Friday, October 17, 2014

Creating Space for Others to Develop Their Own Convictions

It is difficult, but important, to resist the urge to expect others to be where you are without allowing them to go through the same process you went through to get there.

Does that make sense?

This is a big growth area for me. I am a teacher, I have Bohemian interests, and when I get passionate about something, though the passion may not last, it comes on/across heavy and strong. What that means is I change interests often, tell others about them with conviction while I have it, and expect everyone else to get on board immediately. Of course this is a recipe for confusion and trouble, especially for the people closet to me.

What I too often forget is I didn't always feel the way I feel now. And therefore it would be wise of me to make space for other people to develop their own passions without trying to force mine upon them.

Would you agree that forcefulness is a terrible persuader of people? 

Forcefulness might bring about compliance but it never brings about buy-in. This is true at work, in the home and in the church. What really does foster buy-in is when people see and experience something for themselves, and they consequently come to develop their own conclusions. This is when hearts and minds and opinions are changed. And when people of like minds come together.

It has always amazed me how people come to believe what they do. In looking back on my own life journey it is nearly impossible to see what exactly caused me to feel and act the way I do. Of course there are formative people, places and events, but there are very few moments when I simply "decided" to change my mind. Often it was a slow transformation, influenced by people with care and concern, who stuck with me and walked me through the transition. I have to remember this is marriage, parenthood and shepherding. And when all else seems lost I have to trust and remember that the hand of God is powerful to change the mind of man.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Take Charge!

Take charge.

These are the words that came to mind today as I thought about some of the current growth areas in my life.

First, with my faith. I need to take charge and pursue Jesus and His Word. I can’t be a passive pew sitter, relying on one hour a week to nourish my soul, lift my spirits or inform my brain. I believe deeply that God will reward me for the time I spend in pursuit of him. The primary avenue this pursuit takes place is in the reading of the Bible. There is NO OTHER place to find what is true and to learn how I should think, act, feel and live. I have to take charge of my faith and make sure it is deepening daily.

Second, in my home. As a husband and father I am accountable to Jesus as the leader of my household. This means I have to be servant-hearted, humble, peace-loving, and wise. None of those traits are natural to humans. I have to work on it. I have to pursue it. I have to take charge of how I react to my wife and kids and ensure that I increasingly am acting like Jesus would. Also, I need to take charge as a father in the development of my kids. I have to pour into them, teach and train them, intentionally and wisely discipline and reward them.

Third, with my body. I will not be healthy, strong and fit unless I take charge of my body. I will not be supported in my efforts towards good health by most of the culture. I will be sold food that is junk. I will be encouraged to be lazy and sit on my butt. I will very easily drift into obesity and sloth and mindlessness. But I am not OK with that. I have to take charge of my body and make sure that I am caring for it, exercising it, filling it with what it needs to function best, and developing it. I will not drift into this. And neither will my kids. So I must also take charge in leading by example and helping my kids learn to care for their own bodies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Element of Surprise in God's Steering of Our Lives

I spent some time reading old blog posts tonight from 2008 on another platform I used to blog on. I came across this quote which I loved and think should be shared again.

As I review God’s steering of my life, one thing that stands out is the element of surprise at all the crucial points. I was never expecting what came; I was always projecting something else.
-J.I. Packer

I can completely relate to this. I have had many plans for my life but things have always seemed to take a turn I wasn't prepared for. Then, once I have traveled down the new road, as I look back I can see how I am in exactly the place I should be, and I'm thankful that God changed the plans I made into His own plans. 

Reminds me of Proverbs 16:9 (ESV), 
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."

I find so much peace in Scripture's reassurance that God is always besides me, bringing me to the place that is best for me, despite my greatest attempts to go somewhere else. I also find strength to make hard decisions and to take risks knowing that I can trust Jesus with the final outcome.

Monday, October 13, 2014

10 Things Great Leaders Remember Each Day

My little brother sent me this list today. Some good reminders that I printed out and posted up by my computer at work.

1) Be a Great Boss / Leader / Friend / Spouse

2) Respect Cannot Be Faked – Be Genuine

3) Believe in Yourself More Than Others Believe in You

4) Have Fun!!!

5) Make Yourself and the People Around You Better

6) Appreciate People and Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt

7) Be Electricians, not Firefighters

8) Be Engaged in Each Moment, Hour, Day

9) Have A GREAT Attitude

10) Feedback is a Gift. Be a Giver and Receiver

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Notes, Quotes & Anecdotes from my Sermon on Philippians 3:2-15

Today I gave the sermon at Main Street Moravian Church in Northfield. It was not recorded but here are some notes from my sermon manuscript.

Last week my main point in the message was to reinforce the importance of unity in the church. What I said was that when it comes to maintaining unity, our main challenge is to put the needs of the “WE” before the needs of “ME."

It is only when we look up at the cross and at Jesus who died there, that we find the power to overcome our selfishness and vain conceit.

Many of our problems in life come from focusing our eyes downward on the wrong things.

The heart of the Christian life is the daily choice to lift up and fix our eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

And what happens, when the Bible is removed as the principal authority and determining factor of what is true and what isn’t, is that chaos of opinions and feelings reigns. And false teachers thrive in this environment.

After that glorious moment when Jesus saved Paul, everything changed for Paul. All the religious self-assurances that had meant so much to him before now meant nothing.

I think we need to take more encouragement from Paul’s confession here (Philippians 3:12) and admit that perfection in this life is a goal and not an accomplishment.

BUT, BUT, the fact that we don't reach perfection in this life does not mean we should not strive for it or say that is too hard. Paul is not telling us to just settle.

My response to his death on the cross is to passionately pursue him, to press past all of my faults and my sins and my errors and to seek him and his glory.

Closing poem "To Will One Thing" (Soren Kierkegaard)

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Distinctive Qualities of the True Christian

While doing some sermon research for my sermon on Philippians 3:2-15 this weekend I came across these words from Pastor John MacArthur. They are from a sermon Pastor MacArthur preached entitled, "The Distinctive Qualities of the True Christian." (I am responsible for the highlighting.)

And so, again we come back to this very familiar biblical theme. It is all through the New Testament, the theme of true Christianity. Who is the true child of God? In fact, I would venture to say that there are two dominant themes in the New Testament apart from the exaltation of Christ Himself who is the theme of all of the Word of God. The first theme in the New Testament is a presentation and elucidation of the gospel.

But there is a secondary theme that runs right behind that first one and it is the matter of who is a true Christian. Having delineated the gospel in great clarity, it is then of great importance that one ascertain whether or not in fact he or she is a true Christian. That theme is also abundant in Scripture. In 2 Corinthians, Paul says, "Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith." Once the faith has been delineated the key is to know whether you're in it. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that in the last time many will come and say, "Lord, Lord, but He will confess to them, I have never known you, depart from Me you workers of iniquity." So there are some who will think they are Christians and children of God, who think they belong inside the covenant and the Kingdom but who are sadly mistaken. That too is a theme.

It starts with Jesus confronting the false faith of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of Israel. It moves to Peter exposing the false faith of Simon. It moves then to Paul who warns of the false faith of the Judaizers who want to demand people observe the law and be circumcised before they can be saved. It moves then to James who describes the dead faith of a fruitless life. And then it moves to Jude who squares off against the hidden phonies in the church. And finally it comes to John who records the description of a church that had a name but had no life, it thought it was alive but in fact it was dead. And everywhere in between all of those high points, the theme of true Christianity runs like a unbroken thread through the fabric of the New Testament.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

4 Easy Steps to Improving Your First Impression


We’ve all heard the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” 

So true.

I listened to a motivational speaker/educator in the trucking industry talking about how to improve relationships between dispatchers and truck drivers. The speaker had some great ideas to share which can be applied to all the relationships in life. He taught about 4 simple things we can do to change the way we presently handle relationships and to improve our first impressions in the future.

1. Be First (initiate the connection, smile, make the first move
2. Use Names (everyone loves hearing their name, makes it personal)
3. Say Thank You (look for a way, everyday, to say thanks)
4. Ask Questions and Show Interest (engage in the conversation intellectually and emotionally)

I thought those were some great tips. Nothing earth shattering but good reminders. The speaker finished with this idea. “When your relationships change it isn’t because others have changed, it is because I have changed.” 

Implementing these 4 behaviors is an easy way to change yourself so you can change the relationships you have with others.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wives, Know Your Place. Thoughts?

I know, I know, the headline is obviously meant to be a bit controversial in order to draw you in to the post. Please forgive me. I saw the same headline in my RSS reader last week and I got suckered into reading the post too. However, I actually found it to be quite interesting. The article was written by a woman and it begins with these words,

"One of the reasons many wives struggle in their marriages is because they refuse to embrace the role God has given them as helper to their husband. The word “helper” ruffles their feather and their pride demands a higher position, a more noble title. But such desires sabotage marriage and prevent us from fulfilling our calling." (Pastor Joe quoting his wife Jen in her article "4 Ways to Live Out Your Role As Helper")

The four ways Jen offers women to live out their role as helper are really good and probably not what you'd expect. Check it out and let me know what you think.


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