The Golden Seams

I was talking with my sister on the phone last night, and she reminded me of the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi. It is the technique of repairing broken pottery with gold or other precious metals. The result is an artistically beautiful piece which looks as if it were designed that way on purpose. The concept is that those things which damage us in life are not to be hidden, nor are we to be discarded when we can be repaired. And so the artist uses something of great value to accent the brokenness to make it beautiful.

That’s exactly what God will do with our broken lives when we give that brokenness to Him. God can make the most out of our mess… if we will let Him. Jesus said that one of the major components of His mission on earth was to “bind up the broken-hearted.” That is, He came to put back together that which had been broken. And when He puts it back together, He makes it beautiful.

I think Bill and Gloria Gaithersburg had it right with these lyrics…

Something beautiful

Something good

All my confusion

He understood

All I had to offer Him

Was brokenness and strife

But He made something beautiful

Out of my life

If you’re life seems broken into pieces today, give it to the one Artist who can add value to it as He puts all the pieces back together, and Who can turn that life into art which will amaze the world with the golden seams!

Alive!

Have you ever felt so alive that you wonder how you could call what you thought was living before actually alive? Lately, I feel like I have come into an epiphany as it relates to my faith. It’s as if I’m reading and hearing Scriptures for the first time which I’ve read and heard my entire life. When I talk with the Lord, it is with more confidence in Him… in His love… in who He has created me to be and in who He has made me into by adopting me as His son.

But to feel this alive comes at a price. It means facing challenges you never foresaw. It means being willing to look at life through a new set of lenses. It means having to… painfully… admit that I had not achieved the fullness God has for me.

This kind of newness of life comes from the passionate, and maybe sometimes even desperate, pursuit of knowing God even more closely, loving Him even more deeply, and serving Him even more sincerely. I may have more answers than I did before, but those answers have opened up a whole new world of questions. And with those questions, I find myself digging deeper into Scripture… making sure I find quality and quantity time to talk with the Lord so I can ask Him about the answers to these new questions… and more quickly moved to shower Him with thanks, gratitude, acknowledgment and adoration.

The result? I am alive!

No, all my challenges have not been overcome. All my problems have not been solved. All my issues have not been resolved. But most of those things are external. What is happening inside of me is overpowering all of that. And soon, if it hasn’t already begun to, it will impact and invade all of that external stuff.

I don’t know what kind of challenges or crises you are facing today, but you don’t have to face them with dullness and lifelessness inside you. Bring your real problems… those authentic questions you’ve been afraid to ask… your frustrations and limitations… bring them all to God. Ask Him to get involved, and you’ll find that He will. As He does, you will begin to experience life seeping back into you. That seeping will turn into a trickle… that turns into a flow… that turns into a flood! You’ll be more alive than you could have imagined before.

Jesus said that He came to give us a full life, an abundant life. Let’s not settle for less!

How About A Do-Over

We have several friends who are currently serving as foster parents. It is amazing how they are investing their lives in the lives of these children and teenagers. It is temporary investment for permanent life-change.

Recently, I was talking with one of my foster-dad friends, and he was telling me about one of the kids they are caring for having a total attitude meltdown. Whether you are in favor of physical disciplining of children or not, you cannot discipline that way with foster kids for a lot of serious reasons. So he told me about how they handle correction in their family now…

When one of the kids displays a bad attitude or a wrong action, they address the issue by stating what was wrong. Then they do something powerful… They ask the child if he/she would like a do-over. If the child accepts the do-over and makes things right, they reinforce that right attitude and action with encouragement.

As my friend told me about an actual instance when this had been applied, I couldn’t help but blurt out how that is exactly how God treats us when we display our own bad attitudes or wrong actions. He’s not waiting to strike us down with a plague or fire from Heaven. He lovingly, patiently points out where we were wrong and then asks us if we would like a do-over. He’s the God of second chances… and third chances… and hundredth chances. But He doesn’t stop there. When we finally get our attitudes and actions right, He lovingly reinforces our right choice with encouragement.

Sure, you were wrong, but you don’t have to stay wrong. Take the do-over today. You don’t have to live in guilt and shame today. God is not waiting to take you out back to the woodshed and give you the whippin’ of your life. He stands ready instead to give you a do-over and a dose of encouragement. And isn’t that what we really need?

To all my foster parent friends, thank you for the amazing example of God’s love and grace you are to me! Keep up the great work. You are making a difference for eternity.

Way More Fun

It’s football season. At our house, that means NFL. I’m not interested in the politics… I just watch it to relax and have fun. Now, the boys like watching with me, but they are not quite as captivated by all the finer points of the game. They do, however, love to play.

So, we have created a little ritual of our own. At commercial breaks, or halftime, or when a game is over, we play our own scaled-back games of football. We play inside because it’s air conditioned, and because we have a pretty decent size living room. One of the boys plays offense, the other defense. I am all-time quarterback… and referee. It’s that last part that creates the issues.

Basically, it doesn’t matter what call I make on any play… one of the boys usually gets frustrated with it. We often have to replay the down because I couldn’t see a play well-enough to call it accurately. The replay is mostly because I don’t want an argument from either one of them.

We’ve been working on having a better attitude. In most cases, that means not getting mad at the referee or at the opponent for making a great play. I’ve been challenging them to work on being good sports. Truth is, they both have some pretty decent skills. But I know that attitude trumps skills in life… even in football. A player can cost their team the game by losing their cool.

So, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday afternoon when Alex announced to me that they had decided to play with great attitudes and do their very best not to get upset during the game. I wondered how it would play out, but sure enough, they were young men of their word. They played the whole game with terrific attitudes, acknowledging calmly they wish a call would have gone another way, but moving on to the next play… or even congratulating the other player on a great play against them.

At one point well into the game, Alex said, “You know, Daddy, it’s way more fun playing football with a good attitude.” Austin agreed, and I beamed with pride at the lesson they had learned.

You know, life is way more fun when we have the right attitude… when we treat people the way we want to be treated… when give others the benefit of the doubt, knowing that no one is perfect except God… when we are big enough accept outcomes, even though they didn’t go our way. The Apostle Paul wrote that we should make it our goal to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. That’s a tall order, but God wouldn’t have said to do it if He wasn’t going to help us be successful at doing it.

This week, let’s determine right from the start to have a great attitude… at home, at work, at school, in the store, wherever we are. Let’s choose to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. My prognostication is that we won’t even get to the end of the week before we declare like Alex that life is, “way more fun!”

Missing Something?

Ever had something missing in your life? When something important is missing in our lives, it’s like it becomes the sole focus, taking up all our extra attention, energy and time trying to find that last piece which we think will complete us. When you’re depressed, it takes everything you’ve got to try to find the missing joy. When you’re stressed about a situation you’re facing, it takes almost all your energy to try find peace. Missing pieces can drive you crazy trying to find them.

The boys and I have this 1,000-piece puzzle featuring a photo of a New Orleans Saints football game in the Superdome. It’s ridiculous. I’m not even sure we have found all the edge pieces inside the box yet. We work on it for awhile, and we set it aside because something is missing that we just can’t find. But I guarantee you that when we get down to the last few pieces, we won’t be stopping till we complete it. We won’t leave that last missing piece out.

The truth is, that’s the way God is when it comes to the missing pieces of our lives. Jesus illustrated how focused God is on what’s missing in the three stories He told in Luke chapter 15. It’s one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture… mostly because it reminds me that God goes looking for what is lost and doesn’t stop till He finds it.

We all have something missing in our lives from time to time. People came to Jesus regularly with what was missing in them. Some of them were missing health. Some of them were missing a second chance. Some of them were missing friends. Some of them were missing finances to pay their bills. Some were missing answers to tough questions. In reality, what they were missing was Jesus… because He could provide whatever they thought they were missing. So they came to Him to get His help in finding the missing pieces.

What’s missing in your life today? Are you out of work and missing a job that you would love? Are you suffering from illness and missing healing? Are you down to the bottom of your financial barrel and missing money in the bank? Are you lonely and missing true, authentic friends? Are you struggling with deep issues of life and missing genuine understanding and solutions?

Whatever you’re missing today, God cares deeply about it. He cares deeply about you! He cares so much that is willing to go to great lengths to find what’s missing in your life and fill that void. So if you’re missing direction, wisdom, love, provision, or anything else… bring your emptiness to Him and He will find your missing pieces!

Don’t Forget To Remember

There is a new roller coaster at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO called The Time Traveler. It’s an amazing, innovative ride. It’s a different take on the roller coaster experience because your car spins throughout the entire ride. So, you may be looking forward and see what’s coming, but by the time you get to that point, you may be facing backward. Straight out of the station, you plunge 100 feet down. And as you make the plunge, you may be facing forward, backward or even sideways. The incredibly smooth ride gives you the most strange sense of being able to see where you just were while you head to where you’re going.

Alex and I rode this ride a few months ago when we were there. Unfortunately, Austin was just a couple inches shy of making the height requirement to ride. But he isn’t giving up. He keeps having us measure him. (For the record, he’s only an inch and a half away from the height requirement now.)

We were talking about the ride the other day and how fun it is when Austin… in his ever-insightful way… spoke up about wanting to ride it and said, “Sometimes I look forward so much, I just want to be able to look back and see where I’ve come from.”

Wow! He’s only seven and he already knows the importance of something God has been teaching all of us for thousands of years… Don’t forget to remember. It’s important to look back and see where God has brought us from. It’s important to remember how He has come through for us time and time again. Maybe He healed you when you were sick. Maybe He gave you a child even though you battled infertility. Maybe He caused someone to send you a check in the mail when you had a bill to pay, and didn’t have the money to pay it. Maybe He helped you get free from an addiction. Or maybe He brought joy into your life when you were struggling with depression.

Whatever the case, God has done a lot of good for each one of us. He didn’t have to. He doesn’t owe us anything. He does it because He loves us and wants the best for us. And if we will take the moments provided as the car on our roller coaster life spins to look back where we’ve come from, we won’t be tempted to worry as much about the plunges, twists and loops ahead of us. Remembering God’s blessings of the past prepares us to handle the challenges ahead with courage because we know He will get us through them, too.

So, if you have the opportunity to make your way to Silver Dollar City, be sure to ride The Time Traveler. But if not, on the the roller coaster of your life… Don’t forget to remember all the good things God has done for you!

Everything Else

I don’t know what you need, but perhaps you looked to this blog today hoping to find answers… or hope… or the key to making more money… or wisdom for a decision you have to make… or how to connect with someone of the opposite gender with whom you could spend the rest of your life. I wish I could just hand those things through the screen to you… but sadly, I cannot.

However, I know the one to whom you could look to find what you need. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans about the fact that, since God was willing to sacrifice His only Son for us to be free from sin and adopted into His family, we can trust Him to meet all our other needs as well. He knows what we need. And He loves to bless us with those things.

So don’t give up hope. He is ready, willing and able to give you “everything else.” Turn your heart toward Him today and just ask Him. You can ask with confidence. He knows exactly what you need and when you need it. He’s not a celestial vending machine, but He cares way more for us than we can possibly imagine.

So, go ahead… Ask Him for “everything else” you need today. You won’t regret it!

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