Results for category "Faith"

65 Articles

Serenity NOW!

There are a lot of words I’d use to describe myself but serene isn’t one of them. I’ve blogged previously that one of my largest struggles is seeking contentment. I don’t even like typing the word. It might as well be hieroglyphics.

There’s this little prayer that most people are familiar with called the “Serenity Prayer”

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Ugh. Why isn’t there a call to chaotic dissatisfaction? I’ve got that down to an art form.

At the close of the day I’m left looking at my failures and my inadequacy. I should…

be more

Part of me hates being interested in everything. Why do I have to love computer networks, information security, social networks, web design, marketing, psychology, business, economics, politics…

Sure my varied interests and skills have opened many doors but it also feels like I haven’t reached the top of my game in any of them. I know this isn’t entirely accurate but my feelings aren’t very rational most of the time.

have more

I’m not overly materialistic (except lusting for an iPad) but I really thought that by this life stage things would be more controlled financially. Shouldn’t I be looking at my building my nest egg & retirement instead of facing all these bills? I want to run off to BlogWorld & SXSWi but the reality is I’m thankful I had a gift card to Outback for our last date night. My daughter is only 8 weeks old and I’m already worrying about paying for college, a wedding, cars, & clothes.

Ah worrying – that’s something else I do very well

Throw in the feelings that I should be a better husband, father, Christian, handyman, & yard raker and you have the antithesis of contentment.

So what’s the real problem?

Mostly a lack of faith.

God I realize you are the creator of this world, you are all-knowing and understand me better than I know myself but I just don’t think you are capable of running my life. I’m in charge and here’s what I need.

If I’m ever going to reach that point of being okay with who I am and where I’m at in life then I have to be okay with God being in control and trusting Him to know what he’s doing.

In closing, I’m pretty sure a large chunk of the problem lies here,

seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well – Matt 6:33

My Dad would call it a priority problem and as usual he’d be right. The entire last part of Matthew chapter 6 hits way too close to home. It’s a call to sorry sacks of mud like me to have enough faith to live for God and let him deal with the rest.

rest… funny word, by one definition it’s the problem and by the other definition it’s the result of the solution.

-Lord, help my lack of faith, grant me contentment & serenity – and make it snappy.

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A few reflections from a week fast

So I spent the past 5 days without Facebook, Twitter, RSS, or TV. It was a fast from media and you can read my reasoning here.

Overall I did really well. I give myself a B+

I’ll need some time to reflect and process this past week but here are some initial insights. (If you want the really important stuff feel free to skip to the end)

The world didn’t stop

I have a condition that tricks me into thinking I always need to be in the know. Twitter and RSS allow me to keep my finger to the pulse of the internet and the world at large and that is a blessing and a curse. I have no idea what happened in tech this week and that’s ok. TechCrunch Disrupt and 200 Mashable posts came and went. Most of it probably won’t matter in 6 months and if it does then I’ll know about it later. At times it felt like being stranded on an island but I needed to know that it’s ok.

TV lost out big

I discovered I watch too much TV. There are some great shows I can’t wait to see but I gained precious hours this week. That extra time is a gift that I need to not waste. (On a side note much of this time was spent talking to my wife and that was monumental. We communicate well but being in a quiet house opened the door for a 200% increase in talking. It was great.)

The book is back

I used to be a voracious reader and over the years I got lazy. I started a habit of reading again this week and it was beautiful. I devoured most of Linchpin, which I highly recommend, and I rediscovered how a great book can make you more thoughtful and deliberate. It was one of the highlights of the week. My goal is to read 2-3 nights a week and that should lead me to finish at least 2 books a month.  That’s my starting point.

The REALLY important stuff

Social Media

What I missed most was you. Your writing. Your tweets. Your life. Our relationship.

I didn’t once think about buzz words, stats, or trends but I missed my friends. Terribly.

While I know its okay if I miss something fact is I’ve built some amazing friendships and Twitter is our front porch.

And you would know the week I take off from Twitter is the week that @ChrisMessina shares my Twitter hashtag post.

Spiritually

This week held plenty of successes and challenges. I still have a LOT further to go but I took good steps toward more spiritual discipline in my life. I’m still trying to figure out how to love more and server better. I’ve got more of my will that needs to get out of the way.

Anytime we take a step of devotion toward God we can be sure that Satan is setting up a derailment. I had some serious challenges this week but each time I stopped and chose to praise the Lord. That sounds so elementary but love is almost always action. Deliberate action. In my tiredness and frustration I was able to still surrender and praise him. I’m not sure what He’s trying to teach me or where some of these roads are headed but I trust Him.

I’m so thankful that God doesn’t give up easily because I’m a very slow learner with little faith.

I need my steps ordered… my approach, my perspective, my heart, my goals, my daily walk. Toward Him.

“Blessed are they whose ways are Blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord”– Psalm 119:1

The goal is identified the journey continues.

I’m reminded that a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. I’ve got 999.9mi to go but this week was my step.

God Bless.

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A Spiritual Journey – With a little help from my friends…

God always finds a way to reach us just where we stand. Sometimes its a still small voice and sometimes it is a through the words of a friend. Feel free to envy me because I have the most amazing friends in the world and they share their life with me continually through tweets and blogging. Sure we blog about family and might rant time to time but on occasion we share our spiritual journey with the world.

So here are a few words of empathy, conviction, & encouragement told with a little help of my friends.

Daily Prayer by @KerriJack

I have a standing deal with Kerri, if she doesn’t write a book one day I’ll kill her. I truly enjoy her humor and tales of her family but there is real power when she bears her soul and we are all the better for it.

Morning:
God,
Make me a better wife, a better mother, daughter, sister, employee, friend and neighbor. Give me grace today.
Amen

Night:
Well, God,
There’s always tomorrow.

An Open Confession by @AaronBReddin

Aaron calls it like he sees it and while we’ve yet to meet in real life I’ve come to really appreciate his voice. This post wasn’t an easy one to write but the best ones never are.

It is unacceptable to blame anyone but yourself for your current spiritual health

Seeing Spots by @bootsmc

Boots is the go-to-girl for all things concerning fashion and style. She has impeccable taste in music but I contend her real talent is allowing God to speak through her in a manner I can’t explain. Her insight is priceless.

I want to be that one leopard that can change her spots!

I try. My power to change these spots on my own has proven useless. The spots remain glaring at me reminding me of my darkness. In my frustration, I cry out to God.

Then, I hear his voice deep deep within my heart say, “When I look at you, I don’t see what you see {Proverbs 10:12}

To these folks and many others it is a great blessing to call you friends along this journey.

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When not to sell Jesus

If you die tonight do you know where you spend eternity?

Not really a conversation opener is it?

Unfortunately I’ve seen too many Church outreach initiatives that rely on canvassing neighborhoods with the goal of asking this exact question. I don’t think it’s effective and it’s time that Evangelical churches give the boot to the hard sell.

Our approach needs a make over here’s why.

We live in a Do-Not-Call Culture

Any unexpected knock at my door generates an immediate response of “Who is that and why are they bothering me?” and I don’t think I’m alone. This face-to-face equivalent of a cold call immediately puts most people in a defensive position that doesn’t lend itself to a warm introduction.

While our intentions are good we haven’t earned the right to be standing there. That right is only earned when you selflessly serve someone or they’ve previously expressed interest. In the absence of these prerequisites you are a nuisance not an evangelist.

Let’s concentrate on meeting people on more neutral ground.

Hard selling isn’t helping

We’ve all been there. That time when you are walking into the mall and someone sticks a track in our hand and begins asking us about our spiritual condition. I’m very comfortable and open with my faith and even I find that off-putting.

That moment is when we confuse the introduction with closing the deal.

Don’t sell me something when I haven’t even bought the first something. Don’t sell when I haven’t really even come into your shop. Don’t sell me the bigger picture when I haven’t even bought the handshake. –Chris Brogan

Chris was using this as a lesson in social media marketing but the principle is universal. At our Church it is expressed as “Earn the right to be heard”. If I can meet a physical need then I might create an opportunity to meet a spiritual need. What Churches need to be creating are these opportunities to introduce ourselves.

What do these opportunities look like? (warning out of the box thinking may be required)

  1. Feed them and they will come – Set up a grill in a neighborhood or housing project and start handing out free hamburgers and hot dogs. Our church is in it’s 2nd year of our Grill Ministry and that plume of smoke is one of our most effective outreach methods. We are simply trying to say Hi, here’s a hamburger. We’ve got Frisbees and bracelets for kids and if you are interested we have Bibles and information about our church. The doors that we have seen God open have been tremendous.
  2. Dog Parks – Set up at a local dog park on a Saturday morning and hand out bottles of water and dog treats or toys. Just be there, be kind, be open. Be nice to their dog and you’ve earned a lot of good will.
  3. Cold Water – This time of year cold water goes a long way. Getting some water bottles printed with your info and setup on Bike Trails & Parking Lots. Heck this is almost Biblical
  4. Rake Leaves, Mow Yards, Paint Schools, setup Food Pantries, run Soup Kitchens, collect blankets, change the oil in cars… etc…

The opportunities are endless but they all require the same plan.

  • Be Kind, Be Helpful
  • Don’t be focused on closing the deal

A few of you will find this thinking heretical because the focus isn’t solely on sharing the gospel. What I’ve found is that if you make yourself helpful and available God will provide many experiences for you to share the Gospel of Christ in all of these situations. The key is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and really listening with loving ears when you find someone hurting or searching.

Meet people where they are. Physically, Emotionally, & Spiritually.

Finding our identity in Love

The final element of this introduction approach is understanding who you are so you can actually make an introduction.

What is your Church about? Why does it exist? What makes it different?

The last question is the real deal maker or breaker. What sets your Church apart from the world? What sets your Church apart from quasi-charitable socialization opportunity?

Love.

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” – John 13:34-35

Did you catch that? The way that all men will know you are a servant of a living God is by demonstrating love. Your Love-in-action is the only thing that sets you apart.

That is your introduction. “Hi I’m Church ABC and here is how we love others”.

TakeAway

The Gospel of Christ and making disciples is still our only mission but we’ve forgotten how to simply say Hi. Let’s earn the right to be heard.

From the Book of James-

“If people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them? A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,” but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing. In the same way, faith by itself—that does nothing—is dead.” – James 2:14-17

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Happy Birthday America

As I’ve grown older I’ve noticed that birthdays seem less important. We usually reserve big birthday bashes for kids, teenagers, and milestone decades. Another year just isn’t as big of a deal.declaration_of_independence_630

I’m 5-6 weeks away from the birth of my first child and I expect that my understanding of birthdays is going to radically change. My child’s birthday is going to be a big deal because it will be a celebration of the day that God gave us the gift of a child.

Isn’t that the point of birthdays – to celebrate the beginning of something wonderful?

I think this is why I love Christmas and Independence Day so much.

We do the 4th in a big way at my house. We break out the flags and decorations and host an Independence Day cookout with friends before heading to Pops on the River to enjoy two of my favorite things, the symphony and fireworks.

As I reflect on Christmas and Independence I understand they mean so much because one allowed me to be a Christian the other allowed me to be an American.

I get choked up just writing those words. God’s been so good to me.

This is an awesome country. We still stand as a beacon of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Fly the American flag today, say the Pledge of Allegiance, say a prayer of thanksgiving, and tell someone else Happy Independence Day just as a reminder of what we are really celebrating.

God Bless America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

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