Browse Category: Stuff To Think About

Content is the Conversation

I was at a kickoff meeting for work last week, where they highlighted ECM, Open Source, and all the future industry collaboration trends and tools that will come about with social content management. Being new to the company, I learned a lot and met a ton of people. One key phrase kept coming up over and over, and seemed to stick in my mind:

Content is the conversation.

Part of the central offering of my company revolves around the tracking and storing of electronic documents (pieces of content). What those four words are saying is that the content that enterprises will soon want to manage is actually the conversation that revolves around those specific documents (an article, picture, file, blog post, etc.). Without saying, these content-pieces have become the central placeholders in what drive conversation.

I felt that is completely translatable to this blog. Conversation flows, for the most part, by means of a specific piece of content–a story, an experience, a verse, a quote, a video. Around the interwebs, we continue to hear buzzwords like community, collaboration, and connectivity. These drivers deliver some of the core messages that are central to our blogs.

We focus our conversations around the prestige of a conference, the namesake of a popular church, or the controversial themes of an upcoming book. As Christians, however, our central piece of content is and should be the Cross. All conversation flows because of it. Because the cross, we are…

…free.
…accepted.
…redeemed.
…drawn near.
…adopted as sons.

In today’s day and age, internet content changes by the day. Videos are becoming accessible. Podcasts can be streamed from across the country. Pictures can be emailed and downloaded within seconds across the world. The relevance of the internet and blogs is so different than it was 5 years ago.

What blows my mind, however, is that even 2000 years later the Cross is still relevant. It is still so divinely complex, yet incredibly simple. People are still being redeemed. Lives are still being renewed. Relationships are still being restored. Hearts are still being transformed. Today I am thankful that because of the cross, I am adopted as a son — no expectation of perfection, no struggle with complacency, no fear of failure, can separate me from His relentless love.

Fill in the blank: Because of the cross, I am ____________.

Leverage, Risk, and A Little Poker

On Monday we talked about the risk-failure-success combo and Bear Grylls’ take on the matter. I wanted to continue the thought-stream and touch on something that is near and dear to my heart…

POKER.

I’m just going to go out and say it: I’m good. Borderline cocky. Maybe not, outwardly cocky, but completely confident on the inside. I know how to hold a straight face. I feel like I’m judicious, calculated, and very reasonable when it comes to the risk/reward of certain bets. Part of that is my personality, but the other part rests on past successes and experiences.

On a side note: years back before we had kids, I was a part of a weekly game with some coworkers. My wife decided she wanted to come along and play with us. While she had never played before (I briefed her on the rules on the ride there), she dove in and swindled away all our our money and man-pride.


Part of the lure of playing poker for me falls back to the Risk vs. Reward. Do I fold my hand? Should I be reading my opponent differently? Will my next bet put me “all-in”? While I can’t completely control the outcome, I do have options when it comes to percentages and the risks involved.

While there is wisdom in being cautious and calculated in our decision making, I am learning that when it comes to my relationship with God, wholehearted commitment is preceded by going “all in”. What does this look like? I want to persevere like Noah, who continued to build an ark despite the ridicule and doubts from others. I want to lead with conviction like Moses, who stood up and demonstrated what a life of conviction looks like. I want to stand for God’s people like Esther, who knew her position would be leveraged for justice and truth. I want to be all-in.

Being all in for Him means being all out for me. Will that mean I’ll need to use certain things for the glory of God? Probably so. My influence, my family, my time, my resources – I want to be one characterized my willingness to leverage all that I have for the purposes of bringing glory to God’s name.

Do you play poker? What can be leveraged in your life to bring God glory?

Photo credit: maor-x

If You Risk Nothing, You Gain Nothing

Undoubtedly, in the above clip Bear Grylls proves he is 124% more of a man than I am:  fearless, a calm demeanor, and a wicked-cool accent. What resonates in that video, however, is his composed response, “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”

Isn’t that true? Whether in business, personal choice, or in our faith, there always a level of risk involved. Late last year, I read similar thoughts in Erwin McManus’ book “Chasing Daylight”.

“You cannot fail without risking. If you have never failed, it might be just possible that you have never risked.”

What McManus wrote resonated with me. Oftentimes my first reaction to a situation tends be cautious and risk-averse. My thoughts are calculated and my pragmatic thinking tends to be very cafeful and guarded. That hit me in the gut, of course, because my “fear of failure” tends to affect my decision making at times–not so much in my business/professional life, but certainly in my family and friend relationships.

With regards to our faith, McManus goes on to write, “Our pop theology has eliminated the place for risk and insulated us with a comfort-and-security theology.” Bam! Do I make decisions, remain silent, or stand action-less because I want to do the “safe thing”? My answer in one word–Yes. Instead of chasing opportunities, I get caught up in managing the risk. Instead of confidently trusting in God’s character, l rely on trying to control things myself.

I was encouraged how McManus went on to close the book, “You know where to begin: take initiative. You know who God is, so embrace life’s uncertainty.”

How to you react to uncertainty? Do you watch Man vs. Wild?

Broken Is Beautiful

In the past, if you were to ask me about my “wounds” I probably would have downplayed the request and sidetracked the conversation so that I wouldn’t get too deep about whatever it was. Truth be told, I was ashamed and saw those areas in my life as shortcomings and deficiencies. Needless to say, many days my default response was, “I’m fine.”

Yesterday, my pastor said something during his message that struck me:

“Wounds are not symbols of slavery, but evidence of our freedom.”

I want to believe that sentence to be true for my life. I want other people to look into my life and say that very thing–that their husband/father/friend was far from perfect, but he held onto Truth. He was broken, but he was free.

Growing up I put myself in a box. There was times when I felt that my risk-averse nature hindered me from experiencing new and fresh things. In many ways, I felt trapped… almost as if there was a path set out before me, and there was complete certainty that I would follow it. I couldn’t blaze my own trail or pioneer my own frontiers.

Whether or not this can be considered a wound, I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t want those past feelings to dictate what the future holds. I want to embrace the broken periods of my life and view them as beautiful marks of freedom.

As an added bonus: check out this POTSC video called “Broken is Beautiful”. It’s pretty moving.

What did you think of the video? What do you need to view as “beautiful” in your life?

My Wife Wrote My Blog Post

Not going to lie… it happens from time to time.

She’ll formulate key sentences and even edit out the paragraphs to make the idea stream flow much smoother. In fact, a couple times she has even come up with the topic and more than half of the post content.

She is an educator by trade, and a journaling maverick by night. She loves to read and scrapbook the lives of our children. She’s an idea-formulating queen. I may generate an idea and type out some notes for a post, but then ask her for supplemental thoughts and some pointers. Next… she’ll do her brilliant copy editing work.

Why is that a beautiful thing?

She is my behind-the-scenes partner who is okay with minimal internet acknowledgements. In the end, she doesn’t want recognition from other people. But… that is not the end. It shouldn’t end there.

She needs appreciation from me.

Not just in a silly blog post.
Not just in a casual e-mail.
Not just in a text.

In any everyday-I appreciate what you do-kind of way.

So, this post if a confession of sorts. While I have the best of intentions at times to publish quality content at least three times a week, sometimes it takes my seriously-better-half to push me to achieve that goal. Even though she wouldn’t seek it out herself, I want to give her the recognition she deserves!

Even more than this blog, however, she encourages me to pursue my dreams, live authentically, and model a faith that it loud and contagious. I love her for that!

Do you bounce ideas of other people? Who inspires you?

Kingdom Speak

There are certain people who always seem to speak with candor and verity–no pretense whatsoever. They have an eternal perspective, and their focus is constantly framed in truth.

My buddy Donald is one of those people.

He commented on a post the other day, and said something that really resonated with me the last couple days: he referenced “Kingdom-talk, son-speak”. While I can’t take full-credit for the blog post (my wife influenced pretty much all of it), that comment of Donald’s, in and of itself, was something that got me thinking…

That “Kingdom speak” he was talking about… I want that.

I want my words to be edifying and encouraging. I want to speak truth and grace. I want to communicate love, compassion, and a wholehearted commitment to the Creator.

…whether it’s in the home, at work, or in a blog post.

…not just in my words, thoughts, and actions.

I want my life to radiate this so called “kingdom speak”. Right now.

How has an e-buddy encouraged you? Go encourage someone today!

Living With Intentionality

My wife and I have been talking about a common theme lately: intentionality.

I believe that when we take a look at the life of Jesus, He lived with purpose and intentionality. His purpose was to glorify the Father. Jesus modeled for us a way to live out that purpose in every facet of life.

Some may argue that His life was characterized by sporadic acts of service, random miraculous signs, nomadic travels, and a lot of happenstance. When we dig deeper into the scriptures, we find that quite the opposite is true!

There was a method in which Jesus relayed His messages (ex. His use of parables). He was specific in the choosing of His disciples (ex. investing in the few). Jesus took every moment captive: from when He chose to meet with His father in prayer, to where He chose to break bread and with whom, etc. He lived life with a purpose, and He was intentional in pursuing that purpose.

As children made in the image of God, we exist to bring glory to our heavenly Father. In light of this, how do we fuse that God-given purpose with Christ’s intentionality in areas like relationships, finances, and work? What does it practically look like to glorify God in our relationships (marriage, children, extended family)? Finances? Work?

For me, one example with regards to our finances is embracing the “Give-Save-Live” way of managing our money (give first, then save for the future, then live). Our church communicated this idea a few years back and it resonated quickly and deeply with both my wife and I. Realizing what we have is not really ours to begin with, I want to cultivate a spirit of generosity with what we do have. Through that mindset, aside from tithing, we chose to partner with Compassion, outside missions organizations, and campus ministries–all specific areas that have impacted us at one point in our lives. Although a work-in-progress at times, this is one area that we (as a family) have committed to be intentional in.

In what areas of your life can you live with more intentionality?

Our Children: The Here and Now

Yesterday, my wife Jen wrote about the unseen battle that is fought for our children’s hearts. Today, I’m excited that she is sharing Part 2: “Our Children: The Here and Now“. Hope you enjoy!

As parents, aunts, uncles, coaches, teachers, siblings, neighbors, how often do we find ourselves speaking of children like so: “When Bobby grows up, he is going to be such a catch” or “When Jane get’s married, she is going to be an awesome mom”, or maybe,  “When those kids graduate, they are going to be the great leaders of tomorrow”.

While it is a great thing to see the potential of the future generation, and to hope for their great accomplishments and positive change when they grown up, why is it so easy for us to look upon childhood as a phase in life that is just something to be endured, as something to quickly pass through before we can realize our potential value as adults? Unbeknownst to our consciousness, this mindset believes that we are a people only capable of great faith and value to the kingdom until later in life.

Interestingly enough and against our common logic, Scripture places value on children, the little ones that stand before us here and now. Jesus rebuked his disciples when they tried to keep the children from Him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).  In Psalm 127:3, Solomon reminds us that, “Children are a heritage from the Lord”. Can you imagine the profound blessing of knowing Jesus for a lifetime?

When we look at our own children (or our nieces, nephews, students, neighbors, etc), can you see their hearts right now? Can you describe their passions, spiritual giftings, weaknesses, etc.?

Here is a part of a journal entry I wrote to my girls when Sophia was 2 ½ and Olivia was almost one.

May 8, 2010

Sophia ,
You are sweet and strong. You take time to listen and act carefully—you take notice of others and their feelings. Your heart is full of joy and compassion.  Thank you for loving me so sweetly.

Olivia,
You are full of joy and wonder. You light up at the sight of a smile, you hold us tightly, you giggle often. I believe that God has allowed you to see others in love; He has blessed you with His vision to see into the heart of people. You find goodness. You are quick to act and have no inhibitions!

Know that I love you both so very deeply, and that I will always desire God’s best for you. In all of my shortcomings as your mom, I hope that one day you will be able to say and truly believe that I was a woman who was after God’s heart.

Remember the time when your eyes were full of wonder, head full of imagination, heart full of passions and God-given talents, soul bursting to be seen and heard. Although time, circumstance, and experience have brought us this far, in many ways we are still that same little one.

What does it look like to see children as people that matter right now?

Photo credit: R Mercardo

Our Children: The Battle

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my amazing wife Jen. Not only is she my better half, and a remarkable stay-at-home-mom, but she also has an incredibly compassionate heart to serve others. Today she shares Part 1 (guest post entitled “Our Children: The Battle“). Be sure to also stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow. Enjoy!

I’ve heard it said that the more children you have, the more you allow things to inadvertently fall to the wayside: The picture album that was kept up to date begins to make its way out of the desk drawer less and less often, the baby clothes that were freshly folded and new with tags get shoved into the Rubbermaid bins labeled, “Hand-me-downs”, the toys that were sanitized on a fairly regular basis now more closely resemble an obnoxious heap of Toys R Us scrap metal, and the baby milestones that we once regarded as the very things that made the earth turn on its axis, now receive a small smile of admiration and a weak, “Oh, isn’t that nice?”.

I believe we can mostly agree that this dwindling enthusiasm can be labeled as part  of human nature. I remember thinking at times during my second pregnancy, “How can I love this baby as much as our first? Will there be enough love, enough attention for both of them?”  I remember how amazed I was to actually experience my love multiply with our second baby girl– a miracle that I believe in a small way, mirrors the profound truth that the Lord loves each and every one of His children so passionately and completely. Although the “newness” of being a first time parent may seem to fade slightly with time, there is such great celebration and joy in our hearts as we welcome the birth of each unique member of our family.

Have you ever pondered how much greater the Father and all of the heavenly hosts rejoice at the birth of a child—of YOUR child? Have you ever wondered what it looks like to see God dance? To hear angels sing praises? To feel Heaven move in celebration of just one small baby?

And quite conversely, have you ever stopped to consider the other forces – the ones sent by the Evil one himself, which are unleashed earthward in that same second of birth? With the impending birth of our third child, never before have I been more aware of the battle that rages on over the souls of our children. There are countless Scriptures we can reference that describe the value that the Lord places on our children.  Dr. Wess Stafford, leader of Compassion International, candidly describes it as so:

At the moment of birth, all heaven stands in breathless anticipation and breaks into shouts of joy and praise. Each child is born into the world loved and full of potential to bring joy to the heart of God. A little flame flickers deep in the child’s being. It reflects a dignity and worth, made in the image of God Almighty.

Meanwhile, Satan and his evil hosts stand ready to pounce and destroy that life as quickly and completely as possible, knowing how that will break the heart of God. All of heaven and hell are present and focused on the newborn life—for vastly different reasons. Both have strategic designs for this little one. (Too Small to Ignore)

In light of this battle, I believe that God reminds us that we are to:

1. Pray. Lift up our children as consistently and fervently as we can and acknowledge that there are forces at work (evident in the pressures of our society and our own heart conditions) that desire to separate our families from the Lord.

2. Remember that we are equipped. God has provided us with all that we need to train up our children… (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

3. Recognize that our time with our children (or any for that matter) is God-ordained. One smile, act of kindness, or encouraging word, can speak life through generations.

How does acknowledging this battle change the way we view our role in the lives of children?

Photo credit: vaaltonen