Small Beginnings (one step at a time)

Two dumpstersOk, full story.

Earlier today, these two dumpsters were full of trash, as is normal for trash day, but behind them sat a queen size box spring, which is now gone, take by the trash men, as a bulk item.

Ever since we moved in, my garage has been full of extraneous stuff, things that did not fit in the house.  Over the past 7 years, the stuff has multiplied to the point where the garage is full to the point of overflowing.  Chairs, beds, boxes, etc, have accumulated to the point of nearly bursting, to the point that our cans sit outside the garage instead of inside where they belong.  The weightiest of the occupants of the garage is an old standup piano, which we have tried to give away but got no takers.

I have long wanted to empty and organize the garage, but knew I needed to get rid of all the junk.  I have always assumed that this would require the rental of a trash dumpster.  At $400 for the dumpster, and needing to then dedicate a solid block of time to fill it, there has always been something more important to do with the time and money (ie, I-54, missions, debt, weddings, food, etc).

So this weekend, we cleaned up a room and restored it to being an exercise room.  Doing that, we discarded a queen size box spring that had been there.  With no room in the garage, it sat outside the garage, awaiting trash day (which was today).  I was concerned that the trash men would not take this large item, so I contacted Waste Management.  To my surprise, I was informed that I could set out one bulk item per week that they would take away along with my normal trash, at no extra charge.  So the box spring was fine.

Then the light went on….

I could set out one item per week. At no extra cost.  A box spring this week.  An old mattress next.  A broken futon after that…and so on, and so forth, until eventually, an old standup piano (which they specifically said they would take, as long as I called them first).

One bite at a time, one bulk item a week, my vision of a clear usable garage is going to be realized.  Without the extra expense. Without the major disruptions to life.

This is a lesson that God has been trying to teach me for some time.   Most greater things happen through the day-to-day, the week-to-week.  Through the process that doesn’t get noticed but happens under the radar.  As we love, as we serve, as we seek excellence, in the little things, we come closer and closer to the greater things.

In a few weeks, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.  This was a momentous occasion a ‘giant leap for mankind’, but as his words so aptly put it, it was a small step for the man.  Down several steps and off a pad onto the moon.  But the step itself was the public recognition of countless hours of work by tens of thousands of faithful men and women to accomplish what had never been done before, to bring that one man, to that one spot.  Everyone marvels at Armstrong’s first step on the moon, but it was brought about by the many steps of those who made it possible.  They overcame obstacles, trials and tragedy to bring the vision to reality.

JFK initiated the vision, and Neil Armstrong completed it, but the faithful many made it happen.

The Bible says not to despise small beginnings.  At the start of any greater vision, the end may seems so far away, perhaps out of reach.  With faith and faithfulness, just take one step at a time.  It will amaze you how fast that distant goal arrives.

I have a vision of a clean garage.  Today I took the first step in that direction.  Might seem kind of simple, but it’s important to me and God is using it to teach me things.

What is your vision?  And what first step can you take?

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First Things – The word of the day today is Consistency.

Having missed yesterday’s First Things, I have realized that the most consistent thing in all of this has been that it’s been getting later and later every day…until later became the next day…lol. There is a lesson in that, concerning slippery slopes.

Thankfully, His grace is new every morning.

Yesterday’s Bible App verse of the day was Hebrews 12:11, which declares that no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful, but afterward yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

This can apply to correction, but I believe it can also apply to building habits. Doing greater things most often is the result not of one mighty action, but the sum of many daily small things, done quietly, and consistently.

The building of habits to do the smallest things with excellence takes discipline, and can feel hard and annoying while you do them. The flesh will want you to do the least you can do, but if you push through and do each thing as unto God, putting your best efforts in everything, the rewards are peace and favor.

Pray for the grace, strength and discipline to handle what is on today’s plate with all excellence, to His glory, and trust that He will give it to you today, and will be there again tomorrow in the same way for tomorrow’s plate.

The little things of today might not seem important, but they are part of a larger sum that will impact eternity.

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Back to the Grind…

First Things…”Back to the Grind”
Again, not sure this qualifies as first, but today is the start of a new season and took a little to settle in. The past few months have been a whirlwind of one activity after another, from auctions to house painting to finishing ROAR classes to church yard sales to graduations to missions trips in Mongolia and holiday road trips to Virginia Beach. Back in January, we wondered how we would get through everything, and now, here we are, on the other end, safe and sound, with all the busyness behind us.

With all the hustle and bustle over, I’m now looking at several months of ‘normal’. Except, after the past six months (or 9 if you include Italy and the holidays, or year and a half if you include Keto too….well you get it…), what IS normal? ’ The day-to-day ‘grind’ feels now like a quick rest before the next adventure.

I am finding an odd excitement wondering ‘what’s next? And honestly, I rather like it.

Live in expectation of the unexpected things of God. It’s an exciting life.

“For I know the plans I have for you.” Declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jer 29:11

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You can’t plan Pentecost…

First things…. hard to call it that today at 7:19pm, after 10 hours travel to go what should have taken 6. Oh well…

Today’s thing comes from Mark Batterson “You can’t plan Pentecost”.

Everyday we have our own plans and agendas. And God has His. Guess who wins. Some of the greatest blessings and greatest lessons, come from living in the unknown lands of today.

So whatever you had planned, when God surprises you with the unexpected, take the grace and faith He offers you, and love it out fully.

You’ll find it’s a lot better than wasting time grumbling that you didn’t get your way.

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Thankful for the troubles…

First things….

There are many axioms….be thankful for your troubles….trials breed strength….no pain, no gain. In all of these, the concept is the same. There areas of are greatest struggles can be, if we allow them to be, the place of our greatest use. God allows difficulty into our lives to bring growth to our lives.

So when trouble comes, don’t ask God to get you out of it. Ask what God wants YOU to get out of it.

Your greatest hurts and trials can be the area that God wants to use you the most.

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Freedom isn’t free…

First things…

On this day that we celebrate our freedom, a liberty earned at the cost of the blood of those who answered the call, and laid down their lives for the cause, we offer our deepest gratitude. To those who served, thank you. To those who shared their loved one, whose war was on their knees in the secret place, thank you. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

#freedomisntfree #nogreaterlove #John1513

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Peace is a promise…

First things….

Peace is a promise Jesus left us. Peace in the midst of a storm. Peace when anxiety attacks our minds. Peace when we least understand it. And worship, whether through eloquent praise, tearful sobs, or just plain joyful noise, will usher in that promise.

Lift your hearts to the One through whom all things pass and know that He is God, and He is sovereign.

And latch onto that peace that is your portion.

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Strengthen my hands…

First things….

Flashy sacrifice gets the worlds attention, but consistent obedience moves the hand of God. Nehemiah didn’t rebuild the wall in an instant, but through faithful people stacking brick upon brick, in the face of stiff opposition.

Many of God’s greatest miracles come through the consistent (and usually unseen) obedience and faithfulness of those who serve Him.

“Lord, strengthen my hands.” – Nehemiah

– paraphrased from Elevation worship pastor Wade Joye

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“The greatest moments in life…

First thing…..

“The greatest moments in life usually double as the scariest ones. Our greatest accomplishments follow facing our most intense fears. The scariest experiences make the best stories, dont they?

So the question is, are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?”

– Mark Batterson, “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day”

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The Dead are Buried. Now It’s Time To Deal with This.

Gun Violence.

I’ve been pondering this subject for awhile now, particularly since the recent horrors in Parkland Florida. 17 innocent children are dead, at the hands of a former student, likely suffering from some kind of mental illness, who used firearms that he purchased legally. As time goes by and we learn more about what happened, the entire situation becomes more appalling, for many reasons. Despite numerous signs of mental issues, the young man passed the required background checks in order to legally purchase the weapons. Police had been called to his house for threats of violence 36 times. The local sheriff’s department and the FBI were warned about him targeting a school on multiple occasions, within the past few months, and did nothing. The school had an armed security officer on site, who did nothing to stop the shooting. Several sheriff’s deputies were onsite and didn’t enter the building, in spite of the victims inside bleeding out. Except for the people like the football coach, everyone in authority failed those kids.

It’s time we deal with this.

I write this as someone who is in no way a gun control advocate. I believe that the 2nd Amendment and the freedom for citizens to be armed is an vital liberty needed to insure that our free society does not become overtaken by despots.

But it is time we dealt with this. Far past time, I think.

See, when one of these incidents happen, there are two instinctive reactions that occur. Those in favor of gun control immediately use the newest incident as a rallying cry for more gun ownership restrictions. And those on the other side immediately come to the defense of the 2nd Amendment. But the reasoned outcry is that ‘it’s too soon, let the mourning families grieve and bury their loved ones’. It is a respectful plea, and we as a society generally heed it.

And the new cycle moves on. And we forget. And the conversation never happens. Until the next time.

It’s time we dealt with this.

There are a lot of arguments being tossed around. Banning guns (which is what every totalitarian regime in the 20th century did before committing genocide). Banning AR-15s (which is not actually, by definition, an assault weapon). Gun ownership restrictions for the mentally ill (though who decides what is mentally ill, given that a left wing celebrity activist recently attempted to define people that pray to Jesus as mentally ill) . Security guards for schools (the school in Parkland had an armed security guard). Training and arming the school staff. Increased funding for counsellors and teachers to better identify and help students from becoming like this killer. Addressing the fatherlessness issues. Addressing bullying. Addressing the glorification of violence in our entertainment. Dealing with the fact that abortion cheapens the value of life for everyone.

The arguments range across the spectrum and are well meant. But how do we know what is the correct approach?

It’s time we dealt with this.

But we need to deal with it with reason. Not out of anger or hurt. This is too important an issue to deal with emotionally. We also need to deal with it truthfully. None of the politicized rhetoric or weighted statistics nor dishonest news stories and memes. Just honest real information.

And it needs dealt with for more than just schools. As horrible as 17 deaths are, that is a typical two weekends in Chicago. The violence on our streets claims far far more lives annually that all the school shootings in history combined. We, as a society, need to figure out why we are willing to kill each other so wantonly.

I would suggest that our leaders (who are qualified only because we voted them into office) put together a multilateral task force to focus on, study and present solutions that can be acted upon. It should include representatives from the administration, from the House and from the Senate, from both parties. Throw in a few judges to address constitutional issues. But they all need to be people of reason, who are not extreme in either direction. If your first reaction to the Florida shootings was to cry ‘ban the guns’, you need not apply. If your first thought at hearing the news was to ready your defense of the 2nd Amendment, you are not needed either. We need those who will consider the facts, the laws, the Constitution, AND the humanity of the issue. Not just one or the other.

Our children deserve safe secure schools to learn in. Our citizens deserve safe streets to walk on, where we are free to, but don’t need to be carrying a weapon to protect ourselves. We need a nation where its people do not feel the need nor are driven to desire to harm each other, where the people live with a sense of purpose to their lives.

Security, Freedom, Safety, Purpose.

Ronald Reagan said ‘it’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  Let’s put aside the political rancor and solve this now, for our children, for the people, for the future sake.

The dead are buried. Now it’s time to deal with this.

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