Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Give it away…

Posted: August 4, 2010 in Life
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RYAN ARNOLD

I hear a lot of talk about giving our lives away. People have many causes and agendas that cry out for full commitment: giving of yourself selflessly for the sake of others. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I would say that I embrace this type of call.

I believe in living for something greater than yourself. Treating others the way you want to be treated. Nevertheless, it is easy to live life for ourselves.

But in the end…the question does have to be asked… “What did I do that mattered?” Tough question: one that I do not always want to ask myself. Much less, one I want to answer.

At times, life seems meaningful and I feel that I understand what it means to “give my life away.” Then, I hear a story. Not just any story, but a story of someone who truly gives away their life for the sake of someone else.

Just this last week, a young man by the name of Chad Arnold had gone into the final stages of liver disease. His life was coming to an end. Then, his brother Ryan decided to do something heroic. He decided to give 2/3 of his liver in order to save his brother’s life. The operation went well and was a success. Chad is in recovery and it appears his life has been saved.

However, Ryan…well, He is now in Heaven. He gave his life for his brother.

My heart is broken for the family. Moreover, I am crying out prayers from deep within for God to fill them with the peace and grace for this season that only He can bring.

At the same time, I am personally filled with some shame and conviction. I feel ashamed that I have ever acted as if I know what it means to give my life away. I am convicted that I too often choose my own comfort over the inconvenience of giving of myself.

Ryan, your life…your sacrifice is already affecting the lives of many. Your sacrifice is causing me to reassess my life, my choices and the time I have left on this earth.

Lord, be with Chad and the rest of the family.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.caringbridge.org%2Fvisit%2Fryanandchadarnold&h=f6b38

Lost

Posted: July 20, 2010 in Life
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Somewhere in the pursuit of something better, it feels like we lost something.

We have the ability to talk to just about anyone on the planet from the devices we hold in our hands. Through the internet, we are connected to more information than we could read in a lifetime. We can locate any point on the Earth by pressing the “Google” button.

We can microwave a meal in a matter of minutes; wash dishes by stacking them in a rack and closing a door; and sweep our homes by turning on the automatic vacuum cleaner.

Purchase an airline ticket and be in another location in a matter of hours instead of days. Take a picture and see it instantly instead of waiting for it to develop. Press a button and a new movie appears on our television, computer or cell phone screen.

Type some letters and instantly communicate to another person or group of people. Hear a new song you like and in a matter of minutes, download it for your listening pleasure. Talk to a speaker box and someone will hand you food through a drive thru window. Slide a card, punch in some numbers and money will magically appear.

 If we are sad, pop a pill and be happy for a while. If we can’t sleep, pop a pill and snooze the night away. Sleepy the next morning? Pop another pill and wake right up.

If we are lonely, try an online dating service. If we need more friends, start recruiting on FaceBook.

We are a society who has figured out instant gratification. We know how to press a button and get what we want. But do we really know what we want? And what is the price we have paid for our instant world we have created.

As much as I enjoy the convenience provided to us by modern technology, I still have to ask: In all of our advancement, could it be that we have left behind what is most important? Could it be that we have sold that which is priceless, to gain that which is convenient?

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26

Excuse me while you think about that…I have to go make a call, send a text, Google an address, update my blog, reprogram my phone, check my FaceBook, download a new song and program my DVR to record my favorite show…

See You on the Stage

Posted: July 14, 2010 in Life
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Life is strange sometimes.  Just when you think you have it all figured out…the script changes. Like a play in which you have rehearsed your role but suddenly find that all of the other actors are improving: so you have to join in.  The show must go on. The unexpected takes place. Tragedy makes an unwelcome appearance on the stage of existence and the script has to be rewritten. New actors appear, sometimes uninvited, and you have to rewrite the dialogue in order to include them.

 Again…the show must go on.

You stop and ask…who’s directing this strange play?  Am I?  My friends?  My relatives?  My spouse? My Boss?

I keep making choices, so am I the director? But are my choices simply reactions to what the other actors are doing?  Am I following the right script? Who did these rewrites?  Wait…is it time to improv again? 

Then the scene changes, and more actors appear.  But the script they are using doesn’t sound like the one I was just in.  This feels like a different play all together. New director? Maybe. But who is it?  Who is controlling the action on the stage?  I thought I was, but I couldn’t be.  I would not write this.  But I must read my lines, play my part.  The show must go on.

The show sometimes makes me tired.  It feels that each scene requires a different role.  But I am just one actor. Sometimes all of the other actors behave as if they are the directors.  Could they be?  Could I be reading the script they wrote for me.  If so…it does not feel right.  But, my improvs and rewrites aren’t much better.

Oh wait…now I hear the voice.  It must be the director.  He just said, “Cut”.  Good time for a break. He’s motioning to me. I think He wants to talk to me.  Just a minute, the show will have to wait.  The director wants some time with me.  I’ll be right back.

Ok…how long was I gone? It felt like hours and just for a moment.  But, I am ready to get back on the stage.  The director assured me that He wrote the script and He is directing all of the action. There are many who are trying to rewrite what He wrote for me, but as long as I listen to His direction…the show will go on. He told me not to worry.  He has it under control.  Just do my best with the lines He has given and He’ll keep directing me into the next scene. Some scenes feel like a tragedy; some like a comedy. There is even some action, mystery and romance. But he weaves them all into the story He has written for my life.

He also said not to worry if the other actors seem to go off script, because they have their own.  Some of them are listening to the director and some are not.  What is important, He said, was that I love them, treat them well, and follow the script…or scripture He has given me.  Keep inviting them into the play I have written He told me. 

So, off I go into the next scene of life. So glad the Director has it all under control. Oh wait, I think He’s calling you.  Go ahead, listen to what He says; He wrote the script and makes it all make sense.

See you on the stage.

Love…So, Who’s Afraid?

Posted: June 23, 2010 in Life
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Perfect love casts out fear… 

It is amazing to me how one simple phrase can carry such power and challenge me so much. 

Perfect love cast out fear…

If you asked me if I am a person who loves…I would say, “Yes”.

If you asked me if I love people, I would answer, “Absolutely”.

Of course I love people.  Of course I want the best for others. Of course I want to forgive and grant people a second chance. Of course I want to show kindness. Of course I want to show love through my actions and my words.

Then…why does love so often escape me in the moments I need it most?

Why when I should offer forgiveness do I find myself wanting to judge?

Why when I should offer compassion do I find myself callous and cold?

Why when I should offer understanding do I find myself being critical?

Maybe it’s because, if I’m honest with myself, often I am afraid.

Afraid of being too vulnerable; afraid of being hurt; afraid of giving someone love when they don’t deserve it. Afraid…If I truly surrender all and love unconditionally that I will somehow lose some of who I am.

Then there are those words… “Perfect Love cast out all fear”.  So what is perfect love? 

This phrase comes from a passage of scripture in the Bible which reads…

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 John 4:15-21 NASU

Maybe I struggle with showing love because in and of myself, love is not perfected.  Maybe perfect love can only exist when I surrender to the one who made love…the one who is love; the one who gave His life to prove love.

The more I understand God’s love for me the less fear I have in loving others.  He showed the way in giving His all for me…for you.  For this I love Him…and because of this…I am not afraid…and because I am not afraid…I can love.

Perfect love casts out all fear

In honor of my father and in retrospect of being a dad, these are random words and phrases that captured my thoughts.

Smiles and frowns

Bumps and bruises

Lessons learned; lessons taught

 Incomprehensible love; unbearable heartache

 Asleep in the back seat; Awake at the wheel

Asleep in his arms; asleep in my lap

Diapers…

Late nights; early mornings

I love you dad; I love you too

Little hugs; slobbery kisses

 Remembering; Forgetting; Forgiving; Missing

Hopes and dreams; disappointments and heartache; hopes and dreams again

Unscheduled fun

Doctors visits; Dentist appointments; retainers; braces; an uninsured smile

Baseball; softball; soccer

Music He likes; Music I like; Music my kids like; Music we all like

Playing guitar; Playing piano; Playing together

Winning moments; painful losses

Homework he don’t understand; Homework I can’t comprehend; Homework that doesn’t get done

Learning to ride a bike; teaching to ride a bike; learning first aid

Christmas morning

Going anywhere with dad; going anywhere with my kids

Children’s movies

 Legos and tinkertoys… x-box and the wii

The little Rascals; Gilligan’s Island; The Brady Bunch – Dora the explorer; Spongebob; Hannah Montana

Teenagers; cell phone; texting; internet

Learning to drive; patience; dents; insurance

Dating; first impressions; broken hearts; crushes; first loves; a father’s hugs

Behavioral training; attitude adjustments; being grounded

Money saved; money spent…money spent… money spent

Vacations

Time lost; time found

School programs; music recitals

 College; Careers; Marriage; Kids

Life decisions

Praying together; Church together

Learning what matters most; realizing what doesn’t matter

Learning to cherish every moment, before the moments are gone.

Happy Father’s day dads.

He looked me in the eyes.  I looked back. He licked his lips as he stepped closer.  I moved to the other side of the couch, and turned away.  When I turned back, he had disappeared. Then…

As quickly as I could turn around, IT was gone. My perfectly grilled piece of chicken had vanished…and so had he…our dog Shiloh.

A perfectly grilled piece of chicken is one of the things I look forward to in the summer.  I love to grill and I love chicken.  I have learned the art of marinating; using just the right amount of heat; timing the turning of the chicken at just the right time. And when it is done…the flavor is magnificent and the meat is tender. Unfortunately, Shiloh our dog also appreciates my grilling skills!

Like a tasty piece of grilled chicken, most things worth having in life require an investment of time, practice and dedication. And nothing hurts more than when you have invested yourself into something worthwhile, only to have it stolen, lost, or destroyed.  A piece of chicken can easily be replaced; but what about the things that really matter, like…relationships?

There may be no greater pain than investing your emotions, heart, soul, energy and all that you are into a relationship only to have it end. We have all felt that sting.  It can cause our hearts to be guarded and full of suspicion.  It can make us leery of any and all relationships. It can cause us to hold up bitterness and unforgiveness as heroic symbols of our pain and loss. It can keep us from trusting anyone ever again.

In the moment of greatest loss, pain, self-denial and suffering, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His closest followers had betrayed and abandoned Him. He was alone on the cross, giving all He had for all mankind, including the very ones who betrayed Him, left Him, and falsely accused Him.

His words in that moment could have been a diatribe of insults and accusations towards all who had put Him there. But instead, he once again did what few of us could do.  He looked past the pain of the moment and into the power and hope of the future.  His life was being given for us to have life; but even while he was giving His life away, he did not hold anything against those who brought Him his present pain.  Instead, he chose to love.

What an example.

May the pain of relationships lost cause us to be more like Jesus instead of being trophies of suffering that we keep as reminders to keep others at a distance.  God, help us to forgive and try again.

One last thing…if anyone has seen my dog Shiloh, please send him home, because that’s my piece of chicken he’s holding in his mouth. Father, forgive Him!

Last week was a very busy week for me.  I had something scheduled every single day. It seemed like I had something scheduled every hour.

I went home for a brief moment to clean up, change clothes and prepare to return to the regularly scheduled programming of my busy life. As I went to leave, I realized I had misplaced my phone.  I began the frantic search to find it.  I looked everywhere. Under the couch. In the bedroom.  In the bathroom. On the stairs.  On the kitchen table.  I even looked in the refrigerator.  Hey…you never know!

At the heat of the search, my five year old son kept trying to talk to me.  “Daddy, I want to tell you something.”

He interrupted me numerous times.  He was following me from room to room.  Trying to talk to me, trying to get my attention.

However, his dad had more important things to do, had places to be, had people to see…his dad did not have time to talk.  Couldn’t he understand?

Then, after searching for my phone for almost thirty minutes, I gave up because I had to leave.

As I left, my son met me at the door and looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Dad, I just wanted to tell you something… I found your phone…here.”

Wow…

There are so many things I could say right here.  But I will just say this.  Do not let the busyness of life rob you of the importance of life.  Because, in our busyness it is possible to miss the fact that what we are searching for may be right in front of our face.

Stop the Noise!

Posted: May 17, 2010 in Life
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The television.  The radio. The computer. The phone. The news. The neighbors. The kids. The boss. The co-workers. My own mind…  Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the noise of the world we live in?

I love music.  I enjoy movies.  I like sports.  I enjoy my kids. I love my wife. I like my job. I appreciate good conversation. I like to web surf. But sometimes…the continual flow of information and input takes what should be enjoyable and makes me want to scream, “Stop the Noise!!” 

However, on the other hand, it seems I have become addicted to the noise.  Always having my phone and checking e-mail, facebook, websites, blogs, etc.  If I’m not on the phone, I’m at my computer.  Then, to relax, I turn on the radio or TV.

I’m just wondering…what is my addiction?  Is it a need to be connected? Is it a need for more input?  Is it a need for information? Why do I desire the very noise I want to stop?!

There does seem to be a place in the depths of my heart that cries out for more than the noise.  There is a cry for something that will speak to the deepest place of my being.  I long for what will touch my desire for belonging, for purpose and for a connection with something or someone greater than myself.

In the midst of all of the noise, I guess what I really want is… to know God. I mean…to not just know about Him, but to truly know Him.

But, to know Him, I need to hear Him. I know He speaks.

And I know He speaks to us through His written Word.  So in my quest to hear from Him, I found this:

A wonderful passage in the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 19, verses 11-12.

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

My addiction to noise can never take the place of the still small voice of the Lord.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

God, speak to me.  I am listening.

I Choose…

Posted: May 11, 2010 in Leadership, Life
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I was thinking about yesterday.  Actually, I was thinking about many yesterdays. I have lived long enough to have built up quite a collection. 

There are many things stored in my yesterdays: Good memories; Bad memories; Painful memories; Joyful memories.  And within each memory, there are multiple emotions waiting to be relived: joy, sadness, anger, hope, anxiety, love, remorse, happiness.

Then I thought about tomorrow.  Tomorrow is powerful. Tomorrow simultaneously brings the hope of new beginnings and the dread of problems or the pain of bad situations that never seem to change.  Sometimes tomorrow looks promising; sometimes it worries me and fills my heart with dread.

When I look at yesterday, I often want to go back in time and fix things I messed up.  Or, go back and relive joyful moments I never want to forget. When I look at tomorrow, I want to leap ahead and see what is about to happen.  I want to see the future so I can prepare for the worst or make sure I don’t miss something good that is about to take place.

And when I am done reminiscing about yesterday and dreaming about tomorrow, I realize where I am. I am here. Not in yesterday. Not in tomorrow. But I am here…in the moment of today.  And it is then I begin to live. 

For while yesterday holds the power of memories gone by and tomorrow possesses the attraction of the unknown moments ahead, it is today which wins the contest for my attention. 

Yesterday you are powerful; you can hold me back or propel me forward. Tomorrow, you are strong with your ability to infuse me with hope or weigh me down with worry. But today, only in you can I actually live. 

So thank you yesterday for the memories. Thank you tomorrow for the promise of new beginnings.  But, I choose today, because only you are the gift from God that gives me the opportunity to live.

I have instructed you TODAY…so that your confidence may be in the Lord. Proverbs 22:19

I confess.  I am a collector.  You might even call me a hoarder.  What is it that I hoard you may ask. Well, there is one thing of which I just cannot get enough: words…quotes to be exact.

I love quotes.  I read them; I think about them; I collect them.

So please, allow me if you will to share a brief sample of my collection.  Enjoy!

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb.

Sometimes the result is not as important as the obedience.  Pastor R. L. Smith

It’s better to inch your way toward the right finish line than to finish first place in the wrong race. Steven Furtick

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge

Prayer is a means of bringing us into conformity with God’s will, not a magic mantra that ensures God’s conformity to ours. (unknown)

“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” – Anon

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. -Thomas Jefferson

I won’t let worry about my future or regrets of my past rob me of present possibilities. Steven Furtick

Good things come to those who wait, but great things come to those who are proactive. (unknown)

Cowardice asks: Is it safe? Consensus asks: Is it popular? Character asks: Is it right? -Martin Luther King Jr

When we automatically assume the worse about people then we cannot effectively lead them! -Perry Noble

Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. Faulkner

Do not let what you can’t do, hinder what you can do. (unknown)

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” John Maxwell

“Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.” John Maxwell

A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves. (Unknown)

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.  Albert Einstein

Good leadership is about developing a rhythm of life, not an equation.  Nancy Ortberg

Our ability to love is reflected in our capacity to forgive. ~ Nancy Ortberg

An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it. Jeff Mallett

People learn more from your admission of weaknesses than faking strengths. It builds hope that God could use them too.  RickWarren

God will purify our motives as we walk out our Godly ambitions.  Derek Levendusky

“True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you. True service is never without cost” – J. Oswald Sanders

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus Christ

Again, like I said, I am a collector. So, feel free to comment and leave some of your own.  I would love to add them to my collection.