It’s Time for a Good Old-Fashioned Ship Burning

This morning when I woke it was raining.  I made my way into the living room and sunk into my Lazy-Boy, wrapped in an afghan, watching the morning news, the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go to Church.

As I sat there, I debated with myself.  I could watch Church online, I could watch Church on TV, since the weather was bad no one would be at Church and I wouldn’t be missed.

Since the weather was bad, I needed to get up and go so that the Pastor and choir wouldn’t be in an empty church.

I debated and eventually got up and took a shower and left for Church.

Because of my morning debate, I arrived about 5 minutes late.  The sanctuary wasn’t as packed as normal, but a nice crowd had shown up.  I made my way into a row and joined with the others singing Praise and Worship music.

Over the past few weeks, we have been hearing a sermon series entitled “Obsessed.”  Pastor Adam has challenged us to live a life obsessed with the same things God is obsessed over.

I have enjoyed the series and as the finale, today’s message “Burn the Ship,” tied it all up in a neat bow.

Have you ever gone to Church and started listening to a sermon and thought “is he just preaching to me?”  Yeah, that happened to today.

As I explained in a recent blog post, I am at a Crossroads; my primary job is less than rewarding, the business I bought as an investment has become my joy and my passion is to write.

The sermon, based on scripture 1 Kings 19:21

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

The basis of the sermon today is, when you are ready to begin anew, you must step out in faith with Plan A.  Plan B is just an excuse and shouldn’t be a fall back plan.

Back in the day, when explorers conquered new lands, they “burned their ships,” to symbolize their commitment to the ideals they were bringing forth.  This symbolism showing that they were “all in.”

When the time has come to make the journey that you feel the Lord is leading you towards, make that change with an EXPLANATION POINT…. not a period!

By burning the ship, you have eliminated the secondary option and prove you are “all in” with the new direction of your life.  Whew, that’s a lot to comprehend for someone who is at a Crossroads.

Ironically, I had a conversation with my Pastor on Friday, I told him about my Crossroads and where I felt I was being led.  As usual he listened and provided wise counsel.  Then today, he seemed to hit the nail on the head with points that gave direction to my heart.

I have made two big moves in my life.  Neither time did I know if it would work out, but I made those moves with faith that the Lord would show me the way.

When I moved to Florida in 1996, I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a job and had nothing but a movement in my heart telling me to go and faith that it would work out.

The move to Florida was the most courageous thing I have ever done, it worked out just fine.

I was enriched by people who will continue to impact my life until my last breath.  I developed my professional career with hard work, talent and determination and was rewarded with opportunities that I never saw coming.  And during my time in Florida I was given the opportunity by the residents of a small town to lead the direction of that town into the future as an elected official.

Most importantly, during those Florida years, my faith grew and became my guiding light through life.

The second big move was my decision to leave Florida and move back to God’s Country.   I had been being pulled back to the mountains of my youth by my heart for several years.

My fear in returning was that I wouldn’t fit in.  The friends I had known so many years ago wouldn’t accept me back and that I had been away from family for so long that a deeper connection wasn’t possible.

Those fears were quickly melted away by welcoming friends and family.  It hasn’t been perfect, sometimes it has been quite difficult, but like the move to Florida, the overwhelming results have been better than expected.

Now I am at a new crossroads and I am working hard to let my heart lead the course.

One of the points of Pastor Adam’s sermon today was that was we grow older and more comfortable we “stop living out our imagination and start living our memory.”

Who says that a certain age or level of comfort should lead our lives?  Why not keep living our imagination, an imagination that may turn away from what is comfortable and towards what is possible!

As I continue to evaluate the crossroads that sit before me, I will take these examples into account.  The faith I have employed when making major decisions hasn’t let me down in the past and I suspect it won’t in the future.

The kind words and prayers offered to me by many of you is appreciated as I evaluate my future.  While some may see this as a scary time, I am surprisingly calm and excited about the path ahead, I am at a crossroads, but the path ahead grows clearer by the day.

Imagination is a wonderful thing and sometimes when you put faith behind your imagination it may just come true!  I’m a firm believer that you are never too old to dream, sometimes you just have to burn some ships to get there.

One last thing about the rain that almost kept me home today…… it stopped while I was in the shower.  It’s interesting how the devil gives up when he loses.

I remain at a crossroads, but the direction signs are getting clearer,  When I step out in the direction it will bring me to the next stage of my life, I will do so in faith, excitement and an imagination knowing those “plan B” ships are better off burned.

Living a Generous Life @ChristmasCount @goodmenproject

generosityI recently read, “The Genius of Generosity” by Chip Ingram.

Less than 100 pages in length, this book flipped the switch on a major light bulb moment in my life.

Told through a simple story of generosity, this true-life experience has the ability to change lives and create a movement that is often missing in our society.

The gist of the book is shared in Chapter One.  A new Pastor is given access to a secret checkbook with the sole purpose of being generous.  The lessons that emerge are profound.

As I read the book, it occurred to me that generosity is one of the simplest actions for us to partake in.  During this Christmas season, we think about the generosity of gifts, how generous will you be with your boss, the kid’s teachers and Aunt Edith?  Many of us look at generosity as a task that is expected on special occasions, “The Genius of Generosity” made it clear that true generosity is found in year-round service and giving.

In reading the book, I began to look for opportunities that I could be generous.  Through my time, talents, gifts and service, generosity allows me to shape the future in small and large ways.

In seeking opportunities to be generous, I found that the true reward has little to do with what I give, but more about the feeling I get in giving.  Knowing that my small gift helps make the life of someone else easier certainly is a blessing that far outweighs the gift.

As I search for opportunities that I can be generous, I find that often it is in small gifts of service or finance that makes the biggest differences.  It isn’t about the big gift, but the small token that allows someone to know that they are being thought of by a neighbor.

Generosity has nothing to do with size, it is all about heart.

As I have looked for giving opportunities, I have found them.  No big life altering donations or life changing moments, just small gestures that make a difference.

The rewards I have found through generosity have far more to do with my heart than the gifts.  Being generous simply feels good, there is no other way to say it and if 20, or 50 or 100 dollars can help someone, the feeling I get is 10 fold.

Most importantly I have found that generosity is best given quietly.  We hear stories of major gifts given by celebrities on a daily basis, but I contend that while those gifts are miraculous, they pale in comparison to those given quietly and without fanfare.

“The Genius of Generosity” is a testament to what can be done when we look for opportunities to serve.   The book highlights 12 “bright ideas” of generosity that are simple take-aways for the reader….

  • To be smart, spend carefully.  To be wise save, regularly.  To be genius, give extravagantly.
  • When your money goes, your heart flows.
  • Generosity is a gateway into intimacy with God.
  • Stewardship is the path.  Generosity is the adventure.
  • Generous givers make God and His purposes their highest priority.
  • Enjoy God’s generosity to you…. then share it with others.
  • Faith increases giving, and giving increases faith.
  • Those blessed by God become blessers for God.
  • Generous living is joyful living.
  • God measures generosity not by the size of the gift but by the size of the sacrifice.
  • Generosity isn’t an act.  It’s a way of life.
  • True generosity doesn’t stop with possessions.  It starts with them.

As I have sought out opportunities to be generous my life has found greater joy.  Don’t get me wrong, I want great gifts for Christmas and I still ponder how much to spend on co-workers and Aunt Edith, but I know those challenges will work themselves out.  My more important thoughts are on how I can generously affect someone’s life.

Ironically, the more you give, the more you want to give.  As I seek ways to be in service, I find greater peace and joy in the simple gifts of generosity.

This Christmastime my thoughts don’t revolve around brightly colored bows or snowflakes, my greater joy will be found in service and generosity.  Ironically, isn’t that what the first Christmas was all about anyway?

About the  author Chip Ingram is Senior Pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, CA and President of Living on the Edge, a teaching and discipleship ministry that provides practical help for everyday believers. He has a unique ability to communicate truth and winsomely challenge people to live out their faith. He has served as a pastor for more than 25 years and as president of Walk Thru the Bible.  The author of 12 books, Chip reaches more than a million people each week on radio and television worldwide.  Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four adult children and six grandchildren.

Short Notes….. 9.27.13

Hallelujah

Hallelujah

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I’m sorry, Mark Burnett

THIS is your tax dollars at work.  Each one of these United States Senators makes $174,000 a year.  I dare you to watch this video and not understand that our Government is BROKEN and ironically these two are from the same party….  they are arguing about procedure!

Pure class

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Short Notes ~ The Bible Mini-Series

the-bibleLast night I finally watched the last installment of The Bible on the History Channel.

I watched each of the other four parts in real-time but wasn’t able to watch the final installment on Easter night and had left it on my DVR until I was in the right frame of mind to watch.  Sunday night was that night.

I was very excited to watch this mini-series when it was announced.  Under the tutelage of Mark Burnett, I was optimistic of the production value and story telling.

In all honesty, weeks 1 – 4 were ok, but left me wanting something more substantial.  I didn’t feel as though the first four nights were particularly well acted or filmed, hour one of week five made up for all of that.

The brutality of the crucifixion, the pain that Jesus endured for us was shown in every bloody detail.  The honesty depicted on the screen was superb.

The Easter story is complete with a beautiful resurrection and appearance before his Disciples.  Especially poignant was the Lord’s Supper scene and Jesus laying his hands on his followers and easing Thomas doubts.

This hour-long highlight was the moving high point of the entire series, unfortunately for the story of the Bible there was one hour left.

While much of the grace of Jesus was shown during this hour, it did not measure up to the previous scenes.

I applaud Burnett and the History Channel for bringing this series to television.  I only wish the eight hours the preceded and the one hour after the crucifixion and resurrection would have been as strong.

Understandably that one hour is the emotional high point of the Bible story, but so much more could have been done with the other nine.