Browse Category: Simple Advice

What Is Love?

“Do marriage vows seem to mean as much today as they used to? If you’ve heard anything about the increase in divorce rates, you may wonder. Bill & Glad are ignoring the trends. More than ever the vows they made 50 years ago are being tested. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, the promise they are keeping is a true example of what love is.”

(via Mashable)

How To Actively Wait

Today I have the pleasure of having my friend Michael Perkins guest post on Abraham Chronicles. He is a husband, dad, Nazarene pastor, blogger, artist, & map maker. He also wrote a killer manifesto, and you can get it for free here: http://bit.ly/startovr. Oh yeah, and his blog is pretty sweet also! Enjoy!

Waiting is tough.

I cannot think of a single person that enjoys waiting.

If a person is waiting for a dream job, they want the opportunity to come now.  If a person is waiting for a promise from God, they want it now.  If a person is waiting, well for anything, they want it now.

Waiting is an opportunity, but unfortunately many don’t see it that way.  Many view waiting as an inconvenience and a hindrance. (I know I have in the past)

But the truth is, waiting prepares us for what’s to come next

We say things like, “I’m just waiting on the Lord.” or “When God wants it to happen, it will happen.”

Those things are most certainly true, but those statements can also be used as a cop-out or an excuse.  In other words, they can really mean, “I’m going to sit here and do nothing and wait for something amazing to happen.”

Listen, it doesn’t really work that way.

We should actively wait.  We should do the things that will make us better, so that when our time of waiting is done, we are prepared and equipped.

Here are three key things that I have found to be crucial to actively wait:

1. Pray.  Ask God what you need to work on.  Ask God to give you the wisdom, knowledge, courage to be able to handle whatever it is that you are waiting for when the waiting stops.

You’d be surprised how much you actually hear if you would just stop and ask.

2. Practice.  If your dream is to be a professional writer, you don’t just wake up and say, “Today, I’m going to be a professional writer.”  Instead, you write…a lot.

Professional baseball players spend hours hitting off a tee.  Why?  Because they know that if they are going to be able to perform at a high level when their time comes, then they had better do the work and put in the practice.

3. Hope.  Hope is a powerful thing.  It gives us the strength and power to fight through when things get tough.  When we have waited for an extended amount of time.

Races are won in the middle?  Why?  Because everyone sprints when they leave the starting line and everyone sprints when they can see the finish line, but hope gets them through the middle.

Hope propels us to go forward when we cannot see when and where the dream started and hope reminds us of the reward that we cannot see yet, but is waiting for us.

4. Repeat.  Actively waiting is an ongoing process.  In other words, if you are in a period of waiting:  keep praying, keep practicing, and keep hoping.

Don’t waste the opportunity given to you.

Don’t use waiting as an excuse to do nothing.  Instead, actively wait and do the things that are necessary to be the best that you can possibly be.

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What do you do when you are in a time of waiting?

A Nudge Over the Edge

I started a local boot-camp on Monday morning. Yes, I had to get up at an ungodly hour (4:30!?!) to drive to a nearby church where  I was whipped for an hour. It was a mix of Tony Horton and running suicides. Needless to say, I’ve been sore almost immediately since then.

Photo credit: Peter Carwell (Creative Commons)

Truth be told, I was at a point in my ‘fitness’ where I wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t training and/or running consistently and felt liked I needed something to nudge me over the edge. I needed to develop this discipline in my life. I needed to cultivate a level of consistency with my fitness routine. It just wasn’t there.

And now here we are, two days later. By the time this post is published, I’ll have gone through day 2 and will be twice as sore.

But the good thing is that I am sore. My body is being challenged; it is being stretched. 

(And in a month, I’ll look like a 1970 Schwarzenegger when he won Mr. Olympia for the first time… right? Right? That’s what they promised me, right?)

While I can’t expect immediate results, I can look to consistent hard-work and discipline to get to a place where I want to be.

As with many things in my life (prayer, bible study, accountability, etc), there are times when a little nudge in the right direction proves to be the one thing we need.

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In what area to you need a ‘nudge’ in?
Have you ever done a boot-camp?

Off The Beaten Path

While traveling in DC earlier this week, I decided to do something out of the ordinary (for myself at least).

Arriving late on a Sunday night, I took a restaurant recommendation from a friend and ventured out to a Belgium gastropub. She warned me that it was “off the beaten path”, so I suppose I should have been prepared…

Photo credit: XXVIII (Creative Commons)

I’m not adverse to eating by myself, and in fact, traveling cross-town in search of a perfect bison burger and twice-fried frites was something I was a excited about.

There were countless reason to not go: it was late, I was in a new city, I was by myself, it was 20 minute walk through a sketchy part of town, they stopped serving food in 30 minutes, etc, etc, etc.

When it was all said and done, the evening was fantastic.

I enjoyed a great, low-key meal and enjoyed the quiet nightly stroll through some pretty cool parts of DC.

All because I took that first step.

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What is your favorite off-the-beaten-path restaurant?
In what way do you need to “take that first step”? 

 

Small Deposits

Let’s face it — I am not going to win the lottery.

As much as I win things, a $150M MegaMillions jackpot is not going to come my way anytime in my lifetime. (Side note: I really do win a lot of things. No lie. Ask me about it sometime.)

With that out of the way, to help prepare for my retirement (yikes…) the smart, financial advice is to invest regularly over a long period of time. Compound interest is scary good.

In fact, it is wiser for me to invest regularly into my 401K, every month, than to put a chunk of change down right now and let it sit. Most would argue that this is a smart long-term plan.

Photo credit: Karol Franks (Creative Commons)

Thinking about my post last Tuesday, I couldn’t help but get stuck on the idea of ‘small deposits’.

Yes, the big things are important: the missions trips, donating a car, the large financial offerings.

But so are also the small investments: the cup of coffee, they friendly hello, the hug.

Thinking about my own family, I believe regular small deposits will prove to be a worthwhile investment:

…telling my wife she is beautiful every day.
…coming home from work each day and giving my kids a hug.
…spending time with God in prayer and study every morning.
…kissing my kids (no matter how old they are or how awkward it gets for them!).
…regularly serving other families (as a family).

I believe this short list, among other things, will not only compound our family’s love for each other but will also create the foundation that God is to be honored first and foremost within our household.

As I look at back at these words in 40 years (you never know!), I want my wife and kids to see the big and the small deposits that I made into our family; that they were intentional, purposeful and full of love.

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What ‘deposits’ have you made into your family and friends?

3 Lessons from The Carrot Seed

The Carrot Seed

Sophia received a copy of The Carrot Seed for her 4th birthday last week. I’m not up to speed on classic children’s books, but my wife is. Apparently this 1945 piece of literature by Ruth Krauss is the cream of the crop when it comes to children’s picture books. Let’s just say I cannot disagree with that.

It chronicles the tale of a small boy who plants a carrot seed and, despite others’ telling him “it won’t come up”, sees it sprout into a spectacular, award-winning carrot.

It’s short, uncomplicated and undeniably straightforward.

It’s the perfect book for a four-year old!

As I’ve read the book with my girls this past week, three specific and distinct lessons are conveyed:

1. Simplicity. You can read the book in less than 5 minutes. It’s short and to the point; yet, the lessons conveyed are deep and meaningful. Sometimes we try to over-analyze and lead with the mindset of information-overload (“got to make sure all bases are covered!”), but in the end, a simple phrase can resonate and speak to a person in a much more powerful way.

2. Conviction. The little boy’s faith is steadfast. Even with his parents and older brother opposing his ‘mission’, he remained true to his belief that the carrot would one day sprout. How often do we allow our dreams to be discouraged by a naysayer, or forsake our conviction in what is right for the pleasure in the moment?

3. Persistence. When the possibility of doubt crept in, the boy did not give up. He pressed on in the face of adversity by remaining faithful. The book said that he “pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water”. What weeds need pulling and ground needs watering in our lives?

Books like The Pursuit of God, Radical, and The Ragamuffin Gospel are great, but sometimes God uses the simplest of of stories to touch our hearts.

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What is your favorite children’s book? What do you like about it?

The Blogging Wall

Have you ever felt like you are in a rut?

You know how it goes: same old grind, nothing new to blog about, lack of inspiration.

Hit the wall.

Photo credit: Magdalena Gmur (Creative Commons)

Like a marathoner hitting a wall at 20 miles, I crashed into my wall a little over 100 posts.

I’ve been feeling a need for a new way of thinking and a refreshed perspective.

And then it happened.

In what seemed to be perfect timing, I was able to chat about this very thing with my buddy Michael.

You know what he said? “Get away. Don’t tell anybody; just take a break.”

Then I realized my wife had been hinting at the same thing.

I didn’t post on Wednesday or Friday. And coincidentally, I had vacation days scheduled off from work Thursday and Friday.

I was able to use that time to simply be refreshed — through rest, family, and some quiet thinking.

The next step.

When blogging becomes a chore or simply part of my “to-do” list, I want to take an honest gut-check and re-evaluate my motivations behind it all.

So, I spent some time doing that.

While not as dramatic like a phoenix out of the ashes, I am re-emerging from a quiet vacation feeling refreshed!

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How do you handle burnout?
What do you do to get ‘refreshed’? 

Live in Your Gifts

A few months back, I read a SCL post that smacked me right in the forehead.

It was quite timely because earlier in the week, my wife and I had been talking about a few things that were heavy on her heart.

Because of our prior conversation, and as a result of that post, I felt led to send her a note of encouragement.

Among others things in the email I sent her, I said this:

I encourage you to live in that gift (the gift of kindness towards others and loving others in extraordinary ways). Remember that the only reason that Satan is attacking you in this area is that it is significant. God has designed you to build up, encourage, and love people. Satan wants to take his “sniper” and specifically knock you down in this area.

Three specific points stuck out:

  • Satan will never attack something that is insignificant.
  • Satan is not a shotgun; he is a sniper rifle.
  • Live in your gifts.

All it took was a simple note. A small measure of intentionality. Sitting in her inbox even now (6 months later), words of encouragement and affirmation are extremely important.

We, as believers, have many gifts to build up and edify others. There also is an Enemy out there that would love for nothing more than to discourage, depress, and demoralize those gifts.

What does it mean/look like to live in your gifts? Keep writing even if you don’t know what to say. Keep investing in your children even if you don’t see “immediate results”. Keep reaching out to your friend even he doesn’t reciprocate. All these things matter… even when discouragement seems to temporarily shadow them every once in a while.

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Who can your encourage today?
What gift do you need to start “living in”?

The Most Important Lesson I Learned in College

Today I have the honor of guest posting over at Randy Kinnick’s blog: eFlections on Doing Life. Randy is a solid dude who loves the Lord. He serves in pastoral leadership (adult discipleship and mentoring) in his Russellville, AR community. I encourage you to check out his other posts–they consistently speak to discipleship, community and the journey of faith.

I am sharing a profound insight that was demonstrated to my while I was in college. Here is an excerpt:

One of the most important things I learned in college didn’t occur in a classroom.

It wasn’t something I read in a textbook.

It was the intentional act of someone else personally inviting me into their life.

… Continue reading here.

Click on over to Randy’s site and give him some comment-love!

Off-Site

I am currently at an off-site with my work for a few days. Every quarter we’ll get away and gather together out of the office. While it’s definitely not a vacation, it is a refresher of sorts to refocus and realign our company’s vision.

The purpose of the trip is to get away from the norm; to share, collaborate and communicate with the team. Our team is spread out globally, so these get-a-ways are often necessary every once in a while. Our team is intentional in setting aside these days to share directly and communicate personally. Kind of interesting, but we need to get away to communicate.

Photo credit: Ben Leto (Creative Commons)

If you know me or have read this blog for a little while, you know that I’ve spoken about intentional living. I feel that God has used a lot of experiences in my life to remind me of that importance.

I’m reminded today about the importance of intentionally getting away with my Father with the express purpose of sharing directly and communicating personally.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)

To be honest, that hasn’t happened a lot in my life recently. I say to myself, “I’m busy, tired or forgetful”. In other words, the opposite of living with intentionality.

This post is a confession of sorts–one that exposes my need to be purposeful and intentional. My heart being these words is to, first and foremost, initiate change in my own life.

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What does having an “off-site” with God look like in your life?
Any vacation plans this summer?

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