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Posted on Feb 18, 2014 in Blog, Fathering, Humility, repost, Truth

The issue doesn’t matter, it’s the starting point.

The issue doesn’t matter, it’s the starting point.

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. 

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.

 

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Posted on Feb 13, 2014 in Culture, Featured, Parenting, repost

A Love Delusion

A Love Delusion

Before you read this: this isn’t an article for parents. As you read it, you might think that’s the case. And while it definitely applies to parenting, it also applies to any loving relationship.

There is a huge delusion our culture has bought into, and it’s absolutely devastating. That delusion is if you love someone, you let them do whatever they want. You don’t say anything to them, even if you see them driving into a mine field – love doesn’t say anything.

This delusion plays into all of our relationships, for instance how we parent. If we really love our kids, we will let them do whatever they want and become whomever they want to be. It also plays into our “romantic” relationships. We see our spouse or the person we love the most doing something that is going to be harmful to them or to their coworkers, and because we love them, we don’t say anything.

“They’ll figure it out” we say, “just give them enough time, and they’ll finally understand.”

But, then they don’t. And this one wrong decision they make leads to another one. If they went right to this 2nd wrong decision the first time around, they would’ve said no. But because they made the first wrong decision, the second wrong decision was now within reason.

Add a couple dozen other bad choices on top of that, and they’ve created a whole lifestyle that’s paradoxical to who they could have been. And now who they become will be greatly affected by this new person they are.

Is this always devastating? No. In fact, I completely believe that God can use these stories for great thing in reaching people for His glory.

But is it best? I don’t think so.

Call me old fashioned. I don’t really care.

It’s easy as a parent to look at your child and see all the possibilities that wait for them. You can see all the potential they have. You can see the pitfalls too, but mostly what you see is potential. Does this mean what you see for them is the best option? Not necessarily. But, you have life experience to add to what you see in them, and you can help them steer away from their pitfalls and toward their possibility.

But you can’t do that if you just let them do whatever they want.

The same is true for other relationships. You can see all the potential that lies within people around you. You can see the pitfalls too, and if you can steer them toward their strengths, you can help them.

Lest you hear me wrong, I’m not advocating for manipulative and controlling relationships. I don’t think it’s our responsibility to control people around us and to manipulate them into doing what we think they should do.

But, I also don’t think we should sit silently and not offer the insight we have.

If we really love someone, wouldn’t we want the absolute best for them? Of course. Well, what if the absolute best for them will only come about if you speak truth into their life? Even if it’s hard and uncomfortable.

What if the most loving thing you can do for a person is confront them? And when did confrontation become such a bad thing?

It’s easy to say we would stop our loved ones from hitting the gas heading into a curve that could send them over a cliff. But, why don’t we do everything we can to stop them from starting down the path that can lead them to the point that they will end up in a car headed for the cliff without you in it to stop them?

“So, what are you saying Writing Man?”

I’m saying we need to love one another enough to sharpen one another. There are several passages in the bible that talk about the effects of teamwork and working together. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Ecc. 4:9-10

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

To me, it feels like forcing people to walk alone. If we don’t help people walk this journey, we’re forcing them to walk by themselves. If we don’t love people enough to tell them the hard things, do we really love them?

What we have been taught is love, isn’t love at all. It’s a delusion. Fake love is careful not to hurt someone’s feelings. Fake love goes out of its way not to offend.

But real love, seeks a way to share the truth in a loving way.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Eph. 4:15

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Posted on Feb 7, 2014 in Blog, Featured, Leadership, Parenting, repost, Responsibility

The Blame Game Danger

The Blame Game Danger

“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and
try again in a different way.” – Dale Carnegie

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work…
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

I have discovered a danger that I want to share with you.

Who’s going to fix it?

When you always blame someone else, you put yourself in a helpless position. If someone else is always the wrong one, how are you ever going to get out of what ales you?

This is a concerning trend. It exists in every level of society. From the Political leaders (from all sides) & CEO’s to teenagers and the homeless, there is a trend to push the blame off to someone else. Common phrases for this are things like “I wasn’t aware of that” or “there’s nothing I can do to change it.”

But, what I’ve noticed is that for those who always push to blame for their position to an external source, there is never any growth or personal progress. As long as there is someone else to blame, no one ever owns their own junk. So, since they never own up to their own mistakes, they never grow as a result.

Lost Authority

Another effect of pushing blame is this: when you’re blaming others instead of taking responsibility, you have no authority. The perfect example of this is as a parent or in a relationship. It’s easier to blame someone else than to deal with someone you care about being mad at you.

Let’s say you have to go into work on your day off. The truth is that the boss asked if anyone would volunteer to take the time and a half pay and you volunteered. But, when you get home to tell your spouse about it, all of a sudden it’s the boss’s fault. “The boss is making me come in to work tomorrow,” you tell your spouse. So now your spouse is mad at your boss for something that was your decision. Not only is this dishonest, it takes all the authority between you and your boss and puts it all on your boss.

Or, as a parent, let’s say that the kids are really wanting to go to the park, but you don’t want to go. So you call your spouse and get them to take the responsibility. They say, “You can just tell them that I said no.” So your kids get mad at your spouse because they’re not letting them go, and you don’t have to go to the park. Everything’s peachy right? Not really, because you pushed the authority of the decision off to your spouse, now you longer have authority to make that decision in the eyes of your children.

 Why does this matter?

Because it is through making mistakes that we often learn lessons that we will remember for a life time. It is through the emotional and mental anguish we go through when we’ve screwed up that we find the power to change and do it better the next time.

When we’ve lost that, what’s left? How to we grow and change?

To be honest, I think the rate at which we make personal change goes way down without taking responsibility. I think we end up with a lot of people who are convinced they are the best version of themselves they will ever be, that they can never get any better and that all the turmoil they face in life is because of someone else.

So, where are you? Do you take the blame for your own mistakes or are you always blaming someone else? It may seem easier in the moment to push the blame off to someone else, but you are doing yourself more damage than you can possibly imagine.

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Posted on Oct 1, 2012 in Blog, Culture, Devotional Thoughts, Leadership, repost, Worship, Worship Ministry

Let Justice Roll On Like a River

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.

In my last couple of posts I have been going through Amos 5 and drawing out questions that I think it raises for us and our churches today. The first post (Seek the Lord and Live) talked about how what God really wants us to strive for in our worship is Him. The second post (Why Do You Long For the Day of the Lord?), talked about us doing today what we won’t be able to do in eternity. (I also talked about this in a post a while back: What’s Missing from Our Worship?)

Today we come to the part of the passage that many of us are probably familiar with, or we have at least heard mention of. The people of Israel have become greedy with their desires and have stopped living as they should. The things they should be doing, they either don’t do them or they do them for the wrong reasons.

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

The people of Israel had their traditions. They knew what time of year it was based on the festivals to come. We do this to a certain extent from October through January. We know what time of year it is based on the holiday we have just celebrated and which one is next.

But, the intentions behind the celebrations have gone from remembering events and times when God Almighty had provided for them and become routine, rote, marginalized and perhaps even monetized.

Though this definitely serves as a reminder for the season we are about to enter in, Thanksgiving, Christmas and what not, it also serves as reminder of what our intention should be each and every day.

How quickly we forget. The Lord God Almighty has provided for us in ways we cannot measure. For the people of Israel He released them from captivity, provided protection and sustenance and eventually a land of their own. For us, He has given us a roof over our heads, food on our table, electricity for our electronic devices, free speech with which we can rejoice or complain without recompense…oh yeah, and he sent His Son to die a cruel death on a cross for our sins.

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.

Therefore, I propose that we begin a revolution.

Not the kind that you are thinking of. Not a revolution against political agendas and financially driven parties. Sure, those have their place. Rather, I propose that we rebel against the status quo of worship. I say we stop being concerned with what other churches are doing, what our friends’ church is doing. We should stop trying to do the things society and the world we live in tell us we should be doing. And instead, return to our first love, the Lord God Almighty.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the society we live in provides us with excellent resources to do what we do the best we can. I also think there is a lot we can learn from other churches and organizations about how we can do this thing called church in the best possible way.

[tweetherder]The problem is, comparison has become the game and conformity the the prize.[/tweetherder]

When what awaits us when we seek the Lord is life. What awaits us when we engage in worship as the pursuit of God and submission to His ways is freedom.

24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

May the ways of the Lord, be what drives us in our pursuit. Otherwise, our offerings are an unacceptable stench, noise that God has no regard for. Let our pursuit of Him open us up to His righteousness and may it flow in us from the spring of life.

Let us do the work of the Lord, believe in the one He sent for us (John 6:29). Instead let us feast on the Bread of Life and drink from the water that will never let us thirst again.

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

 

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Posted on Sep 10, 2012 in Blog, Devotional Thoughts, repost

Why do you long for the day of the Lord?

Amos 5:18-20:

18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

After having listed all of the sins of the House of Israel, we come across this passage. Aren’t we supposed to long for the day of the Lord? Don’t we want the Lord to come quickly? Of course we do.

This was a different time, this was before Christ came and walked among us. But it raises an interesting question for us as followers of Christ.

Are we living for Christ in every way we can imagine today? Or do we spend the day hoping Christ will come, but forgo the work we have been called to do today? Are we consumed with our selfish desire for Christ to come so that we can be set free from the troubles of this world? Sure, we hope for that. But, what about those who haven’t experienced the hope that we have? What about those who don’t yet know of a better future?

What I would simply propose for us as we look at this scripture is that our desire for Christ’s return would be something that drives us to do whatever we can do today to reach those who still don’t know. Let us live lives that testify to Christ being alive in us, the hope for glory. Let us hope for Christ’s return, but let us live among the men whose only hope is for a good life before they die. May we show them that this troubled world is not the end, but only a beginning.

There is much more to this passage that could be dealt with, but for today, we’ll leave it at that. How can we live and share our lives today so that even one more may share eternity with Christ?

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Posted on Jul 30, 2012 in Blog, Culture, Leadership, repost

You choose your attitude, don’t let it be chosen for you. How to choose your attitude in 3 simple steps.

I’ll be the first to admit, I let others choose for me.

It’s hard! We’re surrounded by opportunities for negativity every day. Every day! Even if you work in the best work environment, there is a real world out there that beckons for us to enter into it. And we have to enter in or risk being out of touch.

But the instant we do, we’re confronted with negativity.

People on facebook are negative. People on twitter are negative. The news is negative. TV shows are negative.

Why? Because it sells I guess. People are attracted to negativity like moths to a bug lite. The point is, get to close and it will kill you.

So how do you keep yourself from being negative? You have to choose, intentionally, to have a positive attitude.

It’s a daily, hourly and minute by minute choice. I’m sure there are statistics out there for exactly how often we are confronted with a negative idea, but I’m choosing right now to not go looking for it, because I don’t want to be drawn into the negativity.

Do you remember the technique for putting yourself out if you spontaneously com-bust? The same applies to your attitude.

Stop

When we find ourselves being negative, we must choose to stop. In that very moment, just quit it! There’s no need to carry on with the negativity, just stop  it. Right then, right there.Stop the conversation.

Drop

Drop it. Don’t feel like you have to win the argument at hand. Drop the issue, and leave it there.

Roll

Roll on to something else. Change the conversation to something positive or something totally unrelated. Go find something positive to read, find something funny to watch. Something that funny in a positive way, not negative. But Roll on.

We don’t need to be negative any more. We need more people to be positive and to view life, leadership and the world through the lens of positivity.

Will you join me?

What tips and tricks do you have that you can share with me to help me be a more positive person?

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