When Things Go Wrong

I found this wreckage (in the photo above) one early morning while on a work project. Can you imagine waking up to seeing your car totaled and crushed between 2 other cars?
Accidents happen. If you live life long enough you will encounter challenges, crisis, and unfortunately even tragedy. However, it is how we respond to these events that set the course of our lives.
Be encouraged. God is not taken by surprise. That’s why the first course of action is to pray. Although we shouldn’t approach God is if He were a genie with 3 wishes, He is a Creator who seeks to be a Father to His creation.
There’s a passage in Scripture that gives us a glimpse of the heart of God, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
God cares. They Creator of this universe and all that is seen and unseen cares about you and me as individuals. Are you willing to trust Him with the things you are concerned with? Are you willing for Him to be in charge of the direction of your life?
Pastor and writer Charles Swindoll said,
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Are you willing to let God help you with the 90%?

A Conversation for Hearts

A poem for all hearts this Valentine’s Day…

A word to the young,

Yours can be fooled

Usually when you’re foolish

Wreckless and never ruled.

A word to those who are gray,

Before you lay to rest

Stop pining for yesterdays

And make today your best.

A word for the lonely,

Don’t be offended by my tone

Sharing your journey is a choice

So is staying alone.

A word to the lost,

Open your eyes

And commit to find your way

Instead of living on lies.

A word to those who are filled,

Help us sift the truth from the tales

Warn us about chasing after empty dreams

And remind us that love never fails.

It’s time to make a comeback!

Fishing can be a joy. It can also be very frustrating. Part of fishing is failing to catch a fish. Does it keep us from fishing? For many people, including me, yes, I admit.

Failure is a part of life. Some failures hurt more than others. Losing a pick up basketball game may not hurt as much as losing a business venture. Losing a friend’s phone number may not hurt as much as losing a friendship. Divorce, termination of employment, failed investments are just a few of many events that we may experience. They can be devastating, and the effects can last a lifetime.

If you’re like me you’ve been told since you were a small child these words, “Don’t give up. That’s actually Bible talk.  Proverbs 24:16 says, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again..”

First, call it like it is. If it’s a failure, then that’s what it is. Humility is the antidote for denial. Denial may be an automatic first response. Take the time to thoughtfully own it. Own your mistakes and misjudgments. Wouldn’t you agree that most failures are the result of self-inflicted wounds? If you’re like me, most of my mistakes aren’t really mistakes. They are results of poor judgement and decisions against wisdom. If so, then “man up.” Own it.

Second, draw out the lessons to keep yourself from repeating the errors. Most likely, your issue is a heart issue not a thinking issue. As a person gets skilled in fishing, he switches to a different bait when he realizes the current bait isn’t working. It’s probably time to switch your method of doing things.

Next, make a plan to make a comeback. Be determined to comeback. Then plan it out. Get counsel from friends and mentors who can tell it to you straight. It may not be the exact same endeavor as the one that failed. It may not be the same relationship that you once valued. Count it a comeback.

If you don’t go fishing you won’t catch a fish. Be willing to fail before you succeed. Failure is part of the process. Those you fish know this very well.

To get some divine inspiration read about how Jesus restored Peter even though Peter denied even knowing Jesus when Peter was confronted about his relationship with Jesus. Peter had previously claimed that he would lay his life down for Jesus. He willfully failed Jesus. Jesus already planned to give Peter a second chance. Don’t you love second chances? You can read this account in the John 21 here https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JHN.21.nlt

Your feedback is important. What is your call to action? What are you going to do that’s different. It’s time to make a comeback.

Don’t DIY your life. DIWG

Don’t DIY Your Life. DIWG. Do it with God.

As I watched this elderly man walking the streets of L.A., I remembered a Jewish Proverb:

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. ~Proverbs 16:9 NKJV

We were never meant to do this journey alone. DIY home projects or car repairs are great. I just fixed my toilet this morning by looking on YouTube. It took me 2 minutes! Don’t DIY your life.

God has blessed us with a free will and a creative mind to take amazing adventures and accomplish great deeds, but He had always intended for us to be in a relationship with Him. In that relationship with Him, we can see the world with a wider lens. We can see the bigger picture. We can find His purpose for us.

I can start with a simple prayer today, “God, show me the way I should go today. I want to know you and your purpose for me.” It’s possible that seemingly nothing earth-shattering will change for you immediately afterwards. However, it’s more about yielding to the One who supplies the very air you breathe.

This is what Jesus taught his followers about the daily things we worry about.

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.’

Read more in context here https://www.bible.com/bible/116/LUK.12.22-31

Don’t DIY your life. DIWG. That is, Do It With God.

“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered”

“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”

Just a thought form a portion of Scripture found in Matthew 10:30.

If the Creator of this universe knows you to the level of detail that He knows the exact number of hairs that you have on your head, do you think that it’s possible that God cares for you?

Let God’s promises shine on your problems

“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” ~Corrie ten Boom

Corrie and her family helped many Jews escape the Nazi holocaust by hiding them in her house. Corrie actively helped refugees in the Dutch underground until she was eventually caught by the Nazis and imprisoned for her actions. She survived a depth of darkness at the hands of other men that few of us will ever experience.

Here’s one excerpt of Scripture that comes from the songbook of David, who was no stranger to challenges. He wrote in Psalm 103:2-5,

“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”

I can only imagine that these words may have been some of those promises Corrie shined on her challenges as she risked her life hiding refugees, including the time she spent imprisoned in a concentration camp.

Take some time today to look up some promises to shine on your life today. You already have a few to start with. We may not be destined to hide refugees in our home, but there are people you can bless today with kindness and generosity.

Feel free to add your own promises that you think will help other readers in the comments below.

Life getting you down? Here are things to look at.

img_0564Here is an encouragement to you if you are in one of life’s storms or currently battling depression. Here are some things you can “look at.”

Look at your watch. This will be your reminder that trials are temporary. Sometimes, you even have a say-so in how long the trial will last. Storms don’t last forever. All storms end at some point.

Look at the bigger picture. It is way too easy to keep your head caught up in the crisis or trouble. Take a step back and choose too look at your storm with a bigger perspective. Make a decision to thoughtfully respond instead of reacting out of emotion.

Look around for others. You are not alone. You were never meant to do life alone. As much as you would could claim that your situation is unique, most likely a family member or a friend has gone through something like your situation and can provide a listening ear or encouragement.

Look up. The first opportunity that you have, go outside. View the expanse of the sky. Feel the breeze on your face, Listen for signs of life even if it’s a car driving by. Your sigh can be one of relief instead of despair. We all wish there was a magic wand to wave over and evaporate every challenge in life. There isn’t, but there’s good news.

The Scriptures say that there is a God who sees you and knows you by name. If you have never done this before, lift your hands towards Heaven and open up your hands and ask God to take the heaviness that you are under. If you have never asked God to help you, then ask. If your challenges have a name or names, like names of kids, say their names verbally. God knows them.

Allow yourself the chance to be surprised. The result may not be an instant miracle. However, when you are the one who changes in the midst of the storm, then the victory will last way after the storm is done.

Embracing The “Bad” Words

This year is all about embracing the bad words. You know like “self-discipline” and “consistency” and “follow-through.” Yeah, those are all bad words to me. Yet, I am embracing them and not letting go until they become part of me.

What is it for you? Exercise? Eating? Money? Relationships? Work? It’s probably all of those things for me… and them some.

I’m starting with my private devotional time with God. I figured if God gives me 24 hours in a day, I can give Him 24 minutes of my undivided attention. More on that later. I figured that I need to get this part right before anything else.

If you have been following my blog I apologize for the long layoff. I’m back and planning to be “consistently” posting at least twice a week. Stay tuned!

Making Time That Matters With Those Who Matter Most

What matters most to you? I’m guessing that you are about to tell me to change the wording to, “WHO matters most to you.” The things that matter most to us are not things. It’s people. It’s the people we love. It’s the people who love us. My Top 3 goes like this: God, family, then friends. Even though my priorities are set for life, everything and everyone under the Top 3 challenge the Top 3 for position.

These challengers may not necessarily be bad things. Work isn’t a bad thing. You have to work. If the people you love depend on you to provide for them, then work is a necessary thing. At least I have to. Hobbies aren’t necessarily and usually aren’t bad. Many hobbies are refreshing and fulfilling. Relationships and even business ideas are birthed out of our recreational activities.

Even noble endeavors can try to find ways to displace your Top 3. I’ve been attending the same local church for over 25 years. I discovered that volunteering is an investment into not only other people, but expresses a faith-life that journeys in something that is much larger than me as an individual.  Still, this endeavor shouldn’t take over my Top 3. It shouldn’t take over yours.

How do you protect your Top 3? I don’t subscribe in the idea of a fixed “balanced life.” There are seasons when we all juggle a little or a lot more than the usual.  Also, life is full of unexpected turns and detours. Even with all of the surprises, how do you manage to spend time and attention to the relationships that matter?

I believe that one of the things you must do is to make time. Even if that means to put times down on a calendar (that you commit to) then that it is what you must do. I’ve been guilty of telling my friends, “Yeah, let’s catch that game soon.” SOON can end up being weeks, month, and even years. I can tell my kids that we will catch a movie when “things aren’t so crazy.” If I don’t set a date, then it isn’t going to happen.

If you can make your appointments with a God you cannot see, how faithful will you be to be consistent with spending time with your loved ones who you can see. That Day Runner thing wasn’t working for me years ago. Thank God, my calendar fits in my pocket. Even my years-old phone allows me to make an appointment by talking to it. I have no excuses. I can make excuses, but they aren’t valid; not with those who matter most.

What does your calendar look like over this week? What does it look like today? Are you making time that matters most with those who matter the most to you? Chime in. Be heard.

The Life Equation

A couple of years ago, I injured my shoulder surfing and was not able to surf for several weeks. I continued going to the beach and took photos instead while my body healed. I remembered watching the local high school surf team this day as they shouted, laughed, and scored really great waves during a winter swell. What stood out the most was watching some students stylin’ on cheap foam boards that are sold at the local Costco.

I heard a preacher on the radio say that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I have heard this saying recycled and re-quoted many times in different forms like, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but is it not true? Anything “awesome” or “epic” usually depends on how you participated in it. The kids who surfed with the foam boards were carving out waves as good as the other kids who had boards that cost 10 times more.

Times have changed and now people reject sound wisdom and will react with, “What if I don’t like lemonade?” and “Why am I getting lemonade when those people get Arnold Palmer’s?”  The victim card is way overplayed nowadays. It is time to put that card down and take that 10% of crap that has been thrown your way and turn it into fertilizer for the 90%. Grow something. Change something. Overcoming obstacles in life is not easy nor comfortable. Stop wasting energy on leveling the playing field and just play. If all you have is that cheap foam board, then use it and make it awesome. The 90% is yours.