treadmillMr Mahoney was an older man (maybe early 70s) who worked at Sears in the sporting goods department. He was always smiling and would be the first employee to jump on the treadmill and start running to demonstrate the product to his customers. I was in High School, but hoped I’d be active like him when I reached his age.

I didn’t work in sporting goods and so I had a pretty casual passing-in-the-stockroom-type  relationship with him. When I’d see him, I almost always said, “How’s it going?” He always answered, “Better.” I never really gave it much thought, but one day Mr Mahoney didn’t come to work and the word around the store was that he had been admitted to the hospital for some sort of cardiac treatment. We wondered if he’d ever return, but after a month or so, he did.

He didn’t really run on the treadmill like he had done before, and we all wondered if he’d be able to keep up with the job. As I passed him in the stockroom later that week, I greeted him with my usual “How’s it going?” As soon as it came out, I felt guilty, but his response was still the same. “Better.”

That particular day, we had a little more time and so he went on to explain that every day was better than the one before. Even if things were looking down or not going so well, he knew that he was a stronger man and would grow through whatever circumstances he endured. He knew that each day prepared him for the next and that he was a better man each and every day in spite of his circumstances.

I think I became a better man that day too.

Philippians 4:12b-13 “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…… I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Romans 5:3b-4 “….suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”

Walking, Presence, Ice Cream, and Gratitude

08-11 walking smallOver Christmas I noticed something. Now that Kasen has learned to walk, we enjoy going out together to explore the world. I have to walk at a pretty slow pace so he can keep up, but it’s a lot of fun. Anyway, I noticed that when we walk together, I’m always looking up at the horizon – where we’re headed, but Kasen looks at the ground and the surrounding area. He’s worried about stepping over over rocks and picking up sticks, while my concerns are more about our direction and future. It’s important for me to look out for his safety and watch for cars coming over the horizon, but I wonder what I’m missing?

In the same way, if we live our lives always looking for the future – always concerned about being able to make the right corrections so we can be “safe”, we’re never fully present in the moment and will never be able to experience life to the “full” as Jesus talks about in John 10:10. By the way, we don’t have to stress about our safety/future if we’re in His hands. 

Anyway, just some thoughts today.

Another example of Kasen being fully present in the moment and relishing life happened in the car on the drive home from Ft Worth. We stopped and got ice cream at Dairy Queen. Each time Miranda fed him a bite, he’d let it melt in his mouth and then laugh and clap for it’s taste. It’s as if he was encouraging God with a standing ovation saying, “Yeah God! You did a good job on this one! Do it again!”

Do I celebrate and thank God for the small things? Is the taste of ice cream really a “small thing” or is it truly another expression of God’s love for us?

Fresh Perspectives and Barbaric Yawps

Perspective2 There’s a great scene in the movie Dead Poet’s Society, where Robin Williams’ character (a teacher) tells his students to stand on top of a desk and look at the world differently. He encourages them to see things differently, to think differently, to become who they are and to find their “barbaric yawp.”

Perspective makes all the difference – one sees a a fearful unknown, while another sees an adventure. In 1 Sam16, a father sees a shepherd boy, but Jesse sees a king. In the next chapter, an army sees an mighty warrior giant, but David sees a mere human coming against God. It’s been proven over and over throughout time. Do you see big and crazy circumstances, or do you see a bigger God. AW Tozer said it this way: “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

So how do you gain this perspective? When you’ve tried standing on everything there is to stand on and you’ve looked at every possible angle? When you know it’s gotta change, but you just can’t seem to see a way to make things work. What do you do? What do you do, when you’re “yawp” isn’t very “barbaric” because you’re not really even sure it’s gonna work?

Perspective It’s tough, but I gotta say, the best answer is to wait a little longer for clarity, but eventually there comes a time when you just gotta “yawp” as “barbarically” as possible anyway! Let your “yawp” rise up from within you and then stand up and boldly proclaim your “barbaric yawp.” Think about Joshua as he marched around Jericho. Surely, he had some questions about how it was gonna all play out. He had to wonder if this was the right perspective or if he had somehow missed something. Surely, he wasn’t very “barbaric” about this decision on the inside. But on the outside – he stood strong – and when the timing was right, and his “yawp” had risen up within him, he just went for it and trusted that the perspective he had been shown was from God.

Mark Batterson talks about leaders as lion chasers, and he says that they are people who are willing to “look foolish.” Joshua would have looked pretty foolish if he hadn’t trusted God’s voice and the perspective he had been given. He “yawped” with the best of ’em that day. It was more than “barbaric” to do battle with some lanterns, horns, and some marching men. And had they been defeated that day, well. . . can you imagine the headlines the next day?

Yawp Anyway, I think there are way too many people who never “yawp.” They come to a defining moment, and aren’t prepared, or are just too scared and they cower. What a tragedy to get to the end of life to have never found your voice, your calling, your purpose, your “yawp.” Another quote from the movie sums up this thought: “I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life… to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

So what is your “Yawp?” Will you let it rise up in you and allow it to burst forth? A “barbaric yawp” is one which is supported by the whole of your being. It’s from the gut, from the heart, deep, passionate, untamed – barbaric. It’s not something you can undo either. You either go for it and fail miserably, or you miss your opportunity and regret it forever.

Indiscernable Change

WaterdropThe other day, I had lunch with an old friend who I hadn’t seen much of in a couple of years. As we talked, I realized how much of life has really changed. Not only has Kasen become a part of our lives, but I have also started school since then. We’ve also seen quite a few changes in our church since then – we’ve gotten involved in a small group and begun investing our lives in some other people, and we’ve been a part of some youth growing in their relationships with God.

Anyway, before we got together, I kinda wondered what we’d talk about, but now that it’s happened I realize how much we had to catch up on. I guess when you’re in the middle of change, it always seems really small, and like you’re not really getting anywhere, (like a drop in the ocean) but when you step out of it a while. . . .well, you realize how big the changes really have been.

Kinda like Kasen – everyone keeps talking about how much he’s grown. He still seems like the same little boy to me, but when my new niece (Kallie Grace) was born a few weeks ago and weighed almost the same that Kasen did, I realized how much he has grown.

They say that in 7 years our bodies have completely reproduced themselves. We don’t have one single cell in common with the body we had 7 years earlier. It changes at such a small rate that we don’t ever even realize it.

Anyway, all this is to say that sometimes I get discouraged that we’re not really making a difference in people’s lives or that God has not been doing much in our church. When this happens, it’s good for me to find a way to step out and get a better perspective on things ’cause the truth is that God is ALWAYS at work around us – changing and molding us into His image.