Unqualified (Part 1): Don’t let what you lack hold you back

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Dinnertime with our six children was a circus.  If any of you grew up in a large family, you know what I’m talking about.  We had a Lazy Susan in the middle of our big round farmhouse table and I’d put the food on it.  After we prayed, that Lazy Susan was far from lazy.  That thing spun faster than the Zero Gravity Ride at Six Flags.  It’s amazing that the dishes didn’t fly off. The reason why there was a shark feeding frenzy was that 3 of those 6 children were boys with appetites that rivaled Rob Gronkowski, and the girls knew it.  So because there was only a certain amount of food, especially if it was Taco Casserole night, they wanted to make sure that they got theirs.  The boys wanted to make sure that they got a big piece and the girls wanted to make sure that the boys didn’t get served first and leave nothing in the pan.

But this was ridiculous because I always made plenty.  No one starved.  But the kids still felt that there was a chance they could get less than someone else, and they acted as though there might not be enough to go around.

And while I can joke about those crazy nights now, I realize that this scarcity mentality is prevalent in me as well.  And I’m sure I’m not alone.  We struggle to get our share as if someone might take what we feel entitled to. We worry that our lack of qualifications will cause us to be overlooked when the goodies get handed out so we fight and scratch and strive to make things happen for ourselves. After all, God might run out of blessing and favor by the time He gets to us!

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Super Bowl 51: A lesson in endurance

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So our New England Patriots football team have won the Super Bowl — again.  For the fifth time. This team and its quarterback have broken records and performed almost heroically in a sport that has been taking a beating in the media over the last couple years.

But at the end of the day, we Americans love our football and in New England, we LOVE our Patriots and our quarterback, Tom Brady. And even though many of us, like myself, have been fans before it was cool to be a Pats fan, for the last decade and a half we have had a very good reason to faithfully trust that our Patriots will win, and win big.  They have been to 7 Super Bowls and won 5 of those matches.  So in 16 years, Tom Brady has led his team to almost half of the Super Bowls and they have won 71% of the time.

Let’s look at just a few of the records and stats from the game last Sunday:

  • Brady has the most Super Bowl rings of any quarterback ever.
  • He now has the most MVP titles for games and for seasons of any QB as well.
  • No team has ever come back from greater than a 10 point deficit in a Super Bowl game and the Pats came back from a 28 point deficit to win last Sunday.
  • There has never been an overtime in the Super Bowl. But in twelve minutes of play, the Patriots sent this 51st Super Bowl into the first overtime in Bowl history.

So am I blogging about the Patriots because I’m a huge fan? Not completely, because there are far more capable writers who could do a much better job breaking down all of the plays, all of the stats and all of the reasons why the Patriots, Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick are the best ever. But the day after the stupendous win,  I woke up and was in awe about this game and knew I had t write about it because it impacted me.

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When running behind a trash truck, take another road: Choose the path of your thinking

 

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2 Corinthians 4:13

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak…

This past summer when I was on a run, I had the misfortune of getting behind a trash truck.  Unfortunately for me, the road I was running on was the trash truck’s route, so the smell was preceding me the entire way. The summer air was languid with the ripe smell of dirty diapers and rotten food. The stench was so thick that is was almost a taste.

Then I got the clever idea to take a different road home than I usually do.  After all, if my run that day coincided with trash day for a three mile stretch of houses, I was either going to suck in that putrid air all the way home or else find an alternate route.

So as soon as I could, I banked to the right and started down some unfamiliar residential streets. Not only did I find the air remarkably sweeter, but the change in scenery from the usual route was a refreshing boost to my routine.

As I ran, I started thinking about the correlation between my run in the wake of a rank trash truck and my life.  I realized that many times I have followed a putrid path in my thinking far too long.  Maybe life’s circumstances were stinky and making everything around me reek of disappointment, sadness or anger.  But just as I did on my run, I always have a choice to change the course of my thinking.  While I couldn’t change the route that the trash truck was taking, I could change my own.  It’s the same thing with our lives.  We can’t always change the circumstances we’re facing, but we can choose our perspective and our outlook.

2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

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Memorial Stones: Look Back to Move Forward

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Joshua 41 – When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

I really struggle to remember names.  I can meet someone, exchange introductions and as soon as I walk away, the name is GONE out of my head.  I have started writing names down with a brief description of the person in my phone as an attempt to stave off the impending embarrassment of meeting that person again and not knowing their name.  It’s working a little bit. But I’m finding that memory problems are not unique to me.  Lots of people struggle with this and with other memory issues.

The Hebrews in the Bible struggled with remembering important things as well  In fact, God gave them a strategy for remembering that we can employ.  There are some things that should never be forgotten and God knows how we can retain those things in our minds. To discover this memory exercise, let’s take a look at the book of Joshua.

In Joshua chapters 3 and 4, we read the amazing story of how the Lord parted the Jordan River so that the people of Israel could cross over on dry ground and begin to take possession of the Promised Land. If this story about a river being parted sounds familiar, it should.  The fathers and mothers of this generation of Hebrews had seen a similar miracle at the Red Sea; but they had blown the opportunity to enter the Promised Land due to complaining and rebellion against God and Moses. So this generation was determined that they were not going to repeat their parents’ mistakes.

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Would you take my suggestion?: The true test of respect

take-my-suggestionI love to make suggestions.  I feel really happy when I suggest a restaurant to someone and they try it and have a great experience.  I will go to great pains to passionately describe why someone should try a certain restaurant, or book or check out a podcast that I have listened to.  And it bothers me to no end when the person I am trying to convince gives me the impression that they don’t have an interest in trying out my suggestion.  I have often thought about why this bothers me so much. What do I care if they miss out on a fabulous meal or a marvelously written book? It’s their loss, right? But it does bother me.  A lot!

In giving this thought, I realize that I am bothered simply because I care.  I want the people in my life to have every great experience I have had and I want to be able to share in that with them. For instance, when a friend comes back to me after having read a book or listened to a podcast I recommended, and they gush about how amazing it was, we now have something deeper to share.  We now have a common experience that we can talk about. I also have the joy in my heart of knowing that my recommendation added value to my friend’s life in some small way.

So did you know that in the Bible God has made countless recommendations that add value to our lives? Not only does He have the most intimate knowledge of what is best for us, But He knows what we will enjoy, what will keep us free from misery, and what will feed our souls. Out of this most intimate knowledge of us, He recommends actions and behaviors.

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Lord, what do you have to say about this?

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What do you when your world is falling apart and there’s no rewind button?

I’ll tell you what I do…I run to the Lord.  I wish I could say that it’s a neat, tidy, faith-filled, hallelujah chorus type of run.  It’s not.  I’m usually crying a messy cry – you know, the ugly cry – feeling sorry for myself, sad beyond words, overwhelmed, and wondering why ONE MORE piece of my life is under attack or getting flushed down the toilet.  I wish I could say that I come up with Bible verses right away to encourage myself in the Lord.  But I don’t always.  Sometimes it takes a while to find my way out of the paper bag.

But I have developed a good habit over the past few years, thanks to a dear friend of mine who practices this all the time.  I write down all of my fears, concerns, worries, stresses, and disappointments in my journal.  Then I ask Jesus what he thinks about it all.  And then…I wait.

My pen is poised and I wait upon the Lord to answer me. I pray and ask Him to make my heart open to hear his voice and then I start writing.  I don’t critique my writing. I just write until I am done.

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