Tag Archives: obedience


That time when your computer instantly starts working when the IT guy comes in.  We’ve all had it.

The blasted thing can’t print, won’t launch a browser, find your draft, download a file, open an attachment or stream Indie music while you have 9000 windows open.  But, as soon as IT shows up, boom, everything magically works and all of a sudden you’re the idiot.  Thanks, technology.

Or, the alternative, we had the ability to solve the problem on our own the whole time.  “Did you reboot it?”

“Did you reboot it?” you reply under your breath in a snarky, high-pitched voice.  “Uh, well, actually, see what I was doing…” is what you really said while trying to decide if you should lie about rebooting or not.  Naturally, you do the reboot and the computer works like a charm afterward.  “Great, thanks for calling the help desk,” says IT guy.

“Great, thanks for calling the help desk,” you say again under your breath. Technology.

Anyone who has experience with a PC has used the Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut to try and fix their problem.  Initially, the command was used to generally interrupt or facilitate interrupting a function.  In more recent Windows operating systems, Ctrl+Alt+Del is used to activate security features like logging off, switching users, changing your password or shutting down.

There have been plenty of times where I’ve wanted to simply hit three little buttons and have my real life problems fixed.  Over the last few months, we’ve had a number of hiccups occur that were out of our control.  I’ve realized that when I try to fix things on my own, I’m not very good at it.  I’ve also realized that most of the time, I’m the problem.  IT guys love to joke that most problems are due to ‘PEBCAC’ or ‘Problem Exists Between Computer And Chair.”

We have to hit a figurative Ctrl+Alt+Del to get the guidance we need.  In three steps, we can set ourselves up to be changed, rebooted and restored to fine, working conditions.


We have to submit control over our lives back to God.  We have to admit (or even be convinced/reminded) that God has a great plan for our lives.  When we try to solve everything on our own, we end up just making things messier.

There’s no chance that I could fix my car.  I know how to check my oil.  I know where to put the gas.  That’s really about it.  If my car starts making sounds or stops running, the first thing I’m going to do is take it to a shop.   I don’t pretend to know what I’m doing.  I don’t try to be macho and stand in front of my car with the hood up thinking I’m going to identify the problem.  I might as well be doing a heart transplant.

So, why then, do I try to fix things in my own life and ignore God’s control over it?  Pride, selfishness, greed…I could go on.  Those things all get in the way.  The Christian-y saying is that we need to “lay down our problems at the throne.”  Translated into everybody-speak, it means that God wants us to hand over our challenges, fears, wants and needs.  It means to turn over control of trying to diagnose and treat ourselves.  It means to honor God by acknowledging that he can (and will) tend to our needs.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Could God have just made a butterfly a butterfly?  Of course.  But, instead, God chose to make the butterfly into a caterpillar first – a creature that creep out a lot of people – before miraculously transforming it into a beautiful, graceful butterfly.  We experience the ugly so we can be that much more appreciative of the beauty.


We have to alter our perspective.  We get so caught up looking in the mirror that we forget to look at the one who’s image we were made to reflect. We get so preoccupied looking ahead that we stop looking up.

Back in the early 90s before we had GPS or other affordable radar devices, my family and I set out on our summer vacation to the Bahamas with just a map.  My dad had the whole thing plotted out.  He knew our average speed in the current sea conditions.  He knew the distance we needed to travel.  He knew the tides, the weather and the landmarks along the way.  He studied the map for weeks before we left port.

The crossing took around 6-8 hours and much of that was without having any land in sight.  I’m not sure how old school sailors did it.  After a few hours, I was sure we were going to end up in Africa or on the bottom of the sea.  I don’t remember Dad getting nervous, but he may have just been hiding it really well.  One of our favorite memories (and one of his proudest moments) is when I looked up and shouted “LAND HO!”  We made it!  We saw the outline of an island.  Just seconds before, we saw only the flat horizon and a few white-capped waves.  But, soon we were able to make out trees.  Minutes later, we could see buildings, then other boats, then the marina and then people.

As we got closer to the destination, the journey became more and more clear.  Though the seas may have been rough at times, though I might have thrown up my Golden Graham cereal from that morning and though the destination was completely out of focus for a while, we were able to see that all the things Dad had done were successful.

Ephesians 2:12-13 says “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

Look at that last part again.  “You who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”  Jesus alters our perspective.  Once removed from the Father, Christ’s blood gets us closer.


We have to delete the negative influences in our lives.  We need to be bold and part with the people, habits, media and situations that make us vulnerable and prone to sin.  This is not an easy thing to do.

There was a time when I didn’t think twice about having an alcoholic drink.  In college, I drank to fit in and that was about it.  I didn’t drink to escape.  (I didn’t have anything to run from.)  I didn’t drink to have a good time.  (I can have a good time anywhere.)  I just drank because everyone else drank.  Everyone loves the idea of “drinking”, but nobody relishes in the “effects of drinking” the day after.  Over time, I started to really question why I was spending money on alcohol or why I was wasting time fighting a hangover the next day.

As I entered the workforce, I learned that a lot of networking was done on bar stools.  Again, I drank because my colleagues were drinking.  I would travel to other markets and people would want to take me out for dinner and drinks, so I went along.  But, I still battled with being sluggish the next day and feeling like I wasn’t being myself.

As I started growing in my faith, I started drinking less.  Not out of guilt, but out of reverence for God.  This meant that I needed to separate myself from my college friends who were having “Beer Olympics” on the weekend.  This also meant that I was ordering a “Diet Coke on the rocks” while the rest of my coworkers were socializing over martinis and draft beer.  I definitely started getting alienated.  My friends called a few less times than normal (many are now incredibly strong in their faith and active leaders in their respective churches) and my coworkers invited me out a lot less.  At work events now, I see the looks when I don’t order a drink.  I hear the jokes the vendors say when I won’t help them fill up their expense tab.

And I’m completely fine with it.

See, I had to delete that part of my life because it wasn’t helping me grow closer to God.  It wasn’t helping me protect myself from gossiping, speaking ill about someone else or using profanity when my guard was down.  A good friend of mine shared with me that he stopped drinking because he didn’t know what struggles with alcohol the people around him might have had.  He didn’t want to enable them or make them feel like they needed to drink when they were around him. I also realized that I could never give a good testimony of God’s great love while I was intoxicated.

Earlier, we looked at Ephesians 4:22-24, but stopped short of the final verses in the chapter.  Verses 25-32 read,

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Once I turned over control of my life and altered my perspective, I had the ability to walk away from an area of my life that wasn’t helpful and where the devil could have gotten a foothold.

Much like in the video above, sometimes we have to just “MOVE!” and let God take over.  With just a couple keystrokes, he shows that he knows exactly what’s going on.  He knows how to troubleshoot our problems.

After all, he wrote the manual.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

You want to smell like me?

Top 10 all-time favorite smells (no particular order):

  1. Beach (especially in the rain)
  2. Brownies baking
  3. Freshly cut grass
  4. Outboard engines (I know, I’m weird, but there’s something about gasoline and salt water)
  5. Gardenias
  6. Book stores
  7. Inside of new shoes
  8. Indie music stores (something about vinyl and incense)
  9. Photography chemicals (probably explains a lot about me)
  10. Coffee

Smell is the sense that is most connected to memory. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is closely associated with memory. The first time we encounter a scent, our brain can immediately recall it the next time we catch a whiff. Sometimes, scent can remind us of an emotion, like how you might feel when you smell funnel cakes at the fair.

Scent can remind you of people. For me, when I smell ‘new car smell’ along with cool a/c, it reminds me of Saturday mornings. My grandparents used to drive by our house on the way to the book store each weekend. They would pull in the driveway and talk to my Dad and I while we were working in the yard. (Well, Dad was working in the yard, I was probably just playing basketball). Sometimes we would just lean against the windows of the car and talk. Other times, they would offer for us to crawl in the back seat of their Lincoln Town Car and cool off a while. I certainly miss those days and miss my grandparents immensely.

Scent can remind of us places. Whenever I smell car exhaust, it reminds me of a certain mega city in East Asia that I frequent. It’s filled with cabs and buses. Somehow, I don’t hate the smell.

Remember this gem? There’s no greater pitchman than 7’7″ former center for the Washington Bullets, Gheorghe Muresan.

Aside from cabbage, what should we smell like if we are trying to be authentic in our faith?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says:

14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

Incense and perfumes were often burned in triumphal procession. The burning was to celebrate victory or rejoice events that recently happened. As disciples, we should smell as sweet to God as the incense.

As disciples, we can judge our effectiveness based on the fruit of our efforts. Is our scent sweet and refreshing, or foul and rotten? I have to strive every day to have my life be an ‘aroma’ that reminds people of God. I want people to smell the proximity of the Holy Spirit when they are in my presence. As verse 14 describes, our job as believers is to ‘spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.’ The way we do this is to share His love with others. Our fragrance will be classified as ‘sweet’ based on our obedience to God’s commands, not by people’s (non-believer’s) reactions to us.

Incense and candles are nothing more than temporary objects. They are sacrificial in nature. We set them on fire and as they get consumed, we are left with a wonderful smell. Eventually, they burn down to nothing but ash or a messy bunch of wax. As God chooses to use my gifts, talents and passions (the stuff he gave me anyway), I hope that it can leave others with a wonderful scent.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Preposition proposition

How many of you dreaded doing these in elementary school?


I’m a sick and twisted kind of geek and actually enjoyed diagramming sentences.  I’ve always believed that everything had a place and there was a place for everything.  I liked finding a place for every part of a sentence and understanding their function.  I was especially good at identifying the prepositions in sentences (Mrs. Lessard would be so proud).

I remember learning the tips on identifying prepositions.  We used to think of things that could be done with a dog and a box.  A dog could be in the box, around the box, near the box, on the box or run through the box.  I’ve seen plenty of other ways of remembering prepositions, including this one that just makes me want dessert.


The function of a prepositional phrase is to modify nouns and verbs while indicating the relationships between subjects and verbs.  I think about how my relationship with Christ looks as if it were a prepositional phrase.

Am I truly living in Christ, with Christ, near Christ?  Prepositional phrases have the ability of adding incremental elements of color and description to sentences.  For writers, it’s important for them to understand the impact of the usage in order for them to make the right choices.  Likewise, we should be able to diagram our lives as Christ followers so we can see if we are adding the same type of emphasis.

For example, are you living life among the lost? If so, maybe you need to step out of your silo surrounded by other Christians.

Are you living opposite of God’s will in your life? If so, maybe praying for focus is in your future.

Are you sharing the result of your life since following Christ?  If not, maybe you should practice writing out your testimony and presenting it clearly and concisely.

Have you considered how Christ defeated death after crucifixion and burial? or how he forgave us despite our sins? or how the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us? or how empty our lives might be without God’s mercy?

In order to grow spiritually, I need to constantly be evaluating where I stand in relation to Christ.  In order for me to modify Christ as a preposition modifies a noun, I need to bring something to the table.  The preposition provides detail or context.  My life needs to provide a strong witness that accentuates Christ and gives Him glory.

Sentences kinda have it easy.  The words are always the words.  Words don’t change.  Words don’t sin.  Words don’t rebel.  Words are consistent.  I am not.  Even in all my effort to modify Christ, I fail and fall short.  Just as diagramming might helps a writer figure out how to craft a wonderful sentence, I need to have the same assessment so I can craft a wonderful life as a disciple.

Tagged , , , , , , ,