Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back to the Basics

I've been really challenged by a book I'm reading by Andy Stanley called "The Best Question Ever" - and the simplicity of the basics in life. The basics of spending daily time with Christ; exercising; managing your money; all these items are key - and need to be done - but missing here and there does not change your life completely... BUT there is the truth of the cumulative effect.

That was an interesting thought! We can go through life not seeing the impact of regular ongoing practices - like a consistent drip - it sure does make a difference - ever have a leaky roof? Want to see your walk with Christ go to a deeper level - be consistent in your times with Him. Want to see your relationship with your wife or husband be better - invest consistent time day in and day out - don't just try and recover from 6 months of dry ground on a "romantic weekend".

I have a dog and two daughters - I don't put them on the same level; but in all 3 of their lives there is definitely lessons for me to learn on the importance of consistency! People get confused with mixed messages (dogs as well) - so I am striving in my kids lives to love them regularly. I find so often (after a long day or week) that I am not the same Dad as when I am on vacation. Now that might sound like I'm trying to be "perfect" but I think the reality for me is just being more level - giving less swing in the pendulum of my life.

And I pray the same for my walk with Jesus; I don't want to be a person who lives out my faith in only two ways - mountain top or desert. Let's learn to be consistent - and I believe if we go back to that basic - we'll end up with a lot more even path.

God Bless,

Tim O.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Big Game!

Just a quick note - because I know everybody will be focused on the PSU game today - and that's very good. I'm sure the coaches and the players have spent the week gearing up, checking plays, watching films, all with the hope of performing at their maximum level. I am challenged by this thought: "Do I take my role as God's Ambassador, with the purpose of offering His redemption to a broken and confused world on a collision course with eternity separated from God, as serious as the teams who are playing a "game" today?"

I'm embarrassed that the answer is no - but the good news is that it doesn't have to stay that way - it's game week every week - prep, train, and execute all that you have learned - the team is counting on your role in this! (And those who will be shown Christ by your actions will forever remember that "play".)

God Bless,

Tim O.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

God is Watching

At the end of the day after all the details are covered, and the deadlines are met - do you ever consider the fact that God watched everything you did today? Do you ever think about how He knew your thoughts and saw where your eyes drifted? He knows what we did and did not catch your attention - he knows when you passed by those who were in need - and looked to please those cheered your name.

God is watching! I heard a talk show host tell a man struggling with internet pornography to put pictures of his wife and kids and loved ones all around the computer screen. She told him that every time he had the desire or urge to go where he shouldn't - and see what he need not see - that he should look into the eyes of his loved ones - and be the man he wanted to be for them.

That got me thinking - the more I surround my life with the images of God (the Scriptures, fellowship, accountability, and friends that love Him) the less likely I am to willfully sin against my God. It is when I forget He is there - because of my lack of reminders - that I tend to respond to my "natural self". I do not want to respond to my human nature - but to my Spiritual nature - honoring God with my daily life (everyday).

He is watching - He is there - make Him proud!

God Bless,

Tim O.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Plan Ahead before you Fall Behind

Have you ever noticed that it's when life gets a little crazy that the simple things become like 50 lbs. Dumbbells - yeah you can handle them - but it takes a lot more effort. I think when we think ahead, looking at our weeks and months - planning backwards from the events and chores - we'll find we don't Fall Behind. There is no worse feeling than being overwhelmed and feeling like you "don't know what to do" - I live there more than I want. Sometimes we have too much on our plates and without great planning and organization - we will be paralyzed or as I picture it - in a body cast - unable to function.

Plan ahead - group projects into categories. Start with what you dislike the most - and then knock it out! You'll feel relieved and refreshed when that "monkey" is off your back. It will give you energy and creativity to do the things you were created to do - no guilt - no pressure.

I also heard from a friend today something that makes so much sense when feeling overwhelmed... take some time away from the issue. Go and rest - maybe a vacation is what you need - maybe a weekend away - or even a day away - or even 1 hour of peace. In my role I take 1 day a month and go away to focus on my relationship with Jesus - and in doing that I gain a perspective that helps me to walk more clearly - seeing things in the proper light! His Light!

God Bless,

Tim O.

Friday, October 06, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

Five days in luxury - living large - my own room on the 10th floor of a gorgeous hotel overlooking part of Lake Michigan - fancy meals with more salmon than I eat in a year... And all I wanted to do was get home.

It's amazing that in the midst of so much "cool" - the longing of my heart was to be with my family, my church, my friends, and my team. Yeah, everything else was great - but all that doesn't compare to a hug and a kiss from the people I love. The chance to make a difference in my town - to laugh with my closest partners.

There is no place like home - and I was yearning to be there! I wonder how in my life I could get my heart to long for Heaven the same way. In my intellect I know I want to be with the Father - Philippians 1:21 - "to live is Christ; to die is gain." But in my life emotionally I put so many things before Him. That I would desire as deeply to be at home with my Father as I am to being home with my family and friends. There is no place like home - and there is no place like the Father's arms.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Game Films: Learning From The Past

Most of us don't spend much time looking back. We are always looking forward - trying to decide what our next hill will be. We are running so hard - we are aligns afraid to look back (we might run into something). I applaud that energy and desire - but I also see that when I personally am running hard - looking as far ahead as possible - I start to forget the past. I forget the lessons I've learned and the friends who walk with me have learned.

The remembrance of the past is the wisest way to walk in the future. There is a difference in being "stuck" in the past - and learning from it. As children we had experiences - those experiences have changed how we do things. If you were burnt by a stove - you were more careful - if you were careless around a strange dog (watch the comments) then you are more careful in the future. My thought is - why don't I learn what to avoid when I'm striving to be more like Jesus?

I know the pitfalls - I know that when I don't get enough rest I'm not as relational and caring as I should be - I know that when I am stressed I stop worrying about others feelings - and only care to get the job done. I know that when I'm not busy I become more lazy - and when I am not spending quality time focused in prayer, the Scriptures, and fellowship with other followers of Jesus - that I become a person I don't really want to be.

God has called us as followers to come together - to have community. I think one of the key reasons is that it gives me exposure to a lot of "learning experiences" that I can learn from a distance - and not have to necessarily experience it first hand. But the problem is - we have to intentionally slow down and review.

Almost every serious sports team I know looks at game films - not of just the upcoming teams - but of their own team and how they played. They look to see what mistakes - even small ones - that cost them a greater finish. I challenge you as I challenge myself - be a student of history - your own and the community you are walking with. Learn - and change! Remember, knowing your errors is of no value - until you act upon what you have learned.

God Bless,

Tim O.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Community Begins with Connection

Community! I believe we all want to experience the feeling of being part of a group - of being cared for and actually missed when we are not there. The television show Cheers said it best in the theme song, "where everybody knows your name"... And then as Norm would enter - the crowd would all yell "Norm!" If you watched the show the question that would go through your head (if you watched it very long) was - didn't these guys have a home life? Why did they keep coming back to the bar? It wasn't the atmosphere or any fancy stuff - it was the connection.

Few of us walk into our homes or offices and hear the cheer of our name. (Unless you have little one's - but with age that will start to fade as they grow older and more self absorbed.) Why wouldn't a place like "Cheers" be significant in your life? A place where your name is cheered and people actually listened and cared about you and your day. The idea of "Cheers" captured so many people because the "strangers" became like family (and the families became strangers - the sad part). The connection was made - but it was not around what was best - it was at the cost of the ones they really loved.

Each of us have so many options for connection - but I believe connection with our family needs to be first and foremost. I will always push myself, my family, and my team to connect with those who are outside of our home, church, and faith... The community at large. But we cannot reach the community (and impact them) if we have our legs cut out from underneath us when it comes to our families. As a husband and a father I have two critical responsibilities - to make sure I am living a life of integrity based on what I say I believe; and secondly that I am connected to my family and meeting their needs. It is only after both of these are handled that I have anything to offer to my world.

Something I am starting to ponder - is that Community (and the act of making connection) is time consuming and is often inconvenient! The development of Community will interrupt your life and will upset your schedule and your ordered life. If we are going to be there for people - unfortunately it will mean stepping out - walking into problems (because often that is when we are needed) which always come at the wrong time. But the truth is that if people really matter - then it is a sacrifice that we are willing to make.

Today as you live your life - look for opportunities to give away parts of your life. Hold lightly to your preconceived intentions - and instead ask God to bring into your life people who you can serve and connect with. Once you do that - God will honor that prayer - and you will have the opportunity to connect and receive community - or ignore the truth around you - and stay disconnected and alone.

In the life of Christ; we have the chance for everybody to know our name (at least in the circles we travel) and we have a chance to create circles of friends that is gigantic compared to our current situations. Remember that we were formed to be together - and that Community begins with Connection.

God Bless,

Tim O.
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