Disruptive Witness

Causes are as easy to pick up as they are to put down.

I really enjoyed this topic in the book. We are people of cause. A lot of people will follow a cause because of their peers. They do not really care about the cause but think it is cool because their friends are doing it. Stop being part of a cause because it is cool. Pursue a cause that you are personally invested in. Stop letting the world pick your cause. When we let the world choose our causes, we live a half-hearted mission.

How on earth can we redeem each moment for him if we are so absorbed by the next thing that we forget he exists at all?

Sometimes, I think we live for the next best thing or event in our lives. We do not understand the concept of being still and trying to learn in the moments. I have learned the faster I go, the less I learn. We miss moments because we rush through them. The same can be said with God. We live from our computer screen to our cell phone screen and miss moments with God. I have been trying to go to the mountains once a week because that is my time to be still. It helps me hit the pause button and be still. As I look at the mountains, I realize that this world was not created overnight. So why then do we try to overnight our moments with God? Stop making God UPS and learn to rest in Him and with Him.

The mourning we experience reflects the reality that each human life is significant and made in the image of God. 

This statement is so true. It is always hard to hear of someone dying. You might have not known the individual very well, but your heart still breaks for the person. It does not matter if the person mourning is a Christian, their heart still breaks for that individual. My old college pastor told a story once that he was invited to speak at a young person’s funeral. He did not know the person, but he said it was a very sad time. At the end, he gave an opportunity to accept Christ. A lot of people in that room accepted Christ and lots of tears were shed. That story has stuck with me because they were mourning the loss of God’s creation, but that day mourning was turned into joy because people were saved, and love came in.

Alan did a great job writing this book. It really makes you think about how I can become a better witness in the world. We have to do better. We have to stop fighting our battles over social media and start listening more. We have let our causes be our voice instead of letting the love of God speak through us. So, are you ready to be a true witness? If so, get this book.

Finding Your Way Back to God

IMG_7282Finding Your Way Back to God: Dave Ferguson & Jon Ferguson

This book changed my whole perspective on the prodigal story in the Bible. If you grew up in church, then you understand how many times this story has been told from the pulpit. This book takes that story and explains this statement:

“God, if you are real, make yourself real to me.”

The prodigal story is found in Luke 15, and it is about a young man that takes his inheritance early and then leaves his father’s house. He goes, spends everything, and ends up in the pits feeding and eating with the pigs. The first concept is the journey back home from our past. The son had to make the journey home, but he was full of guilt and shame. The journey home brings healing, freedom, and forgiveness, but it is up to us to make the journey home. The question on the way back home that we must ask is, “How did you forget God?” This question must be asked because somewhere along our journey of pursuing God, we have forgotten him, and then we realize that we need his grace and love to make it back home.

Another concept from the book is about a longing for love. On p. 32 of the book it states, “Sometimes human relationships add incredible richness to our lives. Sometimes they just bring sorrow. But none of these relationships can fulfill the deepest longing for love in our hearts. That’s why, in our journey to find God, we need to pay attention to whether our desire for love is distracting us or is leading us to him.” We have to ask ourselves, “Who is our true love? Are we trying to fulfill love by worldly desires or Godly desires?” We have to examine our hearts and make sure our pursuit of God is for love’s sake and not only heaven’s sake. Sometimes I think we get so caught up on trying to get to heaven that we fall in love with the concept of heaven more than God.

One of the last concepts that I would like to talk about is asking God, “Why?”

A lot of Christians or even people that have left the faith want to ask God, “Why did this happen to me?” The book goes over this “why” concept and how that can keep us away from God. Asking God why only makes us lose faith in God because we question his way. We do not understand, but we must have faith to believe that God will work all things out in his own time. It is not our job to ask why, but it is our job to say, “I will trust you, God.”

By the end of the book Jon and David explain the son’s arrival home back to the father’s house. I do not want to spoil the ending, so you will have to buy the book and read the rest of the nuggets of wisdom that they explain. Some of these thoughts are my own that I gathered from the book as I read it. So, please do not hold the authors accountable for all of the statements. I hope you buy this book! I highly recommend it. I will post a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

START

The best things that have happened to me in the last five years weren’t things I planned.

YES! Planned lives leave no room for adventure and faith. To be honest, the best things will not happen when we try to control the outcome. We miss out on opportunities when we try to plan our journey. The only one that is writing our story is God, and we have to let Him write it without our planner on his throne. His ways are always better than ours and are usually a surprise.

Forget finding a purpose. It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty. Live with purpose instead.

I loved this perspective in the book. We spend so much time as humans finding a purpose for our lives that we miss the point. The point is never to find our purpose but realize our life is purpose. If you have a heartbeat, then your life has purpose. Don’t find it; live it. 

But money isn’t a calling. It’s a consequence.

Money does make the world go around, but it should not control your life. I remember running my nonprofit and not being paid to do it. I believed in my dream so much that I was willing to work full-time and do the nonprofit in the evening. I wasn’t called to make money, but I am called to serve people. Pursuing money will leave you empty once you realize you have everything but the dream in you. Don’t sacrifice money on the altar of your dream.

You need to spend more time practicing your dream than you do promoting your dream.

Talk about a punch in the face. Too often, we spend more time telling people about our dream than we do living our dream. Do not tell me about it; show me your dream. Practice, research, and excel at your dream. Stop waiting for your promo to make it big, and let your dream be your promo. If I wanted to watch a promo, then I would go to the movies and watch a trailer. Do not put your dream trailer on the big screen until you are living it and continuing to learn through your dream.

I read this book in two days. Jon Acuff is a great author, and he is a little funny. I am thankful for the person who bought this book at full price and gave it to McKay’s. It saved me some money. I will pay full price for Jon Acuff next book. I highly recommend this book if you feel stuck or in need of a boost to get you back on track.

 

 

10 Seconds of Insane Courage

Every successful person has faced enormous unknowns, but they found enough courage to take the leap and give their idea a shot.

This is the story of my nonprofit journey. I remember being a junior in college with a crazy idea of starting a nonprofit. I developed the idea for a class, met with my local United Way, and the journey began. I was scared to death, but I wanted to help the community. The courage I had was because of the people I was serving. I did not focus on what I did not have, but I believed after every need was posted that community would meet the need. I am not doing the nonprofit anymore, but it is still a part of me. I had to step away from it, and that took a lot of courage, but at least I gave it a shot.

 Fear says, “Play it safe. Hang on to what you’ve got.” Courage responds, “Let go. Life happens outside your comfort zone.”

 I love this statement! Nothing is safe about courage. It is true: life happens outside of the comfort zone. Comfortability traps us in the known, but courage happens in the unknown. You will grow as a person in the unknown. I grew a lot more as a person having faith in the unknown than I did in the known, running my nonprofit. One of the craziest stories was when I received a message from another ministry. It said, “We have a sprinter van that we would like to donate to you for your nonprofit. We see that you are always looking for trucks and renting vehicles.” WHAT?!?! It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was living outside of my comfort zone, and that is when another ministry met a huge need for the nonprofit.

If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.

Failure is the best medicine for personal growth. I failed an enormous amount of times running the nonprofit. The first mistake was not setting guidelines. I came into the office one day and had 15 yellow slips on my desk of people needing furniture. I developed a system shortly after that to reach a target audience. The second mistake was doing everything for free. The next time I do this nonprofit, I will develop a furniture bank based on income. We will setup a system where people/families can buy furniture at a huge discounted price. The nonprofit would probably still be operating today if I had done this from the beginning.

When we begin to change how we think about failure, we have far more hope for the future.

I remember doing the nonprofit and having so many challenges and failures, and I questioned if I was doing the right thing. It felt like I was doing all the right things but in the wrong place. I believe I will still develop this nonprofit idea but in a different location in the future. I have learned from my failures, and I still believe in the future of the nonprofit. I did not focus on my failures, but I chose to focus towards the future because I know it will happen.

I read this book in two days! I actually avoided my MBA work to read the book. It will give you a spark to not give up on a dream. Courage is insane, and sometimes 10 seconds can change your life. Don’t be afraid of insane courage.

Stop

red stop signage under clear blue sky
Photo by Martin Péchy on Pexels.com

This word is probably the most hated word in America. We live in a fast paced culture that likes to keep moving and rolling (even through stops signs. Guilty as charged!)  It is the hardest word to follow when trying to hurry through life. We do not have time to stop and be present because we feel like we do not have time to stop.

I was at church a couple weeks ago, and the pastor was talking about always trying to be good and do good and not resting in the righteousness of Christ. Sometimes I think Christianity has become so many rules that we always try to reach the status of Christ, but we were never called to reach the status of Christ. We are called to follow Christ and make disciples. Too often, instead of resting in Christ, we strive to become perfect like Christ, but that is not our purpose. Stop trying to strive. Rest.

When we try to strive in Christ, we end up failing because we are all sinful creations. We are not perfect, so let’s all be real and know that each of us will fail. This is one of my biggest fears: that we try to become perfect Christians instead of becoming disciples. I saw a tweet that said, “Instead of making a to-don’t list, make a to-do list.” But I question if God really wants a to-do list, or does he just want our hearts?

So, stop trying and let God work on your heart. Stop trying to become the perfect Christian and rest in his peace. Stop acting like you have it all together; be broken and real with God. He is looking for imperfect people. When we stop trying, God starts working in us and through us. Christianity shouldn’t feel like a job it should be filled with peace and rest.

 

 

Everybody Always

You do business with buyers; you do life with neighbors.

Do you know your neighbors? I just moved out of my childhood home, and I knew most of the neighbors on a surface level. I did not really know them, but we would do the wave and talk to one another when we were outside. I think this is how a lot of Christians know their neighbors. We never take time to invite our neighbors to dinner or get to know them. I know I am guilty of this, and I hope in the future- once I settle in a community to call home- that I am able to put this into practice.

I want people to meet you and me and feel like they’ve just met everyone in heaven.

WOW! This statement is hard to take in because it is hard to love people that have hurt you or taken advantage of you. I think most people expect a lot of Christians to fire back, but we as Christians have to learn to love through trials. I think social media has painted a bad picture of a lot of Christians, and unbelievers will judge a lot of Christians by what they post and how they respond to others. We have to stop beating each other down and learn to not post at all. We show more strength by not posting at all than we do by trying to be right.

God isn’t always leading us to the safest route forward but to the one where we’ll grow the most.

Embrace the journey through the uncomfortable. Loving people can be challenging, but it is people that shape us along the way. Each of us can learn important lessons from people that are different from us. Sure, people will take advantage of our love, but that is okay because we learn to forgive them through God’s love towards us. Love is not safe, and it is painful, but it is worth the journey.

People don’t follow vision; they follow availability.

I think this is a shift that is taking place. People want someone to talk to more than they want vision. I think this shift is happening because of social media. We see so much of others that we, in the end, simply want someone to talk to. Our vision has been blinded by our unavailability.

Loving people the way Jesus did either changes everything in us or it changes nothing.

Jesus loved people expecting nothing in return. Too often we make loving people a job instead of a calling. We cannot look at people as a job, but rather we should look at them through the eyes of Jesus. When we see people the way Jesus did, then we will be moved with compassion, and that changes everything in us. We have to quit using the language of “they are a piece of work” or “they suck the life out of me” because those are the very people Jesus would choose to be with. Love people to the point of being uncomfortable because that is when Jesus will change more in you as a person.

Roots

Roots

Last week, I was taking a walk around the park at lunch time, and I noticed that the concrete was not even. I started to wonder why there were so many bumps and cracks in the concrete, and then I noticed the roots. Next to the trail, there are a lot of trees, and the roots have been getting under the concrete and breaking the concrete. One place along the way you can see the roots where it has completely broken through the concrete. It is sad because most of the trail is flat until you get to the parts with the roots.

This trail reminds me a lot of our lives. We all have roots, but we try to hide them under a flat surface- hoping no one will see the bumps along the trail. This is why roots have to be dug up and cut off at the core. You can’t cut the limbs off the tree and call it dead. You have to get down to the bottom of the problem. I have been reading and writing a lot about brokenness and how brokenness has a story.

The story with the roots on the trail is that even if the trees were cut down the cracks would still be there, but the cracks would tell the story of redemption. It doesn’t mean the trail will be flat again, but at least it won’t be so bumpy. Embrace the roots that have caused damage; realize that roots are part of the journey, and along the journey repairs have to be made. Repairs aren’t meant to perfect us but to remind us of what once was.

So, what root is breaking through the surface in your life but is so hard to cut at the core? Embrace the breaking but don’t let it stop you. Journey through the roots but do not let the roots journey through you. Do not let the roots control the outcome. Remember, brokenness is a sign of strength not weakness.