For Those Who Weren't There......

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how
the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could
have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually
in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood,
who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and
again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming,
but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who
spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows,
in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the
worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who knew neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt (emphases mine)

This past Monday night I led a "class" of men from my church in a discussion about this very quote. I challenged each and every one of them with these thoughts:

  • Every man has an "arena."
  • The "arena" is for testing.
  • Many men avoid the "arena" because of fear of failure.
We started off by identifying their particular arena(s). For some their arena was in the area of finances, others it was their family time, some it was their God-given purpose in life, and a few acknowledged it was their marraiges. These were areas they felt led to "fight" for, and yet for some reason weren't giving 100% effort to do so. Why? Because failing was too scary for them.

So, I challenged them to consider this quote I read in Craig Groeschel's new book "It" (provided by my boy Scott Williams from the N-Dub! Thanks again, buddy!):

"Failure is the tuition you pay for success." - Walter Brunell

I don't know Wally, but that guy has it all figured out! We have to change the way we view "failure." Now, I'm not saying we should rush out and fail, fail, fail. What I am saying is we should be willing to risk failure to experience our "triumph of high achievement."

What about you? What's your "arena?" More importantly, are you in it?

365 days ago....

Yesterday in church, a thought came rocketing into my skull from out of seemingly nowhere...

"Do you remember this time last year?"

Immediately my mind "rewound" the last 365 days or so.  I realized it was about this time last year when Michele and I were perhaps in the darkest days we have ever experienced.  We had just went through an IVF procedure only to find out that it had failed.  We were numb with grief.  We were shocked from pain.  We were angry from feeling betrayed by the Father.  Why hadn't He heard our prayers?

Little did we know that He had.  He had heard us.  He was working.  Our answer was already forming even as our tears were falling.  Like a mystery that He is, He chose for our baby to come to us through someone else's womb.  Our pain, her conception - all of this, approximately 365 days ago.

It's amazing what a difference a year makes.  Thank you Abba.

Thoughts about Temperature and God

Now that it's starting to get a little chilly outside, I've noticed something. In my car, I have a digital display that tells me the temperature both outside and inside the car. The other day I noticed it was a chilly 43 degree morning. As I started my car, the air conditioner was already pre-set on 68 degrees from the day before, when the outside temperature was in the 70s. What struck me was this - the day before 68 degrees felt cool, but on that particular morning it felt warm. What gives?

It's not that suddenly overnight 68 degrees changed it's mind and decided "Hey, tomorrow I'm gonna be a warm 68." No, 68 degrees is a constant. 68 degrees is 68 degrees all year round. So what changed? What changed is the environment by which I experienced 68.

God is like 68 degrees - He is constant. Our perception of Him, however, can change much like the temperature. Sometimes it seems as if my relationship with Him is hotter than the surface of the sun itself. Other times, He has seemed as cold and distant as the planet Pluto. What changed? Not God.

Have your times with God become stale? Change the environment. Have your prayers become routine? Change the environment. Has your "family time" become uninspiring and lost its originality? Change the environment. When the temperature dipped into the 40s, I experienced 68 degrees in a whole new and fresh way. Why? Because the environment changed. The same can happen with your relationship with God. Try it!


Princess Bride - The Wedding

My youngest brother, Brian, got married this past weekend.  It was a really small wedding - very quaint and intimate.  Tried as I might, I couldn't help but recall this scene from the Princess Bride.  In fact, we were quoting it as we drove him to the wedding ceremony!  Anyways, Brian and Amanda's story is an amazing one filled with love, forgiveness, grace, and hope.  Their union is truly an answer to many prayers, and Michele and I are so glad to welcome Amanda into our family.  During the ceremony, the pastor (who also married Michele and I) shared their goals with all of us - the number one being they wanted to serve God through the local church.  True enough, the next day (after their wedding night!) they got up early and went to church.  I am so proud of them!

Why on Earth Can't the Candidates Debate about the Real Issues?

I truly wish the candidates for President would stop arguing about the economy, tax breaks for the wealthy, healthcare, national security and the war. Instead, I wish they would have the courage to talk about the real issues....like these guys do.

Flight of the Conchords- Issues (Think About It)