My story doesn’t fit.

A friend of mine recently returned from a conference.  He was telling me about some of the speakers and how impactful the experience was.  It challenged him on multiple levels; professionally, personally, spiritually.  He was genuinely moved by the entire experience.  He then shared something with me that stuck with me.  I don’t know which speaker to attribute it to so forgive me.

As you read the stories throughout scripture, especially the New Testament, consider this.  If your life’s story was put to paper and someone wrote about you, would it fit into scripture?  I have friends that are moving across the globe to be missionaries.  I have friends who adopt orphans.  I have friends who… you get the idea.  Their stories fit into scripture.  They all expressed the same thing.  They saw a need and simply responded to trying to help.  In their own individual ways they expressed Christ’s love.

Now for the tough part.  Turn the magnifying glass upon you.  Or, in my case, on me.  I have a hard time with this part.  If I look at my story… it would NOT fit in scripture.  That’s the tough part.  Keep in mind, I’m not talking about perfection here.  The souls recorded in scripture were flawed in countless ways.  We’re all broken vessels to some degree.  It may be pride, greed, or any desire that places ourselves above God’s command.  What I’m getting at is the manner in which people followed Christ.  It’s an extremely simple, extremely extreme form of commitment.  They changed their lives based on, “Follow Me”.  They dropped careers, family, homes, and even their lives because he asked them to live as he did.

Now, my story doesn’t fit… but here is the good news.  My story isn’t done.  It’s still being written.  Maybe I’ll be like Noah and hit my stride when I’m 70+.  Maybe it will be a flash in the pan moment.  Maybe it will be a lifetime of daily struggle with no apparent result.  Maybe I’ll raise my arms and part Beaver Lake.  It doesn’t matter what or when it is.  What is important is that I live each and every day completely sold out to one thing.  To live as Christ lived.  To love as He loved.  To hold firm on truth and communicating Truth in Love.  I am alive, therefore I can keep writing.  I can change those things I don’t like.  I can write a story worthy of print in scripture.

Suck it up cupcake!

Ok, life’s hard.  We all have “seasons” where life just seems hard.  Getting out of bed is harder than it’s supposed to be.  Working hard never seems to pay off.  No matter how many vacations, breaks, or rests you take, they’re never enough.  Your friends seem to be a million miles away and nobody “understands you”.  Maybe your spouse is looking at you with a curious look and wondering what in the world is going on with you.  Your kids would rather play with a brick than with you.  You can’t get to sleep at night and when you do, it’s guaranteed that you’ll wake up at 3:00 am and then fall back asleep at 4:00 which ensures you’ll not hear your alarm at 5:00.  Any of these things sound familiar?  (These things have never happened to me personally but I’ve read about them in books).

How do you pull yourself out of such a miserable place?  STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.  Focus all 3 ounces of your energy on a positive scripture.  Anything that gives you the slightest inclination of hope.  I’m not giving any verses to you… go look it up.  It has to be yours.  You have to own it.  Why?  Any preacher, teacher, friend or rabbi can give you a verse out of Jeremiah, or Romans or whatever and tell you what they think.  But you lose something in the translation.  IF God’s word is what it says it is.  IF God is who He says He is.  Then YOU have to try to believe that He is talking directly to you and only you.

Go directly to the word of God, find a verse, passage or story that gives you hope enough for today and today only.  Focus on it.  Dwell on it. Do whatever you got to do to think on that each and every time the world starts to crowd in on your thoughts.  Beth Moore, Francis Chan, or Dave Ramsey may be great folks and “experts” in their field but you need to go to the Creator of hope to receive hope.  Look at this way.  Experts built the Titanic, God spoke to an armature to build the arc.

Ok, now let’s open a Bible and find hope.

Forgive This!!

Ok, I’m having one of those very human moments.  There is a pretty good battle going on inside this old head/heart of mine.  Keep in mind.  In this rant, I’m not talking about those souls that drift in and out of our lives in very natural ways.  You’re very close to someone for a season and then life brings some battles and changes and before you know it, you haven’t seen them in 20+ years.  That is natural and to be expected.

No, I’m talking about an explosion for whatever reason.  A relationship suddenly and dramatically changes.  What was once a close friend has evolved into something less. 

Such is my position.  I have no ill will towards this person.  I’m trying to live according to this new set of expectations.  Does that make sense?  For example, you expect close friends to invite you to things or call to check on you, the kids, or whatever.  You’re doing life together, right?  That is a reasonable expectation for a “friend”. 

Now, conversely, if someone tells you they care, love and respect your family but completely cut all communication (in spite of repeated attempts to re-establish) then I am to assume an expectation was not met.  They were either hurt, angered or insulted to the degree they would rather end the relationship rather than work it out.  It’s kind of like when folks leave a church, class or group because they didn’t like this or that.  They would rather leave the relationships rather than deal with the conflict.

If that is the case.  How do you demonstrate grace?  I’m perfectly fine letting go of this relationship that caused hurt, disappointment and frustration in my own life.  And since that time, I’ve been polite in my dealings with no real feeling or sense of obligation to restore the relationship.  To my way of thinking, not everyone is going to be my best friend.  It’s ok if you don’t want to be.  I’m also fine if that person wants to reestablish a connection.  I’m just not sure I want them to consider themself a “close friend”, if you know what I mean.  Let’s set some ground rules.  Let’s understand why feelings were hurt.  Let’s deal with whatever created the conflict first.

So there it is.  Debate your own willingness to forgive.  Does it reflect scripture?  Does the argument above reflect scripture?  And by the way, I’m not going to answer it for you.  Feel free to leave a thought or reference.

“God in the Market Place”

It’s a book by Henry and Richard Blackaby.  It is 45 questions asked to Fortune 500 executives about faith, life, and business.  I enjoy pulling it out every once in a while.  The chapters are short in length and provide just enough references to other sources to make it interesting. 

Today, I ran across part 4, My Family Life.  The question is a simple one, “Can you be successful leader if your family is fractured by broken relationships?  We all know that the book is looking for the correct answer which of course is, “no”. 

We all understand that.  We all know how to answer that.  However; if we’re honest, and we look at the compartmentalized, analytical, almost schizophrenic approach to life that we live…then our actions betray us.  Why else would a man find so much value in his achievements at his work and less so at keeping his responsibilities at home?  Shouldn’t a good “leader” at work be the same at home?  Is the definition of “leadership” different at work than it is at home?  You tell me.

1 Timothy 3:4-5  is a verse that it keys on.  Yes, it talks about ministers leading a church but is the challenge any less so for executives of industry? 

The book continues to challenge us on relationships with our spouses, children, business, church, and all other social alliances.  Check this one out (even if you have to go to the library).  It’s a good read.

Shell Oil taught me something today.

The Northwest Arkansas Summit is a weekly luncheon at The Church at Pinnacle Hills.  I like to attend to do a little networking, catching up with acquaintances and generally break up the routine a bit.

Today, Shell Oil of North America’s VP of Sales, Jim McCormick spoke.  He shared a good portion of information regarding the energy business and our nation’s outlook.  Of particular interest to me was the fact they had approximately 44,000 stations.  Excuse me Mr. McCormick, can I interest you in POP displays for all your locations?  Just asking.

Anyway, there was a point he made that really caught my attention.  Summarizing a bit, I’ll try to get as close as possible.  As a leader, displaying the attributes of love described in 1 Corinthians, how do you achieve changing results for the better?  He summed it up this way.  Change your perspective.

Follow the logic here.  If you change your perspective, it will change your reaction to the event.  By changing your reaction to the event, you change the environment surrounding that event.  The likelihood for change then is increased because the reaction and environment surrounding it are different.  Now, go read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Creating change in an institution (business or church) would be more effective if the attributes described in the passage were demonstrated to the employees or followers.  To use Seth Godin’s verbage, you’re talking to your tribe.  

I just have to remember this when the opportunity arises.  Thanks Mr. McCormick for making me stop and think a bit today.

Remake of True Grit?! Noooo!

I realize if you born after 1979 you have no idea how big of a hero John Wayne was.  To say he was an American icon is not an overstatement.  He wasn’t an actor as much as he was a persona.  Every little boy wanted to be him.  Very few achieved such cultural stature; Ali, Kennedy, Marilyn… maybe.  But the Duke crossed boundaries that even limited those I mentioned.  He seemed to represent the best of America.

He was born in 1907.  I know that because that was the same year Oklahoma became a state.  And I know that because I was born on the same day as Oklahoma statehood (not the same year).  Anyway, I digress. 

He appeared in over 175 films over a 50 year span.  He beat cancer once by having several ribs removed (circa 1964).  After his death in 1979, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The highest awards given to non-military citizens.  Maybe a handful of individuals have received both.  The image of John Wayne was bigger than life.  He embodied the American ideal.

Well, in perfect Hollywood fashion, they want to try to copy it.  Hollywood, so help me… if you mess this up, I will hire an evil genius to shoot two missiles into the San Andreas fault line and cause an earthquake that will make California fall into the ocean!

The REAL Rooster (3 minute mark has most memorable moment from the film)

If you’re really a fan, here’s one of my favorite quotes that is very timely.

Can you name the movie?

Selling everything and moving to Dubai!

The Caubble Family

Well, ok… just a little misleading.  No, the Evans family is not moving (sorry to disapoint you).  And no, that picture has nothing to do with the Evans’ either.

I just found out about this family and have been reading their blog.  It’s inspirational and exciting.  Check out their story.  I hope it challenges you as it did me today. 

John, Leslie, Jonathan (13), and Jared (11) Caubble are currently preparing to relocate to the Middle East. Their blog is designed as a communication tool with family and friends. For more ministry updates, please email John at jcaubble@gmail.com.