Ignoring God: How’s that working for you?

When we look back on our lives, we can often see God’s hand at work.

In hindsight, I can see him at every crossroad. Especially those life-changing moments when (while it was happening) I was just so sure he was nowhere to be found.

But he was there, and he helped.

When you look back, how has God provided for you?

Maybe the help came in the form of a family situation. Maybe he guided you through a rocky relationship, kept you from getting in a car with a drunk driver, helped you choose the right school. Maybe it’s an answered prayer to sell a house, make a move, get a job. Maybe it came in the form of much-needed advice from a mentor.

When you share those stories and those testimonies with others, do you give God the credit he deserves? Or do you ignore him?

Let me explain.

In Psalm 40:9-10, King David writes:

I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.  I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

David was not afraid to share his faith. God had saved him and spared him too many times for David to ignore God.

David’s faithfulness is admirable. And it’s convicting.

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with giving God the credit. Here’s an example.

For nearly two years, my wife and I prayed that God would provide the perfect home for our family. It took many months. And God was faithful. He led us to the perfect home.

I know God’s hand was in it. Yet, when people ask me about our home, I’ve noticed that I sometimes say: “We found a great home. Corinn just happened by it one day, saw it for sale, and that was that!”

We??

The response I give often depends on the person to whom I’m talking. In church, I’m very safe to say that God provided. But when talking to someone who doesn’t know Christ as his Savior, I tend to lean toward the less “churchy” answer — leaving God out.

Why?

Possibly out of fear of rejection. Or maybe I just get comfortable in the fiction that we can do it all in our own strength.

Here’s a challenge for you and me.

This week, when we have the opportunity to share a story about a success — and God’s hand is clearly visible in the outcome — let’s not be scared to let people know who provided for us.

Jesus said that he will defend us before God. It’s only right that we speak up for him when we share with our friends.

How do you make it a point to share the stories of Christ’s faithfulness and provision with others?

Don’t reduce God to a mix tape

Do you remember mix tapes?

Today, we call them playlists.

When I was in high school in the 1990s, I was pretty good at making the perfect mix tape for any occasion. I probably made at least a hundred of those things. I’d make one for every road trip, every friend, every girlfriend, every summer weekend.

I always had dozens of blank tapes on hand — 60 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on the occasion. I’d sit for hours, scouring through hundreds of CDs that my stepdad had collected via the Columbia House catalogs. I’d pluck the best songs from the CDs and transfer them to the cassette tapes, crafting, through song, the perfect message.

My friend Jim and I would get together and compare mix tapes. His were always a little better quality because he had some secret way to blend the tracks. My transitions between songs were never as smooth.

Anyway…

I once met a man who would engage me in deep theological discussions. At the time, I had a pretty good idea of where I was coming from. I was still a fairly new Christian and explained my beliefs as best I could. He, on the other hand, seemed to be all over the place with his beliefs. On the face of it, it sounded somewhat like Christianity, but it had a pinch of some “new age” things, a dash of Buddhism (reincarnation), something I can only describe as a “happy hunting ground” scenario, and some other things I’d never heard of before.

I was confused. And I finally admitted my ignorance and confusion and asked him: What exactly do you believe?

The answer was surprising. Continue reading “Don’t reduce God to a mix tape”

Put it in Writing

Written words are powerful.

Think about it.

When we put something in writing, there’s a sense of permanency.

If we want to make something official, we’re told to “put it in writing.”

When we make an agreement, we write a contract. Life insurance, wills, housing contracts, bills of sale. All written. All legally binding.

Think of the founding of this country. People could stand up and talk and yell and argue their opinions about independence, but once the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, a world-transforming movement began.

Writing also implies accountability and stewardship.

If you have a written set of rules and someone breaks one of them, you have a point of reference.

If my wife gives me a written grocery list and I come home without one of the items, I can’t say I didn’t know.

If you write your “bucket list,” you have a written record that allows for measurement. If you go skydiving, you have something to check off the list. If you never read War and Peace, that unchecked item will dog you until you do.

Organizations need written goals, plans, vision and mission statements.

Having these plans in writing provides clarity of vision with a roadmap.

A written plan provides a gauge. If someone comes to you with a new idea, you can check it against the plan. Does it fit? Yes. Then do it. If not, maybe it’s something to consider for next year. Or use that wonderful, freeing word: “No.”

Yes, adjustments can be made. And flexibility should be budgeted for and built into a plan. But, once a plan is agreed upon, each new adjustment should be carefully considered. You don’t want to pull resources from a planned item to accomplish a new thing and then leave yourself short.

Some people will argue against a written plan. And it’s probably due to a fear of accountability, or the fear of commitment.

Do you have written plans or do you just ‘wing it?’ How’s it working?

Recipe for a smile

Take the first 10 minutes of your morning and write a thank you note to someone.

Who?

Someone you’ve been meaning to thank. That person who’s been on your mind that you can’t find the time to reach out to.

Maybe it’s a person in your office who helped you out of a jam.

Maybe it’s your spouse. It’s been months since you’ve done something spontaneous and nice for her.

Maybe it’s your child’s teacher. You’re seeing your kid advancing in reading or math and you want to let the teacher know you see improvement.

Maybe it’s the person working the front desk. Every morning she welcomes you with a smile.

A friend.

Your pastor.

Your mother.

A waiter.

The bus driver.

If you don’t have a stamp, hand deliver it. The person you’re writing to needs to see that someone notices. Your kindness will be an answer to prayer or a welcome surprise. Either way, it’s a smile in the making.

So, who are you writing to today?

Get up and dance!

Marketing is storytelling.

Take a moment to read Acts 3:2-10

Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

This isn’t just the beggar’s story. It’s our story.

We were once crippled by sin.

We accepted Christ and, by grace, our sins were forgiven.

Let’s get up and dance! Jump up and praise God!

Like the beggar, people will notice. They’ll see the smile on your face and the relief in your eyes. Then they will ask: “What happened to you?”

Be ready to share your story.

 

A Tale of Two Envelopes

One day I went to my mailbox at work and there were two business-sized envelopes in there.

The first had a preprinted return address in the upper left corner. My address was typed on an adhesive label. The stamp indicated the letter was part of a bulk mailing.

The second was in a similar envelope. The return address in the upper left corner was handwritten in blue ink, as was my address. The stamp was one that the sender had to apply herself.

Which one do you think I opened first? Continue reading “A Tale of Two Envelopes”