Browse Author: Dustin

The Art of Talking Without Talking

While I’m out this week, I’ve lined up some serious ‘guest posters’ this week. Hope you enjoy! I’ve gotten to know Tony Alicea over the last year via blogging and social media. One thing’s for certain: Tony is passionate about helping others discover their identity in life. He lives in south Florida and is engaged to the woman of his dreams. You can find him on Twitter and his blog

Enter The Dragon is one of my favorite martial arts movies of all time. Most people remember the classic fight scene in the room of mirrors with Han. But I’m more a movie quote fanatic so I always find lines that stick out to me and use them in my every day conversations.

In one scene, Bruce Lee is on a boat with another guy who is being a bully. He gets in Lee’s face and says “What’s your style?” Lee replies, “My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.” He then proceeds to trick the guy into getting in a dinghy and doesn’t get in with him. The guy has to float behind the boat holding on to a rope for the rest of the trip.

Fighting without fighting. I love that line. I love that style. So much so that I incorporate it into my communication style.

Photo credit: John/mtsofan (Creative Commons)

Historically I have not been a very good communicator. I always had trouble expressing myself in words. From a young age, I always deferred to the written page as my outlet. Passing notes in school was always better than face to face conversations. If you ever got any kind of greeting card from me, you would feel special. Words just always flowed freely on the page. Out of my mouth? Not so much.

In recent years, I’ve grown tremendously in my ability to communicate. I talk much more than I used to. So much so that I began to feel like I was becoming a really good communicator.

I can talk about my day, I can talk about my job, I can talk about God (sometimes you have to shut me up on that subject). I don’t have a problem communicating the what. My problem is and always has been the why.

I’m not even married yet and I’m already learning a lot about myself. My fiancé is, in fact, a great communicator. She’s also a great teacher.

The other day as we were talking, she was expressing how important it is for her to get to know me. Through our discussion, I began to realize that you can know a lot about someone without really knowing them at all.

She helped me understand why it was important to share the why. The what isn’t who I am. The why is who I am.

Even if I could tell her that something made me happy or sad, if I didn’t tell her why, the situation was simply a symptom.

After digging a little deeper, I realized that I internalize my emotions because I have never felt that I’ve been given permission to express them. I was always afraid that if people really knew how I felt, I would upset or disappoint them. And then they would leave.

So everything becomes “fine”.

How was your day? Fine
How do you feel about this? It’s fine.
Are you upset? No, it’s fine.
I’m so sorry that I did. It’s fine, don’t worry about it.

Everything is fine. Just don’t get upset. Just don’t leave me.

And there it is.

It was a difficult thing to discover about myself. Especially just as I started to feel good about being a good communicator. But it was important because she told me something that was key. This is a bit of a paraphrase but she said, “I can handle you not being fine.”

Without even knowing it, that was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed permission to share not only the what but the why. I realized that effective communication isn’t just sharing what you think someone wants to hear, but sharing your heart fully.

I’ll end with another quote from Enter The Dragon, courtesy of Roper:

“Would you look at that? A woman like that could teach you a lot about yourself.”

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How well do you communicate the “why” in your relationships?

The Response

While I’m out this week, I’ve lined up some serious ‘guest posters’ this week. I’ve gotten to know Justin Falls over the last year via blogging, HeyTell messages, and even over Skype one time. He is a listener, writer, photographer, and advocate for the abused and neglected. He writes from the perspective of the brokenhearted, and communicates hope through still images. Justin, his wife, Lynnette, and their two sons live in beautiful Northern California. Connect with him on Twitter and his blog.

When someone is angry, do you respond….

 with anger?

with hate?

with judgment?

with criticism?

with malice?

with sarcasm?

with evil?

with spite?

In my life, I have responded to anger – with all of the above.

….but those reactions drive a wedge.

In my life, I will respond with love. Not because I should or because I’m prompted to by a good friend.

I will respond with love only because…I have been responded to – with love.

For there are no other reasons why I should.

Why is it important – or not important to respond with love?

Reflections Before the Hike

Photo credit: Tom Kulbowski (Creative Commons)

In two days, I will be trekking up to the top of Mt. Toubkal (pictured above). It is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains, which stretch across three countries in North Africa. Specifically, it’s located in Morocco — which is where I’ll be for a few days. Through a unique opportunity with my work, colleagues around the globe were selected to participate in a trekking adventure to promote a shared purpose and foster team-building. Cool!

On top of that, I plan on personally taking in this experience to soak in the beauty of God’s creation–in a place I will probably never visit again.

Three things that are top-of-mind for me right now…

1. Take risks. I have never hiked/trekked anywhere before. In fact, I’m borrowing all of my brother’s gear, who does these types of things all the time. How does this relate to blogging? Write a post you wouldn’t think you’d normally write. Step out of your box by being vulnerable. In doing so, you’ll encounter both encouragement and criticism–both are needed for growth. Don’t be unique just to be unique–but bring a willingness to leverage popularity, acceptance, and comfort for the sake of the Gospel.

2. Real-time community. It will be neat to see the real-time collaboration happening. During the work-week, we’re spread out over the globe. For 5 days, we’ll be in one location! How does this relate to blogging? Go to a tweet-up and meet up with a local blogger. Spend time with your family. Use social media to enhance community within the local church.

3. Endure. To be honest, I haven’t prepared as much as I should have for this hike. Granted, I’m not trekking Everest. But it will be taxing and I will need to pace myself. How does this relate to blogging? Writing is a practice, which needs to be cultivated. It is a unique privilege we have to share our story and learn from others. Write consistently! Develop of plan and stick to it.  Map out a schedule to avoid burnout.

Due to the “remote-ness”, I will be forced to disconnect to a degree (good thing!). If you think about it, say a prayer for me this week. :)

In my absence, I have three fantastic guest-posts lined up for you on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Be nice and show them some love!

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Describe a “unique adventure” that you would love to do one day.

The Big 100

First off, thank you!

Thank you dear reader for faithfully reading this simple blog. Thank you for participating in the conversation and bringing your voice. It matters. You matter.

Today marks an important milestone here at Abraham Chronicles. It’s blog post #100!

On January 6th of this year, I started on this journey not knowing where it will take me. More than eight months later, I am more than grateful for the opportunity to share in this journey with each and every once of you. I’ve had another child, gone through a career change, and learned a lot about living with intentionality. And you have been there the entire time. Thank you!

Photo credit: Christian Johannesen (Creative Commons)

I do not take your readership lightly. I may click the “publish” button, but it’s you who contributes in to building this community.

To celebrate,  I have a $50 Amazon Gift Card to give away for free! Gratis! Gratuit! 免费!

In addition to that top prize, I’m also giving away a copy of Chasing Daylight (book by Erwin McManus) and Psalms (album by Shane & Shane)!

I first read Chasing Daylight last fall and instantly coded it as one my favorites. McManus writes about ‘seizing God moments’ and following your passions. One of my favorite quotes from the book, “If you’re passionate about God, you can trust your passions.” I am certain you’ll love it too.

In college a friend of mind told me about Shane and Shane – this duo of worship leaders from Texas captive you with their heartfelt lyrics and synchronous melodies. Psalms is one of their early albums that is a collection of songs that are inspired by Psalms in the Bible. You’ll listen to the entire album knowing that the Shanes genuinely poured their hearts and souls into each and every song. Fact: You will put Track 6, Psalm 145, on repeat.

There you have it. Two of my absolute favorites–two resources that have sharpened and refined my faith in countless ways. Even if you don’t win, I hope you will check them out–they will always be on the top of my list.

Now, the contest! Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post with an answer to the question, “What is your favorite book and your favorite album?”

2. Twitter a link to this post mentioning “@dustinv” and this link: http://cl.ly/9lvA . If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook. You can write your own or use this example. “Win a $50 Amazon giftcard (and more!) on @dustinv’s blog http://cl.ly/9lvA”.

3. On Friday, September, 2nd  (2:00 PM EST) I’ll will pick the winners (via Random.org). I’ll announce them the on Friday and you can email your address if you’re one of the winners.

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Update: Contest is over. Thank you for participating. Below are the winners:

1. $50 Amazon gift card: Jason Wert (@JCWert) – http://cl.ly/9oG4
2. Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus: Andy Darnell (@andydarnell) – http://cl.ly/9odR
3. “Psalms” by Shane & Shane: Mo (@mohan37) – http://cl.ly/9oAd

If you won, I’ll be in touch via e-mail and/or Twitter. Thanks again!

The Controlling Principle to Discipleship

As part of my men’s group this past month, we read one of my favorite books: Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism. While I have read the book multiple times over the last ten years, I seem to glean something new every time I read this book. I would like to share one quote in particular that resonated with me this time:

“If we have learned even the most elemental truth of discipleship, we must know hat we are called to be servants of our Lord and to obey His word.” (Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism)

In short, complete obedience to God’s will is the controlling principle to discipleship.

Photo credit: Rebecca Krebs (Creative Commons)

Throughout my life, God will bring people into my life to pour into–friends, neighbors, coworkers. But, as a husband and father, my family is my first calling. My wife and children need me to intentionally lead them in their walks in passionately pursuing Christ as their personal Savior.

How can I expect to lead and disciple them if my heart isn’t completely yielded to God? This small example challenged and reminded me of a two things:

1. The leadership I provide to my family stems from my relationship with Christ. Jesus showed His followers all they needed to know by simply being with them.  I’ll find everything I need to know in God’s presence.
2. Obedience to God’s will is more than blind trust. It is active and intentional. It is a daily surrender and acknowledges “Not my will by yours.”

Be encouraged today as you lead your wife, your family, and those God has placed in your life. Look to Jesus’ example and press on.

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Who do you need to lead today?

What Kind of Man Am I Today?

Take a moment today to watch the following video from the band Sanctus Real. It’s a powerful message that we can all relate to.

Next, watch the following video where Matt Hammitt (lead singer) talks about the story behind the song.

He gets real and honest about the reasons why he wrote it.

Specifically, Matt and his wife open up and talk about resolving conflict, leadership, and fighting for your marriage.

At the end of the “Story Behind…” video, Matt poses the following questions:

What kind of man am I today?
Have I invested in my family emotionally and spiritually the way that God has called me to lead them?

Challenging questions. Ones that certainly prompt me to take a step back and evaluate how I am investing my time and energy. Their struggles in conflict resolution, in particular, resonate with me.

As I think through those questions, I’m reminded that my desire to lead my family is birthed out the way Christ leads me personally.

My heart wants to be willing–willing to demonstrate to them what it looks like to passionately pursue Christ. That needs to be my aim, and leading my wife and children will flow out of that.

HT: Justin Taylor

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In what way can you lead your spouse/family today?

The Life of George Mueller

A few months ago, I read about the life of George Mueller. He was best known for his orphan ministry–one that cared for over 10,000 in his lifetime. He never asked anyone directly for money. He was a lifelong servant.

As I read through the biography of his life, two things stuck out: He served God and He trusted God.

In fact, the biography actually summed up his life in one sentence:

[The] chief passion and unifying aim of Mueller’s ministry: live a life and lead a ministry in a way that proves God is real, God is trustworthy, God answers prayer.

Wow.

Photo credit: Eliseo Marcato (Creative Commons)

Can my life’s mission statement be pruned into a sentence so powerful as that?

When my biography is written, what sentence will sum up my life?

I know that as I reflect on those questions, I want my answer to be saturated with things that matter (my faith in God, my family, the way I treat others) rather than things that are fleeting and temporary.

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It’s biography time!
Sum up your life in five words. Go!

Peacemakers and Peacekeepers

Are you a peacemaker or a peacekeeper?

When I take an honest look at my life, I think I would often bucket myself into the peacekeeper category.

You know those types of people: one who avoids conflict, doesn’t ruffle any feathers, and makes sure everyone is happy.

That is me. In fact, that has always been me.

As I read through the Beattitudes the other week (and though some wise counsel from a friend), naturally verse 9 seemed to already be highlighted in bright yellow.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9)

Do I simply seek to preserve peace, or do I intentionally seek out reconciliation in my relationships? Ouch. No need to write it down — I know what my answer would be.

I’ve mentioned this in the past: there have been times in the past where I avoid bringing up “issues” because I am fearful that it shows a sign of weakness.

That is passivity and a sure-fire characteristic of a peacekeeper. That is merely running from conflict.

On my own, I’m a peacekeeper. With Christ, I am peacemaker. I am grateful that with His strength I don’t have to settle for something that I am not. I want to remember that, through God, I have the ability to actively proclaim truth and love… even if that means breaking my “mold” and addressing a little conflict.

On a side note: what does a peacemaker look like? I like what an article on the Desiring God blog says:

A peacemaker is someone who experiences the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) because he is at peace (Romans 5:1) with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) through the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), who, indeed, is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and who therefore seeks to live at peace with all others (Romans 12:18) and proclaims the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) so that others might have joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).

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Are you a peacekeeper or a peacemaker?

A Holy Obsession

Today I have the pleasure of guest posting over at Arny Sanchez’ blog: The Analogous Truth.

Arny and I have connected over the last couple months via blogging, and I’ve come to appreciate the ways he’s encourage me (whether it’s through a comment or his blog posts). He blogs about finding God in the ‘everyday’ and has a humorous way of doing so!

Be sure to check out the post and give him a little “love” in the comments. Play nice!

Oh… if you click over, you’ll read about a recent television show that my wife and I have obsessed about. Check it out!

Never Beyond

I am participating in People of the Second Chance’s Never Beyond Campaign. The NEVER BEYOND Poster Series will feature 25 posters representing well known historical, current and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society. The campaign will consist of digital and print posters and the full collection will eventually be displayed as a touring art exhibit. Click here to learn more about the initiative.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Period.

God says his grace is limitless.

I am choosing to believe that today.

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Who would you have a hard time giving a second chance?