Equipping the Called

A friend recently learned that her car was equipped with a remote starter—on the day she went to trade it in. I can relate: I’ve had my iPhone for eight months and just realized that I can print from it.

I often say that when we make the most of what we have, God blesses us with more. But what if we don’t know what we have? What then? Does a lack of knowledge let us off the hook for all consequences?

Ignorance is not bliss if it keeps us from enjoying the blessings that are ours for the taking. … Like a warm vehicle in the winter. … And a phone that lives up to its potential.

Maybe that’s why God works through His spirit to give us a hand—or a timely whisper. I read once that the brain can’t help but answer a question once it’s been asked. Having repeatedly found this to be true, I have to wonder if God does this as a reminder that He can be trusted to do the same.

Even when we don’t know it, God is at work behind the scenes to meet our deepest needs. The Beatles weren’t kidding when they sang that all we need is love. God’s love—and a little initiative on our part—is all we need to find answers to even the most perplexing problems. Like today when Katie asked me to help her get the wireless printer to work with our home computer. After I searched the internet for solutions, attempted to reload the printer driver, and called Apple for support, my oldest said: “That’s one thing I love about being in this family: You know how to fix things when they stop working.”

“I don’t know what to do,” I confessed.

“You sure look like you do.”

What Katie saw as confidence was really a reliance on the One that all of us should be turning to. Matthew 7:7 promises that when we take the first step, God will lead us to the next one and the next until everything we need to do gets done. And although the pace is rarely as fast as we would like, those who keep following. … and trusting. … will eventually see every wrong made right.

That’s what happened to me when, as a last resort, I reset the cable router and our printer sprang to life. To her excitement and my surprise, Katie’s e-reader also started working for the first time in over a week.

The saying is true. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And when we do our best and trust Him with the rest, He will exceed our expectations every time.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7b

Influencers

In a recent e-mail from Bill Hybels, he challenged me and thousands of other readers to think of the person who influenced us the most during our first 18 years and breathe a prayer of gratitude to God for the impact they had on our lives. This request caused me to pull out a recently completed self-coaching exercise where I identified my top ten needs and the positive or negative ways that I attempted to meet them. As I reviewed the list, it became clear that everything I valued now could be traced to something that was missing at one time or another from my life.

Most would view these unmet needs as a negative thing, but I have a different opinion after seeing the good that has come as a result of them. I am passionate about progress, for example, because as a child I saw the effect of making none. And I include as many people as possible when planning events because, growing up, I often felt left out.

We say that we don’t want anything bad to happen to us, but without the trial there would be no triumph. And although looking back to see where we’re headed sounds like an oxymoron, we’ll never grow in the direction God is leading us by looking to where others have gone.

It is our past that leads to our purpose, not someone else’s. Knowing this gives new meaning to Proverbs 22:6 because training up a child in the way he should go is about, not just discipline, but discernment. Every consequence we experience, whether brought on by our actions or another person’s, is a lesson in how—or how not—to live.

There’s no way around it: Whether our past makes us bitter or better, either way it defines us so why not choose the route that makes the world a better place to be? That’s what Joseph did in Genesis 50:20 when he forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery because it put him in a position to feed his family and all of Egypt. “You intended to harm me,” he explained, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Joseph was exactly where God needed him to be to make a difference during his time on earth and so are we. So instead of cursing the darkness, let’s choose to be a light as we give thanks, not just for the good influencers, but also for the ones who taught us how not to be.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Top Twenty Tweets of 2011

I started using Twitter in 2009. At first I treated this social networking site as a mini version of Facebook, sharing status updates and personal musings in 140 characters or less. Over time my posts evolved to become a reflection of, not what I’d been up to, but how God was working through circumstances to teach me about life. As we move into a new year, I share my top twenty tweets of 2011 in the hope that they will inspire you to create your own record of lessons learned.

Living with Purpose:

1.  When you can’t do anything about it, do something with it.

2.  Find a way, not an excuse.

3.  Better to fumble around looking for open doors than to grumble about the ones that are closed.

4.   If the person who’s standing in your way is you, maybe it’s time to move.

5.  Be the change you wish to see in the world and, one day, it will.

6.   More important than encouraging kids to pursue their dreams, is showing what it’s like to reach for ours.

7.   The danger of watching too much tv is not the bad habit it produces, but the behavior it prevents. Lack of discipline limits potential.

Relating to Others:

8.   You teach people how to treat you. Create a lesson plan.

9.   Looking good means nothing if you live ugly.

10.  The high road would be a lot easier to take of it wasn’t so uphill.

11.  If the high road is an uphill climb then the low one is a slippery slope. Tread lightly.

12.  If you think that it’s all about you, you’ve thought about it too much.

13.  Getting ahead should never be done by holding others back.

14. When kids won’t do for themselves what they want you to do for them, it’s time for the kids to do without.

Questions to Grow By:

15.  Why is it so easy to let ourselves down if we wouldn’t think of doing it to others? Luke 6:31 applies to us, too.

16.  When you are in an argument, the question is not “Are you right?” but “Do you want to be?” Everything comes at a price, even winning.

17.  Do you ever wonder if the people who exasperate you also frustrate God? Before you answer, ask yourself: Are you one of those people?

18.  Ever feel like everyone has an agenda and God’s not on any one of them?

19.  It’s easy to criticize what happened before us, but are we willing to make the changes necessary to affect those who come after us?

20.  Some people try to use God to get ahead. Others allow God to use them for His glory. Which one are you?

Feel free to post your own life lessons as comments and have a blessed new year.

Too Much of a Good Thing …

I believe that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. And for every questionable action there is the risk of an equally adverse reaction. It is in this spirit of avoiding undesirable outcomes that I got after my oldest daughter for slicing a hole in the top of her water bottle.

“Why can’t you unscrew the cap like everyone else?” I asked.

“Because it’s easier to drink out of this way,” Katie said as she stabbed the lid again.

“Not if I have to take you to the hospital for stitches,” I warned.

My words fell on deaf ears as Katie twisted the knife to make the hole bigger and then pulled it out to examine her handiwork. I should have been more stern with her but the truth is that I admired my daughter’s determination and understood her action. All of us, at one time or another, have dismissed direction and taken a stab at finding our own solution to a problem. Sometimes it works to our advantage and other times it works us over to the point where we’re so afraid of getting hurt that we refuse to even try.

I want my kids to realize the dreams that God has planted in their hearts, not hide from them.

Too much of a good thing (even avoiding negative consequences) is definitely a bad thing if it holds us back or hinders our progress. And although I intend to keep poking holes in Katie’s water bottle theory until she finds a safer way to quench her thirst for efficiency, I never want her to stop trying to make the world a better place. Instead I want my oldest—and all of us—to take responsible chances and view mistakes, not as road blocks to avoid, but as guard rails to keep us moving in the right direction. Only then will we reach the place where God’s plan meets our productivity as we put a lid on our fear of failure and say goodbye to the status quo.

Put every system to the test until the good is better and the better is best.


Uphill In An Avalanche

Sometimes I feel like I’m climbing uphill in an avalanche as I work to make progress and wind up with nothing checked off my to-do list. Today was one of those days. All week I’d been waiting for an item I ordered to arrive in the mail. When it finally came, I opened up the package to find that the wrong item had been shipped. Frustrated at the thought of having to return the unwanted product, I decided to get it over.

“Returns Are Easy!” the invoice assured me in large, bold print. I wasn’t so sure when I logged onto the website to find that, although the main page was working for people who wished to make a purchase, screens for returning an item were suspiciously unavailable.

Determined to accomplish something with my day, I turned off my monitor and headed to the van to run a few errands. While I was out I learned that the office supply store closed ten minutes before I arrived, the second office supply store that I tried did not carry what I needed, and a toy that was on sale at my favorite discount store was nowhere to be found. The afternoon was almost over when I returned home with zero errands checked off my To Do list.

What a mess, I thought to myself as I walked upstairs to hang up a shirt that I had purchased while I was out. As I walked into my closet I was struck by how disorganized it was and decided that, although I had no control over the uncertainty outside my home, I could do something about the chaos within it. The next hour was an organizing blur as I purged unwanted clutter. It felt so good to get rid of outdated items that my bad mood lifted, even though the To-Do list remained.

Just like the clothes in our closets, we choose which thoughts to hang onto. When we focus on the good and forget the bad, we show that our days aren’t determined by what happens around us; they are a product of what goes on within us—and maybe we aren’t having such a bad day after all.



A Key Mistake

Romans 8:28 promises that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called
according to his purpose.” Click on the link below to see how God used bad for good when a problematic trip home from New York City led to my first published article.

AAA Living Article

 

For more lessons learned during this trip to New York City, check out the link below.

September 2008 Newsletter

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

(Romans 8:28)