Happy Birthday to You…

Birthday Cupcake With Lit CandleWell, the day is here.  Relentless Growth is one year old today.  I know that it probably has not shown up on many calendars as any type of national spectacle, but it has happened just the same.  So, what does this mean?

For most of the world, not a whole lot!  For a few, it means that they have had an opportunity to wade through some of the stuff that falls out of my head.  (A lot of which seemed to be about trees) For me, it means something else entirely.

It means that I have stuck with this for a year.  

When I started this blog I was not really sure what I wanted to do with it.  Part of me wanted to be able to reach out to people and connect with them through writing.  I wanted to find new ways to relate and I had hoped that through comments I would get to know some new people and share some thoughts.  That didn’t really happen.  I have gotten to know a few people, but the numbers have been lower than I had thought they would be.

I thought that I had a great plan for how I wanted the blog to look.  I had a name, a palette, what I thought was a nifty tag line, and a killer theme!  I thought that would be a fantastic draw to bring people in so I could get to know them better.  Well, that didn’t really last.  There were lots of changes through the year until I settled (at least for now) on how things look today.

I thought that I was a good writer.  Well, one thing I have learned as the year has worn on is that there are a lot of people out there who are a LOT better at this than I am.  If I am subscribing to one of your blogs you may be one of them!  I have realized that I am a babe in the woods, and I’m really digging into the things you do and how you express yourselves in your writing.  I hope I am learning well…

I thought I could use this blog as a soapbox from time to time.  We all need a place to crow and let our voice be heard, right?  Well, I recently read a great blog about that.  It put a little egg on my face, and I am really going to be thinking about that for awhile.  I see now that if I am going to do this, I need to ask myself why I am writing what I am writing.  What is the goal?

I thought a lot about the promotion of my blog.  I would check in constantly to look at my stats. Seeing that country map fill in with color was the highlight of my day.  Look I got another reader!  Look, I just hit a new record for daily hits!  Look, I got another award or a notification! Wow.

One thing I never thought about is how writing a blog could make me feel narcissistic. 

I never gave it a second thought that the results of my “readership” would make that much of a difference in my day.  I realized about a month and a half ago that it really did make a difference in my day.  Rarely a good one.

Right about that time I gave the blog one more overhaul for theme, colors, banner background, title, and tag line.  I love it.  Not because I finally have the right combination for reaching across the web to the teeming masses.  I probably don’t have that combination locked in yet.  I found MY theme.

Relentless Growth.  It is more than a title.  It is a life plan.  The unstoppable desire to grow and never give up positive change in order to just maintain the status quo.  Get up. Dust off. Regrip. Hit it again.  This blog is no longer about those other things.  It is now a place where I can share my highs and lows as I continue to attack life.

As I continue to study through the book of Ephesians over the next “who knows how long”, I am going to share the things that God is revealing to me for my growth.  Knowing now that the book is primarily about finding our identity in Christ is opening my eyes to new ways to apply it in my heart, mind, and life.

I’m not sure if more people are going to read this blog.  I have finally come to terms with the fact that readership numbers are not the goal.  The purpose in taking the time to write is to improve my skills in sharing the changing power of God in my life.  This is just a small way to reach out to others, but it still does it.

My prayer is that God will use it.  I may never know if it really touches anyone.  I may never know if there has been a change in a life because someone identified with a struggle I shared.  I might never gain a follower again or even pick up a reader or a view, but I will continue to share the story.  It’s not my story.

It’s the story of Christ in me, and me in Him.

I hope this has encouraged you to take minute and think about who you are in God.  Who do you think you are?  Would you want to know if you were wrong?

Happy B-Day, Relentless Growth.  May you have many more.

In HIS Grip,

Tom

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There’s A Snake In My Boot!

revo_woody05So we praise God for the wonderful kindness He has poured out on us because we belong to His dearly loved Son.  He is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven.  He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

– Ephesians 1:6-8 (NLT)

When Toy Story came out back in 1995, I remember watching it and thinking how incredibly talented these computer gurus were in putting together the world that existed in Andy’s Room when he was asleep or away for the day.  The cast, the script, the artwork, they all blended together to tell a funny, but touching story, and I enjoyed it immensely.

A couple years later we had our first child, and then two years after that, our second.  Life was beginning to change for us in so many ways.  We now had responsibilities that we had never thought about before.  Somehow we were responsible for two humans!  It obviously demanded that we grow up a little – if for no other purpose than to stay ahead of them!

Pixar was also growing.  They continued to crank out movies that were a lot of fun, but they were also really trying to help us identify with their characters by giving them even more depth.  The Toy Story guys went to the well two more times and gave us two more glimpses into the life of Andy, his sister, and the toys.

By the time the third film rolled out in 2010, our kids were getting to the age that a lot of their old stuff had taken the one-way trip to the garage sale or Goodwill.  Then, with a 13 & 11 year old, we started to see a whole new aspect in the films.  Time moves on.  Kids grow up.  We only have so long. I’m starting to tear up, better move on to my point before I lose it.

One thing that you see throughout those movies is that the toys struggle with their identity.  I am going to focus on Woody in particular, because he just kept falling into that same trap.  He would see himself for what he was, not for what Andy saw in Him.

I just started reading Mark Driscoll’s book, Who Do You Think You Are? The main point of the book is to help us as Christians find our identity in Christ.  If we don’t find our identity in Christ, we will try to find it in other areas that will leave us feeling hollow, abandoned, and worthless.

Dricoll uses the book of Ephesians and the teaching of Paul to help us see that as believers, our identity can only be truly found in Him.  We might have many things in life that we identify with, but if we do not focus on our position in Christ, we will struggle with a feeling of emptiness in life.

I say a picture of Woody today, and I could not help but think of this identity issue.  He felt his entire world come crashing down around him when Buzz came to town.  He compared himself to Buzz and he found himself lacking.  Why would anyone want an old toy with a pull string when they could have a toy with a lazer!

I compare myself to people too often.  Sometimes I feel like I win the comparison, but more often I feel like the loser.  The thing is, the moment I start comparing, I lose.  I don’t need to compare, because I just need to remember who I am.  I am a child of God!  I need to see myself as He sees me.

Once Woody realizes that he is loved by Andy, and always will be, his attitude changes.  He becomes confident – at least until the next time.  How could my attitude and outlook change if I really and truly saw in myself the value that God sees in me?

God has sought me out so He can pour His kindness into my life.  He is so rich in kindness that I cannot exhaust the supply that He wants to bestow on me.  His kindness is showered on me and gives me the life that I need to grow.  All of this because I belong to Him.

In the movie, Andy writes his name on Woody’s boot to show ownership.  God’s Word tells us that He has written our names in His hand.  He has told us that He has given us an identity in Him.  We are adopted into His family, and nothing can take us from Him.

All that is true.  The problem is that there is a snake in my boot.  That snake casts doubts into my mind about my worth, my past, my failures, my weaknesses…  Then I am right back in the funk again, running around looking for something that will make me happy rather than just looking to God.

I want this year to be a defining year in growing in my identity with Christ.  Every day, I want to be relentless in that growth. To attack it with all that I have. To do the hard things that keep my mind on Him, and allow me to see myself through His eyes.

Join me!  We can help each other by encouraging each other as we go along.  So, find your moving buddy, and remember that you’ve got a friend in me!

In HIS Grip,

Tom