Wednesday, August 24, 2011


“Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love is, by far, the truest type of love.”

Frank Havens

I read this story back in August 2001 in Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family bulletin. I believe that some of the best lessons about life can be learned from the experiences of others.

My question for you as you read this is: Was Bill crazy for passing up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the Olympics? Would you or I have the courage to make the same decision?
One of the most powerful stories in the history of the Olympic Games involved a canoeing specialist named Bill Havens. He was a shoo-in, I’m told, to win a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

But several months before the games were held, he learned that his wife would likely give birth to their first child while he was away. She told him that she could make it on her own, but this was a milestone Bill just didn’t want to miss. So he shocked everyone and stayed home. Bill greeted his son, Frank, on August 1, 1924. Though he always wondered what might have been, he said he never regretted his decision.

Well, he poured his life into that little lad and shared with him a love for the rapids. Twenty-eight years passed, and the Olympic Games were held in Helsinki, Finland. This time Frank Havens was chosen to compete in the canoeing event. The day after the competition, Bill received a telegram from his son that read: “Dear Dad, Thanks for waiting around for me to be born in 1924. I’m coming home with the gold medal that you should have won.” It was signed, “Your loving son, Frank.”

Many would question Bill Havens’ decision to miss his big opportunity in Paris, but he wanted his family to know that they always came first, no matter what. And that made him a hero to a little boy named Frank.
Who or what are we living for today? Is it for the accolades given us by others or growing the relationships of those closest to us?

I challenge us today to make decisions based on relationships and becoming men and women of substance. Live today with purpose and intentionality and may all of our decisions in life come from a place of purity and love.

QUESTION: Do you have a loved one who sacrificed for you? Please share in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself,
the more energy you will have.”
~Norman Vincent Peale

 Going Upstairs by Valerie Everett

Life is all about perspective. Why is it that a person riddled with cancer with only months to live can experience a peaceful life while a millionaire living in a high-rise New York apartment can commit suicide? I believe it can be reduced to one idea: future perspective.

Think through the following scenario.

You have two men who are going to work hard labor for one year. You tell one man that he will work 12-hour days, 6 days per week and at the end of the year, you will pay him $12,000. How do you think this man will work his job? It will almost certainly be reluctantly and with a bad attitude.

You tell the other man, however, that he will work 12-hour days, 6 days per week for one year, but at the end of the year he will receive $10 million. Do you think he will have a good attitude throughout the year?

What’s the difference? Of course, it’s perspective. It will be easy for the 10 million dollar man to wake up with a smile each day and work as hard as possible. He knows what lies at the end of the journey.

Such is our walk with Christ.

When we keep a future perspective (eternity with Christ), we are better able to endure the hardships, setbacks, and challenges of our day-to-day life. And, make no mistake, whether you are a Christian or not, you will experience deep hurts, challenges, and trials as you walk through life on earth.

Life has a way of wearing us down and causing us to lose focus. Have you ever experienced a financial challenge and run this scenario through your head: this unplanned event has caused us to experience a financial setback, we’ll go into debt and never be able to catch up, they’ll foreclose on our house and then we’ll have to move in with the in-laws.

If you’re like me, you tend to run the worst-case scenario through your mind. Do you know that it doesn’t have to be like that? This is a choice.

God’s word says that we can have a future perspective. This is not an empty hope – it is a hope built on the truth of God’s word. He is in control of every single area of our lives. Does this mean that life on earth is easy? Of course not. Anyone who argues that Christians should always be happy and blessed are not reading the same Bible that I read.

Life is hard whether you are a Christian or not. The difference is that a Christian has a solid foundation and a future perspective that should shape our current challenges. This future perspective does not magically happen; rather, it is a result of prayer, Bible study, and spending time with God.

You do not trust someone that you do not know. This is true with our relationship with God as well. The more we allow ourselves to spend time with God and know Him, the more we will trust Him and keep this future perspective.

Today, live with this future perspective. It is not easy and takes a daily recalibration. But, it is possible when we know our Creator. 

QUESTION: How do you maintain your future perspective?

Monday, August 22, 2011


"Simply be who you are, do what you do best, be where you are called by joy, and let life work its magic on your behalf."
~Alan Cohen

 Rays of Hope by Zoomion

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog and the direction of my blog. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve teetered on the edge of ending my blog or at least greatly reducing my number of posts. I must say that I was nudged by two recent blog posts that I read. One was by Dave Hearn ( and the other by Tony J. Alicea (

The reason? I’m tired.

I’m tired of stealing time away from my wife at night when I’m writing a blog. I waited 37 years to get married and I’m not willing to let a blog steal time from Aimie.

I’m tired of stealing time away from my relationship with God. Since I began blogging in April, I’ve spent every morning reading and commenting on blog posts. Before blogging, I had a fairly rich devotional time with God each morning. I’m tired of putting God second to a blog.

I’m tired of acting like I know what I’m talking about. I realize that most of the things that I write about I struggle with myself (although I believe they are true). Sometimes I feel so hypocritical to write about intentional living when I feel, at times, that I lack direction for myself.

I’m tired of opening my Google Reader each morning and seeing 38 unread posts. It’s too much.

I’m tired of feeling the pressure to comment on other people’s blogs to drive people to my blog.

I’m tired of reading all the blogs that tell you how to grow your blog and monetize it. Do these sound familiar?
  • Give a list of 3-5 things (i.e. 3 ways to become a better listener). When I read other blogs and they give a list of things, even if they make sense, I don’t remember them. 
  • Use the right words in your blog title that optimizes your blog for search engines. 
  • Give away free content.

I know these things are all true, but I’m tired of worrying about doing what everyone else tells me to do to grow my blog.

So, my plan going forward is to narrow my focus. I’m eliminating most of the blogs that I’ve been reading from my Google Reader. Below are the exceptions. These people have become blogging friends and I will continue to support their blog and hope they will continue to support mine. One of the greatest rewards from writing a blog has been the other bloggers that I have met. These are genuine, honest, Godly men who have a heart for God and others. You should be reading these blogs:

Arny’s Blog – The Analogous Truth - 
Brandon’s Blog – Big B - 
Randy Cantrell – Bula Network - 
Cathy Family Blog - 
David Santistevan - 
Jeff Goins -
Jon Stolpe – Stretched - 
Ryan Haack - 
Tony J. Alicea - 
Dave Hearn - Warrior Shepard - 

Other good blogs:
Don Miller - 
Jon Acuff -
Michael Hyatt - 
I thank those of you who read my blog regularly. There are days when I’m surprised by the number of page hits that I have. Other days, of course, I’m disappointed by the lack of readers.

As I’ve previously stated, the main beneficiary of the blog has been myself. I want to record my thoughts for my future self and a blog is a great way to do so.

So, moving forward, I will likely blog a bit less and I will definitely try to write more about what I know. I still want my blog to surround the idea of intentional living, but maybe I’ll write more about my attempts at intentional living.

I want to be genuine and sincere and if my readership and “tribe” grows, then great. If it doesn’t, then I just know to move in a different direction.

In the meantime, I look forward to more interactions with my blogging friends and meeting new people along the journey.

QUESTION: What are you tired of? Please post comments below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


"Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself."
- George Bernard Shaw

Girona Puente Eiffel by Jose Louis Mieza

The story goes that there were two friends hiking in the woods when they came across a huge grizzly bear. The bear reared up on its hind legs and let out a loud roar when it saw the men approaching. One of the men casually sat down, took off his hiking boots and put on his running shoes. His friend looked at him and said, "Are you crazy? You can't outrun that bear."

"I don't have to outrun the bear," his friend replied. "I only have to outrun you!"

This week, we have been learning about becoming a bucket-filler, focusing on our strengths, and assessing our strengths. Today, I want to share with you one of the most fun assessment activities that I have ever participated in - having others assess your strengths.

We are usually pretty good assessors of our own strengths. We know in what circumstances we feel most comfortable and excel. But, perhaps you have some strengths that you don't see in yourself. This activity will help you find out.

Below are ten questions that I am going to ask you to email or copy and distribute to at least 3 friends. These should be true friends and not the type denoted in the story above. These need to be friends who will be tender with your feelings and are interested in your growth.

Some of these questions are similar to what you answered about yourself yesterday, but with a twist. See what you think of the questions. Again, I adapted these from Dr. Phil's great book, Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out.

1. Please describe something that I consistently do well.
2. Please name one thing you have seen me do well.
3. Please tell me the best thing about how I look.
4. In as much detail as possible, can you remember any time that I seemed to be happiest?
5. Tell me what you think my strongest traits are.
6. If you were going to describe my best strengths with three words, what would they be?
7. If you were in a situation in which you thought I could help you in some way, what would that situation be?
8. Can you tell me any aspect you respect about me?
9. If you had to describe me as a car, what kind of car would I be? Why?
10. If you had to describe me as an animal, what kind of animal would I be? Why?

When I completed this exercise back in 2003, I sent this to my mother, one of my siblings, and two close friends. In some ways I was surprised by the responses and in other ways I was not surprised as all. I did receive some confirmations of the strengths that I knew I possessed.

However, I was surprised at a couple of the responses that I received. Others saw something in me that I didn't even see in myself. This was an important moment for me when I realized that maybe there was more to me than what my own self-assessments rendered.

I hope you will send this to 2 or 3 friends and ask for their honest feedback. I think it will be eye-opening. I would love for you to email me at and let me know if this activity proved meaningful or not.

As I close out this mini-series, I hope that your take-away from this week is the story of the bucket filler. That simple story is a great metaphor for how to live a happy and successful life. 

QUESTION: Does it make you nervous to ask others to assess your strengths? Please leave comments below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

Feather 1 by Jim Champion
This week we have been talking about being a bucket-filler and focusing on our strengths. Today, we take a step toward identifying more of our strengths.

I have recently read Jon Acuff’s inspiring book, Quitter. In his book, he says that finding our dreams in life is oftentimes an act of recovery – we have to go back to our younger version to re-discover our true passions and dreams.

I believe this is also the case to fully discover our strengths. As we grow older, it is like this wall gets built up around our “true” self – the self that once dreamed big dreams and had incredible hopes. By thinking back to our childhood we can rekindle those strengths and remember who we truly are.

As we work through this process of defining our strengths, we will take a 2-fold approach: 1) Rediscovering our younger selves; and 2) Defining who we are today. I am adapting these questions from Dr. Phil McGraw’s book, Self-Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out.

Before we begin, I must make a confession. Most often, when I read books and the author asks me to write answers to questions or write out my reflections on a particular idea, I usually just think through the answers. However, the times that I have truly made progress and breakthroughs in my thinking have been those times when I’ve written out responses. There is just something magical about writing.

In reality, I know that most of you will probably not record the answers to these questions. So, please at least think through each of the questions in relation to your strengths. Even if you think you know your strengths, this activity might bring to mind some long-hidden virtues that could serve you as you move forward.

Here we go. 

The Good Ole Days 

1. I remember a particular time when I was especially happy, and it was…

2. One time that I felt really excited was when…

3. I remember times when a person said something to me or treated me in such a way that it made a positive difference in my life, and one of those times was when…

4. A time when I felt really special to someone was when I…

5. When I was younger, I always wanted to be…

6. I used to dream about myself as a … 

Who I Am Today 

1. I am very good when …

2. I think of myself as being …

3. I think my body is …

4. I am happiest when …

5. My greatest strengths are …

6. I am best in situations that …

7. I think I could be …

8. I fear …

9. What keeps me from being what I really want is …

10. In the future, I …

11. What keeps me going is …

12. If I described myself as a car, I would be …

13. If I described myself as an animal, I would be …

So, did you find any meaning in this exercise? Sometimes I think we grow through reflection and that is mainly what this piece is about.

I hope that you have gained some insight into your life through these questions. As I’ve related before, the right questions can give the right answers.

Tomorrow, we will turn the tables on this exercise and find out how others assess your strengths.

In the meantime, live today as a bucket-filler. Remember that each individual that we interact with today provides the opportunity for us to serve and uplift and make a difference! What greater opportunity could we ask for? 

QUESTION: Why is self-reflection such difficult work? Please post comments below.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, 
not by eliminating our weaknesses”
~Marilyn vos Savant

 Perfect Blue by Lain Alexander

As shared in the introduction to the book How Full Is Your Bucket?, a Gallup poll conducted a randomized survey with more than a thousand employees. In this study, they asked the employees where their manager focused the most time and attention:

a. On employees’ strengths

b. On employees’ weaknesses

c. Neither of the above; the manager ignored employees

The surprising results of the survey were that “one person, specifically the manager in this context, can eliminate almost all of the active disengagement in a workplace if he or she primarily focuses on an employee’s strengths.”

When people reported that their manager ignored employees (neither focusing on strengths or weaknesses) there was a 40% chance of them being actively disengaged on the job.

If their manager focused on weaknesses (demonstrating that they were at least paying attention) there was only a 22% chance of them being disengaged.

But, when the manager focused on an employee’s strengths, there was just a 1% chance of that employee being very negative or actively disengaged on the job.

Does this surprise you? I mean, shouldn’t a leader help employees find their weaknesses and improve them? This feels counterintuitive to me and has caused me to reflect on this thought for several days.

As often happens, just as I began thinking on this idea, a serendipitous moment occurred. Michael Hyatt posted a short 3-minute video by Andy Stanley relating to this exact topic. Watch it below before we continue.

My take-aways from Andy’s talk: 
  1. Your fully exploited strengths are of far greater value to your current organization than your marginally improved weaknesses.
  2. Your weaknesses will always be weaknesses in comparison to your strengths.
  3. The way for you to develop an incredible organization is to create space for the members in your organization to fully exploit their strengths and help them delegate their weaknesses to people for whom those weaknesses are actually strengths. 
When I look at my own life, I know that I possess certain strengths which are just natural strengths for me. I also know that my areas of weakness will never reach the heights of my strengths no matter how much I work on them. 

By the way, I don’t think that we should ignore our weaknesses and make excuses for them. I want to do better with my weaknesses. But, I know that the majority of my focus should be on utilizing those strengths with which I have been blessed.

In an effort to embrace this idea of focusing on my strengths, I am going to help you and me focus on our strengths for the next two days. Tomorrow, we will assess our strengths and the next day we will allow others to assess our strengths.

These exercises can prove valuable in helping us to become more effective leaders and managers of others and of ourselves.

QUESTION: What kind of boss do you have? Does he/she focus on your strengths, weaknesses, or just ignore you altogether? Please post comments below.

Monday, August 15, 2011


“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. ”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 bucket by rubyblossom

If you follow my blog, you know that last week was the most non-productive week of blogging that I have had since I began blogging in April. There is always an excuse, but with school starting back in my district this past week, I have been working insane hours and was unable to write. I’m okay with that.

The beginning of school went very well. One of the aspects of this school year that I am most proud of is the fact that we are implementing The Leader in Me. I’ve written about this program on my blog before (here and here), but we teach our 2nd and 3rd graders the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey. Additionally, every other school in the district is also implementing this program. I believe that this process will change our entire community over the next 5-10 years.

We typically have a theme for our school year. Last year, it was 212 degrees – one degree can make all the difference. This year our theme is “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” We are basing this theme on the children’s book: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? - A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids.” It made me very happy to walk into classrooms last week and witness this concept being explained to children.

The adult version of this concept is entitled How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton. Early in the book the authors explain the concept:
“Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it's empty, we feel awful.
Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people's buckets -- by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions -- we also fill our own bucket. But when we use that dipper to dip from others' buckets -- by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions -- we diminish ourselves.

Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic.

But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and undermines our will. That's why every time someone dips from our bucket, it hurts us.

So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another's buckets, or we can dip from them. It's an important choice -- one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness.”
This is such a simple concept that is so applicable to life. I fully believe if we would walk around each day thinking about this simple concept that the world would be a better place in which to live.

Think about the “bucket fillers” in your life. What makes them special and unique?

For the remainder of this week, I am going to take a concept from “How Full is Your Bucket?” and expound upon it. This idea is focusing on your strengths.

Today I challenge you to be a “bucket filler.” Consciously choose to fill other people’s buckets this week and determine if it truly does make you feel more positive, optimistic and happy. 

QUESTION: Do you know a “bucket filler?” What makes them special? Please post comments below.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


As I mentioned in Monday's post, my district has started the new school year. So, this week I have been incredibly busy and have not written as I normally do. I plan to be back on my regular schedule next week.

In the meantime, please visit Jon Stolpe's great blog (entitled "Stretched") by clicking here to read my guest post about what has stretched me recently.

Below is the introduction to the guest post:

John Maxwell relates a story shared by sociologist Anthony Campolo.  Campolo tells about a group of 50 people over the age of 90 years old who were asked one question: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?

The question was open-ended and the people’s answers were varied. However, three ideas consistently emerged.

1. If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more.
2. If I had it to do over again, I would risk more.

3. If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.

I want to share with you an idea that can help you begin to accomplish all three of these goals TODAY.


Click here to continue reading the guest post over on Jon's blog.

Monday, August 8, 2011


 Bridge Grambin by Michael Tischendorf

Today, my district starts the new school year. A new school year holds much promise, anxiety, and hope. I can imagine that many of the young children that will flood our school doors will feel this same mix of trepidation and excitement.

We can talk about curriculum and technology and 21st century skills; but, I think the job of all educators comes down to one task: preparing young people to become successful adults.

My second year of teaching (1996), I attended one of my first educational conferences. At the end of one particular session, the speaker recited a poem from memory. At the end of the poem he became choked up with emotion. I can't remember the speaker, but I've never forgotten the poem.

The poem is called THE BRIDGE BUILDER by William Allen Dromgoole. The longer I am in education, the more this poem resonates with me.

Here's to all the teachers who are building bridges.


An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
That sullen stream held no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength with your building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you this bridge at eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head.
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."


QUESTION:  What memories come to your mind when you think about beginning a new year in school?

Friday, August 5, 2011


Next week, our district begins the new school year. I am planning on writing posts next week that will provide practicality and inspiration for beginning another year in one of the greatest professions on earth. 

Do you realize the impact that you, as a teacher, have on kids? Do you really reflect on how you can absolutely change the course of a life? 

YOU can change a family tree. YOU can provide hope. YOU can offer a ray of hope in an otherwise dark life.

Please don't discount your impact as a teacher.

As a precursor to next week, I wanted to share a funny Target commercial that I recently saw.

Who can't remember those crazy PE teachers of yesteryear who seemed to live to humiliate the non-athletic kids?

Take a look and have an awesome weekend!

QUESTION: If you teach, what are you excited about as the new year begins? If you don't teach, please share a brief description of one of your favorite teachers.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I was surprised to learn that Matt Damon spoke at the "Save Our Schools" March last weekend. His mom is a teacher and she introduced him before his speech. I have posted the 5-minute video below and would be interested to hear your feedback.

If you are an educator or not, what is your opinion of Mr. Damon's comments?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


*My favorite Old Testament hero is Joseph. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City preached a 4-part series in 2003 entitled “The Gospel According to Joseph.” Yesterday and today, I will share the valuable lessons that Keller drew from the life of Joseph. You can purchase the series as an mp3 from the Redeemer website ( If you want to develop true PERSEVERANCE in life, you need to study JOSEPH.**

 cemetery gate - calico ghost town by Craig

“The Lord was with Joseph…” ~Genesis 39:2

“…the Lord was with him…” ~Genesis 39:21 

Yesterday, we talked about the hiddenness of God. Today we talk about two temptations that Joseph faced once in Egypt. 

Today’s text: Genesis 39: 1-23 (click here to read)

Temptation #1: Sexual Temptation 

In this passage, we learn that Joseph was bought by Potiphar from the Ishmaelites who had brought him to Egypt. Once in Potiphar’s house, Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and blessed all that he did. So, Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his whole house. 

If I put myself in Joseph’s shoes at this point, I would be thinking: “Ohhhhh. I get it now, Lord. You had to sell me into slavery to bring me to Egypt. I get it – thanks for teaching me this lesson!” 

Have you ever done this? Felt like you “understood” God’s lesson in your life and now He will order everything as it should be? We know it most often is not this simple. 

If you keep reading the text, you see that Potiphar’s wife noticed Joseph. She said to Joseph: “Come to bed with me!” (v. 7) 

How did Joseph resist? Keller makes an incredible point about Joseph’s resistance. He said that Joseph’s resistance was not self-control – rather, he was looking outside of himself. Joseph answers her request: “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 

Keller makes the point that self-control is not suppressing – it is re-ordering the priorities of the heart (the loves of the heart) to one over-arching love that overpowers all others. Jesus’ over-arching love was for us – that is why He endured the cross. To the degree that I let this truth sink into my heart, Jesus will become my over-arching love. Read this statement a couple of times because it holds powerful truth. 

We have to think and think and mull over the true wonder of what Jesus did for us. And as we do this, our heart will grow more in love with Jesus. This is the power to overcome temptation. No one can do it by will-power alone. It takes this deep love for Jesus. 

Temptation #2: Temptation to despair when I’m doing everything right, but God allows things to happen to me 

This time (unlike previously), Joseph did everything right by deflecting Potiphar’s wife’s advances toward him. And, yet, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and “Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” (v. 20) 

The advantage to reading stories, as opposed to living them, is that we know the ending. We know that if Joseph had not been thrown into prison that he would not have become the Prince of Egypt.

Think about this truth: Come what may, nothing can derail God’s plan for my life. 

As you read the story of Joseph, you will notice time and again that the Word says, “…and God was with Joseph…” This is an important lesson: 

God helped Joseph through the tragedy. 

What are you facing today that you just don’t understand? God never promised that we will understand why things happen. He does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. This is a powerful truth. Although we may not understand, God will be with us through the challenge. 

Remember…to the degree that we can sink into our hearts Jesus’ love for us, we will be able to face temptations and withstand with joy those circumstances that we all face. The challenge to you and me today is to walk in complete reliance on Christ knowing that He has a plan for us. 

QUESTION: Who is your favorite Old Testament hero and why?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


**My favorite Old Testament hero is Joseph. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City preached a 4-part series in 2003 entitled “The Gospel According to Joseph.” Today and tomorrow, I will share the valuable lessons that Keller drew from the life of Joseph. You can purchase the series as an mp3 from the Redeemer website ( If you want to develop true PERSEVERANCE in life, you need to study JOSEPH.**

 Marocco #7 - Peter Voerman

“So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.” 
~Genesis 37: 28

If you read my blog regularly, you probably sense an underlying reliance on Jesus Christ. My blog is all about intentional living and the greatest and most intentional choice that one can ever make is to surrender his/her life to Christ.

I am not a proponent of the “prosperity” gospel. When I hear a preacher talking about what God will do for us if we just pray or tithe or serve, it makes me shudder. Maybe God will do these things…or maybe He won’t. That is not for me to decide.

The Gospel is about surrendering our life, our will, our everything to Christ. We don’t do this for what God will do for us…we do this because of what God has ALREADY done for us. Jesus lived the life that we should have lived and died the death that we should have died. It is finished – we have nothing to do to prove our love to God but accept his Son. Period. Any other preaching is not Biblical.

I’ve always been hesitant to overtly talk about Christ in my blog posts because I know that it will turn some people off. And while my blog will never be solely focused on my Walk, at times I feel compelled to share the difference that Christ has made in my own life. Most importantly, I’m recording my thoughts for my future self and my future kids. 

Today’s text: Genesis 37: 2-13; 23-34 

If you read the text, you realize that Joseph’s family was a mess.

Joseph had become the idol of Jacob’s life. Jacob adored Joseph because he was born to Jacob late in life and Joseph’s mother was Rachel, who Jacob adored. Jacob was so blatant in his preference for Joseph that he provided Joseph with a special “coat” as a demonstration of his love.

Joseph had his own issues as well. He was insensitive and becoming arrogant as he shared his dreams with his family. In that society, the young always bowed to their elders. Joseph’s dreams were in stark contrast to this. Joseph did not appear to be discerning in sharing the dreams God had given him. There was much hidden brokenness in this family.

When Jacob sent Joseph to visit the brothers, many events happened to arrange the circumstances in exactly the way that God designed them. Joseph, who would eventually become the prince of Egypt, was violently thrown into a well and then sold to the Midianites.

Did you notice that God is not even mentioned in this passage? He was arranging - every single detail of Joseph’s life had to happen just the way it did in order for God’s will to occur.

There are a couple of important lessons from this text. 
  1. God’s wise, redeeming love is completely compatible with terrible things in my life (v. 23, 24). 
  2. Nobody ever learned about their faults by being told. We have to learn it. 
  3. Joseph had to be lost to be saved. 
When I am struggling with my circumstances, my first instinct is to ask God, “Why?” As Keller states, “We don’t need God’s answers as much as we need to know that He is with us and the Cross gives us this.”
The Bible does not mention Joseph’s thoughts throughout this process with his brothers and being sold. If I were Joseph, my thought process would probably go something along these lines: “God, you really don’t need my brothers to sell me into slavery. I get it now! I'll stop being so arrogant and just leave it to you. After all, you’ve already shown me the future that you have for me in my dreams. Why don’t we just skip this part of the story and let me ascend to my destiny?”

The point of Joseph’s story is that he was not ready for God’s calling yet. He needed to be sifted and sorted and made into the man that God needed to lead Egypt. This was not something that Joseph could do on his own – it took circumstances in his life to prepare him.

There is a lesson in Joseph’s life for all of us. Oftentimes, we want answers to our circumstances. Sometimes I just wish God would tell me why certain things are happening. I can’t speak for God, but I think many times He is simply preparing us for our future purpose.

God has such a different perspective and vision for our life that we may never understand our circumstances. Keller compares what it would be like for God to explain his purpose to us with us trying to explain to a three year-old what all they will have to do to be accepted into college one day. And as difficult as that conversation would be, it is a weak comparison. The omnipotent God sees everything that was and everything that will be. We cannot “see” as God sees.

Keller provided a final lesson from this passage for us all to remember as we walk through life: 

Know and not know what God is doing (know He is working, but don’t try to figure out what He’s doing) 

The point of Joseph’s story is this: 

God’s silence is not absence. 
Tomorrow, we will look at the temptation that Joseph faced once in Egypt. 
QUESTION: How do you handle trying circumstances in your life?

Monday, August 1, 2011


Below are the top 10 posts for the month of July.

Words used in Top 10 posts
  6. WHY NOT?
Today is my 63rd blog which blows me away. Sometimes I wonder what I can possibly continue to write about; other days I can't write fast enough.

As I’ve mentioned to several people, the real purpose for me writing a blog is to chronicle my thoughts and remember the lessons that I’ve learned in life. While it is scary to put my thoughts out for others to read, it is also liberating and fills me with gratitude for the life that God has given me.

Thank you for faithfully supporting my little blog. If you don’t blog, you should think about doing so. It might be the greatest challenge you’ve ever undertaken.

QUESTION: If you blog, what was your top post for the month of July?