Monday, September 29, 2014

What I'm Learning From a Virus

For the past couple of days I've been trying to figure out how to get rid some malware on my computer.  It's the first time I have ever had some type of virus on my Mac and let me tell you, it's super annoying.  Even while typing this I've had to close 5 different "ads" that have maliciously popped up on my computer screen with the sole purpose of making my life miserable.  Ugg.  OK. Maybe I'm over dramatizing a bit.  But, as annoying as it's been, I've also learned a few things from this experience.  Here's what I've learned:

  • Never think you're above anything.  I had always heard that Macs didn't really get "the bugs."  I have talked with many people who have Macs and they all said the same thing: "Oh, you never have to worry about getting a virus.  That's the good thing about Macs."  Well, that may have made me a little cocky, because I downloaded what I thought was something for my Mac from a website I was not familiar with and I've been regretting it ever since.  I normally never do that. I am like the "download" police in our home.  When my wife asked is she should "click" on something that pops up on the computer I'm like "NOOOO!" But, a little arrogance got me thinking that I was above getting a virus on my Mac.  

In life, never think you're above anything. We are only one step away from making a decision we could regret for a long time. Be wise and humble.  Pride always comes before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

  • Think before you click. I have found myself asking the question "Why did I ever click on that link?!"  I should have known better.  But, what I thought was something that would help my Mac run better was actually something meant to ... well ... just make things difficult.  I didn't pause and ask myself the question: Is this wise? I "clicked" too quickly.

There is always a space between stimulus and response.  The larger the space, the more likely we'll think things through wisely and make a good decision.  The smaller the space, the more likely we'll make a rash decision that could lead to some difficult consequences.  In these situations, a little bit of self-control will go a long way!  1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be self-controlled and alert. (Why?) Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."  When we allow the Holy Spirit to develop self-control in our lives, we are more likely to have a greater space between stimulus and response, and less likely to make a decision that will "devour" us.

  • Someone is trying to make things miserable.  What's saddens me is knowing that someone out there actually developed this virus that would overtake my computer. I'm not sure of the reasoning, but I don't think it was because he or she was trying to make life better for me.  

In a spiritual sense, we have an enemy who wants to make life miserable for us. Jesus called him a "thief" and said that his sole purpose is to "steal, kill, and destroy." He is an enemy that is in direct opposition to any follower of Jesus and if you're trying to make any type of difference or have any impact in this world for Jesus, Satan is not going to be far behind trying to disrupt or distract. When those distractions and disruptions comes, remember the words of Jesus: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

  • It's nice when someone has your back.  As soon as I realized that something was up with my computer, I went to a friend and asked for help.  We're still working on trying to get the issue figured out, but it was just nice to know he was willing to help, even when it wasn't his responsibility to do so.

It's nice to know when someone has your back ... when you know that they will be there for you, mistakes and all. It's nice to know that they will help even when they don't have to. It's nice to know that they will do more than is expected of them. It's nice to know that you're not alone. Rudyard Kipling once said, "The strength of the pack is in the wolf and the strength of the wolf is in the pack."  We are just better together.  

So, just a couple of my random thoughts that have "popped up" in my mind.  Thanks for reading. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

My "Later" Box

It's certainly nothing fancy, but this is my "Later" box. All sorts of great stuff goes in there like:

  • A date with my wife
  • Playing with my kids
  • Getting healthy
  • Time alone with God
  • Pursing a dream or passion
  • Getting away for a weekend
  • Reading the Bible
  • Reading a book in general
  • Serving someone else
  • Volunteering my time
  • Being generous
  • Making new friends
  • Connecting with old friends
  • Trying something new
  • A legacy
  • __________________________

These are all things that are incredibly important to me.  But, if I'm being honest, sometimes they get put in the box. The only time I do it, though, is when I'm just to busy to worry about them.  "I can't worry about these things now, but I will get to them ... later."  The really interesting thing about my "Later" box is this: Once I put something in there, I can never seem to find it again. If I didn't know any better, I would say that my "Later" box is consuming everything I seem to value the most.  Seriously, once it goes in there, it seems nearly impossible to get it out ... which begs the question: Why am I putting them in the box?

I don't know. I'm thinking I should get another box.  Maybe a "Focus On" box. If these things truly are a value, then my "Later" box really doesn't do them justice.  But, a "Focus On" box ... that sounds much better.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Vision Talk vs. Pep Talk

A few years ago I ran a Tough Mudder in Indiana. It's a 12 mile obstacle race "designed to hurt you." If you're interested, you can read about it here.  Anyway, at the beginning of the race, there was a man with a microphone getting everyone pumped up.  And, seriously, he did an amazing job of it!  Every word was intended to motivate you and get you in the right frame of mind for the race.  At this point, there was no loud music ... just the intensity of his voice. By the time he was done, I was ready to take on an NFL lineman!  I was like an ADD kid with a Red Bull in both hands.  I was pumped!  So, I started the race strong with the emotion of an incredible pep talk. But, after about a mile of mud and sand dunes and hills, the emotion wore off and I was tired and I got a taste of how difficult the race would be.  It was going to take more than a pep talk for me to finish. The pep talk got me started.  The vision of finishing is what got me to the end.  

Never forget what your win is. Always keep the vision of who you want to become in front of you. You'll hear some great encouragement from others along the way. Soak it up. Allow their words to carry you, but realize their words will only carry you so far. At some point, the inner motivation of "vision" needs to kick in and we need to decide this is who we are going to be or this is what we are going to do or this is what my life is going to be about. A pep talk may get you pointed in the right direction. Vision will get you to the finish. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Being a Man

These are my boys.  They're 7 and 2. They were created male. I get to teach them to be men.  

I've been reflecting a bit on the whole Ray Rice situation.  I have always admired Ray Rice as a football player and, in our society, he would be considered a "man's man" ... strong, fast, professional athlete, driven, wealthy. Many men would love to live that type of lifestyle and have those types of accolades. But, with everything that has happened it seems as if this is just one more example of a someone's accomplishments outrunning their character.  

There is all sorts of pressure on men these days ... pressure to perform, pressure to measure up, pressure to succeed, pressure to do more, make more, accomplish more.  And, men can often find their identity in what they do.  What we do often provides instant feedback ... instant gratification. Men like to feel like champions and our performance often provides that instant feedback that we crave so much.  I earned more, I made more, I accomplished more. Men feed off of these types of things. The problem is, as I once heard Andy Stanley say, "Who you are will always show up in what you do."  If I only focus on my accomplishments and what I want to do, it's only a matter of time before my accomplishments outrun my character.  So, as I teach my boys to be men, this will be a mantra they will hear often: Focus your greatest efforts on who you want to be rather than on what you want to do. Why? Who you are will always show up in what you do. 

Men have this desire to do something great. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I hope my sons strive for greatness in all they do. I hope they always do more than is expected of them and strive for greatness. But, as their father, I will teach them to be more concerned with being someone great instead of doing something great.  

There are great men who will never be known for anything other than the fact that they were kind and generous and caring and they accepted responsibility and they put in a hard days work every day and they took a stand against injustice and they stayed faithful to their wives and they were tender toward their daughters and they clothed themselves with humility and they followed a code of conduct and they gave themselves to a greater cause and they were men of integrity and they could be trusted. These type of men may not necessarily be known for anything "great" ... but they are great men. 

I will certainly do it imperfectly, but this is what I will teach my boys about being a man.  I will tell them to never let their accomplishments outrun their character because who they are will always show up in what they do.   

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rain ... The Great Work of God. Huh??

Heard a great sermon on Sunday from Mitchel, one of our pastors at Grace.  He talked through some of the many reasons why we can praise God. He shared several great thoughts and ideas, but one really stuck out to me. He talked through something he heard a guy by the name of John Piper share. I seriously was in awe of God and his greatness. The strange thing is he talked about rain. Rain and the greatness of God typically aren't used in the same sentence. Often times, when it rains, I am frustrated because its spoiled my outdoor plans or dirtied up the car I just washed. But, I'm not sure I'll ever think of rain in the same way again. I hope that every time it rains I will be reminded that there is a God and He exceeds even my greatest thoughts of who He is.

Here is what John Piper wrote ... 

But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth, And sends water on the fields. Job 5:8-10
If you said to someone: "My God does great and unsearchable things; He does wonders without number," and they responded, "Really? Like what?" would you say, "Rain"?
When I read these verses recently I felt like I did when I heard the lyrics to a Sonny and Cher song in 1969: "I'd live for you. I'd die for you. I'd even climb the mountain high for you." Even? I would die for you. I would even climb a high mountain for you? The song was good for a joke. Or a good illustration of bad poetry. Not much else.
But Job is not joking. "God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number." He gives rain on the earth." In Job's mind, rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (= meditation).
Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where?
Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.
That's heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That's small.
What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then dumps it on the farm?
Well it doesn't dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.
How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that's the way to ask the question)? Well, it's called coalescence. What's that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up, if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.
I think, instead, I will just take Job's word for it. I still don't see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down, but if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there is a name for that too. But I am satisfied now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful - lots more thankful than I am.
Grateful to God for the wonder of rain.

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