Archive Page 2

13
Oct
14

where is your current taking you?

cc by-nc-nd Bruno Monginoux www.photo-paysage.com & www.landscape-photo.netWho have you been hanging out with lately? That is a really important question to ask ourselves on a regular basis. Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn astutely observed that, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The Sage of Proverbs affirms this principle when he writes, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). The Apostle Paul adds his endorsement, in 1 Corinthians 15:33, when he says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

The principle we are talking about here is simply one of current. We all understand that the current of a river carries an object in a very specific direction. The same is true of those who are influencing our life.

So who are the five people who are forming your future? And the follow up question to that is this: Is that the trajectory that you want your life to be on?

More specifically, we need to ask questions about those who are closest to us like these: “Do these individuals share my values? Do they have the same moral standards as I do? Do they encourage me to be my best? Are they achieving the results in their life that I would like to achieve?”

These are all very important questions because, we are influenced by the people we regularly associate with. To be successful in this life we have to be proactive. Jesus set forth this principle in Matthew 7:13-14 when he compared two different ways to live our life. He said there is the popular way to go, which is pretty much effortless, you just go with the flow. Or, there is the more strenuous way that is open to everyone but only a few will take advantage of it because it requires effort and focus. Although he was specifically talking about a spiritual truth here, the principle applies to all of life. There is an easy way that leads, at best, to mediocrity, or there is a more determined way that leads to fulfilling the purpose God has for you. If we are going to achieve that purpose we will need all the help we can get from those around us and so we must choose those who influence us wisely.

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06
Oct
14

integrity

integrity1A number of years ago I adopted a family motto for Julie, the kids and I. The motto included the characteristics I consider to be of paramount importance and I have tried to live my life by them. The motto is: Wisdom, Integrity & Courage. I have reminded my family of it often through toasts at weddings and such, as well as regular reminders in conversation and texts.

Wisdom is something I started seeking when I accepted a call to the ministry. I was seventeen years old and knew for me to be able to accomplish anything at all in this life, especially something as important as advancing the Kingdom of God, I would need a supernatural endowment of wisdom in my life. I knew what the Bible said about God giving wisdom to anyone who asks (James 1:5). So I did, and God has repeatedly honored his word in my life.

Courage was instilled in me by the men in my life. My Dad and my Grandfather did a lot to give me the confidence to believe I could do anything if I set my mind to it. I’ve always viewed life as one big adventure. I relish new challenges and jump at the chance to tackle new opportunities. On those occasions when my confidence might not be what I would like it to be, the words of “The Duke” (John Wayne for those who might be culturally deprived) ring in my ear, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

But then there is that integrity thing. Don’t get me wrong, I seriously don’t like thieves and liars and I will go the extra mile to avoid any appearance of those things in my life. What I have struggled with at times is rule bending for the good of the project I am working on. For me, rules can sometimes come across as simple suggestions to be evaluated and interpreted in light of my own best interest. It can be as simple as going in the “out” door because walking to the other side of the building is a waste of my precious time. Although not a big deal, what I have learned about this is twofold. First, I must keep my arrogance in check. (Man, being transparent is tough sometimes.) I have watched one to many talented people crash and burn because they didn’t think the rules applied to them. Which leads to the second lesson. I must beware of the “slippery slope” syndrome. You know, you violate your conscience once and it just gets easier the next time.

I absolutely do not want my story to become one of what could have been. I want to live my life guided by wisdom, protected by integrity and motivated by courage.

29
Sep
14

wow

5395dd961d1cdWow! Sometimes that is all you can say when you look around and see all God is doing. That’s how I’m feeling right now. God is doing some awesome things and he is allowing me the privilege of being a part them.

This is not always the case. God is always at work for sure, but sometimes what he is doing is obscured by my pre-occupation with the world, lack of spiritual discernment, stubbornness, fatigue, doubt and fear. It is in those times that I tend, much like Peter did when Jesus invited him to walk on the water with Him (See Matthew 14:22-32), to take my eyes off of what God is doing and focus on the circumstances in my life from a purely earthly perspective.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we have challenges in our life that, without a doubt, seem overwhelming. The problem occurs when we focus solely on those challenges forgetting that God has specifically promised that he would use everything that happens to us for our good.

I am certainly not going to be rough on Peter. I have been in a few storms that became so violent that I lost sight of God’s sovereignty and became consumed with the waves. In a number of those situations I had made up my mind that it was over for me. But God came through anyway. He always does, that is not the point. The point is will we learn to trust him completely with our lives? Will we stop throwing spiritual temper tantrums when things aren’t working out as we expected and simply believe that God has our best interest in mind, and he is working, with perfect skill and timing, to accomplish that purpose?

For now, all I can see is the sunshine and the calm seas, but I have lived long enough to know there is a storm coming. My desire is to face that storm with the same peace and trust I have right now while things are going great.

23
Sep
14

the perfect storm

Ithe-perfect-storm_Lf you have followed my blog posts you know it has been quite some time since I have posted anything. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just that I have just been occupied with a lot of other activities and leadership responsibilities. But today is a new day …in more ways than one! God is doing some really amazing things and I am humbled, intrigued and excited beyond description to be a part of his plan. Julie and I were talking the other day about the things we sensed God doing and she stopped in the middle of her comment and asked excitedly, “Don’t you feel like the perfect storm is brewing?”

It might not be the best way to express it but that is exactly what I feel like. I look back over my life to this point; the ups and downs, the successes and the failures, the dreams realized and those still waiting to be realized, and I can see a little more clearly how God has been involved in all of it. I see how he has been preparing me for the realization of my dream. He has had to knock some rough edges off of me. He has had to humble me. He has had to teach me some patience and some life and leadership skills along the way. But he always knew where he was taking me. He never deviated from the plan he had from the beginning. Even when I was confused and wondering if I had really heard from him, and, at times, if I was even called, he knew exactly where we were headed. The only time he ever slowed down was to pick me up when I had slipped or fallen and set me back on the path. And now, although not fully arrived, I see the fruition of his plan coming together just as he always intended and I am excited and awed by his faithfulness.

29
Aug
13

Trust God

Trust-in-God-620x250Time and time again we are told in Scripture, and by others believers, to trust God with the details of our lives. Great advice for sure, but every once in a while something comes up that is so huge it shakes us to the very core of our being. In those moments trusting God seems to be next to impossible. Our faith is so pummeled, all we really want to do, and maybe only have the strength to do, is curl up in the fetal position and whimper like a new born baby.

I know. I’ve been there. I’ve had those times when I laid on my face before God begging him to speak, to act, to take away the pain, to show up in some way. Don’t get me wrong, he was there with me the whole time. But that did not take away the sting of the moment. It did not relieve the pain I was experiencing. But God was, and is, always there.

The problem we sometimes have in comprehending that truth is our understanding of what it means to trust God. For most of us, our idea of trusting God is expressed like this, “God fix my problem, make the pain go away, or change my circumstances, and do it right now.” If he doesn’t come through the way we want him to we are tempted to feel like he failed us.

In reality, trusting God means that we learn to walk with him through whatever the situation is, believing that no matter how horrendous or difficult the situation is, God will walk through it with us. He will give us the strength that we need day by day, and even moment by moment if necessary, to endure the situation we are faced with. Then we can say with the Psalmist, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalm 92:1)

07
Jun
13

liar, liar

liar“God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies.” So states Numbers 23:19, in the Contemporary English Version. The writer goes on to say that God doesn’t, “change his mind” and that he “always keeps his promises.”

So why have I so often called him a liar? That got your attention, but it’s true. Every time I have doubted one of his promises, every time I have allowed worry to rob me of my peace, every time I have lost a minutes sleep fretting over some situation, I was basically looking God in the face and saying, “You’re a liar!”

That certainly was not my intention, but I just did not take the time to understand result of actions. The enemy loves for us to live with that kind of duplicity in our lives. He wants us to believe that our actions have no consequences. But they do. They always do. Every time we give into our doubt and fear, it chisels away at our confidence in God. In essence we are questioning the integrity of God.

Of coarse, much of this is based upon or experience with other people, and ourselves. What I mean is this; others have proven to be unreliable, just as we have. Obviously not all the time. But often enough that we’re just not sure if they are going to come through for us, and so we always have a backup plan, just in case. So it is in our relationship with God. We want to trust him and believe his promises, but the minute there is any delay or uncertainty we go into panic mode because, “we have been let down so many times before.” It’s not that we mean to question God or put his integrity on trial, it’s just a natural byproduct of our action.

But here’s the thing, “God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies.” You can take that to the bank! When doubts arise in your life just remember who made the promise to you. “But what if it doesn’t work out the way I thought it should”, you ask? We’ve all been there. But that doesn’t mean God lied, it simply means we have failed to see the “big picture”. Regardless of that failure on our part, God faithfully continues to orchestrate our circumstances in such a way as to bring about his ultimate good in us and prepare for his Kingdom that is to come.

25
Apr
13

what’s wrong?

despair-head-in-hands-370x229Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s wrong with his world”? As we think about recent events; the bombing in Boston, the polarization of our society, the inability of our politicians to accomplish anything meaningful, shootings on what seem like a monthly, if not weekly basis, it is easy for us to become disgusted with our culture. We listen to the hollow explanations given by the mainstream media and the knee-jerk solutions proposed by our elected officials and we only grow more disillusioned. We want to scream out. We want to shake someone and say, “Listen to what you’re saying”. We want someone to do something, to stop the madness, to bring viable solutions to the table. We want resolution. Ultimately, we want to know what happened. We want someone to tell us How we got here, and, more importantly, how we are going to get out of the mess we are in.

Scripture tells us the proper response to all of this begins with prayer. It is through prayer that the Holy Spirit can illuminate God’s Word and show us a path out of the difficulty we are in. But here’s the problem – prayer requires us to begin the search for answers within our own heart. True intercession forces us to look deep within ourselves, and when we do, we often find something very disturbing. We discover that lurking there just under the surface is our own: pride, selfishness, prejudice and so on. It is then that we realize, as G.K. Chesterton noted when asked the same question by The Times, that the answer to the question, “What’s wrong with the world”, is often, “I am.”