on this planet a number of times. The answer has been hard to find since I find myself drawn to all sorts of things. I believe I am discovering the answer to this question.
What I have learned is that when we find the answer it has the potential to change everything.
It will change…
how you view the people at your workplace
It even has the potential to change how you view everyday living.
I used to hate it when people would challenge me to think about my purpose. I used to think who cares just live and let the chips fall where they may. But the journey over the past year has helped me realize how important purpose is.
So I ask again…
What is your purpose? Why are you on this planet?
If you can enter the journey and find the answer to this question it has the potential to get about living life to the full.
I think this is what God would want from us.
Friday, April 8, 2011
This week I had to say goodbye to someone who I will probably never see again. That person is my stepfather. Over a year ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Things are not great right now and I really felt I needed to make the trip to New Brunswick to visit him and my mom.
It was a great visit. My younger brother was there as well. In about a 2 day span, we all laughed, talked, and cried together. We had such a great time, the four of us. We had the biggest feast of fiddleheads you have ever seen (if you have never had them, I feel sorry for you).
There was a moment I had with my stepfather when I sensed a real strong push to ask him about what he is facing.
I asked him what he would like to do before he dies. I know it was a tough question but I wanted to ask. He paused for a moment and then said he could not think of anything right away but he wished he had not pushed things off to next summer.
When he said those words I knew right away what he meant.
He wished that he had just done things when he had time. He wished he had not put certain things off.
It was the most intense conversation about life and death I have ever had with someone close to me. He welled up and I just plain old cried.
I wonder what we have put off to next summer that we just need to do:
- Call an old friend
- Tell someone that you love them
- Thank someone for all they have done for you
- Or even thank someone for being a great “papa” to your kids
Whatever it is that you have been putting off, let me encourage you not to put it off until next summer. Do it now!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Happiness to me is based on what is happening around us, those external things that cause an emotional response. We all love those things. We receive a good mark at school, we get the job, we buy a cool new gadget (like an Iphone), we have our first child, we win the lottery (that might make you really, really happy).
But the problem is, those moments come and go. They change all the time and so our happiness changes. It becomes a temporary feeling.
Joy is not like that. Joy is something that comes from being plugged into the right source. Joy is not based on what is happening around us. It comes from something else. It comes from being plugged into God. He is the source.
I know you might be thinking, “What is he talking about? Internal God source?” That’s right! It’s possible to be plugged into God and He be your source of Joy. Does that mean that sadness will go away or that we will never cry? Of course it doesn’t. We will still have those moments but joy is something that grows inside a person. It happens when we are pursuing a relationship with God.
Today, if joy is absent, then maybe what you need to do is look and see what you are plugged into. If you are not plugged into the right source, perhaps you should consider unplugging from that and plugging into a source that will cause your joy to overflow.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
So this past weekend, my family and a few friends went to watch the Toronto Supercross – whenever you have a large amount of rednecks together in one place, it’s a Nascar race or Supercross.
Since our family is into motocross (my youngest son rides), it was a great day. We watched practice, took in the smell of race fuel, and watched incredible racing as the top Supercross riders in the world tore up the track.
There is something interesting that happens at the end of every race: All of the focus is on the top three riders as they head to a podium where they will receive their trophies. It’s an exciting moment for the rider and the fans, especially if the guy you are cheering for is on the podium.
There are lots of smiles, photo ops, and reporters. As each of the riders makes their way to the podium, a reporter intercepts them and shoves a microphone in their face to ask all kinds of questions.
One thing I have noticed about this moment is that every rider on that podium thanks the team around him. They take the time to point out that they would not be there if it were not for the team manager, mechanics, fitness trainers, sponsors, and of course, their parents.
It got me thinking about how life works.
We need a team to do life. It’s not a mechanic or a team manager, but a trusted friend that we can celebrate with when there is reason to celebrate. We need those few that we can go to when life is tough and they are willing to listen. We need someone that will pick us up when we stumble and have our “stupid moments.”
We all need that kind of team.
I would not be where I am today if it were not for the team of people around me. You have been part of helping me discover how God has wired me up. You have challenged me to become more then I ever thought I could be. I am especially grateful to those who have spoken truth into my life.
To my team, I say thank-you!
If you have a team, take the time to thank them. If you don’t have a team, maybe you’d better consider finding one.
Monday, March 28, 2011
In those backpacks students carry everything from books, pens, pencils, paper, gum, and things I’m sure every parent would not want to know about. The purpose is to carry the things they need to be in school.
When you think about it, we all wear backpacks. We don’t carry school supplies, but we carry all of life’s stuff. All the high points and low points go in our backpack.
Some of our backpacks have things like:
Some of us have some pretty ugly stuff in our backpacks.
The thing is we were never meant to carry all of this stuff in our backpacks. All these things do is weigh us down. Hold us back from living free in life. Keep us from living into who God wants us to become.
I guess what has been running around in my heart these days is this – we need to stop letting the things in our backpack rule our lives.
God knew that we would not be able to run through life with all this extra weight so He did something about it. He sent his son to take our backpacks for us.
Today, maybe what you need to do is give your backpack over to him and let him carry it. Or at least begin to replace the stuff in your backpack with new things like:
I don’t know about you but it seems like a pretty great exchange of what we have in our backpacks.
Monday, March 21, 2011
It was in a coffee shop around the corner from my office (I like to meet people over coffee. It’s not an addiction but an appreciation). The guy I was meeting with told me the reason why he left his secure, good-paying job to start his own business.
He said, “I found myself thinking and dreaming about retirement, hanging on for 20 more years so I can get full pension.” It hit him that this is not what he wanted from life; he wanted to live his dreams now. So he quit his job and started his business. He said, “I have not regretted one minute of it. I am living the dream”.
He took a tough business call when we were meeting and I asked, “Still living the dream?” He responded, “Yes, even with this stuff.”
The twinge of “hmmm…” hit me. A few weeks ago I met with my financial guy to see if I could ever actually retire at all. I figured I would need to work until I am 120 years old. He told me I will be fine and I will be able to retire about 65. I found myself dreaming after I met with him. I only have 24 more years and I can stop working.
Today I went “hmmm…”
What am I doing that I love? What I am doing today to fulfill that God-sized dream that is screaming to get out of me? I literally thought, “Stop living for the future and start living now”.
Let me ask. Are you living for that retirement number or are you living in the now?
The way I look at it, God has placed great dreams inside all of us and we need to discover what they are. It might not be quitting your job but it might be as simple as take a risk, step out of your comfortable and see what happens.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Ever notice how life is filled with interruptions? We can be spending quality time with some great friends and a cell phone will ring or beep with an incoming text. We can be dialed into a great conversation and another person comes right up and interjects as if life was all about them.
Some interruptions are more significant. You back into another car in the parking lot at the mall. Your favourite TV show is interrupted by breaking news or a severe weather alert. You get a health scare that has the potential to be serious.
Then there are those interruptions that are in their own category. These interruptions have the potential to change the direction of your life.
My good friend got one of those interruptions the other day. His dad was on the mend after being sick for a number of months. My friend’s day was interrupted by a phone call with the news that his dad had suddenly passed away. Some interruptions are so filled with pain we don’t even know which way is up anymore.
It got me thinking. How do we handle the interruptions in life? What do we do with them?
You see, how we handle the interruptions defines who we are becoming. Some of us might get angry and shake our fist at God with blame, or we might feel the loss and sadness but know that what is happening is going to make us stronger.
I guess what I hope we all do when an interruption comes (and it will) is step back and see that this is now part of our story, and that something will come from it that has the potential to make us stronger.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I really love to watch movies. I am sure many of you can identify a great movie when you see one. A great movie gets us and we don’t even realize it. We forget that we are in a theater surrounded by a few hundred people, or that we are simply sitting at home in our living room. Great movies make us feel like we are part of the story. That’s why we like them so much.
We all have our favorites, the ones we watch on a Friday night when we are bored and wondering what we should do.
My family (I mean my two teenage sons and I) love to sit down and watch the Ironman movies. I know, some of you just rolled your eyes and clicked the little x up in the corner of the screen. If you are still reading it means you are wondering where I am going with this.
I won’t get into the whole story behind the movie but it’s basically a rich guy who designs a really cool suit that he wears to fight bad guys. It’s the whole ‘good vs. evil’ thing that has been around since time began. The suit gives him super powers.
In Ironman 2 there is something that is happening to the main character that nobody knows about. The suit is killing him. His computer companion (don’t ask) is the one that reveals this horrible truth and he deals with this problem on his own. He doesn’t tell anyone, not even his assistant.
Think about this. The more he wears it to fight back evil and darkness, the closer he steps to the end of his life.
Jesus told his followers one day that they were to die to self. Take up the cross and follow him. In some ways, each time we serve we experience this process of dying to self. We are putting ourselves on the line to meet the needs of others.
Now, the great thing about this dying to self for someone who is striving to follow Jesus is that we don’t actually die. We find life. New life. We find the path of Jesus.
Ironman was willing to put the suit on and walk closer to his death. I wonder how many would be willing to do that in real life.
If we want to really live, then we should consider giving up our lives in order to find life.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
It’s interesting what people say at funerals.
Recently I participated in my uncle’s memorial service. He was married to my aunt so he was an uncle by marriage. After the service we gathered for a time of refreshment and “fellowship” (I love that word). It was that time in the gathering where we have food and conversation. It’s the only time we are legally permitted to have triangular shaped sandwiches. When they pulled the walls back where the food was waiting the triangular shaped sandwiches appeared on cue. I know you can picture it!
As we stood around talking, someone made an interesting comment.
“Well, hopefully this will bring some closure for their family.” It came from a good heart I know but before I new it words came out of my mouth. “Closure? Whoever came up with that idea really didn’t know what they were talking about.” This was 101 in how to kill a conversation.
Later that day it got me thinking. What is closure? Why do we call it closure when we lose a loved one? I don’t want closure. I might be wrong (I have been wrong once this year) but “closure” to me is a picture of a closed door and whatever is behind it can no longer been seen, experienced, or even accessed.
I speak from experience having lost my father when I was 11 years old. I have never had closure on that part of my life and to be truthful I don’t think I want closure .
You see, I view that time in my life as something that has molded me to be the person I am today. If I had gotten closure and moved on I don’t think that I would be honoring my father. I have seen so much “good” come from that painful experience.
What I have learned about that open door is that I have become a better:
Blogger (there must be another word for that - it sounds funny)
…. all because of that experience in my life.
I wonder if God is not interested in closure? I wonder if it’s something that we have come up with to make us feel better. Maybe we should stop thinking about closure and simply allow this pain to become part of who God wants us to become.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
You have to picture this: A coffee shop filled with people – I mean, lots of people. Every table is full. The line up is huge at the counter where you order your coffee and food. I am not sure where everyone is going to sit (I am not giving up my seat, I know that). This is where I find myself in this moment.
There are people of all ages. The table beside me has two couples, and they seem to be retired and have time to meet in the coffee shop. I get up at one point and almost knock their little number down as I brush by the table: “Oops, sorry about that.” The older dude gives me one of those looks that could kill. Imagine if it was his food I almost knocked off the table.
As I sit here I am blown away by the amount of noise: plates crashing on the floor (I think she might get fired for that one), machines making specialty coffee. There is a lot of laughter, and yes, a lot of conversation.
At every table there is conversation going on, but there is so much noise you cannot really distinguish voices. It’s strange if you ask me… all these voices and conversations and I cannot pick out one word (okay, maybe I can hear the table beside me talking about hockey, but nothing else).
All these conversations and so much noise I can’t hear individual voices. It’s weird!
One thing I am convinced of is that God is trying to have a conversation with each and every one of us. It might not be audible, but he wants to have time with us about the things that matter. About the struggles, the pain, and the celebrations.
The problem is that there is too much noise in our lives we can’t hear him. Can God rise above that noise and get our attention? Absolutely, but maybe he would prefer us to reduce the noise level of life so we can hear him more clearly.
When was the last time you shut the phone off?
When was the last time you shut the television off?
When was the last time you ignored the endless steam of Facebook messages?
…Or email (one just came in)
…okay, I’m back.
Maybe we need to refuse to accept that this is just the way it is, and reduce the noise so we can hear what God is trying to say to us.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I am not ashamed to admit that my wife does the grocery shopping. I will occasionally go along for the “fun” of it but she is the primary grocery shopper in our home. Her system to get around that place is incredible.
Once in a while I will get a text asking me to pick something up on the way home. I hate those requests. Not that I don’t want to help out and do my part, it’s just that I can’t seem to find my way around a grocery store. Seriously, someone needs to come up with a better system for guys like me.
You can tell who we are. We’re the ones staring up at the aisle signs trying to find some obscure spice.
Now, one good thing about grocery stores is that they have the express checkouts. You know the ones where you are not permitted to have more than ten items. You might have spent an hour searching for that one thing, but it only takes minutes to escape.
Unless there is that one person - you know who I’m talking about!
You begin to count; 1..2..3..4…9..10……11………12. Blood begins to boil. Tap, tap, tap. “Excuse me, do you know that this is the express checkout and you have more than ten items here?”
It’s a conversation that you would love to have with that person who can’t seem to count. You never do because you realize that it will not get you anywhere. Over the intercom, “Security, fight in express lane”.
Ever wonder why we feel this way? I do. I believe it comes from a deep rooted selfishness. The need to be first, get our way, to point out to everyone that this person is not in the right aisle. You have the express checkout police badge and it’s your job to set things right.
Maybe what we need to do is slow down and not worry about it. Maybe we just need to sit back and know that God will get them for this sin (relax, I’m kidding).
Maybe we need to turn things upside down and treat that person as we would like to be treated. I think Jesus was on to something when he said that!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
How many of us are “to-do list” people? Go ahead put your hand up, it’s okay, nobody is watching. “To-do list” people can hardly function without the list. I will confess, I am a “to-do list” guy. At the beginning of each week, I get my pad of paper and I put the list down. Even on Saturday mornings when there is not much going on, I will get a little piece of paper and write a list.
We put things on our list like:
Get dog food
Make grocery list (get groceries)
Even if I do something that is not on the list, I will add it (I know… not playing by the rules, but hey, it’s my list!)
To-do lists are great for the everyday life, but not very helpful when it comes to prayer. That’s right… prayer!
I was talking with an uncle the other day over coffee, and the topic of prayer came up. He was sharing with me that his church has this thing called “Theology On Tap”. They meet at a pub in his town to discuss matters of faith. One night, prayer was on tap (I know, I couldn’t resist).
We were discussing how prayer can be so confusing for some people, especially if you were brought up with this idea that prayer is about a “list” of things we bring to God and when he answers, we put a check mark beside it. I am all for bringing our “stuff” to God, but I wonder: Do we have the wrong idea about prayer?
Prayer is really more for you and me to enter into the process of including God on the things that matter to us. It’s not to have Him answer all our prayers; it’s acknowledging the fact that we cannot handle what is going on in our lives alone.
The point is not to put a check mark or the word “done” beside the item, it’s more about moving closer to God. It’s about learning to experience the peace of God in the midst of concerns, storms and even worry.
Are you still waiting for God to answer your prayers? Maybe the answer is not the point; it’s about your willingness to enter into a conversation with God.
Prayer taps into the presence and peace of God… let it flow!!!
Monday, February 14, 2011
If someone were watching this unfold they would probably laugh very hard. They might even ask, “What is their problem?”
It was an elementary boy’s basketball game. If you have ever had the “opportunity” to watch one of these games it’s a real treat. Back and forth with no scoring, lots of fouls, missed passes. The score is often very low and the game is determined by one or two baskets. These experiences are a real test in staying focused. Thankfully the boys don’t mind, they seem to have lots of fun.
I will never forget one particular game. The score keeper/time clock people were actually four grade eight teenage girls (you know where this is going). The scene was incredible. The occasional basket would go in and they would completely miss the basket and not put it up on the scoreboard. I didn’t mind when the opposing team’s score was missed but not my son’s team; this was an injustice. At times the whistle would blow and they would be so caught up in what they were talking about or on their phones (texting that is) seconds would tick by.
Now, you need to picture what is happening on the side of the court where all the parents are sitting. Parents are beginning to lose it (not me, I was totally in control of my frustration – ok, maybe not). We were yelling, “stop the clock”, “the score is wrong”, “start the clock”! The referee finally got involved. Part of me was so thankful that someone was stepping in. Justice was finally going to be had. This was wrong and we wanted justice in this situation. I think many of us dads were more anxious over the score clock than the actual game. When the final buzzer went, we were so happy.
What made us so passionate about the right time and score? What made us yell across the floor to the scorekeepers? It was the injustice! We wanted to make sure that things were right for both teams.
I got thinking about this after. Can you imagine what would happen if we actually got fired up about injustice in our world? I mean fired up about things that really matter:
Children going without food;
Towns in Africa with no water;
Young women being sold into sex trafficking;
The person with the sign asking for help on the street corner.
I wonder what would happen if we actually got fired up about injustice like that?
What is it that you need to get fired up about and make a difference? Maybe you need to start yelling your own, “start the clock” on something that you see as an injustice. Let’s make sure we are yelling about the right things and in the right way.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Recently, I got one of those calls, and it was about my aunt’s husband. They live in Austria and were on a family vacation in Saltzburg. The voice on the other end was a cousin saying that our uncle was in a skiing accident and only had only a few hours to live. The normal day no longer feels normal anymore. Something has interrupted my “normal”, and it’s not good.
As I was lying in bed thinking and praying about this news, I could not help but wonder how God could have caused this, or why He didn’t prevent it from happening? They have two young boys that need a dad. Thoughts bounced back and forth: “God might have caused it, but the God I know doesn’t seem to be like that”, “ He could have prevented it because he is all powerful”. But then this one thought penetrated all the rest: “This, I know, God can bring good from the bad.” I find assurance that God can and will bring good from this tragedy. What it is, I don’t know and don’t need to know right now, but He will bring something beautiful out of this interrupted day.
I don’t know what will change your normal day, but when it happens, be assured that God is in the business of bringing good from bad. It’s the thing that I can hang onto today!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
How do you view the things that happen to you? Do you see them as random acts of chance, or do you see the events in your life as something that God can use to bring good?
The challenge that this person gave me was to take something that had happened to me when I was 18 and see how God could use truth to bring life to what took place.
It was first year of Bible College. The opening week chapel speaker was someone that I knew growing up, and in a moment of transparency, I told him I was really nervous about the workload of bible college (I hated school in general, that’s why I took all shop courses). At the opening chapel of that first week, the same speaker used my transparency against me. He used it to try to motivate the students to work hard – be focused, but in trying to motivate, he embarrassed, shamed, and humiliated me in front of a few hundred people. Now, at 41, I am beginning to see the good that can come from that dreadful service.
Let me ask you: What incident in your life is your “living parable” that can be illuminated by God’s truth? Is it a relational break down? Job loss? Financial chaos? A hurtful word? If you are like me (and if you are… I’m sorry), we can all see those things; we can feel those moments as if it were yesterday. Know today that it’s possible that they can be used for good. Seek to find how that thing that has shaped you for so long no longer needs to hold you back, but can set you free. Be okay with not having all the answers, but allow something good to come from the ugly.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Within those moments of pure joy and fun there is also something else happening. It’s the player who is off in the corner of the field, lost in the moment, picking dandelions or staring up into the sky watching a jet pass overhead. You can always tell who the child’s parents are. They are the ones yelling, “Billy! Pay attention!”, “Sydney! Stop picking the flowers!”, or, “Chase! The ball is at the other end, go get it!”. If we step back we can learn something from that little soccer player. They are lost in the fascination of that moment, where nothing else matters but what has caught their attention. It doesn’t really matter what is going on around them, they have to stop to take it in.
I was thinking about that scene and found it interesting that we try to stop them from taking that moment in. We yell and scream as motivation to get in the game (I am convinced that most parents do that because they are embarrassed), but maybe what we are doing is programming them to avoid the small moments that bring joy and satisfaction.
As we get older we find it more difficult to stop and see the small things. We get lost in the game of life and miss the small voice of a child and the laughter of friends. We miss the moments that God might be trying to give us because we are to busy chasing after something that really doesn’t matter.
Today I hope you can enjoy the small moments that bring joy and fascination.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I was not ready for her moment of honesty: “I am a Christian but I don’t really go to one church… I bounce around.”
“Nooooo!!!” I said (in slow-mo), she didn’t just say that, did she? I had to respond. Quick mirror check – nobody (there is a God for sure). Since she opened the door, I jump right in with my best pitch on how important being part of a church is. I tell her all about how important relationships are, the need for accountability, and how we grow deeper in our faith when we are connected to one community. “Why don’t you come out next week and see for yourself?” “Maybe,” she said. That next Sunday after service there she was with a big smile on her face asking if she could check out the 20 somethings group.
My encounter with her reminded me of an important truth. We will never grow to our full potential as followers of Jesus if we are bouncing from church to church. Just because there is a lot of religious motion doesn’t mean you are growing, it just spreads you thin. God intended for us to find our fit and be part of a church community. This cannot happen when you church jump. The early church devoted themselves to one another. It was in the deeper connection of doing life together that they knew the fullness of what Jesus wanted the church to become. When we give more of ourselves to one community, we discover the life God intended for us.
Thanks to my Starbucks friend for handing me my coffee that night. I am so glad you are getting plugged in!