Sunday, October 31, 2010

Margin: The One Thing

The series Margin is a series from Craig Groeschel.

The book Purity of the Heart is to Will One Thing by Sören Kierkegaard is one of the great books ever written on theology, life, and Christianity. He uses parables, irony, and discourse to make the subject matter more accessible than many of his other works. It can be purchased here.

The book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson is an excellent resource. It can be purchased here.

The study guide for the week will be published in tomorrow's blog post.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Remembering Adolf

He was born on September 26, 1910. He was raised with eight siblings in a small house in Stavanger, Norway—located on the southwest coast of Norway next to the North Sea. It is a beautiful city. The Dømkirke sits at the center of the city. From 1100 to 1125, the hardworking people of this fishing village built one of the most magnificent and elegant cathedrals God has ever seen. The fjords surrounding the city are as peaceful as they are stunning.

During an economic depression between the two world wars, the nineteen-year old boy said goodbye to his family, boarded a boat, and travelled to New York. The words written by Emma Lazarus inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty applied to him:
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.

He arrived in the United States the same time the Great Depression started. He eventually settled in northwest Iowa where he worked odd jobs and long hours to survive. When World War II started, he volunteered to serve his new country. He was a soldier in the European Theatre from 1941 to 1945. The first thirty-five years of his life were tough.

He married a young American woman. They had two boys. He became a painter and then a builder. Churches and schools scattered throughout northwest Iowa have his fingerprint on them. He enjoyed the simple things in life: gardening and fishing. He was loved by his community for his generosity and because he talked funny.

His wife died too young after a long battle with breast cancer. He kept loving, laughing, giving, and living as long as he could. I visited him on October 22, 2001. Before I left, I held his hand and prayed with him. As I concluded, he asked if I would pray the Lord’s Prayer. I prayed it as slow as I could so that the breathing-impaired man could keep up with me. He died the next morning. Three days later, I drove to his church. I put on my robe and spoke the only words that really matter—words of grace. I usually call the deceased by their first name. But in this case Adolf seemed too formal. I called him the same thing I called him for thirty years: grandpa, or as they say in Norway, bestefar.

It’s been ten years now. I no longer think of him and get sad. I’m only grateful. Grateful for the kind, forgiving, and loving person who invested so much of his life in my life.

Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. -1 Timothy 4:12

The best is yet to come…


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Revolution: Faith, Hope, and Love - Part 2


A systematic and fundamental change in a short period of time in the way an organization or person functions


  • Last week we defined faith from Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
  • We looked at the Greek word pistis – The authentic moral conviction of a religious teacher.
  • And…we talked about faith is not just believing in God, but believing God.

No better example of faith exists than Abraham.

  • God told Abraham that God was going to make Abraham great. He was going to bless him and better yet, use him as a blessing.
  • God promised Abraham that he would be a father to the nations. That his offspring would outnumber the stars in the sky.

It wasn’t easy for Abraham either. Not easy at all.

  • His nephew Lot got the good bottom land and he was stuck with the scrub country.
  • He and Sarah didn’t have any babies.

So Abraham complained.

  • This land is awful.
  • We don’t have any kids and at our age it isn’t likely going to be happening anytime soon.

Genesis 15:5-6

Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

Listen to that last line. Not a single sentence exists in the Old Testament that means as much to followers of the New Testament:

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

Abraham believed the promise even though he had no evidence the promise would come true.

Abraham and Sarah cashed in their pensions and built a nursery.

Isaac was born
Then Jacob
Later David
Later Solomon
And later Jesus

But, Abraham believed the promise even though he had no evidence the promise would come true.

Abraham didn’t say…I believe that we are going to have a baby because my wife has this thing growing in her stomach. Abraham simply believed.

Trust is never logical and faith never makes perfect sense.

It is a gift that God gives and a gift that humans can give as well.

Faith is an act of courage in which people who cannot control the outcome decide to trust anyway.

Revolution begins with faith.


Elpis – The expectation of good

Hope, like faith, is a gift from God

We have defined hope in the past something like:

The expectation that tomorrow can be better than today.

Nehemiah 2:3-5

How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

Nehemiah’s heart was broken. He was troubled. He wasn’t sleeping well at night. He was sad.

Something that was so important to him was destroyed.

You ever been there before?

  • Broken
  • Troubled
  • Restless
  • Sad

You’ve been there and I’ve been there too. Some of us are there now.

Nehemiah’s response was a response of hope. Tomorrow can be better than today.

Pretty much every day was a fight for Nehemiah. Brick by brick. Complaint after complaint. But hope remained. 12 years later, the walls were rebuilt.

You have walls that need to be rebuilt in your life, don’t you?
Are you hopeful these walls can be rebuilt? Or have you given up hope?

  • Have you given up hope that you can get along better with your spouse? Or are you going to rebuild that wall?
  • Have you given up hope that you can get out of debt? Or are you going to rebuild that wall?
  • Have you resigned yourself that this is all there is to life? Or are you going to rebuild that wall?

Hope believes the walls can be rebuilt and that the new walls can be a whole lot better than the old walls.


Love – agape – Not love because of the other person, but love in spite of the other person. Not love because of the other person, but love because of our own character and integrity.

2 Samuel 9:1-13

One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. “Are you Ziba?” the king asked. “Yes sir, I am,” Ziba replied. The king then asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.” Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. “In Lo-debar,” Ziba told him, “at the home of Makir son of Ammiel.” So David sent for him and brought him from Makir’s home. His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.” Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.” “Don’t be afraid!” David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!” Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master’s household. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will eat here at my table.” (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Ziba replied, “Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.” And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica. From then on, all the members of Ziba’s household were Mephibosheth’s servants. And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at the king’s table.

God's invitation is that we feast at the King's table with Him.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quotes and Commentary

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself. -Soren Kierkegaard

The great Danish philosopher knew that life is about stumbling and taking risks. Option #1: To stumble on the rugged trails of life. Option #2: To play it safe by lying down in a padded room and never leaving that room. Option #1 means you can stumble every once in a while and discover life. Option #2 means you won’t stumble, but you won’t discover life either.

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it's really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas. -Stanley Kubrick

Like chess, the most important choices in life aren’t between good and evil, but between good and better. Significance and contentment in life are generally determined by our ability to choose between good and better.

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. -Juma Ikangaa

The world champion marathon runner knows that results don’t come in life without preparation. A competitive spirit means nothing without discipline and hard-work.

Humor is not the opposite of seriousness; humor is the opposite of despair. -Conrad Hyers

Humor isn’t trivial. It is a worldview. Sacred humor isn’t the cheap kind of humor that belittles others, it is the holy variety that builds community, captures hope, helps us understand who we are, and helps us understand who God is.

I could agree with you but we would both be wrong. –Craig Finnestad

I used this when talking to Amber shortly after we were married 14 years ago. I haven’t said it again since.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. –Ephesians 2:8

If this isn’t true, then no statement is less significant. If this is true then no statement is more significant. I believe it’s true!

The best is yet to come…


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Revolution, Part 1 - Video

Here is an outline of the message...

In the Latin revolution means “to turn around"

  • It is a fundamental change in the way things work
  • It is a change that happens in relatively short period of time

Do you want that in your life? Revolution?

A fundamental change in the way things work? And do you want this to happen in a short period of time.

  • Leave work at work and regain an identity other than worker
  • Start exercising and eating better
  • Being a better parent or a better spouse
  • Pay off debt, start saving, or make a budget and stick to it
  • Lose anger or the need to control others
  • Have healthier relationships
  • Grow closer to God

How do you plan to make this happen?

Some of us might say something like this: “If I can just make it through this week….then I can start changing.” Or, “After I get through this season of my life…I’ll be able to devote my time and energy to changing.” Well I got some news for you…next week is going to come. And so is the next season. Next week is going to bring new challenges. The next season is most likely going to be just as difficult as this season. So start the revolution today.

If we are looking for a revolution in our lives…look no further than God.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:13

What if you lived a life of faith? Not just believing God but believing the promises of God?

  • When we walk through the fire God is with us
  • He will bless us and use us as a blessing
  • We are forgiven
  • He will help us cross rivers we never thought we could never cross

What if you lived a life of hope?

  • Knowing tomorrow can be better than today
  • Knowing our past doesn’t determine our future
  • Believing the best is yet to come
  • Knowing that you can do things you have never done before

What if you lived a life of love? Not the cheap kind that gives an adolescent knots in his stomach. But the other kind. What if you lived a live based on that kind of love?

  • Serving
  • Sharing
  • Listening
  • Embracing
  • Forgiving

When we embrace any of these our lives change. When we embrace all of these…revolution happens. A fundamental change in a short period of time.


πίστις – pistis – The moral conviction in the truth of a religious teacher

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. -Proverbs 3:5-6

The African impala can jump to a height of over 12 feet and cover a distance of greater than 40 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 4-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.

Think about the enclosures that keep you locked behind a wall

  • The fear of failure
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m afraid what others might think


ἐλπίς - elpis – The expectation of good

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. –George Iles

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:31

Like faith, hope is a gift from God.

Hope is also an attitude. It is a way we look at the world.

Despite these men, I believed in the goodness of people. Despite these men, I believed in the goodness of God.

Hope itself is not a dream. Hope is a way to make dreams come true.


αγάπη – agape – Love because of the character of the person loving rather than the worthiness of the object of the love

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. –Romans 5:8

That which is loved is always beautiful. –Norwegian Proverb

And do everything with love. -1 Corinthians 16:14

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. –Mother Teresa

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Team World Vision at The Water's Edge

We will be having brief informational meetings on Sunday, October 31st after the 10:30 worship experience and on Wednesday, November 3rd at 7:00 at my house. Come and learn more about how to change your life and support children in Africa!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Norwegian Proverbs

  • If there were no fools, how would we recognize the wise.
  • That which is loved is always beautiful.
  • He who laughs, lasts.
  • The lazier a man is, the more he plans to do tomorrow.
  • It's better to feed one cat than many mice.
  • Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Revolution: Faith, Hope, and Love

Three words can change our life: faith, hope, and love. Individually, there is nothing quite like any of them. Together, they can revolutionize your world and the world.

The old man sits in his chair. He alternates between watching television and looking out the window. His health is failing. He feels forgotten. His life has been long and pretty good. But it’s about over. Faith teaches him the best is still to come.

The young man is waiting in line in the cafeteria at work. Even though the choice in front of him is turkey or tuna, he can’t get over the conversation he and his wife had the previous night. She doesn’t know if she wants to be married or not. His heart is broken. He worries about their baby boy. He doesn’t have a clue what the future holds. Hope whispers to him, that tomorrow can be better than today.

The woman has messed up in so many ways. She walks down a tree-covered trail and wonders what is next for her, if anything. As a child she dreamed that life would be so much more than this. The world tells her that she has made her bed and she needs to lie in it. Love lets her remember that acceptance, forgiveness, and restoration can still happen.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and being convicted of something we can’t see. It is a verb and not a noun. It is a journey and not a destination. Nothing of absolute significance in life can be proven. I can’t prove my wife loves me. I can’t prove love is better than hate. I can’t prove that resurrection follows death. So God gives us faith so we can have absolute significance.

Hope is the expectation that tomorrow can be better than today. For Christians our hope is Jesus. Despite the fact that brokenness, death, and sin seem to rule the world, our hope is that Jesus actually conquered them, and because he conquered them, we are and will be liberated from them as well.

Love is the most powerful force in the world. No human heart is exempt from the power of love. Simultaneously, love is powerless as it can do nothing except by agreement. Paul describes it better than anybody: it’s patient, kind, forgiving, and trusting. Love has a lot more to do with the character of the person loving than the worthiness of the object being loved. It is something you do rather than something you feel. No better example of love exists than Jesus—the one who gave his life for his friends.

So we can let the revolution begin in our world and then the world. And the best place to begin is with faith, hope, and love.

The best it yet to come…


Monday, October 11, 2010

Revolution: Bible Reading Plan

October's Bible Reading Plan


Monday, October 11 - Proverbs 3 (verse 5)
Tuesday, October 12 - Hebrews 11 (verse 6)
Wednesday, October 13 - 1 John 5 (verse 14)
Thursday, October 14 - Ephesians 2 (verse 8)
Friday, October 15 - 2 Corinthians 5 (verse 7)
Saturday, October 16 - Psalm 40 (verse 4)
Sunday, October 17 - Matthew 9 (verse 22)


Monday, October 18 - Romans 15 (verse 13)
Tuesday, October 19 - Romans 12 (verse 12)
Wednesday, October 20 - Isaiah 40 (verse 31)
Thursday, October 21 - Romans 5 (verses 2-5)
Friday, October 22 1 - Peter 3 (verse 15)
Saturday, October 23 - Psalm 43 (verse 5)
Sunday, October 24 - Psalm 71 (verse 14)


Monday, October 25 - 1 Corinthians 16 (verse 4)
Tuesday, October 26 - 1 John 4 (verse 12)
Wednesday, October 27 - Mark 12 (verse 30)
Thursday, October 28 - John 14 (verse 15)
Friday, October 29 - John 15 (verse 13)
Saturday, October 30 - Matthew 19 (verse 19)
Sunday, October 31 - John 3 (verse 16)

October's Bible reading plan focuses on Faith, Hope and Love. The next 30 days will allow us to investigate God's Word and put into practice some biblical principles in major areas of our lives. I encourage you to use the SOAP method of reading the Bible found at the bottom of the page.

Complete the "S" by reading the scripture. Don't just skim through it, but really think about what it means. Imagine what the people involved were experiencing. Write down a verse or two that really stood out to you in your journal.

Complete the "O" by writing down observations about the scripture you just read. You may want to write your own summary of the passage, but more importantly, think about what God has to say to you through this part of his word.

Complete the "A" by writing down how this Bible passage applies to you right now, in your daily life. For example, in the parable about the prodigal son, which character do you identify with most: the loving and merciful father, the son who squanders his life and then repents or the resentful older brother? Do you see similar situations in your life right now? How can you respond in the way Jesus taught?

Complete the "P" by writing down a prayer. This is a personal message from you to God, so don't worry about getting the perfect words down. Just make it honest and heartfelt. Remember that God always listens, and already knows your needs. He just wants to hear from you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Life

Listen to today's message. See below for the notes.

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. -John 10:10 (The Message)

The only way to add value to people is to value people.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. -Romans 13:8

As far as relationships go…one plus one equals a lot more than two. Two minus one equals a whole lot less than one.

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24

Our three most important days: The day we were born, the day we realize why we were born, and today.

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. -Philippians 1:20-21

Growth should begin the day we are born and end the day we die

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. -Hebrews 6:1

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. -Ephesians 4:14-16

I’ll never forget the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies on an airplane. Most smells, for better or worse, we will never forget.

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. -2 Corinthians 2:15

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lessons from Sports

Graeme McDowell is not a household name. But on Monday morning, the world was watching him. McDowell is a thirty-one year old golfer from Northern Ireland. The Ryder Cup, a bi-annual golf contest between Europe and the United States, was in his hands. Dozens of matches had been played between teams and individuals, but the entire Ryder Cup came down to his battle against Hunter Mahan. Mahan only had to tie McDowell to keep the Cup in the hands of the Americans. McDowell’s long birdie putt on the sixteenth hole and his solid play on the seventeenth hole won the Cup for the Europeans. Sports are a great metaphor for life.

Life is determined by a few defining moments

McDowell stood 15 feet away from the 16th hole. If he makes the putt he puts himself in excellent position to win. If he misses he puts himself in a precarious position of having to gain a shot in the last two holes. He has practiced the putt thousands of times. With perfect speed and aim, the putt sinks to the bottom of the hole.

Sometimes we get to determine our defining moments in life. Sometimes we don’t. Regardless, the lesson from McDowell is to be prepared. Wisdom, courage, and excellence aren’t made in life’s defining moments…they are displayed in life’s defining moments. The will to be great in life means nothing without the will to prepare to be great.

Faithfulness comes before greatness

Only in the last year has McDowell made a major impact on the golfing world. His upset win at the U.S. Open surprised many. His performance at the Ryder Cup makes him one of golf’s elites. But before he was great, he was faithful. Countless hours were spent at the driving range and on the putting green and in the gym.

Perseverance, discipline, and risk all precede greatness. The power to persevere when times get tough. The desire and determination to be dedicated and disciplined long after others have quit. And, the readiness to risk failure because the reward of fortune seems so much more compelling than being safe, but average. Greatness in life only happens when it is preceded by perseverance, discipline, and risk.

The real heroes in life are usually ordinary people

Graeme McDowell is no Tiger Woods or Bobby Jones. And most likely he never will be. But there was a day when he was a hero. Europe celebrated when he made the putt. He did a fairly simple thing with greatness.

Likewise, most of us will not be Billy Graham or Mother Teresa, but there have been, are, and will be days when we get to be ordinary selves. People exist who are hurting and you are one of the few people who can reach those persons. Love. Pray. Invite. Care. Share. Embrace. With a simple act of love and grace…you can change your world, somebody else’s world, and the world.

The best is yet to come…


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Through the Eyes of God

Listen to Sunday's sermon. Here are the notes:

As people, here are some of the ways we arrive at our self-worth…
  • How we perceive others see us
  • On things other people may have said about us in the past
  • On our accomplishments
  • On feelings of guilt and shame from our past
  • On our physical attractiveness or perceived unattractiveness
  • On setting unrealistic standards for ourselves and then considering ourselves failures when we can’t reach those standards
As we begin to write the next chapter in our lives—it is absolutely essential to see ourselves not as
  • Worthless
  • Broken
  • Average
  • Unhealthy

Instead…as we begin to write the next chapter in our lives—we have an opportunity to see ourselves as God see us…

  • Loved
  • Chosen
  • Recovering
  • Full of potential
  • Unique

Before we look at how God sees us—we are going to look at how the world may see us and how we may see ourselves

How Others See Us

Many of us believe the following is true:

I must be loved or approved by virtually every significant other person in my life

If we are living to make sure that others love us, we give them permission to evaluate us based what we do, and we give others the power to determine our self-worth.

2 Samuel 6:16-22

But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.

They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes.

When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”

Have you ever been there before?

  • Great idea and your parents or your boss or your spouse laughs
  • You have something big to celebrate and nobody besides you really seems to care.
  • Somebody ignores or says bad things about you because you were being you?

David was there.

David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!”

David meant: I’m going to be me and if my me isn’t good enough for you then that is your problem and not mine.

He meant: I am not going to let your opinion of me effect my opinion of me.

The moment we begin to live to be loved and approved by virtually every person in our life is the same moment we give others permission to evaluate us based what we do, and we give others the power to determine our self-worth.

In the next chapter of our life, in addition to seeing how others see us for what it is and what it is not, we also have to look at how we see ourselves.

How We See Ourselves

I think some of us believe this:

My past history is an all-important determiner of my present behavior and because something once strongly affected my life, it should definitely continue to do so

Lamentations 5:1-8

Lord, remember what has happened to us.
See how we have been disgraced!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to foreigners.
We are orphaned and fatherless.
Our mothers are widowed.
We have to pay for water to drink,
and even firewood is expensive.
Those who pursue us are at our heels;
we are exhausted but are given no rest.
We submitted to Egypt and Assyria
to get enough food to survive.
Our ancestors sinned, but they have died—
and we are suffering the punishment they deserved!
Slaves have now become our masters;
there is no one left to rescue us.

The writer is having a tough day. He is actually having a pretty tough life.

Anybody ever been there before?

  • Your past is broken enough that he sees no hope.
  • You have witnessed that you are part of a broken world.
  • You compare yourselves to others and generally end up on the short end of the stick.
  • You have never fully become the person you have dreamed of becoming.

So we look in the mirror and maybe see somebody who is

  • Conflicted
  • Unhappy
  • A failure
  • Self-Conscious

God didn’t leave the people of Israel as exiles and God isn’t going to leave us where we are either.

  • Conflicted becomes Comforted
  • Unhappy becomes Unshaken
  • Failure becomes Future
  • Self-Conscious becomes Self-Loving

Think about these things…

  • I CAN is 100 times more important than IQ
  • To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.
  • Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.
  • You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.
  • Whether or not you believe in God, God believes in you.

For better or worse—just as we see ourselves as somebody, God sees us as somebody as well.

How God Sees Us

1 Peter 2:9

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

  • Loved
  • Accepted
  • Forgiven
  • Chosen
  • Claimed

In the next chapter, we must not base who we are and who we are not based on what others think and say or even on what we believe about ourselves. In the next chapter we are going to believe about us what God believes about us.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I was running the other morning. At five o’clock it was one of those really dark mornings. I meandered through my hilly neighborhood. An occasional car passed me. I wondered where the driver was going at such an hour. They probably wondered why I was out running at such an hour. I think a dog barked at me. I couldn’t really tell...the music from my iPhone was louder than a hello from a friendly Labrador.

And then it happened. I was attacked. He jumped out of nowhere and started chasing after me. My heart rate spiked from a steady 140 beats to 200 beats per minute. I didn’t know if I was better off running away as fast as I could or staying and putting up a fight. I didn’t know if he was armed with a knife or a gun. I thought if I have to die, that running and listening to Norah Jones isn’t a bad way to go.

Then I realized what happened. My forward progress triggered a streetlight on my left side to come on. My body prevented the light from hitting the concrete. The music and my inattention lowered my awareness of the surroundings. It wasn’t a big, mean person chasing me—it was my own shadow chasing me.

I caught my breath, laughed, and continued running. I remembered a few weeks before when I was running on a very hot afternoon at Platte River State Park. Most of the running at the park is in the shade. That day I noticed the punishing sunlight during the few sections that aren’t covered with shade. Shade was a welcome relief.

It led me to thinking how a shadow and the shade are the same thing: Relative darkness as a result of the interception of the light rays. One can be quite scary, one can provide relief; neither are harmful, and both should be seen for what they are and what they are not.

In the German language, both shadow and shade are the same word: Schatten.

The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your (schatten) at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. –Psalm 121:5-6

God is our schatten. The sun will not harm us by day. I don’t know of many things more painful than a sunburn or heat exhaustion. Except brokenness in relationships, stress about jobs and money, emotional exhaustion, and self-destructive behaviors. God brings wholeness to the broken world we can see (the day). It is human nature to worry, or at least be concerned, about the world’s future, the future of our loved ones, and our future. We experience anxiety over various things, many of which we cannot control. God brings hope to the world, which we can’t fully see yet (the night).

I’m grateful God is our schatten.

The best is yet to come…