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finding meaning in the mundane

Are You Hearing the Voice Of God?

Spearfishing NJIt is no secret.  I love to fish.  I love to be near the water and enjoying time in creation.  Even more than throwing a line in the water, I love to actually get under the water and chase after fish with my speargun.  That is my absolute favorite kind of fishing-spearfishing.  Between my son and I, we have four fishing rods, 20 lures, countless hooks, and every variation of weight imaginable.  For spearfishing, I have 2 wetsuits, 1 spear gun, 1 pole spear, a dive knife, a weight belt, a float, a stringer, and several other pieces of paraphernalia.  All of these things help me catch fish.

None of these things guarantee that at the end of the day there will be a fish in my cooler.  These things are all neatly stowed in my garage just waiting to be used.  They will not catch fish by themselves, and they certainly won’t do that at my landlocked home.  Each of these items need to be near the water in order to be effective.

Too often we approach God in the same way.  We gather all of the necessary gear, we wear the Jesus paraphernalia, and we think that by the end of the day our spiritual cooler should be filled.  But too often we walk away feeling disappointed.

Could it be that just owning the gear doesn’t mean that we will actually accomplish the goal? There has to be more to it than just possession.

There has to be action.

God has made Himself known to us through His Son Jesus, through His creation, and through His written word the Bible.

Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”

All of creation is speaking of God’s glory and majesty.  All of creation is pointing us to our God.  Yet there are times when we wonder why we haven’t heard from God, or feel God’s presence in our life.  Could it possibly be that you haven’t put yourself in a posture of listening?  Could it be that you own all the gear, but you haven’t put it into use?

On a recent clean water trip in Nicaragua with a group of people from my church, I challenged our team to do two things each day.

Look for God and Listen for His voice.

I believe that God wants to speak to each of us daily, and that God is waiting to be found.  I don’t think that God is playing a game of spiritual hide and go seek.  He is in plain sight, the question is do we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear?

Today, spend some time looking for God in the world around you.  Ask yourself, where is God trying to get my attention?  What could He possibly be saying to me?  If you are willing I believe that you will hear God’s voice, and you will see God’s presence in your life.

Here’s to getting out of the garage and closer to the water.

~Peter

4 Ways to Intentionally Parent Your Kids

Intentional ParentingThis past week I had the privilege to travel down to Leon, Nicaragua with a team from my church to drill a clean water well in a remote village.  It was an incredible experience which I will share more about later.   Our trip had us out from Saturday to Saturday.  This was the longest time that I have been away from my family in a long time.  You know the old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”?  Well I think it is absolutely true because, man, I missed this clan.  What a privilege it is to be their parent.  We are a crazy bunch, but we do know how to have fun along the way.  I’m so thankful for my wife and kids.  Throughout the trip I had plenty of time to slow down and think about what it means to be a dad.

In my book “Empowered” (available on Amazon for all you Kindle readers) I shared this thought about the American Life and one of the dangers that we face…

When we scurry through life at the maddening pace of the culture around us, we run the risk of losing out on what is most important.  We walk dangerously close to missing out on the sole purpose for why we are still breathing.

Mom’s and Dad’s, in this season of life God has tasked you with the incredible responsibility and privilege of loving, shaping, & leading your kids.  Don’t miss out on this!  The one thing that I hear consistently from parents farther ahead of me is that it goes by incredibly fast.  No one ever says, “Parenting dragged on for years and years…”  No, they ALWAYS talk about how quick it went.

So if it goes by that quickly, shouldn’t we be intentional with every moment?

Here are 4 ways that we can be intentionally shaping and pouring our life into our kids.

1.  Laugh

We are huge fans of laughter in my house.  We are always laughing, sometimes it’s at my antics, I’m not afraid to say that.  And other times it is over a good book, a funny movie, or a card game we are playing.  I want to hear my kids laughing, and I want them to hear me laughing.  Laughter is good for the heart and good for the soul.  I tell people all the time that Tiffany and I survived the early years of marriage and parenting by laughing our way through it.  And yes, more often than not we were laughing at our kids, and recently we have been laughing with our kids.  They say some of the funniest things.  Right now my 3 1/2 year old is calling all of those festive orange globular shaped gourds “punknicks”.  It took me a moment to figure out what she was saying, but then I realized she was trying to say pumpkin.  If children don’t make you laugh then you aren’t listening hard enough.  Lean in and listen, and have a good belly laugh.

2.  Be Fully Present

We have become amazingly good at appearing to be focused on those around us while we process a ton of other content at the same time.  We split our energy all the time.  We give some to the person we are talking with, while we give some to our iPhone, to the music in the background, or to whatever other thought is running through our mind at that moment.  Give your kids your full attention and presence.  I have to be honest, this is one that is difficult for me.  It is hard for me to sit on the couch and watch “Pippi Longstocking” and not check email, or scan through the news of that day.  I need to fight against that urge, and chances are I’m not alone in this.

3.  Play

I’ve said this before publicly and I will say it here as well.  We need to play with our kids.  This means getting down on the ground, and wrestling with our kids.  It could mean building lego’s, playing clash of clans, learning mine craft, or having a tea party with all the dollies.  Kids long to see you step out of your work uniform and into the role of mom and dad.  They want to know that you understand them, and playing shows that you do.

4.  Listen

Typically I would say that we need to listen to our kids, and I think that is true, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that we need to be listening to ourselves too.  We need to listen to what voice is directing us in that moment.  Are we speaking from the voice of one who is frustrated?  Are we speaking from the voice of mercy?  Or is it the voice of justice, or Grace?  Our conversation with our kids will change dependent upon the voice that is directing us.  Listen and figure it out.

Time with our kids goes by too fast for us not to be intentional with it.

~Peter

Empowered: Available on Amazon

Great CommissionIt is with nervous anticipation that I announce that after several months of writing, rewriting, editing, and proofreading “Empowered” is available on Amazon.  I am truly excited to see the church engage in the mission of God right where they are planted.  I shared why I wrote this over here and here.

I keep asking myself this question:  What would it be like in our neighborhoods and towns if we all began to boldly live meaningful lives that pointed others to Christ and honored Him?  I hope that “Empowered” will help others find an answer to that question.  This is not a book written just for pastors or church leaders.  God wants to do some amazing things through all of us, and that means you!  He’s given you all that you need in order to accomplish that.

So, dream a little.  What could your town, your workplace, your home, your dorm, or your sphere of influence look like if we all engaged in the mission of God.   In Matthew 28:17-20, Jesus shares His Great Commission and it includes YOU…

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So, what does this mean for you?  Let’s find out together in “Empowered“.

~Peter

Choosing Joy Over Happiness

Have you ever heard something and felt like it totally resonated with you?  The other week I was having a particularly hard week.  I was watching as things around me were not coming together the way that I would have hoped, my schedule had me out more nights than not, and I had to press into a few difficult conversations.  It left me feeling anything less than happy.

While shuffling through my “Kings Kaleidoscope” iTunes radio station, I came across this song.  I immediately favorited it, and added it to my wish list.  The words and melody of this song needed to be one click away for me in times like the one I was describing.  I needed to be reminded of these great truths… Take the next 4 minutes and 37 seconds to listen to the lyrics of this song.

In my ebook, “Empowered” I take a look at how we should be growing in Joy.  Too often our culture tells us we should be happy all the time, yet scripture tells us we should be joyful.

Joy is the inner peace that says, this is good enough. Joy is not affected by the circumstances around you. Happiness depends on what is happening to you, joy does not. Joy cannot be and is not situational.

from “Empowered”

I love how Tifah Al-Alttas, the singer-songwriter frames the truths of that song with the melody.  It is real, and understandable.  It is as if she is saying, I choose to be joyful even though the melody of my life has been set in a minor key lately.  Listen to how Tifah describes the birth of this song:

The first time I played Joy was the night my father passed away.  He
had a short and painful battle with cancer.  My dad was not perfect
but he did the best he could with what he had.  A year before he died
he was diagnosed with dementia.  The day he told me he had cancer he
said it was a blessing.  To him, cancer was a better way to end his
story than a mind with no memory of his family or his life.  So as I
sat at the piano, the only place that felt safe that night to me, the
weight of loss hit my chest.  I remembered my eyes were blurred with
tears and I literally began to play the now familiar progression of
Joy.  I kept cycling through the progression and then, as if it had
already been written, I began to sing a different melody to a song I
sang in VBS as a child, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my
heart…” The truth is that I was terribly and profoundly sad.  The
reality of grief had not even entirely hit me yet.  But at the same
moment I had a deep sense of peace.  He was no longer in pain.  He was
no longer sick.  He was free from all his ailments and restored.
Although I still miss him, I know that God has weaved redemption
through death into my father’s story.  That brings me great joy.  It
was not until grief became a part of my story that I realized that joy
is not simply an expression, but an attitude and acknowledgment of the
deep peace of knowing a Savior.

read more about Tiffah’s testimony here…

Remember joy is not dependent upon your situation.  Joy is a choice, it is a way of life.  It is a decision that you make when you wake up to choose your outlook no matter what may happen that day.

Where in your life do you need to choose joy?  I know it isn’t easy, but it is an incredible free fall into the hands of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

~Peter

3 Truths God says About You

Great CommissionJust the other day I shared some exciting news about an e-book that I have written called “Empowered”.  I am like an anxious ball of joy right now.  I am so excited to get this book out the door and into the hands of people like yourself.  I hope that you will consider reading it.  The topic and themes presented in this book have been on my heart and my mind for the past few months as I have been writing late at night and early in the morning.  I believe that the message it shares is one that will change this world.  Hear me–I don’t think my words will change this world, I think that the message Jesus shared with us is what will change the world.

I wrote this the other day, and I think it’s worth discussing more:

I believe that God has put every single one of us in unique situations with unique opportunities.  No matter what age or stage you are, there are unique opportunities for you to be making an impact in the world around you.

3 Truths…

God has you where you are for a reason.

It is easy to be upset and argue with God why your life is the way that it is.  Maybe you are living in a place you hate, doing a job you can’t stand, surrounded by people you would rather run from.  Or maybe right now you are experiencing some of the deepest pain that you have ever felt in your entire life.  Maybe your life has a couple little kids in it that are running around seemingly cluttering up your space and cramping your style.  Frankly, those little energy suckers have got you beat.  Why God… Why???

Whatever it is for you, and wherever you find yourself, God has put you there for a reason!  Jesus says in Matthew 5:14

14You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 

So shine bright wherever you are.  Even if you don’t like your environment, don’t let it dim your effect on it.

You are not too anything.

For the longest time I told myself a lie.  The worst part is that I believed it too.  I used to tell myself that I was too young.  Right when I would feel God prompting me to do or say something I would stuff it away by telling myself that I was too young to lead in that way.  Or too young to confront those issues.  Or too young to make a difference.  Well, that’s crap.  You aren’t too anything.  Not too young, or too creative, or too energetic, or too quiet, or too much of a woman to make a difference in this world.  God can and will use your “too-ness” (like that word I just made up?) for His glory.  Jesus continues in Matthew 5 by saying,

16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so thatthey may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Live it out and lean into it.   Not feeling courageous enough, then this is for you.

The world is waiting for your impact.

There is nothing worse than bland french fries.  Except for maybe cold, day-old, bland french fries.  God has you where you are right now in order to make an impact on the world around you.  You are to be the spice of life.  In this same passage, Matthew 5:13, Jesus says

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

 Spice it up!  The world needs your quirks, your weirdness, and everything that makes you who you are.  God designed you that way.  Go be exactly who you are for His glory and His fame!

It’s time to live the life that God has Empowered us to!  Let’s do it.

~Peter

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