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I Don’t Need 20 Bucks

27 Jul

I Don’t Need 20 Bucks

Prayer is a strange thing.
I wish I could say I understand it, but I don’t.
Despite our lack of understanding, we still pray.
I guess that’s what faith is all about.

I don’t know about you, but I live in a bubble.
Most of my days are insulated away from people who don’t know Christ.
I’ve been praying this would change.
Really praying.
Expectant praying.

You know what? God has been answering.

In just a few weeks we’ve been having crazy awesome experiences.

The other night my wife sent me to a house to buy a cabinet.
It’s not like me to go to some strangers house with a since of expectation that God is doing something, but I did. So did my wife.

The young couple invited me in and took me to the cabinet.
There was pain on their faces.
Even I could see they were in need.
I didn’t want the cabinet, and their faces dropped.
I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until I was in my car that I realized I don’t need 20 bucks.

I headed back into their house.
“Excuse me, I know this may sound weird, but I want you to have this 20 bucks.”
I should have bought their cabinet to help insulate them from shame, but God knows.
Regardless, they seemed thankful.
“Can I be praying for you for anything,” I asked?
She said, “yes.”

Call me silly, but I think that encounter only happened because of prayer.

At least, I think because of prayer I actually realized the need.

People desperately need to hear the words of life.

I got back in my car and wept.

I prayed.

And I realized, I don’t need 20 bucks.

What is it you are expectantly praying for?

GO GIVE LIFE!

17 Jul

Wordle Picture Acts

Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” –Jesus

A fun little reminder of the mission Jesus left for us.

What’s inspiring you today?

Verdict, Schmerdict

16 Jul

Great thoughts from a great man on recent events. Let’s not join the circus.

Mark Nicklas

Who was Trayvon Martin? A sweet Florida kid who got hunted down? A drugged-up hoodlum?  Obama’s imaginary son? A neighborhood troublemaker? A victim? An attacker? A good kid?  A bad man? Go ahead and make your choice, because all of these choices are out there depending on your source of information.  Does it even matter?  Who does he need to be?  Pour whatever traits your position needs into this guy until he is unrecognizable. Trayvon, Schmayvon; he’s becoming a poster child for whatever fear a particular group is peddling. But who was he?

Who is George Zimmerman? A mild mannered do-gooder caught in an attempt to do the right thing? A bigoted killer seizing on his opportunity to strike out against a kid armed with skittles? A mentor of fatherless black children? A thwarted rapist? A bad white man? A good Hispanic man? Again, you can choose from the…

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1 Thing

15 Jul

One thing, can it really change anything?

It can, I’m proof.

One little change to a daily routine can send ripples through eternity.

One rock can change the current of a river.

One change can transform a marriage.

One change can bring a family closer.

One change can reveal the power of God.

One change can unlock the mysteries of heaven.

One change can radically alter the outcome of a life.

One change can redirect an army.

One change can turn the tide in a war.

One change can lead you down a different path.

One change can save a life.

 

What is this one change?

 

It started with a slumber.

The end effect was rage.

A lie had held us captive and screamed, you can never change!

The odds seemed overwhelming.

The list was far to long.

But HOPE was ever stirring, and LOVE had come with dawn.

Like a raindrop in an ocean, a tiny change proposed.

Lives forever altered by one change, this I know.

One change can rejoice heaven.

One change can enrage hell.

One change can change everything, but who can ever tell?

photo

 

If you liked 1 Thing, check out This Mess.

 

 

Today

12 Jul

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Today I’m going to live.
Today I’m going to do something I don’t usually do just to do it.
Today when I go to the sushi place, I’m not going to order the teriyaki bowl-you know, because I hate sushi, but I’m ordering sushi.
Today I’m going to gag.
Today I’m going to look people in the eyes as I walk down the street.
Today I’m going to believe the best.
Today I’m going to fail and believe the worst.
Today I’m going to believe the best again.
Today I’m going to laugh.
Today in going to make fun of something I shouldn’t.
Today I’m going to feel bad I made fun of something I shouldn’t.
Today I’m going to wish I wouldn’t of posted that thing on Facebook.
Today when that guy at Walmart tells me how horrible his life is, I’m going to ask him if I can pray for him.
Today I’m actually going to pray for him.
Today I’m going to hope-the bible kind of hope.
Today I’m going to believe God CAN.

What are you doing today?

I actually ordered this!

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Okay, I lied. I ordered this.

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The proof I ate it.

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This Mess

11 Jul

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My life’s a mess.
I woke up this morning and stepped on a pile of books.
I stumbled into the bathroom to take a shower, but had to remove a million toys from the tub.
A rubber ducky leaked on my leg.
I poured a bowl of granola, sat at the table, and felt something between my toes.
I wiped my brow in relief, it was only some black beans. It could have been much worse.
As I sat there crunching away I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about this beautiful mess called my life.
I smiled at the thought of Addie pouring oatmeal on her head as she learns how to use her spoon.
I thought about Ellie running out of the bathroom naked and sopping wet as she says, “I want Daddy.”
I thought about my beautiful wife who is adventuress enough to take a toddler and an infant camping, and then willing to document our disheveled self for all to see.
My life’s a mess.
Today, I’m embracing it.

You can embrace the mess today.
God’s willing to embrace you.
Regardless of your mess.

I won’t even tell you what my car looked like….

Momentous Redemption

21 Jun

Wordle: Redemption

There are some things that stay with a person for a life time. No matter how hard you try to ignore, cover up, or just plain deny, some experiences burrow into the dusty crevices of the inner chambers of our hearts, leaving lasting impressions that secretly shape the foundations of everything we believe about the world, people, and most importantly ourselves. For most of us these impressions are formed early in our childhood and have a subtle craftiness to whisper doubts, fears, and accusations into our every thought, leaving us almost completely unaware of their lasting impact upon our lives.
No other experience has shaped and molded me more during the impressionable years of my Redemption Blog Pic 1childhood as the slow abandonment of my father. It hasn’t been until recent years that I’ve realized the effects of that abandonment on my heart and how it’s shaped almost every aspect of my life, including how I view God. Sadly, like a solitary drop of rain exploding in an ocean of water, my story is only one amongst millions of others that have yet to be told.
It was on a summer trip to Kansas of all places, where in the quietness of my soul, and the companionship of a best friend, that I discovered an invitation to be initiated into the greatest journey of my life, being fathered by the Father of Fathers. It was in a small two bedroom apartment in the middle of nowhere that the voice of God spoke courage into my fearful heart, and inspired me to look at the tragic experiences of my life through the lens of His love.
Like many who have gone before me, it was in the bareness of a desert that the Father extended a ladder to reveal his love, but as with Jacob long ago, it was not without a wrestling in my soul, and brokenness in my hip. Picture2Like a physician resets a broken bone, for years, God has been taking me back into the broken seasons of my life, especially the abandonment of my father, and showing me how he has always been there and always will be. It has taken the courage of His spirit to re-enter those dark places of my soul, but through obedience directed by love, my true Father has been sweeping out the voices lurking in the darkness, and searing truth upon my heart. A Whistle in the Dark: The Adventures of Eaner Pickernan, is a processing of that journey.
            In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined that in the process of this journey of those dark painful years, I would not be traveling alone, but that my dad would be on the journey with me. When God enters those painful areas of our lives, it’s not enough just to bring us back into the memories, but He has to bring us back to the emotions. We have to hear with our souls. We have to feel what we felt. The searing knife destined to make the crucial cut was none other than my dad himself, and I too the knife in him.
            Although the story of my abandonment is filled with trauma, it is by the elegance of Gods handiwork that Picture3His grace is revealed to not only the victim, but the perpetrator. In this He weaves together a tapestry made of moments that, isolated, tell a story of pain and loneliness, but as a whole, of God’s momentous redemption in which the end story beautifully outshines the tragedy that enveloped it.

Pierced Ear

16 Aug

I’ve been thinking about getting my ear pierced. I’ve been contemplating it for years now, but finally, I think I’m ready to do the deed. I don’t want one of those tiny little shinny studs that most men get either. If I’m going to do this, I want to go big.

I recently saw a picture of a guy who turned his face into a tiger. When you see that, all you can say is, wow. Now, I’m not ready to commit on that level, but if I’m going to do this thing, it’s got to stand out. What’s the point in doing it half heartedly? It has to make a statement, right? Not the, I turned my face into a tiger statement that screams, “Woah, you got issues dude,” but something a little more subtle yet profound.

Now, I know everyone’s thinking; “this is just like that time you wanted to get ‘courageous’ tattooed across your forearm in Hebrew.” No, this is different, but for the record, I wanted to do that long before it was cool. I’m pretty sure I was the originator of that trend. I think I shared my idea with Al Gore right before he started the internet, and the idea spread like wild fire. That was all me!

No, this is more than a passing thought. I’m really going to do it.

The fact is I already did. And, so did you.

Right about now you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind. You would remember getting the top of your ear run through with giant piece of metal, right? Well, perhaps I need to explain myself.

You know when you read a verse, and no matter how much you try to juke it (yes, I just used the word, juke), it sticks with you? This is a concept that’s been with me since college and recently I ran across the verse, but it’s been marinating in my soul for quite some time now. The concept comes right out of Exodus. Picture this; you’re a slave. I know, stinks huh. Well, now imagine you’re a slave 4000 years ago (wow, this story just keeps getting worse). You weren’t always a slave. You used to be a farmer, but one year the crops dried up and you had very little options to keep your family alive.

By now you’re thinking, “wow Tom, you’re a depressing story teller.” Just stick with me, it gets worse.

So, in order to feed your family, you go to the wealthiest man in town and sell yourself as a slave (bummer).I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to conceive of a scenario in which I have to sell myself and my family into slavery in order to survive. Crazy! But something else happens that you didn’t expect. You actually like the master.

After spending years experiencing the goodness of your master, the time comes when he by law has to set you free. Finally, freedom is at the door. This is where you and I would do an awesome little jig just like that guy Matt who travels around the world doing a stupid little dance. You don’t know him, well, look him up. Where In The World Is Matt Dancing.

Okay, back to you being a slave. You’re about to be free. You would be elated, right? What if you had nothing to go back to? What if times had become worse over years, and now your freedom meant certain death. What would you do and would your new freedom be as great as imagined? When you begin to weigh your options, you begin to realize how good you have it. Your family is cared for. There’s food on the table and a roof over your head. Most of all, you love the master.

It’s at this point you realize you have another difficult choice to make. You have to choose a pill to swallow. Do you want the red pill or the blue pill? Sorry, I just got all Matrixy on you. You can have your freedom, if that’s what you want to call it, but there is a price you’re going to pay. If will most likely be the death of you and your family. Slavery’s starting to look pretty good, no? But, there’s a catch. If you decide to stay with your master this time, it’s not going to be for just seven years, it will be for the rest of your life. This is where the ear piercing thing comes in.

If you decide to stay, it will mean forever, and to solidify your decision you will be given a mark. This isn’t just any mark. It’s a mark that will be visible for all to see. It’s not only a testament to your decision to be a lifelong servant, but it’s a testament to the character of the master. Then, your master is going to take a metal awl, which is like a giant nail, and drive it through your ear. Ouch!

Exodus 21:5-6

“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

Do you realize, you and I are the slave?

I don’t know about you, but this is a good reminder that my life is not my own. We have been bought with a price. Our ear has been pierced.

Who do you know who needs their ear pierced?

Showers, Mr. Monk, And Other Things That Change Your Life

19 Jul

Ever had the nagging feelling that something big was about to change in your life? You can’t quite put your finger on it, and if you had to explain it, you couldn’t. You walk through your days with a sense of feeling like somethings just not right. That God is about to pull a 180 on you. To compound things, when you ask God about this feeling, He becomes the God of vagueness. You pray desperately for clarity, but clarity turns out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Right when you think you have it all figured out and you know what God is doing, everything vaporizes before your eyes.

A few months ago I started my day like any other. I slid out of bed while simultaneously grabbing my phone. I checked facebook on my way to the bathroom (sad, I know) only to find out all those alerts are from someone inviting me to join Slotomania. (Side note: if you want to get hid from my wall, send me a request from Farmville, Slotomania or to add my birthday to your MyCalendar). I hopped in the shower and start scrub a dub dubbing when out of nowhere comes a voice as plain as day with a message as clear as mud. “Tom, i’m not going to move until you step out.”

What are you supposed to do with that? At this point, a few things started going through my mind. First, I was completely excited that God was speaking to me. Not that I thought we weren’t on speaking terms, but when the God of the universe speaks that clearly I’m always blown away. Of course the second thing I was thinking was; What in the world does it mean to step out? It’s odd enough that the most transformational times I have heard from God in my life have been in the shower, but from personal experience, when God talks in the shower something Big is going down.

Conversations with God like this are kind of like dating; it’s 95% excitement and 5% sheer terror. You can’t stop thinking about all the possibilities. You remember, right? Does she like me? Should I text her? Should I hold her hand? The possibilities of what could be make you soar, but, at the sametime, you are freaked out beyond belief that everything could come crashing down. Nobody likes that kind of train wreck. Once you get over the fact that God is talking to you, you then realize what He’s asking. “Hey Tom, I want you to step out of this boat. Don’t worry, you’ll float.” Very reassuring, right?

This little phrase, “I’m not going to move until you step out,” haunted me over the next couple of weeks. It followed me everywhere I went, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what in the world I was supposed to do. Finally, after being moved to action after hearing that same little phrase in an episode of Monk (Yes, the OCD detective), I knew I had to do something. Nothing like an episode of Monk to heighten your spiritual recepters. After using all the brain power I could muster, which isn’t much mind you, I determined to go to my boss. I figured, if I tell him about this nagging suspicion, wheels would be put into motion and something would have to happen. I mean come on, when you go to your boss and tell him that you want to do something else with your life, something is bound to happen, right?

Well, I met with my boss and the conversation was nothing short of amazing. We came up with a game plan of looking at a more missional role for me over the next year or two. Bam, I did it! End of story, right? I had figured it all out. I was so proud of myself for deciphering the shower riddle. I’m sure I was strutting around like a peacock, wings spread, chest out, totally inflated by my newly discovered gift of shower interpretation. That’s a spiritual gift, right? I’m sure I was concocting a plan in my head as to how I would use this new found gift as an international ministry. The website in my mind was crazy good. Very Apple-ish. Just one word tag lines with revolving phrases proceeding them. Everyone knows how cool that is.

A plan was set, and the wheels were turning, but I could have never prepared myself for the fork ahead. It was a regular dinner at our house with regular people (no offense Ryan and Kelly-I mean regular in the best sense of the word of course), when God sprang his shocker on me. The funny thing about God’s shockers is that you often don’t know their shockers when you first hear them. It’s not until you act on them that they lead you down a road you could have never expected. It was after a long game of settlers (which I can’t remember if we actually played or if it’s just my imagination, but for the sake of my story lets pretend we did. For that matter, lets pretend I won.), that Kelly out of the blue said, “Hey, there’s a job I think you should apply for.”

Fast forward a bit. I got my resume ready, updated my LinkedIn profile (Rick Warren’s in my network, so you know, gotta play all the angles), and applied for the job. The next thing I know, I’m sitting in the presidents office after my interview sweating bullets because the realization hits me, I got this job. So, to make a long story short, mainly because I have to go to work, I now have a new job. I’m now working for the Luis Palau Association and loving it. So, if you’ve been wondering, “Hey, where are the Mueller’s?” Wonder no longer. There’s a lot more I could tell you, and eventually will, but until next time, remember-God speaks in the shower, Mr. Monk can change your life, and it’s in the little things that God does big things.

The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins

21 Apr

The Trouble With Poetry

The trouble with poetry, I realized as I walked along a beach one night–
Cold Florida sand under my bare feet, a show of stars in the sky–

The trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry, more guppies crowding the fish tank, more baby rabbits hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
Unless the day finally arrives when we have compared everything in the world to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks and sit with our hands folded in our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorry
an I shrink like a chain flung from a bridge.

but mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal, to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thrives we are, cut-purses, common shoplifters, I thought to myself as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly from Lawrence Ferlinghetti-to be perfectly honest for a moment–

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

By Billy Collins

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