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Filtering by Category: Faith

Really winning...

I love college football. And like most people, I like to see my team win. These days it's increasingly hard to like the way that people win. Winning teams are constantly coming under criticism for turning a blind eye to moral failures by their players and illegal payments by alumni. Criminal acts by star athletes have been in the news constantly.

But I recently learned about one team that seems to be winning the right way.

At Clemson University there is a young man enrolled by the name of David. I first became aware of David when he worked at a local grocery store in my neighborhood. He was hardworking, attentive, and possessed an infectious enthusiasm that made him instantly likable.

Last year David graduated from high school and unlike many who share David's condition, Down's Syndrome, enrolled in college at Clemson University. Clemson has a program for students like David where he will earn his degree and while doing so he serves as a trainer and helper for the Clemson Tiger football team. (The picture is David cheering his team.)

I'm sure there are easier ways to find trainers and helpers for the team. I'm sure there are less complicated ways to run a college program.

I don't think Clemson University cares about the easy way. I think they care about the right way.

Maybe that is what is missing in our world.

A little more caring about the right thing.

Doing the hard thing.

Making a difference.

Not because you have to, but because that is who you are.

Clemson was not expected to have a great team this year. Yet, they are currently ranked #8 in the country and undefeated at 5-0.

Somehow I don't think that's an accident.

Life by Checklist

We live in a checklist world.

Three Easy Steps to Lose Weight.
The 5 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Marriage!
The Steps to Dealing with a Difficult Boss

 

On the surface this makes sense. After all, we are busy people and providing us with concise and clear direction we can practice and experience effective behavior and wise thinking to get better results.

There is only one small problem. Where am I supposed to keep all of those checklists?

It's great when I come across something at a time where I really need it. I can take action and see a result. Ideally, as a consequence it will lead to a permanent shift in my behavior. Except when it doesn't...

There are other times when interesting information comes our way and doesn't intersect with a pressing need. We read it, value it, and promptly forget it.

Permanent and sustainable change happens when we have reason to rethink what we fundamentally believe about something in our lives. When that happens, the natural result is a shift in behavior that doesn't NEED a checklist. It becomes an innate response.

So...

What is one significant change in your beliefs that has had a powerful impact on your behavior?

What areas of your life are you attempting to live by checklist, and getting frustrated by the effort?

A life of adventure...

When was your last adventure? Your last real adventure?

Not just a trip. Perhaps it was taking a new risk, starting a new activity, or facing an old fear.

When we are children we are wired for adventure. Everyday is full of new opportunities and activities. Sometimes it was just climbing a tree or building a fort. Other days it was making a rope swing. What was important was that we weren't limited by what we thought we "should" do but by what we thought we "could" do.

Do you still live that way? Most people don't. We lead lives of self-protection and emptiness. We worry over mortgages and irrational fears. Don't eat red meat, be a vegetarian. Eat red meat or you'll become anemic.

Really?

Don't you ever want to just try something crazy and new? Push the envelope? Take a risk? Start a business? Write a book? Climb a mountain?

Or will another long day of work followed by dinner and a little TV still do it for you?

This is real religion...

My 11 year old daughter came to my wife recently with tears welling up in her eyes. "Mom, I think this year you shouldn't buy me any Christmas gifts. Instead we should give the money to feed the poor or something like that."

My wife asked why she felt this way so suddenly. Her reply, "I was reading my bible and it seems to me that the way that Jesus instructed the first Christians to live doesn't look like how we live. But, I'm really struggling with this..."

"Why," my wife inquired.

"Because I want stuff!"

Me too. I'm sorry to say that I want stuff. Maybe not like when I was a child. And certainly not because I have everything that could be had. Simply because I see new and shiny things, and I want them.

I DON'T think we should aspire to asceticism or self-denial as a means of pleasing God. I DO think we should seek ways to obey God that demonstrate that He is bigger than our desire for the things of this world.

And I hope that I can sincerely feel the tug and tension that my daughter feels. To want to put the needs of others before my own.

Pastor Craig Groeschel once asked, "Does your heart break over the things that break God's heart?"

That's a great question...

Seasons...

Solomon said it best In Ecclesiastes 3... 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

I wish I could always choose my seasons. I love when the summer gives way to the fall, there is a crispness to the air, the leaves change, and the light has a magical quality...

In the rest of my life I am not always so excited about seasons. There are seasons of rest but there are also seasons of struggle, anguish, fear, and failure. When I am in the Spring of my efforts and all is energy and new growth it is an exciting time. During the summer when I am figuratively making hay I feel a peace. But in the Fall and Winter I stumble and struggle.

In nature I celebrate how the passing of Winter makes the Spring so much sweeter. I need to learn to embrace the Winters of my career, relationships, and life with that same joyful anticipation. To embrace the season and realize it is appointed by God for my benefit and His glory. To value the intimacy of slowing down, drawing close to others, a quiet night by the fire. To let things be simple for a while.

After all, Spring is coming!

The Myth of Whitespace

I just need to get some things under control, and then I will [fill in the blank]. We've all said it. We've all meant it.

We need more whitespace in our lives. More room for thinking, creativity, rest, and dreaming. Sometimes we need whitespace to get our relationships right, our health right, or our spiritual condition right.

There's just one problem. No one ever seems to find whitespace. It's a myth.

What you can find is that if you fill your busy time with the right things, schedule what you want your whitespace to be about, you will find what you really need.

Stop chasing the whitespace and start doing what's important.

Faith and Diving Boards

Many years ago on a family vacation we found ourselves at a pool with a high diving board. The old 3-meter kind you rarely see anymore. My middle daughter, Brittany, was entranced. Only 8 years old at the time, she was determined to jump from the high dive.

There was only one problem. She was terrified.

Captivated and terrified. Motivated and paralyzed.

So on the board she stood, shaking in her nervousness. But she would not come down.

"Dad," she asked. "Will it be okay?"

"Yes," I assured her. "You will be fine."

And still she stood.

2 minutes passed.

5 minutes.

So I asked her, "Do you trust me? Do you know that I would never let you do anything that would hurt you?"

She looked me in the eye, stopped shaking, and jumped! And then, she climbed up again and again, all afternoon.

I'm a lot like that. I am compelled to do something, be something, or try something. And I hesitate, afraid of failure or risk or embarrassment. And I ask God, "Will it be okay?" And He asks me, "Do you trust me?"

What my daughter made me realize is that she didn't fully trust me when she jumped. She wanted to believe she could trust me. Jumping was the way to fully know. In other words, her faith and trust were not confirmed until she jumped. After she jumped, when she had walked in her faith in her father, her faith was perfected.

And so, years later, I stand and wonder if I can trust God with what He has called me to. And I ask Him to make my faith perfect before I jump. But it doesn't work that way. My faith is made perfect when I jump.

Are you waiting for God to perfect your faith? Make you complete? Maybe it's time to jump.

You can't un-bake the cookie...

My 11 year old goes by the nickname "The Little Chef". She loves to cook and is quite good at it. As she made some of her famous Monster Cookies one evening she became concerned that they might burn. I reminded her that I always preferred my cookies a little on the soft and chewy side so if we took them out early there was little risk. And, I added, we can always stick them back in the oven if necessary. She thought about that and wisely responded, "Yep, you can't un-bake the cookie."

Aren't there a lot of cookies in our life we would like to un-bake? Comments we have made that hurt others? Money we have spent? Choices from our past? While grace and forgiveness can restore our relationships after our mistakes, the reality is that often we must live with consequences of those decisions. Burnt cookies.

I'm relieved because of those that have forgiven my stupid past decisions and behaviors. I'm incredibly grateful for opportunities that have allowed me to thrive even after bad choices. But, I have eaten a lot of burnt cookies too...

The idea makes me a little more careful. A little more aware. And a little more responsible. I am grateful I have grace and mercy to fall back on, but I will resolve, every day, to make sure I don't burn the cookies that count with the relationships that matter most.

Diamonds

A few weeks ago my wife and I were on our daily walk. We put in a hard 5 mile walk and it gives us a great time to connect, talk through big issues in our lives, and sweat out the bad stuff. It's the best part of my day. On this particular day were crossing a small bridge near our home and noticed a woman with a concerned look on her face standing at the road's edge. She was searching for something but was unable to look to closely due to the passing cars.

We asked if she had lost something and she explained. A friend was on a bike ride earlier that afternoon and had a terrible crash. The bridge had been grooved to make it safer during winter icing and was rough and gravel covered. She had fallen hard and was in pretty bad shape. On top of her physical injuries the diamond from her engagement ring had been knocked from it's setting. Her friend had come to find it

It was clearly an impossible task...

As we moved to join her my wife threw up a prayer, "Lord, can you help us find this loose diamond." It was definitely a moment for prayer. Thirty yards of rough road and gravel did not bode well for finding a diamond. And yet... Walking about ten yards down the road I bent over and immediately spied the stone. It wasn't easy to see as it was face down and, as is often the case, not polished on the back. Yet there it lay, in the first place I looked.

God still worries about the little things in our lives. Perhaps he sees us a bit like that diamond, face down against the roughness of this world. And yet, he always knows where to find us to bring us home.

Our new friend hugged us with tears in her eyes, anxious to share the amazing news with her injured friend.

We walked a little lighter that day.

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