Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Virtue of Vertical Gratitude

I don’t know about you, but this time of year can be complicated. On one hand, you have Thanksgiving with its communal/perspective perks; on the other, you have those pesky holiday blues that just won’t go away.

Granted, abiding in the splendor of selfless tradition with friends and family is a wholesome recipe. But perhaps you’re like me in the sense you’re physically and emotionally exhausted wondering how you could be even the slightest bit down in the midst of an amazing year.

If you can relate, let’s cut into this conundrum, shall we?

For most of us, it’s fair to say Thanksgiving has horizontal value in the sense we look around and find reason to express gratitude. After all, we only need a breath and a pulse to be thankful, right?

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if thanksgiving if really thanksgiving if it has a slopeless trajectory. Yes, we can most certainly be grateful for what is tangible, be it the mash potatoes and gravy, a dominating performance by Ezekiel Eliott, and/or a nice, comfy couch on which to take a turkey-induced nap.

Yet, if our thanksgiving has no vertical value in the sense we forget to look up and declare our praise to God, it makes sense why we may be closer to thankless than thank-full.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul gives us one of the greatest definitions and applications of thanksgiving: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in ALL circumstance; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

For me, a couple things stand out…

1) You gotta love Paul’s savvy in further establishing Thanksgiving as both a Trinitarian and vertical concept (i.e. deep crying out to deep - the Spirit in us declaring thanksgiving to God the Father through God the Son) with his integration of Colossians 3:16-17:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

2) For thanksgiving to be thanksgiving, it must worship in and through ALL things, even the crazy, turbulent moments/seasons of life. Why? ‘Cause God made us this way! Yes, suffering sucks. I get it. But when you consider God established rejoice-based perseverance as an escape route from joy-depleting circumstances, you essentially position your thanksgiving to have increased trajectory. Pretty cool, eh?

3) When you rejoice and give thanks in ALL circumstances, not only will your vertical thanksgiving take off, but your horizontal thanksgiving will take off as well given both components can’t be mutually exclusive with God the Lord of both. With that said, while a gift can surely inspire one to give thanks to the Giver, it’s only when we give thanks to the Giver purely out of who He is (as opposed to what He gives) that we see our gratitude reach the next level.

4) Finally, the will of God in Christ Jesus can be experienced not only as conforming into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29), but also meditating on the sovereignty of God and what its sovereign over. For instance, when I focus specifically on God's sovereignty, not only do I find greater joy in acknowledging God's faithfulness, but I also find my thanksgiving to mature in consistency and intentionality over time.

*Selah*

Regardless of what your plans are tomorrow, I encourage you: make it a point to look up and to declare your thanksgiving vertically as much as you share it horizontally. You'll find the more you commit to this as a daily reality, the more you'll be able to rejoice and give thanks in ALL things.

And of course, I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving and look forward to rejoicing in all circumstances alongside you in the days ahead.

~ CF





Photo creds: snapapp.comCreative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Monday, November 21, 2016

LEGACYouth Special: Desperation

LEGACYouth Message Notes: Wednesday, November 9
This morning, as I was considering what the Lord would have me share tonight, the first thing he told me was, ‘Why is it more people are desperate for change than they are for me?

In other words, why are so many people more desperate for what I can give than they are what I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the problem is not a lack of desperation in our hearts (after all, we were hardwired with this from the beginning); rather, it’s the misplacement of desperation that is the real hindrance.

For most, when we misplace something valuable, we're like woman with the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) in the sense we tear up the house until we find what we’re looking for. Unfortunately, when it comes to desperation, we’re far too content in it being there or not. Is it just me or do you find this ironic? The idea we’re not desperate to be desperate…the notion that we’ll continue with our own coping mechanisms, wishful thinking, and thought patterns to get us through the times when we’re the ones who are lost.

So having received this download on the morning commute, I was pleasantly amused when I sat down at my work desk, pulled up John Piper’s ‘Desperation D’, and noted something similar:

Desperation: Whatever it takes, Lord, decrease my proneness to wander from you by keeping me desperate for you.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

Note how with this D, we have a ‘decrease’, not an increase. I suppose it could have been written, ‘Lord, increase my desire to be close to you’; however, when you consider God is always near (we’re technically always close to him in some way), it makes sense to specifically ask the Lord to decrease our wandering tendencies.

The questions then are: Why do we wander? And how do we overcome?

When you wander, do you find its predominantly distraction-based? Is it because you’re so easily dissatisfied, enough to the point you inadvertently carry that over into your walk with God?

Personally, when I wander, it’s because I’m trying to find something I feel God can’t provide. It’s like I want God to be who he says he is, but when I start to doubt he’ll come through for me, I preserve my idea of him by not giving a chance to come through for me.  

I believe when we talk about overcoming, it goes back to what we were talking about a few Sunday’s ago. When we wander in search of 'self-something', it’s at that point we must fall back on God even if we’re unsure if he’ll catch us or not.

‘Cause truth is: not only will he catch us, but he’ll fuel our desperation for him; we just got to let him.

As far as other ways we overcome, I suggest embracing the following trifecta as mentioned earlier in Psalm 119:14-16
  • Rejoice in following God's statutes (joy in obedience)
  • Meditate on God's precepts and consider His ways (joy in understanding)
  • Delight in God's decrees and hold tight to His word (joy in trusting)

Of course, this is just an outline. How we do these things is something I want to circle back to at some point. But for now, I want to emphasize the fact we must decrease in our wandering if we want to increase in our desperation for God, to be like Christ, and to be greater filled with the Holy Spirit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Content inspired by John Piper; Photo Creds: Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Friday, November 18, 2016

4 Family & Budget Friendly Ways to Enjoy the Holidays

We all know Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year wrapped with opportunities to live like no one else by giving like no one else; however, when it comes to our wallet and debt snowballs, it’s often far from the happiest season of all.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to give cheerfully while remaining frugal. Here are 4 family friendly ways to enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank.
  1. Go Christmas light hunting
While cutting outdoor Christmas lights from Christmas décor may be a solid way to trim holiday spending, this doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed. For those who prefer decking the halls without extra power strips, consider taking a family outing to a Christmas drive-through light show, a downtown square, a fancy hotel, or even a reputable neighborhood known for its Christian light displays.



2. Sing loud for all to hear

Remember the scene in Elf when Buddy admits the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear? Well, he’d be correct. Caroling can only be caroling in the context of community. For some, singing may not be a forte by a long shot; nevertheless, it’s still a costless way of livening up the Christmas spirit among those most dear to us or those less fortunate. Whether this involves writing your own Christmas carols, partaking in a family sing-off, or scheduling an all-family caroling session at a local assisted living facility, you’ll find there are many fun ways to partake in caroling around the holidays.



3. Use cash…and customer loyalty reward points

Whether you’re a spender or a saver, having a set ceiling for your holiday budget is important. Yet, when it comes to debit cards, no question, the temptation to overspend is real. If bursting your budget bubble is a concern, why not set up a cash only spending system while using Every Dollar to fine-tune your budget? That way if you’re tempted to go over, you can’t because once it’s gone it’s gone. Problem solved. Plus, if you run out of cash prematurely, you can simply re-direct your giving focus. For instance, you may have redeemable customer loyalty reward points like a free local coffee shop beverage you can use to bless someone else. Bottom line: You don’t have to always buy something to give something.



4. Host a fun family Christmas party

While attending or hosting formal gatherings have their place around the holidays, often times the best Christmas parties are the ones you can enjoy with family in the cozy comfort of home. If you’re searching for a new family tradition, try throwing your family a DIY gift making party. This may include dressing up as your favorite Christmas characters and making baked goods as gifts for family friends. Or you could choose a party theme from Pinterest and create it into an open house for your neighbors. The possibilities are endless.




Then again, that’s the joy of having a merry budget: being outrageously generous, enjoying the process, and intentionally living it all year round.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fly the W: Cubs Win, Cubs Win!





I remember the summer of '95 like it was yesterday.

A doughy little lad of 9 years, fresh off a mission trip to Seoul and a series of doctor’s appointments in which I was literally told to stop eating seconds, I was all about two things: 1) Jim Cantore/John Hope on The Weather Channel (very active hurricane season…look it up) and 2) Chicago Cubs baseball.

Like most mid ‘90’s southside converts, I couldn’t get enough of the legendary Harry Caray, his underrated partner in ‘prime’, Steve Stone, the pre-steroid Sammy Sosa, the consistency of Mark Grace, the defensive reliability of Brian McRae, the sage shortstop play of Shawon Dunston, home runs hit to Waveland Avenue, and the goosebumps every time I heard, ‘This is America’s #1 sports station, WGN-TV…Chicagooo…

To put in perspective, an afternoon of Cubs baseball, for me, was the equivalent of going to Six Flags during a severe thunderstorm watch. Each week, a fresh slate of opportunities to watch my favorite players go up against the game’s greatest.

I remember every Sunday, I’d run out to the driveway, collect the morning newspaper, pull out the TV guide, and circle all the Cubs telecasts. And if the Cubs were off, I’d simply pop in ‘The Rookie’, ‘Major League’ or ‘Angels in the Outfield’ to hold me over. 

I remember my first Cubs game. Fulton County Stadium. August 24, 1996. Cubs built a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. The future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg had homered in the 4th inning. And now Turk Wendell was out to seal the deal. I was on cloud nine, which on this day, was behind the plate in the upper deck. I could see everything…and I gotta tell ya…it was absolutely glorious. Forget the fact I was a copout trying to blend in with my tomahawked Fred McGriff sign in a place where signs didn’t belong. I honestly couldn’t care less. I was just a kid at a baseball game in love with his team.

So picture this: we’re in the bottom of the ninth. Lemke strikes out. Mordecai grounds out. And just like that…we’re just one measly out away from upsetting the big, bad Braves.

Then the skies start to darken. Grissom singles, Pendleton walks. Bye, bye, Wendell. Enter Larry Casian. Chipper Jones hits a RBI single to right scoring Grissom and sending Pendleton to third. Up next? Fred freakin’ McGriff.




From my view, he was a peanut, but down on the ground, 1996 McGriff was legit S.I. cover material fresh off a 1995 World Series win. The guy was loaded and everyone knew it. So when he stepped into his stance, I was dropping back in my seat.

After all, I may have been 10, but I was old enough to know what happens next…

First pitch…low and away. Ball one. Second pitch…down the middle. Strike one. Third pitch…foul ball. Strike two/ Oh, my ‘lanta. Just one more strike. One more swing and a whiff for Fred McGriff. We can do this!

Fourth pitch…Casian winds. I close my eyes. Suddenly…*CRACK*. The ball is up, it is high…it is gone.  

Game over.

Braves win 6-5 on a three-run bomb by McGriff. The crowd is going bananas. Strangers are high-fiving. Tears of joy and secondhand alcohol are flying across the stadium. But there I was…crushed like the day my fourth grade teacher gave me my first C ever in reading comprehension.

And it was at that point…that specific moment in time when I realized why they called the Cubs, ‘lovable losers’. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. But after all that, I was well on my way…

For the next decade, I stuck with my Cubs through all the ups (’98 home run race between Sosa & McGwire, 2003 NLDS revenge series win vs. Braves (again gotta love the irony)) and downs (Bartman, 2001 & 2004 late season collapses, playoff futility/wasted seasons of mid ‘00’s), bleeding red and blue at every opportunity.

But after the team was blown up in the mid/late ‘00’s, my fandom luster couldn’t help but fade some. Trust me… I wanted to root for the Cubs. I wanted to remain diehard. But when your new favorite player is wearing the red and white under the arch (i.e. Albert Pujols), anyone can tell that’s a tough predicament. Kinda like watching late 2000’s post-Tina Fay/Jimmy Fallon SNL hoping it could be as funny as the Farley/Spade/Kattan/Ferrell era.

Still, there was always a special underground undercurrent of devotion to Cubs nation. Once a Cubbie, always a Cubbie, I guess.

Flash-forward twenty years after the Fulton County collapse of ’96 and I’m lying in bed next to my wife watching last night’s game 7 on my iPhone, where once again, the Cubs are blowing a sizable lead. Chapman is doing un-Chapman like things. The momentum is rapidly shifting. And the spirit of McGriff has apparently penetrated the bat of Rajai Davis. I look over and tell Lyssah, ‘This is the part when the Cubs blow it. I’ve literally seen this before.’ Even she understands the magnitude of what’s going on.




Bottom of the eighth…and I’m sweating more bullets than a Metal Storm. ‘Can we just get through the inning tied, please,’ I say to myself.

Well, it’s at this point the baseball gods must have heard me because not long after they send a reverse-jinx rain delay to stall the Indian’s rally. Meanwhile, I’m closing my eyes once more, praying for mercy to merge with history in a way my grandparent’s generation never knew.

Unfortunately, I’m no match for a super long day’s work as I fall asleep as the tenth begins. One more hour to dream of what millions upon millions have long anticipated.

Around 12:48 am, my tummy wakes its master. ‘You didn’t eat enough dinner. Feed me ‘Cinnamon Toast Crunch’! As I make my way to the kitchen, I grab my phone and wouldn’t you know it…two texts, one from the Italian Stallion (i.e. Joel DiModica) and one from my little couz. I open the latter, note a Cubs logo sent with fireworks, and suddenly I’m nine years old again watching the end of my first Cubs game, caught up in the splendor of knowing…


 Cubs are 'lovable losers' no more...









Photo creds: 2016 Chicago Cubs Hype Video; gettyimages

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

LEGACYouth Special: A Dive into Mark 5

So yesterday I’m reading Mark 5 and it hits me: Why does Jesus tell the once demon-possessed man to go home to his people and tell them how much the Lord has done for him (v. 19), but gives strict orders to the ‘sleeping’ girl’s family not to let anyone know (v. 43)?

At first glance, Jesus seems inconsistent. Why tell one party one thing only to contradict it with another?



I mean…yeah, we can settle on the fact Jesus was always following the Spirit’s lead. Fair enough.

Still, I can’t help but want to dig a little deeper.

Let’s dive in…



In 5:1, we find Jesus, fresh off of calming a tempest (4:35-41), crossing the lake to Garasenes, a country region lying on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Upon arrival, Jesus is immediately approached by a demon-possessed man decked with torn chains coming out from the tombs. So right away, it’s interesting to note not only is this the ultimate Halloween Bible read, but also this man comes to meet Jesus, not the other way around.

Moving on, we note the demon reveals itself as Legion (“for we are many” – v. 9), begs to be cast into swine, Jesus grants the request, and ultimately the stage is set for the man to go into ‘woman at the well’ mode (i.e. go into town1 , proclaim the good news of what Jesus has done, and watch as everyone is amazed).

Now, check out v. 21 – “When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.”

Again, we see life flocking to Jesus upon arrival. Coincidence? I think not considering the west side is more populated plus Jesus’ reputation has already gained momentum by this point. Yet, it’s here I want to pause briefly to highlight a key contrast.

When Jesus arrives at Gerasenes, how many people come to him? At least one that we know of, right? How about the flip side? ‘A large crowd’, you say? You’d be correct.

Granted, the population difference may seem like a subtle detail; however, when we stack it against proceeding context, we ultimately see how it’s a microcosmic glimpse into part of the answer.



What is the answer, you ask?

I’ll get to that in just a sec. For now, it’s important we understand the correlation between Jesus being closely tethered to the Father and how this enabled him to know the best way for the truth to get out. In the case of Mark 5, Jesus, having already revealed his nature on the west side, knew the best way for the good news to spread at Gerasesnes was for the ex-possessed man to ‘go tell it on the mountain’ per se. So in essence, what occurred at the Decapolis post-healing centered on the truth of Jesus’ identity being made known.

Yet, going back to the west side, the truth of Jesus’ identity was already being made known. Thus,  it’s fair to say Jesus’ ‘cross-country’ trek  was just as much about making the truth of his power known as it was confirming the truth of his identity (see healing of woman with bleeding problem (‘discharge’ meets discharge) – v. 25-34).

Selah.

Before I forget, I find it amusing how ‘crowd’ is mentioned not once, not twice…but five times between v. 21-31. If in fact the author intended the reader to grasp the chaotic backdrop, mission accomplished. Yet, the point here, I submit, is not so much Jesus having to endure uncomfortable circumstances as much as it is he loving in spite of them. Imagine having zero personal space, teaching to the culprits responsible, then being interrupted mid-sermon, and thrust into a hot-mess commotion where people are crying and wailing loudly (v. 27). I’d probably lose my mind and grey my hair all at once.

But not Jesus. Instead, look at how incredibly unruffled he is, first in v. 36 when he says, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe’ in response to the disciples telling Jairus’ people, ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’ and second in v. 39 when he says, ‘The child is not dead but asleep’ after the entire house thought Jairus’ daughter was dead.

Seriously…it’s like Jesus is calming a second storm here2



Now for most, the story ends here, but the truth is Jesus had one more thing to say before peacing out, which in my paraphrasation3, goes something like ‘Shhh! What happens here, stays here.

But again, why would Jesus demand this? What’s the big deal?

Well, go back to v. 36 - ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’

Throughout this whole chapter, we’ve seen three miracles, three transfers of power; however, this doesn’t mean Jesus was on the ‘power play’. Rather, Jesus was on a mission to inspire belief in people’s hearts. Therefore, it’s safe to say what mattered most to Jesus more than signs, more than miracles was the truth of his word.

In this context, Jesus knew if he allowed the news to break in ‘synagogue central’, it would lead to a major distraction. Remember there was already enough pandemonium leading up to Jesus’ encounter with the little girl. Any more attention would likely cause an uproar and reduce Jesus to the role of ringmaster4.

So it’s interesting to see how silence was sometimes part of Jesus’ strategy to further the Gospel. 

Selah.

Bottom line: While Jesus was definitely Spirit led in all he said and did, he was also able to discern the theology of the land and time he was in since he was constantly yielding to the Father.  As a result, Jesus was able to reach more people with the love in his heart and teach them with the truth of his word.

Footnotes

1) In this case, the Decapolis – the Ten Cities
2) Seriously…imagine what Peter, James, and John must have thought. Something along the lines of déjà vu, eh?
3) Yes, I know this isn’t a word, but I couldn’t help myself
4) Obviously, Jesus wouldn’t want this to happen given the potential for people to be led further from the truth, not towards it.

Photo creds: Harmony Bible

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Bye, [Bye]Vocational


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s not easy marrying marketplace and ministry.
After all, when you consider secular expectations, the challenge of availability matching flexibility, how most church leadership models are structured…it can be tough-sleddin’.
Now, I’m not a church consultant or ministry life coach; however, in my brief ministerial experience, I’ve come to realize while tent-making is often praised behind the pulpit in an evangelism context, it’s rarely incorporated to the fullest in a leadership context.
Case and point: I work full-time hours (7:00-3:30 pm) for TDOT Monday through Friday, where at the start of each day, I take the day’s game script, stack it against my church load, and do what I can accordingly for both. For instance, on slower days I create youth discipleship content, plan events, design social media promotions, and field church-related correspondence on my breaks, whereas on busier days, I keep a running ‘to-do’ list to better tackle my gameplan after hours.
The problem is: whether or not my day at work is busy/productive, I still miss out on the life that happens at church (i.e. staff meetings, luncheons, offsite special events, etc.) during my shift.
raw.gif
Granted, I do have supervisors who meet with me on a quarterly basis to catch me up to speed with important information. Yet, while the communicational challenges can be frustrating, it’s the communal setbacks that offer the greatest potential for discouragement.
So while having flex or contractual hours would be ideal, I know in seasons like the one I’m in, I can only abide in what I can control, confront what I can't, and trust God in both. Still...this doesn’t mean the divide is easy.
On one hand, I’m proud to represent the Gospel in a taxing work environment, to mature in my reliance upon God when I find my own strength to be nothing but weakness. On the other, I'm often downcast considering a) it’s hard to justify why I work where I do1  and b) to not experience deeper community due to a job I can’t stand on my own strength is a bitter pill to swallow.
So when it comes to the idea of a bye-vocational (i.e. leaving one job to fully pursue the other) life in place of a bivocational one, I’d be lyin’ if I said I wasn’t intrigued considering the struggle to put forth full-time effort in part-time hours is [super] real…not to mention I’m the first Fry male in three generations to not know what full-time ministry life tastes like.
*Sigh*
I guess what I’m trying to say is: it’s hard being bivocational when the call itself seems to rob you of relationship. ‘Cause while many think bivocational ministry is all about tackling two different jobs, truth is: it’s just as much about influencing community and inspiring culture change as it is achieving excellence. Thus, how we cope when we feel our ‘spread out’ lifestyle is diluting our impact is worth discussion.
Of course, you can count on me to drill down on this in future posts, but for now, let me just say: for those of you working multiple gigs striving to keep joy afloat, understand you carry difference-making potential inside you…and that potential is not only going to come to fruition in the territory God has given you to tend, but is also never contingent on what you can’t control. Again, that’s the beauty of trusting God. Whenever we reach an end of the line, God grants us the slack to press on. Whenever we reach an unscalable wall, God equips us to ascend it. And whenever we’re overcome by a particular lacking, God meets us in our midst, fills us, and goes before us to make a way (Isaiah 43:16-19).
Yeah, I get how hard it can be craving community and passion outlets in the arid seasons of life, but remember God specializes in showing His power in hopeless situations. So if you’re reading this today wishing you could swap out a bye-vocational life in place of a bivocational one, I encourage you: allow God to fill up your empty canteen with encouragement and fresh perspective. ‘Cause I submit: where you are now is not by mistake, but by design and by grace.
Think of it this way: If you’re thirsty, what sense does it make to cut your water bottle in half when you could simply remove the cap and fill it to the brim?
Pretty obvious, right?
Yet, how many of you reading this are essentially doing the same thing by denying yourself full-fillment as a result of wanting the 'bye', not the 'bi'?
ipoufic
If you can relate, I encourage you: stop overfocusing on what you wish could be different in your life and embrace the fact God has you just where He wants you. Don't fantasize about what it'd be like to customize your life. Instead, take joy in trusting the Lord's lead and take courage in pushing through to the good stuff that's coming (see Isaiah 58:11).
While I'm tempted to go on, I'm goin' to push 'pause' for now and instead bid adieu with some parting questions:
1) What do you need to be filled with today?
2) What is capping the ‘containers’ God has placed you in?
3) Will you remove those caps and allow God to fill you up?
I’ll just let the mic drop there…
f5657ea6e8a5225a9c0c692817d5bf5c-micdrop07.gif
Footnotes
  1. in light of how I was created
Cover photo creds: ThomRainer.com 

Friday, October 21, 2016

3 Things On My Mind Right Now

Not goin' to lie: life’s been pretty full the past couple months. From ‘behind the scenes’ His Girl Fryday work and family travel to ‘end of the year’ LEGACYouth prep and childproofing the house, needless to say, our cup runneth over.

Yet, as summer green has slowly faded into a potpourri of burgundies and burnt oranges, so has my mind subdued into a more placid place, at least, enough for me to latch onto some fresh musings. Call it October nostalgia value; call it renewed perspective; call it whatever you want. I just figured it wouldn’t hurt to share a few life lessons I’ve been reminded of in recent weeks.

Let’s jump in, shall we?

1. Often times, our plan ‘C’ is God’s plan ‘A’.

How many of you have ever wanted what God wanted for you, but imagined a completely different scenario unfolding? I imagine most, if not all, can relate; however, for me, whenever I find myself on a separate page apart from God, I also find somewhere along the line I assumed my way was His way.

Ever wonder why this is so easy to do?

Well, I have a theory: While most of us are content in agreeing with the truth, we’re far less content in actually trusting it. It’s like we have no problem praying what we concur with (i.e. blessing, covering, breakthrough, etc.), yet when it comes to praying the most important word (i.e. ‘amen’ – may it be so), we flat-out forget what it means.

How then must we respond?

For starters, if we’re serious about being tethered to God’s will, then we must understand God’s plan is always plan ‘A’ even if it equates to our plan 'C'. After all, when we speak ‘amen’ (may it be so), we're essentially saying: Lord, whatever you have for me Lord, whatever inconvenience my life may incur as a result of yielding to your lead, whatever the cost, whatever it takes, let your will be done, not mine. So in a sense, one could say 'amen' and 'surrender' are virtually synonymous. 

Still, for some, the issue isn’t so much living the ‘amen’ as much as it is being superficially content in knowing the outline of the plan God has in store. Yes, autofilling the boundaries we've been blessed with can seem like second nature, but when we consider God sent His Spirit so we could abide in Him as we color in the lines, we find it makes no sense to accept our calling with the caveat of only asking for directions when push comes to shove.

'Cause truth is


Bottom line: If there’s anything in this life worth filling in, it’s our trust in God. So why not take inventory of your trust gauge this fall and ask God to reveal any areas of incompleteness so He can complete them within you?

2.   God is always in control.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait until this year’s presidency electional is a thing of the past. Goodness gracious. Yet, as much as we may cringe when we hear Trump and/or Clinton mentioned in the same sentence, it’s important to consider 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Here, Paul opens his teaching by emphasizing the value in praying for those in authority to make wise decisions. And I’d say for the most part, the church is decent in remembering our governing bodies in how we disciple, how we teach, and how we pray as a body. But for those viewing this election as a national decision between two evils, I submit somewhere amidst the chaos lies an ideal outcome which would allow believers more freedom to “lead peaceful lives…in all godliness and holiness” and reach the lost in greater measure.

So if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of the pre-election process, at least, be faithful to pray for the electoral process so what Paul prays may come to pass.

Bottom line: At the end of the day, we can  grade our candidates on what they advocate all we want, yet if our hope is anchored to anyone/anything apart from God, the same God who has and will make a way no matter who’s elected, well then…it ain’t hope.

I’ll just let the mic drop there…

3. Honesty is the Best Policy…Especially in Marriage

I don’t want to get too deep in my testimony, but looking back, it makes sense why Satan tried so hard to keep me from the family I have now. I mean you talk about things that the devil must hate. A healthy marriage would have to be close to the top of the list, right?

Well, for all you soon-to-be married folk, let me just say a happy marriage, as spectacular as it is, takes work. I mean…I’d be lyin’ if I said being under the same roof was fun and dandy all the time. Yet, in spite of all my warts (and to a [much] lesser extent…those of my wife), if there’s one thing we do well, it’s honest communication.

We don’t sweep grudges under the rug. We don’t keep struggles hidden from view. If anything, we remember our love for each other, apply some humility, and find a way for the truth to be known. Now, is the truth always spoken in love? Not always. Sometimes we dish out unseasoned one-liners in the heat of the moment; other times we hesitate in addressing issues that require immediate attention.  

But at the end of the day, even when we lack the words, the evidence of ‘I love you. I wouldn’t trade you or this life for anyone/anything else’ is still there…

 …which brings me to this question...

How do you know honesty is reigning in your…



Well, there are many indicators (more on this in a future post), but for now, I’d say if you’re living a life sensitive to the Holy Spirit, chances are you'll be sensitive to the moments you're speaking the truth not in love.

Bottom line: When honesty is the best policy in your marriage, love not only has an insurance plan, but an escape route to the surface when times get tough.

Photo creds: sufficientscruples.com
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.