Archive for April, 2010

29
Apr
10

Change

It was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Most of us are familiar with that quote and we readily attest to the wisdom of the statement but when we stop to think about the adjustments we need to make in our lives, well, we get sidetracked. Why? Well… we’re busy; we just have too much going on right now. And besides, it’s just not a good time right now because…

What are you dissatisfied with in your life? What would you love to change? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I believe all of us were created with specific abilities or “gifts” that have been given to us for the greater good. Often, however, those gifts lie dormant within us because we have never been encouraged to uncover them. Some of us have uncovered the gift but we have never taken the time to discipline the gift so we can get the maximum effectiveness out of it. The writer of the Proverbs rightly noted that, “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). The idea is that those who want to live their life for maximum effectiveness need develop relationships that will take them to the next level of skill. I have heard it said that five years from now you will be the same person you are now except for the people you meet and the books you read. In other words, you are only going to experience meaningful change in your life based on exposure to new ideas and new influences. So what are you doing to facilitate that exposure?

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21
Apr
10

integrity, wisdom and courage

Everybody has a motto. The Marine Corps has “Semper Fidelis” (the Latin for “always faithful”). Most law enforcement agencies use something along the lines of “To Protect and Serve”. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”.

I think as individuals we have mottos as well. They may not be as well polished or clearly stated as one of the high profile organizations listed above, but we all have a guiding principle that shapes our thinking and guides our choices and, thus, defines us.

Over the years my motto has become “Integrity, Wisdom and Courage”. These are the principles I try to use in every situation I face as a litmus test of how I should respond to life in all of its intricacies. These are the characteristics I want to be remembered for. I don’t want anyone having to consult a Hallmark card writer to find something cute or pithy to write on my tombstone that will try and skirt the reality that defined my life. These are the characteristics I remind my children of regularly in emails and texts because, more than money or possession, this is the legacy I want to leave and the inheritance I want to hand down!

It seems as if these characteristics are more and more in short supply. It seems as if everywhere we look they are being compromised. I realize that every generation says that. However, the truth is in every generation you can find the corrupt, the foolish and the cowardly as well as integrity, wisdom and courage. So what causes us to think things are worse now than they use to be? I think it’s this – the moment we begin to question the character of our society we are pulling the veil of pretense back and, in so doing, we not only see the hypocrisy of others, we see our own hypocrisy as well and we, maybe for the first time, count the cost of what it means to be virtuous. That brings us to a moment of decision. Will we justify our behaviors to maintain our comfort or will we pay the price demanded by integrity, wisdom and courage?

14
Apr
10

god said

Have you ever had someone share with you their plans or some decision they have made and then, as a way of circumventing any constructive advice you might have to offer, they add this statement, “Well, that’s what God told me”, thereby implying that no further council is warranted because they have a direct line to heaven and have received God’s “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” The scripture is adamant “with many counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

That does beg the question, “Does God speak?”

I believe the answer is an unequivocal yes! The Scripture clearly tells us that God speaks through wise (i.e., “biblical”) council (Proverbs 11:14), through the revelation of Jesus Christ – that is the Word (Hebrews 1:2), and by his Spirit (Revelation 2:7).

Any of these methods alone, or practiced together in harmony (which is more often than not the case), constitutes biblical prophecy.

Both Old Testament and New Testament teaching place a high value on the importance of prophetic activity among God’s people. Joel 2:28 declares emphatically that in the last days God will pour out his Spirit on people everywhere and, as a result, the generation to which this gift (the Holy Spirit) is given will prophesy. The Apostle Paul tells us that we should “earnestly desire” the ministry of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1).

That’s a little intimidating! A number of years ago someone asked me very casually, “What’s God saying to you?” It stunned me. Not because I thought God didn’t speak to his people but, rather, because we were in a “secular” setting (i.e., not at church). As I floundered for an answer, I came to the conclusion that God really does want to speak to us and through us in everyday settings. So I began to ask that question of others. I received the same dumbfounded looks that I am sure I had, even though I tried desperately to hide it, on the day I was first asked that question. I think the reason we get intimidated is that we wrongly assume that to prophesy means that we are writing a new book of the Bible. But 1 Corinthians 14:3 tells us that we are prophesying anytime we build someone up, encourage them, or comfort them. Have you engaged in any of those activities today? If so, as a Spirit-filled believer, you were practicing prophecy! If you haven’t, why not?

06
Apr
10

440 pitch

Have you ever heard the term “440 pitch”? 440 pitch is 440 Hz tone, sometimes denoted as A440, that serves as the standard for musical pitch. It is the universal frequency or note that all instruments are set to. For those who know how to read music, 440 pitch is Concert A which is the A above middle C. Standard pitch became absolutely necessary the first time two musicians got together to play their instruments at the same time (at least if they wanted it to sound good). An instrument called a tuning fork is normally used to set the pitch.

It was with this concept in mind that author A.W. Tozer once asked the question, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord, by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.”

In other words, unity is not achieved by the individual members of the group seeking to be in harmony with each other but, rather, by the members seeking to be in harmony with that which is the ultimate source of a true tone. Paul warns us about the foolishness of comparing ourselves to each other in 2 Corinthians 10:12. The reason, of course, is because of the false standard that invariably results when we look to other humans as the standard for truth. When we allow a person or a group of people to define “concert pitch” we might have unity for a while but, inevitably, corrupt human nature is going to vary the pitch which always results in turmoil, conflict and confusion.

True unity occurs when we are “joined together” in Christ (Ephesians 2:21). This “true pitch” occurs when we, as individuals, seek a thriving relationship with Christ for ourselves, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Jesus. True unity among believers, as the Scripture depicts as the norm, is a direct outflow and byproduct of us becoming like him!

01
Apr
10

who are you and what do you want?

Have you seen the new advertising campaign produced by an investment firm where the characters are all baby boomers approaching retirement? In each scenario depicted in the ads, the actors repeat the line, “When I grow up I want to __________.” It reminds me of a book I read entitled Who Are You and What Do You Want?

I think self-discovery is a very important thing. I am saddened whenever I meet someone who has lived their life with no sense of direction or realization of their talents and potential. I believe wholeheartedly that each of us are created with abilities that, if developed and channeled correctly, can help us to live a very fulfilling and satisfying life.

Some Christ-followers might question that statement, but let me remind you of Psalm 37:4: “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” What a great promise! When we link it to Ephesians 2:10, where Paul states: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”, we begin to see a clearer picture of what God had in mind when he designed us.

Theologian N.T. Wright, in his book Surprised by Hope, ties God’s purpose in creating us together with the hope of re-creation through the resurrection this way: “God’s design was to rule creation in life-giving wisdom through his image-bearing human creatures. But this was always a promise for the future, a promise that one day the true human being, the image of God himself, God’s incarnate son, would come to lead the human race into their true identity.” To rephrase: God created us originally to be his image bearers. Through the Fall we abdicated that responsibility. Through Christ we have been restored to the position of image bearers and entrusted with all the responsibility that goes along with it.