Wednesday’s Wisdom

“Lord, thank you for those excursions into ‘uncharted waters’ because it is the place that I learn the quickest. Forgive me for the times that I have been afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, and grant me the wisdom to move forward with grace.” MJ 1.24.02

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Son-Tan Anyone?

p1010530With my wife Tami on beach in Costa Maya, Mexico

Okay, I’ll admit it. My wife and I are cruise people. We enjoy cruising as our most desired form of vacationing. We enjoy relaxing, having new port experiences and meeting new people. When our kids were younger, we were pleased to be able to use these trips to give them experiences they would never forget. For example, on one cruise during their Middle and High School years, they were in five different countries in a week.

While we are cruise people, I’m not really a sun person. That’s right. We cruise during the winter months to be in a warmer place…which is easy to do when you live in North Dakota.

As a point of order here, I will have you know that we have more sunny days in North Dakota than much of the rest of the country. However, some of the sunniest days here on the plain also come with a minus 25 price tag.

Brrrrr…

So, while I enjoy the warmer weather, I’m not a lay-on-the-deck-sun-tan-guy. But our trip in January of this year I decided to spend more time with my wife by being out tanning with her. I donned the sun screen – EVERYWHERE. I even hit the growing bald spot on the back of my head (the visor is a “no fly zone” in sunny weather for me these days). I sat through two significant tanning sessions on deck of our cruise ship. The only parts that I enjoyed of those experiences were being in proximity of my amazing wife, and to return home looking “browner.”

After the second session I woke up the next morning with a rash in all the places I used sun screen. No joke. Apparently soaking up the vitamin D isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be…

I’ve been working on my walk with Jesus. I’ve been journaling a great deal, reading the Scripture, talking to Him a bunch AND working at listening to Him more than talking to Him. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been a pastor for decades and been raised in the church all of my life and have advanced ministry degrees. Those facts don’t make me immune for my need to build relationship. And yet it’s the same reason why I wanted to be near my wife – because she is awesome and means the world to me…

Jesus means the world to me. You know as I think about these facts, investing in the nearness of Sonshine in my life contributes more than vitamins. It is life itself.

Son-tan anyone?

What are the activities you participate in to build better relationships? If you are a Christ-follower, what do you do to build your relationship with Jesus? If you are not a Christ-follower, what intrigues you about reasons why I would want to pursue a better relationship with Jesus?

John 8:36

How Karaoke Caught Me By Surprise

microphoneMy wife Tami and I were recently out of town on vacation. As part of our vacation entertainment we gathered into a dimly lit room for a karaoke event. For those that are unaware, karaoke is an opportunity for the average person to get on a stage and sing a song from the past or present with a sound track, microphone and audience.

It’s a reminder of the passage of Scripture that talks about “making a joyful noise.” I will readily admit that some of the “noises” we heard that night were not joyful, and there wouldn’t have been any improvement if it had been me on the stage!

Yes, most of the singing was, well, unbearable.

I’ve only seen karaoke take place on television or in a movie. In those formats it’s either very good or very bad, in order to make some sort of plot move forward. This being our first time at a live performance only demonstrated that karaoke is mostly done on the very bad side. Good performances are clearly an anomaly played out in the media.

That’s when it hit me. While I was wincing at the sound of the performances, the audience of a hundred for the most part were applauding and shouting words of encouragement. I noticed that there were others like me who were wincing, but they were keeping that to themselves. It was like the old song, “Home on the Range” that declares, “Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word…” You get the point. The people on stage had the guts to get up there, something in which I am clearly devoid of. They were doing the hard thing. And a crowd of people who didn’t know them, having traveled to this resort setting from all parts of North America, were there cheering them on.

Still wincing in the midst of this realization of what was going on in the room, I smiled and applauded more loudly when the singer was finished. Not because the song was over, but because the person tried to do what I wouldn’t consider doing.

I’m reminded of work, of family life, of being with friends. And even more notably of being the church. We personally and corporately need to be a safe place for people to try and do the hard thing and cheer them on even when their effort and abilities are not presently up to par. We need to be a people who will provide a place where failure can take place so that success may follow. And what I’ve just written is counter to a culture of doing things with excellence, or not at all.

Hum. Where do you stand on this one?

It is one thing to find out what we’re not good or gifted at. It is another to never try and find out.

What “hard thing” have you tried to do recently, in order to see if it is a “fit” for you? When was the last time you were the audience of encouragement for someone else – even someone you don’t know – to lift them up as they tried to do something hard for the first time?