Am I Ready?

Photo taken by my amazing mother in law: Kim

At the time of writing this, we will be induced to have our baby girl tomorrow morning. A common question we keep getting asked, and rightly so, is “Are you ready?”

This question can evoke arrogance (of course I’m ready) or cowardice (I have no idea and not sure what I got myself into). But I believe the truth is rarely found in the extremes. Rather, I think there’s a happy middle.

Truth is, I don’t know if I’m ready. Why? Because I’ve never experienced this before. And I believe you can’t be 100% ready for something you’ve never experienced. BUT, you can prepare! Prepare being the key word.

Preparation: the happy middle

I think preparation is different than “being ready.” Preparing the best you can for a huge, life-altering event is wise. For me, it involves reading books and confiding in a few trusted people. Many offer opinions, we as a culture are great at that. But a very select few offer encouragement and will patiently wait to offer their thoughts.

For me, preparing is doing what I can to be as “ready” as possible for something I’ve never before experienced. It takes discipline and a curious heart. It’s not being lazy and just “figuring it out along the way.” It’s proactive due diligence.

Preparing also leaves room for learning. If you’re “ready” then you assume you know all there is to know. That’s folly. But if you’re prepared it leaves room for the welcomed advice or help of others (rarely the unsolicited advice people are good at giving). Being prepared requires a willing humility from us.

Truthfully, it’s hard for me to admit I’m not “ready.” I like control and I know my entire world is about to be rocked when we welcome this sweet girl into the world tomorrow. And, if she’s at all like her daddy, she’ll not want to be controlled either. But losing my death grip on control is a step forward in my faith walk with Jesus. I know there will be lots to learn and it never stops. But I welcome it all!

Choosing prepared

So, should you ask, NO I’m not ready. But I’m getting as prepared as I possibly can be! And I have a secret weapon: the Holy Spirit. He will guide and direct my and Sara’s steps, pending we submit to His leading.

How are you allowing yourself to prepare for things you’ve never experienced?

Unity

Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash

What a word. It’s a word we desperately need right now. Unity is when we can stand together as one people under one God. Unity sees diversity as an expression of God’s creativity and welcomes every life into the mix. But what causes disunity? As I ponder recent events, it makes me reflect on what causes disunity in the first place. I thought this blog post could be a reflection for us when disunity strikes. It’s spurred by recent events, but it goes beyond those. It delves into our lives as followers of Jesus, as people in relationships, as people in the workplace, as parents, and more.

Here’s some things that I see cause disunity.

1. Writing Another’s Story

This is a leading cause of disunity. When we “write someone’s story” we are telling ourselves why they do the things they do. We take on assumption and just write it down in our mind and then function from that belief. It’s a limited belief but it’s easier than the hard work of relationship and finding out the truth. We must not write another’s story but reinstate the art of conversation. To welcome loving conflict to dialogue and converse about issues we face in life.

2. Speaking before listening

Along those lines, sometimes we feel the need to be understood over listening and loving. We want our voice to be heard instead of listening to the voice of others and trying to understand their hurt. In recent events, I’m practicing listening. I want to know how racism has effected people and I want to do my part to stand up. I also want to know how these events affect those first responders and for them to know I love them as well. I want to listen to the problem and seek God’s direction in my action.

In our relationships, we do well when we put aside the need to be understood and instead fight to understand the other person. What unity that causes!

3. “Assumicide”

Not a real word, I know. But you get the point hopefully. It’s when we assume we know the answer. It’s when we assume we are right. It’s when we assume we know “why” the other person is the way they are or we assume we know where they stand. We also assume their motives. Just because you may hold an opinion doesn’t mean you have the answer or that you are right. We cannot be that arrogant. Believe me, I commit assumicide this way in thinking my opinion is the answer. I’m thankful for those in my life who quickly remind me that’s not the case.

Moving forward

For me, moving forward, I refuse. I refuse to write another’s story. I refuse to speak before listening. I refuse to commit assumicide. Will I need reminding of these commitments? You bet! And I pray God continues to place people in my life to hold me accountable. What about you? Will you stand and make this commitment? We have the power to stop disunity, injustice, and more. It’s a power given to us by the mission from Jesus Himself:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus Christ

No Time To Wait!

Photo by Sam Pearce-Warrilow on Unsplash

I’m not good with waiting… Just ask anyone, seriously. Often that gets me into trouble. Like asking out my wife on our first date, telling her it’s a group date, before I even asked anybody else to go… Then, asking her on the second date before we even went on that one… Not quite sure what she was thinking saying “yes.” But I’m glad she did.

You know what else we constantly wait on? The voice of God. When it comes to wanting to know the will of God, we often wait. But sometimes we wait as an excuse or just a plain failure to launch. We sometimes wait forever to hear very specifically what God wants us to do and we end up doing nothing. Like we’re afraid to let Him down. But what if He wants us to move?

If we know something benefits the Kingdom of God, and we do it, what is there to lose? Maybe we focus on waiting for the voice of God to show us a course correction instead of showing us a very detailed and drawn out plan. Typically, in my life, God doesn’t like to show drawn up plans. He kind of likes us to proactively depend on Him.

Recently, I read this line: “You don’t have to wait for permission to do something that benefits the Kingdom of God and the spreading of the Good News.” It struck a chord within me. Paul, in the New Testament, had plans but he didn’t always wait on the voice of God to distinctly direct him. Often, he received his directions and corrections on the field. This is what I see as living with a sense of urgency.

Let us not use the excuse of waiting for divine direction that we miss a divine-appointed time to make a difference. If we know God and are near to Him, He will direct our path. Even if there’s many decisions on the table, there may very well not be a “single decision” that He wants you to choose. Why? Because any of them could benefit His Kingdom.

What gives me clarity and peace of mind is knowing God is big enough to use me in whatever circumstance and decision I make, if I’m in tune to His voice. And if I start something that doesn’t follow a good direction for my life, God has a pretty good way of making it stop, even if I resist (and I resist A LOT being an Enneagram 8).

If you find yourself in a season of complacency and waiting; maybe taking a step towards eternal impact is a great thing to put on your agenda for today! Then, chart the next step!

Growth Mindset

Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash

I’ve been trying CrossFit for about a year now. The past 5 months since building our home CrossFit gym, it’s been 6 days a week. The reason I tell you that is because it’s allowed me to practice the Growth Mindset; something my wife helps kids do on a daily basis. Well, I’m also becoming a student of the Growth Mindset. It looks like this in my CrossFit training.

  • Limiting Mindset = Ugh! I can’t do a muscle up!
  • Growth Mindset = I can’t do a muscle up! YET! But I will work to improve little by little until I can. It will happen soon!

It’s not about talent; it’s about ones mindset and ability to grow from failure. I started using this mindset for CrossFit but it’s quickly crossing over into all other areas of my life. Here’s how it looks in other areas of life as a human being:

Relationships
  • Limiting Mindset = It will always be this way and we never communicate well.
  • Growth Mindset = We are not seeing eye to eye right now but we will take one step towards reconciliation and understanding. Then, we’ll keep making improvements and celebrate them along the way.
Work
  • Limiting Mindset = I’m not doing exactly what I want to do and it’s frustrating. Oh well, I’ll never get there.
  • Growth Mindset = I’m not doing exactly what I want to do and it’s frustrating BUT I have much to learn and will continue to be a student. I know one day an opportunity may open up.

Do you see how it works? It’s not denying where you’re at or the hurt/pain you feel. It’s acknowledging it and then moving THROUGH it with a positive and growth mindset attitude. Sometimes we limit what we’re capable of (and what God wants to do through us) with a limiting mindset. And sometimes we are just plain lazy to not want to do the work it takes to think in an empowering way. Because we like it “right now” we’ve succeeded at becoming lazy minded.

A College Story

I saw this kind of thing play out big time when I was in college. I went to a Christian University to study preaching and church leadership. My family wasn’t really into going to church and I started to know Jesus in high school. Needless to say, I didn’t grow up in church and didn’t really know the “basics.”

Sitting in class my very first day of Bible College it became ever clear that I was behind. The limiting mindset started to creep in. Though I didn’t know what it was called then, I remember having a conversation with myself that went something like this: “stop being a baby and just do the best you can! You don’t know anything, yes, but you’re at a place that will teach you! So get with it Davis!” Chalk that up to my Enneagram 8 personality of telling it like it is LOL!

I still struggle between the 2 mindsets and I’m sure a lot of people do as well. It’s easy to make excuses and just say “I can’t.” But I’m learning to say “I can’t… YET! BUT, I will soon!” It’s so empowering. I have a long way to go but am committed to the journey. I don’t want my soon to be born daughter to remember Daddy as having a lazy mind and no will power to tackle the tough things in life. I want her to have a Growth Mindset. So, I’ve got to set the example. My wife is amazing at this and helps kids do it regularly. Now, I’m becoming a student as well.

In Summary

Next time you’re tempted to think you don’t have what it takes, learn from the mistake. Natural ability pales in comparison to skills learned through trial and error. Those are the lessons that stick with us the longest and that we learn to appreciate all the more. Welcome the failure as an opportunity to learn. If we can get this Growth Mindset thing down, we can teach it to the next generation. Imagine a world where the youth are empowered to learn from their mistakes instead of beat themselves up over them… What a world! Let’s start forming it right now. It starts with YOU!

WATCH THIS VIDEO if you want to see my vlog on this exact topic. Find it HERE

Following the Right Person

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

All of us follow someone. Even if we don’t like that fact, it’s true. For some, they’re a pleasure to follow. Yet, for others, it’s draining to follow. Whether or not we are joyfully following or stuck following someone, we must remember to follow the “right” someone first. Then, all other things are weighed against that. The right someone I follow first before anyone else = Jesus. This blog post will simply be why following Him first has set my life on track.

I was reading Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians last week and something jumped out on the page to me. Paul was breaking down things we hold up highly. Paul really simplified things by making Christ the center then everything else molds along with that. You have to be sure you’re following the right person. For the disciple of Jesus, He’s the only one to follow. He’s the only one who wont let you down.

People do let you down. On a personal level, I remember in the past few years someone very close to me that wounded me greatly. We don’t have to go into all the details because that’s not the point of this post. But, what we can do is talk about how following Jesus first made all the difference.

When that relationship began to crumble and I took to trying all I could to keep it together, I noticed something… When I quit following Jesus first, all my efforts were in vain. Why? Because I was trying to prove I was who “they” wanted me to be… That’s not good because I need to focus on who Jesus actually knows I am! And I can rest assured that when I follow Him first that He writes my story, not anybody else.

Truth is, we cannot control who we follow. That’s why following Jesus first is such a rich and full life. We cannot control Him and we don’t need to; He knows what’s best and will always provide for you. Through the years of this particular relationship falling out, I have gained for the first time a distinct identity and purpose because of WHO I follow. He’s my rock, He’s my hope, He writes my story and it’s beautiful.

Follow someone who knows the story you should write, not someone who wants to write their story onto yours.

GUEST POST: Pam Richardson

A custom plate in Pam’s kitchen. You might see why we get along 😉

Who is she?

Pam is one of these people my wife and I bonded with immediately after we moved to this church to serve. The Richardson family has become our adopted family. We find ourselves visiting them each week and even call each other family in everyday conversation.

Pam is a spiritual leader to many, many people. She’s helped a LOT of folks through some tough times and her family has been through some severe storms themselves. Yet, her passion and zeal for Jesus is more alive than ever. She’s a walking testimony of a dedication to Jesus. That’s why I wanted her to share some of her heart with us here. Enjoy, it will encourage you and challenge you!

Pam’s Thoughts:

During this unprecedented time of quarantine, or stay at home order, or whatever you’d like to call it, I believe we have all been given a great gift. It is a blank slate upon which we can begin to reevaluate our lives. And now that we have all had time to sit back and take a collective sigh, let me ask you this–

What do you think God wants most from you? Take a minute to answer that in your own mind. Is it obedience? Is it service? Is it giving generously? Is it going to church and reading the Bible?

Jesus says in Luke 10 that the greatest commandment of all is that I love Him with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. And that I love others. That sums it up. But what does that mean? What does that look like in my everyday life?

To love Him with my HEART, means in my emotions, my speech, how I talk with others and even with myself. Am I negative? Complaining? Self-absorbed? Do I lose heart and give up easily? Do I look for the good, not only in situations but in people? Do I look for God in the midst of heartache and trauma? What do I really think about these things? Do I believe that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He says he can do? And does that show in my actions and reactions?

How do I love God in my SOUL? My soul is my inner man, my character. Am I spending time in His Word, and letting that word change how I think.? Do you take as much time to make your inner self as attractive as you do the outer? Do you pray? Ask His advice? Seek His guidance? Or do you forge ahead into every day believing that “you got this”?

What about my STRENGTH? How do I love God with my strength? What do I do each day? What am I capable of? Am I helping others? Taking care of my family? Teaching my children? How about basic things like balancing my checkbook and cleaning my house? These are all ways that we can worship and love God and honor Him for the privileges and the blessings that He has given us.

And finally, my MIND. How do I love God with my mind? What am I thinking about? What am I allowing in? When doubts and negative thoughts creep in, do I nurse them and allow them to stay, or do I immediately confront them with God‘s truth and kick them out? Do you worry and fear the worst? Our minds are so important. This is where the enemy wages war, and it could be a blog post all by itself. For now, I just want to remind you to be conscious, and aware of what you are thinking about. You get to decide what thoughts stay and what thoughts have to go. Thoughts will often lead to actions so be proactive and alert in this area and tell those thoughts “you are not the boss of me!“

Am I loving God in these ways? Are you? Now is the perfect time to take stock and evaluate. Everything will be opening back up soon and life will return to its normal pace. Or will it?

I want to be choosy about what I allow back into my life. One thing I have learned, is that if I want to get back to what really matters, I have to start cutting away everything that doesn’t.

As so many things have been taken out of our lives, we get to decide exactly what we’re going to let back in. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought… and I’m going to start right at Luke 10:27, loving God intentionally.

Victim or Hero?

Photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash

Are you a Hero or a Victim?

This post came to me from reflection on the stories I tell and the stories I’ve heard others tell who are close to me. I’ll warn you, this might ruffle some feathers. How do I know that? Because it ruffled mine and I’m the one who’s writing this! But hang on because I think you’ll see like I am the need for what we discuss in this post…

Think of the stories you tell… The ones of a conflict, or a funny story. Maybe you’re a regular communicator and you use personal illustrations in your speaking engagements; think of your 3 most recent. If you recently had a falling out of a relationship, think of how you retell that story.

Now answer this question: Are you the hero or the victim in your story?

Why is it that in the stories we tell, most often, we are either the hero or the victim? We either came through and proved we were right or came through for someone… Or, we were the victim of somebody else’s wrong doing. What if…. What if we were neither? It takes a level of humility to tell a story in which you were maybe the antagonist (aka: you were wrong) or maybe you were the student (you learned something valuable).

Stories where we come out on top or maybe need to “vent” are fine but we lie to ourselves when they take up a majority of our stories. We “pass the buck” far too often (speaking to myself here). My belief is that when we start telling stories where we learned something or are vulnerable enough to admit we were wrong, there will emerge a new level of courage in our world. Others will follow in those footsteps.

I’m talking about authenticity here. Nobody is the hero all the time. And nobody is always the victim either. For my own life, I’m finding that I’m typically neither! I’m typically just a student learning or I’m wrong and need to learn from that too.

A challenge to reflect before you tell.

I’m challenging myself (feel free to join me) to reflect on the stories I tell myself and the stories I tell others. I’m reflecting on if I’m the “victim” or the “hero” too often. I want to be authentic and encourage others to reflect on a deeper level. In each conflict, situation, or circumstance we have so much to learn. I want to be a student of life and listen to what God is teaching me. Personally, I think that takes more courage than always writing the story where I play victim or hero.

Easter Thoughts from a Jeep!

Hey everyone, I’ve been vlogging now as well as blogging and I’m loving it. This quarantine has really led me to try some new things and it’s sure fun. Recently I purchased a Go Pro camera to challenge myself to make some digital content. I’m very much enjoying this along with my blogging. Here’s my latest video when I reflected on Easter while driving. Hope you enjoy if you get time to listen. Link is right below.

https://youtu.be/J_Rxdu_SjX8

Still Victorious

Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

This week is the week the entire Christian faith is built around. If there’s no resurrection, all this is for nothing. Those aren’t my words, but Paul’s.

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How timely is this pandemic to happen around this time of year. I think we could all use the reminder that Covid-19, nor anything else has won! Jesus has won. Why? Because He DID rise from the dead. Our entire faith is built upon THE EVENT that is the resurrection. And, as Paul stated, if there’s no resurrection then this is all useless.

What a time to be alive and even more so to live with this great hope! Here’s why I wanted to hone in on the Resurrection. Not just because it’s Easter week (I don’t like to be cliche) but it’s the most hopeful thing we have right now!

If you need to remember anything right now, remember this = Jesus is STILL risen and STILL on the throne! What people say about me, pales in comparison to that hope. Whatever trials we face, pales in comparison to that hope. In the midst of job loss, it pales in comparison to that hope. In the midst of a still rapidly spreading pandemic, it pales in comparison to that hope.

This isn’t meant to be an overly-optimistic post that tries to lie it’s way into your anxiety. It’s scary right now, but nothing rises above the fact that Jesus is still risen and therefore, we have great hope! If you read this blog, I want to sincerely thank you. But I also want to encourage you to take heart, there is hope. We aren’t creating hope, we are merely trying to point others towards the hope that’s already there. It’s there because of the event of the Resurrection which is what this week is all about.

Friday looked dark and gloomy, but Sunday was coming! And Sunday has already come where Jesus rose! So go, and tell someone by how you love them!

Weekly Reflection

What a time to be alive. This is the stuff that movies are made about and now we’re living it. What a time. While it’s easy to be scared and easy to let our minds wonder, it’s also an easy time to be still and reflect. Reflect not just on what Covid 19 means for our world but on something greater. How will the church shine through in this time? How will we live out the “one another’s” that Jesus showed us? How will we stand up to fear and declare, “you’re not the boss of me!”

For me and my job this week, I feel like I finally hit my groove with what I need to do. I’m not the most creative person when it comes to digital content but this is forcing all of us to adapt. That being said, I am working on my “GoPro video skills” in hopes to engage people in a more meaningful way. I guess that’s what “forced creativity” does.

How about you? We are being told to not even be social but stay home completely. Only go out if we need to. I think that’s wise to heed our leaders’ advice and be smart about all this. But how will relationships thrive if we can’t see one another? The same way they did in the early church…

When Paul wrote to the Philippians, it had been a long time since he had seen them. He couldn’t see them because he was in prison. Yet, through the written word (the only other option in that day) he keeps their relationship strong. No doubt he remembered them often.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Paul in Philippians

We can maintain our relationships with one another through all the means we have in our modern era, besides in person. Think of how much sweeter face to face contact will be after this is over? Perhaps we will see a new era of less texting and more sitting on each other’s front porch or in living rooms. That’s at least what I’m hoping for… How about you?