Facedown

I’m in the midst of breaking a habit. Not by my own strength…because I have none. #StepOne…in a sense.

A few months ago, I began to realize (or perhaps admit) just how much personal time Facebook was stealing from me…or rather, time that I was giving away to Facebook to become one of their statistics.

iPhone

This time is precious and I’ll only get it once. This is time I could be reading God’s Word or praying. Time I could be spending with my family. Time that I could be pouring into music or exercise or education.

I call it…’the death scroll.’ The issue of sitting or standing or walking, phone or iPad (pick your poison) in hand…and simply scrolling the ‘newsfeed.’ Liking and sharing posts of which I’m really paying little attention to in their contexts. I call it the ‘death scroll’ because there seems to be absolutely NO LIFE in that experience. I use the word experience hesitantly, because there seems to be an absolute lack thereof. I’m guilty, but not you…right?

Fast-Forward.

It’s not Facebook’s fault. I’m not sure they ever thought for a moment that the ‘death scroll’ would have become such a way of life for our culture. It’s not their fault, but are they capitalizing on it? Absolutely so.

It’s a matter of contributing versus consuming. For me, getting completely off of Facebook didn’t seem like the right option or the antidote. However, my social media practices needed a BIG change.

I’m not ignoring all of you on Facebook, but I am greatly limiting my consumption. As far as consumption goes, 1 minute of my time 3-5 times daily may be all you’re going to get from me.

Rather…I’ve been using Hootsuite (not by any means a new tool for me).

In my reading, in my studying, in the tutorials I watch, in the life lessons that I learn, I find a way to pay it forward or encourage…and I share. I have even given away my control (with the auto-schedule feature) over when my posts ‘go live.’ I’ve also become a a huge fan of Adobe Post, for those of you who also enjoy sharing visually.

Contributing, rather than consuming. Sharing positivity, rather than consuming all ofthe overly dramatic negativity. Giving hope, rather than wallowing in the hurt. And as far as notifications…turning them off, one by one…one day at a time. And…IT…IS…FREEING.

If and when my outdated iPhone 5c is sitting by me, I leave it facedown…the same way I need to be before my God.

Undistracted…eyes closed when appropriate…eyes open when appropriate.

I’m pulling ahead, but not winning…yet. I still consume too much…multiple series that I’ve DVR’d, and trying to ready too many books at a time to finish any of them (which if you know me, 3 books at a time is overload for me…it doesn’t take much).

Setting personal boundaries for myself…freeing.

JohnALawson

Lifeguard On Duty

We don’t always see Him…most often, because we’re not paying attention. However, He is here. Our Lifeguard, our Savior…very much present. Emmanuel. God with us.

He’s not just watching. He is present. He is active. He wants to live in us and to flow through us. Pay attention to Him, look for Him…and realize that all of the distractions, all of the ‘breaking news,’ all of the tweets, and all of the unexpected reports from doctors…aren’t news to Him. They are simply distractions to us.

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I posted a similar perspective of this same view several months ago. In this one…we see a ‘vacant’ Lifeguard stand.

Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes and let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
Altogether lovely, altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

( excerpt from Here I Am to Worship, Tim Hughes)

JohnALawson

Read more: Hillsong – Here I Am To Worship Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

The (too) Quiet Voice of the Moderate

It seems that many folks are quick to claim political independence. Our broken ‘2-Party’ political system makes that quite easy to want to flee to. I am still a believer that we’re actually a 1-Party system in disguise, but that argument is perhaps for another day.

Whenever it seems that the sky is falling, most of the ‘vocal moderates’ no longer seem very moderate.

Our President leads this by example. Whenever there is a shooting (for the few that actually make it to CNN & FOX News), more restrictive gun laws is always the answer. Anyone but the shooter receives blame. Typically, the NRA (which encourages responsible and safe gun ownership) is ALWAYS the target. On the another note, he has been quite silent about the two police shootings in Chicago (although he’s been quite vocal about several others including Ferguson)…and I believe it’s because he’s trying to distance himself, knowing that their ‘beloved’ mayor was once his Chief of Staff.

When the Planned-Parenthood shooting in Colorado occurred, much of the media quickly assumed that the shooter ‘must have been’ one of those crazy, Pro-Life PP protestors. Due to the fact that the male shooter identifies himself as a female, many others assumed he was a far-left liberal. Political sides were chosen…victims hardly acknowledged.

When the shooting in California happened, the media was quick to point out how many of the weapons were legally purchased as they were to point out how many folks had just lost their lives. What about the bombs in their home…were those household ingredients legally obtained? Does it matter? Hundreds, if not thousands of folks were personally affected by their illegal rampage. Their neighbor, who legally purchased two of the guns, illegally sold them to the terrorists. Do you think any of them cared a whole lot beforehand if they were following all of the already very much present California gun laws?

 Good ole’ Jerry Jr. at Liberty University opened his mouth this week and is now one of the top-trending current events online. He encouraged students to be prepared to protect themselves. That wasn’t wrong, in my opinion. However, the next few words out of his mouth (should have been many fewer) were a train wreck, in my opinion. Concealing a weapon…means not letting others know you have it. When you reveal your conceal…you’re no longer concealed. You and others around you are now more vulnerable. He also was seconds away from brandishing his weapon. That is indeed illegal and irresponsible (to say the least). Some have defended Jerry in saying ‘he’s a great marksman.’ Sweet! This doesn’t mean though that he’s a responsible gun owner. Questioning the legality of brandishing and revealing that he had a weapon on his person showed some big irresponsibility as a gun owner. Most folks have either blasted him AND the university for EVERYTHING he said and for everything the university stands for. Others have quickly defended him for everything he said…and in their next breath…well, maybe he was a little unkind to Muslims.

In the cases of #ChickFilA and #Starbucks and #JerryJr and #DonaldTrump and #BarackObama…we take one thing said and automatically attack the entire entity of the person/organization. Why? Who do we do this?

Why do we disagree with one thing said and automatically demonize folks?

I believe Chick-Fil-A loves EVERYONE and I also believe they hold tightly to their Christian values. I believe Starbucks is not out to destroy Christmas and I disagree with with them on some of their social stances…and I still enjoy a Starbucks drink from time to time (sorry BeanTree).

Jerry Jr was irresponsible with his gun AND he very wrongly targeted Muslims verbally. Yes, he failed the Good Samaritan test that day. How many times have I, have you, failed that same test? He was right to encourage his students to stay alert and prepared AND Liberty University does a lot of good for its community and for the Kingdom of God.

Donald Trump is smart and rich and ‘apparently wins a lot’ (whatever that means), but I disagree with his bigotry rants and I’m doubtful that we want MORE OF THAT in the White House. I don’t.

I believe Barack Obama and I disagree on a lot AND I don’t necessarily think he’s trying to destroy us. If anything, I think our entire government is collectively on the road to destroying us AND I’m not sure they’re doing so intentionally. I think Obama’s a way better golfer than he is a leader AND I think I’d draft him for my Captain’s Choice team just about any day of the week.

To wrap up my personal rant…Jerry Jr is not the enemy, whichever ‘side’ you’ve chosen. So, stop treating him that way. Obama is not the enemy, whichever ‘side’ you’ve chosen. So, stop treating him that way. Starbucks isn’t destroying Christmas and Chick-Fil-A is doing their part to protect the cow population. Donald Trump wins a lot, although I hope he doesn’t win the election. Islam, Buddhism, Rastafarianism, Atheism, etc…not the enemy. Your neighbor, who is carrying a concealed weapon that you’re unaware of, is not the enemy. In fact, that may be the neighbor who saves your life one day…who stands up to that ‘bully’ on behalf of their family or yours or you.

I promise you this…Jesus is the only one who has never been used by the enemy, which is SATAN. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The enemy may use different tragedies and people groups and individuals at times, but he is always the enemy, not them.

Be mindful that you aren’t being used by the enemy…to hurt, to blame, or to divide.

JohnALawson

 

 

 

The Significance of the Seemingly Insignificant

I don’t know jack about climbing walls or cliffs or mountains. However, I’ve watched enough folks do it that I know they can make great strides to the top with very little to work with.

Ephesians 4:27 “…and do not give the devil a foothold.”

We each have, throughout the entire course of our lives, tremendous struggle. For some of us, it’s a daily battle. For others, it comes and goes…not every chapter of our lives perhaps, but in seasons.

We often make these monstrous struggles (addiction, sickness, sin, tragedy, death) the focus of our lives. All of the seemingly small struggles seem to go ignored and they fall by the wayside . What if some of these real struggles are not the main plot of our story however, but rather, symptoms that are part of the result of lives filled with ‘small, insignificant’ footholds?

The enemy doesn’t need an elaborate staircase or even a series of strategically placed boulders to gain ground in our lives. All he needs…like a skilled climber…is a foothold.

wall

On the bright side, it is also those simple things in life that add value. Sure, the big, momentous mountaintop experiences are wonderful highlights in our lives. However, they do not define our lives. My wife and I got married in 2002. Our wedding was an obvious, BIG occasion. However, my wedding day, as big and as enjoyable as it was, does not define our marriage. 

The day to day, seemingly monotonous steps that we take…matter, a lot! Don’t give the enemy ‘small’ footholds (seemingly minor acts of disobedience to God) and don’t let anyone convince you that your life is boring…just because no one has wrote a movie script based on the true story of your life…yet.

JohnALawson

Margin…

MarginWhy margin? Why not just fill up the entire page with words, characters, and pictures? Are we just obsessed with being inefficient with paper or do we somehow think we’re saving ink by not writing/typing all the way to the edges?

On paper, there are many reasons we leave margin. This area seems to be ‘unprintable area’ for many printers…for some odd reason. However, a nice margin leaves our documents and books looking more organized, less cluttered (yes, this is somewhat redundant with organization), and it leaves space for inserting some of our own personal notes, whether they be agreements or disagreements or complements to the text.

In our lives, we’re not encouraged to keep visible and literal margin. Instead, we’re commanded to (Exodus 20:8-11).

Our lives are busy, no matter which generation you grew up in or are being raised within. Productivity is great, but excessively filling up our schedule can quickly become counter-productive in our spirituality, physical health, and relationships with others.

For a short season, perhaps you can make a chaotic calendar kind of work…somewhat, perhaps. However, there will be deep sacrifices…hurt, scars, and lost time for many of those things in life that are most important. You think it’s only affecting you…but that’s never the case now, is it?

Accept the gift of margin. If you’re not being given any margin, find a way to obediently take it back. You were created to have margin, sabbath…rest.

JohnALawson

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridges are meant to make an easier task of passing over an obstacle, whether that be water, rocks, steep banks, or some other barrier that can interrupt or impair traffic. By no means is this an official description or definition, but it is what I see the basic purpose of a bridge to be.

When mountain biking, bridges are not always a welcome sight for me. If I am walking or driving in my car, bridges and I are pretty good friends. I can even look over the edge and not feel threatened by what’s beneath or how high I am elevated over that obstacle. When I’m cycling on trails however, things change.

bridgeOften times (not always), I dismount from my bike and walk to the other side. Usually, my fear has much to do with the width, the entrance and exit points, the path (vertically/horizontally), and/or what’s beneath the bridge. When I am successful and simply pass over the bridge, it’s often attributed to two factors: 1. I kept my pace AND 2. I kept my focus on the trail ahead and not on the bridge itself.

My friend Mark, who I often ride with and my new friend in Maine, Cliff Krolick, have helped me a bunch with this…and yet I am still not always 100% successful at passing over the bridge in the way that it was intended for me to do so.

Such is life.

We have to stay focused on Christ. We cannot focus on the trouble we might be in or could be in or the sin that we could be tempted to commit. If we focus on Him, He is not going to lead us astray. We WILL still have obstacles and pain and torment in this life and He can and will lead and guide us through if we’ll just walk in His footsteps, not someone else’s and not on our own.

I rarely look back on the trail. If so, I lose focus and end up crashing (unless I stop first, of course). However, I do often ride the same trails over and over. Sometimes, I am impressed or astonished or blown away by what I have been successful at riding through. Other times, I am just as embarrassed by some of the smaller obstacles that freaked me out for some reason.

As I look back on my life, I am absolutely amazed at the muck God has brought me through. At the same time, I am absolutely baffled that I still sometimes think for a second that I can do this thing called life without God.

I can’t. You can’t. Jesus chose not to either. He was fully dependent on His Father and completely led by the Spirit.

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 

JohnALawson

When you have a goal…

I have a new spring in my step…a new excitement in my soul. I’m not saying I’m ‘on top of the world’ or that I am even in a ‘mountaintop experience.’ However, I have a simple thing…a goal that I am working towards.

A few years ago, I began going to the gym. For too long, I had become happy with my mediocre weight loss from 2006 to 2011 or so. I was pretty happy with the 18-25 lbs I had kept off. However, I knew…everyday, every moment…that more needed to come off.

When that process began (more weight loss), it was truly a journey…a difficult journey, to be brief and to say the least. Several months after I began, I heared the first ‘compliments’ as questions…”are you losing weight?”…”have you started lifting?” Twenty pounds later when I realized I had lost 50 total since 2006 (246 to 196), I realized that my goal(s) had become an accomplishment, a win! While I’ve been able to keep most of that off, I still realize I could make some further goals in that direction. I’m not there yet…

I shared a few days ago…a new goalartist cropped_Snapseed…playing and singing in a coffee shop. Seemingly, this is not a huge goal. After all, I’ve probably done this close to a hundred times in my life. However, it’s been awhile, quite some time ago…when I was way younger and when I still thought I was cool. Now, I simply know how uncool I am. When a date is on the calendar, I’ll quietly let you know.

Healthy goals are huge! When I say healthy…I mean, if you meet your goals…will they help you to become more of the person that you were created to be?

  1. When’s the last time you set a goal? (sure, New Year’s Resolutions can count)
  2. How determined were you to meet that goal?
  3. Did that goal help you to be more like the person you were created to be or were your motives more in pursuit of someone you weren’t, but wanted to be?

JohnALawson