December 13, 2012

Put yourself out there.

I recently read a short explanation for why live productions are worth the extra money.  I do not remember the author, but the premise was that inherent in any live show lies the tension and risk of failure.  When the soloist is all alone, and there is no possibility of hiding a mistake, the price of admission has been validated, and you are on the edge of your seat.

Now take a step back, and think about this from the perspective of the soloist. What would cause a person to step out and take that risk? (I will, for the sake of simplicity, ignore the professional arena for this discussion.)

Why does the church soloist do her special music?  Why do the performers in community theater take months out of their busy lives to perform for free?  What drives first-time marathon runners to start the race, knowing they might not finish it? Each of these people is risking failure, but for what reward?

The answer might be different for every person that has ever embraced that risk, but the greater question is this: what is keeping you from doing it? Put yourself out there! Tempt fate and risk failure, because in those moments, you just might discover yourself.

December 5, 2012

Solving a Rubik's cube the hard way...

Have you ever tried to solve one of those stupid little games? Just when you get one side all one color, you realize that there are still five more sides.  As you try to get those sides to look right, you undo the one you were so proud of earlier.

Is life like that?

As you focus on finding balance, its a tug-of-war between competing desires and demands.

There are two ways you can look at a Rubik's Cube. (I will concede that there may be a third.) It is either a device of torture that you have to twist and spin and manipulate until you have spent 4 hours and developed 2 ulcers just to solve, or it is another example of how Google knows all because you cheat and look at the video tutorial. (The third option is that your brain is wired in a way that solves puzzles like that easily - and then I hate you.)

Allow me to take this in two different directions. First, an unbalanced life is a lot like a partially solved Rubik's cube. If you've only solved one side, the hardest work is still undone. Anyone can figured out how to succeed at work, but if you've abandoned your family, or left God on the sideline, you have a lot of work left to do.
Second, we always try to solve things on our own, as if the network and resources that surround us are for wimps.

Stop it.

Lean on the experts, and don't let pride get in the way of maximizing your strengths by leveraging someone else's. (There is no shame in letting Google (or your mentor, best-friend, coworker, etc) take the guesswork out of your struggles.

I don't know what you struggle with, but balance is possible. Here is a great video, with the quote: "it's all wretch and no vomit." In it lies one piece of the puzzle.

November 22, 2012

This city, Lord, it is yours.

photo courtesy of Geof Crowl
There is no denying that right now Detroit is in a bad place.  There is destruction and devastation everywhere you look, and the people are hurting.  I have never seen a city in such pain before, and it breaks my heart.  However, on Thanksgiving Day, as I lift up the needs of Detroit before the Lord, He has reminded me of his faithfulness, and prompted me to share this with everyone, in spite of the dire circumstances:
Habakkuk 3:17-18 
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my savior.

Knowing that it might not get any better for a long time does not change the fact that we can be thankful for so much.  In the midst of pain, we have life.  In the depths of despair, we have hope that these momentary afflictions create a backdrop for God's promise of a hope and a future.

November 19, 2012

Forced Creativity

Do you believe that you have the ability to do excellent work or to create beautiful art?
Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. "I write only when inspiration strikes," he replied. "Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.” - The War of Art
This is the consistency and the persistence that excellence demands from all of us.  To find yourself washed up on the shores of brilliance requires a daily dedication to the muse. Only after you have done the work, will you reap the rewards.

I don't mind making this personal.  I play the guitar as well today as I did when I was 16.  I speak Spanish today as well as I did when I was 12.  My endurance in running, my accuracy with a gun, and my maximum bench-press are all identical to where they were last year, 5 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago.

Pick the thing you always wished you excelled at, and then start. 

January 11, 2012

These quotes, and this video.

"I have so much joy in my heart as I see you standing in my home.  I know that you travelled around the whole world to come and share time with me in my home, and that helps me know the Father's love." 
"This is the most joy I have experienced in my entire life.  Other teams have come before, but you have satisfied us."
"In our culture and in our attempts to reach our children with the gospel, we hand it down to them like we hold all the knowledge and they should listen.  You have shown us how to touch their hearts, to love them, and to show them a better way."
Matthew 18:3 says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 19:14 says, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

In the village we saw this happen.  In a culture that knows little more than despair and exhaustion, we were able to see JOY.  In a people that knows of hard labor with no gain, we saw dancing!

More to come, I promise, but here is our video from the week in the mean time.

January 10, 2012

Just a teaser...

I promised Liz that I would let her be the first one to post a trip update, but I don't know how soon that will happen, so I wanted you to know that until she gets one together, this is all you get.

The greater the effort required to achieve a goal, the more meaningful the outcome. This trip took a lot of money and over 100 hours of travel time... it made the joy so much more intense.

Dalit families have lived hard lives with little joy.  Only through the Lord, and his perfect LOVE can any hope be found.

One of the village elders said, "In all of my 86 years in this village, I have never seen the people dance.  I have never seen so much joy."

I cannot wait to share more with you after the dust settles.  Until then, feel free to read about our trip through the India Team Blog at: 

January 8, 2012

Update from India

I cannot believe that the trip is nearly over, but there are so many things I want to share with everyone.  First, God has done GREAT things through this team, and it has been an absolute delight every moment.  Second, the Lord is doing amazing things in India, and it has been a privilege to be a part of that for 10 days!

I will share three things you should know, and then a video.

1) Five of us from the team were bumped from our flight before leaving India, and they are making us wait 13 hours before routing us through a complicated system of layovers and delays with an expected arrival 20+ hours later than planned. (No worries, they are taking good care of us - see photo below.)

2) During our time in the village, every child was engaged by the gospel and transformed by God's love. Every parent was encouraged in their journey and empowered to play with their kids (some for the first time).  Even the village elders danced to the tune of "Little Sally Walker" while the rest of the village cheered.  So much emotion was seen during our final award ceremony as each person was told that they embodied specific character traits as image bearers of God.

3) A group of 10 church planters traveled 14 hours on Thursday to see the program because they had heard on the first day that it could revolutionize the way they do ministry in India.  We were able to talk with them over lunch and dinner the final day as they asked for us to bring a similar program to their villages and train them in what we did.

**And finally, as promised, a video!**