Thursday, July 24, 2014

“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.”

A thought by Bob Goff, (2012-05-01) from his book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World (p. 1). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Do you want to fix people?  Maybe you went into your marriage with an “I can fix them” instead of just loving them attitude.  No one want that, they just want to be loved for who they are.  What that seems to be is an “I’m better than you” way of looking at people.  And that too many times is easy for those of us who are Christians to look at those who aren’t.  That is not a good thing.

I love the story that Bob shares here in his book about his being accepted by his Young Life leader rather than giving him advice.  And that can really be tough to do.  I mean I know how to fix you but it isn’t what I know that makes the difference but it is what I do.  This is what love, acceptance and forgiveness is all about. 

The New Testament talks a lot about fellowship.  And I like what someone said, “Fellowship is two people in a ship or a small boat in a journey together"  We’re in it together. 

Bob says “Jesus is sometimes called Immanuel—“God with us.” I think that’s what God had in mind, for Jesus to be present, to just be with us. It’s also what He has in mind for us when it comes to other people. The world can make you think that love can be picked up at a garage sale or enveloped in a Hallmark card. But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.”

We have to sacrifice our ego that says “I know what to do” and to just be there with love acceptance and forgiveness. 

I checked in today on Foursquare to the Starbucks that I go to here in Pasadena for the 439th time.  I have a lot of very special friends there.  I’m not trying to fix them.  I‘m just wanting to be with them.  Just today the security guard at a bank real close with whom I sit with for at least a half an hour 6 days a week told me how much he appreciates the fact that he has been able to do that.  That I have made a difference in his life.  And I told him that he has done the same to me.  Just being there makes a difference.

So who are your trying to fix?  How are they handling it?  Maybe you need to stop working so hard and just be there.

So why not start doing that today?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

“How we identify ourselves is the thing we will become.”

A thought by Bob Goff, (2014-01-07) from his book with Barna Group, Multi-Careering: Do Work That Matters at Every Stage of Your Journey (Frames) (p. 38). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

How do you identify yourself?  I identified myself for many years as a church planter but one day I retired and in one sense I lost my identity at least I had to change it. 

Bob also said, “As time has passed, I’ve come to think of my careers as a part of my legacy, but certainly not all of it. After we’re gone, those closest to us may appreciate the work we did, but they’re more likely to remember how we did it. They will remember us for our love and whimsy. Only strangers will remember us just for our jobs or titles.” And then he says, “I have learned to be very careful how I describe myself, because people do best at what they identify with most.”

This has been a very soul searching thought for me today.  It is so easy to see what you do in your career as your identity and to give our life to being very good at it.  Oh I believe that God wants us to live our lives in such a way that it makes Him look good but it is more than just our job.  For many that isn’t true and they strive to do all they can to be very successful in the eyes of those around then.  But when they come down to the last cycle of their life they will find it not mattering.

But there is really more to life than that isn’t there?  I love being a husband, I love being a father, I love being a grandfather and I love being a man of God.  That is really what I want my identity to be.  Not a great singer, not a great church planter, not a great writer but a man of God.  Because that is what makes a difference in all the others and being a husband, a father and a grandfather is what really matters to me.  It hasn’t always been true but it is true now.

So what is your identity?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Crummy jobs shape us.”

A thought by Bob Goff, (2014-01-07) from his book with Barna Group, Multi-Careering: Do Work That Matters at Every Stage of Your Journey (Frames) (Kindle Location 193). Zondervan.

I have had some of those job and they each one built something into me.  I was a teenage church custodian of my father’s church.  I also took care of the lawn.  When I was in college I was a middle school custodian.  I have been a painter.  In a small down in western Kansas I painted the Post Office, City Hall, the Motel and Restaurant out on the highway and I don’t remember how many houses I painted inside and out. 
I also was a mason’s tender.  That job didn’t end well.  But each one of those jobs built something into me.  They taught me to have pride in what I did but they also showed me they weren’t what I was going to give my life too.  But each one shaped me.

I like how Bob puts it, “We can draw on what we experience over a long, hot summer cleaning a camp kitchen to help us decide what we want for the rest of our lives. When we’re young, a bad job can be all the wake-up call we need to pursue more education and a better job.”

He then says, “What gets confusing along the way is defining what is better. More cash, not just minimum wage, is better. But most of us want more than more money. We want more meaning. We want our jobs to matter. And not just matter in a theoretical sense; we (and 56% of us say this) want to make a difference in the world. We want our work to really matter to us, to our families, and to the world.”

Now I never want to minimize how a clean church or middle school or a freshly painted house can make a difference but if that isn’t the difference that pulls you and gives you meaning then you need to find that out and the way you do that is by the experience of working at various jobs.

Another thing those jobs did for me as a pastor was the importance of understanding what people go though in their work.  I have always had a very real interest in what people do and I usually get around in conversation to have people share what they do.  People need to share what they do.  Knowing that someone is interested in them sharing the details of what they do can bring real meaning.  And in that we can make a difference.

Now I loved being a church planter.  I loved going in to a place and finding people and leading them into a new relationship with Christ and with other people.  I found that to be so meaningful.  And each of the various jobs I did led me to doing what I did and what I do now.   They made a difference in me so I could make a difference through my life.   

So how are you making a difference through your job? 

Monday, July 21, 2014

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

A thought by Bob Goff, (2012-05-01) from his book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World (p. 25). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

This thought reminds me of the guy who said, “I gave my life to climbing up the ladder of success to find at the end that it was leaning against the wrong wall.”

So many times we do what we do out of fear of failing.   We just don’t want to look bad in the eyes of those who really matter to us.  It is so important for us to be a real success at no matter at.  So we do whatever we can to keep from failing, to keep from looking bad that we will do anything to succeed.  That’s what it is all about isn’t it?  Success.

But Bob says that he has found that he is more afraid at succeeding at things that don’t matter, things that don’t make a difference in the world that he lives in. 

I remember when we moved to Las Vegas to plant a new church.  We were so excited but we found ourselves in a deep financial hole.  Because of sickness in a close family member in Indiana my wife Margaret wasn’t able to work consistently and that really hurt us financially.  I don’t know if you realize it but Vegas makes it money off of people who believe that if they put money in a machine that all of their needs will be met.  Well it was a temptation for us.  The problem for me wasn’t that I was afraid that we would lose all our money but I was afraid that we would win and then gambling would always be an option when we were in need. 

If we succeed at the thing that isn’t meaningful then it means that we won’t try doing what we were built to do.  Being a success can keep us from doing what really is our dream.  

So what are you giving your life to?

Friday, July 18, 2014

“Pain sets us up to become self-centered.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Location 1982). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And that is true emotionally and physically.  Think about the last time you had some real physical pain.  I’m mean you were really hurting.  Who were you thinking about? You.  And the same is true emotionally.

Andy says, “Emotional pain works the same way. And like physical pain, the more intense the emotional pain, the more self-centered we become, and self-centeredness is the archenemy of character. Men and women of character are committed to putting others first.”

But the Enemy knows how to sidetrack us doesn’t he?  I mean I’m in pain.  Take care of me.  But the golden rule says, “To do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  And pain is a way of learning how to minister to others and to show people how God can make a difference when we are in pain.  But it is really difficult to do isn’t it?

I’ve been thinking about people who are in real financial pain and what kind of attitude that some of them have shown toward these children who have slipped into our country.  I mean good people have shown no compassion for these kids who have escaped such horrible conditions where they have lived.  The terror that many of them live with every day is enormous but we say, “Don’t let them stay here.  Send them back no matter what.”  But pain makes us so self-centered.

Christ wants us to love and take care of others no matter how it affects us.  Didn’t He say on the Cross, “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”  I wonder how we would have handled that situation.

So how are you handling your pain?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

“I used to think I needed an office to be a lawyer, but now I know all I need is an island.”

A thought by Bob Goff, (2012-05-01) from his book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World (Kindle Locations 134-135). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

And that beginning thought by Bob caught my attention.  The island is Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland.  I have had an Annual Pass to Disney World and I now have an Annual Pass to Disneyland and I have never been to Tom Sawyer Island.  And that speaks to too many of us and our trek through life.

Oh I’ve looked across and seen it many times but I didn’t think it looked very interesting or exciting so I stayed on my side of the water and never adventured to the other side to see what was there.  But Bob did and he says, “I do all of my best thinking on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. There’s a picnic table at the end of a little pier right across from the pirate ship. I suppose most people think this place is just a prop because there are a couple of wooden kegs marked “gunpowder” and some pirate paraphernalia hung over the railings. But it’s not just a prop to me; it’s my office.”

So many of us step into the norm of life and never escape.  If I’m a lawyer then I need to have an office.  Did you see the movie or read the book by Michael Connelly called, The Lincoln Lawyer?  Mike Haller’s office is his Lincoln car.  It fits who he is.  It fits him.

But what about us?  I mean there is no way that we can make a difference without an office or church building or wearing a tie or whatever it is that our world says we have to do.  But maybe that is the problem, we strive to do what other people do than what God created us to be and to do.

So I’ve been in a rut for a few days.  I am tired of doing what I have been doing and I need to break out so I am going to go to the Fillmore Station here in Pasadena and get on a train and go to Long Beach with my computer and Kindle Fire for a day of thinking, reading and writing.

By the way, Margaret and I are going to Tom Sawyer Island the next time we are at Disneyland.  I wonder if I will see Bob.

So what do you need to do to break out of your rut?  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

“Forgiveness is not a gift for someone else.”

A thought by Andy Stanley, (2009-01-21) from his book, Louder Than Words: The Power of Uncompromised Living (Kindle Location 1942). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (Click on the title to go to to buy the book.)

Now it does have some benefit to the one being forgiven.  I mean it really makes us feel good when someone shows they care enough to ask us to forgive them for something we did to them.  The gift of forgiveness to someone is a very meaningful gift but the real gift is to the one doing the forgiving.

As Andy says, “We have a tendency to view forgiveness as a gift to the one who offended us— as a benefit to that person.”  That is why it is difficult for us to do.  We see it as letting them off the hook for what they did to us. 

But he then goes on to say, “For the most part, it’s a gift that was designed for us. It’s something we give ourselves. Because when you consider everything that’s at stake, the one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one who grants it, not the one who receives it.”

Think about that the next time something inside you prods you to forgive.  For one Christ demands it.  There is guilt if we don’t.  But it also releases us from what happened.  We are no longer chained emotionally to the action.  Just let it go through forgiveness.  And it makes us feel so good.

So what person are you holding on to by not forgiving them?