Breathe Again

You’ve heard the story, now here are forty-two seconds of evidence. Fleas will only jump as high as the lid that was on their lives even after the cap was removed. Forever, and also to their offspring, they will just jump only as high as the lid used to be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBfniZuko3g

Several weeks ago we met a married couple that spent ten years in a third world country. The population of that country was huge, but the people there would never rise up and challenge the dictatorship they were under, even though if they wanted to, they would have the physical numbers.

The reason?

These people were trained, drilled, disciplined, and abused if they tried to think for themselves, all of this from their early ages and the first moments of cognition.

Even still, some of these people have become very skilled in the processes they have learned. However if you throw in a ‘why’ into their mix, they are at a loss. They have learned to process by ritual, by rote, by the system, but they were and are forbidden to think or inject their ideas into that process.

This dictatorship government has effectively put a lid on these people.

Growing up in Western Canada, I find it almost impossible to imagine such a world until… until I consider some of the lids in my own life.

I have lived with socioeconomic, educational, and most disappointedly of all, religious lids.

The process to the fresh air has been ominous, but I love it up here, and I am learning to breathe again.

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Small Victories

DCIM999GOPROI’ve had great moments where I trusted entirely. But, probably like you, that trust didn’t stay Front and Centre very long.

I, once again, rose in my humanness and took over the thought process. I once again began to fixate on things I couldn’t change, bringing tomorrow into today’s capacity and finding it overwhelming. Ya, once again.

Today is a small victory; today I decided that I would live like my prayers have been heard. I’ve decided that my faith and my action would be harmonious.

Now that I remember God’s got it, I’ll rest.

Turn Up The Heat or Wait For The Weekend

The other morning I was listening to one of my favourite artists sing. She dug deep and punched out her lead line with a bit of a growl. I loved it the first time I heard it, and I loved it again this particular morning.

My mind instantly veered down a path of passion, and within moments I was thinking of the great company of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)

My thoughts went to Gideon, David, Elijah, and Ruth and Naomi all who lived fully human, just like us. Then my thoughts continued to the more recent; how about Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Mother Teresa? Then there are a couple of my favourite people who lived and sung with passion, Andre Crouch, and Dannibelle Hall. These people from ancient and recent past all stood with an, “I’ve got something I have to do!” attitude.

“Phil, you are going to be greeted and surrounded by a myriad of people that could literally be defined by their passion,” my thoughts injected. “Are these your people? Is this what you are known for? Are you living with passion? Is your passion for the right things?” (At times my inside conversation bothers me.)

Let me ask you. Right now I am asking where things are at. In the last twenty-four hours, has your passion shown through? Or, are you waiting for the weekend?

Time for some changes?

Me too!

Monday Morning Blues

It’s Monday morning and who wants to go to work? Really, who wants to leave their weekend behind and embrace the repetitive mundane?

Well, that is indeed one way to look at it.

Or, we can adjust our thinking. Why would we want to do that?

Monday is going to happen whether you are on board or not; whether or not you jump in with your game face, or drag in, hauling your coffee with your IV hookup.

The fact is you can choose; what a great gift. You can choose to live with a good, great, or excellent attitude, or you can choose not to. Too much for a Monday morning? That’s why I waited until now to send this.

Choice is a gift from God. I think he holds it as one of his highest values. He must; it is what makes us human.

Don’t give your choice away to someone or something that will marshal it for another cause. You’ve been given the gift, so use it.

Choose.

Choose to live well, to hope strong, to have faith that God has ‘got this’ and knows where you are at, and what needs to happen next.

Don’t settle for being pushed around by a Monday or anything else that wants to usurp your gift.

You get to choose. So, choose by choice, not by default or any other imposed criteria.

We get to make a choice, so, Happy Monday! You are alive and ‘Get to.’

Wonderweird

It’s Christmas, or just about, the most ‘wonderweirdfilled’ time of the year.

This is the time of year where we are reminded of all the wonderful things that we can be thankful for and all the screwed-up messes we would like to forget.

Oh, how I wish that all was calm and all is bright.

I referred to it before, but Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly (Prudently) with your God.” (NIV) along with Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (NIV)

These passages relay a humbly, tenaciously, cautiously lived life. That is what we are called to. Regardless of acceptance or reprisal, ours is to live these words out in worship before our God who sees all and knows all. It’s not complicated, but oh boy, sometimes it’s quite difficult.

I have discovered that I am responsible for no one else but myself when it comes to the things that I can change.

So change, I will.

What you do and how you respond, is entirely up to you.

Address the Fear: Metaphor to Real

Two weeks ago, I had the incredible privilege to get some R&R at the beautiful Lake Louise Alberta.

If you are not familiar with it, it is just breathtaking in its winter splendor. It has a multiple of options for people to engage with the outdoors from hiking, skiing and skating to name a few.

My first day I took the 2K hike to the end of the lake, it was flat and level. It fulfilled all expectations and looking back at the hotel made for a stunning, soul rejuvenating view.

The next day I looked for a little more adventure. I decided to make the climb to the “Lookout,” forty-nine stories up according to my iPhone. “You access the trail behind the boathouse,” the barista told me as I was formulating my thoughts out loud.

“Is there any active wildlife this time of year?” I asked.

“The only thing I would be worried about,” she said, “would be the bears, but I think it’s too cold for them now.”

The temperature was hovering about -10c, it had just snowed the night before, and the four-foot-wide path looked somewhat used. It wasn’t entirely isolated. In and up I went.

About halfway up the trail, that had now narrowed to about two and a half feet, barely wide enough for a single person; I replayed the conversation. Yah, I agreed, it’s too cold for bears.  They would be in hibernation, wouldn’t they? I stopped caught my breath and looked around. Snow, dead quiet. I continued up the path.

I wonder if there are any cougars? Quieter. No, noise, just my deep breathing. They stalk. A three sixty look around. No stalkers.

Back to the climb. I wonder if this area has any wolves? Trying to sure my footing, maybe ten seconds from my last thought four-legs and black exploded past me, brushing my leg. My heart and body froze. Now staring me down not ten feet ahead and up from me was this huge black, motionless wolf, with… a collar? It took a few seconds to process what just happened. It was a dog, in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t wagging its tale. The moment was still precarious, but at least now it was domestic. The dog was up the path, and so we were eye level.

What would you do? Exactly. I talked to it. In a microsecond of time, I remembered my dad’s words, fifty-two years earlier, “Don’t let him know you are afraid.” I kept the lilt in my voice and told it to go find its owner.

It blasted past me again and then it was gone.

A little unnerved, actually, a lot unnerved I kept going to the lookout.

The path had narrowed to about a foot wide and then without warning it happened again, this time it bumped me harder. I was losing confidence that this dog wasn’t just going to be on its way. Still, no owner was in sight. After a few moments of stare-down and lilt(y) one-way conversation, the dog was off down the trail.

Finally, I arrived at the lookout. It was amazing.

 

Here’s the Take-Away.

The devil is not omniscient; he doesn’t know everything. He is only a created being. He doesn’t know what you are thinking. He’s waiting for you to cut and run.

He will try and block your way to beautiful and purpose. He will do his best to make you afraid. He’s been defeated. Expose the lie. Tell him to go home. Find your refuge in God through Jesus. Keep on your journey to amazing!

Address The Mess: Sick!

I had completely forgotten about my legalistic tendency.

I was raised in a Christian culture, and my family was considered godly.

Maybe they were, but I was challenged with a legalism which I have come to know is anything but godly.

We had a doctrine of grace and could teach it to you, but an unwritten code of performance. I, being a ‘good’ leader, in kind, passed that on. Grace was given with a smile, but adherence was expected to follow in a not too distant place. Remember, none of this was written down, just expected. I would probably be called delusional for bringing this up because like Jell-O, this code could not be nailed down.

You can only imagine the mess that this spawned.

In this regard, I was like Saul, before he became Paul, knowing that I was accomplishing big things for God, but in fact tying nooses around other’s necks and posturing a righteousness that indeed wasn’t by faith, and indeed wasn’t righteousness at all.

I am so incredibly grateful that this absurdity broke in my life.

There were two significant moments where this was driven home to me.

First:

It had been bothering me for a while, but when I showed up at family functions, I would frequently tell all that would listen about all that I was accomplishing. I couldn’t get the exploits out fast enough. I needed to let everyone know how well I was doing and how neat things were going for me, at least in my fanciful dreams. It was obsessive.

One day, while contemplating another gathering, I realized how I was ramping-up my preparation for the next day. I actually said out loud, “Phil you are sick!”

In a moment of clarity, I knew that my posturing days were over and I was able to walk free.

I started then and continue now to rest in the work that Jesus did for me. One of my favourite passages of scripture reads like this, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV) This passage is actually saying that God has taken our mess, all of it, and has given us in exchange his righteousness. No posturing, no performance, just righteousness.

God has taken my ‘sick’ and has given me right living, if I want it, in its place. I find that unbelievably incredible.

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I will share Second: next time.

Joseph Series: Invent Your Future

So many times I get caught in maintenance mode. I wake up to realize that I have been just plugging the system of …whatever.

The other morning a blog by Seth Godin caught me completely by surprise. He talked about people are trying to predict the future, trying to be in the right place at the right time. He then went on to say, “A far more successful and reliable approach is to invent the future. Not all of it, just a little part. But enough to make a difference.” (May 27, 2017, “Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect.”)

That caused me to do a double take.

Precisely that is what happens every time someone believes in himself or herself, God, a promise, or future, and then they step out and invent that part of their future.

Joseph did that. I’m reasonably convinced that he didn’t sit there in prison and say that he was inventing his future, he just hoped in, believed in, and acted when he had the opportunity. Joseph believed that God was for him.

How about it?

Joseph did, now it’s time for you to invent.

Me too!

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You Don’t Have To Live; You Get To!

Joseph Series: Skin In The Game

The moment arrived at lightning speed, and yet the storm took so long to get there.

Joseph waited and dreamed of a day that he wouldn’t be in slavery, he dreamed of having position or prominence, or was that just a faint, old, childish fantasy?

He did all the hard work of introspection and retrospection. He busted his chops to maintain and gain a good attitude. The Bible calls that success.

In a moment, in a whirlwind of, “Pharaoh wants to see you now.” Joseph was standing before the great! In a moment he was in a situation that could cost him his life or promote him to his destiny. He had seen it before. The stakes were incredibly high, the passion was immeasurable, and the ‘skin in the game’ was all Joseph’s.

Years ago I asked an RCMP officer how he liked his job. He said that it was 98% boredom and 2% sheer terror.

This moment for Joseph was framed exactly like that.

It’s improbable that Joseph was thinking that morning, “Next week this time I will be second in command for all of Egypt.” Now here he stood in a breath-held moment totally unsure of what his next step would be.

I find it hard to believe that this played out exactly the way that he dreamed. My experience is life just doesn’t work that way but here very naturally and in sequence Joseph experienced the ‘super’ natural. I believe that his heart held to something more, something that he knew had ‘greater’ attached, but like the rest of us, the clarity was yet to manifest. A supernatural God who, loved and cared passionately for Joseph orchestrated his life, and so he is yours.

Don’t get confused by the supernatural part. My confusion ended when I began to see God as super natural. He’s more natural than I am and more than likely he is going to work through very natural circumstances to see my life where he wants it to be.

And Hey. Since He doesn’t respect one person more than another, He’s doing it for you.

All you need is ‘skin in the game.’

Trust.

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Joseph Series: Think Outside The …

The circumstances you find yourself in

The pain that is in your heart

The broken relationship that you can’t fix

The disease that will not quit

The home that has been broken and shattered

 

The great plans you have for your year

The retirement that for which you can hardly wait

The new House

The new Car

The new Job

 

The new sweetheart you have on the side

The plans of discarding all that is right and true

The one night stand

Think

Think outside the box that you find yourself in.

Joseph had to. He had to look for more than childhood dreams. They just weren’t working out how he had envisioned them. The prison box that he was held captive in did not house the dream that was in his heart.

All he had left were hopes and dreams, and you know? They were probably too small.

What box, what pressure cooker are you living in? Perhaps, the very thing creating all the pressure is forming you, for the better, the best.

Think.

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You Don’t Have To Live; You Get To!