Penny For My Thoughts

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My wife loves to pickup money.

If there is a penny on the ground she will ALWAYS pick it up.

It doesn’t matter how disgusting it is.

It can be sitting in water, mud, gum…. she doesn’t care! She picks it up.

I always laugh about it. Heck I point them out to her and I’m thoroughly amused as she wipes some nasty penny off and puts it in her purse with all the other ones.

So I asked her once… Why?

Why even bother picking it up… It’s a penny for crying out loud!

Her explanation was simple and yet so incredibly profound (I didn’t realize how profound until today).

“It’s one of God’s ways of showing He provides for me”.

I remember at the time thinking that’s cool but c’mon….It’s a penny!

Well today God showed me the true value of a penny.

This past week or so has been pretty tough.

Lots of changes in our lives. Lots of changes in our friends lives. One of our son’s teachers lost his battle with cancer. Walking through some of the hardest battles I’ve ever walked through with people God has placed in our family’s lives. My heart breaks for them.

I sat there eating my hamburger and felt so inadequate and so ill-equipped to help them.

I don’t have the words to fix their hurts.

I don’t have the Bible verses to ease their pain or strengthen their faith.

I don’t have a solution to their complex issues or even remedies to my own fear of change.

While I was waiting for my food I prayed… Prayed for clarity. Prayed for peace and comfort to the many hurting people in my life. Prayed for the 16 year old kid who thinks Christianity is “Bull****” because there is no way a loving God could let him walk through the pain he is walking through right now. Prayed for my friends, their families and my family. Prayed that in the midst of all this stuff….. that He could be revealed and glorified.

Finished my prayer and ate my hamburger.

I tried to call a few people and couldn’t reach them. They were busy…. He knew I needed some quiet.

I get up to leave and I see a penny on the ground. It made my heart smile a little. But I left it on the ground.

I threw my trash away and something made me go back and pick it up…

The lady’s that were sitting in the booth beside me stared at me and must have thought I’d lost my mind… coming all the way back to get just a penny.

When I got back to work I took the penny out and looked at it….

In God We Trust

He does provide.

While he may not provide me words or even verses to ease their pain…. He has provided me a story to share with them of how I’ve walked through situations that are eerily similar to what they are walking through and He never left me.  He placed so many “pennies” in our lives that helped to sustain us and built us up until our family could stand up again.

2013

This is a season! There will be another day and this to will pass. This is one day, in one week, in one month that is in one year! I’ve had ALOT of days in my 42 years and the good have so far out weighed the bad that it’s not even remotely close. So take it day by day…..

On a side note of His sense of humor…. I find it very hard to believe it’s a mere coincidence that the year is 13 and that just so happens to be the penny collector’s favorite number.

Honest Abe

In this season…. those who are hurting need Honesty. The need to know that the Truth came to set them free. When life is being brutal only brutal honesty can bring it out into the light to be dealt with.

These days will pass.penny1

He will always provide.

He can be glorified.

Being a penny for others is never clean….

You will be covered in their hurts, their mud, their messes and their tears. You will get scratches and dents…

Many times you will get tossed aside like a nearly worthless coin…

But if you are willing to submit yourself to Him…

He can do amazing things with just a penny!

 

 

 

 

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What if…..

We live in a world that is driven by technology. Technology in itself can be a very positive thing. We have information, scriptures and assistance at our finger tips in a way the world has never had.

The issue is….. for all that technology can do for us…… it can never give us presence.

If you’ve ever had someone you care about far away you can understand this.

Sure you can Skype them, Facetime them, you can call them on the phone or send them an email. While there is some level of satisfaction in that communication (You take what you can get).

Make no mistake it isn’t equivalent to having them in front of you!

My question today…… is how often does technology give an eerily similar disconnect when we have someone God has placed right in front of us?

Next time you are at a restaurant having lunch take a look around. (This will require you putting your own phone down). Notice how many parents are on their phones as their kids look blankly around. Notice how many couples might as well be eating alone as they both have their faces buried in their phones.

What if…… we put our phones down and engaged with our kids? Parents are amazed at how quickly toddlers pickup technology. They brag that their kid’s can use their phones better than they can. The problem is that while our children are learning how to use technology….they are also learning to hide behind their devices. They are learning by our example that their text messages, phone calls and Facebook statuses are more important than them and take priority over their needs.

What if…… next time you are having a conversation with an actual person you don’t answer that phone call? You show that at that moment their conversation is more important than anyone else. It would immediately make them feel valued and significant simply by letting that call go to voicemail.

What if…… instead of holding your finger up to them while you send that meaningless text message that could easily wait you simply listened? You gave them your attention. It would be a tangible example to them that they are heard!

Christ asked Peter to leave his fishing boats and follow Him. Maybe just maybe Christ is calling you to leave your phone behind and instead of making you a fisher of contacts He is calling you to be a fisher of actual relationships with His presence with the people He has placed in your life.

 

Change the World

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“Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to do the small thing that makes just one person feel loved.”

I read this today in my daily reading and it struck me with its simplicity.

But how true is it?

How often do you hear of people wanting to start movements? Heck I tell my boys in the  mornings when I drop them off at school to “go change the world”.

Do I truly mean it?

Could it really be so simple as showing one person Love and that rippling out to illicit a change so much bigger than we could ever dream of?

We only have to look at our history to see it. There are so many individuals who completely changed the course of the world.

One person!

They all did multiple deeds to change it but it started with one.

Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, Billy Graham, Martin Luther, Sister Theresa, Helen Keller, Princess Diana and the list just goes on and on……

They all left a lasting impact on this earth but it all started because someone loved them enough to set that change into motion.

The greatest change agent in the history of this world was Jesus. While His death on the cross forever changed the world….. His change didn’t start there!

His life was a tale of acts of Love. Some small and some bigger than life!

By the time He performed His first miracle He already had disciples. He had already showed them Love enough that they left their lives to follow Him. Jesus was around 30 years old when He turned the water to wine. That was 30 years of doing acts of Love before His first “miracle”.

You don’t have to turn water to wine to show Love to the people in your life!

Tell them!

Show them!

Live out the change in your heart if you want to change their world! Never leave even a shred of doubt if you love them!

Can your kids tell that Jesus is the center of your heart from your actions and how you treat them? Your friends? Co-workers? The waiter/waitress at the restaurant you had lunch at?

Because if they can’t…

They will never follow a God that you say changed your heart but not your actions. Can you expect them to change their world, never mind THE world, if He isn’t even big enough to change you?

Show Love! You don’t have to change them… You can’t! Don’t fool yourself. You will never change a single person!

Change only comes from Him.

So live Him out in your life in a way that changes your world…..

He will take care of the rest!

 

Buckets of Time

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I’m currently reading a book by Ann Voskamp called The Broken Way.

If I’m being completely honest I couldn’t tell you how I came across the book. I believe it was in reading another book she was quoted and I liked the quote so I added her book to my wish list. It could have been that I saw one of her quotes on social media…. Like I said I have no clue how I found the book but it was bought for me off my Amazon wish list… so here we are.

It’s a really cool book by a woman who is brutally honest about her struggles with self-harm. Something I’ve never in my life had to deal with but her honesty is intoxicating and makes you want to know more.

So last night as I was reading I came across something she had written and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Kind of just stuck with me so I decided to dig into it a little bit today….

“God gives us whole buckets of time” 

I’m very intrigued by this idea that our lives are a bucket full of drops that represent the days of our lives. That every day we live there is one less drop in our bucket than there was the day before is a way I’ve never looked at it. Every drip is like the ticking of our own personal clock of life.

If we looked at it that way…. wouldn’t we value those drops a little more?

It adds a tangible illustration that we can grasp and understand. We get that once a bucket of water is dry there isn’t anything else you can get out of it. It has served its purpose.

It doesn’t matter if it leaks out on concrete, hard dirt  or if it is used to water fruit trees.

Once its gone it’s gone!

So where are your drops falling?

Are you days wasting away? Drop by drop falling on ground that is too hard for your drops to make a difference.

Or are your drops watering plants (people in your lives) that are starving for the life changing drops you have that will help them grow to produce His Fruit?

Those drops are getting used every day no matter how you use them. Today is one less drop in your bucket of life… so how about instead of making a “Bucket List” we starting live our Bucket Life that He has blessed us with?

She also references a quote from A.W. Tozer:

“The man who would truly know God must give time to Him.”

I pray that your drops are dripping back into the everflowing Spring of Life.

Drip…. Drip… Drip…

 

New Year’s Revelation

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

Just never have and don’t really see myself starting at this point. Every year when you go to church what ever church it is wherever you are there seems to be one theme.

They push you to come up with a resolution or a theme for this year…. as if the rolling of the calendar somehow makes it more important to lose weight, stop cussing or quit being a jerk to your spouse… then it was few minutes ago when it was “last” year.

I don’t guess I’m particularly Anti-New Years resolution…. I’m just in the camp if it needs to be changed that bad, you probably shouldn’t sit around and wait for New Year’s to do it.

Well this year for New Year’s we had the opportunity to go listen to one of our really good friend’s preach and the message he gave planted a seed that I believe God wants me to cultivate.

NOT a resolution but definitely a revelation!

He spoke on 1 Kings 2:1-3.

It’s the story of King David who is nearing the end of his life trying to prepare his son Solomon for that that day.

“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go

As I played this verse around in my head it made me realize how much room for growth I have in my life to get me to a point where I can speak these words to MY son’s and them be able to see it played out in every aspect of my life!

Be strong….. Always follow God’s will! In my moments of weakness, doubt, temptation, anger and any and every other thing that leaves me with a choice of His will or my selfish desires… Be strong and choose His ways for they always lead me to a better place than I’m leaving!

Act like a man….this isn’t a call to be some macho tough guy. It’s a call to be a man of God. It has nothing to do with gender. We are blessed sons and daughters of a God that loves us. Act like it!

Observe…..God gives us opportunities every single day to be His hands and feet…to show other’s a Love like no other love. Look for them.

Walk in Obedience……Walk in a way that your motives can never be questioned. Not because we fear a God that wants to punish us. Be obedient because He gave us laws to protect us not to punish us.

Do this so you may prosper…. Not in a worldly way.  Very often prospering in Christ means giving up the treasures of this world so that we may store up our treasures in heaven.

So not just year but from this point on I want to live a life that lives out this verse!

I want to be strong for my strength comes from Him.

I want to act like a Man of God in every aspect of my life. From the deepest conversations I have with my wife to the stranger I meet on the street.

I want to Observe what He wants from me.

I want to faithfully follow Him wherever He calls me.

I want to prosper in my life and when I get to the end of this life…. I want to be able to throw a huge party in His Kingdom with all my fellow misfits that lived our lives to it’s fullest in the glow of His Grace.

 

Keep Moving

Today is my wife’s birthday. As a present I decided I’d attend a work out class with her yesterday.

Anyone that knows me knows how big a stretch this was for me! I don’t dance, I don’t do aerobics and I’m not going to be  doing yoga any time soon (or ever!).

But it’s important to her so I decided to venture out of my little box and go for her. I figured what the heck…. it’s only an hour!

My wife attends Camp Gladiator classes. Yesterday’s class consisted of maybe 30 people and an instructor. You do various sets of exercises using your body weight, light weights and cardio exercises. Camp Gladiator is a series of courses you work through over a period of weeks building up to what they call “Peak week”. Let me tell you it was a peek at how weak and out of shape this dude is!

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We started off stretching and I was already sweating!

Then “warming our bodies up” and my heart was confused by all this craziness they call exercise!

Once the class (or pure hell) began I was seriously questioning my judgment.

The instructor informed us that we were going to “climb the mountain” and we proceeded  to do sets of push ups, mountain climbs, squats, some other tortuous exercise I’d never even heard of and mixed in some running sprints just to drive the nails home in my coffin!

I literally saw Jesus twice during this session!

All through this pain there was a lady next to us that kept encouraging us (I was the only one of US that needed it). Carla kept pushing through her own pain and encouraging  others the entire time. In between my near death experiences I remember thinking how cool it is that she’s that encouraging!

So after everyone else had went on their deathly runs Carla finished up and said “Lets walk… we just need to keep moving”.

As we walked she asked how I was doing and by then I could take a breath without my lungs burning like the fires of hell. I told her I was good just really out of shape.

She proceeds to tell me about her first time to Camp Gladiator and I got to meet Jesus for real this time. Carla said the first time she came she was discouraged, hurting and on the verge of breaking down crying. She was at the point of going and getting her stuff and quitting when someone came up and told her she could do it. She could push through it! Not only could she push through it but she’d be right beside her pushing through it with her. She walked it out and finished that day and has been coming back ever since. Because of that encouragement Carla fights through every class and looks for the person that wants to quit and walks with them. She said it wasn’t for that encouragement not with words but with actions, she would have never come back!

That someone was my wife!

So on a day that I thought I was doing something “special” to show my wife how much I love her…. I got to be told a story and get to see Carla live out how much my wife loves Him!

When I told Krystal the story Carla had told me she of course played it off and said “it’s not me it’s Him. I just pray for opportunities to be His hands and feet”.

Which is true.

The difference is….Krystal actually pushes through those opportunities that He gives her the eyes to see. She didn’t just tell Carla she could do it! She walked it out with her.

 

I’m A Fixer

I’m a fixer….

Its my nature. I want to help others. I want to try to fix their problems.

As I’ve become wiser (older) I’ve come to the realization that I can’t fix people. I can’t solve their problems and I’m surely not the solution.

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I’ve been blessed in my life to have obtained a ton of wisdom.

Life has taught me through my failures and my successes, through my shortcomings, through my disobedience and my obedience to God and through my pain and my joy.

I’ve learned a ton of lessons in my life and many of them were very difficult while still others were me simply listening to Godly (and sometimes Ungodly) wisdom and example.

So what do I take from all that?

I can’t fix anyone. He can!

I have a co-worker who makes for an extremely toxic work environment. Nothing is ever right and there is a constant negative outlook on everything. Every sentence spoken must contain at least one curse word. Their work life and their personal life is filled with bitterness and negativity.

I can’t fix them!

As much as I’d love to just solve all the many problems in their life that breeds and causes that cloud of darkness over them… I can’t and I’m not called to!

I’m not called to fix them….I’m called to love them.

I’m not called to judge…. I’m called to forgive.

I’m not called to tear people down…. I’m called to build them up.

I think this is the one that comes the hardest for me. I also think it is one of the biggest steps in my life that God is calling me to step over in faith.

What I’m called to do is live a life that shows the Love of Christ!

Instead of letting that toxicity be the toe-hold I give Satan to turn me into a combative and nasty person….. I need to respond with patience, forgiveness, grace and yes even love!

I need to make a conscious effort to not allow others negativity to change my incredibly blessed outlook on life!

Curse words go both ways! I have a log in my own eye that I need to remove long before I want to blame someone else’s words from pulling me away from the life I profess to believe.

I have my own brokenness and hurt in my own life to worry about. It may look different and it may not be worn out on my sleeve the way theirs is…. but it’s still has the same destructive and faith numbing abilities as everyone else’s.

So I can’t fix them… but I don’t have a doubt in my mind that God is calling me to live a life that makes others curious as to why I’m so happy, why I’m so positive and who is this Jesus guy I’m always talking about….

See while our brokenness might be different… the Grace we need is the same.

Are you living a life that shows the life you live is covered in His Grace?