Jumping for Joy

Jumping for Joy

The world is heavy and there are serious people everywhere. This is because there are many serious things going on that require a sober response. What do we do with all the weight? I’d like to suggest jumping on a trampoline. 

This may sound like an endorsement for denying reality and shirking responsibility. But actually the opposite is true. If we are to face the things before us and offer the strength that is required, we are going to need some reserves. 

A revived heart is a strong heart. And one of the best agents of revival is joy. Choosing to find joy is not an escape from trouble, it is a means of confronting it. To quote the rebuilder of walls, “The joy of the Lord is [our] strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

It is amazing what a front flip can accomplish in the fight against darkness.


Get the tile on the wall

Get the tile on the wall

I have unfinished work.

There are times I forget about the ant and drift in laziness. But there are other forces at play causing drag in my work. 

The two main factors are equal but opposite. On one hand there is too much to do. The workload is overwhelming so sometimes I do nothing. Then there are times I work until the point of exhaustion — driving hard because I’ve staked my identity on the feedback of others.
The second one looks productive but grasping for perfection generally results in projects that get stale because they are never finished. The high mark can’t be reached.

In both cases the work remains undone. 

But I learned a solution from my friend Dan. He is a master tile worker and he gave me some of the wisest work advice I’ve ever heard…

“Just get the tile on the wall.”

In other words, do something. One piece at a time and mistakes are ok. Simply start the work and pivot as needed. Sounds easy. But if it were I’d already be doing it. So where is the breakdown?

If I still believe it is up to me, I won’t be able to focus on one tile at a time, I will just stare at the big, empty walls. And if I believe I have to prove myself, the mortar will dry before I finish the first row.

First there has to be an internal shift — from running solo to operating as a son.

Once I see God as Father everything changes. If God is my Father, I have access to the reserves of heaven. So the amount of work is no longer overwhelming. And if God is my Father, my place in the family business is secure and there is no need to prove myself. No more striving.

From that place I can get to work and finally make some headway. Speaking of which, I finally got a toilet paper dispenser installed in the bathroom (it only took three months).

Who are we listening to?

Who are we listening to?

Who are we listening to?

Our waking hours are saturated by an unending flow of information from anything with a glowing screen. We have open access to all the content we could ever want and the content we don’t. 

The problem is two-fold. First, there is too much. Our minds and hearts can’t contain the flood. Second, there are very few filters in place to sift out bad information. Some of what we take in may be true, some of it is false and much of it as a cloudy mix of the two.

It is probably not practical to block all incoming data (at least not long term). But do I ask myself, “Who am I listening to and what is it doing to my heart?”

In other words, “If I let this information in, what is the impact?

It is a good truth test.

Many of the words streaming through my screen are telling me why a certain group is to blame for some bad thing and why I should hate them so my life will be better. What happens if I swallow that information? Nothing good.

Here would be the counterpoint…

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

Sound idealistic? I think it sounds practical. What would happen if I chose to listen to that. What would be the impact? What would be the impact if that mindset took hold in my family. What if a whole community made the shift from speck to log? 

The clear fact that this information could help fix the world proves to me it is true. And it makes me want to listen more to the one who said it.

Value of a Thing

Value of a Thing

I read a story about a man who inherited a blanket. After his grandmother died and his family members finished “pillaging” her house, he went to sift through what remained. Among her possessions was a dingy blanket no one wanted. He recalled his grandmother had used it for a birthing bed when one of the cats had kittens.

He took it home and stowed it in the closet. The blanket was mostly forgotten until the night he was watching Antiques Roadshow. Someone presented a bonafide Navajo blanket that appraised at half a million dollars.

After a few failed attempts and negative feedback from skeptics, the man found an expert who identified his old cat blanket as one of the “finest and rarest” Navajo blankets in the world. The textile brought in 1.5 million at auction (which enabled the man to drop off his diet of ramen and vodka).

Here’s the thing, if Grandma had realized the origin and true value of that blanket, she never would have lent it to the cat. More likely it would have been in a bulletproof glass case with sensors and security guards.

The point is we handle things according to the value we assign them. This is true of possessions but even more so of people. If we have no concept of the value of another person, we are more likely to use, abuse or ignore them. But if we understand Jesus deemed ever human worth dying for, it will change how we treat each other. The level of his sacrifice demonstrates the level of our worth. We need to value each other the way God does.

We Are Small

We Are Small

Usually we act like we are big. We give the finger to people in cars. We kick over anthills. And we use keyboards like machine guns.

Also we act like we are smart. We know how to replace livers. We know how to build tiny robots. And we know how to cut apart atoms to blow stuff up.

But the truth is we are not that big and we are not that smart. We are not visible from space. And we can’t make anything out of nothing.

Despite all that, the one who is infinite and wise loves us so fully he jumped in front of a bus for us.

Which means we are important, even though we are small.

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