“Don’t quit. Keep going.” & some thoughts on encouraging others…

In the quiet of the morning today, I was thinking back on the many times someone gave me words of encouragement. Those memories still bring a smile to my lips.

Like when I was 25 & trying to teach myself to play guitar so that I could play for worship. I was in the early stages of thrashing about with my strumming & painstakingly forcing my fingers into some semblance of a correct position for chords, & even to my untrained ear, I could tell it was NOT going well. I was down in a hole. Frustrated. Defeated. Discouraged. That day had been particularly bad because I had risked… by dragging out my beater, an acoustic Aspen guitar (which I’d purchased for the sum of $100) & attempting to play along with a couple of much further along in the guitar-playing process friends, only to find that not only was I at least as bad as I’d thought, I melted under the pressure & forgot how to form the chords I DID know. I took my guitar & put in away in its beaten-up, chip-board case, thinking, “I won’t do THAT again.” 

And then one of the guys pulled me aside later & said, “You’re doing really well. Don’t quit. You are on the verge of getting it, when the strum & the chords & the timing & everything all comes together. I remember when I was learning, & the spot you’re in right now in the learning process is a HARD one… but it is SO CLOSE to coming together for you. Keep going.”

His words were sincere… acknowledging the reality of my “playing” but also offering the perspective of someone who had been down the road before & survived. And he shared what HE saw from his spot something in me that I was about to give up on, & because he did, I stuck with guitar. I kept playing. And sure enough, it wasn’t more than a month or so later that I had turned a “learning corner” to the point where I could play a (simple) worship song without being too distracting with my mistakes, mis-strums, & mis-chords. I had been DIS-couraged. He spoke words of life to me & I was EN-couraged.

I could relay 10 stories about different people who gave me words of encouragement related to playing the guitar… Kelly the small group leader; Rocker dude in Winters who showed me ‘cheater-power chords;” Ron the boss; Chum who kept sending me chord sheets; the list goes on. 

And that’s just one area of my life.

So it’s because of that story (& 100’s of others like it) that I purpose to be diligently looking speak life, hope, & encouragement to others when I see them making an effort, no matter how “on-point” or excellent their efforts appears to be. Because I know what it did to me when those people shared with me their perspective, from their own experiences, & looked for (& somehow found) in me a sign of hope. Progress. Life. Change. 

I think my favorite area to encourage people is in their steps of faith in Christ… esp. because I know the internal battle each person faces as they attempt to live life differently, no longer according to the pattern of this world, but according to the pattern of Christ. And I know intimately the belittling words of criticism our enemy the devil throws at us, mocking our every effort as insincere, inadequate, inauthentic. Where he reminds us of all our past (failed) efforts, & attempts to bully & intimidate us into putting the guitar back into its case, never to take it out again. 

And its the exact opposite of how Christ Jesus looks at us & our (feeble, struggling, inadequate) efforts. He looks at the steps we’re taking, at the simple, crayon-scribbled, monochromatic picture we’re creating with with our life & pursuit of Him, & He calls it beautiful. And He puts it on His proverbial fridge, like He’s actually proud of us. 

Because He is. And He speaks to us about things in & around us that ARE NOT YET, as though they ARE. And because He believes in us, we can start believing in us as well as we continue in Him.

So I will speak truth, life, & encouragement with everything I’ve got. Knowing that when I do, my perspective & my words are reflecting those of Christ. 

And that’s the goal… to be a little piece of Jesus, every day. 

Somebody to lean on…

In late 2015, I was in a dark place. A hole, really. Not a literal one… but one of depression, frustration, & hopelessness. There were myriad reasons for this, & I KNEW all of them, at least in my head, though I didn’t know how to navigate out of the pit of freakish misery I felt. I knew I had friends, but I had isolated myself out of shame, fear, & feelings of ‘stuckness’… I was there mostly from my own choices & I made it more complicated by getting stuck in my own head on the hyper-critical, hyper-self-analytical way-overthought “hamster wheel of death.”

At one point, a well-meaning soul recommended that I read the Bible MORE. Pray MORE. Seek God until I found Him, MORE. 

I wanted to scream. And to vigorously shake the person who’d made the suggestions, to ask them, “Don’t you think I’ve TRIED doing MORE? I’ve done MORE.”

And I was still in the darkness.

At the worst of it, I didn’t have to wonder where God was, or why He was ‘letting’ me go through what I was going through. I KNEW exactly where He was. Where He always is. Right there. With me. Even in the darkness, He was WITH me. He was quiet. But He was THERE. And He gave me what I needed every day (hour? minute? second?) to make it through that day (hour? minute? second?) 

And as I came to the end of myself, multiple times, I sensed God’s gentle reminder to me, over & over, that He would never leave me or forsake me. That He gave His Spirit to live WITHIN me as a reminder of His constant attention & presence, no matter what I FELT like. It was like He was sitting WITH me in all my anguish, in all the pain… not trying to fix me, not correcting me, not doing anything but being WITH me. 

When I did read the Bible, it was Psalms. I’d read the whole Book of Psalms my whole life 1x/month (5 Psalms/day, like THIS.) But it was in these times I discovered that Psalms spoke the language of my soul. In Psalms I discovered words that painted the picture of what I felt, & questions that I’d not yet asked myself, but that I resonated with. The words of desperation, full of dark emotion & agony, capable of scratching the ’emotional itch’ that I’d been reaching for for months. The questions. The worries. The soul-crushed declarations. All of it.

And I was reminded of a few things.

Our faith is made for dark times & difficulties. Sure, it is good for the good times too, when everything is “alls as it should be” (to quote Matt Redman) but it is even more tangibly appropriate when I’m seemingly lost & suffering in the dark, literally & figuratively. 

It’s in those times that I (re)discovered a faith that cannot be shaken, rooted in the Person of Jesus Christ. And things got better, but not because my circumstances changed. They didn’t. Rather, they got better because I discovered what it meant to have “Someone to lean on.” To not try to live & function in my own strength.

To be fair, I wasn’t even aware that I had often been functioning with an attitude of “I’ve got this,” in relationship to my family, my friends, & also my God. And the months of darkness, where I got to see the beginning of my end, my own inadequacies, & my own inability to rescue myself. After all, I was there to HELP others, wasn’t I? Not to need others.

In all the dark, I was reminded of my own humanity & my desperate need for God & for others. Of how God often would answer my prayers by sending a person… a person to listen to me. To sit with me. To offer a shoulder to me. 

I’m reminded of this all because I’m approaching my 8 year anniversary of that time. It was back on the 21st of September, 2015 (yes, the 21st of September), when I began to see a light emerge in the darkness. God brought a specific connection, someone for me to lean on, who stood with me while I navigated in, through, & around the dark, ever being lead by the Holy Spirt towards the light of Christ. It lead to changes in perspective, transformations in how I saw myself & others, & the ability to embrace grace again, God’s grace for ME.

And I am eternally thankful.

Giving honor: Thoughts on a morning Bible reading

I read in 1Timothy 6 this morning (6:1,2 to be precise) the instructions given by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, who was to then share the information with those in the church he pastored/led at Ephesus. The passage relates to the behaviors, attitudes, & life outlook of “bondservants” (aka ‘slaves, servants, bond-servants, ones given over to the committed service of another,) toward their masters.

NOTE: Paul doesn’t address here the legality or propriety of slavery; it was merely a reality in the 1st century Roman Empire for approximately 20% of people living within the boundaries of the known Roman world. Therefore, in addition to all the other people groups Paul addresses, he also speaks to those Christians who happen to be serving (living their lives) as bondservants.

To them he says something to the effect: “Make sure to regard your masters as worthy of all honor, so that the Name of God & ‘the teaching’ won’t be hated.” (The teaching he references are the teachings related to living as a Christian, following Jesus Christ as Master, & other such things related to Christian worship.)

This passage got me into a ‘thinking loop.’ Here’s what jumped out:

  • Though he was free & was born a citizen of Rome, Paul regularly identified himself in his writings as “Paul, a bondservant of Christ.” He definitely is speaking here as one bondservant to another.
  • Paul doesn’t address any qualifiers for that honoring of their masters… there’s nothing about “if they’re honorable people, show them all honor.” They are simply to give their masters honor.
  • Since there are no ‘qualifiers,’ there’s also no loopholes. No options. This is it. This is what we do toward our masters.
  • The REASON we do this is for the Name (reputation) of Christ & all the teachings surrounding Christian worship. Our behaviors directly reflect on the REAL Master we serve, Jesus Christ, & as such, those behaviors, attitudes, practices are not subject to our feelings emotions, rights, privileges, etc. We’re living for Him, & showing that by how we relate to our earthly masters.
  • 1Peter 2:12 is of a similar vein to this Scripture – “live such good lives among the non-believers that even if they malign/speak poorly of you, your life & your good deeds will point directly to the reality of WHO God is & WHAT He’s like.” 

Not every passage in Scripture has a direct, one-to-one parallel to my daily life. But there are ALWAYS principles that show up that, if I’m paying attention, I can receive instruction from & gain insight that INFORMS that daily life. Like Paul, I can relate to being a bondservant of Christ. As such, I recognize the implications of that play out every day, in every area, in all I do. And when I’m tempted to respond to a situation (a person or people) in a less than honorable manner, I want to remember that my code of ethics, my behavior, my way of living is not dependent upon circumstances, upon my being treated justly/rightly, or anything else. It hinges upon & is informed by the prime directive: do everything I do in Name of Jesus, for the glory of God.

And then its time to live the life.

On the way…

A big chunk of life happens “on the way.” Our on the way time could be when we’re driving to/from work. Walking our neighborhood or heading to our next appointment. Waiting in line while getting a coffee.  I believe much of our on the way time flies under our radar because our focus/our thoughts are on something else. Stuff like: 

What’s next. Where we’re headed. What we’ll do when we’re done with work. Our destination. What has to be done at the destination. Our ‘to-do’ lists. Afternoon snacks. 

I find that my on the way time is often “multi-tasking” time where I pop in my earbuds to listen to the audio book I want to read, or the podcast I’ve been meaning to catch up on, or zoning out to a favorite playlist. It can be a great way to get stuff done, but with these on the way time fillers, I don’t often take time to sit in silence & think or observe closely what’s going on around me.

You get it.

I was thinking on that this afternoon while I was sitting in the sauna… not much to do in the sauna except for sweat & drink my LMNT-filled Nalgene bottle while waiting for the timer to wind down to zero. One of the things that came up for me was something I read in Acts 3 .

Peter & John were on the way to their church for the 3 p.m. prayers & ended up having a conversation  with a guy who had been lame from birth, that turned into a Holy Spirit inspired healing & life transformation, that turned into a “What’s going on here?” moment that caused a couple of thousand people to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.  

Really cool stuff. And it made me think, & it made me wonder about my own usage of my on the way time.

Ultimately, the nudge I’m following here is to write out my desire to be more alert, aware, intentional, & present while I’m on the way. To take stock of where I am; to purposely build a little time into my schedule for on-purpose Holy Spirit interruptions to my day; to not immediately pop the ear buds in as soon as I sit in the drivers seat… or head into some other version of being on the way.

We’ll see what happens…





Thoughts on “STANDING FIRM” without regard for the outcome…

In 1992, theBean & I were visiting friends & ended up tagging along to an event at their church where Dick Mills was speaking to the church leadership. If you aren’t familiar with what that would entail, Dick would usually do some sort of Bible-rooted message & then have people in the gathering stand up if he had a specific word of encouragement for them… & those encouragements ALWAYS came in the form of Bible verses (which he would quote from memory,) & then he’d apply it to his targeted person(s.) TheBean & I were there just as observers, but Dick didn’t know that, & sure enough, he stopped his message & had us stand up together. He quoted 2Samuel 23:11,12:

When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it & struck the Philistines down, & the Lord brought about a great victory.

He then said something to us about being made/created to people who “stand firm,” & that we’d come out of all sorts of situations “smelling like a rose.”

Both of us really didn’t know what to do with all that… but we’ve also found what he said to be a hallmark of our lives, both personally & in the context of our ministry service/church lives. I read everything I could on “STANDING FIRM” in the Bible, & spent a lot of time trying to work out what it might mean & how it might look for us to STAND FIRM. I came to understand that part of the standing firm was worked out in our lives when we’d be in a hard spot, seemingly alone, with not much hope or encouragement, other than the promise of God being WITH us as we’d stand with/for/in Him. We both got the sense that our STANDING FIRM was about contending for a coming inheritance/the promises of God, & that part of the STANDING FIRM was for a people who weren’t there yet… people who would come later.

And for us, it made sense. So when we’d find ourselves in situations where STANDING FIRM through hard spots, that encouragement from Dick Mills served as a little bit of extra push of purpose, like we were doing not only what we were SUPPOSED to be doing, but what we were MADE to do. And that was enough.

We stand firm.

Over the last several months, I’ve been sensing something more for our call to be STANDING FIRM… & that is a call to STAND FIRM, but without holding on to an expectation that somehow, as a result of our obedience, there would be a specific, desired, EXPECTED outcome. Like, “we stand, God brings victory.”

But what if STANDING FIRM is the point & there’s no promise or expectation of a desired result? Check out the full text of Ephesians 6:10-20: 

Now, what stands out (no pun intended) to me are these verses especially:

Finally, be strong in the Lord & in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your STAND against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh & blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world & against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND YOUR GROUND, & after you have done everything, TO STAND. Ephesians 6:10-13

Notice anything about that passage (the whole thing, in context)? I did… I’d been reading something into it, an outcome, an expectation, a desired result of the STANDING FIRM. Victory. Awesomeness. Good stuff. Cause & effect(?).

But there isn’t one.

All that is promised is that as we are strong in the Lord (His version of strength & power) & as we put on the full armor of God, we will be able to STAND against our enemy, the devil, & his schemes. And that WITH this full armor of God, even through the coming of the day of evil, we’ll be able to STAND OUR GROUND, & after doing everything we can, to STAND.

That’s not bad news. It’s good news.

It makes me reconsider & rethink that my (our) call from God to STAND FIRM doesn’t hinge on me/us seeing a specific outcome; it hinges on my/our obedience. It doesn’t stop the day of evil or keep the attacks of the enemy from coming, but obedience to God’s call allows me/us to remain STANDING THROUGH it all & AFTER it all.

In His strength. In His mighty power. For His glory. For His purposes. And that is enough.

Some thoughts on “connection” & other musings on a Monday…

Was browsing my morning roundup of “all things interesting in the world of Sport” while waiting for the Monday meetings to start & something caught my eye. First, a little background:

Yesterday at church, both in the announcements & in the speech, theBean & I referenced a few of the goals that we have for people who call Hillside their home. One of those goals is simply stated as a desire for Hillsiders to know, experience, & nurture deep, meaningful, life-to-life connections (real relationships where you’re known & where you know others in return,) with other people.

This morning I came across this ARTICLE in ESPN. In it, the wife of Rams QB Matthew Stafford shared some significant insights about her husband’s experiences with attempted connection with his young teammates. Stafford described how difficult he was finding it with his current team, compared to previous experiences. He’s quoted as saying:

“In the old days you’d come out of practice, you’d shower, & people would be playing cards, interacting. Who knows what they’re doing, but they’re doing something together. Playing pingpong, they have a tournament going on. They’d at least be talking. But now they get out of practice, & meetings during training camp, & they go straight to their phones. No one looks up from their phones…What do I DO here?'”


To me, this is an incredible testimony about a common, everyday practice/behavior pattern that not only doesn’t HELP with meaningful connection with others, it actually HURTS & INHIBITS it.

I shared the info with theBean & she commented, “Think about being in the airport yesterday. Even the couples that were sitting together were lost in their phones.” As I reminisced about the day, I thought about every place we’d gone: multiple airports; a hotel lobby; a restaurant. All with people glued to their phones. 

Not throwing rocks here. I’ve BEEN that guy. WE’VE ALL been that guy/girl. 

But it seems that when its the RULE of our life, our meaningful connections may suffer as a result. Makes me want to be even more mindful of this little device (& what it represents – distraction, diversion, disconnection, escape, etc.) & to be the boss of IT & not have IT be the boss of me.

Praying for meaningful connections that lead to life-giving relationships & real community for theBean & I; for my kids; for my grandkids (for whom this world of me-focused entertainment & diversion will be their generations native environment.) & for you.

Blessings to you today.

A routine disrupted… Or embracing (the idea of) being flexible.

I’ve got an  ‘inside morning spot’ where I sit (most) days to drink my coffee, read, & generally slowly ramp up for the day. I’ve also got an ‘outside morning spot’ which I love to use when the weather permits &/or when it’s not SOAKED like it was today. But I digress…

After settling in to my spot on the couch, I had a thought. “My left hip & leg really flex into this spot pretty easily, with little to no effort on my part”. My mind wandered a bit to my other side, my right hip & leg, which aren’t quite as flexible, something I’ve known for a long time, but also had recently confirmed by the testimony of two witnesses. Those being the great physical therapy staff at the midtown office of Nevada Physical Therapy.  They gave me some exercises that I do (just about) every day to improve my right hip mobility, but it is a slooooow process. Which leads me to this morning.

More thoughts: “What if my left leg & hip are more flexible because of my morning routine & because of how I tuck my leg into the couch under me every day? And if that has helped me (& I hadn’t given a thought to sitting a certain way to improve mobility) MAYBE I could sit on the opposite side of the couch & do the same with my RIGHT leg & see what happens.”

And so I did.

And I felt it in the hip joint immediately. Yes. That is going to be very helpful. Just had to switch ends of the couch.

I haven’t told theBean yet that I’ll be in HER morning spot, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be just fine with it.

Sitting in the new morning spot, feeling my hip get stretchy, musing about the lessons & insights that just ‘appear’ in our days when we’re listening to the nudges of the Holy Spirit… made me think how sometimes our ‘stuck’ or ‘sticky’ areas of life just require a change in perspective or a shift in routine. A subtle stretching of the auto-pilot lives we can be prone to living. I finished my morning reading with a prayer, asking God to give me His point of view on ME, on my life, & on the areas in my life that are stuck, in a rut, &/or are in a ‘maybe this is just the way it is,” or ‘maybe this is as good as it gets,’ kind of mode. He’s got a different way of looking at me that I can sometimes sense He’s inviting me to consider.

My prayer for me (& for you) today is that the Holy Spirit would bring to your mind your everyday behaviors, routines, & patterns that He would like to interrupt. Not just for the sake of interruption or to introduce chaos, but rather to help us combat practices that may foster inflexibility, stuck-ness, &/or an unexamined life.

Think about taking a new route to work. Sitting in a new spot for your morning/evening times. Add a new exercise, or even better, add some focused stretching to your life (YouTube has some great ideas on this.) And as you do, look for the areas God is doing something in/through/around you. Even if/when it stretches you.

Acts 3 & 4, with some musings on what it is to be ‘ordinary…’

In the aftermath of the healing of the the unnamed lame beggar in  Acts 3Peter & John were arrested & jailed for a day – here’s a partial account of what they’d done, from Acts 3:11-26

  • in the Name of Jesus, they healed a man who had been lame from birth, which created quite a stir; 
  • they attributed the lame beggar’s healing to the power & authority of Jesus Christ;
  • they declared the error & injustice of the conviction & crucifixion of Jesus;
  • they declared that Jesus is the Christ & that God raised Him from the dead;
  • they challenged all who heard them to repent of their own sins & to put their faith in Jesus; 
  • finally, as a result of the healing (& of Peter’s message to the crowd) several more thousand men put their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:4)

The next day, they were called to give testimony in regard to the charges against them by the Jewish High Council, the Sanhedrin The High Priest demanded to know, “By what power or by what name did you do this (heal the lame beggar)?”  Acts 4:8-12 states: 

Then Peter, FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (all emphasis mine) said to them, “Rulers of the people & elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to ALL of you & to ALL the people of Israel that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God RAISED from the dead – by HIM this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders which has become the cornerstone. And there is SALVATION found in NO ONE ELSE for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among en by which we must be saved.”

Pretty incredible stuff… all who heard him speak were stunned: the High Council, all of those hearing it in the courtroom, & ME reading it thousands of years later.

Consider that this is the same Peter who denied even KNOWING Christ three times a few short weeks before, & now he is declaring, with boldness, conviction, & prophetic insight that Jesus is the Christ, that believing into His Name is the only means to receive salvation, & he is quoting Old/First Testament passages & attributing their fulfillment to the bad judgment & actions of the High Council. These powerful men were used to having ordinary people cower in front of them because they held the power of being able to revoke participation in Temple worship (or worse.) But in this situation, they were stunned. Acts 4:13 continues:

Now when they saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, & perceived that they were UNEDUCATED, COMMON men, they were astonished. And they recognized that THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS.

As I read over this passage I am struck by the contrast between the 2 groups of people in this religious courtroom: the High Council, men who were educated to the highest levels possible, experts in the Torah/Biblical law, steeped in Jewish traditions from their earliest days. Wearers of fine, expensive clothes, highly respected in society, even among the Romans. 

Peter & John, common fishermen from Galilee; uncultured, uneducated & unrefined, who had long since been passed over as not good enough-smart enough-enough enough candidates to be a talmidim (or disciple). They had little to no social standing, & up until about 3 years prior, had been living largely anonymous lives, scraping out a living day-by-day. Until Jesus called them. And then they spent (just about) every day with Him for more than 3 years. And by being WITH Him, they were changed. And it was evident to all.

I love this. I can’t necessarily be remarkable according the standards of the world we live in – educationally, economically, culturally, etc. But I CAN be WITH Jesus. 

One of the other things that this story brings up for me is the idea of being “ordinary.” When I think about being “ordinary” I wonder if somehow I’ve failed. If I’ve not given enough or tried hard enough, or I settled for less than what I could have if I’d only… And yet I wonder if those thoughts come from an idea/set of values & worth rooted in what I DO more than what I am? 

If I think I’m exceptional, that I’m above the crowd in ability, intelligence, & any/all other ways to measure myself against others, I run the risk of valuing my self much higher than I possibly should… while at the same time devaluing people who I am… well, better than. I can start to get proud of me & all I can do. And pride is a killer.

2000 years ago Jesus chose these ordinary, uneducated, common men & women to be His disciples, the ones He would serve as His ambassadors to the world… & He did it to show that when we are WITH HIM, all we are (or all we are not) in our natural selves doesn’t really matter. That WITH HIM, we’re just fine.

Even if we’re ordinary. Some food for thought. 

Have a great week.

Some musings about trust… & other stuff from a Friday.

I was sitting in a training today for one of the side gigs I pursue (more on that later,)  & one of the facilitators made a comment about trust & communication. She said, “In a group where there is a ‘culture of mistrust,’ EVERYTHING can be weaponized. It can be a church, it can be an office, it can be a manufacturing plant, it can be a professional sports team… if people don’t trust each other, comments, suggestions, & other types of input made with the best of intentions can be refashioned into weapons of war to be turned back on the persons who offered them up.”

At that point I kind of drifted into contemplation mode; it got me thinking about how many different scenarios I’ve seen that very principle played out. I started wondering about what it takes to BUILD trust… both among individuals & within organizations. It can be difficult, because usually it takes someone (or a couple someones) going first, going on on the proverbial limb to risk, to try, to reach out with (appropriate) vulnerability over an extended period of time – risking rejection, misunderstanding, & conflict, among other things.

Its definitely oversimplifying an answer to the “what’s it take to build trust?” question – but I think its worth mentioning that if I want people to trust me, I need to be trustWORTHY. To be able to have a resume (track record, life pattern, etc) that shows trustability, faithfulness, commitment to a common good, humility, teachability, & a willingness to go first in asking for forgiveness & in extending grace to others.

It’s especially true when someone (let’s pretend its you or me) is not known well by others… it requires a lot of patience to begin to move forward in a manner that will plant seeds of trust, couple with congruent behaviors that reinforce it. To me, there’s a lot of wisdom found in the Psalms & Proverbs that helps to govern & guide our lives, that helps us to be becoming trustworthy people, regardless of what is going on in the lives/workplaces/teams/groups around us. And the vast majority of the wisdom that’s found there centers on looking to God as the example of what trust looks like, lived out.

Its much easier to focus on the untrustworthiness of others, to revisit their (real/perceived) shortcomings, & to blame them for any/all problems with trust that arise. But its not helpful. I can’t control or direct others; I CAN make good choices. I CAN respond with kindness & patience with others. I CAN live a life that is faithful & dependable & trustWORTHY, regardless of the messed up situations we will encounter in our lives.

The side gig info: I’m a “Certified Assessor” for the Working Genius productivity assessment, created by Patrick Lencioni & the At The Table. It’s a great tool that helps people identify their “Geniuses” (areas they thrive/gravitate towards in a project) & their “Frustrations” (areas that suck the life out of them when they’re doing them working on a project.) Check out the Working Genius podcast HERE to get a better idea of what I’m talking about. Over the last year that I’ve been using the assessment, I’ve found it to be an incredible tool not only for being more intentional & aware of how you tackle work, but also how you navigate your significant relationships (friendships, teams, marriage, people you volunteer with, etc.)

Ultimately – its 80% about productivity & 20% personality… It doesn’t tell you WHAT job you should or shouldn’t be doing, but it can give you an EXCELLENT idea on HOW you will attack that job to get stuff done.

Take a look & see for yourself… For what its worth. Any questions about it? Hit me up :)

Happy Friday friends.

Starting Over…

I’m starting over. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to ‘the beginning,‘ returning to school, or that I’m going someplace else. It means I’m choosing today to start (begin again) doing the things that I want to do; one of those “starting over” activities is writing. And I’m starting with blogging here.

Over the last few years, I haven’t done much writing. It’s been something that’s been on a back burner in my priorities of things to do… & somewhere along the line that burner got turned off. In retrospect, I think most of my ‘writing’ energy has been used for doing what started out as “stay in touch with our church community during the pandemic videos,” (HERE) & has morphed into doing a couple of short (usually > 3 minutes) weekly teaching-type videos for our church’s FB & IG, & also an occasional reel on my own IG.

And then at our denomination’s annual pastor’s conventions, one of the speakers (Joe Wittwer) spoke from John 3  (Jesus & Nicodemus) on the topic of repentance/beginning again/starting over. Immediately, WRITING came to mind as something I’d love to ‘start over’ with… its been something I love to do & at the same time, the longer I’ve not written or blogged, the harder its gotten to resume. As though to do so would require a complete life re-orientation where I’d be moving forward carrying the weight of so many days/weeks/months/years of NOT writing that somehow it seemed (almost) insurmountable. 

But what Joe talked about DIDN’T have that baggage. I could just start over. Tomorrow. Or today. And begin (re-begin) writing, because I WANT to write. And therefore, I can. Will. Am. Writing. My past writing-less-ness (made that one up) doesn’t dictate my future of writing. 

And this ‘start over’ thing doesn’t just apply to writing or to me… you can do it too. Take a look at your life: WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE? START OVER DOING/NOT DOING? Take a look at you, holistically: what would you change…

  • PHYSICALLY – how are you stewarding your physical body & caring for yourself?
  • EMOTIONALLY – what are you doing to replenish your soul? to have fun? to live congruently & in touch with your emotions?
  • SOCIALLY – who are your friends? the real ones, not just the ones on the social media platforms… who do you call/connect with to celebrate something great or to mourn something terrible?
  • MENTAL – when was the last time you invested in your brain? intentionally tried to learn something new? Youtube can be a GREAT resource for discovery (not just a bottomless hole of wasted time,) & there are a ton of podcasts out there to pique your interests & stretch your brain… it doesn’t even have to be USEFUL or gainful information. Keep learning. 
  • PERSONAL – how are you growing your character? Are you known as a person of integrity? What can you do to invest in being the kind of person you (& others) can rely on?
  • SPIRITUAL – how/in what ways are you intentionally growing in your love for Jesus? I’m not trying to weigh you down with a list of ‘to-dos’ to somehow mark off a spiritual accomplishments list; I’m talking about taking time to connect with the One who not only created the universe, but put you together – body, soul, mind, spirit – on purpose. How will you feed your spiritual person & grow with Jesus?
  • SEXUAL – where do your sexual energy/thoughts/etc. go? If you’re single – how are you processing & acknowledging this vital (but not the most significant/powerful/important) part of who you are? If you’re married – how are you investing yourself & this area of your life in pursuing your spouse, body/soul/mind/spirit

I’m hoping there’s something in this that encourages you to start over. To start new. To pick something back up. To put something down. To not be stuck in inactivity or paralyzed with the weight of years of pressure/unfulfilled hopes & dreams.

My plan to write here a couple times a week. Maybe it’ll be current events. Commentary/thoughts from my Bible reading. Silly stories. Deep thoughts. Not sure yet. But I WILL be writing. 

Start over. Start today. 

Thanks to Pastor Joe Wittwer for the message from the Foursquare Connection in Anaheim on 5/30/2023. Greatly appreciate the nudge, Sir.