Sacrifice

Considering Sacrifice

Sacrifice: “to SUFFER loss of, give up, renounce, injure, or destroy especially for an ideal, belief, or end”

Have you ever considered what it means to sacrifice?  I mean, really suffering for something?  I don’t mean, have you considered dying for something, I don’t think that we here in the good ol’ USofA have to worry much about that.  I mean, have you considered what you are willing to do for someone, or something that will cost you?

I’m at this point in my life where I have realized that I need to decide what & who is worth sacrificing for.

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Here are my criteria so far (keep in mind that these criteria all go through the lens of “what does God think” first, these are secondary):

  1. How does this affect me financially?
  2. Is it possible to involve my family?
  3. Can I do this (or not do this) and still hold my integrity?
  4. Who can I help through the process?

I want to be a person who has sacrificed for the people around me, who has earned his stripes.

What are your criteria?

American Christianity

I’ve been reading through Luke with some guys and yesterday we were discussing the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector.  Through that discussion we came to the place of discussing what it means to be a man, in the USA, who tries to serve Christ in a way that is real and genuine.

We discussed how blessed we are here in the US and how there is very little reliance on God.  Yes, we TRY to put God first and give him credit but we don’t rely on God to provide us the food that we eat and water that we drink.  We EARN that.  Right?

There are people around this world who literally rely on God to provide their next meal.  The faith that those people have is something that I can barely grasp.  We rely on ourselves while 99% of the world MUST rely on something/someone else.   The thing about the 99% is that God provides and they know it.

What about you?  Can you see the difference between my faith and the rest of the world?

Labels Lie.

I have been following @MikeFoster and the POTSC campaign for a while and LOVE their Message.

Their newest Campaign – Labels Lie. is the most simple message in a very radical, eye catching form!

This one about Jennifer is great!  What a story of redemption and Second Chances.

(I hate that I have to do this:)

WARNING: This links to the POTSC website has some foul language.

It’s been a while

Kind of like writing the wrong things on your blog.

As you can tell, it’s been a while since I have posted anything of significance. There is a reason for that.

I have thought a lot about it and I want to make the blog more focused. It feels too much like a windy road map. So, with that in mind, I’m going to relaunch the site at the beginning of the year with a more focused approached.

I’m wondering, what would you like Me to write more about?

Friends = Success

 

Yes, I love "Friends"

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, tfor all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

Jesus gives His disciples a new designation and I believe that designation made ALL the difference in the world when it came to the Church’s success and the disciple’s individual success.

I had two interesting conversations about this fact in the last couple of days…

There is something to be said about Friends starting something together.  It’s almost like the secret ingredient to us succeeding in our endeavors.  Look at Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak and the start of Apple Computer, or Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams & Biz Stone.  These two corporate (technology) examples are examples that people who are of like mind and have similar goals (friends) can do something of significance  by putting in the hard work, together!

It’s obvious that someone can have success without their friends being involved in their endeavor but why would you want to?  I’m personally convicted that if I’m going to succeed I need to surround myself with people who I call Friends and who I can do life with.

What do you think?  Do you think it’s the secret ingredient?

Being in Community

I believe, DEEPLY, in living a life that honors God and focuses on what He wants for my life and my family.  I also struggle with living a life and leading my family in a why that honors God on a daily basis.  Right now, we are in the midst of MAJOR transition that has been testing my focus and reliance more than I EVER thought it would.  We decided that we needed more space to live in and so we put our townhouse up for rent (that was the plan when we bought it, although this is faster than we originally planned) and found renters in less than a week.  So, now we have to be out of our house in less than 2 weeks and we haven’t exactly found a place to live yet.

We are struggling with the fact that we haven’t found a place, mainly because we feel like God has brought us here and we have followed him to this point, now He is being extremely quiet and we are hanging out to dry.  He is testing our faith and our family to see what we are made of, right now, I feel like we are made of jello that is slowing going down the garbage disposal.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that we are dealing with a 1st world problem (looking for a bigger house) when there are people starving and desperate for His help so don’t miss this.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I have to share what the people in our community have done for us so far.

  1. One of my best friends in the world called me, out of the blue, just to take our girls off our hands (for HOURS) so that Mary and I could spend some quality time together!
  2. We posted a cry out on Facebook because our daughter (she’s 3) is having a VERY hard time with all of the adjustments we’ve made so far.  It’s affected her moods and how she is dealing with even the simplest of things. (New church & new place to live)
  3. Our small group leader emailed me today just to ask how we were doing with the transition.
  4. I meet with a couple of guys on Monday mornings to walk through the Bible and talk about how to be a Godly dad and husband, they PRAYED for me, that God’s Spirit would play out and speak.
  5. I got to pray with my sister-in-law on Sunday morning IN CHURCH and she prayed for us that God would speedily show up and do what we are asking.
That is called community!  I don’t know how people, without the Holy Spirit, live life…  We couldn’t do it with out him or without our Godly friends around us.

I have the COOLEST friends

Truth be told, I have the coolest friends anyone could ever hope for.  I don’t understand why these people are friends with me, I think it’s because of my amazing wife.  She attracts people and I get to share in it…

One of those friends, my best friend, from College “Ebbs” put together a website for a passion in his life, GUNS.  The website is called Haus of Guns and has some amazing content for experienced, recreational, military AND beginner shooters.  Seriously, the best firearm focused website you will find, hands down.

There he is...

It’s so good that he was recognized by the marketing people for History Channel’s show Top Shot.  He was asked if he would be interested in interviewing the contestants as they were eliminated from the show!  Are you kidding me!?  I love that show!

I had to brag about him.  What he is doing is amazing and it’s being recognized, I’m extremely proud of him.  Oh, and this is a side “hobby” of his…  He’s a Youth Pastor, and one that is extremely passionate and gifted.  Again, why do these people hang out with me?

Here is the most recent interview Ebbs did of a contestant on Top Shot:

Check it out.

Heaven is for Real for Kids by Todd & Sonja Burpo

I have to say that I was kind of disappointed (not by the book).  I marked on my calendar when “Heaven is for Real” was going to be available through Booksneeze.com.  Apparently, I had it incorrect, because it was “Heaven is for Real for Kids.”  Doh!  I’m kind of feeling like a book reviewer snob but it’s true.  Then, after realizing that I will be able to read this book to my oldest daughter, I was kind of excited.

I REALLY enjoyed reading this book with my 3 year old.  She has been exposed to Jesus and Heaven a lot so I didn’t expect any major questions or issues with the story.  True to form, she surprised me.  She asked questions about being sick in Heaven and why people get sick to begin with.  She asked me how God and Jesus are sitting next to each other because, “Daddy, Jesus is God.”  So, we got to talk about Jesus’ nature and how he is God’s son.

Then, she asked me about Jesus’ scars and where the cross is in Heaven.  I got to explain to my daughter that Jesus already paid for our sins and he has the “owies” to prove it.  That, by far, was the BEST conversation we have had, EVER (and we [or should I say she] talk(s) a lot).

Finally, the art work in the book is pretty cool.  Macey LOVED the colorful depictions of the events.  She couldn’t get enough of Jesus’ Horse:

Jesus' White Horse

If you have little ones, you need to check out this book, it will definitely be a discussion starter for you.  Check it out.


Book of Man by William J. Bennett

I have 2 little girls and I’m not what some people refer to as a “man’s man”.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to shoot things and play sports, those kinds of things but I haven’t ever been someone who prides himself on being “MANLY”.   So, when I had the opportunity to review this Book of Man by William J. Bennett (thank you Booksneeze), I wanted to see what his perspective is on being a man so that I could compare that to who I am.

Bennett sums up being a man, as the same virtues that define military service, “Order, Loyalty & Service” (location 689 on Kindle).  He goes on to say that the highest virtues of a man’s soul are “Honor, Fortitude, Service & Sacrifice” (Location 817 on Kindle).  I would completely agree if these things were better defined in the book.  He gives phenomenal examples throughout the entire book which seem to illustrate these virtues but the issue I take is that the examples seem to be in settings of extraordinary situations.  How often am I at war?  How often am I in a September 11th type situation, or playing in an Indiana State Championship game?  If you don’t know, not very often.

I love the fact that the book compiles a truck load of stories about Men and how they handle certain situations, and how their Virtues are what pull them up through any situation but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more time spent dissecting the scenarios and pointing out why these scenarios are ruled by Manly Men.

Decisions Worth Making

No Whammies

This past weekend my father-in-law, brother-in-law, nephew and I went on our 1st annual “Guys Trip”.  We went camping in Prineville and spent the time shooting guns, cooking, cleaning, swimming and talking.

Some of my time there was spent in reflection/prayer about decisions I’m facing with and for my family and life.  I thought I would give you a quick breakdown:

  1. We NEED to find a church and get plugged in.  I want to teach (small groups) again…
  2. Mary and I have been talking about moving to a bigger place closer to family…
  3. One goal I set at the beginning of the year was that within 5 years I would be working for myself.  What else can I be doing to make that happen?
  4. I need to spend more dedicated time with Mary.  Just her and I falling more in love, not distracted by every day things.
  5. How can I be more “others” focused?  Mary and I bend toward being self focused, how can we shift our focus to others?
These are the things I’m wrestling with.  What about you?  Do you have any insight for me, or do you have any thing you are reflecting on?

Testing Grace

Cartoon Jesus Grace

This morning I was spending my devotional time, as I normally do, reading and a bit of praying when something dawned on me.  First, I was reading in Job 2 where Satan goes to God and God offers up his “servant Job”.  There is a point in the story where Job’s wife tells him to “curse God and die”.  Ahem…

Here is how Job responds: “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Seriously Job, how can you maintain that faith?  I’m in awe of your faithfulness to God, thank you for that example.

In light of Job’s unfailing faithfulness, it dawned on me that I have been in a state of “Testing Grace” lately.  Here’s what I mean; I love my savior, He has given and sustained my life, He has directed my paths and continues to love me despite my struggle to earn it; recently I have been making decisions which aren’t clearly directed by Him.  Mary and I have been taking steps blindly and hoping it’s the right thing. I feel like I’m walking in a dark room, hoping that one of my steps will reveal some light; all the while feeling like I’m pushing the limits of grace, that at some point Jesus is going to say, “Erik, dude, you haven’t been listening.”

So, I have some work to do.  I need to spend more time listening to my whispering savior and then move based on that.  Jesus, do your thing… Thanks for your Grace.

Angry Driver

This is what I'm talking about

I think I’m a good driver.  I’m safe and obey most of the traffic laws most of the time, however, I am aware that I am always in a hurry and so I like to find the fastest ways around cars.  That means that sometimes I drive a little close to the car in front of me… It’s natural, right?  I mean, I don’t do it intentionally.

Over the last few days I have noticed that some people I have been driving behind have gotten a bit upset with me.  Yes, I have been flipped off and I’m sure I was cussed at.

There are two things that come to mind when I think about this:

  1. I honestly don’t intend to make people made and so I think they have some serious issues.  Don’t take yourself so seriously so that you think everyone else’s actions are because of you.
  2. Do I need to change the way I drive?  I’m mean, seriously, people are getting really mad at me.
In answer to the question above, no!  I don’t think I should change how I do things just because strangers who may have other issues in their lives, get upset about how I do things.
What do you think?  How do you feel when people don’t like how you do things?  Are you going to change just because of how people perceive what you are doing?  What implications are there to decision making like that? 

Blog of Manly

From Blog of Manly Blog

My buddy, Ebbs, over at Haus of Guns turned me on to a new blog that I love.  It’s called Blog of Manly.  At first I thought, “I don’t need another amateur blog to read that is a bunch of fluff”, then I started actually reading the posts.  I’m impressed with the in depth look at what it takes to be a real man, to serve your wife and your kids well, and to be Godly in a real way.

They have a portion of the site called “Husband101″, it points out several areas where men can serve their wives well and treat them as they should be treated.  You can read how to pursue your wife, what REAL romance should look like, and how to communicate well.  All extremely practical and transparent posts which bring to light some really good questions.

I like the content because it challenges men to be MEN.  The guys are looking at being a man in a way that’s real and challenging while not apologizing for it.  It’s HARD to actually be a real man and make yourself better every day.  These guys nail it on the head.

Check them out when you have some time:

BOM Website
BOM Facebook
BOM Twitter

Let me know what you think.

The Map & The Plan

 

I like to think this is what it looks like.

Jon Acuff is someone that I follow and pay attention to on a regular basis but today, he posted something on his blog that REALLY hit home with me right now.

Check his post out here:  The Map & The Plan

God has a plan for us, His plan is for His purpose, not ours.  Yes, sometimes he prepares us in such a way that His plan BECOMES ours but most of the time, He isn’t so concerned with our plans.

I’m in this place where it’s obvious God is leading me and my family to something.  I’m just sitting here thinking, “map it out for me God, please stop making me guess.”  I’m hoping that He will give me strength to be willing to prepare for what He has in store, that He will help me be faithful to Him and trust Him.

How about you, does this hit home with you?

Women of Faith – Recap

Women of Faith

As you should be aware, I am not a woman, but my wife is.  So, she attended women of faith for me and put together some thoughts below.  I hope you enjoy them:

  1. We LOVED our seats!  (Thank you Booksneeze!)
  2. We enjoyed the atmosphere – it’s always good to be around like minded women who care about similar things and want to be God fearing
  3. The Music was EXTREMELY worshipful – Selah was the group who lead worship.  I have liked them for a long time but this experience was surprisingly worshipful and the music helped us focus on the Word to be delivered.
  4. Brenda Warner was BY FAR my favorite speaker of the entire weekend.  Her story about how she has come to a life of following Jesus and learning from her children how to do that was inspiring… People MUST hear her story.
Women of Faith is inspiring and a great resource for women who need a break filled with inspiration and renewal.  Thank you to Booksneeze for providing the opportunity to go and for a great experience
Here is a photo of our seats (that’s my friend Holly):

Holly in our AMAZING Seats!