There’s so much to worry about. Even if we just focused on our own lives, there’s a lot to worry about. But with the rapid improvements in technology, we have more to worry about now than we ever have.
We always knew there were things going on around the world, but they weren’t in our face all the time. We knew there were starving kids in Africa, we knew there were dangerous places to live in the middle east, we knew there were natural disasters, we knew there were dictators, we knew a lot of things were out there. But, we didn’t have them all thrown in our face, every single day.
I don’t know what your Facebook feed is like, but mine is constantly filled with all of these issues and more. I’m reminded on a daily, if not multiple times a day, just how messed up the world is that we live in.
And it doesn’t matter which philosophy of life you subscribe to, because there is plenty of worry to go around. There are plenty of issues that can cause you to worry, even if you don’t agree with them.
And because we don’t agree with them, we have more stuff to worry about. Stuff we would have never worried about before, because it wasn’t in our faces all the time. But, because we don’t agree, we worry that our way of life is going to be snuffed out and replaced with something we don’t believe in or agree with.
How should we deal with it all?
Here’s my point, and it’s really quite simple, stop worrying about all these things you can’t control. Like the quote in the picture, “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
You can’t control what your friends and family believe. You can’t control how your neighbor votes, the fact that they smoke on their back porch and it drifts into your bedroom, that their dogs bark and keep you awake or a thousand other things. You can’t control the ones who are in charge of you, whether they’re controlling your job or your country. There are so many things we can’t control that we worry about.
We can’t control how someone we know succeeds or fails. We can’t control how people around us perceive us. We can’t control our kids to keep them from making bad choices. We can’t control our parents. We can’t control the idiots who drive slow in the passing lane. We can’t control the stop light. We can’t control the guy at emissions. We can’t control the stock market or the super market. It’s all out of our control.
Worry about stuff that you have no control over is like worrying about the person in the rocking chair next to you.
You were hoping to enjoy your afternoon on the porch with your sweet tea, but you can’t because the rocking technique of the person next to you is all wrong. And on top of that, they’re drinking unsweetened iced tea. So instead of enjoying your own rocking chair, you’re worried about something else.
Just Stop It!
If we all just focused on our own lives, and making the most of what we’ve been given and stopped worrying about each other and the myriad of things that are out of our control, don’t you think we’d be much better off?
What if, instead of spending your days worrying about all these things outside your grasp, you just spend your days worrying about how what you’re doing right now is affecting you and those closest to you? What if you started focusing your life in such a way that you became a blessing to those around you? What if you got your stuff together and were able to start helping out others who need it? There’s plenty to worry about in your own life. And if you just focus on doing the best you can with what you have, and then try to make a difference in the people around you, you’ll have far less to worry about.
Reverse the whole world
You know what would happen if we all started living this way? It would literally reverse the whole order of the world. And yes I mean literally.
If we just focused on getting our stuff together and doing what is within our control to do instead of worrying about why the world isn’t doing these things for us, we’d be much better off. So much of what we worry about are things we were designed to do for ourselves anyway.
And if we take personal responsibility for what we’re supposed to be doing, there’s no one to blame but ourselves.
If we can get our stuff together enough that we can start helping one another out, then we’ve gone from worrying about what the other person is doing, to making a difference in their lives. We’re not sitting on the outside judging and worrying, we’re gaining influence from the inside. And when you have influence you can help lead someone in a different direction.
Soon, you’ve started changing the world around you, and instead of having stuff to worry about you have results to enjoy.
…it’s easier to sit outside your life and the lives of others and feign concern through the disguise of worry. That way, you never have to do any actual work. But, if you haven’t done anything to make a difference do you have a right to worry? Of course it’s easier to never do anything and blame everyone else for why your life sucks. And while I don’t want to ignore the fact that there are those who have a lot to overcome in life, there are plenty of examples of people who have a thousand reasons to complain and worry who decide to enjoy life anyway.
As long as you’re sitting on the outside of your life worrying about all the things that might go wrong, you’ll always have plenty to worry about. But, what would it take for you to live your life intentionally?
Stop letting life happen to you, and happen to your life.
We spend so much time comparing ourselves to other people. We want their houses, their cars, their families, their gifts and talents – basically all the good parts of their life without the bad.
And what time we don’t spend comparing ourselves to others, and desiring their life instead of ours, we spend doubting the person God made us to be. We think it’s humble or something to come across as unconfident in who we were made to be. Or, we’re just so insecure because our gifts are different from other people’s gifts, and their gifts are the more noticeable, flashy kind of gifts, so we assume that ours must be insignificant.
What’s the one thing I wish I could convince you of? To have faith in who God made you to be.
And that’s the real kicker of the whole thing anyway. Let me explain. Who is responsible for making you the way that you are? Doesn’t that responsibility fall on God’s shoulders? Sure, there are things about how we were raised, the way our parents treated us, the way we made friends and the way they treated us that all affect how we live and do life. But, isn’t it God who created us on purpose for a purpose?
So, those little jabs you make at yourself, about how you’re not good enough at this or that, those aren’t just putting yourself down, but you’re putting God down too. When you belittle your gift because it isn’t as fun and in your face as someone else’s gift, you’re dissing your creator. Maybe that’s your intent. I don’t know you well enough to know.
But, what I do know and what I have seen is that every single person made in God’s image has something they can bring to the table. Every single person God makes, is someone he designed with His mission in mind. And when you put yourself and your skills and abilities and personality and other traits down, you’re putting God down too.
So, Have faith and be yourself. God made you to play a specific role that the person with the flashy gift is incapable of playing. And while they might get all the attention because they’re loud and obnoxious, you know that they couldn’t do what they do if you didn’t do what you do. There is no single person on the face of the planet capable of doing everything God needs done. So, be confident in who God made you. Because there is no one else he has made to do or be who He made you to be.
And if you don’t do it, no one else will. So there will be this big hole of stuff that’s not getting done because that’s what you were created to do. We need you. We need every single person doing what they were created to do.
That’s the only way to achieve true, world domination.
(I wrote this article a couple of weeks ago for our church blog, and I wanted to share it with you as well. The original post can be found at: http://68church.com/the-death-of-personal-responsibility/)
A few weeks ago, this graphic was making the rounds on Facebook. And as much as you and I may dislike memes and they way they’ve destroyed Facebook, there is a lot of truth in this one.
What is the truth that is in this picture? It’s really a rather frightening one. Because what it contains is evidence that we apparently live in a post-responsibility world. We live in a time where responsibility only pertains to others and how what they did has caused my current crisis – whatever that may be.
“Hang on man, are you saying these aren’t real issues and diseases?” No. Not necessarily. However, I do think we are far to quick to jump to labeling someone ADHD simply because they have never been taught the discipline of sitting still and paying attention. We are too quick to write off our bad behavior as being some sort of psychological disorder. And when we have a bad day, we think the answer is a happy pill of some kind.
Do I daydream? I do. Does that mean I have ADHD, no. It means I need to focus.
Do I snap and get angry? Sometimes. Does that mean I’m bipolar? No. It means I need to work on my temper.
Do I find myself sad or upset about things from time to time? Sure. Doesn’t that mean I’m depressed? No. Perhaps it means I need to focus more on gratitude.
Again, I’m not saying these issues don’t exist. I think they do. I have no doubt ADHD is a real thing – for some. I have no doubt that some people struggle with being bipolar. And I know people go through depression. I’m not judging or condemning those who legitimately struggle with those things.
But here’s what I am saying: we are the cause of our problems. Even if you have a true and legitimate diagnosis of one of these or the hundreds of other “disorders” that exist today, you are still responsible for your choices. There may be some who aren’t responsible, but they are the exception. Don’t hear me wrong either. I’m not saying I’m immune to this. I have these thoughts creep up from time to time. It’s much easier to look for someone or something to blame instead of taking the blame for myself.
The moment you push responsibility off your shoulders and onto the shoulders of something or someone else is the exact moment you stop growing and moving forward. As long as it’s not your fault, there’s no need for you to work on it.
Sure, that’s an easier place to be. It’s always easier to not have to work on who you are. It’s always easier to not have to have any reason to try to change. It’s always easier to stay the same and blame something for why you can’t change. But as long as your a victim of some disease, you will always be at the mercy of it. And what you’re really a victim of is the definition we read online, then looking for those things in ourselves. We read articles like “10 signs of ADHD” or “3 ways to know you’re depressed” and, magically, we see all those symptoms in our own lives. As if it’s possible to self-diagnose depression with a 3 point article that we skimmed.
Here’s the great concern for us as followers of Christ. We can’t pursue sin and Jesus at the same time. We’re either pursuing Jesus or we’re pursuing ourselves. What I hear in a lot of this discussion is an attempt to be able to justify our sins by something we can’t control so we can still call ourselves Christians. We want the promise of eternity with Jesus without having to give up what we like in this life. So we rationalize and justify our sins with psychological disorders, claiming that we just can’t change.
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:24-27)
But you can change. We all can. But in order to change, we have to admit that there is something wrong with us. And unless you’re willing to do that, you’ll never get past where you are right now. But, if we can all admit that we are responsible for our choices and our actions…if we can all recognize that we’re sinners…if we can all recognize that we’ve made mistakes – then we have a chance at growing and changing.
Is it easy? No. But is it worth it? Yes! I will even go so far as to say, if we don’t suffer through the change, we will never know what it means to find joy.
“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
And you know what, the day we decide to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and start to work on turning away from the sins in our lives could be the best day of our time here on earth. Without that day, we never become more like Christ. But, with that day, we continue to work out our salvation and become more and more like Christ a little more each day.
Please, make that day – today!
Today, while those behind morn, there is one new arrival who is rejoicing. Of course, we all rejoice, knowing that his suffering is over. But, we’re still on this side of the door while he’s gone on to the other side.
My Grandpa, the Rev. Ermal Wilson, took his last breath on this earth last night and took his breath of Heaven. He was a man who, even through his very last days prayed every day for his family. He spent his whole life serving Jesus. Starting to preach at a very young age, going to the mission field, pastoring churches, serving a the secretary for missions for the Wesleyan church and finishing his career as a traveling evangelist. There probably wasn’t a day that went by that Grandpa didn’t serve Jesus in some capacity.
I have many great memories of my Grandpa. One of my favorites being the time when He, myself and my cousin Roman tossed a football around the basement of my Uncle Paul’s church. We were all trying to trick each other to see who wouldn’t be able to anticipate the ball coming their direction. It was SO funny!
He left behind a great family who are loving Jesus, many of them serving in churches. His children followed his footsteps, and his children’s children as well. Was he perfect? By no means. He had his flaws, just as you and I. But, he was also confident the power of God and the ability of the work of the Spirit of Christ alive in Him to do miraculous things.
He was a great story teller and preacher. Gracious and grateful for all he had been privileged to do for the Kingdom, and humble enough to always give God the glory. He was happy, positive and encouraging.
He was one who decided early in his life, his household would serve the Lord:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:14-15)
He obeyed the teaching of the word and impressed that teaching on his children, their children and their grandchildren:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.(Deut 6:4-8)
And now, there is never a more fitting verse for him:
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:6-8)
There is much more that can be said, as those of you who knew him could testify. And some day, if we continue to trust and believe in the same God that worked miracles through His life, you’ll get to meet him and let him tell you the stories for himself.
With the passing of each generation comes the renewed responsibility for those coming after them to decide whether they will take the reigns of what has been laid before them. We each have the choice every single day to decide if we will carry on the legacy left for us. My legacy is deep and rich. Carried on by my mother, the legacy of my grandma carried on by my father. And hopefully, I carry on the legacy to another generation. If only, some day I can look back on those who have come behind me and see with such assurance the mission being carried on, I will be a very blessed man. I am already extremely blessed for what I have been given. The question is, what will I do with it? The question is true for you. What will you do with what has been given to you? Even if you have received nothing, you will certainly leave something. What will you leave?
But for now, here’s a little tease of what you might here. This is a sermon he gave at Trinity Wesleyan Church at a Revival in 1998. You’ll hear some stories, you’ll hear some teaching and some preaching. And you’ll hear some other amazing things. But most of all, you’ll hear about Jesus because that’s who He wanted everyone to know about the most.
In the words of my grandpa, “The Lord Bless you real good.”
There are a thousand different hot-button topics in the world today. You name the issue and there is someone who is all worked up for it and against it. Whether it’s GMO, Government Healthcare, Global warming or climate change, Recycling, Abortion, Homosexuality or CHEMTRAILS (which for some reason is always in all caps…). There is no shortage of causes to take up, there is no shortage of defenses and arguments and there is no no shortage of guilt being dished out from each side to the other.
But, really, none of that matters.
It really doesn’t.
What matters is where we start.
What I mean by that is the beginning motivation that drives us to take a stance for or against something is what really matters. And if we fail to recognize that, we will never understand or be understood. (I’ll write more on this later.)
For now, I want to focus in on one simple idea. It’s my issue. For some reason, I feel compelled to take a stand on this issue. What’s that, you ask?
Selflessness as opposed to selfishness.
And I think this is the one reason there are so many issues with so many people making strong statements on so many different sides of so many arguments.
I think it’s our selfishness that is driving us to take a stand on these issues. And once we decide where we are going to take the stand, we go out in search of “data” to defend our stance. But, as long as we’re trying to defend something we’ve decided for ulterior motives, we never really land on the truth.
We can’t. Because we didn’t start with the truth. We started with ourselves. And I don’t know about you, but I know myself. And I know that I am not a reliable source of steadfast truth. I’m too unpredictable, and too fallible. I make too many mistakes and wrong decisions to be able to start with myself.
And yet, that’s the starting point for almost every issue.
All For Tupperware Sippy Cups.
Let’s make up an issue so I don’t offend you or the issue you’re attached to. Let’s say that I have a firm belief that every person on the planet should use the old school, tupperware kids cups instead of the new sippy cups. The reason I think this is because I have an emotional attachment to the cups from my own childhood.
Because of my strong personal feelings about these cups, I go in search of a defense for them. It’s not hard to come up with reasons, even for a fake issue like this. (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this as a real issue for some people.) For starters, these cups are environmentally friendly, and were designed with kids in mind. They have a small enough size that kids can hold them without any trouble, instead of the fatter cups that are being made today. Also, they don’t have a fancy anti-drip device on the inside that only retains moisture and inevitably leads to mildew – and no child should have to drink mildew flavored apple juice.
Sure, those are good arguments and good reasons. And I could undoubtedly find some people to support my movement. But, the facts the movement will be built on aren’t the real genesis for the movement. The real beginning is because of my strong personal attachment to the cups. And I’m creating a movement to meet my own selfish agenda.
As long as we’re starting with self, we will always land on a foundation made of jello. Because we aren’t a big enough of a foundation to build our lives on. When we start with self, we make all of life’s decisions based on how it affects us and how we are going to get more out of this side of the argument or that. We aren’t deciding based on the merit of either side of the argument. We’re deciding based on our own selfish agenda and how whichever side of the argument is going to benefit us the most.
What is your motive for making decisions about work? Do you make the decision based on what’s best for the company or what’s best for you? Do you decided to quit in the middle of an email because the clock hit 5 and you’re not going to get paid to finish it or do you finish it because it’s best for the company that you do?
What is your motive for making decisions about your family? Do you think about what’s best for the family and then make your decision, or do you decide based on what’s going to better benefit you personally?
What is your motive for fighting for whatever issue you fight for? Is it because you want to stand up for what’s right, and you’ve stopped to actually come up with the facts about what’s right? Or is it for a selfish reason that you’re taking this stand? Were you offended by someone in the past who held this view, so now you hold the opposite view?
Second Tier Selfishness
Are you standing up for someone who was hurt because of their view on Tupperware cups? And your motive is to make it right for them? While this is a little bit better of a stance, it’s still not the best. It’s what I call second tier selfishness. Just because someone was hurt for their stance on Tupperware cups, doesn’t mean they held the right view on Tupperware cups (let alone whether or not anyone should even have a view on tupperware cups).
Is it good to stand up for people? Absolutely. It is good to blindly stand for an issue because you’re trying to defend someone? No.
What Do We Do?
Well, first we have to be aware of our selfish motives and be on the lookout for how we are making decisions based on our desire to make the universe revolve around us. This means we have to humble ourselves. We have to walk humbly.
We start by Loving God and Loving others. We let that be what guides how we make decisions. Not ourselves, not our own desires and agendas – but God and others.
Then, we make our decisions based fighting for the inherent dignity of others. That doesn’t mean we stand up for the issue or believe in it. What it means is we believe that every person is made in God’s image. And since they are made in that image, the bear within their very nature – dignity.
And we take stances for issues based on truth, not based on selfishness and ulterior motives. We take a stand because it actually is the right thing to stand for. We don’t take a stand because it benefits us or even because it benefits a friend. We take a stand on an issue because it’s right.
And I think we could even argue that the stands we take should be limited to the dignity of the people at risk. If we fight for the dignity of people, we never find ourselves walking the line of a fragile issue. We may not agree with what someone is doing, but we can agree that they should be treated with dignity because they are made in God’s image.
That’s why I say…
…the issue doesn’t matter. It’s the people that matter. The issue doesn’t matter, what matters is where we start. Are we starting with truth and dignity or with selfishness and ulterior motives.
Over the years, I’ve written a few songs for the love of my life. Today, she blessed me with a poem she wrote about our story. So I wanted to share our story through the songs I’ve written.
Our Wedding Day
This first song was one I wrote for our wedding day. I actually sang it for her in our wedding. I still feel that way too. And right now, I’m trying to keep doing what I said in that song: “More than words can ever say, I want to say “I Love You” with my life.”
Everything To Me
Another Valentine’s Day
Several years later, at a Valentine’s day dinner, I played “Everything to me” for her at a dinner our church was having. I also shared with her a new song I had just written her – and that’s the one below.
An Unsettled Valentine’s Day
A year after I had written that last song, we found ourselves in a very uncertain time of our lives. It was a time with a lot of questions that neither of us had the answers for. But, even during those times of uncertainty, we still knew the answer to one question:
All these years later (this is our 11th valentine’s day together – which I know is not that many compared to some), we’re still writing a new story with our lives. We’re traveling around the bends in the road of the game of life, adding little plastic people to the seats in the car. And while our people make more noise than the plastic people in the game, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Happy Valentine’s Day Bekki, I love you!