Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ecclesiastes 9:9

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 9:9

I don't know that I have ever REALLY read this verse before. I'm sure I have read it, but not really considered its meaning.  It's not necessarily a joyous verse nor is it a book that many look to for guidance in situations.  Never-the-less, as I think about it, I consider myself blessed to have a wife that I am able to enjoy being with in a life that sometimes does just seem like toil and labor.

There are and have been times in my life when things just don't seem to go as planned.  For one reason or another, life gets complicated.  It is how you live in those complicated times that is important.

I think too often in our lives we forget to enjoy our wives because we let our situations and our lives get in the way.  We see problems, issues, and struggles and forget that Go has actually blessed us and allowed us to have a grounding point in the midst of all that seems to be challenging.

I am ever so thankful for my wife as so many times she has been my grounding point.  I can get so focused on solving a problem and the struggle it will take to fix situations that I forget that God called us to live in the moment and that we can find joy in every situation even if the joy only comes from knowing that we have to trust Him.

As I mentioned a couple times recently, I think we need to be continually be focused on the now and trust that God controls our future.  It is in being able to focus on the now that we can see the blessings He has given us and how rather than taking out our frustrations on our spouse we can truly see them as a blessing from God.

I count myself as blessed.  I have a beautiful wife, who loves God.  She helps me see Him in new ways and is often used by God to ground me and bring me back to where He wants me to be.  I love my wife and appreciate her for allowing God to use her in my life and in the lives of others.  She is truly a reward in my life.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Daily Ration

I shared a video a last week about "green pastures" and how that term has been misunderstood for quite some time.  If you didn't get a chance to watch it, take a couple minutes to watch it, here.

What I want to share today is a few instances of this in my life where I know God has been faithful and how that relates to my life today.

A few years ago, my wife and I were living in a growing community where the median household income is well above $75000 a year and we were living on less that $35,000 with two kids. It was a great community and we were both growing a lot, but the cost of living was always something we couldn't quite catch up with. 

We were good at setting down and writing a budget to try and stay on top of our bills and to try and keep from going deep into debt.  When it was all said and done, our income was always about $300 short of what we knew our bills were going to be.  It was hard, but we had learned how to live on less, but without getting yet another job and being gone all the time, it didn't seem possible to keep up with. 

What we learned during that time was how to really trust in God when it came to our finances.  Every month that gap between our income and our bills was closed as I would be allowed to work just enough over time, I would pick up an additional guitar student, or would be able to sell something on craigslist.  Sometimes I had items listed on craigslist for months and then, the day we were going to need the money, it would sell.

God gave us our daily ration.

I share this, because I am again in a similar spot, where I find myself forgetting that God will provide and that He will give us our daily ration.  It is so easy to want to take control and try to "store up" what I think I will need, but today was another day when I had to say "God, I know you have this.  I am thankful for my daily ration." 

I'm not saying our budget is near like it used to be, by I know within the next few months I am going to need to purchase a new vehicle to transport my growing family.  I want to do all that I can now to make sure that I am saving, finding ways to make extra money, and doing my part in being ready, but I feel like God is saying, "trust me, you will have it when you need it." 

Now I am sure some of you who read this might be thinking that God blesses people and gives more than our daily ration.  While that is true, I believe there is a reason for that. 

There have been countless times in my life where people have helped my family out.  The blessing God gave someone else, turned in to my daily ration.  In the same fashion, there have been times in my life when I knew that the blessings God gave me were to be given to someone else to be their daily rations.

I know there are a lot of people in this world with very little and their daily rations seem so much less than ours.  The spectrum is wide.  Some have just enough and some don't even seem to have that.  What if we looked at our blessings as someone else's and realized we were not meant to keep it. 

I'm not going to say having stuff is wrong, but as a musician friend, Kevin Schlereth, once wrote, "All these possessions are not sufficient for a good life.   All these possessions may even keep you from a good life."  Those words are hard to swallow, but grabbing hold of them sure can make it easier to let go of things you desire when we live in a world that tells us you need more stuff.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Do you ever wonder if sometimes our focus is in the wrong place?

I remember growing up and various church teachers always teaching about how we need to "do" certain things so that someday we make it to heaven and we need to "not do" other certain things so that we don't go to hell.  From that, as I know so many do, an idea is created that we have to make sure and do the right things now and not do the wrong things so that in the future we will end up in the right place.  It quickly becomes about what I can do that results in where I go.

To make matters worse, we then share these thoughts and beliefs with other people and before long our whole religion is revolving around where "I" end up and if "you" don't fix what "you" are doing wrong, then "you" are going to hell.  We get so focused on where "I" am going and where "you" are going that we forget we are actually on a journey now.

I know there is a passage in the Bible that speaks of focusing on "Heaven" or as other translations put it, "where Christ is now," but I wonder if it has more to with keeping on focus on Christ that it does where He is actually at.

I know there have been several people out there that have written about being a disciple and I have from time to time even.  The more I understand what a disciple is, the less I feel like I can call myself one.  A disciple is someone who wants more than just to "know" what the rabbi is teaching, but rather wants to be who the rabbi is.  A disciple of Christ is someone who wants to see the world as Christ sees it; someone who wants to have a relationship with God like Son has; someone who wants to understand reality the same way Jesus did.  So many of us get so wrapped up in trying to understand and "know," that we negate to be.

When our focus becomes on where we are going it is no longer on Christ, but rather on "our reward."  The best illustration I can think of for this is Romans 9:1-5 where Paul says, 

 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.  For I could pray that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,  who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,  whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Paul was more focused on the here and now and wanting people to realize the importance of it, than he was on where he would "end up."  He was willing to sacrifice his connection to Christ so that others could see and have that same connection.  He was truly being like Christ.  

So I wonder, where in our lives is our focus on "where we are going" effecting the way we live and keeping us from living in the here and now that God gave us to utilize for His glory.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I've recently been introduced to a couple of teachers that I haven't ever spent much (if any) time listening to or reading books from.  One of these teachers I shared a video from yesterday.  Today I wanted to share a thought from N.T. Wright.

I was listening to him via youtube this morning and he said something that really made sense to me.  He said that since the age of enlightenment we have put much less focus on the use of our right brain and so as a collective we have lost many of the benefits we get from the arts. (My own paraphrase)  One of said benefits is a certain aspect of God that we speak of, but rarely actually consider as a trait to work on. The trait I am speaking of is creativity.

As a collective the church believes God created.  As a collective we believe that we are created in God's image.  Yet, many of us have ventured to say "I'm just not creative, that's not how God made me."  What if God did make us all creative, we have just learned to stuff it down and limit ourselves based on what we know or THINK we know.

Let me give you a couple examples.

I grew up with Legos.  I very much enjoy Legos to this day.  I remember a time in my life, much like my kids are today, that when I played with Legos I would look for pieces to make what I thought looked like whatever it was in my mind I wanted to look like.  I would build cars, boats, houses, you name it.  The only thing I paid much attention to, is that pieces had to fit my idea of what it should look like.  Color didn't matter; size didn't matter too much; shape mattered a little.  As I got older, each of these things began to matter more.  I could only build a wall if I could use all of the same color or if I could build it in layers.  It could no longer be whatever block happened to work.  My cars had to have 4 tires of the same size. Planes actually had to have wings.  I lost part of my ability to be creative in my mind and began to focus on what I saw as reality.

As I have grown older, I have seen this in both my music and my photography.  Both take creativity, but for me the more I learn about each, the more I become consumed with doing things the "right" way and what is technically correct rather than allowing creativity to expressed.  I've been noting it for a long time now and can see how when I strive to get better at something I want to learn the technical aspects of it.   While this is important, I easily transition into that frame of thinking and push the creativity asside.

When I think about how creative God is and how we are created in His image I have to believe that He created us to be creative beings.  He wanted us to experience and participate in things that are more than what we can know or understand.

I wonder sometimes if that is part of the meaning behind satan being "the deceiver."  He has used knowledge as a way to deceive us and cause us to stumble.  I know that many of the times when I feel closest to God are those times when I am creating.  Not creating out of technical skill, but creating out of inspiration.  Could creativity be something that we have missed in our relationship with God?  Could it be that we have been so focused on "knowing what God knows" that we forget to learn and see things the way God sees them.

God sees chaos and thinks, I can make something out of this.  We see chaos and think, there is no way God can be in this.   Maybe its time to allow ourselves to be creative and break away from the box that we have trapped ourselves in.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just Enough

Want to change the way you look at things?  Take a look at this.  I had a friend share this thought with me last night and it really makes you wonder how many other things in our lives we have completely misunderstood about what the Bible is saying.  If you go beyond that, it can make you question how you live your life, based on what you have been believing.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Communication is key in any relationship.  I've been thinking a lot about it here recently.  Before I go on and speak to the subject though, I wanted to start off with a little video that I thought would prepare you for what is to come.   Enjoy