Better Business

One morning a bunch of us were discussbbb_logoing the topic of boredom and how that can potentially lead us towards bad behavior.  It wasn’t readily apparent to me that I ever suffered from being bored but, definitely knew that I’ve been considered boring by others.

As we talked, someone mentioned that being busy could actually cause us to miss all of the beautiful things happening around us and to be blind to the needs of others.  So, seeing the alliterative possibilities, I searched for another “b” word that might describe the middle ground from the two extremes of boredom and busyness.  It didn’t take long before the word “being” came to mind.

Somewhere along the line I’ve heard the phrase, “we’re human beings, not human doings”.  There’s a new “word” floating around for the last couple of years – mindfulness – that suggests the idea of being – here – now.

So, we’ve just finished celebrating Thanksgiving and have the holiday season before us.  A time that can be extremely busy but, also has the potential for boredom if we approach our days with a cadence of mindless repetition.  Wouldn’t it be great if we practice the art of savoring every moment and celebrating the people around us?

God celebrates us in a very real sense and Christmas represents His finest gift to us – Immanuel – God with us – Jesus.  If God has become boring to you, look again and realize that we have barely scratched the surface of his deep love for us.  It’s a fascinating way to live.  Find a way to “be” in His Presence, resting in His love.  He promises fullness of life and joy.  

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
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Baffled

BaffledWe love the birds of Newtown, CT.  We bought this feeder at a moving sale a couple of years ago. The activity around this contraption has been incredible to watch.  There are so many varieties of birds that we actually bought a book and an app to identify them.

Then one day the food starting disappearing way faster than normal.  My wife Ibel told me she had actually seen squirrels and chipmunks eating the seed.  Then, I caught this critter in the feeder with the birds.  I am fortunate to have a camera with a great zoom feature and shot this photo.  Don’t you know that the chipmunk actually saw me and posed? Seems like an Alvin move to me (I hope you catch the reference).  As I moved in closer the chipmunk scrambled down the pole and into the woods.  I was impressed by its ability to do that.

I researched how to prevent these intruders and found that there’s a product sold that is called a baffle.  It’s basically an upside down cone that mounts on the pole.  Then, it hit me.  A baffle “totally bewilders or perplexes”, “restrains or regulates” (Google definition).

The things that once baffled me would often keep me from doing as I intended.  This left me with a choice.  Either walk away bewildered and frustrated or change the way I respond to that person, place or thing.  That is where the renewing of my mind came in.

As I sit before the LORD every morning and meditate on His word my perspective changes and my mind is renewed.  I begin to see things as He does.  In this season of my life I have learned that honesty, prayer and action are my best response to what baffles me.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Inside Out

We Believe - Inside MattersImagine my surprise when I woke up on Saturday and saw this sticker “We believe what’s inside matters.” on my Tom’s deodorant for what seemed like the very first time.  Just the night before, Pat Goodman spoke to hundreds of Young Life volunteers and staff members about this very topic.

He helped us to see that what comes out of us is the product of the condition of our heart. What’s inside matters!  Check out this passage from the Gospel of Mark, ““What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Pat went on to talk about how much more we focus on our outward appearance than the condition of our heart.  He used an iceberg as an illustration that is said to have 15% of it’s mass exposed on the surface with 85% below.  We were challenged to consider focusing on the 85% since that is who we really are.

So, everyday I get ready to start my day, I’ll have a physical reminder of this eternal truth (as long as Tom’s sticks with it’s current branding).  Where are you on this?   I can’t imagine being able to clean up my heart without dying to myself and embracing the life of Jesus.  It’s for this reason that He came, that you might have life and have it more abundantly.

Once (or twice) in a lifetime

Icaesarean 2011, Ibel and I were given the opportunity of a lifetime to visit Israel with a group of ministers and their wives.  This photo is of the cost overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  We’ll be in this exact location again this Wednesday as we begin another tour of this amazing nation.

The first time around I wasn’t too good at living in the moment as running our small business has been a consuming experience.  I was distracted each night checking my email.  It wasn’t pretty.  It reminds me of the many times I would be driving to a project totally missing the glory of the day because of my work.

So, this time I get a second chance to get it right.  I’ve cleared the decks with the business and new full-time job I’m holding down with Nyack College.  Each of us has the opportunity to lead a devotional at the location of our choice.  I’ve chosen to speak at Mt. Carmel and Ein Gedi.  This will help me to focus on where I am and hopefully bless the people that are joining me on the trip.

Have you ever missed what was right in front of you because your heart was in another place?  It’s time to live the life we have been given right where we are.  Who knows, I might just post a few notes while I’m there.

Your prayers for our time there are much appreciated.

Back to the basics

Isaiah30Sometimes I wonder how I lose momentum in the things that are important to me.  Writing here has been a great way to expand who I am and hopefully benefit those that read what I write.  At least, that’s my intention is to bless you as you read this. I have to wonder how I’ve taken such a long time to return to writing here.

So, I’m thinking that with all that is going on in our lives, we should listen to what the LORD says here, “In repentance and rest is your salvation.  In quietness and trust is your strength”. Isaiah 30:15

It’s when we stop and take a look at what we’re focusing on, to reflect on our lives that we find out which way our lives are pointing.  For me as a Christian, I want to be pointed towards God.  I need to repent – turn my thinking around – and rest if I want to be be saved from the tyranny of self-centeredness.

It’s when I quiet myself and trust the One who loves me immeasurably that I receive strength from Him.

The next line of that passage is disquieting though, “But you were not willing.”  While there may be a centuries old debate on Free Will and Predestination, it seems pretty obvious to me that I have to be willing to worship, pray, love, be generous . . . . before I’ll ever do them.  In the same way, we need to be willing to repent, rest, be quiet and trust the LORD to know His salvation and strength.  Amen?

Ever make a mistake?

oversleptI just ran an international WebEx that had my alarm clock going off at 4:15 a.m. A year ago, I overslept for one of these events which was traumatic for me and the folks that were presenting.

As I was waiting for the presenters to join the call this morning, they retold the story of how I was “snoozing” and what a “miracle” it was that they actually were able to run the event without me there. They were asked after that event, “Did you use him again after that?” and the reply was “of course”. They had no idea I had heard this conversation.

I totally understand why they remember this story so well. I thank God that he doesn’t rehearse every instance I’ve made a mistake in the past.

Psalm 103:8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.