Bloom Where You’re Planted

Photo Credit: FLICKR: stephenyeargin

Bloom Where You’re Planted

When I first began to listen to God and truly follow Jesus I had GRAND AMBITIONS.  I could see myself like a Paul wandering the oceans of the world, saving new tribes, and really building up God’s Kingdom here on Earth.  You know… ambition to do great things for God. I couldn’t have been further off course if I was were lost in the South Pacific and using a can of beans for a compass.

Lately, God has been working on me.  He’s been “ambushing me with opportunities to serve” as my friend Mike would say.  During a season like this it can be easy to choose the accompanying distractions that come with God’s opportunities to serve.  I’m beginning to understand just how close those opportunities to serve are.

That’s when I remembered this post I did about blooming where you are planted…  Check it out.

BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED

[Originally Posted 4/12/2014 as “TRUST AND LITTLE JOBS” updated and edited 03/31/2014]]

This passage in the Bible is one of my favorites. It goes right along with “Bloom Where You’re Planted” (which is not a passage in the Bible).

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10 NIV)

I’ve heard this passage ring in my head every time I’m given some tiny task. It could be a small project at work or some obscure responsibility that seems so insignificant to most everyone else. However, when I hear this passage play in my head, it reminds me to do the best I can with what I’ve been given.

It not only applies to those day to day tasks in life, but more importantly to those smaller but life-changing things that God wants us to do. Think about the “little” things He’s asked you to do lately. Did you do them slowly? Did you do them halfway? Did you ignore them? Did you push them to the back burner and say you would get to them soon?

Well, that’s what I did. Not always, but I used to. Then I think about this… What did I have on my “Front Burner” while God was asking me to do something else? Why did those other things take priority for me?

Starting Revolution 365 is one of those things. I know that this (as big as it seems to me) is one of those “little” jobs He wants me to start.

What has God been asking you to do?

[Originally Posted 4/12/2014 as “TRUST AND LITTLE JOBS”]

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Make Me Broken…..

Ever looked in the mirror and asked your self how you got to this place? Ever cried out the words, “Why me?” Ever wondered what you did to God to deserve the current situation you find yourself in? Well gimme the hat trick; I’ve done all three and I’ve done them often. Am I mad at God? No….. Not anymore, but there was a time when I just knew God was punishing me for my actions, for my choices, for my lack of trust in Him. It’s taken me years to come back to God, to trust that I was actually there the entire time, and to know that I am madly, deeply in love with Him.

(I’ll be honest….. I wrote about two paragraphs in this space a few days ago. Today (Saturday AM) I deleted those words, realizing how selfish I must sound.)

I attended a leadership conference a few weeks ago and I took a lot away from that . It seems you always do and that in most cases there are a few things you hear that stick with you. I heard one of the pastors at my own church say, “Be yourself….. Authenticity is always more effective than imitation.” That struck me as powerful and as Common Sense 101 all at the same time. It also gave me the chance to ask my self this question….. How authentic am I? Didn’t take long to figure that answer out; I think I’ve always done this thing called life my way! Now I found myself doing it His way. That blew my mind! Another thing I heard in that conference came from a leader, not a pastor, someone that really intrigued me. One thing that he said was very powerful to me. He said, “God does not need us to complete HIM.” Seems though I’ve always thought that I needed to be this or that for God, or I needed to believe in Him at this level or that level to meet his standards. So if God doesn’t need us to complete Him, then certainly we need Him to complete us….. Think about that friends!

I’ve heard this song many times, you’ve heard it too if you listen to christian radio. The one line that I hear the strongest is, “Make me broken, so I can be healed.”

That is what has always summed up my faith….. I always thought I was too broken to be put back together, too shattered to be recognized by God, too ashamed of my life choices and mistakes to matter to Him.

Listen to this song. Where ever you are always know that you can get there!

God Bless!
Brian

Meanwhile at Starbucks…..

Almost every morning you’ll find me at Starbucks, drinking my coffee, socializing with the coffee crew…. Some afternoons you’ll find me there too, uh OK evenings, Christmas Eve, and at least twice on my birthday, etc. I’m hooked, I’m addicted, they know me by my drink, not by my name, blah, blah, blah! Gold Card carrying member here so show some respect!

Actually Friday morning I was sitting in Starbucks and I saw a familiar face….. I was on the phone, making some sales calls, so I wasn’t sure he even noticed me, but a few minutes later he came up behind me and we strummed up the typical “guy code” conversation. We are both in sales, both have kids, know a lot of the same people, so the conversation is filled with familiar things…. Then I asked him the one question that he asked me several years ago, “How’s church?” Ya see this guy asked me that question way back when, at a time when I was not a church goer. He asked me that knowing I wasn’t a church goer, and he probably knew I would go to his church if he asked me, just to satisfy his need of wanting me to go there. So…. I went; it was my first contemporary church experience and I hated it. My skin crawled the entire time and I couldn’t get outta there quick enough. I’ve now been at my church for over five (5) years and I’d say it’s one of the most successful contemporary churches in our area. Go figure! God will lead you to places that you otherwise would not go on your own. To make a long story short, what he said to me was exactly how I felt all those years ago. He had been emotionally hurt by the church and he had separated from the place he called home for all those years. As he sat there telling me how he and his family had been searching through all these churches looking for that “church home,” including my own church, I realized how fortunate I am to call my church home. As he walked away, I knew exactly where he was in his faith walk, I had been there, he had prayed for me the same way I was now going to be praying for him.

Seeing an old friend reminded me of this story….. Although not as deep as this, but I certainly think we can all relate.

One day, Mark, a freshman in high school, saw a kid from his class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. Mark thought to himself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” Mark had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with a friend the next afternoon), so he shrugged his shoulders and went on. As Mark was walking, he saw a bunch of kids running toward Kyle. They ran at Kyle, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. Kyle’s glasses went flying, and Mark saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. Kyle looked up and Mark saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. Mark’s heart went out to Kyle. So, Mark jogged over to Kyle as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and Mark saw a tear in Kyle’s eye.

As Mark handed Kyle his glasses, Mark said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” Kyle looked at Mark and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on Kyle’s face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

Mark helped Kyle pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, Kyle lived near Mark, so he asked Kyle why he had never seen him before. Kyle said he had gone to private school before now. Mark thought that he would have never hung out with a private school kid before.

They talked all the way home, as Mark carried Kyle’s books the entire way. Kyle turned out to be a pretty cool kid. Mark asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with him and his friends. Kyle said yes. They hung out all weekend and the more Mark got to know Kyle, the more he liked him. And all of Mark’s friends thought the same of Kyle.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. Mark stopped him and said, “Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books every day!” Kyle just laughed and handed Mark half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and Mark became best friends. When they were seniors, they began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and Mark was going to Duke. They knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. Kyle was going to be a doctor, and Mark was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of their class.

Mark teased Kyle all the time about being a nerd. Kyle had to prepare a speech for graduation. Mark was so glad it wasn’t him having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, Mark saw Kyle.

Kyle looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than Mark and all the girls loved him! Sometimes Mark was even jealous.

Today was one of those days. Mark could see that Kyle was nervous about his speech. So, he smacked Kyle on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” Kyle looked at Mark with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As Kyle started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach … but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.” Mark just looked at his friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day that they met. You see, Kyle had planned to kill himself over that weekend. Kyle talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. Kyle looked hard at Mark and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend, Mark, saved me from doing the unspeakable.” Mark heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.

Mark saw Kyle’s Mom and dad looking at him and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did Mark ever realize the depth of his friendship with Kyle.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each others lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.

What’s Your Response To…

CoffeeFsssssssst. That’s the sound of the steam machine blowing super-heated water into a metal cup filled with cream. I hear it along with quiet conversations as the door to the coffee house swings shut behind me. My friend and I see each other and our eyes light up. Both weathered by the “stuff” that life seems to throw at us. None the less, happy to see each other. We grab a coffee and a seat. Pretty quickly we dive into some pretty deep “stuff”. I wouldn’t normally be here on a weekday morning. Certainly not this early. Come to think of it. I wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for a response.

[STUFF HAPPENS]
We’ve all seen the iconic bumper sticker from the 80’s. It’s not quite “stuff”, but we get the point. Small “stuff” and big “stuff”. It all comes our way at some point. If you are walking planet Earth, some “stuff” WILL happen to the pretty little world built around you. It’s not what happens that we should focus on. It is our response to what happens that counts most.

As humans, we like to control “stuff”. We “arrange” the conversations we have before we have them. We make sure the setting is just right for certain news. We make all kinds of plans that may or may not come to fruition. My experience tells me one thing. The control God grants us in life comes not from manipulating our circumstances, but from how we respond to them.

As I look back at the “stuff” that has happened in my life I realize I usually respond a few different ways. “Stuff” happens and I either blame someone else, blame myself, or blame God. I realize how futile ALL three are, but entertain me. Will you?

Whether you are blaming the lady in traffic for cutting your slow-poke-self off or you are blaming yourself for something that you shouldn’t neither allows you to GROW from the experience. When we are focused on blaming someone, the enemy has won. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. When we allow ourselves to get caught in a blame game the devil has succeeded in stealing our opportunity to grow. If we focus on our response though… Then we can actually grow from the experience.

What about God? Am I saying that God creates situations that are awful just so we can learn? Am I saying that God says, “Ryan really needs to learn ______ so I’m going to really mess with him.” Am I saying that God looked at Jōb and said Job is too blessed… I should destroy his life so he can learn from it. NO!

God gave his creations FREE WILL. That means we decide what we do. Just because WE are walking in the will of God does not mean everything person and their circumstances are. He gave us ALL free will. He doesn’t take that lightly. Free will is free will. I do believe that God speaks to us and prompts us to respond to those circumstances. In His infinite wisdom, God can take the evil that someone’s free will can create and use that for good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

If that is the case, we must learn how to respond. How to respond to situations, people, our own hearts, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We don’t control the “stuff” that happens in life, but we DO control our response to it. Your response will mirror what your heart looks like. If you are compassionate, your response will be too. If you are angry, so will your response be.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Back to the coffee house… Our conversations merged, and seemed to become one story. My friend and I realized that we shared some similarities in our walk lately and it was an awesome relief. A recharge moment. I could feel my heart say “I’m not in this alone” and I could see that same sentence on his face. Speaking of responding… That healing conversation wouldn’t have happened had I not responded. Not to my friend. It wasn’t his invitation that brought us there for coffee. God had been prompting me to call him for weeks. I finally acted on what God was telling me and it made the difference.

When we feel alone we are more vulnerable than ever. That’s when we are most ready to be “picked off” by the enemy. There truly is strength in numbers and sharing how we are going through life together. It may seem hard through the night, but joy comes in the morning. Pay attention to how your respond. It will be what sets you apart.

God Bless…
Ryan Mc