SKOPOS is the Greek word for focus, to view, or to aim. In this editorial, Brett will take topics of leadership, morality, growth, life, etc., focus in on them and hope to provide some insight, or at minimum, thought provoking opinion. We hope you enjoy and are challenged!

Follow Brett Larson on Twitter @brettrlars
Brett's Bio


Weak or Strong
By: Brett Larson

 
It's funny how trends work. They are temporary, but in the moment they seem like eternal necessities. Mom, I HAVE to have those certain sneakers...or clothing.
 
To keep this short, recently I've noticed a huge trend on leading through your weaknesses or being so open as to let people know your insecurities and fears, etc. While I really do see the value of being honest and transparent with the people following you, I think leaders need to be wise in what and how they share.
 
For instance, if William Wallace (Braveheart) said something like "follow me into battle...but, I'm not really strong and not really good at holding this sword and make sure you all get around me because I really can't do this..." I'm pretty sure things turn out a little different. Let's take a biblical example, David. David was strong, even when he was a scrawny kid. He was confident in his relationship with God, he was confident in his abilities to fight with a sling, he knew God would watch over him, he didn't waiver. He didn't say, "I'm not real big, I'm not real strong, so if you all think it's a good idea, I'm gonna try to get this mean giant guy." No, it was more like "show me this big goon, so I can kick his tail in the name of God."
 
Lesson: no one wants to follow someone who's unsure of their abilities or justification for being in a position of leadership. People want to know that you've got the wheel, it's going to be ok and that you're strong enough to complete the task and win. If you're leading a ministry, they want to know that you have the chops to lead them and that you have the relationship with God that will allow you to draw on His strength for success.
 
So, yes, be transparent, let them know how you will lean on God, let them know where you need them to help you...what areas you're not as good in and what you're working on. BUT, also let them feel that you are strong enough, capable enough, dedicated enough and brave enough to lead them through and help them win.
 
In God's strength, lead with confidence.



Messy Faith

By: Brett Larson

 

First, I need to apologize as I have neglected SKOPOS for awhile now. It’s not that it isn’t on my mind, it’s just that we’ve experienced a very busy season at WDCX and when I did have time to write, I really didn’t feel like I had much to say that was unique.

 

Well, unfortunately, now I do. This is going to be an honest post; fair warning has been issued. In my humanity, sometimes I just don’t like what God allows. Let me explain; right now, there is a little 4 yr old boy we know that, barring a miracle, has weeks to live. Brain cancer has attacked him and within literal weeks, he’s in a really bad situation. 4 YEARS OLD!?  I barely slept last night, thinking of my own boys and what an absolute nightmare for his parents, devastating, sad, doesn’t even come close to describing the pain. I also found out one of my best friends just lost his brother to a heart attack, at 42 yrs old. He has kids. And, a lady in our church is in very bad shape due to surgery complications. 

 

Ok, getting real here, I really can’t trace God’s hand here. I find myself saying “c’mon God, this is ridiculous, a 4 yr old boy, 4 YEARS OLD!”  I find myself a little rocked, feeling a bit like God’s hands are off the wheel. 

 

When my brother died suddenly 11 years ago, I remember asking God “why,” I remember telling Him that I just don’t understand. It didn’t really rock my faith at all, in fact, it strengthened it. And, even now, thinking about that 4 yr old, my faith remains strong, but boy oh boy am I having a hard time seeing anything but destruction toward a godly, strong, sweet family.  It’s so hard with only part of the story, so hard with our finite minds. So scary. 

 

I consider myself a pretty tough guy. I’m a country boy, an outdoorsman, I exercise, run tough mudders, etc. There is not much that scares me, physically speaking. But, I admit, I’m scared. I catch myself thinking that God is going to allow another tragedy and then another and pretty soon it’ll be my family’s turn…what’s lurking in our future? I know we are supposed to trust Him…but this family trusted Him and look at the monstrous pain they are going through. 

I pray, “Lord, help me, give me a glimpse…I believe, help my unbelief.” I sooooo bad want God to come through with a miracle on this one. I want this so bad for that little boy and family. I am praying without ceasing on this one. Please join me.

 

Well, before I close, I want you to know that I DO trust God, I trust His plan and I trust his heart. His Word is true, His plan is bigger than our discomfort. He is God, and we are not.

Spurgeon said:

 

“God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

 

Even writing this and reading God’s Word, I feel better about trusting that He has this situation in His hand too. From our perspective, we don’t like what’s happening one bit, but the problem is, that’s only our perspective. God’s Word says His ways are higher than our ways…it also asks rhetorically in 1 Corinthians “who can know the mind of God?”

 

Well, I admit it Lord, I don’t trace Your hand on this one and I don’t know Your mind…but I trust Your heart, and I’m trying to rest in that.


Risk-Reward, Security-Freedom
11-6-13

Probably the most hotly contested issue in the US, especially in NY State, is that of the constitution and freedom, with highlights on the second amendment. While I am very pro-Second Amendment, I want to table the “gun issue” itself and dig deeper into the philosophical trade-off of Freedom and Security.
 
Those who dreamt of America where not fool-hearty or too utopian in their thinking to not understand the risks and insecurity that freedom would bring. With freedom would come the insecurity of not having England’s army to protect them, England’s economy to bolster them, the organizational structure and support, etc. They realized that significant risk was being taken, but that the reward outweighed the risk.
 
I fear that we Americans no longer have the guts or fortitude to take on the risk, the insecurity, that is inherent with a free society. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” You can’t have a risk free, totally secure (physically and financially) society without risk, perhaps significant risk, it just doesn’t happen. Our personal lives are a microcosm testament to that. Take a young person who desires to be a doctor. Doctors make lots of money (typically), so it’s a rewarding profession. Trouble is, you have to take on a lot of risk. Med-school is very expensive, takes a long time, is exhausting. The loans alone are scary and daunting, insurance and a host of other expenses. But, if you can make it through the risk, the reward is great.
 
Our American society is much the same. Bad things happen…sometimes bad things happen because we are free, less-regulated and more capable. However, overall, our country is still the greatest in the world! We take on considerable INsecurity in order to be a free people. As we continue to lose our determination to be free and no longer accept that insecurity, our freedoms suffer. Bad things happen, then we want new and more laws and freedom erodes. The more we depend on outside entities (gov’t) for our security, success, etc., the more we will lose our freedoms and the reward will diminish. Less Risk, Less Reward…that’s just the way it is.
 
How about you…how “risky” are you willing to live for your Country?  More importantly, how “risky” are you willing to live for God? Are you willing to jump into His care, trust him, risk it all for Him…the reward is great, but the “risk” has to be taken.


Heart Service or Duty Service
9-26-13

 
When we act out of duty, we do so out of obligation, commitment, law…some sort of mandate on who we are, what career we are in, our family, etc. Duty binds us to a certain response or action. We don’t really have a choice with duty (lest we face negative consequence of some sort)…it’s just what we have to do.
 
Have you ever seen this in ministry service at your church? Where people are involved in a ministry or a service because they are too afraid not to be involved. They feel it rises and falls on their involvement, “if I don’t do it, it will fall apart.”
Maybe they (you) feel like there is no one to replace you or the wheels will come off if you step out. If you search yourself, you feel trapped, like you have to or negative things will happen.
 
The problem is, eventually, you will become frustrated, maybe bitter, maybe arrogant, etc. And, your involvement in that ministry will become counter-productive to HIS Kingdom. Sure, you might keep the structure of the ministry going and you might keep something of value moving forward, but it WILL catch up to you. To be clear, I’m not talking about persevering through a season of rough time…I’m talking about when you’ve stayed too long! Do you get where I’m coming from?
 
I’ve been there… and it’s just not worth it. Newsflash, God is bigger than me and you and he’ll replace you, or he’ll go a new direction and maybe your pet-ministry will change or cease and be replaced by something more ready for growth and heart-felt involvement.
 
Bottom line, make sure your full heart is in the ministries you commit to, make sure you WANT to do it. God gives you passions for a reason, talents too. If you love to do something, that’s a clue! If you despise it, but feel obligated…RUN! Remember, this whole thing is supposed to fun (ya, I said it). God said the Christian life will be hard as we receive pressure and ridicule, etc., from the outside. He never said that Church and ministry was supposed to be painful! Have Fun! Enjoy! Be Blessed and serve with your heart in the right ministry!

Get ahold of yourself!
8-2-13

 
Recently, a few friends and I were discussing the trend of young adults who seem to take forever to get their bearings and settle into adult-hood. I know this sounds old and fuddy-duddy (and I can’t believe I’m saying it) but, it really does seem that it’s taking some in younger generations forever to “grow up.”
 
If I’m honest, I notice a lack of ambition, fortitude and determination. Instead of going after a career or success…or significance, some are expecting it to come to them. What I can’t seem to figure out is if it’s because of parenting, society, friends, insecurity, societal jadedness, etc.
 
Of course, it is not true for all young people (20 somethings), there are some real achievers and solid young men and women out there…who are striving to make a difference and work at making it on their own. I’m just noticing a trend where more (than before) seem so dependent on home, or unable to hold demanding jobs, or so idealistic that they won’t stick out at an imperfect job or career.
 
So, why the rant? I guess I just want to encourage all of us to persevere and wait on God’s timing in our lives. You may not be in the perfect job situation, you may not like something or some organization, but continue to plow through and wait on God to help in your circumstance. Pray for change, actuate change, but only in His timing. And, be sure that you represent Him well…be a great employee, be self-sufficient, don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work hard, finish the job well, be responsible, be on-time, etc.
 
I believe every young guy out there should work at least one summer or a period of time in manual labor. Work landscaping or a summer job at a plant, etc. Work on a farm, bale hay, work construction, roofing, whatever. It is amazing what it will teach you about work, money, promptness, value, etc.
 
For those of us who are young parents (especially me with 3 boys) teach your kids independence, to work, to do chores and their place in helping the family. Don’t let them become video game junkies and CEO’s of the house. Teach them the joy of work and of a job well done…we’ll be doing them such a huge favor that they will benefit from later in life.
 
Finally, I just think we, as a society, need to toughen up a little. Perhaps we as Christ-followers can lead the way and show perseverance, strength and fortitude and represent Him well!

“Rest”
7-16-13

 
Matthew 11:28- “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden (burdened) and I will give you rest.”
 
I heard a great show yesterday on WDCX from Haven Ministries. Charles Morris was talking about rest and the concept of “Sabbath.”  It resonated with me and I found myself entirely agreeing. Then, I began to think of how often I truly “rest” with God; not lounge around and watch TV, but rest with Him in quiet, in communion with Him. The only time that I can think of where I find myself doing that is during bow hunting season…hours spent alone in the woods with none of the distractions of life (as long as I put the iPhone down). That’s the closest I’ve come to Sabbath in a long time and thinking back, I feel closest to God then.
 
As Americans (Canadians too) we really don’t Sabbath enough. No, I’m not talking about the vacation/holiday where you go to Amusement Parks and deal with arguing kids the whole way…I’m talking about peace-time alone with God.
 
We are built for that, God wired us that way…which is why he commanded it in the Old Testament. We need that reflection, that perspective and that time to clear up our mudded thoughts. Our families need us to have that, so that we make wise decisions for our children. Our employers need us to rest, so that we perform and are valuable investments. Our churches need us to rest, on and on I could go.
 
So, the challenge: try it! Take some time out of your life, plan it, maybe share time watching your kids with your spouse and REST IN GOD! Listen, be still…I bet we will all be surprised at the perspective and revitalizing energy it brings.
 
“Be Still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Dad Day
6-13-13

 
In thinking about what it means to be a Dad (something I continually digest because I am one) I can’t help but think of the examples and path that was set before me. I am fortunate, “lucky,” blessed…and thankful to come from legacy of great dads, one that I hope to live up to.
 
My Grandfather (Pop-pop) was an amazing father. He worked hard, loved absolutely unconditionally, sacrificed, disciplined only when necessary, showed incredible grace and most of all, was always “there” for his kids. If he only had $10 to his name, it went to the kids for ice cream, etc.
 
He set an amazing example for my dad. I could write a book on the blessing that I have received in having such a Dad (really both of my parents). My Dad did what dad’s do…he taught me things like how to shoot a gun when I was very young (don’t care if you don’t like that), to be kind, to be generous, to be principled, to love unconditionally, to stand up for family no matter what. He taught me how to fight (yup, believe or not there are times when you just have to stand up for what’s right). Let me explain the kind of man he is and how he was taught. There is a story of when he was in high school and had to ride public transportation. He had just moved from a very rural area in Pennsylvania, where principle and right meant everything. A group of older kids kept picking on a very “weak” boy on the bus. My dad told them to stop and they didn’t. My dad ended up…well, pounding a couple of the bullies after they threw the poor kid’s stuff out the window (don’t mess with “country” strong). He then stopped the bus and helped the kid pick up his stuff and waited with the crying and hurting kid as his parents came. (We need some more kids like that now, don’t we?)
 
Anyway, my dad taught me how to fish, hunt, use tools (I built an addition on our house with him when I was 11 yrs old). He, most importantly, taught me the value of just loving and caring and cuddling our own kids. He taught me how to tell loved ones how you feel (rarely a day goes by that he doesn’t tell me he’s proud of me and that he loves me). He taught me how to give, give time, give energy, give money, share with family, etc. I always felt like he had my back, which provided for great security in my life.
 
My Dad has taught others the same…my friends, other relatives, people around him. And, he’s a man’s man. Even at 71, you’d be barking up the wrong tree if you mess with him. Yet, he’s gentle, loving, tender, longsuffering and most of all, Godly.
 
I can’t believe the amount of betrayal and injustice that has come his way during his Christian radio career. Many have tried to slander, lie, cheat, etc., against him. He has been hurt and burned countless times. Yet, still, he labors on for his Lord in Christian Radio with great optimism. He is the picture of longsuffering and perseverance. He is my mentor, the best I could learn from and I have him to thank for my own career.
 
Finally, what can we learn from my dad? ….Dad’s, remember to always tell your kids you love them. Remember that nothing, NOTHING, is worth dividing your family over. You won’t be perfect, admit it, ask forgiveness from your kids and love them 10x more than you think you can. Always fight for your kids…and let them know you have their back. Always communicate with your family, don’t let things fester and be drawn out, deal with them and move on in love!
 
I’m thankful for a great dad and a great family. I hope to continue the legacy and I hope other Dads wish to do the same.
 
Happy Father’s Day!


Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
5-29-13

 
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 ESV
 
Have you ever played one of those group-games where you have to convince people that you are NOT the “bad guy”…like a crime-mystery party or something?  The goal is to deflect the attention when you are the “bad guy” and point the finger elsewhere or try and set other people up, etc. 
 
We’ve all heard the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” statement before, but I’m pretty sure this is often mis-applied and quite often I’m pretty sure “false witness” is committed by accusers more times than they are correct.  In fact, more often than not, the one crying “wolf” is usually the “wolf.” Throughout my life in Christian ministry, I have found that very often the loudest legalist and name-callers toward other ministries are usually the ones with the most to hide (much like the game). Example:
 
My friend in ministry, Rick Warren. Pastor Rick is an incredible man of God with a passion for truth and for the advancement of the gospel. An elementary level amount of research would clearly display that to any sane-minded person. Yet, he is the most maligned, slanderized pastor I’ve ever seen. My heart breaks for him; after his son’s recent suicide I cannot even repeat the disgusting things that people said about him and his son…it makes my blood boil!  One “fundamentalist” actually wrote to me and said he is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” And, then it hit me…the game, the real wolf in sheep’s clothing would say that about someone that is so effective for the kingdom of God. Of course, a real wolf would say that about Pastor Rick, as they want to divert the attention.
 
The wonderful Billy Graham has also been a victim of such slander. His grandsons are actually friends of mine and I know the family. Billy Graham is a special man of God and I actually fear for those who speak ill of him, for that man is touched by God in a special way!
 
Friends, beware of the wolf…the real wolf, the one that wishes to deflect attention and take down the real, good, champions for Christ. Be vigilant, don’t believe slander! Research and listen to trusted, reliable, resources; not some random website filled with jealous, self-advancing, opinion.
 
Beware of the wolf…and don’t be a wolf!

Mother’s Day
5-8-13

 
When I think of a “mom,” I think of stability, selflessness, caring attention, unconditional love. I, likely, attribute these characteristics to a “mom,” because that is my experience as a child of a wonderful mom, husband to a wonderful mom and son in law to a wonderful mom-in-law.
 
I am uniquely blessed to have such wonderful mom examples in my life. It all begins with my mom, who was so giving as I look back (and continues to be now). For years I never even thought about the enormous work load that she put into my life. My baseball uniforms were always clean and ready to go…even with back to back daily games many times. Really, all my needs, food, transportation, etc., just happened. My mom always cooked the biggest and best meals for us growing boys (and an active sister)…she just always had it under control. She was the one who would calmly take me for x-rays for the seemingly dozens of sports injuries I had. She was not a “panicker,” rather a doer, a steady hand and a loving hand. My mom was “there,” she was always willing to do anything for us… and that’s no small thing! Even today, we enjoy our coffee time or that we both wake up early and chat before the others while on vacation...and we laugh at the same things. I have so much to be thankful for as a result of her; she showed me how to put my head down and just do it, she emulated quiet, yet strong and supportive love.
 
I have a wife that is much the same. She is amazing and she is such a wonderful mom to our 3 boys. I am so proud to be her husband and I know that her love and perseverance will pay off exponentially for our boys. Her wonderful traits are no doubt a result of her child experience, as her mother was also wonderful!
 
This Mother’s Day…I can’t express the blessing that I have in being surrounded by the best mothers on earth!  They represent Christ so well in their giving and sacrifice and that is what we can all learn from. Mothers are to be honored on this special day…as it is likely that we learn much of whatever we have of our Christ-like service from them.
 
They deserve a day…they deserve a MONTH…they deserve a lifetime of admiration and love in return!


A Real Man
4-24-13

 
This is a recent hot topic on the Christian book/speaking scene. Every time I hear that somebody is going to talk about this topic, I pay attention and eagerly wait to hear what they will say. But, why?  Why do we even need to have this discussion? Why are so many Men’s Ministries focused on this issue of real manhood?
 
This is one of those things that just keeps on circling my mind every so often, I think because I’m really confused as to why this is so difficult for our culture to grasp. And, to be brutally honest, I’m growing weary of speakers disregarding everything they are not good at as being a “false” ideal of what a “real” man is.
 
I heard one speaker say that “the world’s idea of a man is a guy who can change his own oil, shoot a gun, can drive a nail...but, I’m here to tell you that’s not a real man” and on and on he went. I sat there thinking, if there is a guy who is good at that kind of stuff in the audience, you just lost him bro. He’s looking at you like a pencil-armed yuppie who is about as impractical as mudguards on a turtle.
 
It would’ve been better to say “there are a lot of things that make up men, like being handy, being tough, sports, etc.. But, there’s also some other important stuff that we need to pay attention to.” Now, you’ve included them…
 
I just finished watching, for the hundredth time, the Paul Harvey Farmer commercial by Dodge (it’s on YouTube and you have to watch it). I kept thinking that he’s just about nailed what a real man is. It’s not necessarily a farmer, but the principles apply to just about every occupation and man. The “don’t quit until the job’s done” mentality. The tough but gentle spirit, etc.
 
In watching that, I can’t help but think of my grandfather (we called him “Pops”…said like Pups). He was a coal miner and a carpenter. He was a principled, Godly man. He was tough as nails and as gentle and loving as anyone I know. He could almost break a table in half pounding his fist at injustice…and that same hand of steel could wipe away the tears of the broken and hurting. He was only 8th grade educated, yet read through his Bible every year. He gave and he gave to everybody…he was a horrible businessman as he would hate to charge people for carpentry work. He even owned a small little coal mine and wouldn’t charge anybody who couldn’t pay…which was pretty much everybody in their small town in Pennsylvania. He was a hunter, but always compassionate to animals…as every real sportsman has a measure of regret when harvesting animals. He was loyal, faithful, dependable, steadfast and principled. THAT was/is a man.
 
So, in closing, I think we are so focused on this concept in our ministries because we are so missing the mentorship of fathers and grandfathers, uncles, even friends, etc. No church program will ever replace my dad teaching my boys to build birdhouses and use tools. To have patience while fishing, to show respect to the animals we harvest, to work hard and finish the task. I encourage you , fellow Christian man, teach a young man how to be what my grandfather was…and no church program will be needed.


Our Scary World
4-17-13

 
In the wake of the recent Boston Marathon bombing many people are scared, wondering what kind of world we are living in and thinking society is beginning to unravel. I’ve heard people say they need to think about moving to another country, etc. I understand their fear; we are all saddened at the two most recent tragedies in America, Sandy Hook and the Marathon.
 
And yes, it is scary and yes, it does seem to be getting worse…but wait, is it really getting worse?
 
Some relatively easy research can shed some light on things. Did you know that, in fact, mass shootings are NOT on the rise statistically! That’s right, criminologists that have studied mass shootings (over 4 casualties) over the past 30 years have seen no increase or decrease. IN FACT, gun violence is DOWN nation wide…yes DOWN! There all kinds of studies using all types of data, but generally, this is the consensus.
 
So, why does it seem so out-of-control out there? Why does it seem so scary? I would like to theorize that we are too aware of the day-to-day and we are placing ourselves in a national community rather than a local community. Allow me to explain: many years ago, people heard about tragedy a day or more later via the local paper…by wire, etc. Then, as radio became more real-time, stations would provide updates if something happened, but still it wasn’t the 24/7 we get now. Now, after tragedies, there is 24/7 coverage, twitter, facebook, mobile apps…it absolutely consumes us. We hear the stories, we hear the scenario, we get super in-depth reporting, know the details, names, etc. Usually, we even get videos of the event, thanks to cell phones. We put ourselves in their shoes, they become part of our community. Due to travel, we might have even been there before.
 
Years ago, these mass violent incidents seemed far removed, somewhere else…another community. Now, we feel like they happen in our community. The US alone is 300+ million people. Bad stuff is just going to happen with that many people spread over an entire continent, we live in a fallen world and evil is just inevitable. The problem is, when it happens, it feels like it was right in our back yard, we become emotionally invested and it feels next door.
 
I believe that this is one negative that technology has brought us, we are too aware and then we begin to feel out of control and fearful (generally speaking).
 
So, my point is this, in looking at a number of statistical studies, our world is basically as evil as it ever was, no worse, no better. The difference is, we are more aware and we are very current…everywhere. As the saying goes “ignorance is bliss.” (Incedently, I'm also concerned with war coverage, the general public should not see war. They do not get the full picture, they do not understand what war is and they, typically, do not have the stomach to resolve until victory... but that's for a different day.)
 
So, what now?  Well, we as Christ followers (assuming you follow and love Jesus) are to set an example. We are not to live in a spirit of fear, but we are to have sound minds, understanding the temporal nature of life, regardless of tragedy. We should be motivated to share Christ with others, we should pray…pray for our Country(s), pray for ALL, yes ALL of our leaders and we should understand that Jesus Christ will one day RIGHT all WRONGS and that there is a hope and peace that comes with following Him. We should be vigilant and smart and yes we should protect ourselves (physically), but we should not live in fear…because we know where our future is. We need to set the example.