Friday, October 2, 2015

Yesterday's Gone, Tomorrow's Elusive: Let's Live in the Right Now

We miss the present moment when we long for the past or strive too hard for the future.


Why is it so difficult to find a person who is well balanced?

I’m know I’m not one of them.

We seem to gravitate toward extremes. 

When it comes to the way we view the present, most people fall into one of two camps. The first looks back with fondness on the “good old days.” This is more than enjoying fond memories. It’s a belief that, if we could only go back, things would be better than they are now.

The other group is always looking ahead. This is more than responsible planning. It’s a tomorrow-driven obsession that causes us to miss the present.

The problem with both extremes is that today – actually this very moment – is all that God has given us. No matter how we might wish it, we can’t fast forward to tomorrow. It’s also clear that we can’t go back.

This moment is your life. As a noted author has said, “Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.”

As I get older, I realize that the only way to slow time down is to cherish each and every moment. James called time a vapor. I don’t think I have time to seize the day – I need to seize the moment, realizing that every second can echo in eternity.

If I could live life over again, I would be more thoughtful, feel more intensely, speak more tenderly and live more intentionally. But I can’t start over. So I will begin today.

“For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture. … Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” – Psalm 95:7-8

Let’s live with purpose in the here and now and imagine the possibilities.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Seize the day, but do it God's way

Let's start our days with His agenda, not ours.


“Good morning God, what are you doing? Can I join you?” 

That's how I strive to start each day. It sets the course of my heart, mind and spirit. It reminds me that God is in control and I need to join with what He is doing.  

Although I didn’t do this consciously, I used to get up with this attitude: “Good morning God. Try to keep up and if I need you I will let you know.” 

I treated him like a butler. 

I was more interested in attacking my to-do list than in experiencing life out of a personal, intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I came to the realization that I could not give God my day because I did not trust Him. And I could not trust Him because I did not know Him as I should. 

I realize now that when I pray this prayer, there are certain expectations God has for me:
  • He wants daily personal time with me.
  • He wants me to trust Him completely with each moment of my day.
  • He wants me to understand that nothing comes into my life that has not first come through His hands.
  • He wants me to know that every daily interruption, intrusion, difficulty or challenge is an encounter of the divine kind.

I can’t wait to see what God is up to today. 

Join me and imagine the possibilities!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Are you soaring with eagles or pecking with turkeys?

It's time to find -- and become -- a person who sharpens others.


You may have heard this saying before: “You will be the same person in five years that you are today except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

Let’s set books aside for another blog. But what about the people we meet? Or more accurately, what about the people we rub shoulders with?

First of all, we’ve got to be in healthy, close relationships with others. This doesn’t happen by accident. We must intentionally sacrifice time to develop strong, meaningful friendships. If we don’t, then we’re left with me, myself and I. Yet God made us to be interdependent on one another. That’s why “two are better than one” (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Now, simply hanging out with another warm body won’t do. Proverbs tells us to “walk with the wise and become wise.” Not only that, “the companion of fools will suffer harm.” This means to choose your close companions carefully.

Everyone has flaws and faults. In relationships, if you hold out for 100% or nothing, you’ll get nothing. And while we’re at it, let’s remember all of our faults. But in general:

1.    Who is someone filled with love and grace?
2.    Who is someone who loves me enough to challenge me?
3.    Who is someone who lives consistently for Christ?

That’s the person to team with. You’re looking to soar with eagles, not peck with turkeys.

“Eagles … were not designed to walk. They fly. And when they fly, oh, how they fly, so free, so graceful. They see from the sky what we never see.” – Anonymous

Turkeys, on the other hand, are not the representative animal of any country – and that’s for a reason.

This isn’t to bring anyone down. There is a turkey in all of us. But look for someone who can help you soar.

But remember: It isn’t just about you. God gave you a gift and made you unique. You have something to offer whether you believe it or not. The idea is that we pray together, share together and soar together.

Ask God to pair you with an eagle. Then offer to buy a cup of coffee and imagine the possibilities!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Let's Get out of the cage and onto the limb

When we know God is for us, we can take a risk.


The paradox of an eagle in a cage.
I’m still riveted by a scene from years ago.

It was an eagle, magnificent in every way. Except that it was confined to a cage.

“What would the eagle do if you removed the cage?” I asked a nearby zookeeper.

“It would stay put,” he said. “It was born in captivity and has become conditioned to and dependent on its environment.”

These cage-bound eagles could see the bars, but not beyond to the stars. The world outside of the box was one of mystery, fear and insecurity.

This is a picture of the condition in which nearly all of us live, at least some of the time. We fail to reach our potential in Christ – the “abundant life” He promised to bring – because we submit to fear. We settle for the life of mediocrity that comes from self-reliance and “safety” instead of reaching for the choice fruit that is out on the limb. We live in a cage of our own making.

But once we shinny out onto the limb, we discover that God can do astoundingly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

The Message calls this “
a real and eternal life, more and better life than [we] ever dreamed of” (John 10:10).

What can coax us from the cage to the branch so that we can begin to fly? In short, it’s knowing who we are and Whose we are. This begins to happen when we understand:

  • God’s Acceptance He loves us unconditionally, just as we are, but loves us too much to leave us unchanged (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8).
  • God’s Affirmation He cares deeply for us and is with us in the midst of our pain (Psalm 34:18; 1 Peter 5:7).
  • God’s Assurance He invites us to call upon Him and promises to give us answers for life – answers that matter now and for eternity (Jeremiah 33:3).

Remember, it’s all about the “Who.” We must count on a Who – the almighty God of the universe – and not a what (a bank account, prestige or position). If you can create it, control it and finance it, then God is not part of the plan.

With His backing, we can take risks, knowing that when we go out on a limb, He will not saw it off! O
nly then can we “mount up with wings like an eagle, run and not be weary, walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:21).

Let’s step outside the cage, take a risk and imagine the possibilities!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dad showed character is more caught than taught

For fathers and even grandfathers, it's never too late to learn.


Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. ~Ruth E. Renkel

As Father’s Day approaches, you begin to reflect on what impression your father has left on you. Whether good or maybe not the best, his imprint on your life has helped make you who you are.

My own father (Dan Erickson) taught me through his actions and behaviors. He showed me how to love and care for people who were hurting and he instilled in me a good work ethic. I knew my father loved me and I could count on him when I had a problem.

The Erickson family circa 1980s:
Shannon, Cathy, Doug and Dr. Dan.
My father wasn’t one of the bumbling idiots that fathers are sometimes portrayed like on TV. He worked hard, cared about his family and in turn we treated him with respect. This impression of what a father should be like helped me find a husband that had some of the same traits ... a father who will make his family priority while at the same time have a strong work ethic.

John Wooden once said, “Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating ... too often fathers neglect it because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life.” This sometimes happens to fathers because the responsibility to earn a living for a family becomes the center of their existence. The priority becomes the work instead of the family itself.

If this is the kind of father you had, then you can still learn from that impression ... learn what not to do, learn how to manage both a job and a family and most importantly leave a different legacy for your own children.

For the fathers reading this who have made mistakes or made lesser things too important, there is still time to change whether you still have children at home or if you have grandkids. Fathers play many roles in the family and, in the article “The Importance of Fathers”, Dr. Stephen F. Duncan lists 10 important roles:

  • Spiritual Guide
  • Protector
  • Playmate
  • Teacher
  • Talent Developer
  • Provider
  • Companion
  • Trainer
  • Procreator
  • Servant

As you can see, a father has big shoes to fill. So as we approach the day to honor our fathers, let’s take time to thank them for their imprint on our lives. If they are no longer with you, remember how they have made you who you are today.

Shannon Brotherton is the loving daughter of Dr. Dan and Cathy Erickson.

Leaving the Lure and Lie of Earthly Success


I hear it all the time on television, radio and in my local coffee shop: “So-and-so is successful because he makes a lot of money, owns a big company, can jump higher, throw harder or sing a sweeter tune.”

These are the kinds of accomplishments that are considered successful. We often end up tying our identity, value and worth to something that will rust, decay or die. The question we have to ask ourselves is, “If I was asked by God to walk away from whatever form of success I have achieved, would I be willing to do so?”

The late Christian author Thomas Merton wrote: “If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks ... of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success ... If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.”

It reminds me of the rich young man in Matthew 19 in the New Testament of the Bible. Jesus challenged this up-and-comer to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor so that he could then be free to wholeheartedly follow him. Instead, the man walked away because he had great wealth.

Imagine: This man had an opportunity to physically live and walk with the Son of God – the creator of the universe – and he threw it all away. His temporary earthly success was a competing loyalty and dependency that kept him from enjoying God’s spiritual and eternal riches. What is your competing loyalty?

Don’t fear failure. Instead, fear succeeding at something that doesn’t matter. Success that matters is eternal and is found in a “who” – Jesus Christ – not a “what” – money, power or prestige. Many spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.

If we believe that temporal rewards (wealth, position, privilege) are the true measure of success, then we must say that Jesus and his followers were the greatest of failures. Yet they were clearly successful on an eternal scale.

When I was 9, my dad and mom sold everything we owned and moved our family to the Nevada desert. There they spent the next 38 years working and ministering among Native Americans. We had lived in a middle income house, drove a middle income car and served in a middle income church. By all standards we were doing well. Family and friends thought my parents had gone nuts moving our family to the desert to serve our Native American brothers and sisters.

Years later I asked my parents why they did it. My dad simply smiled and said, “Eternity is a very long time. You can’t take it with you but you can send it ahead.”My parents had no temporal wealth but they were the most fulfilled people I have ever met. My dad, who passed away in 2010, is already experiencing ultimate fulfillment in Heaven.

Beware of valuing temporal success. It comes to kill, steal and destroy your true potential and destiny. Jesus said that he came to give us life to the fullest.

Imagine the possibilities!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Make Mothers Day Matter

Tell her you love her like you mean it, with creativity, time and attention.


There is one thing that is universal: We all have a mother. As I contemplated this upcoming day of honoring mothers, I knew some of the reasons we celebrate them. They carried us and kept us safe for nine months while God formed us, and they endured the process of birth. They cared for us before we could care for ourselves. In most cases they created an environment where we could grow into remarkable adults.

Unfortunately, not all of us had a mother who created that environment and so we either are disappointed by the thought of Mother’s Day or we choose to celebrate all the moms out there who have helped raise amazing children and adults. We celebrate not just moms but all women who teach and love children.

Miss Anna Jarvis was one of those remarkable women. She was born to Mrs. Anna Marie Jarvis in 1864 and was one of 11 children. Her mom was noted for being a community worker, lover of God and teacher of children. When she died Miss Anna recited a small prayer she had heard her mother pray: “I hope that someone will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating (mothers) for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of Life. She is entitled to it.”

Anna spent much of her life to make this prayer a reality. On the second anniversary of her mother’s death she had carnations given to each mother at church services in Grafton, West Virginia. By the next year it was celebrated in the city of Philadelphia. Through her tenacious work Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day as a national holiday to be held each year on the second Sunday of May.

Unfortunately, Miss Anna became disappointed because of the commercialization of the day. Her original idea was that children would write a heartfelt letter by hand to honor and show love to their mothers. She died at age 84 never marrying or having any children of her own.

As I read this story, my heart was so saddened that what she most wanted never became a reality for her. I agree and hope we can turn this around and make 2015 a year that we use our hearts to honor and cherish our mothers.

In this age of possibilities, use your creative talents to make a special memory happen for your mom. Just like many relationships in life, “money can’t buy her love!” Think with your heart and plan ahead. If your mother is not in the picture or has passed, take this opportunity to honor another mother who could use this encouragement.

Remember 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: “And now friends, we ask you to honor those leaders [mothers] who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love.”

Let’s start a Mothers Day revolution, one that would impact every mom. May it echo throughout the land.

Are you revving the engine, but getting nowhere?

God is calling us out of spiritual neutral and into overdrive.


So many Christians I meet have just enough of God to be dangerous.
Wilbur Reese expressed it best: “I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine … I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.”

For many Christians, their spiritual experience is a transaction, not a transformation. It is a checklist, not a changed life.

They lack what I call a “Greater Yes!” This is a divine yet personal calling that generates passion and action within us. It makes us unstoppable.

Without this “Yes!”, our lives are stuck in neutral.

When my dad was teaching me to drive, one lesson in particular stands out. I was revving the accelerator with sound and fury, but there was no movement. “The car doesn’t work,” I told him.

Dad smiled and pointed to the shift: “It’s in neutral.”

How are we doing? Are we succeeding at what doesn’t ultimately matter? Are we spending our lives accumulating stuff that will wear out and fall apart? Or are we giving our lives for God’s eternal kingdom and cause?

Shifting into spiritual overdrive can be a once-in-a-lifetime decision, such as re-dedicating your life to Christ. But it must also be a daily decision. Each day has the opportunity for God, through us, to take spiritual ground. Or we can spin in the mud. Remember: None of us are ever “ready” to shift. In our human weakness, we will fail. But when we give God our empty “tanks,” He will fill us and begin the journey.

I am privileged to be a part of ministering to Native American children in the Southwest. These truly are “the least of these,” largely forgotten by the church, missionaries and the government.

I was explaining this need to a millionaire and asked if he would consider contributing $2,000 toward Christmas toys. He said, “I could give you $100,000, but I won’t, because I know what you’ll do with it. You’ll give it away.”

Saddened, I said, “What you call a ‘giveaway’ I call ‘investing’ for eternity.” No check was written.

It doesn’t matter how much money, talent or education we have if we never “give it away.” God is calling us to shift out of spiritual neutral and mediocrity into high gear.

“There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” – C.S. Lewis

When you look at your life, where are you stuck? What are you doing with what God has given you? Don’t say you have nothing, because Jesus did a miracle with a little kid’s lunch. He can do the same with you and me. Take your loaves and fish and hop in the car.

Let's make the shift into God’s plan and purpose for our lives and imagine the possibilities!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Love Quiz: This is Your Life

Love isn't a game or a game show. It's our God. It's our legacy.

The Beatles sang, “All You Need is Love.” And you know what, they were right.

However, definitions matter (a lot). The pop culture brand of love is mostly based on chemistry, ooey gooey feelings and self absorption. As soon as the feelings subside, relationships can be discarded. This is not, I repeat, not the biblical notion of love.

You and I were created with a void for God’s love that nothing else can fill. We are to live in the security of His unconditional love, but that’s not all. As God fills us with His love, we are to express His love to others.

You may have heard the expression, “Love’s not a feeling.” Well what is it then? It is a verb – and one that the Scriptures clearly define for us.

"For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:16-17

You can describe God in one word: Love. To know God is to know love, for God is love (I John 4:8).

  • What kind of love do you possess?
  • What kind of love do you express?
  • Do you really want to know the answer to those two questions?

God is clear that we’re not to be known by our church attendance record, the size of (or knowledge of) our Bible or any exterior factor. We’re to be known by our love.

So how are we doing? The following is not scientific. But answer it honestly and let God use it to spur you forward, wherever you are at. It’s based on the principles of love in 1 Corinthians 13.

If you are truly a brave soul, have someone take it on your behalf.

The Quiz

1 = Nowhere to go but up
10 = I'm not Jesus, but close

1. Love suffers long and is patient.
“I am patient and will not give up when things don't go my way.”  
James 1:2-4                                           

What's your score?

2. Love is kind and tenderhearted.
“I am not stubborn, hardhearted, or continually demanding my own way.”            

What's your score?
3. Love is thankful and grateful.
“I am not jealous or envious of others.”
Philippians 4:6

What's your score? 
4. Love is meek and humble.
“I seek only to practice humility and not to be prideful.”                                                          

What's your score? 

5. Love is selfless, is sensitive to others and puts their interests first.
“I am not selfish or demanding of my own way.”                                                              

What's your score? 

6. Love is joyful and glad.
“I am not easily irritated or provoked to anger.”                                                          

What's your score? 

7. Love forgives all things and does not hold grudges.
“I will not keep record of those who have offended or wronged me.”
John 20:23              

What's your score?   

8. Love rejoices in the truth and will not believe lies.
“I will not gossip about others and seek only to speak the truth in love.”

What's your score?                                  

9. Love bears all things and endures all things.
“I will not give up or give in to what the world offers as love. I will always hope because I know God’s love wins in the end in every situation.”                                    

What's your score? 

10. Love always seeks to bring peace and contentment.
“I will always seek to bring peace in every situation.”                                                     

What's your score? 

What is one specific behavior or attitude that God has put on your heart to change? How can you submit your life more fully and practically in this area? 

What do you want to be known by? I hope it is by your love. Someone once said that “LOVE, is the flag that is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.” We do not surrender to our circumstances but to His love.

Imagine the possibilities!