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!
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
“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!
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
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
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.
Just two days ago, Neil Boron and I were on-air asking our listeners to call in and give an audio sympathy-greeting to Rick Warren and his family (re: the recent death of their son, Matthew).
As our faithful listeners flooded the phone lines, I couldn’t help but sit there and be astounded at the number of people who have suffered major tragedy. Loved ones dying too young, suicides, drugs, etc. I couldn’t help but think that there must be some out there listening that, like me, were hearing all of this and thinking… “where is God in all of this?”
I know many of us have heard sermons about evil in the world and why it exists, etc. But, still, it just seems so hard to comprehend. I began to address it briefly at the end of our time on-air, but didn’t feel like I gave a complete answer (if there really is one).
On-air and as I continued to reflect on the Warren’s tragedy and things like Newtown, CT…I just kept landing on the word “perspective.” I kept thinking about how we, as Christ followers, should have a different perspective…an eternal perspective. Aren’t we called to deal with tragedy differently than those “without hope?” After all, the Bible says we “sorrow not as those with no hope.” But, what does that mean? Does it mean we can’t wonder, we can’t be frustrated…do we have to just be stoic and say “it’s all in God’s plan?” Is it in God’s plan that elementary children be murdered? Of course not. So, whose plan is it, is God not in control?
Of course, entire books upon books have been written on this, so I’m not arrogant or foolish enough to think that I can cover this in a short editorial. However, I do keep going back to this scripture: I Cor 4:8-9 – “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
God never promised “easy street” and he never promised a redeemed world for us to live in. The bible says “by one MAN, sin entered the world…” That means WE, MEN, brought sin into the world and thereby reap the tragedy of a fallen creation. Jesus’ death on the cross is to redeem men, those who believe (John 3:16), from their sins and eternal judgment. However, the new heaven and new earth are not yet established and the evil of this world, not yet sanctified. We are redeemed souls living in an evil, unredeemed, world. While our souls and our beings are safe, we are still in a physically evil and fallen world…which was all our doing. We have to live with evil all around us, and sometimes, it strikes right at us. Paul said that he is not afraid because the worst they (evil) can do is kill him physically, but that is his gain…to be present with the Jesus he served. But, he never said it wouldn’t be painful or even horrible. God will, one day, make all wrongs, right (Revelation). God will redeem the earth, this fallen world, and eradicate evil forever. For now, he promises to redeem those who turn to Him for salvation. He promises to help get us through. God has nothing to do with the evils of this world, he despises them! So, why does it happen, because He has not yet chosen to clean up our mess, but he does promise to do so…we rest in that! Here’s the paradox…once God begins to clean up the world from evil (read Revelation), the door closes for those who will come to Him for salvation. So, the silver lining is…the longer he waits, the more souls have the opportunity for eternal life with Him. So, while we wait, we rejoice in more people coming to Him...And, we lean on Him to get us through. So, why do we “sorrow not as those…?” Because, we know the last chapter and we know that Good, Righteousness, WINS!
The Ultimate Social “Justness”
The Church, like any community group, goes through trends and points of interest in varying things. For a while being “seeker sensative” was popular, now “social justice” is a big focal point, etc. All of these trends meet needs and are usually the result of an out of balance bent toward the opposite, or at least a perceived lacking in an area.
I read an interesting article that our Breakpoint partner and host, Eric Metaxas retweeted. It was by Annie Provencher and it was a review of the book “”False Justice: Unveiling the Truth About Social Justice” by Stuart Greeves. I really enjoyed Annie's commentary and it confirmed some things in my own heart about this issue.
Here's an excerpt of the book:
Holiness is an inward disposition of our hearts, and justice is when that holiness is expressed through us into all the spheres of life and society. . . . We never have to choose between the gospel and social justice, because the gospel, as Jesus and His apostles preached it, is profoundly social in its implications. The gospel is the theology of justice. We will find ourselves as the light of the world and the salt of the earth—walking in personal holiness—which should, and will, translate to the way we impact society (Greaves, 39).
I love that line “we never have to chose between the gospel and social justice.” To me, the gospel IS social justice. As we approach Good Friday and Easter, let's remind ourselves that God's ultimate act to bring ALL "justness" to mankind and earth was completed on the cross and through His resurrection. There is no amount of socially good work that we can do to replace that ultimate gift of making us JUST through His sacrifice. As we allow Jesus into our lives, “social justice” will play out as a natural, necessary function of who we are; as it has throughout the many years of Christian history. It was the Church that started the first orphanages, it was the Church that started the first rescue missions, it was the Church that began to reach tribes in 3rd world countries with relief, we could go on and on.
I pray as we continue to put hands and feet to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we never forget it is the Gospel that empowers us to live out our faith. May we (I) never get distracted with the “good” of what we do to the point that the Gospel becomes secondary rather than the core reason. Lord help us to share your ultimate act of giving us “justness.”
Tenacity, as defined by Webster, is the persistence toward something of value or to be desired. It is when we just won't quit to achieve a result that we perceive to be needed or valuable. We hear it used in sports, “he's a tenacious linebacker...” We see it used in business, sales, etc.
Is Tenacity dying? Or, at least, is our idea of what tenacity is changing? Are we, as a society, really willing to sacrifice, pay it forward, persevere and follow through until we succeed? As I watch the news, I grow increasingly concerned that we are less willing to endure any kind of inconvenience for the sake of doing the right thing. Would our generation have the tenacity to withstand something like WWII, or would we just get tired of fighting, begin to questions the rationale, the cost... and then fold? It seems to me that anytime we feel uncomfortable with something or we hear of something happening elsewhere in the Country, we want to make a law to protect ourselves from ever having a bad thing happen, regardless of the freedom (or constitutionality) of such laws. If we are inconvenienced, at all, someone is going to answer for it and the government better do something about it. We legislate, legislate, legislate...ever increasingly relying on the government to make our lives better. As we do so, we continually erode our freedoms and our principles of limited government. Our fore-fathers knew that freedom costs and can cost big! Sometimes, freedom of the press hurts people, sometimes our justice system doesn't seem so “just.” Sometimes, people use the second amendment for evil (although most all gun violence is with stolen/illegal weapons)...and we could go on. It's true, freedom can cost lives, and I'm really praying that we have the fortitude to continue as a free-nation...although I think we aren't even sure what that is anymore.
The same could be said for our Christian experience. It's so comfortable having rules, having guidelines and having someone tell you what to do...but, our Christ followship doesn't really call for that. The New Testament teaches that it is the Holy Spirit that will guide you and show you, through God's Word, how to live a life of Grace and Freedom. Legalism can creep into each of our spiritual lives so easily, but God's not in that...he wants us to be free...free to do the right thing, free to love, free to live fully for His calling on our life. It is a bit more dangerous...it is uncomfortable at times, but it is so special and so unique that ONLY the real God could be behind something so free! It takes TENACITY to live free, it takes a continuous, conscious effort to not allow legalism to creep in...even if it costs some comfort. I love the challenge!
Likely, there isn’t one person in your church that would have a problem with you saying something like “everybody needs a little grace.” Yet, putting that into practice is so very, very difficult for us all.
Grace- as defined by my Sunday School experience growing up right on up through college Bible classes- is getting what we don’t deserve. Webster says it’s “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification…a virtue coming from God.”
When we speak of grace toward one another, it takes on a little different manifestation than that of God’s grace toward us. While it generally means a similar thing, it’s more horizontal, in that none of us are in a position of “righteousness.” Meaning, it’s more like us not taking offense when wrongs are done toward us, not seeking “pay back,” treating others with undeserved kindness, extending best intentions, or maybe forgiving when it’s not even deserved or seems impossible.
Throughout my church experience I’ve experienced gracious moments, but so many seem to be conditional or still in the best interest of the grace-giver. Honestly, I really haven’t experienced that many pure-Grace moments; times where the grace-giver had absolutely nothing to gain by extending grace, they just did it with no strings attached. I guess part of the reason is that those moments are rare anyway, because as humans we always have something to gain or lose from our actions. What I’m trying to say is, many times the grace-giver has something to gain or benefit from by extending grace…even if it’s just accolades for doing so. I’m not sure if there’s anyway to correct or stop that on a human level, but it just goes to show the difference and significance of God’s grace, which is pure and totally a one-way street.
In our lives (in my life), let’s try to offer grace without strings attached, which is really difficult. At least, let’s try to make grace available to everyone in our life. It doesn’t mean we become doormats and weak, it means that we are always looking for redemption, for reconciliation and forgiveness; ready to offer what isn’t deserved.
“…and what the Lord doth require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” Micah 6:8
This verse is quite clear in laying out what God wants of our lives…doesn’t need much explanation. As Christ followers, we need to do all that we can to make sure we are walking humbly in our lives. It doesn’t mean we hang our heads and become passive door-mats. It means that we conduct ourselves with honesty, integrity, reality and grace. It does not mean we don’t have opinions (the prophets and apostles sure had some), it does not mean we don’t call out sin and injustice…in fact just the opposite.
One of the biggest challenges to “walking humbly” that I see in our churches is that of Spiritual Arrogance. This little bugger can creep in and destroy like non other; it manifest itself in multiple ways and all are damaging. Here are three off the top of my head:
1. Pride Based- This form of Spiritual Arrogance seems the least common. It is rare that someone actually thinks/believes that they’re that much better than everyone…or that much more “arrived” spiritually; although, it does happen. This person is usually subtle, because to be advanced spiritually is to be humble; therefore they strive to do all they can to be humble. This one is rarely obvious to others, as it is more of an internal struggle.
2. Fear Based- This is the one that drives everyone crazy. This is the most external form of Spiritual Arrogance. It is usually rooted in insecurity and fear (cowardice). This might be the leader who knows someone can’t sing at all, but says “I prayed about and I just don’t have a peace about you and this song, maybe another time”…when they knew all along there was no way that person was ever getting a microphone. THAT is spiritually arrogant in that they are blaming God for something that God had nothing to do with, it was an objective decision disguised in spiritual subjectivity. Or, when they want to push their agenda through and pull the “God told me card” or act humbly passive-aggressive. Maybe, they want to move something in a certain direction, but are afraid of the backlash, so they pull the God card and cut the questioners off at the knees. We could go on and on…but, you get the point.
3. The Falsely Humble- Really, this one could go under either of the above points, but it deserves its own section. This is the coup-de-grace’ of the Spiritually Arrogant. It is almost impossible to call out, because you’ll look like a bully or not “in the right spirit.” I think it’s the most annoying because it is usually obvious, but impossible to pin-point. Long-term, pride always shows itself and at some point, false-humility becomes impossible to disguise.
In closing, I don’t mean to be negative. My reason for even approaching this issue is that I think it’s important that we as a Church start addressing some of these cancerous issues, head on. I KNOW that 99% of true Christ followers would never willingly ascribe to this kind of behavior, but it so easily creeps in given the nature of the Church institutions of North America. We need to guard ourselves against this kind of sin and make sure that we DO NOT confuse institutionally driven decisions and necessities with God-given biblical decisions. To finish up our Worship minister example: If someone that can’t sing a note really wants to sing a song…it’s not a spiritual decision, don’t make it one. It’s a matter of what’s right for your church body. You as a leader have been given the position to make those decisions and a brain to do them with. You know it’s not a fit, not right, so don’t blame God…make the decision. Confront it with GRACE and encourage a different avenue of ministry. You might say, “Brett, it’s not that easy”…I say “yes, actually it is.”
(Sing with me)...And a Happy New Year!...
Here we go, off to 2013! New Years are fun and reinvigorating, they cause us all to reflect on the past, analyze what we want different and plan for the future. Really, a great exercise and process; probably one that we should do more often.
Then comes the New Year’s resolution. In my opinion, New Year’s resolutions are feel-good wishes that rarely continue past minimal effort. I just don’t understand how a calendar date all of the sudden snaps you into doing something (or not doing something). So, if it is something that we know needs to change, why not start changing on December 1st or 15th? And, if we didn’t have the fortitude to change it then, what makes us think that we can change it a few days later...because the date changed? I guess there is something to be said for a specific start and a launch point, etc. but really, if we were serious about change, wouldn’t we just start no matter the date? Maybe that’s why my gym is full of new people in January, most of whom I never see again past March!
I know, I know...I’m being Debbie-downer. However, I’m really not trying to be...I’m just trying to point out that rather than making resolutions because it’s a date on the calendar, why not just decide right now to read your Bible more, to get a little exercise, to stop smoking, whatever...?
I guess, to me, it’s the same kind of mentality that Christ’s disciples had when he told them “Follow Me.” The bible said they quit what they were doing and followed Him. Remember the man who Jesus said “Follow Me” to and he responded “Yes, I will, but I just have to go get my house in order....” Jesus basically said nope... it’s now or never.
If we’re serious about real change (I mean for important things), why wait? Jesus says follow me... now. Why do we have to wait for a calendar day to dig deeper in His Word (probably the most popular and important resolution I hear)?
Why not start today?
Where From Here
December 17, 2012
I wanted to wait a few days before posting anything about the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. Honestly, what I would have written a few days ago would’ve been filled with anger and not made much sense.
Now that I’ve had a few days to process the tragedy, I still feel sick...but, I’m at least able to write about it and discuss where I think we need to focus as a Country and as believers.
The danger is (and I knew it would happen) that we begin to focus on the surface level issues. By that, I mean the how. How did he get the guns? How can we tighten gun laws? etc. Frankly, I find no long-term solutions in any of that. Make all the gun laws you want, guns will still be available...in fact, it will just enhance the black market for them. Drugs are illegal, yet people still obtain them. I’m not for legalizing drugs, by the way, just pointing out that they remain accessible. Guns are just a tool; if not guns, it will be molotov cocktails, bombs, swords, hammers, shovels, cars, etc. The Oklahoma City bomber used a panel truck...
Anyway, the focus should be where we are as a society. How desensitized does someone have to be to slaughter innocent Kindergarteners? How disturbed? How detached? That is the real question. Guns capable of multiple rounds have been accessible for 100 years! Yet, 30-40-50 years ago, we’d never dream of such things happening. So, gun technology (or our exposure to them) hasn’t really changed. So, what has?
What has changed is our moral compass. Our values, our movies, our entertainment (games). We let our kids play games like “Call of Duty” or even worse “Grand Theft Auto”...did you know that one of the goals is to rape a woman in that game? Or, that you get points for just walking up to innocent people and blowing their head off! The graphics are extremely realistic too! Scientific studies have showed that such games have very damaging effects on the brain and cause realistic desensitization.
Or how about our TV shows? My wife and I noticed one evening that EVERY show on EVERY major network at the same time, had brutal murder as its theme...that’s our entertainment? Watching people get murdered to start a show!
Or how about our homes? (Now it hurts.) We tell our kids violence isn’t the answer, but we scream at people on the road in hate. I could go on...
Finally, the real issue, what about the shutting out of God? Point in case, last night the memorial service in Connecticut included prayers and a large group of clergy coming together..the President referenced God, etc. YET, in that very same district, a Valedictorian was denied that ability to say their prayer at graduation. So, we totally ignore and shut God out when we don’t need or want Him, but at our darkest hours we cry out to Him. Fortunately, He is a God of forgiveness, mercy and grace! He continually pursues us, He wants us to know Him and He SOOO wants America to come running into His arms! It’s never too late for us...it’s never too late for you. God truly is awesome!
December 14, 2012
What a fascinating experience, to have been there as my 3 boys came into this world. Birth is a truly miraculous event...one that takes place tens of thousands of times (maybe more) per day. Yet, on the days my wife brought our boys into this world, I felt as if I was the first, the only, the most privileged...they were “my” babies, they were and are so unique and special.
Interesting, isn’t it, that our Lord uses birth to describe two (yes two) of the most foundational acts of Christianity.
First, the physical birth of a Savior! Jesus Christ, God with skin on, coming into the World to provide divine hope and salvation for all men. Birth, a beginning, a change of life for all involved (in this case, the whole World).
Second, Jesus describes to Nicodemus that to be reconciled to God one must be “born again.” A rebirth, a restart, a fresh cleansing. Just as physical birth is beautiful, is pure joy to parents and full of love; so is our spiritual birth to our Heavenly Father. The same way angels rejoiced that day in Bethlehem, so do angels rejoice whenever a child of God is re-born into a right-relationship with God.
This Christmas, we remember the birth of our Savior, our Hope and our Salvation. May we also not forget to celebrate the opportunity that His BIRTH gave us to have our BIRTH into God’s Kingdom. Remember that through your “re-birth,” your Heavenly Father is beaming and loves you just like a new parent loves that newborn baby!
Inside or Outside the Box
December 5, 2012
A while back I wrote about this in a previous blog. Every now and then I resurrect the concept...because I so believe it’s what’s missing in society today. That is, the ability to think INSIDE the box.
Are you kind of tired of everyone in business/organizations talking about thinking outside the box? I am. What does that even mean? And, if everyone is supposed to think OUTSIDE the box, aren’t they really thinking INSIDE the box? I’m so confused!
From my perspective, I have a lot more professional respect for those who actually THINK inside the box. I guess it seems like thinking outside the box has become a very “cool” and “creative” way to be lazy, or excuse inadequacy or lack of performance.
Here’s my take: It’s really hard to successfully think and work inside of an organization’s structure, core competency, tradition and previous success. Many times it seems cumbersome, routine, even boring. Thinking inside the box means working within what is already known to work, making micro-evolution adjustments and working hard to continue success. Many (Most) times an organization got to where it is by doing something right...and often, decline is an issue of being too comfortable, too inefficient and quite frankly, laziness. Organizations that continually motivate, reward, encourage, correct, discipline, etc., rarely NEED to think outside the box, because the inside of the box is clipping along just fine.
All of that said, some level of thinking outside the box is necessary. It’s important to have a set of eyes on the horizon, see what’s coming and how to use and expand future tools. However, it is vital that the personnel doing so are experienced inside the box’ers. Managers, right here is what can really set your organization back...allowing an unqualified “insider” to think outside on your behalf. The outside the box’er must have a thorough understanding of the organizations goals, values, mission, culture and competencies. If not, it is a waist of resources. This process is not for the inexperienced...they need to earn their stripes INSIDE the box first.
Well, hopefully I haven’t thoroughly confused you and at the very least we begin to think about working within who and what we are and then moving outward from there.
It’s like dieting. Every day a new slick-trick diet comes on the market. However, doctors continue to say...eating right and exercise is what really works long-term. Yet, we try the short-cuts, the tricks, the systems, etc. Why? Because, if we are honest, the traditional way is just hard work.
The same could be applied to our spiritual lives. We KNOW that spending time in God’s word and communication (praying) with Him are what brings us closer to Him. Yet, we often try “shortcuts” or alternative quick fixes to bypass the work involved with having a relationship with God.
Try thinking and working inside the box first, it’s hard work, but the results are rewarding.
November 28, 2012
So, today I was checking Fox News and saw that US Senator Dick Durbin said that the differences between a Hedge Fund Manager’s salary and that of a Navy Seal is immoral and something should be done…
I found his comment very troubling, for multiple reasons. First, let me say that I DO think that our military (especially high risk jobs like Seals) is underpaid and I would love to see more money go toward the actual soldiers. I am a patriot, I love America and I absolutely love our military. Operators like Seals should get paid much higher salaries, but those heroes volunteer for those jobs. They know the pay, they are highly capable of understanding the pay and yet they still decide to take the job and fight for America. If they wanted to be hedge fund managers, many of them probably could be, but they chose something more noble… regardless of pay. Whether America pays them more or not is NOT a “moral” issue…nor is comparing them to any other career. It’s life; some careers pay more than others. Dick Durbin’s comments really scare me and point to a major concern that I have with the “left” agenda.
Quite honestly, I find Durbin’s comments hypocritical. Durbin has been a part of a Senate that has not helped Congress to balance a budget in years! He’s a part of a fiscal mess and he (and others) have failed at their jobs (Reps and Dems). I find it ironic that he is now going to tell us what jobs are worthy of what money and what is “moral.” Perhaps, it might be moral to resign when you have failed an entire Country, Mr. Durbin. Something might not be fair, might not even be equitable or desirable…but, that does not make it immoral. It’s not like anybody lied or covered up what the military pays and tricks the soldiers, which indeed would be immoral.
The fact that Durbin and others think that they’re the compass for morality should concern everyone. This comment points to a major problem that we face in the “West”; the growth of shifting morality based on opinion and anecdotal conjecture. On what MORAL basis or absolute is a career’s pay based on? Biblically, Jesus said the vineyard owner has the right to pay whatever he sees fit, regardless of what others think. The bible does speak of honest scales and integrity, but that refers to dishonesty and lying…none of which I see here in what Durbin complains about.
See, morality based on opinion is shifting and truly unattainable. We, as Christians (and as a society) need to be careful about calling things moral or immoral based on OUR interpretation of what is “right.” Sometimes things are unfair, inequitable, frustrating, etc….but, that does not make them immoral! There is a higher standard, a standard of morality, it is God’s Word that He has given us in the Bible!
November 20, 2012
It’s Thanksgiving! Every blogger/writer is writing about “thankfulness.” Being thankful is an essential part of having a right attitude, humility and perspective. However, I think that “thankfulness” is near impossible without the precursor of contentment. Saying thankful words at the Thanksgiving table is pretty easy, but living with a spirit of “thankfulness” requires an attitude of contentment. We are to be content with what God has given us, what He has done for us and for the life-position in which He has placed us. Without that kind of contentment, being thankful is mere semantics.
Now the question arises…are we to be content with everything in our lives? We are certainly called to be thankful for everything, however we are not called to be content with everything. Ok, now I have you confused. Let me explain:
Contentment is not a good thing when you’re flunking out of college. Contentment is not a good thing when you’re showing up to work late everyday…or underperforming. We are NOT to be content with mediocrity, laziness or lack of ambition. Contentment can actually be a form of sin. Yup, I said it. If you (or I) are content with less than our best, it is a form of laziness (the Bible calls it sloth) and it is wrong.
So, what in the world am I talking about regarding contentment leading to thankfulness? What I mean is that we are to live our lives to the best of our ability. Strive for success in everything we do…from mowing the lawn to our employment, education, family life, church, etc. and ALLOW ourselves the positioning to be content through the knowledge that we are doing our best. Only then can we be truly and sincerely THANKFUL for the results…knowing that we did all we could do and the results are up to GOD.
I could go on and on…but, the bottom line is let’s do our best for HIM, be content with our efforts and then truly THANKFUL for all He has done for us!
November 12, 2012
How many messages or materials have you read on this topic? Especially if you’re getting ready to confront someone in your life!
This is something that I have to deal with (or decide not to) on a regular basis. In fact, to varying degrees, we all deal with confrontation quite regularly in our lives.
I think there are three types or levels of confrontation:
1. The Absolutely Necessary Confrontation
2. The Optional Confrontation
3. The Walk-Away Confrontation
The first, is that time when you have no choice but to confront a situation. Maybe someone says something rude to your wife/husband, someone lies about you, etc. These are fairly obvious, extreme situations…and there are plenty of good books and articles on this (so I won’t waste your time).
The second, is a bit more tricky. This is when there was definitely something wrong or inappropriate done or said, but you're not sure it’s that big of deal. Maybe the person is just socially inept or really irrelevant to your daily life. It’s the times it falls in the cracks and you’re just not sure what to do; or maybe you're scared of ramifications IF you do confront. My advice in these situations is to seek wise (and confidential) counsel and discern in the right spirit. Weigh out the pros and cons and then determine if you can live without confronting it. If you’ll get over it and you’ll be fine in a few days, it’s likely a tough call to make. Each situation is different…again, enough has been written on this.
The third is the Walk-Away. This is the one that not many people write or speak about (probably because it won’t sell very well). This is when it is best to let it roll of your back, get tough and move on. Quite frankly, this is where boys become men and girls become women. This takes toughness and self-confidence. In my view, people who practice this tend to have more friends and keep them longer. Contrary to what many say, it isn’t always good to confront everything. But you say “Brett, doesn’t the Bible say that you are to go to the person….?” Yes, it does. But, it doesn’t say in what instances we are to carry that out. If confrontation is necessary, then those are the playing rules (interpersonally). By the way, those rules DO NOT apply to work environments or organizational settings, they are for interpersonal conflict. Christian leaders should be careful not to use those interpersonal rules in organizational settings... as an excuse to avoid dealing with problems (more on that another day).
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is try practicing longsuffering. Don’t be quick to confront every little thing. Let it roll off your back and assume the best. I guarantee more people will like you and you will have better friendships. No one likes the over-confronter!