Take Courage, I’ve been this way before

Joshua was Moses’ right hand man just next to Aaron. He was with Moses when God spoke on the mountain, when Moses raised his arms over the embattled People of God when Moses was seemingly controlling the battle from afar. Joshua was there looking on when Moses broke the original tablets known as the Ten Commandments. Bottom line, Joshua was very much in mix from the beginning. So much so, that when Moses passed away, Joshua was assigned as the leader of the Hebrew Nation. That’s a big deal!

Joshua was a rightly freaked out. The book bearing his name opens with a story of God saying, ‘Take courage! Do not be afraid!’ The new leader only needed to hear this about three more times before he started to understand that he needed to take courage. But what Joshua really needed to know was that the God of his fathers was the real leader of this ragamuffin band called God’s Chosen People and that he was in the fight with him.

Unlike the flannel-graph depiction of Joshua talking to a blue-eyed, blond haired, massive angle on a hill who was delivering a message from ‘gawd,’ there is little doubt that Joshua had some legitimate fear and the God of the Hebrew nation was there to help him figure things out.

Massive amounts of books and articles have been written on fear. Several will speak of doing one thing and others will say do another thing. But in the beginning, the message was simple and clear: Be strong and courageous! [It’s worth to note that the message Joshua heard from the angle, it also carried with the message of WHY he was to be strong and courageous. There is always a WHY behind the reason of taking courage.]

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:5-7 ESV)

So why the Sunday-School lesson? Simple. Like Joshua, our fear seems very real and at times really spooky. It’s a legitimate emotion, validated by our shaky knees and sweaty palms and sleepless nights. It’s only when we take courage and join forces with someone else that the edge is taken off.

What fear do you have? Where do you need to take courage? Is it in that talk with your teenage daughter, your wife, or your boss? Or is your fear in your investments and you need courage to hold or sell that stock?

That “someone else” may be God, it may be your spouse, it may be a friend. But the the truth is, we all need to take courage because we all have a fear. We are not alone in this fight despite what we may feel and see.

So, Take Courage, the path you are on has been trodden before and will be trodden after. Be strong when you feel weak, run when you want to walk, laugh when crying is easier, dig deeper when others say, ‘enough.’

How true it is that this journey may not led you where you thought it might; things may be different on the other side of fear and the other side of courage.

But then, maybe weeks or many years later, you can stand with someone who is frightened and afraid and render the same advise- “Take Courage, I’ve been this way before.”

Our “One Word” in 2015

In 2012 a group of men, tired of the cycle of failed goal-setting, set out to write a book. It is a very short book but one that took many, many years to write. Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, & Jon Gordon tell the story of their proven method in One Word that will change your life.

I listened to the audio version (about 50 minutes long) nearly a year ago. Having just signed up for Micheal Hyatt’s course, 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever, I chose to stay-the-course and ear-marked One Word for a 2015 adventure. (A note on Micheal Hyatt’s course, though this is close for the 2015 season, it is well worth your time and energy to go through this event.)

The premise, and hardly a summer of the book, is to establish One Word to guide you through the year. By focusing on only one word, your actions will support your one word. Example, maybe you are a teacher and you chose the word, “Gift.” You would start, by cognitively choosing to view your actions, deeds, and words as “Gifts.” …and everyone loves a gift! At the end of year you look back and see your life as gift to those around you. Hey, I believe in the principle of sowing reaping and when you give of yourself, others will return the favor.

Solo adventures are seldom the best adventures. In fact, they don’t tell as great a story as an adventure shared; life is far too short for ‘solo.’ So, what is different this year? I included my family in my adventure. Novel, I know! …and they became willing participants in what is shaping-up to become a great year.

My youngest chose the word “Thoughtful;” Child two: “Focus;” Child one: “Change;” and my wife, “Zeal.” My ‘One Word,’ is “Mission.”

Each night we go around the table and tell one way they lived out their One Word that day. The question I ask is, “did you move the needle on your one word?”

Last night, the high-schooler said he was changing how he writes a report in class; while the youngest said she drew her teacher a picture. The middle child said she focused in math class (a really big deal that may be on-par with most any biblical miracles)!

Whatever this ends up being, one thing is certain, if we stay our course, we will not be the same entering 2016 as we were entering 2015. We will be better, more Missionally minded, Changed, Zealous, Focused, and Thoughtful… and that cannot be that bad!

Year in Review, Chicago, and Brother Ray

Between August 1973 – May 1980 the music group Chicago wrote the 1985 classic “Take Me Back to Chicago.” For a near a decade they wrote and kept some of the best tracks from being heard all inside a single album until 1985. I was kid in 1985 but loved this record. By my own recall, I was an odd kid who dreamed of playing the trumpet for Chicago or for the late, the great, Ray Charles.

I never understood why they waited so long to produce this album. keeping folks waiting to hear 10 years of “Bests” is agonizing. Having already established a history of peculiarity,I heard this title track and it triggered a new post.

I started 2014 with a goal of writing 52 blog posts. Well, I failed, and in no small way. But like Chicago, I had some great hits: The goal of reading a book a month was blown away with a read of 36 for the year… The goal of dating my wife and girls and leading my son…a major hit!  Financial and Intellectual goals were made and hit. Even establishing a ‘legacy box,’ (See Dave Ramsey’s site for this amazing program) was made. I hit just over 7 of my 10 goals. My overall ‘grade’ was 75%. But wait! That’s only a C; however, my 2013 grade was 0%.

In retrospect, the price paid for 75% was nowhere near the cost of 2013’s 0%. Meaning, the sacrifices made in 2014 paid huge dividends. Family is closer; Finances better; Health stronger; Intellect sharper; Career direction, more defined; Social connections, stronger; Spiritual growth, healthier. So I failed at blogging, so what, so I did not get a new career track moving, 2015 is a new year, I did not help in the community as I would have liked, there is still promise. But my gain in 2014 laid a great foundation for a great 2015!

So, be like the group Chicago, have a hit album called, Your Life, just don’t wait to get it out there. Start somewhere and make your life count. Let others reach out and pick your album over an unknown to listen to.