Are you living a cheap toilet paper kind of life?

I have recently noticed something about nice hotels. It doesn’t seem to matter how expensive the hotel or where it’s located, every hotel has the same cheap toilet paper. Have you noticed?

I’ve stayed in Super 8’s that have the same quality toilet paper as this super swanky, expensive Hilton-brand hotel in Chicago. What does that mean? Granted, I suppose toilet paper is something people use a lot of, and it’s not exactly like it can be reused. I’m sure it gets really expensive.

But really? A hotel that gives you slippers and bathrobes buys the same toilet paper as the cheap-o hotels? It’s like they’re dedicated to providing the best hotel experience possible, but that care doesn’t extend to buying good toilet paper. To me, that’s like writing a whole novel and letting the last chapter go out without proofreading. It’s like cooking a whole meal for someone and forgetting to offer dessert.

If it were you, wouldn’t you want to go all the way? Wouldn’t you prefer to be someone who doesn’t skimp on the details?

0127151549Today’s verse is 1 Kings 8:61.

And may you be completely faithful to the Lord our God. May you always obey his decrees and commands, just as you are doing today.

It’s difficult to be completely committed to something, regardless of whether it’s a person or an ideal or even a goal. Commitment is one of those words that scares people and rightly so. It takes time and effort and sacrifice, and most of the time you have to give up something you want in the process.

So what about being committed to God? It was D.L. Moody who said: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” As far as my own life goes, I can tell you I’m not anywhere close to being fully committed to Him. I know I should be, but it’s difficult because I want what I want.

It’s like a swanky hotel with cheap toilet paper. You might have all the trimmings and all the best to offer, but you cheap out on the details. You don’t go all the way because it might cost you something you aren’t willing to give.

God gives us so much grace, because even when He knows we aren’t 100% committed to Him, He still provides for us. He still hears us. He still answers our prayers and walks through life beside us. But what would our lives look like if we truly were 100% sold out to Him?

We wouldn’t worry so much. We’d focus on the things that really matter. And I think we’d find that the choices we struggle to make would become much easier. Because when you are focused on living for God, that means you make His priorities yours, and that changes the way you see life.

It’s not an easy choice, and I’m willing to bet that D.L. Moody really was correct. The world has yet to see someone sold out for God, but I’d like to be that person.

So don’t cheap out. Don’t give your life to God in only the big things. Be committed, even in the details. Otherwise, your life will be like a five-star hotel equipped with the cheapest toilet paper on the shelves.

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The soap dispenser that doesn’t work

Last week I was in Las Vegas in the strangest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. This week, I’m in Chicago, at one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. So I’m afraid my trade show illustrations are going to continue for another week. And again, I’ve got a story from a bathroom!

I was in the airport in Atlanta (yes, I had to fly through Atlanta to get to Chicago from Wichita), and their faucets and sinks and towel dispensers were all motion activated. I got the faucet going and shoved my hand under the soap dispenser, and it made a thunking noise. But no soap came out.

I tried it again. And again. And again. No soap.

I figured it must be empty, so I moved to the next sink. Same thing. Water ran fine but no soap. Just a thunk-thunk-thunk-wheeze. So I moved to the next sink.

Same thing! I had to go to two more sinks to get to a soap dispenser that worked, but at that sink, the water faucet didn’t work!

Just looking at the super nice ladies room in the Atlanta airport, everything looked fine and in perfect working order, but half the soap dispensers weren’t working.

768022_64244093Today’s verse is 2 Timothy 4:7.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

The difficult part about following God is following through. You can say you’re committed to God. You can say you’ve dedicated your life to Him. But when real life hits, it’s not as easy to do it as it is to say it.

It’s easy to look like a Christian, but it’s not as easy to do what a Christian does. It takes dedication and commitment to Christ.

On the outside, you can look all shiny and perfect and in working order, but when the time comes to actually do the work you were designed to do, you might choke. Because it’s hard. Doing what God’s called us to do is the greatest adventure you can ever imagine, but it’s not easy because our world is broken. It’s worth it, yes, but it will never be easy.

You can go to Bible college. You can go to church every day. You can know the Bible forwards and backwards. But that doesn’t mean when God tells you to do something uncomfortable that you’re automatically going to jump in with both feet. You might end up exactly like that soap dispenser in the Atlanta airport–looking good but not actually functional.

If you want to achieve God’s best for you in this life, you have to be willing to do the things He tells you to do when He tells you to do them. You have to be committed. You have to finish the race you start.

People don’t get recognition for stopping a race in the middle of the run. I have friends who run marathons, and they train and train and train and train for ridiculous hours to get their bodies to the point where they can run a race. After they train, they don’t stop in the middle of the race because they get tired. Even if they finish last, they still finish.

Welcome to the Christian life. Following Jesus isn’t easy, and He never promised it would be. But He did promise He’d never leave us, and that it would be an awesome life. You’ll just never experience it if you aren’t totally committed to doing what He’s called you to do.

So think about your commitment level. Think about where you are in the race you’re running. If you’re still breathing, you haven’t finished it yet, but you may not be running anymore. You might not even be walking. You might have stopped somewhere along the road because trying to get to the finish line is just too much trouble.

It’s not. You’re just seeing the finish line through the eyes of someone who isn’t running the race. To someone who doesn’t care, finishing the race will never matter.

Don’t be a soap dispenser that doesn’t work. Don’t be a race-runner who’s standing still. Be committed. Follow Jesus where He leads you, when He leads you, how He leads you. It won’t be easy, but it will be awesome.

Blossoming redbud tree outside the church at the Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita, KS

Living all in

Commitment is one of the scariest words in the English language. Whether you’re committing to someone or something, it means you’re making a promise to see it through to the end. Commitment takes hard work and loyalty and lots and lots of grace, both received and extended, and whether it’s a person, a goal, or a cause, you won’t see the end of that promise overnight.

It isn’t just our culture that’s struggled with commitment issues. I think people all over the place have always fought to keep their promises, but keeping a promise is a lot harder than making one.

Blossoming redbud tree outside the church at the Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita, KS

Blossoming redbud tree outside the church at the Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 1 Kings 8:61.

And may you be completely faithful to the Lord our God. May you always obey his decrees and commands, just as you are doing today.

This is taken from a prayer that King Solomon prayed during the dedication of the Temple. Part of the prayer was to God, asking Him to remember them, and the rest of it was a statement to the Children of Israel to remember all that God had done for them. And wise King Solomon ended with this statement.

I was curious as to what that phrase completely faithful meant, so I checked the Amplified version. According to that version, it says: “blameless and wholly true.”

That’s a pretty tall order for any human being.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with making a commitment, and, even though I do struggle throughout, I don’t have a problem keeping a commitment. But there are levels of commitment.

You can make a promise to someone or you can promise to achieve something without putting your whole heart and soul into it. You can make a half-hearted commitment, and it’s safer that way. Because that way when people hurt you or when people let you down or when situations don’t work out the way you expect them to, you can protect yourself from disappointment.

That’s the category I usually end up in. But there’s nothing about that lifestyle that says “wholly true” is there? There’s nothing whole about that method of commitment at all. And maybe you protect yourself by only committing half of your heart but in the end, you only reap half the reward.

I really believe, as Christ-followers, God is calling us to be committed to His plans, whatever they are. He has a specific plan and intention for each of our lives. We may not know what those plans are yet. Some of us might, and if you do you’re fortunate. But whatever He’s asked us to do, wherever He’s asked us to serve, whoever He’s asked us to be, we need to commit to it with our whole heart.

It’s not easy. It actually may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and I can’t even promise that you’ll experience success along the way. But I can tell you that if you commit to doing what God has called you to do, He will bring you joy and peace, and you’ll never go without the things you need.

You just have to trust Him, and that’s what it comes down to. You have to trust Him enough to give up your plans in favor of His. You have to trust Him enough to let go of your strategies that will help you get ahead, and you may have to take a back seat somewhere. You may have to be taken down a notch in the corporate world. You may have to give up a high paying job. You may have to work a job that you think has nothing to do with your dreams.

But wherever He leads you, whatever He is asking you to do, do it. And don’t worry about whether or not it will work out. Just focus on doing the best you can where you are, committed to God’s plan with your whole heart.

Commitment isn’t impossible. It’s just a challenge. Whenever you make a commitment to anyone or anything, you’re going to face obstacles that make it difficult to keep your word. It could be financial difficulties. It could be emotional trouble. It could be relationship issues. It could be any number of things this broken world and our enemy can throw at us to get us sidetracked, but if you can endure, if you stay committed, it’s worth it.

We’re not called to live a half-life. We’re called to live all in. So stop hoarding your chips. Push them all to the center of the table and let God take over the game. I won’t say it’ll be easy, and I can’t promise that you won’t have trouble, but I can tell you that God’s holding all the cards anyway. So who would you rather bet on?