Waiting for ferries

In Uncategorized by Caleb

Hilary’s dad lives on an island in Western Washington. It’s a beautiful place, but there is only one way on and off—and that’s by boat. 

When we went to visit, we had to wait in a short line, pay $20, then file onto a ferry to get across the Sound to the island. The ferry only makes the trip a few times a day, so if you live on the island, your life revolves around the timing of the ferry. 

Forget to buy sugar at the store? Too bad—no cookies tonight. (It’d be a 3-hour sugar trip! And that’s if you haven’t missed the last ferry of the day.)

On the surface it seems like a terrible inconvenience. And I felt a bit inconvenienced as I waited on both ends of the ferry. But… upon further consideration, perhaps the larger lesson is that I live my life in too big a hurry. 

There’s something beautiful about living where you want to live despite the dramatic decline of pace and convenience. (Perhaps because of…)

Pace is often mistaken for purpose. But I know a lot of really busy people who don’t accomplish much of significance. 

Are you in a hurry today? Is it worth it? 

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Love’s invitation

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -Jesus (John 13:34)

As Jesus is wrapping up in life on earth, He’s imparting to His followers “the main thing.” 

One of the many things to appreciate about Jesus is that He kept it simple. Sure, His wisdom is other worldly and we only see and hear in part. But, at the same time, He was alway breaking it down—especially for His inner circle. We have the benefit of reading what they heard, first-hand. 

“A new command.”

That means that there were old commands. In fact, Jesus affirmed the old commands—old testament—and then said the most important part of all of the Jewish teachings was this:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Jesus (Mark 12:29-31)

Jesus summed up all the Law and all the religious teachings in two sentences. 

Then… Later…

Jesus simplifies it further:

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

In other words (my words),

“You’re loving me as you love each other, so just focus on loving each other and we’re good.” 

Life = simple
Not easy, but simple. 

So, let’s ask ourselves today: What does love require? 

What does love require of you in that painful situation? 
What does love require in that dilemma? 
What does love require in that opportunity? 

What does love require? 

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Doorways

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“Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.” -Jesus (Mark 6:10)

I don’t know why Jesus told His followers to stay in one house when they visited a town. Perhaps it was simply a matter of respect. The family welcomed them, so don’t be perpetually looking for fancier hosts and more comfortable accommodations. Be thankful, stay put, focus on the work. 

No matter…

Reading that verse recently made me think of something I read in a book by a guy named Brendon Burchard. He said that when he walks into a room, he uses the doorway as a trigger, reminding himself to be himself and add as much value in the room as possible. 

So… let’s say that you’re walking into your home. What if you used the doorframe to frame your state of mind: “I’m going bring the best I have to my family right now.”

When you walk into a boardroom: “I’m going to be myself and bring the best of me for the good of the whole.” 

When you walk into the gym: “I’m going work hard and push myself, while not being a selfish jerk to my fellow fitness enthusiasts.” 

Every time you walk through a doorway, let that be a reminder to you. 

Be you. 
Be your best you. 
Bring what matters and make the most of the present moment. 

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Wet firewood

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It rains a lot in Western Washington. And it’s cold in the winter. So if you visit around Christmas, like we recently did, you’ll be building fires and sitting with blankets.

And when you’re building a fire, you’ll want to make sure you use dry logs, because when they are wet, they are difficult to burn. You don’t want to find yourself wasting time and energy trying to burn soaked lumber, using up all your paper and cardboard in fruitless attempts to warm the cabin, furthering your reputation as a city kid.

I wonder if you’re trying light a fire with wet logs. Is there a struggle you’re engaged in that’s hopeless? Have you been clinging to the thing out of pride, desperation, or some misguided sense of responsibility? Are you banging you head against a locked door?

There’s a difference between an obstacle and a locked door. You can breakthrough barriers and obstacles with strategy and perseverance. But some doors are locked so that you have to find a different door. Yet some of us keep ramming our heads or burning matches to the nubs out of pride and the “comfort” of stilling with our hopeless problem. Believe it or not, we can become hooked on our problem or struggle because it’s the devil we know and we’re afraid to give it up. The false sense of purpose has us trapped in a struggle cycle.  

Maybe it’s time to get new wood or try a different door.

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Church Everyday

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“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” -Jesus (Matthew 18:20)

A lot of people are really concerned about declining church attendance in America. I’m not one of them. 
Even when I was leading a growing church—with a budget that relied on growth in attendance and giving—I refused to make anyone feel pressured to attend or to give. Why? Two reasons:

  1. We show up and invest our resources when we believe in what’s happening. 
  2. The Sunday expression of church, organized as a 501c3 (with any variety of brands)—with standing, singing, sitting, listening—is not, in itself, sacred. 

What’s sacred is every single moment that you realize that God is with you. 
Everything is sacred! Everything is spiritual. God is with you and everywhere. 
Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth…God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” —Jesus (John 4:21-24)
Going to church on Sunday is great, and I hope you do it. It’s helpful for connecting in community, receiving encouragement, and expressing yourself in love to God. But don’t be confused. Spirit is everywhere. 
Thus, “church” happens anytime two or three people gather with the intent of being aligned with Jesus. If you’re encouraging someone to be who they were designed to be, you’re participating in church. If you’re in an exercise class and honing the gift of your physical “temple” with others who appreciate the gift of their health, you’re being church. When you surf with like-minded friends, appreciating creation in all its rhythmic splendor, it’s as “spiritual” as anything else you can do in a week. And when you get coffee with a close friend or offer counsel to a struggling co-journeyer, you’re welcoming God on earth. 
Going to church is awesome. Let’s still do that—whatever the form. But being church–loving one another everyday, and staying connected to Spirit–that’s the essence of the good, full, and abundant life.  

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Church vs Kingdom

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“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'” -Jesus (Matthew 10:7)

Another place this verse is translated, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Look at your hand. It’s physical, material, real. You shake other hands with it; work with it; serve with it.

The kingdom of God/heaven is as close as your hand. And it comes through your hands, and hands like yours.

One way the kingdom organizes its efforts is through “church.” Church, then, is like the “hands and feet” of God. The kingdom is the invisible becoming more visible.

Jesus barely mentions church, but he referred to “the kingdom” constantly. As if He was interested in introducing the authority, business, and way of God here on earth. The church gathers—in all kinds of ways—to remind people to be about the brining of the kingdom to earth.

We can’t let our divisions of church (501c3 orgs with endless brands) get in the way of collectively bringing the Kingdom to earth. We are people of a new way… the life and priorities of Jesus, springing up right here in the middle of self-serving, smaller kingdoms of this world. His is an upside-down, others-first, kingdom of humility and sacrifice.

The kingdom of Jesus draws crosses and doesn’t have time for categories.

The kingdom of Jesus gets its hands dirty, reaching for the hopeless and hurting.

The kingdom of Jesus hosts feasts for sinners and outsiders, sometimes bumping the prideful religious to a backseat.

The kingdom of Jesus has a King who stands on his balcony, looking to see when his wandering sons and daughters will return home.

The church helps us organize in practical ways. The kingdom is reflective of a KING still bringing His gentle rule to a self-interested people prone to mis the point.

And this kingdom is as close as your hand.

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Wrong attitude

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Hilary’s brother was showing us city folk how to navigate the mountains of Eastern Washington on our recent trip. It was 30 degrees with a foot of snow on the ground and we were out for an adventure. I confessed that I had no idea whether our kids would embrace the white cold or run for shelter.

Uncle Aaron: “They have the right gear. That’s half the battle. When Hilary or I would complain my dad used to say, ‘You’ve either got the wrong gear or the wrong attitude.’”

How true!

We were in the beautiful, snow-dusted village of Leavenworth at Christmas time. The boys were playing in snow for the first time in their young lives. And I was the dad helping to create the memories. What an incredible opportunity!

Plus, Uncle Aaron and Aunt Austyn had helped supply the proper gear. Now, it would simply be a question of attitude and adventure. And our kids embraced it like champs!

Your life—venture, career, opportunity—is an adventure. If you’re unhappy or uncomfortable it’s probably because you have the wrong gear or the wrong attitude. Determine which, and fix it.

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The embarrassing yellow vest

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Hilary and I recently watched “Patriot’s Day” with Mark Wahlberg. The movie is based on the terrorist bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013 and is worth watching.

Early in the film, it’s clear that Mark Wahlberg’s character, Tommy, is under disciplinary action (or probation) as a Boston Police Officer. Because of his restricted status, Wahlberg is assigned to a low-ranking role at the famous marathon event—crowd-control at the finish line. Another cop tossed a yellow vest at Wahlberg and acknowledged that the position is an embarrassing assignment for Wahlberg’s character. That is, until the bomb goes off near the finish line. Then, it becomes clear that having Walhberg’s assignment was important for Boston… good for the crowd… helpful to the victims… and purposeful for the disgraced police officer.

He was embarrassed, but his position had a bigger purpose.

He was frustrated, but his assignment seemed to be a divine appointment.

The same thing happened to…

  • Joseph
  • Moses
  • David

…And a millions of other leaders, all playing roles in a larger story. We only see in part. Embrace your role. Lean into the humility of your present circumstances. You never know how the tables turn.

“You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened.” -Genesis 50:50 (GNT)

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Smile and ask

In Uncategorized by Caleb

Hilary and I were flying recently. We had a few extra minutes before the flight boarded, so I did what I usually do. I went up the desk and asked the young man if there were two better seats available. He told me that there were, but they came with an upgrade cost. He quoted a price that wasn’t worth it to me. 

“Bummer. We’re just both tall, so… But that’s okay.”

He was silent for a moment. 

“Merry Christmas,” he said, handing me two “Extra Space” (or whatever the crap they call that particular up-sell) tickets. “No charge.”

We were pumped. It’s the simple things. 

Moral of the story: Smile and ask.

My mom taught me young, “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” She’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for getting discounts, upgrades, and free things because of her kindness and fearlessness in ASKING. It works… some of the time… which seems worth it. 

Also, if you’re in the position to make someone’s day, do it. Not for karma… not because they deserve it… but because we’re all struggling humans and you just might make someone’s day.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32

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To be understood

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Mr. Rogers has had a post-humorous resurgence of late, and rightly so. The guy was amazing.

Last week, I watched the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” documentary on Netflix. (Also, Tom Hanks will play Rogers in a new movie set to release in October 2019.) Fred Rogers inspired me with his radical and creative commitment to the well-being of children. Day after day, for 31 years, he inspired, encouraged, and uplifted children everywhere. The song, the sweater, the puppets, the principles… he was in a league of genuine gentlemen of his own.  

But, toward the end of documentary, it was suggested that Rogers struggled at times with how he was perceived, fearing that he wasn’t taken seriously, or that adults didn’t understand the genius or mission behind the childlike curtain. He seemed to wrestle—to the end—with whether or not he was effective at influencing children and making the world a better place. 

We all want to be understood and appreciated. Even Mr. Rogers. But famous Fred reminds us still: When in doubt, be childlike. And let people think what they want. 

“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” -Jesus (Matthew 19:14)

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