Stepping into Faith

Cliff jumping isn’t for wimps. It takes a lot of guts to step off the edge of a cliff and plummet into the crystal blue water below. Regardless if it’s bravery or insanity, without a wholehearted commitment to jump, you’re history.

Whether you are like me and won’t ever yell “Geronimo” while plunging for of a cliff, because I don’t swim, or whether you might be crazy enough to do it, there’s a lesson to be learned here. As we walk with Christ, we all have a chance to do some “spiritual cliff jumping”. To get to that point of God I trust you no matter what.

Everyday we’re faced with opportunities to trust God completely. Sometimes it’s as extreme as losing a job or finding out some life changing news. Maybe it’s a chance to share Christ or getting involved in a new ministry. It could be just the frustration of waiting. Circumstances are out of our control and the unknown can be a very frightening place.

Have you be stepping to edge looking over reluctant to just jump? When you trust and obey you won’t be aimlessly falling into the blue water, instead you find yourself trusting completely in the hand of God. So go ahead and take that next step. The territory may be unknown to you, but the Father knows exactly where you are going to land.

“I cried out, “I’m slipping” and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Ps. 94:18-19

When I think about the heroes of the faith, they all have at least one thing in common. They were all willing to trust God no matter what with their lives and step out. Their confidence in God far outweighs any risk.

Abraham

God called him to pack up and move and Abraham obeyed even though he didn’t know where he was going.   Gen. 12:1-4 & Hebrews 11:8-10

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

Facing being burned to death for the sake of Go’s name.   Daniel 3

Joseph

Took Mary as his wife even though many people thought it was scandalous.   Matthew 1:20-21

You?

Your willingness to trust God no matter what the circumstance, will have a lasting impact on the lives around you. You could be another hero to add to the ever growing list of those who have trusted God for that next step.

Maybe I do need to follow through on getting those swimming lessons.

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Recognizing Inspiration

Throughout history inspiration has come from some of the most surprising places. You may not be aware that some of life’s most familiar items originated out of unexpected places.

Like 11 year old Frank Epperson, who in 1905 made a discovery that changed his life. He mixed up a popular soda drink and accidentally left it on the windowsill with the stir stick still in it. Overnight the temperature fell below freezing and when Frank woke up, and found his frozen soda drink stuck to the stick it sparked an idea in him. Eighteen years later, he began to make and market his frozen ice pops, calling them “Eppsicles.” Today we know them as Popsicles.™

Or George de Mestral, who after returning from a walk in 1948 discovered cockleburs covering his clothes. After some curiosity, he began examining them under a microscope and found that the tiny hook-like stands were holding themselves onto the fabric. It wasn’t long before George recognized its potential and Velcro™ was born. And you thought it was discovered in Area 51.

What about Josephine Dickson, an accident-prone wife whose husband worked for a well-known company that made adhesive tapes and gauze. After seeing Josephine suffer with many cuts and scrapes, he husband put together a small bandage with gauze and tape that would be quick and easy for Josephine to apply to the injury without it sticking to it. It didn’t take long for his company to see the usefulness of such a handy item and Band-Aids™ were born.

And finally, Bette Nesmith Graham, a single mother who went to work as a typist in 1951. Though she worked hard to support herself and her son, she soon found out that her typing skills were somewhat less than perfect. In order to cover her mistakes she concocted a mixture with white tempura paint. Soon all the ladies in the office were using this new white liquid to hide their typing errors. Seventeen years late, she sold her Liquid Paper™ idea for a very sizable amount. I will say the bottle I have in my desk is now dried up in this world of spell check.

If these ordinary people weren’t careful, they might have missed a life-changing discovery. They could have completely overlooked an opportunity to succeed and change the world. God is very intentional in every area of His plan for your life. Whether you are in the fast-paced business world or a always on the go stay at home mom, God is constantly at work in your life, do you recognize it? Are you taking advantage of the opportunities for inspiration. You never know you might be in a office behind a computer or waiting in a car pick up line when God gives you inspiration that could change everything.


Building Bridges

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

We haven’t built a beautiful suspension bridge in America in many decades now. However during the height of the bridge building boom many such bridges were built with pride. Giant cables hold up these magnificent suspension bridges. Take the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for example. The cables that hold these bridges together look like one large cable, but upon closer inspection they are not really a single cable. In fact it is a group of smaller cables wound together that make up each larger cable. Why? Well it’s like the passage from Ecclesiastes that states, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Of the two bridges mentioned earlier the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. When constructed it had the longest main span, 4260 feet in the world. The two towers are 693 feet high and the truss is 24 feet deep. The bridge holds up to 120,000 tons plus vehicle traffic weighing 15,600 tons each day. Four main cables hold the bridge together; each cable weighs 39,000 tons, bringing the total weigh to 174,600 tons. Where does this bridge gather its strength? The strength comes from the smaller cables wrapped together to form a team of larger cables.

I have not seen this first hand but at the south end of the Gold Gate Bridge you can get a glimpse of what’s inside each of the large cables that holds this 1937 creation together. Here are just a few facts about the cables: The length of one main cable is 7680 feet. The diameter of one main cable (with the wrapping) is 36 3/8 inches. The total length of wire used in each of the main cables is 80,000 miles long. The number of wires in each cable is 27,572 and there are 61 strands in each cable. Finally the weight of the main cables, suspender cables, and accessories are 24,500 tons or 49,000,000 pounds.

The simple point is that Suspension bridges work better that most bridges because they are held together with many strands or a team of strands. When teams come together they become more creative, effective and productive. Unified teams can accomplish any task or over come any opportunity that they may face.

What will it take to get your team working and pulling together to complete the task in from of them?

What is the primary purpose of your team structure? How is it designed to process and move people toward a common objective?


Sound Bites for Love

All of the sound bites for Valentine’s Day talk about “Love,” sharing love through candy, cards, jewelry and so on. Since when are chocolate diamonds more expensive that clear ones? My how times have changed since I bought my wife her diamond almost 17 years ago. Anyway in the very marketplace where those sound bite originate, there is no concept of what love really is. God is the author of love. His love for us is unconditional and it covers any circumstances in life that we may face. The late Whitney Houston asked: “How will I know.” Once you know and experienced the love of God, no other love will do!

When does God love us?

When He knows what’s really in our heart. John 13:27-38

When He disciplines us. Hebrews 12:5-6

When we face problems. James 1:2-4

When we suffer. Romans 8:16-18

When we hurt. Psalm 147:3

When we are anxious. 1 Peter 5:7

When we sin. Romans 5:8

When we repent. 1 John 1:9

When we forgive. Ephesians 4:32

When we love others. John 15:12-13

When…Ever! Romans 8:35-39

 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3


Stressed Out?

Have you ever felt overworked and underpaid? Buried under a mountain of email and paperwork or a mound of dishes and laundry? Spinning your wheels but never making much progress? Tired of just another day of meetings, scheduling, budgeting and carpooling?

Why not take a few minutes to get out of the fast lane of life and ponder on what’s really important.

In moments of stress, we should take to heart Paul’s advise in Scripture from Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”

Peace is not the absence of conflict; it’s not positive thinking or even feeling good. It’s know and living out our lives with Christ leading the way. It’s confidence in our Creator, not our circumstances. God is in control. He has the power to deal with anything life may throw our way.

So maybe we just need to slow down, take a breath find a quiet place to pray, listen to God and give control back to the One who can handle it.

As you’re finding time to slow down and taking that break it’s a good time to have dessert!


Teachable Moments and Family Movie Night

I’ve noticed a new phenomenon in our household lately. All of us — two adults and three kids — love movies and television, but find ourselves plugged in (literally, as in, with a headphone) to the various TVs and iPods scattered throughout the house, watching the shows we each like. It’s everything from Disney Channel to TLC to History Channel. No, I’m not the one watching TLC, well okay I am because I find some of the shows fascinating as I watch different parenting styles, like on Toddlers and Tiaras.

Needless to say, we need to bring the family back together, and what better way to do it than with a family movie night? Okay, I know what you’re thinking. With such wide tastes, how in the world are we going to find something we all like and can watch together? And, logistically, how do we make it all happen? Well, as Walt Disney himself said, the way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Make it official. Set a movie start time and stick to it. At our house, Friday nights are movie nights because it’s a nice way to de-stress after a long week of work, school and practice. The iPhones and iPods turned off and the movie starts at 7 p.m., after a simple dinner of pizza or mac-and-cheese.

Finish those chores. It’s hard to escape into a movie when you’ve got dishes and laundry calling you from the other room. Work together as a family to get household chores done before the movie starts (good motivation!). Even young kids can help pick up toys and put away laundry.

Have fun with it. Make tickets and sell them at a “box office” (a large cardboard box that’s cut out and decorated to look like a real box office). Provide fake money to each of the children and use it as a time to teach the responsibilities of money (give each child enough money for their ticket and snacks) My wife is great about being the ATM and our kids love it. You can even “usher” the kids to their seats, using a small flashlight like in the old days. Don’t be afraid to get into character as you set the stage

Set the stage. A darkened room and plenty of comfy seats are a must. Make sure the room is clean and “picked up.” Blankets and large pillows on the floor are great movie seats.

Make the concession stand. Movie candy like Goobers, Sprees, Gummy Worms and Candy bars lend an air of authenticity, and don’t forget the popcorn and drinks. Take time to make reusable signs as part of setting the stage. Be sure to price each item so that the kids can enjoy the show and have to make some financial decisions. Remember to get back into character while serving at the concession stand.

Schedule an intermission. Give family members a chance to take a potty break or hit the “concession stand”.

Consider a theme. If you have been doing family movie night for a while now and consider yourself a pro try a theme night. If you’re watching “Finding Nemo,” snack on gummy sharks and goldfish crackers and pretzels. “The Jungle Book” lends itself to animal crackers, fruit and peanuts. If you have the time and room set the stage for a Drive-in. I have the ideas ready for this one but have not tackled this idea as of yet. Enlist your kids to come up with creative snacks based on the movie.

Teachable Moments. You can’t predict teachable moments but they are all around us and come and go quickly. As parents we must be ready to ask the right questions, no yes / no questions. Questions that ask children to describe, explain, or share ideas extend the conversation. Reflect on their feelings, even animated movies stir up different feeling in children. As the parent be sure you take time to share your thoughts about the movie and what you learned. If you are looking for some ideas try the book The Wisdom of Pixar by Robert Velarde. The book includes discussion guides on many of the latest Pixar movies.

Whatever movie you choose, family movie nights are a wonderful tradition that your kids will remember long into adulthood. You’re not only spending fun, quality time with them, but also creating a bonding and learning experience for everyone. Now dim those lights and let the show begin!


No Greater Love

In the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, the American troop ship USAT (United States Army Transport) Dorchester is torpedoed by the German submarine U-223 en route to Greenland, in order to establish a top-secret radar base. For the four Army chaplains and one young solider on board this day would forever change their lives.

The four Army chaplains could not have been more different from each other: athletic and intellectual Rabbi Alex Goode: Methodist pastor and World War One veteran George Fox: scholar, poet and Dutch Reformed minister Clark Poling: baseball fan and “just a good guy” Father John Washington. Yet in the confession and freight following the attack from the German U-boat, the four chaplains unite in a final sacrifice that changes every survivor life forever. Survivors watched and heard of what the four chaplains did as they distributed the life jackets that where on the ship to the soldiers in need. Many on the ship were in such a rush to leave the ship, many of the men left their life jackets behind. The four chaplains would ultimately give their lives so that other could live by giving other soldiers their life jackets.

Cpl. Ralph F. Davis Greenland 1943

As the ship sank into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, survivors in nearby lifeboats saw the four chaplains, linked arm-in-arm on the deck, praying together. Of the 902 aboard the Dorchester that night, only 230 survived. The one young soldier was Cpl. Ralph F. Davis, my grandfather and a survivor.

My grandfather recalled watching the chaplains as he stayed his post of guarding the bridge. He had switched earlier that day assignments due to another soldier being sick. So rather than being asleep in the bully of the ship he was above deck dressed for the icy cold assignment for the evening, including having his life jacket on. My grandfather would also remember how terrifying the minutes and hours were that following the attack. He did not make it into a lifeboat they were away from the ship by the time he was relieved of duty. He would spend the next 23 hours in the freezing North Atlantic along with many others watching the red lights on the life jacket bob up and down in the water.

Hearing this story when I was young had an amazing impact on my life. It heightened my love for history and Christ. In one sitting when we talked about his time both on and before boarding the Dorchester recalled leaving port in New York where he was shocked at the size of the city. He was a country boy from North Carolina. He remembered hearing Bing Crosby’s White Christmas for the first time and the strong black coffee on the ship. I guess that’s why I like my coffee strong and black today.  As we finished talking that day he said to me I remember praying that God would allow me to live in order that he could make a difference. Then he said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) It was the last time we ever talked about that night. I miss him and his quiet wisdom.

Let me just say, thank you to all who serve and have served our country with valor and courage so that we may live in freedom.


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