Why Did You Make Me Like This?

It seems kind of silly to think that this inanimate snowman would ask the question, “Why did you make me like this?” What is just as silly is us asking God the same question. Yet, we don’t think twice about asking that type of question. “Why do I need glasses?” “Why is my hair turning gray?” “Why does my body ache?” I could go on and on, “why don’t I have millions of dollars in the bank?” You get the idea, right?

I got to thinking about this while I was making my new favorite hot beverage this morning. Sitting on the counter was that snowman that I made to illustrate the silliness I mentioned in the first paragraph. I also made the connection to what I spent most of the day yesterday doing. I was at a protective tactics class put on by Don Johnson. I won’t give away his main point, but I will say this. We tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we have. We need to have the correct perspective. We need to realize that God made us exactly the way He wanted to make us. It was His prerogative. I can wonder why God gave me the ability to sin, if He hates it so much. But, how would I ever begin to understand His mercy if He hadn’t? I can wonder why it is so much easier to sin, or I can remember that God has given me His Spirit, and begin cultivating that fact instead of dwelling on my frustrations with how easy it is to sin. The struggle is real, but so is the victory. Will you pursue that victory with all the strength God gives you? Will you train your body toward that end? Or will you instead complain to your maker about your limitations?

I’m striving to make this my life motto, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

God Cares

Even when it looks like He doesn’t. 

The past week has given new meaning to  the words, “he shook my world.” And not in a positive way. With several earthquakes in excess of magnitude 7, and the loss of 100s of lives, how can I conclude that “God Cares?” Perhaps, just as the words “he shook my world” have taken on a seemingly sinister meaning, so too should the idea that “God Cares.”

Back in a time when the world wasn’t much different than it is today, people were searching for why bad things, catastrophic things happened to some people, and not to others. Here is what the Gospel writer Luke penned, and Jesus’ response. 

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
— Luke 13:1-5 NIV

Let me spell out what this means for us today. God cares enough to bring these earthquakes as a reminder that we need to repent. You might be thinking, I’m a pretty good person, compared to a murderer or a thief. That’s not the comparison God makes though. God’s standard is absolute perfection and His holiness. Even Billy Graham falls short, and so did Mother Teresa. I hope to meet them both one day, not because I’m as good as they are, but because, like them, I’ve repented. I’ve acknowledged that my good isn’t good enough, and trusted that Jesus paid the debt I could never pay, and because of what Jesus gives me, I now meet God’s standard. 

You see, God cares enough to send His Son, Jesus. Jesus loved me enough to die the death I should have died, and that death could pay the price for you too. Just repent. 

What could be worse than dying when a tower falls on you, or the earth shakes beneath your feet? Having any of that happen before you’ve repented and turned to Jesus. What is coming for this earth will make these earthquakes seem tame, and God cares enough to send these as warnings of what is to come.

The only question at this point is, will you listen? I’ve done my part. I’ve told you about your condition. And how Jesus is your only hope. Ridicule me if you must, but the day is coming when you will wish you listened, but it will be too late. On that day you will not be able to say, “I wish somebody told me.” Instead, you’ll say, “I wish I listened.”

The Best of Intentions

What to do when you fall off your bicycle.

What does falling off your bicycle have to do with the best of intentions? When you’re learning to ride a bicycle for the first time, you’re going to fall off. You keep at it until you learn to ride without falling off. I don’t think anyone sets out to not learn how to ride a bicycle. So it would seem that the best of intentions doesn’t really have anything to do with falling off of a bicycle. That is until you realize that the best of intentions is to a project as learning to ride is to the bicycle. We begin a project with the best of intentions, and we fall. Somehow we fail to apply the lesson of the bicycle to this, and the best of intentions lead to inaction, and the failure of the project.

That’s just it. We keep on working at riding a bicycle. We don’t give up because of a setback. We don’t give up even if we skin our knees, or hands, or elbows. Some of us don’t give up even if we break bones. But somehow the best of intentions becomes more than learning to ride, and instead of pulling ourselves together to go at the project again, it either takes on a life of its own and becomes bigger than it actually is, or we give up thinking we simply can’t do the project.

That’s where I am right now in many places. I have projects that I’ve undertaken with the best of intentions, and things haven’t gone as planned. Writing posts like this on a regular weekly basis is just the tip of the iceberg. Other projects seem to be more pressing than my own contribution to the sea of information on the Internet. The excuses mount, and before you know it what was a skinned elbow is now a broken arm. And it is so much harder to do everything with one of those. So now I have an excuse. Do you see where this is going? My thinking is ultimately what is broken. I need to get back to work on the projects, instead of letting the projects mount. I need to stop fabricating excuses, as if that was my job. And most importantly I need to push through the pain of admitting that I’m learning how to ride a bicycle. No, wait, I already know how to ride a bicycle. And, I already know how to get things done. That must mean that the pain is admitting that I have the best of intentions, and I have to stop letting those become my focus, because that makes about as much sense as dwelling on learning to ride a bicycle. The end goal is being able to ride a bicycle. The end goal of a project is its completion, not the best of intentions.

Stop making excuses when a project gets off track. Stop dwelling on intentions, and instead simply ask, “What’s next?” Then, do what’s next.

If you’re looking for help in this area, there are several good resources that have helped me. Follow the book links for “Getting Things Done” or “Essentialism” for starters. Read them. Then live them.

Getting Things Done (Penguin Books; Revised edition; March 17, 2015)

Biography

David Allen is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity. His thirty-year pioneering research and coaching to corporate managers and CEOs of some of America’s most prestigious corporations and institutions has earned him Forbes’ recognition as one of the top five executive coaches in the U.S. and Business 2.0 magazine’s inclusion in their 2006 list of the “50 Who Matter Now.” Time Magazine called his flagship book, “Getting Things Done”, “the definitive business self-help book of the decade.” Fast Company Magazine called David “one of the world’s most influential thinkers” in the arena of personal productivity, for his outstanding programs and writing on time and stress management, the power of aligned focus and vision, and his groundbreaking methodologies in management and executive peak performance.

David is the international best-selling author of “Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity”; “Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life”; and “Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life”.

He is the engineer of GTD®, the popular Getting Things Done® methodology that has shown millions how to transform a fast-paced, overwhelming, overcommitted life into one that is balanced, integrated, relaxed, and has more successful outcomes. GTD’s broad appeal is based on the fact that it is applicable from the boardroom to the living room to the class room. It is hailed as “life changing” by students, busy parents, entrepreneurs and corporate executives. David is the Founder and Chairman of the David Allen Company, whose inspirational seminars, coaching, educational materials and practical products present individuals and organizations with a new model for “Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life.” He continues to write articles and essays that address today’s ever-changing issues about living and working in a fast-paced world while sustaining balance, control, and meaningful focus. –from Amazon.com

My Review

I started reading this in January 2016, and as a result the scope of one of my 2016 goals increased several times. What I had intended to complete in January to lay the groundwork for my best year ever is still not done in March. This hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement of the book, yet it is. It would be foolish to think that years of storing without order would be reversed without lots of work. I quickly realized that my goal of cleaning my home office while great would not have created an environment where that would be its perpetual state with my initial goal. That meant cleaning out file drawers that haven’t been touched in 10 years. It meant cleaning out drawers that collected whatever didn’t have a place. And it meant only putting things back if that was the place for them. When I’m done, and I will finish, my workspace will allow me to be more productive. Not only has this book helped bring order to my physical stuff, but it also reminded me that I need to have it extend to my digital world as well.

You could be forgiven at this point for thinking that this is a book about getting to clean. That’s only the welcome byproduct of the process. This is really a book about shifting the way you think about an inbox, and storage. In the digital world, inbox zero is all the rage. And that’s a good thing. E-mail programs make poor databases. Yet for many of us, we store unprocessed e-mail in our inboxes. That’s going to change for me as well, as the things I need to do from an e-mail make it into my trusted system for follow-up, or I take immediate action if whatever needs to be done can be done in two minutes or less.

Perhaps, that is the single most beneficial thing from the book, doing what will only take two minutes right away, removes us from even having to track our progress on it. However, if you’re like me, you’ll likely include the task to check off anyway!

Love is Love

Except When It's a Lie

It would be easier just to let this go unchecked but, that wouldn’t be very loving. When you truly love somebody, you don’t go out of your way to lie to them. Believe me I know there are different kinds of love. I love my dogs differently than I love my wife, differently than I love my parents, differently than I love my siblings. I even love other men besides myself. Let’s be honest though, this whole “Love is Love” business isn’t really about love at all. It is about saying that same-sex couples should be able to express their love for each other the same way that a heterosexual couple can. At its core though that is impossible. The love between a man and a woman is different than the love between two men or two women. No amount of calling it the same changes that fact. Not even the President of the United States of America can change that fact.

The ultimate reason this is a lie is because it goes against what God says. The evil one has the world fooled, and is battling against anyone who would dare speak the truth. What bothers me the most is that our President seems to think he knows better than God. He says he’s learned “lessons in humility”, but if you’re willing to call God a liar, I’m not so sure you have. Just yesterday Barack Obama spoke to the Illinois legislature. He recounted his first experience on the floor of the legislative body, “I was passionate, idealistic, ready to make a difference… filled with a heightened sense of purpose…. I thought I had made some compelling points with irrefutable logic… [Pate Phillips] said, ‘kid that was a pretty good speech, in fact I think you changed a lot of minds… but you didn’t change any votes.'” Mr. President, you may succeed in changing a lot of minds about “Love is Love”, but God’s vote on the matter is the only one that counts. Leading people astray has always had severe consequences.

Going along to get along sure would be easier, but truth be told, I wouldn’t be loving you very much if I knew that this idea that “Love is Love” is rooted in a lie, and I covered it up. You’d find out soon enough that what God thinks about it is more important than what I think about it, or what the President of the United States thinks about it. And you would discover too late that it is better to be on God’s side and be hated for it, than to go along with the crowd in the interest of getting along.

Living Forward (Baker Books (March 1, 2016), 2016)

Even though Michael still likes print books, I’m ordering my copy on Kindle so that I can read it wherever I happen to be, not just where the book happens to be. More often than not, when I have some extra time to read, the book is at home, or at the office. When it’s on Kindle, I can read it on my iPad, iPhone, or MacBook Pro. I’m currently participating in Michael Hyatt’s “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever,” and I see this fitting in to my overall plan.

I will come back and revisit this once I’ve read the book, I can almost guarantee it!