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!
I am not a single issue voter, and on typical policy issues I am silent publicly because of my
role as a pastor. As a pastor I am concerned most with people’s relationship with Christ and never want to put an unnecessary wall up regarding politics because politics and government have never once saved a persons soul.
However, after watching the debate last night an issue came up that is not a policy issue, but an issue of morality, an issue on which neither God nor the Bible is silent and therefore as a Christian and pastor I will not be silent. It is important that we never succumb to cultural pressure to elevate man’s opinion over God’s commands, period!
- The Bible states that all humanity bears the image and the mark of God (Genesis 1:27).
- God has said that because of this it is a sin to take a human life (Exodus 20:13), unless as a punishment for murder (Genesis 9:6).
- The Bible considers the killing of an unborn child murder, even if it’s accidental (Exodus 21:22-25).
- God’s relationship with each human begins at the moment of conception and extends throughout the entirety of their life (Jeremiah 1:5).
The Psalmist, David, writes in beautiful poetic form the tender relationship that God has with each unborn child in Psalm 139, read these words:
For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. – Ps 139:13-14
According to the Bible, every unborn child has a purpose, was given life for a reason, and can make a difference in our world. How many things have we missed out on, lost out on, and been robbed of because of the millions of innocent lives who were never given breath? How many parents, mothers who have believed the lies of our culture telling them it’s their ‘right’ or it’s just ’tissue’ have been indelibly scarred and broken after the fact. You see the reality is abortion is not just something that affects the child itself, it has far reaching and devastating effects on all those involved with it. It is a scourge that has gouged a hole in the very fabric of our national morality, psyche, and spirituality, and left millions upon millions in it’s horrific wake.
If you or someone you love has been involved in this in some way shape or form and are feeling a level of guilt or despair over your decision, know this, God still loves you, has a plan for you, and wants you to receive His forgiveness. If you are contemplating doing this, I challenge you to reconsider, to realize that the child within you is a precious gift from God to you, he/she is not a mistake or an accident, they were planned before you even knew.
Finally, for all of you, if someone who has pledged to ‘defend and protect’ is not willing to do so for the most vulnerable and innocent of us, will they do that for any of us?
Man, it’s been a tough 18 months for pastors! First, Mark Driscoll the founding and senior pastor of Mars Hill resigned over allegations of abusive leadership. Then just a few months ago Perry Noble, the founding and senior pastor of Newspring Church resigned because he was using alcohol to self-medicate. And, just this last Sunday, Pete Wilson, the founding and senior pastor of Crosspoint Church resigned because he is completely ‘burned out’. These men represented 3 churches that reached well over 100,000 people combined.
I don’t care what you think about these men, but let me tell you something, they all were used by God in ways most of us could never imagine. Are they, were they perfect, no…and that makes all of us! The role of a senior pastor is at times suffocating, overwhelming, emotionally draining, and makes you feel sub-human, because you cannot act like you really want to when someone attacks you or your family. Being a pastor’s wife or kids is often even more difficult because they rarely get to see the resolution of things, like the pastor does.
I’m well aware that all jobs have stresses that are unique, and I am in no way saying that pastor’s stand alone in having a job with pressure. But, there is something uniquely different when you are in full-time ministry. How do I know this, well during 20+ years of full-time ministry I’ve brought numerous people on staff who were in the ‘secular’ workplace. Their struggles, their stories of how radically different, lonely, painful, and secluded they felt (which they had never experienced before) convinced me of this. You see for most church-going folks, church is a place of rest, refreshment, and friendship. For pastors, their families, and other in full-time ministry it’s anything but. Their feelings are rarely considered; their friendships hardly, if ever, are allowed to go beyond superficial; any conversation at any time can morph into yet another counseling session…even at the grocery store (it’s happened people, more than once actually!).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing or what God has allowed me to do for one minute! I LOVE being a pastor!!! But, it doesn’t mean that it comes easy, or without a very, very, high price. So, whatever church you call home, take time out this week and just send a thank you note to your pastors, AND their wives. Be a friend to your pastors, AND their wives. Treat them like normal human beings, because…newsflash…we are!
Check out this blog written by a fellow pastor Rob Shepherd: Another Pastor Bites The Dust
Many Americans have stayed up late over the last two-weeks watching live event coverage of the Olympics from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. As a sports fan it’s like binge watching your favorite tv show for 14 straight days, exhilarating and exhausting all in one!
Each Olympics has their own heroes (Simone Biles) and villains (Ryan Lochte…nuff said). But occasionally we get to see something special, Like a 42 year old (now 43) mom Kristin Armstrong, who fought back from multiple surgeries and moments after crossing the
finish line for the gold collapsed, only to be comforted by her young son. You can’t make that up, no hollywood script could have been better written and no musical score could have made that moment more dramatic!
If we’re lucky, however, we get to see greatness. Athletes who are so dominate, so incredible that they transcend their sport. They become the thing of legend. During this Olympics there were three such athletes. Each of them winning gold in multiple Olympics and each ones performance so dominating that when they performed it was hard to look away.
Katie Ledecky won her first gold medal in 2012 at the age of…15! Can you believe that?! Can’t even drive yet and she’s whoopin’ on the best swimmers in the world. This year her swims were so dominate that she could have probably had a 44oz big gulp down before second place finished! She won a total of 5 Golds and one Silver, and became the first woman to win a gold in the 200, 400, and 800 meter races in the same Olympics.
Usain Bolt is another legend, but his greatness has extended over 3 Olympics. He is not only regarded as the fastest man ever timed, but he is also the only person to ever win the 100, 200, and 4×100 in three straight Olympics! No one has ever done it in back to back Olympics, much less three in a row. He has figured out a way to sustain greatness over a significant period of time on the largest stage in the world!
Finally, there is Michael Phelps, love him or hate him, he’s the best that’s ever been! Phelps has been swimming on the Olympic stage for 4 Olympics…that’s astounding in any sport, and especially a sport where the young ones are almost always dominant. Phelps has said that this was his last, but it wasn’t his least, he still won 5 Golds and 1 silver and showed very little drop off in dominance. Overall, Phelps has won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them being gold. Additionally, he’s won gold in multiple strokes and multiple lengths. In a sport where specialization is king, it’s almost unheard of.
So, what makes these three so…special, so dominant, so legendary? Well, obviously their DNA has something to do with it. They were gifted with great natural ability, but my guess is that’s true of anyone that makes it to the Olympics. What sets them apart? I believe it is two things:
- First, each of them is notorious for their training regimen. If we did in a week what they do each day, I think we’d die! They have learned that putting in the time, energy, and effort when no one is watching means that when everyone is watching they’ll perform their best. Under Armour has done an incredible commercial specifically focusing on Phelps and gives you a glimpse of what I’m talking about, you should check it out: Phelps Under Armour Commercial
- Second, none of them are willing to set limits on what they can do. They don’t see boundaries, they don’t think in terms of what is possible. Ledecky has famously said, “I just like to swim fast, I don’t think about the distance”. Bolt has said on multiple occasions, “I don’t think limits.” And Phelps, well he actually wrote a book entitled No Limits, The Will To Succeed.
These athletes can teach us something about life and our walk with Christ. Often times we see the fanfare that others receive and we get jealous. But, what we don’t see is all the hard work, the behind the scenes effort that got them there. If you want to succeed in life and grow stronger as a follower of Christ, you’ve got to be willing to do what’s necessary without the accolades or audience. You’ve got to spend time just you and God, sometimes early in the morning and other late at night. Sometimes is joyful communion while other times it’s painful intercession. It’s in the moments when no one is watching that the strength of your character is forged, that the foundation of your soul is laid.
I also think it’s important for us to begin to remove all of our self-imposed limitations. Stop saying what you can’t do and start doing what you can. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you just start moving towards your goal. Stop whining and complaining about how others have it easier, you don’t know that! You don’t know what their quiet struggles are, what their times in the dark are like. As the Apostle Paul says so eloquently, “Run the race set before you!” Don’t look at others, look ahead at what God has for you!
I just wrapped up a three week ‘stay-work-ation’, yeah I just made that word up, it’s my blog I can do that! Essentially, we have a ton of work to do on Acorn Ridge to get it ready to serve those who serve. So I spent the last several weeks painting, patching, sanding, weed whacking, and etc. During the weekends I spent my time luxuriously relaxing pool side…in a bleacher seat watching my youngest swim at three back to back to back meets. So, to say that I had a lot of time to think, is an understatement!
Each weekend I was gone I logged onto ExperienceFriendship.com and either watched or listened to one of our amazing elders deliver God’s Word in a powerful and challenging way. It was awesome, and I was so encouraged with what an amazing job they did. What I found myself missing though was the music, yeah you read that right! I found myself this last Sunday, my first Sunday back, just overwhelmed with the amazing sound of nearly 400 people joined in public, loud, joyful, and enthusiastic musical worship of our great God! I reflected on people whom I’ve heard say things like, ‘you don’t NEED to go to church to be a Christian’, or ‘my church is on tv’ or something to that effect. I never bought that excuse, yes that’s what it is, but during our time away I realized just how sad it must be to never experience the joyful worship of God’s people.
During our time off we did see and or ‘hang out’ with people that go to Friendship, but there is something special about wandering the halls on Sunday morning and taking in the buzz of excitement as people are using their gifts to serve our great King. There is an electricity in the air on Sundays at Friendship that just can’t be duplicated, it must be experienced. I, of course, am a little bias on this front, but it has been confirmed to me by others over and over again. I even had a family tell me just this last weekend, that they cut their trip to Kentucky Kingdom short just so they wouldn’t miss this last week. Okay, that’s awesome!
The bottom line is, I really missed being a part of the experience at Friendship, there was a hole in my heart each weekend. The old saying is, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, I don’t know if that’s true in every sense, but I’ve gotta say, being away from you all sure did whet my appetite for getting back!