I’m Blessed


I work one day a week for an organization that feeds the poor and homeless.  As they walk past me, it’s not unusual to make small talk and ask, “How you doing?” (A question which has become more of a greeting than something that you really expect an answer from.)

What surprises me, when I ask this question, is the number of people who smile wide and answer, “I’m blessed!”

Blessed“!  They have very little.  Some of them proclaim that they’re blessed and then sleep in a shelter, not knowing if they’ll have a warm meal or a bed the next day.

Contrast that with the answer I receive from those with plenty, “My back’s been bothering me”, “My son dented my car”, or “Not horrible I guess”.

How is it that those of us with so much can’t see how blessed we truly are?

It’s just something I was pondering and thought I might be able to get some insight from you.

What do you think?

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Totally Worth It!

Life is hard.

Let me be more specific; life is hard if you want to live it.  NOT living life is easy.  Just grab the remote, game controller, magazine, drink, or whatever other escape device you prefer and… cease.  Stop engaging.  Stop trying.  Just vegetate.  You have no idea how attractive that sounds to me at times.

The big lesson I’ve learned over the years is that living, REALLY living, is difficult.

Want a great marriage?  WORK for it!  Read books, attend conferences, talk to each other.

Want to raise great kids?  Put your back into it!  Take parenting classes, read, spend time with your kids.  For Pete’s sake your hobbies can wait!

Want to be in better shape?  Complaining about being fat won’t get you there.  Get up earlier and hit the gym.  It’s a pain.  It’s a struggle.  It can be a total drag but it is so worth it!

Almost two years ago I started my own business.  I can’t even tell you how many times I wanted to give up.  It wasn’t unusual to go for weeks without work.  IT WAS SO HARD!  But you know what?  It was totally worth it! If I would have taken the easy way, I would not be nearly as happy as I am today.

Choosing the difficult thing is not only immensely rewarding, but it also strengthens us.

As I move into the next big phase of my life (planting a church) I’m acutely aware that it’s going to be one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever undertaken, but I also know it’s going to be worth it.  Lives are going to be changed, eternities decided, and needs met.  I’m confident that it will be worth it and, five years from now, I’ll be glad I decided to do the hard thing.

So what about you? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?  Was it worth it?

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D21 Challenge: MRE Madness

OK, the challenge officially begins!

In my last post I issued a challenge to get rid of some of the “stuff” that clutters our homes and our lives; to travel lite so that, when God calls, we can be available and not be weighed down by possessions we don’t need.

I called the challenge “Down to One” (D21) and the idea is to take things you have several boxes of, and narrow those things down to only one box.

My first self-challenge is an unusual one.  I have several boxes of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).  I started stocking up on them a while back because they make great camping food.  They’re also convenient when the power goes out for more than a day.  All you have to do is add water, wait for them to warm up, and eat them.  They’re not too bad either.

Well, I haven’t camped in forever and it’s been three years since we’ve lost power for more than a day so they’re outta here!  The director of a local homeless shelter told me they would be massively appreciated there so I’m hauling them over on Friday.  So long MREs!

How about you?  Have you started positioning yourself to be used by God?  Have you been storing food that other people could use?

Tell me how it’s coming!

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Positioned to be Used

My family and I moved to a different house a couple of weeks ago.  There are very few things I really hate, but moving is definitely one of them.  I hate packing up all my stuff, I hate leaving a house and neighborhood I love, I hate hauling heavy boxes and furniture, and I hate sorting through tons of boxes to find what I need to work after we’ve moved to the new house.

One question I kept asking myself during the move was, “Why do we have all this stuff?!”  Don’t get me wrong, we’re not pack rats and we usually only shop out of necessity (as opposed to shopping because it’s fun or entertaining).  I just kept wondering why we were lugging so much stuff every time we moved.  It was really troubling to think we paid for so much stuff that was simply being stored in the basement or attic.  It pretty much sickens me to think that Americans have more stuff in storage than what the rest of the world owns COMBINED.

During the move, my wife kept bringing up really good “What if?” questions.  “What if God calls us to…” and “What if God asks us to give…”

What do “What if?” questions have to do with owning too much stuff?  Everything!  What if God calls us to overseas missions?  What do we do with all of our stuff?  Something tells me that Paul did not have a bunch of junk in a self-storage unit as he spread the gospel across Asia Minor.

What about the cost of all this garbage?  I wish I could get my money back for every DVD I only watched once or every book I never read or every accessory and trinket I thought would make my life so much better.  That money could have gone to sponsor a child or take that mission trip I said I couldn’t afford to take.  An even sadder situation is when people can’t afford to give or go because they’re strapped with debt.  An over-sized car payment or maxed-out credit card can seriously hinder a person from being available for God to use.

It really is a brilliant demonic strategy if you think about it.  “Let people have all they want until they’re too buried by possessions to be able to go when God says go.

I believe that God wants me and my family to be in a position to be used by Him.  He wants us to be ready.  I have a friend who sold his house and moved into an apartment just because God might call him overseas.  That may sound extreme to some, but when God calls, he won’t have to spend a year getting rid of everything before he goes.  I know some people really take issue with this kind of thinking.  They’re thinking, “I worked hard.  Why shouldn’t I enjoy lots of possessions?  I have a standard of living to maintain!”  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “We should be far more concerned with our standard of dying than our standard of living.

So what are we going to do about it?  I’m going to issue myself (and you, if you choose) a challenge.  I’m calling it my “Down to One Challenge”.  What does that mean?  It’s simple; if I have three boxes of something, I’m going to narrow it down to one box.  For instance, I have several boxes of things I’ve filed away for ministry purposes.  It’s time to scale back to one.  Do I really need to keep all those catalogs, old conference notes, and brochures “just in case”?  I also have tons of camping gear (I’ve gone once in the last three years), collectibles, and music gear too.  Some things I’ll give away like I did here.  Other things I’ll sell.  And some of it will go to Goodwill or in the trash.

It’s not about being anti-stuff or taking some vow of poverty.  It’s about living without the trappings of too much stuff so we can be available when God calls.

So how about you?  Are you in?  I’ll be posting my challenges here on this blog and it would be great to hear your thoughts.

Down to One

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We All Have One…

A quick fill-in-the-blank for you.

I’d really like to _______________, but I ________________.

I think we all have something sitting on the backburner of our life.  Let’s talk about it.

Just type your completed sentence in the comments section below.  I’ll start it off by adding the first comment.

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