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Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in Inspirational | 2 comments

Expect RESULTS From Your Labor!

Try this exercise. Think all the way back to the beginning of this week. What were your expectations for how it would turn out? Did you have visions of making abundant progress on your most important projects? Did you expect that your labors were going to produce a great harvest? Did you expect the time you invested in relationships to create amazing memories? Did you expect that the time you gave to helping others was going to create lasting impact? Or did you expect to get through the week just barely squeaking by, to invest all of your energy and walk away the same way you went into it?

Most of us expect to toil hard at work and get little results. Here’s something I’ve learned, though. That kind of stressful, unproductive hard work is actually the result of the Fall of Man, going all the way back to Adam. (Check out Genesis 3:17-19) Jesus, however, has already come to undo the results of the fall. You can actually expect that your labor in Christ WILL BE FRUITFUL!

I believe this is actually the first step toward stress-free living. Stop expecting meaningless toil. Expect RESULTS! [TWEET THIS]

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corin 15: 58

What do you expect out of this week?

Stressed? Check out these other posts:

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Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in Communication | 2 comments

Perspective on Sex

Perspective on Sex

SexThere’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever – the kind of sex that can never “become one.”

There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly – but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality – the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.

1 Corinthians 6:16 – 7:4

What do you think?

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Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Inspirational, Leadership | 2 comments

Keys to Avoid Moral Failure

Keys to Avoid Moral Failure

There’s nothing that troubles my heart more than watching a spiritual leader morally collapse.  It brings such a wide-range of emotions.  I feel for the people who looked up to the leader.  I feel for the community that was supposed to be reached by those people.  I feel for the leader, their family, their calling.  I feel for myself.  ‘If it could happen to him, what about me?’  I get sad.  I get angry.  I feel loss.  But then, I quickly develop a sense of resolve.  ‘This doesn’t have to happen.’

Leaders don’t just spontaneously-combust.  That’s just how it looks the moment we hear about it.  The truth is that the seeds of that public failure were quietly sown long before they produced public fruit.  Those seeds were nurtured in an environment that allowed them to grow undetected.  Then, at the opportune moment (for our enemy), the disgusting fruit produced after the very kind of disgusting seed it came from.  Had the seed only been identified and destroyed, we would still be benefiting from all the good things these leaders have to offer.

What about you and me?  Will we identify the seeds of corruption in our own lives before they take root and destroy our lives?  No one else can do it for you.  Most people will never even know your secret battles unless some public fruit is displayed.  So, here are some tips to take with you into your personal struggle with evil.  By the way, if you want to win that battle, YOU WILL.  So don’t worry about it.  Just commit to smash those nasty seeds and cultivate the good seeds that Jesus has already sown into you!

Keys to Avoid Moral Failure (Click to Tweet)

1.) Make it Personal.  It’s easy to exist in a community – even a Christian community – without ever personally engaging with God.  It is totally awesome to go to church every week and to attend prayer meetings and small groups.  Do that and also spend alone time with God.  I’ve found it’s possible to put on a great show in front of other people even when you’re silently slipping away on the inside.  If you’re always with others, you may even convince yourself that everything is fine.  I’ve also found that it is impossible to seek out one on one time with God and not immediately be confronted with your true state.  Don’t be afraid of that.  That confrontation is the beginning of setting everything back on course.

2.) Honor the Word.  I’ve noticed that I don’t hear my kids anymore.  Years ago I started tuning out all their play noises so I could focus on other things.  As a result, I occasionally don’t even notice when one of my kids is standing right in front of me asking for something.  Terrible, right?   Consider how we do that with God’s Word.  The more we get used to hearing the Word and not acting, the less sensitive we become to it.  Eventually, the very tool He gave us to help us grow toward Him is useless to us.  Honor the Word and He will always be able to speak to you through it.

3.) Have Quality Conversations.  Genuine relationships with other people are a powerful tool for staying on track.  The problem is most of us don’t take advantage of those relationships.  We prefer to keep conversation surface-level and about others.  What if you found one person this week and created a quality conversation, one where you talk about what God has speaking to you about in the Word and in your time with Him? Going public with what God is challenging you with is a powerful tool.  Don’t waste your relationships on gossip and pop culture.  Mix in some quality.

4.) Be Under Authority.  Each of us need someone looking out for us that we’re accountable to.  Lone-rangering is a recipe for moral compromise.  Justifying your actions, behaviors, whereabouts and words to someone else may seem like extra work, but it’s worth it.  Just the process will help you avoid traps and self-deception.

5.) Focus.  With everything else covered, all that’s really left is to focus on doing what God has called you to do.  That won’t leave you with much time for any nonsense.  Assuming you’re putting to practice these other keys, simply being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there will keep you on track most of the time.

What about you?  What keys have you found for avoiding moral failure?

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Posted by on Nov 9, 2012 in Communication | 6 comments

Love is Overrated

Love is Overrated

First off, I’m a hopeless romantic, so put down the stones and let me explain myself!

I haven’t been single for over a decade, so feel free to dismiss my opinions, but I don’t think the problem in the dating world is a lack of qualified suitors.  In fact, the problem is too many options!  Not too many decades ago, it was very unlikely that you were going to meet someone who would come in from a distant land and sweep you off your feet.  Pickins’ were slim.  Look around you…what you see…those are your options!

Contrast that with today.  Mr. or Miss Wonderful may just stumble into your world at any minute.  The possibilities are endless.  You can even go online and build the perfect suitor profile and bring them to you!  With so many potential options, it’s hard to commit.  You know the people around you aren’t perfect, so why settle? …especially when someone better may show up any day.

So how do you navigate the new world?  How do you avoid ending up with the wrong person but also make sure that fear of commitment won’t keep you single forever?

Here are some ideas to help:

1.) Narrow your options: Believe it or not, who you marry is not the only important choice in your life.  You can narrow your options simply by deciding what else is important to you.  For me, faith in Jesus and resolve to help build His church are primary values for my life.  Eileen (my wife) stood out to me as someone who shared those values from the very beginning of our relationship.  Without that, it would have been a non-starter.  What values are important to you?  Can that help narrow your options?

2.) Forget perfection: You’re not perfect.  No one else is either.  Besides, the real awesomeness of relationships is that they force us to deal with our imperfections.  Don’t look for someone who is perfect.  Look for someone who is willing to grow.  If you’ll be willing as well, together you can help each other become so much more than either of you could be on your own.

3.) Love is overrated: OK, here it is.  I think the “in love” feeling is hype.  The truth is that feelings come and go.  There are days you’re gonna be so passionately love-struck that you can’t separate from each other.  Other days you’ll hope they don’t even call because you can’t bear the thought of talking to them.  To make long-term decisions on feelings, no matter how deep, is to build your future on a very shaky foundation.

True love is born of commitment, not feelings.  Jesus said that there is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life.  True love is the result of someone committing to lay down their individual life (desires, plans, feelings) for another person.  That’s why two people in an arranged marriage can find love.  Love came out of their commitment, not the other way around.  So don’t freak out if you don’t feel enraptured with passion every second of every day.  True love is much bigger than that.

4.) Try Someone On.  I used to believe in a strict dating guideline, that you shouldn’t date unless you felt the relationship was headed toward marriage.  Now, though, it seems like that puts too much pressure on relationships in the early stages.  I think the goal should be to learn as much as possible about someone’s values, strengths, weaknesses and willingness to grow with as little wounding as possible.  Perhaps my next post will be how to avoid wounds in dating relationships.  For more direction on “trying someone on”, though, see my previous post: Not Married – Just Sleeping Together.

What about you?  What ideas do you have about navigating today’s dating world?

 

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Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Inspirational | 0 comments

Searching for Greater Stability?

Searching for Greater Stability?

 

I know how it feels…walking the tight-rope of life as if one step in the wrong direction and everything would come crashing down.  Singer Colbie Caillat put it to music,

“And I remember the time my balance was fine
And I was just walking on one fine wire
But It’s frayed at both the ends
And I’m slow unraveling”

But life doesn’t have to feel this way.  In fact, your life can have great stability!  The key is understanding where to fix your gaze.  In tight-rope walking (and in life) you have success by fixing your eyes on something stable.  If you look at the constantly moving circumstances around you (down at your feet) you’re going to feel extremely unstable.  But if you fix your eyes ahead of you on things that are steady you’ll have a greater sense of stability, even if you don’t feel like you have control over everything around you.

Here are three destabilizers and one stabilizers.  Choose to fix your eyes on the stabilizer and bring some stability to your life!

1.) (DESTABILIZER) Opinions of others.  I’m all about getting wise counsel and seeking advice.  This is very important to your success.  But you need to seek that advice from the right people.  Living your life based off the unsolicited opinions of your friends and anyone who stops by your Facebook page is hugely destabilizing.  When you do seek advice, search out someone who is accountable for what they tell you…someone who has an investment in your life and the experience to guide you in the right direction.

2.) (DESTABILIZER) Your feelings.  Feelings have a great purpose.  Because you have them you experience a wide-range of emotions.  You get so much out of every moment in life because of them.  But feelings are not a great place to fix your gaze.  They are extremely volatile.  You wake up feeling one way and feel a completely different way by breakfast.  Living your life by what you feel will result in huge ups and downs.

3.) (DESTABILIZER) Circumstances. The tight-rope of life is in constant motion.  There will always be circumstances beyond your control.  If you go through life simply reacting to those circumstances, then you will have no stability.  But if you respond to those circumstances in a way that moves you toward a fixed goal, your life will have stability no matter what comes your way.  I think this is complicated, so a quick example with stocks.  If you invest in a stock with no financial plan, every time the stock price moves up or down you’ll be tempted to make a move.  Every circumstance related to your stock will prompt a reaction from you to sell or buy.  If you have a financial plan, however, backing your decision to purchase the stock, you decision-making will be much more clear and stable.  You’ll know exactly when to sell or buy based on  fixed goals that you set beforehand.

4.) (STABILIZER) God’s Word. Have you ever wondered why some people base their values and belief systems in an ancient book?  This is why:  It does not change.  If you live your life based on the Word of God, you will always have stability.  You will always have an unmoving source to look to no matter what circumstances are thrown at you.  It sounds simple, right?  It is.  Our lives are unstable only because we look to unstable things.  If we’ll fix our eyes on the unmoving, never-changing Word of God for every decision and every belief, our life will make sense in a way we never thought possible.

I thought you would enjoy these Scriptures on this topic:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away” -Matthew 24:3

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” -Hebrews 12:2

“O give praise to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy is unchanging for ever.” 1 Chronicles 16:24

“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast… -Hebrews 6:17-19

What stabilizers and destabilizers have you noticed?  What helps you bring stability to your life?

 

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