"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Really Makes a Difference?

I'd love to be more original in my sharing of what I'm learning but why when someone you know says it so well. So once again I'm going to share a portion of my friend, Arlin's morning e-mail. First, I think you'll find his answer to his question what are "10 Things I Accidentally Learned Along the Way" of 25 years in the technology business. Arlin's business is successful and growing so I find his thoughts very interesting. See what you think.

"After catching up some of the desk items that piled up the last couple weeks, it was time to work on finalizing some of my presentations for the big shows – and the main focus was on the deck I am presenting for the ConnectWise Partner Summit which follows our HTG event immediately in the same hotel.  As I worked to reduce the content I had pulled together it occurred to me that much has changed in the 25 years I have worked in IT.  My topic for two breakout sessions I am leading is “10 Things I Accidentally Learned Along the Way”.  It is the top ten list of learning’s I have had leading a company the past quarter century.  Remember that we are a technology company – have always been one – and as I pondered and prayed about what ten things mattered it was a bit shocking.  Not one of the top ten things I have learned really has anything to do with technology at all.  Over the last 25 years I have spent thousands of hours learning speeds and feeds, sat through hundreds of presentations on the latest and coolest gadgets and hardware, seen the development of things like the Internet, mobile phones, notebook computers, PDA’s and dozens of really useful and cool technologies.  But when I boiled down the things that really matter – technology didn’t even make the list.  I am not sure it would even make the list in the top twenty things I have learned. 
So what did?  In a word – every learning that really makes a difference has to do with people.  That caught me a bit off guard.  The keys to success and growth have not been about chasing the latest cool and shiny objects – it has been around taking care of business which inevitably means people stuff.  I expected that the top items would focus that way – but never expected all ten of my top learning’s would be about everything except technology.  It will be interesting to see what the response is to my presentation.  It is a technology event after all, and attendees may expect some words around that topic.  But the reality is that we live and serve people and the technology is just a tool to get that job done.
Sunday night in small group we finished our series on work.  The lesson was rather powerful as we were challenged to get our life-work balance in order.  The key point is that there are only a few things that we alone can do.  That no one else can come close to replacing us in.  I submit there are but three:

1.     Our relationship with God
2.     Our relationship with our spouse
3.     Our relationship with our kids

Andy Stanley makes the point a few dozen times that when we make the CHOICE to spend our time on work and effectively ignore our other responsibilities – we are cheating those we love of what they deserve.  We are in fact cheating them of what God intends.  No one can have your personal relationship with God, spouse or kids but YOU.  So while we try and justify the reasons why we spend so much time on other things, there is no excuse.  It is a choice.  We try and make it sound spiritual by asking God to step in and replace us at home – but it doesn’t cut it.  We have to take back our time and our focus.  There is enough time for all that matters if we make the right choices.  Are you?  I know often I didn’t and still don’t.  But I have made some major changes and am confident that God is honoring that effort."

I totally agree with all of this and can say I have made some changes in the past few years and have even more to make. I think this is all about the daily choices. It's great to have an anniversary date or an annual vacation with your family. But what do you do daily? Do you know what's going on in your kid's life? Do you tell your spouse daily that you love them and appreciate them? Do you come home and actually engage with family members or do you head to the TV or computer? What do YOU think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Share what you know

So what do I know, really know that I can live out in my life. I know, "I am convinced"that nothing can separate me from the love of God. (see Romans 8:38-39)  Since I know that is true I can have peace. Peace because God who knows me from the inside out really loves me. Because I know He loves me, I know He wants the best for me. So I am going to trust Him with my day. (and my life)

Today that means starting a new job, new co-workers and a new setting. Today is a fresh start, just like everyday. I am going to trust that God has ordained this day, these people, this situation for me. I'm going to watch for Him to surprise me today. Has He surprised you lately? Encourage someone today. Share how God has surprised you? Share what you know.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Too Much Learning??

This comment from Rick Warren's teaching at the Desiring God Conference earlier this month jumped out at me.  "You only believe in the part of the Bible that you actually do. We're supposed to be doers of the word and not hearers only. The problem today is that we are teaching too much. We're learning more than we can do. There's a wide gap between knowing and doing in America Christianity. It's because we're teaching too much."

I immediately thought of our farmer friend that I've quoted before. He told Mark during harvest one year, I already know more about farming than I'll ever be able to do.

I wonder what would happen if we actually started to use the knowledge of God that we have? If we actually lived like we believe, really believe we are sinners saved by God's grace. I think it's easier for us to "do." To go to church or another Bible Study, give a little money in the offering, work hard and don't party too much is something to make us feel like we're good people. It just occurred to me that it sounds like my goal is to let everyone know how good I am. Sad. My life should be reflecting how GREAT God is.

Don't get me wrong, I believe we need to keep learning but not just for the sake of appearances or to make ourselves feel good. Our goal is to get to know God, to have a relationship with Him. If our goal is to get to know God better, just like getting to know a new friend, we will spend time with Him. We won't rush through each meeting. We'll listen to Him and watch for Him. As we do, it will change our life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Work, Ministry...Ministry, Work...

Okay, I admit I'm one of those people who have talked about "work" separate from "ministry" - but it's not true. This article really says it well. Very timely for me as I return to "work" 1/2 time in the very near future.

From Worklife Coaching newsletter
 Working Christians often hear a call to "capture the boardrooms for Jesus" or to "transform the marketplace for Christ."  Those missions miss the mark entirely. We should not aspire to be a Christian workplace but rather a workplace filled with Christians. The battle is about character, not culture.
The difference is huge. The distinction is significant. Becoming a Christian workplace focuses our energies on capturing control of an organization or institution, thinking if we control its structure we assure ourselves a God-honoring environment. Unfortunately, experience (and sinful human nature) has taught us the same workplace stresses, struggles, and foibles exist in Christian organizations that are found in corporate workplaces.
We burn off energy targeting influential people because we believe their positions offer us a chance to capture the environments they control. Instead of seeing those influential people as sinners needing Christ (or Christians needing encouragement), we see them as means to an end, tools to be used for objectives we set.
Our goals should always be grassroots in nature, focused on individuals and not institutions. Our objective must always be to introduce others to Christ and to encourage those who already know Christ to grow in their understanding of His call on their lives.
Revival sweeps a culture one person at a time. It starts when an auditor decides she cares so much for the other workers on her team that she swallows her fears and begins to share Christ with them. It grows when a programmer moves alongside another programmer and helps him grow in his budding faith. It is enhanced when Christians in the workplace begin to let their faith influence their individual actions on the job. And revival can really explode when the followers of Christ in a corporation commit themselves to honoring each other rather than fighting the finer points of faith, so others see the bonds that bind and not the dogma that divides.
We do not need a movement that sweeps like a glacier through the culture of our work worlds. We need one person deciding to completely surrender herself to Christ, inspiring one more person to surrender himself completely to Christ, inspiring one more person to surrender...and so on.
Then those who don't know Christ will see Christ in us, and some of them will want to know Him, too.  Let our faith today not be governed by a desire to control institutions but a desire to honor God and a desire to lead coworkers we care about from the terrible fate that awaits them in an eternity separated from Him.
What do you think?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Life with Faith?

I LOVE THIS QUESTION! What are you doing in your life right now that requires faith?  I'd really love to hear your answers. seemingly little, big it makes no difference. Just think about it, what are you doing that requires faith?

When I was in school I remember my choir teacher throwing me in with a bunch of Seniors to sing for state contest. I quivered in my shoes every time we practiced. They were so intimidating but they needed a sixth person - She chose me. So I showed up. I just had to believe she knew what she was doing and that she wouldn't let them kill me. I'm still alive. My faith in Miss Fields was rewarded.

Today I can say I have faith that even though it looks like I'm returning to some regular nursing hours that the Lord will enable me to have the time and strength to be healthy, enjoy the life He's given me and do the things He asks me to do.  It's a bit scary for me as I've been "over done" many times in the past by my own poor choices. Today I can say I'm trusting the Lord is working it all out and that HE will enable me.

So what about you? What are you doing that requires faith?

"Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."  Hebrews 11:6

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Following with Glad Anticipation, really?

So in a season of many questions/decisions I open up a little devotional book, Jesus Calling, that I am currently using to start my thoughts toward God yesterday and it says, "Be willing to follow wherever I lead. (Okay, I tell God that I'm willing to follow His lead pretty often) Follow Me wholeheartedly, (ALL of my heart) with glad anticipation (really? glad anticipation? I'm supposed to be glad?) quickening your pace. (because I'm excited to follow the Lord. Anticipating what/where He is taking me) Though you don't know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough! (inserts mine)

So I must admit I'm wrestling with this between my head and my heart.  I know, that I know, that I know, that God is in charge. He has a plan. He is a good God, a loving God, a creative God. I know that I cannot control everything, that I make plans, and that I have a limited viewpoint as well as capacity for creativity. I know that all in my head. Now it's my heart that needs to learn to live with that knowledge.
I do know that I am learning. I'm learning to stop that crazy, going in circles thinking by asking God to take it over. God is surprising me daily by the people and stories He brings into my everyday that remind me of our need for Him. Yesterday I read a newsletter from an single young woman who has moved to China. She saw some "Ugg" type boots in a window. Went in to check it out and found that they had her size, which she says is unusual. She didn't have enough money with her to buy them at that time so she headed out with her friend thinking she would come back another time and get them. However, she wasn't far out of the store and felt the Holy Spirit urging her to go back and get them. "Really? Borrow money from a new friend? Surely not." But after a short time she did ask her friend to borrow the money, turned around and went back to get them. In doing so she met 4 new people and had significant conversations with each one of them.  Point being, if God can use boot shopping to arrange significant meetings, He can use our most daily, ordinary activities. Hmmm, it's my daily activities that I currently have so many pending decisions.

"Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait for Him to act." Psalm 37:7  Also note, 2 Cor. 5:7,
Psalm 96:6, John 8:12, and Psalm 36:9 if you need reinforcement.

Are you listening? What do you hear? Share a time you heard God.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Surprise Question

So my latest "surprise" from God is a question I read in Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love". I'll paraphrase it, if you were to go to heaven today and find that it is everything you dreamed of, no cancer, no bullys, no lies and everyone you loved was there but Jesus was not there, would you be satisfied? Wow, that one caught me by surprise and I haven't been able to "shake" the thought. Honestly, I'm not sure of my answer. We all "know" the right answer, but is that my answer?

If I am focused on really getting to know God my whole perspective changes. When I focus on Him in my day, the circumstances don't sway me so far. I don't get so frustrated when my day is interrupted and I don't get everything on my list done. Why? Well, because as I get to know God I'm learning how much He loves me and knows me. He had  plan for all my days before I was even born. (Psalm 139:16) He only wants what is best for me. Not only what is good for me, but what is best for me. I just need to get to know Him better so that trusting comes easier. If I focus on Him, nothing that happens in my day can rob me of my joy of knowing Him. My situation can change and I don't have to be happy about the situation but my day is not ruined because my heart knows that God is still in charge and He is looking out for me. He loves ME!

"And this is eternal life (it means) to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with and understand) You, the only true and real God, and (likewise) to know Him, Jesus (as the) Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah) whom you have sent." John 17:3 Amplified Version

John Piper says, "God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him." Hmmm, the question is am I satisfied in Him. What do you think?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm still asking, what do you do with what you know?

So what do you do with what you know? My observation is that a lot of us just keep collecting knowledge and/or waiting for _______(you fill in the blank) to happen and then I'll __________.(again, you fill in the blank)  If you don't believe that, look around your home. I bet you are like me and you'll see several projects that aren't done, some not even started. Why? Because you are waiting for something. Is that really how you want to live?

I've had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Phil Vischer's family a bit. The following is a quote from his web site. www.philvischer.com

"This morning in my devotions I was rereading the notes I had taken from Henry Blackaby's study on the book of Samuel, and I came across this quote from Mr. Blackaby:
"To tell the people that He is with us in all of His power when there is no evidence of it in our lives is a betrayal to God's people."
This convicted me when I first read it 7 years ago, and it convicted me again this morning.  It's so easy for us as leaders to stand up in front and proclaim God's awesome power.  They hear it in our messages and our praise choruses.  But do they see it in our lives?  I mean, really?  Is God's power visible in our lives?  Or is it just lip service?

But… this will only reach its potential if God shows up in it.  If His power is manifest in this work, and, more importantly, in my life.  Am I just giving God lip service?  Just repeating things I've heard in a million praise choruses?  Or am I bearing witness to a God who has made Himself present in my life?  Am I focusing on the work, or on God?
How about you guys?  The world doesn't need to see how clever we are.  The world needs to see the manifest presence of God in our lives.  The power of God.  On the canvas of humanity. (emphasis mine) It doesn't matter what comes out of my mouth, if it isn't coming out in my life.
Thanks for the reminder, Henry."

Besides the fact that he is reviewing notes from Henry Blackaby one of my favorite author/teachers, he is asking the same question I am asking. Do you know God? If you do, how does that relationship make a difference in your life, your daily life? What do others see?

P.S. Check out Phil's web site and see his newest project "What's In the Bible"DVD's.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What do you do with what you know?

So what fun is there in knowing something if you don't do anything with it?  I mean, I'm sitting in a room with a couple of files full of great colored paper, multiple cutting tools, adhesives, markers and TONS of photos. I know how to use all of those things to create scrapbooks full of wonderful memories. However, at this moment there are so many photos, papers and adhesives that I haven't used in a long time that it's hard to get started. After all it could take months of full-time scrapbooking to get caught up and then you've got to maintain your scrapping. And none of this takes into account learning to really use your new camera with a ton of great features. Overwhelming, so it just doesn't get done, even though I really like doing it when I do, do it. Really!  Exercising can be the same way, but let's not get started down that road....

That's what I'm thinking about this morning. One time a farmer friend of ours told my husband while discussing the many new features on his new combine, "I already know enough about farming that I'm not putting into practice. I don't need one more new thing!"  Sometimes I think we miss out on really getting to know and live with God because we just keep trying to see one more "new thing". Don't get me wrong, it's okay to keep learning but only if you use what you learn.  I love books and I can get snagged in just by a title. Bible Studies and conferences can be the same way.  I get drawn in and I just have to go! For other people there are just too many choices of things to do. It's overwhelming.

This morning I read "Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. Psalm 37:7   Hmmm, "be still in His presence". Be with Him. He is with me, but I have to acknowledge that.  I need to soak in His presence. It makes me smile just to think of Him sitting here with me.  I don't have to rush to the next book (I've already read from 3 different books + the Bible this morning).
I just need to soak in His words and watch Him act, follow His lead.