Thursday, July 22, 2010

Re-Defining Success

This video will spark life in you. Be challenged, and willing to redefine your pursuit of success.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Telling Stories

We all love a good story, don't we? A couple of weeks ago the family and I were driving to Heritage park to meet up with Grandma & Grandpa when Saydie blurted out, "Dad, you'll never guess what. Two mosquitos flew into the car and pulled out my pigtails." Gazing into the rear-view mirror, I saw the damage these two mosquitoes had caused. My wife Bonny had spent 20 minutes wrestling with Saydie to get her hair done in the first place, and now all the effort was lost.

Sure, it was funny to hear Saydie's excuse for her messy hair, but it was also a glimpse into the natural human tendency we all have to tell stories. Don't get me wrong, stories are great, but more often than not, we embellish our stories in order to garner a specific type of response from our captive audience. I don't know about you, but I've even caught myself weaving together a more illustrious story for my wife from time to time. In these moments I think we are communicating one of our deepest needs as humans...we desire to be loved, respected and admired by others. The weird thing is that the very thing we crave is damaged and diminished if the stories that we tell are not true.

Imagine if each of us would choose to share in the telling of true stories. Would life as we know it be different? If I would be able to rest in the knowledge that I am loved, accepted and admired for who I am without embellishing the truth, would my story telling reflect this confidence?

When you start telling a story, consider the motivation behind your desire to share your story with others; and consider how telling an embellished story may diminish the power of your story for your captive audience.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Best of You

It's been awhile since I posted something new on the blog. Sorry for the delay. I've been thinking a lot about this theme lately...the best of you. One of my favorite bands, The Foo Fighters, penned a song by this very name, and it offers us a viewpoint of this theme from a creative standpoint. If you haven't heard it before, check it out:

Foo Fighters - The Best of You

As humans, we are drawn to relationship. I think this is a key question for us to ask of and in each of the relational connections we have: Are we giving the best of us to the other person? I cannot speak for anyone else other than myself, but I know that I am someone who is drawn to value task over relationship. How this plays out in my life is that I am more focused on accomplishing things than I am just being with people. I tend to see relationships from a task-oriented perspective. I am, however, learning to grow in this area of my life. The key for me is considering what I am offering people when I am with them? Am I simply connecting them because I need or want something from them, or am I willing to offer them a piece of who I am, while also acknowledging who they are?

If you look at the life of Jesus and the interactions He had with people, He always gave His best to others. Sometimes we think giving our best means reaching a certain level of conversation of articulating a deep felt emotion to others. I think giving our best to others is simply about being fully present in the moment. What I mean is that instead of letting our mind wander towards other things, or rushing from one place to the next, we are willing to fully engage another person in conversation and offer to them a listening ear and a willingness to be there with them. Jesus was a master at this relational approach. He loved to asks questions, and He always took time to connect with the other person, no matter who they were.

Are you willing to give you best to others? It's something that I'm working on in my life, and I hope these pieces of my story will inspire you in your own journey of becoming who God has created you to be.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bye Hero

Having kids has provided me with so many memories and moments that I hope I will never forget. The weather here in Calgary has finally turned around somewhat, making it possible for us to use our screen doors to provide our home with some "breeze relief." This week we've discovered that one of our doors seems to have a gap somewhere that allows wasps to enter our home.

My wife Bonny is mildly afraid of insects...mildly is putting it lightly. Every time there is a spider, wasp or other sort of creepy crawly, let's just say it's easy to know that this bug is in our house. Recently, Bonny has been attempting to downplay her phobia as to not transfer this same type of fear of insects onto our children. Both Saydie & Cannon are not bothered in the same fashion by insects, although they both celebrate the moments when Daddy rids our home of these unwanted guests.

This evening I was hanging out with a bunch of Jr. High youth while my family was enjoying our regular evening routine consisting of bath time and bed time. While I was out and about, a wasp somehow got through our porous screen door yet again. So, Bonny closed the other door and left the bug for Daddy to take care of.

I rushed home as soon as I was able and headed upstairs to say goodnight to my kids (who should be sleeping by this point, but were testing boundaries this evening!!) and Saydie needed to tell me about the story of the wasp in our door. Bonny interjected much wisdom into this moment as she gently explained to Saydie that Daddy was going to take care of the wasp because Daddy is our hero. I kissed my daughter goodnight, and turned to walk out the door when she blessed me with these few words "Goodnight hero."

As I allowed these words encourage my soul, I began to ponder the deep human desire for heroes. Isn't it true that the best stories have great heroes? I seem to be captivated by the struggle these heroes endure and overcome in the end. I believe this natural desire for heroes is birthed by our desire to understand the greater meaning of life. If each of us would take a moment or two to look back in our own lives, I think we could find images of men and women that we've looked up to...heroes that have inspired us to be, to do and to celebrate in our lives. It is these heroes that have brought us one step further in our journey to understand what we want to be about as human beings. Some of my heroes include former pastors, uncles, my dad, my grandparents and other friends and family that I've admired in one way or another while learning from them, but no hero is greater in my life than Jesus. I know this sounds like the typical pastoral response to a question regarding the meaning of life, but for me this is absolutely true. Jesus is the source of inspiration from which my life draws meaning, purpose and hope. Without Him, I don't want to imagine where I would be. I learn from Him every day, and I am grateful to call Him my friend.

Check out this video

All of us need heroes. Some heroes have the power to inspire meaning, hope & purpose...while others are meant to provide us with more insight into what life is all about. Regardless of what you think about God or Jesus, we are all looking for a hero to save our lives in one way or another.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Say No To Racism

For those of you who have been watching the World Cup of Soccer, you may be familiar with this slogan that I have used as the title for this blog entry. Being a multi-cultural family, we are learning a lot about the underlying of prejudice and racism that infects our world. At the root of racism is comparison...the innate desire we have to define ourselves as "greater than" or "less than" another person. It is this slight error in perception that amplifies itself into the larger issue we refer to as racism today.

Here is but one example of billions of stories that could be told about how comparison infects us all. On the way home from our vacation we stopped off to pickup dinner at a Safeway location in Calgary. As our family was going through the check out, Cannon was saying "Hi Dad" to which I was responding of course. The cashier looked at me and said..."You're not his Dad" to which I replied, "Yes I am, he is our son. We adopted him." What occurred after this I will not take the time to repeat. To briefly summarize our conversation over groceries, Bonny & I being white people must think that we are better than everyone else and that's why we adopted because only white people adopted kids that don't look like them. Bonny & I were stunned. We left Safeway not knowing how to respond other than saying that was not our purpose for adopting our son. To this point, we have not faced a great amount of adversity as a family regarding the choices we have made to be obedient to what God has asked us to do.

As I pondered this experience, prayed through it and sought some clarification on how to respond when faced with similar situations in the future, I found comfort in God's word. There is a story in the book of Acts that brought me much comfort and clarity. In chapter 10 of this book, the apostle Peter is confronted in his own racism (or his choice to compare). Many Jews believed that salvation was only permitted to those of Jewish heritage. Peter was under this impression. In this story, however, Peter is prompted by the Spirit of God to visit a man named Cornelius...someone who was not Jewish, and someone who understood what it meant to have a relationship with God. Verses 34 & 35 record Peter's conclusion regarding this experience.

I realize now that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

Sometimes is takes a "brick wall" experience for us to understand how much we have to learn about life, about God and about what it means to love people like He does. When we choose to compare ourselves with others, we are showing favoritism...we are choosing racism over love. God in His infinite wisdom and grace chose to create each of us as a unique person unlike any other. Yes, we may have similarities but we are not exactly the same. And God loves each of us equally, whether we choose to recognize it or not. Each of us needs to continually grow in our understanding of what real love is. In doing so, we may begin to learn how to truly say no to racism by making different choices.

Who are the unlovable people in your life? Have you given yourself permission not to love someone? I challenge you to consider what it would mean to say no to racism, to stop making the verbal or non-verbal statements of comparison about others and instead view people in light of God's grace and mercy. We are all created in the image of God regardless of color, gender, social status or anything else. May God give us the strength and wisdom to love those around us like He loves them, without falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to others.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


There’s something about nature that just speaks to me. I can’t put my finger on it, but as I walk, see, smell, taste, touch and hear the world around me I seem to come alive on the inside. Have you ever wondered why our world has become so driven? To what end do we owe our desire to work harder and consume more? To what purpose can we attribute our motivation and desire for results?

I’m beginning to understand that my motivation to succeed is based on my lack of self-confidence. I’m driven to create, inspire and lead so that I can somehow gain a greater self-worth and benefit from the confidence that comes with it. But what happens when all my goals are achieved and there is nothing left in the tank to measure?

Jesus was definitely busy and most certainly driven…but He was also aware of His own limitations and He never pushed beyond them. His definition for success what to do His Father’s will, which meant being obedient to death on a cross for the redemption of the entire world. Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t stick around to begin the church after His resurrection? If there ever was an attractional type ministry model that would bring guaranteed success…it may have been pulling a Thomas and offering a chance of a lifetime to unbelievers to place their own hands into the so called death wounds of the risen Lord. I imagine thousands, perhaps even millions of people flocking to this new church to see that these stories of old are most definitely real.

But Jesus didn’t stick around in human form, did He. This revelation begs the question, why? The answer may seem insignificant due to its’ un-shiny appearance, but believe you me, there is much depth to be found in its’ exploration. Simply put, God the Father did not ask God the Son to begin the church…so Jesus didn’t stick around to do so. Remember that it was Jesus who clearly stated that His work here on earth was to do His Father’s will. Staying to begin the church was outside of God the Father’s will for His son Jesus, so Jesus never did it.

Wait for it…Jesus didn’t do it all. Theologically speaking in regards to the cross, Jesus did it all, but philosophically speaking in terms of the God’s plan of restoration for the world, Jesus did not do it all; Jesus simply did His part. God’s plan of restoration didn’t end with Jesus. Instead, the story of Jesus, His death & resurrection is the apex or center of God’s plan for restoration of the world. What this means is that this plan is still unfolding today. Before you get ahead of yourself and begin to think that I may be some whacked out prophet guy who is trying to add stuff to the gospel message, please let me clarify a few things here. First of all, the Bible (God’s Word) is complete and cannot be added onto by anyone. The Bible is divinely inspired by God; it’s alive and active; it possesses the power to separate bone from marrow because it exists to sharpen and focus the heart of humanity. There is no other piece of literature in existence that can boast about having stirred up the same amount of controversy in our world today. The Bible is controversial because the Bible pushes the envelope of traditional human condition versus divinely inspired human restoration.

It is this theme of restoration that persists even today. Jesus, being the apex of this theme, played His God-given role in this theme and it is now our turn to respond accordingly. Each of us has been scripted for a role in God’s ultimate plan of restoration in our world. There is work that is yet to be done, it isn’t over simply because the penalty for death and the road to eternal life has been restored. As keepers of this sacred knowledge, we now have a responsibility to demonstrate the truths about this tangible kingdom and movement of restoration that God has been weaving together since the beginning of time.

All this having been said, where does this put you and I? We are here for a reason…a divine purpose…and it is this purpose that brings hope, clarity and meaning to our daily lives. But it’s also this same purpose that often leaves us feeling somewhat under-whelmed at times. The fame, the glitz and the glory are not frequently found when living according to this divine purpose. Restoration involves a willingness to sacrifice one’s own desires, wants & needs in order to see the life of another restored to ultimate glory through Christ.

It’s this theme of restoration that must begin and help us to continue refining how we inspire others to follow Christ, so that each of us may imagine and respond to our role in the restoration process. And as we move forward, we must be willing to let go of the intangibles that have been easy to measure but now telling of the state of the human heart accurately. We must learn to measure compassion instead of reaction. As followers of Christ, our willingness to identify with others will mark the health of our human heart and its’ readiness to be molded by its’ Creator.

Humility, Eagerness, Authenticity, Reliability & Teachability must be at the core of a softened, Christ-center human heart. Growth in these 5 character qualities should be measured as success in spiritual transformation. There is no how-to process that defines how to approach any of these character developments, but simply a guiding principle from the life of Jesus that demonstrates the importance of the journey in equal relation to the final destination. “Come follow me:” three simple, yet profound words. If our focus is on following Christ, these 5 character qualities will be at the root of our journey. We are not asked to do everything, but we are asked to do something; and it is the something that we choose to do that defines us all.