Friday, February 29, 2008

Beware Of Distractions

I consider myself a safe driver. Other than 1 serious accident during my first few months of driving, I've been able to stay clear of even a fender bender. Now, don't get me wrong, there have been those times when God, his angels, and probably the prayers of loved ones have preserved my life when I've made some driver's errors that could have led to some major tragedies. But all in all, I think I do pretty well.

That being said, I have to admit, I can get very distracted when I'm driving. Not, dangerous, just distracted. For instance, if I'm on the phone or in conversation with someone in the car, or just not thinking, I'll completely forget where I'm headed. This week, it happened at least four times. Once, I was watching an airplane come in for a landing and drove right past the place I was going. Oh yeah, and then there was the time this week, I took off before everyone was in the car. Anyways, I find myself time and time again, having to turn around because I've missed my turn. I'm not a multi-tasker. I know there are those who can do multiple things at once. Like teens who can do their homework, watch tv, talk on their cell phone, surf the internet, and listen to their Ipod all at once. I rarely can do more than one thing at a time. Generally, if anything else is added to my current list of tasks, it throws my brain into overload. As a result, I tend to get little done when I try to take on multiple tasks at the same time.

Perhaps you find yourself like me sometimes. God has given you a dream or something to accomplish, and you take off with the goal in sight. Then, the distractions start to come. They start to mount up and before long, you've totally lost sight of what you're doing. You find yourself surrounded by distractions and the dreams are a distant memory. And you begin to ask yourself, "How in the world did I get here?"

Listen, our enemy, the devil, is very clever and understands that if he can just distract us, he can keep us from accomplishing all the things God longs for us to accomplish. The key is to recognize his tactic and refuse to fall into that trap. We must keep our eyes on the goal and not allow ourselves to be distracted by things that will get us off track. There are a lot of good things out there that are not necessarily, God things. It is important for us to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in everything we do. The Word of God teaches us that He'll lead us and guide us in all things. So, allow Him to do so. Allow Him to help you to limit the distractions and focus on the things God wants you to focus on so that you can be all that God created you to be.

I'll tell you this much, its a lot better than always having to turn around. Trust me, it wastes a lot of time, in addition to the fact that everyone in the car laughs at you.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Healthy Relationships Take Some Work

Several months ago, my wife and I sold our house, packed up, and moved. The house sold quickly and the buyer was in a hurry to get in, so we moved at warp speed to accommodate them. Now, if you have ever moved before, I know you'll relate to this. We worked really hard for a few days and moved all the heavy stuff and a quick glance around the place looked like we just had a little more left. You know, just a few things here and there. Shouldn't take us more than a day or 2 to finish things up. Yeah, right! Try 3 more very long days and a quick trip for a few final things just hours before closing.

It's happened every time I've moved. I think I'm almost finished, and then there's a few more things. I think I have just one more load, but I never can quite fit everything. In the middle of it all, there are those moments when I think this is never going to end. Add to the mix, that I'm having to put things in storage and that presents a whole new dimension to things. You think you've got plenty of space only to have to rearrange things three or four times to get it all in there.

The job just didn't look that big. Of course, it never does. A quick glance, never tells the whole story. On the surface, things can appear quite different than they truly are. It's only when you get knee deep in the thing that you begin to see it as it truly is.

As we walk through life together, our interaction with one another is not all that different. A first glance never tells the whole story, does it? It's not until we are knee deep into the relationship that we realize this relationship is gonna take some work. It makes no difference if its a marriage relationship, friendship, or family member. Any and all relationships take work. And during the process, there are those moments when we feel we are making major progress, as well as those moments when we feel we've not made any progress.

The truth is, if we continue to work at it, and we continue to invest time and energy into relationships, we will see progress. If we'll make it a point to communicate, to become transparent, and constantly ask ourselves what it looks like to truly walk in love, our relationships will prove to be healthy.

Of course, all relationships are two way streets. When only one individual is committed to growth in the relationship, it can definitely seem like an uphill battle. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you are only responsible for what you put into the relationship. We can't control anyone else and we can't be responsible for their actions. With that in mind, just keep at it. Give it everything you've got and then trust the Holy Spirit to begin to work on your behalf.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Speed-of-Life

It seems like just a few days ago I was at the end of my street playing baseball with all my neighborhood friends. It was actually more like 24-25 years ago. Where does the time go? I'll hit 41 this week and I just can't help but think that time has really flown by fast. Scripture tells us that life is like a vapor, its here one moment and gone the next. I can tell you that the first 41 years has felt just like that!

It's sobering to think that half of your life is almost over. I mean lets face it, if I live to be in my 80s, I'm at middle age right now. And if I make it to my 90s, I'll be at middle age in no time. That means half of my life is over or about over. Now, I'm not down, depressed, or having a difficult time with my birthday. I'm just looking back and then trying to get a glimpse into the future.

I long to be someone who makes an enormous impact for the kingdom of God during my stay on this planet. I look back at the first half of my life and I believe I've done some good things for the kingdom of God, but I don't know that I would call it enormous. There have been those moments when I've been kingdom focussed but for the most part I've spent my life being Tim focussed. As I proceed through life though, I feel those moments of kingdom focus are becoming more and more common and I have to say that I believe that's the key. In order to make the kind of impact on this world God longs for us to make we must learn how to be kingdom minded. We have to learn how to spend our lives doing kingdom business rather than trying to build our kingdom.

Its all a process though and we all know that Rome wasn't built in a day. Its a day to day process of learning to die to ourselves and our own desires and asking questions like, "God, what is it that you desire for me?" That's not all that different than the prayer Jesus prayed in the garden just before he was arrested and brutally hung on a cross. Remember it? "Father, not my will, but Yours be done." That's the place I want to be! That place of total surrender, where I have learned to put my desires and wants on hold, and have determined to search the heart of God for His desires.

Ok, so over the next 40 to 50 years or so, I'm going to really work at this and hopefully the second half of life will prove to be more effective for His kingdom.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Against All Odds

As I sat there on Sunday, I'm sure I was not alone in my disbelief at what I just witnessed. Of course, I'm talking about the New York Giants upset of the New England Patriots. For you non-sports fans, I promise this will be my last blog consisting of a football analogy for a while, but this one I couldn't pass up.

Although there may have been a few hard-core Giants fans out there who truly believed their team could pull this off, other than those guys and the Giants players who suited up for the game, there weren't a lot of people who thought it was possible. Sure, there were the anti-Patriot fans and the fans who always root for the underdog that hoped and prayed for it, but few thought it was possible.

I mean, come on, for the most part the Patriots cruised through the season with ease. There were only a few games where it appeared they even broke a sweat. There were times throughout the season, they looked like they belonged in another league altogether. But, Sunday, you just had a feeling throughout the entire game, that these guys weren't invincible. It actually looked like, they could be beat. It seemed as if for the first time all year, they were matched up against a team who actually believed they could beat them. It was as if the Giants hadn't got the memo that they didn't have a chance. Proof of that was when Brady lead his team down for the go ahead TD, and the Giants actually came right back and answered. All year long, when the Patriots landed that kind of blow, their opponents never answered back. Oh, but not on this day. For on the other sidelines stood a team, not mesmerized by their opponent. A team who wasn't intimidated by names like Brady or Moss or Harrison or Bruschi. It was a team that just knew they had been in this situation throughout the season and had pulled off more come from behind wins in the 4th quarter than any other team all year. It was as if they had the Patriots right where they wanted them.

Ok, I'll stop with all the sports jargon now. The truth is, when I was younger, I really wanted to be a sports announcer and that kind of made me feel like one for a moment. The fact is, with every play of that final drive, you had the feeling that these guys can do this. You had the feeling that these guys could actually beat this unbeatable Patriots team. And then when Eli pulls that Houdini move out and Tyree leaps into the air and pulls down that catch, you kind of felt like there might be some kind of divine intervention going on here.

Does God intervene in football? I don't know, all I know is that a team that wasn't suppose to win did. They didn't listen to the sports experts and all the others who said they couldn't. They just went out there and won.

I hope you're getting all this. Its so true, that we can learn valuable life lessons from almost anywhere if we'll look for them. Yes, even a football game. We are hammered from every side in life. There are times when things look impossible and every voice out there reaffirms that. Perhaps, your marriage is in trouble, or maybe it's already ended in divorce. Maybe, you're struggling in the area of finances. Perhaps, your teen has fallen away from the things of God, and his or her situation seems grim. Maybe, you've lost a loved one and you find yourself overwhelmed by it all.

Whatever the case may be and wherever it is you find yourself, you need to know that you can whip this thing. Sure, everything looks hopeless, but we serve a God who loves those kind of odds. You see, although I'm not sure how much God intervenes when it comes to football, I do know that he intervenes in our lives. And when the world is screaming at you and telling you that you're not gonna make it, and that there's no hope for you, the God who created the universe is whispering:"You are more than a conqueror!" "Don't quit!" "Don't give up!" "You're a winner!" "You can do this!""You can make it!" The key is who are you gonna believe? What message are you going to take to heart and act on?

The New York Giants won that game because they believed they could. And they went out there and played like they believed it. Alot of times, although we know the God we serve is big, we live life as though we believe our opposition is unbeatable. In order to win though, you have to believe you can win. You have to believe that whatever it is that stands in your way can be overcome and then you have to act like you believe it. New York believed they could win and then they hit Tom Brady more times than he had been hit all year and sacked him more times than any other team had all year long. They didn't panic when they got behind, they just went out there and kept hammering away. If you believe you can win, you just keep hammering away. And when your opponent strikes a blow, you just keep hammering away. Trust me, if you'll do that, at some point in the battle, there's that moment when your opponent begins to realize he is in trouble. Yep, the author of fear himself, begins to experience a little fear. It isn't long after this, and the ole boy is on the run.

As I watched the game, I loved the last play of the winning drive by the Giants. Manning drops back and with ease simply floats the ball into the corner of the endzone to Burress who is all alone for the score. They probably practiced that play hundreds of times over the course of the past few years and have run it with success numerous times. It looked so easy. Here's my final point, in the heat of the battle there are those moments when things are really difficult. But then there comes that moment when you've won, and you know you've won and that last blow is a piece of cake. I've never won a Superbowl, but I've won a few battles in life so I think I can relate to what Manning was feeling when he floated that ball to Burress. It's that feeling that only comes when you realize you just pulled off what others thought was impossible. It's when every cell of your body wants to explode with excitement.

If you're in the heat of a battle right now, you can experience moments like these. If you find yourself surrounded by circumstances that scream defeat, hang in there. Keep hammering away. Trust the fact that you've got a battle partner who is truly unbeatable. Victory is certain, you just have to believe it!