what's wrong with the world?

In truth, we are all pretty messed up.

While it's convenient for us to point the finger at some external source of misery and say, “Right there... that person... that situation... there’s the problem!” it is more authentic to confront the person and situation staring back at us in the mirror.

The London Times once asked people to respond to the question, “What is Wrong with the World?” Christian theologian G.K. Chesterton wrote this bold reply:
Dear Sirs,
I am.
Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton
Thankfully, God has not washed His hands of us. He already has a plan in force to set our upside-down world right-side-up again... it involves us washing our hands (and our entire lives) in Him.

The problem with the world is not something strange out there.

The problem with the world is something familiar within. 
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. " (1 Timothy 1:15)

even though we argue over the truth...

There is truth.

Our arguing over it doesn't negate it's ability to be known.

Our humanness means we will simply be incomplete in our knowledge of it.

The fast that God took the time to come near and teach us things...

His Incarnation and Revelation...

mean that we don't have to guess in the dark, but get grow in the Light.
"...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

tangible ambition

Tangible ambition matters.

The moment that you finally forge your sense of ambition will give sudden clarity to the remaining moments of your life. 

Without that moment, you will continually think of yourself as an outsider to everything everyone else seems like an insider on. You will be a victim.

With that moment, you will begin to put your jabs together and form combinations that will give you a shot at the title. You will be a victor.

Ambition gets you off your side of the chasm and onto the bridge of discipline...

and discipline gets you over the chasm and onto the side of life you want to live on.

So...

what's your next right thing to do?
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8-10)

3 things leadership means

If you're the leader of anything...

this practically means at least three things:
  • Anyone ready to “buy in” is given a shot.
  • Anyone "in" is given accountability.
  • Anyone bowing "out" is given love.

This is not easy to do.

You'll likely be greater at one or more of these, and weaker at one or more of these.

It's also not a complete list.

What's missing?
"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." (1 Corinthians 12:12)

disorientation

I read this comment today in a conversation.

It's brilliant.
"Now that I think about it, we have a false view that we're sometimes not in a place of disorientation. It's probably more our natural habitat than we realize, and funnels us toward redemptive dependence..." - Rick Lawrence
What if God redeems our confusion - something He didn't choose - to give us a greater opportunity to deepen our trust in Him and all He has chosen for us?

God created

They're familiar words.

"In the beginning, God..."

These words are so familiar, in fact, that we may overlook how they make all the words that follow that much more special.

What if the Creation part of God's Story is less about what happened and more about why it happened?

Might it have been incredibly fun for Him, like a parent preparing a baby's nursery even before the baby was born?

Imagine every cloud and star as part of the mobile above the crib...

every droplet of water as a vaporizer for the room...

every color in the sky as paint on the walls...

every blade of grass as the fuzzy blanket the child would find textured comfort in.



How much joy did He have putting it all together, and what does that tell you about Him?

And what does that tell you about you?

And what does that tell you about Him and you, and His love for you?

something insane to think about

People often say, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Now...

they keep saying that,
over and over...

as if stating that is going to change things...

only nothing changes.

That seems kind of insane,
doesn't it?

What else are you spouting off but not paying attention to?
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3)

3 easy steps to change the world

Somewhere deep within you... you want to change the world.

You may have a lighter, humorous side to you. That's fine.

Maybe the last thing you posted online was a witty remark or link to something that cracked you up.

Still, you do yearn for more.

Here's how you do it:
  1. Pay attention to what moves you. 
  2. Ask, "Why does it move me?" 
  3. Share both what moved you and why it moved you so others can be moved.
That last step involves both your life and your words.

You don't need to pine for hours over finding something to say.

Simply let what is already speaking to you begin to speak through you.

People are more likely to follow you if they see you're on a genuine journey to begin with.
"Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father." (1 John 2:24)

i'll say it if no one else will

Watching sports regularly doesn’t qualify you to coach a professional team.

Viewing your favorite TV show each week doesn't qualify you to write its next episode.

Attending conferences doesn’t qualify you to be a keynote speaker.

That said...

What thing are you a regular part of that you are not qualified to speak into?

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't, nor do I mean to imply it's not a responsibility in your life somehow.
  • Maybe it's your family, and you presume proximity equals intimacy... only as you speak into it you sound more like an annoyed neighbor than a reputable caregiver.
  • Maybe it's your workplace, and you presume familiarity equals integrity... only as you speak into it you sound more like a seasoned faultfinder than a humble proponent.
  • Maybe it's your church, and you presume sincerity equals clarity... only as you speak into it you sound more like a blind optometrist than an inspiring guide.
  • Maybe it's your school, and you presume geography equals authority... only as you speak into it you sound more like an irate taxpayer than a genuine advocate.
What you're communicating, however you present it, is essentially this:

"I'll say it if no one else will."

Sure, maybe the reason it hasn't been said is because it needs to be said and no one has boldly stepped up to say it. That will often be what you presume.

Then again, maybe the reason it hasn't been said is because there are more important things that do need to be said. How clear are you on this?

Consider - "Was the silence there on purpose? If not, what is the best way to say what actually does need to be said and avoid what doesn't?"

That may not be what you wanted to hear today.

I'll say it if no one else will.
"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate." (1 Corinthians 13:1, The Message)

tomorrow's going to be a great day

I literally just put my ten-year old son to bed. 

He's turning eleven tomorrow, but doesn't know anything about how we're going to celebrate. Still, for some odd reason, he offered these words:

"You know what I think? Tomorrow's going to be a great day."

I paused, then replied, "I think so, too."

Between the two of us, I'm the only one who knows what will be happening. As his father, I'm not only privy to the details but will be resourcing its goodness.

What he has is an open trust... a faith, if you will. He's taken what he does know - the character of his father and family - and let that feed into the unknown of however the day will play out. He went to bed content with his nightlight, oozing childlike faith and the unlit mystery front of him.

I wanted to share that with you.

I don't know what your thought is on the "tomorrow" in front of you. Maybe it's positive, or maybe it's negative. To borrow a concept from my message at Connection Church this past Sunday, "It doesn't matter if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Be thankful that you have a glass and grateful that there's something in it."

I likewise don't know who will be reading this. Still, I'm writing it and generally praying for you as I do.

Your Father and His family care about your "tomorrow" and your "today." Jesus did warn us that we will face trouble in this world, but He also promised that He'd be with us and within us each day. Hug your Father tonight (or whenever you read this) and give Him some trust... a faith, if you will.

As your Father, He's not only privy to the details but will be resourcing its goodness. 

You know what I think? Tomorrow's going to be a great day.
"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

P.S. I hear rumors in the cyber-world about "Giving Tuesday." Someone out there thought up the idea that since everyone spent the past several days shopping for stuff, "Why not make the Tuesday that follows a time of supporting your favorite charitable cause beyond the norm?"

A global celebration of a new tradition of generosity. You don't need to just do it on Tuesday either.

If you're looking for something to support, I can think of an amazing movement called "Connection Church" where we care about the lives and eternities of people locally and globally. We're making a real difference, but there are real financial gaps that can really hold us back. You'll find a link directly below if that's on your radar. The investment we're making together lasts way longer than an iThing, new toy or winter coat.

Thank you in advance!

http://www.connectionchurch.org/give


paying the price

You can experience so many things if you're willing to pay the price for them.

Strangely, we understand this with entertainment... vacations... designer beverages.

Strangely, we neglect this with personal and spiritual growth.

Consider the investment Jesus has made into you - His own life.

Why expect that to more fully step into that investment that it would cost you any less?

"What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries." (Luke 12:6-7, The Message)

happy days Jesus

Sit on it...

The Bible says Jesus made people:
  • Uncomfortable
  • Confused
  • Angry
  • Repentant
  • Worshipful
  • Riotous
There were a number of things He got angry over.

Is your "Jesus" more about life feeling like "happy days?"

Perhaps you've made Him a bit more like Fonzie:
  • Working magic
  • Setting you up with dates
  • Helping you with problems
  • Always having a clever response-a-mundo
  • Giving a "thumbs up" on your life
Sit on it.
"Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves." (Matthew 21:12)

good leaders

Good leaders...

(yes, you ARE one)

are less concerned with what makes people happy and more concerned with what will make them healthy.

You can't teach a man what he thinks he already knows... what she thinks she already knows...

but I'll bet you knew that.

What can you do?

The best compliment you give to those you lead: Demand their God-given best.

The most practical gift you give them: Serve them at your God-given best.

solid followers

Sometimes people shake their hands at the leadership "above them."

Sometimes they should.

Most of the time? It's just the path of least resistance when compared to self-ownership and self-growth.

Worth noting... Judas and John has the same mentor.

What was the difference between the two?

If you can tell, you can pick which story yours will be like.

"The call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is open to everyone, but we don't get to write our own job description." - Francis Chan
"...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." (Mark 10:43-44)

what you fear, and what you have faith in

Touch.

It's either something you crave or something you avoid (usually depending on the circumstances).

The news has been relentless the past couple of days regarding "Ebola" coverage. There have been moments of clarity and perspective, but most of the news almost seems to be poised to get you to keep watching the news. "We're going to tell you something else to freak out about, right after the commercial. Then later, something even worse. Keep watching."

All of this has likely led you to recognize what you fear, and what you have faith in.

Fear and faith are two extreme reactions, almost the exact opposite of each other: fear believes the absolute worst can happen, while faith believes the absolute best can happen.

What should a loving Christian to do? Shall we continue to extend care and embrace all we come in contact with... just as Jesus would? Is this a time for revival - for boldly reaching out to others and helping them know the assurance of God, heaven and eternity? What about how we live?

A friend of mine wrote this:
"Jesus didn't seem to teach His disciples to be cautious of anything that may threaten their own health/life. People’s eternal health is far greater than their/our earthly health, and if we need to step into the forbidden zone to present the Gospel of hope, then we do so with complete trust in God. I don’t think Jesus touching those with leprosy and healing them was only to display His power, but to also show his disciples how far the term “neighbor” extends. (I wonder how long it took for His disciples to shake His hand after those encounters…)"

Yes, we still live in the world - but, no... we are ultimately not bound to its current state. There is some wisdom in wondering ahead of the curve how we might need to prepare in advance for things taking a turn for the worse. However, we do need to determine if we will do so in advance panic or in advance assurance. God gave you emotions for a reason... to process things, expressing joy over things worth praising most, and expressing tears as you break over what matters most.

So... what matters most?

God doesn't need you to have enough faith to do it all... but to have enough to take the first step.
  • A word: Speak a blessing into another person. There's always something they could be doing better... how about telling that person what he/she is doing right?
  • A look: Put your phone down. Close your laptop. Take the bluetooth off. Quit looking at your watch. Let another person know you're really, really paying attention and that you don't have to scooch along. Give yourself a half hour to "waste" by lingering with others around you.
  • A touch: It could be an appropriately-placed hand on someone's shoulder. It might be an extra few seconds hugging a family member. It might be making space for your neighbors in your mini-van after inviting them to play paintball this weekend. It could be a God-honoring kiss, praising Him as you share affection with your affection. You'll know the moment as it presents itself... if you pay attention.

Is this finally the time for you and I to become imitators of Jesus... carriers of real hope and assurance... into the lives of neighbors, co-workers, friends and family?

Can we make some news, instead of merely watch the news?
"God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul’s skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole." (Acts 19:11-12, The Message)

note the quotes

No one is a lost cause. 

"Dirty people" provide good soil because there is a lot of fertilizer in their life... for the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

"Clean people" provide the inspiration to live life as a marathon and not just a sprint... for we should not grow weary in doing good.

But note the quotes.

No one, except by rejecting Jesus, can be permanently labeled as dirty. Christ absorbed your sins and your hell into Himself to take your place.

No one, except by receiving Jesus, can be permanently labeled as clean. Integrity is only truly transformational when you are viscerally aware of your need for God.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin... or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21, 23-24)


intentions and action

Your intentions must translate into action.

If not today, declare when and stick to it...

or else they may not actually be your intentions.

Even then, be aware of the difference between your ambitions for God and God's ambitions for you. After all, Judas did things for and in the name of Jesus, and yet he betrayed Him in the end.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.  (James 4:17)

honest... or rude?

"I'm just keeping it real!"
Honesty is an amazing thing. Jesus said that knowing the Truth will set you free, in fact. It opens up doors into place that are otherwise hidden, whether you're sharing something with another person or they're sharing something with you. 
Can you be too honest?
Some would argue you can't, and insist upon sharing their perspective on everything withought considering if it should be heard. Others will use honesty as a cover to be a jerk.
You've recognized this when you've felt this, right?
Have you recognized this when you've dispensed it?  
When does honesty cross the line? Is it all in the tone, or is it all in whether it's even necessary?
"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.
(1 Corinthians 10:23)


judge this

When you inappropriately judge another person, you appropriately define yourself.

This doesn't mean we're not to evaluate what comes out of someone and determine a reasonable response. Some avoid doing even that out of fear of offending another person, which (according to culture) is the "worst thing you could possibly ever do."

Is it?

Jesus never once suggested (including within the often misquoted "Judge not, lest ye be judged" statement) that we have no authority to make evaluative conclusions about human behavior. Rather, the authority comes from Him and His standards as we live out mutual accountability... it's to be two-sided and not full of lop-sized hypocrisy. Even within our "Who are you to judge me?" culture, we must push through our fear of offending someone by helping them see their blind spots and growing through them... we must believe this is important.

Is it?

The line, which I fundamentally proposed, is to become aware of how your healthy evaluation can easily get off-track and become an unhealthy, locked-in summary of who you think this person is. You can begin to see him/her as a "snob" when compared to your "humility," or as a "low life" when compared with your "morality." You will start to pride yourself on your ability to see through people, without realizing how you've become amazed at your own brilliance regarding the dullness you see in other people.  You will apply this to people above you, below you and next to you.

Of course, none of this probably applies to you. It likely just applies to someone else. This blind spot isn't at all a part of who you are, how you connect with others and the sass by which you approach the world.

Is it?
"Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." (Matthew 7:1-5, The Message)

this is ridiculous

"This is ridiculous."

There's something about the growth that can take place in an environment of need or tension. You've experienced this when you look at a situation that seems backward, be it spiritually, financially, relationally or otherwise. You scan things over, and say three words - "This is ridiculous."

The real catch? Those three words actually mean one of two things:
  • "This is ridiculous. I need to personally step up and make this better."
  • "This is ridiculous. I'm going to quit, and I don't care what that means."

We've all had both of those reactions toward something in life. The former can cause a break-through that we didn't know were possible. The latter pulls us out of situations where we fear break-downs.

We're often blind to our short-sightedness in both options, sometimes stepping out of things too quickly or rushing in without a wise plan.

It's why you and I need to be devoted to leaning into God more than our own ideas. The key word in that idea, by the way, is "devoted." His wisdom must always trump our feelings - even if we'd rather live by our feelings and assume He's "with" us.

I tried challenging someone recently on a blind spot. The response? "I'm fine. God is with me and I'll figure it out." It was a defense mechanism that used spiritual language - it was meant to shut down the awkwardness of being confronted versus really open up and hear something that the person didn't want to hear.

Do you want to more be "with God" and His ideas on life... or do you more want God to be "with you" and your ideas on life?
 
It's crazy that we'd even consider the latter when we have the option of the former.

This is ridiculous.

"Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God." (1 Chronicles 22:19a)

everyday family. everyday faith.

I have a secret...
one that may be helpful for your household.

For several months, I've been conspiring within a team of some amazing people to prep/launch a new movement that went public today: Lifetree Family (http://www.lifetreefamily.com/blog).

It may help to know why.

On one hand, there are already a number of blogs out there that do a decent job at saying decent things. Our goal hasn't been to replicate them, but to go into some of the uncharted territories through topics that we all seem a little hesitant to bring up. Other times, we hope to share a story from the trenches of our own lives that may give you that one nugget you need to tweak or overhaul your own.

You can even contribute to this. It just may be that something you've learned may help someone else.

In the meantime, check out the launch of the site today. Come back regularly, as there are rather hot topics we'll be covering that we hope will help you and your household be unconditional... be fearless... be authentic... be in awe.

Simply put, "Everyday family. Everyday faith."