Beauty from Brokenness

I was out repotting some plants the other day and broke one of my clay pots by accident. Though it was disappointing, I threw away the old pottery shards and found a new planting pot to use. As I was cleaning up, I noticed a few of the broken pieces that I had missed in my initial trashing of the broken pot. They were curiously arranged with a curved piece of the shattered pot and two other little chips of the broken pottery looking much like one of those emojis of a face winking at me, and with the some of the fallen dirt above the two pottery pieces that looked like eyes, it looked a little like hair. I laughed and smiled and thought out loud, “How fun, a little joy from the disappointment of my broken pot.”


As I swept up the remaining debris, my mind went to some of the beautiful art I have seen made from broken pieces of glass, pottery and stones. These mosaics are examples of beauty from brokenness. I admire those artists. They don’t see a damaged item as useless or of no value, but they see the potential of strategically placed pieces of ruined goods not as weakness, but strength.


The Apostle Paul had that view of weak and damaged areas of his life. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-11 he describes this broken area of his life as a “thorn in the flesh.” We are not told what this “thorn in the flesh” is. Some have said it was a physical issue with his eyes, or a relationship issue with someone, or an emotional issue dealing with his past since he had people killed who believed in Jesus. Whatever it was, it was troubling, hurtful, distracting, and made him feel weak. Ever have an issue like that?- maybe a physical issue, condition, or sickness? Maybe your thorn is relational – an issue between you and friend, spouse, family member, coworker, boss? The issue can also be emotional- like feeling troubled inside, disconnected, unloved, or like we never measure up.


Paul prayed for his ‘thorn,’ his issue, to be fixed, removed from him. He prayed a lot. But God chose not to remove this thorn, this issue. Instead, God choose to take these broken pieces and make something beautiful, a beautiful picture of God’s grace and an amazing display of godly character. See, Paul knew his potential to be conceited. Paul understood he was powerful, and outside of Jesus, he has been the most prominent person in Christianity. This broken area kept him humble and away from the pitfalls of pride.

2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

This blessed thorn was a gift from God keeping Paul humble but also dependent on God’s strength, not his own.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But He (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul concludes talking about his brokenness by saying, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” In others words, there is beauty in brokenness.


When we come to Him, God has a way of taking the brokenness of our lives and arranging it into something beautiful. The key is to approach Him. Jesus said it this way…

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The Apostle Peter encouraged us to…

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on Him (Jesus), because He cares for you.


Sure, it will not be easy. Good godly character is built through the crucible of trial and brokenness. Paul had to endure. God will walk with us, and soon we will see the beauty.


Church is a great place not only to be encouraged but to come to Jesus. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need We would love for you to join us this Easter season.


Seeking discover the beauty in brokenness along with you,



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Two Powerful Words for Faith and Life

Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy were driving along one November day and passing in front of them was one of the newer students from their kid’s school, Michael. It was cold, and though Michael was a large boy, nearly 6ft tall and weighing well over 250 pounds, it was obvious Michael was in need. As the Tuohys drove on, Leigh Anne could not take it and told her husband, Sean, to “Turn around!” They did turn around and invited Michael to stay with them. That one night turned in to many more and the Tuohys ended up adopting Michael. Michael went on to be a professional football player and you may recognize the story from the movie The Blind Side. This turn around was life changing. It obviously gave Michael Oher the stability and opportunity he needed to bring out his God-given talents and play in the Super Bowl. As well, Michael’s involvement in the Tuohy family brought out the passion in them to help people and inspire others to turn around. Leigh Anne has even written a book called, “Turn Around: Reach Out, Give Back, and Get Moving.” The two words ‘turn around’ are powerful and effective.


The Biblical equivalent to the words ‘turn around’ is the word repent. The word repent in the Bible has three elements to its meaning.

Biblical repentance is an intellectual realization to cognitively change our minds about Jesus, accepting Him for who He is as Savior (Luke 2:11, 1 John 4:14) and God (John 20:28, Colossians 1:15-20) and agreeing that life lived His way is best.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”


Biblical repentance is an emotional recognition, a sad feeling and remorse over bad choices and wrong directions.

Joel 2:12 and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.

To ‘rend your hearts’ is to choose to feel the anguish of the wrong done. It’s not to wallow in sorrow or throw a pity-party, but just as we grieve a wrong done to us, we lament and are saddened for the wrong we have done.


Biblical repentance is also a physical change by acting differently. It is the choice to live life God’s way.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He (Jesus) said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.

It’s a life change like Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 where in his encounter with Jesus, his repentance was seen in action.

Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”


Repentance is not just intellectual or emotional or physical, it’s the full turn around when we change our minds, feelings, and actions. An attitude of repentance is powerful for faith and life. Both Michael Oher and the Tuohy family have been forever changed by those two words. What about you? Are there some areas of your life needing a turn around? Why not turn around intellectually, emotionally, and physically and see what happens in your faith and life.


Church is a great place to help with turning around. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need


Seeking the practice of turning around along with you,




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Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;


Yes, there are times we need to cry, mourn, work hard, be introspective, and be intense, but there is also time to savor the good stuff of life and celebrate. OK… cue the 1980’s Kool and the Gang song “Celebration.” The truth is according to Judith E. Glaser, in her on line article in Psychology Today entitled “Celebration Time,” celebrating in the work place “helps meet people’s needs for inclusion, innovation, appreciation, and collaboration.” Judith’s article goes on to say celebrative conversations trigger chemicals in the brain that make us feel good and enable us to be willing to take the needed risks to press on and excel even more. To make time to celebrate is a good thing!


A while back I heard of a few families that were enjoying a day at Disneyland, along with a few thousand other people!! The lines were long and each land was packed. One family was in awe of the park. To them, each moment was magical and warranting celebration. They would get in line and celebrate the length of the line with a fun game. They would hoot with joy at being the next to get on the ride. As they exited the attraction, they would ‘high-five’ each other, celebrating the joy of the journey. As they headed to the next location they would rehearse the exciting parts of the ride and celebrate with a churro. The other family was quite different. Celebration was not on their minds. The lines were too long. The park was too crowded. The costs were too expensive. They were even entertaining conspiracy theories that this whole environment was manipulative, like the luscious smell of popcorn was wafted out so we would buy popcorn. The dad actually said, “I bet they have people walk around with merchandise so people will want to buy it.” To this family everything was a scam to drain them of their dollars. They were not celebrating at all. Yet, for the first family, the celebration created a fun and wonderful memory that has lasted a lifetime. Celebration makes a difference.


God desires for us to make time and take time to celebrate.

Ecclesiastes 3:13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Psalms 118:24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalms 149:5 Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

God instructed ancient Israel to celebrate many festivals as part of biblical custom. Feasts and celebrations like Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Ingathering). In addition, Purim, and the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) and a weekly Sabbath and the feast of the New Moon every lunar month. If God instructed His people in the past to celebrate it must be an important choice in life today.


I know for me, I get going and cram my days so full I have no time to celebrate. Yet, celebration is important and something we should make time for. I want to be like that first family at Disneyland and make time to celebrate. How about you?


Church is a great place to practice and participate in celebration. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need We would love to celebrate with you.


Seeking to make time and take time to celebrate along with you,




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An Olympic Practice for Life

I am not sure if you are as into the 2018 Winter Olympics as my wife and I, but we are really enjoying these Winter Games. It is fun to see these incredible athletes do the amazing things they do and to hear a bit of their stories. We love stories like that of Lindsey Vonn and her struggle to get back to being an Olympic contender. We love stores of the emotions of Shawn White and his hard work to once again win gold. We love stories of the young, be it Chloe Kim or “Red” Gerard, who, in their teens, won gold. In all these stories and other athletes who talk of their journey to the Olympics, one practice seems to rise to the surface. It’s a constant that is part of most outstanding athletes and most certainly part of each Olympian. It’s a practice that takes an exceptional athlete to the extraordinary and it’s a practice we normal people can participate in. It is the practice of trust!


I noticed this practice of trust as Olympians have been interviewed either just after their competition or on talk shows or some other media outlet. These athletes talk of their confidence in their coaches, mentors, and trainers, trusting them to bring out the athlete’s best and take that athlete beyond to be Olympic ready. This trust is a reliance and confidence on their team. There is also a dependence on their equipment and faith in their technical support. I was watching the woman’s downhill and one commentator mentioned how each skier has great trust in those who sharpen their ski edges and what kind of wax to put on their skis as that could mean a few less tenths of a second and whether or not they make it on the podium to receive a medal. The practice of trust is vital to an Olympic athlete and for life.


God has a lot to say about trust and what we place our trust in.

Proverbs 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

Psalms 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

It is easy to trust in some not-so-trustworthy-things. Just this past week we put our trust in what we thought was a legitimate need for our computer, and got scammed! After a few hours of hassle and feeling violated, it was all corrected. But now I don’t know what to trust in on-line! The real issue was that I was trusting in my instincts, when I should have been trusting in some experts. The Bible is a bit sobering in this area of exclusively trusting in our own thinking.

Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.


Like those Olympic athletes trusting in their expert coaches and support teams, it makes sense to place our trust in experts. I can’t think of a better expert than God, who not only is Almighty, All-knowing, and All-powerful, but has great love and care for us and wants us to be all He has created us to be.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

So it makes sense to place our trust in God.

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear (revere) the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.


Trust is not easy. Trust takes risk. Trust involves faith. Yet trust in God can bring about deep joy and great life fulfillment. How is your trust in God? Trust is an Olympic practice for life.


One great place to grow in trust towards God is to go to church. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need We would love to connect with you.


Seeking to practice trust in God along with you,



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An Olympic Attitude for Life

The 2018 Winter Olympics from Pyeong Chang, South Korea, are in full swing. We are witnessing amazing athletic feats, records broken, and intense competitions as athletes from around the world go for the gold and the title of being the ‘best in the world.’ It is fun to root on the various countries and to celebrate their athletes’ accomplishments with them. We are amazed at the skill these Olympic athletes have developed through their dedication. They have worked hard, sacrificing much, and surrendering their will to their coaches, mentors, and to the rigors of intense training.


It takes a great deal to be a world-class athlete. Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist, speaker, and author, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”…talks of a ‘10,000 hour rule.’ Gladwell reports that studies show when a person willing sets their mind to practice and perfect a craft or skill to the extent of 10,000+ hours, they will achieve a world-class expertise. Ten thousand hours is 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 44 weeks per year, for 5 and half years. Now, speed that up a bit and someone can be an Olympic contender in 4 years! What is behind all this is the attitude of change. These athletes want to get better, they want to see progress, they want to grow, and they want to change. They realize that what got them to one level of achievement will not get them to the next level. They must change and grow and take on that Olympic attitude of change.


This Olympic attitude of change is also a wonderful attitude for life. Life requires change. We grow and change as we mature and if we want to achieve anything in life, change is a must. If we want to learn a skill, get better at our job, be a parent, have a marriage, or be a friend, it all necessitates change. However, change is not as easy as we would like, so we tend to avoid change, put off change, even ignore change. What is even more confusing about our human nature is we want to grow and improve by doing the same things the same way, but expect different results. What? Is that not the definition of insanity? Albert Einstein is claimed to have said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Yep. That describes my work out routine. I do the same thing most every day and wonder why I don’t see change!!


It is the same way for life. If we want to improve at school or work, it will involve change. If we want to be a better friend, spouse, mom, dad, or family member, it demands change. If we want to enhance a skill, be healthier, or learn a sport, it entails change. Change is the willingness to grow. God encourage us to grow.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Change is a choice. We can either choose to stay the same or we can choose to do things differently and change.

Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.

This Olympic attitude of change is a choice to learn and gain guidance.


God calls us to make changes – to grow – and learn more about Him.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

The words ‘make every effort’ mean to supply at your own risk. It other words, to take on the attitude and grit of change and seek to improve in being good (virtuous), knowing more about God and His way of life, and practicing self control, perseverance, godly living, being a good friend, and loving like Jesus. It all takes change.


It is insanity to think we will improve or be better without change. What small or even great changes could you make to take on this Olympic attitude of change?


One good change for life is the choice to attend church or be more consistent in attending church. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need It would be fun to connect with you.


Seeking to practice an attitude of change along with you,



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An Olympic Trait for Life

Yes, the Winter Olympics are here, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. (Some of you will remember that phrase from ABC’s Wild World of Sports TV show). We love the tension of competition, the art of athleticism, the excitement of triumph, and yes, the anguish of an epic fail. The Olympics bring all that sports competition to an even greater dynamic, being these athletes are the best of the best volleying for the prestigious title of best in the world! It truly is thrilling.


In addition, there is an excitement to cheer on the country of your birth, ancestry, or choice. In these 2018 Olympic Winter games there are over 92 countries represented, with a few making their Winter Olympic debut this year: Ecuador, Eritrea (East Africa), Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Singapore. I hear the Nigerian woman’s bobsled team is one to watch! What countries are you rooting for? Being I have Canadian roots, and Canada certainly shines in the Winter Games, I love to see them do well.


Competing from all these amazing countries are some 2,952 Olympians. They will be competing in events like Bobsledding, Luge, Skeleton (sliding down a twisty-turny course at break-neck speed on a small sled with only a helmet as protection!!), Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Curling (Go Canada, eh!), Alpine and Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, and Nordic Combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing). What is your favorite event?


Whatever the event, these amazing athletes have gone through the rigor of intensive training, sat under the instruction of expert coaches, listened to the input of qualified mentors, spent hours upon hours upon hours of honing their skill. In all of this they demonstrate an Olympic trait we could successfully use to live the life God created us to live. This trait is not some exclusive attribute bestowed on the gifted. This quality is not reserved for the wealthy, though it does come with a cost. This characteristic is not only available to the strong, but does require a personal strength that will at times command an inner power found in the depth of soul. This trait is available to every person and most use it on a regular basis. Some moments and occupations require more of it and it is essential to faith.


Now many of the best athletes will not call this trait by its name, but simply say they made choices, choices to do some things and choices not to do others. Choice is the essence of this trait, the vehicle of this quality. This characteristic could be defined as choice to give up something of value, in other words, to sacrifice. Each athlete at these Olympic games made many sacrifices to get where they are. They made sacrificial choices each day to improve, to get better, to extend beyond. We can make sacrificial choices as well to improve, get better, and extend beyond.


Quite honestly, to be the amazing people God created us to be takes sacrifice. We live in a world and wrapped into our DNA is a tendency to seek personal power over God’s purpose, immediate desire over The Lord’s destiny, and self-focus over the abundant and significant life God has for each of us. It takes sacrifice to choose God’s best and His way of life.

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.


Sacrifice does not just happen. It is a choice of the will, where we give up something to gain something greater. If we want to enjoy the blessing of knowing God more, it’s going to take some sacrifice to read the Bible and attend church. If we want to love our neighbor as Matthew 22:39 says, or help out at church or in our community, to do the good works we were created to do Ephesians 2:10, it will require sacrifice of our time. To be generous as 2 Corinthians 9:7 and Proverbs 11:25 says will take the sacrifice of maybe going with out so we can give. Yet each of these opportunities of sacrifice creates an opportunity for us to become the wonderful people God created us to be. Why not make some sacrificial choices to where you sense the pangs of giving up so you can be who God has created you to be? It could change your life.


Church can be a great opportunity to learn about sacrifice. You might actually enjoy your time and learn a few things. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need We would love to connect with you.


Seeking to make some sacrifices along with you,



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The Heart is the Matter


Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.


I saw something interesting this past week at a coffee shop my wife and I frequent. One worker seemed to have just taken a triple-shot of espresso, she was on fire! She was making drinks with gusto and flair. She was singing as she swirled caramel, with a swish and a flick, and a loud, “YES!” She did a little dance as topped another drink with a mountain of whipped cream. All the while she was affirming each cup as a masterpiece with their destiny to bring pleasure and joy. She would then hand the drink to the lucky recipient with a huge smile and some words like, “Great choice! This is going make this night even better!! Enjoy.” To each customer she had affirmations, compliments, and fun sayings that brought on a smile. One customer, who had been watching her as he waited for his drink, said to her, “You must really love your job.” She immediately stopped in mid-dash of chocolate flakes that she was adorning her latest drink-work-of-art, and looked at that customer and with a growing wide smile and said, “Yes I do, I love our team, you wonderful guests, and (she kind of giggled) I really love coffee!” And with a squeal she looked down at that drink, took a breath with a confident smile, and placed a final dash of those chocolate flakes to finish of the drink. It was obvious; her heart was in this job!


Now on down on the other end of the counter was a different story. The worker preparing these drinks was not so chipper. Their face was almost blank as they slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y went about their tasks. They seemed confused as other workers had to remind them, “This was non-fat, not soy. No, see here it says ‘no whip.’ Sorry but this is supposed to be an iced coffee, not hot.” This not-with-it worker was also checking their phone at most every opportunity and kept looking at the clock. When they called out the names for a customer to receive their drinks this worker said it so softly most everyone one around the counter asked what they said. The worker just ignored the questioning and turned away. It was obvious; their heart was NOT in this job.


It matters where our heart is. If the core of our being is happy, joyful, at peace, secure, content it’s going to show. So will the opposite. As Proverbs 4:23 says the center of our being matters. Now a great truth of humanity is we can choose the condition of our heart. We can choose to forgive and melt away bitterness. We can choose to be content and push back that insatiable wanting. We can choose to enjoy the moment and ignore the ‘what-ifs.’ Our choice affects our heart. Jesus put it this way…

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What we treasure and value will shape the center of our being, which in turn influences our actions. It was obvious what that first worker treasured. I’m not sure what that other worker valued, but it was not the job at hand. What do the actions of your life say about your heart?


Now what make things a bit difficult is we were born with some heart issues (see Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:23, Romans 7:15-20). Yet God wants to give us a new heart if we so choose.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I (God) will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

That’s why King David of ancient Israel, after making a mess of things when his heart got him into all kinds of trouble, prayed this…

Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Turning to God in prayer is key for us experiencing this transformation.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


That amazing worker inspired me to think about my heart and what I treasure. I know I need God’s work on my heart because it’s all too easy to treasure things that influence my heart in a not-so-great way. Here’s a challenge from God’s Word…

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


Church is a great place to be open to God’s work on our heart. If you do not already have a church where you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need


Making good heart choices along with you,



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