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Friday, July 01, 2016

Some Reflections on Life and Ministry…

Some Reflections on Life and Ministry…

-       Confluence is the best path to Influence.  There is nothing like a team win.
-       There is no trust without risk.  There is no love without hurt. 
-       It is better to be grateful than to be great.
-       There are times I’ve loved and lost…so love doesn’t always win, but that’s not why you love in the first place.
-       When you stop obeying God’s voice it won’t be long before you stop hearing God’s voice.  It’s called quenching the Spirit.
-       When I was younger I thought Lust would be my greatest lifelong threat; turns out it’s Fear.  There’s not even a close second.
-       The only way to stay present is to give thanks.  Daily gratitude grounds me.
-       I’ve always wondered why Self-Control is the last fruit of the Spirit mentioned.  It feels like the others are unsustainable, or worse, unachievable without it.
-       I’m grateful that God seemed to gravitate to passion more than perfection as he chose people to use in the Bible.  People who said, “Why me?” not “Pick me!”
-       I’ve noticed the people who make history create the future by changing the present.  
-       A good indication of who I really am is what I think about when I’m idle and what I do when no one’s watching.  I need to keep a pulse on these two realities.
-       I’m least afraid when I’m not hiding.  So it’s true: Nothing to hide…Nothing to fear.  Secrecy breeds Anxiety.
-       The only thing worse than people talking about you behind your back is not having anyone talk about you behind your back.  Going on the offensive with your life is always offensive to someone.
-       Don’t thank God for someone without finding a way to somehow tell them about it.  Encouragement that isn’t shared didn’t happen.  Our hearts are starving for kind words.
-       Giving the benefit of the doubt frees a person almost as much as forgiveness.  People spend so much time holding people hostage which means they are always at the prison themselves making sure no one escapes.
-       My wife is not a ball and chain; she’s my anchor.
-       My kids don’t keep me from doing what I want, they often show me how much I’ve been missing.
-       I feel most satisfied when I’m most sanctified.  A good heart produces a good life.
-       Sin—though it may not seem so to the senses—isn’t merely annoying me, it’s ultimately destroying me.  To think otherwise is foolish.
-       Love, don’t shove.  I’ve never seen someone transform via force. 
-       The church is at her best when she’s willing to admit and apologize for her worst.  Humility and vulnerability are magnetic. 
-       Truth will flex, but it will never change. 
-       A professing christian that doesn’t follow Christ is more detrimental to the gospel than a professing atheist.  I can’t even bring myself to capitalize the word.
-       The worst feeling at the end of a day is knowing I have spent my time but not invested it.
-       No matter how hard I try to avoid it, I always end up treating people as badly as I treat myself.  The harder I am on myself the harsher I am on others. 
-       I’ve noticed that most successful people are always busy trying to make everyone around them successful.  This is the secret of success.
-       The best feeling is the world is feeling like my home is a place of shalom.  Peace is priceless.
-       No one has ever created lasting family traditions without first creating healthy family values.  Traditions are spawned from an environment of relaxed respect.
-       Everyday I must work to eliminate the noise in my head so that I can hear the voice in my heart. 
-       There are days when it seems that all the human heart is looking for is a safe person to be one's self with.
-       Evil spelled backwards is Live.  This can’t be accidental any more than Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts.  It’s, at the very least, astounding.
-       There is no comfort like knowing there are people who will love me unconditionally even if I fail spectacularly. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tithing Story...God Story.

This past year Heidi and I have made it a priority to give not just our tithe, but to give above and beyond when God prompts our hearts to give as we see needs around us. It was just something we felt stirred to add to our spiritual disciplines. But let me dispel a myth right away...upon this desire to practice more radical generosity, God didn't just open the floodgates and shower down financial blessing beyond what we could handle, in fact, just the opposite. Last year we experienced more mishaps and pitfalls, costly fixes and unplanned bills, than ever before. I think I'd call it fiscal hemorrhaging.

But we stayed the course in our commitment. We obeyed beyond what we saw and sensed...that's faith.

Fast forward to a couple weekends ago when we finished the "Blessed to be a Blessing" series at church...I was sharing at the Saturday Night service how God is a generous God and that this past year He was inviting the Holdridge Family to a deeper degree of generosity. It had been a tough year and many days I wanted to abandon the idea all together, but I know that sometimes you have to be "tested before you're trusted". If he can't trust us with what He gives us already, he certainly won't entrust us with more.

My prayer all year was: "God, I want to bless you so that you can bless me so that I can bless others." This prayer stayed with me all year.

So back to a couple weekend ago...I was sharing the journey we had this year as we stretched out to trust God not necessarily seeing immediate blessing, but wanting to obey His voice. The interesting thing was that my car that I just paid off was just taken into the shop that week because it was leaking coolant and the mechanic told me that there was a crack in the engine block and that the engine needed to be replaced to the tune of $3,000 to $3,500! Here I am sharing with our body the way God called us into deeper generosity and in my heart I was sorta feeling, "So then why is my car basically broken down and worthless now?" I was literally borrowing someone's car while ours was out sitting next to the shop waiting for us to either replace the engine or sell it for scraps.

After I got done speaking that night, I was mingling with people in the cafe' when a guy came up and handed me a check. As he was handing it to me he said, "My wife and I talked this afternoon and we haven't really done this much, but we felt strongly that we should give this to you tonight." I opened the check and it was $3,500!!! I stood there shocked that God would know our need and meet it so precisely. I knew He could do it, I just didn't think he would do it! (just being honest)

But that was just the beginning...

I was driving home that night and I got a message on my phone that someone needed me to call them. It was the guy who was letting us borrow his car while ours was out of commission. I thought, "He needs his car back." So before I got out of my car, I gave him a jingle. He answered the phone and to make a long story less long, he told me that he and his wife had talked that evening and felt strongly that they were supposed to give us the car that we were borrowing from them. WHAT?! But what he said next was the God-part of the conversation: "And if you end up getting your other car fixed, you can just give this to Kami as her first car." What he didn't know was that Kami was asking all week long, "Dad, I would love that car! It's so cute and perfect. Could we buy it from them?" I said over and over that week: "NO. Absolutely not! We don't even have two cars right now, we're not buying a third when our second car is dead! What are you, nuts? It ain't happening!"

After I hung up the phone I was utterly amazed that in a matter of 20 minutes someone handed me a check to cover the costs of fixing our car and someone else gave us a car. Kami wasn't going to believe it. I went inside to share the events of the last half and hour with my family.

I love sharing with our kids "God stuff" because I want them to know that God doesn't always answer our prayers according to our desires because He knows best, but sometimes he does more amazing things than we could even imagine to pray for. I would have never prayed for what just happened...I just don't have enough faith or imagination.

As I shared with Kami, she was ecstatic! I told her: "You remember how you kept saying this week, 'I love that car...I would love to have that as my first car'? Well, God heard your simple desire...not even your need cause you don't NEED a car, he heart your WANT. He cares about your desires. He heard you." It was a special moment I didn't want to pass by without giving glory to God.

But it wasn't over yet...

The next day the breaks gave out in Kami's newly acquired car and I had to take it over to the same shop where my other car was sadly sitting in the lawn. I told the mechanic that the brakes had completely gone out and needed to be looked at. He took a look and later that day called us and told us to come and pick up the car. We got out our credit card to pay for the brake fix and he looked at us and said, "This one is covered." We told him that we didn't want him to do that...that we could pay for it. He just looked at us and said, "I want to." We thanked him and walked out of the shop blown away that God kept going before us...almost like he just wanted to show off at this point!

But the story gets better...

One of our friends at church said to us that we should try a certain product that you can pour into your coolant that has fiberglass and aluminum chips that will sometimes clog the crack and take care of the coolant leak. He said it was worth a try, so I dropped it off at his house and he flushed out the coolant, put in brand new coolant, and dumped this miracle product in as well. He let it run for over and hour and said that it wasn't leaking anymore....that it looked like it did the trick!!

So for now, I'm driving around my car, (I don't know how long this quick fix will last), Kami is driving around her car, God took care of our brake bill through the generosity of our mechanic who was led to do it for free, and we have a $3,500 check that is in our bank account just in case our car eventually needs some work. Unreal!

I just wanted to share this glory story...because it's been a long year of sob stories as it relates to our finances. All I know is that whether God gives us anything in return or not, the blessing comes from faithfulness and obedience....but it sure is amazing when our loving Father shows us that he knows us and wants to care for us in a custom way literally proving his individual love for us as His children.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Talking to my Soul...

Just some of my inner dialogue as I start the day.  I have to talk to myself in order to not go insane.  This is a conversation I had with my Soul just this morning:

1. Why do overlook your blessings and obsess about your blunders?
2. Don’t you know how many people love you?  Stop and take stock.
3. Why do you vacillate between feeling bored or busy? When will you settle into feeling blessed?
4. Remind yourself of the power of your words…then tell someone how much they mean to you.
5. Trust the truth.  Even if it stings…that’s because it’s cleaning out infection.  Don’t always run away from pain.  Some pain is purifying.
6. Love your enemies. It’s the only way for them not to control your life and dominate your thoughts.  Wish them well inside your mind.
7. Leave everything better than you found it.  Whatever garbage is littering life as you walk through it, pick it up and get rid of it on behalf of the world.
8. Resistance means you’re moving.  Every vehicle gets great gas mileage when it’s idling.  Don’t try to conserve fuel, just make sure the fuel you use gets you somewhere meaningful.
9. Jesus’ definition of love is being full of grace and truth.  Eliminate either and you cease to have love.
10. You can do more than your lizard brain suggests, don’t talk yourself out of hard things…overcoming those things helps you to keep respecting yourself.
11. There is nothing that happened yesterday that a good time of confession before God and good night of sleep won’t remedy…don’t sweat it.
12. Don’t get caught up into the “how much-how many” game in leadership, live without guile and you will lead without guilt.
13. Trust more people because most people are trustworthy.  Don’t let the one bad experience define reality and the rest of your future.
14. Look for ways to give credit to other people and not to seek it for yourself.  This is the key to deep joy and deeper satisfaction.
15. Allow yourself to feel down for longer stretches.  Your heart needs to lament losses not just rush back into the arena to crank out more product.  Take care of your heart and it will take care of you.
16. Don’t cover up disappointment with helping others.  It distracts you from troubleshooting your own personal problems and really fixing them. 
17. Find out what is fun for you and fight to keep doing it.  Don’t let the duties of life drown out your desires and delights.  It seems to be the first cargo that people throw overboard when life gets busy.
18. Don’t keep lying to yourself about that hidden sin.  It may seem alluring, but it’s click-bait meant to get it’s grapple hooks in you and drag you to the slaughter house.
19. Make sure you take time to get to know the bats in your belfry.  Those boxes in your mental attic need to be sorted through and labeled.  Name each box and what it contains or the clutter up there in your noggin will scare you from going there and you need a clean mind to have a clear vision.
20. Do things that will cause you to look up to yourself.  You can’t keep doing things you know to be wrong and expect that to not affect your soundness of mind and sleep.  That’s just how it works.
21. Let that person go.  Make the attempt to repair the relationship and if it doesn’t pan out, don’t feel bad about not feeling bad about their self-destructive choices.  It’s not your problem if you’ve made an attempt to make amends.  Some people don’t want to fix things as hard as it is to believe.
22. Forgive people especially if what they did really hurt you.  You can’t let them steal any more of your life away through unforgiveness.  Do it for you.  You need to be freed to lead and you can’t do this if you’re being motivated by radioactive resentment.
23. Give things to people with no strings attached.  We were meant to do this and you don’t know it until you actually do it.
24. Devote your life to the pursuit of joy.  Not just pleasure or happiness, but joy.  Count and recount all the things you have to be thankful for and take joy in them.
25. Don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself and doing what you enjoy.  You’re of no help to people if you don’t feel alive in your living.
26. What scares you?  Move toward that and wonder about what it would look like to overcome the fear with faith.  Most of it is in your head and when you conquer your fears there is a release of power that is needed to survive in this life.
27. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Not asking for helping is probably the most professional form of pride.
28. Be liberal with compliments.  Lower your standards for what you’re looking to see happen before you dole them out.  Look for the little things and make much of them.  People aren’t getting affirmed or appreciated like you think they are.
29. If you’re rich, try to place yourself in the shoes of someone who isn’t and respond to God’s prompting.  If you’re shy, put yourself in the shoes of someone who isn’t and respond accordingly.  If you’re young, imagine what it must feel like to get old and follow whatever your heart says to do next.  This simple act holds the world together.
30. Let people know how much they mean to you on a regular basis.  Never miss an opportunity to fill people in on their meaning in your life.
31. Get your priorities straight without delay…1. God 2. Marriage 3. Kids. 4. Everything Else.  Jesus said ‘seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will fall into place’.  If you know your ‘priorities’ you are more likely to succeed in life.
32. Celebrate small wins by pausing and saying, “I did it.  That felt good.”  You may be the only one that ever sees all the little victories along the way…so take time to congratulate yourself and then get about the business of getting comfortable in thankless obscurity.
33. Stop doing things that contribute to feelings of self-hatred.  Whether it is laziness, watching too much TV, drinking too much beer, disappearing on your family, trolling Facebook, obsessing over politics, being greedy instead of generous…begin to remove these parasites that are sucking the lifeblood out of your existence.
34. Invest in the next generation.  Stoop down to let that little girl know that her dress is pretty.  Tell that young boy that he did a great job.  Stop a teen in the hall and let them know you love how they seem to care about others around them.  Don’t let them create their own world hived off from the generation before them.  Pursue them.
35. Give away money to things that mean something to eternity.  Only then will your money have meaning, which fascinatingly enough makes your life feel more meaningful and less miserable now.
36. Ask God to do a miracle once in while.  Don’t be afraid of being disappointed if he doesn’t answer your every request like a genie.  He won’t always move your molehill, but he seems to get a kick out of moving mountains.  Learn to pray for things He cares about…there’s a better success rate in answered prayer when you start with that premise.
37. Don’t take yourself so seriously…people can’t stand to be around people that are always uprightly uptight.  You’re not as big a deal as you think and the sooner you embrace that, people will gravitate to the light of your lightheartedness.
38. There is no more generative attitude than gratitude.  Live with poised positivity and wide-eyed wonder and you will find yourself in the presence of greatness without ever fighting to get there.

39. Above all, live for the pleasure of God.  There is nothing so fulfilling as the deep sense that you’re pleasing your Creator by making his dreams come true by living out his designs and desires for your life.  That is my experience anyhow.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

2016 New Year's Resolutions...

My New Year’s Resolutions for 2016:

I hereby resolve to run toward Jesus and away from sin for another year.  Give me the grace to stand in your sustaining strength, Christ.

I hereby resolve to make every effort to passionately pursue people who feel far from God.  Break my heart for what breaks yours, God.

I hereby resolve to fight for congruency between my insides and my outsides.  Make me painfully uncomfortable with duplicity.

I hereby resolve to overcome fear, doubt, and anxiety with the weapon of prayer.  May prayer be my first response instead of my last resort.

I hereby resolve to be more generous and less greedy believing it is more blessed to give than to receive.  I want a selfless and sacrificial heart.

I hereby resolve to love my wife in a way that makes her feel protected, adored, and strengthened.

I hereby resolve to take care of my body with exercise while feeding it things that will help it help me be all that I want to be.  I tired of abusing my body. 

I hereby resolve to lead our church into the future with audacious faith and compassionate conviction.  To lead with a balance of humility and authority.

I hereby resolve to read a book a month to challenge and sharpen my mind.  I want to stay curious and learn new insights.

I hereby resolve to take every thought captive making them obedient to Christ no matter how long that reformation takes.

I hereby resolve to look at life and people through the lens of promise.  Not problems to be solved, but possibilities to be unearthed.

I hereby resolve to clean out the daily residue of disappointment, bitterness, and anger with the choice of forgiveness.  Forgive as I’ve been forgiven.

I hereby resolve to cherish my daughters and sons…to play with them, protect them, and talk with them instead of speak to them.

I hereby resolve to not let hurt keep me from continuing to dream big and live with imaginative hope.

I hereby resolve to make, have, and keep friends a part of the vital ritual of my daily life…to know and be known by good companions.

I hereby resolve to create things instead of simply copying the things other people create.  I was made to create, not simply copy.  No shortcuts, God.  No copouts.

I hereby resolve to rely afresh on the power of God instead of my own strength.  My vigor fades, but the vitality of God gives staying power.

I hereby resolve to rise each day with a “yes” in my spirit and on my lips.  “Yes” to God’s bidding and “yes” to daily life that is constantly screaming “no way”.

I hereby resolve to learn new things and to resist the urge to coast.  To enjoy the familiar, yes, but to embrace the unknown.

I hereby resolve to live with integrity in obscurity.  I want to be faithful in the places I’ll never get rewarded for until I stand before Judge Jesus.

I hereby resolve to give more grace to people who are unlovely, unloved, and seemingly unlovable.  Give me uncomfortable and unconditional love, God. 

I hereby resolve to be more grateful and joyful despite what I may feel based on circumstantial or emotional evidence.  May the joy of the Lord be my strength!

I hereby resolve to make people laugh as much as I possibly can.  I don’t want to take life so seriously that I miss the humor and humanity in it all.

I hereby resolve to let people not only see my weaknesses but to know where they come from and why they exist.  May vulnerability stay in tact even under attack.

I hereby resolve to not cave in to pre-determinism and fatalism.  I want to change the future by creating a new future with my present attitude and actions.

I hereby resolve to let myself fail and make mistakes.  I want my life to be filled with daring, caring and sharing…this means I will fall short, but at least I’ll fall forward.

I hereby resolve to soak in the beauty of nature, art, conversations, words, and music as soul-gifts from my Creator. 

I hereby resolve to bring the fruits of the Spirit into my home through the conduit of my regenerated human spirit.  I want my house to be a home of Shalom.

I hereby resolve to be ok with certain people not liking me for whatever reason.  I must not let the disappointing dislike of so few ruin the lavish love of so many.

I hereby resolve to read these resolutions at the beginning of each week as a reminder of what is real regardless of what I feel. 

In the strength of Jesus, I commit myself to these resolutions with my whole heart.