Outside The Storm

This morning I was up and out the door by 4:30am for a flight to Philadelphia. As I drove to the airport, a local radio station talked about “winds topping 70 MPH” and severe thunderstorms. My first thought was of the items in our yard that would probably end up in someone else’s. My second thought was of the safety of my family since I would be gone all day. My last thought was about the return flight I had scheduled for later that evening and if it would be delayed or cancelled.

Through the wonders of technology (twitter basically), I sat in the airport waiting to board and read accounts and reports of a terrible storm crossing the United States. I read reports of sirens going off, kids being let out early from school and power outages. I sat there in that airport concerned for my family and felt completely…utterly…

helpless.

Tonight I sit here reflecting on that feeling and the events of the day and wonder if I don’t feel that same feeling seeing some friends go through storms right now. The prayer requests come across like the reports of bad weather on twitter. We feel so distant, so helpless and don’t know what we can do to help get our friends out and to a place of “safety”. Maybe you feel that way right now too. Maybe it’s family, friends, people in your church, people at work or even you yourself are facing that storm. Psalm 121:1-2 states:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

As I sat in that airport today, I could only lift my eyes to the hills and ask the Maker of heaven and earth to protect my family and friends through the storm. As we flew through that weather coming home, I repeated the requests but this time for myself as well. As often the case with my posts, I don’t have the answers to how we can best help our friends when we’re outside the storm. Psalm 121:1-2 is probably a good place to start.

I made it home in one piece (although it was sketchy at best) and my family were all fine and life was back to normal. When the storms pass in our friends lives, they will be too.

I’m Coming Home

While it is a little known fact that I was born in Anchorage Alaska, if you ask me where I call “home”, without hesitation I will tell you Cleveland, Ohio. I actually grew up in a little town called Bedford on the east side of the city, but Cleveland is my city. The city is the punchline in many jokes and is often referred to as “the mistake on the lake”. I like to say that it might be a mistake, but it’s our mistake! I love Cleveland. Some of my greatest memories begin and end in Cleveland. That is why this weekend is so special to me.

On Sunday morning, I will rise at 5:00am in order to be at the starting line to run the Cleveland Half Marathon at 7:00am. This is the final half marathon in the 4 in 4 weekends in 4 cities. More important than the half marathon is the Celebration of Life service for my Mom which will take place later that afternoon. Although Mom passed away on March 5, this is our first opportunity to meet together with friends and family in our hometown. I cannot wait to thank the many people that supported, encouraged, prayed and mourned with us. I look forward to sharing stories of the amazing woman that changed anyone she came in contact with.

Over the course of the 13.1 miles I run on Sunday morning, I plan to reflect and honor my Mom with each step. This race is my way of thanking her for running her race with grace, with passion for the lost and with perseverance through pain. She ran her race and today sits at the feet of her King. Sunday will be a day filled with emotions but I can’t think of a better setting than Cleveland Ohio.

To our friends in Cleveland…..I’m coming home.

To Hear The Words

concept1

Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” –Deuteronomy 34:4

Most people I know have that list of people they want to talk to and questions they will ask when we get to Heaven. Somewhere on my many lists of lists, there is a simple question I have for Moses. It goes like this…”Dude, what was it like to hear those words”? I just want to know what it must have felt like to have gotten to the edge of the promised land, seen it all and then hear the words…”you will not cross over into it”. BOOM.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever chased, discerned, given, hoped and sacrificed for Gods will? Have you been on the edge of what you thought was to be His vision for your life only to hear those words..”you will not cross over into it”. Where do you go from there? Where do you begin to put it all back together and understand that God is still in control. God is STILL on His throne and the journey has been worth the moment. I found an anchor in verse 7 that we might hold onto:

Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone – Deuteronomy 34:7

“His eyes were not weak nor his strength gone”. I love that. Moses had just completed the ultimate “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” and was left on the outside. Although he died at that spot, his eyes were not weak and he never lost strength. There’s something there for all of us. If you feel like your standing where Moses stood and on the outside of what you thought Gods purpose and vision was, don’t lose strength. Don’t let your eyes grow weary. There’s still work to be done. His ways are not our ways. As I type this post, I am reminded that I am “preaching to the choir” here. I have got to find a way to be okay when I hear the words…..

“Are you willing to live a life that honors God and reflects His character and leaves the outcome to Him? Are you willing to live by faith and trust Him to be faithful? There will be days on this journey of faith when the outcome will be clear, and you will not like the implications. On those days you must, like Jesus, declare ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42)”

Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus (pg 81)

Originally posted April 17, 2009

The End Of My Rope

Inuit Dog chained
Image by CheshireCat@TO via Flickr

We continue to accumulate tools to help our new puppy “Wubzzy” acclimate himself to our world and home. I never realized how high maintenance a puppy is, but hopefully all of the purchases are working towards a common goal. The most recent acquisition is a chain with one of those corkscrew bases so he has freedom to roam the yard…but not too much. This purchase was born out of necessity. It seems that Mr. Wubzzy enjoys eating just about everything in the backyard. This would include mulch, grass and most recently pine needles. None of which can be good for him.

So I took the advice of Puppies for Dummies and purchased a chain. I was observing him with his new chain today and had a rather interesting revelation. As soon as Wubzzy is anchored in, he goes to the farthest reaches of the chain. He immediately goes to where the chain is stretched to capacity and sits there. With a majority of the backyard at his disposal, he goes to the very edge and pretty much becomes immobile. While he has enough room to be free, run and roll around if he would get back to the center, he stays on the farthest edge…paralyzed.

Are you getting the same vision I got? I sat there thinking how this is a picture of my faith. I run to the edge, leaving no margin and become paralyzed by it. While I could easily stay within the boundaries and have freedom, I’m out on the edge with the chain pulling at my neck. Maybe Wubzzy will actually teach me more than I am teaching him.

I’m just sayin….

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Thoughts on Tiger

Like most of the rest of the world, I just watched the streaming video of Tiger Woods statement of apology. Unlike most of the internet world, I am not going to offer an analysis, judgement or opinion.

There is a family in need of restoration.

There is a marriage in need of repair.

There is a man in need of help.

Any words I put on this blog are not going to change those things. As a man who has personally been shown more grace than I could ever repay, I offer Tiger nothing but the same. I won’t stand in judgement of his choice of religion but I will pray that he will open his heart to Jesus during his treatment and therapy.

What I will offer is an observation. It happened when the press conference was over and if you weren’t watching, you might have missed it.

As Tiger completed his statement, he made is way to the front row where his Mom was sitting. She stood with a smile that only a parent can have and embraced her son.

Grace needed.

Mom provided.

As a parent it stood out to me because it is an example of a love which knows no end. It is a love which sees beyond the failures to the core of the person inside. It is a love that knows that deep inside each one of us is the child that once knew no addiction, no struggles, no failures in judgement. It’s a love that believes that can be again.

I am moved by his mothers love. Her embrace said more than Tiger could say in 14 minutes of a prepared statement. Her embrace reminded me that spilled milk, fingerprints on the TV and not eating your vegetables will one day seem small compared to what my children could do. I pray they don’t but know, given our nature, they might. I know there will be consequences as well there should be. Grace doesn’t give a free pass, but it loves through the storm. It directs through the rough waters to a place where the ship will one day sail smooth waters.

As a parent and a man that has more failures than I can count, I can only offer Tiger what his Mom offered him….

Grace.

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God Had Other Plans

I hate the treadmill. I really do. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but the nearly 2 feet of snow outside make it pretty difficult to train anywhere else. With a half marathon looming a week from Sunday, I have to get the miles in somewhere. My plans tonight were to get in a quick 4 miles, type a recap of our January half marathon in Phoenix and call it an evening. God had other plans.

I love when He does that….

Our Pastor recently started a series on the Beatitudes. With house church looming tomorrow night, I have been thinking all day how I could tie in Sunday’s sermon on Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. I wasn’t really able to come up with anything today so I figured I would try again tomorrow. I had a pretty good feeling for what Jesus meant when he said that from my study of the Beatitudes a few years ago. I figured I could always pull something from there. God had other plans.

I hit the treadmill at a nice easy pace.  I put my iPod on Shuffle which is rare for me. I’m such a control freak when it comes to pace and music that I always use one of my pre-arranged playlists. Tonight I figured I would go with whatever played. As I went along, I began to pick up my pace. By the end I was running with the treadmill on the number 8 and completely empty. I pushed for a 5th mile and was nearing that mark when it happened. The song “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder came through the ear buds. God had other plans.

As I stood there completely empty of energy, sweating like crazy, God finally had my attention. The words to the song on my iPod echoed through my mind and directly to my heart. It began to all take shape. He was giving me a vision of being “poor in spirit”. He was removing all of the distractions from my day, my thoughts, my emotions to bring me to a point where I could think of nothing else.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Note after note, lyric after lyric I was reminded of my desperate need for Jesus. While I gasp for air, I was overcome with the emotion of a love for me that continues even when He knows me. He knows my faults, my failures, my weakness and my battle with self. Yet He loves. I thought of the pain I get in my chest when I think how much I love my wife and children.

He loves more.

Being poor in spirit is understanding this desperate need all of the time. Not just after a hard run. Not after being pulled from all of the distractions.

Not after God made other plans.

* You can hear David Crowder’s “How He Loves” HERE

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

**[Reportedly inscribed on the wall of Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, and attributed to her. However, an article in the New York Times has since reported (March 8, 2002) that the original version of this poem was written by Kent M. Keith.]

As Long As It Matters

all-thumbs-up

Last night the randomness that is my iTunes played the song “As Long As it Matters” by the Gin Blossoms. I hit repeat a few times just because it is such a great song. There is something about those five words that have stuck in my head the past few hours. I think I’m finally coming around to understand why. I think it’s because that might be what we all want. We all want to do something or somethings that matter.

When I think of my role as a husband and father, I want it to matter. I want my children to know that their father loved them. I want them to know that they are important to me. In the good times and the bad, I never want them to doubt that they..matter.

It is my hope that my wife knows that she matters. From running a home and engineering a family to the day in and day out “ministry of the mundane”, they all matter. It matters to me. It matters to our children. It matters to our family.

When I put in a days work, I want to know that the job I do matters. I would like to think that because I did whatever it was that I did that day for my employer, it mattered.

If someone calls me friend they need to know that it matters. They should never doubt or question that what they are going through matters. If it is rejoicing or sorrow, it all matters. As long as it matters to them, it matters to me.

Most importantly, when I get to the end of this life on earth, it might be a huge understatement, but I want nothing more than to know that it mattered. Did my time on this big ol’ spinning rock mean something? Is something better? Is some one better? Are those people that God placed in my path and along my journey aware that they mattered? What they do matters. Who they are matters.

Did I reflect that it mattered to the one that matters most?

As long as it matters

Fill In The Blank

neon

Anyone else tired of the ordinary? Anyone else feel like you are stuck in the mundane? Have you ever sat down and just pondered what your purpose is on this big spinning piece of real estate called earth? I know so many people that are praying for “Gods will for their life”. You can count me in that group too. Maybe it’s Rick Warren’s fault for teaching us all to live the Purpose Driven Life….

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this might help. I know it gave me perspective and, even if for a moment, purpose. While this song by Rachael Lampa was written about Mary, I wonder if we can’t fill our own name in that blank too. You see, each one that has accepted Christ as their Savior, has also been filled with the Holy Spirit. It is that Spirit which calls us to a purpose. A purpose of introducing this world to a Savior and a King. No matter your title, your occupation, your neighborhood or place of worship, each of us has this purpose.

Imagine for a moment you received a letter from your Heavenly Father. Listen to the song and fill in the blanks below with your name. I wonder if it wouldn’t read something like this….

“I Choose You” by Racheal Lampa

When everyone around you sees
an ordinary life
Fit for nothing more than common dreams
I can see the stars of heaven
shining in your eyes
Soon the world will hear the angels sing
(Insert Name Here) I know it’s hard to understand
You hold the light of the world in your hands

(Chorus)
I choose you
To bring the world a savior
I choose you
To bring the world a king
I choose you
To be the arms of love that hold the answer
For the world to see my promises come true
I choose you

I know there are many questions
Weighing on your mind
What is becomming of your life
Just remember why I’ve called you
To leave your fears behind
To walk by faith and not by sight
(Insert Name Here) I know
It’s all a mystery
My hand is leading if you’ll only believe

(Chorus)

And he shall be called
Emanuel
Wonderfull prince of peace

I choose you
to bring the world a savior
I choose you
to bring the world a king

(Chorus)

For the world to see my promises come true
For the world to see my love come shinning through
I choose you

I Am

This is a re-post of sorts. Lots of “stuff” going on all around us isn’t there? Sometimes it makes you wonder if God is still in control. The requests are real. The requests are important. The requests are for friends, loved ones and people we don’t even know. We need assurance don’t we? We need something to hold onto. We need peace and a place to stand when the waters ahead appear rough. Anyone that holds a Bible has it. It’s found throughout scripture, but I think my favorite one is in Genesis 3:14:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am . [a] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “

These two words are more valuable than anything. They are bigger than every request. To those that believe, they are everything.

“Lord, I have a medical test coming up and I am scared. I know you know what’s best for me but”….I AM.

“Lord, I pray for my freind as he continues to battle his medical journey. I pray that”…I AM.

“Lord I have a friend that needs your direction and guidance as he”..I AM.

“Lord, I really messed up. No matter how hard I try”…I AM.

“Lord. I don’t know how we’re going to “….I AM.

“Lord, We need your”….I AM.

“Lord, I”….I AM.

“Lord,”….I AM.

I AM.

I Am” by Nichole Nordeman

*Originally posted August 2008

Day Four – Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are they those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. -Matthew 5:6

What is the hungriest you have ever been? How about thirsty? That question is obviously relative. Many of us have never really known what it means to be hungry. One statistic I read said that every 3.6 seconds, someone dies of hunger. That means by the time I finish writing this post, roughly 167 people died of hunger. What an alarming and sad statistic. It’s one that I am not sure I can get my head around. So I had to bring it closer to home.

Have you ever noticed the lines at Starbucks and Tim Hortons in the morning for coffee? I’m not a coffee drinker so I am always amused when I pass by. That is not to say that I’m not without my vices. If I don’t get a Diet Coke and spoonful of Peanut Butter or Pop Tart in the morning, you don’t want to be near me. I can safely say that I hunger and thirst for these things before all others in the morning. Sadly, they come before devotions and even a simple prayer to say “thanks for one more day”.

The hunger that Jesus was referring to was priority one. It is an urgency. It is a vital to life kind of hunger. The same hunger he referred to when he said to “Seek ye FIRST” (Matthew 6:33). What are we to hunger after? One resource I read said that righteousness can be defined as “nature of God, justice, truth, mercy, love”. 7 words with huge impact. Imagine beginning all things, all situations, all opportunities by seeking the nature of God, justice, truth, mercy and love. Imagine what life would be like if we filtered everything through this list of righteousness.

One final thought. Note that Jesus said “those who hunger and thirst” and not “those that have achieved”. We’re still on the journey. We’re still striving and being refined to be like Christ and achieve righteousness. Jesus understood that and encouraged us to stay the course. Stay hungry. Stay Thirsty.

Dependence on God = Poor in spirit
Grief for fallen condition = Those who mourn
Approach God with humility = The meek
Desire to be transformed = Hunger and Thirst

Tomorrow: Blessed are the Merciful

Day Three – Blessed are the Meek

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
-Matthew 5:5

Like I said in earlier posts, this is just my crazy finite minds interpretation of the beatitudes as I reflect on them. That being said, as I read commentaries and resources on Matthew 5:5, one quote kept coming to mind. It comes from none other than the movie “Spider-man”.

With great power comes great responsibility -Aunt Mae

Since it kept coming back to me, I figured I would run with that. To be honest it helped me in my understanding. When you think of most Super Heroes, they are mild mannered. Their alter egos are usually, dare I say, “meek”. Within them is great power. Yet to the world that knows them, they are simple, average, humble, everyday people. They don’t flaunt their power, they are as human as everyone around them. They are not proud or arrogant about it. They use it when it is needed and do so for good. They help those in need and the less fortunate. Their power is used with great responsibility.

From what I read, Jesus was not calling us to be doormats. He wasn’t asking that we allow people to walk all over us and for Christianity to become a weakness. I think Christ was calling us to an understanding that “with great power comes great responsibility”. What power? How about joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) for one. Being a joint heir with our Savior is certainly great power. Yet understanding the responsibility that comes with this inheritance is key to being meek.

Understand we did (and can do) nothing to gain this position (poor in spirit)

Understand that without God we are forever separated (those who mourn)

Understanding that we are powerless, separated, and submit to Gods will (meek)

Superman harnessed his power by becoming the meek Clark Kent. Spider-man became a news paper photographer named Peter Parker. Though they had incredible power within them, they lived humble lives understanding the strength under control. We have the power of Christ within us. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to change the lives of those around us. Being meek is treating this power with great responsibility.

Coming Monday: Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

These Small Hours

The kids and I watched “Meet The Robinson’s” the other night. I have this weird knack when watching films of picking up the soundtrack music and how it relates to the film. I have no idea how popular this song was, or if it even made it to radio, but it is rich. At the end of the movie a song called “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas played. The lyrics struck me. I won’t mess up the truth in the words by trying to put context around it. They pretty much say it all.Thank the Lord for “these small hours”.

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

Who’s Your Jonathan?

Many of you commented off-line regarding my post “What’s Your Isaac”. For that I thank you. This post is somewhat born out of that post as well. One of the things I will always remember about our Charlotte oddessy is what we learned about our friends. People said heartfelt things to Heather and I that we will forever cherish. They expressed sadness is our leaving, but sincerely wished us the best. They prayed for and with us. They offered their homes when it looked like we might be in need of temporary housing. As Tobymac sings:

“Cause real friends are willing to intrude”

As to not embarass you all here, I won’t mention names. Hopefully you know who you are. What I will say is that I thought of each of you as I re-read 1 Samuel 20:17. One of my biblical heroes, David, had a friend like that. His name was Jonathan and he cared deeply for David. He fought for David. He protected David. They had a friendship and a bond that was as strong as they come. Today we would say that Jonathan “had David’s back”. David did the same. They were friends. They were brothers.

Sadly, I have been to many funerals in my life. One thing that always puzzles me is that we wait until someone passes to say wonderful things about them. We all wish we would have had that chance to tell them how we felt. I would argue that we do have that chance. Each day we have the opportunity to let a friend know that they hold a place in our lives. Their friendship is special and it’s good to know that they “have our back”. I hope each of you have a Jonathan (several really). I ask you today, who’s your Jonathan?

Maybe now would be a good time to let them know….

Who's Your Jonathan?

Many of you commented off-line regarding my post “What’s Your Isaac”. For that I thank you. This post is somewhat born out of that post as well. One of the things I will always remember about our Charlotte oddessy is what we learned about our friends. People said heartfelt things to Heather and I that we will forever cherish. They expressed sadness is our leaving, but sincerely wished us the best. They prayed for and with us. They offered their homes when it looked like we might be in need of temporary housing. As Tobymac sings:

“Cause real friends are willing to intrude”

As to not embarass you all here, I won’t mention names. Hopefully you know who you are. What I will say is that I thought of each of you as I re-read 1 Samuel 20:17. One of my biblical heroes, David, had a friend like that. His name was Jonathan and he cared deeply for David. He fought for David. He protected David. They had a friendship and a bond that was as strong as they come. Today we would say that Jonathan “had David’s back”. David did the same. They were friends. They were brothers.

Sadly, I have been to many funerals in my life. One thing that always puzzles me is that we wait until someone passes to say wonderful things about them. We all wish we would have had that chance to tell them how we felt. I would argue that we do have that chance. Each day we have the opportunity to let a friend know that they hold a place in our lives. Their friendship is special and it’s good to know that they “have our back”. I hope each of you have a Jonathan (several really). I ask you today, who’s your Jonathan?

Maybe now would be a good time to let them know….

What You Believe

“You can say what you think, but you will live what you believe”Mark Hall

I flew Southwest Airlines home from Chicago tonight. If you’re familiar with Southwest they have what is called an “open seating” policy. In other words, it’s first come-first serve when you board the plane. Luckily I had a low number so I found a prime aisle seat and was nestled in for the flight home. That’s when it happened. The voice over the loud speaker said (to the almost full plane):

“Ladies and Gentleman, for anyone with an open seat between them (me among others) we have a young mother and her infant child that need 2 seats together. Would anyone be willing to accommodate them?”

Being an evening flight full of weary travelers, you can imagine that not one hand went up. That would include mine. As I sat there looking into the eyes of this mother, the words of Rob Bell and my post earlier this week began to creep into my mind and soul. Louder and louder until I couldn’t ignore it any longer “Live what you say…Live what you believe”! Yet I sat there frozen in my comfort. Waiting on someone else to do what everyone on the plane should have been willing to.

Needless to say, after what felt like an eternity, I offered my seat and we were able to accommodate the young mother and her child. Please don’t misunderstand this post, I am NOT looking for glory. I’m not asking for applause. I’m actually confessing to a weakness. Why the thought process? Why the pause? If I would live what I believe the reality is I wouldn’t even have a post to write. Which is the way it should have been. It should have been a non-story and just another event in an otherwise uneventful day.

Heaven help me.

The Now and The Not Yet

I’m probably aging myself a bit here, but way back in the day Amy Grant had a song that came to mind today. Maybe it is because if I had to give an assessment of where I am right now, it best describes the location, the feeling and the situation. Quite simply, I am at the intersection of “The Now and the Not Yet”. I’m interested to see if I am the only one that is standing at that intersection, or if we should build one of those “roundabouts” that have become so popular in the town I currently reside in. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that we’re all living in a moment and searching for a time that is yet to come. Is it just me?

But Im caught in between
The now and the not yet;
Sometimes it seems like
Forever and ever,
That Ive been reaching to be
All that I am,
But Im only a few steps nearer,
Yet Im nearer…. (Amy Grant)

I have talked to so many people the past few weeks that are on a Journey. Some are selling a home with the intention of moving to a new place. Some are simply being obedient to a call they feel on their lives. Yet we wait. It has often been said that God answers prayer in three ways; “Yes”, “No” and “Wait”. It’s the third one that is the hardest to understand because it is not definitive. It is the third response that leaves us standing at the intersection of “The Now and The Not Yet”. It’s the place where we must discern our every response, activity and commitment since we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

To quote Amy Grant again…”I’m only a few steps nearer, yet I’m nearer”. I’m nearer to the not yet, but living in the now….

I Am

I had to laugh this morning when I reflected on the excitement of last weekend. I was amused by how excited we can get when another person signs their name on a piece of paper. While that individual might have special gifts or talents, they are just as human as you and I. In retrospect, I am challenged by what little regard I seem to hold for the greatest signature of all. Anyone that holds a Bible has it. It’s found throughout scripture, but I think my favorite one is in Genesis 3:14:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am . [a] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “

You see this signature is more valuable than anything on Ebay. It’s bigger than a card, t-shirt or photo. To those that believe, it is everything.

“Lord, you’re calling us to Charlotte. We’ve got to sell our home in a tough market. I pray that you would”….I AM.

“Lord, I pray for my freind as he continues to battle his medical journey. I pray that”…I AM.

“Lord I have a friend that needs your direction and guidance as he”..I AM.

“Lord, I really messed up. No matter how hard I try”…I AM.

“Lord. I don’t know how we’re going to “….I AM.

“Lord, We need your”….I AM.

“Lord, I”….I AM.

“Lord,”….I AM.

I AM.

I Am” by Nichole Nordeman

One Last Lecture

I just opened up Yahoo to find the sad news that Randy Pausch has passed. By now I am sure that you have probably seen this video. It is all over Youtube. If, on the off chance you have not seen this, take the next 10:10 to watch it. If you have seen it before, you might take the same 10:10 and watch it again. Randy understood the impact and legacy that we leave. He also understood the power of “Chasing Daylight” and “Seizing a Divine Moment”. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Pausch family today.

Here are but a few of his many memorable quotes from this lecture:

“You cannot change the cards you are dealt. Just how you play the hand.”

“Don’t complain. Just work harder.”

“Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity.”

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough”

“Did you figure out the head fake? It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way … the dreams will come to you. Did you figure out the second head fake? The talk’s not for you. It’s for my kids.”

“Yours”

While I was checking the RSS feeds tonight I read something I just had to share. All of this is credit to the guys at StereoTruth.net. They posted the news tonight that Steven Curtis Chapman will be touring with Michael W. Smith this fall. While that is incredible, it was the next part of their post that struck me tonight. According to their post, Steven has added an additional verse to his new song “Yours” (Coming August 1st to radio). You can read the entire story on the StereoTruth.net site.

When I first heard SCC’s new CD, I was captured by two songs. The first was obviously “Cinderella”. The second was the song “Yours”. There was something in the lyrics about claiming that everywhere and everything belongs to God that hit home with me. Which brings me to their post and the additional lyrics that Steven has added.

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
So deep and dark that I could barely breathe
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here
in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God we belong to you.

Knowing what we know, I am not sure how I can read that and not be moved. To say that “the streets of London” or “every child in Africa is yours” seems easy. But to face what Steven and his family have faced and say “it’s yours” is beyond a testimony. It’s beyond my understanding and leaves me evaluating each and everything I count as “mine”.

Lord grant me your grace. I ask your patience as I release anything and everything as yours.

[ht/stereotruth.net]

"Yours"

While I was checking the RSS feeds tonight I read something I just had to share. All of this is credit to the guys at StereoTruth.net. They posted the news tonight that Steven Curtis Chapman will be touring with Michael W. Smith this fall. While that is incredible, it was the next part of their post that struck me tonight. According to their post, Steven has added an additional verse to his new song “Yours” (Coming August 1st to radio). You can read the entire story on the StereoTruth.net site.

When I first heard SCC’s new CD, I was captured by two songs. The first was obviously “Cinderella”. The second was the song “Yours”. There was something in the lyrics about claiming that everywhere and everything belongs to God that hit home with me. Which brings me to their post and the additional lyrics that Steven has added.

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
So deep and dark that I could barely breathe
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here
in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God we belong to you.

Knowing what we know, I am not sure how I can read that and not be moved. To say that “the streets of London” or “every child in Africa is yours” seems easy. But to face what Steven and his family have faced and say “it’s yours” is beyond a testimony. It’s beyond my understanding and leaves me evaluating each and everything I count as “mine”.

Lord grant me your grace. I ask your patience as I release anything and everything as yours.

[ht/stereotruth.net]

Your Moment

I like the commercials for ATT Small Business where the actors say “Welcome to my moment“. I couldn’t help but think of them today while I was cutting the grass. No, I didn’t have “my moment” cutting the grass. Actually, I was reflecting on Austin’s “moment” on Thursday night when they won the Hilliard Little League World Series. During the big rally inning (came back from down 12-4 to go ahead 15-12) Austin had a key double in the gap to clear the bases. When I looked in the stands his Mom and his Aunts were both crying with joy (you really had to be there). I was doing my best to hold it together and stay in the third base coaching box.

As I thought about that, I couldn’t help but think about how my “moments” are all but done. Thanks to a cranky back, my sports days are all but over. But living in that moment with Austin was better than any moment I ever had. Sharing the joy, and trying to somehow express how proud I was of him and how hard he worked were all part of that “moment”. It’s at the top of my list on my “moments”. Funny how those change for us isn’t it?

I thought of one other “moment” I had recently. We had the privilege of being a part of my sister-in-law’s wedding. During the reception, I had Brynn on my lap and Austin in the seat beside me. As the DJ played the song “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, I had a “moment” to speak the lyrics to two of my little one’s. Don’t tell anyone, but all three of us were crying. It was a moment to share and words I’m glad I was able to tell them.

I came in from cutting the grass and the picture above was in my inbox. One of the parents had caught our “moment” on film. I spent a few minutes just looking at this picture and thanking God for the “moments” in our lives. I pray that our children remember these moments for a long, long time. I know I will.

“My Wish” by Rascal Flatts

So how about you? What was “your moment”?

Hebrews 11:1

For well over a year and a half now, I have climbed aboard plane after plane. Week after week and month after month, I step onto an airplane and never once see the pilot. I’ve never spoken to one of them. I’ve not had the opportunity to ask them 100 questions before deciding if I trust them. I don’t know if they are tired, qualified, drunk, or even know where we are going. I just walk back to my seat, buckle up and keep my seat and tray table in the upright position.

So why won’t I do the same with my Creator and Heavenly Father?

That was the question that came to me almost audibly Friday. Weighing a big decision has opened some dialog and discerning with God lately. I find myself asking 100 questions (why, when and how). I am begging to know that everything will work out alright. I am even questioning His direction. In the meantime, I climb aboard another plane and give my faith to another pilot. I give a guy I’ve never seen my physical well being…literally. Yet I won’t trust God with a decision that He has made VERY clear?

When it comes to this decision, it’s time to find my seat. It’s time to place my “baggage” in the overhead compartment. We’re about to “push back from the gate” and I am going to trust my “pilot”. He has delivered me safely in the past and will do it again….

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” -Hebrews 11:1

Charlotte Reflections

We’re back. Just in time for me to jet to Miami in a few days. We had a great time in Charlotte. Below are some reflections from the 4 days that were Carolina…

1. How did we travel before portable DVD players, GPS, Cell Phones, Twitter, texting, mobile web and facebook updates via text?

2. I have officially tried REAL sweet tea, fried pickles, southern potato salad and Carolina Bar-b-que.

3. Downtown Charlotte may be the cleanest city I have ever seen in all of my travels.

4. Tar Heel and Panther gear is 100% more available and 50% cheaper in Charlotte than Ohio.

5. No matter how much I love my “Crocs” you won’t catch me in a pair of Tar Heel Blue ones (see picture). Even I will admit that some things don’t look good in Carolina Blue.

6. Greeting time at a Southern Baptist Church goes on forever. The Pastor encouraged those in the congregation to “hug on someones neck”. I am not sure what that looks like, but I loved the genuine greetings and community that was displayed.

7. Our date with a boat on Lake Norman didn’t happen due to a thunderstorm. Maybe next time.

8. There was a billboard that said “Got Spiders”? I have heard they have HUGE bugs there. My friend there also told a story of finding a 4 foot black snake in his backyard….

9. Celebrating the UNC baseball win on Saturday night was awesome. Mourning the UNC loss on Sunday night….not so much.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

What a weekend. The family and I left on Friday afternoon to head to our hometown of Bedford, Ohio for the wedding of Heather’s youngest sister. “My Girls”, “The Boy” and Heather were all in the wedding so it was an exciting time for everyone. There is always a part of me that still loves going “home” to where my roots are planted. While the condition of my old hometown is not what I remembered it to be, one thing is for sure…the people never change. You really can go home.

One take away from this weekend is that no matter how many miles, years or changes separate people, when there is a bond that is formed, nothing can ever break that. This weekend I was reminded of how strong and real friendships are as I spent some time with some old friends. I’m amazed how 10 years can seem like 10 minutes when you meet up with old friends. When I spent some time with guys like Gary and Ern, it was as if we were on the old softball fields again.

One other mark of friendships that last forever is that they still answer the bell when you are in a time of need. With Heather’s responsibilities in the wedding, I was flying solo trying to keep 2 little girls dresses clean neat and organized and one little boys tux from permanent damage. Just when I needed help most, there were old friends saying “You need a hand?” and “if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know”. That’s friendship. That’s community. That’s going home.

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

What a weekend. The family and I left on Friday afternoon to head to our hometown of Bedford, Ohio for the wedding of Heather’s youngest sister. “My Girls”, “The Boy” and Heather were all in the wedding so it was an exciting time for everyone. There is always a part of me that still loves going “home” to where my roots are planted. While the condition of my old hometown is not what I remembered it to be, one thing is for sure…the people never change. You really can go home.

One take away from this weekend is that no matter how many miles, years or changes separate people, when there is a bond that is formed, nothing can ever break that. This weekend I was reminded of how strong and real friendships are as I spent some time with some old friends. I’m amazed how 10 years can seem like 10 minutes when you meet up with old friends. When I spent some time with guys like Gary and Ern, it was as if we were on the old softball fields again.

One other mark of friendships that last forever is that they still answer the bell when you are in a time of need. With Heather’s responsibilities in the wedding, I was flying solo trying to keep 2 little girls dresses clean neat and organized and one little boys tux from permanent damage. Just when I needed help most, there were old friends saying “You need a hand?” and “if there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know”. That’s friendship. That’s community. That’s going home.

The Friend of a Wounded Heart

A few weeks ago this song by Wayne Watson came across iTunes and through my office speakers. I stopped what I was doing and listened to it several times to let it soak in. It has been resonating with me ever since. These are heavy days for so many that I know. We need Jesus to meet us where we are don’t we? So often I have heard that phrase and never really understood what it meant. This morning I witnessed first hand what it means.

This morning I was blessed and touched by a choir from a homeless shelter in Dayton, Ohio called “Target Dayton”. Friends I was moved to the point of tears by this choir. Make no mistake, this was not about music moving you to an emotional place. What I saw this morning were people that have nothing but the Joy of the Lord. They are walking, dancing, living and singing about a friend of their wounded hearts and someone who has literally met them where they are. In Gods economy, they were the richest in the room. They understand Matthew 5:3-10.

Heaven help us to reach out when we have a wounded heart. Lord grant us the wisdom to understand our dependancy no matter where we are in the worlds economy. Thank you for being the friend of a wounded heart to those in need at Target Dayton. May we all desire that friendship and allow you to meet with us….no matter where we are.

“The Friend of a Wounded Heart” by Wayne Watson

Sunday is Mother’s Day


I.O.U by Jimmy Dean

You know most people look through their wallets or their pocket books and, way down at the bottom, past the credit cards and baby pictures, green stamps, you usually find a little ‘ol dog-eared piece of poetry. I was cleaning out my wallet the other day and ran across a whole bunch of I.O.U’s, some of ‘em thirty years overdue. The funny thing is that all these I.O.U’s are owed to one person and I kinda feel like right now might be a pretty good time for an accountin’.

Mom, you listenin’?

Mom, I.O.U. for so many things a lot of services, like nightwatchman for instance.
For lyin’ awake nights, listenin’ for coughs and cries and creakin’ floorboards, and me comin’ in too late. You had the eye of an eagle and the roar of a lion, But you always had a heart as big as a house.

I.O.U. for services as uh, short order cook, chef, baker
For makin’ sirloin out o’ hamburger an’ turkey out o’ tuna fish,
And two big ol’ strappin’ boys out of leftovers.

I.O.U. for cleanin’ services,
The daily scrubbing of face and ears all work done by hand.
And for the frequent dustin’ of a small boy’s pants to try to make sure that you led a spotless life. And for washin’ and ironin’ that no laundry could ever do. For dryin’ the tears of childhood and for ironin’ out the problems of growin’ up.

I.O.U. for services as a bodyguard,
For protectin’ me from the terrors of thunderstorms and nightmares
Hah, And too many green apples.

And Lord knows, I.O.U. for medical attention,
For nursing me through measles, mumps, bruises, bumps, splinters and spring fever.
Let’s not forget medical advice either, oh no, important things like, ‘Don’t scratch it or it won’t get well’ or ‘If you cross your eyes, they’re gonna stick like that’. And probably the most important of all was:
’Be sure you got on clean underwear boy, in case you’re in an accident’.

And I.O.U. for veterinarian services,
For feeding every lost dog that I dragged home at the end of the rope,
And for healing the pains of puppy love.

And I.O.U. for entertainment
Entertainment that kept the household goin’ during some pretty tough times
And for wonderful productions at Christmas, the Fourth of July and Birthdays
And for making make-believe come true on a very limited budget.

I.O.U. for construction work
for building kites and confidence, hopes and dreams an’ somehow you made them all touch the sky.
And for cementin’ a family together so it would stand the worst kind of shocks and blows
And for layin’ down a good strong foundation to build a life on.

I.O.U. for carrier charges
For carryin’ me on your books for the necessities of life that a growin’ boys just gotta have. Things like, a pair of high top boots, With a little pocket on the side for a jack-knife.

And one thing, Mom, I’ll will never ever forget
When there were two pieces of apple pie left and three hungry people, I noticed that you were the one who suddenly decided, you really didn’t like apple pie in the first place.

These are just a few of the things for which payment is long overdue..
The person that I owe ‘em to worked very cheap
She managed by simply doin’ without a whole lot o’ things that she needed herself

My I.O.U’s add up to much more than I could ever hope to repay,
But you know the nicest thing about it all is that I know, that she’ll mark the entire bill ‘Paid In Full’
For just one kiss and four little words….

Mom, I Love You!

Sunday is Mother's Day


I.O.U by Jimmy Dean

You know most people look through their wallets or their pocket books and, way down at the bottom, past the credit cards and baby pictures, green stamps, you usually find a little ‘ol dog-eared piece of poetry. I was cleaning out my wallet the other day and ran across a whole bunch of I.O.U’s, some of ‘em thirty years overdue. The funny thing is that all these I.O.U’s are owed to one person and I kinda feel like right now might be a pretty good time for an accountin’.

Mom, you listenin’?

Mom, I.O.U. for so many things a lot of services, like nightwatchman for instance.
For lyin’ awake nights, listenin’ for coughs and cries and creakin’ floorboards, and me comin’ in too late. You had the eye of an eagle and the roar of a lion, But you always had a heart as big as a house.

I.O.U. for services as uh, short order cook, chef, baker
For makin’ sirloin out o’ hamburger an’ turkey out o’ tuna fish,
And two big ol’ strappin’ boys out of leftovers.

I.O.U. for cleanin’ services,
The daily scrubbing of face and ears all work done by hand.
And for the frequent dustin’ of a small boy’s pants to try to make sure that you led a spotless life. And for washin’ and ironin’ that no laundry could ever do. For dryin’ the tears of childhood and for ironin’ out the problems of growin’ up.

I.O.U. for services as a bodyguard,
For protectin’ me from the terrors of thunderstorms and nightmares
Hah, And too many green apples.

And Lord knows, I.O.U. for medical attention,
For nursing me through measles, mumps, bruises, bumps, splinters and spring fever.
Let’s not forget medical advice either, oh no, important things like, ‘Don’t scratch it or it won’t get well’ or ‘If you cross your eyes, they’re gonna stick like that’. And probably the most important of all was:
’Be sure you got on clean underwear boy, in case you’re in an accident’.

And I.O.U. for veterinarian services,
For feeding every lost dog that I dragged home at the end of the rope,
And for healing the pains of puppy love.

And I.O.U. for entertainment
Entertainment that kept the household goin’ during some pretty tough times
And for wonderful productions at Christmas, the Fourth of July and Birthdays
And for making make-believe come true on a very limited budget.

I.O.U. for construction work
for building kites and confidence, hopes and dreams an’ somehow you made them all touch the sky.
And for cementin’ a family together so it would stand the worst kind of shocks and blows
And for layin’ down a good strong foundation to build a life on.

I.O.U. for carrier charges
For carryin’ me on your books for the necessities of life that a growin’ boys just gotta have. Things like, a pair of high top boots, With a little pocket on the side for a jack-knife.

And one thing, Mom, I’ll will never ever forget
When there were two pieces of apple pie left and three hungry people, I noticed that you were the one who suddenly decided, you really didn’t like apple pie in the first place.

These are just a few of the things for which payment is long overdue..
The person that I owe ‘em to worked very cheap
She managed by simply doin’ without a whole lot o’ things that she needed herself

My I.O.U’s add up to much more than I could ever hope to repay,
But you know the nicest thing about it all is that I know, that she’ll mark the entire bill ‘Paid In Full’
For just one kiss and four little words….

Mom, I Love You!

Folded Corners

My good friend Denny taught me a trick a few years ago of folding the corner on the pages I wanted to remember. I let my fingers do the walking through those page folds tonight and below are the quotes that I found. Interesting that they mean as much to me now (maybe more) as they did when I read Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus a year ago.

“We all want miracles and then spend our lives avoiding the context in which miracles happen” (pg 71)

“Most of life’s challenges are a test of first-dimension faith – trusting God with your relationships; trusting God with your finances; trusting God with your career; and making decisions based on His character in the midst of those arenas.” (pg 73)

“If a prayer’s ultimate intent is to fulfill God’s will, we can move with confidence, even if God doesn’t answer that prayer the way we expect. The more closely we reflect God’s heart in our prayers, the more often our request will match His response.” (pg 74)

“Faith is all about character, trusting in the character of God, being certain in who God is and following Him into the unknown”. (pg 75)

“But don’t look for God to fill in all the blanks. Don’t wait for Him to remove all the uncertainty. Realize He may actually increase the uncertainty and leverage all the odds against you, just so that you will know in the end that it wasn’t your gifts but His power through your gifts that fulfilled His purpose in your life.” (pg 78 )

“Are you willing to live a life that honors God and reflects His character and leaves the outcome to Him? Are you willing to live by faith and trust Him to be faithful? There will be days on this journey of faith when the outcome will be clear, and you will not like the implications. On those days you must, like Jesus, declare ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42)” (pg 81)

I said…You heard…

img_3956.jpgKids and lessons from our Heavenly Father go hand in hand don’t they? The timing is sometimes scary. This morning was one of those moments. Let me explain.

Last night as I tucked my daughter into bed, we were discussing “All Pro Dad” (APD) on Saturday. She gets very excited every month to attend APD. So when she awoke this morning, she was all excited to go. One problem, APD is on Saturday and today is Wednesday. I tried to explain that to her but it didn’t seem to help her disappointment. I explained that “I said it was on Saturday. You heard it was tomorrow”. Her excitement led her to believe the thing she wanted to do would be here right away.

Hmmm ever been there? Almost audibly, I sensed God saying “sound familiar?”. Lesson learned. It was almost as if our Heavenly Father said “I said wait, you heard now”. I believe that God speaks to us in many ways. I also believe that my time table hears and sees those answers coming faster, easier and when I want them. “I said…you heard”.

Lord give me patience in my excitement in what I know you have in store for me. While I rush to have it happen in my time frame, may you grant me the patience and understanding in yours.

You Said” by Hillsong