path not plan

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately.  We’ve all heard the phrase,

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Right, but also wrong.  I’ve seen people who are terrible planners succeed, and people who are meticulous planners fail.

Yet something else, seems to work.  Path.  Those who have a path, who have a direction, who have an idea of where they are going – that beats planning every time.  Why?  Because, those who are creating a path can change their plans.  Those who just plan might get the plan down pat but then miss the path.

Sometimes you may follow the path someone else blazed before you.
Then other times, you blaze your own path.

Maybe it’s just a play on words but I like the idea of path over plan (even though I’m a planner at heart). I like the idea that I have a path to follow rather than a plan to execute.  There are a lot of paths to choose from, even a few that may need creating – but that’s where the learning and the skill and the risk comes in – because that choice does matter.

Failing, doesn’t depend on your plan (or lack of it).  It depends on your path.

Choose wisely.

Sin

Aside

Sin is the propensity for humans to live as if they are God. Sin is the decision to live life away from God rather than toward him. This decision can be subtle or blatant. It involves a contest of wills between humans and God. It is the oldest contest in the world, the pride of life, the saying yes to the temptation to live as if we humans are not accountable for our lives moment by moment to our Maker. Sin is the failure to surrender life, moment by moment, to the rule of God. We sin when we place ourselves in charge of our lives.

- Reggie McNeal
A Work of Heart – Understanding How God shapes Spiritual Leaders

To reach the finish line you have to do something…

I often find myself looking at all the things I have to finish (because of my obscenely large todo list) and it overwhelms me and I shut down.  I’ll end up procrastinating and wasting time because I don’t think I have enough time to get started and finish something in the time I have in the moment.  I discovered a secret.

It is what you do in the moments that bring progress and eventually lead to a finish.

Are you stuck because what you have in front of you seems to big to accomplish in the time you have to get it done?  Then capture your moments and do something that brings you closer to the finish line.  Resolve that you may not finish it in that moment, but you will be closer than what you were before.

Don’t stay stuck, get started.

Do something.

The finish will come quicker than you thought it would.

getting in the Word

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

I’ve been away from here again for a few days and it’s turning this series I’ve been writing into a month long reflection.  Nevertheless, I am determined to finish this! So let’s continue (if you’re new to this series, you can click here for some context).

Here’s what I wrote last year:

I love YouVersion.com and thanks to the many Bible Reading plans they’ve made available, I’m going to be reading through the Bible (again) this year.  If you don’t read the Bible, you should – it’s one of the best things you can do (and the digerati team behind youversion has made it so easy!) My wife and I are working through a plan together as well.

What happened:

I made it halfway through the M’Cheyne plan that I was working on.  Kind of bummed I didn’t complete it but I try not to be religious in my Bible reading (otherwise it becomes a chore, it should never be a chore!).  My wife and I didn’t complete the reading plan we were working on together either (Blended) – so many days where we just collapsed exhausted in bed together.  I’m missing this though so I want to get back on track with another one this year.  Now that we both have iPhones it should be easier to work together on this.

What I learned:

About myself:  I work best with routine, but need to change it up once and a while.  Otherwise it becomes just that, routine instead of reward.  There IS NO SET FORMULA for when, where, how, or how much you should read!  YouVersion has REALLY helped me with breaking the shackles of routine.

About  my spirit:  Spiritually speaking, the Word of God is “soul food” for me.  I definitely feel it when I go any extended time without just reading the Bible with an open heart and spirit, expecting to hear from God.  There’s almost an edginess, and dullness that exists in my life without it.   Not only that, but I have found that my creative output goes down as well.

What about you?  How does reading the Bible affect your life (or not)… and why do you think that is?

memory work

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

It’s time for another post in this series.  Here’s another thing I wrote last year around this time:

I’m going to be memorizing scripture through the year along with others in my church family who are joining in the journey (I’ll be posting about this sometime in the next two weeks).  My 8 year old daughter is also participating and when I sent her an email (yes she has email – I’ve introduced her to the Google Behemoth)  to tell her that I’m doing it too she replied, “Neat. Bring it on Dad”.  The gloves are down.

What happened:

I’ve been memorizing every scripture every week and have about 38-40 scriptures memorized  REALLY well and probably the rest I’m still working on.  I’ve used a variety of tools to help me with this through the year but have settled on this iPhone app.  Unfortunately my daughter didn’t have the stamina to keep up with her Dad (of course, at 9 years old, she’s got enough stuff going on!)  BUT the cool thing is she is reading her Bible every day and goes out of her way to show me the latest stuff she’s reading.  I love it!

What I learned:

  • You may think you can’t memorize stuff.  But you can.  It still amazes me when I review the verses that I can even recite them from memory.
  • Having scripture memorized enhanced my prayer life.  There have been so many times when I’ve been praying for something and a verse came to mind that “fit in” with what I was praying.  Powerful.
  • Another benefit is that I’m finding when I read the Bible, the overall themes are more apparent because of the scripture I’ve memorized.  I find myself thinking, “hey, that sounds familiar to something over in_______”, where the blank is a scripture I memorized.
  • Memorizing scripture has helped improve my memory overall.  This was unexpected, but I am finding that I’m remembering things easier than before.  Names come easier.  The coding I do goes quicker because I’m not having to look up functions as much.  Remembering I locked my van door is easier (those who heard me talk about that in a message I spoke last year will know what I’m talking about).

All in all this has been something that I’ve found to be a VERY beneficial discipline.  Have any of you had experience with memorizing things?  How has it worked for you?  What benefits have you noticed?

what matters

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

Been away from here the last couple days, but now I’m back.  Let’s continue this series shall we?  Last year I wrote a “looking forward” kind of post for some of the things I hoped to accomplish, change in the coming year.  This year I’m writing a series of post reflecting on that list and what happened in 2010.  Here’s the next item on the list that I wrote:

I’m going to continue working on being a great Dad and husband to my family…if I fail at that, then it doesn’t matter what else I succeed at.

What happened:

A work in progress!  I think I’m not doing too bad, but I know I could always do better.  One of the hardest things for me in the past year was balancing my time.  Between my full time job at my church, the freelance work I did, and my work on Organize Series, it’s been a challenge spending the quality time needed to be a good husband and father.  I know I could have done better – correction: I know I MUST do better.  Why? Because it’s one of the few things that really matters.

There are some things I’m doing to get better at this and I’ll hopefully write a blog post about it at some point.  But for now, I’d love to hear from you, my readers about what you do to make sure you are investing quality time for the things that really matter in your life?  So let me hear it in the comments!

pro-bono

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

This post continues the series I’ve been writing as I reflect on 2010.  This has been neat thinking through some of the things I aimed for in the New Years post I wrote last year and what actually happened.  Let’s continue:

I hope to continue volunteering for some great causes (along with continuing the work I do for vohmalawi.org and vohzimbabwe.com).

What happened

I still continue to support both Villages of Hope in Malawi and Zimbabwe  along with developing and maintaining their websites (pro-bono, you knew you’d find out the reason for the title of this post right?) .  This continues to be something I LOVE doing.  Here’s why:

  1. Anything to do with web development is ice cream to me. I like ice cream.
  2. These two organizations are doing incredible work in providing hope and a future to kids who have little of both.  They’ve captured my heart.
  3. The people working there have sacrificed much to get there and continue what they’re doing.  I want to do what I can to make their job communicating things a little bit easier.
  4. There’s IMMENSE satisfaction knowing that you are using your skills and abilities to contribute to making a difference in the world. I know God smiles at the work I do for them.

What I learned

I’ve had to be a good steward of my time.  There are so many things I want to do but there’s only 24 hours in a day and I have to be careful of the things I choose to do.  Sometimes that means choosing what I won’t do.  In order to keep doing the websites for these folks I have had to choose to cut back in some other areas of my life.  Which is okay (reread my list above for why).

There have been different points through the year where I’ve had to revisit this important principle when I realized that I was taking on more than I should and not letting things go (that may be good, but not better than something I want to add to my life).

I challenge you to take a look at your gifts and abilities.  Is there something you are giving them to, that makes a difference in the world?  There’s nothing like it.  I’d love to hear about it!

Oh and another thing I wrote last year:

I may be going on a trip to Siberia this year.  Yes, that’s crazy.

Yes it was crazy.  I didn’t go. It was one of those things I had to say no to.  This February I’m going to Malawi (to the Village of Hope there actually!!) and I may be going to the Ukraine in April.  You’ll hear more about these in the future.

guest blogging

This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series 2011: A look back A look forward

Let’s keep going on this series shall we?  Here’s what I wrote around this time last year:

On that note, it’d be an awesome honor to be invited to be a guest blogger on one of the blogs I read. Dunno if I have anything to offer, but still it’d be cool.

What happened

I still think it’d be an honor to be invited but it didn’t happen.  Well, that’s not entirely correct.  I didn’t get a specific invitation – they have given a general invitation to all their readers to contribute (and get paid too!) – I just haven’t taken them up on it (yet).

What I learned:

Aside from the fact that I’m obviously not as in demand as a writer as I thought I was (sic), this is a good example of waiting for something to happen that needs your involvement to happen.  In other words, there are some things in life that won’t happen until you take steps towards it happening.  Honestly, when I wrote about becoming a guest blogger last year I wasn’t really expecting that I would get invited, it was more of a “it would be cool if..” kind of a statement.  Realistically, if I really wanted to be a guest writer on ChurchCrunch I would have wrote an article and submitted it to them.  They had already extended the invitation.

This made me think, “this is like our relationship with God sometimes”  We pray things like, “Hey God, you know it would be really cool if you took care of my debt and blessed me with wealth” and do nothing.  Sure, God could do amazing things like that, but more often than not he’s waiting for us to act on things he’s already told us to do. In other words,

  • you’re asking for financial blessing – how are you spending and stewarding what you have?
  • you’re asking for a better marriage relationship – what are you contributing to the relationship?
  • you’re asking for increased influence – what are you doing with the influence you already have?
  • you’re asking for a raise – have you been faithfully working in the job you’re doing now?

God parted the Red Sea, but Moses had to lift up the staff first.  God stopped the flow of the Jordan River, but the priests had to walk into it with the Ark of Covenant first.  God knocked down the walls of Jericho, but the worship team had to lead a parade around it first.  God will give you a new nature, and an incredible relationship with him past the end of time, but you have to receive the gift of salvation through Christ first.

What are YOU doing with what you have?

(incidentally, today I read this article by Stephen Furtick that approached this idea from another angle,  he knocks it out of the park!)