Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Power of Thank You

Are you good at something?  Maybe you are a great lead pastor, an awesome student pastor, a successful ministry overseer.   Maybe you are a pretty good husband and father or an off the charts wife and mom.   You may be a great athlete, a talented writer, musician, or maybe your creativity wows people.  You may be a pretty good speaker and have the ability to engage audiences.

Everybody has something that they are pretty good at it.  Everybody has some one or several people that have helped them become great at what they do.   Anyone you watch perform, lead, speak, or whatever it may be  that “wows” you, has had individuals or teams that have influenced and pushed them to the top.

I have personally been able to experience success in the areas God has called me to because people have invested in me.  Ministry volunteers have sacrificed time to carry out the vision of the ministries that I lead.  People have helped me be the best that I can be.  Talented speakers have showed the ropes of speaking in front of crowds and taught me the importance of being myself.  Great leaders have given me tips on how to lead, given me books to read, and gracefully corrected me when I lead wrong.

I try often to tell these people thank you.  Thank you for investing in me.  Thank you for giving up time to help me.  Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for challenging me.  Thank you for leading in my absence when I could not lead.

I have noticed that a simple “Thank you”  says a lot to the people that help you everyday.  A thank you encourages people to keep investing in you or the areas that you lead in.  A thank you lets people know that you notice and value what they have contributed to your life.

Take time to thank those that invest in you.  That have made you good, better, and the best at what you are called to do.  Thank your spouse for helping you be a better spouse.  Thank your team for helping you lead effectively.  Thank your mentor for allowing you to watch, learn, and get your feet wet.  Thank your kids for helping you be a good parent.

Don’t forget The Power of Thank You.

 

PJ

 

 

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What Is Prayer?

The idea of prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. It started when I realized that I didn’t fully understand what prayer was, or at least what it should be. Then it started popping up everywhere: people asking me to pray for them; emails from friends asking if they could pray for me; stories in the media about the power of prayer, the myth of prayer, both the usefulness and uselessness of praying; and so on.

I’m working on a post (or maybe a series of posts) all about what I think prayer is. But first I want to hear what you think about it. Is prayer a part of your life? Do you think it’s silly? Do you consider it something you do for God or for yourself? How often do you pray? Have you seen prayer succeed or fail in your life?

I want to hear from everybody, believers and non-believers of all shapes and sizes alike, so please keep the comments civil and the debate to a minimum. There’s a time and place for that, even elsewhere on this blog, but for now I want everybody to feel free to chime in without fear of getting flamed for their belief.

Here’s looking forward to hearing from you.

Cheers,
D


It’s The Simple Things In Life

I love my wife.  I love spending time with her. I love laughing with her.  I love sharing simple moments and things with her.  Just the other day I stopped at Kroger and sat in the Jeep while she ran into the store to get some things.  She came back to the Jeep with her things and surprised me with a root beer and a snickers bar.  That was awesome!  It’s the simple things in life I enjoy the most with her.

Yesterday afternoon we put up our Christmas tree and decorated it.  Well, I say we, Lauren actually put it up and decorated it.  I stay out of the way because she likes to do all of it and honestly I like to watch her decorate the tree.  I love to watch her face light up with joy as she decorates the tree with all of the shiny silver ornaments.  I love to answer her when she asks “does it look good so far?”  It’s the simple things in life I enjoy the most with her.

Last night we had some friends over at the house to enjoy grilled burgers and left over thanksgiving food.  We all laughed and just hung out for several hours in the living room with a cozy fire going in the fireplace.  I enjoyed watching Lauren just sit in the front of the fireplace as she enjoyed the heat coming from the fire.  Lauren loves to sit directly in front of the fire.  I love to watch her enjoy a fire.  Its the simple things in life I enjoy the most with her.

This morning, Lauren had to get up early and go to Starbucks to work on some home work for her masters program.  I decided to get up early and go with her.  I love to sit at Starbucks with her and enjoy her company.  Even if she is tied up writing a paper for school.  Its the simple things in life I enjoy the most with her.

I think a lot of times we are all so busy with the things that come along with life that we forget to stop and enjoy the simple things in life.  It’s the simple things in life that go the farthest and have the greatest impact.

Enjoy the simple things in life.

 

PJ


Friendsgiving

Four years ago Lauren (my wife) and I moved from Forney Texas to Conway Arkansas.  We normally travel back to Forney to celebrate Thanksgiving with our parents and other family members.   This year we are spending the holiday with some very special friends.

Many people go their entire lives with out discovering and building authentic friendships with other people.  I can’t imagine what life would feel like with out the friends God has placed in our path since Lauren and I moved to Arkansas.  Our friends laugh with us, cry with us, pray with us, share with us, encourage us, and on and on and on.  We are blessed with awesome friends.

We love our families back home in Forney and are very thankful for them.  This year we are excited to share thanksgiving with friends that are family.  This year we are celebrating Friendsgiving.

Take time this Thanksgiving to let your friends know how much you appreciate them.

“Friends come and friends go,
but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24 The Message

Happy Friendsgiving.

PJ


Derek’s Obligatory Thanksgiving Post, 2010 Edition

I’m not much of a diary-keeper, but years ago April gave me a little brown suede journal that I treasure, and I find occasion to write in it from time to time. This week I flipped through it and ran across a random scribble that I made early this summer: a short list of words titled “God has blessed me with…”

I don’t remember what exactly inspired me to jot the note, but it seemed appropriate to share it today, just before Thanksgiving. So here it is: a list of things I’m thankful for, and things that I’ll bet he’s blessed you with, too.

  1. People: I’m surrounded by awesome people. A wife that inspires me. Friends that support me. Family that loves me unconditionally. Colleagues and mentors that teach me. And millions of strangers in whom there lies potential for all of the above: inspiration, support, love, and lesson after life lesson.
  2. Things: I’m cautiously thankful for the many material things I’m privileged to enjoy – my car, house, Fender Stratocaster, charcoal grill, and french press, for example – but I know those things don’t last and that I could be perfectly happy without them. What I’m even more grateful for are the view of Pinnacle Mountain from Odom Boulevard North just as you’re turning the curve into my neighborhood; the memories I have of growing up on a farm in South Arkansas; and April’s smile. I might survive without them, but I wonder whether I could thrive.
  3. Talents: I enjoy this world more when I’m contributing something to it, and so I’m thankful that God blessed me with talents like writing, playing music, talking to people, and creating art. It’s hard sometimes not to be proud of myself or use those things to get attention, but in my clearer moments I know that my talent is squandered when it’s used for any other reason than to try to bring others closer to God.
  4. Burdens: It’s an age-old question: why are we here? I’ve learned – slowly – that the answer changes from day to day. Maybe right now I’m just here to rest. Tomorrow I might be here to save a life or give somebody some perspective or to call a friend. I’m thankful for every burden I’m given that shows me what I’m here for today.
  5. Himself: It’s pretty cool that the creator of everything everywhere makes himself available to me. I’m thankful for that. Eternally.
  6. Time: To enjoy all of the above.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Cheers,
D

(P.S. We’d love to hear what you’re thankful for, or what you think I left off my list, in the comments.)


Weekly Confession: I need to be more thankful

Last week a student pastor friend of mine wrote on his blog about thankfulness. He pointed out that, in his letters, the Apostle Paul always mentioned how thankful he was.

Romans 1:8 – “I thank my God…”
1 Corinthians 1:4 – “I thank my God…”
2 Corinthians 1:3 – “Blessed be God…”
Ephesians 1:16 – “I don’t stop giving thanks…”
Philippians 1:3 – “I thank my God…”
Colossians 1:3 – “We give thanks to God…”
1 Thessalonians 1:2 – “We give thanks…”
2 Thessalonians 1:3 – “We ought to always give thanks…”
1 Timothy 1:12 – “I thank Christ Jesus…”
2 Timothy 1:3 – “I thank God…”
Philemon 1:4 – “I thank my God…”

As I read through all the instances where Paul made sure to express thanks, I was challenged to be more thankful.  I don’t thank God as much as I should.  I ask more than I thank.  I have a lot to thank God for. I have a beautiful wife, a healthy marriage, a great church family, a roof over my head, authentic friendships, and a loving God who is drawing me closer to himself every day.

The challenge is to be thankful not just during thanksgiving, but, every day of my life.   There is a connection to our thankfulness and the way we experience God in our lives.  We all need to be consistently more thankful.

This Thanksgiving I am going to thank God and ask him to help me be more thankful for all he is doing in my life.  Sounds a like a simple start to me.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and give plenty of thanks.

PJ


I’m Still Listening

I’m a frequent listener of Pandora Radio.  I love to sit in my office or at Starbucks working on a project with my favorite Pandora Radio station playing in my headphones.  There’s just something about music that helps me get things marked off the to-do list.  If you are a Pandora listener you may relate to what I’m about to explain.  After I dive into the tasks before me, the music playing in my ears begins to fade away.  It’s still playing, but I don’t hear it like I did at first.  After more time has passed Pandora will stop playing completely and give me the option to click a tab that say’s “I’m Still Listening”.   After I click the tab Pandora will resume playing my favorite music.

The truth is, I have usually become so caught up in my work that I’m not really listening any more.  I wonder how often God wants to ask us if we are “Still Listening”.?.?.?  I am personally guilty of getting so caught in the events of the day that I miss out on the moments where God is trying to speak to me.   This is one thing I love about my wife.  She never fails to notice the beauty of the sky or a sunset.  She always takes time to notice Gods beauty through his creation and God always moves her through his beauty.  It’s always a moment of listening and worship for her.   I believe God is constantly trying to speak to all of us and desiring us to worship him.   The problem is we are too caught up in things that keep us from noticing.

Let’s slow down, notice, and listen.

“Be still, and know that I am God…The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us…” Psalm 46:10&11

 

PJ


I Wish I Was More Like My Dog (and I’m Glad God Isn’t At All Like Me)

Yesterday April got home from work to find that we’d absentmindedly left our dog Samson inside all day. (I thought she was going to let him out, she thought I was, yadda yadda yadda.) She also found a delightfully odorous present that he’d left on the living room rug.

The great thing about Samson – and all dogs, really – is that they don’t hold grudges. Not against people, and not even against themselves. Sam’s a great dog, well-behaved and obedient, and he’d never make a mess in the house unless he had no other option (which he didn’t). He was bothered by what he’d done: he paced around and was hesitant around us for awhile. But by last night, all was forgotten. He was his old self again, nuzzling us for attention while we sat on the couch, waiting hopefully in kitchen while we cooked dinner.

I wish I was more like Samson. For me, one of the biggest obstacles to God’s grace is my inability to forgive myself. When I screw up I beat myself up over it for days, weeks, or longer. That does bad things to my relationship with Christ. I start to question how he could love me when I’m so rebellious and selfish and distracted from his love. Then I get caught in a self-destructive loop of feeling bad about what I’ve done, losing faith in God’s grace, screwing up more because “I might as well, I’m a lost cause”, and then feeling bad all over again. I’ve said it before: I think loving yourself is among the biggest steps you can take toward loving and being loved by God.

The me-as-Samson metaphor breaks down eventually, as most metaphors do, because in this situation the role of God would be played by me. And I’m nothing like God. I couldn’t help but get a little frustrated by Samson even though I knew it wasn’t his fault. (He didn’t get in trouble, by the way, just to clarify.) And I’ll make some changes to make sure another similar incident doesn’t happen again. God, though, is infinitely patient with us, and he does more than forgive our sins. He forgets them, as if they never happened. He is also steadfast and unchanging. He will treat us with the same grace and love and expectations tomorrow that he did yesterday.

I’m working on loving myself more, so that I can experience God’s love more fully. And among a multitude of other things, I’m thankful that he is a loving father rather than an obedience instructor (or impatient owner). I wish I was more like my dog, but I’m glad God’s nothing like me.

(Yep, I just got a message of grace and self-love out of a story about the dog pooping in the house. I think I’ll just sit back and wait on that book deal now.)


Weekly Confession: Which God do I serve?

Yesterday at I had the privilege of delivering the message during our second service at Oasis.  The general thought for the message was “Which God Do You Serve?”.  The text was 1 Kings 18:16-40 where Elijah confronts King Ahab and the Israelites about serving false gods.  In my message I discussed how much like the Israelites put their trust in false gods instead of the one true God, we also put our trust and worth in things that can’t fulfill the promises of God.   I have to be honest, it was one of the toughest messages I have ever preached.  Not because I felt like I struggled the entire time, but, because I felt like I needed someone to preach it to me.  After studying for the sermon last week and delivering it yesterday, God has definitely revealed to me what my false gods are.

Last Thursday my wife was  in a fender bender.   Thankfully, she was not hurt at all and  the vehicle she hit had very little damage done to it.  However, our vehicle was pretty banged up.  Through out the process of dealing with our insurance, getting a rental car set up for my wife to drive, and figuring out how much all of this is going to cost even after our insurance helps out, I have found myself totally frustrated.   Why?  Our car is pretty beat up and we are going to have to spend money that was in an emergency fund specifically for events like this.   But there is something about “my things” being damaged and having to actually use the emergency account, that, consumes me with worry.   I can’t stand for my things to be damaged…ever…and I certainly don’t want to spend the money we have saved for emergencies.

What does all of the above say about me?  I am too attached to my things and I put more trust in the emergency account than I do in God.  I hate to even type that last sentence.  I don’t really even like things that much, but what I have I am too attached too.  Even though God has blessed me with an emergency account for rainy days, I can’t believe he would actually place some adversity in my life to have to use the emergency account!

The truth is there nothing wrong with having some material goods in my life and their nothing wrong with an emergency account.  What is wrong is when I am so attached to my things that I throw a fit when God wants to stir up some adversity to increase my faith and when I trust in my emergency account more than I trust in God to re-supply.

Lord, I confess  that I put too much value in my things and trust in money way too much.  Lord help me to value you above all the stuff in my life and to trust in  you more than money.  I am  your son and you are my perfect heavenly father.  You are my shepherd; I have all that I need.

 

PJ


To the Pure, All Things Are Pure

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15 NIV)

It’s frustrating trying to convince a cynic of truth. Arguing that the Bible really is pure and True and not some centuries-old gimmick to a non-believer is like trying to convince the recently-dumped or soon-to-be divorced that Love is the same.

While Paul doesn’t offer any advice for clearing that hurdle, this excerpt from his letter to Titus does explain it. “To the pure, all things are pure,” he says. It’s easy to believe in love when you’re loved, in other words. Just as Christ’s honest love and sacrifice is plain as day to anyone who’s accepted them. But everyone else, whose “minds and consciences are corrupted”, projects their own wickedness on the rest of the world. It’s the same reason a crook thinks everyone’s out to get him.

This also explains why it’s so easy to get caught in a downward spiral of “spiritual funk”. One day of wallowing in self-pity and doubt, and suddenly everything around you confirms your worst suspicions. Once you’ve started doubting yourself or God or anyone/anything else, it’s hard to start believing again.


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