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finding meaning in the mundane

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People Watching: Everyone Does It

people-pano2_31297People are funny.  Aren’t they?  They say some really funny things.  I have an austrailian friend who likes to say “Good on you”.   And another Australian friend that greets me by saying, “Hey Mate”.  And yet another friend from Korea that would occasionaly say thank you in Korean–“gamsahabnida”.  These guys are unique and have different backgrounds and experiences than me.  Yet, there is something about the way that they talk that identifies them.

Having grown up in New York, just outside of Queens, I got used to people calling me Peeta…  Yes… they would say it just like the character from the Hunger Games…  It was a thick accent.  And anytime I hear someone call me Peta now, I know immedaitely where they are from.  Their is no hiding it.  It brings me right back…

And the same goes to all of you saying, “Ya’ll”.  We know where you’re from too… There is no hiding from that one!  You can’t deny it.

People are identified by their behavior & speech.

It tells us something about your past.  It tells us something about your present.  And sometimes it even tells us something about your future.  There are times when even a persons attitude gives you an inclination of where they are from.  Ever met anyone from Philly?

Christ followers should also be identified by their speech and behavior.  Jesus says,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

When Peter was in the midst of denying Jesus for the third time, some people around him said, “even the way that you talk gives you away.”  Basically, we can tell you’ve been with Jesus.  You talk like Him!

What does your attitude say about you?  What do you sound like?  When you speak, can people tell that you follow Jesus?   I wish that people were able to identify me as a follower of Jesus simply because of the way that I talk.  Or that they would know my love for my savior because of the love that I have for my wife and kids.  Imagine what it would be like to be known as a follower of Jesus because of the way that you care for the poor, and the hurting.

People are watching.  They are investigating, trying to figure out who you are and what you’re about.  Let’s live, speak and act in a way that points people to Jesus.

~Peter

 

Staying Green on the Inside…

Dying InsideHave you ever felt like this shrub?  You know, green on the outside, but crunchy and brittle on the inside?  I’m willing to bet you have.  Life can be so incredibly overwhelming, stressful, and hectic, that you can often neglect caring for yourself.  This leaves you feeling dry and dead on the inside.

I was away on a spiritual retreat recently with my church, Liquid Church, when I walked by this shrub.  I was struck by the fact that it was barely hanging on for dear life.  If that shrub were in my yard, and it was dying inside like that, I would have yanked it out a long time ago.  It would be dying inside some compost pile right now, not taking up valuable real-estate in my landscape.  What you may not be able to see in this picture is just how large this shrub really is.  It is about 5 feet across and it stands about 3.5 feet tall.  It is ugly, and it is dying inside. Continue reading

Self Discipline: Part 2

Teddy Roosevelt Quote

Yesterday I started a conversation on self discipline.  Click over here to read it.  Today I wanted to pick up with 2 more areas of life that need to be disciplined…

Spiritual:  

Everyone has a spiritual life.  Not everyone has a disciplined spiritual life.  Even people who do not believe in the God of the Bible, or any god for that matter have a spiritual life.  God created us that way.  He created us to long for Him and to live our lives in a way that pleases Him.  Along the way we have stripped down our spiritual life.  We have hijacked things that rightly belong to God and we have taken them for our own.  A spiritually disciplined life is ruthlessly committed to restoring what rightly belongs to God.  This happens in so many different areas.  To many to list out in this one post. Continue reading

Too Big For Fear

fearWhat would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?  I love that question because it allows me to dream.  It allows me to let my mind go wild.  If there is nothing to hold you back, it’s amazing how many things you’ll end up dreaming about.  Too often our dreams and passions are limited by what we think our realities are.

What if God has a different set of realities for you than you think have?

Too often we get inspired by a message, or by something we’ve read in scripture and we look at it and say, I could never do that. That would require me to give up my financial comfort.  Or it would make me standout and look like the weird guy in the office.  Or my family would ridicule me if I really put myself out there and lived out the dream that God has given me.

Fear prevents so many people from following God’s dream for their life.  

In the book of Exodus the Israelite people are in slavery to the nation of Egypt.  Every day they wake up, make bricks, and go to bed, only to wake up the next day and do it all over again.  Making bricks, baking bricks, and stacking bricks.  That is the life of the Israelite slave in Exodus chapter 5.

BUT GOD…

I love that.  I love when the Bible says ‘but God’.  But God heard the cries of the people and stepped in to rescue them.  His plan to rescue His people included one man named Moses.  Moses was living on the backside of a mountain taking care of sheep and God speaks to him and says, “I need you to go and tell Pharaoh to let my people go.  Go to the most powerful man in the world and tell him to release his entire work force.”

Moses was afraid and insecure to do what God had asked him to do.  The dream was too big for Moses, too frightening, and too overwhelming.

What dream has God been laying on your heart lately?  What is it that you think that God is asking you to do for Him?  How are you responding?  Are you afraid of what will happen if you do it?  God won’t give a dream, a calling, a command, or a vision, to you just so that He can then hang you out to dry when you start to act on it.  God is faithful in the big and the small things.

Moses said, I am not a skilled speaker, how will Pharaoh listen to me?  And I love what God says back.

I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.

In other words, don’t worry about what you are going to say.  I’ve got it covered.  You just need to do whatever it is that I have laid out for you.  Just listen and repeat after me.

Too many of us rationalize and explain away what God is impressing on our hearts to do.  Don’t be concerned with how following the dream, vision, or calling that God has given you affects what you need to do 3 years from now.  Be concerned with how it affects right now.  What do you need to do right now to live out the dream that God has given you?

Which is bigger, your calling, or your fear?

~Peter

 

Pain is not always bad

pain

“I never thought I was going to hurt this bad.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone share those words, or words like that with me.  I sat across the table from a woman recently, she had tears running down her face as she shared with me the struggle and the pains of her marriage.  It was a tragic story.  Her story was not a fairytale, or one of Hollywood’s romantic comedies.  Kate Hudson would never play this woman’s character.  Think more like Jennifer Lopez from Enough.

What do we do when life hurts get us down?  How do we respond when life doesn’t seem to be going the way that we expected it to go?

These are questions that I have had to answer for myself, and unfortunately I have people ask me those questions almost on a weekly basis.  We live in a broken world.  Our world is fractured with selfishness, greed, lust, anger, and pride.  Those are just a few of the ugly things that rear their heads in our world.  The good news is that Jesus came to heal not only our brokenness but the deep fracture that exists in our world today.

Pain is not always bad.  It is never fun to go through, but my experience has been that pain shapes us.  Pain has an incredible way of growing and developing our character.  Here are four things that I see pain doing in my life.

1. Pain causes us to Cry Out.

My wife Tiffany always makes fun of me, because whenever I get hut I vocalize it.  I can’t help but yelp when I mash my thumb with a hammer.  I can’t help but grunt when I twist my ankle.  That is me vocalizing what is going on inside of me.  When we go through pain, we need to vocalize what is happening.  Pain should cause you to cry out.  I’ll never forget laying in the hospital bed  almost 3 years ago now, unable to move, or even open my eyes because the pain was so intense.  All I could do was just quietly cry out to God, “Jesus help me… help me…”

2. Pain causes us to Slow Down

If you’ve ever broken a bone you know that life doesn’t go back to normal immediately after they set the bone.  The doctor prescribes a period of healing.  Sometimes it can be 6 weeks or more before you are healthy enough and before your body has been restored to the place where your bones can handle the stress and pressure on them.  Emotional pain has the same effect.  It should cause you to slow down and proceed with caution.  Your hurt causes you to test the waters a little bit before you dive right in.

3. Pain causes us to Think About the Root

I don’t know about you, but I never want to repeat painful situations.  If we don’t want to repeat the pain, then we better figure out what caused it.  After injuring myself I will never do that activity the same again.  You can’t right?  We have to figure out the root cause for the pain and then try to remedy it.  I was always taught that the most dangerous knife was a dull knife.  So now I try to keep my knives sharp because I remember the pain of cutting myself…

4. Pain causes us to Live Differently

Living in the wake of pain is not necessarily bad.  It does however have the ability to affect our daily patterns.  Sometimes pain is so difficult that it causes us to live totally different than before.  It may cause us to rely on God in a new way.  It may require that you wake up on a daily basis and change your routine.  We do this to avoid getting hurt again.

Pain is not always a bad thing.  I love what it says in James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  That is not always an easy pill to swallow, but then again it is easier to go through pain when you know that there is something good that will come out of it.

Don’t be afraid to cry out in the midst of your pain.  Our God is there to listen!

~Peter

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