Why are You Waiting?

The chances are high that you are waiting to do something. You have been debating internally. You are weighing the pros and cons. The costs are being counted. It is a frequent topic of conversation. You replay every possible scenario in your head.

And yet, you wait.

So often I speak with people who describe their season of waiting to me about things for which they should not wait. They wait to visit that parent and offer forgiveness for the hurts of their youth. They wait to go to counseling to heal their marriage. They wait to have a conversation with their child about their destructive behavior. They wait to make that change.

The list of excuses is long. The timing was not right. The topic did not come up. I am afraid it will do more harm than good. There is an endless list of reasons you have not done it and might never do it.

What would happen today if you stopped waiting for the right moment and situation and made it happen?

Sure, it might not go the way you hope, but at least the anxiety of unknown results will be gone. You will start a conversation and actually know how it ends, giving you something on which to build. You will have detailed knowledge of what you have replayed in your head a thousand times.

Who knows, it might go far better than you imagined. You might bring an end to an ugly chapter of your life. You might find healing for your soul and relationships. Things might end up far better than you ever imagined.

One thing is for sure; you will never resolve your issues if you keep waiting.

Make today a day of action. Pick up the phone and make the call. Stop by their house and have the conversation. Stop waiting and do something.

Your action today is the key to a better tomorrow.

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The Power of a Compliment

They are free. They are easy to say. Most people have an idea of something they could say on a moments notice. And yet, they are the words we say the least.

It’s a compliment: words of praise and admiration spoken to another person.

A compliment is different than gratitude. Gratitude is an expression of thanks for something you did, especially for me. Compliments are words that politely congratulate positive attributes.

The Biblical writers tell believers to build up one another, encourage one another, and love one another. There is no more straightforward way to do that than to compliment someone on something.

Mark Twain is credited as saying, “I could live for two months on a good compliment.” There is power not only in words but in positive statements. Today could be the day that you add sunshine to someone’s life. You could say something that will help, encourage, and demonstrate the love of Jesus to another person.

May your words today be full of grace. May they also offer Christlike praise to other people.

And might I add, you are a wonderful person for even considering doing it. You are God’s unique creation and a power for him in the world by being so kind.

Didn’t that feel good?

God Doesn’t Fit in Our Box

The preacher said, “The difference between an idol and God is that an idol doesn’t surprise you.”

If you flip that idea over, that means that the loving God is full of surprises. He does things in ways that are unpredictable and unexpected. He moves through people I would not choose. His work is mysterious and surprising.

I know this to be true because I read my Bible. God uses a shepherd boy to defeat and warrior. He tells Gideon to reduce the size of his army to win. God chooses a murderer to be his special chosen messenger. He even uses a cross, a place of torture, to redeem the world. The scriptures are filled with stories where God does the unexpected.

I also know this to be true experientially. God has shown up in my life ways I never would have predicted. He provided finances at the last minute. He used my ministry to reach lost people when I was a mess, or the Church was less than perfect. He has led me on a winding path toward a greater commitment to him. I could spend hours telling stories of the times God has moved, and I was completely caught off guard.

The great confession of faith that Peter made in Matthew 16:16, and I have people repeat at their baptism states that Jesus is the son of the “living” God. God is working. His word is active. His Spirit is alive in me and the world. Because of those simple truths, God is unpredictable.

To me, this is what makes faith so exciting. You never know what God is going to do today. Sometimes it scares me because his way might lead me through the valley of the shadow of death. His movements can be through discipline and pain. Most days it invigorates me because I am never sure what exciting thing might happen. Today might be the day he brings a miracle to my life, blesses me in an unbelievable way, or simply allows me to see something inspiring.

Christians worship a God who still surprises us. This day might be the day he shows up in my life and yours and does something amazing. We are called to live in faith, knowing that he is at work and will do what is best for you and me. I can’t wait to see what that might mean. Go ahead and surprise us God.

Do You Have A Listening Problem?

I believe most people are terrible listeners. The words move across our eardrums with no issues, but they rarely penetrate our brain. Very few words then make it from our mind to our heart.

There are lots of reasons for this ranging from the distractions brought on by technology, our overloaded lifestyles, and go clear to personal issues that I am processing internally. We all have a long list of excuses that prevent us from truly listening to what others are saying to us.

There is a small amount of comfort in knowing this is not a new problem. Jesus sends a series of letters to seven Churches scattered across Asia Minor in the book of Revelation. When the words of the letters are read aloud, there follows this interesting statement, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

The phrasing is unique as it says, “whoever has ears,” because almost every single person has ears. But the words have to be taken at more than face value. It is not a matter of whether or not we have these silly-looking pieces of cartilage on the side of our head. It is about whether we let the words penetrate the ear, into the brain and down into our heart and soul. The question is more directly stated, “Will you listen to what was said and allow it to change your actions?”

These words do not just apply to the Churches of Revelation, but also to every follower of Jesus scattered across time. Will we listen to his word? Will we focus in on what he is telling us? Then will we allow it to direct our actions?

The problem with our faith is not a lack of communication from God; it is more of a listening problem.

I Don’t Have to be Amazing

Over the years, I was led to believe that I need to be my best at everything. With extra effort, I can be this awesome Christian, amazing man, incredible husband, an outstanding father, a great pastor, and best friend to all. If I would apply myself, I could do more than I ever imagined possible.

Then one day I read about the Apostle Paul. He tells the Church in the city of Corinth that he had this thorn in his flesh that made him weak. There are numerous theories on what this mysterious issue might be, but no one is sure. I am convinced it was something to do with his eyes. When converted, he had scales on his eyes that might have impacted his vision. Then he would be beaten and stoned, which could have further affected his eyesight. On top of all that he was getting older and with age comes failing vision. He mentions to the Church in Galatia about how he writes with large letters (Gal 6:11), and in the same message, he says that if it were possible, they would have torn out their eyes and given them to him (Gal 4:15). Can you imagine what life would be like as a writer if you had limited vision? Your primary ministry in Jesus’ name slowly slipping out of sight, and there was nothing you could do to stop it.

Paul went to the Lord and pleaded for this thorn in his flesh to be removed. At this point, God gives him this fascinating response, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God tells Paul that his inadequacies are the place where he can do his most significant work. Our weakness, plus God, equals greatness.

Many times, the encouragement of others, including my peers, is a form of self-trust. If I do more, then I will achieve more. If I overcame my flaws and shortcomings, then God will do great things through me.

If I understand Paul correctly, I need to give my best effort, and God will overcome all my inadequacies. His power is shown in my weakness. Maybe the secret to having a significant impact for the kingdom of God is more faith in him and less work on myself. I don’t have to be amazing, and neither do you, God is enough for us all.

But I Do Remember That Person

One question: Tell me about the one sermon or lesson that changed your life?

This is difficult for most people to do. Most of the sermons and lessons we hear are forgotten within one hour of hearing them. We might remember one idea or illustration from a sermon that touched our soul, but most of the material we hear is lost in time.

Second question: Tell me about one person that shaped your life?

This is one that is easier to identify. Most of us cannot describe the lesson, but we can remember the person who taught it. We can recall their kindness, hard work, concern, and love. Often, we can still hear their voice and even have a memory of a specific conversation.

This lesson is significant for anyone who wants to make an impact on the world for good, especially the cause of Christ. Work hard and teach the best you can, but know that your words will be quickly lost, your heart and presence will endure forever.

Every day we have the chance to make an impact for eternity, and it doesn’t require any prep work or precision, only a willingness to connect to other people.

Oblivious

At least once a day I comment to someone, if only myself, that I notice someone oblivious to others. Usually, this word is uttered when I see them do a small selfish act that they do not even notice. It can be as simple as parking in a way that makes everyone else drive around them. Frequently it is walking as if no one else existed in their path. I drive around or step out of the way and say, “Oblivious.”

The word oblivious has a double-layered meaning. The definition is “not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one.” Someone who is oblivious has one of two problems; they are not aware of the people around them and what is going on. The other possibility is that they simply don’t care. Other people are none of their concern. Whenever I encounter someone who seems to be totally oblivious to others, I ask if it is a lack of awareness or concern that plagues them.

This is an especially important issue if you are a follower of Jesus. As a Christ-follower, I am called to love other people, lift up other people, and care for their needs above my own. To walk the way of Jesus, I need to be less oblivious to others. Here are two things every Christian should do.

  1. Become aware of the people around you. This can be as easy as opening your eyes. When you step into a room, look around and notice the other people in your space. This can also be as challenging as asking other people questions about themselves. What do they need and want in life? What are their struggles and successes? Open your heart and mind to the people you pass by throughout life.
  2. Show concern for others. Open doors, step out of the way, say please and thank you, let other people go first, don’t force your ideas, and on and on it goes. Do little things that elevate other people. When you do small things, big things will come much easier.

Every day I encounter that one person who seems to think the world revolves around them. My prayer is that it is never someone who claims to follow Jesus. An oblivious Christian is an oxymoron that we should seek to eradicate at all costs.