By now I’m sure that you’ve heard about the incredibly tragic events that took place in Las Vegas. Not only is this deeply disturbing to us as a nation, it should be even more so to us as Christians. Many people, including the shooter, entered into eternity. The Bible tells us:
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment – Hebrews 9:27 NLT
Events like this shatter our personal feelings of immortality and safety. We tend to walk around in a cocoon of embraced ignorance believing that every day will end the same way it always has, and that each morning we will wake up to go through our daily routines. But, that is simply a facade, the reality is that it takes very little for these fragile bodies of our to cease functioning properly, or functioning at all.
Reports on the scene of the massacre say that a woman was walking around in the crowd just prior to the shooting telling anyone who would listen, ‘You’re going to die to today, you’re all going to die.’ I don’t know about you but that is just plain sick…but that could be true for anyone of us today as well. Today could very well be our last day on this earth, will you live it well? It could also be the last day for someone you love, do they know you love them? More importantly do they know that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them?
I am in no way trying to be morbid or emotionalize something horrific, instead I’m hoping to stir your mind to action. If we can each begin to remove the blindfolds from our eyes and if we each begin to realize that our time on this planet is short and start making the most of every day then this tragedy doesn’t go without a positive outcome. We, by how we allow this to change our actions, can give some sense of meaning to an otherwise meaningless and evil event. Evil in our world isn’t new, and it isn’t going to end until Christ’s return. But, if we can take the Apostle Paul’s words to heart we can make a difference in the world around us:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV
Okay, I may come across as a little bit of a fuddy-duddy, but hear me out. Better yet, take a look around. No matter where you are; in a restaurant, waiting in line, sitting at the BMV, eating dinner at home…everyone around you is on their phones. Typically the younger the crowd the higher percentage of those who’s faces are hauntingly lit by the blue or white glow of their screens.
Much of what we are doing on our phones is ‘communicating’ with others. However, that communication is sterile, bereft of human contact or facial cognition of the little nuances and inflections when people talk. Those things tip the intent listener to at least a sliver of the motivation behind the words being spoken; joy, sorrow, sarcasm, pain, et al. Because of this emoji’s were developed, little icons meant to depict the emotion we are feeling at the moment to those we are texting, snapping, facebooking, and whatever other new thing is out there. We do this because we don’t want what we are typing to be misinterpreted. Sometimes we are honest, sometimes we simply saying something nasty and plaster a yellow teethy smiley face to cover up our ugliness,
All of this has led to a decreased ability for the average person to have a conversation with someone else, in real life, and ‘read’ their face correctly. It has also lead to an increased lack of etiquette and courteousness. Our texting patterns have lead to one word answers; okay, yes, no, later, maybe, which come out as cold, uncaring, and simply rude. For the average person, this isn’t good, for a leader its suicidal.
A leader is an influencer. Your conversations, attitude, demeanor, tone, looks, mood, influence either positively or negatively those around you. If you don’t look people in the eye, if you walk into a room and don’t greet people with a smile, if your answers are one word, clipped responses your being a bad leader…period!
I know, I can hear the pushback as I write this, ‘What if I’m having a bad day…I’m not a outgoing person…I don’t want to be fake…’
- First, everyone has an off day every now and then. I have off days, and if I blow it by being moody, cranky, or short with someone, I have to go an apologize to them, because I didn’t do my job well that day.
- Second, you don’t need to be ‘bubbly’ but you do need to be outgoing as a leader. By that I mean you can’t wait for others to approach you, your the LEADER for crying out loud! As a leader you are probably a little intimidating, even if not physically, more than likely in your persona. Ive NEVER considered myself scary or intimidating, but guess what, people (even my own family) tell me that I am, especially if people don’t know me. So, I can’t just sit back and wait for others to engage me, it allows negativity to breed and questions to brew, which undermines your cause.
- Third, I am so tired of hearing this garbage about being fake. You don’t have to pretend that everything in your life is peachy keen, but how about showing the joy of Christ on your face? How about the command, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”? (Phil 4:4) How about you getting over yourself, pulling up your big boy/girl pants and start being the leader that God’s called you to be?
You see as a leader your job is to help people be better, do better, to build them up. If you are so absorbed in your own personal issues that you cannot do that, then you need to stop pretending you’re a leader, your not. You are a dragger (my own made up word, followed by my own made up definition). A dragger is someone who is like a weight in a room. When they walk into the office everyone clenches waiting to see what ‘mood’ they are in that day. They are so concerned and consumed with themselves that they can’t or really won’t take the time to make those around them feel like they matter, that they are special. They discourage people without saying a word. I feel like this verse is written directly to the draggers out there masquerading as leaders:
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. – Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
It’s so easy to show appreciation, gratitude, and kindness. To say hello, thank you, nice to see you…these are easy simple things. If you are a leader and you don’t do these things…you’re not a leader, your just some guy/girl with a title or position. Great leaders show and do these things, they intentionally make others feel important. Selfish, self-absorbed people don’t, they are too concerned with protecting or projecting their own perceived self-importance.
So, to all the leaders out there, take a page out of the life of Christ (He’s a pretty good example to check out), He walked slowly through our world for 33 years. He talked to the lowest of the low and the highest of the high. Everyone mattered, even those who hated him, hurt him, and conspired against him. He looked people in the eye, and asked people to look him in the eye. He never allowed his personal stuff to be an excuse to abdicate his role. Lead like Jesus this week!!!
I know that many of you are aware that we began a journey about a year and a half ago, of starting a ministry that serves those who serve others. Our big dream is to positively impact hundreds of churches, communities, military units, and fire stations by giving their spiritual leaders time away to heal, refresh, and continue to lead. You can read about our vision in this previous post: The Birth of Acorn Ridge
We are now on the cusp of getting our 501c3 which will allow us a lot more leverage in the realms of tax deductible gifts, donor base, and grant proposals. The total cost will be somewhere between $3,500 – $5,000. Would you be willing to partner with us in making this a reality and being a significant part of impacting the world by helping those who serve others? Would you pray specifically for God’s leading, direction, and help in getting over this significant hurdle? Would you share the idea and the vision of Acorn Ridge with others who might also partner with us? Would you be willing to help us financially make a positive difference in the lives and the families of those who serve?
Feel free to ask any questions and we will be happy to answer them, if you’d like to be a financial partner you can do so here: Acorn Ridge 501c3
“I can’t wait till my kids graduate and are out of the house and I can stop having to be a parent!”
Okay, I know you’ve never said that out loud, but you’ve thought it haven’t you, I know I’ve thought it on occasion! Well, I hate to break it to you/us but the job of a parent is never-ending and constantly shifting. Once you had a child everything changed, you became responsible for taking one of God’s prized projects and equipping it to become one of His masterpieces.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Eph 2:10 NLT
After being a parent for over 20 years there is something that I have learned, I’ll never be the enough for my girls. I’m imperfect, impatient, and often impossible to deal with, I’m simply incomplete as a person and therefore woefully inadequate to give them everything they need. My only hope is if I’m not doing this alone. Now, my wonderful wife most certainly is the ying to my yang, the white to my black, and the strength to my weakness, but even when two incomplete people work together, we are still not enough! We still fall far short of being the master artisans necessary to finish God’s masterpiece, our kids.
So, I’ve had to learn the hard way that what I must do is my best, and then believe that God has all the rest covered. Although I am an incomplete and imperfect father, I must point them to their heavenly Father who is both complete and perfect and loves them far more and much deeper than I ever could. My job as a parent isn’t to fix my girls, but to point my girls to the one who can heal every hurt, bind every wound, restore every relationship, and guide them down any path. If I can accomplish this, then I have done my job. That doesn’t mean that I’m done as a parent or that my girls will never need me again, quite the opposite, because just like our heavenly Father I’ll always be available for my girls whenever they need me as long as I have breath. But it does alleviate a whole lot of pressure that I put on myself, and I’m guessing you probably do to. My prayer for all of the moms and dads reading this is that you’ll be okay with not being enough, because you know the God who is more than enough, and if you do everything in your power to connect them to Him, I promise you He can handle it!
My prayer over you today:
Dear Father, for every mom and dad who reads this give them peace. Show them that you are enough for them, that they are not alone. Allow them to rest in your sufficiency when they feel insufficient. Challenge them to do all they can to point their children to you and equip them to become the parent you’ve called them to be. God, remind them today that you choose them to be the parent(s) of the children you gave them, and that if they rely on you, you will never abandon them. Bless them beyond all measure today as they strive to become all you’ve called them to be!
This last weekend I talked about how God has commanded those of us who believe and follow him to simply rest. That rest begins with our ability to trust that He is in fact in control and that it’s not all about us or up to us. You see when we believe it is either about or up to us we can never truly rest and we will never be happy, because if we stop we loose. If we rest we miss opportunities. If we fall short it’s because we didn’t try hard enough, so we need to try harder next time, work longer, push farther…you get the picture.
Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. – Ps 127:1-2
I believe that the key to finding happiness and being able to rest begins with confronting 3 lies that we tell ourselves that are represented in the above passage. The first lie goes something like this, “I can do this!”. This sounds great doesn’t it, self confidence, self reliance, oh the joys of the self help book! Here’s the problem though, in a very real and all encompassing sense you can’t do this. You and I are hopelessly ill equipped to conquer life, or for that matter just navigate it without massive tragedy. The primary reason is that the vast majority of the things in your life are beyond your control. Until you realize that without God you can’t do squat, you’ll never find rest and never experience genuine happiness.
The second lie is a small variation of the first, “I have enough or I know enough to do this”. The problem here is that we are assuming that we know what is actually needed to accomplish the task. In the verse the author refers to guarding a city, inferring that someone was coming to attack it. But, there is the unknown, how many, how strong, when will they attack, what war machines do they have. All these questions are unknowable, and when we think we’ve got it we end up moving forward unprepared and end up unsuccessful. Until we admit that we can’t possibly know enough, we won’t be able to rest or be truly happy.
The final lie is like one of those horrible children’s songs that just repeats itself over and over. You know, “This is the song that never ends…” I cringe just hearing that begin in my head. But that’s exactly what we are doing when we buy into the lie, “I just need to work harder!” The bottom line is, there are some things that no matter how hard you try you’ll never be able to accomplish, no matter how smart you are, how wonderful of a strategy you espouse, how many hours you work, it just isn’t going to happen. That can sound very defeating and deflating, but realizing that the end results aren’t all up to you can actually be an incredibly liberating thing that, well, opens up the door for you to rest and rediscover happiness.
Take a breath this week and confront the lies that steal the rest you need and the happiness God desires!
Hello my friends, and I do mean friends. Whether your right or left of me doesn’t change that I appreciate you as a person, as a productive member of society, and as one who bears the image of our amazing God.
Over the last several months, on this blog and in church I’ve challenged you to look at everything from a Biblical standpoint, to respect each other even if you don’t agree, to honor and pray for those in authority, and never forget that God is always on the throne. Now that the election is over I wanted to share some insights on what I saw as interesting this election cycle. So, without further ado and in no particular order 7 things we learned this election:
- Strong leadership still matters. The exit polling said that for a majority of Americans this was their #1 reason they voted the way they voted. Now, some voted for Trump and some for Clinton, but people believed that leadership was really important.
- Money can’t buy you everything. Clinton raised and spent more than double of what Trump did. In all each vote ‘cost’ Trump a little under $5 and ‘cost’ Clinton a touch over $10. That is an astounding reality. In a culture like ours when money essential allows you to do anything, it still can’t simply win you the Presidency.
- You can’t believe everything you hear. At the beginning of the evening just about every news, polling, and political site said that Clinton was going to win, and possibly win big. I don’t for a second believe that all of these places were lying and ‘in the bag’ for Clinton, maybe some but not all. I’m certain it will take weeks for pundits to drill down into the why’s, but the bottom line is just because someone says it, and just because some data may support it, doesn’t mean that it’s 100% true or that it couldn’t change on a dime.
- Never give up! Winston Churchill famously once gave a speech that ended like this, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” It would be easy to give up when everyone is saying that you can’t, but as long as you still believe you can, don’t give up.
- Age isn’t a limiter. Both Clinton and Trump should be, by conventional wisdom, enjoying their golden years on the beach and golf courses. They are both plenty wealthy and don’t need to do a single thing but relax. However, both of them took on the biggest most demanding challenge in the world, winning the US Presidency. Those of you that are ‘seasoned’ don’t buy into the lie that just because your of retirement age that you need to act like your old! You can do great things and conquer great challenges even if you’re on Social Security.
- Our country is divided. When you look at the popular vote it is essentially split in half, and I’m not sure that you could get two candidates more diametrically opposed than these two. President-Elect Trump has a huge job on his hands in bringing this nation together, we should pray for him and our country.
- People are people. I find it quite ironic that the most vocal people bashing and attacking those on the right for disagreeing with Obama, or those who were talking about how Texas should succeed, or suggesting impeachment, et al, are now the ones out there going absolutely crazy. Not sure what I’m talking about just look up #assasinatetrump or check out this article detailing all of the protests.
I don’t know which way you voted, and at this point it really doesn’t matter because it’s all over with. In 70 some days America will inaugurate a new president and our country will more than likely head in a new direction. These things you have very little control over. However, you have complete control over yourself, so exercise that control. Show that you are lead by the Spirit of God and that you are filled with the fruit of Self-Control. Don’t loose your permanent testimony over a temporary election…it just ain’t worth it folks, and beside, Jesus is still the King!
Other articles you may be interested in:
- 5 Reasons I’ll ‘Never’ Preach Politics!
- The Demagoguing Democrat VS. The Rancorous Republican
- An Open Letter To My Left-Leaning Friends!
- An Open Letter To My Right-Leaning Friends!
Just wanted to let you know that my eldest daughter, Kaitlyn (Kait) started a new blog. She’s got a couple of posts up and I would highly encourage you to check it out. Especially if you’re a 20-something, a woman, or a teen. Some great stuff over there, here’s her most recent post: 6 Things You Should Know Before You Date Me
Check it out and share it!