pioneers and settlers

One hurdle of trying to make your mark is once you feel you've made it you may let it mark you into retirement.

What if the point of life isn't arrival or competency?

What if the point of life is Life?

I'm reminded of the late Henri Nouwen who once asked, "Did becoming older bring me closer to Jesus?"

Once upon a time, we lived this way. 

Before skyscrapers and cities there was simply "the open range."

Before experts and consultants there were simply "immigrants."

What if this tension still exists - 

are you a settler or a pioneer?
  • Settlers see stopping points.
  • Pioneers see starting points.
  • Settlers see life as a possession.
  • Pioneers see life as an adventure.
  • Settlers see home being four borders wide.
  • Pioneers see home being a wagon train. 
  • Settlers see God as the Sheriff who maintains law and order.
  • Pioneers see God as the ultimate Scout who knows where new territory can be claimed.
We all want to self-actualize ourselves to be correct, assuming we know whichever one is "correct."

But do we truly risk and fail forward?

Do you try things that don't work? Do you innovate?

It's been said “Pioneers take the most arrows but also get the best land.”
"Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there." (Genesis 11:31)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you." So Abram went. (Genesis 12:1,4)

joy is built

Joy is not happiness... it's better.

Joy doesn't require getting what you want or having your say.

Joy isn't an absence of difficulty, pain or rejection.

Joy is not circumstantial.

Joy is built on unseen values like hope and tangible actions like faithfulness as a bedrock.

For anyone out there who is worn down by "loved ones" who do unloving things...

by "friends" who slide in and out of your life like strangers...

by "adults" who act childish and kids who insist they're grown up...

I'm with you. I'm praying for you (let me know how).

Let's find joy together. I'm finding it in fixing my eyes on Jesus, who...
"...for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

what is your ring?

As you head into another round fo working hard, or are feeling burdened, I'm reminded of a quote from the Lord of the Rings.

"Frodo" has taken on the hard task of holding a ring that is full of darkness and dread as he and his companions journey to destroy it. By this point he is worn down and not sure how to proceed:
Frodo: "I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this would have happened."

Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times but that is not for us to decide. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us."

What is your "ring?"

May you not be at the mercy of your fatigue.

May you not even at the mercy of your desire to make a difference.

May you instead live fully in the Story of God at work in your life, whether you are high-fiving Him, questioning Him or not yet aware of Him. If I can be a part of your journey as a companion or pray for you in any way, send me a note.
"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:20)

becoming naturally supernatural

Today is not yesterday,
nor is it tomorrow.

Life has many different chapters for us.

Several hard-to-process chapters in a row do not sum up the whole story,
nor do they signal it’s the end of your book.

I sense it's one of the reasons why the combination of December-into-January is such a unique window of times. A part of us is overwhelmed by the beauty, colorful lights and peace of Christmas... and then suddenly we're into a new year and not quite sure if we even understand the past one.

A new year offers many natural transition points, yet when we live according to them we may end up reacting than responding.

Following Jesus means we're able to live for something deeper and supernatural. The "natural" still has its place, but the"supernatural" is where real purpose offers an embrace.

The Bible is filled with life after life, story after story of situations that seemed a certain way for a season only to then experience a turnaround in the next.

It's all about becoming naturally supernatural.

Be aware of the chapter you're in, realizing that the Author is not yet done writing. His penmanship may be slower than yours, but His creativity and sense of the larger narrative is beyond compare.

In fact, try handing Him the pen you tend to want to take out of His hands.
And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev. 21:5 

your anti-plan for the new year

Confession:

I don't enjoy structure for the sake of structure. 

Notice how I worded that. I didn't say "I don't enjoy structure."

That would be shortsighted, for a plan, method or framework can provide great sanity and purpose to everything we do.

 I could say that I prefer creative freedom more than I do repetitive routines.

Still, what I'm getting at is I don't like doing things just to do them, being bound by previous patterns, letting the calendar dictate my life or having others tell me the method by which I'm to live.

Yeah, I'm that guy.

Perhaps that's why I rejected my traditional church upbringing growing up as feeling too "dry" or "confining." Even when I finally seized my faith as a teenager, I was told by well-meaning mentors that to be a growing Christian I'd have to get up early every day for a "quiet time." After failing at that over and over, I concluded that I'd never be a growing Christian.

I don't enjoy structure for the sake of structure.

Thankfully, others came along and shared how the structure that helps some people grow spiritually doesn't always work for others. One person explained, "Don't let anyone impose their habits on you. The main goal is to nurture your relationship with God somehow. Have fun figuring that out."

So I have had fun figuring that out.

Discovering how to grow with God can be as creative as however you end up growing with God. 

While everyone is pushing for a definitive plan on how they will grow in this new year, I'd offer a 40 day journey that is full of more questions and prompts than a prescription that will work for everyone.

Don't want to do 40 days? No problem. Do 30. Or 20. Or 6. Pick a number.

Want to amp it up? Do this with others around you who are just like you, or reach out to a teenager and let this be an inter-generational thing.

Maybe share it a group-wide challenge?

However this serves you, I pray it serves you.

Behold - your anti-plan for the New Year:
  • Day 1: Look back - what are five things from last year that stand out for whatever reason? Write them down.
  • Day 2: Go back to yesterday's list. Ask God to show you something about it that you didn't catch when you first created it. Take your time with this.
  • Day 3: Pay better attention to every person you talk to today. Notice something about their appearance you never noticed before. Most people never as follow-up questions. Ask at least one. Look at that person more fully, paying attention to him/her versus what you're merely talking about. Let this deepen that friendship, even if only one step further.
  • Day 4: Consider the various ideas/goals you've heard others share about their physical fitness or eating plans. Has your reaction to this been more dismissive, carefree or motivated? Adopt one of their goals for the next 3 days.
  • Day 5: Start up a conversation about something that matters to you. Notice how easy it is for you to talk about it, even if others aren't into it. Let this inspire you in the next few days to move past the usual surface-level chit-chat to inspire or challenge others.
  • Day 6: Think about the chore you dislike the most. You're cringing already. Next time you do that chore, identify one simple way to make it fun - or perhaps sing or hum a favorite worship song the entire time you're doing it. Now, how do you feel?
  • Day 7: Review the past week. Create a "next-step" from anything in days 1 - 6, making sure you articulate when you will specifically take action on this.
  • Day 8: Evaluate your spiritual habits over the past month. Has time with Jesus been more about convenience or have you pushed past your own desires and comfort to really give God what's "right" and not what's "left?" Note any feelings or defensiveness that rises up in you on this, and create an action step.
  • Day 9: Review some recent news headlines or debates online. Think about the last time you took a genuine stand for something you believe in or listened to the perspective on something you disagreed with. Note how easy it is to either care too much or too little about certain topics. Chew on this for the next 24 hours, inviting God to speak into it.
  • Day 10: Reconsider yesterday's theme and apply both takeaways - let yourself fight for something important today (regardless of your fears), and let someone share what is important to him/her (regardless of your stance).
  • Day 11: Fight for a relationship that seems to be dissolving. Do this with gentleness and respect, and yet with boldness and unshakable commitment.
  • Day 12: Make a simple vision statement of where you think you're heading into this next year. If you get stuck, write down 3 to 5 of the greatest breakthroughs you imagine might happen in the months ahead. Share it with someone.
  • Day 13: Take a look at your calendar or habits, noting where you spend your time most days of the week. Wrestle with why "you" are "there" - how is your presence in those places more than accidental, but perhaps something intentional from God?
  • Day 14: Hone in on a goal from the past two weeks. Simplify it somehow so you gain traction by doing at least a good portion of it so that the entire magnitude of it doesn't overwhelm you.
  • Day 15: Shop for something that will build your personal book or music library. Do this today - don't put it off.
  • Day 16: Share some out-loud praises (perhaps with others in your home) of how God's specifically blessed you. Enjoy them and Him. Take it to the next level by considering how each of those blessings are meant to be shared with others and not merely for you.
  • Day 17: Tell a cashier that you're looking for a good candy bar and ask for a recommendation. Buy it, but then gift the cashier with that candy bar.
  • Day 18: Give yourself permission to be sad about something or someone. You can certainly move on afterward, but take time to grieve over things you tend to skip over.
  • Day 19: Ask a few people around you what is something they'd like to teach you how to do. Set up a time for this to happen.
  • Day 20: Come up with a way to rest appropriately over the next three days. See if you can get others to be on a similar plan.
  • Day 21: Own up to something from your past where you "stopped short" somehow, such as avoiding a situation or person by sneaking away or not giving your best somehow. Go back and make things right, even if it's merely to apologize.
  • Day 22: Get together with someone who's doing well in a skill or area of life you'd like to grow in. Ask questions about what they've learned along the way so you can apply it into your own life.
  • Day 23: Mark down any progress you feel you've made over the past few weeks, whether you do it privately or publicly. Do this every few weeks to recognize your growth.
  • Day 24: Make plans today to not use technology for anything but emergencies tomorrow.
  • Day 25: Take note of the good and bad "anchors" in your life: the people and habits that either help you grow into who God is growing you to be, or the fears and routines that keep you from taking risks that can propel you forward.
  • Day 26: Determine what might be a good book to read in the next month. Ask others for ideas in a particular genre you'd enjoy getting into.
  • Day 27: Eat a food that you normally wouldn't eat. Try to find a way to enjoy it.
  • Day 28: Create a mix of music for your next week, like your own personal soundtrack for whatever is ahead. Set up a way to listen to it.
  • Day 29: Pray a simple prayer for every person in your cell phone contact list. The only requirement? Don't generalize - personalize a prayer for each person by name.
  • Day 30: Give yourself and others some slack where you have been more tempted to give critique. Likewise, seek and offer some helpful accountability for yourself and others where you have been tempted to be hands off.
  • Day 31: Buy a gift card for a local ice cream parlor and give it to someone in your life who needs encouragement.
  • Day 32: Visit YouTube to search for and watch any archived message from Billy Graham that is in black-and-white. Fully focus on this.
  • Day 33: Reexamine your financial habits. What if you lived on 80% of what you make instead of 100% (or going into debt beyond what you make)? Aim for this - use the first 10% that you make to bless movements trying to serve the world, and bank the next 10% as savings. Manage and live on the rest.
  • Day 34: Do an exercise you will actually enjoy doing for at least 20 minutes.
  • Day 35: Tell someone today that God love them and is trying to get their attention. If they ask you how you know this, share a verse like Romans 1:20 or Job 33:14... or tell your own story of how He's spoken to you.
  • Day 36: Boldly invite someone to join you for church this weekend. Let the Lord guide you in this, but definitely take that step.
  • Day 37: Find a set of candy dispensers in a local store and place quarters into each mechanism's coin area so the next person who comes by can get something for free.
  • Day 38: Make sure everyone in your household and extended family knows you love them. Say it in a way that they will understand it.
  • Day 39: Make a meal for a busy neighbor.
  • Day 40: Challenge someone else to go through this list (and perhaps go through it again with him/her).
  • BONUS: Specifically invite other people to show you a blind spot or emotional trigger in your life that you may not be fully aware of.
  • BONUS: Invert something you're worried about by facing it through larger perspective found in Scripture or worship music.
See any use for this?  

Which one stands out to you?

What would you add or subtract?
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  (James 1:5)

random motivation

Overwhelmed? Need some perspective?

Here's some random motivation for you:


"Pac Man fever" is not a medical condition.

Twins are not the result of a mom eating a Taco Bell double-decker taco.

People who are colorblind are still eligible to vote for the Green Party.

U2 is a band - not some kind of internet slang to decode.

ALF is not in the new Star Wars movie.

Spiderman's Uncle Ben did not cook rice at every meal.

A waiter who says he's "taking care of you" only means that in regards to your meal.

Mushrooms are food, not an HGTV decorating term.

Nic Cage didn't steal the Declaration of Independence.

General Tso chicken doesn't need to be saluted.

The Grand Canyon doesn't need air conditioning.

Seedless oranges aren't an endangered species.

Transformers? Fiction.

Yellow and blue make green, not "blellow."

Juice is a legally drinkable substance and not at some kind of vegetarian cannibalism.

Boeing is a company. Not a sound effect.

Carmen San Diego is actually quite easy to find with her wearing that big red hat.

Chicklets do not grow up to be roosters.

Congress has not declared war on "Casual Friday."

Sour Patch Kids are candy, not grumpy youth who hang with pumpkins.

Infinity pools do have a limited amount of water.

Don Cheadle doesn't appear if you say “Cheadlejuice” three times.

Peaking at someone's jeans label is not a background check.

Ukraine was not Frasier’s brother on the show Frasier.

Force feeding is not how a Jedi eats.

"Anytime minutes" don’t let you call the future.

Cobra, from GI Joe, doesn't exist.

New York exists outside Billy Joel's mind.

No.2 pencils are not sad they lost.

Croquettes aren't female crocodiles.

Beyonce' cannot hypnotize squirrels.

“Adele” is a singer. “A Dell” is a computer.

Trees do not secretly have bones.

The music act that is least like punk rock is the most punk rock act... like John Denver.

When someone offers you pie, you can add toppings to it by saying "whip" - otherwise, simply "nae nae."

God is real. His love for you is real. His pursuit of you is real. Jesus dying on a cross for your sins is real. The Holy Spirit's ability to indwell you and transform you from the inside out is real. The opportunity for you to do something about this now is real.

P.S. That last one can be just as joy-filled as the ones before it. Love ya!

- T.
"A cheerful heart brings good healing, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

bulletproof?

You know this image, even if you've never seen it before.
 


It's from 1923... a glimpse of bulletproof vest testing.

It also may metaphorically be a picture of your job... your  family... your friendships.

The question is...

which person in the picture are you most like? 

Consider how you grew up. Consider how things play out in your life today.

Whether things could be labeled "healthy" or "dysfunctional," who are you in this picture?

In what ways are you counting that things are bulletproof?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

dummies

There are people around you.

How do you view them?

I'm reminded of an Acura ad that says, "When you don't think of them as dummies, something amazing happens." 



Is that a philosophy that does or doesn't play out for you as you consider everyone from political candidates to a neighbor who can get on your nerves?

When you don't think of them as dummies, something amazing happens.

I'd like to offer you a simple challenge to you wherever you're at today:

Privately pray for someone you're next to. 

It could be the person sitting, serving, walking, exercising or cleaning nearby. The lady at the counter. The guy talking on his cellphone. A random stranger walking or running by. Someone on social media you can't remember why you're friends with.

Pray for them... for their journey in life and relationship with God.

Pray for their family, health, finances, hurts, victories.

Pray that you would see them not as an "extra" or "scenery" meant to be a spectacle to your life... but as a real human being.

Pray that you wouldn't see them as a dummy, but as the next person to change the world.

Pick someone out and quietly shout onto Heaven on their behalf. Simply talk to God about them.

You don't have to make a spectacle of it.

The challenge is set. Pray for the people you are next to, and watch what God does... in you.

Will you commit to this? If so, would you say "amen" out loud, even now?
Let's be a praying and committed people today.
"Pray continually... Brothers, pray for us." (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 25)

it's okay to not be okay

It's okay to not be okay.

This world. Your life.

It's okay to not be okay with it all.

We put great hope in the idea of life getting better. We turn to politicians, teachers, doctors, employers and others who have authority to fix things for us. We likewise can have a skewed perspective of God that we keep holding out hope for - one where He makes life go exactly as we want it to, sparing us from pain and rewarding us for our good deeds.

That would be "okay" - wouldn't it?

Perhaps that's why are that much more disappointed when things don't happen as we'd like or those we turn to don't accomplish what we hoped they would.

If you're nodding along with this, so am I.

I find that the pain I feel when my expectations are not met reveals so much about me, even though I would rather focus on the one(s) who seemingly let me down. It's why I take great comfort in something from the Apostle Paul:
I, Paul, am under God’s plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus. I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ. 

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. 

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
It may help to know that while Paul was divinely inspired by God to write this letter, he actually wrote it while in prison. He had been bullied and abused for his faith, just as he used to bully and abuse others before becoming a Christian himself. Still, Paul proclaimed with great conviction the truth about who he was in Christ.

There's a great truth here: Despite his circumstances, his identity as a beloved child of God remained unshaken.

Which means... because of Jesus, the reality of us being beloved sons and daughters is greater than our circumstances. When we live in that identity, every other area of our lives can thrive. We don't have to be "okay" with what is happening to us, for what is happening in us can be even deeper than that.

I know how freeing that can sound, and yet I also know how complex it can simultaneously sound. Sometimes when life is loud and we are enduring one hit after another even Truth can sound like a lie.

Be aware of that. Claim that challenge out loud. Truth remains Truth. Hope remains Hope. God remains God. Your Savior remains your Savior.

You're not alone in struggling with this. It's why I want you to know church is a place where it’s okay to not be okay... where you can be accepted as you are, experience radical grace, and heal from your past hurts... not because we're able to fix your life with a spiritual buzz or high-five church experiences every week, but because we are genuinely under our genuine God who has created a genuine realm -

a realm called Heaven that we can one day enter into where there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow,

and a realm called Earth where His Kingdom can come, and His will be done here just as it is in heaven. 


hang in there


Remember that time Indiana Jones rode a Nazi submarine hoping it wouldn't submerge?

And then later on... we see him again in action.
 So... your crazy thing?

Hang in there.

You got this... and even if you don't, how epic it would be to go out trying something epic?

One thing is clear is that God's got you.

Even when you're surrounded by opposition, He is the one thing you can always hang onto.

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. " (Psalm 27:14)

in between

There is a moment in the middle...

in between the old and new thing...

called many things.

It's true name is transformation

Instead of pining for the old or the new, lean into this moment right now.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Go on...

right now...

swing. 




choose your legacy

Consider -

as a growing number of kids are engaged in extracurriculars and sports, a growing number of parents choose extracurriculars and sports over spiritual investments (even seeing church as an extracurricular). We can argue with that... defend it... critique it... but the data is what the data is.

Choose your legacy.
Invest into what's eternal.
Follow Jesus.

"These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deut 6:1-9)

in part

An observation:

We're all tempted to each other symbolically or as a summary rather than as we really are in detail - including all the greatness and flaws.
Until we see through this filter, we'll never stop feeling frustrated with each other or making shortsighted decisions that don't fully consider each other.

Pause. Pray. Live and relate more deeply.
"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

like lightning?

Ever notice how the shape of macaroni really is sort of a sham?

Waiter: "Which type of pasta would you like?"

Me: "Does it matter?"

Waiter: (looks around, leans in) "No, not really." 

Sometimes people think this to be true of God... that you can pick any faith or religious figure to follow and you'll end up in the same place.

Unfortunately, the same can be true even when you're living within the truth of who God is. It's easy for people to assume that you can pick any form of Christianity to follow, whether you're more conservative or liberal, and it's all legit.

The truth is there is only one form of Christianity - Jesus lived it, and we can't... yet we're invited to.

How does that happen, then? How can we do something that we can't do?

I like this quote from Peter Kreeft as insight:
“Christ changed every human being he ever met…. If anyone claims to have met him without being changed, he has not met him at all. When you touch him, you touch lightning…. I think Jesus is the only man in history who never bored anyone. I think this is an empirical fact, not just a truth of faith. It’s one of the reasons for believing his central claim, and Christianity’s central claim, that he is literally God in the flesh…. The Greek word used to describe everyone’s reaction to him in the Gospels is thauma— wonder. This was true of his enemies, who killed him. Of his disciples, who worshipped him. And even of agnostics, who went away shaking their heads and muttering ‘No man every spoke like this man’ and knowing that if he didn’t stop being what he was and saying what he said that eventually they would have to side with either his killers or his worshippers. For ‘Jesus shock’ breaks your heart in two and forces you to choose which half of your heart you will follow….”
Is your faith like pasta... 

or is it like lightning?

worth reading?

Many of you know that I regularly write in a few other places.

It's actually quite amazing... not because of me, but because of the community that interacts with it.

What I try to share here are the thoughts that are still in me after I've posted around in those places. That's perhaps why it's a bit irregular at times.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd link you to some of those more recent articles that I felt were especially useful or personal to me:
I'm also actively tweeting random thoughts of faith and weird observations at @tonymyles

And... if you like reading some more of my personal journey or some old school observations, my original blog Don't Call Me Veronica is still up. Enjoy! 

how? or why?

You're going to spend an immeasurable amount of time in your life learning how to survive.

We assume this is a good thing - after all, bare bones... we all need to survive.

In the workplace, surviving is called "just clocking in" or "living paycheck to paycheck."

In households, it's felt when we concentrate on the next chore in front of us.

You're not dead... you're just busy.

You're asking the question "How?" on a regular basis.

Tracking so far?

What you may not spend as much time on in your life (at least, comparatively) is asking how to thrive beyond mere survival. 

We assume this is a luxury thing - after all, bare bones... we all need to survive - and maybe "one day" we'll thrive.

In the workplace, thriving is called "being career minded" or "considering the big picture."

In households, it's felt when we concentrate on the next person in front of us.

You're not dead... you're quite alive.

You're asking the question "Why?" on a regular basis.

Ready for the real takeaway?

You may want to write this down.

If you have your "why" to live, you can face down almost any "how."

Unfortunately, the opposite is not true.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

a sideline insight

A sideline insight:

What God does in you on the sidelines is as important as what happens under the lights on the field.

Just make sure you're in the arena either way.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt

forgiveness is a commitment

Forgiveness is not a feeling.

Forgiveness is not a choice.

Forgiveness is a commitment. 

It doesn't mean you can easily forget what happened, but that you will consciously choose not to focus on what happened.

It doesn't mean the relationship returns back to how unhealthy things were, but that you are embracing what a healthy new alternative to the relationship needs to be.

Forgiveness is a commitment. 

It's you giving grace... instead of you holding a grudge.

It's you trying to grow up personally... instead of you trying to grow your support publicly.

It's you moving forward... instead of you replaying the past.

It's you giving a gift to someone... instead of you demanding that person satisfy a debt you feel.

It's you releasing... instead of you gripping.

It's you owning what you did wrong... instead of you waiting for the other person to own what you think they did wrong.

It's you taking actual steps in this... instead of you looking for the "Yeah, but what if they..." loophole.

It's you not doing all of this one day... but you doing all of this every day - every day.

Forgiveness is a commitment. 
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13b)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3)

one step at a time

This will happen, if people start building stairs based on their personal perspective and circumstances.


This will also happen if you build your life based on your personal perspective and circumstances.

How do you begin seeing things beyond how you see things?

Spend time with God today, enlarging your perspective by letting Him give you His perspective..

one step at a time.
"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12)

"May you be able to feel and understand, as all God's children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is" (Ephesians 3:18)

may God bless America?

"WOOO!!! HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!! IT'S INDEPENDENCE DAY!!! WHERE'S MY AMERICAN FLAG BIKINI?" 
- a woman we will see in social media pictures today

It's a weekend of celebrating our country and the freedoms others have fought for.

Sometimes we struggle with this... 

whether we are cynical of government or wave the flag every chance we can - including the unique aforementioned bikini.

There's wisdom on all of this in the Bible. It instructs us to see an honorable government as a way to honor God, and for a government to be honorable to God in how it treats its people.

Even when the government does not live up to its role, we are still to live up to ours.

The catch is when a government asks us to do or support something that is in direct disobedience to God’s Word. In such times, we are to put God first, trusting in His power to protect us here or take us into the world to come.

Those who take this kind of stand for God stand in good company.

One example we can read about involves some young men who took a stand by simply doing that - standing up when everyone else bowed down in resignation at the risk of punishment.

Our persecution might be name-calling or shunning. Their persecution involved being thrown into a blazing fire.

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)

The question this weekend isn't if we're blessed to live in a country like America.

We are blessed.

(Eat a hot dog and a brat and a burger alongside of a slab or watermelon and a diet coke... if you need proof.)

The challenge with a "blessing" is to not turn the blessing into an indulgence to do whatever we want but to be responsible and God-honoring with it.

That's the true nature of a blessing -

not "Woo hoo! Look at me! Let's do anything and everything with it!"

but "How can I use what God has given me to further what He is doing in this world?"

May God bless America?

Only if we begin by blessing God as America.
"America was founded by people who believe that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side."  - Ronald Reagan

Are you in?

go team!

Exciting days in the Cleveland area because of the NBA Finals. 

Lots of fans jumping on board and buying tickets now they didn't buy all season. The followers who have been at this all season have made space for the fans... and why not?

Still, I'm reminded of the difference between being a fan and a follower.

Fans are buying expensive merchandise and tickets today. Followers sit out there at cheap games when nothing is happening and cheer on any progress.

Fans are still learning the names of the players... "How do you say that - 'Dellavedova' - is that Russian?" Followers could pronounce the jersey numbers and history of players from years back.

Fans are shaking their fists in enthusiasm now, cheering loudly. Followers were shaking their heads when the team seemed to be losing months ago and watercooler chatter said it was a lost cause.

Fans think they're followers. Followers think about how easy it could be to just become a fan.

As Kyle Idleman pointed out, this is a great metaphor for faith.



Fans dress up in the "right" gear to get religious for a moment in their week/month/season/year. Followers come before their Coach each day no matter what they're wearing and ask, "What does it mean to let You take the lead on the details and decisions of what I do out there today?"

Fans talk loudly about how Christianity is nothing but a game with corrupt officiants and players who really don't play. Followers get quiet and lean into the redemptive, authoritative whisper of God that can turn any foul into a free throw shot that changes everything.

Fans are experts (if you ask them) about who should do what out there because they've been watching from the sidelines by for years. Followers are amateurs (if you ask them) because they recognize the Playbook requires them to think beyond their instincts and trust in a bigger strategy that requires regular community and teamwork.

Fans think they're followers. Followers think about how easy it could be to just become a fan.

Are you a fan... or a follower?

Perhaps there is a better question.

Will you CHOOSE to be a fan... or a follower?

If you think you could never show your face among the followers because you recognized you've just been a fan, no worries.

The followers who have been at this all season have made space for the fans... and why not?

Whether you're a fan or a follower (or a cynic who refuses to decide, which is a decision in itself) there's a spot for YOU (perhaps again) and anyone who wants to be on the team.

No religious "jerseys" required.
In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11)