Keep Looking Up

Looking UpThe world sure seems dark lately.  Every time I turn on the news, there’s mainly negative stories talked about.  Folks are getting killed, children are being abused and tragic accidents are happening daily.

The culture seems to be in a tailspin.  The lines that separate right from wrong are often blurred at best.

It’s as though we’re on this never-ending roller coaster, going faster and faster in the wrong direction.

Some may disagree, but I just can’t see how this downward spiral can go unnoticed.

I could go on and on about evil overtaking the world.  I could vent about injustice.  I could focus on the bad instead of dwelling on the good.

There’s a fine balance to consider: focusing on the good, while still being aware of the ever-present bad.  A sway in either direction isn’t productive.

Hopelessness can be found when our purpose is unclear.  When this world, with it’s expectations and pressures, seems overwhelming.  When perspective is lost.

What keeps me sane (most of the time) is my faith in Jesus.  I trust that things are temporary and I trust that in the end, good wins.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of worry and frustration, isn’t it?  Wondering what the future holds not only for us, but for our children and generations beyond.

We need to keep good footing friends.  God is certainly in control, even when life doesn’t seem that way.

Practically speaking, we simply need to keep looking up.  We need to turn our entitlement to thankfulness.  We need to turn the dang news off and go for a walk.  We need to talk to God about life and even vent a little bit….He can handle it.  When negativity tries to sneak in like oil in a puddle….resist it, kick it in the pants, fight it with good things and good thoughts.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

Sure, life is dark and dismal at times, but that’s just reality.  Let’s counteract the darkness with goodness.  Let’s bring good flavor to our communities and light to dim rooms.  Let’s give stuff away and serve others.  Let’s embrace one another, despite our differences.  Let’s take the focus off our petty selves and change the world.  God is limitless and He loves to use willing people to carry out His purposes.

The choice is ours really.  Let’s dwell on the victory that’s ours for the taking.  God is good.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

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Campfire

campfirebeachsmallMy family just got back from a much-needed beach trip.  It was rejuvenating to say the least.

We ate, we laughed, we walked, we strolled, we kicked sand, we created memories.

I’ve wanted to have a campfire on the beach for a long time.  There’s something nostalgic about fires, sticks and s’mores.  Maybe it’s the sound of the ocean.  Maybe it’s the smoke-marinated clothes.  Maybe it’s the common bond of sitting around an open flame, sometimes silently.  I think it’s a mix of all 3.  Actually for me, there’s another factor……my sons.

For some reason, building a campfire on the beach is something that I want my boys to remember.  I want them to remember the long walk from the hotel to the beach, toting the wood, skewers and other supplies.  I want them to remember finding the perfect spot to gather.  I want them to remember crumpling up the paper, carefully placing the kindling and clicking the lighter.  I want them to remember the anticipation of dad finally opening the bag of marshmallows.  I want them to remember my hand on theirs as we gently, tactically toast up that perfect, toasty ball of sugar.  Lastly, I want them to remember the love shared.

There’s so many more “campfire” moments that I hope to share with my sons.  I didn’t learn a lot of “manly stuff” growing up, but I’m figuring it out as I go.

The actual “stuff” that I teach them isn’t what’s most important.  Love should be the fuel behind every memory.  Them sensing that love is what’s most important.

Someday, I hope to see them creating loving memories with their own families.  Maybe they’ll have their own “campfire” moments.  As long as love motivates them, even the simplest of times will ignite memories for generations.

God Bless,

Paul

When’s Risk Worth It?

boy and girlIt was a normal day, well kind of.  I was downstairs in my basement, heart beating, pulse thumping, sweat beading…..I was going to ask a girl out over the phone.

I met her at church camp and a crush developed.  To be honest, I thought she was way out of my league, but I had to give it a shot.

The conversation paused, my senses were keen and the musty smell of the concrete room faded away.  I took a quick glance over my shoulder to make sure nobody was around.  I had to spit it out….so I did.  “Will you go out with me?”  The pause was long, torturous and agonizing.  All I could do was play with the phone cord and wait for the response…and so it came: “I’ll call you back, I have to think about it.”  Well, it wasn’t a definite “no”, but it surely wasn’t even close to a “yes.”  Crap!

A while later, she called back and declined the invitation to be my girlfriend.  I was pretty darn bummed and a little embarrassed.  It’s part of life though.  Even our worst times can contribute to our best times.

My attempt at high school romance was a risk.  It didn’t quite end as I hoped it would and that’s ok.  Isn’t that the nature of risk?

I could have never asked at all.  It would have been the safer option.  In my eyes, the possible reward was greater than the risk, so I gave it a go.

Here’s the thing, I believe risk always comes with a reward.  Even if the result is completely different from what was anticipated, there’s always a lesson to be learned.  That’s priceless.

I’m a safe guy by nature and I prefer comfort and predictability.  It’s taken many years to break myself of the temptation to just sit on the sidelines.  Sure, I’m more conservative than most folks, but I’m learning to loosen the chains a bit.

Just to be clear, there is a big difference between taking a risk and being reckless.  God’s given us all a brain for a reason……finding the balance between playing it safe and “getting our feet wet” is the key.

We’re all faced with opportunities to step outside the box.  Whether it be involving our faith, careers, relationships or whatever.  Those who have made the greatest impact in our world have taken risks….some have been more calculated than others.

We can all feel the nudge to take a step forward.  The question is this: will you have the courage to take that step?

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s God’s Job, Not Ours

Talk and coffeeHave you ever had someone cram their beliefs down your throat?  It’s almost as though they’re more concerned about forcing their opinion vs. lovingly sharing what has changed their lives.

I’m pretty much referring to Christians, but this can apply to any religion or belief structure.

As a Christian, I have fallen into this trap.  I’ve placed an unneeded weight on my shoulders, as if changing people’s hearts was actually possible by my strength alone.  Man, was I wrong!

Winning, or attempting to win an argument is very different from having a loving conversation.

What if we all actually trusted the God that we serve?  What if, instead of trying to be “spiritual superheroes”, we actually just let Christ’s love flow through us?

Afterall, it’s not our job to save souls, that’s God’s job.  All we’re called to do as “Christians” is to share Jesus and live a life that represents Him…..that’s it.  It’s simple really.

We get so afraid though.  We’re afraid of rejection, of not knowing enough, of offending somebody.  All the while, we forget that our Creator is alive and well.  We limit His power because of our own infirmities and shortcomings.

Here’s the honest truth: GOD DOESN’T NEED OUR HELP TO REACH PEOPLE.  HE ALLOWS US TO JOIN HIM IN HIS MISSION.

If Jesus Christ has changed your life, share it, live it!  Along with the folks who reject Him, there are those seeking truth.  God has set folks in your path for a reason.

Many people will reject Jesus and His teaching.  People may reject you and I as well.  It’s ok, it really is!  Love ’em anyways.

Sadly, those who reject Jesus are often shunned by those who claim to believe in Him.  That goes against the very essence of Jesus’s teachings and it’s not right.

As far as you and I are concerned, let’s just share, love and let God take care of the rest.  There’s freedom in that.

God Bless,

Paul