Wednesday, October 28, 2015

20 Albums In 20 Weeks: Rodrigo y Gabriela

Next up in 20 Albums in 20 Weeks is Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled album. It’s their third album, and my favorite of theirs. Rodrigo y Gabriela are a guitar duo playing rock, metal, and Nuevo flamenco. It’s hard to believe that the band’s amazing sound is coming from only two people.

What They Think

Rodrigo y Gabriela took off outside of the US, landing at number 1 on a couple of charts. Their fame spread slowly, but they are now a hot ticket to see in concert in the US.

What I Think

The Rodrigo y Gabriela concert I attended a couple of years ago is still one of the best I have ever been to. Their music is incredible and watching them play was unbelievable. They play with passion and skill rarely seen in music today.

Favorite Lyric

All of the songs on the album are instrumental. My favorite song from the album (today) is “Ixtapa”. I can’t stop listening to this song!

Where It Fits

Rodrigo y Gabriela is great driving music. They are also incredible to watch in old concert footage or videos. I will now be a life-long devotee of all things Rodrigo y Gabriela.  I cannot recommend this band enough. Check the clip below and judge for yourself.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What To Do When Someone You Love Doesn't Love You Back

One of the most painful truths about love is that it doesn’t always flow both ways. Just because you love someone well doesn’t mean that they will love you back. Love is a choice, and like all choices it can be made well or poorly. Are your working hard to love someone who doesn’t seem to be invested in loving you in return? Here are three questions to ask yourself:

Why Is This Happening?

Some relationships can be strong for a while and then go through a rough patch. The death of a loved one, stress at work, or physical illness are just a few of the reasons that someone might not show love as well as they have in the past. The person you love may be struggling. They may not be aware of their struggles or how they are affecting you. Sometimes a bit of patience and grace are in order. Open up lines of communication. Tell him how you feel. Don’t belittle and don’t accuse. This may just be a bump in the road. If, however, 8 of the 10 months you have been dating have been bad, it may be time to reassess the relationship.

Why Do I Need Their Love So Much?

It’s never easy to feel alone or unloved. It’s hard when a relationship that seemed promising doesn’t grow to what you hoped it would be. This pain is more difficult, however, if you need someone’s love rather than want it. If you are only fully you when your special someone is treating you well, then you are in trouble.  You have to be comfortable with who you are before you can love someone else well. If you need their love and approval to be ok, you are more dependent than relational.  If that sort of dependence goes unchecked, things won’t go well in the relationship. If this sounds like you, it’s time to invest in other relationships. Don’t let one relationship gobble up all of your time.  Spend time with co-workers, friends from church , and family. Invest in others and let other people care for you. That way if one relationship breaks down, you will still have others to help keep you strong.

Why Am I Still Here?

If you have a friend who consistently treats you poorly, you may need to ask yourself, why am I spending time with this person? If you have been dating someone and waiting for them to change, it’s possible that you want or need to be dating someone else. I’m not advocating getting a divorce or putting your children up for adoption. Jumping out of relationships just because they don’t feel good isn’t healthy, but it’s equally unhealthy to hang on to someone who is toxic and treats you poorly. If you are able to date well, without settling for someone you hope will one day change, you can avoid dealing with tons of relational pain later.

Relationships aren’t easy, but they are worth it. Work through hard things with people you care for. Keep your commitments, but be honest with yourself as well.  Some relationships require greater dedication, some need to be ended. Whatever you do, do it with grace, and your relationships will grow stronger and be more satisfying.

Photo Courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How Telling People How Wrong They Are Can Hide The Truth

Why do we so desperately want to tell people what they are doing wrong? It starts young. If you have brothers and sisters, you know what I’m talking about. One of the high points of the day for lots of children is catching their sister doing something she shouldn’t. He’ll tell her or mom or whoever will listen, how wrong it is leave the legos spread around the floor.  Even when we're young, we love telling people what they are doing wrong.

This seems especially prevalent in the church. Sometimes it seems that a majority of sermons are about something or someone that is wrong. I’d like to stop for a second and simply ask the question: Why are we so obsessed with telling people how wrong they are? Many people will say that telling people that they are wrong is loving. Love is honest, that’s true. But if we are honest with ourselves, love is usually how we rationalize that deep desire to talk about how wrong the wrong stuff is. I doubt anyone sits around thinking, “how can I show this person how much I love them… oh yeah, I’ll tell them about all of the things they do that are wrong!”.

Seems like a bit of a stretch.

I normally know when I’m doing something wrong. I don’t always admit that I know, but deep inside I know. Maybe other people are like that too. What if the thing that people really struggle to believe is that God loves them, and that God isn’t scared off by whatever wrong they are wrapped up in. The good news of the Gospel is about God’s refusal to be held back by the sin in us and around us. The point is that we are to take our eyes off of how messed up we are and to fix them on Jesus, who is for us. I believe that is the message that people need to hear the most, not how weak they are, but how strong God is. We can't right our wrongs by ourselves anyway. We need God's help.

“But wait a minute!”, you may be saying, “so many people act like they are doing nothing wrong!”. I know. So do you and so do I. What breaks me out of pretending that I’ve got it all together is a reminder that because of Jesus, I don’t have  to have it all together. He does. I just need to trust Him.

So, let’s stop obsessing about who’s wrong (we all are), and let’s start obsessing about a God who loves us more than we can imagine. That sort of love tends to right wrongs better than our accusations ever could.

Photo courtesy of Death To Stock Photo

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How Stopping Can Set You Free

My to-do list this week is insane. The list seems endless, there are arrows to other items, things marked out, and things underlined. I couldn’t survive without a list to help make sense of my day. In some ways my list is healthy. It allows me to stay focused and to prioritize my activities during the day. In other ways, my list is unhealthy. It feeds a compulsion that I have been battling for a while. It’s just so easy to add one more thing to the list, to pretend that I have an infinite amount of time and unlimited resources. There’s a quote from Jim Collins incredible book, Good To Great that helps me return to sanity when I’ve let my to-do list get too long.

                “Your stop-doing list is more important that your to-do list.”

Collins advocates taking time on a consistent basis to evaluate what you are doing, and to remove things from your to-do list by creating a stop-doing list. Here are three ways that a stop-doing list can help you this week:

1)It allows you to spend more time doing the things that matter most.
It’s so easy to spend gobs of time doing small things, which then cause us to not have enough time to do the things that matter the most. Just because an activity is good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. We all have things that are important to us. Spending time on those things and with those people gives you greater fulfillment and helps differentiate you from everybody else. 

2)It allows you to practice your “no”.

I am convinced that the word “no” is critical to healthy work and relationships. It’s not always easy to say “no”. There are so many good opportunities and so many people that we don’t want to let down. But if you never say “no” you will never find your unique fit at work or in your relationships. You'll spend all of your time doing things that matter to everyone else. Practicing our “no” helps us be ready to fend off the pressure and turn things down when we need to. Building your stop-doing list is a great way to find the freedom that “no” offers.

3)It reminds you that life isn’t all about productivity. 

If you try to do everything, you rarely get to fully enjoy anything. An overly long to-do list is an indication that you have come to believe that productivity is life. Productivity is important, and we should all take seriously the things we hope to accomplish, but life is more than productivity. You were not placed on this planet just to get things done. You were made to love and be loved. You were made to enjoy moments of rest. Not only are you to help others, you are to allow others to help you. Finding something you can take off your schedule is a good way to break your productivity obsession. 

Take some time this week and find something to stop doing. Step off of that committee. Don’t coach this year. Don’t squeeze in another client. It’s only when we are able to stop doing things that we are free to enjoy the things we choose to do, the causes we choose to fight for, and the people we choose to love. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why Everyone Hates Injustice And Why That Matters For You

We all crave justice. No matter how different we are, we all have this in common. We feel it in different ways, but it’s a universal desire. Some express this craving by battling for our environment. They recycle and eat vegan foods. They bike when possible. Others rage at the partiality found in politics, sure that the opposing party is the root of all evil. Some people give to charities, others battle rival gangs across town. We may rarely agree about what we think the most glaring injustice is, but we all know that it must be addressed. Even unjust people hate injustice.

This is one of the most powerful arguments for the existence of God that I can think of. Why would we all crave justice? Even in our broken and biased ways, the desire remains in each of us. How could we conceive of something being wrong, unless something deep inside of us knows that something else is right? God has placed that longing deep inside each of us, and it reminds us of what could and should be.

Here are a couple of thoughts about battling injustice:

Injustice Can’t Be Ignored

That voice inside of you that screams out against things that you consider unfair or wrong will not be silenced. Your desire for justice is hardwired into your soul. The more we try to ignore the injustice around us the more numb our soul becomes. C.S. Lewis described this process over time as becoming less and less human. You are not fully alive unless you are battling for justice for your neighbor next door or for people two continents away.

You Have A Crucial Role To Play

The world needs you. God has a plan for battling injustice and you are a key player. There are places that you can reach that no one else can reach, and people you can help that no one else can will even notice.  You are not perfect. You may not even be aware of the gifts God has given you, but you have exactly what it takes to make the difference that God created you to make. Someone, somewhere is hurting or struggling, and God will care for them by sending them you.

The Way You Define Justice Will Define Your Life

This thought needs more space than this post will allow, but here’s the idea: If the only injustice you fight is for your own personal comfort and gain, then you are not fighting for justice at all. Justice isn’t about a political party or school of thought. It’s about people. It’s about people you know and people you don’t. It’s about giving yourself for something bigger than you. It’s about feeling the pain of others without being overcome by it. It’s about offering hope. It’s about never giving up.

The world needs you to make a difference, and God has given you the tools, insight, and experience to make it happen. You can’t stop all of the injustice around you, but you can battle what’s within your reach!

Picture Courtesy: By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Law of Relational Momentum: How To Keep Your Relationships Strong

I have a favorite coffee shop in town that I go to when I get stuck in a creative rut. It’s an edgy place with great coffee. Sometimes a change of environment can make a huge difference in your thinking.  I’m amazed when I go there at how all of the employees seem to be in constant motion. If they aren’t taking orders, they are making drinks. If they aren’t making drinks they are preparing food. If they aren’t  preparing food, they head out amongst the patrons and wipe down any table that is open. I’ve seen them wipe the same table 3 or 4 times before anyone new comes to sit down. It’s almost impossible to sit at a messy table in that place.

It’s a good business strategy, but it’s a good relational strategy as well. Not the staying in constant motion part, but the idea of doing what you can, when you can. Sometimes we don’t recognize that our relationships are struggling until they are broken and bleeding. Waiting to attend to your relationships until there are problems is like waiting until your engine is smoking to get the oil changed in your car. By that point the damage is done, and sometimes the damage is irreparable. Doing what you can while you can may simply be starting a conversation. It may be making sure your wife gets a break from the kids. It might be stopping what you are doing so you can watch some TV with your son. It doesn’t take much to keep relationships healthy, but it takes a ton to bring them back when they become unhealthy. Here are a couple of the benefits of doing what you can when you can:

It Limits The Amount Of Unseen Damage That Is Being Done

One of the challenges of relationships is that the person you care for may be struggling without you ever being aware of it. Some people process internally, and they may be hurting a long time before it becomes visible. When it does become visible, there is usually a lot of damage to address. Relating in small ways when things seem ok keeps that sort of hidden damage from festering. 

It Limits The Amount Of Work Needed

My best friend and I learned an important truth in high school. Neither of us had great cars. Cars are totaled when the damage done to them exceeds the value of the car. If either of us broke a cup holder in our car, they would have been totaled. So, we both had opportunities to push our cars (into the gas station, into a rolling start, etc…). We learned the crucial lesson that it’s easier to maintain momentum than it is to create it. Getting a car rolling is a challenge (especially if your best friend’s car is made of more steel than a battleship). Once you got it rolling, however, it was easier to keep it moving. The same is true of relationships. It takes less work to keep the fire of a relationship going than it does to start a fire once the it's out. Doing what you can, when you can keeps the fire going.

It Keeps You Relationally Awake

It’s easy to lose focus and become numb to things that have an everyday presence in our life. Continuing to ask, confess, invite, and listen keeps us relationally alive. It reminds us that we have relational work to do every day. Most days that work doesn’t seem like work at all, other days it might. The way to stay relationally awake and aware is to consistently make your relationships a priority. Give the time, say the words, do the work. It will add to you relational effectiveness and enjoyment. 

When you do what you can, when you can, you'll find that a little bit of effort at the right time can go a long way. Take some time today to think about what you can do to add value to the people around you. Your relationships are worth the effort.