C.S. Lewis writes a little book called Screwtape Letters. And if you’ve never read this little book, I highly recommend it. It’s not like a normal book because basically it’s a fiction book of a group of letters from a senior demon to a junior demon. And the senior demon is named Uncle Screwtape, and he is training the junior demon on how to destroy a Christian’s life. And so, it’s really creatively written to show us the things that our enemy does to take down Christians. In one of those letters, it really explains the mystery of why we have a hard time with letting God speak into our finances. So, this is Uncle Screwtape writing to the junior demon:

The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so.

Why do we feel like we are owners when in actuality, we don’t own anything. It’s as if we were to go out and rent a car and then get a car wash, get it detailed, put new tires on it and upgrade the sound system. That makes absolutely no sense to do all that work for a car we don’t own and will have it only for a temporary amount of time. Or imagine if we stayed at a hotel, but during our stay, we decided to repaint the room, put hardwood floors in, remodeled the bathroom, and got a bigger TV. We would be treating the room as if we owned it. But those are silly extreme examples of what we do when we feel like we own what we have in our lives today. We don’t own anything. And the minute we think we do, we’ve lost our grip on reality.

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We Are Your Symphony

One of my favorite all time movies is a movie called Mr. Holland’s Opus. If you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t want to ruin it for you … but I will. It’s about a reluctant music teacher in a school that wants to go to New York, write symphonies and be rich and famous. He comes home to his wife complaining every night about how he hates it but everyday, he still goes and meets with students before school starts and after school ends.


I remember specifically a red-head girl who plays the clarinet and she’s terrible. So, he meets with her everyday, and through his investing into that relationship and teaching her, he realizes that it’s not a clarinet problem as much as it’s a self-esteem problem. So, he pours into her. The whole movie is about him pouring his life into many other students, and the 3 years that he wanted to do this for turns into 30 years. Until the end of the movie where Mr. Holland hears that due to budget cutbacks, that the music program has been cancelled. He can’t believe it. After all these years, he didn’t even want to do it, and he’s thinking it’s all been a waste. He could have gone to New York by now and become rich and famous writing symphonies. He says to a colleague, “Just the minute you think that what you do really counts, you get a wake-up call. You suddenly realize you’re mistaken. You are expendable.”

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Near Death Experience

Years ago, I had a near-death experience. I went to my first spinner class at my gym. And in this class when I walked in, I don’t know if I was more intimated by this reputable instructor that I’d heard about, or by all of the estrogen in the room. When I started this spinner class and sat on the bike, there’s a knob called the resistance knob. And all throughout the 60 minutes (that felt like forever and a day), she’s yelling and screaming to add MORE resistance. In fact the whole class is about adding and removing resistance, even though for me it was more removing than adding. And unfortunately, it was hard for me to hide it because my resistance knob squeaked and everyone could hear when I was turning my resistance down. But, the instructor and all of us in the class knew, that when we had the most resistance, was when we were growing stronger and building perseverance. There was one point in the class where she had us turn up the resistance all the way for 30 seconds and go as hard as we could. As she was counting us down and we finally got to 0, she said, “Before you touch that knob and turn down the resistance, right there, do you feel that?” And all the ladies in the room said with a deep tone, “Yes!” and I said softly with my voice cracking, “Yes?”. “That right there is your muscle getting stronger.”

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Have You Noticed?

Have you ever noticed …

When ANOTHER person ignores you, he is rude. When YOU ignore him, you are preoccupied with something more important.

When ANOTHER person is set in his ways, he is stubborn. When YOU are set in your ways, you are being consistent and following your convictions.

When ANOTHER person doesn’t like one of your friends, he is prejudiced or showing favoritism. When YOU don’t like one of their friends, you are a good judge of character.

When ANOTHER person is mild-mannered, he is weak. When YOU are mild-mannered, you are gracious.

When ANOTHER person says what he thinks, he is opinionated and raw. When YOU say what you think, you are being authentic and real.

When ANOTHER person speaks to you about your pride, he is being arrogant and judgmental. When YOU speak to another person about her pride, you are being helpful and godly.

Is this convicting anyone else? (Matthew 7:1-5)

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Journaling in 2013

Last year, January 2012, I wrote a blog post about journaling. Well, I can safely say, one year later, if it wasn’t for my journal and this app, I don’t know how I would have processed the many things that happened in 2012.  It was a year of transitions full of mountains and valleys. But through it all, God was faithful and He had me in the palm of His hands. That’s not something that I just say, but as I read through all my journal entries from 2012, it’s something that I can see.

Here’s the blog post:

So, in 2012, I started journaling (again).

I’ve always heard people who journal and say there’s nothing better to map your spiritual journey. I’ve always been inspired by my wife’s journaling, for her times with God and prayers. But for me, I’ve tried it, and never been able to make it a discipline in my life. So, I justified (not that it needed justification) by saying that Jesus didn’t journal … it’s not necessary. But still, I inwardly desired to have that a part of my life.

Well, enter 2012, a year of new beginnings and I’ve started again, but this time, with a plan. I’ve tried moleskines, journal books, even Evernote on my computer, but nothing really stuck. But this year, I got an app (yes another app) called Day One.  It’s on my Mac, my iPhone and my iPad and everything is sync’ed and everything is password protected. What I really like about it is – 1) it’s always in my menubar and all I have to do is click it and start typing a journal entry anytime 2) you can set reminders at certain times during the day and it will remind you to write in it. It’s been great (so far). And because it’s now part of my day, I’m writing in there prayersthoughtsideasthings I did, etc.

Anyway, I read a blog post this morning from Mark Batterson about journaling and thought it was perfect confirmation for me on why I started journaling, and maybe an inspiration for you:


I just got a new prayer journal for 2012. First order of business? Creating a prayer listfor my children. I think of journaling as a spiritual discipline. It’s the way we write down the vision ala Habakkuk 2.  It’s the way we take thoughts captives ala II Corinthians 10:5. It’s the way you ink your faith.

Ideas are like vapor. They have a very short lifespan.  If you don’t write them down they vaporize!  Call it a dream journal or prayer journal or idea journal.  I don’t care whether it’s a digital APP or leather-bound book.

Just journal.

After all, the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory!

Love that last quote … why did I start journaling? Because, the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory!

So, as I start 2013, I’m committed to journaling through again … with the help of this incredible app called Day One, that gets better and better with every update!

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Don’t Put Jesus First This Year

As we make our lists, priorities, and resolutions for 2013, here’s a strange suggestion – don’t put Jesus first this year. Seriously. Don’t. Now before crying ‘heresy!’ and picking up some stones to throw, check out this clip from Steven Furtick, as he explains why putting Jesus first limits His influence in the other areas of our lives.

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Busyness as a Pastor

From A Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson:

I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself – and to all who will notice – that I am important. If I go into a doctor’s office and find there’s no one waiting, and I see through a half-open door the doctor reading a book, I wonder if he’s any good. A good doctor will have people lined up waiting to see him; a good doctor will not have time to read a book. Although I grumble about waiting my turn in a busy doctor’s office, I am also impressed with his importance.

Such experiences affect me. I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my signficance, and my vanity is fed.

I had to read this again today from one of my favorite books as a healthy reminder. I am NOT too busy.

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