Review – Finding Noah

I believe that most people want some form of proof. Although we have already seen many things that prove the existance of God, it seems like many people would like that one thing. Something that is indisputable. Something that they can point to and say, “now I believe.”

I recently had the opportunity to preview an upcoming film called “Finding Noah.” I had to watch it over the course of 2 nights due to a very busy schedule. The first night I watched it with my 15 year old. The first half of the film drew us in and left us wanting to get to the end to find out if they did, in fact, find Noah’s ark. The first half also set the stage with many historical facts that I did not know. It seems the quest for Noah’s ark extends far back in history. Really far back.

I won’t give away the ending here, but this is a powerful film. Obviously the quest for Noah’s ark and the wonder of if they will be successful is the most powerful story line. There are further story lines about each of the men and what this expedition means to them personally. Many have made the trip more than once. I really enjoyed the film and highly recommend it to anyone that might read this. Here’s more about the film:

For over 2,000 years, man has been searching for the final resting place of Noah’s Ark.  Though there have been many attempts, few have been able to fully explore the one place specifically noted in the Bible: Mount Ararat.  Located in Eastern Turkey, Agri Dagh or “The Painful Mountain” is the tallest mountain in the region and lies in the very center of a centuries old, geo-politically unstable hot spot.  With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, let alone those performing a thorough scientific investigation.  
Join director/producer Brent Baum and the FINDING NOAH film crew as they follow an expedition of intrepid explorers on a perilous trek up to Mt. Ararat’s desolate summit.  There, using state of the art technology and real-time satellite imagery, this team of archeologists, scientists and professional mountaineers will begin a grid work of exploration unlike any before, hoping to finally resolve the age-old question:  did Noah and his Ark actually exist?  
Shot in never-before filmed locations in the harshest of conditions, this unprecedented feature-length documentary shows just how far men are willing to go to discover the truth.  Narrated by Academy Award nominee Gary Sinise, FINDING NOAH is more than a quest for answers, it is a testament of the human spirit, where belief and the need for exploration transcend risk and limitation.

 

Inputs and Outcomes

I shared in my last post that I am leaving one company and joining another one. I also shared that this is a difficult transition because I hold my current CEO in the highest regard. He is a man of incredible integrity. He’s a tremendous leader, husband and father to 5 girls. Sitting at his feet the last two years has restored my faith in leadership and taught me so much about how a man of faith can lead a successful organization. Fortunately, I am joining another organization where the CEO has the exact same qualities. For that I am thankful. Very, very thankful. I’ve been a part of teams where that could not be said and the difference in culture was quite noticeable.

During a recent conversation with my CEO he said something that was so simple yet such a testimony to how he not only runs our company, but to his faithfulness. He said:

Aaron, I know this will sound crazy and even our investors give me a strange look when I say it, but this is how I believe we run this company – we control the inputs and God controls the outcome.

At first I just nodded my head and agreed. There is nothing I have seen in my 2 years that told me any different. That IS how he leads the company. We control the inputs and God controls the outcome. During my 3 hour commute back to Columbus, I just kept repeating those words…. “we control the inputs and God controls the outcome.”

Our finances? We control the inputs, God controls the outcome.

Our faith? We control the inputs, God controls the outcome.

My kids tryouts for various sports teams? They control the inputs, God controls the outcome.

My witness to the circles of influence where I am placed? I control the inputs, God controls the outcome.

I’m not sure who will read this today. I’m not sure where this will find you. I just felt like that wisdom from a man that has taught me so much was worth sharing. It’s made a difference in my attitude and approach to many things.

I control the inputs and God controls the outcome.

“If we faithfully cast out the net, He’ll be responsible for what comes back in.” -Tony Dungy

There’s This Guy…..

Sunday after Sunday, I have had the same thought. Sunday after Sunday, I forget to put it into words. This morning I reminded myself as I was taking notes in church by writing three simple words…. “There’s This Guy….”

There’s this guy at our church…

There is this guy at our church that inspires me every single week. He doesn’t sing (that I’m aware of). He doesn’t play an instrument or lead worship. He doesn’t stand up and preach (at least not verbally). He doesn’t run the sound, lights, usher or speak a word. Sadly, I don’t even know his name.

What he does speaks to me every single week. After our worship team is done and as the Pastor takes the platform, he appears from behind a door. He quietly moves the microphones, hides the pedal board, sets up a stand, places a glass of water on it and puts the makeshift pulpit on the stage. Then he quietly disappears to his seat somewhere among the rest of us.

And this speaks to me. Every. Single. Week.

I wish you could see this guy. I wish I could put into words what joy beams from him. I wish I had a video of him doing what he does. I really wish I had a video of him doing this when he had what appeared to be a bad knee for several weeks. He literally limped out there, moved all of the things he moves and limped off the platform. Never complained.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4)

This is the sermon he preaches each week while never saying a word. Every Sunday when I see “this guy” do what he does, I’m reminded that we are all given different kinds of gifts. We’ve got an incredible worship team. They sing like I could only dream to sing. The guys that rock the guitars make me wish I would have taken lessons and practiced a lot. The people that do sound and lights and video and usher and greet….all important. All great. And then there’s this guy….the one that does something that needs to be done and does it so well. He oozes joy in doing it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27)

What I enjoy about “this guy” is that he is fulfilling his purpose. Again, I don’t even know his name. His “sermon” is short but the message is strong.

Do what God designed and gifted you to do.

Do it with joy

Do it even when you don’t know others are watching

Do it even when you don’t feel 100%

When you use your God given gifts, that thing that comes naturally, you’re doing so much more than a job or duty. You are bringing Him glory. You are inspiring others to do the same.

There’s this guy that preaches a sermon every Sunday and never says a word.

What sermon are you preaching today?

#BeBrave

Send Em On Down The Road

IMG_1311-001Tough week last week. When I say “tough” I’m always quick to point out that the word is very relative. Last week was one of those weeks where you’re looking for that chapter in the parenting manual that covers how to handle certain situations. Truth is there is no manual. An even bigger truth is you navagate as you go.

I said last week that the details were not important. They really aren’t. Last week was a lot of things. Last week stretched our parental “wisdom” (I use that term losely).

It was about seeing God given gifts in your child that they don’t see

It was about pushing where you can while allowing them to make choices

It was about choices and consequences

It was about trust. Trusting them and them trusting you.

There were tears. There were words…a lot of words.

There were inspirational speeches and motivational speeches.

There was a let down and building back up.

When you become a parent there is so much you don’t anticipate. You assume things. You dream big dreams. Last week was a reminder that we are all given gifts and talents but until we step into the moments, our gifts and talents will never be fully appreciated or realized. We need people in our lives to encourage us to step into those moments. To be brave.

The sports reporter Rick Reilly once wrote – “We are here to be there for our kid when they score the game winning goal…and especially when they don’t”

Last week was one of those kinds of moments.

On Tuesday I downloaded the new Garth Brooks CD. I’ve often said that if they put a soundtrack to my life, Garth Brooks music could pretty much play the entire time. One song jumped out at me right away called “Send Em On Down The Road.” It’s classic Garth. These words really hit home…

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bare the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And you send ‘em on down the road

I said last week that I was so proud of “the boy.” Always. As parents we have and will face moments when we will “help them find their wings but can’t fly for ’em.” Wisdom tells us there will be days when we wish we could step into the moment for them.

But it’s not our stage and it’s not our spotlight.

You pick ’em up.

You dust ’em off.

And you send ’em on down the road.

Mom and Dad, you gotta let em go. Today’s hurt will be tomorrows victory. Life is lived forward and understood backward.

Send ’em on down the road…..

6 Things My Kids Need For School

DSC02182

Here we are again. Where did the summer go? Maybe you’re getting ready to send your first born off to school. You might be sending your oldest to college. Maybe you homeschool and you’re ramping up for another year. Wherever this post finds you, I thought I might share the 6 things that I firmly believe my kids need before they start school. These 6 things are part of that “hill I will die on” I often refer to. I know each child and home is different, so take these for what they are worth. Here we go….

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying they need respect, that comes when you GIVE respect. From the time our oldest began school, we chose one thing we really wanted for them that school year. His first year, my word was respect. I don’t know a lot and I’ve never been accused of being really book smart, but respect for others will take you a long, long way in this life. Like my father-in-law says “you earn your breaks.” One of the greatest things you can offer another person is your respect. Respect your elders. Respect your friends. Respect those who disagree with you. You don’t have to agree with every one, or everything, but you can respect their differences. There is an exception to this but thats another post for another day…

2. Treasured – This one REALLY applies to my girls. I wrote a post about being fifteen about a year ago and apparently I am incredibly naive to what that age is like now. While none of mine are fifteen yet, they are growing up faster than we did at their age. They have access to so much more. The only way I know to compat all that waits out there both virtually and in reality, is to make sure they all know they are treasured. They are treasured by me, they are treasured by God. They are my joy and the prize of their creator. They don’t need to settle for anything less than all that God planned for them before they were even born. There will be influences and voices to encourage otherwise, but my hope is they have a firm foundation in how treasured they are both at home and by their Creator.

3. Quiet Strength – There is confidence and then there is arrogance. Confidence crosses the goal line, hands the ball to the referee and heads back to the sideline. Arrogance takes off it’s helmet and makes sure every one knows who scored the touchdown. When it comes to achievements in everything from academics to athletics, I’ve always encouraged my children to be more like Barry Sanders and less like Dion Sanders. Act like you’ve been there. Consider the feelings of those that can’t or didn’t or won’t achieve their goal. Remember when you fell short and how that felt.  As they saying goes…

Work for a cause, not for applause.
Live life to express, not to impress.
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.

4. Be The Change – In an age where “bullying” is a word thrown around a lot, I want my kids to be the change. Stand up for those that can’t or won’t stand up for themselves. Be “that friend” we all want, seek and need. Surround yourselves with those that are different and learn what makes them that way. Let your life be consistent. Let it be so consistent it changes others in ways that are positive. Be individul but be consistent. God created you to influence a circle of people. Be the change in your circle of influence.

5. Be Awesome – Before you click out and think I am “that dad” that demands perfection, let me put your mind at ease…I’m not. You can be last and still be awesome. You can not be at the top of your class and still be awesome. Bob Goff said it best…

Be Awesome…. God loves the humble ones, and the humble ones often don’t make it as first-round draft picks for the jobs with big titles or positions. But they always seem to be the first-round picks for God when He’s looking for someone to use in a big way.

To Be Awesome is to be humble and to be available. We get opportunities every day to be awesome to someone or for something. I want my kids to be available to any and all opportunities, especially with others. As the saying goes – “in 20 years they people won’t remember your name or achievements. But in 20 years they will remember how you made them feel and the memories you gave them.” Be awesome. Make others feel special and leave them with great memories.

6. Be Brave – How could I send them off without a charge that I set for myself in 2014? Be brave to try new things. Be brave to explore and learn. Be brave for those that can’t find the courage to be brave on their own. Let your bravery influence and encourage others to be brave too. God wired each of my kids differently. One will “be brave” with a quiet, calm influence. One will “be brave” in her compassion for others. One will “be brave” with an enthusiasm that is contagious. It’s they way they were built before they were ever born. Gods perfect design. Take each of those gifts and be brave.

As we send our kids off to school and college, my prayer is that these days will be rich with learning. Yes, I hope they fill their minds with book knowledge, but I also hope they are filled with moments and experiences that mold and shape who they will become. As I’ve posted before, it’s time to “Let That Pony Run.”

Broken and Beautiful

photo (1)

My kids love birthday celebrations at the house. Especially our youngest (aka Princess 2.0). Throughout the day yesterday I was instructed that I “couldn’t go in the loft” and I “wasn’t allowed in the dining room.” Since I was running out of places in the house to go, I ended up in my office. Princess 2.0 would later come in, head down, tears streaming down her face. All I heard in between deep breaths and sniffles was “daddy…I tried to make a basketball…and it fell apart.” At this point, she handed me a broken beaded iron ornament….and she broke down. I mean, full blown tears. She was crushed.

I picked her up and just held her for awhile. Over and over again, I just kept telling her I loved it. I kept repeating that what meant more to me was the time, thought and heart that she put into this project. I kept telling her that her heart is what I love more than anything she could possibly make me. It was so important to me that she knew that. I don’t know if she understood or received that, but it really meant the world to me.

We then took all of the pieces of her project and together we rebuilt a new one. We took what she had worked on, added some new parts and when it was all done, I have a treasure for my office and she has something she is proud of. We took what was broken and made it beautiful.

Last night I went to bed and re-lived that moment over and over. Quietly I had one of those “Hello McFly” moments. Over and over in this life I have started something with the best of intentions. I have wanted to make something of my life for the God of this universe that He would be proud of. All too often, my best intentions fell apart. My fresh start turned to another failure. Slowly I approached the throne broken and frustrated. I started off with intentions of being holy and ended up saying “what do I know of holy?”

What hit me last night is that we are His children. Our broken, failed attempts at holy are beautiful in His eyes. Our time is what He cherishes. Just like 2.0, He knows my heart. It doesn’t end there. Over and over He reminds us that He loves us. He then takes the broken attempts and the failed intentions and, if we’re willing, creates something beautiful. Together we take what was broken, mix it with other elements and create our new story. It might not be exactly what we originally thought, but it is whole.

Feeling broken? Feeling like your best intentions and attempts at seeking a life of faith have failed? Take what you have to Him. He’ll take what was broken and make it beautiful.

#BeBrave

What You Believe…

My father-in-law was recently at the house and popped his head in my office. He said “so, are you ready for Monday?” I sat there going through my mental calendar and couldn’t come up with what significance Monday had. I finally had to ask “what’s Monday?” He then reminded me that Monday is a day on the calendar that I age one more year. He asked if I had a post ready to go to impart wisdom I’ve gained in my many years.

Nope.

I was glad he reminded me what Monday was because I needed to renew my drivers license this year. As I stood in that hateful long line at the DMV, I pondered what I could possibly share. What wisdom have I gained? What words can I put in a post?

I’ve got nothing.

I’ve spent the days since that conversation going round and round about this post I could write that would change the world. What I have learned in these years on this big rock that I can pass on to my kids and anyone else that might read this? Then one day it hit me….while I was making the bed (I kid you not). I thought back to a friend that had a birthday close to mine. Sadly he is no longer here. We lost him all too soon. I thought back to the words I spoke at his funeral. A simple sentence that I still believe sums it all up…

You can say what you think but you’ll live what you believe.

That’s it. It’s funny that I share that in a blog post. I’ve said multiple times that it is really easy to sit behind the keyboard and act like you’ve got the world on a string. For over 9 years I have posted thoughts and hopefully, shared the struggles too. Social media has exploded over the years. Now more than ever before I believe that statement has to be our filter. It’s easy to only post the great moments, the times when the kids did amazing things and when the house looked incredible. Hopefully you’ve seen our not so primetime moments through social media too. We’ve got them. I’ve got a ton of them.

I hope that whenever my number is called, those that knew me personally or from afar will all be able to say the same thing. I hope they will say that I said what I thought and it matched the way that I lived and what I believed.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just speak highly of my wife, I honestly treasure and honor her above all others.

I hope you’ll see that I wasn’t bragging on my kids, I made it my goal to treasure each moment and never leave a doubt in their mind as to how I felt about them.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t throw around the word “friend” like it’s something you accept on a social media site. I believed that relationships are important and that people – no matter who they are – matter.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just talk about faith to be high and mighty. I live a life filled with questions, doubts, struggles, fears and wrestled through the journey to be not high and mighty, but second and humble.

So thats the best I’ve got. The calendar turns on another year older. It’s another chance to say what I think and most importantly….

Live what I believe.

#BeBrave

Review – Ragamuffin

Ragamuffin-Movie-Image

When I arrived home from Indianapolis last night, there was a package from one of the providers of media I often review for. I always get excited to open these packages like a kid on Christmas morning. When I opened the package, I found the DVD release of the life story of Rich Mullins called “Ragamuffin.” I have been anticipating seeing this film since I first saw the trailer. Rich Mullins was a treasure to the music industry and particularly the Christian Music industry. His songs were honest, real and raw.

So was his life.

Although the hour was late, I couldn’t wait to watch this movie so I put it in. When the final credits rolled, I sat there somewhat numb. If you know anything about Rich Mullins, you know that the ending isn’t happy. He was tragically taken long before his time. The movie is over 2 hours of wrestling with the tension in our faith of holiness, honesty, transparency, grace, forgiveness and walking it out daily. I wonder if Rich Mullin’s story isn’t all of our story (just without all the record contracts, concerts and stuff). They did an incredible job of capturing his story, ALL of his story.

One of my biggest complaints about these films is the acting is usually not that great. There are times when it’s so bad it takes away from the story that is taking place. Not true with “Ragamuffin.” The acting was on point and believable. I got so pulled into the story that I never once thought about watching a film. The man that portrayed Rich Mullins did an exceptional job.

There were so many great quotes and lessons throughout “Ragamuffin.” I’m going to watch it again just to write down many of the things that were said. I’ll watch it again as a reminder that I’m not alone in the constant tension of living out a life of faith. One of the most powerful lessons in this film is the struggle of understanding how “God loves you” when you know you and sometimes that “Sunday School answer” doesn’t seem possible. Incredible fim. Incredible life that ended all too soon.

I give “Ragamuffin” a 5 out of 5. 

Where to Buy
Consider buying one DVD for yourself and give one away to a Ragamuffin in their lives.
About the Film:
RAGAMUFFIN is based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. An artistic genius, raised on a tree farm in Indiana by a callous father, Rich wrestled all of his life with the brokenness and crippling insecurity born of his childhood. A lover of Jesus and a rebel in the church, Rich refused to let his struggles with his own darkness tear him away from a God he was determined to love. As he struggled with success in Nashville and depression in Wichita, Rich desired most of all to live a life of honest and reckless faith amidst a culture of religion and conformity.
About Rich Mullins:
Singer and songwriter Richard Wayne “Rich” Mullins was best known for his worship song “Awesome God” which has been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Third Day, John Tesh, and Hillsong United. Mullins’ musical career formally began with Zion Ministries in the late 1970s, where he wrote music and performed with a band called Zion.  Mullins first solo hit, “Awesome God,” appeared on his third album and brought his music to a wider audience. Rich Mullins was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) on April 29, 2014.

The Greatest Lesson My Dad Ever Taught Me

Fathers Day is this Sunday. How do you possibly honor your father for all he has done? Especially when you are a father now and know the requirements of the job. Today I wondered what the greatest lesson my father ever taught me was. The answer was simple and it took very little thought. Before I get to the answer, let me give you some other thoughts.

Now that I am older and a home and auto owner, one of the greatest regrets is that I didn’t pay closer attention when my dad would work on the house and cars. I was usually in the driveway shooting hoops at our garage while he was working away under one of our family vehicles. When it was time for home projects I was most likely in my room impersonating a rock star or playing Atari.

I never became a rock star, basketball star or great video gamer but I sure could use the knowledge I would have gained measuring, cutting, installing and removing. I thought it was important to point out that the teacher was always available. Sadly, the apprentice had other priorities. Thanks for always being willing dad and for still being a phone call away when I need the help.

So what is the greatest lesson I learned from my father? Three words….

Love your bride.

To the best of my recollection, these words were never once said to me by my dad. He never sat me down and gave me this lesson. As I have learned as a father myself, the best lessons are caught and not taught. Dad loved his bride. Every moment and every opportunity he honored his bride. My mom glowed because she was made to feel like she was the queen in his kingdom.

When my mom entertained in our home (which was often), it was a big deal. Behind the scenes, in the kitchen with an apron on was my dad. He would wash dishes, prepare food and make sure everything was as it should be. He supported her dreams and her spiritual gifts. He understood that when your bride is in her sweet spot in life, she radiates Gods glory.

My mom had a crush on Kenny Rogers. He was fine with this crush and every single time Kenny dropped a new album, she was one of the first to have it. The night or morning it came out, you would find my dad in a line at the record store buying one for his bride. He taught me the little things mean far more than the big trips to extravagant places.

In her final years, my mom needed constant care. While I have always respected my father, what I witnessed in the final years of my moms life was an entirely different level. He bathed, tended and provided for her every need. As the song says, he “walked her home.” He taught me what “in sickness and in health” really means.

Dad, Happy Fathers Day.

Thank you for the lessons you were willing to teach.

Thank you for the lessons you taught.

Thank you most of all for loving your bride.

I love you Pop.

1383542_10202491903806626_1740966647_n

Knots In Your Rope

IMG_79623

We arrived home safely last night after a week in the Outer Banks. In case you missed it, I covered why this trip was important (HERE). I also gave a mid-week update of some of the not-so-brilliant moments (HERE). It was an incredible week on so many levels. I once again was reminded who I am on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (AKA – Gods Country).

My wife is a runner and I jog at a pace just a tick above walking so we typically map our various mileage routes when we arrive in OBX. One route we mapped out had a series of inclines and seemed to be a challenging 6 miler. I let my friend “D-Rich” somehow talk me into coming out of race retirement and sign up for a quarter marathon in August so I set a goal to get said challenging 6 miler before we left OBX. Saturday morning came calling and I always try to achieve goals I set. When I pushed off and hit my watch, I decided to take the 6 miles and compartmentalize all that had taken place on our week away. Immediately, my useless knowledge kicked in and this quote came to mind:

“Y’all come up here about the same time with the same problems. You spend 50 weeks a year getting knots in your rope and you think 2 weeks up here will untie them for you. None of you get it.”

-Curly (City Slickers)

Sure enough, old Curly was right. The only exception is I usually take 51 weeks a year to get knots in my rope. Then I spend a week in OBX thinking it will untie them for me. As I pounded away at the pavement, I kept wondering how a week off the grid somehow will solve all of the problems of the other 51 week mundane. Had I somehow found the magic I was seeking when we arrived 6 days earlier? Was there an “ah-ha moment” that I would now take home with me for the year ahead? If so, what was it?

“None of you get it”

If you’re familiar with the movie, Curly goes on to deliver his “One Thing” speech and it’s brilliant.

There is so much truth in such a silly little movie clip. Honestly.

While we were on our vacation, a good friend sent me a text asking for some advice. I called him a bit later and we discussed a decision that was weighing on his mind. As I ran those miles, I couldn’t help but think I shared my one thing with him without even realizing it. Our week away didn’t help me discover my one thing, it removed the distractions so I could focus on it much more clearly. It’s like his text and call were that ah-ha moment for me without flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder.

So what is that one thing?

What I told my friend is that he must decide on the hills that he is willing to die on. In other words, he must decide those things that are the non-negotiable things in his life. Everything else will fall into place and be viewed through this lens. They are the one thing. You figure that out and everything else just doesn’t matter.

Getting knots in your rope 50 or 51 weeks a year can’t be solved with a week or two away. It can’t and won’t untie them for you. Knowing your one thing and the hills that you will die on help keep from ever getting knots in your rope in the first place.

What are the hills that you are willing to die on?

What is your one thing?

It’s probably obvious by now, but these four are just one of mine. Every. Single. Time.

IMG_0100

 

Grace Week – The Finale

sunrise

So here we are. Seven days of pressing pause during the week of Easter to reflect on the grace that was poured out on Good Friday and the hope of Easter Sunday. How do you wrap this up? How do you put a bow on all that we’ve walked through, thought through, examined and reflected upon? What is the anchor you drop? As I have said throughout this week, I’m certainly no expert on grace. I’ve walked this journey with each of you this week. Actually, you’ve walked it with me and for that I thank you.

Tonight as I was winding down from an incredibly beautiful day in Columbus, I thought more about this post. I thought more about what to say, how to say it and how to wrap it all up. It was then when something so simple came to me.

“Live it.”

As I unpacked those two words a bit, I think what it means is that if we don’t accept the grace we’ve been given and live it out each day, it doesn’t mean much. It’s like the tree that falls in the forest. Imagine if we all accepted the grace we’ve been given and lived it out to those we impact each day. Imagine if our words and our actions were grace giving. I can think of no better way to honor the gift of grace than to give it away.

Today we celebrate a risen savior that is very much alive and interceding for each one of us. Today we celebrate a grace we’ll never fully understand this side of heaven. Let’s do our best to walk out that grace as our way of saying “thank you” to the one that paid it all.

Christ is risen.

Amazing grace.

If you made it to a church service or not this morning, take a few minutes and set up camp around this song. It says it all.

 

Grace Week – Day Six

rolling_stone

It’s Saturday. I was going to end this “Grace Week” yesterday but this morning I felt like this needed to be said today. Someone somewhere needs to know that it’s Saturday. I know we all know it’s Saturday on our calendar, but the Saturday of grace week can be a lonely place. Imagine the isolation and hopelessness that all those close to Jesus felt on this Saturday so many years ago.

Everything they had hoped for was gone.

They were scattered.

Their plans were shattered.

They left everything for a man that was now gone.

What now? Where do you turn? How do you begin to rebuild? I don’t know about you but I’ve been in “Saturdays” in my life too. My hopes came crashing down. What I thought would be turned out to be nothing but isolation. In this life, there will be Saturdays. There will be moments when nothing seems to be as it should.

But Sunday happened.

God rolled away a stone and rocked their world. On Saturday, though it seemed lost, things were happening behind that big ol’ rock. Things were happening in that tomb. God was at work though it appeared he had walked away in their desperation.

He’s doing the same for you.

When the stone is rolled away on this season of your life, it all begins to make sense. Today may be lonely, but don’t lose heart. Your Sunday is coming. It may not appear to be what you hoped or thought, but your Sunday is coming.

Hold on friends.

Sunday is a stone roll away.

Amazing Grace.

Review – Soul Keeping

null.jpg_8228I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point over the last 10 years, someone gave me a copy of a John Ortberg book. I don’t even remember which book it was, but as soon as I read it, I was a fan. Over those 10 years, I have read every one of his books. If I had the opportunity to sit down with an author and just listen, John Ortberg would be one of the authors on a very short list. Some of his books have literally changed the trajectory and understanding of my faith. When I read the forward of his new book – “Soul Keeping” – I found it interesting that he shared a very personal moment when he sat with one of his literary heroes, Dallas Willard.

Soul Keeping is the result of the many years of learning and relationship that John Ortberg gained from Dallas Willard. It is his way of honoring a man that had a deep impact on his life. By writing Soul Keeping, John Ortberg is hoping to do the same for anyone that might read it as well. It is a treasure and worth reading. It honors Dallas Willard well and contains great information about something I think we all neglect…..our soul.

This book is an opportunity to step back and see arguably the most important part of who we are. We get so caught up in so many things that don’t really matter, but the soul is everything. As with all of his books, John Ortberg mixes great story telling, humor and important thoughts. Reading “Soul Keeping” only further cemented my desire to some day sit at his feet and just listen and learn.

I give Soul Keeping a 4 out of 5.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Grace Week – Day Five

old-rugged-cross1

This week I have taken a personal journey through what I have called “Grace Week.” As I sat in church last Sunday I felt like it was what I needed to do personally. I needed to spend this week reflecting on grace that was poured out on this day. I needed to reflect on how I walk that out as a follower of Jesus. As I looked back over the years of my life, I found that I’m not so good at that. When it comes to grace, I am not amazing. It is when I begin to feel the weight of my failure that I hear…

Not guilty.

The reality is that the few true stories I’ve shared this week were cherry picked from my massive pile of failures in grace. Right next to my pile of failures in grace is my pile of failures in character. I have a pile a mile high of my failures in extending love. Words can’t describe my pile of sin. It’s not pretty. Not pretty at all. When I rewind the DVR of life, it feel the weight of it all. It’s then that I hear….

Not guilty.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t like what I see. I’m not talking about appearance, that ship sailed long ago. I’m talking about the mirror of interior. I’m talking about my mind and what it thinks. I’m talking about my eyes and what they see. I’m talking about my ears and what they hear. I see the heart and what it should beat for and what it rarely does. When I look in the mirror, I feel the weight of it all. It’s then that I hear….

Not guilty.

Today is a day of reflection. If you’re like me, I reflect on all that I’ve listed above. That list was nailed to a cross that wasn’t his. If you’re reading this, it wasn’t just mine, it was yours too. Because of that sacrifice, each of us stand in the court of God and hear….

Not guilty.

On Sunday morning, we’ll dress in our spring colors. There will be baskets and straw, eggs and bunnies. For those that have accepted the verdict of “not guilty” there is hope. There is celebration. There is Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Sunday is the celebration. Today is the memorial. Today is the reflection. Because of the events of today.

You and I are not guilty.

Amazing grace.

Grace Week – Day Four

IMG_39282 (1)

I’ve got issues. As a matter of fact, I’ve shared “the list” below before. I’d like to say I’ve made some strides in some of these areas. In honesty, I think I’ve continued to struggle in others. Let’s just say I totally understand when Paul talked about his “thorn.” In our instagram/facebook social media driven world, it’s easy to create a perfect life. But this life is anything but perfect. At times it’s downright ugly. To review, here’s my list –

I hide.

I act.

I show a smile and die on the inside.

I want to show no signs of failure but am rarely anything but

My internal thoughts are dark, depressing and often rude

I have a really hard time with forgiveness and saying “I’m sorry”

I bury bitterness, anger, doubt and fear so deep that when it surfaces it’s much worse

I live in fear of so many things, at times I lose grip with reality

I’m broken and damaged

I have a past that haunts me

I’m selfish

I fear being irrelevant

I have addictions that are like bondage that won’t release me from their grips

I wrestle with and sometimes lose faith

I’m judgmental

I’m afraid you’ll forget me when I’m gone.

Paul only mentioned having one “thorn.” Apparently I’ve got a few more than he did. But this is why Good Friday was so important to my story. I don’t know who will read this, but maybe Good Friday was important to your story too. You ready?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Hold up. Back up the truck. You mean I am supposed to be GLAD about my weaknesses? It actually says that I should boast gladly about them? That is some crazy talk. That is the kind of crazy talk I need some help understanding. So I look to a resource which has become like a manual for me over the years. The book is “In The Grip of Grace” and the author is Max Lucado. Max writes –

You wonder why God doesn’t remove temptation from your life? If he did, you might lean on your own strength instead of his grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you: His grace is sufficient for your sin.

You wonder why God doesn’t remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because he wants you to love like he loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy. So what if you aren’t everyone’s hero? His grace is sufficient for your self-image.

You wonder why God doesn’t alter your personality? You, like Paul, are a bit rough around the edges? Say things you later regret or do things you later question? Why doesn’t God make you more like him? He is. He’s just not finished yet. Until he is, his grace is sufficient to overcome your flaws.

You wonder why God doesn’t heal you? He has healed you. If you are in Christ, you have a perfected soul now and a perfected body. His plan is to give you the soul now and the body when you get home. He may choose to heal parts of your body before heaven. But if he doesn’t, don’t you still have reason for gratitude? If he never gave you more than eternal life, could you ask for more that that? His grace is sufficient for gratitude.

For all we don’t know about thorns, we can be sure of this. God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. And if it takes a thorn for him to make his point, he loves you enough to not pluck it out.

God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him. The parachute is strong, and the landing will be safe. His grace is sufficient.

I don’t know what your thoughts were when your feet hit the floor this morning. Maybe you leaned over and picked up your “list” and put it on your shoulders to carry again for another day. Maybe you’re struggling with the “why” and the “when” too. Know that the events that took place on Good Friday are significant to your story too. Your list, your struggles, your battles all are a part of your story. When it comes to grace and your story….

His grace is sufficient for you.

Grace Week – Day Three

22foot-wash22-by-jay-peeples

I decided to do something new this year as we enter the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Because one of the greatest gifts that happened on Calvary was the gift of grace, I’m going to take each day this week and focus on that. I thought it would be good to remind myself of that amazing grace every single day. If you’d like, feel free to follow along throughout this week.

Let me start off todays thoughts on grace with a couple of ground rules. First of all, I have issues with forgiveness which I’ll unpack in a minute. Second, I have issues with feet. I can’t stand bare feet on the dashboard of my car. I don’t like touching feet or feet touching me. I can’t explain it, it’s just one of those things. Forgiveness and feet are two of the many things I have issues with. When it comes to forgiveness, I used to adopt the motto of the great philosophers…The Dixie Chicks…

“Forgive sounds good. Forget, I don’t think I could…”

I’m just being honest here. I know we’re supposed to forgive and I really do wrestle with situations where I should. I’m working on it and Gods not done with me yet. If you really want to see me get nasty, do something to my family. I can usually get through personal situations which require forgiveness, but you mess with my family and the protector in me comes out. Especially if it has anything to do with feet….(sorry, had to throw that in there).

Now here’s where I get all kinds of tripped up with grace. In John 13:1-17 we see Jesus do the unthinkable (in my mind anyway). He is just days away from dying for the entire world (you and I included). He’s with his closest friends. He is with the very men that will soon scatter. They won’t have his back. One will betray him outright. Another will deny he even knew him. Talk about having forgiveness issues. If I knew the people I had let into my world at the deepest levels would soon walk away, betray me and deny they even knew me, do you think I would want to share a meal with them? Would you?

As if the meal wasn’t enough, he goes far beyond the call of duty. He takes the role of a servant and washes their feet. For more on the significance of Jesus washing their feet, there’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to it HERE. Regardless of what Wikipedia might have to say, I know this, Jesus placed himself in a servant role before the very people that he had every right to distance himself from. He had every reason to sing that Dixie Chicks song. You want to talk about Grace? It was on full display in that room.

As he washed the feet of friends that would bail on him.

As he washed the feet of the man that would betray him.

As he washed the feet of the man that would completely deny knowing him.

And he knew it would all happen.

Grace.

When I think about this act of grace and the one which would soon follow, I am ashamed of my inability to forgive. I am saddened by my lack of grace in situations. Should I wash the feet of those I may have issues with? No, I don’t think so. Yet an email saying “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” might be a modern day version of that. A phone call, even if I still believe I was the wronged, may be like filling that basin and kneeling before my enemy. When I am quick to say “but,” I remember that Jesus didn’t complain as he was placed on my cross for my sin. This is a critical point that cannot be missed – Have you allowed Jesus to wash your feet? Have you accepted that grace? Maybe today is that day. Maybe this week is a week to finally accept the grace that happened on that Friday.

…And we will never be able to wash the feet of those who have hurt us until we allow Jesus, the one we have hurt, to wash ours.” – Max Lucado

Who do you need to call/text/email today? Who’s feet do you need to wash?

Grace.