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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

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Judgemental

Weep Holes

I recently started a remodel project in our master bathroom. Whom ever decided that it was a good idea to lay down carpet in bathrooms should be put on trial. Sure, carpet feels nice on your feet in the morning, but think for a minute about the combination of carpet, water and other bodily discharges that find their way onto a bathroom floor. Like I said…bad idea..

My wife and I moved into our house four years ago and it was an exciting day when I was finally able to rip out the carpet in our bathrooms and replace it with flooring. Tearing out the carpet, I came to the area in front of the shower and low and behold, underneath that comfy carpet, was a mold covered sub-floor. Ugh.

My planned weekend-long project took on a life of its own as I wound up replacing sub-floor and drying out the walls that were affected by years of water moisture buried by carpet.

Finally, with the flooring project complete, I resealed the shower and added the final trim along the baseboard. But we still had a moisture problem!

Water was leaking next to the wall and no matter how much silicone I added inside and out of the shower, water was still finding its way out and onto my new floor. Looking for answers, I consulted the ultimate resource for any problem- Google.

After several hours of researching the problem on-line, I learned of these little things called ‘weep-holes’ that they add to the bottom shower rail and in the shower pan to essentially keep water from building up inside the rail and wall. Attacking the problem with my utility knife, I found five weep-holes in the shower rail buried behind a goop of silicone. Cutting them out one at a time, the water that was previously making its way out of the shower onto my floor drained right back into my shower pan. Problem solved.

All this amateur hour construction work got me thinking a lot about my own life. How much gunk do I cover up with nice carpet without addressing the core issue? Bitterness, pain, addiction and unaddressed personal issues that I literally sweep under the rug and pretend it’s okay. The answer to expressing my deep emotions involve just adding more silicone sealant to keep them in.

The real problem with this approach is that the emotion will make its way out into the world around you. In the end, this will cause more damage than allowing the ‘weep-holes’ of genuine and vulnerable emotion to work every day. Forcing out a good cry every now and then isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m working hard lately on being less prideful and reaching out for help when it makes sense. Pulling back the carpet and replacing the subfloor of my heart is something that I will have to continually work on and be aware of. If I don’t, it’ll turn black with mold and damage the rest of the house.

What are you covering up in your life? Perhaps it’s time to let it breathe.

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1 Corinthians 4:5 // Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts

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Identity

Micah, what do you want to be when you grow up?

My 4-year-old son looked at the tile floor deep in thought. Suddenly, he looked up with his eyes bright with anticipation. “A Jedi daddy. When I get bigger, I’m going to be a Jedi just like Luke Skywalker!”

I love the conversations I have with Micah. It is refreshing to see the world through his unjaded eyes and to get a glimpse into a soul where the whole world is ahead and dreams are alive with vivid color.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I answered that same question several times. A fireman, a doctor, a jet pilot, an architect, and a surfer were just a few of my dream professions. What child would have said ‘a director of business development and marketing’ anyway?

Outside of my lofty career goals, I strived through my youth to latch on to other activities to define who I was as a person. In junior high, most everyone is defined by some sort of activity. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, the nerds were just a few groups.  As we all looked to find our place, I locked on to what I thought the coolest people in school were…the skaters. I loved skateboarding from an early age. I was fascinated with surfing as a small kid, and living in Colorado, skateboarding was the next best thing. Skateboarders were counter-culture but still friends with all the other social groups. They did cool tricks and had cool hair. That’s what I wanted to be.

I was a skateboarder through junior high and transitioned to being a snowboarder in high school and college. I moved to California and became a surfer, and then became a triathlete. When being a triathlete wasn’t doing it for me anymore, I became a competitive cyclist, shaved my legs and started racing with 200 other shaved legged adult males. I moved to Colorado and became a runner, no… a trail runner, no…an ultra-runner…well…you get the idea.

Through all my various ‘identities’ I’ve had over the years, one place I have struggled is latching on to what it means to have an identity in Christ. What does it mean to be a ‘Christian’? It seems like such a small thing, but one area that I have struggled with is the stigma of some other Christian people and not wanting to be put in the same bucket as them. From the people holding up “You’re going to Hell” signs at football games to a few encounters with other Christians I have known over the years, I have struggled with embracing the identity.

But God is showing me something different. Hypocrisy and imperfection are results of the broken human condition. All of us have sinned, and part of my problem was putting too much stock in other people – specifically ‘Christians’- to do it right. I know full-well the extent of my own sin, and thank God for the grace He gives to cover it. Grace I should extend to others as well.

I’m beginning to realize three things:

  1. Having an identity in Christ means that I am a work in progress. I am an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God, and that’s okay.
  2. I have an opportunity to learn from my own past experiences and try and show the grace of Christ where I feel others have fallen short.
  3. Just because another person identifies with the title of ‘Christian’ and preaches hate does not mean I am like that person. It is like someone that calls themselves a runner but sits on the couch all day, eats junk food and does one 5K per year. That person can claim the title, but their actions don’t reflect the identity.

I’m starting to ‘own’ my identity and have more confidence in bearing the image of Christ, and that’s a good thing. I can be defined by what I do by being selfless, showing love, and embracing truth. I’m not perfect by the world’s standards, but thanks to grace, in God’s eyes I am. It’s pretty liberating and I’m humbled to be called a ‘Christian’. I’m an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God who loves us.

So next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up my answer is, “I’m a Christian, regardless of what I do professionally or recreationally, that’s all that matters most.” My prayer is that my son can say the same thing someday.

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2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here

SUV Environmentalism

I went to a business conference this past week at one of the local military bases to hear more about the future trends in Military construction opportunities. Everyone in my industry knows that military construction spending is at an all time high, and just about everyone is trying to figure out how to get a piece of the action.

I showed up early and shook some hands, exchanged some business cards, and eventually took my seat at a table close to the front of the banquet hall. They had a Military General that would be delivering the keynote speech that morning, and I was excited to hear his perspective on energy use and our government’s role in decreasing dependence on foreign oil. OK so I know I’m a geek about this stuff, but as a former Boulder resident, public transportation, bicycles, and ‘green’ initiatives are important to me. I’m the only guy at my office that tries to ride my bike to work and takes the trolley around town to meetings. It’s just how I roll (pun intended).

Major General Anthony Jackson went on to give a speech that was beyond compelling. He talked about the wars our country is fighting around the world, the blood that has been shed, and the direct and indirect links to natural resource control. While we are combating terrorism, we are also working to preserve our appetite and hunger for oil and the countries that control those resources. I was struck that this was not a ‘PR’ pitch. Rather this was a high level General that worked in the pentagon talking about the closed-door discussions on military strategy.

Without getting too political, General Jackson went on to inspire people that we can all do things to make a difference in our dependence on foreign resources. He bought a hybrid car, put solar panels on his house and telecommutes when he can. He is not looking to save money, but rather to decrease his personal footprint. He may never see the payback on his investment, but he knows that if everyone made a few changes, we can stop some of the unnecessary global conflict.

Jackson got a standing ovation at the end of his speech. People were buzzing with excitement.

I left the meeting and walked past a parking lot of SUV’s on the way to my own car to drive back to the office. I wondered how many of the people in that room would be trading their SUV’s for electric or hybrid vehicles over the next year because of the General’s speech. Unfortunately, I may be a cynic, but I think changing behavior is a lot more difficult than inspiring people with a 45 minute keynote speech. Behavioral change takes work.

It’s not unlike sitting through a feel-good sermon on a Sunday morning to get you ready for the week. The “hoo-rah, I’m gonna be a good person this week” inspiration melts down when your boss makes you mad on a Monday morning.

The problem I believe is not the desire to be a good Christian; it is the lack of commitment to the lifestyle. It starts with the little things like volunteering your time, and continues to things like being disciplined about where you feed your mind and what you are saying about others. Does your world focus around you? How do we expect to love the world around us when we don’t step outside our comfort zone and consciously decide to change and move our focus externally? While 80% of American’s claim to be Christians, we live in country full of divorce, gossip, greed and selfishness. It’s like we are a bunch of SUV driving business people giving a standing ovation at a speech about environmentalism.

What makes you different?
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Matthew 7:5
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

An Illusion of Success

On the outside it may seem that I have my life together. I own a house that is within walking distance to the Pacific Ocean. I have a wife that is my best friend and a woman I fall deeper in love with every day. I drive a German automobile and have a job that allows me the opportunity to learn and work with people who bond together like family. I have set and achieved goals that many people only dream of. My phone rings daily with requests for guidance, advice and direction.

On the outside it may seem that I have my life together, but I realize more each day that nothing could be further from the truth.

I am broken. I find myself judging the world around me in some sort of convoluted effort to validate my own failures. No matter how successful I have become, I wonder why I am not as successful as the next guy. Why my townhome in San Diego isn’t a house on the beach with a guest house in the back yard. Why my paycheck takes care of my mortgage, but doesn’t allow me to buy the latest road bike. Why I pass by the homeless, but spend $5 on a latte. I wonder why, although I have been blessed with so much, I’m not as far along as I thought I would be at this stage of my life.

I had lunch this week with a friend of mine. He is an older-than-me gentleman from my church that works in my same industry. After chatting off-and-on about business opportunities, I brought all of this stuff up. “Am I doing the right things in my life to be successful?” I asked him. “Should I be looking for more?”

I look at my friend, and he is nearing retirement age. In my eyes he is a down-to-earth successful guy who appears to have it all together. He would surely have the answers.

“Have you ever stopped to think about that life is not all about you?” he asked me. “None of this is about us. It is about serving others, being a good friend, living with integrity, and connecting your passions to a bigger cause. If you are living this way, God will take care of the rest.”

This has to be one of the hardest things in the world to embrace. While every media outlet is telling us that life is about self-gratification and success, there is also something very liberating about not living life to this standard. My perspective shifted the second he told me, “it’s not about me.” Why am I here at my job if it’s not about me? There are greater reasons behind it all. Who can I bless by being here? What skills can I learn that will help someone else down the road? How can I bring success to those around me?

It’s a fresh breath of air to be honest, and I know I need to work on it more and trust in a greater plan. I am not prideful enough to think I have it all together, but I do have to say that looking at things from the outside, I am an incredibly blessed individual. For the first time, I realized that this success has all come from a genuine passion for helping others. From my work to my hobbies, I want everyone around me to succeed. The second I turn inward and get selfish about it, my life gets stale.  It is liberating to look out at the world and give it all up. It will always be a process for me…

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2 Corinthians 4:16-17 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Missing the Target?

Last week I went into a Target store because I had to pick up a few household items. Target is a dangerous place for me to visit, because I usually come out of there with one or two things I needed, five things I didn’t need, and I usually forgot at least one thing I needed because I was busy looking at things I didn’t need. Yeah, I know it’s complicated. I typically blame it on Target though because if they didn’t sell so many great things there, I wouldn’t have a problem. For some people-it’s Costco, for others-it’s Nordstrom’s, for me-it’s Target.

The other evening as I was leaving Target pumped up on endorphins from buying more un-needed stuff, I passed a lady outside that was raising money for homeless veterans. I usually just walk by these people parked outside the store. I am annoyed by their requests for money. Can’t they just see that I spent all my money in Target on stuff I don’t need? I don’t need to give money to your ‘legalize cannabis so I can grow some ganja’ campaign.

Well I don’t know what came over me that night, but I actually stopped. I talked to the older lady standing there with weathered eyes and asked more about her mission. “God bless you son.” She said with sincerity in her voice. “Do you realize that you are one of the few people that have even acknowledged that I am here? I am raising money for a ministry to take care of our homeless veterans.”

She went on to tell me about her cause, and how the Lord called her to help out. I gave her a few dollars, and told her I’d say a prayer for her. And I did.

I started to wonder how many people I walk by in a day or avoid in an effort to stay in my comfort zone. I will spend $20 extra dollars in a Target store but won’t spare $1 for the homeless. I know I have trust issues, but is it really so hard to stop and say ‘hello’?

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Matthew 25:34-40
Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”

8 Mile

This weekend was another dose of the usual. Another bike ride covering way too long of a distance, way too many hills, and way too much work for a Saturday. Another typical ride that left me useless for the rest of the day and unable to get off the couch.

We took the opportunity to do a ride this weekend that covered the unpopulated roads of Southeast San Diego County. The terrain is challenging, but it feels great to get away from the busy city streets and be out in the middle of nature. Rolling hillsides, vast expanses of wilderness, running streambeds, and scenic vistas make the difficult terrain more bearable and enjoyable. The route somewhat resembles the Colorado countryside I grew up in.

On the homestretch of the ride there is an 8-mile decent from a mountain top that is a nice reward for the efforts of the day. Julie and I were descending down the road when a van passed us, an overweight lady leaned half out her window and yelled obscenities at Julie and I for riding in ‘her’ roadway. Julie almost crashed from the scare. We are used to being honked at from time to time, but leaning out of a window and yelling took it to a new level and my male instincts kicked in.

I was justified.

I grew madder and madder the more I descended down the pass. I wished I would have taken down the license plate number of the van or something. Of course I don’t know what that would have done for me, but at least I could have hunted them down later. They were long gone.

We approached the bottom of the hill where there was a dirt parking lot next to a nature preserve and low and behold…there was the van, and the fat chick that leaned out her window was walking across the parking lot.

I was justified.

I rode slower, gave her the one finger salute, called her some names at the top of my lungs and made sure she and the rest of the parking lot residents knew what I thought about her. It was all I could do to just keep riding slow with my finger in the air and not go over and let her know first-hand what a skinny spandex-clad 35-year-old was capable of.

I was justified.

I rode away, somehow feeling better about myself that I had insulted her properly. She would think twice before messing with cyclists again. And then God spoke.

“I was also justified.”

Sometimes it sucks being a Christian, just for the fact that I feel guilty for not taking the high road when I should have. My actions did not accomplish anything more than making me look like another religious hypocrite to the non-believers I was riding with. I had to ask for forgiveness.

I know that this world is never fair. God has instilled in us the power to take the high road and forgive the people that don’t deserve forgiveness. Perhaps the lady in the van will ride a bike herself someday and understand. Perhaps she will never understand. It does not matter really in the end. My wife and I were safe and the incident was over.

Next time I chew on my anger, I will have to pray and give it to the Lord. He had more reason than any of us to bring His wrath on humanity, but He gave grace in its place. That took a pretty amazing man to make that happen.

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Psalm 37:8-9
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

 

Broken

You are my rock.

Lately I have felt like I am swimming upstream in the river of life. I have been searching for something stable to reach out to. I see the rock and reach out and grab it. Water is gushing on all sides and through the splash I am able to hold on to the only stable thing that keeps me from drowning.

You are my rock.

I am getting eaten alive with responsibility and chaos. The forces of evil are attacking my mind with a fever. I feel like retreating into a cave of isolation to try and get a grip on things. I see the rock and it is standing stoically as an anchor of hope. I try to rise out of the chaos that plagues my thoughts.

You are my rock.

Why do I have such a hard time with all of this? Why do I subject myself to this world of misdirection and hurt? Why can’t I just swim out of this river and sit on the rock above it all? Shouldn’t that be easy? Can’t I just be a good Christian and not worry about it all? Why do I sit here and judge others and engage in the gossip? Why am I so broken?

You are my rock.

I am broken and only You can help. I know that. Yet I choose a life of chaos. I am never home long enough to close my eyes and think of You. I fill my schedule with things that will never be remembered once I leave this world. What can I do to bring meaning? I hope I bring joy into this world, but sometimes I don’t know. Am I self-absorbed? Broken.

You are my rock.

I sincerely hope I can put it all aside Lord, and find rest in You. I am swimming in a sea of carnality. I am holding onto you, but letting the world toss me around. Pull me out God. Help me see the truth in all of this.

Pull me onto the rock.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2 Samuel 22:3
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior–from violent men you save me

A Team Building Exercise

In my short business career, I have been fortunate enough to help lead several different companies and organizations to success. Obviously the definition of success varies depending on who you talk to, but I truly believe God has given me a gift of being able to see a collective picture, and lead a group of people to the destination. The one thing that I have seen through my experiences is that success is highly dependent on the people who are involved to help reach the goal. We have seen situations time and time again where the most qualified group of people are not always the most successful as a team.  Different opinions, finger-pointing, and ego often get in the way of developing a culture of success. Without a strong foundation of goals and principles that everyone buys into, organizations will fail every time..

I recently received an e-mail from a friend of mine that is struggling spiritually. He “does not always agree with Christians”, and it offends him a little to hear someone else tell him what they think is right or wrong, and so on. He loves Christianity though.

He is painting the picture of the Church. Often times Christians are so caught up in the debate over Theology or gossip that we forget that we are one organization that is reaching for a common goal. I disassociated from the church when I was in my late teens for the same reasons. Judgmental people, legalism, differing opinions, etc. It was much easier to live life on my own terms then to deal with that crap.

So I withdrew.

While this seems like the easiest avenue, it is also the perfect situation for the enemy of our souls. It is easier for him to conquer one person than it is to destroy an army. Just like the way I work with organizations to build success, it is a team of people that gets us across the goal line. I could go at it alone, but it would be a much harder fight. In the same way, the battle we fight as believers is to pull together as one.

It is a hard-fought reality to know that God has called us into relationship with Him, with other believers, and into a life where we no longer live for ourselves especially when we don’t always agree with our teammates. It’s not the easy road, but God knows what it takes to build a successful organization called ‘His Church’. We must put aside the drama, train for success and read The Bible which is our rulebook.

I have been praying frequently for my friend as he is a powerful and dynamic leader that given the right opportunity would bring a lot more people to the Faith. I pray that God will show him the true spiritual impact he could have in this world if he was able to carve out his time to get plugged in to the community of believers. I pray that just as God did for me a few years ago, that my friend would be able to see past himself, past the people, and understand the urgency of God’s calling to be connected. Working as a part of a bigger team, we could really evoke some change together.

Those prayers also reflect my own personal prayers. I still have to constantly work to lay aside my own opinions and biases towards the religious egos, and ask God to work in my heart through His Word. When I disagree with people regarding Theology, I strive to understand why I disagree and have that opinion be grounded in Biblical truth without passing judgment. I have to force myself to go to church sometimes if for no other reason than to stay plugged in. I know it is God’s calling. Hopefully I can be a valuable asset to His Kingdom while I live here on Earth and bring more of His people together to focus on what matters.  Let’s build a successful team.

——

Philippians 2:1-10 ESV
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The Debrief

Sitting across the table from a prospective client that didn’t hire you can be somewhat uncomfortable. I find myself fidgeting around with my pen, spinning my phone, and avoiding eye contact. There is a little thing in the construction and design industry called “the Debrief” where you sit down with current or potential clients to get the real scoop on why you did or did not get hired for a particular project. While it is difficult at times to hear, I schedule debriefs with all of our clients to find out what they liked about our firm, what things they didn’t like, and what they thought we needed to work on. Everything is done to improve our process, and hopefully raise the bar even higher the next time there is an opportunity.

This week, I was sitting across the table from a prospective client, getting ready to hear first hand why they did not select my firm for a project we had submitted on. We were proud of the work effort that had gone into the pursuit, and thought we were a much better choice than the firm that was selected. And then the feedback began to bring us back to reality….

Hearing things you don’t want to hear from people is often avoided at all costs. We would much rather be the ones delivering the feedback than the ones receiving it.

This past weekend, I was venting to my wife about this guy I know who is a Christian, but does nothing to grow in his Faith. He is totally comfortable with the title ‘Christian’, but you would never know it by his actions. Frustrated about this guy’s lack of passion, I started venting to my wife who then told me how I was losing focus. I was not being loving, forgiving, and instead was being judgmental. I was expected to be an example of Christ, not pass judgment on His behalf. She pointed out that I was harboring bitterness in my heart over the situation, and I needed to let it go. It was not my burden to carry, and the more I got upset and judgmental, the less God was able to exhibit His traits in my own life.

I had just been debriefed, and it was difficult to hear.

Feedback is so important for each of us. We need it in order to grow and improve as sometimes we are blinded to our own faults. While we are looking at the faults of our neighbors, we fail to recognize the imperfections in our own lives.

As I sat through the debrief this week for the project my firm did not get, I took copious notes on how to improve for next time. I thought to myself how this project debrief was strangely similar to my debrief with Julie the day before. Here I am, just a man hopefully continuing to grow and improve for next time. Sometimes you need the truthful words of others to make you stop and take notice….

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Ephesians 4:14-16
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

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