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Swimming the Echo by Brian L. Tucker

Swimming the Echo

by Brian L. Tucker

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28th of June

What God says about What we Can Handle.


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Question:

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Will God give us more than we can handle?

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Truthfully…
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One of the most misunderstood attributes of God is that He wants us to live life care-free. (So much for my Ferris Bueller quest, I guess. ChickaChick-oww.)

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3 examples of people being overwhelmed–

1.) Moses
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Exodus 4:10-13 (ESV)
—————
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

2.) David
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Psalm 38:4-8 (ESV)
—————
For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

3.) Jesus
===============
Mark 14:32-36 (ESV)
—————
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.
And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”
And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

In other words…
===============
God consistently gives overwhelming burdens to those whom He loves.

What does it really mean?
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1 Corinthians 10:1-14 (ESV)
—————
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
and all ate the same spiritual food,
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

In other words…
===============
Followers of Jesus do not have to question whether God is real. BUT…Followers of Jesus will be given more than they can handle…consistently.

Why does God give you more than you can handle?
===============
To strengthen our faith and make you whole.

To be whole.
===============
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
—————
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Why does God give you more than you can handle?

3 REASONS
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To encourage us to move
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To teach us to depend on a strength other than our own.
===============
To experience His power.

Call on Him…
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Psalm 145:18 (ESV)
—————
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Truthfully…
===============
God is more interested in our faithfulness than our comfort.

Truthfully…
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God is more interested in us demonstrating His glory than trying to pretend like everything is ok.

Bottom Line…
===============
Will God give us more than we can handle? Most definitely!
And once we realize why, we will be forever grateful.

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22nd of June

One-Year Anniversary of “Baptisms & Dogs: Stories”!!


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It’s been a year since its debut! The story collection I never imagined would see daylight..let alone printing presses. (It went to WASHINGTON, DC, at one point, Thanks to Matt Smith and the Marine Barracks, and their private library there. I never imagined real heroes would be reading it. EVER!) It’s been a crazy process, and I admit it’s been a BIG learning curve. From where to submit stories to what types of writing conferences to attend, I’ve learned A TON. And, I still feel like a novice. 🙂

Thanks to Leah for remaining patient with my trips to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and coffee shops around Chattanooga. I’ve tried to motivate her with, “Hey, one of the future novels will take place in the fictional town of Seton, Kentucky.” I’m not sure she’s convinced, but if you see her, tell her to give it a chance in 2015, 2016, 2017, etc. How ever long it takes, I guess. (*insert nervous laughter*)

Thanks to Leah, Nathan Davis, and Lindsey Frantz for taking a look at this new idea. It consumed a good chunk of 2014-2015, and it’s still undergoing changes, but I’m optimistic to do something with it before the year’s end. While my tentative title isn’t nearly as clever as Russell Helm’s Sprinkle Cheese (to be released later this fall as The Ground Catches Everything), I still hope you consider reading my work, Beef Jerky for All, when it’s published.

Similarly, the 2015-2016 (and newest) project is underway and gaining some steam. It doesn’t have a witty title yet. (It’s the Seton, KY revisiting…and I hope to complete its first draft this summer. We can all make Christmas wish lists, right?)

I write all of this to say, Thank you again for the support–lovely readers. Readers of this blog. Readers of anything I’ve sat down to try and muster up the courage to complete. Prayers appreciated for the journey ahead. It’s exciting and daunting all at once. Like a deep dish, meat lover’s pizza from La Rosa’s. It’s beautiful and scary all at once. You have to dig in and burn the roof of your mouth. Because you know…it’s worth it.

 

God bless you this week!

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17th of June

Insert Foot into Mouth.


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My church’s most recent series covered the topic of–

“When we place words in God’s mouth…”

Pretty scary concept, huh?

 

Our pastor, Mark Love, went on to point out that we are “all in danger of letting our ability to reason overshadow God’s wisdom.”

Unnerved yet?

 

The topic of true wisdom is just getting started.
===============
1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV) states, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Then, Mark asked a question I’ve wondered a million times and tried to force myself into an answer that is contrary to scripture: “Does God want us to be happy?” He states it better than I can, in our church’s blog.
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I mean, our forefathers wrote this (below) into our country’s beginning so it has to be true right? Our end goal = our happiness?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

But truthfully…what if it looked more like this?
===============
–> God doesn’t just want you to be happy, he wants much more for you.

 

Mayo Clinic’s Study on Happiness (It took a Mayo Clinic to tell us this?)
===============
1. To be focused on the right things, the right thoughts. 2. To be resilient to life’s curve balls – creating healthy boundaries. 3. Biggest hindrance to happiness – Thinking too much about yourself. (NO WAY!! Not in our country, right? How could that be possible? The land of Instagram.) 4. Happiness is a decision.

Bigger question: Why does the pursuit of happiness fail every time? (#3 in study above)
===============
[We believe that if it makes us happy, it must be good. If it makes us unhappy, it must be bad. If something doesn’t make us feel good, it must not be what God wants.]

What if? (Bear with the notes here…)

 

What if the enemy is at work in the world (our day-to-day lives) tarnishing our ideas of what happiness is?

(BINGO! At no point in history has the notion of happiness-as-a-right dictated the citizen like it does in 2015.)

But truthfully, God doesn’t want us happy when…1.) it is due to something that is unhealthy, unwise, or wrong in His eyes, 2.) it is only based on what the world has to offer instead of what He created us for.

In essence, we are worshiping the creature instead of Creator.
===============
Romans 1:22-25 (ESV) sums up this predicament from erroneous human behavior prior to our 2015 pitfalls.
—————
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Don’t love the things of this world. (This one is tough for me.)
===============
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
—————
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Synopsis: The Godly are Happy.
===============
Psalms 97:12 (NLT)
—————
May all who are godly rejoice in the lord and praise his holy name!
God wants you to be blessed.
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blessed: makarios (mak-ar’-ee-os); supremely blessed, more than happy.

 

Blessed… (9 examples from Jesus himself)
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Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)
—————
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
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And quite possibly the most difficult to adhere to but the most all-encompassing…

James 1:2-4 (ESV)
—————
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

Max Lucado said…
===============
You weren’t made for earth. Moments of happiness and joy cannot compare to what’s ahead. Lower your expectations of earth. Not heaven. No new car, new wife, new baby, new boat will give you the joy your heart craves.

 

Put simply, again, The Godly are Happy. They don’t need to be manipulated or goaded by Instagram (sorry for the app-bashing). 🙂
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Psalm 97:12 (ESV)
—————
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

 

Enjoy Wednesday and Thank God for the wisdom and peace this offers!

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10th of June

Permanency.


The world changes minute-by-minute. Man-made advancements and technological marvels rise. The earth itself is always subjected to freeways, turnpikes, & sludge. Here’s a little comfort in knowing nature’s resiliency through it all–

 

river

 

“Men may dam it and say that they have made a lake but it will

still

be a river.

It will keep its nature and bide its time,

like a caged animal alert for the slightest opening.

In time,

it will have its way;

the dam, like the ancient cliffs,

will be carried away…

piecemeal…

in the currents.”

 

–Wendell Berry

 

(Beautiful imagery for your Wednesday from the greatest poet living today!)

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8th of June

FUN things to do on your anniversary!


 

Here are ‘7 Things’ I thank God my wife and I were able to do last weekend for our 7-year anniversary:

 

1.) Ride a Segway like a boss in Franklin, TN. (As opposed to riding a segway like this.)

IMG_06561gg

 

2.) See Leah sit in the biggest chair East of the Mississippi

20150606_111950

 

3.) Go to a concert featuring bands neither of us had ever heard of (really)…

20150606_214256bl

 

4.) Find a Wingstop in a random shopping center in Nashville TN.

o(W-I-N-G-S-T-O-P is the best!!)

 

5.) Work out TOGETHER after 1.5 days of non-stop travel.

m

 

6.) Celebrate with dinner together in Chattanooga!

lllll

 

7.) Take a walk after dinner (and ask a stranger to snap your picture). Yes. A picture together. Imagine that. A brief reprieve from the never-ending single person poses that we do as couples. 🙂 The gentleman who snapped ours was kind enough to ask “Portrait or landscape?”

b

 

7 FUN things to-do on your anniversary! (Franklin -> Nashville -> Chattanooga)

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5th of June

4 Ingredients for Writing.


Tap into your inner Emiril Lagasse for a second. Think about the kitchen as a workspace. Big chef’s hat and all. Emeril (or, any chef) takes his/her cooking space seriously and might involuntarily throw out phrases like “BAM!” and “Kick it up a notch!”

Now, think about your favorite recipe.

Got one in mind?

Mine is always the same, always delicious: Blackberry Cobbler.

cobbler

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 pint blackberries

 

Now, Think about the steps required to make something that delicious. And, then transfer that kitchen-etiquette onto YOUR process for doing something else you love (mine’s writing).

For example:

There are steps to follow at your writing desk, equipment that must be used, and documents to prepare in a certain order that (believe it or not) are very similar to what it takes to make the almighty cobbler.

Here are 4 of my “Go-To” Writing ingredients (followed in this order below):

1. Be intentional in setting aside a “quiet” space (Not like this one, it’s clickable and complete with strobe lights.)

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2. Don’t let obstacles stop you from picking up the pen!

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3. Set a goal (word count, 500 words+) before you can quit!

575761 (love this one, click it!)

 

4. Get consumed by the endeavor!

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5. Return to “life” only after the goal is met!

535908 (Picture says it all.)

 

**These 4 items give me direction in giving my labor of love the proper amount of discipline it deserves. I hope it helps you in yours this week.

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3rd of June

5 Phases of Writing.


5 PHASES OF WRITING (in summary):

 

Phase 1: The Excitement!

You shout, “This is the BEST thing since sliced bread! I LOVE YOU book! Go make it BIG.” (Click on picture for fun celebratory dance.)

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Phase 2: Nervous Nelly.

Question you send to publisher, agent, editor: “Soooo did you love my book?” Followed by sweaty palms galore. (see, Chandler Bing)

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Phase 3: Awkward Silence…

…Days, weeks, months.

You say to yourself, “Where is that darn reply?”

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Phase 4: Rejection. Rejection. Rejection.

Publisher writes, “We’re sorry but this work just isn’t right for us at this time. We wish you the best with it elsewhere. Keep us in mind for future projects. Thanks.”

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Phase 5: The Attempt To Stand Back Up.

Recover. Pick up the spilled milk. March on towards that next publisher, say, “Pick me!”

**All the while not walking with a limp.

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May your encounters be sweet in the publishing world this week! Remember: they’re just words typed on a keyboard – somewhere. Nothing personal. Keep at it!

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Categories:  writing tips
1st of June

Loving others, quirks and all.


the-stairs

When the clock hits 11:09am/pm each day, I think of my birthday. Is it just me or do you do something similar that you find odd, slightly disturbing?

I’m trying to decide what is normal behavior and what is pushing the limits of neurosis.

(I should probably reserve more than just 1 week to ascertain this.)

But, quirkiness is sometimes just that…a quirk you possess.

Side note: I’m not trying to belittle neurosis and Jung’s theory at all here. So please don’t misread this post and its intentions. Here’s a great article to read concerning mental health struggles.

Rather, I’d like to focus on actions that are more ‘quirk’ than disorder and not to be confused with: obsessive-compulsive, impulsivity, anxiety, phobias, and hysteria.

  • Things like seeing my birth date on a clock display. Make a wish. Kind of stuff.
  • Counting steps involuntarily as you climb/descend them at work.
  • Remembering fragments (or whole passages) of material on specific pages of a book.
  • Are these nervous ticks? Maybe. But, sometimes they’re gifts as well.

God gives us uniqueness all the way down to our finger prints.

My name is anything but unique, but I’m learning to be okay with that–finally. My height is average. But, there are so many gifts just below the surface, and it might just mean taking a little extra time to look for them in your life.

For you–maybe you have a knack for telling jokes. Or, you can condense large bits of information down into relatable doses for those of us less inclined to remember a dictionary. Whatever it is–it’s uniqueness that only you have.

Picture yourself like Wolverine in X-Men recognizing (for the first time) that he has adamantium coursing through his veins.

That is you. Anything but average.

Your name, your height, your eye color might be like billions of others, and that is a good thing, too. It can make your connection to others even stronger. It, too, makes you relatable.

“Loving God, Loving people” is a phrase you might hear a lot. Your quirkiness makes that even easier. Believe it or not.

As I typed this, I just recognized that I haven’t been letting this be (in my life) what it is: a gift. Here’s to a week of letting that resonate with you. Here’s my church’s most recent podcast regarding ‘Biblical Blunders’ and uniqueness of those being used by God (failures and all). Listen here . Part 3 should be added this week, and it includes even more people to study and note their quirks. Hope it helps strengthen your view (of yourself) this week.

Feel free to share quirks you may have.

 

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