My Journey – God’s Grace allows me to be me

23 04 2009

I Corinthians 15:10 “But because of God’s grace I am what I am. And his grace was not wasted on me. No, I have worked harder than all the other apostles. But I didn’t do the work. God’s grace was with me.”

Blog entry #3 on the same scripture. First line – “Because of God’s grace…” Grace is such an amazing journey by itself. It truly is a diamond that every time you turn it a fraction, a different aspect is illuminated for all to see. A couple of “definitions” – “God’s unmerited favor,” “the ability to turn the other cheek,” “looking past the now,” “mercy” and “forgiveness.” I have to imagine that all of us have experienced grace at some point in our life. In doing so, it is usually undeserved and humbling.

I remember as a child getting busted for shoplifting by my mother in the second grade. She told me that I would be punished by my dad when he got home. I was waiting in the other room when he came in the door. He came in, shut the door and sat down. I had my head down looking at the floor, when he asked, “Do you understand what you did was wrong?” Waiting for the paddle to appear, still looking at the ground, I heard crying. I looked up to find my dad with tears. He said, “Your mother and I didn’t raise you this way. Don’t do it again.” I have a pretty vivid memory of that day. It is one of those days where you deserve the punishment and it should be severe. Yet, my dad owned it and extended grace to me.

“Because of God’s grace, I am what I am.” Like my dad in that situation, how many times has God extended grace when I deserve the punishment? Just as that memory is etched into my life, God brands us with experiences that mark us for life. I would hope all of us embrace those experiences with gratitude, humility and growth. He never asks us to be something different than how he made us in our mother’s womb. He never says, “I wired you with all this gifting, talent and personality so you can be someone else.” Instead, He says, “I made you and knew you.” He doesn’t ask us to be something we are not.

Ultimately, He asks me to be exactly what I am – a flawed diamond, but nonetheless, His diamond.


My Journey – I am what I am

20 04 2009

I Corinthians 15:10 “But because of God’s grace I am what I am. And his grace was not wasted on me. No, I have worked harder than all the other apostles. But I didn’t do the work. God’s grace was with me.”

I have been chewing on this verse for ten days now. And honestly, I cannot seem to shake it. There is so much to play with in this verse that applies to my life right now. It cuts deep not in a correction or reproving manner. More of the opposite – understanding and contentment in what God is doing in my life.

So, lets dive into the phrase that started it all. “I am what I am.” Who knew that Popeye was quoting the Bible all this time? When I hear that, I think of all the peculiar things I do in my life. I do not each chicken with bones in it. I will not request friends on Facebook. I jump before I speak on stage. I do not long prayers. I really like getting up at 4:15 am. I must be early for an appt. or function or it will bother me. I find that as I get older, I develop more habits that really don’t make sense. Somewhere in the vastness of God, He said, “Here is a good mix that I will put in Chris.”

“I am what I am.” In the Greek, it means “I exist to exist” or “I exist to be what I be” or “I am present to be present.” (Realizing the words have multiple meaning) Or my favorite, “I exist to be present.” God created me with all my quirks, gifts, talents and abilities to be exactly like I am. Instead of asking God to change the wiring, I have found my life a journey of lining up my wiring to maximize what God wants me to do. I want to be fully present in every step of the journey. I used to dwell on “in the future” but have changed it to “in this moment.” This has been monumental in my growth and contentment because I cannot satisfy the future, or the past for that matter. Only in the present can I do something that will impact my world. Living in the past or future is a trap. God didn’t create me to live in either realm.

There is more to come on all this…I am what I am!

“It was the Best Year of My Life”

15 12 2008

I recently had the opportunity to sit with one of my life mentors. On December 10, 2007, I was skiing in Colorado when I got a text saying that his house had burned down. Once finding out he was ok, it was numbing to find out that his whole house was gone – burned down to the foundation. Fast forward to December 5, 2008. I am talking with him in my office and he tells me the one year anniversary is coming up. Then he says, “It was the best year of my life.”

This is a shocking statement to me. He lost everything you would hold dear from a possession realm. The house was spectacular. Very meticulously built and the craftmanship was excellent. It was off a quiet lake and he enjoyed a coy pond instead of a swimming pool. It was a very relaxing place. So to hear that statement, my first reaction was to object with “how can you say that.” His response was so typical of the responses I have heard from him over the years. It was one I didn’t expect. He said, “I got to live what I have been saying all these years.” Now, let that soak in for a moment. I say a lot of things and live them. But when the situation is this severe, I wonder how much of survival mode would overtake the ideals I talk about? And what would my attitude and questions to God be? His challenge was not light, nor veiled for that matter. Mainly because his challenge was directed back at himself. He was asking me to evaluate me but laying his life out transparently so I could ride on his coattails for a while.

Inevitably, the arrow did point at me. What was going to make this the best year of my life? I know I don’t need any more “tragedies” in my life. This year has been tough enough. Maybe the challenge is to identify what I really have been saying are the pillars in my life. Maybe the greater challenge is to live them to the fullest each day? I am ready for the best year of my life – aren’t you?


15 11 2008

For only the second time in my life, I had to take one of my children to the Emergency room this week. The first was Casey when he was 4 and he had fallen, hitting his head. This one was a little different. I received a call from Taylor while at work complaining of stomach pain on her right side. I realized pretty quickly this wasn’t a normal pain. As she described her symptoms, I was pulling up WebMD. As she read them, I was reading them on the screen. She got Kristin on the phone and I left a very gracious lunch appt. to meet them in the ER. Long story short, she didn’t have appendicitis. She has a kidney stone. Yes, has. She has a 3mm stone that we are praying for her to pass. She is drinking plenty of fluids and even named the foreign object – Kid Rock. (Only my child would want to name something after an aging singer)

Helpless. That was the feeling that kept washing over me as I sat there in the hospital. Kristin was busy calling people and keeping them in the loop. I just wanted to stay there with her and reaffirm her that it was going to be all right. She was in a lot of pain and the nurse did a great job of getting her some IV pain solution. Taylor kind of settled in and I just looked at her a lot and realized how helpless I was to take away her pain, protect her from this foreign object even make the process go a little faster. If it sounds pathetic, it wasn’t. I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed. In fact, I was just feeling the opposite. I knew what I couldn’t do, God was able to do. I was so peaceful to be there with Taylor and just to watch her strength and resolve really blew me away. As bad as I wanted to take away her discomfort, I was just as happy to just be there when she was in need.

It was a cool helpless. Couldn’t do much than be a dad. I rubbed feet, smiled, joked, prayed and said “thank you God for Taylor” more than you will ever know.

#4 – Questions that Jesus Asked

20 10 2008

“Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?'” Luke 5:23

This question is rich in depth and simplicity. Just before Jesus questions the hearts of the religious leaders of the time. Now, he is full press to demonstrate his authority as the Son of God. But Jesus also demonstrates the power of God flowing through him to touch the paralytic.

It is fascinating that Jesus accomplishes two things in one brief, yet intense moment. First of all, his desire to demonstrate God’s authority to the religious leaders isn’t driven by ego or a need to be recognized. Instead, he was speaking their language. A person who did miracles did not make them stop and take notice. But a person who claimed to have God’s authority to grant forgiveness or do certain things, they stopped, watched and waited. Jesus pierces their hearts deeply because he knew that in challenging them with God’s authority, he was cutting through their own ego and indignation. Now we must stop here and ask ourselves the same question – “Where is God challenging your ego to help you to recognize His authority in your life?” And where there is challenge, are you following the path of the Pharisees and stiffening up or are you surrendering to the one who has all authority in your life? I am amazed at how much I see of myself in bible stories. I would be one of the leaders saying, “Who is this man and who gives him the right to do these things?” We need to embrace the gift and the giver and recognize the authority in which he brings it.

The second aspect is just as fascinating to me – simply, Jesus healed him. With the mere words of “Get up, take your mat and go home,” the man is healed. No lightning flashes, crescendo speech or even a wave of a cape – Jesus just heals him. It says in the Bible, “Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.” It is almost child like to me. I have a couple of phrases I say a lot in my daily life. One is “God is big and I am not” and the other is “God is God and I am not.” (You can see how I have to remind myself who is actually the one on the throne of my life.) This healing is like that for me – He said it, God did it, so be it. Jesus shows God’s power and mercy and in doing so, draws people’s attention back to God himself. That is my desire – to walk in such a way that people see through my shell into the heart of God that changes lives.

Simple question – packed with depth and grace.

End note to the 30 Days with Jesus Blog

2 10 2008

I have just finished doing the blog for the 30 Days with Jesus devotion for the church. It was a great experience because it forced me to write. I was reminded how much I love the challenge of articulating thoughts into words on a page. I forced myself to put myself out there on certain topics. I found out that I have a lot to share, if only for the benefit of me forming a definitive thought around an idea. It was also a great exercise for personal growth. I grew through some time moments as I was writing. The devotion challenged me first and then the reader.

Now, I sit at the keyboard and like a musician feel like the composition is finished. I am eager to see what happens next time I sit to write. Join me in the journey if you want. If not, thanks for being part of the ride.

Day 21 – 30 Days with Jesus

2 10 2008

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon over the last few years. As my children have grown into young adults, their friends have become more mobile and come over a lot more. Here in lies the phenomenon – those who feel most comfortable don’t knock on the front door anymore. Usually, they will walk right into the house. And here is the second amazing thing – my family is used to it. In fact, if someone knocks it tells that they are not completely comfortable with the family yet. If this had happened a few years ago, I would probably be a little wigged out on this one. But now, I consider these kids as part of the family and treat them like they are.

Wouldn’t be cool if our approach to God was the same way. As we get to know Him, he knocks on the door of our heart and we choose to let Him in. As the relationship grows, He knocks and it as old friends reuniting when you communicate. Then, getting to the place where God just “walks in” and you can’t imagine it any other way. In fact, it is more obtrusive when He knocks and you get annoyed because you have to stop and open the door. None of this happens over night. However, with ongoing communication and growth, your comfort level will get to the point where you say, “Anytime you want God, come on in and join me in what I am doing.” Two great positives: First, your relationship with God will shoot to a whole new realm. Secondly, he doesn’t eat as much as a teenager does when he visits.