Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted on Sep 11, 2015 in Blog, Featured, Truth

What Today Isn’t

What Today Isn’t

I remember. If you were alive, you remember too. I found out about the tragedy in class. Dr. Kutz informed us all of what had gone on before we arrived in his class. We didn’t have TV, so we didn’t see the news. This was before social media, even before cell phones and texting had become prominent. News didn’t travel as fast then.

I skipped chapel and went to the basement of Aslan’s Howe and turned on the news. It was unreal.

After a couple of hours of watching, it was time for lunch. We were sitting around talking about what we couldn’t believe had happened. Multnomah is relatively close to the Portland International Airport. In the lawn where we were eating, you could usually see many planes landing and taking off. But not that day. There were no planes in the skies except for F-15’s that would go screaming across the sky from time to time.

I remember hanging flags in the back windows of my car. And I remember a patriotic parade a couple of days later in Portland. A parade of cars and individuals expressing their patriotism.

That was 14 years ago today.

A lot has happened in 14 years. There have been other horrific events. There have been other joyous occasions. 14 years is a long time. I got married and had 4 kids. I’ve worked at 5 different churches. I’ve lived in 6 different houses/apartments.

That’s a lot of water under the bridge.

My oldest is 9 years old. She wasn’t alive. She doesn’t remember. She’s in the 4th grade. There are 7th and 8th graders who don’t remember. In 4-5 years, all the students in school will have been born after 9/11.

And I’ll be honest, I’m worried. I’m worried about what our kids are going to hear and learn about this fateful day. There are theories that stray from the truth of what happened. There are crazy conspiracy theories about what this day was. And I’m worried about what my kids and others are going to believe about this day.

This day isn’t political.

This day isn’t about a conspiracy by our government against our own nation.

This day isn’t a chance to promote an agenda.

This day isn’t an opportunity to attack capitalism and our country.

This day isn’t even about war.

Unfortunately, all these things and more are what this day has become. We have defrauded the families of the victims and repurposed a day of mourning to be a day to promote our stance on something.

What is this day about? Of course it’s about the pain and suffering of those who lost loved ones. It’s about mourning their loss. It’s about the lives of the heroic police officers and firemen/women who gave their lives trying to save others. It’s about the attack of thousands of civilians who were murdered. (Yes war is awful. But this wasn’t war. It was a murderous attack.)

But, I think there’s something more this day is about too. Something that has been lost in our time. In only a few short years, it has disappeared.

I could be wrong. If I am, I mean no disrespect to the families of the victims. But today is also about unity. Our country was unified in a way we may never again experience. On that day, and the weeks and months that followed, we were like minded. We mourned with those who mourned. We wept with those who wept. We were all a part of this tragedy.

We use this phrase ‘never forget’ as we talk about this day. Did you know that phrase originated from the holocaust? How many of us truly understand the depth of the tragedy that took place on that day? We don’t know a lot of the horrific details of what occurred as places like Auschwitz.

Like the holocaust, we face the same danger of forgetting this day. Our kids won’t know unless we tell them. If we don’t tell them, we run the risk of them believing whatever cockamamie conspiracy most suites their fancy. But, if we tell them…if we remind them…if we remember, we do the best service we can offer to those who were lost.

Especially as so many seek to use this day for their own agendas and purposes. If we remember the pain and horror of this day, we honor those who were lost. We dishonor them by allowing conspiracies and agendas to cloud this day. We dishonor them by taking this day and using it for our own gain. But, if we remember what happened, if we mourn with those who mourn, if we remember what actually and really happened on this day, we honor those who were lost.

Do you remember?

Read More

Posted on Sep 1, 2015 in Apologetics, Blog, Culture, Featured, repost

Disagreement ≠ Hate

Disagreement ≠ Hate

We have entered a scary new world. It’s a world where there are no absolutes. We define what’s true. If something makes us uncomfortable or requires us to change, well it must not be true. So instead of adapting to absolutes that have existed for all of time, we adapt the absolutes to meet our ideas. This is the world we live in. We are the decision makers. No one can tell us how to think or what to believe. We will decide for ourselves, thank you very much.

This, however, has caused a great dilemma. Because of this shift, truth has become something that is central to our being (as if absolute truth is not). We have created this truth. Because we are the creators of our own truth, disagreement becomes a bit more personal.

Dissenters aren’t just disagreeing with a philosophy, they are disagreeing with me. And they aren’t simply disagreeing with me, they are disagreeing with the core of who I am – the thing I have wrapped my identity up in – the center of my life.

So, when I create my own truth and someone disagrees with me, I am inclined to interpret their disagreement as hatred. “If you don’t agree with my truth, that must mean you dislike me as a person because I created that truth.”

How do we proceed in a world where everyone has their own truth? 

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. It’s tricky. It’s even dangerous. We are seeing that played out before our eyes these days. Whether it’s the murdering of law enforcement officials, the murdering of people of a different race than our own, the slaughter of Christians in the middle east or the derogation of Christians who have beliefs that counter the culture around us, it feels dangerous to support truth.

But, this is not a new problem. This is the problem that was born in the garden of eden. When the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit, he established the dilemma:

“‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'” (Gen 3: 5)

It would seem, that prior to this instance the only truth that Adam and Eve could see was God’s truth. I’m not entirely sure what they saw. I know they walked with God in the garden – and to do that they had to be righteous and holy.

One thing is clear, it is becoming much more difficult to separate a person’s beliefs from their being. When someone’s identity is wrapped up in their created “truth” it feels like hatred if we disagree with them. (By the way, I have been contrasting the absolute truth created by God with “truth” created by man. By definition, there can only be one truth. If truth is what is, there can only be one. This is either a tree or not a tree, it cannot be both a tree and a fish at the same time.)

But, let us go back to the garden. Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve’s identity was wrapped in up whose image they were created in. They were both made in God’s image. After eating the fruit, they sought to hide that image. They knew they were naked and felt ashamed to be that way. So they covered themselves.

Truth, in its unaltered state is freeing. It sets us free from the shame that we are covered in by the nature of our sinful state.

So, may I ask, are you free? Has the truth set you free? Freed people free people. So, if we’re free, our response to those who aren’t free should be one of compassion and hope that there is freedom they can find if they will believe the truth.

If your “truth” is causing you to hate, then that should be a pretty clear sign that you have not yet found the truth. If you interpret opposing ideas as hatred towards you, that’s another sign that you are clinging to the lie instead of the truth.

If you believe me to be wrong, that the truth I cling to is wrong and your reaction to me because of my belief is hatred, then I urge you to take a deeper look. Because my truth drives me to love you unconditionally.

A word of clarification, while my truth drives me to love you unconditionally, it does not require me to agree with you unconditionally. In fact, I cannot agree with a lie. And it is love the drives us to stand up for the truth and to try to persuade you to believe it. If I didn’t love you, I would let you go on believing what you believe without saying anything. I wouldn’t care that you’re destined for destruction. But the love of Christ compels me to show you the truth so that you may be set free.

But, I would urge you to understand that we who disagree with what you believe do not hate you. Our disagreement is actually love. We want you to be set free.

Disagreement does not equal hatred. In fact, disagreeing with you could quite possibly be the most loving thing I do.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32 

PS – It would probably be a good idea to read the rest of John 8…

Update: 

I should also add this: you may not agree with me, and I may not agree with you. That does not mean we have to hate one another. Somewhere along the way, we stopped being able to have civil disagreement. We can disagree on almost any topic without it driving us to act out in aggression towards those who disagree with us. The fact that I disagree with you does not drive me to want to destroy you or the world you live in. The fact that you disagree with me should not drive you to destroy me, to want to harm me or to write me off as a human being.

We can disagree without hating one another. In fact, I think that’s the way we can make the world a better place.

If you’re only surrounded by people who agree with you, then you never have the chance to sharpen your thoughts and ideas about what you believe. If I only have people around me who think the same way I do, I never get challenged to think about what I believe. It is through civil & respectful disagreement that we actually have the opportunity to understand the world better. And the better we understand the world (not just one side of it), the more likely we will be to be able to solve its problems.

And wouldn’t that be better anyway? Wouldn’t it be better to solve the problems that divide us instead of merely yelling at the people who don’t think like we do?

Read More

Posted on Aug 18, 2015 in Blog, Culture, Deliberate Living, Featured, Perseverance, repost, Values

The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

The Call for Finishers in a world of Dreamers

I’m a dreamer by nature. I love thinking about what’s possible. I spend a lot of my time thinking about all the things that could be done. And you know what, there are a lot more possibilities that most of us give consideration to. So, I will not argue that we should not be dreamers. That’s a vital role we play as people who were created to create.

But there’s another problem I have as well. I get about 80-90% through a project, and start running out of steam. I lose interest. Once it becomes functional, I’m okay to be done. Or, something new has gotten my attention and my focus is being drawn away.

Maybe you’re not like that. I know there are many who have a need to finish. When they’re not finished, it keeps them up at night.

But, I don’t think I’m alone. The intoxication of the dream is great. It’s easy to dream. It’s much harder to work and get things done.

The reason I don’t think I’m alone in this is what I see happening in the world around me. We want to get rich now, get fit now, get happy now, get married now, get a house now, get a new TV now. We want it now. We want to go to bed and fall right to sleep, then wake right up when we want to wake up. And we’re willing to take pills to accomplish this task if necessary. We want it our way and we want it now!

There are a thousand dreams out there, and we think we have a right to them. There are a million different ideas and we think it’s perfectly reasonable that we should see those ideas and dreams come into fruition.

But, there is also a great need in our culture today. We need finishers. We need people who will stay the course and get the job done. We need people who are committed and follow through.

Paul said it best:

24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor 9:24-27)

When you’re training for a race, you’re training to win. If you’re not training to win, you’re at least training to complete the race. No one runs a marathon without training. To finish the race, to win the prize, we have to train for it.

What that means is, we have to endure. We have to stick with it (persevere). We have to be faithful. We don’t quit when it gets hard. We don’t quit when we think we’re ready. We don’t finish training until we have finished the race. You wouldn’t train for two months to run a marathon, then take a month off before the day of the race. You train until you have finished the race.

Endurance, perseverance and faithfulness are ideas that are fading in our society. When we don’t like something, we bail. It’s prevalent. You might even say it’s dominant. We’re more likely to quit something than we are to stick with it. If you had a pair of dice, the majority of the combinations would come up with quit. If we had a magic 8 ball, all the options but one would be to leave.

When things get tough in our family life, we leave. When things get tough at work, we find a new job. When things get tough in our neighborhood, we find a new house. When things get tough at church, we find a new church.

We have bought into the deception. We think there is a magical answer to our frustration. There’s a pill we can take, a 3 step plan to follow or lottery ticket we can buy. We think there should be a magic bullet to solve our problem, and if there isn’t we just quit, leave or walk away.

The world has convinced us not to follow through. Just throw it away and buy a new one. Just sell it and get another one. The world doesn’t want us to follow through because the world needs us to always be buying more stuff. If we’re satisfied, they’re not making money. If we’re happy, they’re going to go out of business. If we’re content, they’re going to lose out on profits.

It’s time to unravel the lie and embrace the truth. The lie has convinced us that things and status symbols are what leads to happiness. The lie has convinced us that contentment is bad and busyness is good. We need to see the lie for what it is. It’s false. It’s not true. We don’t really “need” all the things the world tells us we “need.”

What we need is to endure. What we need is to persevere. What we need is to be content. What we need is to be faithful. And anything that causes us to want to walk away from these concepts is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to give up on finishing the race, is a lie. Anything that causes us to be discontent is a lie. Anything that causes us to want to be faithful is a lie. It’s a distortion. It’s a funky mirror in a fun house. It kind of looks like the right thing, but it’s way off.

What we need are people who are willing to stick it out with their families, even when it’s hard. We need spouses to work together instead of against each other. We need parents to lead their children instead of letting their children lead them. We need people to be committed to providing for their families. We need people committed to loving their neighbors. We need people who are committed to a church body, no matter how imperfect it may be.

Why? Because this is what’s right. Leaving, quitting, walking away are what’s wrong. That’s the lie.

Are there exceptions to this? Sure. But we’ve allowed the exception to become the mode of operation. Now we live by the exception and those who follow the rule are crazy.

Let’s be crazy together. Let’s be the wack jobs that just don’t get it. Let’s be faithful. Let’s endure to the end. Let’s be committed to a crazy love that doesn’t make sense in today’s day and age. Let’s stand out for being so radically committed that the world notices there is something drastically different.

Then when the world falls apart and we are still holding our world together, they will want to know why. And we get to tell them.

It’s because we’re committed to finishing. We are finishers. We don’t give up. We don’t quit. We don’t throw in the towel. We endure to the end. We will cross that finish line. We will get that prize. We will not let all our training and effort got to waste. We will persevere.

“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Paul – Acts 20:24)

Read More

Posted on Aug 11, 2015 in Blog, Church, Culture, Deliberate Living, Family, Featured, Intentional Living, repost

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

3 Simple Steps for Getting Back Into The Swing (of things)

Summer is a crazy time. It’s fun. We spend a lot of time together as a family. We do things we don’t do the rest of the year. And it’s good. It’s good to spend time together as a family and make memories that will last a lifetime. But, as we start to run out of steam on cramming all the summery goodness into our summer, we run the risk of making a different kind of memory. They last a lifetime too, but we wish they wouldn’t.

So, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips for getting back into the swing of things.

1.) Find a simple, but productive, daily discipline to begin. 

As we go through the summer months, it’s easy to let discipline slide. We’re living in the moment, winging it. And while there is a time and place for that, in fact it’s good to do that, we also need to have discipline in our lives as well.

If you’ve gone a long time without discipline, it can be hard to find the on ramp again. But, what I’ve found is that discipline always facilitates more discipline. I call it the begetting principle. That’s a post that’ll come later.

If you want to live a more disciplined life, find one small area you can succeed in with being disciplined on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be big. It shouldn’t be. You just need to be able to sustain it. It can be as simple as setting the alarm for a specific time, and refusing to hit the snooze. That may prove more challenging. You may want to get a simple devotional and read it first thing in the morning.

Whatever it is, do it every day and first thing in the morning. This will turn on the discipline switch in your mind, and you’ll start building up the getting things done muscles of your psyche.

2.) Make a list each day of what needs to be done. 

There are days when I feel productive, but then when I look back on what I accomplished that day, I realize I didn’t get nearly as much done as I thought I did. When you don’t give yourself specific things to do, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing a lot when you’re not really doing much at all.

So, another simple way to get back into the swing of things is to start making a list. Don’t get carried away. Just add 5-6 specific things to that list that need to get done today. If you do these things today, you will have succeeded. If you don’t do these things today, you know you need to work harder tomorrow.

When we get out of routine, we can easily do one thing in a days time and feel like we’ve exhausted our entire stockpile of energy for the day. But, let’s be honest, we all know we’re capable of doing more than one thing a day.

Some of the things on your list may be bigger and take longer. If it’s a bigger project, try to break it up into manageable steps that you can check off. Maybe you won’t finish the whole thing today, but I bet you can finish several steps.

And put a one or two simple and quick to accomplish tasks on your list too. That will make you feel like you’re making progress and get you moving toward getting the other things done.

3.) Plan & Build your fall routine. 

Life has a natural repetitive nature to it. Every week, we start a new week. (That was a really profound statement.) I think of the week as starting on Sunday. So, every Sunday I begin a new week. Every Sunday, my family begins a new week. The old week is done, a new week has come. Because of this natural cycle, it’s good to use the week as your framework to build your routine.

My number one suggestion for planning and executing on a successful routine is to go to church on Sunday morning. (DON’T STOP READING YET!!!) Yes, I’m biased because I’m a pastor. But I have a good reason.

Starting your week with going to church starts your week off with discipline. It’s easy to go to church. I know the excuses, I’ve heard them all. (I actually wrote some articles about it on our church blog: http://68church.com/12-excuses-for-not-going-to-church-and-why-you-shouldnt-use-them-part-1/) But, let’s be honest: It’s not that hard to go to church. Especially a church like ours, where you can come just like you are. You don’t have to look fancy and wear your “Sunday best.” Just come. Just be here.

Why does it help to start your week this way? There are a few reasons. It gives you structure. And when you’re trying to build structure, you need to start with structure.

Another reason is, if you can overcome the temptation and excuses to skip church on Sunday, you will help yourself overcome the excuses for other things throughout the week. So much of what we don’t do is because we’ve excused ourself and all we need to do is step up and be responsible.

Another reason? It’s a very healthy beginning. You have the servant aspect of church. Starting off your week serving others is a great set up. There’s the community aspect. Starting your week with a community of like-minded believers sets you up for walking through life in the same way. Tithing/Giving/Generosity is another great aspect. Prioritizing God in our finances also helps us to make other priorities in our spending.

Worshipping God is a great way to keep yourself in check. Exalting God makes it harder to exalt ourselves as the most important thing in our lives. When we are starting our week by humbling ourselves and submitting to the creator of the universe, that’s like saying, you designed this whole thing in the first place and I’m going to let you take the lead.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.        {Proverbs 3:19-20}

Try these three simple steps and just see if you don’t have a better week! 1. Daily Discipline. 2. Make a List. 3. Plan your Weekly Routine. Try it.

I dare you!

Read More

Posted on Aug 5, 2015 in Abortion, Blog, Culture, Featured, Lost Virtues, repost, Truth

It’s a Human Rights Issue

It’s a Human Rights Issue

I’ve been struggling with where to begin on this planned parenthood disaster. I have pages of notes and they will be coming to you over the next several posts. I recognize taking a stand on this will cause some people to unfriend me, dislike me and get angry with me. There will be those who get angry at the stance I will take. But, I refuse to let the fear of rejection be something that keeps me from speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves. This won’t be the only post on the topic, and it may not be the best place to start, but it is a starting point.

But let me say, right off the bat. My aim is not to offend. My aim is not push people away. My aim is to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. My aim is to speak the truth into a very dark and disturbing situation. And it’s hard to know where to begin and what to say. So please bear with me.

Even as I try to think of ways to illustrate the monstrous events that are occurring, I realize that there is no logical comparison. Laws exist to protect us as human beings from this kind of treatment. Doctors can’t kill people to sell their organs. Doctors can’t sell organs. People can’t sell their own organs. People have to give consent to have their organs donated after they have died. They don’t get sold to the highest bidder. They are donated to save another life.  By the way, this makes me strongly reconsider the idea of organ donation. If these are the ethics driving doctors today, who’s to say they wouldn’t choose to let me die so they can sell my liver? Not to say that there aren’t ethical doctors, but how am I to know that I will get an ethical doctor if these ethics are a possibility within the field?

These people being abused don’t have a choice in the matter. They are being sacrificed for convenience without the opportunity to deny consent. They are vulnerable. They are in need of our protection and provision. Instead they have been destroyed and their body parts sold to make a profit.

Many will argue that this is a women’s rights issue. There is truth to that argument, but not in the way it is being used. Neither I nor anyone else who is appalled by this barbaric act would in any way argue that women should be denied health care. I would never argue that women shouldn’t have access to it. I just also happen to think that the babies have access to the same rights.

If there is such a thing as human rights, this has to be the pinnacle of human rights issues. We cannot simply decide something isn’t a right because it’s inconvenient. We can’t decide something isn’t a right because it conflicts or contradicts with the kind of lifestyle we want to lead. A human right, by definition is something that is a right to every human. Our personal motivations, agendas and ideologies are cease when the come in conflict with the rights of another human being. This is true in all of life. I can choose to have whatever beliefs I wish, but if those beliefs threaten the rights of another human being, I must stop. I cannot kill people who disagree with me. They have rights as a human, and if my beliefs conflict with their rights, it is my beliefs that change not their rights as a human being.

But, come on! Are you willing to trust someone with your own health who is choosing to make a profit by selling the organs of tiny, indefensible babies? That would, for most logical people, be a huge red flag. You wouldn’t go to a doctor who made money selling the leftover parts of a hysterectomy (which is a procedure done with the knowledge of the patient) let alone go to a doctor who stole a patient’s organs without their knowledge and sold them. And if that doctor had to kill people in order to get the organs they need for their bottom line, you would be appalled. If you discovered that your doctor was stealing the kidneys from women to sell for a profit, wouldn’t you be a little bit upset? (Of course, if a doctor were to do these things, they would lose their license to practice medicine, be thrown into jail and maybe even worse.)

Will we not stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves? Those who are defending planned parenthood have the ability to make a stand. They have a voice in the debate. They have representation in the government. But, what about those who don’t have the same ability. Are we to simply abolish them because they are too vulnerable. What about others among us who lack such abilities. Shall we demolish them as well. I’m sure there is some profit to be made from the dissection of their remains.

This is not simply a women’s rights issue, it is a human rights issue. I think women should be protected when that is the need. I think women should receive the service of caring doctors. There are many Christian clinics that have risen up to help provide. There are many other, government funded clinics who do not commit such atrocities. But there are also babies, children and even men who have rights.

It’s amazing how we will stand up against American companies who outsource production to countries who mistreat children and women. These products are made in factories where women and children make a couple of dollars a day if they’re lucky. And we will be outraged. Rightly so. And I think that is an injustice we should be working to solve. Women and children should not be taken advantage of, no matter where on the planet they reside.

But, we will boycott and protest such companies who use these means of production, while at the same time defending a company who, on American Soil, sold the body parts of babies to other companies on American soil. Really? We won’t buy products made in India because of child labor, but we’ll stand up for a company that kills, dissects and sells the body parts of a child? Why do we not see the hypocrisy in that?

We will hang from bridges to try to keep a company from drilling in the arctic, but we applaud the efforts of Planned Parenthood? Is stopping a company from drilling for oil really more important than stopping a company from profiting off of selling the salvageable parts of an abortion?

Every life matters. Regardless of race, sex, age, diseases, dysfunctions, handicaps or any other qualifier you can use, every life matters. The lives of those who make mistakes matter. The lives of those who have different sexual preferences matter. Every life matters. Why? Because every person on this planet is made in the image of God, regardless of their belief in Him. Every single person. There is no exception. And every single one of us entered this world in the same way – through our mother’s womb. There is no difference between any of us when it comes to our value and worth because that resides in each of us. And it’s there because of whose image we reflect.

I say we stand up for the rights of the workers in India, for the rights of women in America and for the rights of people who are being sacrificed, dissected and sold. It will not be easy. It will be a struggle. We have been lured into an apathetic coma and now we find the muscles needed to stand up have atrophied. But they will strengthen as we begin to use them. As we stand up for God’s creations, God will give us strength to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

And if enough of us wake up, stand up and speak up…maybe…just maybe…we will be a part of the movement that stopped this barbaric act. Maybe we will see human life valued once again and babies will cease to be treated as a product to be sold.

This isn’t a women’s rights issue because it’s a human rights issue. It just so happens the most vulnerable have been taken advantage of. Their inability to voice their dissent does not mean we should violate their rights. It means we must be their voice. We must be the mouthpiece for their right to live.

Read More

Posted on Jul 30, 2015 in Blog, Deliberate Living, Featured, Intentional Living, Pain and Suffering, repost

Can We All Really Be Victims?

Can We All Really Be Victims?

One of the biggest, and most dangerous trends I see in our world today, is the “victim state” we live in. Let me explain.

Everything is someone else’s fault now, and we are all victims of someone or something else. There is no responsibility on us to own up to our own shortcomings. When something bad happens, we immediately figure out who we’re going to blame for it.

We live in a virtual dark alley, and someone is always taking advantage of us. There is always some way that someone or something has mistreated us.

Is it even possible though? Can we all be victims? For there to be a victim, doesn’t someone have to be a perpetrator?

Bad things do happen. I would never make a claim that they don’t. People can do some really awful things. There are true victims. There are people who have been wounded by others, taken advantage of by others, used and abused by others. I do not belittle this truth. In fact, it is because of this truth, that I think we need to stop playing the victim in the small things.

Why? Because when we make ourselves out to be the recipient of someone’s abuse (when what really happened is we made a mistake or we came up short) we belittle the true victims who have gone through traumatic things.

More often than not, we bear the burden of responsibility in the problems we face in life. Yes, bad things happen. Yes, people take advantage of us. But, most of the time, we have done or not done something that led us to our current state.

The most common place I hear this is when it comes to work. Not very many people truly like work. I love my job and I love the mission of our church. But there are certainly times when I would rather be at home with my family.

What happens though, is this: because we don’t like our job or our boss or our pay, we find ways that we are being mistreated or taken advantage of or disrespected, etc. Therefore, when we’ve “had enough” we just call it quits. We walk away, and our story inevitably entails all the ways we were mistreated. Or, our attitude becomes so bad that we get let go. Either way, we are the victims.

Even though the reality may be that we didn’t do the job we were hired to do, or we just don’t like the idea of having to work to provide income for ourselves and would rather be sitting on the couch watching the Price is Right or blowing things up on our Xbox.

Contrast this mindset, with the mindset we are supposed to be living according to:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thes. 3:6-10)

Aside from work, there are other ways we make ourselves out to be the victim. But, aside from the ways we have actually been victimized, most of the ways we make ourselves out to be the victim boil down to our selfishness.

  • When a relationship goes bad, it’s always because of the other person.
  • When we get in an accident, it was always the other person’s fault.
  • When we are late to work, it was because of this or that – not because we got up late.
  • When we don’t pay our bills, it’s because someone took money from us who shouldn’t have.
  • When our car dies, it’s because the mechanic didn’t do this or that even though we never checked the oil.
  • If we’re overweight we sue McDonalds.
  • If we have high blood pressure we blame our parents.
  • When we don’t feel close to God, it’s the churches fault.
  • And when all else fails, we blame the government.

There are literally hundreds of ways we make ourselves out to be a victim. There are millions of excuses we make for why we can’t do something, or be the kind of person we are supposed to be.

Why does this matter?

It’s pretty simple really. When we are never to blame for our mistakes, we are always at the mercy of someone else to make us happy. We have so many reasons to be unhappy, because we have so many excuses and so much blame to push onto others.

In the end, we are the only ones who can live our lives in such a way that we improve our lives. It its not someone else’s responsibility to provide for you. It is not someone else’s responsibility to care for you. It is not someone else’s responsibility to make you happy. All that falls on your shoulders. But, as long as we are victims, we will never truly take control of the responsibility, our lives will always be at the mercy of our circumstances and we will live very unfulfilling and unsatisfying lives.

But, when you take responsibility, and especially when you start to make progress and have success because you are working to achieve it, your whole perspective on life changes. Instead of seeing mountains that can’t be moved, you get a shovel. Instead of seeing problems that can’t be solved, you start coming up with solutions. Instead of seeing a thousand road blocks, you see opportunities.

I’m not talking about some kind of positive thinking, if you dream it you can achieve it, false reality that doesn’t exist. There are limitations. You cannot live on the moon. You cannot own a unicorn. What I’m talking about is reality.

But, when you work hard, you get ahead. When you try to get out of work, you get behind. It’s pretty much that simple. Stop creating a false reality where your happiness is at the mercy of everything around you. Live intentionally and learn to make the most out of what you have.

If you would like to hear more on this topic, listen to these two talks I have given on the topic of responsibility:

http://68church.com/freeway-part-3-responsibility-ownership-and-grace/

http://68church.com/training-camp-part-7-responsibility/

Read More
Page 5 of 10« First...34567...10...Last »