Category Archives: Leadership

Remembering The Day When Time Stood Still – September 11, 2001

Below is the invocation I gave at the Patriot’s Day Memorial Ceremony in Lockport, Illinois.  May we continue to persevere and bring God’s love into this world each and every day of our lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

We stand here  on a gray and overcast day having to squint even to see the sun. Yet, it almost seems to be a fitting. Father as we stand in remembrance today our minds think back to another day of gray in our history. A day where we had to squint to see the sun through billows of smoke and uncertainty. All of us remember where we were that day and none of us will forget the feeling of anger, pain, and sorrow that welled up in our spirits.

Father God we stand here surrounded by heroes remembering heroes, loved ones remembering the fallen, and the living still effected by this day when gray covered our worlds. We look to a flag that represents our freedom and ask “How could this happen in a country built on freedom.”

But God amongst the doubt and confusion one thing still remains and that is You. You are the God of yesterday, today, and forever. You are the God of all things and Creator of all things and even in the midst of our gray You still reign. We are promised of this truth in Your word where in Psalm 121 we are assured of Your strength.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

 
My help comes from the Lord,
    

the Maker of heaven and earth.
 

He will not let your foot slip—
    

he who watches over you will not slumber;
 

indeed, he who watches over Israel
    

will neither slumber nor sleep.
 

The Lord watches over you—
    

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,
    

nor the moon by night.
 

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
   

 he will watch over your life;
 

the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    

both now and forevermore.

-Psalm 121

 

So although Father we remember today a moment where time seemed to stand still and evil appeared to be winning. We are reminded that You are still on Your throne and You have won the ultimate victory. On Calvary’s hill your Son Jesus defeated death and tore the gray clouds of evil apart forever. So we as Your people vow to not stay stagnate in fear, but to move forward in confidence knowing You are with us.

The proof of that promise is in the breath that we breathe. That even as we stand under gray clouds, we breath in the breath of life that proves we are still alive. That we can still make a difference. That we can still bring Your love into this world.

May that promise rest on us now as we remember the dark day of September 11, 2001, but may we also remember that September 12, 2014 is there for the taking and by Your strength we can make a difference as we stand in Your power.

Father we ask that You meet us now and remain with us forever. For it is in the matchless name of Jesus that we find our strength and in whom we pray.

- Amen

Share

Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 21 – Look Up and Work Hard

the_height_of_laziness_640_10

“The horse is made ready

for the day of battle,

but the victory rests with the Lord.” 

- Proverbs 21:31 -

 

If you haven’t noticed, our world is quick to take the credit and slow to take the blame.

Perhaps deferring to Michael Scott of The Office at this point makes sense.  In an episode Michael was caught in a “golden ticket” mistake that cost the fine folks of Dunder Mifflen hundred of thousands of dollars. When asked by his boss, David Wallace, what he though he should do about the situation.  Michael says, “Well David I will be honest with you. I do want the credit without any of the blame.”

That’s us!

If we are completely honest with ourselves, we would always prefer to receive the highest reward possible with the most minimal amount of work.  I mean if there was a way that we could somehow sleep until noon, sit on the couch in our underwear, eat Golden Oreos, while watching reruns of 24 and be rich…we’d do it.  However, that isn’t real life…atleast not one that isn’t the target of a TLC special after your weight balloons to 750 pounds and you have to be cut out of your house.

This life involves effort, hard work, and determination.  Yet somehow our society has become more concerned with getting the high score on Halo and living in our parent’s basement than working hard to make a living and becoming a productive member of society. (v 25)  The very fabric of our world is coming undone with every passing braincell wasted on mindless activities.

God designed us to live differently than that.  He desires us to have integrity in what we do and work hard so that in everything we bring Him glory.  A wise person realizes that life is not handed to them.   Instead a wise person sets out to use the gifts God has given them to the highest possible degree knowing that God will honor and bless those efforts.   Granted, this does not mean that every hard working person is a millionaire or the CEO of  Fortune 500 company.  What it does mean is that when we define our success as  giving glory to God through our efforts no matter who is watching or what the circumstance that is a life worth God’s blessing.

Solomon would say it this way, “he who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” (v 21) This prosperity and honor may not be in the form of BMWs or a body that never gets sick, but it is assured that God is pleased in our obedience and our eternal reward will be great.

Here are some practical applications of this found in Proverbs 21:

  • It’s the wife that isn’t constantly nagging her husband, but patient and loving in her words. (v 9, 19)
  • It’s the husband that keeps his eyes pure and only for his wife. (v 6)
  • It’s the student whose motives follow what God says and not what their heart tells them. (v 2)
  • It’s the employee who strives for the truth even when it may not be the most popular choice. (v 28)

Life is short and has an expiration date known only to God.  We can’t assume that we have forever because our very next breath is not promised.  Don’t waste your life pursuing mindless activities with now purpose and putting little to no effort toward what you do.  Refocus your life’s goal to bringing God glory in all that you do so that wherever you are and whatever you do the focus stays the same.  Doing that will give us renewed determination in all areas of our life and cause our spirit to come alive.

As Christians we are to squeeze every ounce of God given opportunity out of this life. When we come to realize that, we start to see that true wisdom seeks God’s glory first and our needs second.  Anything other than that will always lead to temporary happiness and an unsettled soul longing for more.

Share

Why All Of Us Should Care About What Happened At Rutgers…Especially Coaches

I know about athletics.  I played nearly every sport possible growing up, I went to college to play a sport, and for awhile I was given a paycheck to play a sport.  With every sport I played I had coaches that shaped my athletic skills and also shaped me as a young man.

I know about coaching.  I grew up in a family of coaches.  Both my father and grandfather are in the South Dakota Hall of Fame for coaching, my brother is a college coach, and I have even coached in small capacities.  I understand the stress, fatigue, frustration, and joy found in seeing athletes compete and succeed.

However the relationship of a player and coach is unique.  It’s one that requires trust, encouragement, discipline, patience, and honesty to be the most effective.  The higher you go in athletics the more each of you place your future in each other’s hands.  Coaches need players to play well, so they’ll win games, so they will keep their jobs.  Players need good coaches so they will play well, win games, get exposure, and maybe get a job playing that sport someday.

Yet the stresses of this job dynamic can be heavy.  Coaches walk a fine line of being challenging to their young players and being abusive to them.  I’ve had helpings of each in my life and I can tell you both have left a mark.

Recently, former Rutgers University Head Coach Mike Rice crossed that fine line. If you haven’t seen footage yet, here is what sparked Mr. Rice’s firing, the resignation of an assistant coach, and the resignation of the Athletic Director of the school.

ESPN Outside the Lines Story

I can relate to these players.  In my years of playing I’ve had coaches threaten to drown me, tell me they want to kill me with a 2*4 with a nail in the end of it, push, shove, knock me down, and throw baseballs at my head while being told by this coach they wanted to “F me Up”.  Sadly, the coach that wanted to “F me Up” said he was a Christian too.  I’ve been called worthless, useless, disgraceful, and belittled in front of my teammates.  Believe me I’ve had long car ride homes and walks back to the dorms following these lashings that were mentally and emotionally excruciating.

I say all this not so you’ll feel sorry for me because believe me I’m ok.  Most of, if not all of these men are out of jobs and away from coaching which is good for the players and the sports they coach.

My reason for saying this is that if it weren’t for a good home, good friends, and a relationship with Jesus Christ I may not have been ok.  The impact coaches have on players is amazingly powerful.  We will literally run through walls for them and that can be dangerous depending on what wall they want us to run through.

The Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal shed a spotlight onto coaching and the type of power that these men carry.  Now, I’m not saying that throwing basketballs at players and verbally abusing them is the same as what Sandusky did.  The sexual abuse of those kids goes into a whole other level of severity, but what I am saying is that the impact coaches have on their players is lasting both good and bad.

The best coaches I had were the ones that reminded me of the balance between sports and life.  They taught be great skills of the game, but instilled in me that there is more to life than scoring points, hitting home runs, or making millions of dollars.  When character, integrity, and hard work were the cornerstones of their coaching that’s when I flourished.  You may not have been able to see it in instant production on the field, but I can guarantee you can see it my life today far after I’ve taken the uniform off.

Parents.  Continue to encourage your kids and push them to do great things.  Don’t read this and pull them out of everything they are involved with because they may get a dud coach.  Keep them involved and active in their schools and communities.  Just make sure you are the safe place they can come home to regardless of how they play.  Take them to church, speak often of the bigger things of life, and instill in them a greater awareness of the needs of others not just their own.

Coaches.  I urge you to understand the power you have been given.  The next time you huddle up, sit in a locker room, or give your pre-game speech take an extra second to think.  Before you craft the next inspirational word look into their eyes.  See them for who they really are in that moment.  Young men and women that are in need of molding and are looking to you for it.  Yes I want you to win!  Yes I want them to win!  But what I want you to remember is howyou teach them, what you teach them, and why you teach them will effect them far after the season is over.

The final buzzer in life will sound for all of us at some point.  It’s what you do with the time God gives you between the dates on your gravestone not the date etched on a trophy that matter.

Stay focused on the bigger picture and understand the bigger impact.

Share

Being A Christian Won’t Make You Popular

I’m much happier when people like me.

I know…I know…I’m weird, but that’s the honest to goodness truth.

So even through that bit of sarcasm I’d venture to say you probably agree with me.

I mean, if given the choice of walking into a room full of people that loved you versus a room full of people that hated your guts you’d probably choose the room where you wouldn’t get assaulted.  Right?

No one wakes up in the morning desiring to make more enemies and frankly I’m not sure if any of us wake up with a To Do list task that says “Find 3 friends today”.  We simply want to go through our days peacefully hoping to encounter people we like rather than those we want to run and hide from.

Since all relationships have two sides to them we will fall into one of these categories too as the “other person”.

Sometimes we have positive perceptions of us because we’ve built up relational credibility, share common interests, have lived some life together, and other things that allow us to be a good person to be around.

Other times you or I may be the disgruntled employee they had to fire, the girl that cheated on her husband with, or the foul mouthed parent at the t-ball game that was kicked out for punching the umpire.  In these cases we become the relationship repellant and may need a good scrubbing with the spiritual SOS pad.

But there are times where great relationships and poor relationships alike encounter a common disconnect.  It’s far less tangible to “fix” or change to make the relationship right again.  That disconnect is your faith.

Our faith as Christians will often times be a real barrier between us and other people.

Sometimes it’s justified.  There are over zealous, idiot Christians that tell people more about how they are going to Hell instead of how much Christ loves them.  Other bonehead Christians will put the Jesus fish on their car, wear the WWJD bracelet, and continue to do pot and beat their wives.  We become innocent victims to their bad experience with church or with hypocritical people in the past that now is assigned to you as a Believer.

But even when we are living a loving, balanced, humble, Christ pursuing life there are still people that will bristle at the idea that we are a Christian.  The question we face in those moments becomes part of the litmus test of our Faith.

The Apostle Paul is an interesting character and one that knew his way around a beating and argument over his faith.  Listen to these words he pens to the Galatians.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

The litmus test of our faith is whether we will waiver and crumble so people will like us or will we stay strong and rooted in Christ despite what people say.

To paraphrase Paul a bit, it’s as if he’s saying “Listen if I was trying to win a popularity contest I would have chose to believe in something else.  If you haven’t noticed from my broken bones, jacked up face, empty pockets, and jail suits being a Christian hasn’t made me very successful.  But I believe in Christ not for the applause of men but for the embrace of Christ.  His opinion is the only one that matters to me.

As a Christian, our beliefs go against much of what the culture has adopted as ok.  This isn’t a new concept.  The world will always be in opposition with what God desires and it’s because sin is still present.  So to believe that we can have everyone like us is a guaranteed impossibility.  After all when you start messing with the “stuff” and idols in people’s lives you know that won’t be popular.

That’s why we need to have as many positive relationships as we can with people in our life. Creating good relationships with people, not popular ones but honest relationships with people will allow you the greatest chance to share the Truth of Christ to them.

Granted in the end they may turn their back and walk away.  They still may not like you and you could lose friends over your Faith.  But the words of Paul in Romans still ring in my spirit and encourage me to stay firm in the Truth of Christ.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:37-39

So stand tall in your faith in Christ and don’t be upset when you aren’t voted Most Popular.

Share

If We Can’t Win We Will Whine

The other day I was talking with my friend, and I asked how he was doing.   He jokingly said, “Good!  I mean, I guess there is always something to complain about though right?”

We both chuckled and went our separate ways, but I got thinking about what he said.

“There’s always something to complain about right?”

That seems to sum up the natural human condition doesn’t it?

No matter how much good is going on in our life, how many blessings we have stored up, or how much we have to be thankful for we will always find a rain cloud to bring over our head.

I believe the inner reason for that is that we are never satisfied and we desperately want for all parts of our life to have a big red bow on it like the Lexus commercials at Christmas.  We want everything to be perfect or at least as personally favorable as possible.

That’s why we will complain about pretty much everything.

We will complain about our food, foot, football team, foundations, fatigue, fears, and our functions sometimes before we even leave the house!  Why is that?

It’s because we think we know what’s right and since life isn’t listening to our master plan we grumble.  In other words, if we can’t win we’ll whine.

Jesus had to deal with this whining and grumbling nearly every day of his ministry.  A classic example of this in John 6 which must have made Jesus think “Can I ever win?”

Where we pick up, Jesus had literally just got done walking on water.  He probably was stretching out his calves and doing a cool down when a crowd approaches Him.  Interwoven in the masses was a group of Jews who, in questioning Jesus about his claims of being God, bring up that Moses was able to provide the people of the Exodus mana from heaven to keep them fed and could He do that?

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:35-38

Well this must not have sat well with the Jews because they saw they couldn’t win so they began to whine.

“At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’? – John 6:41-42

In their dismissal of Jesus they attack His divinity through his pedigree.  Since what he said didn’t line up with what they believed they chose to dismiss Him because he came from “common” people so how can He be God?

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” - John 6:43-44

Jesus tries to redirect their mumbles and grumbles back to the Truth in His promise but they don’t listen and leave arguing sharply amongst themselves.  Turning to His peeps, his followers, his disciples, He gets an interesting and surprising response to what transpired.

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?” - John 6:60-61

Even his own disciples were whining about what He said!  It’s like the players after the game talking about the coach to the press.  Not everyone that says they want to be on the team has what it takes to be on the team and Jesus knew that and this grumbling was a sign of the inevitable.

“For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.  He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” – John 6:64b-66

Some of the followers of Jesus couldn’t handle the entire Christian package.  It got too tough, too much was asked of them, and too much would have to be given up so they left.

His Twelve stayed with Him, but many of the others left to go back to join the crowd of whiners instead of staying with the group of Winners.

In our life we will always have the choice whether we want to follow God’s plan or whine when we don’t.  However, our decision to choose whining is not God’s fault.  If we don’t want to obey we miss out not God.

Don’t turn you back on God and whine about why you did it.  Keep leaning into Him and although there may be a TON of stuff to complain about choose to focus on the goodness of God and all He’s done for you.

That always puts things in the right perspective for me and I guarantee it will change your outlook on your day.

Share

Stick It To Goliath!

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well known and recited stories in all of history.  Christians and Non-Christians alike are familiar with the story of the undersized, under protected, under manned David defeating the 9’9” giant known as Goliath.

Goliath and the Philistines had intimidated and dominated the people of Israel for so long and with such force that the Israelites were terrified and paralyzed.  They had lost sight of the God that parts seas to protect them and wins impossible battles with ease.

It wasn’t until a small shepherd boy with mad sling shot skills and a resume that included lion and bear killing reminds them of the God that they serve.  As David stands in front of the mighty Goliath and absorbs the giant’s taunts, he quickly puts things into spiritual perspective.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-46

The two rush at each other and David takes dead aim at Goliath’s massive head that was swollen both literally and figuratively.  Needing only 1 of the 5 smooth stones he brought with him, David strikes the giant down and the place comes unglued.

The Israelites charge the retreating Philistines and God’s plan begins to play out in David’s life on a battle field he was never meant to be at in the first place.  But before we tuck this story to bed and go on with our day there is a part of the story we skip over but is fascinating when you look at it.

It happens after the rock hits its mark and Goliath is either unconscious or stunned on the ground.  David rushes his enemy and stands over the top of him, but this time he doesn’t use a stones.  The time for stones was over.

“David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.” - 1 Samuel 17:51

Did you catch it?

Whose sword did David use?

Goliath’s!

The undersized, under manned, and under protected shepherd boy, David, takes the massive sword of Goliath and cuts the giant’s head off with it.  The weapon that Goliath had intended to kill David with turns out to be the very weapon that would end his life.

God has a tendency to do that.

In fact, He did it with His own Son.

We mistakenly assign the cross exclusively to Jesus.  In reality, this was a common device of torture and murder in the Roman world.  In fact, history tell us that the Romans perfected crucifixion before Christ’s death and at one point they crucified 1,000 Spartan warriors at the same time along a roadside to prove a point.  Rebels against Rome and this could be you.

Jesus was killed by that perfected crucifixion and although it was reserved for the worst of criminals it wasn’t used exclusively for Him.

But yet, Jesus used their weapon of death and torture to defeat them in the end.  Three days after the soldiers had taken His lifeless body off that cross and assured He was sealed in a tomb, Jesus arose and beat them at their own game.  But the goal was never to beat crucifixion it was always to beat sin.

Listen to the writer of Hebrews.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” - Hebrews 12:2-3

Jesus stood over the giant of sin that had torn the children of God away from Him and He killed it once and for all.  Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection are what made sin null and void to the believer and left Satan on a battle field bloody and decapitated.

God still is doing that today.

God is able to use everything in our life and in this world for His glory.  This means that he can somehow use our addiction, divorce, selfishness, pride, depression, and anything else this world throws at us to bring people back to Him.  However, it all starts with us submitting to Him and giving up that control.  Giving Him the permission through our repentance to use what was once destined to kill us to ultimately save us.

You and I can choose if that happens.

David chose to pick up the sword meant to kill him and cut the head off the evil in front of him.  Jesus chose to take on the cross that was meant to humiliate, torture, and murder Him and now it rests as symbol of freedom and love to all believers.

What will your challenges end up looking like in your life?

Will they be what defines your end or will you use them to beat them at their own game and redefine your future?

Don’t lose heart…Jesus is still fighting for you.

Share

I Almost Preached Without God

It was Saturday afternoon and I was at church getting ready to preach the 5:00 pm service.  We are in the middle of a series called “The Story” as we travel through God’s Story to find our story within it.

This particular week I was asked to preach on the life of Hannah Samuel, and Saul which in and of itself is a daunting task.  Weeks of preparation had distilled down to a mad dash to the finish as I still needed some final tweaking and proofing before it was ready for people to hear.

As I sat at my desk I started to read through the message to make sure I was making sense when I first wrote it and all of a sudden I got a knock at the door.

“Pastor Brian, I just wanted you to know that the refrigerator in the kitchen is not working.”

How do you know?” I inquired of our volunteer.

“Well I’m no expert, but the smell is pretty much a dead giveaway.”

Enough said.

I hit save on my computer and then went to the kitchen to take a look and smell for myself.  Sure enough the fridge was on the fritz and there was nothing we could do until Monday.  A few quick texts to my electrician friends and some thanks to the volunteer that was now throwing away the “science food experiment “ in the fridge and I started walking back to my office to finish the message.

As I was walking something caught my eye.

The trash in the Kids Director’s office was full.

Funny,” I thought.  “They must have missed that one.

However, as I continued on my route I noticed that every trash can I came across had the same Facebook status line: Full.

Yet another quick text message sent out revealed that an employee that normally cleans the building abruptly quit and our building had been forgotten in the scrambling fray of events that had ensued.

So taking an about face, I grabbed the cleaning cart, put on some gloves, and began cleaning toilets, scrubbing counters, vacuuming floors, and emptying trash.  To say I was a bit distracted by having to do this was an understatement, but in the middle of cleaning the middle stall in the women’s bathroom I got a spiritual punch in the gut.

It was in this moment of clarity that I realized that I had put so much emphasis on me and my sermon and my preparation and my desire to do a good job that I had lost sight of who actually was doing the preaching this weekend.

God.

It was God that was to be lifted up and not me.  It was God that draws people to Himself.  It’s God’s Word that I am given the privilege of teaching not my feeble attempts at creative turn of phrase.  It is God that saves through His grace and mercy.

I have zero to do with any of that.

In addition it was God’s strength that I needed to get through the weekend, not my own.  It was God’s love that I needed to proclaim.  It was God’s patience I needed to have grow in my life.

With every swish of the toilet brush I realized I had almost gotten on stage and left God on the ground.  I had almost preached without God.

Needless to say, I put down the brush and got down on my knees in repentance of my pride, arrogance, and weakness.  I prayed that God would make me less so that He was more and that I might be in awe of what He would do this weekend.

I know I learned a very valuable lesson that day and one I’m sure I will have to relearn again before I die.  The lesson was “Don’t think of yourself greater than you are because God has a way of humbling those that do”.

Proverbs 3:34 “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

Matthew 23:12 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Maybe this was just a post for me or maybe you can relate to this somehow in your life.  It could be that in your life you have been relying far too much on you and not enough on Him.  There possibly could be a person that is thinking that things are so good right now that why even worry about God at all?

I believe only you can answer that for you, but as for me I know I am glad I had to grab a toilet brush this weekend so that God could be lifted high.

Share

Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 13:13 – Winning The Lottery Is The Easy Part

“He who scorns instruction will pay for it,

   but he who respects a command is rewarded.”

Proverbs 13:13

Lottery winners fascinate me.

Think about it, millions of dollars are instantly heaped upon a very unassuming person that days before was buying a strawberry-mango slushy, a pack of Marlboros, and a PowerBall ticket at the 7Eleven just as they had done for years.

Now, after defying all mathematical probability, their bank accounts look like an expired yogurt in a hoarder’s refrigerator; bloated and ready to burst.

This newly minted millionaire is still trapped in a middle class money management body, but now has to answer the question of “What do I do with so much?” instead of “How can I do so much with so little?”

It really shouldn’t surprise us when these people spend their money on the craziest things like Samurai swords, Go-Cart tracks, and 300 sheep.  Equally unsurprising are the “friends” that rise up out of the woodwork like the SwampThing when the money arrives, but “shockingly”, not all of them are looking to congratulate them on their newfound success.  Just listen to this story I read about a man named Bud.

“William “Bud” Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but ended up living on his Social Security. “I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare,” says Post.

A former girlfriend successfully sued him for a share of his winnings. It wasn’t his only lawsuit. A brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him, hoping to inherit a share of the winnings. Other siblings pestered him until he agreed to invest in a car business and a restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., – two ventures that brought no money back and further strained his relationship with his siblings. Post even spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector. Within a year, he was $1 million in debt.

Post admitted he was both careless and foolish, trying to please his family. He eventually declared bankruptcy. Now he lives quietly on $450 a month and food stamps. “I’m tired, I’m over 65 years old, and I just had a serious operation for a heart aneurysm. Lotteries don’t mean (anything) to me,” said Post. He died of respiratory failure.”

Solomon says in Proverbs 13:8  “A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat.”  I’m willing to bet that Bud would be saying “Amen” to those words.

Money has the potential to do great things in the hands of the right people.  I can’t over stress the word right in that last sentence.  So many of us say, “If I were rich I’d do so many good things”, but in reality more of us have the potential to end up like Bud than Warren Buffett.

This is true because most of us lack the wisdom to handle a small amount of money let alone a lot of money.  Our motto is “It’s my money I’ll do with it what I want!” and so we do exactly that.  Then when that runs out we want more and more and more and more.  As the richest modern day business man, John D. Rockefeller, said when asked “How much more money would people need to be happy?” he replied “Just a little bit more.”

The only way we can find balance to the grip money has on us in our life is through Godly wisdom and instruction.

In Proverbs 13:13, Solomon says, “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.”  

If you break your foot you don’t try to fix it on your own you go to the doctor.  If your car breaks down you don’t tinker around and hope you can figure it out you go to the mechanic.  So why when you are financially handicapped do you not go to a financial professional for help?

If you don’t handle money well don’t be a fool and try to do it on your own.  Get some help, take a class, get a money manager, give your spouse control of the finances, or just reach out for wisdom from someone who can help any way you can.

The most foolish thing you can do is think it will get better or plan to win the lottery to make it better.  Either one of those options could leave you back at the 7Eleven buying a Slushy with the change from your car seats in no time.

Share

Don’t Stop Fighting!

I woke up today burden with a heavy spirit.  It was surprising because I had a fantastic weekend and saw God move mightily.  I anticipated waking up energized, but sadly I felt heavy.

All I know is that I’m compelled to write this blog with one simple message:

Don’t Stop Fighting

The landscape of our culture is littered with people giving up on things in their lives leaving behind a landfill of excuses and broken dreams.  When things get tough or questions get too personal we “tap out” in fear of what we may have to change about ourselves.  What frustrates me the most is  this is what I hear and see in the lives of Christians!

I know people that will justify their decisions to give up with tepid excuses such as:

  • “I fell out of love”
  • “God wants me to be happy”
  • “I am too independent to be married anymore”
  • “The addiction is too strong”
  • “It’s not hurting anyone”
  • “I only look once and awhile”

Can I be blunt?

These are absolute garbage.

God’s not buying your weak excuses and He certainly is not going to allow you to use His Grace as a “Get Out Of Sin Free”-card.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” – Romans 6:1-3

God isn’t a happiness piñata that you whack until you get the sugary life you want to spill out of Him.

As followers of Jesus it especially doesn’t work that way.  The temptation of giving up is never above the Power of Christ working in you.

Listen to Paul’s words, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

So this means:

  • The addiction you are faced with…God will provide a way to get help
  • The marriage you are about to destroy…God will provide a way to work through it
  • The person you want to hurt…God will provide you a way to forgive
  • The life you feel that isn’t worth living…God will provide a way for you to see how much you are loved.

Everything we face in this life can be overcome with Christ.  EVERYTHING.

Don’t let yourself checkout and not fight for anything.  If things get tough, the money gets tight, the relationship grows cold, or the health gets fragile don’t be so weak in spirit and mind that you run.  As Christians we are called to rise above these challenges.

If we don’t rise above, what are we saying about the God we say we believe in?

We follow a God that didn’t tap out when the nails were driven in His hands, He didn’t call it off when the whips hit His back, and He didn’t retaliate when the spit poured down his face from His mockers.

Don’t let your decision to give-up be fresh spit on the face of Christ.  Stand-up, do the right thing, follow Christ, and don’t’ stop fighting!

Keep fighting!

Keep fighting!

Keep Fighting!!!!!

He loves you more than you know.

Share

Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 9:9 – Don’t Be A Fool

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;

teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

– Proverbs 9:9

In his book, Developing the Leader Within You, John Maxwell talks about a common principle in production known as the 80/20 rule.  The rule says, in most cases, 20% of the people in your organization, church, family, etc. will do 80% of the work.  However, Maxwell then takes it one step further when speaking to leaders and encourages us to spend 80% of our time with the productive 20% doing the work.

He makes a great point.

If you are going to spend energy developing, challenging, encouraging, or equipping anyone let it be on the people that it will make a difference on!

Ironically, most of our energy as leaders is expended on the 80%.  We spend so much time, resource, and stress on the group of people that need the most direction, are the most needy, but never do anything with the direction given.

Solomon gives all of us leaders wise counsel in dealing with the 80% in Proverbs 9 when he says:

  • Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult, whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.” – Proverbs 9:7
  • Do no rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” – Proverbs 9:8

In short Solomon is saying, “Don’t waste your time on fools.”  This may be a little harsh to read, but it comes from someone that has been a leader for over 15 years and has seen this first hand.   A fool is someone that acts unwisely or imprudently so spending time on fools that don’t want to change, refused to be led, or have a calloused spirit is a fruitless pursuit.  In my experience, the effort you expend nearly always comes back void and you look like a fool for wasting the time.

But the key verse for us a leaders is Proverbs 9:9

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;

teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

I love how Eugene Peterson phrases it in the Message translation,

“Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;

tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.”

As leaders, we are doing ourselves a disservice by not investing the best part of our time in people that will profit from our involvement with them.  There are people all around us that are hungry for wisdom, but we have to get past the crowd of “mockers” to meet them.  By switching our focus to the men and women who are willing to learn, we not only better the organization we are part of, but we advance the Kingdom of God.

Very rarely do you see a person eager to learn and grow that doesn’t at some level then pay that forward to someone else.  As a result, the fruit of your teaching is seen generations from now as it is passed from leader to leader to leader.

I want to close by posing a few questions to two camps of people out there.

Camp #1 – Leaders:  Who Do I Spend My Time With?

  1. Who are you spending the majority of your time with this week and is there a high return for that investment?
  2. Who are the top 1-2% of the 20% doing the work and how can you invest more time in them?

Camp #2 – The 80%:  You Might Be A Fool If

  1. If you never reach out for ways to improve yourself …You might be a fool.
  2. If you bristle or laugh when corrected…You might be a fool.
  3. If you are in the group of people complaining all the time, but with no action steps to make it better…You might be a fool.
  4. If you make fun of people that come early and stay late…You might be a fool.
  5. If the last book you read was the manual to your Xbox360…You might be a fool.
  6. If you want all the success without any of the hard work to get there…You might be a fool.

I completely believe that people in the 80% can change to the 20%, but it has to come with a heart change and a desire to want to work hard.  There has to be a realization that God didn’t design us to coast through life, but rather to work hard at whatever we do.

There is a call from God to all of us to gain wisdom and apply direction from solid leadership.  That isn’t John Maxwell or me speaking that is the God of the Universe so if you don’t agree…take it up with Him.

For my fellow leaders, we have to sometimes let the 80% wallow in their own mediocrity until they decide they want to get out of it.  In the meantime, we should put laser focus on the 20% that are willing to learn, lead, and are not fools.

Share