The Day After

I woke around 5 this morning realizing Carter had fully given me his cold from last week.  Nothing like another joy of parenting. I called off and went to an Urgent Care to get some medicine.

The day after a holiday weekend is never easy, especially returning to the routines of life. We split from our extended families and gradually recover from the coma of ham, filling, and jelly beans.

What happens the day after is just as important. We get the message and, now, what do we do with it?

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There’s a point in the Bible where Jesus returns to heaven. Imagine the next conversation. Did they keep looking at the sky, wondering if he’d return? Did they wonder about the next morning, the next week, the next month?

Think of the knowledge they had; the experiences of the past three years, the miracles and conflict, the bloodshed and revival. They had seen things that would change the world.

The Day After is the key to the story.  They could have rested or given up, instead they shifted into action.

The story doesn’t stop.

Day Afters are no fun but they are essential. They make us get up in the morning, watch our progress, spend valuable time doing valuable things.  They push us forward on our own terms, not ones set for us from outside sources.

We have Day Afters because the story isn’t over. As hard as it is to pull our heads off the pillow, we do it and keep going towards the best ending even if we can’t see all the details yet.

~Matt

 

A Thought to Change Your Life

As we grow, we develop filters through which we see our lives. Aiden, at three, sees the world differently than I do.  We spent tonight together playing and watching cartoons. He’ll run his toy trains through imaginary worlds while making sound effects and cheering them on. He trusts people. He’ll follow Carter even if he ends up hurting himself in the process.

He has yet to be spoiled by negativity.

At the moment, I’m making my way through Mark Batterson’s book, If, and it is a powerful process.  In the chapter I read last night, he writes about a shift in perspective that can change your life as you start the new year:

“Spiritually speaking, the tipping point is when you believe, without any reservation, that God if for you.  It is the revelation that God doesn’t just love you, he likes you.”

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We project our life experiences onto God.  One part of psychology believes that we see God as we do our father figures. If our father happened to be vacant, we take the same insight to understanding the one who gave us life and breath.

It is the essence of faith for many.  “If bad things happen, they must be from God as all things are from God and we are clearly being punished.” Entire systems of faith build their towers on this idea as it drives money into offering buckets.

How would your life change if you adapted Batterson’s statement above.  What if God is for you, not just every now and then, but every single moment? What if God cares for you and wants good things for you, for me, and for everyone?

This changes the narrative and breaks down walls of separation.

When I think back on all I’ve done and experienced, that small voice speaks up too quickly and tells me that I’m not worthy.  How can God love me and, especially, how can he like me?

That’s the gift of the cross. The one sacrifice to seal the deal and prove for all time that God has our best interests at heart.

So as you look towards a new year, drive it into your head.  Write it down. Make it part of your daily prayer life. Tell your children, spouse, and family.

God loves you and likes you. Use this is a base for what is coming. Shift your perspective and you’ll see even more fall into place.

It is time for 2016 to change everything.  Let’s make it happen.

~Matt

 

If

I hope you enjoyed your past five days.

For us it was a time of running around, visiting family, opening presents and thinking about the past year. We attended a Christmas Eve service on a warm night and rejoiced as our pastor walked out on stage with his new prosthetic left leg. Carter and Aiden loved every gift they received. We somehow managed to make it relatively smooth and are still in the process of getting the house in order.

The insurance money for home repairs will be available to us on 12/30, starting the ball rolling towards repairs and the house returning to form.  On Christmas I experienced my own little miracle, something I will post about this week, as this was the first year without both of my grandparents.

I am excited for what is coming.  The final few days of 2015 will put a cap on a stressful time in our lives.  We are finally moving towards some good news on multiple fronts.  I know that everyone believes 2016 will be their year. It is a common refrain for the end of December.

We have a concrete reason why.

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Last night I started reading Pastor Mark Batterson’s new book.  The title is If and it is based on Romans 8:31.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

I’ll be writing two posts for our church’s official blog about this book and I’m excited to dive into it. He makes a point in the first chapter that will change lives:

If we really believed that verse, an alternative reality awaits.

If God is for us, who can be against us? It removes any space for doubts or fears.  How different would our year look if we walked forward believing that God is for us?

There are times I fight hard against cynicism. I mean, okay I get it. Faith is faith. Yet, when I read those sentences I felt a spark of something inside. Facing this book launch in 2016, the official initiation of P356 to the publishing world and fully giving my writing over to God’s purpose, I still get pangs of fear.

I look in the mirror and can hear the voices.

Why me? I was never anybody special.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

What happens if I fail?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Do you know the odds against success? How many people actually launch their business online and survive?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

The bottom line is faith. Silence the voices.  Grab hold of the promise, the importance of If, and use it to change your life.  Looking forward to what is coming, to building this book and making real change in our lives.

It all starts with one concept-

If.

~Matt

The Joy Shortage Part 2

You’ll find the original post here.

I had the following conversation today:

“Good morning.”

“Hello.”

“How are you?”

“Terrible. Why would you ask that question? Why would you ask that when you already know the answer? I’m here aren’t I? Why would you waste my time with that question?”

We finished our verbal interaction and this person went back to their seat. Three words. I asked a simple question and a door opened that told me more about the individual on the other end of the conversation than I needed to know.

There was no joy to be found.

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Yesterday, the message at church was on joy and letting our outside match what is inside. We are told, in the Bible, of incarnational joy. The message of the holidays is a coming of peace that passes all understanding.  We sing Joy to the World.

In the absence of heaven, we find means to medicate a filler of the space inside.

Some do this through faith, prayer, love and community.  Others buy things. Even more grow dark and numb as their flame wisps to smoke and eventually a cold interior.

Then they are asked a question, How are you?

And they answer like above.

This time of year we tend to spread ourselves thin, pulled in all directions.  Kids act up. Work stresses. Finances may be tight with that last push to finish shopping and find the perfect gift.

Yet, we know the perfect gift.

For happiness is a choice.  Sorrow is a choice. Cynicism is a choice. Fear is a choice.

Love is a choice.

Joy though, joy is different. Joy puts me on the beach in Mexico during our honeymoon all those years ago, sleeping next to Val as the tropical breeze drifts over us. Joy is the first moment I held Carter and Aiden, the thrill and mystery of being a parent.  Joy is knowing what I’m called to do, not that I’m there yet but I know the pull God has placed on my heart.  I know my completed sentence.

I don’t know how it will play out.

Your own story may be a mystery tonight. You are sitting in a dark room reading this on your cell phone searching for a glimmer of hope.  You are yearning for words that may change your circumstance for the better.  You want a kindred soul.

You are not alone.

Joy is born of the perfect gift, the completed sentence, knowing the ending before you arrive.  It is the reason we celebrate the arrival of the One come to change the world and take on our suffering in our place. Joy lit the sky over the shepherds, drew the wise to their knees, ignited a star in the sky and fulfilled words found centuries before.

So the next time someone asks, be ready.

How are you?

~Matt