Do Unto Others

I’m borrowing, not stealing this idea from Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church. You can watch or listen to it here

In this powerful message Pastor Steven speaks about the tragedy in Charleston. I’m not going to add anything to that part, but he talked about the Golden Rule. Jesus said to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Pastor Steven went on to say that Jesus didn’t say, “don’t do unto others what you don’t want done to you.” Which is how we often interpret and teach it. 

“Johnny, you shouldn’t throw rocks at Susie! Remember the Golden Rule.” 

It’s more active than that. We should be DOING for others what we want them to do for us. Yet we often sit around doing nothing for anyone and thinking of all the things people could do for us and pout when they don’t. 

Amen. 

Push

WhiteWaterRafting.WillandI

Saturday was Will’s first time whitewater rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. His mother was worried about it. When we finished, I asked him what he thought.

“It was too short. Can we do it again?”

And that was it. He was hooked. We did 4 trips over the weekend. I’m so proud of him.

On one of the trips we just came out of the Screaming Turtle down a Class 3 rapid and about half the people in the boat fell out, including me. As I was falling out, I saw Will, who was sitting in front of me, start falling out too. I reached up as I was going down and gave him a strong push upwards. As I french fried down the river and then was recovered to my raft, I learned that Will never touched the water. My push allowed him to grab a hold of the PFD (life jacket)of the man in front of him and he was pulled back into the safety of the boat. Will’s mother, his sisters, his friends, his aunts and uncles, no one else was around to give him that push he needed. No one else could give him that push. He couldn’t push himself.

It came from his father.

As Christians, we all often get a push that only our Heavenly Father can give us. Maybe it’s the push we need to forgive someone; the push to let go of bitterness; the push to mend a broken relationship; the push to overcome an addiction; the push to forgive ourselves; the push to begin again.

The Father gives us the push we need. Without it we are man overboard without a PFD doing a pizza down the Class 5’s of life trying not to romance the stone.

Great Ideas

I’ve been praying that The Lord would give me a great idea to solve a certain business problem.

He can do that, you know.

But just a second ago the thought crossed my mind that instead of a great idea to solve the problem, it may just take hard work. Or maybe the idea will come through the process of the hard work.

It’s not the answer I wanted, but I can live with it.

The Bridge 

 

The highway 27 bridge on the Catawba River has been my goal since I started paddle boarding at the Whitewater Center a few weeks ago. It’s 1.75 miles from the dock. And then back.

It was a great day to be on the river. Overcast, slightly breezy, with Nora Jones playing on my
iPhone. Couldn’t have been better. I made it to the bridge and headed back. Another 1.75 miles.

Then a pontoon boat blasted by sending tsunami waves at me. I didn’t stand a chance.  Pun intended.

I stumbled backwards off the board, my iPhone in its Lifeproof floating case went flying off, the life jacket that I wasn’t wearing and my water thermos scattered. And after a few blinks, I was sure that my contacts had washed out. All while the paddle board floated in the opposite direction.

Drowning only flashed across my mind briefly. I knew that I could float on my back for hours and miles. I gathered up my accessories (my phone wasn’t hard to find in its orange case and blaring Al Green; although in spite of my setback I wasn’t tired of being alone).

The board was still scooting off in the opposite direction and while I could float on my back for hours, I needed to float to it quicker than it floated away.

I must have been a sight for anyone watching. A fish jumped nearby. I think he was the only living creature paying me any attention.

I finally retrieved the board and flopped onto it. It occurred to me that wearing the life jacket might be a good idea now. The remainder of the voyage was peaceful and without drama. I made it back to the dock completing the 3.5 mile round trip.

I like to look for life lessons in these little adventures. The only one I could discern today was that this much paddle boarding sure makes a person hungry.

I really enjoyed the cheeseburger from the Pump House Biergarten.

Guides

We all need a guide.

 

I’m the worst backer upper. In cars, trucks with trailers, Big Wheels(now I’m dating myself), but I’m just terrible backing up.  I guess
because I’m a man of progress.

 

Right.

 

So when I have to back out of my driveway, I usually go over the grass or hit the stones around the mailbox. But I recently learned a trick. You already know this I’m sure, but we all know that I’m slow.

 

When I back out now, I use the mailbox as a guide.  As long I see the mailbox and the edge of the concrete in my rear or side view mirror and it’s tight without overstepping the concrete or hitting the mailbox or stones, then I’m good. It doesn’t matter if I miss the mailbox by an inch as long as I miss it.

 

The mailbox is my guide. And we all need guides.

 

A son needs a father. A daughter needs a mother.  A man needs a mentor. We all need Jesus. 

 

When life gets hard we need someone who lives a life and offers an example of where we should be headed. To get us through the hard times when everything seems backwards.

 

My wife is often mine. She’s about the most steady eddie person I know and she seeks the Lord every day.  She’s wise. I can trust her.

 

But we all need one. If you’re a father or a mother, it’s your job. Do it. 

  

My Favorite Place

Sandra and I were recently eating out and I commented that it’s my new favorite place. 

But now I can’t remember where it was. Sad, huh? Just turned 48 but you would think I could remember anything pertaining to food. 

I was hoping to take my daughter, uh, what’s her name…Keely…yeah, that’s it there tonight. 

Hard Jobs

Some jobs are hard. And not fun. That’s why the company has a perpetual job posting on LinkedIn and Monster or maybe just a sign on the door.

People are quitting all the time. But let’s assume that although the job is hard, the company is great. What could happen to the person who stuck it out? He didn’t quit. Instead, he worked with a smile and a great attitude and did the job with excellence.

The owner or manager knows it’s a hard job. Wouldn’t that person stand out as exceptional? Wouldn’t he be the one that management wants to reward and promote? Again, assuming it’s a great company.
Exceptional people aren’t exceptional because they follow the same routines as the ordinary. They do the extraordinary. And with that comes extraordinary rewards

You Might Be Blessed, Too

  
So you already know it’s my birthday. It’s such a momentous occasion, it calls for a 2 post day. 

I don’t just spend my birthday self-absorbed. I feel a double obligation to please my readers. 
All 3 of you. 
But I’ve had several people wish me happy birthday. By text, email, phone. And it caused me to think.
I am blessed. 
Life is busy. 10 hour workdays, long commutes, house cleaning, dinner prep, fantasy sports tracking, child raising, etcetera. But I’ve had several people press pause on the daily grind to think of me. And a few gave gifts. My brother in law and best friend, Joel rearranged his life at the drop of a hat to take an impulsive beach trip with me that I was prepared to go alone. And he’s paying for everything. 
I am blessed. I already said that, didn’t I? 
It’s just so profound. And I don’t take any of it for granted. 
If more than one person slows the roll on their life to pass along birthday wishes to you, you are blessed. 
Thank you all. 

It’s My Birthday

I get the cake and the presents, but it was my mom who did all the hard work.

 

The morning sickness, the bulging waistline, the months of carrying the extra weight, the
fat clothes, the labor pains, THE pain. And if all that’s not enough, I’m born on a rainy Sunday morning. She has to miss church.

 

But I get the chocolate cheesecake and ice cream.

 

It doesn’t seem quite fair.

 

Someone please call my mother today to congratulate her on the finest work she’s ever done.

 

Thanks, mom.  

Keely, The Graduate 

  

Keely graduated high school Saturday and the following is my prepared speech for her. I’m very proud of her and I’m posting it here so that she’ll never forget.

 

To really know Keely is to really love and admire her. But it’s not that easy to get to know her. One might think she’s shy, but that’s not really the case at all. She is quiet, reserved and wise beyond her years. She is a rock. Self-assured, calm, slow to speak and slow to act. Which explains the 20 hour labor she put her mother through. 

 

She is about the most content person I know. She loves people and being around others, but she’s just as happy to be home wrapped in a blanket watching tv alone, except for our
dog, Toby who will be buried deep in her blanket at all times. Her name Keely means beautiful and one look at her and you know she lives up to that name, but more than that is her beautiful spirit. And everyone in this room is blessed enough to know her and know that is so true.

 

I really don’t have much wise fatherly advice to give her. She’s taught me as much I’ve taught her.

One example is from almost 6 years ago when she was just 12 years old. We had been visiting several churches over a period of a few months, including Elevation Church. One day Keely approached Sandra and I and told us that we could keep visiting other churches but she was done. She was only going to Elevation from now on and if we couldn’t take her, she would catch a ride with her Uncle Joel. She wasn’t asking. She was politely telling us in her determined sweet way. I looked at Sandra and said that I didn’t feel God leading us anywhere else, so why not  go with it? Keely immediately joined Miss Denise’s small group, joined a volunteer team and 6 years later, she’s still involved with both. In fact, she is now a student leader on the volunteer team.

 So, I can only counsel her as my Heavenly Father has counseled me.

 

You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

You are an overcomer.

You are more than a conqueror.

You are a friend of God.

All things are possible for you.

You are free from condemnation.

All things can work out good for you.

You don’t have a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind.

God will complete the good work He has started in you.

 

You are a child of the King and that makes you a princess. You are royalty. As a father I have
tried to protect and guard you as tightly as I have been able to because you are a valuable and precious jewel. I said before that you are a rock and you are, Keely, but your more than that. You’re not an ordinary rock. You are rare
and polished and smooth and you shine brightly in a world that is becoming over run by darkness.

 

Love others, but don’t ever sell yourself short. Don’t compromise who you are to please anyone else. Always live to please the Lord and that is more than enough. 

I love you, Keely.

.333

A baseball player can win a batting title hitting .333. He can be the best hitter in baseball and be unsuccessful 2 out 3 times.

Will just finished his first season of kid pitch and in his last game he walked both times at bat. The game before he walked twice and the same the game before that. He was pretty discouraged.

There’s no glory in taking a base on balls. I told him that it’s as good as a hit. But not a double or a triple or a home run, he said. Well…

So I tried to explain that while hits are great, most batters will strike out, ground out or fly out most times. But he is showing a high level of patience and skill as a hitter by making the pitcher earn every at bat. Other boys in the league swing at anything in this county and half of Mecklenburg.

But he’s getting on base a lot and you can’t help your team if you’re not on base. Such is life. Much like walks in baseball. Day in day out. Not many doubles, triples and very few home runs. No fanfare. But a lot of patience and hard work. And very few strikeouts.

Get up. Chop wood. Go to bed. Just trying to get on base to help the team.

Sometimes it’s discouraging. Then you look back over the years and the kids you’ve raised and the friends you’ve made. And you realize.

I’ve helped build a winning team.

Too Many Words

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It’s a can of Febreze. It should be as easy as point, spray and sniff.

But look at all of the words. What could they possibly be trying to tell me? Or warn me about? Should I really use a product that looks this complicated?

It’s like the prescription medicine commercials with 90 seconds of fast talking disclaimers. I feel queasy after hearing all of the possible side effects.

I can only handle 140 characters! Don’t they know that?

Some studies show that women speak about 20,000 words a day, while men speak only 7,000. What the study doesn’t say is that men stop listening at about 10,000.

It’s information overload. It’s why we grunt and point and generally have annoyed expressions on our faces by 2pm every day.

Just saying. In so many words.

New Days

I’m not in love with mornings because they symbolize the end of sleep. And I love sleep.

But I do love new days. Each new day is a fresh start. A redo. A reboot. Maybe I messed up on my diet today, but I can start over tomorrow. I didn’t get to the gym today, but tomorrow is a new day. I didn’t finish the project today, but I’ll attack it with fresh energy in the morning. Your mess up today can be a restart tomorrow.

It’s a guilt free way to live life. It’s giving ourselves the grace that God gives us.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day and all of the progress you’ve made won’t be lost in one day either. Just don’t get in a habit of always putting it off until tomorrow.

Happy Sweet 16, Shaz!

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My baby girl turns 16 today. There is a certain sadness seeing her grow up. All parents understand what I mean. But yet I’m excited to see the person she’s becoming. She’s a bright star whose light radiates onto others when they are around her. They see something special in her and about her. Complete strangers have prayed for her just from seeing her in a photograph.

I am so proud of Shelby. What I can’t give her in wealth or with a last name she earns by her terrific attitude, strength of character and winning personality. It’s a better formula anyway.

Happy birthday, Shaz! I love you deeply.

Staying

My dad just turned 78. He may not make it to 79. He’s held together by a pacemaker, a defibulator, a breathing machine, insulin and a cocktail of other medications. I doubt that he remembers the last day he didn’t have an ache.

Father’s Day is coming up and I wanted to acknowledge him.

I’ve been married for 23 years and a parent for 18. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned to appreciate about my father is that he stayed. He was always there. Nothing against my mother, but it’s hard to stay. The pressures of a husband and a father are immense and then there are the temptations that can lead to destruction. Staying is not easy. That’s why half don’t, even in the Christian community.

But my dad has stayed. For 58 years. Damn, that’s a long time.

We don’t have long, intimate conversations or man to man talks. I’m still waiting on “the” talk, but no pressure. I think I figured it out. We’ve never talked much. I’ m not sure that he knows how to talk to me and I sure don’t know how to talk to him.

But he stayed. His father didn’t stay. His father left when my dad was a young boy. So, he didn’t learn staying from a legacy. He learned it from love. I’d like to say that this staying is love for the wife, but that’s not always the story. It’s love for the kids. I saw this love a few times even though it has rarely been spoken. Once when I was 18 and stupid, I was about to drop out of college. I stopped by his work to tell him. I think he had to sign the forms (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered to tell him). He didn’t tell me not to drop out, but said that he wished I wouldn’t. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. He wanted better for me. I never turned in the papers.

I stayed.

But staying for him couldn’t have been easy. My 2 older sisters gave my parents hell as teenagers. Sorry, sisters, but it’s true.

Even the easiest of kids make staying difficult. Staying is about sacrifice. Putting family first. Doing without the boat to buy the braces. And this is not human nature. That’s why the world is full of leavers. But not my dad. He stayed.

And he’s still staying. To the end. Finishing the race. Teaching his kids that it can be done.

And should be done.

Ok, So What Now?

Sometimes I wonder if major technological breakthroughs are a product of boredom.

Tech nerds and engineers looked at a perfectly good bag phone in 1992 and thought, “ok, now what?”

“Hey, I wonder if we could make that fit in our pocket?”

So they invented baggy jeans that people wore hanging down to their…umm, just above their knees. Flip phones were next, of course.

Bored with that and tired of carrying cameras in their fanny packs, the nerds (on breaks from playing Dungeons and Dragons) came up with the genius notion of taking pictures with the telephone device.

And the rest is history. Now no one hardly talks on it all.

People don’t talk much period. We text. We email. We update our Facebook statuses and like each other there and on Instagram, but we don’t talk. We have 439 friends on social media that we haven’t had real face to face time with since the last episode of Friends.

It may be no surprise that suicides have increased by 20% over the past decade.

There’s something that the nerds can’t improve on. They can’t engineer a replacement for it.

Intimacy.

It was God’s idea that this human need be fulfilled in relationship with other humans.

It was pretty clever thousands of years ago. And it still is.

Why don’t you text an old friend an invitation for lunch?

A Higher Power

Sometimes your vendor consistently underperforms.

You can choose to vent your frustrations and maybe you’ll be heard. Chances are that you’re not the only customer who has received similar poor service and the complaints have already been lodged and the vendor hasn’t changed.

You could complain again or you could yield to a higher power. The power to choose another vendor.

Psalm 91

Do you thank God for the things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t? Or could have been worse, but weren’t.
I tend to thank Him for the things that go well. I thank Him for the blessings, the healings, the times He rescues my bank account from the 97 cents balance.
But to thank Him for all of the infinite possibilities of things that could have gone wrong but didn’t would take a lifetime and a heck of an imagination. Which He deserves.
As a creative exercise, take 5 minutes to brainstorm all of the things that God protected you from since you woke this morning.
I usually like a strong or cute ending to these posts, but I struggled with this one which I started last night. Then I opened my Bible app this morning and the verse of the day was from Psalm 91:1, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” I decided to open and read the full chapter.

HAVE TO DO’S AND WANT TO DO’S

For a 10 year stretch of my adult life in my late 20’s and 30’s, I had to get up each morning at 4am just to get enough of my work done to stay perpetually and painfully behind.

Thank God that’s over.

Just like then, I still sleep until I have to get up. However, now it’s 7-7:30.

It’s early enough to get almost everything done that I have to do, but it’s not early enough to get done what I want to do.

Have to do’s vs. want to do’s.

The want to do’s don’t win because it requires sacrificing sleep. And as my friend Arthur says, sleep is delicious. As is sin for a season.

But occasionally I’ll pump myself up to get up super early again, say 4-4:30am, so I can do the want to do’s-workout, read the Word, pray, write, etcetera. Then the next morning, exhausted from the insanely long day before (and I’m not 30 years old anymore) I pound on the snooze bar until it breaks and I wake up guilt-ridden and deflated at 7:30.

Then it takes 7 months to psych myself into tackling the want to do’s again. There has to be a better way.

There is. It’s The Slight Edge. I’ve referred before to the book by Jeff Olson.

I am going to slight edge my sleep. Instead of trying to capture super-size chunks of time in the morning even before God wakes up, I’m going to set my alarm for 1 hour earlier than normal. I’ll use that hour for the want to do’s and over the course of 1 year I’ll have invested 365 hours in them. Or maybe I’ll sleep late on Sundays and still have 313 hours towards my want to do’s. As Olson comments, this type of small decision changes the trajectory of your life.

I’m hoping that the 2 competing lists will become one. Doing the want to do list will result in such compounding, gratifying progress that it becomes a have to do habit.

Charles Stanley said that discipline determines your destiny. But discipline starts with a decision. And I get to make that decision each morning at 6 o’clock.

Running

I imagine that the first mile of a marathon is easier than the last. I can only imagine because it’s not something I will ever do.

I wasn’t born with the crazy gene.

But life is a race. It starts the day we’re born and ends the day we die.

The Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9‬:‭24‬ NASB)

But not everyone is winning the race. Not everyone finishes strong. The last mile is harder than the first. Life is not easy. We stumble. We fall. Our knees and elbows get scraped and some people give up. They crawl to their deaths. Others dust themselves off, get up and keep running.

It’s what you must do especially if your race has spectators, because those people are more than spectators.

They are the prize.