Celebrate What You Have

For folks in people/consumer industries, the constant flow of lame excuses can really become disheartening and frustrating. I talk to a lot of people — Group leaders, Ministry leaders, Business owners, etc. — that deal with this all the time. I know for me personally, I’d much rather be given the cold, hard truth than be fed lame excuses, lies, or be ignored. When you work with people, TRUTH is PARAMOUNT to TRUST.

TRUTH is PARAMOUNT to TRUST

If you are a Learning Leader, living life in light of a Biblical Worldview in obedience to Jesus through His Word, here is something I’ve had to learn to do (though I still struggle from time to time)…

  • Celebrate what you’ve been given…rather than focus on what you don’t have.
  • Celebrate who shows up…rather than fixate on who doesn’t.
  • Celebrate positive results…rather than be defeated over failed results.
  • Celebrate the powerful testimonies of changed lives…rather than be discouraged over the obstinate, belligerent ones.
  • Celebrate those to whom you can give assistance…rather than focus on those who refuse your help.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment to know the difference.

There will always be the person who didn’t show up or engage, who didn’t bother to respond, who was dissatisfied with your product/service, who took advantage of your heart and returned it with passive-aggression, sarcasm, or complete failure to acknowledge your existence. We as humans whose hearts have been corrupted by evil and self-elevation can be thoughtless and sometimes just downright mean. People are people…nothing more. God is God…nothing less.

People are people…nothing more. God is God…nothing less.

You must keep your gaze fixed on the One who is in constant care for and absolute rule over all of His Creation, for HIS glory and the good of HIS people – the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator and Savior of our souls.

I’ve said it many, many times, having trusted in Jesus and His Way of life for 45 years, I cannot possibly imagine navigating the culture in which we live without His grace and mercy, without His example of living, without His instruction through His Word, without being able to trust in His strength over my weakness.

Tangled Stories

Follower of Jesus, Do you wanna be used by God to make a difference in the lives of other people? Do you wanna be a difference-maker in your community? Do you wanna be a difference-maker in your workplace? Do you wanna be a difference-maker in your church? Do you want to leverage who you are and what you’ve been given to reach your neighbors, your city, and your world with Gospel-focused ministries of mercy so they might come to know, love and follow Jesus into His Kingdom?

Let your story get tangled up in someone else’s story. It can be scary for the closed-off or “private” person. It can be messy for the easily offended or self-righteous. It can be incredibly tense for those who want to keep their sin in the dark. But this is who the church is…people whose stories are interwoven into the tapestry of God’s story…TOGETHER.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; [10] for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up! [11] Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? [12] And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB

Don’t get hung up on the number two or three. The idea here is companionship. What he’s saying here is that It is futile to live alone, to learn alone, to labor alone. In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul does a beautiful job of explaining this with an analogy of a body:

For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, [5] so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.

Romans 12:4-5 NASB

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. You’ll never connect with anyone unless they first feel cared for by you or they show you that they care about you. It’s more than words; it’s action. Let your hellos turn into hugs. Let your shared glances turn into shared meals. Too many times we wait for others to initiate because we’re scared and insecure. We’re intimidated by personal space. We hold people at arms length because we don’t want to be hurt. Truth is, that doesn’t work either. Even if we don’t put ourselves out there, we get our feelings hurt because other people don’t know how to engage with a porcupine that’s got their quills out. We get jealous of full, thriving, loving relationships others have but we’re afraid to invest what they’ve invested. If someone doesn’t reciprocate your gesture, try again. If someone resists your kindness, move on. There are so many others whom God wants to use you to encourage toward love and good deeds that you just can’t get derailed by someone who didn’t engage with you.

In Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18, Jesus engaged with a young man who, at first, seemed interested in relationship with Him. But once the man realized what it would cost him, we are told that he walked away…grieving. He was deeply sad. I wonder how that made Jesus feel? But I’ve always found it interesting to watch what Jesus did. He just let him walk away. He didn’t chase after him. He didn’t take it personal or become bitter. He didn’t lump everybody into the same crowd as that one young man and give up. Jesus let him walk away, and then Jesus turned around and started investing in more people. He never mentioned the young man again.

Tell your story. Share your story…let them become part of it. Share your life. Ask others to tell you their story. Invest in their story. Become part of their story. INVITE them to become part of your story. Open your heart. Open your home. Open your life.

God puts very, very few people in a place to influence the masses with a megaphone. We see that in the narrative of the Bible. He more often uses our story in personal settings, one on ones, two on twos. Small, intimate, life-giving Groups that are deeply invested in one another.

“I’m too busy for that.” Listen, I have a ton of acquaintances that are “movers and shakers”. They are always busy, juggling 5 or 6 things, being productive, always working on another side hustle. They’re always rushing from one thing to head to another event that is going to enhance their life-leverage, make their children better people or performers, achieve another notch in their belt of success. Here’s what’s interesting…none of them are good FRIENDS. I’d like for them to be…but they’re just too busy. You can’t cram me in for a lunch, pencil me in for a meeting, or sandwich me in for an event and get to KNOW me and CARE about me. It takes lots of time. It takes sacrificial investment. It takes valuable energy. My best friends aren’t necessarily the people that are most like me. My best friends, my partners in ministry, my dearest neighbors and family members are those who spend the most time with me making the most impact, receiving AND reciprocating in tangled RELATIONSHIP with me.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 18, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” I’m so thankful for the Jonathans who have gotten their stories tangled in my story.

It’s not about where you find them…they’re everywhere. David found Jonathan in the house of his worst enemy. So often we dismiss a whole school, a whole job site, or a whole church as unfriendly or unworthy of our investment. It’s just not true. It’s not about where you find them…it’s what you do to make them.

Get messy. Get tangled.

Insecurity and Idleness

Insecurity and idleness are potent ingredients for drama, despair, and destructiveness. It will yield a feast of false dialogue in your heart and mind.

The Lord our God did not design us to sit alone in slothfulness or idleness and dwell on negativity. That is the work of the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 NASB

An idle mind is the devil’s playground.

A worthless person digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire. [28] A perverse person spreads strife, And a slanderer separates close friends. [29] A person of violence entices his neighbor And leads him in a way that is not good.

Proverbs 16:27-29 NASB

Overwhelmed By What?

What overwhelms you and what do you do with it?

I’m living a life I can’t take a bit of credit for! Only a loving, merciful, and gracious God could write this story. Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator, and Savior of my soul. #SoliDeoGloria

As human shepherds to broken people in broken families with tragically messed up lives and priorities to varying degrees, we could not deal with the struggles we face, have the conversations we have, confront the evil we confront, assist with the problems we do without the sustaining strength, wisdom, and discernment of the Lord. I go to bed many nights wondering how many more days I can face such opposition. Yet His Words give me rest every night and wake me with hope every morning.

When my focus is not in the right place, I can become overwhelmed by the tragedy of it all or I can become overwhelmed by my own inadequacy. I must choose to be overwhelmed by his presence and his grace. I cannot imagine living this life without a Savior and Redeemer in Jesus Christ.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18 NASB

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. [29] Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. [30] For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), [6] and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:4-7 NASB

Sheep

Whether you’re a pastor, a parent, a teacher or an employer, there’s always going to be the sheep that exhausts you, makes your job harder, tries your patience, challenges you, wants to graze in the pasture 10 feet from the rest of the sheep “just because”, stirs the other sheep up, flirts with the wolves, thinks they’re smarter than the shepherd but doesn’t want the responsibility and accountability of leadership, rebels just a little so he’s not “a sheep” like everyone else, challenges the legitimacy and purpose of every fence in the pasture, etc.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

[9] And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [10] Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Galatians 5:22-26 NASB

[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [24] Now those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [25] If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. [26] Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Romans 8:26 NASB

[26] Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

Hebrews 4:14-16 NASB

[14] Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. [16] Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.

Show Up

I’m so grateful for a 100% bought-in, faithfully committed, and sacrificially contributing wife, kids, partners in local commerce, my employees and volunteers in local ministry, and my church family. I’m grateful that in each case, their hospitality, honor, dignity, and respect for others spill all over the place to create a warm, safe place for guests and acquaintances to encounter love and grace through the Spirit of the Almighty, the Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator, and Savior of our souls. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I couldn’t do what I do if they didn’t do what they do.

Showing up doesn’t necessarily mean that you are bought in, that you are committed, that you are contributing – whether it’s at a local coffee show, at a job, in a marriage, in a family, or in a church. But on the other hand, you can’t be any of those things unless you first show up.

Lots of people show up at coffee shops, take up a table, use the wifi, purchase a cup of coffee, tip nothing, get a free refill, and walk away complaining about the other people in the coffee shop. They are neither bought in, committed, contributing, or supporting. The only reason that coffee shop opens every day is because the owners, the employees, and the loyal customers are raving fans of both the product and the environment in which it is served and consumed and everyone else who stops by gets to benefit from the hard work and sacrifices of the committed.

How is your local coffee shop, your workplace, your marriage, your family, or your church affected by your presence or absence?

The Pit

When someone squanders the gracious and merciful blessing of life, wasting precious resources on anything but glorifying God and enjoying HIM forever, they will eventually end up wallowing in a pit of mud and filth, fighting swine for a morsel of enjoyment.

DON’T CLIMB IN THE PIT WITH THEM.

Hurt for them; pray for them; encourage them; wait for them; receive them with joy and celebration when they humbly crawl out of the pit, repent of their selfishness and pride, and come back into the joyful presence of the Lord their God.

Jesus went to the pit for them. He went to the pit for me. He is sufficient.

Who I Serve

Fixating on the insufficiencies of man, whether yourself or others, will pull you into a pit of depression, despair, self-pity, self-gratification, and hopelessness.

Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let's rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let's run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I do not serve men. I serve God by loving Him and loving my neighbor – from the best to the worst, the most compatible to the least compatible, from the best-intentioned to the most reckless. I cannot derive my joy or contentment from people meeting my expectations. When I get bogged down in my disappointment with my expectations of people, I have to remind myself of how often I have and continue to disappoint my Lord and King. And how does He respond to me? Who do I think I am that I should respond to others any differently?

I’m living a life I can’t take a bit of credit for! Only a loving, merciful, and gracious God could write this story. It is my great privilege to swear my allegiance to only one King and to serve at the pleasure of The Almighty by shepherding the hearts of His people and inviting those far from God to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator, and Savior of my soul. #SoliDeoGloria

Points and Jesus

The failure of this teaching in the gathering of the called-out assembled ones, The Church, is why many “professing believers” are simply “professing a belief” and have never experienced the regenerating, transforming power of salvation by grace through faith in JESUS.

There is no point system with God.

Being a good person – generosity, kindness, compassion, showing honor, dignity, and respect, saying prayers, reading sacred documents, fulfilling other ancient disciplines, etc. — will not earn you points of favor with the Lord our God, JESUS, King of the Universe, Creator of our souls.

Belief in a ”supreme being” called by many names in several world “religions” DOES NOT bring regeneration, redemption, or reconciliation with the Lord our God, JESUS, King of the Universe, Creator of our souls. There are no points for intellectual assent to a diety.

There is NO BOOK of secret revelations, mystic rituals, or self-help. THE Word of God, THE Bible, THE Word of Truth is the sole revelation of God Himself to humankind through JESUS and His only plan of redemption for fallen man. There are no points for devotion to a random volume of sacred law.

We are NOT able to, before God Almighty, improve our character and behavior in various ways, including acts of charity, moral living, and voluntary performance of civic duty. We DO NOT possess the ability to move from imperfection toward total perfection. Moral and spiritual perfection DOES NOT lie within men and women of their own volition.

JESUS scored the only point that can be scored for us. JESUS makes His Elect perfect through the redeeming and reconciling power of the Cross and the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit. JESUS is GOD ALMIGHTY, manifested as the Son who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that JESUS Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Our character and our behavior are transformed by the person and the work of JESUS. As the Bride of Christ, our good works are merely an outpouring of our surrender, our allegiance, and our obedience to HIM.

Public Education

Public education is one of the biggest gambling institutions in the US today. Children’s programming on media platforms is a distant 2nd.

You’ve got a better chance of winning a million dollars at the slots today than you do of your children NOT being groomed for slavery to the enemy by the curriculum, teachers, actors, animations, and gaming to which parents enable and expose them.

PARENTS; Whether you utilize the services of the public education system OR a private school — DO NOT SURRENDER YOUR CHILDREN to their schools and teachers. DO NOT SIT THEM UNATTENDED in front of any form of media.

God gives children to parents for a reason: DO YOUR JOB. Nurture, educate, instruct, model, correct, encourage, support, build up, hold them accountable, hold them responsible, advocate for them, stand up for them, protect them. This was never intended to be the responsibility of a teacher, administrator, actor, illustrator, or writer. Do not put that on already overwhelmed teachers and don’t enable the wolves that desire the hearts and minds of your children.

I’m so grateful for the godly men and women who teach and administrate in our public institutions, funded by our taxes. It is the greatest and most difficult mission field in the Western Hemisphere today. I pray the power of the Lord our God, KING of the Universe, Creator of our souls over each of them as they face a world of darkness, confusion, chaos, and deception in the agenda of the public education system.