phrases: wrap-up

Category : faith, hope, live for the eternal, taking action


If you’re anything like me, you’re easily distracted by bright shiny objects – or as Homer Simpson said, “That dog has a puffy tail!”  That’s why I find I need to use a few phrases to keep me focused.  Which is why, or the last few weeks, we’ve looked at some of those phrases: 

Phrase 1:  The joy of the Lord is our strength
Phrase 2:  Are you dead?
Phrase 3:  Have you prayed about it?
Phrase 4:  What’s the point?

There are other phrases I use, but these are the ones I come back to time and again.  As I’ve been reflecting on this public declaration of phrases, I realized I like to ask myself questions.  I don’t have some fancy, scientific reason why.  I just know that when I ask questions I look at things from all angles.  I put on my “scientist hat” and tend to be a bit more objective about my own behavior.

It’s easy to become distracted.  But it might be even easier to pass over my behaviors and chalk it up to “a bad day” or “just one time” when in fact it’s a common habit.  My hope is that these phrases trigger something in you.  That maybe next time you start to take a step down the wrong path, you pause and ask yourself, “what’s the point?” or “have I prayed about this decision?” 

God has never promised us that our lives would be easier if we chose to follow him.  He’s just promised us that he is the best way to live our lives. 

are you dead?


Category : different, sharing faith, taking action


Another phrase I use is something I recently heard.  A few months ago I heard Harvey Carey (pastor of a church in Detroit) talk about dead people.  Not the “I see dead people” kind, but living as dead people.  Which is entirely different than the living dead.  And yes, I really have no idea what I’m talking about right now.

But moving right along, lets focus back on the dead people.  Carey’s main point was this: there would be very little complaining about the clothes we wear, the people we’re around, or even the places we spend our time.  Because, well, dead people don’t complain.

When I heard him say it, I realized it was simple, short, and most importantly, true. 

The minute someone believes in Jesus they become dead to their sins.  Yet we spend so much time complaining that other Christians “don’t do this” or that they “do do that”?  Dead people don’t care if the band plays with the volume at 11, or if people wear suits and ties to church.  They are too focused on what matters – being dead.

I know I don’t always focus on being dead.  All too often I’m caught up in my preferences for things.  That wouldn’t be too bad if it didn’t completely distract me from living a sacrificial life style.  If I wasn’t so wrapped up in getting new toys to play with, or competing with the Jones’s, I wouldn’t be so hesitant to drop everything and help my friends. 

God’s Kingdom is one that focuses outwardly.  It’s not about collecting the most, or even looking the best.  It’s about allowing our self importance to die, so we can help people who need it (for the record, that would be all of us). 

So when you get right down to it, that’s the advantage of being dead, you can really focus on other people.


what’s in a phrase


Category : different, faith, sharing faith, taking action


“Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right”

Those are wise words from (of all people) Alanis Morissette

I’ve always admired those characters in books or TV who seem to be one step ahead of everyone else.  I’ve always wanted to be like Sherlock Holmes, anticipating events before they happened.  But I’m not.  Some days I’m barely anticipating events after they happened.  There are just some moments in my life that seem to sneak up on me.

I suspect this is called “life.”

Sometimes these events are so stressful, so overwhelming, that they change everything.  No matter how well prepared I thought I was, it wasn’t enough.  That’s hard to take.  It can shake your faith, your vision, and even your relationships.

There’s an adage in the military that you’re always preparing to fight the last war, not the one coming.  This is true of our lives.  We respond to the dangers, threats, and problems we’ve faced in the past, not the one’s that are to come unexpectedly at 3 AM.  Because then they wouldn’t be, um, unexpected…

If I’m going to make a major mistake in my life, it’s usually in these situations.  I tell myself that I don’t have enough time to think things through.  That I must act immediately.  Sometimes I don’t even think at all, I just go with the flow.

That’s a dangerous place to be.

No matter the excuse the bottom line is simple: I don’t turn to God when my life gets out of control.  Sadly, I usually don’t even think about turning to God.  I’m too busy trying to reduce my stress and fears.

Obviously that’s a problem.

The last few years I’ve worked hard at trying to remember to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and wait just a bit before I plunge into activity.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not so much.  But I’ve learned the hard way (which is apparently my preferred learning style) a simple trick.  I’ve learned that if I say a simple phrase, it’s usually enough to get me at least on the right path.

I have a friend who has trouble talking to girls.  To not look like an idiot he tells himself, “use your words.”  It’s a little goofy, and I don’t know if I really believe him, but it’s the same theory I use.  There’s nothing wrong with reminding yourself of the things you hold dear.

Over the course of the next few days we’re going to take a look at some of the phrases I use.  They are all designed to make  me stop, think about God, and then act in a much better way.  And because I recognize that I don’t know everything, I’d like to hear if you guys have phrases as well.  Consider it a collective project.  Maybe we can all learn a little something from each other.

Phrase 1: The joy of the Lord is my strength
Phrase 2: Are you dead?
Phrase 3: Have you prayed about it?
Phrase 4: What’s the point?


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