Archives For Random

You know you have one (or six). That number that pops up on your caller ID. The one that makes you roll your eyes. Hit decline. Lose your will to live.

(Don’t worry I’m not talking about you).

I’ve had a few of those interactions this week (perhaps I’ve even caused a few of those interactions this week). And it’s usually not even the meat of the dialog that triggers the emotion.

It’s the essence.

The facts can be identical, the news good, the discourse necessary, but some people just leave you feeling heavy. Weary. They constantly accentuate the negative. Focus on the pitfalls. Obsess over worst case scenarios.

(Wow, I just described me during Colts’ season).

The poet, Maya Angelou, shared a powerful piece of advice I’ve been chewing on this week:

“…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Some people bleed life even in the midst of a difficult interaction. Others can soundtrack the grandest of celebrations with a funeral dirge. How do people feel after a run in with you?

Hopeful?

Condescended?

Expectant?

Heavy?

Shamed?

Respected?

Depressed?

Empowered?

What’s your essence? How do you make people feel?

NOTE: If you find you leave others feeling less than energized, you may need to start with how you feel about yourself. Catch yesterday’s post for an important reminder of how deeply you’re loved and valued. Let that essence overflow into your interaction with others.

I’m a sap. It’s true. I feel things deeply and then painstakingly over-analyze why. (You might be a blogger if you have the supernatural ability to transform seemingly pointless minutia into 350 words).

In the weeks leading up to the close of our “no-longer-ours” house, I overindulged in sentimentality. Standing in the doorways of each room, conjuring up memories from the newly emptied space, choking back tears like Brett Favre at one of his 8 retirement press conferences.

A red leather recliner used to offset the fireplace. I sat there cradling a newborn baby Anna the morning we brought her home from the hospital. My wife occupied that same chair when she surprised me with the news she was pregnant with our son, Austin.

A black futon once filled that yellow wall. We watched hours of September 11 news coverage from that perch while our then two year old and only daughter played innocently and at our feet, oblivious to how the world was shaking around her.

We gave our daughter her first guitar in this bedroom. The results are somewhat obvious.

I reasoned, begged, pleaded, and prayed over that furnace when it decided to go on hiatus during the 2011 ice storm. After a good beating, it eventually cooperated (home repair consistently mocks me).

Countless family dinners were served under that light fixture. Countless stories shared. Countless hearts connected. Thank God my wife’s ability to cook didn’t stay with the house. (Oh, and yes, that’s an artificial arm laying on the half wall. My father-in-law is the original bionic man).

I carried a decade’s-worth of sleeping babies, toddlers, and even a few drowsy pre-teens up this flight of stairs. A remnant of pink marker has permanently adorned a few steps (a gift from one of our Safe Families kids). Be careful, the second stair from the top has a nasty squeak. It’s impossible to sneak down to the coffee pot unheard in the darkness of the early morning.

I taught my daughter to catch a baseball in this backyard. Learned my son was a lefty, too. Wrote a few songs while mowing that grass. Pulled more than one kite, ball, and panicked 5 year old from the limbs of that tree. I think most of the dog crap has been picked up, but you might check your shoes.

These memories define so much of our lives. Our mental photo album. They’re precious. Treasures. But this whole process has me wondering…

Do they ever hold us back?

Mark Batterson cautions that the older we get, the easier it is to live out of memory than imagination (science has proven it). We start making decisions based on preservation rather than innovation. To hold onto the past instead of dreaming for the future.

I’d love to hear your thoughts:

Does sentimentality have any place in God’s Kingdom?

How do we honor, embrace, and reflect in moments like these without allowing the emotion to keep us from boldly living into the future?

Has nostalgia ever held you back?

How do we honestly acknowledge our feelings without letting them stall or re-route our journey?

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Admittedly, I’m pilfering. Some of my favorite bloggers are re-posting their top articles from 2011 this week, so I thought I’d do the same (actually, my computer is doing it while I take a few days off). So here’s my 6th most read post this year:

July 1988.

Alright, here’s the situation. A major movie studio has approached you about a high-paying, starring role in a new blockbuster motion picture. The only catch? You have to cuss. A lot. Would you do it?

When you’re 14, summer vacation conversations are full of meaningless, what-if fantasies.

Not me. I wouldn’t. No way.

In that moment, I became a giant of the faith (right next to Moses, Paul, and Carman). The speculation of turning down fame and fortune to take a stand against the evils of swear words undoubtedly elevated me to mega-Christian status. And to find the courage to publicly proclaim it in front of a couple of my non-christian buddies nearly got me a direct ticket to heaven in an Elijah-style chariot of fire.

No doubt, God loved me extra that day.

By my freshman year in high school, I had this Jesus thing figured out:

  • Avoid speaking (or writing) certain 4 letter combinations.
  • Stay far away from cigarettes (although when we heard Rich Mullins smoked cigars we were very confused).
  • Courageously wear variations of your famous “witness-wear” t-shirts to public school at least twice a week.
  • Never let a drop of alcohol cross your lips (we made carefully monitored exceptions for NyQuil during cold season).
  • Tearfully burn any rock-n-roll cassette tapes you deviously collected at least once per calendar year.
  • Never attend a rated R movie (Except Braveheart. Braveheart’s cool).

This is what it means to be a Christian.

(Honestly, that list isn’t as tongue-and-cheek as I made it sound).

I’m certainly not celebrating raunchy films, nicotine, or alcohol abuse. You have to wrestle your own conscience on these issues. But I will suggest that following Jesus, embracing Christ, allowing His life to come alive inside of you, will cause you to care about bigger things than foul language. And the things He’ll ask you to lay down will probably cost a lot more than your secular music collection.

(Like your obsession with your self).

Jesus opens you to God’s heart, his passion for people, the poor, reconciliation, repentance, truth, relationships, forgiveness, grace, love. Jesus doesn’t build a fortress of meaningless “don’ts” to separate us from the world. He asks us to courageously take His life out into it.

When you stand before God, I’m pretty certain He’s not going to present you with a list of the swear words you uttered. But He will ask how well you loved. How well you served. How well you sacrificed. How much you allowed His life to supersede your own.

I want to show Him I cared about things that really mattered.

Everybody has an offensive family member (or seven).

  • The know-it-all uncle who always has to “one-up” your story.
  • The oblivious brother-in-law who tells inappropriate jokes around your daughter.
  • The loser cousin who parks his RV in front of your house and lets his snot-nosed dog run across the dining room table.

The holidays are full of so much joy, meaning, and good cheer (and for some of you, hard liquor). Let’s be honest, some of you are dreading time with your family this Christmas. They’re broken. Dysfunctional. Offensive.

A few years ago, we spent 10 days on a bus with 50 people traveling through The Netherlands. You spend that kind of time in that small a space with that many people, and offenses are inevitable (heck, the odor alone is offensive). So we came up with a little mantra that just might help you through the holiday season while maintaining your sanity and sobriety:

“Don’t offend. Don’t be easily offended.”

There’s no way to control your cousin Eddie, but you do have control of how you respond to his antics.

If there’s real wounding, deep hurt, or reoccurring patterns of troublesome behavior, take them on. Have an honest conversation. Step into the tension. Deal with the conflict in a Biblical and God-honoring way.

But if you’re heading into Christmas just waiting to be offended, I’d say the odds are high that you probably will be. Maybe there’s a better way.

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
-Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

How do you handle your cousin Eddie?

For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about what makes a great worship leader (what, not how you started your week?). I thought I’d jot down a few ideas and share them with you today. Kinda random I know. But I think there might be something important in here for one or two of you.

For the record, I spent nearly 10 years as a worship pastor (I’ve got some street cred).

1. Your craft is important.

As much as we like to pretend “it’s all about the heart not the skill,” shoddy musicianship is never cool. You don’t have to be an American Idol, but you have to be the best you can be. Work on your craft. Put in the hours. Take it seriously. Or do something else. Please.

2. Your life is your most vital instrument.

Don’t skimp on the skill. But the end of the day, you lead people with your life not your talent. Become a person people want to follow. Be a disciple who’s also a skilled musician, not a rock star that sings songs about God. I want to be led in worship, and to do that well you first have to be a great worshipper. 99.73% of that happens off the platform.

My friend and co-pastor Nathan LaGrange is still one of my favorite worship leaders. Not because he’s the best singer, but because his life is worth following. Don’t get me wrong, he’s far from perfect (I’ve got plenty of stories…we can talk later). But Nathan lives his life in pursuit of the King, and when he steps behind a microphone nothing else could be more evident. That kind of worship leading is contagious. Be that guy (or girl).

3. Don’t just play the songs.

Songs are tools. Use them well. We’re glad you can memorize David Crowder’s latest studio arrangement, but learn to wield your own sword. Don’t just be a mediocre cover band. Lead worship. (Just a pet peeve of mine).

4. Love people.

It’s OK to love music (in fact it’s more than just OK), but if you don’t love people don’t be a worship leader. Great worship leaders have a pastor’s heart. They actually care about those they lead. If you’re just in it for the music, there are plenty of other platforms for your talent. Use your gifts to support a worship leader, just don’t be one. Loving people isn’t optional.

Just a few random thoughts for your Monday morning. Do you agree? Anything I’ve left out?