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Posted on Aug 18, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Deliberate Living, Featured, Perseverance, repost, Values

The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

I’m a dreamer by nature. I love thinking about what’s possible. I spend a lot of my time thinking about all the things that could be done. And you know what, there are a lot more possibilities that most of us give consideration to. So, I will not argue that we should not be dreamers. That’s a vital role we play as people who were created to create.

But there’s another problem I have as well. I get about 80-90% through a project, and start running out of steam. I lose interest. Once it becomes functional, I’m okay to be done. Or, something new has gotten my attention and my focus is being drawn away.

Maybe you’re not like that. I know there are many who have a need to finish. When they’re not finished, it keeps them up at night.

But, I don’t think I’m alone. The intoxication of the dream is great. It’s easy to dream. It’s much harder to work and get things done.

The reason I don’t think I’m alone in this is what I see happening in the world around me. We want to get rich now, get fit now, get happy now, get married now, get a house now, get a new TV now. We want it now. We want to go to bed and fall right to sleep, then wake right up when we want to wake up. And we’re willing to take pills to accomplish this task if necessary. We want it our way and we want it now!

There are a thousand dreams out there, and we think we have a right to them. There are a million different ideas and we think it’s perfectly reasonable that we should see those ideas and dreams come into fruition.

But, there is also a great need in our culture today. We need finishers. We need people who will stay the course and get the job done. We need people who are committed and follow through.

Paul said it best:

24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor 9:24-27)

When you’re training for a race, you’re training to win. If you’re not training to win, you’re at least training to complete the race. No one runs a marathon without training. To finish the race, to win the prize, we have to train for it.

What that means is, we have to endure. We have to stick with it (persevere). We have to be faithful. We don’t quit when it gets hard. We don’t quit when we think we’re ready. We don’t finish training until we have finished the race. You wouldn’t train for two months to run a marathon, then take a month off before the day of the race. You train until you have finished the race.

Endurance, perseverance and faithfulness are ideas that are fading in our society. When we don’t like something, we bail. It’s prevalent. You might even say it’s dominant. We’re more likely to quit something than we are to stick with it. If you had a pair of dice, the majority of the combinations would come up with quit. If we had a magic 8 ball, all the options but one would be to leave.

When things get tough in our family life, we leave. When things get tough at work, we find a new job. When things get tough in our neighborhood, we find a new house. When things get tough at church, we find a new church.

We have bought into the deception. We think there is a magical answer to our frustration. There’s a pill we can take, a 3 step plan to follow or lottery ticket we can buy. We think there should be a magic bullet to solve our problem, and if there isn’t we just quit, leave or walk away.

The world has convinced us not to follow through. Just throw it away and buy a new one. Just sell it and get another one. The world doesn’t want us to follow through because the world needs us to always be buying more stuff. If we’re satisfied, they’re not making money. If we’re happy, they’re going to go out of business. If we’re content, they’re going to lose out on profits.

It’s time to unravel the lie and embrace the truth. The lie has convinced us that things and status symbols are what leads to happiness. The lie has convinced us that contentment is bad and busyness is good. We need to see the lie for what it is. It’s false. It’s not true. We don’t really “need” all the things the world tells us we “need.”

What we need is to endure. What we need is to persevere. What we need is to be content. What we need is to be faithful. And anything that causes us to want to walk away from these concepts is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to give up on finishing the race, is a lie. Anything that causes us to be discontent is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to be faithful is a lie. It’s a distortion. It’s a funky mirror in a fun house. It kind of looks like the right thing, but it’s way off.

What we need are people who are willing to stick it out with their families, even when it’s hard. We need spouses to work together instead of against each other. We need parents to lead their children instead of letting their children lead them. We need people to be committed to providing for their families. We need people committed to loving their neighbors. We need people who are committed to a church body, no matter how imperfect it may be.

Why? Because this is what’s right. Leaving, quitting, walking away are what’s wrong. That’s the lie.

Are there exceptions to this? Sure. But we’ve allowed the exception to become the mode of operation. Now we live by the exception and those who follow the rule are crazy.

Let’s be crazy together. Let’s be the wack jobs that just don’t get it. Let’s be faithful. Let’s endure to the end. Let’s be committed to a crazy love that doesn’t make sense in today’s day and age. Let’s stand out for being so radically committed that the world notices there is something drastically different.

Then when the world falls apart and we are still holding our world together, they will want to know why. And we get to tell them.

It’s because we’re committed to finishing. We are finishers. We don’t give up. We don’t quit. We don’t throw in the towel. We endure to the end. We will cross that finish line. We will get that prize. We will not let all our training and effort got to waste. We will persevere.

“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Paul – Acts 20:24)

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Posted on Jun 30, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, repost, Values

Whatever You Think The Issue Is, It Probably Isn’t

Whatever You Think The Issue Is, It Probably Isn’t

The SCOTUS just ruled to allow same-sex marriage. And then people started going berserk. That pretty much sums up the last 4 days. And, while there are ramifications that should be discussed on the topic of the ruling, there is something more important we need to consider.

It’s easy, when big events like this happen to get drawn into them. It’s easy to dig in your heals on whatever side of the issue you are on and start hurling debates and arguments on people.

I understand the urge, because I find myself wanting to do the same thing. But, one thing I know for sure, is that no matter what the issue is, that issue isn’t the most important thing.

What’s the issue? People need Jesus. First and foremost. That’s the most important thing. But, when we focus on the issue first, we aren’t communicating that to people. What we are telling them is that they way they are living is wrong and they need to change.

We can’t expect people living apart from Jesus to live up to the moral standards Jesus set forth.

Why? Because we can’t even do it.

I don’t think we understand grace anymore. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. We can’t do anything to deserve God’s free gift of grace. If we could, it wouldn’t be called grace. We need to know grace. Grace is what is given to us freely, it’s what gets us into the Kingdom. And it’s also what keeps us there. It’s not just grace at one point in time, but grace as we fail every day to live up to God’s standards.

And yet, here we are, not living perfect lives, while simultaneously condemning those who aren’t living up to our standards.

We have the power of Christ in us to empower us to live according to his principles and standards. And yet we fail all the time. We are constantly being refined. We are in constant need of grace.

Do I agree with the direction our culture is going? No. In fact, I am concerned just as many of you are. And I would argue that if people lived according to God’s design, we would find a lot more peace and joy – whether they believe in him or now.

But, I can almost guarantee one thing, if we react harshly against people who don’t have the power of God in their lives for not living up to God’s standards for life, while we fail every day to live up to that same standard, we will lose whatever influence we have left.

We can’t hold an unbelieving world accountable to something they don’t believe in. That’s not our job. We can’t condemn an unbelieving world for not living up to standards we can’t live up to.

Our job is to live out the gospel, as best we can, in front of people so that they may see our good deeds and glorify our father in heaven. We live out the gospel, and we share it when we have the opportunity. Not in a condemning way, but in a gracious way.

Yes, we have to admit our sin and walk away from it when we follow Christ, but I don’t think that’s the first step of the gospel.

What’s the first step? Knowing how much God loves you. Do you know how much God loves you? Do you know that you have the opportunity to be a child of the Most-High God? That you can share in the inheritance of the King of the Universe?

I don’t think the primary motivation for putting your faith in Christ is the lifestyle we might have to give up. And as long as we start there, I think we’re going to continue to fail. As long as we start with the issue and focus on the issue and argue about the issue, we will continue to side-step the most important and primary motivation for faith in Christ.

The primary motivation for putting your faith in Christ is what you’re being invited into. And when you know what you’re being invited into, anything you have to give up pales in comparison.

So, before you get into that next argument, before you post that next article on Facebook or Twitter that says what you think needs to be said, stop and ask yourself – how are they going to respond to me? How are they going to respond to Jesus if we are pounding people over the head with a morality we fail to live up to? And most importantly, what kind of Jesus are they going to see from me as I do these things?

I wonder if we all started sharing with people about the goodness of God’s grace and what they have the opportunity to step into how differently the world might respond to Christ in us, the hope of glory?

The good thing is, it’s not too late. We can all start right now. We have hurdles to overcome. We have tremendous obstacles in our way. But, if we all start living this way, Christ will be irresistible in us. And people will be drawn to Him.

And that’s the real issue.

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Posted on Apr 28, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Featured, Grace, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth, Values

Has The Good News Become Bad News?

Has The Good News Become Bad News?

We are living in a different day and age than the one I grew up in. We have gone through an enormous amount of change in the last 20 years. I know things are always changing. I have said before, every morning we wake up to a world that has changed over night. But, things have changed a great deal. And they are changing faster all the time.

In contrast, the gospel never changes. Just as truth is always true, the truth of the gospel never changes. The hope for all of humanity is found in Jesus.

So, what is the challenge?

The challenge is our vast desire to eradicate guilt from our society. For this to be done, we must also do away with a lot of sin issues.

We have a hard time talking about sin anymore. I have a hard time with it. It’s hard to tell someone that what they are doing is sinning. It’s hard to look at my own life, see the areas I fall short in and call them sin. It would be much easier if sin didn’t exist and I didn’t have to feel as though I come up short.

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. In fact, I think this is what is behind the legalization of a lot of issues that used to be considered sin. I’m not going to single anything out. That’s not the point of this post.

But, if something makes us feel guilty because it’s against the law, and we change the law, then we don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. Right?

Now, imagine building a relationship with someone and wanting to share with this person about the most important relationship in their life. I’m not talking street evangelism, I’m talking someone you care about.

What is the premise of the gospel? Is it not that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?” Is it not that we live in “glad rebellion” against God, as Matt Chandler puts it? That we are born into a fallen world as fallen individuals, and if we are left to our own we will choose what makes us happy instead of what’s right.

God had a design and ideal in mind when he created the world, and we chose to do something different. We had to do things our way instead of God’s way. As a consequence, we also lost relationship with God. We no longer walked and talked with God in the garden.

But God provided a way for us to be reunited with him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were still rebelling against God, He sent His son to die for us. Thank God for grace! Thanks be to God that there is a cure for my rebellion. And the price that needed to be paid for me to be in relationship with God was paid by Christ on the cross.

It’s an amazing story. It’s an amazing offer.

But, what happens when you take sin out of the equation. If there is no sin, then what is the need for the gospel? What is the need for grace?

Our attempt and desire to rid ourselves of the guilt that results from sinning, is resulting in ridding ourselves from the gospel.

“We haven’t done away with all sin!” you might be saying to yourself. Sure, there are areas that we have yet to venture into when it comes to justifying our desire for sinning. But, we sure have done away with a lot of them. And we hear more and more justifications for bad decisions all the time.

Of course, this all has to do with truth. If there is no absolute truth, then there ultimately is no sin. More on that later…

If there is no sin, there really isn’t anything to be saved from, therefore, there is no need for a Savior and no need for the gospel.

It would even seem that the good news has become bad news. Once we have legalized things that used to be classified as sin so that we can rid ourselves of guilt, if something comes along and makes us feel guilty (besides our own conscience) then that’s a bad thing. We have made our peace and no loner feel guilty and thanks to our progressive culture, we don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it anymore either. But then someone comes along and shares the good news of Jesus.

But, it’s not so good anymore, because instead of being good news that Jesus saves us from the penalty we deserve for our sin, it’s pointing out that we should feel guilty about this thing. And we don’t like that, so the good news is actually bad news.

So, how do we share the gospel in a world that is doing away with sin more and more every day?

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Posted on Oct 21, 2014 in Blog, Featured, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth, Values

True North: The Need for an External Point of Reference

True North: The Need for an External Point of Reference

I grew up watching the Waltons. It was one of the shows that was in our daily diet. I think it was because of John Boy for the most part. The narrative he added to their lives and the morals they lived by from a different time were solid. Of course, you’re probably making fun of my for that admission, nevertheless, it’s was a good show.

I remember an episode of that show where Olivia was out with Elizabeth and Jim Bob (I think). One way or another, in the dense forrest of Virginia, they got lost. They encountered different trials, including one where Jim Bob had to scare away a bear by banging a couple of rocks together. As they navigated their way back to the main road, Olivia (the mom) said that moss grows on the north side of the tree, so that would help them know which way they were going. It was a point of reference. But there’s a problem with it.

Her point of reference isn’t global. That doesn’t work everywhere. For instance is the same true in the southern hemisphere? I know for a fact the same principle does not apply here in the Northwest where moss grows on all sides of the tree. So, what do we do then? Some may say you can use the sun. And while that’s true on a sunny day, we also have a lot of days where the sun isn’t visible. What do we do then? When you don’t know which way you’re going, even a map will do you no good.

The only real answer is to have an external point of reference. Like a compass. You need to have something that is outside of your current circumstance that points you in the direction you need to go. You need to have something outside of you that can lead you to safety. Your rescue is dependent on the external point of reference. You may not see the sun, but as long as you have that needle that is pointing to true north, you can navigate.

The problem we are facing in todays society is that we have removed the external point of reference. It’s not for a lack of tools and things that point to it. Those all exist and have not changed. But for some strange reason we have decided that we no longer need something outside ourselves to guide us. We believe that we are able and competent to lead from within the circumstance.

We don’t use true north anymore. Many don’t even believe that true north exists. Many believe each of us gets to decide what true north is for ourselves. And so, we are all out there in the same woods, using our own true norths to try to navigate this life.

“What’s the big deal with that?” you might be asking. One problem is that we are all sharing the same forrest. We are all on this planet sharing oxygen. Our paths cross. no one lives in true isolation. What happens when my north contradicts your north? What happens when your north gets in the way of my north? Who gets to decide which north is the right north? Who gets to win the battle of the norths?

In this scenario, one might think that everyone would just assume that everyone is right. But that’s not the case. And we can see that being played out all over media on a daily basis. It never happens that everyone is right. In fact, what most commonly happens is that everyone is wrong. What I mean by that, is we don’t hear people commending one another for being right, we hear people condemning one another for being wrong. How idiotic is it of us to claim that what’s right for me may not be right for you and yet, at the same time condemn you for not doing what I think is right?

So, when your north contradicts my north, then you must be punished. And whichever way the justice scales of public opinion are tilting that day is what will be the winning north. The scales may swing widely from contradiction to contradiction, and that doesn’t matter. All that matters is right now and how I feel in this moment.

It does not make any sense. The reason we are such a messed up people is that we have abandoned our True North. The only way for us to find that sense is to abandon the ridiculous notion that I get to decide what north is and turn back to the real source of north – God. For it is God and God alone that sits outside our circumstance, and only he knows which direction we should go.

If you are unfamiliar with Frank Peretti’s illustration called “The Chair” I strongly recommend you make yourself familiar with it. Unfortunately this is an old video and it looks old, but the point is great.

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Posted on Aug 12, 2014 in Blog, Family, Featured, Values

Selling A Beautiful House is Hard!

Selling A Beautiful House is Hard!

We are selling our house we have called home for the last 6+ years. We have so many wonderful memories in this house. We’ve watched our kids grow up there. All of our kids but our oldest took their first steps there. We’ve had family gatherings there. Birthday parties, barbecues for friends and many other things. We’ve even kept a guest book of all the people we’ve had to that house over the years.

That makes it hard. Not just because you don’t want to leave all the memories behind, because the truth is we take all the memories with us. What makes it hard, is that at the end of the day, your house becomes a commodity.

And that’s been especially hard for me to learn to separate memory from commodity. To me the house is worth a lot because I know how awesome you can live life when you’re living in that house. I know how amazing it is at facilitating gatherings of groups large and small, and I know how great it is for families and kids. I know how well the garden produces and have spent many of my own years and dollars building into that place. I know the names of the three hummingbirds we’ve been feeding for years now.

For me, it’s worth a lot because I know how great it is once you’re in it.

But it’s hard to turn from that mindset to the mindset of selling something.

So, we’re selling out house. It’s a great house with a lot of great memories that have been made. And if you are looking or know someone who is looking for a great house, would you consider passing this along? It’s full of great life, and is just waiting for someone else to come and carry on that tradition!

Coldwell Banker Listing: http://www.cbseal.com/Homes/WA/Washougal/4537-ROLLING-MEADOWS-DR-98671/14373586

Redfin Listing: http://www.redfin.com/WA/Washougal/4537-Rolling-Meadows-Dr-98671/home/14651466

Zillow Listing: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/4537-Rolling-Meadows-Dr-Washougal-WA-98671/23256305_zpid/

4537 Rolling Meadows - Our Choices (1 of 16)

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4537 Rolling Meadows - Our Choices (16 of 16)

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Posted on Jan 21, 2013 in Culture, Deliberate Living, Lost Virtues, Pain and Suffering, Values

Dr. Martin Luther King on Faith, Hope and Boldness

Dr. Martin Luther King on Faith, Hope and Boldness

Broken-escalator-Faith-Is

There are two strong themes that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about that are often overlooked for the more popular “I have a dream” related quotes we hear. However, wanted to share with you today, some quotes that relate to us in very real ways this day. The two themes are Faith/Hope  and Boldness

Faith and Hope

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

I took this picture at our airport when dropping someone off for a flight. You can see that the first first steps of the escalator would have been a bit challenging. But if you could get past them, it would be smooth escalating.

There are things we will do or attempt to do in this life that will require us to have faith. If you’re attempting anything big, especially anything that’s new and bigger than you – you’ll know that you need faith. You also know that you need hope. There has to be hope that things will get better. We may face many challenges along the way that disappoint us, but we still have to hope. 

Boldness

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

While the issue Dr. King was speaking of has in large part been eradicated in our culture, that does not mean that there aren’t issues we need to stand up for. There amy have been issues you have faced in your life that you wish you had taken a stand for. Maybe it’s too late, but maybe not. I don’t know what it is for you, but there is always something.

There is always something we feel or believe we should be saying or fighting for, but for whatever reason we suppress those feelings because it’s uncomfortable. [tweetherder]Our lives will not be defined by our compliance,they will be defined by the stands we take.[/tweetherder]

Perhaps you can gain a little inspiration from someone who had faith and hope and was willing to take a stand for his beliefs.

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