06 January 2012

Check Engine Lights

Check engine lights. 

Those dreaded emissaries on the dashboards of our cars. They tell us what we really didn’t want to hear and won’t go away until we do something about it. We had one pop up on our recent trip out west. The light had turned on a couple times previous to the trip but went off again so we ignored it until the car stopped working all together. Then the anxious investigation started. Sure, the light gives us a clue (it might be the engine related or oil related) but it takes some sleuthing to find the culprit. It helps to pull out the owners manual to interpret the symbol (is that a quantum flux capacitor, it sure looks like it to me) and its even better when you can get a mechanic who has seen this type of problem before to help you out. 

Life is a lot like that. The warning lights show up: Our explosion of anger doesn’t match the size of the issue. Our depression doesn’t let up when the problem does. Our worry won’t recede even when we tell it to go away. The lights come on as reminders that things are not OK under the hood. The less adequate we feel about our autos the more likely we are to avoid the issue as long as possible (that’s me!). The same can be true of our internal worlds. If you know you won’t like what you find inside you can spend months and years avoiding it. 

Or at least until your life stops working. 

Then you have a choice just like you do with your vehicle. Find the manual and a wise mechanic or . . . walk. Walking is nice but you won’t get very far very fast. It will wear you out. And many are worn out. Many have avoided the answers from the manual God gives and steered clear of those who have been around these types of problems before and know how to fix them. 

I know I’ve done it. And when I finally find the fix I wonder why I waited so long. 

Maybe this new year means finding a new way to deal with the breakdowns. A new way to respond to the warning signs your body is giving you, your mind is shouting at you or your emotions are showing you. Maybe this is the year you find some answers and some advice from a reliable source and start driving with joy. 

19 October 2011

Satisfaction & Temptation

I remember seeing an old silent film comic who kept kicking his hat further out as he reached down to get it. He never got what he always wanted because of himself. The ironic thing about our pursuit of happiness is that we find ourselves in a similar predicament--we prolong the pursuit of God-given and soul-satisfying pleasure when we take the detours into sin that cannot truly offer satisfaction. We become great at kicking hats but poor at wearing them. Or to state it plainly, we can become experts at chasing the promise of satisfaction but terrible at apprehending it.

As C.S. Lewis so expertly explains:

But [God] knows, and I do not, how [soul satisfaction] can be really and permanently attained. He knows that most of my personal attempts to reach it are actually putting it further and further out of my reach.

Check out the full post from Dane Ortland containing more from Lewis is well worth your time. Click here to see it.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! 
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
They feast on the abundance of your house; 
you give them drink from your river of delights. 
For with you is the fountain of life; 
in your light we see light.
- PSALM 36.7-9

16 September 2011

Driving Lessons with Dad (Part 2)

There are moments that mark us. The call back from the doctor. Two lines on a pregnancy test. A concert. A first kiss. 

One of those moments came my first timid day behind the wheel of the family car learning to drive with my dad. And like son’s often do I was paying close attention to my driving but even closer attention to what my dad was saying. And as fathers and sons need to do sometimes, we were talking about life. 

My dad explained to me that day that there are many young men with dreams. Many with honorable desires but very few who will ever invest what it really takes to see those dreams a reality. 

My dad understood something that comes from many years of wise observation: there are no short cuts in life. To be great at anything will cost me greatly. 

If I want to be a great father it will take great sacrifice. 
If I want to be a great pastor it will take great diligence. 
If I want to be a great writer it will take great effort. 

You want a quick sprint to the top? It won't work, but there are lots of rambling routes to get you lost. But when you shake off the haze of wasted wandering you'll come back to this: the common factor of true accomplishment is character. And character takes time and effort. 

But there is more. Success is its own burden that only people of substance can bear without crumbling. The hard path one takes to achieving worthy goals is what God uses to make us ready for it when it comes.

But that doesn’t mean we do it alone though we might feel lonely at times. It doesn’t mean God will only help us if we help ourselves. No, the good news is much better than that. God will give us what we need to accomplish the great things He has planned for us (Ephesians 2.10). That’s why it says, “He gives more grace” (James 4.6).

His is the quick helping hand when we drift below the waves (Matthew 14), and the quick response when we are full of questions (John 3). He is willing to put up with our silliness to see us satisfied (John 4). And there is the steady giving of Himself because we always need Him (John 15). The good news is that we are in this thing together. 

So what is your honorable aim?

Do you want to be a great mother? It will take thousands of diapers and a long fuse. 
Do you want to write the next bestseller? It will cost you your pride and quite a few hours of sleep. 
Do you desire to be deeper? It will take facing yourself in the mirror and some time away from your normal distractions. 
Do you yearn for change? It will take more than a list of goals, it will take getting on your knees. 

There won’t be any magic words but there will be encouraging ones. There won’t be any shortcuts but there will be divine direction. There won’t be skipping the hard stuff but there will be a Savior. 

Life is more like a hike than a helicopter lift to the top: it hurts but the rewards are inherently huge. 

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, 
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage."
- PSALM 84.5

26 May 2011

Walls & Doors

Want to know what to do with that frustrating roadblock in your life? Here's some good insight from Pastor Steven Furtick.
I’m convinced now more than ever that perspective can change everything. And this is probably nowhere truer than when we’re talking about the struggles we face in life.

Most of us think of our struggles – our circumstances, obstacles, and enemies –  as walls. They’re there to set us back or hold us back. We avoid them at all costs. When we encounter them, we usually turn back because after all, who wants to climb a wall? Especially a wall that can sometimes seem insurmountable.
But the truth is your circumstances and obstacles aren’t walls. They’re not there to set you back. In reality, they’re there to set you up.

Your struggles are not walls, they are doors.

Check out the full post from Pastor Furtick here

24 May 2011


One of the most luxurious homes in the world is the Villa Leopolda located on the French Riviera. This chateau boasts 80,000 square feet and is priced at a whopping $525 million. You can tell it was built by a king, King Leopold II of Belguim, with its 19 bedrooms, multiple kitchens, dining rooms, sport courts, beautiful pool, and even a movie theater and bowling alley. What a place to live! 

And what if it was yours to enjoy? What if by some twist of fate you inherited the chateau? Can you see yourself walking up the grand staircase to the front door with the keys in your trembling hand. Would you laugh when the butler opened the door for you and you were free to explore your new mansion with reckless delight? Can you imagine running wildly through the lavish interior taking in the sights, sliding across marble floors, lingering by the pool, exploring the estate? 

Every morning you would wake up and have to decide what extravagant wonder you would enjoy that day. Will you invite your friends over to watch a movie in your personal theater? How about having the neighbors stop by for an impromptu bowling tournament? Maybe you would host a Cook Off staged among your varied kitchens. Or something quieter, like reading a great novel in the tower, or walking peacefully in the manicured gardens or catching some rays by the pool. If you lived in a mansion like the Villa it would be up to you to decide how incredible your day was.

I'm thinking that maybe life is more like that than we think. We start out our lives in dirty ditches reckless in our sins. And then Jesus joins us in the mud only to rescue us from it. He cleans us up and gives a mansion He has designed to each of His children. It's a new life. He isn't out to just make us clean but to give us something new--something incredibly better. Imagine the unthinkable if you will, imagine being gifted the Villa of your dreams only to spend every day in its parlor. Imagine going no further than the entryway. 

"You're missing the whole thing!" your friends would shout. And they would be right. There is more. There is infinitely more to God and this life lived with Him. There are still rooms filled with wonder that you have not seen or heard of; rooms full of surprises and delights. There is more.

That's what I'm learning. That we were saved from reckless sin to enjoy reckless delight in Christ and there is so much more than I first thought to this life with Him.

" Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. " - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

20 April 2011


"The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
   like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
   and makes its circuit to the other;
   nothing is deprived of its warmth."

                                                              - PSALM 19.1-6 

Click here to see this passage in motion or simply watch the video above.