Likes, Shares, Comments And Value

This is my “happy family” pic…

This is my “cute kids” pic…

This is my “yummy food my wife makes” pic…

This is my “we only do fun things” pic…

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Now, if you’ve read this blog at all, you know that my life purpose is “to love and encourage, offering grace and hope.”  You know that I write to build people up, not tear them down.  So, please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to write…

Most of us only post the good stuff about our lives online.  Our social media posts would make people think we never have a problem.  And the more likes… or hearts… or comments… or shares… or retweets we get, the more valued and validated we feel about ourselves.

Truth be told, the mechanics of this blog give me analytics to help me which posts read more… or liked more.. or commented on more.  If I’m not careful, it can turn into one more way for me to judge myself and my abilities.

But when we live our lives based on whether people think we are cute… or amazing… or talented… or lucky, our emotions are going to end up all over the place.  Happy birthday greetings on Facebook weren’t quite what they were last year.  Sad face emoji.  Less people shared that video. Cry face emoji.  Wait, more people than ever read this post! Big smile, thumb up and fist bump emoji.

Yet our value far exceeds what our peers… or our bosses… or our followers… or our subscribers tell us.  We have inherent value placed on us by Someone who never changes His opinion of us. God gave us value when He made each of us unique and special.  He determined that the world would need someone like you.  And He placed even more value on each of us when He gave His only Son to come take our punishment so that we could be freely adopted into His family.

And the great thing about this value is that it doesn’t change.  It doesn’t change when I do something spectacular (and therefore post-worthy).  It doesn’t change when I fail as a partner… or lose a subscriber… or burn the grilled-cheese sandwich… again.  The value God gives each of us supersedes all our ups and downs.

So let me encourage you today to not let how your day goes be determined by what someone says or doesn’t say about you… by how many or  few people liked your “cute puppy pic”… by shares or comments or follows or hearts.  Find your value in the One whose estimation of you has never changed… and never will!


Look Away From It, Brother, Just Look Away

Our two boys crack me up!  Last week, we were in town running several errands as a family.  We had made a few stops already and we were working our way toward checking off our final to-do item when we passed a store that Alex really wanted to go into to look at some toys.  (Back story… He recently had a birthday and had some cash he had received for the very purpose of being spent on something he would enjoy.)

Normally, we probably would have stopped, but we had already been out long enough that we were all getting ready to be home.  We had already told Alex we would not be stopping at that store, and he had graciously accepted it… even though we could tell he still really wanted to stop there.

As we turned the corner and passed the store, I heard from behind us Austin say to Alex, “Don’t even look at it. Look away from it brother, just look away.”  We all burst into laughter at the unexpected advice from one sibling to the other. It will probably become one of those sayings which sticks with a family for the rest of their lives.

Then I began to think about what Austin said.  That was great advice.  I don’t know if “out of sight, out of mind” is true, but it sure helps when you’re being tempted by something.

I’ve been asked over the years what my favorite Scripture is.  Truth is, there are so many I love that it really is difficult to select one.  But I usually tell people who ask that one of the most useful verses in all of Scripture for me has been I Corinthians 10:13.  I was challenged to memorize  it in special course for students trying to grow closer in their relationship with God.  It has certainly come in handy on more than one occasion when I didn’t even have a Bible with me.

This is what Paul wrote to help people overcome temptation…

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.

The part that has always stuck with me is that God would show me a way out of the temptation so that I would not have to give into it… so that I could stand up to it… so that I could endure it and come out of that moment victorious.  As soon as I learned that truth… that there is always a way to escape the temptation, always a way to say “no” to it… I began to look for that way of escape in every temptation that came my way.  Often, it is as simple as Austin’s advice to Alex… “Don’t even look at it.  Look away from it, brother, just look away.”

So, if you find yourself tempted today… whether by something small and simple like an extra piece of cake… or by the cashier giving you too much change… or maybe even by something more serious like taking a drink or taking someone else’s spouse, let Paul’s words echo through your heart and mind.  You don’t have to give in.  There is a way out.  Look for the escape. And then put Austin’s words into practice… Look away, brother, just look away.

Rat-Dog Becomes Teacher

We have a family member I don’t often write about… because she’s a dog. She’s a Schnauzer to be exact. At least that’s what the paper said when we adopted her on a trip out of town as the Lord answered the prayers of two little boys in our household.  Let’s just say she’s probably mostly a Schnauzer. And she’s a pretty good dog… most of the time. A couple nights ago, she was awesome!

For those who don’t know their doggie pedigreee history, Schnauzers were originally bred in Europe to serve on farms as “rat dogs.”  (I suppose there were people back then… like me… who didn’t annoying pests around their property but also didn’t want to have a cat.)  Schnauzers have wicked-quick reflexes and speed.  Their sense of sight is amazing.  And they will go after their prey with intense focus.

That’s a good thing for us because we hate lizards around our house.  We don’t touch them, pick them up, hang them on our earlobes, or let them crawl on us.  We don’t care how many bugs they eat.  We just don’t like them.  So most lizards don’t last long around our house.

We’re not afraid of lizards… just basically disgusted by them. Granted, by the shrieks you hear from the other three people in our family, you might wonder. So you can imagine our consternation when, after opening the back door for only a moment, a decent-sized lizard bolted in the door as I was shutting it. The boys jumped up and hollered, “Lizard, lizard!”  I looked down, spotted it and began the hunt to evict it from our house.

I thought I had it trapped for a moment… until it shot across from behind my recliner to the loveseat portion of the recliner. I grabbed a flashlight, and PR31 set the boys as watchmen at each end of the sectional.  Tactical flashlight in hand, I began to search.  I spotted the lizard in the corner behind the curved portion of seating and thought I had it once more… until I didn’t.

Back under the sectional it dashed.  We decided it was time to bring in the big gun… Sugar the Schnauzer.  We began tilting portions of the sectional over, letting her search. Soon she was on the trail. And we tracked it down to the loveseat portion… where it had crawled up inside the under part of the seat. Sugar was going nuts. We could tell that she saw it and was following it all over underneath.

Finally, I followed her line of sight and spotted it myself.  I was able to coax it out with a fly swatter and thought I would be the hero by removing this bane of our quiet evening. But it eluded my attack once more.

However, it underestimated “the rat-dog”. When it bolted, she flashed.  And before we knew it, she had caught that lizard… in her mouth. (She can never lick us on the face again.)

She grabbed it and locked down… enough to kill it, but not enough to chew it up.  We were elated. That is, until she raced off toward our bedroom and under the bed with the lizard.  We ran to that end of the house with PR31 shouting, “Sugar, NOOOOOO!”

After pulling out a few items stored under the bed, we found Sugar and the lizard.  She would bite it, and drop it… move back, never taking her eyes off of it and dare it to move.  If it twitched or took one step, she would grab it again and give another bite. It’s tail came off in the process.  Eventually it moved no more, and Sugar came out from under the bed… proud as could be, leaving me to get the lizard out and dispose of it.

You should have seen her.  She was in her element. She was vibrant and alive.  She was excited and energetic.  It was obvious that she was doing what she was created to do.  She was living in her purpose.

That’s what life should be like for each of us, you know… full of passion and energy.  When we live in our God-given purpose for which we were created, the world springs into full-color.  We are vibrant and alive.  We are excited.

I’m not saying every moment of every day is the most exciting, incredible thing ever just because you are living in your purpose.  Every person faces challenges and a few dull tasks.  But the greatest part of living life your designated purpose is full and abundant.

Jesus said the enemy of our souls comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that Jesus came to give us a full, abundant life.  You have a purpose.  You simply need to connect with God, ask Him what it is and begin to pursue it.

Take a lesson from Sugar “the rat-dog”… live in your purpose! Go after what energizes you.  Go after your God-given purpose, and you will live a full life, making a significant impact on this world!

The Unknown

Christopher Columbus lived an adventurous, astounding, amazing life… but he probably didn’t realize it.  Oh, he wanted to attempt fantastic feats of exploration.  He desired to discover.  But at the end of his life, I’m not sure Columbus fully realized the significance of his life.

For example, Columbus’ life ended with him mostly a lonely and forgotten man.  Many discredited his efforts. And in the end, few wanted to be his friend.  Most people failed to recognize his significance during during his lifetime.  Yet he had inspired and emboldened countless new explorers.

At the end of his life, Columbus thought he had accomplished one amazing thing, when in reality he had accomplished something far different… far greater.  He died thinking he had found a way by sea to Asia.  But he had really discovered trade winds which led to an area of the world which was on the verge of discovery and development.  His trip inspired and informed others, making future explorations possible.

Columbus died not knowing what a significant impact he had made on this world… on those people who would sail in his wake.  He may not have been the first to sail westward… He may not have discovered America… He may not have have discovered a westward passage to India… He may not have found great riches… But he made an impact the likes of which few ever accomplish.

Or do they?

In Matthew 26, the account is recorded of a woman crashes a dinner party where Jesus is and pours expensive perfume… probably the most expensive and precious object she owned… on His head. Some people complained that it was a waste of money. Some people misunderstood her. Most did not realize her significance. But Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” 

I’m sure that woman Matthew wrote about didn’t realize what a big deal she was at the time… kind of like Columbus… kind of like you.

I’m guessing that, even as you read this, you truly do not comprehend the significance of your life.  You probably do not realize that you are impacting the lives of so many people in such a big way.  You most likely have no clue about what your real accomplishments are.

People may not recognize your contribution right now.  Sail on anyway!  You may not be as popular as someone else.  Be adventurous and make discoveries anyway.  You may not get everything right, but choose to live your life to the fullest for the Lord.  And there will come a day down the road… perhaps when you are old or have passed on… when people will tell the stories of your greatness and you will be remembered for all that you achieved.

And for those who have poured the perfume on the head of our Savior, there will be a day when we are rewarded as well as remembered.

You’re Joking… Right?

One of my favorite movies of all time is… Rocketman.  In it Harland Williams plays the bumbling and yet brilliant Fred Z. Randall who, through a series of ridiculous events, ends up on the first manned mission to Mars.

Once clear of earth’s orbit, Fred accidentally ends up on a world-wide broadcast of a video call between the President of the United States and the astronauts.  The President asks Fred what it’s like up in space, and Fred replies, “From up here, the earth looks like a giant blueberry.”  The call ends with Fred leading people across the world in the song, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.”

What Fred portrayed in that scene is a known fact for all of us alive today… the earth is round.

But when Columbus lived, many people did not believe that now well-known fact.  In fact, most people believed the world was flat… even though brilliant minds had been suggesting for hundreds of years that it was round.

Yet Columbus believed.  He had faith. Oh, I’m not suggesting he was a Christian or that he was as perfect as some of our history books would portray.  Truth be told, he was wrong about much of what he thought.

But he was right about believing the earth is round.  He believed.  He believed so strongly that, though it took him many attempts to gain the financial backing and actually find a crew who didn’t think they would fall off the edge of the earth if they sailed too far, he persisted.

That’s what faith does. Faith motivates us in the face of doubt. C. S. Lewis wrote, “When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who runs in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.”

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”  And just five verses later, the writer of that letter tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith.

So ignore the naysayers today. Run the opposite direction when you know in your heart God has promised you that you are running the right way.  Just as Columbus was willing to put his faith in a round earth to the test, be willing to test that of which God has assured you. And one day we will be celebrating your accomplishments!


“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… and… and…”. Oh, let’s face it… I either never really learned that little rhyme, or I’ve slept since then and forgotten it.

All I remembered about Christopher Columbus (until last week) was that he is credited with discovering North America… although he wasn’t really the first person to do so… and it really wasn’t what he was trying to accomplish.  But I learned more than ever before about this intriguing man’s life as we taught our boys about him last week.

We homeschool our boys currently.  Let me be more accurate… PR31 home educates our boys, and I pitch in to help in minutely small ways on occasion.  And she does a fabulous job teaching them.  (I wish I had had teachers that pretty and helpful.)  So it should be no surprise that I learned some new revelations about Christopher Columbus last week as she taught us… uh, I mean them.

One of the craziest facts I learned was that his crew almost mutinied on him, determined to turn back from their quest.   They had been at sea… with no land at all in sight… for two months.  This bunch of sailors had had enough.  It was tough enough to believe Columbus to begin with. But then to go this far and find nothing?  They thought Columbus had lost either his mind or his way.  Neither option was great. Afraid for their lives and tired of believing in something that did not seem to be real, they wanted to turn back.

Columbus worked his persuasive magic on them and convinced them to give him three more days.  Then, if they had not found land, he agreed to turn back with them.

It’s almost as if Columbus knew exactly what he was doing because on the evening of the second day, land was sighted!  And the rest is history.

But think about this… Those men had traveled two months to do something others could Barry even imagine, and yet they were prepared to give up… to turn back… to quit… when they were only two days away from achieving one of the greatest accomplishments of their time.

They had completed 97% of the journey when they were ready to give up.  They had done the hard part… the two months.  All they had to do was a little more… two days.  But because they couldn’t see their goal even through a spyglass  yet, their hearts were weary.

Perhaps today you are weary.  You’ve been trying to do the right thing… eat right and exercise… finish college… complete a project at work… remain pure in your relationships as you look for the love of a lifetime…find God’s will and plan for your life.  And you’re tired.  Tired of trying. Tired of not seeing the end result… the goal of your quest.

The Apostle Paul wrote to some people who felt like giving up and told them what Columbus told his crew and what I’m telling you today… Don’t give up!  You’re almost there.  The hardest part is behind you. Just a little more.  Stay on the journey, and you will soon find that you will be glad you did because your continued persistence… and commitment… and faithfulness  is going to pay off.  You’ll look back and say that you are sure glad you didn’t give up when you had 97% behind you and only 3% to go.

Don’t mutiny. Don’t turn back. Hoist the sails a few more times. Keep the spyglass to your eye.  I have a sense that land is not as far away as you might think!

Super Guide

Our boys crack me up!  Awhile back, they discovered on their Super Mario Bro’s game that there is a mode called “Super Guide” in which the computer takes over and completes a course perfectly without any mistakes. At any point, they can take back over from Super Guide and keep playing themselves.

So, they do what they can do on the game and then hand it off to the Super Guide to handle what they can’t.  In fact, those crazy guys will let the Super Guide play an entire level, get to the end, and then they take control back and claim the flag at the end to complete the course.

About the time I begin to think that isn’t really fair, I also begin to think… isn’t that what God does for us?  Didn’t Jesus say that He would ask the Father, and the Father would send us the Holy Spirit to be a “Super Guide” who would help us through all the difficulties of life?

So often, having done what I can do and facing something I cannot seem to accomplish on my own, I turn to my Super Guide and ask Him to get me through to complete that leg of my course.  And while He does all the work, He let’s me claim the victory flag.  It may look like I’ve done it, but really He did all the heavy lifting.

I’m glad I have the Holy Spirit as my Super Guide.  I couldn’t do this life on my own successfully.  Today, I just want to take this moment to give Him the credit for overcoming all my obstacles, defeating my opposition and making me a winner.

If you look at your life today and find yourself struggling to overcome, why not ask the ultimate Super Guide to help you succeed as well?  He knows how to help you win in life!

Life Hack For Success

Tony Little, Special Agent OSO & The IDF

We all want to succeed at whatever we do.

Whether you are a stay-at-home wife or mom trying to tackle a mountain of laundry… or a business leader assigned an incredibly important project… or a politician trying to get legislation passed… or a preacher working on a weekly sermon… or a military leader assigned with covertly defeating an enemy force… or a student writing an essay… or a guy trying to crank out a daily blog… We all want to succeed.  We want to make good grades or to get a promotion or to make a difference… or even just check one more thing off that nagging to-do list.  We just want to succeed.

And yet success seems so elusive at times.  Tasks, projects, assignments and dreams can feel overwhelming and out of reach.  We can have the sense that if we just knew how to eat an elephant one bite at a time, we would do it and be successful.  (Personally, I’ve never tasted elephant and I’m pretty sure that I would not like to… even if it does taste like chicken.  But I digress…)

Alas, we get stuck and can’t see the forest for the trees.  (Yes, another metaphor.  It’s one of those days.).  But don’t give up hope yet.  As Tony Little says, “Yeah, baby, you can do it!”

Between watching Special Agent OSO with my boys when they were younger and a trip I took to Israel where we met with a former Israeli Defense Force leader, I have discovered that any task or assignment or project can be completed much more easily and my stress reduced if I will do this one thing…

Take The Steps

Life hack for success?  Break any task, project or assignment into three steps.  This is what the IDF does with everything they do.  By breaking tasks into three steps or parts, it:

– creates a clearer sense of what needs to be accomplished, 

– speeds up the process, 

– makes assigning tasks easier, and

– breaks the giant into bite-sized chunks.

And if the three steps still seeem too big, then break each one of them into three steps.  This will work with practically anything you need to accomplish.  Success is just three steps away.

Don’t believe me?  Try it for a week on anything you need to succeed at and see for yourself.  And remember these powerful words of encouragement…

 “Yeah, baby, you can do it!”

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