Your Direction, Your Story.

Path

According to Nike+ the life of my current running shoes is just about over. On a recent run along a beautiful bike path in Florida, I noticed a harder-than-usual impact on my feet. Thanks to Steve Jobs and the folks at Nike, this is the first time in my life that I have been able to source my shoes’ mileage. My app showed them clocking in at just under 400 miles.

As I ran, I began thinking about the great number of stories these shoes could tell.  They would speak of half marathons, the Disney Marathon and unforgettable landscapes in Hawaii and Colorado. They would remember the treadmill on the 28th floor overlooking the Miami cityscape. They would reminisce of sand crabs running back into their holes on a dirt-packed trail in Vero Beach, FL.

Yes, shoes tell great stories.

  • The sturdy Keds shoes of Grandma Gatewood are on display at the Appalachian Trail Museum telling the story of her 2,170 journey becoming the first woman to thru-hike the famous trail at the young age of 67.
  • It is estimated that the sandals of Jesus walked over 20,000 miles during his lifetime (from the ages 4-33).
  • A new pair of shoes are crowned king as the smelliest shoes in America in a Rotten Sneakers Contest, a contest that began in 1975 in Montpelier, Vermont. The shoes are owned by kids 13 years-old and younger and the winners often reveal amazing stories about their journeys in their tattered and rotten shoes.
  • The famous red ruby slippers that can be seen at the National Museum of American History of Washington D.C. These shoes represent much more than the Wizard of Oz film. They speak of a journey in search of finding your heart’s desire only to discover that you don’t have to look any further than your own backyard.

What would happen if we envisioned what stories our next shoes would tell next? After all, Jesus knew where his sandals were going and Grandma Gatewood was ready to hit the trail before she laced up her Keds. What if I determined where my shoes would take me instead of strapping them on and seeing where they led?

This is your season. Choose your direction and run.

Plant. Water. Grow.

Grow

We are co-workers in God’s field each with but one purpose.

One plants the seed. One waters it.

God makes it grow. (1 Cor. 3:7)

There is beauty in understanding that we serve a great purpose in God’s kingdom.  As I read through 1 Corinthians I thought of the small garden boxes we built in our backyard. I made each of the 4-foot boxes out of cedar boards, filled them with soil and each season our family decides what we are going to grow. Occasionally our 5-year-old, Emma Grace, uses a small tin can to help me water them. Aiden and Evan will help to pull weeds.

We are still learning. We tried growing corn and cucumbers with minimal results. Our carrots and any herbs we plant not only thrive but we get great use out of them. Since we began doing this four years ago we have both success and loss. Yet, there is still a sense of accomplishment in it. There is a sense of purpose that compels us to plant the following season.

A farmer I am not, but any farmer will tell you that it takes faith to plant, water and wait. It takes spiritual wisdom to understand that while grains of dirt become stuck under the beds of our fingernails, it is our Creator that makes it grow. We are reminded in Genesis 2 that at one time no plant had sprung up on earth because God had not sent rain to the earth. Once he created Adam,  God planted the great Garden of Eden and the great partnership began.

There are times in my career life when I have been planting and watering and have had great joy in doing so. There have been seasons when the planting and watering simply felt like, well,  just work. Then, there is waiting. Waiting for God to make it grow. This is not only the season I am currently in but its characteristics–patience and faith–need the most growth. In this realization, I have joy in knowing that I am exactly where I need to be.

Many are in this same season right now. We are faced with two choices. We can choose to listen to the world and its direction for us. The world will tell us that we aren’t good enough, we are failing, we aren’t loved and supported. The world will give us reasons to doubt and to show anger in place of love and forgiveness. We are not perfect, so we will experience times of doubt, temptation and loss of purpose. However, I don’t serve a god of doubt, temptation and loss of purpose.

I serve a God of love, hope and purpose so that in Him, we do not have to “grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)  I will choose a path of greater spiritual gain. This path produces perseverance, character and hope. Let our purpose and faith in God guide us into our next season.

Lord, let us find purpose and faith as you guide us into our next season.

 

Further Reading:

  • Genesis 2:4
  • Isaiah 61:3
  • 1 Corinthians 3:7
  • Galatians 6:9
  • Romans 5:3

#grow #purpose #purposedrivenlife #donotgrowweary #beautyfromashes #transition #transformation

 

What’s Your Problem?

Inspiration concept crumpled paper light bulb metaphor for good idea
I once heard that people with small souls have small problems:

  • How do I get rid of my wrinkles?
  • What do I do about my pesky neighbors?

People with big souls look to solve big problems:

  • How do we end hunger in impoverished countries?
  • How do we stop human trafficking?
  • What is the proper way to place the new toilet paper roll? (Just kidding)

Have you paused your life long enough to sit down to think about exactly what problem you are trying to solve? There are no wrong answers. Yes, this is the ‘why I am here?’ question. Yet we aren’t waxing philosophy here. It is steeped in a desire for action. Are we set on solving problems bigger than ourselves? Are we working toward solutions that have a lasting impact? Have we found others to collaborate with and keep us on task?

I ask again, What’s your problem?

To accomplish these monumental feats in life, keep these points in mind:

  • Passion is only noticeable when action is applied to it
  • Many will aim for consistency and endurance but most drop out of the race
  • Those we surround ourselves with look a lot like our progress (or lack thereof)
  • Take a deliberate and quarterly look in the mirror
  • A golf ball hit centimeters away from the club’s sweet spot can land a ball many yards from the hole
  • Calculate and agree on the possible side effects of less-than-perfect execution. These mistakes often make the best lessons

Enjoy your problem-solving journey. We will all be better off for it.

#problems #inspiration #solutions #legacy

Move Me

Not many people know the name of Ananias. He was a disciple of Christ shown to us in the book of Acts, Chapter 9. Jesus told him to restore the sight of Saul (Paul). “But Lord, I have heard many reports of this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people,” he said. As if Jesus didn’t already know. Guess what Jesus said?

“Go!”

I wonder how many times God has told me to “Go!” but I stayed just where I was? I can easily count dozens of those times. Hey, I had plenty of excuses like “that doesn’t make sense,” or “the world is telling me differently” or my favorite ‘go-to’ excuse, “that is not a comfortable or convenient move for me right now Lord.”
I wonder how many opportunities I have missed. We serve a God of amazing change. He wants us to be a changed life so we can change lives. He loves us to meet us exactly where we are but changes our hearts so he can move us to where we should be.
Thank you for never giving up on me Lord.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

#DontStayTheSame #DontWait #ChangedLives #bookofacts #changedlives 

Look at What God Told Me on This Resurrection Sunday

“When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble.”  – Proverbs 4:12

I decided to go for a run just a little while ago. Running has always provided me with an opportunity to pray, yet I’m no marathoner like I want to be. You can take that literally or figuratively. 

On this run I apologized to the Lord for thinking about some of my own issues on a day that is really about Him. I turned the corner, walked a block and looked up. The picture on the left is what I saw.

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I wish you could have seen it from the angle I first did. It was even better defined then what the photo shows. Then it was gone. We have been here for 5 years and I had never seen that shadow cast before.

It could have been His reminder that today is exactly about my issues. And yours. Or it could have been a reminder that in everything He is with us.

Our kids often ask us if we can see God. I love this question. There are so many scriptures to point to, so many things in life to reference and creations of this world to point to. I love this question because it tells me they are searching for Him. Just yesterday, Nicole was in the elevator at Real Life and Pastor Justin Landrum got in.

“Is that Jesus?” Emma Grace asked. Nicole was somewhat prepared for the embarrassment as we had seen Justin walked past us earlier and Emma Grace shouted “Jesus!”

It is a tough thing for a child to understand the spirit of God. It may be even tougher for an adult to understand. Or maybe we just want Him to physically be with us all of the time; I’m not saying He doesn’t visit with us in that way from time to time.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

I’ve really enjoyed these moments over the last five years when God has personally spoken to me. It seems to be happening more and more lately; or at least I hope it is happening more frequently. Maybe He is not speaking to me more at all. Maybe I am simply a better listener. I am hoping we are all learning to be better listeners. After all, we have a lot of questions but He has even more answers.

Either way in this case, it is what I needed to ‘hear.’ Maybe seeing IS believing.

Working Dads: Admit You’ve Messed Up

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The righteous lead blameless lives, blessed are their children after them. ~ Proverbs 20:7

This seems like a pretty tall order to Christian dads out there. With pressure from work, the desire to be home, and obligations at church, it can be easy to get to the end of the day and feel inadequate, far from blameless. How can we live out this verse and be a blessing to our children?

Love the Lord. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy when He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” When we put God first in our life, all things will flow from that. He has a way of setting our priorities straight.

Love your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” If we truly love our wives this way, our children will see it and emulate it. Our society treats marriage like a disposable commodity. Show your children that you are willing to work to make things right rather than throw them away.

Love your children. Psalm 127:3-4 describes children this way. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Children are our greatest gift from God, to be treasured and raised to know His love. They know our Heavenly Father’s love through the love they receive from us, their earthly fathers.

Love each other. Jesus assures us that “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” in John 13:35. It’s not about how much money we give to church or how often we volunteer. It is found in the honest love that we show for one another, when we help each other, and when we comfort one another. The love that Jesus wants us to demonstrate to our children is found when we pray with a friend or have patience with a cranky child.

Be blameless. This was the difficult part of our opening verse. As men, we want to be blameless before our God and our children but are helpless to do so. This is when we teach our children about repentance and forgiveness. When we are willing to admit our mistakes, we show them that we are not a perfect standard for them to hopelessly strive for. They see that we are children of God, just like they are. We are blameless because we are covered with the perfect righteousness of Jesus, and our children will be blessed to learn that they can come to us, or Him, too.

I sometimes find this is easier said than done. Our 7 year-old, Evan, can be quick to point out why it is someone else’s fault or why they made him do it. My first response is frustration and correction. As I grow in fatherhood I have understood the better approach to be one of patience and pointing out some of my own flaws and how I should blame myself for my actions. However, there is great news, Glory be to God! He loves me and forgives me anyway through the salvation of Christ. We have such a forgiving and loving father. We simply must acknowledge our mistakes, not as our duty, but in love to the one who has given us everlasting life.

As a working father, the time spent with the kids is limited which makes this interaction that much more important.

Matthew GosselinMatthew Gosselin is a husband, father of three and a marketing director. He lives in Central Florida and is a member of Real Life Christian Church. 

Are Democrats Hurting or Helping the African American Community?

Two months ago I decided to spend some time researching and understanding why the African American vote goes mostly to the Democratic Party. The re-election of Barack Obama was no exception, some sites citing that 95% of blacks voted for him.  Why does this demographic support the party that began the KKK and deny the Republican party which was founded on the anti-slavery movement? Watch this video (5 min.) to see the Republican and Democrat Timeline.  First, it is important to understands the major problems facing the black community today. These issues cited below are shocking and they need to be addressed by someone no matter which party they support.

BACKGROUND

  • African Americans make up 12.9% of the total U.S. Population (Office of Minority Health)

FAMILY

  • 32.5% of African Americans in the U.S. are married. This is compared to 78% in 1950. (Census data cited in Mandara and Murray (2000)
  • African Americans are aborting more babies that birthing. 1,876 African Abortions every day compared to 589,808 births each year (2010, CDC)
  • Even though African Americans make up 13%of the total population, they have 36% of the abortions in the U.S. (2010 CDC)

WELFARE VS EMPLOYMENT

  • Under Obama’s first 4 years as president, the African American unemployment rate went from 8.1% in 2008 to 14.4% in 2012 (Dept. of Labor)
  • 4.3 million Americans on welfare, 39.8% are African American (Dept. of Labor)
  • 46.6 million Americans on Food Stamps (Dept of Commerce-10/15/2012)
  • 40 states pay welfare recipients more than $8/hour (Dept of Commerce-10/15/2012)
  • Top 10 States with the Highest Hourly Wage for Welfare all voted Obama in 2012. They are: Hawaii ($17.50/hr), Alaska ($15.48/hr), Massachusetts ($14.66/hr), Connecticut ($14.23), Washington D.C. ($13.99), New York ($13.13/hr), New Jersey ($12.55), Rhode Island ($12.55/hr), California ($11.59/hr), Virginia ($11.11) (Dept of Commerce-10/15/2012)

So here is my question. What has the Democratic party done to help this group?

  • Democrats continue to promote easy access to abortion which is wiping the African American population off the map.
  • Democrats continue to push more funding into socialist programs like welfare and food stamps. Yet, without reform these programs are mrore competitive than actually holding a job. It is keeping people in the program and doesn’t reward them for making achievements.
  • 83% of African Americans are Christian (Pew Research, 2007); yet the Democratic Party has problems accepting God into their political platforms. Click here to see the video

I hope that one thing the Republican Party learned in the last election is that they need to do a much better job reaching out to the individual, to show their sincerity and compassion no matter what their race or economic condition is.