The Unintentional Influence of a Parked Car

Parked Cars

As I was running by these cars, I realized this truth…

Often the small decisions and behaviors we think only affect us, unintentional influence others.

I heard a friend say they only brush their teeth once a day. Being the poster child of efficiency, I jumped on this idea. I’m the guy who only flosses two weeks leading to a teeth cleaning because the dentist has always said my teeth/gums look great. So why floss 365 days a year when you can floss 14 and get the same results? ;)

You know what happened when I did that? I was told my breath stinks.

In high school, I attended a youth group as a non-Christian outsider. I was really just there to hang out with friends and play ping pong. #truestory

As an indirect result, I learned a little bit more about Jesus and Christianity. You know what I learned? Christians are hypocrites. The same people who preached repentance and “what would Jesus do?” in the school hallways were the same people doing drugs, having premarital sex and getting drunk on the weekends.

Not very Christ-like at all.

Unintentionally, their decisions influenced me away from Christ. They had no idea the deep impact and impression their actions left on me. For the next three years I thought Christianity was nothing more than a label.

It held no eternal significance to me.

The line of cars above started with just one decision.

Lone Parked Car

A decision the person thought was no biggie and only affected them. But one decision ultimately led tens of others to follow their lead.

[Tweet “We all influence people whether we like it or not. You determine if that’s a good or bad thing.”]

No one is exempt from that truth.

Who are the main people you influence? Think of them by name. Your kids, your co-workers, your spouse, your fellow classmates, your friends? Heck, even all your social media followers.

Are you doing anything that could negatively impact them? Because we are all influential, it’s worth taking the time to answer that question.

How would your kids define the word “family” based on what you do when you’re together? Is there quality time happening or does everyone do their own thing? How do you treat and talk to your co-workers? Are they attracted to you because you’re kind-hearted or repelled by all your gossip? Are people unfriending you on Facebook because of your endless stream of negativity and complaining?

And, don’t forget, as Christians we influence people either toward or away from Christ.

Steward that influence wisely.

How has someone positively or negatively impacted you with their decisions or behavior?

 

The Courage to Rebuild Ruins

Ruins of Sukhothai

Nehemiah 2:12 (NIV)
…I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.

A word from God changes everything.

[Tweet “When God places a burden on your heart, no other burden matters.”]

You have the perspective, perseverance and courage you need to walk that call out.

But so often we don’t bother asking God what his heart is for us and then we have no perspective, no perseverance and no courage.

What situation or problem are you facing now? Have you asked God what his heart is for you?

You will need that spiritual burden to succeed. When we don’t have that spiritual burden, we get easily weighed down by emotional, mental and physical burdens. We hit eject too early. We wander aimlessly. We achieve nothing of value. All while the life and energy gets sucked out of us.

And, ultimately, we miss out on not just what God wants to teach us, but what he wants to do through us.

A spiritual burden allows you to look out on a hopeless situation, just as Nehemiah did…

Nehemiah 1:17 (NIV)
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.

…and know you can succeed.

Nehemiah 1:20 (NIV)
I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding…

Pray. Ask. Succeed.

[Tweet “If God calls you, he will also equip you.”]

It’s always easier to persevere when we know we’re on the path God has called us to. How have you seen that ring true in your life? Share with me in the comments, por favor!

Photo courtesy of John Shedrick.

Your Breath Stinks

Bad Breath Isn't Sexy

Ever have one of those moments where you’re blindsided? Left to pick your mouth up off the floor?

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. This dude or dudette (gotta protect the innocent!) had three things they wanted to share with me. One and two were no biggie. But then three comes along.

“Your breath stinks.”

#likewhoa

The thing with bad breath is you can never tell on your own. Try cupping your hands over your mouth and breath like Darth Vader. Yeah, it’s pointless sniffing your own breath. It smells “normal” to me. The thing about us humans is we tend to think everything we do is rainbows and unicorns.

You need friends that will tell you your breath stinks.

We all have blind spots. And without friends willing to speak up and share what those are with us, we will always operate blind. Often to the detriment of ourselves and those around us. (Sorry if I’ve breathed around you recently.)

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted…

The challenge is not waiting for someone to drop a #likewhoa moment on you, but intentionally seeking it out yourself.

I triple dog dare you to ask a close friend if you have any blind spots. Blind spots that may be affecting your relationship with God, your relationship with others (spouse, friends, family, co-workers, etc.) or possibly even things unknowingly hurting yourself.

This requires a willingness to be humble and vulnerable.

If you’ve had these types of conversations before, will you be vulnerable and share in the comments some blind spots you’ve had brought to your attention?

Photo courtesy of theharv58.

Unreturned Favors From God

calculator

Sometimes I just want to yell: what the heck God!? What. The. Heck!?

The back story will help give some context. I haven’t quite lost my rocker yet. ;)

A few weeks ago I felt challenged by God to be more generous with my money. You know, making it rain with the dolla, dolla bills, ya’ll.

Immediately two things came to mind. $500 and a specific family I know. Easy enough. I blessed them with a $500 check. Not only that, but I decided to bump my tithe from 10% to 11%.

If you’re like me, you probably sub-consciously hope God’s going to return the favor somehow. In this case, he did with a not so subtle reminder.

I gave God $500, but I found out the following since:

  • I owe an additional $3400 in taxes.
  • The tenants at my rental property broke their lease, moved out and left me at least $1000 in repairs.
  • Their security deposit would cover most of that, except they also didn’t pay their last month’s rent. Double whammy.
  • I have an empty rental property which will cost $1000 for every month it’s vacant.

Plus $500 in exchange for minus $5400 and counting.

Boooooo hiss.

This is a classic example of an “unreturned favor” God. Don’t you know that!?

But here’s the deal.

[Tweet “Our obedience to God should not come with expectations.”]

Even if that comes at our own individual expense.

Last I checked, God hasn’t asked any of us to sacrifice our physical lives. So, really, it is no sacrifice at all. Especially if you consider this one moment/situation does not even come close to negating a lifetime of God’s faithfulness to me.

The next time God does not return a “favor,” consider all God’s done for you and then see if you’re still wanting that favor.

Photo courtesy of nathanmac87.

The Most Comprehensive List of Bible Reading Plans

Reading Plan Screenshot

I’m pretty stoked to be living in this generation. Namely because of how much the Internet and technology has improved our lives. This is especially true when it comes to being more engaged in the Bible.

At the intersection of technology and the Bible is the YouVersion Bible App. The only resource you’ll ever need for Bible reading plans. (tweet this.)

Whatever your heart is looking for in a reading plan, you’ll be able to find it in the Bible App. Are you looking to read the Bible in a year? Or looking for just an Old Testament or New Testament reading plan? How about Bible reading plans that touch on certain topics like forgiveness, parenting or trust? 5 day, 2 week, 30 day reading plans?

The Bible Apps got ya covered!

There are over 600 reading plans available, but I’m just going to highlight a handful of them from some of the available categories.

If you have a smartphone or iPod Touch, be sure you download the app so you can read your plan wherever you go. And you’ll be able to take advantage of the built-in audio Bibles. Perfect for your daily commute!

No need for a printable version because it’ll always be in your pocket (or on the website).

Let’s Read the Bible Together (Bible in a Year)

From the Whole Bible category, this plan (smartly) has you focus on reading one month at a time. Because we all know the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, right?

The first month has you reading in Luke, Acts, Daniel and Genesis. It’s a great reading plan to invite some friends to read along each month for accountability!

View a sample.

Let's Read the Bible Together Reading Plan

My Utmost For His Highest (30 days)

In the Devotional category you’ll not only find good reading plans but also daily devotionals written by some well known folks such as John Piper, Joyce Meyer, Billy Graham and others.

This plan from Oswald Champers is probably the most read devotional ever. It’s a classic!

View a sample.

My Utmost For His Highest Reading Plan

Temptation (7 days)

The Topical category has pretty much every topic you could imagine (e.g., anger, doubt, addiction, relationships).

If this one on temptation doesn’t float your boat go check out the 170 other options (as of this post).

View a sample.

Temptation Reading Plan

The Essential 100 (100 days)

Found in the Partial Bible category, this reading plan helps give you an overview of the Bible using 50 Old Testament and 50 New Testament passages.

View a sample.

Elsewhere in this category you’ll find plans that take you through a specific book of the Bible or ones that take you through portions of the Bible (varying in length from a few days to a year).

The Essential 100 Reading Plan

Other YouVersion Bible App Reading Plans

What I highlighted here is just the tip of the iceberg! Here’s where you can find the rest of the iceberg.

If you’ve seen God work in your life through reading Scripture, do me a favor and share this post with your friends.

The Bible App makes it so easy to engage in Scripture. Let’s use technology to become the most Bible-engaged generation ever.

Now holler at me in the comments!

What’s your favorite Bible App reading plan? How else are you planning on staying in the Word this year?