Archives For Faith

On July 10th, my high school golf coach, Loren St. Lawrence passed away. He had valiantly fought cancer for the past eight years. As St. Lawrence put it, “I got cancer but cancer didn’t get me.”

It had been many years since I had last seen “Coach”. We stayed in touch primarily through writing. He was a regular encourager of me even years after he moved back to his home in Oregon and would almost always write back commenting on this blog.

He lived a “brilliant life”.

He was a devoted husband to his wife Barbara.

He was an acclaimed and adventurous race car driver.

He was a tenacious marketer.

He was a fine, honorable golfer.

He was a counselor and mentor to numerous high school students.

He was a successful high school golf coach, leading my high school team to State.

He was not a father per se but he adopted countless high school students through mentoring.

I am one of those students. To me, he was “Coach”, my mentor. 

 

John Marecek, Rick Ewing, and I with Coach at the 1996 State tournament with Coach.

John Marecek, Rick Ewing, and I with Coach at the 1996 State tournament with Coach.

The very first day I moved from Kansas City to St. Louis in 1993, he found me and brought me into his office. I felt little hope before that time as a lost, shy freshman. He immediately plugged me in with Rick Ewing and the golf team and the rest is history. The next four years, Coach invested in me and helped shape me into a confident leader, eventually captaining our team. I am writing this while Open Championship (The British Open) is being played, which is fitting. Coach called me “Radar” because I had the uncanny ability to find missing golf balls. It always makes me laugh because I have lousy eyesight and I just thought I was lucky.
My friend Rick Ewing hanging out with Coach in his office in-between classes.

My friend Rick Ewing hanging out with Coach in his office in-between classes.

Our high school was a public school and our golf team had to compete with the most elite private schools of the St. Louis area. We had a big chip on our shoulder because of this fact and were driven to win but we didn’t know how. Coach recognized this and when he took over as coach he was committed to making our program as elite or better than the private schools. He was impeccably organized to ensure we trained well to compete. He tracked details of how we scored in our rounds including fairways hit, greens in regulation, and tracking putts. These details were usually only captured by college coaches. He even made us look good with better uniforms, bags and club covers. Coach organized spring break trips (with the great help of parents) to go to Florida to play when it was snowing back home. This helped us to keep our game sharp before the heat to the Spring season and were prepared to win. We won our conference tournament four years in a row, sent team members to state every year, and eventually sent our whole team there our senior year. Our senior year he began a new tournament that would serve as a mid-season NIT and we invited all of the top teams in St. Louis to compete. We won that tournament and it prepared us to beat those teams again in the District championship thus taking us to the State tournament.
After four hard-working years, the 1997 Webster Groves High School Golf team wins the District title (the best team in St. Louis)

After four hard-working years, the 1997 Webster Groves High School Golf team wins the District title (the best team in St. Louis)

To young men who played under Coach may not have recognized how blessed they were at the time but as they reflected on their experience later in life, I am sure they recognized how well they had it under Coach’s leadership.
There is not a day I do not go back to my days on the golf course with him or his office talking about life and golf or the random fun of the day. Although I do not play much golf anymore since my family takes up my time, I still cherish those years in the golf course with Coach. I think he would appreciate that and make sure I knew that golf is a game that I will be able to play until the day I die. After all, Coach had played all the way up until the past few years.
Coach’s wisdom and encouragement stay and have fueled me to live life with honor, humility and great adventure on and off the golf course..
Thank you, Coach for believing in me and all of us. Thank you for living well. See you on the links in heaven.
Godspeed,
Radar
Coach's Obituary that appeared in Salem, Oregon.

Coach’s Obituary that appeared in Salem, Oregon.

I recently finished reading Killing Kennedy, an interesting take on the JFK assassination from Bill O’Reilly. I knew some of the indiscretions of Kennedy through reading history but getting a more full picture through the book was eye-opening. It also educated me about the indiscretions of some other well-known leaders of his time.

jfk123

Here is a brief history of some of the most well-known people in the world.

  • John F. Kennedy was a serial adulterer
  • So was Martin Luther King, even with prostitutes
  • Nelson Mandela was involved in terrorism early in life
  • George Washington owned slaves
  • Benjamin Franklin slept his way across America and Europe
  • Margaret Thatcher had an incredible short temper
  • John Lennon all but abandoned his son Julien when he married to Yoko Ono
  • Elvis Presley was a drug addict
  • Oprah Winfrey is known to be a diva that expects royal treatment
  • Ronald Reagan was a lousy actor divorced early in life

The list goes on and on and you’ll be surprised to learn some of these things from some of the most admired people in recent history.

One of my favorite authors and historians David McCullough shares a brilliant piece about how we should view our leaders but more importantly, how we should see ourselves.

“Now those who wrote the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia that fateful summer of 1776 were not superhuman by any means. Every single one had his flaws, his failings, his weaknesses. Some of them ardently disliked others of them. Every one of them did things in his life he regretted. But the fact that they could rise to the occasion as they did, these imperfect human beings, and do what they did is also, of course, a testimony to their humanity. We are not just known by our failings, by our weaknesses, by our sins. We are known by being capable of rising to the occasion and exhibiting not just a sense of direction, but strength.”

Ephesians 1:7 sums it up.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

Thank God for grace and recognition that he sees the potential in all of us and wants us to do good and succeed in his eyes. God sees us as perfect, even in our imperfections and it makes his grace shine brighter than ever.

 

 

“Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from.” – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

In my personal and professional life, there are few days that go by that I don’t notice people who have done incredible things to make an impact. The world sees them as examples of success.

Sometimes, I wonder,

How did they achieve these things?

What made these people different?

After reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, it has become easier to answer these question. He asks the same question in his book and in his research discovered some amazing things about what makes these people unique (or not).

“People don’t rise from nothing….It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

“Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”

outliers

Gladwell shares many examples to support this including a personal story about his own mother and how she achieved success as an outlier. Let me explain my story.

When I was eleven years old and beginning my summer vacation before 6th grade, I was asked last-minute to join some friends in a golf tournament. At the time, I did not even remember what the tournament it was except that it was to be played in Kansas City, not far from where I grew up. I had been playing golf for a few years but golf was a distant fourth sport of choice behind baseball, soccer and basketball. I enjoyed the game and was intrigued by it but it wasn’t where I thought I would spend my time.

The night before the tournament it poured down rain in Kansas City. I think the tournament anticipated a hundred kids to play in it but the next morning only about fifteen showed up to play and I was one of them. I was a decent golfer for my age but as I mentioned, it wasn’t my priority sport.

I won the tournament that day. In fact, it made me the Missouri State Champion for the UCT Invitational and they gave me an all expenses paid trip to Victoria, Canada to play in the North American final. Crazy, huh? It was one of many events that propelled me forward in confidence and ability to keep getting better. It took me through high school golf, college golf, and amateur state play throughout the years.

Three years before the tournament that changed my life, my family moved across town in suburban Kansas City and our new house happened to be on the first hole of a small golf course. That particular golf course happened to be one of the best junior golf programs in all of the city, which provided me the best opportunity out of many kids to excel in the sport. My parents were not serious golfers but my grandparents bought me my first set of clubs that year and I took up the game. After given the opportunity to win that tournament, I never looked back and eventually quit my other sports to play more golf.

Lining up with my playing partners at the UCT North American Golf Tournament. That is me in the middle. Nice visor!

Lining up with my playing partners at the UCT North American Golf Tournament. That is me in the middle. Nice visor!

Like Gladwell suggests about Outliers, there was nothing about me that was particularly special except I was put in the right places and encouraged by the right people at the right times to play the game of golf, work hard at it, and excel in it. I was given the right chance to succeed. Gladwell expands the thought,

“Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.”
Gladwell was spot on and my story is more confirmation of it.
What do we do with this?
Is life just a roll of the dice then? 
Gladwell doesn’t draw a specific conclusion on why certain people are chosen but he hints at something greater.
His hint is what strengthens my faith. It is humbling because it means that in life we never achieve success on our own. We need others. We need God to put us in the right places at the right times and guide us in his perfect purpose.
Think about something you’ve excelled at in life. 
How did it happen?
Who helped you?
What did you do about it?
It is there that you see God at work.

The Thin Red Line

March 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

The past few weeks I suspect most people in the world had not heard about Crimea. When you read the headlines, you have to look twice to make sure you are not reading “crime” in the title. Crimea has a long history of political strife, unfortunately due to its strategic location in the Black Sea. The Crimean Peninsula is a crossroads for Europe, Asia, and the MIddle East.

When I lived in Scotland, I would visit Edinburgh Castle multiple times. There is an intriguing painting that hangs within the castle, specifically in the National War Museum of Scotland. It is The Thin Red Line by Robert Gibb.

I purchased a print of the painting, framed it, and it has hung on the walls of my offices over the years. I look to it often in wonder and strength.

Here is its story.

The Thin Red Line, painted in 1881 by Robert Gibb. Painting showing the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders in battle with Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava 1854.

The Thin Red Line, painted in 1881 by Robert Gibb. Painting showing the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders in battle with Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaklava 1854.

Military History Monthly describes the story best here,

“In November 1854, The Times war correspondent William Russell, writing from the Crimea, reported that an attack by Russian cavalry had been repulsed, having come up against a piece of ‘Gaelic rock… a thin red streak topped up with a line of steel’ – a description that would later become ‘the thin red line’. Russell was describing the heroic part played by the 93rd Highlanders in the Battle of Balaclava, probably better known as the occasion of the disastrous charge of the Light Brigade.

The 93rd Highlanders had been raised in 1799 as the 93rd Regiment of Foot, drawing its recruits mainly from the remote county of Sutherland in the far north of Scotland. In Autumn 1854, the 93rd was defending Balaclava, a small village and port being used by the British as their supply base. Balaclava was of great strategic importance, and its loss could have changed the course of the entire war.

The 93rd, made up of about 500 men under the command of General Sir Colin Campbell, was stationed between the enemy and their target, but they had taken cover from the artillery fire behind a hill and were out of sight of the Russian forces. When he saw that between 400 and 800 Russian cavalry intended spearheading an attack on Balaclava,Campbell moved his men back to the crest of the hill. For a time, there was silence. Finally, the Russians charged, determined to break through the British line and reach Balaclava.

With squadrons of Russian cavalry bearing down on them, the Turks on the British flanks fired a volley at random before fleeing, leaving two ranks of kilted Highlanders to face the onslaught. As bayonets were fixed, Campbell rode to the front and called out to his troops, ‘There is no retreat from here, men! You must die where you stand.’”

But they didn’t die.

They believed and stood their ground. 

The story of the thin red line is not one of a fierce hand-to-hand battle, and it was all over in a matter of minutes. It was an example of discipline and courage in the face of the terrifying spectacle of a massed cavalry charge.

There were more Victoria Crosses (like the USA’s Medal of Honor) presented to the Highland soldiers at that time than at any other.

The Thin Red Line reminds me every time to stand strong and hold on to my faith in the hard days.

The band, Mumford and Sons, wrote a powerful song called Hold On To What You Believe that captures this as well.

But we’re young,
Open flowers in the windy fields of this war-torn world.
And love,
This city breathes the plague of loving things more than their creators

….

But hold on to what you believe in the light
When the darkness has robbed you of all your sight

Whatever you are facing, stand on the line and look to your brothers and sisters on your right and left . You are not alone.

Hold on to your faith and stand firm in the thin red line.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Joy Through Genealogy

February 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

I am a shameless Downton Abbey watcher (yes, man card revoked). If you are not familiar with the show, Downton Abbey is a dramatic portrait of a fictional early 20th century English family who live in an enormous manor in Yorkshire. It is run by The Crawley family and led by Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham. Throughout the series, the family endures a world at war, courtships, marriages, babies, death, and a collision of societies within the walls of Downton. Most importantly, the series focuses on the struggle of the family to figure out a clear heir to the estate.

Downton Abbey’s storyline reveals the importance of family legacy whether rich or poor. As the family looks ahead, they are finding it difficult to forget the past and how to honor those before them. Meanwhile the world is changing around them at increasing speed. It is an amusing series that can often feel like a soap opera but is well-written and highly entertaining.

DOWNTONABBEY_SEASON4_ARTWORK_GROUP landscape

Along with watching Downton Abbey this week I have been humming a few tunes. One that won’t escape me is Andrew Peterson’s Matthew’s Begats. It is from Peterson’s popular Christmas album, Behold the Lamb of God. Growing up, I have read the book of Matthew in the Bible and glossed over the first chapter multiple times, clueless to its importance. The pseudo-bluegrass song by Peterson is designed to teach us about the genealogy of Jesus and brings a child-like smile to me every time I hear it. Listen to it here:

While most likely neither you nor I own an estate like the Crawleys, we all do have a family lineage here on earth. Like the Crawleys, I find myself full of worry some days about if I will be able to take care of my family properly and ensure they live a safe and secure life. Then I realize that I am wrong to believe that narrow view of family where life’s true happiness and security resides. For those of us who have chosen to follow Christ, we have a family that continues into eternity. I am reminded when I look at my genealogy, I am an heir of Christ. I do not deserve this but he freely gives it to me.

Romans 8:17 reminds us of the importance of this genealogy,

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Read the genealogy below one more time in Matthew 1.

Matthew’s Begats reveal that the legacy is through us. There is no need to worry because I am part of his legacy. You are his legacy. We are his legacy.

1 The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

From Abraham to David

2 Abraham fathered Isaac,
Isaac fathered Jacob,
Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar,
Perez fathered Hezron,
Hezron fathered Aram,
4 Aram fathered Amminadab,
Amminadab fathered Nahshon,
Nahshon fathered Salmon,
5 Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,
Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,
Obed fathered Jesse,
6 and Jesse fathered King David.

From David to the Babylonian Exile

Then[c] David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon fathered Rehoboam,
Rehoboam fathered Abijah,
Abijah fathered Asa,
8 Asa fathered Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat fathered Joram,
Joram fathered Uzziah,
9 Uzziah fathered Jotham,
Jotham fathered Ahaz,
Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh,
Manasseh fathered Amon,
Amon fathered Josiah,
11 and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.

From the Exile to the Messiah

12 Then after the exile to Babylon
Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel,
Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel fathered Abiud,
Abiud fathered Eliakim,
Eliakim fathered Azor,
14 Azor fathered Zadok,
Zadok fathered Achim,
Achim fathered Eliud,
15 Eliud fathered Eleazar,
Eleazar fathered Matthan,
Matthan fathered Jacob,
16 and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary,
who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.

 

 

George Washington

This prayer is abridged from George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789.

————-
May we all unite in rendering unto God our sincere and humble thanks— For His kind care and protection of the people of this country, For the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have enjoyed,

For the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness,

For the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge, and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And may we also unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him—

To pardon our national and other transgressions,

To enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually,

To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed,

To protect and guide all nations and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord,

To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science,

And generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

————–

 

His prayer rings true today. Thank you President Washington.

Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow Americans.

 

C.S. Lewis 50 Years Later

November 22, 2013 — 4 Comments

C.S. Lewis wrote,

“After I’ve been dead five years, no one will read anything I’ve written.”

Well Jack, you were wrong and we are so thankful because of it.

On this day 50 years ago the beloved Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis passed away from renal failure. It was  onNovember 22nd, 1963 when Lewis passed and his death received little media attention due to the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His incorrect prophetic words above were likely due to the nature of publishing at that time and how easily books would go out of print. For the next fifty years, Christians young and old discovered his writings from Till We Have Faces to The Screwtape Letters to The Chronicles of Narnia. At the 2012 London Olympics, many other British writers were honored during the opening ceremonies; Lewis was omitted. Lewis has never had the widest appeal compared to other contemporary British writers but his readers have a passion for his work like none other. Perhaps his humility transcends today through subtle ways and readers share his words with others one by one.

CS Lewis

I learned that he will finally receive an honor memorial in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey. This gives me great joy knowing that hundreds of years from now someone will discover him for the first time when walking through the historic Abbey.

There are a handful of writers who have influenced my life and C.S. Lewis is on top of that list. As a new Christian almost twenty years ago, I was exposed to Mere Christianity and it helped me then as it does today to better understand the beautiful mystery of this grand faith. I recently read a couple biographies about his life like Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis and I encourage you to do the same to learn more about he and his writings. You can view a complete list of his works here but if you have never read his books, start with the classics like Mere Christianity, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Four Loves, Surprised by Joy, The Screwtape Letters, and The Pilgrim’s Regress.

I am still discovering his words and hope to until the day I die. My young daughters are close to the age of me sharing the great stories from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Thank you Jack for your faith, your boldness, and for allowing God to work through you in your pain and your joy. We all feel it through your words and will share it with generations to come.

One of my favorite scenes in comedy is a scene that takes place toward the end of the movie, Tropic Thunder (2008). This is a crucial element in the storyline when Robert Downey Jr.’s character(s) attempts to get his friend played by Ben Stiller out of a prison. Both of the characters think they are part of a movie and disguised as their characters. What they are coming to realize is that what they are facing is actually real and are trying to come to terms with it and what to do. Forgive the initial vulgarity of this short clip but I promise you will laugh.

tropicthunder

Humorous as this scene is, there is a lot of truth behind it.

This week I read an article about someone who called herself an “Orthodox Christian” because she didn’t like the other term “Evangelical Christian.” After listening to her, I found that I agreed with just about everything she said about her faith but wondered why she needed to label herself with the preface ‘Orthodox’.  I also attended a conference with a group of people who called themselves “Reformed Christians.” I was asked by some people there of what kind of Christian I am and I said something along the lines that although I am part of the Anglican denomination I am a “Young Life Christian” because it was in the group Young Life where I accepted Christ. I was unsettled about this answer for a few days.

When we turn to scripture we find that the first time a name or label was put on the followers of Christ, it was in the city of Antioch.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,  and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:25-26

I am not a bible or church scholar but from what I know, when the church grew and expanded throughout the world, divisions occurred and thus new identities. Here we are 2,000 years later and if someone asks you who you are, you could respond in one of these ways.

  • I am an Evangelical Christian
  • I am a Southern Baptist Christian
  • I am an Orthodox Christian
  • I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian
  • I am a Catholic Christian
  • I am a Reformed Christian
  • I am a Coptic Christian
  • I am an Anglican Christian
  • I am a Young Life Christian

The labels go on and on.

Almost 20 years ago when I first accepted Christ, it seemed so simple and beautiful. I felt a humility and honor to call myself a Christian and by his grace, follow Jesus as best I could. The older I got the more complicated life became. Like Kirk Lazarus, I became a dude, playing a dude disguised as another dude. I am to blame for this because I fell for the trap and forced myself into a corner within the subculture of Christianity to put a very specific label on my faith.

Do you think someone looking in on us as Christians even cares? I am not saying that the specific beliefs or denominations are not important but put yourselves in the shoes of someone who does not know or understand who Jesus is: Our faith looks so divisive and confusing.

Have our descriptors become our titles of pride and nobility? Our idol? 

Thankfully, where our heart is, our true identity lay. Our heart that holds the promise of Christ shapes how we truly live our lives no matter what title we give it.

I am trying to not over-simplify life and this topic but what if it is meant to be that simple? Jesus asked the Apostle Peter one of life’s greatest questions,

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

I pray that everyday I answer  like Peter in today’s language, “I am a dude who follows Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What do you call yourself? What have you learned about “identity”?

The Beauty of Longing

September 1, 2013 — 6 Comments

A couple of weeks ago I challenged a friend to put together a bucket list. My friend was at a crossroads of life and I felt it was helpful to suggest she endeavour upon this journey to create such a list of things she would want to do in this life.

When I got home, I realized that my list has dust on it.

Last I checked I may have achieved roughly 35 of the 100 items on my list so there is much adventure to be had. At this point in life, the list represents an unfulfilled ‘longing’. But a longing for what? No matter what amazing things happen in life and what I check off on the list, I still feel this longing. C.S. Lewis said,

“There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in reality.”

CS Lewis

Sheila Walsh calls this a “sacred ache”, as we long for a world or life that we cannot fully attain. Heaven and earth collide. As Lewis noted, ‘reality’ takes hold of us until we are fully with our maker.

I recently read in Alister McGrath’s biography C.S. Lewis that when Lewis realized he was not going to live longer, he acknowledged that his name and most importantly, his books would move toward obscurity. The world was changing in the sixties and so he thought his words with them. We know now that his self-analysis was wrong but it revealed how until his end, he wondered if all of it was in vain. He longed for a greater significance.

So why is there longing? Why do we try?

Is longing there to pick and prod us to the point where we sit up in our chair, move the chair back, and stand up? Sometimes, that is the case I am learning. I am also discovering that courage is in the subtleties of life. It is in the thoughtful decisions about how to spend time. It is how I will prioritize and develop richer relationships. It is trusting in God in my career (which is difficult) and dust off my bucket list. I am 34 and have so much life ahead of me. My wife and I both feel this urgency to make a difference but often feel paralyzed by the grind of busyness.

So, I can retire to my excuses or I can act.

Philippians 1:21 points out the Apostle Paul’s struggle with this very thing.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

It is evident that God has purpose in life as well as death. I am confident though that God knows what he is doing and this is why the longing exists. I was a daydreaming child and now a daydreaming adult. I do know that I feel most alive when I am moving, trying new things (and even failing at them). I question my motives though and ask God if I even should be longing? Is it selfish? I don’t want to get lost in the busyness, I want my time to mean something. If C.S. Lewis had questions about this then I should pay close attention in my life.

My thoughts drifted to the movie Finding Forrester (2000) when the reclusive writer Robert Forrester recites the poem from his young mentor Jamal.

“…we will find that the wishes we had for the father, who once guided us…for the brother, who once inspired us….The only thing left to say will be: “I wish I had seen this, or I wish I had done that, or I wish…”

As Forrester reflects on what he learns from the young man, no matter young or old, we feel these words.

“Someone I once knew wrote that we walk away from our dreams afraid we may fail, or worse yet, afraid that we may succeed.”

Roth_FindingForrester

I have very few regrets in life mainly because my faith comforts and reminds me that it is all part of God’s journey. But the longing is real and as life’s clock ticks and without that prodding, I won’t be pushed to act.

Thankfully regrets are fleeting though and I am comforted most by Lewis’ words,

“We can never know what might have been but what is to come is another matter entirely.”

So I will continue to look ahead.

Tomorrow I will sit up straight in my chair, gently push back the chair, take a deep breath, and pray. After all, longing is beautiful trust and I will stand up and begin walking in faith.

How We Fight Distraction

August 27, 2013 — 2 Comments

We live in an age of disruption.

Everyone wants your attention; family, work, church, your iPad, a book, marketers, television, and your local service group.  Some of these distractions are noble and do require attention. Some of these can wait.

Technology and life’s demands want to suck us dry. A friend remarked to me the other day that he wish our world went dark with technology like the television show, Revolution. While that is drastic, I empathize with his sentiment as does my wife when she sees me looking down at my phone when I am at home.

My job is focused on leveraging social media in business and everyday there is something new to pursue; the hot new app, the new social media network, or a digital conference where you fear missing out of the ‘new thing’ in technology. There is always a new technology to learn or a place where people want to share information. It is a never-ending cycle that has only been accelerated in today’s culture.

When I am bombarded by too many meetings, demands, and other things, I am reminded of Indiana Jones. In a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana is trying to rescue Marion and the Ark. He is being chased by Nazi agents and Cairo henchmen. After he briefly escapes, he is then confronted by a master swordsman who is prepared to end his quest. Indy has to act fast. Watch and see.

Admit it, you laughed.

While I would like to take care of our distractions the Indiana Jones way, there is better wisdom I am learning. I struggle with disruption like any average person. C.S. Lewis said that “God whispers in our pleasures” and I feel most alive and joyful when I am focused on doing one single thing. God didn’t make me a multi-tasker thankfully and when distracted he causes me ask this question,

What what is most important and what do I do about it? 

There are three pieces of wisdom that I have learned over time. Whenever I am overwhelmed with distraction, God seems to point me back to this wisdom.

1. Wisdom of my Mother:

“Slow down: One thing at a time.”

No one likes listening to their mother but even at 34, I humbly acknowledge thought that she is right.

2. Wisdom of Scripture:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 5:18

3. Wisdom of Prayer:

Jesus taught us out to pray and in prayer he helps us focus on him.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

So let’s fix our eyes on him, pray, and take it one thing at a time. 

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