I hesitate to even write this, but here it goes. Over the last couple days there have been several issues clogging up my social media feeds. Although there are so many things happening in our world, there have been a couple overwhelming topics that make we wonder if we simply live in a world full of angry people (Christians, in particular), people looking for the next big fight. Let me be clear that I’m not choosing sides on any of these issues but rather making a general observation about those who are entrenched in arguing about the next big thing. My choice to “not take a side” does not make me a compromiser or someone who doesn’t stand for truth. Believe me, I have opinions and beliefs on all of these issues. My opinions are driven by what I believe to be true according to God and His Word. Should we stand for truth? Yes. However, the amount of fighting, outrage, and anger is out of control. Am I against you having an opinion or belief? No. Am I saying that debating and searching for the truth is unhealthy? No. Most of what I am seeing is people (not directly involved in the circumstance) attacking each other and trying to “one up” the other. There is almost an insatiable desire to be right or be on the “winning” team. It’s as if we want to prove ourselves better, more knowledgable, or wiser than the opposing side. And, what’s amazing is the speed at which we express our opinion or outrage, often without knowing all the facts or the individuals involved.

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Every single day, I feel like a failure. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t pillow my head at night thinking of all that I’m not and all I didn’t do. As a husband, I try to be a support to my wife but know that I fail so many times. As a father, I try to be the dad my kids need but realize sometimes I turn them away because I’m tired, stressed, and preoccupied with my own agenda. As a pastor, I try to lead by loving God and loving others but I’m aware that I often fail miserably. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

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In 1998 an online startup company was offering free shares of stock to anyone who signed up. Honestly, I had no idea if it was legit, especially since online business was so new in those days…that was more than 15 years ago. Ignoring the risk, I decided to sign up and actually forgot about it until just a few weeks ago when someone alerted me that I was listed online as having unclaimed money in the state of Ohio. As soon as I saw the company name, I remembered the free shares of stock I had signed up for 16 years ago. Although it didn’t specify the amount of money, it did say that it was more than $100.00. I admit that I got a little giddy, hoping that the company had hit it big and sent the stock through the roof! Maybe I could retire. Maybe I could take my family on a vacation to Europe. Not quite. However, $137.53 was awaiting my proof of ownership and it would be all mine!

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I was standing at the free throw line. No time left on the clock. My team was down by one point. Two free throws awaited me. In that moment I realized that there were three possible outcomes to this circumstance. Make one/miss one and the game would be tied and go into overtime. Make both and my team would carry me off the court in celebration of victory. Miss both and walk off the court hanging my head in defeat.

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Have you ever started on a project but somewhere along the way, set it aside in favor of other priorities? Maybe it’s an old car you began returning to original form. It could be a piece of vintage furniture you picked up at a garage sale intending to restore and put in your three-year old daughter’s room (she’s now 14 years old). Some of you may have laid out the foundation for a new business venture, but lost motivation when life got crazy. It could be a great idea that you never pursued.

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I awoke this morning to a fresh blanket of snow which covered most of Ohio overnight. I heard the weatherman talking about it yesterday, but I have learned to ignore what he says and believe the opposite to be true; however, I was pleasantly surprised to see the snow in early November. Honestly, I like snow. I used to love it, but there are a few negative things that make me a fence straddler – scraping my cars windows, slick roads, and the fact that my dog refuses to use the bathroom outside unless I stand outside in the snow with her are a few of the things I hate about snow. But I mostly like it…especially the changing of seasons, changing of scenery, and changing of temperature.

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I can hear a faint chirping sound coming from my basement. At first I thought it was some poor bird searching for a way out, but upon further investigation I realized that the battery in my basement smoke detector is low. I don’t have a 9v battery in the house because no one ever does, except maybe battery hoarders. This means I have a couple options: 1) I could immediately go to the store and pick up a new battery and install it right away (safest choice), 2) I could listen to the annoying chirping sound until it eventually goes away (lazy choice), 3) I could remove the battery so that the sound goes away and pick up a new battery next time I’m out (procrastination choice). I mean, come on, the choice should be obvious. I love my family and want to make sure that we are safe and get an early warning sign if there is a fire. I’ll be heading out right away to get a new battery for the smoke detector (right after I finish writing this).

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I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit throughout my life; however, I have never been to a desert, unless watching Survivorman counts. Personally, I think deserts are beautiful and unique in their own way, but I’m well aware of the dangers awaiting those who stay too long…dangerous insects and snakes, small amounts of water, intense sunlight and heat, lack of vegetation, sandstorms, and mirages are constant challenges. Those who enter into a desert without a plan and proper supplies are sure to be overtaken by their surroundings.

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When I was very young (several decades ago), I played baseball. I’m not really into baseball now (I’ve moved on to more awesome sports like soccer), but it used to be a big part of my life. One year while playing little league baseball, I made the all-star team and got the chance to play alongside a bunch of other kids who were all-stars. Notice where that got me? I don’t have a problem with “all-star” games, but as I get older I wonder if we elevate the guy who scores the runs and makes the catches, while failing to realize that an individual needs a team in order to help him touch home plate.

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Have you ever gotten to the point where you felt that you were out of strength? You know what I’m talking about…worn out, exhausted, at the end of your rope, frustrated, nowhere to turn, out of options. I don’t care who you are (or how awesome you think you are), all of us face times when we are spent – no energy or power left to go on. I’ve been there a few times in my life and I’m sure there will be more to come. When I have experienced these times, I usually try to find some poor soul in the Bible who may have felt the same way. There are numerous examples of Biblical characters who faced total exhaustion and burn out, but one of my favorites is David. David (eventually King of Israel) walked a tough road before he became king. I don’t have time to get into all of his trials but if you are interested, you can read I Samuel 16-31.

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