Fearless

I don’t know what you’re afraid of. I really am not crazy about heights. Or snakes. Or confined, closed-in, restrictive spaces.

Yeah, I know those may be a little silly. There are a lot more serious things in life we could be afraid of… like getting sick. Or getting fired. Or being left alone. For some people, it is facing something new. Or someone new.

The thing is, we don’t have to live in fear. All throughout Scripture, God instructs- and on occasion even commands- those who love Him and follow Him not to be afraid. But He goes a step further and tells them how they can achieve that fearless lifestyle. He tells them to remember that He will be with them. Remember that the God who spoke, and suddenly sun and moon and stars appeared, would be WITH them. Remember that the God who could destroy the whole earth and yet save each species to start over was WITH them. Remember that the God who could tame lions and part seas was going to be WITH them.

So David didn’t have to fear Goliath… because God was WITH him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t have to be afraid of being thrown in the fiery furnace because there would be a fourth person in the fire WITH them… and He was God. Esther didn’t have to fear going in to see the king unannounced… because God was going in WITH her. Peter didn’t have to fear walking on the water in the middle of a storm… because Jesus was right there WITH him.

And the even better news is that you and I don’t have to live in fear as we face our challenges… because is WITH us also. You’re not walking into that job interview alone… He’s WITH you. You’re not alone in that MRI room… He’s WITH you. No matter what you’re facing, you do not have to fear because that same God who was there for all those people thousands of years ago is alive… and will be WITH you.

So, don’t be afraid today… for He is WITH you!

Peanut Genius

I don’t think I can adequately describe for you how much I truly love peanut butter. For health reasons, I cut back from two pounds per week to about a pound per week. I eat it for breakfast on a banana or in a smoothie. I eat it by the spoonful for a snack. In fact, I’ve become a bit of a peanut butter snob, and I now craft my own peanut butter at home. And it’s all thanks to good ol’ George Washington Carver.

I’m thankful for a lot of things in life, but I am grateful for a guy named George who was willing to walk out into the woods, get alone with God, and ask for the wisdom and creativity to be able to solve the problem farmers in the South were facing. Carver knew farmers had to rotate crops, and he knew peanuts were a good option. But convincing farmers to switch was proving challenging. He needed to be able to prove to them that there would be a market for peanuts if they grew them. So he asked the Ultimate Creator to infuse him with some of that creativity in order to come up with the ideas he needed. And God did! He gave Carver more than 200 ways the peanut could be used. That helped get the farmers past their protests and into prosperity. And one of the amazing byproducts all these years later is that I get to enjoy my favorite food… peanut butter!

Now, each of us face challenges in our lives that may seem difficult- if not impossible- to overcome. Yet we have access to the mind which created everything there is in this universe. All we have to do is ask. God has not stopped creating or sharing His creativity. When He breathed His life into our lungs, He infused a bit of Himself into our being. And so, since He is creative, then we are creative. When we ask Him to get involved in our challenges, He sparks that creativity in us & helps us overcome our obstacles.

What are you facing today? What challenge do you need to overcome? What problem in life could you use a creative injection to solve?

God stands ready to pour His creativity into you and through you. And if you’re tempted to doubt it could happen for you, just pull out a jar of yummy peanut butter, grab a spoon, take a bite (or three), and remember ol’ George Washington Carver. Who knows? You might come up with an idea better than peanut butter! Well, you can at least try.

A New Memory

I unplugged the iPad from where it had been charging so I could take it with me to do some work while I waited on an oil change. When I unplugged it, the screen lit, and I saw a notification box in the middle. I tapped on it, and it read, “You have a new memory.” When I opened it, it was a great memory we had made a little over a year ago when we just had fun as a family. Nothing expensive or extravagant. Just time spent together smiling, laughing, cooking and eating… enjoying each other. Today, seeing those pics from that time, I am so glad we made the time to make those memories.

This begs the question… What memories am I making today that I will be glad I made a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now? When the boys are away at college, what memory will pop up on whatever electronic device we have then?

You see, if I don’t make them now, we won’t have them then. And I definitely want to have great memories in life. So I have to make those great memories. I have heard Author and Pastor, Mark Batterson, say, “Accumulate experiences, not possessions.” In other words, spend your time and money on making memories with the people you love which will one day pop up on the iPad to bring a smile back to your face and light up your eyes once more.

And hey, don’t let this post make you feel guilty if you haven’t been making great memories. Let it instead inspire you to start now. It’s the perfect time to begin. A month from now… a year from now… a lifetime from now, you’ll be glad you did!

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!

Blame or Credit?

I’m going to assume that since you are reading this, you must be human. And since you are human, I will also therefore suppose that you have faced hurt or unfair treatment in your life… like the rest of us. You’ve probably been wounded by people who were supposed to be for you, on your side.

When that happens, it’s normal to feel emotional pain, to feel betrayed, to wonder why this bad stuff is happening to you. That’s okay initially. And some wounds are deep enough that they just simply take longer to heal. That’s understandable.

But at some point on the journey, we need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The question then becomes… What will you do with the bad stuff that has happened to you in life?

In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, we read the story of someone who was done really wrong by those who should’ve been closest to him. His name was Joseph, and God had given him big dreams for his life. As he began to share these dreams with his family, his dad discredited him, and his brothers hated him for the dreams. They hated him so much that they started to kill him, but decided to sell him into slavery and tell their dad a wild animal ate him.

There is no doubt that Joseph was done wrong. But it got worse for him before it got better. Though he excelled as a slave for a high-ranking Egyptian leader, he was falsely accused of attempting to rape that man’s wife… and whose word do you think they believed, the slave or the lady? So Joseph was sent to jail.

In jail, Joseph excelled again and even predicted the futures for two servants of the king based on their dreams. They promised to remember him, but one was executed and the other forgot Joseph for a long time. Finally, Joseph was called upon to interpret a dream for the king, and it was then that he rose to prominence as the second in command for the entire nation of Egypt.

A famine ensued, and Joseph’s brothers showed up to get food from Egypt where Joseph had led a successful food saving and distribution plan. When they showed up, Joseph was confronted with a choice. There stood the very guys who had done him wrong. And it was within his power to set things straight.

In that moment, Joseph chose to give God credit instead of giving his brothers blame. Yes, they did bad things to him, but he chose to instead focus on how God used the bad they had done to work for all their good. He probably didn’t see it in the pit or the prison, but he certainly saw it the day they showed up to buy grain from him during the famine. Perhaps that was why he wept so intensely… the sudden understanding of how God had used the bad to set up the good.

I guess the question before each of us today is the same one Joseph faced that day his brothers showed up… Will I choose to give God credit or give those who did me wrong the blame they deserve?

God promises that He will set the record straight on our behalf, and that He will work everything that happens to us in life… the bad as well as the good… for our benefit and His credit… IF we will let Him.

The choice is ours today… Credit or blame? Let’s choose to see how God has worked things out for our good and give Him credit. In the end, we will win with a choice like that!

Your Biography

PR31 and I are the romantic comedy type. We love a guy meets girl, falls in love and, with only slightly enough conflict to make the story interesting, they live happily ever after. So, it’s no surprise that we enjoy the Hallmark Channel. (If you’ve read any of my Christmas or Christmas In July posts, you already know this about us.)

From time to time, I hear a quote in one of these shows which really strikes a chord in my heart. And this one recently stood out to me…

Someday, someone might write a story about your life… make sure you live a good one.”

I don’t suppose I’ve ever really thought about my life that way. I don’t strike myself as the type of guy people would write a biography about… especially on a day like today, Memorial Day, when I think of all the heroes who have paid for my freedom with their lives.

But that’s just it. I want to live a life that someone would want to write about. I want to make this life a good one… a great one. I want my love story with Angela to be epic. I want to be the kind of dad to Alex and Austin that would be a role model for other dads to follow. I want my service to my King, Jesus Christ, to be the kind of stuff He would want others to read about.

Oh, I know that no one may ever take the time to research my life in-depth and write a thrilling biography. That’s okay. I don’t need them to. But I do want to live a life so great… so full… so rich in relationships and love and joy… so authentic… so impactful… that it would absolutely be worth filling hundreds of pages in a book that others would love to read.

What about you? Are you living a life worth writing about? If not, the cool thing is that we can all start living a life so great today that others would want to tell our story. Don’t settle for an obituary at the end of your days on this planet… Go for a biography!

Invitation To Greatness

In April 1803, Thomas Jefferson (via his ambassadors) inked a deal with Napoleon Bonaparte called the Louisiana Purchase in which the U. S. effectively paid France $15 million in exchange for 828,000 square miles of land… approximately doubling the size of the United States. President Jefferson announced the deal to the people of the United States in July 1803, and on October 21st of that year, Congress acted to set up governance. Ten days later, they gave the President the approval to explore the land and map it out since much of it was unknown to our country. President Jefferson then selected Meriwether Lewis to lead the exploration.

What Lewis did next is what makes him a great leader to me. He chose William Clark to explore with him. In that single act, he secured that Clark’s name would always be mentioned along with his when it came to the historic discovery of this massive portion of our nation.

I love this, and here’s why…

1. Lewis didn’t hog the glory. He didn’t feel like, since the President asked him to tackle this ginormous project with historic ramifications, he should get all the credit. To this day, we always mention Clark with Lewis. It’s never just the Lewis expedition… It’s the Lewis and Clark expedition. Their names have become synonymous with blazing trails and showing others the way… with boldness and daring… with the heart of the explorer. And their names are always mentioned… together.

Together is better. It’s always better. Together says a leader is not arrogant. Together says a leader values others more than themselves. Together matters, and it makes a difference.

2. Lewis knew he couldn’t & didn’t want to do it alone. He admitted he needed and wanted help. By inviting Clark along, Lewis made it clear that he did not have all the answers… all the skills… all the abilities. And he wanted to share the experience with someone else. I imagine that he imagined the two of them… if they could survive it… sitting in rockers on a porch one day on a piece of land in that Louisiana Purchase, telling stories to their grandchildren and people who stopped by to meet the famous explorers, of their shared experiences with two different points of view… one filling in the blanks in the other’s side of the story.

Great leaders get that they cannot do everything. Nor do they wish to go it alone. They want to share the thrill of challenges and cheers with someone else who can appreciate it… and help them be able to survive it all.

Listen, here’s the thing…

You are going to do something great in this life. Your moment is going to come when what you have been designed for… what you have been destined for… is set right in front of you. When it does, this is what I want to know…

Who is your Clark? Who will you elevate? Who will you bring along with you to make history? Will it be your spouse or your kids? Will it be a best friend? Will it be your favorite co-worker?

Just tell me you have someone in mind… because then I will know that you are the leader I believe you are… one who gets that life’s great achievements are better when they are shared.