Archive

Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

A Father’s Real Goal


Happy Father’s Day to all dad’s out there including my own.  I’m a dad myself, so the constant struggles and stresses of being a dad are constantly battling in my soul as well.  But there are lots of joys too.  This year I get to run with my son early on this Sunday morning.  Micah and I are going to be involved in the Canton Marathon.  We are both participating in the 10K.  Hopefully the rest of my family will be at the finish line to carry me off after I collapse.  Haha!

So what is dad’s role?  Through the years I’ve had lots of assumptions.  I’ve looked at my own experience growing up as a kid.  I’ve listened to old family stories from before I was born about what dads and grandpas did.  I’ve watched other dad’s as they walked this sometimes curvy road.  I’ve heard speeches and conferences and seminars about it.  Read books about it.  I’ve talked with many kids through 23 years of ministry about personal struggles with their dads.  Some stories are similar, but never are two the same.  I’ve also read the Bible about fatherhood.  It actually has a lot to say.  But when you put God’s expectations against what “experts” in our modern times say a dad’s role is, you get very different opinions.

Today’s wisdom says to be there for your kids.  Take time with your kids.  Both very true…but the media takes it further to define what success for a dad should be.  They show guys going after the big job with big money for the family.  I sometimes get the feeling that if a dad can’t afford a Disneyland vacation then he hasn’t provided well.  Some commercials talk about doing the things for the family that they ‘deserve.’  I heard one network marketer say that a few years of hard long-hour work, sacrificing time with your family, might pay off in the end with reward (meaning $$$).  Ok…what happens if you have a heart attack at 1.5 years into that plan?

Now, don’t get me wrong or hear what I’m not saying.  Sometimes there is time for hard work and sacrifice to supply a family with the necessities of life.  The Bible says that work puts food on the table (Proverbs 12:11, 14:23).  And…some of that time will be away from family.  But the chasing after riches is another thing that our society and media claims good.  The Bible is pretty clear on this too.  Hard work will be rewarded.  Yet I see dad’s who still struggle even when they are providing for their kids.  Some do so well they are providing for the great-grandkids yet there isn’t peace in their soul.  So…does the absence of this “peace” have anything to do with what many of us dads miss?

Why are we like this?  There’s one thing in the Bible that many of us dad’s overlook.  It has to do with raising Godly kids.  The question that is always there isn’t, “Have we done enough to support our family?”  It is, “Will our kids be in Heaven with us?”  A second closely follows, “Will they be bringing people with them as well?”

Moses had to feel incredible dad-like pressure when he led his family, and his nation, out of Egypt.  He was leading them, at God’s command and with His power and authority, from slavery into freedom.  Moses was the man looked to for wisdom.  Moses was looked to as the man who knew God and talked with God.  Through this and the various struggles, Moses saw clearly what was and was not important as he led his family, and God’s family, towards the Promised Land.  Isn’t that kinda like us dad’s today too?  We are to lead our family towards Heaven…towards God himself.  God places us in this spot and gives us all the tools to do it.  We need to learn how to use some of the tools, but they’re all there waiting to be picked up.

Moses’ big warning is this though.  He warns us to never forget about God.  He asks us, as parents, to remind our kids all the time about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He encourages us to talk about God all the time when we’re walking, working, eating breakfast or getting ready for bed.  Moses knew this one thing, if we slightly forget about God, we will start to search after things not of Him.  If we lose track of God and His goal of having everyone with Him in Heaven, then we start to form our own goals and strategies for “successful living.”  Moses saw how dangerous it is to forget about God. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:12, 8:11).

So what’s this mean for us dad’s today?  I see two goals.  One, we want to do what we can to set our kids up to make the choice to follow God.  The tough part here?  We can’t make the choice for them, but we don’t want to fail on our part of the equation.  Secondly, we want to disciple our kids so that they know how to lead others to Heaven as well.  In the end, it really won’t matter where we’ve worked or how much money we’ve made or spent or what our degree is.  It won’t matter if our kids went to the right college or won all the races or got all the trophies.  What will matter is, whatever we or they choose to do, that we all did it remembering God and His principles, followed His direction,  chose His son as our Savior and chose to share Jesus with others.  Here’s how I know this.  Our Heavenly Father’s goal is plain.  He wants us in Heaven with Him.  He’s wants this so much that He asked His own son to die to make the way.

Let’s all try to set our goal and change our approaches so that our biggest endeavor is to take our family and friends to Heaven.  Tough?  Yes.  Rewarding?  Eternally.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

How would he take you out?

May 25, 2012 5 comments

I was faced with a serious question the other day.  It was from an article I stumbled across while on a Christian leadership website.  I’m going to ask you this question…and you need to answer personally and honestly.  I’m then going to ask you the same question in a couple of different contexts.

* How would our common enemy, Satan, take you out, rendering you unable to serve your family and your community?

That’s a very personal question.  But how would he take you out?  What gimmicks would he use?  What are your weaknesses?  This question isn’t just a “how are you tempted most?” question.  How would he take you out?  How would he destroy your service to God?

*How would our common enemy, Satan, take out our church family, rendering us unable to serve each other and the people around us?

This changes things just a bit because now we’re pushed to take a peek inside our local church family.  How would our enemy try to destroy our church families?  How would he get us off track?  What lies would he tell us?  What goals would he give us that are not what Christ wants at the top of our families’ agendas?

*If he could stop or hinder our discipleship process, our raising up of active believers in Jesus and his purpose, how would he do it?

This question makes one assumption…that we’re active in making disciples as Jesus instructs in Matthew 28:19-20.  Our purpose isn’t just to receive our ticket to Heaven and then decide to sit back and ride life away as though there are no expectations.  Maybe you haven’t looked at Christianity like this.  Satan loves to let Christians sit by without a feeling of daily purpose.  In this strategy, we lose the possibility of influencing others to choose Christ as well.

Bible focus: 1 Peter 5:8   Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.

This stuff is tough!  I’m convicted.  When we forget we have an enemy that wants us to forget about God’s purpose for our lives, we tend to also forget about God.  Peter tells us to be aware that Satan loves for us to forget about him.  He encourages us to be on guard.  Being on guard means we’re also on purpose.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Article referenced, written by Mike Breen, can be found here:

http://www.vergenetwork.org/2012/02/02/obituary-for-the-american-church-mike-breen/

Evil is Real

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Evil is Real – “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  1 Corinthians 13:6

  • Romans 12:21 ~ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
  • Deuteronomy 30:15 ~ See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…
  • Luke 6:45 ~ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.
  • Psalm 23:4 ~ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…
  • James 3:16 ~ For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Proverbs 21:15 ~ When you do what is fair, you make godly people glad.  But you terrify those who do what is evil.

Just recently, in our American political arena, the concept of evil was brought up.  A specific American leader, whom I won’t mention by name, said in no uncertain terms that there is evil in the world and Satan’s plan is to destroy us.  Yes, this was said publicly.  The backlash he received from making the assumption that there are things that are evil and things that are good and that Satan is real was amazing…but not surprising.  Many in journalistic circles were really questioning why someone would even think that there is such a thing as evil.  Calling something evil is so mean and callous.  Who gave this political figure the right to call something wrong and evil?  Yes, these were many responses and questions surrounding this man’s statement that evil is in our world.  1 John 5:19 says that if you a Christ follower you are God’s children and that the rest of the world is under the control of the evil one.  Evil is named.  Numerous times Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, point evil out.

The above Bible verses state the concept of evil…and those are just a few of many.  I think at this point we need to define ‘evil’ so we can best understand the verse we’re focusing on.  Evil is that which keeps us from God.  It is the thing that we need forgiveness for.  It creates separation between humankind and their Creator.  Evil prevents us from residing close to our Lord.  Jesus came for a reason.  His purpose was to defeat evil.  Over and over our Bible, God’s word, calls out evil as that which God hates.  And why would God hate evil?  It is the opposite of what we were created for.  Evil pulls us away from God.  The exact opposite of the relationship we see first played out between God and Adam and Eve.  After evil entered the heart of the woman and man respectively, they needed to leave His presence.  Perfection and imperfection cannot mix.  They are like oil and water.

Paul writes that love “does not delight in evil.”  Sounds poetic.  ‘Delight,’ at first glance, seems like a not-so-heavy word.  When I hear this word, my ‘stuck in this world brain’ thinks of someone smiling after eating chocolate pudding.  Delight.  I see a child giggling after opening a Christmas present.  Delight.  I don’t think this is what Paul meant though.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it this way, “…Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.”  Now that certainly spins a different picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what our translations are trying to say.  Remember, Paul is giving us a word picture of Jesus in the chapter of the Bible.  Paul is giving us what Jesus is and is not.  And if Jesus is God, and God is love, and God is against all evil, then the mere hint of evil shouldn’t even bring a grin to our face.  But it does…doesn’t it?

How many of us have LOL when a comedian tells a rude joke?  How many of us have ever smiled when we see someone we disagree with fail?  How many of us have ‘delighted’ in something that we know is a sin?  How many of us have intentionally acted selfishly and enjoyed our personal gain at the expense of another?  How many of us have enjoyed a time when we were bashing someone else because of their sin?  Ever enjoyed a good gossip story?  How many of us have used anger to ‘feel’ better when someone did something wrong to us?  Pride?  How many times have we smiled at ourselves when we boast of our wisdom, money or strength rather than knowing God personally?  How many of us claim an arrogance that places us above other people in our minds?  You see where this is going right?  Paul’s little “delight in evil” phrase is completely the right thing to picture when we’re talking about the opposite of true love.

Paul quickly writes the opposite of this statement of evil.  Pure love rejoices with truth.  There is such a thing as absolute truth.  This truth rests in Christ Himself.  The evil one is called the Father of all Lies.  God is real.  Man was created by Him and for Him.  Evil keeps us away.  Christ can forgive our evil sin.  Christ is the only way to return to a perfect relationship with God.  Christ came to serve for this reason.  We are to be like Christ.  That’s the truth.  And if Jesus doesn’t smile at evil, then we shouldn’t either.  We should rejoice, be glad, be overjoyed, jump for joy, be extremely happy in the ways of God … no matter what the world thinks of us.

Simply put, Truth drives us closer to God.  Evil pulls us away from Him.  Now this won’t be easy.  A Star Wars fan I am…here’s a quote from the series, “Evil flourishes where it is not opposed…”  Since our nature is evil, it is easy to sin.  It is easy to delight in evil.  That’s why Jesus had to do something against it.  We just can turn away from it, it is a fight.  It is something we will struggle with.  But the first step in fighting well is recognizing and knowing who or what you’re fighting against.  We are to fight and oppose evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).  Will this be hard?  Yes, it will.  It will because everywhere we see people, even through history, doing good in the name of Jesus, they’ve been persecuted and used and abused.  So will it always be cotton candy and Ferris wheels?  No.  Will there be times of extreme joy?  I think that’s what Paul talks about when he says, “rejoice with truth.”  Throughout the book of Acts, you’ll read of where the disciples were ecstatic about being flogged and thrown in jail!  They knew they were fighting evil and winning when that happened.  They rejoiced.

Are you willing?  Can you commit to this kind of righteousness?  It’s what we’re called to and it’s what we were made for.  We were made for times such as this.  Let’s go, with God moving through us as the church, and confront evil face to face.  Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell will not overcome…” His church.  That’s a promise for you and for me.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Have you ever thought of evil extensively?  By this I mean everything from the slightest grin from hearing an off color joke to murder?
  • What types of evil do you personally fight against?…within yourself?
  • How will you stand up against evil this week?…Can you think of something that will probably happen…a situation that is usual for you to be in, where you can confront evil with good?
  • What ‘good’ will you do instead when this evil approaches? (Defeat Evil with Good)
  • Who will you try to speak truth to this week?  What will you say?

The Gift of Service

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

****

A couple from the United States traveled to Beijing with their six-month-old baby girl. This was the couple’s first child and they were understandably nervous about traveling with her on a 16-hour flight. They called the hotel before their trip to inquire about babysitting services and the hotel’s facilities. When they arrived in Beijing, the hotel gave them a warm welcome to put them at ease. The family was escorted to their room, where the hotel had set up a baby tub with rubber ducks, a baby bottle steamer, milk warmer and a night light for the guests. The hotel also placed a humidifier in the room since the family might not be used to the extremely dry conditions in Beijing. The family was overwhelmed by the hotel’s attention to detail.

However, upon arrival, the young baby developed a rash on her neck and body. The babysitter and room attendant came to assist on her day off. She took the initiative to find out the hours of a pediatric hospital nearby. She knew it would be challenging to get an appointment on a weekday with no notice, and found out that if the couple wanted to see a doctor, they would have to wait in line. So, she went above the call of duty and woke up at 2:00 a.m. to obtain a number and a spot in line for the guests. She then waited in line at the hospital for more than six hours. The guests arrived and only had to wait 15 minutes to see the pediatrician. The parents broke down in tears, and were very touched by the babysitter’s efforts to treat them like family and the genuine care from the team. Upon departure, they noted that this was their first Ritz-Carlton experience, but definitely not their last.

****

Customer service is one of the most talked about areas in the business world.  How one is treated on the phone when calling a company, or how one is treated when walking in a store, or how one is treated when walking through the checkout line can either guarantee a return customer or guarantee a bad reputation.  And, either way, the customer’s experience has a good chance of reaching other people’s ears.    Ritz Carlton’s service is known around the world as some of the best there is.  The company prides itself in going above and beyond to give guests the best possible experience they can.  The experience they look to create isn’t artificial.  It is very personal.  I’ve heard many Ritz Carlton ‘wow’ stories.  Some of these stories will bring tears to your eyes.  Some will have you wondering why they did it…because you know they lost money.  But to the Ritz Carlton staff, it’s not about money.  It’s about serving people…about noticing things that would normally go unnoticed in today’s culture.  It’s about seeing the actual need hidden in a quest’s request.

 

One story I recently read was about a Ritz Carlton employee who attended the same church as a local eighth grade teacher.  This teacher had shared a story about a female student in her class who had been recently diagnosed with a form of hard to treat cancer at the age of 13.  One of the girl’s big regrets is that she would not live to attend prom at her soon to be high school.  The Ritz Carlton employee’s heart and mind started working…remember, this girl isn’t even a guest.   The employee and her team jumped into action and secured the Ritz’s ballroom, formally invited some of the 13 year olds closest friends and family, had the seamstress from the Ritz make her a gown like no other, and provided a “Prince Charming.”  The IT guy from the hotel became the photographer and the lead visual person for the hotel became the DJ.  The chef provided choice foods for a 13 year old and friends.  And…this girl had the night of her life dancing all evening on legs that contained debilitating cancer.  The Ritz Carlton received nothing for this in return.  They simply served.  This girl’s family, after spending lots of time with this employee and her staff, considered them family…so much so that the seamstress who made the girl’s gown also handmade another gown that she was soon thereafter laid to rest in.

 

A lady came to Jesus one day (recorded in Matthew 26:6-13) while he was a guest in another person’s house.  She was so taken by her creator that she came to him and gently poured a very expensive oil/perfume on his head and hair.  Those present were “indignant.”  They demanded to know why she wasted this very expensive perfume.  With scowls on their faces they argued that the money could have been used to give to the poor.  Jesus responded with the question, “Why are you bothering this woman?”  He went on to simply say that she was serving her Lord.  Many of them sat there and probably struggle to understand what he meant.  They saw a woman who was not invited, who was sinful, and who was seemingly wasteful.  Jesus saw humility, bravery in approach, and openness to forgiveness that only he can give.  Jesus saw that she was willing to serve him.

 

The author John records that Jesus also took the servants role and washed his disciple’s feet (13:1-17).  In the latter part of this passage, Jesus says that we will do well to follow his example by washing one another’s feet as well.  In fact, Jesus goes on to say, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Jesus gives us the example of serving…even taking on the lowly role of a foot washer.  It wasn’t about him.  His service was for others.  His very life was completely lived for other people…not himself.  He asks us to do the same.

 

How can service be your Christmas gift to Christ this year?  What things will you change in your life…your daily life…that will help you live more fully as a servant of the High Priest?  The Ritz Carlton employees train very hard to live out their servant qualities while on the job…and they are recognized around the planet for how they successfully accomplish their goal of caring and comforting their guests like no other in the travel industry.  How are we/you doing in this area?  How are you doing in this area with your family, your neighbors, your church family, your colleagues, your team mates?  Serving is about living life for other people.  Christ did not consider serving something that was just part of his life…like something special he did in his weekly schedule on Friday mornings at the local food pantry.  It was his life.  Is service to the King and those he died for just part of your life, or is it life to you?  Can this be your Christmas gift to Him this year?  You don’t even have to wait for New Years for this new resolution.  : – )  Put a smile on and start now.

 

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • In what ways have you been served?  What memorable ways?  Ways that go against what is normal in today’s society?
  • Do you remember serving in a way that you felt completely blessed?  What did you do?  Do you remember what prompted you?  Was it a gut feeling, a voice?  Was it natural or did you have to convince yourself?
  • If we’re honest about the last question, I believe that we will agree that the ‘blessing’ that Jesus talks about in John 13:17 is a feeling like no other.  Do you want more of that?  It’s a simple question with a simple answer.
  • How can you/we turn your/our hearts around to realize that being a servant isn’t just a chore or duty or job, it’s what we were created for?  Jesus was born to serve.  We were too.

God Owns It All

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it… Psalm 24:1

We are simply stewards of what we have been given.  Thats how it started in the beginning in the garden of Eden.  Nothing has changed, except our sinfulness. 

How does your, our, my sinfulness get in the way of being great stewards of what God brings to us or allows us to have?

What do we need to change?

Authority

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

***

A Department of Water Resources representative stops at a Texas ranch and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for your water allocation.”

The old rancher says, “Okay, but don’t go in that field over there.”

The Water representative says, “Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me.. See this card? This card means I am allowed to go WHEREVER I WISH on any agricultural land. No questions asked or answered. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?”

The old rancher nods politely and goes about his chores.

Later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the Water Rep running for his life. And close behind is the rancher’s bull. The bull is gaining with every step.

The Rep is clearly terrified, so the old rancher immediately throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs…..

“Your card! Show him your card!”

***

When we think of authority, what do we often picture?  Our world, I believe, has kind of fogged our trust in anyone with authority.  Many times, if you watch or listen to the news, stories about people who have abused their authority seem to fill the airtime.  You know why this is true?  It’s because we’re all human.  When we find someone who seems to speak or lead or teach with authority…and we can trust them…it might seem abnormal.  We are human and we have sin as our nature.

The closing statement to the section of Scripture known as The Sermon on the Mount says that the people saw Jesus as someone who spoke with authority.  This statement is also written for comparison.  The people who have been listening to Jesus speak had ‘authorities.’  They were their teachers of The Law.  The law mentioned is the Law of Moses.  These people probably had good intentions…giving them the benefit of the doubt…but were seen as people with just human authority.  The verse states the crowds were amazed at Jesus authority.  What they just heard might have been similar to what they had heard before…but they were hearing it from the ultimate source.  They were hearing it from the author.

Do you, when you read or study God’s word, think you are receiving it as though it is coming straight from the mouth of the Lord?  When you hold your Bible, do you feel as though you are really holding the holiest stories and commands on the planet?

Here’s what we see in the Old Testament.  Nehemiah, in chapter 8 of his book, records that as Ezra opened God’s Word at the appointed worship time, the people stood.  As he began to read the people bowed with their faces to the ground.  They knew that God’s word…God’s authority…was present.  Not through Ezra…but through the Word.  In 2 Kings we read of when the high priest of the time found The Book of the Law while cleaning a room in the Temple.  This was their Bible!  They had gone on with “worship” and “sacrifice” in ritual…doing things that temple people do (that church people do) forgetting about God’s holy word.  When Hilkiah, the high priest, brought the book of the law to his king and read it to him, the king responded by tearing his robes in repentance.  He realized that they had walked away from their authority.  King Josiah, remembering who actually reigns in authority over all the earth, began to clean house.  That’s about the best two word phrase I can come up with.  The king cleaned house fully knowing that the consequences of forgetting God’s authority were already in play.  He knew that God was not happy and things were going to happen because of that…but he cleaned house anyway.   He pressed his people, God’s chosen nation/family, to return to their Lord and His ways only.  Josiah recognized divine authority and responded.  Ezra recognized God’s divine authority…and so did the Israelites…and they responded.

The people who listened to Jesus’ sermon here in Matthew recognized something different about this man.  It might have been similar words He was speaking, but as Matthew writes, a sense of amazement was in the air.  I remember watching The Passion of the Christ movie in the theater with friends from church.  After the last scene was over, there was compete silence in the theater.  It was eerie.  It was like we had just revisited the crucifixion…personally.  I can imagine Jesus wrapping up the story about the wise man and the foolish man, walking off the stone he was preaching from, as people stood and stared with jaws hanging open.  There probably were a couple people who wanted to cheer and clap.  Maybe a few others shouted an Amen or something similar.  But the Bible says that a sense of amazement hung over the crowd.  This was not normal.  This was different.  Their teachers spoke great things … these words were great things spoken by someone completely different.

How do you respond when you read or hear God’s word?  Know what the crowds did?  The next chapter begins with “…large crowds followed him.”  They wanted more.  They wanted to be close.  They wanted to be with this authority figure.  One man, figuring out who Jesus was, and asked to be healed…and he was at Christ’s word.  When you realize you haven’t been following God’s authority, do you respond with a sense of awe and repentance and amazement?  Does it help you clean house?  Does is cause you to want to follow closer and more often?  Does it cause you to reach out to Jesus and ask for help and healing and forgiveness?  I struggle here too.  But let’s be real for just one short sentence.  It should.

Each and every day in our own lives we respond to and respect authority.  Our job.  Traffic signs.  Tax law.  Federal and State government.  We all obey rules and follow through on things that ‘authorities’ above us hand down.  These people and entities are authorities in our lives…and the Bible says for us to follow the authorities placed over us as much as we can within the boundaries of obeying God.  But these authorities are human.  God has placed or allowed them to be in power over us for a season…for a time.  But God’s authority is over the universe.  It is over our very lives.  How do we respect and respond to Him?  It’s a question we need to think about each day.  How we think about God and His authority directly relates to how we live our lives, how we speak our words, what we do to and for other people.  If we see God as our ultimate authority, the author of our Bible, it would be noticeable.  Do your friends and family, without a doubt, know who you believe in and how much you believe?  Has God’s authority changed who you are?

Here’s some questions for growth:

  • Do you know where your Bible is right now?
  • When is the last time you read it with amazement…as though you were reading it and God was speaking to you directly?  What did He say?
  • Does realizing this help you want to approach the God of the Universe in a new way?  How?
  • What changes will you make this week to approach and stand before the ultimate Judge recognizing the authority He has?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Doubt and Wisdom

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

When in doubt, simply take a step…a morally ‘right’ step.  Eventually you’ll get where you want to go.  If not, then at least you still did the ‘right’ thing. 

Either way, you’re successful.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: