Let Go of the Rope!

When I was around seventeen (which is how most funny stories start), I got talked into trying my hand at water-skiing.  So, one fine Saturday afternoon my friends and I launched the bass boat onto the Tennessee River for some high-speed antics and daring, aquatic acrobatics.  At least that was the cover story.  I think I was more concerned with not looking like an idiot.  But, alas, my ego was in for some rough waters that day.

After my friends demonstrated the proper technique and how “easy and fun” water skiing was, it was my turn to give it a try.  I assumed the position – in the water, skis pointed up, knees slightly bent, and a firm grasp on the rope handle.  I gave the driver a hearty “GO!” and he gunned it.

I got up out of the water on my first try, but it didn’t last long.  The natural tendency the first time you ski is to pull the rope toward you.  This makes your feet fly out from under you, so within about two seconds I wiped out.

After a few failed attempts, I finally forced myself to keep my arms locked and voila! – I’m skiing.  Oh yeah, I’m skiing, and I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  “This skiing stuff is easy,” I’m thinking, until my friend decides to turn the boat and I’m introduced to the concept of a wake.

When I hit the wake, my right foot comes almost all the way out of the ski.  I’m literally dragging my right ski down the Tennessee River with my big toe.  I continue to perform my modified slalom technique while my friends are busting a gut with laughter.  After a while, my left leg eventually gives out and I take a header into the river.

That would have been the end of the story, but this was my first head-first crash and I forgot the most important tip from my thirty second training session – always let go of the rope.  As I was about to learn, if you don’t let go of the rope, the angle of your body drives you straight down.

Just before I start dredging the bottom of the river, I come to my senses and let go.  I’m sure it was only about 3 seconds that I held on, but I still had to swim a good distance to get to the surface.  After such a harrowing experience it was nice to be met with the comforting sound of hysterical laughter from my comrades.

Seems like a simple idea – just let go of the rope — but letting go is often very difficult. There are ropes that we need to let go of in our spiritual lives as well.  Maybe it’s a toxic relationship that you think will eventually turn around.  Maybe it’s a habitual sin that we return to time and again.  These are the things in life that will drive us farther and farther down into the river and separate us from fellowship with God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Sin entangles us and, just like that ski rope, drags us down.  But that verse also talks about a “great cloud of witnesses.”  These are people that God has graciously placed in our lives to help when we need to let go of the rope of sin.  Summon the courage to talk to fellow believers.  They can point you to helpful verses and pray with you as you learn how to let go.


Man Cave Mistakes

I have an aversion to repetition. Let’s call it “repititionitis.”   I would much prefer a new and unique activity as opposed to something that I’ve already done.  It’s a malady that is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I’m not afraid to attempt something new.  If it doesn’t pan out as expected, no big deal; I’ll either keep plowing forward and make it work or cut bait and move on.  Bring on the next challenge!

For example, any kind of construction project is a “keep plowing forward” exercise for me.  As a rookie carpenter I took on the task of finishing my basement.  Needless to say, I made tons of mistakes along the way.  Most professional carpenters have the discipline to recognize a mistake and start over to ensure quality craftsmanship.  When I made a mistake it usually went something like this:

“Shoot,” as my palm slaps my forehead.

Well, that’s not gonna work, I think to myself.  I should probably replace that stud (rerun that wire, rehang that piece of drywall, etc.). But, invariably, the repititionitis won’t allow me revisit those tasks and I hear a familiar, inner voice:

You can make it work.

Oh man, you wouldn’t believe some of the wacky patchwork going on behind the drywall in my basement.  I know the exact location of a stud that is composed of four randomly cut pieces of 2×4.  A professional carpenter would just shake his head.  You’ve heard that “love covers a multitude of sins.”  Luckily, so does drywall.

Carpentry aside, I believe this manifestation of repititionitis is actually a good thing.  A mistake is not something I’m going to dwell on very long.  I’m going to reevaluate, make a new plan, and make the best of the situation.  The scriptures encourage us have this mentality as well.  Philippians 3:13 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (emphasis mine)” In other words, keep plowing forward.

We can’t live in the land of mistakes.  It’s not a happy place.  But if we can recognize the mistake, pray and learn from it, and then move forward, the Lord can turn our mistakes into a blessing.  Over time, I was able to turn my “land of mistakes” into a pretty nice man cave.  Now I can watch college football every Saturday and yell as much as I want to.  Wait a minute…every Saturday?  That sounds a little repetitious.  Uh oh.

Pet Peeves

Do you have “pet peeves?”  Yeah, me too.  For example, toothpaste should be pressed from the bottom of the tube, not the middle; we’ve known that since the Stone Age, right?  And don’t open a new bottle of soda if there’s one already open.  I’m certain that if I didn’t come along and finish those bottles, we’d be overrun with soda bottles containing two inches of liquid.  C’mon people, there’s still syrupy goodness in those plastic pots of gold.

My family will tell you that those soda bottles are a source of one of their pet peeves as well.  I have a habit of squeezing the bottle in the middle when I pick it up to pour.  Puny soda bottles – Hulk smash!  It’s still in a squeezed state when I put the cap back on.  After some time passes, the carbonation will build up in the bottle and the pop bottle will…pop!  It makes everyone jump a little, which apparently only amuses me.  I guess I should work on that.

On a professional level, I have some pet peeves as well, but none are so annoying than not replying to an email.  Since writing is a personal hobby, I usually spend more time than your average bear making sure they are “perfect.”  When I finally send the finished product, it would be nice to get the requested information in return.  But it seems there are some people (and you know who you are) that don’t feel a reply is needed.  As a project manager, I need people’s input to keep my projects moving forward.  When I don’t get that guidance, I’m stuck. Don’t leave me hangin’, bro!

As a result, I sometimes resort to a different tactic.  If I need a group of people to approve a course of action and I know there are notorious “non-repliers” on the distribution list, I’ll add the following sentence at the bottom, bolded and underlined:

No response will be interpreted as approval.

The “silence indicates approval” method can be risky since I don’t have actual confirmation from the decision maker.  I wonder how many of us employ this method with our spiritual lives.  I know that there are sins in my life that don’t appear to have any negative consequences.  As a result, I can fall into the following line of thinking:

Whew, looks like I got away with that. I guess God doesn’t think it’s all that bad.

The Lord makes it clear that silence does NOT indicate approval in Psalm 50:16-21. After listing various deeds of the wicked, the Lord says “When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But now I arraign you and set my accusations before you.”  The Lord may delay the consequences of sin, but that doesn’t mean they are tolerated.  I’m going to make an effort to work on the soda bottle issue, but I also need to remember that the Lord has “pet peeves” that deserve even more attention.

Doing Battle From the Man Bench

This post is an excerpt from Doughnut DevotionsEnjoy.

Never are the differences between the sexes on greater display than when the two go shopping.

Let me explain it from the male perspective.  In general, men don’t like to shop.  When we do shop, we approach it as a hunting expedition.  If I need a pair of brown shoes, I go to the first store I see, stalk the brown shoe aisle until I see a potential prey.  I pounce on the shoe and try it on.  If it fits, I’m done and I drag my kill to the cash register so it can be bagged and tagged.

Ladies, on the other hand, can turn shopping into a social event.  They’ll invite their friends, go browse random items whether they actually need anything or not.  My wife will walk around and fill up a shopping cart with various items and when she’s got it out of her system, just leave the cart and go home.

Visualize the typical shopping scenario with me.  The husband will usually let the wife take the lead since this is her natural habitat.  Men will pray for extra doses of patience while the wives proceed to pick up and examine every article of clothing in the store.  Praise the Lord that He has shown mercy to men everywhere by leading store owners to create the greatest invention of all time – the man bench.


Yes, the man bench.  A refuge for manhood found in malls all across America.  Walk up to any man bench area and you’ll hear a similar conversation:



“What’re you in for?”

“The Gap.  You?”

“Old Navy.”   With pleasantries out of the way, we both start reading our email on our smart phones.  The silence will continue unless there’s a disturbance in the Force.

“Look at that guy.  He just went into Bed, Bath and Beyond with his wife.”

“Poor guy must be a newlywed.  He’ll be out here with us soon enough.  Well, good luck.  My wife’s waving at me.  She needs the credit card.”

Kidding aside, I’m grateful for the differences between my wife and me.  She sees things in situations that I don’t and vice versa.

God gave us instructions in Ephesians 5 for negotiating those differences in the Christian household.  If I had to boil it down, a successful marriage is all about submitting to each other in love and putting each other first.  Every day should be a fresh challenge for meeting each other’s needs.  Sounds simple, but judging from the out of control divorce rate, it’s certainly not.  Selfishness is in our nature and has to be battled every day.

Going shopping with our wives is a simple example, but in reality, we are placing our wives’ desires and needs over our own.  So, the next time you see guys on the man bench, just remember, they are doing battle for their relationships…and they are winning.

New Year, New Blog

I’m sitting here on January 1st, 2014, enjoying the first cup of coffee of what promises to be a heavily-caffienated year.  I’m planning on writing more in the new year, starting with a new blog.  I’ve tried blogging in the past, but never seemed to find the time.  I figure if I make it past the second week of January, I’ve exceeded most new year’s resolutions.

A friend just interrupted my footy-pajama time to hand-deliver some hand-written comments on my book, Doughnut Devotions.  Wow, I appreciate the extra effort; you don’t see that too much these days.  I hope to finish up the first rounds of edits today and get it back to the editor.

Happy New Year!