02 Nov

The Gift of Friendship

“You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin — to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours — closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are friends, Frodo. We are horribly afraid — but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.” Merry, Fellowship of the Rings

“It is going to be very dangerous, Sam. It is already dangerous,” warns Frodo. “Most likely neither of us will come back.” Sam doesn’t flinch:”If you don’t come back, sir, then neither I shan’t, that is certain.”

When Frodo and Sam are at the threshold of Mount Doom, near the very end of their quest, they find themselves nearly without strength to carry on. 

They stagger toward their goal. Frodo, weakened by the great burden of carrying the Ring, begins to crawl on his hands.

Sam looked at him and wept in his heart, but no tears came to his dry and stinging eyes. “I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back, he muttered, “and I will”

“Come Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.”

Great friendship is a gift born of adversity: it is made possible by the common struggle against the world’s darkness. 

“Certainly I have looked for nonsuch friendship as you have shown. To have found it turns evil to great good.” — Frodo

(Excerpts from A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and a Great War.)

22 Oct

Watch out!

Are you grateful or grumbly?

Do you tend to focus on what is annoying or what is amazing?

Would others describe you as a buzzard or a butterfly? One looks for something rotten while the other is in constant pursuit of something sweet!

There are plenty of problems to fill the day. The priority we give our problems determines the altitude of our attitude.

When we look for the pearl among the pigs, the diamond in the rough and the rose among the thorns, something counter intuitive happens inside of us that helps put problems into perspective. 

An attitude of gratitude helps push back the darkness, pain and suffering that sneaks into our lives. 

Gloom begins to lose its grip on our spirits when we choose to embrace the good that desires to cheer us on. 

When you are tempted to grumble, try to counter the urge by recognizing a few things you are grateful for in your life. 

We often get what we are looking for in life. What we see is what we get. 

What are you looking for? Watch out, you might just get it!

20 Oct

Who am I?

I am laid over at Stephanie and I’s favorite airport. LOVE Field. Get it? 

Anyway, I need to grab lunch before my flight departs. And there it is! Chick-fil-A!!! As usual the line is long but worth it because they are on top of their game.

To move things along, they don’t give you a number they ask for your name. Love it!

So here is how it goes down.

CFA TEAM MEMBER: “How may I serve you?”

ME: “A number one combo with a Coke Zero.”

CFA TEAM MEMBER: “Your name please?”

ME: “I Am Blessed.”

CFA TEAM MEMBER: “I Am Blessed?”

ME: “That’s right. I Am Blessed.”

CFA TEAM MEMBER: “Okay! Me too”

… fast forward as CFA TEAM MEMBER calls out my name once order is ready…..


ME: “Can you say that again?”


ME: “One more time?”

CFA TEAM MEMBER: “I Am Blessed.”

And now the whole CFA Team with smiles gets in on it: “I Am Blessed!”

Customers and team all smile and look at me.

CFA TEAM MEMBER: (hands me my order and leans in to say with a smile) “Thank you.”

ME: “My pleaser!” (You knew that was coming!!!)

Have fun out there! Be blessed and do your best to make people smile! As for me? I am blessed!

23 Sep


1. You brew coffee but failed to use a filter.

2. You brew coffee but fail to place the carafe under the brewer.

3. You try again but repeat one of the above. 

4. The background image in this meme looks blurry.

19 Sep


Life is a journey. As it has been said, “Some days are diamonds. Some days are stones.” Life isn’t always a beach. Sometimes, and often times, life is like being lost at sea during a raging storm.

In the book of Acts we learn how the Apostle Paul was literally fighting for his life in the middle of nothing short of a category five hurricane!

Things started out okay. The sun was out and the seagulls were cackling as Paul and his sojourners boarded the ship. As Paul put it, “When the time came, we set sail.” Key point. When the time came. Put another way, when the time was right.

Timing is everything and when the time is right and we are ready there is nothing like being in the right place at the right time. It seemed right. It felt right. It was right. They pulled out of the harbor with eyes on the horizon as the wind filled their sails. Smooth sailing waited ahead. Or so they thought.

We all experience those times when everything seems to be going our way. Life is good. The bank account is fat. Our bellies are full. Friends abound. The sun is shining and our tan line starts to appear. But not too far off shore we begin to experience a few headwinds. They come as a slight breeze at first. Refreshing in fact but before long, our hat is blown into the rising waves. We sense things are changing as dark clouds roll in.

Headwinds mount. The sails are pulled. We batten down the hatches and prepare for what we hope is a passing storm. One night of lost sleep turns into many. Riding the waves puts our head into a spin. The loss of appetite? A mere symptom of life at sea. 

Like life, life at sea can change in an instant. The headwinds we face not only pound the vessel they play with our attitude as well. We hold fast to anything that brings comfort as the winds that now roar in our minds bring new meaning to fighting the storm from within. Headwinds are now impacting our thought life.

The struggle is real. An expected joy ride has turned into a fight for survival. As the planks creak beneath and loosen around us, we can’t but wonder; Will it hold? Can I make it through this? Do I have what it takes to face these headwinds from within and from without?  Will the boat hold or blow apart as trials, tribulations, setbacks and difficulties linger as more trouble lies ahead?

The beautiful sunset that once danced on the horizon has now been consumed by a dark evil that looms and hisses on a violent sea and is mirrored in the skies above. We look up and can’t help but wonder; “What were we thinking? How did we end up here? Why didn’t we see this coming? Where is God in all of this? Is it time to abandon ship? Will my faith get me through this?

The right time, even God’s timing, doesn’t guarantee life at sea will be easy. Life is a journey and the paths we take are often full of twists and turns. Ups and downs. Change and pains. Hurts and hang ups. Disappointments, misunderstandings, lies, betrayals, bumps and bruises are all part of the cruise we call life.

Listen up mate. Let’s face it, life isn’t always pretty. Some days are better than others and some are worse than all the others combined. Life is a challenge. At times giving up appears to be the only option as we consider a permanent solution to a temporary typhoon that has overwhelmed and swamped the bow.

The storm has now become internal. The battle rages from within. The storm is relentless. We wonder if we will soon go down with the ship. But then we remember. This ship is equipped with a lifeboat. It is exactly what we need. Someone has thrown us a lifeline. God has put the key to survival within reach. We can do this. With His help, we take courage. We regain hope and even start to feel hunger pains. Not just for food but for life itself.  If we can hang on for just a little while longer we can make it to the break in the clouds as a glimmer of hope shines through the darkness that has engulfed every part of our being.

As what remains of our former life drifts away, broken and in shambles, we let loose of the anchors and debris that have held us back.  We now find ourselves navigating calmer waters and brighter days as the shoreline begins to appear on the not so distant skyline. It looks like we will make it! Our sea legs have strengthened as we shake off the fear that has gripped our hearts. We pushed through the pain and overcame unmet expectations only to discover that we have what it takes. We didn’t know what it took but when the time came, we possessed the moral fiber, grit and stamina to see it through.

Our ship has come in and we were on it. Our little vessel might look a lot different than the robust ship we once boarded with glee, but we have arrived. We have survived. We made it! What a ride! We conquered the challenges, the highs, the lows, the doubts, the concerns and the crisis!  We were headstrong in the headwind and lived to tell about!

Storms come and storms go as tranquil seas turn turbulent in no time. Nonetheless we are not satisfied to remain at bay. We must face our fears, raise our sails and push off into the great unknown where the clouds kiss the sea. Life was meant to be lived between and on top of the waves!

(For more on the storm Paul faced, turn to Acts 27 and 28.)   

21 Aug

Follow the leader

Are you called to live a life worth following?

A challenge for those who desire to lead:

Are our lives scalable and duplicatable?

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” 2 Timothy 2:2

We are called to produce reproducers.

Classes produces classes.

Lectures produce lecturers.

Disciples produce disciples.

Faithful men produce faithful men.

Purpose-driven leaders produce purpose-driven leaders.

A life worth following is caught more than taught.

It requires life on life. 

One on one interaction as we are called to duplicate ourselves.

Are we worth duplicating?

Would we want others to model our lives?

If they really knew us, what would they discover? What dark realities linger in the shadows of our lives?

Are we leaders worth following?

You can’t share what you don’t have.

What do we have to share?

Are we who we say we are?

Are we able to say as Paul, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.”

We have been forewarned.

“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1

We must take our calling very seriously and ask ourselves in silence before the Lord, are we leaders worth following?

What makes us creditable? 

What well of experience are we drawing from? 

Are we walking the talk? 

How close is our mouth to our feet? 

Faking it until we make it is not an option when aspiring to lead others into battle. The risk of casualty remains forever an unmeasurable reality.

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:6‬-7 NIV‬‬

What example are we setting? Are our lives models for other believers?

Does doing so require perfection? Are we capable of living without fault, error or mistake? What criteria disqualifies us from leading?

We are called according to His purpose, to be filled with the Spirit and led by His word.

Without this daily commitment we have become derelict of our duties and deemed unfit to serve.

We would do well to take seriously the roles we play in the lives of others as we practice spiritual disciplines essential for living a life worth following. 

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11

26 Jul

The 3D Operating System

There is an old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

There is something to be said about this advice. It assumes you know how to not only accomplish the task appropriately but it also assumes you are the right person for the job.

You might know the right way but are you the right person?

A good filter for determining the answer is to ask yourself another question, “Is this the highest and best use of my time?

Like any start-up organization, the Apostles found themselves trying to manage the challenges of a thriving movement. Good things were happening and fast. In the process, some of the finer details were starting to slip through the cracks.

Rumblings and grumblings were starting to appear as growing pains were sign of growth. Truth is, progress comes with a few stretch marks! The team was being stretched and it was starting to show in their countenance and cooperation toward a common goal.

What leadership lessons can we learn from Acts 6:1-5?

I call it the 3D Operating System

1. Duplicate yourself

2. Delegate your duties

3. Do your job

The Apostles were at their personal limits. There is only so much time in the day. You can only do so much. Solution? Clone a “mini-me”! Duplicate yourself! You can’t do it all! You need help!

Look for leaders who are well respected for their core competencies, are led by strong values and are known for making wise decisions.

What next?

Delegate your duties. Everyone has different gifts and abilities. What are the things you are great at and are most suited for your strengths? Are there things you care doing that can be accomplished by other highly competent people? Who, if we are honest, might actually do an even better job?  Stay in your lane! Operate from your sweet spot and determine what constitutes the highest and best use of your time and talents. Quite simply, delegate!

Finally, do your job. Stay focused on what you have to contribute to the team and trust others to do the same as you divide and conquer!

God has given you certain gifts, talents and abilities that are unique to you. The same is true for others on your team. The key is in having everyone operate from their strengths. Highly functioning teams not only work well together, they find great satisfaction in knowing they contributed to the greater good. There is something special about knowing we did more together than we ever could alone.

I love the last line from Acts 6:5, “Everyone liked this idea.”

When we duplicate ourselves, delegate duties and do our job according to the highest possible good, great things start to happen and everybody likes the idea!

Try the 3D Operating System and you might just be surprised what gets done without you!

28 May

Step into the fray of this present darkness

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Satan and his demons are very powerful and active. We live in a multidimensional world.

There is more to this life than what is seen. The life we live is not a game. We aren’t playing around. This is serious warfare. We must live with a sense of urgency and gravity. 

We are at war. Everyday is a battle. The enemy is real and seeks to devour, defeat and destroy us.

We are on the front lines of the battlefield. The enemy is a schemer and isn’t messing around. We are to gear up and put on “the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8)

Fight the good fight, finish the race. Keep the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Notice it says fight not play, finish not quit.

It says keep the faith. Do not lose heart.

We are not called to sit on the sideline. 

We are not commissioned to watch passively as the wolf runs wild among the sheep. 

No, we are called to fight. To finish and to win. 

We are called to be warriors. Soldiers of God. Knights in the Lord’s army. 

We are called to be people of valor, dignity and honor. 

Our commander is anything but apathetic. He is a force to be reckoned with. 

May those who oppose him feel the weight of his presence and may we be found among those who take a stand with our leader as the enemy stands down!

We are called to fight not flight, dignity not debauchery, purity not perversion, virtue not vulgarity, decency not deceit, accountability not atrocity, peace not pain, family not freaks, facts not fantasy, compassion not collusion, deliberation not deception, liberation not loathfulness, hope not hate, faith not fear, and love not lies.

The stakes are to high and the battle to fierce to lay low, hide out and wait for the danger to pass us by. We are called to lock arms, step into the fray and lead the way to a better way of life. 

 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:10-13)

In a fight between a sheep and a wolf the sheep doesn’t stand a chance, unless there is a shepherd. We must trust the Good Shepherd is tending his sheep and remember, he is on our side!

“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.”

“Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.”

“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.”‭‭ (Matthew‬ ‭10:16-23‬ ‭MSG)

“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.”

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭10:26-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬)