Category Archives: Church

We Heal Together

One at a Time… A Call to Heal.

Fear crushes people.  You see the evidence all over social media and the news today.  Many of my friends who are the brightest lights in their communities are struggling to make sense of what is going on, struggling with anger and struggling with people who think or act differently.  Their words show the struggle is real as we try and make sense of killings that are not rational.  It can all seem so out of control and like it will get worse before it gets better.

My heart breaks for the people in our nation… From Ferguson to Baton Rouge to Chicago to St. Paul to Dallas, My heart breaks.   My heart breaks for the families, for that poor woman who filmed the man dying in the car, for families of police officers and for the communities of West Chicago where people are afraid to go outside.

together-we-heal-617x347Praying can sometimes seem so futile in the face of rage, hurt, killings but Prayer is the only place where light starts to break through the darkness.  I have no answers but I am learning where to direct my questions.

Words spoken to others make you feel better.  They won’t bring back those whose lives are lost.  They won’t stop men from bleeding on the streets.  They won’t stop the bullets.   Words spoken to God, change hearts and move mountains.

Blame doesn’t matter.  Labels don’t cure and yelling don’t heal.

Bringing people to justice makes us feel better and gives us a time to rally. Until the next time.  Justice is so limited and taken to an extreme demands a life for a life.  We need better than that or this crazy cycle we are on never stops.   It is all temporary until the heart changes.  Our love for each other has got to be greater than fear or each other.  Our Love for each other has to louder than that shouts of hate and fear.

There is no Fear found in Love.  Love actually pushes fear away.  God wasn’t screwing around.  He told us that is we love each other, pray for each other than this crap stops.  If we don’t, there are not enough marches in the world to unite us.

Love is not a feeling.  It is a decision.  A decision to fight for and with the one next to me, not against them.

One Life touches immeasurable people… One Death too early, even more.  Neither can or should be summed up in hashtag.  People’s lives are not a political forum.

Start with you… Are your words bringing people together or are your words filled with the same fear that already divides. Your words amplify bringing us together or being right in your rage.  One Unifies and One Divides.

You can be a bridge or you can be a wall.  Not both.

Control what you can.  Today, God Knows, that does not feel like much.  Today, I can control My words, My prayers and My love for people.  I can hug those around me begin building.  Seems like a place to start.\

Praying for you.

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Gloriously Inconvenient Christmas

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

God is in the Miracle Business. He creates worlds, creates stars, and created us.

God also is Truth. He doesn’t speak truth, He is truth. It is impossible for God to lie. Everything He says, happens.

So when He says that He has good plans for us, we can believe this and even more. We can believe that He has a plan that is better than we can ask or imagine.

This week, we will celebrate the Miracle of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, Jesus. We will celebrate that through God’s love and perfect plan he created a way for us to know him and have eternal life.

He has a good plan, but let’s look at the other word of God’s promise in Jeremiah.… He says His plan will not lead to Disaster.   He did not promise he would not not inconvenience us, He promised, He wouldn’t ruin us.

So, let’s look closer at the Christmas story.

  • Angel comes to a young Girl…. Bam!!! You’re Pregnant.
  • Hey Fiancée, “I ‘m Pregnant.” It’s God’s…you know… The Messiah.
  • Hey Family… Guess What
  • Oh Babe, You’re 8 Months pregnant. Get ready for a mule ride to Bethlehem
  • We’re here… There are no rooms.
  • It’s OK babe, I found a barn for us to have the baby.
  • Yeah, I ‘m sorry no family is here, but we have some shepherds.

The Christmas story is full of inconveniences, some HUGE, some small. Each time the person chose to believe that God’s plan would not lead to disaster but to a fulfillment of His promise. He promise, made 700 years before in the Book of Micah is that the Savior of the world would be born to a virgin in Bethlehem.

But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village among all the people of Judah.Yet a ruler of Israel,… And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And He will be the source of peace.”

Many today have bought into a philosophy that God would not want us to be inconvenienced; God would not want to disrupt our good lives.   Actually, that is exactly what He is looking to do.

Look again at the Christmas Story, and throughout history and you will see where God asks this question. “Do you want relationship with me more than your current schedule or plan?” He is in the disrupting business because our plans would not lead to Him, but His plan leads to an eternal life with Him for us and for others.

Aren’t we glad that Mary and Joseph said, “Yes.”

In this Christmas week, I am praying that we all embrace a little holy disruption to our tradition and that we open that God’s great promise is worth a detour or two.

 

 

 

 

Forgive… That’s Crazy

There are times when we are asked to do something crazy by our friends. They may ask us to jump in the river from a cliff, eat something, smell this, just try it. I do not recommend always following your friends in this arena.

Then there are times when God asks us to do something crazy. I would always recommend this one but it may even feel harder then eating the spicy wind your friend just dared you to eat.

Many times, we shy away saying that God would never ask me to do something so foolish or crazy.

I don’t know about that. God seems to have a history of asking people step out on the crazy train

Just look at some of the examples:

  • Joshua takes Jericho, not though Military might but because He marched around it for a week and the walls fell down
  • Jesus tells Peter to pay the taxes, not with money Jesus gives him but with the money out of a fish’s mouth.
  • Elijah is fed during the drought by a bird making daily deliveries
  • And , Jesus heals a man by asking the man to dunk himself in a lake seven times

God does not seem to concern himself in the direct rout. There were much quicker ways to get each of these done. God doesn’t care about quick, he cares about our response when asked to do something crazy. He cares about our faith.

I state the above because, while he may never ask us to march around a city, He does ask us to do something just as crazy.

He asks us to Forgive…. Everyone.

Don’t believe me….Here are some of the crazy things He asked of us:

  • Forgive anyone who offends you.
  • Love your enemy.
  • Turn your cheek after they just Smacked you.
  • Give your coat when only your hat is needed.
  • Walk a couple miles for someone when only one is required
  • Give them the fire from your house
  • Ask for Forgiveness from them before you ask it of God
  • Repay insults with a blessing
  • Always speak the best of them, no matter what

As a child of divorced parents, I know what it is to be offended, disappointed. I also know what it is to carry around unforgiveness toward my biological father. Even though, God had brought me an incredible dad and hero who raised me from a boy to a man, I still carried a chip on my shoulder that I didn’t even know was there about being abandoned and hurt. I had built a wall around me. Then came the day God told me that it was time for that wall to come down. It would only come down when I forgave my father enough to ask forgiveness from him for giving up on him

Just like Joshua marching around Jericho, it was going to take courage. I totally protested and asked Jesus in prayer how I was going to do it and if He know how hard it was.

He reminded me who He in no uncertain terms:

  • I forgave you and Forgive you even while you are asking me this question.
  • I have grace for those who would nail me to the Cross.
  • I am your all-sufficient Savior.
  • I reach for those no one else would touch.
  • I turn around for the one everyone would ignore.
  • I forgive the unforgiven.
  • I feed the hungry.
  • I leaves the crowd to find the lonely.
  • I heal the sick.
  • I erase what you would hold onto Forever.
  • I remembers the forgotten.
  • I bring hope to the hopeless.
  • I holds the contagious.
  • I came down from my throne for many who will never know me.
  • I died for people who will reject me.
  • I gave ALL for people who will ask for more.
  • I remember those who have long forgotten me.
  • I wait for the busy.
  • I find the lost.
  • I call home the sons and daughters who ran away.
  • I build a kingdom for those who would rather live in the street.
  • And I make the unforgivable forgivable.

By showing me who He was, how He forgave me and what He sacrificed for me, he gave me the strength to forgive and build a bridge to my biological father. He restored a family and filled a hole in me that I didn’t even know I had.

God works to transform our lives by loving us enough to do the crazy for us before He asks us to do the crazy for anyone else.

His desire is that we forgive before it even happens. That our lives will lead us close to Him ; to look more like Jesus.

That means:

  • We will have to honor our parents when they are not acting with honor.
  • We will have to love our wives when they are not acting loveable.
  • We will have respect our husbands when they are not acting respectable.
  • We will have to stand with those we would most like to run away from.
  • We have to obey our bosses.
  • We have to pray for our government leaders.
  • We have to take care of our employees.
  • We need to serve those when it looks ridiculous.
  • We serve those who “should” be serving us.
  • We will have to speak the best about people when they have done the worst.

And We Forgive… Because we are completely forgiven.

Now… That is the kind of crazy love that will change the world.

The Love that Moves us Forward

I love being around people who encourage me. I love it when they tell me what a great job I am doing, how incredible I am. We all do, if we are being honest. Those who tell us what we want to hear are so easy to be around. Seriously, since we are being honest, I could listen to others tell me how awesome I am for quite a while before I tire of it.

I might even protest a little, then prompt them to get started again. “Oh stop….   Now… come on, stop it…no come on.”

We love being around those who tell us what we want to hear.  

Two things happen if these are the only people we hang out with.

  1. We have to put on a performance for those around us only showing the awesomeness that is in us. We are now on stage. Goodbye to anything real coming out of our mouths.
  2. Those around us also have to perform or we replace them with others who will tell us what we want to hear.

Welcome to the theater of flattery.   Ever been here?

Jesus did not approach the world this way. He came to save the world and tell us about a hope that had nothing to do with our performance. He came to tell us that he loves us no matter what and that we need to stop performing and get real.

We see this example in the story below where a wealthy young man approaches Jesus.

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’

 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

We can picture this young man. He is a mover and shaker. He is one of those young men who just have “It.” They seem to have it all figured out. It all works out for him and he seems to have a plan for everything. People flatter him wherever he goes. They have been telling him he was meant for great things since he was a youth.

We know this guy more importantly, Jesus knows this guy.

It says in the Message Bible that when Jesus responded to him, “The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.”

Many times, astruth-and-love Christians, we read this story and talk about the dangers of the love of money.

I look at this story a little different as I see a young man that represents so many of us. He is successful and wants more. He wants to be closer to Jesus and is doing the best he can to balance life, family, career, faith.

By seeing how Jesus responds to this young man, we see a picture of how He responds to us. This gives me hope to go on every day and take the step that leads me closer to Jesus.

 

  1. He loves you where you are. He may not love where you are but He loves you.  It says that Jesus felt a genuine love for the young man. He may not love where you are but that does not affect the amount He loves you. Let me say that again. He loves you regardless of where you are. You may be on tip of the world or on the bottom of the pile. His love for you never changes and He always loves you.
  2. He loves you enough to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. He knows exactly what you are holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward.
  3. He loves you too much to let you stay where you are. In Fact, He loves you so much, he is willing to have you be mad at him for being the one person who will speak the truth you need to hear.

We need this love in our lives. A love that says, I am willing to sacrifice and give my life for you knowing that you will screw up. When you do mess up I love you. When you win, I love you. When you lose, I love you.

He turned away when Jesus spoke truth to him. He may never have heard it before. I wonder what would have happened if He had stayed and just hung around a little longer.  

God’s desire is that respond to His love with faith and take a step closer to Him. To hang out even when we don’t’ understand why He would ask us to do something that crazy. The Faith to endure is built by knowing God’s ridiculous love for us.

That is the love that changes the world… Starting with Us.

 

 

Why? Why? Why? – Never Stop Asking

Yesterday, my 8-year-old son, Nolan, asked me a question about World War II. As I was explaining certain battles and what happened, he cut me off. “Dad, I know what happened, I want to know WHY they did it.” He had many questions and all of them dealt with why generals and leaders made the choice they did. That opened up a discussion about how to make hard choices and what he would do if he faced a hard decision.

He left with a “Thanks dad. That makes sense now.” And with that, he was off to explore Legos.

I have been in hundreds, maybe thousands of meetings where teams get together and discuss what is happening and what we are going to do about what is happening. Reviewed the numbers and the data, what the team was doing, or not doing, what the numbers were, what they should be and what we were going to do about it.

Sometimes, we even tried to determine whose fault it was that numbers were what they were.

I have been involved in meetings where we discussed what kind of culture we wanted to create, what we stood for and what we going to do to get our culture and mission statement into the hearts of our employees.

Most of these meetings were not very effective.

This is because we are asking the wrong question. We need to start asking “Why” instead of “What.”

Why builds ownership, not more programs. Why will change your team. It is the question that changes the world.

As a leader, you need to be as relentless as a 3 year old asking “Why, Why, Why.

Why is your most powerful tool. If people understand the “WHY”, they can create the “WHAT.” If they don’t, the best you can hope for is enthusiastic compliance where the momentum only lasts as long as you keep them pumped up. Why allows you to know if they understand the vision, and how to build alignment

Here are a couple of examples:

  • If the team understands that you are cutting a project to put resources into a much faster growing division, a negative event all of a sudden looks like a growth opportunity.
  • If a leader understands you are moving her to a “lower-profile” position because only she can build this vital division correctly, it takes on a whole new significance. No one will outwork her.
  • If you don’t understand what is going on. Asking why allows you to hear people’s thought progress, their passion and how they got where they are. This involves listening more, talking less.

Culture is created through answering “Why”, not What. What we do is the visible of proof of how we answer why. Spending time on why we make the choices is harder, more time-consuming and can be more abstract to measure. By the way, answering the “WHY” is REAL the job of a leader. No one else is measured on why.

I think that is why many people and organization spend so much time on the what.

  1. It is easier to move the deck chairs around than ask why we have a deck in the first place.
  2. Measuring the “What” is easier than the Why. We are a bit data obsessed. It harder, not impossible, but harder to measure the impact of Why we do what we do in the first place.
  3. We never seem to have enough time to deal with Why. It is easier to put a couple more programs together or measure data than it is to measure impact and progress.
  4. People’s comp plans are usually ties to outputs of what.

The result is that we only deal with why at the beginning, when we change leaders and when the wheels are coming off the bus.

In truth, Why establishes the targets you are aiming at. Without it, programs all become self-serving where campaigns exist only to reach a certain return rate, not are we actually reaching the people we intend to reach.

What measures metrics. Why measures Impact and progress. We have to make more time for this. Otherwise, work and busy work begin to look the same.

I would recommend:

  1. Lay out your vision and why your organization even exists. Then your people can buy in, take ownership of this and begin to drive their teams and programs toward this vision.
  2. Spend time to make sure people understand the why behind the decisions you are making. This will help make sure all of your activity is aimed at the same target. This is vital as you are asking people to change behavior.
  3. Allow people to question which activities actually have greatest impact to moving you to the goals.
  4. Be willing to sacrifice programs if they don’t align to why. That builds culture more than 100 ping-pong tables ever will.
  5. Eliminate the meetings where you simply discuss data and outputs. Most of this information can be sent via e-mail. Use this data to drive your “Why” meetings. A bunch of meetings can go away right there.

Momentum is a group of people moving in a direction. Why is like turning on the lights and making sure everyone is running at the same target. They will feel more secure. No one runs fast in the dark.

The paradox is that the quality and efficiency of the “what” will actually improve tremendously the more clarity your team or family has concerning the “Why.”

Gratitude, Forgiveness and Love are the Best Weed-Killers I Know

Whatever you water and feed will grow.

It is true for our yard, true for our kids and true for our lives.

When you provide the right nutrients to a yard, it will flourish. If you want greener grass, you need water and fertilizer. Living in Texas, I have a new appreciation of how important both elements are to making this work.

Many people will use the term invest instead of water but the idea is the same. My bank account will grow when I invest money. Another person’s bank account grows if I invest in buying their stuff.

So, the principle is simple and now the key questions is if you don’t What are you watering?

If you are positively watering or investing in people, your marriage, your kids, your job, your business, you will see them grow. If you are showering people with love and service, you will see relationships strengthen.

Maybe you are deciding to water your talents and you are going back to school. If you want to see growth in areas of your life you need to pour water on those areas.

You want to grow your faith, take a couple of steps beyond where you are comfortable and you will feed your faith.

As a leader, investing in your people is the #1 way to make sure your organization keeps growing and producing abundantly.

While these are positive examples, the same is true for weeds. If you feed and water weeds, they will also grow. In fact, they will grow faster and choke out everything else around it.

Weeds, like resentment, addictions, being offended and anger when fed will crowd out and eventually kill everything growing and eventually, you just have a yard of weeds.

So, how do we start feeding the grass that kill the weeds? Stop feeding them and they will eventually shrivel and die. Grab them and rip them out by the root and they are gone forever.

Forgive people and let resentment die… Be truly grateful for what you have and let greed die… Love those around you and let your life flourish.

Gratitude, Forgiveness and Love are the best weed-killers I know.

If you take a look at your life, what are you feeding?

The Bible says that our words come from the abundance of our heart. So, a place to start is to look at the words you are speaking as they are indicators of what we truly believe and what you are currently feeding. Let’s build lush gardens in our lives. That was God’s intention from the very beginning.

Let’s get better each day.