If you lost everything…

What's important in lifeThis past Sunday I attended my last church service at Northpoint Church, in Sylvania, OH. Well last church service until I come home to visit. I have one more Sunday in Ohio and one Sunday in Maryland and then I leave to fulfill God’s calling for me, at this point of my life, as a missionary in Germany.

The last message was a good one and got me thinking. The pastor said something to the effect of if you lost everything, but could save one thing, what would you save?

The answer to this question is much deeper than you could originally think. You could think of a physical item you would save as most people probably would (if you asked them outside of church). You could also think about losing literally everything, friends, family, possessions, your faith, etc. How would that change your answer.

I have no answer for you, as I have no answer for me. I thought about my family, but then how would life be without friends? Maybe I would save my friends then, but what about my family? What about saving those that need saving the most? I could be extremely selfish or I could be extremely selfless.

These are the questions that drive me crazy, because I can’t imagine a right answer. Is there a right answer? What would Jesus do (man, I just had a flashback to those bracelets, yikes!)? What should my answer be? What would my answer be?

I would love to hear your thoughts below!

Life

So, this week marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade and I am sure that you have seen a lot of posts from the pro-choice and pro-life fronts. Personally I believe that the baby is a baby at conception so therefore ending that life early is the same as ending any other life early, but regardless of what your views are, you should be able to watch the video below and marvel and life in general. Put aside for one second what you think about that decision made by the Supreme Court 40 years ago and watch this video. Appreciate how it is that we all got here. I think it is hard to imagine that all of this happens without God, but even if you don’t believe in God, look at how incredible it is to go from what every human starts as inside the womb to what we are now. My friend showed me this video the other day and it was incredible so I hope you enjoy this video!

Forgiveness and living Wonderstruck

The first book I read this year was Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg.wonderstruck If you have been following this blog at all you have seen several posts about this book because I had an awesome opportunity to preview it before it ever cam out. Well it’s out now and I read it so I wanted to share my overall thoughts with you and then concentrate on one thing that really hit me.

There are two things that I absolutely love about this book are Margaret Feinberg’s writing style and that every chapter offers a different way to live wonderstruck in your life. Margaret Feinberg paints a picture with her words. In the first chapter she describes the Scottish highlands in a way that I felt as if I was there even though I have never been to Scotland. In another chapter she describes alpenglow, an optical phenomenon and makes me long to see it in person some day.

I also loved that each individual chapter could have been a topic of a book in itself, but it wasn’t. Margaret ties several different topics including forgiveness, mourning and others that most people struggle with and she helps you see how to live in wonder through those struggles.

For me the chapter that resonated the most with me was chapter 8 on forgiveness. Before I read the chapter I had planned on writing a blog on forgiveness and another on this book, then after I read the chapter I realized that I needed to write a blog on both at the same time.

Normally I am pretty good at forgiving people, not to toot my own horn, but I tend to let things go pretty quick. I say tend to, because I’m not always quick to forgive. In facet I have been struggling to forgive someone for something for quite some time now. I can hardly think of this person without getting upset. I have returned calls to this person when I knew they wouldn’t be able to answer just so I didn’t have to talk to them. They messed with my head and it’s hard for me to move passed that.

In the book, it talks about Peter’s question to Jesus in Matthew 18:21. “How often should I forgive someone who has sinned against me/ Seven times?” In those times it was common to forgive 3 times, so Peter was being generous with 7 times, just like I think I am generous when I do it once. Jesus blows the lid wide open on forgiveness though when he says you should forgive someone 77 times. That is ridiculous! 77 times, the same person, possibly even the same sin? Jesus couldn’t [possibly have meant that right?

I love what Margaret says. She says, “In essence, Jesus says,’Forgive wholly, and you will find yourself whole; forgive completely, and you will find yourself complete.'”

If you really look at your life and the way you have sin towards God, 77 times for us forgiving someone else would pale in comparison to how many times God has forgiven us. Shoot I am sure there are some times where being forgiven 77 times would barely cover one day. God has fully forgiven us for every sin we have ever committed so who are we to withhold our forgiveness of someone who has sinned against us? Who am I to do this?

I am not going to lie, it will always be a battle for me, but I am starting on this road to forgiveness. I have been wholly forgiven and now I need to wholly forgive.

Who do you need to forgive today?

Love Others

This Sunday at church we were talking about loving others and the pastor used a verse that I have heard a ridiculous amount of times in my life, as I am sure most of you have too. In Mark 12:31 Jesus says, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Throughout my life I have dealt with self-esteem issues, so depending on the day when I have heard that verse I may or may not have felt like I loved myself. I can literally remember thinking to myself at some point in the past, “I don’t love myself, so I’ve got this commandment down pat! I don’t even need to worry about it.” The days that I think that though are not my best days. Most of those are behind me, but I never really felt like I struggled with this verse even on my best days.

My best days I look at this verse and think that I’m a nice guy, I love others as much as myself all the time and the other days I don’t feel like I need to love people hardly at all since my love for myself isn’t that great, but this Sunday I felt God put a different thought in my head. I felt like God was telling me that even in my worst days I still love myself way more than I love others.

On my worst days, the days I feel the lowest, the days I feel like I like myself the least I still:

  • Wake up and take a shower
  • Feed myself
  • Clothe myself
  • Entertain myself

On my best days of loving others do I:

  • Help others get clean?
  • Feed others?
  • Clothe others?
  • Make others smile?

If on my worst days of loving myself I do way more for me than I love others on my best days, what more could I be doing on a daily basis?

I want to leave you with the challenge that I have been dealing with since Sunday.

How can we show our love to strangers, to those we wish we didn’t have to deal with, and to the ones we love? All three are challenges, but all three are necessary.

A small preview of my fundraiser Feb 2

February 2nd I am having a fundraiser that will be jam packed with things for the whole family. I wanted to give you a little heads up about it and encourage you to come back in January as I update you on the fundraiser several days every week. The fundraiser will have:

Chili cook-off – Prize awarded to the best chili in 3 categories, hot, mild and vegetarian.
Cornhole tournament – Prizes awarded to the winning team.
Silent Auction and discounted gift cards – I will give a sneak peak starting in January as to what I have already received.
Portrait sitting

 

Here is where I could use some help right now to make this fundraiser a huge success:

  • For obvious reasons I need prayer, because without God this will not be a success, plain and simple.
  • Save February 2nd from 11-4 on your calendar so you can come and enjoy this event.
  • Contact me if you think your chili is the best ever!
  • Advanced registration will be discounted so register early (just not until I let you know you can)
  • Let me know if you want to donate something for the silent auction or know a company who has an item or gift card to share.
  • Looking for a professional photographer right now who will donate time and talents to take family or individual portraits for a donation.

More details to come in two weeks so keep checking back!

Random acts of kindness

A little bit ago I wrote about the #elf4health challenge that I started a few weeks back. I mentioned that as part of the challenge we would be given tasks to complete on a daily basis. One of the tasks was to not wear make-up. Since I don’t wear make-up I could have taken the day off and rubbed it in the face of the female challenge members (read all other members), but I decided to do something different. I wanted to challenge myself so I instituted a freaky kindness Friday where I went about my day and did things for people that didn’t normally happen. Then today the actually challenge for #elf4health was to buy coffee for the person in line behind me. I wanted to talk about how these two days have changed the way I look at living and at those living around me.

This post is not to build me up, because trust me there are far greater people in the world who I could build up instead. The point is that to make someone’s day by doing the most simple thing, without expecting anything in return, should be something people do on a regular basis.

If you look around you right now or the next time you are in public you will see some happy people, you will see some sad people and you will see some people who appear one way, but are actually another. There is a need out there for people to find a bit of happiness and while a free cup of coffee may not give them a new outlook on life, you never know, it just might.

Last Friday was the no make-up day and I didn’t start the day knowing what I was going to do, but by the time Bible study was over in the wee hours of the morning I knew what my goal was. I was going to try to go out of my comfort zone and be all kinds of nice to strangers, whether they appreciated it or not!

I didn’t do a ton of things because honestly I couldn’t think of a bunch of things that did not involve money, but I did find a few to do with and without money. At Bible study (at a coffee shop) I cleared the breakfast dishes for the other guys. Before I left the next coffee shop I went to (my normal place where I do work – Plate 21) I asked the barista to put the next person’s coffee on the card I have on file there. Later that day I had amazing customer service at Best Buy so I made sure the manager knew that their store did a great job and especially the girl who helped me with my purchase. I even filled out the survey they tell you to fill out when you get home that no one hardly ever does for positive reasons. Then I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond where a young girl was clearing the dark and cold parking lot of carts. I helped her gather them up so she could get back into the warmth of the store. Then today it took me until just before writing this blog to finally buy someone some coffee, but I did it.

Again, none of this is to build me up, but all of it is because if I am not making this place a better place to live, as a human and as a Christian, then what the heck am I doing?

What did I learn from these experiences? Well, some people are very gracious and let you know how appreciative they are and others….well….they aren’t. In the end though (and this is hard to write for me because I am still learning this and the person I just bought coffee for seemed used to getting things free, yes she was cute, but she just happened to be the one behind me) it doesn’t matter how they react. I am not doing it for them. I am not doing it for me. I am doing it for my Father in Heaven who says we should love everyone.

I am confident that someone’s day was made better through my actions and even though I will probably never know just what it did for people, it doesn’t matter. I enjoyed doing it and want to keep doing it.

Help me out. What ways could you and I make other people’s days better? How can we ignore the people who don’t show their gratitude?

I’m afraid to say that I’m afraid to say

I fear nothing and yet I fear everything. I am not afraid of the dark, spiders, snakes (although they are super creepy, they don’t even havefear legs!) or any other specific thing, but at the same time I can be frozen with so much fear that I essentially do nothing. It can be something as simple as fearing that I find the best price for a big purchase or something as important as asking someone to sit down with me and learn about the ministry I will be joining.

No matter what the situation is I am struck, struck by a debilitating fear, a fear that can make me forget who I am and what I am doing.

I have seen this fear in me for quite some time. Looking back over my life I catch glimpses of when I would let the fear take over and I didn’t do things that I probably should have. You know, the girl I should have asked out, the opportunity during high school that seemed too nerdy (even for me, and that’s saying a lot) or the awesome idea I once had for a great invention, but did nothing about.

In the long run missing on some of these things probably won’t effect me too much, but what if…what if they did…or will?

What I have realized through much reflection on this recently is that I am afraid of failure. I’m afraid that if I ask a girl out, she will say no, or worse she will say yes and then I won’t be any good for her. I am afraid that if I take advantage of an opportunity that I won’t live up to the expectations of others and I will fail them. I am afraid to ask someone to join my ministry partner team because that means I will be going to Germany and I might be mediocre as a missionary (Fail!). I’m afraid that if I try to create something new, or take on bigger roles at church, work, etc. that I might not succeed and the organization will be no better off than when I started.

Failure is a fear that I think more people have than would like to admit. Failure is nothing to fear though and I am trying to learn that.

I am sure at some point you have read about all of the Presidents that failed many times before succeeding or you have experienced failure yourself a couple or couple dozen times before you finally figure it out, so I won’t go into that here. I want to look at what God says our response should be to failure.

Proverbs 24:16 – “Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up. But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them”

Notice that it says “if good people fall.” That insinuates that we tried and fell. You can’t fall if you haven’t even attempted to stand. Shoot even the wicked in this verse attempt to stand…once. Obviously this is not talking about me asking a girl out or taking a risk at work, but I think it still applies and the main thing I get from it is:

Stand up and then stand up again if necessary, but first and above all stand up!