Bowtie Selfies and 5 Lessons on Consistency

I know this sounds silly, but I did it anyways. I was challenged to post a daily picture of a bowtie selfie until I ran out.. just to see how many I had. So, I thought, what the heck? Why not. Normally, I am not a selfie person — I wasn’t expecting to learn anything from a bunch of bowtie selfie pics, but I have this habit of noticing trends, and wouldn’t you know it, I learned something.

The Challenge: A Bowtie Selfie A Day

bowtie selfie 1 bowtie selfie 2 bowtie selfie 3 bowtie selfie 4 bowtie selfie 5 bowtie selfie 6 bowtie selfie 7 bowtie selfie 8

First of all, I didn’t use every bowtie I own. I picked the eight best over two weeks (we have casual Friday at work).

The Lessons

  1. When you commit to something, people expect you to show up. Promises have tiny grace periods. People expect you to do what you say.
  2. Consistency is nourished on accountability. If I was even five minutes late posting my picture, I started getting messages.
  3. Consistency leads to recognition. The act of showing up every day at the same time with a new photo caused a modest increase in people interacting with me on social media.
  4. Consistent is better than perfect. That being said, if we wait for “flawless,” we’ll never be reliable. Doing something well doesn’t have to be the same as creating a masterpiece. Note: none of those photos come close to perfect.
  5. Consistency will translate into faithfulness. The choices and actions that we repeat over and over are the foundation of our character.

Conclusion

Good old fashioned playfulness can lead to surprising insights. Have you learned anything lately through play?

The Heart Follows What It Treasures Most

Have you ever been flipping through the channels or scrolling through Netflix only to find yourself caught up in a show or movie that you’ve seen a thousand times before? What makes our old standbys compelling? There’s a plethora of new content out there. Familiarity? Maybe, but I suspect it’s something more subtle — the payoff. We know exactly what we’re going to get: tension, drama, resolution. It’s cathartic. In other words, we go back to familiar stories because they satisfy something in our hearts. So, what’s the connection between story and the heart?
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Reflections on Send 2015

IMG_20150804_190654Mrs. J and I attended the Send Conference presented by the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The conference was sold out and well-attended. Overall, I was encouraged by what I saw and heard.

(Affiliate links in play.)

In no particular order, here are my Reflections on Send 2015:

Embrace training up and sending out leadership. J. D. Greear described the need to let go of our best and brightest as God calls them. He reminded us all of God’s faithfulness to empower and replace leadership that is sent out. He spoke anecdotally about how God raised up new leadership threefold for each one that left Summit Church. Greear recently published Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send. Mrs. J and I are both looking forward to reading it.

Unquenchable Life Permeates the Gospel. Life springs forth wherever the Gospel takes root. The Gospel transforms lives because that is its nature — it brings life to the lifeless. What was once dead lives.Removing the Gospel from our words and actions strips them of meaningful, eternal value. They are lifeless. That old nature nullifies our activities when they aren’t focused on Jesus and building up His Kingdom. Meditating on the Gospel quickens our hearts and hands. We remember again the unquenchable life that flows from Jesus.The preaching seemed electrified. I’m not talking about a frenzy of emotionalism; the crowd was calm and confident. The preaching was zeroed in on the Gospel, and it was compelling. As a preacher and minister, I found myself challenged to recognize how the Gospel actively saturates each corner and crevice of our lives, and then to preach about the activity of the Holy Spirit and how nothing is untouched by the effects of new life.

We Don’t Like Taking the Gospel to Samaria. I sat in on a breakout session about Christianity in the city. It was like drinking from a fire hydrant. I had so many thoughts and feelings — some good, some tense, all edifying. It was the first time in a long time that I could not identify with the speakers on stage from the same cultural vantage point, but I could identify with them in a spirit of oneness. I could dedicate an entire post on thoughts from this session alone. But for now, I want to rest in one place: Samaria.The Jews hated Samaria and Samaritans. To paraphrase the session, the call to spread the Gospel into Samaria meant going to a place that the evangelists hated and offering the gift of eternal life to a people they hated. We can identify and work in our Jerusalems and Judeas — they are like us. We have no problem with the uttermost parts of the earth, because we’re not around them. But Samaria? But the people around us who are not like us and we despise them for it?I sat. And I listened. The message was clear and compelling.We don’t like taking the Gospel to Samaria. In cities, where the majority of people are or will be living, Samaria is right next door. It’s time to figure it out.

The Glory of God Cannot Be Impeded. Our obedience to the Great Commission is our prime directive. Making disciples marries the two great commandments of Scripture to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love others as ourselves. If we fail to follow God, He is not frustrated. However, He may move on to other, more obedient servants, or drag us along kicking and screaming into the present reality. We can no more frustrate God’s glory or His plan than a vapor can stop an elephant. As Russell Moore reminded us, we are not relics from the past — we are pilgrims from the future where the Kingdom is fully realized.

Fervent Prayer Works. Vance Pitman told a story of a woman who emigrated to the US as a housekeeper for an American family. This woman grew up in the Philippines, and did not truly know Christ until she heard the Gospel preached by Johnny Hunt. When her family moved to Las Vegas, she prayed fervently for years that God would send someone from Woodstock Baptist to Las Vegas. When she first met Pitman, she came up to him to specifically ask what church sent him… I’ll give you one guess who sent him.

Thousands of people are coming to Christ in Las Vegas.
Prayer Matters. Prayer Works.

Which leads me to…

I Need To Pray More. Specifically, I need to pray more in faith. One speaker challenged us to run towards the tension in our lives and society with the Gospel. Only the Gospel can truly permeate our broken relationships and the tensions in our society and infuse them with new life.

New life should lead to a new perspective which makes all the difference in our responses. Hitherto, I fear that my prayers are mostly an advanced form of spiritual whining. However, prayer is like a long game: the effects aren’t usually immediate. And yet, eternally speaking, prayer and waiting on God are extraordinarily expedient — we shall not have to wait forever to for God to act. Praying in faith will turn our frustration into expectation, but only if we remember the truth: The Gospel is active. The Kingdom of Heaven advances. God fulfills His promises.

 

Remembering on Memorial Day

Iwo Jima Memorial Photo by Jim Linwood, Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Photo by Jim Linwood, Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Remembering on Memorial Day

Members from each generation of my family have served for as long as I can remember. Most came home. Some did not. Some served for glory. Some served for duty. Some served because they had to. They are our fellow countrymen who have loved us.

A Bit of Encouragement

We all need a bit of encouragement each day. This world pulls us down. Wars and rumors of wars are nothing new. Scandal, fraud, and deceit are part of the human condition. It’s easy to get stuck on the bad things going on. But thankfully, the will of men and the work of evil aren’t they only forces at work in this world, which something we must remind ourselves daily.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

-Jesus of Nazareth, John 16:33

Encouragement In Dark Times

One of my favorite passages from The Lord of the Rings is the exchange between Gandalf and Frodo about the nature of the Ring. The Ring was a weapon of mass destruction built by the most malevolent being in middle-earth. Even this dark, cataclysmic power had limits:

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

‘There was more than one power at work, Frodo. The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur’s hand and betrayed him; then when a chance come it caught poor Deagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and send out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoneed Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire!’

Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you were also meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.’
-Gandalf to Frodo, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Ring could not be outsmarted. The ring could not be subverted for good. There was no one on middle-earth with the will to control the Ring’s power, save its maker as it was a part of him.

And yet, the will of the Ring and its maker were not more powerful than the One who willed that the Ring should be found by Bilbo Baggins.

Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings in a way that reflected his worldview; that’s no secret. One of the greatest themes from this work is not that the good of man will triumph (indeed, it is the weakness of man that furthers evil in middle-earth), but rather that the will of the Creator will not be thwarted or overwhelmed. That theme is a direct reflection of God’ sovereignty.

So, while the strength of our will is little compared to the Evil One, his will is nothing compared to the Lord of Hosts. If we only focus on the activity of evil, we may despair. However, the sins of this world are tiny compared to the grace of our Lord.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
Gracious in all His works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
The Lord preserves all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh shall bless His holy name
Forever and ever.

-Psalm 145:17-21

We must lift our eyes higher to see our Hope. He is not in the gutter, manger, or on the cross; He is on His throne.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

-Hebrews 12:1-2

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