There are books I want to write, places I want to take my wife (and kids too sometimes), people I want to help, a house with two bathrooms. I’ve had these dreams for many years.
The problem is that today I am no closer to them than I was 10 years ago.
I hate change. I think maybe you do too. Most do, so don’t feel ashamed.
Everything I am, do, and have are the product of my best decisions. That’s hard to swallow. My best thinking hasn’t gotten me to where I want to be, so the only logical conclusion is that I must change.
There’s that word again.
And so I am, changing that is. And not just a little change, but BIG changes. Like Biggest Loser change. Not that I have 150 pounds to lose, but that the change in lifestyle must be, for me, that drastic, or they will not stick.
So here I sit, writing for the first time in too long. After having exercised, also something new in my life. And I had only 16oz. of soda today, which is a quarter of my usual intake.
The beauty of it is that this probably doesn’t matter too much to you, and it’s highly likely to never be read by more than five or six people at this time. But I am not writing it for you, I am writing it for me. Maybe you will get some inspiration from this, maybe not. Either way, I’m finally on my way to somewhere. I’m not sure where, but I don’t care where, which is yet another new thing for me.
So raise your glass with me and celebrate change. Yes, that despicable word, that essential word, that blessed word: Change. Because without it, I will ever be the same. And that, reader, is no longer acceptable.
I had a dream of a man waving to me from the other side of a river. He looked a lot like me, but he was happier, healthier, everything I ever wanted to be. He was calling to me to join him.
I looked up and down the river and saw no bridge for crossing. The waters looked deep and frigid, the current swift. I knew that if I even dared to jump in, there was no way I would make it alive to the other side.
Then I looked behind me, beside me. There sat everything that I am. It was all comfortable. It was enough. My home was more than a shack, my belly was full, my family happy.
My wife came up to me and asked, “Who is that man? He looks quite familiar.”
“I don’t know.” So I called out to him and asked.
“I am everything you could have been!” he returned.
“But how do I get there now?” I asked, the answer obvious.
“All you have to do is cross the river.”
“I would love to, but it’s hard.”
“If it were easy, you would already be here,” he said back.
“I could, but the water is deep and cold, the current swift.”
“If you give it everything you have, I know you will make it! I promise you won’t regret it even for a moment.”
I turned to my wife. “I should have done this long ago. Is it too late?”
“Not only should you, it’s necessary. That man across the river looked familiar because part of him reminded me of you, from when we were younger. And I know that life has made us older, but it’s necessary for you to have that part of you again. Go, and make a way for us to follow.”
So I jumped in and swam with all my strength. And I could hear my wife calling over the waves, “You had it in you all along!”
I know, it’s hard to believe, I finally admitted it.
Maybe you should too.
Whether we like it or not, our opinions and beliefs, heck, our entire lives have been shaped by our environment and upbringing (even if we have since rejected them). We have internal programs running unconsciously at every moment that determine how we feel, how we carry ourselves, and how we view the world around us.
The result is that sometimes we don’t see things as they are (reality), but how we are (perceived reality).
For instance, color blind people do not see some colors in their true form, but how their brain perceives, or translates them to be. In the same way, some of the circumstances in our lives are interpreted by what we perceive to be reality, when what is real is actually quite different.
Facebook is all the evidence we need to establish this point. It’s -20F out and someone posts, “OMG, stepped out the door and my blood froze. 32 days til Spring!” In come the opinion police. Some will agree, others will tell you how ridiculous the others are, some will point out that many in the world have no clothes or shelter so “Be thankful #firstworldproblems.” Then there’s the guy (like me) who loves the cold and winter who who laughs and comments, “I wish I could unlike this.”
Before long, a firestorm erupts of who is right or wrong.
Well, none of them are wrong. Reality is facts, and the fact was constant. It was -20F out. How we view this will determine our reaction.
What’s the point?
Sometimes people see things different than me. Sometimes the facts don’t matter. What does, however, is what will my reaction to others be when what they see is different than me. Will I start a firestorm of OPINION (which people rarely change), or will I be empathetic. Will I chose to put how I feel above someone else simply because it is my belief, or will I choose to suspend my beliefs for a few moments and try to see things from an opposing view.
We can learn a lot from each other if we are willing try and see what they see.
The kids and I worked in the garden today, and they all took turns watering our little vegetable sprouts. My instructions were clear: only water where the plants grow and not in between the rows where the weeds grow.
The kids were concerned that we hadn’t watered the garden good enough.
We came inside for ice cream cones and before long, the sky darkened and it began to rain. I said, “See, God’s watering it now, and he knows what he’s doing. However, we only watered our plants.”
Laila, our oldest and quick to wit, said, “Are you saying that we did a better job than God?”
I knew I was beat. Subconsciously I implied exactly that. But my spirit knew better and I replied, “No honey, I’m saying that God cares about the weeds too.”
I’ve heard plenty of preachers over the years and thought, “Wow, I’d like to see what chapter and verse THAT theology was based on.” Granted, no one is perfect and I’m sure that I believe a few things that would make you scratch your head too.
But at what point do we call a brother out — by name?
Really. At what point do say, “Pastor, if you can’t show me where this came from and how it applies as you laid out, what you said here is false teaching.” Where is the line drawn if there is no sound evidence that the doctrine is Biblical that you decide to nationally call a pastor out — by name.
Well Christian musician Shai Linne decided to do just that in his new single, “Fal$e Teacher$” (video below).
The song directly attacks twelve pastors for teaching the Prosperity Gospel. I put the list below the video.
I for one hope that Mr. Linne privately confronted these men and women before posterizing them in what has become a viral music video.
How appropriate is this video, and when do you think it is proper to call out a pastor publicly when you believe they are a false teacher?
Here’s the list (from his lyrics):
Talk to them) Joel Osteen – false teacher!
(Let them know) Creflo Dollar is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?) Benny Hinn is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them) TD Jakes is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth) Joyce Meyer is a false teacher!
(Let them know) Paula White is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
(Keep going) Fred Price is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth) Kenneth Copland is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?) Robert Tilton is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them) Eddie Long is a false teacher!
(Let them know) Juanita Bynum is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?) Paul Crouch is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
Today, March 13 2013, Bethany and I celebrate our fourteenth year of marriage!
Beth was barely 18, and I 21 that cold day in 1999. We heard from many people (even close friends), “You’re too young. You’ll never make it.” Ha! I laugh in your faces! Not only are we still married, we’re happy and LOVING it!
It’s been a great fourteen years. There have been tough years as well as some easy and through it all, God has been faithful to us and we to each other. We have five children ages 11, 9, 7, 6, 4, and child number six due in May.
I love ‘em, I love ‘em, I love ‘em. And I love my sugar baby even more today than the day I married her (and she is ten times hotter now than then too!)
The study I linked to has some interesting stuff in it. 76% of first time marriages between 1955-1959 lasted 20 years or longer, while marriages from 1975-1979 only had 58% last at least that long. Also, forget the “Seven year itch,” more first-time marriages end in year two (1 in 12 in year two as opposed to 1 in 20 in year seven).
So, to encourage all you you married people (and soon to be!), if we can do it, anyone can. And remember, it’s not about you — it’s about both of you. As for words to live by, I can only speak from the husband perspective. The Bible says to love your wife as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). He laid down His life for us, so give your life for her. He had no complaints, even though He knew it would be tough, and He still gave his life knowing He might never receive anything in return, so quit your complaining and help her out once in awhile. Also, 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to learn about love as well.
I listen to a lot of teaching material and sermons at work. Many of these are from YouTube and the video plays in the background while I work (they are not a visible distraction). When I need to get up, I pause them, and I have noticed a trend.
Here are two screen captures that I took of recent YouTube teachings. One is a seminar by Jim Rohn, and incredible personal development guru. The other is a sermon at a church. Can you tell me which photo belongs to which teaching? (I blanked out their eyes for privacy)
If you couldn’t guess, the left picture is the sermon, the right is the seminar. There is a distinct difference in the two. In the sermon picture, the attendees are observing the teaching and committing it to mental memory.
The people attending the seminar are participating and writing down the information so they can go over it again later.
Given the different level of participation in the teachings, which group is more committed to the topic at hand?
Which would you say is the group simply hearing?
Which do you think are more likely act on the information they are receiving not just that day, but weeks, months, or years down the road?
Like it or not, the NFL ruled the last second touchdown by the Seattle Seahawks against the Green Bay Packers to be the correct call. You didn’t see that in the headlines did you? (story link)
For the first three weeks of the NFL season, it seemed that the games were a side note to the officiating. While some despise the mishaps of the replacement referees in the first three weeks of the NFL season others found that they added an entertaining an unpredictable aspect to the games. Either way, they taught me a few things:
1. Do the best you can, we all make mistakes. The regular refs were on strike and the NFL found what they believed to be the most competent replacements. I’m sure being thrust onto the biggest stage in the world was overwhelming, but they found a way to get the job done.
And sometimes we feel the same. Pressures mount and stress is added at every point, but just do the best you can. Take what knowledge you have and apply it. Will you always get it right? No. Learn from the mistakes so you don’t repeat them.
2. Give the other guy the benefit of the doubt. I don’t believe anyone wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and says, “I’m going to be a jerk today and tick off as many people as I can.” Likewise the refs didn’t start each game with the mindset of blowing calls. I need to remember that people on the other side of the aisle from me are trying their best to be great at their work, that the customer has a right to be upset if you messed up, that service reps can have bad days too.
When in doubt, just treat the other guy how you would want to be treated if you messed up: with compassion and understanding.
3. Don’t make excuses. The post-game press conferences were full of players and coaches calling out the missed calls (that went the other teams way). They had a right to be upset, but a bad call is rarely the only reason a team loses a game. There are scores of missed opportunities: a pass that was thrown to hard, a hold on a block that calls back a touchdown, and missed tackles.
Bad things happen that are out of our control. In the end we need to take responsibility for our decisions and let the cards fall where they may. The alternative is repeating failures by blaming others for our missed opportunities.
4. Even if the world is against you, show up. I can’t imagine being one of these guys. It seemed every round of games, these they were less popular with the public. Regardless, they showed up. The world rejected them, but they didn’t run, hide, or quit. They clocked in and did what they had to do.
It’s the same for us. Sometimes we aren’t going to win the “Most Popular” award at work or home for the decisions we make, but that doesn’t mean we shrink into a hole. We must stand up and be proud of what we do. Half of the road to success is simply showing up.
Thanks taking time for your kid’s even when it’s not convenient for you. Yeah you could have been off making a few more bucks, closing another deal, taking another class, or climbing the corporate ladder. Instead you show up to your kids baseball games which shows them, “You’re worth more than all that crap. I love you.”
Thanks for making time for your kid’s even when you could have had the time to yourself. You could have gone Buffalo Wild Wings with your crew to watch the Yankees vs the Red Sox, but instead you took your boys.
Thanks for not coming home from work and just zoning out in the Lazy-Boy until the kids go to bed.
Thanks for teaching your kids how to love and respect their mom by the way you do. It’s easy to yell and scream, but you choose not to.
Thanks for talking to your kids about the hard things like smoking, sex, and drugs instead of being lazy and leaving it up to their “friends” to pass on their experiences.
Thank you for sticking around when you had the chance to run. For not calling it quits when you were younger and all of your friends said, “Dude! You’re too young for the married with kids crap. Come and party it up with us. Think of all the women you could have.” You could have bolted on your family then, but you didn’t. You said, “My wife is all the woman I need, and I party with my kids and don’t regret it the next day.”
Thanks for not having that affair with the lady from work or your wife’s friend even when the opportunity presented itself. For keeping your emotions in check and knowing when to draw the line and back off of what you knew was heading down the wrong road. For making your wife and kids the priority.
Thanks for all of the times you could have walked out on your family and didn’t. For taking your responsibilities like a man. Thanks for not leaving. For all the times you were almost a deadbeat dad, but chose not to be.