Go make mistakes

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Have you had someone poke you in the eye?

It really hurts. 

Your eye starts watering, you can’t do anything but blink, and you want to cry but your too busy trying to put your eye back.  Will Smith could have walked in the room but you don’t care.  You just got poked in the eye. 

There are certain words that make me cringe.  I don’t think people need to stop saying these words, but they are strange.  Im going to tell you two I believe are the most odd… to me. 

“Love on”

And

“Calling”

I had a new friend ask me out for drinks last night, and we talked for a long time.  We talked about each other’s past, current life, and future.  We, well at least I did, had fun.  We sat around a common table with others and talked.  Said sentences combined with real feelings, and vulnerability.  Not crazy, but it was just a normal conversation.  But I left feeling encouraged and loved.  We also talked about “calling”. 

I have never felt “called” to anything, or anyone but Christ.  I don’t understand anything different.  Doing YoungLife brings me closer to Jesus, and so I continue to do it.  It stretches me, builds me up, tears apart my ego, and allows me to be human.  If YoungLife stops being these things I will quit.  It gives me freedom, brings me peace, and lets me love people. 

But, I think we get poked in the eye with certain words.  They hinder us from doing what Jesus calls us to.  If you get poked in the eye by the word “calling”, you will never do anything.  When you continue to focus on if it is your “calling” or not, you become stuck.  You miss what God could be doing in front of you.  He will pass right by.  If we can focus on drawing close to Jesus, making Him our focus, we can do many things.  I do not believe there is only one specific, perfect, amazing, life-giving vocation or “calling”.  He may call you in, or out, or through circumstances, but it usually is to get you to Himself. 

This may be confusing, and muddy, but my hope is for you, (Mostly myself) to realize it isn’t about what, but who.  We can become stuck on the what, and we miss who is moving, loving, and pursuing lives all the time.

If you feel as though you do not know your “calling”, stop.  Stop focusing on having a calling, and start going.  Just go do stuff.  You will find most of life is to get us to see past ourselves, and circumstances, to the feet of Jesus. 

I don’t like the phrase “loving on” because it seems graphic and gross….  That’s just me, so I am sorry if you are offended.  You can love me, but just don’t “love on” me. 

Who are you called to? 

Can we be called to a person, and not necessarily a vocation? 

Can we go out and know we are created to do freely whatever may give us life as long as we do it for Him? 

Lets talk about this

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Why do you do?

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I am human. I have human tendencies. And, I usually dislike my human side.

Growing up I got paid

For chores

Grades

Birthdays

Christmas

All of these made money.  Santa instilled in all of us that if we are nice we will get presents.  The tooth fairy even gives us money for our dead teeth???  It’s absurd to think how we have all grown up putting a price on EVERYTHING.  I don’t do much without weighing the cost.  A common question I ask is what will I gain from it? 

But

I don’t think Jesus ever calculated the cost of much.  I believe he just lived out who He was.  He was generous, giving, kind, loving, loyal, full, friendly, fun, adventurous, and to everyone whether or not they would do the same………..I can’t imagine a god who would heal someone, or feed someone based on what they could do in return.  Or, how they can profit or prosper from it. 

I don’t live that way.

I was having a conversation with a friend over the phone when we both started talking about this idea.  As humans we have expectations and we like to have an outcome.  As Christians we like to put numbers on the page, and we like to have controllable stats.  We can show how God is at work because of our impressive numbers or how much money we have given away.  What if it was different?  What if we stopped?  What if, as believers, we just gave, loved, fed, and served but didn’t tell anyone? 

What if no one knew all the “good things” you did?  Would you still do them?

I think this may be the most difficult part to Christ Likeness.  To give, serve, and expect nothing in return.  Nothing in return.  To do things for the un deserved with not wanting anything.  Nothing.  Not one thing.  Paying for someone’s meal knowing they can not return the favor.  Give someone a ride or give people the shirt off your back only to hope and trust God will provide.  Not expecting others to see how good we are, or to use it as a training for others.  To have stuff happen and not immediately think about putting it in a talk or sermon.  Simply living out what we are called to do, not just to talk about it.  Maybe I am being too harsh? 

We get caught in our humanity desiring outcomes, profit, or a return on our investments.

Do you feel like we are in a new era of Christendom?  Do you ever think it strange how we praise the famous Christians, or we get extremely excited when we find out our favorite actor/actress believes in Jesus?  Or how we almost worship different authors or public speakers?  What is that going to do to all the faithful believers who will never become a great author/speaker/entertainer?  What about the thousands who will follow Jesus, serve Him daily, and never tell a soul?

What do you think? 

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Want Happiness?

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“You will become depressed”….

“For two to three years”, my friend said.  I laughed because I didn’t believe her.  A few weeks later I was on a bus to new staff training for YoungLife and I sat by a prophet.  I was the last one on the bus and I had to sit by this guy.  We talked, we shared life stories, and then, as if queued he said, “can I tell you something?”…. “God just gave me a word for you….  Anxious”…  (I didn’t talk to him anymore that week)

Anxious

Depression

Not the words you want to hear before you start a full time position with YoungLife. 

I recently spent Thanksgiving at my Dad’s.  We went golfing (I beat him for the first time), shooting (he beat me every time), and we ate a lot of food.  We were in the car on the way to shoot when the radio sparked a quick meaningful conversation.  They were discussing happiness, and happy people in your life. 

Happiness

It’s what we all crave, but have no idea how to attain.  It remains illusive, a mystery, and fleeting.  It comes when you least expect it, but it is something you can’t live without.  Sometimes I get mad when people say I want to be happy.  But it is true.  We all want it.  We spend money, time, effort, and countless hours trying to amuse ourselves or others. 

I believe we all know how to be happy, but we are afraid.  We are afraid, because what if I am wrong?  What if giving my stuff away makes me sad?  What if spending more time with others, caring about others, buying others a meal isn’t what makes me happy?  What if listening, sitting, and giving your time away really doesn’t bring happiness?  What if Jesus is wrong?  Here is what I believe Jesus did to be happy.

Spent time with others

Listened well

Asked a lot of questions

Loved the unloveable

Loved his enemies

Served those who “Don’t deserve it”

Gave generously

Gave until it hurt

Gave his LIFE AWAY

Didn’t consider anything his own

Was authentic

Spent time being alone with His Father

I could keep writing, but these are the things that bring happiness.  I truly went through a two year depression going on YoungLife staff.  I truly was anxious.  And it took me a long time to figure out how to be happy again.  It took me a long time to regain a love for the word happy.  These are some ways I began to regain happiness. 

Enjoy the little things in life (the smell of fresh baked goodies)

Give your life (Time and Money) away

Be authentic (Not what you think people want)

Do things you like (Push through the guilt)

Spend time with Jesus (Because you want to)

Give generously (mostly to those who don’t deserve it)

Be thankful and encouraging (to more than people you like)

The radio show we were listening to asked who the happiest person you know is.  So, I asked my Dad who the happiest person he knew was?  He thought for a second and then said…..“you…..and grammy”.  Me?  Your son?  Trevor?  Me?!  It was a small shock but it was extremely life giving. 

We are afraid to do what truly brings happiness.  We are afraid to give away our stuff, life, money, talents, because…. Because.. There are lots of becauses.  Maybe too many.  Push through the doubts or pain or fear.  It will bring you happiness.  Do not be afraid. 

Love

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Hot Lava

Authenticity
Why are we afraid?
….Spiders, drowning, hot lava, being alone, car accidents, and everything else under the sun.

I have not been able to stop thinking about a few ideas an extremely humble man said a few weeks ago. His words brought life. New life, and life I have never thought about. I can’t seem to get it out of my head. This doesn’t happen in my life much any more, but it happened a few weeks ago.

Have you ever not been picked for kickball? Have you ever been picked last for soccer? Have you ever felt left out? Have you ever wanted to be the cool kid? This still exists, and its called Christianity.

I see people differently today than I did a few years ago. My eyes have changed. We talk, in Christianity, a lot about who is in, or who is out. We talk about the saved, the lost, and the hopeless. We talk a lot about behavior, doing good, or doing bad. We talk about getting things done, how much God is on the move, and how wonderful it is how God is working in this area or that area. And I believe most of it is hurtful and not worthy of words coming out of our mouths.

The Word of God is anything but black and white.
The Word of God is living, breathing, moving, active, and full of grace.

I am currently trying out a new way of discipleship (We use this word too much). When I look at the life of Christ, I see assumption. He assumes a lot, but the assumptions are based on a previous knowledge most of us wish we had. But, He assumes all the disciples will just come with him, follow him, and partake. And so has begun my new approach to bringing people along with me. I’ve decided to stop wondering, and start inviting. There is this kid who was an atheist. We started a relationship, and I started inviting. I invited him to YL club, I invited him to campaigners, and now, He is “In”. He prays now, he reads oswald chambers, and we talk about Jesus. I don’t talk about being in or out. I don’t talk about good or bad. I talk about Jesus. It was natural, it was fun, and I was never nervous of if he would choose to follow or not. It was almost as if there was no other way. Why wouldn’t he?

What the man said to me a few weeks ago won’t leave my head. He talked about authentic humanity. He talked about how Jesus came not to just save me from my sin, but also to show me what it looks like to be authentically human. This has so many implications, and you already think I am a heretic, but thats alright. I know where I stand. Jesus picks me for kickball all the time.

So I want to stop thinking in terms of who is in and who is out. I want to start assuming. I want to assume the best in humanity. I want to assume people will like what I invite them into, and want to be a part of it. I want to assume people will hear the word of God and be drawn to it. I want to assume God is bigger, cares more, and is active without me or what I do. I want to assume when I talk about Jesus, He will stir, poke, and agitate people to their core. I don’t need flashy life stories, or really good illustrations. I don’t need to become a behavior manager, or a maker of good people, but get people to see a real authentic human Jesus.

Amen?

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Real Men Weep

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I don’t want to write about it today

I don’t want to be that guy who writes about tragedy

or a failed attempt to write about tragedy.

Somedays you don’t want to start.  Sometimes you don’t want to go to bed.  All so you do not have to think about if it is real or not.  Getting out of bed seems impossible.

There is a terribly short verse in the bible where, “Jesus wept”. (John 11:35, NIV) But I don’t believe Jesus is weeping for the reason most believe.  Death never frightened Jesus.  He wasn’t afraid of His own, he didn’t flinch with a dead girl, and he talks about an afterlife we may never be able to understand until it happens. 

There are many thoughts that come when talking about death, but for me nothing seems to make sense.  I can’t seem to put any reason on why, or who, or timing, but there are some questions that will never be answered. 

I didn’t want to write about a recent death, but there is a man I need to tell you about.  This man is humble and this man will never tell you what I am going to.  This man is quiet, charming, and utterly full of love.  (He also has great puns).  He is the closest thing to Jesus I have watched.  And for this man is why I weep. 

My friend had cancer and this cancer may have taken my friend away, but cancer didn’t win.  My friend was joyful, full of life, and full of love until his remaining breaths on this earth.  My friend was full of bad jokes, a great laugh, and an awesome sense of full life.  There was a man during the cancer that stayed around.  This man helped my friend through all the fighting, crying, hopelessness, and triumphs.  This man was by my friends side through the hard days, through the good days, and visits to the hospitals and ambulance rides.  This has been the most clear picture of Love I have yet to watch.  This man didn’t have the right words to say, he didn’t pray the right prayers, but what he did do was miraculous.  This man was present, with, and by my friends side for the whole ride.  Through the sleepless nights, and wonderful “Make a wish” New Zealand trips.  There were not many events, birthdays, hospital appointments, or phone calls this man missed.  This man loved my friend like Jesus does. 

I believe Jesus wept because he saw how everyone around was full of grief.  And for that I understand.  I see the pain my friends are going through and so I weep.  I can feel the pain of a mother, the hurt of a father, and the sadness of mourning friends.  And so I weep for them.  I morn with them, and I have a peace for my friend brought goodness, smiles, the gospel, and laughs with him wherever he went.  Bravery is a small word compared to what my friend demonstrated. 

I don’t have answers for death.  I don’t feel good about anyone dying and I don’t believe anyone does.  There are things that are, and will continue to remain a mystery.  But what I do know is a man who stayed by my friends side.  I know it wasn’t easy, and to this man I say…

“Well done good and faithful servant.” 

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My Undoing

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Eh, I just ran out of coffee…

It means my morning is done, and I can now focus on emails.  I’ve never been codependent before, but coffee sure is great.  I am not sure what I did before.  How did I survive without insatiable alertness, not having to blink for hours, or the feeling of anxiety all day?

No one will know. 

There are a lot of things I will never know. 

  1. Why do flies come right back to the spot they were just at?
  2. Why cant the windshield wiper reach the whole window?
  3. How can I birdie one hole and 8 the next?
  4. How the internet works?
  5. How can the moon and the sun be up at the same time?
  6. How the dryer eats one sock every laundry day?
  7. Where my money goes?

I find pride a strange existence.  Dinosaurs make sense, but pride is the strangest of all creation.  I get pride confused with confidence sometimes.  Pride can lead to blindness, and I want to admit my blind spots.  The last couple of months I have been in the dark, and it all has to do with a two fold statement. 

Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to little children.”, and yet He also says to be “Wise”.  These two seem to oppose themselves.  With it comes uncertainty and multiple levels of confusion.  You can’t be a child and be wise.  Can you?  What does it mean to be a child, or, to be like a child and be wise?  Children are not wise.  If anything they are the opposite of wise, and yet they have great faith.  Or, is it wise to be like a child? 

My darkness, or my blindside has been my pride of knowledge.  I feel puffed up in the area of my ability to know.  Having studied under amazing theologians at Fuller Theological Seminary I have gained a sense of theological pride.  But…. I have become undone.  I am admitting my sin and blindness.  I wish to no longer think of myself in the way I have.

Every person I admire, every man I strive to be like, every great theologian I have sat with are learners.  They are all teachable.  They, seemingly, consider themselves not knowing.  They could easily act haughty and righteious about their own theological knowledge, but they don’t.  It is as if they are thirsty for more, they constantly ask questions, and never do they make you know they are right.  Just like a child. 

So I want to not know more.  It is totally fine to not know.  It is ok to say, “I don’t know”.  In fact it may be wise.  I want to ask more questions.  A lot like Jesus, I do not want to answer many questions, but I would like to answer questions with more questions. 

Can we pause and seek out our blind spots?  I am fine with not knowing a lot about most things.  I am learning to be ok with not having the answers.  I think it may help me to see people differently.  I want my pride to be in my low stature and in Christ’s lofty grander.   

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Learning to Win

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I’m a terrible coach

I will probably always be a terrible coach. 

I am not motivated by people yelling at me.  I don’t want to win if you scream about all the things I do wrong.  I usually do not like barking dogs, and I really do not like barking humans.  Not sure if I am stubborn, but we can chalk it up to that. 

This is the way people have changed my life:

Coming alongside and asking challenging questions.  Walking with me through my struggles.  When they are vulnerable and authentic.  When people I respect and care about take time for me I feel important.  When people pay for food or groceries and without my prompting or merit.  Lifting up areas I never knew I was good at, and encouraging me to continue.  Listening more than talking. 

This is how people do more harm than good: 

Talking at me not with me.  Telling me how to live my life.  Making sure I know they are right.  Making sure I know I am wrong.  When someone hides real emotions and puts on a face.  Talking more than listening and never asking questions.  Making sure you know how much time you have been taking and how important their time is to them. 

But I think this is why I am a poor coach. 

I had the privilege to coach the sophomore class to a victory yesterday in powder puff.  Coaching girls to play football is an underestimated feat.  It is always more fun then I realize.  Each girl comes with their own knowledge of football, or not.  So, we start at zero with some, and continue from last year with others.  We figure out who can throw, run, catch, and understand the basics of the game.  Then my poor coaching comes into play.   I would like the girls to learn, adapt and play for themselves.  I try to get the quarterbacks to come up with some plays.  I want the lineman…woman to figure out who to block.  Then, when it either works and we celebrate, or it fails and I ask questions.  What happened?  What can we do better?  Why is the defense breaking through?  Should we double cover number eleven?  (cuz she was a beast)  But I coach how I would have liked to have been coached. 

I have never been called competitive.  Winning has never made me grow.  But last night felt good.  We lost as freshmen, we learned as freshmen, and we won as sophomores.  The girls came back stronger, determined, and ready to fight.  I was proud of how they had grown, how they had learned, and how they wanted to play.  And so I coached a team who was willing, they learned, and they are the ones who got the win! 

I am a terrible coach.  I would rather come alongside, ask good questions, and have them learn and adjust.  So, I like being a bad coach.  I will always error on the side of fun and understanding than striving for a win. 

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