Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lessons Learned from My Secret Guilty Pleasure.

Everyone has a secret guilty pleasure. You know, something that you enjoy that no one else knows about. For some of you it might be knitting. For others it might be reading books on the subject of Advanced Quantum Physics. For some of you  it might be listening to Barry Manilow and singing the song "Mandy" in the mirror using your deodorant as a pretend microphone. (that's messed up, really)

Not for me. For me, it's watching the Antique Roadshow. If you've never seen the Antique Roadshow, (or The Roadshow as insiders refer to it) let me explain it to you.

Essentially what happens is this:  Someone digs around their attic or garage and finds something that their late Aunt Bertha gave to them when she passed away. Aunt Bertha's are usually reliable in what they bequeath to you.

So the person finds this ancient relic and then they take it to a taping of The Roadshow. Once there, an antiques specialists takes a look at it and tells people the background information on the antique and more. The biggest part of the show is when the antique specialist reveals how much the antique is worth.

You can learn a lot in this moment. I have learned that there are 3 things that usually happen.

1. Antique is Worth More than You Thought- This is always fun to watch. The antique specialist reveals the worth and instantly you see surprise on the person's face. It's that expression that says: "Holy Crap, and to think that I've been using it as a door stop." The surprise  look fades to the a big smile that is accompanied by the thought, "Forget Aunt Bertha, this bad boy is gonna get me a new Minivan!

2. Antique is Less than You Thought -This has to be one of the most painful things to watch. It's just sad to see that people invested money in something that they thought was super valuable but turns out that it's worth nothing. I saw this happen once. This lady had purchased these Chinese Vases for $500. She took them to AR to get them appraised for "insurance" purposes. (or she really wanted a Minivan). As it turned out they were counterfeit. They weren't even worth the $500 she paid for them. She stood there in horror as the antiques guy explained to her how she had been duped. I wanted to jump through the TV and hug her.

3. Antique is Absolutely Priceless - This is the best ever. You see a person who brings something in and they have a feeling that it's worth something. Then you see the antique specialist get all giddy like a teenage girl who just got asked out by her crush. They excitedly talk about each little part of the antique as if the world is about to end.  The want to share the news with everyone that they run across. LOOK WHAT I'VE FOUND!  It's pretty intense.....well in an antique kind of way.

As I've grown older I've learned the same lessons in life.

1. Certain Things are Worth More  - if you've seen the movie "UP" you know what I'm talking about. Things like family and friends are worth more the older that you get. You live for these moments. I love playing with my kids because it's those memories that will last a lifetime. I like helping others because it will make their lives better. These things are worth more now that I'm older.

2. Certain Things are Worth Less- The more that I find more value in the things mentioned in #1, I find less value in other things. Money. Status.  These things just aren't as valuable to me as they used to be. Sometimes I'll look on Facebook and look through different profiles. I'll see people trying desperately to get ahead in life. I'll see people spending most weekends getting drunk enough to forget life. I see people who are so desperate for physical affection that they will do anything.These things might have appealed to me at one time as a teenager but looking at people doing it now just makes me sad. It's like we invest in worthless things in the hope that they might be extremely valuable. 9 times out of 10 we miss and waste our time and money.

3. One Thing is Priceless - I'm not shy about my faith. Well at least not on this blog. The truth is this. My relationship with God is absolutely priceless. It's something that as I was beginning my journey I knew that it was probably important and valuable but I had no clue that it was life changing. When I decided to follow Christ my life changed in a way that could never be described. I'm often overwhelmed because the Creator of EVERYTHING seeks to know me. It's best explained with this verse in Matthew 13.

 44"God's kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.

A relationship with God is worth so much that you could give EVERYTHING to have that relationship and still you would come out on top. In other words, a relationship with God is worth more than you can ever have.

If you don't know this relationship, I encourage you to check it out. It can be overwhelming but it's so incredibly worth it. If you have any questions you can email me at  

If you do know this relationship, get excited! Describe it to others and be giddy like a teenage girl!!! You could be like the guys in the video below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For....

Sometimes I get really bold. It doesn't happen nearly enough. but sometimes I get bold. When I get bold I am more willing to ask for things.  Even when it comes to God.

Let me give you some background. Last Tuesday our staff watched a video of a speaker at a conference. This speaker was talking about how Christians needed to be a people of blessing to others. In other words, everyday we should live to bless others lives. That's a good thing right. I mean it's always good when people attempt to make my day better by praying for me or helping me in some way. So after watching the video I walked into my office and said this simple prayer, "God, let me a blessing to the people around me."  That's it. No big words. No churchy terms. Just, "let me be a blessing to people around me."

I think God probably chuckles to Himself when we pray things like this.

God loves to answer "yes" to that prayer.

In December, I had gone to buy some bagels for our Sunday School class.  As a 'holiday' gift the bagel place included a $5 gift card for any future use. When you have two kids and one income gift cards are like gold! Needless to say, I was exited.

But then I lost the card....until last Wednesday, the day after my prayer.  Some people would call that coincidence.  I call it God.  
Have you ever put on a pair of jeans and found a dollar in the pocket?  It was that awesome except extra awesomeness because it was free bagels. (everyone knows that bagels increase the awesomeness scale by 37)

So off I head to the bagel place with my $5 gift card in hand. It's a glorious day and it will be a glorious lunch. What will I get?  Will it include cream cheese?  Can I get a Cherry Coke? (awesomeness scale is through the roof) There's a little bounce in my step. I park my car and head towards bagel heaven....

and that's when I see them. Two homeless guys about 20 feet apart walking in my direction. As a pastor I'm kind of ashamed to say it but when I see a homeless person my first though isn't, "hey I bet that guy is hungry". It's more like, "when he asks me for money what am I going to tell him?"

I kept walking hoping that perhaps they wouldn't approach me. The first guy gets close to me and.....keeps walking. *whew*.   I didn't have to give my, "I'm sorry I don't have any money" speech. 

As I was thinking about this, the second guy calls out to me. In a scraggly and broken voice he asks me if I had any change to spare. The truth is that I didn't. I don't use cash that often anymore so I don't usually have change in my pockets. I started to give my "no money" speech when I heard from God. 

Not audibly. That probably would have made me wet myself and then there would an awkward time for the homeless guy who wanted some change but instead got a guy with no bladder control. 

But I heard from God. The next thought in my head was, "Dude, you just asked me yesterday to give you someone to bless. Here you go!"  (I think God says Dude in an affectionate way)

I started to debate God there because the truth was that I didn't have any change to give the man. But when I reached in to my pocket to prove to God that there was no jingling of coins my hands gripped the gift card. Yep $5 of God given blessing. 

"I can't give you any change but I can buy you something to eat" is what I heard coming out of my mouth. I didn't think through it. It just happened. 

"Oh, can I get a bagel with Philadelphia Cream Cheese?"  He apparently knew of the Bagel Awesomeness scale. 
I got him his bagel with cream cheese and gave it to him. His trembling hands took them from me and he sat down and ate his new lunch. 
God loves it when we bless other people. In fact Jesus said that people would know that we follow Him by the love that we show to others.  So if you ever want to be bold. Ask God to put someone in your life that you can bless. Then just open your eyes and wait for it. 
It's amazing to be a part of what God is doing in the world around us.  If you really want to live an awesome life (even without bagels) make it a point to bless the people around you. 

Are there any times in your life that you got to bless someone unexpectedly?  
(this is the part where you drop a comment below!)


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Best Decision I Ever Made

You make thousands of decisions every. When to get up. What to eat for breakfast. Whether or not you should wear white socks with brown shoes because all of your other socks somehow got stuffed into the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.

They can change your morning or they can change your life. 

10 years ago I made one that changed my life.

It happened at 4:13am next to a dumpster behind my dorm in college. I sat in the passenger seat of a car and my heart was pounding. I couldn't think straight. It all started..... (this is where you cue the flashback)

... 2 months earlier......

I had been in college for roughly 3 months. My girlfriend back home broke up with me a few weeks before. She actually used 5 different cliche excuses..."It's not you it's me....I feel like we're growing apart...I have a weird fungus on my feet that keeps me from seeing guys named Jon...etc" You know the usual..

I was meeting people and making friends. One person kept inviting me to lunch. She was nice, cute, and she was very conversational. And she always brought along her friend which was cool with me. The more the merrier. (it turns out she was trying to set me up with her friend...she wasn't a very good matchmaker.)

Over a couple of lunch dates I begin to really like this girl. She was fun. I was a bit confused why her friend would keep showing up though, but whatever. We kept hanging out for the month of November and as December started we took exams and headed home. We talked a lot online over break. Something like 487 hours. It's a rough estimate.

In January we headed back to school..which catches me back to to the beginning of the story. However there's nothing in movies the lets you know that your flash back is over. I find that annoying. I can save that for another post.

This girl and I were hanging out with some friends watching movies when it was time for me to head back to my dorm. The girl offered me a ride back to my place because it's was like -20 degrees outside...ok I'm not exaggerating there. It was ridiculously cold.

So around midnight we drove back to my dorm. She pulled up to let me out at the side door. Right next to the dumpster. We sat for a little bit and talked. And Talked. And Talked.

4 hours later my heart was pounding. I had a decision to make. Do I or Don't I?

I made the decision. I was going all in.

I started talking. Incessantly. "so there is this guy.....and he really likes this girl.....and he wants to get to know this girl better....and he's kind of hungry right now...." No lie, the story lasted like 5 minutes and went absolutely no where.

Finally we got to the point of the story and she said yes.

10 years ago today I asked my wife if she would like to start dating. It was the best decision I've every made (other than following Jesus obviously!)

Since then we've gone through a lot.

3+ years of dating.
6+ years of marriage. 
2 kids. 
A number of fights (most my fault)
Many more laughs.
And God showing us things every step of the way. 

It's kind of nuts. It just goes to show you:

They can change your morning or they can change your life. 

Pay attention to the decisions that could change your life.
It might just be The Best Decision You Ever Make.

**it seems that my wife has had the same idea as me. We should probably start planning when we are blogging about the same subject. You can read hers at **

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tastes Like Chicken

Have you ever eaten something so good that you had to scream?

I'm serious. Have you ever eaten anything that caused you to make an audible noise of rejoicing?

I was thinking about that this morning as it was my turn to enjoy the spicy chicken biscuit from Chick Fil A. The entire world had already enjoyed it....or so it seemed.  Needless to say I was a bit excited.

We went to Chick Fil A, ordered, and sat down. We learned that they had had so many orders that they had run out of biscuits. They had to make more from scratch. I sat there in eager anticipation. When it arrived I got excited and started bouncing in my seat....

I should probably explain that I get really excited about these things. I mean it's not entirely normal for a grown male to excitedly bounce in his seat at the site of a chicken biscuit. Luckily I gave up on normal a long time ago.

I opened the package and took a bite. It was amazingness.  Pure AMAZINGNESS.  Now if you are like me there are a few responses that are appropriate following the first bite of the best food ever.

"mmmmmmmm" - This is pretty standard. Even people who don't regularly respond audibly to food will say this.

"Ha....ha ha ha..." -  Have you ever eaten anything so good it caused you to laugh?  It's like you laugh because you expected tasty but this has put your expectation to shame and you laugh at how ignorant your expectation was in the first place!

"Holy Crap!" - Yeah, this is a response you give when you weren't expecting it to be good at all but you were trying it because your wife ordered it and semi-forced you to try it despite your constant protest because you were enjoying your double cut porkchop and didn't want to try something that you didn't order in the first place..... This is all a hypothetical situation of course.

"Yatzee!!!" - I'm not sure why people would say this outside of  actually playing yatzee but if there is something that completely blows your mind when you eat it this is what you say. In fact there is a good chance that this statement is accompanied by standing up and doing a little dance. I mean it's really good if there is a jig involved.

I think I ended up laughing. I mean I had heard that the spicy chicken biscuit was good but it was better than expected. But that's not the part of this mornings adventure that made me thinking.

I sat there thinking...Why is food good?

Not like why is eating good for me...but why do things taste so ridiculously good?

I mean taste buds are not essential to survival. We could live off of tasteless food that was rich in proteins and everything we need.  But no. We have amazing tasting food.

I think that the ability to taste is a gift from God...I'm serious.  Again we don't need taste to survive. God could have created us without taste buds.  But He gave them to us anyways.

Think about the last time you ate something that caused you to say something out loud. What was that first taste like? What was it like to have that explosion of flavor in your mouth?

Amazingness. A second of pure bliss.

That bliss is a gift from God.  Next time you are eating (which should be relatively soon depending on when you read this) take a second to think about the ability to taste. Take a second to thank God for such a wonderful gift.

In the meantime, drop a comment below mentioning the last food you ate that caused you to be overwhelmed......


Monday, January 3, 2011

I Eat Magic Stars

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been busy with travelling, stomach viruses, and working on my wife's new blog, (you should probably check it out). I worked on a lot of the background stuff that you can't see and if something messes up it's probably my handiwork.  I've spent a lot of time thinking through the future of this blog and where we're going next with it.

There was one thing that was constant in the past two weeks.

Magic Stars

Oh yes. I eat Magic Stars.

Before you go off an assume that Magic Stars is some sort of nickname for illicit and illegal substances let me explain.

Since Molls has decided to stay home with our kids, we've started bargain hunting. This is especially true for groceries.  A couple of weeks ago I had to go pick up some things from the grocery store. On that list was cereal. That's when I saw them.....MAGIC STARS.

MAGIC STARS are the Food Lion brand of Lucky Charms. They are off brand so they are cheaper than Lucky Charms but that day was my lucky day. A box of MAGIC STARS (seriously, all caps? are they so magical that they have to yell at us?) cost about $3. This day they were on sale for 2.39....and buy one, get one!  That's right 2 boxes of cereal for $2.39!!!

Now the average person might step back and think...."2 boxes of cereal for $2.39?? It probably taste like cardboard." The average person would be right. Luckily, I'm not the average person. I bought both boxes and carried my prize home.

I triumphantly marched into the house and declared, "WIFE! SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE!"  (side note, you usually want to call your spouse by their name, not by their relation to you...) I pulled out both boxes of cereal and showed them to her.

"What is that?"
"Magic Stars!"
"2 for $2.39!!!"
" "

Apparently she was not amused. But that's OK I had found my bargain!

And then I tried Magic Stars. The only thing magical is that I didn't spit them across the room. They didn't taste like cardboard. They tasted like the Food Lion no name brand of cardboard. They were terrible. But it got me thinking about bargains.

There's a reason that something is a bargain. It's because usually it's of substandard quality. It's not worth a whole lot so it can be sold for a bargain. If you want quality you are going to have to give up more.(granted there are a few exceptions)

I find that I often settle for Bargain Faith.

Bargain Faith is great because it's cheap. It doesn't cost me anything. I can just say I follow God and life is good. I go to church every week and feel important in life. I get all of the promises of God without any of the effort.

It seems so great because it's cheap, but honestly Bargain Faith taste like crap. See Genuine Faith costs more than Bargain Faith. Just look at the book of Matthew in the Bible.

If you read through the Book of Matthew you see Jesus teaching his followers what it takes to follow Him.  Here's the thing, none of it's easy.

Sell everything you have and give to the poor.
Leave your family behind if necessary
Pick up your Cross and follow me.

Genuine Faith costs A LOT.  But it taste so much better.  Jesus says in the book of John that He came so that we may live life to the fullest.  As odd as it is, having Genuine Faith is the ONLY way you will live a completely fulfilled life.

You can settle for Bargain Faith but you won't be fulfilled. You'll still be longing for something more. You'll be longing for the real thing.

So here's a challenge to you. Put down the crappy bargain faith and start genuinely following God.

I think I'm going to get a bowl of Lucky Charms.