What can this become?

In line with the theme for the year, I’m currently reading The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston.  It’s difficult to put the book down.  It’s difficult to not pick it up and quote it to myself and others.

So, today I’m sharing this inspiration… thoughts on “what can this become?”, by Ray Johnson.

become

 

“I want to ask you one question that has the power to change the rest of your life.  This one question is so important it should be the primary question asked by every parent of every teenager.  This question is so important it should be the primary question asked by a spouse discouraged by his or her marriage.  This question is so important it should be the first question asked by people who want to change their lives, lose weight, get out of debt, or have a better future.  This question has the power to lift a person out of discouragement.  It has the power to transform somebody’s mood.  It has the power to turn around a company or a church or a family.

“This question is actually more than a question.

“It becomes a frame of reference for how you look at everything.  When this question moves from being a question to being a habit, to being your lifestyle, everybody you will be affected.  A person trained to ask this question becomes

  • someone people flock to for advice and encouragement,
  • the parent everybody wishes they had,
  • the spouse everybody wishes they were married to,
  • the friend everybody wishes they knew, and
  • a better person, a better coach, a better teacher, a better employee, a better leader.

“This question is the reason Peter went from being a complete failure to being one of the first great leaders of the Christian church.  I believe this question was uppermost in Jesus’ mind every time He looked at His disciples.

“Here is the question:  What can this become?

“We learn this from Jesus.  Jesus tipped His hand when He looked at some young, inexperienced men and made an astounding statement: “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17 NASB).

“None of the disciples was a first-round draft pick.  They were a mess.  Peter had his mouth always open, his foot always in.  Thomas met every plan with, “I doubt it.”  St. John the Divine?  That same John and his brother James were called the “Sons of Thunder”.  Matthew was a selfish tax collector.  As a group, they were always arguing about who was the greatest.  The only thing they seemed to do right was “borrow” a kid’s lunch one day so Jesus could feed five thousand people.

“What made Jesus so effective?  What made Him the single most magnetic leader ever to walk this planet?  What was it about Jesus that liberated people from their pasts and freed them to go on to become something never dreamed?

“Here it is:

“Jesus was not focused on what people were like.

“He was focused on what they could become.

“Show me a parent of a teenager who is focused on what their kid is like right now, and I’ll show you a discouraged parent.  Show me a parent who is focused on what his or her teenager can become, and anything is possible.

Show me a husband or wife focus on what his or her marriage is like right now, and usually I can show you a discouraged person.  Show me a couple focused on what their marriage can become, and anything is possible.

Show me Christians focused on what their spiritual lives are light right now.  In all likelihood they will be discouraged, but the minute they begin to focus on what their relationship with God could become, anything is possible.

Show me a person who wishes he was in better shape physically but is focused on what his life is like right now, and he is probably discouraged.  Yet all kinds of possibilities emerge the minute he focuses on what he could become in the future.

Everything changes when we ask the question, “Am I able to see things not as they are right now but in terms of what they can be become?”

“I will make you become fishers of men,” Jesus said, and by following through on His word, He changed, is changing, and will change the world.  Forever.

Asking “What can this become?” accelerates you to the kind of fresh vision that fuels forward motion.  Asking what things can become gives you hope and a future.

“If you feel discouraged or dejected about your life, or if you desire to move to a higher level of living now or in the future, no strategy is more powerful than to focus on what you can become rather than on what you are.

Do your future a big favor.  Give preference to become over is.  The future you will thank you for it.

The rest of us will thank you, too, because we all need your gifts and talents… “


The Hope Quotient, by Ray Johnston

A tribute to Pastor Chico Goff

The words shared from the pulpit this past Sunday were difficult words to hear.  And yet they were also therapeutic.  They were difficult to process, and yet it was a healing process.  Our Pastor, Chico Goff, announced his resignation.

These words, mirrored after a similar tribute written about my own father (also a Pastor) were penned on my heart several weeks ago… as I prayed the circumstances wouldn’t come to this.  But come to this, it did…

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To my pastor (and friend), Chico Goff… thank you for your shepherd’s heart… 

He dedicated our children… and baptized our believers.

He married our young.

He held the hands of those dying… and sat with those losing their loved ones.

He buried our dead.

Mission Hills Church will sorely miss our shepherd.

He listened to our hearts and gave us comfort in sorrow… and stood with us as our wounded hearts cried out in despair.

He rejoiced with us in success.

His servant-like spirit challenged me to be a better leader, partner, spouse, friend, believer.

His willingness to be real with us spoke volumes.

His love for “doing life” together resonated deep in my soul.

He has been an adviser, a confidant, and a peacemaker.

He faithfully delivered the Word of God in service after service, and in the hallways and courtyard… in class after class, sermon upon sermon, lesson upon lesson… in thousands upon thousands of occasions.  He led us to truth and light and life… warned us of dangers… encouraged righteousness… and modeled humility.

He personally led many to Jesus Christ… and many more of us back to a relationship with Christ.

He allowed for those of us who were hurt to be hurt and take the time to heal.  He gave us the space we needed to learn to trust again.

For me he has modeled patience… godliness… gentleness… integrity… stability… kindness… faithfulness… sound leadership… wisdom… brotherly love.

He has sacrificed for us, because he loves us.  As my shepherd he humbly led me when I was lost.

In my life, for a decade, but for thousands of others for nearly two decades… and in a million different ways… he has shown us Jesus.

Pastor Chico … you will be greatly missed.

2015 LOVE Series…

The last of the 2015 LOVE Series posts has been brewing for years.  Admittedly, I have written it, and re-written it from many angles… but in my opinion it cannot be written any better than how it is shared on this website:  Ministry Tools Resource Center

I ran into this site many years back… and I keep coming back to it. Ministry Tools Resource Center is committed to equipping teachers, leaders, and others serving within the local Christian church.

And so we reflect on this wisdom for today’s final post in the 2015 LOVE Series… what it means to BE THE CHURCH, in our modern-day.  I found this post and just have to share it.

Let’s start with this…

 “The primary purpose of the church is the same as it was for God’s people from the beginning of time. Jesus clearly summed up all the commandments of the law and all the preaching of the prophets with a small but powerful word — LOVE.”  – Ministry Tools Resource Center

 

Unchanging Aspect of God’s Purpose

“Jesus’ first commandment in Matthew 22:37 reiterated what was already commanded to His people back in Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind/strength.” All that you are and all that you have is to be poured into loving God.

The first four of the Ten Commandments describe ways people could show their love to God by keeping Him first, by honoring Him, and by remembering Him. The remaining six commandments communicate love for people by doing them no harm but rather good. Love for God will spill over into love for people. If we do not love people, we should question our love for God. 1 John 4:20-21)

God’s purposes have not changed in the church age. “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 Jn. 3:11). “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 Jn. 4:21). Jesus said that by such love “all men will know you are my disciples” (Jn. 13:34-35).

 

Ability to Fulfill God’s Purpose

What has changed is that the Christian has a greater motivation, a greater power, and a greater confidence “to live a life of love,” as commanded in Ephesians 5:1-2, than those in previous ages.

A Greater Motivation: Prior to the church, people could only look forward to the highest example of love — the death of Jesus. We stand on the other side of the cross, looking back at what He has done. We have a fuller understanding of what love is which becomes a source of motivation for us to love as He loved. (1 Jn. 3:16)

A Greater Power: Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promised His disciples the Holy Spirit who would come and permanently dwell within them. The Spirit always existed and always worked but in the Old Testament time He came on people temporarily as the occasion required to do a work for God. As we live by the Spirit within us, we will “not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” but rather exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, primary of which is love (Gal. 5:1622-23). We have a Helper within us unlike those in previous ages.

A Greater Confidence: When Jesus died, the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in half symbolizing the direct access we now have to God. We no longer must go through the human agent of a priest. We are direct recipients of all God has to give us. That builds within us a boldness to approach God’s throne and a confidence to love as He loves. (1 Jn. 4:16-18)
The purpose is the same but the Church is in a unique position to fulfill God’s purpose. Of all people through all times, we should have the motivation, power, and confidence to move out in ways that show love for God and love for people. “

2015 LOVE Series… Love is the Greatest Thing

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So everything is about LOVE this week… accepting love, showing love, being loved by a Heavenly Father, recognizing how overwhelming that love is… the list goes on…

But WHAT IS love?  I jump straight to 1 Corinthians 13 as the Biblical definition of love.  And it is my pleasure to share it with you today.  But the message in the very last verse is really what the focus of the entire 13th chapter is truly about.

First, the book starts out with a few scenarios on what life could look like with and without love… if i do “so and so”, but don’t have love… then life is nothing.  NOTHING.

“If I give to everything I own to the poor … but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.”  1 Corinthians 13:3

Reading 1 Corinthians 13 is often very challenging.  I know not all of us can be or do all of these things for our loved ones.  But it sure is a great starting point, a great guide for what love IS and what love IS NOT.  For instance… the chapter focuses on these things…

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end…”

 

OK – ouch!  Realistically… WHO can be all these things (or in some cases, NOT be all these things?!)  Seriously… that’s SOME list.  Something to strive for… for sure.

But it begs the question… what does my love score look like?  How am I doing on these things?

The chapter goes on … and I challenge you to read it AGAIN today!  I linked it above, but I’ll link it again here:  1 Corinthians 13.  Maybe even print it up and put it in your wallet, or on the bathroom mirror, in a frame on your desk, on the refrigerator?

Let’s keep these words in at the forefront of our thinking.

Most importantly… is how the chapter ends… the most important verse!

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.  (verse 13)

Now, GO!  What are you waiting for?

 

2015 LOVE Series… His Love is Overwhelming

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On this blog, Thursdays are when we get AUTHENTIC around here  (hence, the previous “Authentic Thursday” posts).  And this week we’re doing a quick LOVE Series in light of Valentines Day.  So, this is a mash-up of sorts… and quite the doozy, I might add.

 

Here’s the mash-up… I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster.

Yesterday at work we learned of the passing of a colleague who lost his battle to prostate cancer this week.  And today I am overcome with proud emotion for friends who have worked HARD on their musical dream for the past 10+ years … and they just recently announced some MAJOR news on that front!!!

 

Sometimes the emotion of all that life entails gets the best of me…  the up and down of joy, pain, excitement, devastation of a life’s dream, hope, celebration, … and lastly, just waiting…

The past 6 months have been this way… quite the emotional roller coaster.

For my own benefit (to show  myself I was not just an emotional wreck without reason), I decided to write down some of those ups and downs.  And the list just kept growing.

To give you a glimpse of those ups and downs… here are some examples, but in no particular order…

  • Making Thanksgiving dinner with my Gramma Helen and being together with the Oregon family at Thanksgiving.  (So very meaningful to me.)
  • Walking alongside a friend who was going through a divorce.
  • Celebrating daily with a friend recovering from leukemia, on the fighting side of a bone marrow transplant.
  • Hearing from an old friend, as he was going through his Step 4 and needed to make amends.
  • Celebrating HUGE professional achievements with both friends and co-workers.
  • Reconnecting with a real life dream of my own.
  • Celebrating the reality of a long-time dream with a friend, walking shoulder to shoulder with her.
  • Questioning God when dealing with the life lessons He decided to send my way.
  • Following through on a journey of forgiveness which has given me so much freedom.
  • Saying unexpected goodbyes to family friends who left this earth at much too young of an age.
  • Followed by standing with our friends, relatives of those individuals, as they grieve.
  • Reconnecting with lifetime friends and surprisingly finding a new friendship through it.
  • Taking a ride down an unexpected path that has brought so much joy in my life.
  • Questioning why I am where I am when I am.
  • Dealing with questions and heartbreak as we walk side-by-side with a dear friend whose gut-wrenching pain is too much for him to be expected to carry on his own…

Sometimes it’s just all too much… and I stand in the shower and cry, the ugly cry that no one else gets to see… gasping for air and snorting up a lung.

And asking God WHY … and knowing that He’ll tell me when it’s the right time.  Knowing He’ll shine a light on the reason when the light is needed.  And still… knowing it’s ok to ask WHY just to ask.  Just to remind Him (like He needs reminding) that I’m still going to ask WHY, cry out WHY, even when He’s not ready to show me… even when His answer is, “Just wait… but don’t forget, I’m right here.  Call on me anytime you need.”  He hears us.  He shows us He loves us.

And I am reminded that He made the good along with the bad.  (Ecclesiastes 7:14a)

And I stand overwhelmed by His timing, His grace, His love, His care and every other tiny thing He gives.  He knows exactly what I need to get through … through each up and down.

Which brings me to why this fits into the 2015 LOVE Series…

My Heavenly Father loves me… His daughter… so much that He gives me exactly what I need to get through each day.  No more.  No less.  

And the cry-fest in the shower then takes a sharp turn… And I curl up stand there, hot steam filling the room and His love filling my heart and gasp for air because His love is so overwhelming

And I leave you with this, a song by Big Daddy Weave:  Overwhelmed

(Disclaimer:  Have the tissue handy.)

 

“Overwhelmed”

I see the work of Your Hands

Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of Your Voice

All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I know the power of Your Cross

Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

All that You’ve done is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You

In the Glory of Your Presence

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

 

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful

Oh God, there is no one more Beautiful

You are Beautiful, God you are the most Beautiful

You are Wonderful, You are Wonderful

Oh God, there is no one more Wonderful

You are Wonderful, God You are the most Wonderful

You are Glorious, You are Glorious

Oh God, there is no one more Glorious

You are Glorious, God you are the most Glorious

2015 LOVE Series: How He Loves

 

He just doesn’t stop… no matter what we do, what powers may be against us, no matter how much we worry or want to control the outcome… He just doesn’t stop.  He can’t stop.

NOTHING will ever be able to separate us from the love of God!  It’s all right here in the scripture:  Romans 8

 

nothing

 

 

This morning on the way to work I was hit smack across the head, figuratively, with the lyrics of the song “How He Loves” as performed by the David Crowder Band.  I have linked it up below for you to listen to, or read the lyrics.

The words, a powerfully drawn picture of His extreme love for us… my prayer is that you are encouraged today by this.

David Crowder Band via YouTube:  How He Loves

And if you’d like to read the lyrics, here you go:

“How He Loves”
(originally by John Mark McMillan)

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us…
Oh, how He loves us…
Oh, how He loves us.

2015 LOVE Series: Thoughts on Showing Love

Here we are … the week of Valentines.  And the focus for many is aptly LOVE.

Not just romantic love, not just familial love… just plain ol’ loving others, family or not… friend or not… just having a spirit of love towards the rest of humanity… brotherly love.

A few questions to ponder:

  • Have you ever received this kind of “out-of-the-blue” love that I speak of?
  • Is it easy or difficult for you to love people like this?
  • How often do you go out of your to love someone who especially needs it?
  • How do you show love?
  • Is it easy to accept this kind of love?

Let me be the first one to propose that we DO FOR OTHERS this week instead of feeling sorry for ourselves when we don’t receive the acceptable amount of love from others.

How much better of a day would it be if we thought move of others and less of ourselves?

In fact, mental health care professionals have long suggested that when you’re feeling depressed one of the ways you can take charge of improving your own feelings is by doing something nice for someone else in need.

So instead of whining about how little love (read that “attention”, “gifts”, “consolation”, etc) we received this Valentines … let’s see if we can out-do each other by loving on others.

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2015 Thank you to our Local Heroes

 

This past weekend I got to go with a bunch of people from church and love on some very important people in our community.  They view themselves as public servants … and they take very good care of us!

We gathered, after baking (or buying), and assembled platters of sweet treats and some thank you cards.  We then delivered those platters of cookies, brownies, bars, Hershey kisses, cinnamon candies and more to the 4 fire houses in San Marcos, to San Marcos City Hall, the Sheriff’s office in San Marcos and Escondido Police & Fire Headquarters.

(This was a repeat of our first event in August 2014… and I would be remiss in not mentioning that this event lives on in honor of the late Trish Smith.  She had an idea to love on our emergency personnel well over 10 years ago and started doing this with a few of her friends in Escondido.  Her church picked up on it and continues the tradition in her honor.  Trish passed away almost a year ago now… we do this partly because of her, and partly because we just love doing it!)

2014 Thank you to our Local Heroes
2014 Thank you to our Local Heroes

How fun it was to deliver these big ol’ platters of sugary sweets and have a chance to say a big THANK YOU for all they do for the community.  We sure had fun making their day!

Now, it’s your turn…

Here are some other ideas of how to love on others:

  • Load up a gift card at the local coffee shop with instructions on how they should use it on random customers.
  • Drop a thoughtful card in the mail to a couple of friends you haven’t talked to lately.
  • Place a call to your Grandma, or Aunt or Sister or neighbor… the list goes on.
  • Take flowers to your neighbor.
  • Buy a gas card or grocery card and give it to a family in need.
  • Go the extra mile for a loved one in your own home… fold their laundry, wash their dirty dishes, ask them if you can help with anything… again, the list goes on.
  • Offer to pick up a friend and go to the beach, or the mountains, or just for a drive.
  • Go with a friend to a Dr’s appt.
  • Pray for your church members, your pastor, the church staff, the leadership.
  • Give someone a hug and ask them how they’re doing.
  • … again, the list goes on…


And if you’d like some inspirational tunes, here’s one for you!  Ellie Holcomb, one of my new fav voices, inspires us with her song: LOVE NEVER FAILS

 

LOVE NEVER FAILS, by Ellie Holcomb

Love is patient

Love is kind

Love doesn’t wait to cross over to the other side

Well it’s worth never giving up

It’s worth holding on

Love never fails

And that’s a promise

Love never fails

Help me believe it

 

Help me to trust that this is truth

Help me to love like You do

Oh, Lord help me to live like

Love never fails

 

Love doesn’t strut

It is not proud

Love will make sure to seek others out

Love doesn’t try to keep the score

It sides with forgiveness

 

Love never fails

And that’s a promise

Love never fails

Help me believe it

 

Help me to trust that this is truth

Help me to love like You do

Oh, Lord help me to live like

Love never fails

 

Love has eyes that see your pain

Love will never run away

It holds out hope

It holds out trust

Love will always be enough

 

Love never fails

And that’s a promise

Love never fails

Help me believe it

 

Help me to trust that this is true

Help me to love just like You do

Oh, Lord help me to live like

Love never fails

2015 LOVE series: In spite of my best efforts, and our failures…

 

This week, the week of Valentines, we’re diving into LOVE.  LOVE encompasses so much… today we focus on giving grace out of love.

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Have you ever messed up things so royally that you just wanted to run and hide and pretend like it was a bad dream?  In that moment, when you recognize the stupidity error of your ways, how do you feel?  Shamed?  Embarrassed?  Rejected?  Foolish?  Worse?

Maybe you’ve made a statement about (or even towards) someone, or a group of people, or a way of thinking, an ideal… so unbelievably harsh and judgmental … and later you realize what a fool it made you.   Maybe you stated your beliefs, out of ignorance or just not caring how it affected others, and later regretted the effects your words or thoughts or judgments had on others.

Now think about the moment that grace was extended to you DESPITE your reaction, your words, your judgment.  Contemplate the mercy given in that moment … and you exhale a sigh of relief, or intellectually gasp (out of disbelief) that grace has been extended to you IN SPITE of you.

May I encourage you to do your best to wrap your head and your heart around the amount of grace that has just been offered up.  Whether that grace comes from a spouse or loved one, a co-worker, a leader in your life, or our Heavenly Father… we feel we don’t deserve it.  Sometimes the shame lingers just long enough to show us the light … and sometimes we “beat ourselves up” over the fact that we certainly didn’t deserve that grace.

What have we learned in that moment?  We have learned what true love looks like.  No strings attached.  No obligation.  No IOU.

Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it.  Ephesians 2:8-9

In that moment that we grasp the meaning, the feeling, the effects of grace we are truly grasping LOVE.

May I suggest that it isn’t until we have truly received that gift of grace… for all that it means… that we can truly and fully embrace the importance (and freeing relief) of extending grace to others.

So where do we start?  We start with ourselves.  May I recommend giving yourself some more grace…

Today’s challenge is to spend some time here:  self-compassion.org

Dr. Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin.

 

God’s got this…

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There are a couple of things in my life I’m certain of: death, taxes and change.  So I brace myself for those things.  But the other life lesson I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be true is:  God’s got this!  

I read Matthew 6, and contemplate these words …

Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are.  Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And my faith is strengthened in knowing that whatever the future holds for me, for my family, for my friends…  He will meet all of our needs.

ALL OF OUR NEEDS.

Emotional.  Financial.  Physical.  Spiritual.   all of our needs…

… your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need,  and He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.