Heart Wrecked

Have you ever pondered what kind of soul jerking, reality wrecking experiences twelve men must have had that would cause them to run, not walk into a life filled with persecution, pain and ultimately brutal death, simply because they refused to deny what they experienced and were compelled to share it with all.

Sure, they saw miracles, so did thousands of other people while Jesus was alive. But when they watched the life drain out of him as he hung between two grimy criminals in what would have seemed a shameful display of defeat, why didn’t they go back to life as usual and save their own skin?

What about those like the apostle Paul who didn’t know Jesus in life, but who after having a killing spree interrupted by a dramatic encounter with Jesus Spirit, immediately went from being king of the Christian killers to being a man permanently punch drunk in love with Jesus and desperate to declare His identity as God and savior to all of mankind until his gruesome death because of it?

What did these people feel? What did they see? What did they encounter that galvanized their resolve and flooded their soul with such unrelenting truth that  often death was welcomed over denying the one they called Lord?

I’ve had dreams that shook me to my core and then as the reality of the day wears on, the lasting impression of the dream that seemed so real fades to the corners of my mind without much afterthought. In the same way I’ve heard inspiring teachings, even moving sermons that I would describe as life changing, that once I’ve left the building, seem to leave me.  That’s human nature. When the emotions wear off and life is present in all its urgency, we focus on that and big ideas can often stay… ideas.

There was a reality that demanded more from the fathers of our faith, those misfits who became the mouthpiece of God to their world. It must have been a haunting reality. His words would have rung in their ears. The image of his face, etched permanently before their eyes. They. Saw. Him. They saw Him. They saw him in life. They saw him in death and they saw him live again. They encountered him. They knew him. Like a wife knows her husband, they knew him. They felt their souls shake. They buckled under the supreme pressure of what they expressed was irresistible love, wreckless forgiveness and utterly undeserved grace by a God they tangibly encountered. Their hearts were branded by the hot iron of his fiery touch. They could not ignore him. They could not forget him. They could never be the same.

What these people saw with their eyes and felt with their hands, millions more for two thousand years have been disrupted in their souls by with such gripping reality, that they can’t refuse it. What love is this? What grace is this? What truth is this? What God is this that apprehends the mind, the will, the heart and the purpose of those who encounter him, so completely that all other pleasures in life become filthy rags compared to the joy of knowing him?

His life was holy, his love scandalous and unrelenting. His sacrifice was real. He lives today and he is searching for the next heart to wreck, the next past to heal and the next purpose to give.

This is Jesus.


The Beginning and End… Your story


Author and finisher, Alpha and Omega. He who began… will be faithful to complete. He started your story, but that’s not all. He wrote a glorious ending and He is eternally determined to bring it to pass. He decided you would be their mother, their wife, their child, their sister, their friend. Not the universe, which He made, not the choices which you made and not the circumstances that happened that you thought were beyond His reach.

Sure, you or others who affected you may have been living life floundering with little sense of direction- but don’t mistake the circumstances that life began in, with the One who began life. You were the person He chose to pray, to love, to dream and to partner with Him to bring plans to pass. The middle part is hard because of free will. You get to make choices, you get to write a lot of the story and you can make the path to His end crooked. He will make it straight in time. You may be picturing your mistakes; the marriage that ended, the promises you failed to keep, the things you  or others did to you that made life harder. He said “no weapon formed against you will prosper”. He has declared the end of the story and the story ends in victory. He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it… it was His beginning and He owns the ending.

Don’t think for a moment that He didn’t anticipate the season you are in or the choices you and others who affect you would make, for better or worse. He made provision for that. “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross…” The joy was seeing you cross the finish line HE drew. Yes he has made a way for you to run the race of faith with endurance, not always with ease, but always with access to power. However, don’t be afraid that if you or the people you love and pray for wander off, that HE won’t leave the 99 and go after the 1 to finish His story. It’s HIS. The end belongs to Him. With His last breath on earth, He declared, “IT IS FINISHED.”  He rose again and is seated now as the One victorious over death, hell and the grave. His book ends with Victory. The middle included pain, some brought by others but the greatest chosen by Him as He endured the cross. The end was written from day 1 and when He said it is finished, He said “My end is triumph”.

When you look to Him, you look at the Alpha, the Author, the Beginning of your story. Be reminded that while you or others who affect you may muddle through the middle; He who not only wrote the word, but is The Word, said this word, “It is finished” and the ending is victory. If you are discouraged, remember this: He is the bookends of your story. He chose when to start the story that is you and the end of your story is themed like His. He is on a throne, He wears a crown. Your last page says:

She won.

If you win- do you not think that the things and people that your Author and Finisher put in your heart to believe for, to stand for, to pray for and trust for… do you not believe that He has chosen those endings also? He has. You win and so does your faith. Do not stop believing.

Turn Around

scales-of-justice-ladyHave you ever been in an argument with someone who is a master turn around artist? You know what I mean; you start to share your grievance or “concern” and as if by some dark miracle of master trickery, by the end of the conversation, they have woven a web of conversation trails that all lead back to what YOU have done wrong?  As frustrating as that is, it’s not the turn around  I want to talk about. However, the idea of turning our own pointing finger around, is.

When I told my husband my “word” for the year (others), he gave me a little feedback and then shared his word with me. His word was “me”. Simple. Putting the focus on himself to be the best “he” that he can be.

Not that his word is for me to judge, but that is a concept I can buy into. On that note, I dedicate this blog to him.

What if more often, when we feel the need to point out how someone else is falling short, we develop the discipline of turning the pointing finger around at ourselves… at least before, we broach the subject of their “need to change” list. I’m not claiming this is a particularly original idea, I have to give credit where credit is due. “Hypocrite, take the plank out of your own eye, then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brothers.” sound familiar? Jesus said it. Moreover, if He took the time to shape the concept into a lesson, I think it makes sense to embrace it as a practice central in relationship dynamics.

I know if I’m honest, I typically speak first, reflect later, especially when I recognize a supreme breach in someone else’s character… uh hem, they did something I didn’t like. It bugged me. It made me mad. It was wrong. It was stupid. It was selfish. It shouldn’t have happened. That gives me the right to avail them to all my corrective knowledge, right?  Perhaps if I found out that I too had actually been the product of a mysterious virgin birth and in a pinch, could turn my Ozarka bottles contents into a crowd pleasing vintage vino, THEN I could get away with that. Probably not so much if I’m just pretty irritated. The funny thing is that the more I jump other people’s case for doing dumb things, the more irritated I become. It’s like a cosmic , “ I’m annoyed at everyone feedback loop” and I become the authoritative corrector of all.

Here is what I want to work on and maybe,  it would be beneficial for us all to try more often; making my annoyance with others, become my cue to self reflect. We are all afraid of losing, all the time. It’s human nature and it causes us to make fear based decisions and to forcefully attempt to change other people, more aggressively than we want to change ourselves. It makes us controlling, reactionary and much less self-reflective. Yuck.

I wrote this “look at myself first” creed to help this practice to sink in more deeply:

“I will live by the law of grace. I do not behave perfectly. I will not expect from others, what I cannot give in return. When I feel angry, I will not speak. When I feel wronged, I will not assume. I will examine myself first. I will not be a hypocrite. I will not judge others for things I know I myself have done. I will not condemn or punish others for mistakes I know I have made as well. I will believe the best of others. I will openly admit my shortcomings  and be humble. I will pay much more attention to what I can change within than what others could do differently, to make me happier. I will love others, encourage others and pray for others even when my instinct is to simply protect myself.”

I find it very compelling that Jesus called our faults, planks and everyone elses, specks. Fascinating. It’s as if the more we get honest and reflect on what we need to change, the less marred we view others and perhaps the less we feel they need to change and who knows??… It may just make us better at loving people and happier all around.  I wonder how many marriages would be saved, friendships reconciled, family problems resolved and general forgiveness and healing would happen, if we were all more focused on fixing “me”.

I’m going to try to find out…

Three steps to change the world

I regularly have moments of discontent when I reflect on what I want my life’s legacy to be once I relocate to heaven and my life on earth is complete. It’s a burden that grows the older I get, because I feel a sense of personal earthly purpose that has an expiration date. I have had a purpose filled life but I never want yesterdays meal to be what fills me today. It’s been my experience that most other people also have a sense of yearning for more. “More” can be more influence, more creativity, more discoveries, more meaningful relationships, more impact or simply a vague craving for more fulfillment. I believe that yearning is intentionally placed and meant to keep us awake to our destiny and alert to our Creator, who paved a personal path for us. Our yearnings are as diverse as our fingerprints and telling of the individual impact we were designed to make in this world.

The most unsatisfying station in life and I speak from experience, is to lack direction and flounder without true knowledge of how to create the impact on your world that you believe you were born to have. While there are seasons we all brave that can muddy our vision of ourselves; divorce, troubled teens, job loss, death of a loved one, illness, failure etc., there comes a time that we must all wake up to the deep callings that life circumstances shouldn’t smother, so that our life isn’t living us. Here are a few guideposts  that can help anyone recalibrate their inner compass and aid in decisions that can lead  to the world changing lives we all long for.

1. Drill down to what drives you. Forget what your life has been defined by thus far, whether that is soaring success, miserable failure or the dreaded in-between. Lose any labels you’ve been given,  forget former accomplishments and failures and what you’ve been “doing” for a paycheck.  Think only of the things you’ve done, read, seen or heard of that have made your heart throb and left you hungry for more of it’s kind. When I see a powerful movie, listen to a moving speaker or read a book that changes me, I tear up and say to myself and to God, I want to inspire others. That’s what moves me. Reduce down the memories you have of your life, including your childhood to what deeply satisfied your soul and made you feel powerful. Write those memories down and expose the “theme” of what moves you. This could be defined as the essence of your drive.

2. Find a Hero in the realm of your passion. We could consider it the blueprint God gave us to reach our potential. Teacher and student, Master and disciple are ancient but relevant concepts. Only pride drives us to do it alone, or have to invent “the way”. Past or present, living or dead, find one or several heroes who’s lives you envy for all the right reasons and become their student. As lofty as it sounds, if their life inspires you so deeply, embrace the possibility that it is because you were designed with a similar purpose as them.  Study all there methods, read their books, watch their videos, speeches, biographies or build a relationship with them if you can. Imagine the entire human experience as a relay race of legacies and you need to find the person/people who’s baton’s are passing to you.

3. Make a brave, decisive move. We are all dreamers. Many are called, few are chosen. The few, I believe are the ones who choose to run when the “call” gun goes off. If the gun for your passion has fired and you’re still looking around for permission to take off, someone else could claim your impact. I heard a quote today “Everyone shows up to the battlefield with fear, but can you overcome that fear to go on to victory, that’s the question”. Fear often accompanies our most important battles. Ask yourself, what would my hero do next? What does my heart tell me, but I fear is too hard? That still small voice is quite possibly the voice of your Creator, quietly nudging you on to the next step of your intention filled life. BANG. Take the next step, pray for guidance, thank God for the outcome and realize you were born with every ounce of equipping to complete your biggest dream or you wouldn’t have been given that dream. Do you need to submit something to a publisher, apply for a different job, start or join a non-profit, submit an invention, jump off a new business, donate to a charity, apply to adopt a child, start a publication or any other world changing step to get going? The world needs you to be brave and decisive. Today.

I would love to hear people share the bold, world impacting  decisions they are making. Please feel free to post responses to my Facebook or twitter that may inspire someone else to take a deeper look and do something brave, purpose filled and fulfilling.

Happy world changing!

Inspiration Culmination

How many inspired people does it take to change a light bulb? About a thousand…nine hundred ninety nine to think about it and one more that finally makes it happen.

I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for more inspiration. This typically happens once I’m bored attempting to complete the last thing I was inspired to do. It’s interesting how freely ideas flow when we aren’t bogged down with the chore of following through with them.

I stumbled upon a TV special about the survivors of the plane crash of Air force flight 571, full of Rugby players and their friends and family in the Andes Mountains. There was so much to celebrate concerning their character and choices to stay alive. However, the final decision of two leaders in the group to trek out over 40 miles on foot for everyone’s salvation, struck me. I thought it intriguing that not until the 60th day, did the most ambitious of the group decide he must go. He had lost over 35lbs, but not his will to live. I wondered how many nights he lay in the hull of the crashed plane, freezing, praying for rescue… praying for the opportunity to live the rest of his life and fulfill his dreams. I pondered at what moment he became inspired to take control of his escape from the wreckage.

Knowing human nature, it seems likely he had recited the last words of the now dead pilot in his head, dozens, maybe hundreds of times before linking them to action. “Chile is to the west”, he had broadcast to the passengers. He had only that one word of direction to guide him and an endless panorama of snow capped mountains to overcome. Days turned to weeks and week’s months. In the process of pondering what he was inspired to do, fragile lives were lost. One morning, he woke up and decided, today is the day. I think of that moment as “inspiration culmination” and at that, he moved. In so doing, he faced 11 days of hellish cold, dashed hopes and what seemed the knowledge of certain death. He said the only thing that kept him moving forward was the fact that he could not go back and live. Nando and his brave friend Roberto plodded on, day after hungry, frightening, miserable day. There came a moment, when the faithful placing of one foot in front of another, a grassy line was crossed and on that day they advanced into the land of the living.

Yesterday, I was stopped in my tracks with an unexpected Face book surprise. As I was scrolling through pictures of friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, I saw a beautiful “grand opening” invitation to an old friends new chiropractic practice. I almost cried. She was quite successful in another career for more than 10 years. I remember her growing frustration with some of the details of that job and how diligently she began to search out another path that inspired her, where she could fully express her gifts and her heart. It seems like yesterday I ran into her husband at our local Whole Foods. He told me she had taken the plunge to start commuting three hours away during the weeks to go to Chiropractic College. My heart leapt with enthusiasm over her allegiance to the goal of living without fear. That was 4 years ago.

As I stared at her gleaming smile on this 3 x 5 inch invitation, I stirred within as I had while listening to the escapees of the Andes plane crash. Their life threatening escape into the unforgiving mountains to find rescue seemed to share many parallels with my friends journey. There was a pivotal moment in time when my friend and Nando Parada alike, allowed the seed of inspiration to move them to action. A seed no doubt that began as a mere thought or perhaps a simple conversation. Nonetheless, the idea was allowed to germinate through faith in something greater…a life beyond the ordinary. Many times the pioneering must have the revelation that they are more unnerved by what is behind, than what is ahead. No one climbs 40 miles through the Andes Mountains with little food and no gear and survives. No one leaves behind a safe and excellent income, in an uncertain economy to embark on an unpredictable journey, with no guarantee of what lies ahead.

No one ordinary, no one bent on doing what is safe and certainly no one comfortable in their present circumstances. Inspiration is only a beginning. Inspiration culmination is when desperate desire for change, for more and for better…becomes need. The need to materialize what resides in our dreams can and should thrust us into strategic action. That action must be begun with the kind of commitment that demands completion. When Nando Perado reached the top of what he thought would be the final mountain peak leading to green pastures and emancipation and instead saw an endless horizon of snowy mountains, he made a choice. “I will walk forward to safety, unless I die.” Funny how what is “safe” to some, feels like a death sentence to another.

I haven’t spoken with my old friend but knowing her zeal for a life lived in total authenticity and influence, it must have seemed like a death sentence to live the rest of her days on the safe side of her mountain… so she braved the cold summit of the unknown and is crossing into the green terrain of life fulfillment that only the “uncomfortable” will ever see. Surely there were times when she waved goodbye to her friends, family and paycheck that she struggled to muster the foresight to energize another step uphill.

Martin Luther King said “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”

It is this and only this kind of commitment to complete what we feel truly inspired to do, that allows the seeds of inspiration to mature into the fruit of a life lived extra-ordinarily. This life is like a relay race, except every runner is you. Every new stretch is another inspired path that you must start, run well and finish, so that the handoff for the next stretch can set you up for “the big win”. In the end it is said, we can receive a “crown” which will not fade away.

God is not greedy with inspiration. He is not selfish with creativity. The Lord pours out ideas from an endless source of illumination. I believe he searches constantly for those obedient, finishers who can not only hear a “God idea”, but also complete it, in order to better this world. Perhaps what we should covet even more is the self command required to bring every worthy idea to pass. “He that began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it, even to the day Christ comes”. I’d say it’s obvious what His opinion is about being a finisher.

For all those idea hoarders out there, all those inspiration junkies, who start a venture, only to be diverted by the next promising pursuit, take heed. The Thomas Edison’s, Michelangelo’s, Winston Churchill’s and Abraham Lincolns who have changed this world, who have left an impression we cannot forget, were not only thinkers, but doers… not only doers, but finishers.

Thank you Nando Perado. Congratulations to my beautiful friend. Everyone gets inspired; you made a choice to follow through. What wonderful examples you are.

The other side of inspiration