Why not me? – eBook Launch!

Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, I began to journal my thoughts, feelings and learnings into a page in Evernote.  It was a healthy way of processing for me that allowed me to write down raw emotions and fears, while also writing down hopes, dreams and things I felt God was teaching me.

Ever since that time I’ve had a dream of putting on paper what I went through and how God formed me along the way.

Well, after a couple of weeks of intentional time, some prayer, and some editing by my beautiful wife, I’m launching an eBook today.

eBook Cover

How can you get it?

In about a month or so, I’ll figure out a way to post it on this blog so it’s an easy click-buy process.  But between now and October 8, I’m doing something completely different. Why October 8?  That’s when I run the Chicago Marathon with Team World Vision.

You may have already guessed where this is going.  Any donation to Team World Vision will get you the eBook!

A one-time $50 donation allows a kid to have access to clean water…forever.  Now, I do NOT think what I wrote is worth $50, but I do think clean water is.

You might be able to give $10, or $25.  That’s fantastic.  I’ll send you the eBook all the same. Others of you can afford a $1,000 donation.  For you, I’ll send TWO copies 😉

Joking aside, the way to get the eBook (at least for now) is to make any donation to my page, and then the email you provide when you donate will be the email I send the eBook to.  It’s that simple.

Let’s help some kids get clean water!

 

Things Unnoticed

“Your car is done, dude.”

Those were the words I heard from the Mechanic on the other end of the phone call.  He wasn’t calling to tell me my car was ready to be picked up, either.  I was going to be on a Mission Trip with Elevate for a week, so I figured I’d drop my car off and let the mechanics work on whatever was urgent.

Well, what I didn’t know was that my car had SO MANY issues that it was going to be the smarter move to not put any more money into fixing it, and begin looking for a newer car.

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It didn’t take too long to find one.  I might have been extra-motivated to replace my car when the Mechanics used phrases like “punctured tire” and “stranded on the side of the road.”  We had our sights on a vehicle we liked, the price was about what we intended to spend, so we went for it.

The car I was replacing was a 2006 Saturn Vue.  The car my wife and I bought was a 2016 Ford Fusion (Sorry Dad, aka the 30 year GM Employee).

One of the first things I noticed was how smooth and quiet the ride was.  Truly.  It was incredible to me.  Now, this post is not intended to be a review of the Fusion.  What I kept thinking was, “I never really knew my old car was so loud!”

Meagan, my wife, had often told me that my car was not as awesome as I made it out to seem.  She would often point out all the flaws and tell me all the things she didn’t like about it.  I would always take my cars side…ya know, stand up for the poor thing…SOMEONE had to like it, and it might as well be the owner!

What I see now is that I would often gloss over all the faults because it was all I had, and it had been “all I had” for over 11 years.  I got used to the noisy cabin.  I was accustomed to the ripped-up seats.  I chuckled when it would make various noises while going down the road.  Eventually all of those things became background noise that went unnoticed.

As I was riding in the newer car, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels to how we live our Christian life.

The ripped-up seats and noisy cabins of our lives could be a number of things – certain sins that we’ve accepted for so long that they just fade into the background of our lives, unnoticed.

Daily walking with Jesus means daily doing the work of noticing the things that aren’t aligned with Him, and seeking to correct them.  Maybe it’s an attitude, or maybe an action.

That’s why I’m such a fan of the journaling practice I blogged about a few months back.  Taking inventory of my life on a regular basis means I’m more likely to notice that which would normally go unnoticed.

I’m not batting 1000% on this, and I’m sure I have plenty of unnoticed areas that need attention.  But I will say that creating “noticing habits” – like journaling – has helped me move forward in some areas.

For me, it’s not a matter of IF I have things in my life that go unnoticed, it’s a matter of doing the work to find those out.  I’d guess it’s the same with you.  Here’s to doing the hard work of noticing (and then doing something about it).

Under Construction

Since moving to Chicago, I’ve really enjoyed the neighborhood we moved into.  Not too big, but not too small.  There’s room to run some miles, get a good bike ride in, etc.

Near the back of the neighborhood is a park that’s easy to run to and run around once there.  The past few months, however, it’s been closed for Construction.  They are expanding the neighborhood, and doing a lot of work to the park.

It’ll be closed most of the summer.  When I ran by it the other day, I thought, “Oh man, what a bummer.”

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After thinking about it for more than 2 seconds, however, I realize it may not be as big of a bummer as I first thought.  Construction means progress and process.  And progress/process usually means growth.

My mind often goes to direct application to my Christian life…

As a Christian, I believe God has saved me, is saving me, and will save me.  I decided to follow Jesus in 8th Grade (He saved me).  Since then, however, I’ve been in process – under construction – continually being molded and shaped into who God created me to be (He is saving me).  One day, when Jesus returns, the redemption story will be complete and we’ll be restored to full wholeness in Christ – completely saved, without sin, sickness or death (He will save me).

It’s the middle “saving” that can be frustrating sometimes.  Being under construction is not fun…but just like the neighborhood park, construction means progress and process. And even though there’s delays, setbacks and obstacles…there’s also victories.  And ultimately, construction doesn’t last forever.  Heaven does.

Philippians 1:6

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

 

What I learned: Divine Direction

I’m a sermon junkie.  Many of my friends know this.  I’ll listen to most sermons I can get my hands on.  And over the years, I’ve grown to really love listening to certain pastors.  Craig Groeschel is one of those pastors.

Aside from preaching, he’s also an author.  I haven’t read all of his books, but the ones I’ve read have been very beneficial in changing the way I think.  His latest – Divine Direction – is no different.

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The book is framed around 7 decisions that will change your life.

  • Start
  • Stop
  • Stay
  • Go
  • Serve
  • Connect
  • Trust

Craig goes through each decision, what it means, and how it has the potential to change your story if you’ll let it.  Each chapter is full of stories, quotes, life-lessons, scripture and application.  Because I highly recommend you grab this book, it’d be counter-productive for me to give a detailed explanation for every chapter.

The one chapter (or decision) I will highlight, is the one about connecting.  Craig suggests that we are potentially one connection away from changing our world – if we would only reach out and connect with the right people.

He explains there are three types of friends with whom we can connect.  Those who make us want to be better humans just by being around them; Those who help us fight temptation when we are weak; and Those who will tell us the truth no matter what.

This chapter got me thinking about all of the incredible people in my life.  I’m blessed to have people I can turn to for encouragement & inspiration, strength in the midst of temptation, and the truth no matter how it makes me feel.

However, it has also caused me to think about the next connection I need to make.

Who might God be putting in my path? Who might God want me to connect with, so that I can be an encouragement to them?  My prayer is to have open eyes to see and an open heart to connect.

The ‘S’ Words that Suck

One of the greatest tools of the enemy is to make you believe you’re all alone.
That you have to fight this battle by yourself.
He uses two very key ideas/words.

Shame and Secrecy.

If satan can get you to feel shame about your sin, then he’s got you.
If he can get you to keep your sin a secret, then he’s got you.
That’s the bad news.

The good news?
When Jesus enters the picture, you realize that He already PAID for the shame…it’s not rightfully yours anymore, he took it from you.
When Jesus enters the picture, you realize the incredible freedom that comes from TRUTH and living in the LIGHT.  There is power in confessing your sin to God and to one another.

We must daily live in the grace that Jesus died for.
It is then, and only then, that shame and secrecy will have no power of you.

The extra mile…

Have you ever felt like you’re on the brink of something great?
That something will take you to the next level. Spiritually. Physically. Emotionally.
That something will enable the kind of discipline you only dream of.

You could be closer than you think.
Sometimes all it takes is going the extra mile.

What area of your life do you need to go the extra mile?
Do you need to step it up at work?
Take the first step towards mending a broken friendship?
Go without something for a few days in order to gain a greater sensitivity to God’s Spirit?

I encourage you,
Go the extra mile.
It’ll be worth it.

Go ahead. Walk out.

A friend of mine explained this analogy to me the other day. I had heard it before, but this time I heard it with fresh ears.


It’s based on Romans 6:20-23. We are no longer slaves to sin, but are now slaves to God!
Romans 8 goes on to say that we don’t have to give in to our sinful nature anymore…we can live by the Spirit, through the power of Christ.

Yet so many Christians, myself included, don’t live in this newfound victory. It’s like we are in our own prison cells.  But the doors are not closed…instead they’re wide open. There are no guards keeping us in the prison cell.

We just won’t walk out.

Sounds crazy right? Yep.  And we do it everyday. We are FREE from sin. Yet we willingly walk back in the prison cell of sin and sit down.

What causes us to do that?  From my personal experience – shame and doubt.  I’m ashamed of what I’ve done, and I doubt anyone would “get it” or understand enough to forgive me.

The daily task of Christians is to walk out of the prison of sin, clinging to the power of Christ in us. So, go ahead. Walk out.

Who are you becoming?

As I was reading the Gospels this month, I came across this subtle phrase.

…and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor

He became a traitor.
Which means he probably didn’t start out being a traitor.

Just a short reminder today to watch who you are becoming.
What influences are you letting in?
What false assumptions are you allowing yourself to believe?
What fears are you allowing to grow?

Who are you becoming?

200TEN Challenge

If you don’t know, then you should read about it.
I am running the Chicago Marathon with World Vision (and NorthRidge Church).
It’s something I am excited about
Nervous about.
Even scared about.
But at the end of the day I am stepping out on faith that this cause is greater than my fear.

I have been thinking about how I’m going to raise the support I desire.
I have pledged to raise $1,310.
That’s a chunk of change!
But I think we can do better.

See, I have 2,359 people on Facebook that call me friend (as of the time I’m writing this blog).
I also have over 800 people on Twitter that follow my tweets.
So it’s safe to say I have over 3,000 connections over the Social Media sites.

The challenge is fairly simple.
I’m asking 200 of you to step up.
TWO HUNDRED?!?!
Yup.
If 200 of you give $10, my goal will be SHATTERED.
And because $50 provides clean water for one person…
we will have provided FORTY people in Zambia with clean water.
Not bad for running a few miles.

So will you support me?
Will you join me in this cause?
Help me raise money so that people on the other side of the world can have clean water.

Let’s do this.
Join the 200. 

Code Orange Goodness – Part 3

This is part of a blog series about the Code Orange Revival.
Read Part 1, and then Part 2.

Today the lesson is simple, yet profound:

Emotion to Devotion
Conviction to Commitment

Again, not sure who said it.
But it relates to the first part I posted.
There are so many moments where we get emotional about our faith.
Those moments must be turned into practical steps of devotion so that our faith can grow.
Much like our emotion, our convictions can be many…
but unless we take steps to turn our convictions into commitment to follow through,
we will stay in the land of “someday I’ll stop doing that” or “someday I’ll take a risk for God.”

Some questions I’m asking myself:
Where has God moved in my life?
What has been my most recent conviction?
Am I willing to take some action towards devotion and commitment?