go crazy

You're a little crazy.

That's what you'll hear, at least.

That innovative idea you have that you fear trying because of the peanut gallery commenting on it?

It just may be the "crazy" idea that all the "sane" people need to hear.

You know how when people are driving along on a road and see a fire burning off in the distance they slow down and pay attention to it?

What if you could light the right fire so that people will slow down and pay attention to it?

Consider the perspective of Charles Spurgeon on this:
"All those who have done wonders for Christ have always been called eccentric and fanatical. Why, when Whitfield first went on Bennington Common to preach, because he could not find a building large enough, it was quite an unheard of thing, to preach in the open air. How could you expect God to hear prayer, if there was not a roof over the top of the people's heads? How could souls be blessed, if the people had not seats, and regular high-backed pews to sit in! Whitfield was thought to be doing something outrageous, but he went and did it; he went and broke the alabaster box on the head of his Master, and in the midst of scoffs and jeers, he preached in the open air.

And what came of it? A revival of godliness, and a mighty spread of religion.

I wish we were all of us ready to do some extraordinary thing for Christ - willing to be laughed at, to be called fanatics, to be hooted and scandallized because we went out of the common way, and were not content with doing what everybody else could do or approve to be done."
It's time to do that crazy thing.

It's time to get your family back into church.

It's time to get your church back into being a family.

It's time to reach out to new people who are not like you in any way.

It's time to be reached out to by people whose phone calls and texts you've been avoiding.

It's time to step up and reveal the greatness inside of you that blush about.

It's time to blush about the not-so-great things you've gotten used to happening in the world.

Go crazy.

And if the elevator tries to bring you down... go crazy (Punch a higher floor!)
I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  (2 Samuel 6:22)

one

What are you known for?

I've been spending some time this year reading about the various people in the Bible. None other than Jesus were perfect, but each was known for something. One that has its own unique summary takes place in an era when everyone else had become notoriously corrupt:
"Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation." (Genesis 6:9)
Still, when we think of Noah our mind quickly jumps to images of a ship packed with animals or a smiling man next to a rainbow. These are images we see in baby nurseries or church coloring pages, but there is more to the story of Noah. The biggest lesson comes at the beginning story—the lessons of a man who stood alone for God.
One song can spark a moment.
One flower can wake the dream.
One tree can start a forest.
One bird can herald spring.
One smile begins a friendship.
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea.
One word can frame the goal.
One vote can change a nation.
One sunbeam lights a room.
One candle wipes out darkness.
One laugh will conquer gloom.
One step must start each journey.
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits.
One touch can show you care.
One voice can speak with wisdom.
One heart can know what’s true.
One life can make the difference.
You see it’s up to YOU!
-Anonymous
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

So can you and I.

Noah was thought of as blameless.

So can you and I.

How? Noah walked with God.

So can you and I.

Be the example.

Be that "one." 

flawed thinking


When we don't know who our enemy is,

we start with people who look like our flawed idea of our enemy.

We even begin to second-guess those we were meant to count on, including God himself.

One flawed reason for why we question God is we mistakenly begin with ourselves as an accurate reference point for love and justice.

Thankfully, flaws don't have to have the final word.

God's bigger than any error in your judgment or any mistake you've made.

BUT... it helps to specifically invite Him into those mistakes.

AND... it helps to own when we have left things or people we should have stuck with.

Confession unpacks freedom.

Freedom unpacks purpose.

Purpose unpacks clarity.

Clarity sees through flawed thinking.
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." (Proverbs 3:21-2)

flawed thinking


When we don't know who our enemy is,

we start with people who look like our flawed idea of our enemy.

We even begin to second-guess those we were meant to count on, including God himself.

One flawed reason for why we question God is we mistakenly begin with ourselves as an accurate reference point for love and justice.

Thankfully, flaws don't have to have the final word.

God's bigger than any error in your judgment or any mistake you've made.

BUT... it helps to specifically invite Him into those mistakes.

AND... it helps to own when we have left things or people we should have stuck with.

Confession unpacks freedom.

Freedom unpacks purpose.

Purpose unpacks clarity.

Clarity sees through flawed thinking.
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." (Proverbs 3:21-2)

flawed thinking


When we don't know who our enemy is,

we start with people who look like our flawed idea of our enemy.

We even begin to second-guess those we were meant to count on, including God himself.

One flawed reason for why we question God is we mistakenly begin with ourselves as an accurate reference point for love and justice.

Thankfully, flaws don't have to have the final word.

God's bigger than any error in your judgment or any mistake you've made.

BUT... it helps to specifically invite Him into those mistakes.

AND... it helps to own when we have left things or people we should have stuck with.

Confession unpacks freedom.

Freedom unpacks purpose.

Purpose unpacks clarity.

Clarity sees through flawed thinking.
"My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck." (Proverbs 3:21-2)

come clean

Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover up their inadequacies/insecurities before God.

We use accomplishment and good deeds.

Come clean.
"Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?" declares the LORD "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the LORD. ( Jeremiah 23:24)

jump anyway


When the "hits" just keep on coming and you want to jump into your Father's arms, remember:

There's a great difference between trusting Him for what you want Him to do... 

and trusting Him for who He is. 

They do overlap, but He may spin you in a different direction as you embrace Him than what you planned for.

Jump anyway. He's your Father.
"O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name." (Isaiah 63:16b)

rethinking our mission statements and values



Richard Branson is nothing short of a Type-B conundrum in the world of Type-A leadership gurus. I'm working through his book "The Virgin Way" right now. This quote caught my eye:
"Before anyone tries to come up with a mission statement... there is the little matter of actually considering your company's commitment and ability to live up to it. If neither of these conditions is present then there's no point in trying to 'put lipstick on the pig' by means of a fanciful, pie-in-the-sky mission statement."

What values in your life do you swear you hold to...

but your commitment and ability to follow through on them don't seem to be growing into those values?

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.(1 John 4:20)

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18)

why prayer matters right now


Prayer is one way to honest with your foundation, but also with your opposition.
 
It allows your circumstances to overlap with a larger story, and a larger Story to overlap with your circumstances.
"I know I am anchored, but the waves are thick today."
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." (Ephesians 6:18)

the balance between confidence and humility

Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully piloted Flight 1549 to safety in the Hudson River saved more than 150 passengers in the process. He exemplified a balance between confidence and humility as few could, attributing his courage through poise to his training over the years.
“One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”


The balance between confidence and humility... 

comes from being a rooted person who is faithful in the everyday moments.

"Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unfaithful in very little is also unfaithful in much." (Jesus, via Luke 16:10)

colored perspective

Every day. you and I take a risk.

We either risk something to be proactive and intentional, or we risk what it means to be reactive and passive. Each decision reflects this.

That's why I appreciate Richard Branson's metaphor on this:
It's like painting. You start with a blank canvas. You can paint anything – anything – and there, right there, is your first problem. For every good painting you might turn out, there are a zillion bad paintings just aching to drip off your brush. Scared? You should be.

You start.

You pick a colour. The next colour you choose has to work with the first colour. The third colour has to work with the first colour and the second. The fourth colour...

You get the idea. You're committed now. You absolutely cannot stop. You've invested. There is no reverse gear on this thing.
People who bad-mouth businessmen and women in general are missing the point. People in business who succeed have swallowed their fear and have set out to create something special, something to make a difference to people's lives. Are the colours just right? Are the planes polished? Do the crew look good? Are they comfortable? Are the seats OK? What's the food like? It costs how much...?

And whether you're a surrealist or a CEO, there are always bills to pay and money always arrives later than you ever dreamed possible. In the teeth of a downturn, petty financial hassles can turn into major, life-changing crises, and tough decisions often have to be made. This is the side of business that journalists like to write about – but it's the least exciting, least distinctive part of business. It's secondary. It's dull.

What really matters is what you create. Does it work or not? Does it make you proud?

- Richard Branson, Business Stripped Bare
Whatever opportunity God has invited you to seize, seize it. Be of courage. 

Start painting. The colored perspective you can offer the world just may be exactly what it needs.

"In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good." (Ecclesiastes 11:6)


the danger of momentum



We all like momentum, but it is deceptive.
When you have momentum, it makes everything look better than it is.

When you don't have momentum, it makes everything look worse than it is.

- Andy Stanley

It's why one of your roles in any arena of momentum -

be it life, work or play -

is reminding people what reality is and isn't.

The best way?

Celebrate actual momentum when it happens.

And if it doesn't happen?

Point toward somewhere it is outside of your circle and humbly ask, "What can we learn from that?"

How?
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2)

wild partnerships

Some things don't seem to belong together, but somehow end up together.

For example, did you know that you can now eat food at office stores?

Wild.

One of my friends happened to realize this.


I imagine the conversation there often goes something like this:
Guy #1: "I heard you have food. Can I get a chimichanga?"

Staples employee: (looks confused)

Guy #1: "How about Won Ton soup?"

Staples employee: (still confused)

Guy #2: "I'd like some milk, eggs and bread."

Staples employee: "Coming right up."

Guy #1: (looks at Guy #2, confused)

Guy #2: "Staples."
Wild.

God's wisdom in this world can likewise seem somewhat out of place.

We seek power and recognition.
God calls us to become servants.

We seek dominance in a professional field, recreational activity or relationships.
God calls us to cast aside our reputation to befriend those who are outcasts.

We seek happiness and satisfaction.
God calls us to holiness and sacrificial living.

And then there's God Himself who chooses to live among us as the "Sovereign, Savior and Spirit" Trinity. He could eliminate us, and yet He pursues justice and compassion. He could set creation into motion and abandon us, and yet He is intimately involved in everything. He could partner with the best of the best of the best, but invites the rest of the rest of the rest.

Wild... what a wild partnership.



How does that inspire you to relate or lead others today?
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:1-5)

what success requires

Success is not an accident.
Success is a choice.

That's a powerful thought that's floating around.



Consider the example of Steph Curry:
"I’ve always been a believer that the Lord has put whatever talent in you, [and] whatever gift He has put in you, He wants you to get the most out of that. He wants you to succeed; He wants you to pursue and work and be passionate about it. It’s not about getting any of the glory for yourself; it’s all for His [glory]. That’s where you have to keep perspective. Work at it and do all you can so you get the most out of yourself, but do it for His will." - FCA interview


What are you doing with the opportunities in front of you?
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." (1 Corinthians 9:25)

the remnant of pain

I have friends who hurt.

There are people close to me who hurt.

I see strangers who hurt.

I ache to give each person a word or a thought that will make this better, but I've come to realize that pain doesn't work that way. I'd even go so far as to say that even those who experience healing at a core level will probably remember this wound certain wounds the rest of their lives.

People who assume we can just move on from such a hit have probably never been hit that hard.

I do know, though, that life can get to the point where the pain doesn't define our day. It can be tough, because sometimes we are all afraid to "continue on" because it may seem to cheapen the loss.

I'm reminded of a man I once knew who served as a custodian in a church I was in. He was an older guy, and we'd chat about this or that. One day during the Halloween season he spontaneously told me about the way his son years ago happened to dress up like Charlie Chaplin. It felt like he was describing a ten-year old, and yet he shared it like it all happened yesterday.

So I asked a bit further about his son, since I'd never heard him mention him before. His face changed from a smile to am almost-controlled sob... almost. He shared that his son had died in Vietnam. Just like the Charlie Chaplin story, it seemed as if it had happened yesterday in how he told it.

Of course, he then moved on to his job and duties after that moment...

but that moment was there.

Sometimes that moment doesn't go away.

It is the remnant of pain.

And yet... it is not the end of the Story.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)

everybody

"Everybody's been saying..."

"A lot of people think..."

"I've heard many people who..."

A big mistake you can make in managing input is believing a handful of opinions is everybody's opinion.

And... remember...

everybody's opinion is not God's conclusion.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways... for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

we didn't start the fire... so what?

Blame is spelled "B-lame."

It's an escape mechanism we use to get out of awkward situations we should stay in and work through, like using a parachute to get out of a plane because we're afraid someone will hold us accountable for taking one too many bags of free pretzels.

What feels like a way out of one situation only makes matters worse and forms new situations.

 
This is especially true if we never get caught, for if we get away with our choices now we'll assume that will always be the case. One day we will stand before God in a final judgment over our lives, and we can't in that moment point fingers to blame others for our own choices.

Then again, we didn't start the fire.
"The man said, The woman you put here with me‑‑she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the LORD God said to the woman, What is this you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Gen 3:12-13) 

Then again, not starting the fire doesn't mean we should keep letting it burn everyone.
"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." (Romans 14:12-13)

doctoring up social media

True story:

I was at the doctor's check-in desk last week, sharing private info in a moderately quiet voice. I ended with, "Hey, one more question - where's the bathroom?"

A lady sitting behind me in the waiting room started loudly answering my question.

Social Media is kind of like that some days.

You have to choose to either lean into certain conversations you intended to have or embrace the audience around you and increase your engagement.

True story.
"To answer before listening - that is folly and shame." (Proverbs 18:13)

this is the life

How innocent it is to see what's before you as a great curtain, ready to unveil the next presentation before you.

This is the life.

Then...

How disheartening it is to start to see the curtain differently.... to notice its dust, rips and tears... to wonder if there ever was any genuine magic at all.

This is the life.

Then...

How redemptive it is to review it all, and review yourself... and then to not just see the seams, but to see the seams as yet another unveiling of the next presentation before you.

This is the life.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

how do you do it?

I spend a large part of my week connecting with various people inside and outside of my church. The one theme I keep running into is how maxed out so many of our lives are. 

How do you do it?

Whatever your role in life, you likely spent the last week doing one or more of the following:
  • Public Speaker: you had one or more situations where whatever you said was before an audience expecting you to say just the right thing in just the right way
  • Font of Wisdom: you were expected to know the answers… backward and forward... so someone feeling backward could go forward
  • Visionary: you felt the burden of keeping a keen eye on circumstances, culture and the horizon so you could tell others
  • Therapist: you listened to others share their problems, and you did this with actual empathy
  • Writer/Editor: you felt burdened to say something, yet wondered if you should - and if you should say it, how you should say it
  • Evangelist: you remembered Jesus' command to reach new people for Him and took a step to do so
  • Trainer: you shared your experience with others who were eager to learn
  • Disciplinarian: you confronted something/someone needing it in order to make things better
  • Iron Chef: you took whatever was in your cupboard and made a masterpiece out of it - even though not everyone else thought so
  • Cheerleader: you became someone's biggest fan, even if it meant looking foolish
  • Doctor: you tended to the wound of another person, be it a physical need or something intangible
  • Public Relations: you engaged the community at large somehow for something you believe in, be it personally or on social media
  • Prayer Warrior: you unleashed your heart to God and invited Him to unleash His heart into you
  • CEO: you hustled for the sake of "many" and yet stepped up so that the buck could stop with someone - "you"
  • Fundraiser: you looked at the numbers on hand so they could be best managed and multiplied
  • Special Events Coordinator: you managed a schedule for others so they could be appropriately be challenged, entertained and kept busy
  • Chauffeur: you got everyone where they needed to be while driving between the lines
  • Diplomat: you helped navigate change with the right words so people would keep the right focus
  • Janitor: you did the ugly work so people would have a clean perspective
  • Actor: you somehow pulled all of this off, not losing i

I can only imagine the thought of doing it all once, let alone again, is enough to send any of us under our covers not wanting to get out of bed.

How do you do it?
"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 great gift and burden

One of our greatest gifts - 
and burdens - 

is when we realize that we're not here merely for ourselves, but for something greater... 

that who God is and what He has shared with us can either be shut up inside of us or shared with others and multiplied.

Feel inadequate in doing this? You are not alone.

Even greater a gift -
and burden -
is how your response can affect others.

You can either by example give others inspiration to jump in and seize their purpose as God intends, or give others permission for something lesser than that, too.

God has called us to be people of prayer...

to reach new people for Jesus...

to develop each other into maturity.

Perhaps you don't consciously reject that, but are you rejecting that with your actions?

Are you praying, reaching new people, and developing others?

And - how are your actions (or lack of them) an example?
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." (Matthew 5:13)