Archives For Daily Insights

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of preaching for my friend Nate Pyle at Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Indiana. He trusted me to share whatever was on my heart at the time, so I took the opportunity to tell the story of my medical scare earlier this year and what God has been teaching me through the fear and unknowns.

If you’ve experienced past difficulties in your life, are going through them right now, or will wrestle with suffering in the future (if you’re reading this, that’s you), I hope you can find some perspective and encouragement from my story. The audio link is below.

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Two things:

1. If this message speaks to you in any way, I’d appreciate hearing about it in the comment section of this post. Perhaps your story can encourage someone else as well.

2. In this message, I make some (attempts at) humorous quips about my wife, her understandable panic when she found me unconscious, and her growing frustrations with having to drive me around for 11 weeks. I think they unintentionally painted the wrong picture about her. I want to go on record here by clearly declaring the rock she was throughout my recovery, selflessly serving and walking with me through one of the scariest season of our 19 year journey together.

Thanks for listening. God bless,

Erik

There are three different ways to receive to a gift:

gift

1. With guilt.

I don’t deserve this.

What will people think?

They know I didn’t earn it.

How do I embrace this?

I’m so embarrassed.

Preoccupied with self and obsessed with appearances, this response is helpful to no one.

2. With entitlement.

Come on, we all know this was mine to begin with.

Earned.

Expected.

Keep the influx coming.

Don’t you know who I am?

Fueled by an oblivious sense of self-importance, this response is also helpful to no one.

3. With gratefulness.

Wow, thank you!

I don’t know what to say.

How can I honor this gift?

How can I serve this opportunity?

How can I show everyone what this means to me?”

Drenched in gratitude, this gift becomes a blessing to everyone.

Take a second and think about your gifts. A relationship. Family. Your job. A place to live. Your church. That next breath. (Your salvation). How do you receive them? Have you even stopped to considered that they’re gifts?

Choose number three.

On the last day of school, my 8 year old son came home with a giant Snicker bar and accompanying certificate. He won the 3rd grade “Snickers” award for his uncanny ability to make people laugh. His sharp, witty, beyond-his-years comedic quality makes him both hilariously entertaining and difficult to deal with (often at the same time). I wonder if Seinfeld drove his parents crazy, too?

Humor has undoubtedly become a defining piece of my son’s personality. And he knows it.

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When I was his age, I was busy forging my own traits.

I was the likable kid.

I obeyed the rules, respected adults, was (mostly) kind and encouraging to my friends. I thank (and blame) my mom for that amiable DNA trait. For the most part, everyone liked me, and I liked being liked. As I got older, I learned to like it even more. Seems harmless (even desirable) enough, right?

But without proper perspective, temperaments like this can eventually morph from mild dispositions into self-defining identities. More than a tendency toward which we lean, they actually become hard-wired into who we are. This is a problem.

In my case, life has forced me to confront and challenge people over the years. They didn’t always like it (go figure). And they haven’t always liked me. With likable as an self-defining identity, knowing someone doesn’t like you isn’t something that can be shrugged off easily. In fact, the slightest disruption in my “likability equilibrium” used to haunt my every thought and decision until balance could be restored. Being liked was an obsession.

Try leading your family, your church, or your business that way. Good luck.

These are the types of identity crises the Gospel has come to heal.

When your identity is found in what Christ did for you, these false identity idols can be put to death. We can step into life freely and boldly, able to handle the difficult challenges that will inevitably arise because who we are has already been settled. 

Son.

Daughter.

Forgiven.

Accepted.

Loved.

When these truths finally swallow our hollow, self-made identities, we truly begin to live the way God intended.

What personality traits have you allowed to define you?

  • Funny? What happens to your identity when no one laughs?
  • Rich? What happens to your identity when that business deal goes bad?
  • Intelligent? What happens to your identity when you give the wrong answer?
  • Pretty? What happens to your identity when age wins its battle?
  • Likable? What happens to your identity when you have to make a controversial decision?

Jesus? It is finished.

Is there something about your self-made identity that is holding you back?

I’ve been a rabid Colts fan since 1984. Lucky enough (pun intended) to have family access to season tickets for many years, I’ve been to more than my fair share of heart-pounding games. But I’ve never seen anything like this past weekend’s 28 point comeback at Lucas Oil Stadium. I’m still recovering.

My 14 year old (ESPN loving) daughter was high fiving complete strangers, even my mom was screaming loud enough to lose her voice, and the UT law student who scalped the seat to my left uncontrollably bear-hugged me like I was his long-lost brother.

Complete euphoria. Here’s 30 seconds of the post-game hysteria:

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After the adrenaline finally exited my system (I think it was early Wednesday morning) a sobering reality smacked me right in my blue and white painted face.

The sweetest victories – the epic, legendary, tell-your-grandkids ones – are also full of failures. Sure, any playoff win in sweet. But it wouldn’t have been as sweet without two and a half quarter of near disaster mixed into the storyline.

Fumbles.

Interceptions.

A four-touchdown deficit.

Yet with truckloads of embarrassment, judgment, and heckling in tow (and that was just from me), the Andrew Luck led Colts just kept playing, and pulled out a win we will still be talking about a generation from now. We loved that win because it was also filled with the sting of potential loss.

***BESTPIX*** Wild Card Playoffs - Kansas City Chiefs v Indianapolis Colts

There’s a fine line between mythical and disgraced, and the two are often more intertwined than we’d like to admit. Epic victories usually require epic failure. But when I make a mistake, when life maneuvers away from my intricately designed pre-game-plan, I stop throwing. My fragile ego can’t handle the identity crisis that comes from (fair or unfair) criticism.

Here’s the life-lesson I learned from my Colts historic comeback:

Be willing to blow it. Be willing to look like a fool. We all love the elation of a legendary victory, but few of us enjoy the setbacks, the criticism, and the booing that are almost always part of the winning recipe.

(Oh, and drunk guys give really intense bear-hugs).

Epic stories are full of tension. Will they succeed? Will they fail? The moments we can’t stand are undeniably wrapped up with the moments we don’t want to live without. Embrace both.

Go Colts.

It’s that time of the year again. You know, the ending. Oh yeah, and the beginning. That too.

The intersection of what was and what is yet to be that gets us all thinking about gym memberships, savings accounts, and accomplishing something greater with our lives in the New Year. Of course, the best remedy for this manic condition is usually called February, but that doesn’t stop us from conjuring up aspirations of a more “epic” self as we brush up on the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne.

Lose 30 pounds.

Open that 401(k).

Get out of debt.

Run a marathon.

Read through the whole Bible.

Good goals. Noble resolutions. Valid aspirations. And I’m by no means suggesting that you shouldn’t make them. Drop those 3 dress sizes, ingest more of the Scriptures, call up The Dave Ramsey Show and scream “we’re debt free!” I’ll even cheer you on (although if you’ve chosen a marathon it will be from the water stations and not running next to you).

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The older I get though, the more I realize that epic is sometimes easier. It’s ordinary I don’t always do very well.

Let’s be honest, it’s empowering to set goals. It gives us energy to start and a finish line to target. Goals are important (in fact I just asked our staff to bring 3 to our next meeting). But ordinary can be pretty extraordinary, too. In fact, I think becoming awesome at ordinary can change everything. Here’s a few random, ordinary ideas to get you thinking:

Show up on time for dinner with your family.

Emotionally engage with your wife’s stories.

Share your fears with those closest to you.

Stop and really listen to the people you work with.

Offer to help someone who’s struggling.

Get on the floor and play with your kids.

Tell the people you love that you love them.

No mountains to climb. No finish line to cross. No grandiose achievement to post on Facebook. Just simple, everyday actions that probably won’t garner much attention from your peers, but just might change your life (and the lives of those around you) in the most profound of ways.

I don’t know, it’s just a thought. But what if we resolved to be awesome at ordinary this year?