Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dislike

I don't like the New England Patriots.  It feels good to express that.  Very therapeutic.

The only time I even consider cheering for the Patriots is when they play the Philadelphia Eagles.  Because, boy do I dislike those Eagles.  In a game between the two of them, I struggle.  Hmmm.... Who do I dislike more?

Here's the point.  The fact that I don't like the Patriots means nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

They are the most successful sports franchise over the last 20 years.  Their quarterback is arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the sport.  Their coach is considered to be one of the best head coaches of all time.  The Patriots are talented.  The Patriots are dominant.  The Patriots are the model organization.  But I don't like them.

I also don't like kale.  I don't like school.  I don't like rain.  I don't like rap, hip-hop, or classical music.  And I don't like romantic comedies.

But kale is full of health benefits.  School is a foundation of society.  Rain makes things grow.  All music is a form of art.  And romantic comedies, well, I'm sure there must be a purpose.

There will be people who do not like you.  There will be people who do not appreciate your gifts.  There will be people who don't get you, don't want you around, and possibly even cheer for you to lose.

That means nothing!

You have gifts.  You have much to offer your world.  You change lives.  You make things grow.  You are an expression of God's creativity.  You are overflowing with purpose.

The truth is that I don't like the Patriots because THEY ARE BETTER than the teams I do like.

When all is said and done, I cannot deny their greatness.

You may not be everyone's drink of choice, but in the end. if you continue to shine, no one will be able to deny the greatness of God that is in you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Note to Self

Dear self,

The enemy has no power over you.  He has a plan to steal, kill, and destroy, but he has no power to implement his plan.  The only way he can take away your joy is if you hand it to him.

More than anything else today, you need to fulfill the mission God has for you:  to honor God, to love your wife, to lead your children, and to let God's light shine through you like the noon day sun.

You have made many mistakes in the past, and you will make many more in the future.  Yet, your value is not measured by perfection.  It is measured by mercy.

If something is not worth praising, it is not worth thinking.  Clear your mind of everything that lacks honor.  When that becomes difficult...just think about football.

Remain in constant conversation with God.  When God seems silent, that is not your cue to keep talking.  It is a sign that He is preparing His response.


NOW GO OUT THERE AND KICK TODAY IN THE BACKSIDE!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

This is Not Our World

Imagine a workplace in which all of the employees spent the majority of their days ordering each other around.  Criticizing other workers for their performances.  Questioning motives.  Exposing flaws.  Hoping to see others fail.

Would anyone want to join that team?

And do any of us believe the employer would be proud of his team?

Sometimes this is what it feels like to be a Christian.

Preachers criticize other preachers.  Pastors write articles and post status updates that take shots at other pastors half-way around the world.  All in the name of protecting Truth.

Church people make public statements about sensitive issues and then wonder why their neighbors do not want to join them on Sunday mornings.

Committed followers of Jesus blast their rants all over Facebook in efforts to trash local businesses, corporate entities, or city governments that have not met their personal standards of excellence.

People with Bible verses all over their profiles Tweet mean and nasty words to politicians, public figures, and anyone else who does not meet their expectations.

Now it's true that we have freedom of speech.  And the venom people spew might even be accurate in content.  But does that mean it's the right thing to do?

After all, the people who anger me are not accountable to me.  They are accountable to God.  God created them.  He gifted them.  He loves them.  He doesn't need me to help Him care for or discipline His children.


Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  Romans 14:4


In this day and age, exposing corruption, staging protests, and using the pressure of social media to bring about change, might be necessary.  I will concede that.  And maybe the world in which I want to live will not exist this side of Heaven.

But I do believe we have taken our freedom of expression to an unhealthy level.

Just about every day I read a quote from another Christian that makes me cringe.  I am tempted to allow every frustration to offend me.  And I fail to meet my own expectations!

Life is hard.

But instead of attempting to destroy someone online or talk about things that are out of my control, I take a deep breath and ask God to help me focus on the plan He has for me.  Who am I to criticize another man's servant?

God is big enough to protect Himself.  God is caring enough to lead us back home when we've wandered away from Truth.  He doesn't need my help.  He demands my love.

We are all servants.  Let's quit pretending that this is our world.







Monday, February 29, 2016

Courage Thieves

Life is hard.  Each day presents new challenges.  Living takes courage.

One of the first Bible verses I ever committed to memory is:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

In my favorite book of the Bible, this command to be courageous is repeated again and again.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:6-9

It seems pretty clear to me:  God wants His people to be a courageous family.

But...

Life is hard.  And frankly, people are mean.  

Not all people.  And not all the time.  But far too often our critical spirits, judgmental eyes, and sharp tongues, are weapons of discouragement.  

And if God's plan is for us to courageously live the lives He has given us, then when I discourage someone I am standing in direct opposition to what God is doing in someone else's life.  I am picking a fight with God!  

To discourage is to steal someone's courage.  

Let God judge hearts.  Let God discipline His children.  Let God protect His plans.  

Let us concentrate on being courage givers.  Not courage thieves.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Remember less; Dream more




How could the Scruggs ever move forward? 

They allowed memories to fade and provided space to dream.

God created us to dream; not remember.  

Memories naturally fade.  It is fear that tempts us to hold on.  Fear whispers, “Hold on!  You don’t want to be hurt again do you?”  Fear whispers, “Make the one who hurt you feel your pain.  That will give you relief.”  

The truth is that when we continue to remember, we never move on.

When we remember, we think back and re-live what was.

When we dream, we lean forward and reach for what could be.

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”  Joshua 4:4-7

God instructed the people to build a memorial.  The memorial was not to honor the death, disappointment, frustration, sin, and hopelessness in their past.  The memorial was so that when the people of Israel talked about their past, they talked about God's faithfulness; not their failures.

Remembering is our way of honoring a moment in our past.  So be selective with the memories you honor.  if it is not worth honoring, it is not worth remembering.

Completely forgetting all of our painful pasts will never happen.  And, at times, those painful memories will protect us from making the same mistakes in the future and they may serve as hope for someone else.  

But it will be your healing, not your horror, that will be hope for someone else. 

Put more passion into honoring the blessings than remembering the curses.  You'll never completely forget, but the less you choose to remember, the more you will be freed up to dream...in your marriage, your career, and in your heart.





Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Freedom to Hurt?


When a kid picks on another kid, we are outraged. Whether it is physical or emotional...spoken or written...we won't stand for it.  Regardless of the place, it is wrong.  It could be in the halls of school, on the playing field, or online.  It makes no difference.  It is hurtful, shameful, and wrong.  

We call it bullying.

But when adults do the same thing to one another, we call it "freedom of speech."  

When we point out other's faults, make people feel small, or complain about how our expectations have not been met, we do so in the name of our collective right to voice our opinions.  

If a server at a restaurant is slow to fill my half-full glass of water, do I really have a right to get on Twitter and trash the establishment?

If a driver pulls out in front of me in a way that causes me to step on my brake pedal with more force than I wanted to use, do I really have cause to speed past him and give him a look to kill?

If someone is posting things on Facebook that makes him seem happier than I think he should be, am I really justified in writing counter-posts so I can wipe the smile off his face?  

What would the average 4th grader say if he could hear, or read, the things we say to and about one another.  Would he say, "Wow!  That's great honesty.  You really exercised the 1st Amendment!"  

Or would he say, "Be careful.  I think that's called bullying."  

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  Ephesians 4:29