Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day 18: Facing Reality

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain. Maya Angelou

Too many people are devastated by change. The unexpected blows them out of the water and leaves them beached on dry land. How can you prevent that from happening?

It doesn’t come by avoiding change because change is everywhere. The solution to change is learning to adapt to it - learning to make mid-course corrections rather than sticking to a course no matter what. It might even involve throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load (like the ship that the apostle Paul rode in the book of Acts).

As painful as change is God uses it to develop your character. The immature person demands reality to change to meet their needs. But the mature person changes to meet the demands of reality. The immature person thinks to themselves… “If reality goes my way, I’m happy. But if reality works against me, I’m miserable and will let the world know about it.”

If you only had one month to live what reality do you need to recognize and face? What are some situations that you need to stop complaining about and start resolving? What are some things in your life that you need to “throw overboard” to help lighten your load so you can focus on the important things in life? God is looking for you to rise above your reality and show people how to overcome with God’s power. Are you willing to live that life?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Day 17: Finding God's Purpose

The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. Frederick Buechner

Kerry Shook compares a GPS (global positioning system) guiding our every move to God’s desire to do the same thing. He says… “In life we need a clear signal from God so we can discover our place and position in this world. Until we discover our place, our niche, our purpose in life, we’ll always feel lost, even when surrounded by a crowd.” (page 128)

He goes onto further explain…”If we’re going to find our way through the many circumstances and choices in life, we must be willing to use three crucial resources; our Gifts, our Passions and our Struggles”.

Gifts: Ask your friends and family to tell you those areas in which your talents seem to stand out. We often minimize our strengths but those with an objective eye can see what we can’t.

Passions: God gave you these passions. Don't think that he wants to ignore them. Like the Buechner quote says above God wants to wed your deepest passion with some need in this world. Our goal should be to find that “match” made in heaven.

Struggles: These cause us to learn our limits and remind us to look to God for strength.

God wants to guide you to be his agent on earth. But you must be willing to learn from your Creator how he crafted you and how he wants to use you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day 16: Remember Who You Are

Today begins the third section of the book One Month to Live talking about Learning Humbly. Learning humbly begins by understanding who you are. And to do that you have to look to your Creator. He alone knows your purpose because he alone designed you.

We so often forget where we came from. We know intrinsically that God is the Source of all things but we tend to see ourselves as being separate from God. Shook quotes The Lion King to give us some insight. Mufasa speaks to his wayward son from the grave reminding him of who he is. “Remember who you are.” In so many words he reminds him that because he is the son of the king that makes HIM the king and so he needs to start living like that.

Do you remember who you are? So many of us merely “get by” in life, content to leave this world having had no impact because we think of life in terms of survival. But if you grasp who you are – God’s gifted child - you realize that whether you have 30 days to live or 30 years you can make an impact before you leave this world. You can leave a legacy. You can make a mark on this world by pouring yourself out to the benefit of others. For some it will be in big noticeable ways. For others, it will be quietly behind the scenes. But either way you’ll leave your footprint in this life.

Take time to reflect on what it means to be a child of the God of the universe. How should that impact your life today? Over the next 30 days?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 15: Revealing Your Heart

Kerry Shook looks to the book of John to make his point today.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

God went out of his way to reveal his heart to us so we would understand him. In the same way, we need to open up our hearts to those we love if we want to experience a communication breakthrough. We have to risk vulnerability – exposing our heart – to the point of possible rejection.

Kerry says that one simple way to open your heart is to share your time with those you love. Love is not efficient. Love “wastes” time on those you love...simply being with them and not necessarily accomplishing any tasks or even having significant conversations.

Opening your heart also involves sharing your trouble and your needs. This kind of vulnerability exposes your humanity - your weakness - and everyone can relate to that. Sharing your need invites people into your world and says, "I'm not an island. I need you. Please share with me your strengths."

And third, opening your heart involves being honest, not holding back but sharing what’s on your mind. Too often we carefully screen and package our thoughts in ways that are safe but will never lead to intimacy in relationship.

Revealing your heart is a risk. But God will help you if you ask him to. Take time to be with those you love this week and open your heart.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cafe Reconcile Update

Our first of two teams just returned from Center City New Orleans where they are helping to build a dormitory for a Drug Addiction facility based in Living Witness Church. Down the street is Cafe Reconcile that our crew had the benefit of sitting in on a staff meeting to learn more of what this business/ministry is all about. Read our New Orleans team blog here.

Here's a recent article about Craig Cuccia and Cafe Reconcile. And another one with even more detail about their various programs.

Why care about a small restaurant in the armpit of New Orleans? Well, I love the vision that Craig Cuccia has for restoring both a neighborhood and lives wholistically. I want Cedarbrook to help in their vision and then bring that vision back to Menomonie to do some similar things.

So, let's keep our eye on what Craig is doing down there and become his students! I'd love to see a Cafe Reconcile North!

Day 14: Be Thankful

Remember: If you want these posts emailed to you, just send me an email with your address.

Now, this quote is worth the chapter alone…
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
Chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Melody Beattie

Kerry says that’ it’s hard to be thankful in a consumer culture that is always telling us that we need more. So we have to actively work against that temptation by developing our sense of gratitude. Gratitude has the power to change us completely. It has the ability to expand our capacity to enjoy life.

Don’t take your gratitude to the grave. It won't encourage anyone there. If you had one month to live make sure that the people who blessed your life receive your thanks and appreciation. Fire off an email or note soon and make their day!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day 13: Sandpaper People

Kerry brings us into the workshop today and talks about negative people being like sandpaper against our skin. But he carries the analogy further by comparing them to different tools. There’s …
  1. The Measuring Tape; these are people that are always showing you how you don’t measure up.
  2. The Hammer; they push their agenda by being loud and demanding, even manipulative.
  3. The Skill Saw; these are super blunt people whose words cut deep and leave you bleeding emotionally.
  4. Vise Grips; These are people that lock on to you and suck the life out of you because they are so needy.
  5. The Grinder; these are the people that have explosive personalities and feel it’s their personal responsibility to cut people down to size.
  6. The Hatchet; is the person who holds on to past hurts and grudges, using them against you.
  7. Putty People; are those that have no backbone. They are people pleasers who blow with the wind.

How do you respond to these people? Or, maybe a better question is; are you one or more of these people? It’s easy to criticize others but Jesus told us to not worry about the speck in our friends eye when we’ve got a 2x4 in our own (Matthew 7:1). And besides, finding perfect people shouldn’t be our goal. God wants to use imperfect people to develop character in our lives. Our goal should be to respond well – revealing the character and love of Christ – in every relationship.