Small Things that Rattle and Roll

There is a very small particle of some kind that has found its way into the inner chambers of my car’s dashboard. When it is quiet in the car (if I’m not jamming out to some Skynyrd) and I go around a turn, I can hear it bounce and rattle from one end of the dashboard to the other. I have no idea what it is or how it got there. But I can’t deny that it’s in there somewhere because I hear it.

There are little things in life that bother me much like this little pebble in my dashboard. I notice them sometimes, only when it gets really quiet, but I can’t always put my finger on what they are. Little irritations and annoyances pop up every once in a while and provide us with an opportunity to make a decision: what will we do about it? We can choose to let it go, or we can let it drive us crazy until we start ripping things apart to find it. Continue reading “Small Things that Rattle and Roll”

Top to Bottom, Big to Small

I have heard it said that if you want to know the health of an organization’s top leadership, you don’t have to look any further than the “lowest” level of the organization. If you want to know how a CEO runs her company, simply ask the janitor how he feels about his job. You might think this is extreme, and many would agree with you. But all culture in an organization has to come from somewhere (or someone), and eventually there’s only one person responsible. As John Maxwell so adequately puts it, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

It’s funny how small, seemingly insignificant things are often indicators of the core beliefs and esteemed virtues of even the largest corporations. Culture is contagious, and culture comes directly from the leaders in an organization.

The interesting thing about this principle is that it’s also true in the context of relationships: the small, “insignificant” things are indicators of bigger, more important things. If you want to know the health of a relationship, simply look at the “small stuff” and you’re likely to see evidence of what’s at the core. Continue reading “Top to Bottom, Big to Small”

The Give and Take of Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only does it mean that Christmas is right around the corner, but it’s a time for lots of really good food and great time with family and loved ones.

The interesting thing about giving thanks is that it’s a two-way street. When we give thanks, we are in a sense giving our gratitude away to the person or power responsible for what we have received. But the premise of giving thanks for something is that we have received something. You can’t have one without the other. Continue reading “The Give and Take of Giving Thanks”

Beauty for Ashes

Have things ever fallen apart for you? Have you ever been sailing right along without a care when suddenly and unexpectedly everything changed? Things in this life can change in an instant and come without warning. Things like the loss of a job, the last minute change of vacation plans, or the unexpected change in a relationship. Whether large or small, it seems like change is the only thing that’s constant in our lives. But what do you do when things change? How do you respond? Your answer really matters.

When things don’t go the way we plan, we have a few options. First, we can have a meltdown. If you’re like me, this is usually your first reaction. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so I am usually resistant to change. We are creatures of habit so it makes sense that we like it when things stay the same. If I come home and my wife has rearranged all the furniture I will probably go into an immediate slump of depression. But my first reaction is usually a bit more extreme than necessary. I can get so caught up in my initial discomfort with the change, that I don’t actually know how I feel about it. When I actually stop and take stock of my feelings, it isn’t as bad as I thought.  Continue reading “Beauty for Ashes”

Seeds of Adventure

Life is an adventure. You just never know what to expect. Isn’t it amazing how we can sometimes feel the effects of God’s kindness after certain events have passed? A time of prayer or study can stay with you and nourish the soul for days, weeks, even years. Yesterday we had a chance to pray for many people who came to petition God for healing and strength in their lives, and it was beautiful. Today I know that God is still moving and answering prayers, and it brings a smile to my face.

Sometimes praying for people is tricky. In our human nature we get caught up in thinking about the results, wondering how to draw the line between our responsibility and God’s. I ask myself dumb questions like “What if I didn’t pray right?” or “Who am I to even ask God for big things?” But regardless of the results that we can and can’t see, I only know that God invites me to be a part of His work. I don’t need an explanation, so I simply step in and obediently follow His leading.The beautiful thing is that the seeds we plant in moments of prayer go way beyond that moment. They will continue to grow and bear a harvest far beyond what we can see or imagine.

No matter what we see around us, God is good. Take a moment today and remember (and rejoice) that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights who never changes (James 1); As sure as the rain comes down to water the earth, so does the word of God accomplish His good and perfect purposes (Isaiah 55); And all the promises of God are yes in Jesus (2Corinthians 1:20).

Hearing the Call

One morning this week I woke up to the sound of the wind blowing through my bedroom window. They were open because the unseasonably warm weather made for a perfect opportunity for a little night air in the room, but I can’t say that howling wind was what I had in mind.

When the wind (and the subsequent rattling of my window and blinds) woke me up, it was in the morning hours before the alarm was set to go off (lets just say… really early!) but for some reason I could not go back to sleep. I was tired and I wanted to sleep more, but something was keeping me from rolling over and getting another 30 minutes in. I opened my eyes and thought about it. Something inside of me knew what it was. So I got up. Continue reading “Hearing the Call”

The Courage to Change

I read a quote recently that has really stuck with me:

“We change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.”

The truth of those words is staggering. There are many things in our lives that are less than perfect. In fact, not one of us will ever become perfect. But what is it that keeps us from changing our lives, from going after progress no matter what the cost? Quite simply, we don’t believe we need to change. Until we have to believe it. Continue reading “The Courage to Change”

Take the World but Give Me Jesus

I love hymns. There is something about a lyrical poem set to music that has been sung by the church for decades (if not centuries) that is so powerful and inspiring. Yesterday we sang a song called “Take the World but Give Me Jesus” sung in the style of a band called Ascend the Hill. It’s is still in my head and in my heart. You can listen to it here.

This hymn was written by Fanny Crosby in 1879. Listen to what the Cyberhymnal says of her:

“Fanny Cros­by was prob­ab­ly the most pro­lif­ic hymn­ist in his­to­ry. Though blind­ed by an in­com­pe­tent doc­tor at six weeks of age, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blind­ness, she said:

It seemed in­tend­ed by the bless­ed prov­i­dence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dis­pen­sa­tion. If per­fect earth­ly sight were of­fered me to­mor­row I would not ac­cept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been dis­tract­ed by the beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing things about me.

In her life­time, Fan­ny Cros­by was one of the best known wo­men in the Unit­ed States. To this day, the vast ma­jor­i­ty of Amer­i­can hymn­als con­tain her work.” Continue reading “Take the World but Give Me Jesus”

The Fruit (and Veggies) of Wisdom

Sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected places. Have you ever remembered a random story, quote, or incident that brought unexpected clarity to a situation you were facing? God has a way of bringing things to mind at just the right time.

I have had a good week, and in this season where God is pressing us to raise the intensity and the priority of prayer, it never ceases to amaze me the untold riches and reward of following hard after Him. Seeking Him actually makes a difference. It actually produces real and lasting change inside me and around me. Sometimes prayer is rewarding in the moment; sometimes it feels like swimming in jello. And other times you wake up in the morning and realize that God in His kindness is pouring out answers to your layered prayers even before you ask Him. I love those mornings.

I also love VeggieTales. It has been a while since I’ve watched them, but growing up (I won’t say how old I was while still obsessed with children’s videos) we used to watch them and there are many of the simple illustrations that still stand out in my memory today. This morning I have been thinking of a quote from Madame Blueberry: “A thankful heart is a happy heart.” Continue reading “The Fruit (and Veggies) of Wisdom”

Better Late Than Never

We all have things that we put off, don’t we? Whether it’s that project for school, going to the gym, or doing our dirty laundry, we tend to put things off longer than necessary.

The problem with putting things off is that you start to believe the biggest procrastination lie out there: “I’ve put it off this long, I might as well not do it at all.” This is what kills us.

This has killed me in writing this blog for the past couple of weeks. For that I’m sorry. I have been so excited about recording video posts that I have neglected the blog altogether, thinking that I’d get to it one of these days. Video posts are a lot of fun to do, but they require me to be in the right place (with the right lighting), and are a little more time consuming to execute. Before I know it, so much time has gone by waiting for the right opportunity that the opportunity is gone.

Does that ever happen to you? If you’re like me, you want conditions to be optimal before you set out to do something important. I often tell myself, “I need the atmosphere to be just right, the house to be clean, nothing on my mind distracting me before I really focus in.”  Of course this is our familiar enemy Resistance trying to dissuade us from what matters by drawing our focus to lesser things. Continue reading “Better Late Than Never”