Now that is Weird.

For the past few weeks at church we have been involved in a series called Weird: Because normal isn’t working. Our pastor, Craig Groeshel (LifeChurch.TV), has been challenging the church to take a good look at what the world calls normal and urging us to be Weird in a good way. (In this context weird is a very good thing…keep reading). It has been an eye opening experience.

What is normal in America today? Normal is broke. Normal is fat. Normal is divorce. Normal is doing things because everyone else is doing them. Normal is depressed. Normal is stressed. Normal is without hope. Who wants to be normal? Not me.

We have been called by God to live differently than that. The key point that has been repeated over and over the past couple of weeks goes like this: If you want what normal people have do what normal people do. If you want what few people have do what few people do.

This is an issue that Marixa and I have become very passionate about over the last few months. (You can read her take on it here.) We have been evaluating what we do. Is it because it is the way it has always been done? Or because we have chosen to do it that way through thought and prayer? This relates to how we spend our money, how we treat our relationships, how we care for our bodies, and many other things.

I have a confession to make. I have been so normal in many areas of my life that it disgusts me. I have made some of the worst goofs with money that can be made, because it was normal. I have made some of the worst decisions with my health, because it is normal. I could go on for a while here. I have come to this conclusion: normal stinks.

Why do we fall into the rut of the normal? It is the path of least resistance. To be weird you have to work at it. You have to think about what you are doing. You have to walk a different path than those you disagree with. To be weird you have to do what few people do. That is the hard part. That is the rewarding part.

I am reading through Craig’s book of the same title. It is amazing how simple this stuff is and still so profound. Is your life overwhelmingly normal? Are you looking for something different? Want to be a little weird? Pick up the book and check out the sermon series at 

The buck stops here.

I just finished reading the Travelers Gift by Andy Andrews. That is the second of his books that I have read this month. Exceptional stuff. Check it out if you haven’t read it. You won’t be disappointed. In it he tells a story about a character named David who is way down in his life and is taught seven decisions that successful people make on the way to success.

The first of the decisions struck me. It is this: The buck stops here. What does he mean by this? I am responsible for my life. Things are the way they are because of the choices that I have made, the thoughts that I have put into my head, and what I have done with my opportunities. He says the way we are where we are because of the way we think. If we want to be somewhere else we have to change how we think. We are responsible. I am responsible.

This is not a popular message. We live in a world of blame passers. How often do we hear people say, “Its not my fault!”? It is easy to live this way, but it not rewarding.

One line that stuck out to me from this chapter says this: The buck stops here. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. In the future when I am tempted to ask the question “Why me?” I will immediately counter with the answer: “Why not me?” Challenges are gifts, opportunities to learn.

This book struck a chord in me. The buck stops here. I choose not to be a victim. I choose not to let circumstance dictate my life. I choose to take responsibility for myself, my actions, my thoughts, etc. The buck stops here.

The paragraph goes on to say: Problems are the common thread running through the lives of great men and women. In times of adversity, I will not have a problem to deal with; I will have a choice to make… I accept responsibility for my past. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions. I am responsible for my success. …The buck stops here.

What do you think about these words? Where do you stand on this matter?

How often do we fail to notice the important things?

I have a confession to make. I am an avid book collector. I love books. However, I have not been reading all the books I buy. This is something I am doing my best to rectify. I would rather be an avid reader. To that end, I have a goal for this year: Read (or listen to) 60 books. (My goal was orginally 35, but I have already made it through 18 this year.)

The last book I read was The Noticer by Andy Andrews. This is an amazing book. I read it in two sittings. Could have read it in one, but I started it at 11:30 one night. Anyway. It is a story about how a man named Jones (not Mr. Jones as he tells people) was able to help people take a fresh look at their lives by noticing things and helping them gain perspective. By the books end, Jones has made an impact on a whole community just by paying attention to people and helping them see better.

One of the characters in the book finds himself homeless, living under a pier. His parents are dead and he has no money. He is doubtful about his future and is bitter. Enter Jones. Jones talks with him about many things. One of the things that Jones suggests to the character is that he needs to read. What specifically? Biographies of great individuals. Winston Churchill, George Washington Carver, Joan of Arc, etc. Jones points out that by learning what made these people great, we can become great ourselves.

This made me think of a quote I heard a while back. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said this:

You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet.

This is one of the reasons I love books as much as I do. I know that I am not a finished product. I need the wisdom of others to speak into my life and help me grow. The Noticer is a great read. It is a great reminder to take a step back when difficulties arise and look at the big picture so that perspective can be gained.

What good books have you read lately? What lessons are you learning?