The Ultimate Endurance Sport

As the Giants are holding off Brady and the Super Bowl is wrapping up, it reminds me of a passage in Hebrews with that contains a sports analogy.

Do you see what this means–all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running–and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed–that exhilarating finish in and with God–he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
(Heb 12:1-3)

Have you ever had life get bogged down?  We all have.  Some days we wake up and we just don’t feel like doing all the things that are on the slate to do.  Sometimes it feels like life is just too much.  But we carry on.   Our lives are the ultimate endurance sport and here the author of Hebrews offers us insight on how to win the race and even do it with joy along the way.  There are a few things that stand out to me.

First, is the idea that we can’t finish unless we start.  So many times we want to see the whole picture before we move.  We want all the steps laid out like mapquest directions.  While that might work when using GPS (most of the time) it’s not the way life goes.  I love thinking about the Wright brothers and how they learned to fly by learning to fly.  They didn’t know how, they just started doing.  The truth for most of us is that we already know much of what we need to do to be a better spouse, parent or friend.  We already know the good habits we need to develop as students or in our careers.  We just need to get started.

Next we see that our lives have purpose.  Jesus kept his focus because because he knew that His life mattered.  His actions mattered.  It’s true for us as well – what we do matters.  As spouses, employees, parents and friends our actions make a difference.  When we choose to see our lives from a perspective of purpose it helps give us power to stay strong in the race.

Last is the reminder that Jesus experienced more trouble, obstacles and issues than any of us could imagine and he stayed the course.  Our connection to Him gives us the peace, strength and Joy required to live this life.  When we stop, unplug and find ourselves in Him, we are renewed for the journey.

Let’s make this week’s lap a great one!

 

The Only Sure Thing

How much in your life is a sure thing? Well, not the stock market.

In fact, if you answered the question truthfully you would have to say that almost nothing is certain. We like to think of our relationships, jobs, finances, and vacation plans as a certainty but anyone who has lived in the real world knows that change is either about to be here or has just left. Look at this quote from Oswald Chambers:

“To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with surprises all the time.”

If we aren’t careful we will find our selves chasing our circumstances, tired from the fight. Why waste so much time, energy and emotion on guessing, hoping and arranging things so that we can have a moment of peace? Instead, we hold tight to God who never changes, never abandons, never disappoints and who gives constant peace that is stronger than what we can understand.

Jesus said “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.” I know that my girls don’t worry all day wondering if they will eat tonight. In fact, I would guess that they haven’t given dinner a single thought all day. They have no idea what it takes to earn money, they are clueless how much groceries cost or how to pick out nice vegetables. They are just now learning how to make their own sandwich.   They don’t understand what it took to acquire the table we eat at or the house that we dine in. How is it possible that they are at peace about dinner tonight?  Their faith is all wrapped up in one idea. It’s easy to understand, easy to believe, and has never failed them – “Mom will let us know when it is time to eat.” Ahh, the weightless peace of a child. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus is telling us. He is saying “Look, you can’t control things even if you wanted to. Most of the time you won’t understand what is going on around you, much less how I am going to work it all out for you. Why don’t you just kick back, trust me and I will let you know when it is time to eat.”   The New Testament is all about the idea of abolishing trust in getting it all right and all about faith in Christ to get it all right for you.  He is the only sure thing.

What are we sure of? “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” From Philippians 1.

I think I’ll just relax a bit and trust that someone will let me know when it’s time to eat.

Go Rangers!

The secret of If

The secret of If

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What’s your mood right now? On a scale of 1-10 how are you feeling in this moment? Ok, good. Don’t forget your number.

If I succeed in my goal for this blog then you are going to feel great when you finish reading it! Read that last sentence again. I’ll wait here.

Good. Chances are you already feel better than you did when you started reading. And it’s all because of the ‘if’ at the beginning of the sentence. How would you feel right now if I would have started the blog with this sentence instead . . . “if I fail in my goal for this blog then you are going to feel terrible when you finish reading it.” It seems like a minor difference but I assure you that it’s quite significant.

‘If’ is one of the most powerful words we have yet it’s power is transparent. You see, every ‘if’ holds a secret and here it is – most of the time we get what we expect to get. When I start a sentence with ‘if’ then what comes next is of monumental importance. Imagine the Wright brothers saying “if we get this plane in the air then we will most likely die in a ball of flames trying to come down.” Instead, they said “if we get this plane in the air then coming down will figure itself out.” The first sentence would have ensured that they would never become the fathers of flight.

Famous psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger noted that “attitudes are more important than facts”. You don’t have to be a famous psychiatrist to know the truth of that statement. Take a minute to think through some of your greatest personal triumphs and most miserable stumbles and recall the attitudes that preceded those moments. You too will reach the same conclusion as Dr. Menninger. I found that when I start my day with the attitude “this is going to be a rough day” I am seldom wrong. Surely the best part about assuming the worst for yourself is that you always get to be right.

If he shows up late . . .
If I mess it up again . . .
If you don’t know what you’re doing. . .
If I can’t figure this out . . .

But thankfully “if” cuts both ways.

If we can figure this out . .
If I will continue to endure . . .
If things go well . . .
If I keep pursuing my goal . . .

In ‘The Power of Positive Thinking,’ Norman Vincent Peale tells us “We are beginning to comprehend a basic truth that has been previously neglected, that our physical condition is determined very largely by our emotional condition, and our emotional life is profoundly regulated by our thought life.”

If “if statements” are emotional precursors of our life’s circumstances then I’m choosing the positive side of “if” as my default mode.

I hope you will do the same.

Now, create a positive ‘if statement’ for the rest of your day and say it out loud. Go for it.

Feel better?

3 Reasons Why You Need to be Confused

3 Reasons Why You Need to be Confused

A mentor of mine once said to me that “confusion is extremely important.”. Which I really like because of how often I find myself confused. It’s true though. You see, there are really only four types of people when it comes to understanding something, understanding anything actually. There are those who understand, those who don’t, those who are confused and those who have stopped trying.

So here we go, three reasons why confusion is actually a good thing:

First off, confusion means that you are trying to grow, trying to become something more than you are right now. So if you’re confused today I say bravo. Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas for business. That place has an undeniable energy. Yet, it’s a bit sad. We saw people crying, passed out, angry, strung out, and much more. Trying to escape who you are leads to bad things and is an awful way to live. Becoming is far preferable to escaping, but it’s hard work. It requires discipline, faith and yes, confusion. The bible tells us that heaven has big plans for us if we are willing to follow even when we’re confused. That’s faith.

Second, confusion leads to discovery (if we don’t give up). Galatians 6 encourages us to keep at it so that we don’t miss out on the reward. When we arrive at a moment where we just don’t understand what’s going on it’s not time to press the “flip out” button. Instead, think of confusion as a reminder to yourself that you are on the verge of understanding if you stick it out. Frustration leads to anger and eventually quitting. Failure is just an experiment that let’s us discover a new way not to do it.

Third, confusion puts us in a position to ask for help and that’s actually a very powerful place to be. What happens when someone asks for your help? You feel empowered, needed, valuable. As John Maxwell says leadership is influence and what better way to gain influence with others than to help them feel needed and valued by asking for help? The only reason you have to sweat it out yourself is just so you can revel in the pride of not needing anyone. But all pride does is keeps us confused for longer than necessary. Humility is the fuel for enlightenment.

So, do something this week that will force you into confusion. It means that good stuff is headed your way!

Yours in confusion, Travis

Shopping for Jesus

Shopping for Jesus

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A forward thinking research firm called Saatchi & Saatchi X conducts studies about how people shop and why they buy things. Here is an excerpt from some of their recent findings:

“We recently conducted a study to understand the emotional benefits that drive and influence shopping behavior. Those benefits, we found, include the satisfaction of deep needs for self-creation, mastery, security and connection. Shoppers today want to explore and think about how products can improve their lives. They do reconnaissance to gain the insights they need, and they’re driven to bond with others and enrich relationships as they learn. They are motivated by a desire to take charge of their own identities and the well-being of their families and homes.”