Just a few thoughts bouncing around my head and my heart

worldmap

An epidemic of loneliness is creating inhuman actions.
We will never be able to fully do life over the internet.
I can listen to a sermon online, but I can only become fully human by rejoicing and mourning with real people.
The world needs you. And we need each other.
As Desmond Tutu once said, “No one can be human by themselves.”

Make decisions this week based on what is right, not on what is convenient or popular.
Convenience and popularity has led to a weak, shallow culture.
No more blaming, whining and making excuses.
Blaming is the “kryptonite” of taking responsibility.
Take responsibility and make the most of every opportunity.

We play it safe, because it is easy, usually successful, thus preventing failure.
The fear of failure is really the fear of rejection.
Hindsight is 20-20, and it’s what your critics are full of.
Check your ego at the door, and take a chance at doing something great.
As Bono once said, “It’s status that kills you off in the end, not ambition.”

When we live in impatience, we miss out on the beauty and details of everyday life.
Patience is being fully alive in the moment; not waiting for things to get better so you can live. It is experiencing the fullness of time.
In order to be patient we must live a life of curiosity.
Life is beautiful if we slow down long enough to look people in the eye.

Judging makes us small.
Learning from those with different backgrounds makes us humble and smart.
Every creed, every color, every background, every culture, every nation, it is God’s great kaleidoscope.
We are much more the same than we are different.
All colors and creeds are born with a God-shaped hole.

Most people experience happiness, which is based on shallow, fun events or circumstances, sometimes numbing to ignore pain, fear or the hard things of life.
Happiness is ok, but we are never fully alive until we experience joy.
In order to experience joy, you first have to be willing to go to some dark places.
It’s in those dark places that you experience a strength greater than your own.

Poverty looks different in different places.
In Africa it looks like physical hunger, broken bodies and abuse towards women and children.
In American it looks like relational hunger, broken families and abuse towards women and children.
We must fight local poverty accordingly.
We must fight global poverty accordingly.
We are responsible for both.

We are far more powerful than we want to admit.
With power comes responsibility.
If I want to be powerful then I must take full responsibility of the time I have, the abilities I have been given and the resources that have been loaned to me from God.
It is easy to choose not to be powerful.
Choosing not to be powerful is the most selfish decision you will ever make.
One life. One original person. One opportunity. Don’t play it small.

Don’t try to be well-rounded. Lean into your strengths and passions and ignore people who want to put you into their small world.
The problem is that in this world, everybody wants to be somebody else.
It is an insult to God to want to be someone else.
Being unhappy with our looks, shape, abilities and status is telling your Creator that He does not know what He is doing.
Look in the mirror and be overwhelmed by the artistic ability of God.

Praying for our enemy drives us closer to God.
Hating our worst enemy pushes us away from God.
Forgiving doesn’t let those we are forgiving off the hook.
Forgiving prevents our hearts from becoming hard and brittle.
Forgiving allows us to hand that person over to the justice of God and He is much more capable than I am at determining what is fair.

Why can nothing in this temporary life bring us true joy and contentment?

Answer: “God has planted eternity in the hearts of men” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Pay attention! Pay attention! Pay attention!

The gift of life is all around you.
Listen to the wisdom of a child.
Don’t miss yet another spectacular sunset.
Compliment a total stranger.
Smile, it might hurt, but it won’t cost you a thing.
Laugh, they say it’s the best medicine.
Cry, for God is collecting them in a bottle labeled with your name.
Sing, turn up your radio and sing as loud as you can, as Henry Van Dyke observed, “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”
Dance, even if your kids run screaming in embarrassment to their rooms.
Worship, for it’s a great reminder that someone much stronger and loving is in control.

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Just some thoughts bouncing around in my head and heart these days. Let me know what you think and what is bouncing around in your head and heart.

These People

beautiful

An abandoned daughter discovers her Heavenly Father.
An angry ex-con encounters authentic friendships.
A controlling mother learns to let go and let God.
A one year clean woman mentors a struggling drug addict.
A relationship destroying alcoholic gains new tools and makes amends.
A recovering sex addict finds new purpose and is set free.
A guilt-ridden religious woman experiences grace.

Who are these people?

These are the people Brennan Manning celebrated when he wrote, “There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.”

These are the people Jesus had in mind when He said, “I have come to heal the broken-hearted.”

These are the people Jesus said are the greatest because of their humility and commitment to one another.

These are the people Jesus would call the Church.

Yet…

These are the people most churches reject, ignore and outsource to other agencies.

These are the people most churches marginalize, judge, undervalue and under serve.

These are the people most churches hope go somewhere else.

Yet…

These are the people who are bringing huge blessings to my church.

These are the people who are showing us that God is still in the miracle business.

These are the people who are showing us how to be transparent and brave.

These are the people who are showing us the importance of accountability and genuine friendship.

These are the people who are showing us that we are all in recovery from something.

These are the people who are showing us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

These are the people who are showing us that everything is Grace.

These are the people that God is with, and if we are with them, then we are with God.

Yet…

Why are so many fleeing the church?

Because the church has rejected “these people.”

These are the very people Jesus said he would judge us by how we treated them.

These are the very people Jesus said that when we serve and love them, we will be blessed.

These are the very people Jesus said that when we serve and love them, we serve and love him.

We too often want the world to change when in reality, the church must change.

Until the church becomes transparent, inclusive, safe, brave, courageous, messy, grace-filled, humble and willing to sacrifice, serve, strategize, prioritize and make a high commitment to serve and be led by “these people”, then it will continue to shrink and be benign.

We too often want the world to repent, when in reality, the church must repent.

If the church is not serving and welcoming and allowing “these people” to lead, then it is really not the church, but more a building, more an exclusive club.

At my church, “these people” call themselves Celebrate Recovery, and they are leading the way towards blessings, miracles, redemption and an intimacy with God that is rarely seen.

Thank you for your example in humility.
Thank you for your leadership in transparency.
Thank you for your commitment to grace.
Thank you for re-introducing us to the presence of God.

May there be a revolution of “these people.”

“It is impossible to meet God without abandon, without exposing yourself, being raw.” Bono

He who cannot dance puts the blame on the floor

responsibility

There is an old Hindi proverb that says, “He who cannot dance puts the blame on the floor.”

In this life, taking responsibility is always harder than not taking responsibility.

It’s easier to stay bitter than to choose forgiveness. To give into temptation than to over come it. To eat every piece of candy at Christmas, than to have a little discipline and just take a few bites.

It’s easier to watch TV than to exercise. To spend money than it is to save and to give it away. To gossip rather than remain silent.

Yet, every human must take responsibility for their own actions.

But blaming gets in the way.

We blame the temptations that surround us, the people who discourage us and the hurts that have scared us.

Blaming is the “kryptonite” to taking responsibility.

I know people who have made blaming an art form to avoid responsibility.

They avoid things like discipline, hard work, love, forgiveness, perseverance, even success, to focus on whom they can blame and why they are the victim.

Jim Roan writes, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstance, the seasons or the wind but you can change yourself through the power of God’s grace.”

My mother is a great example of responsibility.

She was born during the depression, her father left her at a very young age, and then, while her mom was searching for an identity, gave her up to be raised by her strict Irish grandmother.

There was dysfunction all around her.

There was alcoholism and broken relationships.

She had a lot of excuses to not take responsibility for her life.

She had a lot of reasons to be bitter.

She never had a “real” relationship with her mother except for an awkward, reversal of roles relationship, where as I was growing up, it seemed like my mom was more her mother and her mother more the child.

She never had contact with her real dad.

With dysfunction all around her, she decided that as an adult, she would break the cycle and do life differently.

She made a choice that she would stay away from the things that brought destruction all around her during her childhood.

My mom and my Dad have been married over 55 years, and her commitment to family, while experiencing the loss of two grown daughters, her faith in God and her devotion to serving others is entirely inspiring.

When I hear people try to blame their situations on the hurts, dysfunctions and abandonment’s of the past, I have to feel for them, cry with them, understand their pain, but then I have to tell them my mom’s story.

SHE HAD A CHOICE.

She chose the road less traveled.

It’s always harder to take responsibility than not to, but it’s always more rewarding.

The gift my mother was given at a young age, in the midst of all that turmoil, was she was introduced to the love, truth and Grace of God.

And while there was brokenness all around her,  she allowed Him to be her healer, wisdom, strength and Heavenly Father.

Ernest Hemingway in his book “A Farewell to Arms” writes, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.”

My mom has allowed the broken places in her life to become the places where God was honored most.

There is nothing glamorous about taking responsibility for our lives. It just comes down to hard work.

Donald Trump is famous for saying, “When we want to do something, we find a way, but when we don’t we find an excuse.”

Michael Angelo who spent four years lying on his back, painting the ceiling of the Sisteen Chapel wrote this “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.”

Author and pastor, Charles Swindoll writes, “What is the sign of maturity? It’s taking responsibility for your life and using it to serve others.”

“For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:5

From Every Tribe and Every Nation…a few thoughts from Africa

Africa 2012 164

From every tribe, and every nation
My faith transcends denomination
Culture, colors none the same
Redemption comes in Yeshua’s name

Stuck in my view, its far too narrow
My earthly eyes see too much sorrow
Babies die and mothers weep
Big men lie while others sleep

Told tough times lead to deeper faith
I still avoid them like the plague
Addicted to teaching, binder full of notes
The harvest is plentiful, but my actions remote

White, yellow, brown, red and black
There is no shade that God lacks
Transformation, it’s a lifetime journey
Humility is key to eternal learning

I’m looking for joy so I can be grateful
But joy doesn’t come until I am thankful
With crippled feet I run the race
Mud knee deep, carried by Grace

Prejudice rampant, wars rage
Holy genocide litters history’s page
Religion rules, picking the chosen ones
Ignoring the words “whosever will may come.”

Overwhelmed by conditions
Missed opportunities, lost positions
Challenges daily, endurance a must
Searching for strength, faith and trust

Heroes all around, they’re just hard to see
Quietly walking with God humbly
Africa, Asia and unknown lands
Extending love as God’s own hands

Leading is vision, I must give it away
Strategies come and go, but deep values must stay
A new generation, called to invest
The Body too small, we need the rest

I want all the answers, a path that is clear
A path that is easy with nothing to fear
But my sights too short, and patience, I’m far from it
Faith means building the bridge while I’m walking upon it.

We bless the poor but the poor are already blessed
When I’m serving the least I am truly at my best
New beginnings start with a broken heart
Stupid poverty ends when I do my part

The church is asking “what’s the next fashion?”
Fighting injustice is God’s great passion
Theology debates, they lead to deep fraction
Loving one another is our call to action

I desperately need an eternal view
It gives me the courage to do the things I must do
Opportunities all around me, there is power in His name
He gives sight to the blind and strength for the lame

I desperately need an eternal view
Embracing the temporary is our cultures cue
My life is on loan, it is not my own
It’s not about great feats, but the seeds that are sown

Male, female, Jew, Samaritan and gentile
Grace is pervasive, it starts with a child
The greatest among us was born in a stable
The Good New is for all, the weak and the able

Will we be exclusive, just another sect
Or will we serve our neighbor, gaining their respect
Will we love the orphan, the widow and those who fall
Will we be known as restorer of cities and re-builder of walls