Make Way for Victories

I’ve probably mentioned before that I watch cop shows on a regular basis, typically the real-life type. I’m not into committing crimes, I don’t have people in my family who do, and I don’t have any interest in getting into any type of criminal investigation work, but I always find these shows interesting but not overly dramatic (because I don’t like drama) and they’re obviously not comedies (which I don’t enjoy watching either).

As I was watching one the other day on a show the team was investigating a murder and found tons of evidence of the crime stored away in the house where the suspect was living. The suspect had cleaned up the crime scene, but kept all of the materials that were used to commit the murder as well as clean up in the house, which just made me shake my head. If you’re really going to attempt to hide the murder you’ve done, you don’t keep evidence of it in your house, you get rid of it at least down the block, if not several towns over.

I’m not going to talk about the lack of common sense some people have, but rather how the concept is applicable to something much more relevant to most people’s lives: victories. There are times in our lives that we have to move on from something in our present or past if we want to get to the next step of our victory journey, or the next victory period. Sometimes the best thing to do is to remove the past from our lives. That doesn’t mean boxing it up and putting it on a shelf in the basement or the attic, but rather throwing it out and removing it completely from our lives. You can’t remove your memories nor can you remove the memories of others, and it’s very difficult to remove stuff from some parts of the internet (deleting only does so much), but removing any bits of evidence that you can that remind you of that past or connects you to that past can help you make more positive steps into the future and your next victory.

So what do you need to get rid of today that will help you not only feel more free but help you create more victories?  Go ahead and get rid of it, keeping it will only hold you back rather than help set you free.

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Courage Like Daniel

With it being graduation season as well as Father’s Day and last month Mother’s Day, one topic that comes to mind is courage. It takes courage to step into the next chapter of your life after graduation. It takes courage to step up and really be the parent your kids need you to be. It takes courage to step up and be the partner that the mother/father of your children needs you to be. Some people do try to give a partial effort, and they’re partially successful, which usually ends up being more frustrating and ineffective than anything worth giving credit to.

One of the Biblical figures that often is thought of when the topic of courage comes up is Daniel. Daniel’s this larger-than-life figure who has an incredible passion for God, is called into the presence of kings and leaders regularly, and gets himself into some incredible situations including being thrown in a lion’s den (and coming out alive).

Daniel showed courage in several different ways, including being courageous enough to tell the truth when it was asked of him, to stay faithful to what he believed, to continue to practice his faith even when it was considered illegal, and to trust in God when his life was threatened. He also had one of those incredibly close relationships with God, and God revealed much to him because he listened to God. The book of Daniel also records one of the longer prayers in the Bible, a prayer of confession, humility and a seeking of forgiveness.

We may never have the relationship with God or live on the national stage that Daniel did, but that doesn’t mean that our lives are any less important, or that it takes us any more courage to live them that it did Daniel. This week I would encourage you to work your way away from fear and into courage and live your life with the power and confidence that come with being a loved Child of God.

Reality Reflection: Summer of Consideration

We’re less than a week to summer, summer officially arrives next Friday and I can’t wait. Right now it’s the time that we think about what we want the summer to be, the things we want to do with our summer, the people we want to hang out, the time off we’re going to take, if we’re going to fit into our bathing suit, what we’re going to do with the kids this summer, how many roads will be closed for repairs and repaving, special date nights we have planned, and countless other little things.

As I was driving the other day a guest on a radio show shared a bit of a crazy story about how her foot was broken. She was out walking through a city center and someone was driving a bit quick and didn’t stop for her when she was in the crosswalk, they rolled over her foot and brushed past her other leg and hip. They did stop to check on her, and offered to take her to the hospital (“get in and I’ll take you to the hospital”), when she said no they then drove off before she could call the police or get any information from them.

Lots to unpack from that story, let’s start with the really crazy part that strangers still tell people to get in their cars! Whether this ‘run over someone’s foot’ thing is a scam to get people in their car or a true accident, it’s a good reminder of how dangerous the roads are and how little consideration for each other we seem to have at some times. It’s about more than just common sense (which too many people seem to be lacking in at times), it’s about remembering that in each car is at least one other human, walking around on the streets are many other humans, living and working in the many buildings around us are lots of other humans, and someone more distracted than you could intersect with your line of travel (or your life) faster than you can react.

This topic of consideration extends beyond driving, to all other areas of summer life like standing in line, being hot, having tired kids, having bored kids, planning and having parties and get-to-gethers, attending concerts, and using fireworks just to name a few.

At the end of the day we all want the same thing: to have a great summer, to be with the people we love, to have more time with those people, and to have less stress and fewer messes to navigate in our lives. If we all took a moment to be a little more considerate of all the other people who we share this world with, we’d contend with less fear, stress and upset and the world be a nicer place to live.

Right to Restore?

For the past few years there’s been a revitalization in interest in restoring old buildings. We’ve also seen this recently with the discussions over Notre Dame and whether it will be restored as it most recently was, or if they’re going to make some changes. I can understand the perspective of wanting to restore buildings, many old buildings have an incredible presence about them that updating or changing them would destroy. But other times there’s value in making some changes, especially if it means you’re going to breathe new life into something. So how do you know when to restore and when to be open to some change?

Tiredness is a great indication that a decision has to be made, either to put in the effort to restore or to move on to something different. The unfortunate thing about old buildings is that sometimes they do reach the point of being so tired there’s no hope for them and changes have to be made. The same is true for people, we can get so tired, so burnt out, that we don’t have anywhere to go but required changes.

If you’re pretty happy with the bones, the foundation of what you’ve got in life, it’s probably that what you need is a restoration. But if you’re finding that it’s sand all around or nothing is working like you think it should or want it to, you’re ready for a change. And there’s nothing wrong with passing the bones or foundation of what still works onto someone else before it’s irreparable.

Yes, it hurts to let go of some of the old buildings and old parts of our lives, but not everything was meant to last forever. We should always have some treasured items and memories from the past that stick with us, while we still remain open for the new and amazing that is being created or simply revealed to us. Don’t forget that going with something different or new doesn’t have to mean that it was made in this year or even this decade, it could just be something new to you.

So what could help you make more victories? Is your life in need of some restoration or are you ready for something new?

A Summer of Love

One of my favorite topics, and a favorite topic for many, is the topic of love. We’re getting closer by the day to my favorite season, summer, we’ve already celebrated the holidays of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and we’ve got Father’s Day this coming weekend, for some of us all of those are reasons to feel love and share love, even if there’s a bit of bittersweet reminiscing going on over those we’ve lost. But love continues after death. It doesn’t end, it changes. We still love them, we just love them differently.

One of the greatest examples of love is that of God’s love for us. Over the years He has shown us in so many ways how much He loves us. From the start of Creation to Noah’s Ark to crossing the Red Sea to Jesus birth and later death and resurrection, not to mention all of the individual men and women, boys and girls whose lives are well-known throughout the Bible, God’s been telling a story of love for years.

But what’s in the Bible doesn’t begin to tap into all of the evidence that there is that God loves us. It’s in the way the breeze blows, the sun shines, the plants grow, the pets wag their tales, the joy of two people in love seeing each other at the end of a day, the innocence and yet amazing insight of a child, the little unexpected blessings that show up in your day, the good news, the coworker who offered to help with the big project, the satisfaction at the end of a good book or movie, the laughter with friends, the friend who stopped to talk with you, the reminder that just popped into your head, or the health to get up another morning. The ways that God can show up and show love are endless.

If you’re looking for something to challenge you over the summer, I would challenge you to make this the summer of love. Work on the relationships that mean the most to you but are a little (or a lot) broken. Work on yourself and accepting yourself and/or improving yourself. Do good things for the earth. Donate your time to organizations and people in need. And I would encourage you to ask God what ways He wants you to work on loving this summer.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16

Reality Reflection: Judgments and Honesty

I’m a big fan of what I thought to be a growing trend of people who are doing business and living honestly, and with the best interests of everyone at heart.  But, the truth is that there are quite a few who aren’t on the bandwagon yet.

Bill Hybels said, “What’s further saddening to me is the growing trend, specifically in the United States culture, to throw stones first and ask questions later.”

Why should you throw stones first?  Actually, why throw stones at all?  When you throw a stone you are most likely to break something.  Maybe you break a window, maybe it’s a finger, or maybe it’s a broken heart.

In this world of preferences, options, opportunities, varieties, differences, variations, and changes, the likelihood that you jumped to an incorrect conclusion before you threw that stone is a very high one.

I would much rather ask questions and get to know you, than jump to a judgment that is completely off base.  Is it easy to not jump to conclusions? No, we’re a jumpy society.  It takes a lot of work to suspend your judgment of someone or something.

My question for you today is what good does throwing stones do?  Does it actually feel good to sling nasty things at your “competition”? Do you feel good seeing the pissed or crushed look on someone when you immediately sweep them under the rug without giving them the time to explain or clarify?

So before you leave your house this week, make sure you’ve got your keys, wallet, computer, cell phone and any other necessarys, and leave your snap judgments behind your locked and closed door.

The Story of Today

75 years ago today there was a big military operation, one that you probably know by name even if you don’t know what really happened, when it was or who was involved: D-Day. I’m not the biggest history buff, I’m not quite sure how I managed to pass most history classes, but I’ve heard of D-Day, and I’m thankful to the multiple countries and some approximately 160,000 troops who made this effort and helped bring us a big step closer to defeating the Germans and their allies in WW2.

One of the headlines I’ve seen around this year’s events is that the men and women of the war, both abroad and at home, are sharing their stories. It’s not easy to talk about what happens during war, and many would rather just forget what they saw and did, which is totally understandable. But when the only things that are shared are facts (dates, times, numbers), it’s hard for many people to really understand why they should care, let alone remember anything about it. But I wish I had more stories from my grandparents and other seniors that have been in my life over the years before they passed; once they die their stories are gone.

It’s with these stories that it’s affirmed what an incredible victory was had that day, and the personal contribution that each person made. It’s also a reminder that behind every victory is a story. Sometimes it’s one of lots of details and planning, other times it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision, and often there’s a lot of grace and/or luck involved, with moving parts we never will know about. Don’t be afraid of the story or think your story doesn’t matter, stories are what paint pictures, dream dreams and make stars glow at night. Stories also inspire others and encourage them that if you were able to get through what you did to achieve victories, so too can they. What story did you write today?