If you can?

I haven’t been home for longer than six straight days since January 10th. I’m currently “out of town” again but will be at my present location for longer than I’ve been in any one place all year. To say I’m exhausted is an understatement! I love the work that I do and the people that I work with; otherwise this would be a huge emotional anchor. It is an honor to serve my community and my nation. Everyone I know asks me how I handle doing both, living in hotels all of this time and flying so much. Honestly, I’m not sure but I know a few things helped tremendously. I have an awesome family that is understanding and patient. My wife in particular, suffers the most (usually when I’m home). I’m sure she misses me simply being present in the moment.

To add insult to injury, I’ve been sick with one infection after another (or the same one that never left) making me tired and boring to be around. I managed to get it all done because of the teams that exist in my life – spouse, work, council, friends and church. If everything is possible, what would you do? Is there something holding you back from going after a dream or the next step in your career or life? Having the confidence that I was protected by my faith is what I believe allows me to keep pushing. There are no boundaries in your life if you have the right people in corner; starting with a strong faith in God’s power.

“’If you can?’” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

I love imagining Jesus speaking to me directly when I read verses like this. We’re just sitting outside on the patio on a sunny afternoon with perfect temperatures. I, of course, say something that gets His attention and He replies, “If you can?” As if to say, “why wouldn’t you?” or “Why do you doubt yourself?” He will then begin to reassure me about all of things I’ve done so far and how God has been at work all of these years preparing me for this moment.

“If you can?” He says again. “Why can’t you? Give me one good reason why you can’t” He dares me. Of course, I have no good reason other than being afraid. He reminds me, “Everything is possible if you believe in the power, the grace and love of God.” God puts a team of people in your life to prepare you for just a time as this. I never imagined doing the things that I do at this point in my life but I’ve been preparing for it for years and I just didn’t know it. With God, everything is possible.

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Why did you do that?

I seem to frequently ask the ask the question: “Why did you do that? Or “Why would you do that?” I have no idea how or where the phrase entered my speech but I use it often. Sometimes, it lessens the “are you crazy?” thought in my mind but I guess that in the end, people who hear my question are probably hearing the crazy one anyway. I started wondering though, why do I do the things that I do? Personally, I’m not into the fame or recognition of things. I won’t lie, I like to know when people appreciate my work for them but I usually don’t hear about it so I’ve grown accustomed to not hearing it. Public service is usually a thankless job. However, working for the public is not a thankless job, it is just the opposite – fulfilling. What drives the work that you do? What drives your work ethic either at home or “in the office”? During this past week, the U.S. watched the Super Bowl preparations from right near my home. We witnessed a player from the NFL team Seahawks sit for nearly an hour during a press conference answer each question asked of him by reporters with: “I’m only here so I don’t get fined”. He forgot who put him there and why they require media day interviews – it’s all about the fans. But not to this player, it was all about him. Think about what drives you: the money, the fear of getting fired or the satisfaction of your work. I would suggest that what drives you, defines you and people can see that a mile away. Find your inner strength, know why you do what you do and then do it to the best of your ability. No one loses when you do your best.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Do it all for the glory of God”. I could almost end this devotion right here. What else is there to say? Every step you take, every decision you make, and every move you make should be to the glory of God. Your boss may not see or appreciate what you do at work but work hard anyway because it brings glory to God. Your spouse or kids may not know what you go through, but do your best because it brings glory to God. What would happen if God were to stop by and evaluate your work, would He be pleased? Did you cut corners or take longer to get the work done because “you weren’t feeling like it today”. Your work or vocation is a gift from God. Regardless of what you think of your job, He may be training you for something greater or perhaps is putting you in the just the right place to make a difference in someone else’s life. God’s plan is greater than our understanding and we should be ready to serve Him with gladness. Now when someone asks you, “why did you do that?”, you can confidently answer that you were doing it the glory of God.

Give it your all

I had a conversation with my 16 year old son this weekend about his grades in school. He is a really good kid and we are very proud of him. He excels at anything he puts his mind to and there in lies our problem. What 16 year old likes school? We discussed that our high expectations about his grades are simply because we know he is smart. When pressed, he admitted to not really caring this year. The worst grade he is getting is a “C” so we’re lucky there but I like to make my point. He knows that this lasi-faire attitude won’t fly next school year. Ironically, I also heard this weekend from someone whom I had helped prepare for an upcoming promotional process. When he initially asked, he told me that a number of people encouraged him to test because he’d been on the job long enough so he figured “sure, why not”. Based on the sound of his voice, I could tell that he wasn’t really committed to it. When I spent a few hours with him, I knew he hadn’t mentally committed to the promotion and he seemed barely prepared for the rigors of the process. I offered a few tips to get ready, discussed confidence and competence and, wished him well. When he contacted me via e-mail, I have to admit that I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t score high enough to make the list. This grown man and this young man (boy) had in one thing in common – a failure to commit. Neither of them committed to doing the work needed to be successful. They both figured that if they put in some time that they would be okay. Doing something only half way gets you exactly that, half the reward.

“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

The moment I read this verse, I knew that I had to write about giving it your all, not doing things half way, especially worshiping God. I had no good idea how to tell the story of giving 100% until these two things happened this weekend. I started to think about what does giving less that 100% to God look like and then I realized the example was me! Sin keeps me from giving God all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. I didn’t mean to be, but I was lucky to be a “C” student. No matter how hard I try, work or school demands get in the way. Sometimes, I’m too tired or simply lazy to break out the bible and start reading my daily devotion. I’m too busy to stop and pray or give thanks, besides God knows. These are the same reasons why my son’s grades are weak or why my friend didn’t pass the test. God knew our struggles would be greater than we could handle so he put a plan in motion to save us from ourselves – He sent us Jesus. He is the one who told us to give our all to God. He knew that He would have to intervene on our behalf and take sin away from us. Jesus left us so many great examples and stories but He took all of the sin out of our lives. God knows that we will not be perfect and he doesn’t expect it, but we can show Him our love by diving in a little deeper, spending a little more time and showing what the love of Jesus means in our lives. Give it your all!