Blame Keeps Us The Same

22 05 2017

Some wise person once remarked that blaming others would keep us the same. It’s true. One sure fire way to not take responsibility and to not change is to continually blame others for everything that comes our way. While we all engage in this practice at times, it simply cannot be the way we live our lives. Truthfully, others do not have the power to cause you anxiety, anger or any other feeling because our feelings are a result of our thoughts and our thoughts are a result of how we are interpreting our environment.

Our reactions will always be connected to what we tell ourselves about any given incident, conversation, run-in with our boss or spouse. Counselor Ed Smith wrote, “We feel what we believe.” That little statement is pretty powerful when attempting to make change in our lives. While blame shifts our need to change onto others, I eventually need to ask myself why I react the way I do. In other words, rather than blaming someone else, I listen to my thoughts in an effort to understand my emotional response.  Then secondly, is my response based upon a lie from my past or the truth?

In a devotional time the other day, I was reading about Paul the Apostle’s questioning before the Sanhedrin in Acts chapter 23. Ananias ordered Paul to be struck and then Paul immediately snapped, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (v. 3) When Paul was told that he was actually insulting “God’s high priest,” he just as quickly apologized, as he desired to follow the scripture which admonishes us to not speak evil of rulers.

Paul’s initial reaction was based on what he felt to be an injustice and responded in kind. However, when he remembered what he knew to be truth taught to him by the Scriptures, he apologized for his actions. The truth will do that and if Paul could learn that process, so can we.

Father, help us (me) to stop blaming and start changing.





Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

15 05 2017

Saint Patrick, Ireland’s beloved patron saint, has a prayer of divine protection attributed to him which was later made into a hymn. There are different versions, but one goes like this:

I armor myself today with the power of the Most Holy Trinity, in the oneness of God, Creator of the universe. I armor myself today with the baptism of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection, his ascension and glorious second coming.

I armor myself today with God’s guidance to direct me, God’s might to sustain me, God’s wisdom to instruct me; God’s word to give me speech, God’s shield to protect me; God’s army to defend me against the snares of demons, against the lure of vices, against all who plot me harm.

I invoke all these virtues today against every hostile and merciless power that may assail me, against the incantations of false prophets, against the laws of heathenism, against the false laws of heresy, against the deceits of idolatry, against every art and spell that binds the soul to evil.

Christ guard me today against every poison, burning, drowning and fatal wounding.

Christ be with me, Christ be behind me, Christ be within me, Christ be beside me, Christ to win me. Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ to be where danger threatens, Christ be in the hearts of those around me forevermore.

Christ be with you!





When Tithing Really Counts: The Trust Factor

7 05 2017

Recently I read some research on charitable giving. It was amazing to see how generous Americans are. Last year, 2016, Americans donated $358 billion to numerous charities. That’s the good news.

The bad news is unbelievable when it comes to unscrupulous nonprofits that exist today. For example, the Cancer Fund of America based in Knoxville, TN has a record of only 3% of all funds donated directly aid anyone with cancer. What happened to the 97%? According to the Federal Trade Commission the money was spent on the charity’s staff with trips to Disney World, trips to Vegas, exorbitant salaries, cars, luxury cruises and even college funds for the executive’s children.

This one really bothers me as I travel to this nation annually. In 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti killing tens of thousands of Haitians, while many more lost their homes. Generous U.S. citizens donated approximately $488 million to the Red Cross. A year later the Red Cross announced that it expected to spend $100 million constructing permanent homes and various community development projects. Four years from this time NPR reported, “Despite having spent nearly half a billion dollars…the Red Cross had built a grand total of six new homes in Haiti.”

When we are tithing to our local church, we know we can trust the leadership to make right decisions with the money we’re giving to God. And as we share our offerings to that trusted missionary organization or homeless shelter in our community, we can literally see the difference that our giving makes. Use wisdom in your giving; do your research before you donate. Check out the ministry/organization on their website and do not hesitate to call and request them to verify the percentage of your donation that will be used for administration. You worked hard for your income; be sure to pray and ask God about your giving. Imagine inadvertently donating to some nonprofit executive’s children’s college fund when you have yet to start a college fund for your child.





How Do You Spend Your Free Time?

30 04 2017

One of my favorite New Testament verses states, “That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.”  (Matthew 13:1) I simply love this verse because I crave what it says.  Our Lord, while on earth, with just a three-year window, took time to sit by a lake.  What was He doing?  That’s just it, He wasn’t “doing,” He was being.  He took time out to rest, to reflect, to breath in the fresh, moisture-filled air that surrounds the tranquil presence of water. I see Him in this moment as having no “to-do” list, no sermon preparation, no rushed got-to-do-it-now feelings… just rest-filled hanging out with His heavenly Father.

We live in a culture that is noisy and full of time-stealing stuff. We’re always accessible. Can we take time to “sit by the lake” and simply enjoy His presence?  Work is a gift from God, but so is rest. How do you like to rest? Remember, life is a balancing act in order to maintain our spiritual, physical and emotional health. Separating and centering ourselves every once in a while is a really spiritual thing to do, just ask Jesus.





Are You So Fearful of Offending That You Withhold the Truth?

24 04 2017

Are you so fearful of offending others in today’s culture that in reality you hold back the truth? Don’t be. Jesus wasn’t. Our Savior never made it a habit of being politically correct or inoffensive. In fact, His sharing the truth as revealed to Him by His Father, often offended many. Because He was familiar to the people in His hometown, the Bible tells us that His hometown crowd took offense and called Him just a “carpenter’s son.”

A while ago, after a fellow flight passenger asked me about a certain “hot button” here in the United States, I gave him an honest answer. I knew I was being set up, but I also knew I had the opportunity to speak God’s truth concerning the matter. (I have long learned that my opinion means little to most, so I try to stick with a reference from the word of God if I can.) Immediately he took offense and refused to speak to me the remainder of the flight.

One day Jesus was conversing with the Pharisees and told them they honor His Father with their lips only and their hearts are far from God. Further He told them that they worship in vain. Pretty bold truth. Later His disciples came to Him and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” What was Jesus’ response? “…They are blind guides.” (Matthew 13: 57)

Sometimes the way of the cross is offensive, but I am not saying or giving myself permission to simply go out and offend as many people as I can. Being a caustic, offensive person on purpose is stupid. I need to do my best to live at peace with all men, but never do I desire to become silent out of fear or embarrassment of my Lord’s truth. I am here to influence culture rather than allowing culture to influence me.

Jeremiah said these relevant words back in his day, “To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. But…I cannot hold it in.” (Jeremiah 6: 10, 11) Let Jeremiah’s words ring in our ears and when we have a God-given opportunity to share truth don’t hold it in.





Recognizing THE Voice

17 04 2017

From time to time the Wall Street Journal has some fascinating stories to tell. I recently caught one that was titled: U.S. To Rebels: Listen To Mom. The article was a worthy read which  shares the story of rebels who steal children from their parents as young as age 5. Such was the case with Obira Julious from Uganda, forced to grow up in the Central African Republic. He was compulsorily inducted into the Lord’s Resistance Army thirteen years ago and is now age 18. Hiding in the brush while a U.S. military helicopter flew over him, he thought he recognized a voice.

US Army psyop specialists have begun to record the voices of mothers and fathers and are creating personalized leaflets dropping them from the helicopters. Played over the loud speakers of the flying birds are messages from mothers like, “I am asking you to be strong and not to worry about anything; please come home.” And, “The soldiers will not harm you; they will bring you home safely.”

Obira had not heard his mother’s voice for over 13 years, could he be sure it was her? After decades of violence, the U.S. military is offering hope to these child soldiers to return home without firing a shot. Obira did just that and is now back home in Uganda with his family who longed for his return.

It’s a sad story with a great ending as a life was saved through one mother’s voice and the U.S. Army. Thank you to those men and women who through their military service not only protect our nation, but who are saving lives like Obira. This story is a great reminder to us concerning the voices we are listening to and the voices we need to listen to.

Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart… (Ps. 95: 7, 8; Heb. 3: 7,8)

The sheep listen to his voice. (Jn. 10: 3)

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door…” (Rev. 3: 20)

“Help me, Father, to hear and listen to Your voice above all the others I hear on a daily basis.”





Chasing Leaders

10 04 2017

There are plenty of differences in relational styles. Some of us are more verbal and others more auditory and the like. Some are slow responders and others are really quick on their feet. Relational styles even differ on how they like to receive information or requests, e.g., phone calls, text messages, email, Facebook messaging, etc. But when we are leading a group of people and those persons cannot obtain a timely response from us through any of the various means of communication mentioned, then we are requiring those same persons to chase us.

Chasing leaders is not fun. In fact, sometimes it’s downright frustrating and futile. If you’re a leader who needs to be chased, then please, for the sake of the team and the sanity of others, listen up.

No one, I repeat, no one enjoys chasing their leader in order to get things done or make a decision. In fact, if you’re a leader that has to be continually chased, then you’re a leader who does not care as deeply as you should for those whom you lead. If your subordinate or even your supervisor has to call you, text you, email you or send smoke signals repeatedly for a response, then you are in effect dishonoring them by sending the message that your time is more valuable than their time. It conveys that you are too caught up in your world to respond in a timely fashion. Making it difficult to get a response from you slows down efficiency, inhibits order, frustrates relationships and spreads an, “I don’t care attitude” around the workplace.

If you’re this person, here are some suggested changes for you:

  • If providing an accurate response is going to take some extra time, then begin by sending a brief message in return like, “I’ve gotten your request and I will get back to you by the end of the week.” Then, follow through on your word.
  • If you have an administrator type person, ask them to get back to the request to discuss a time to connect.
  • If people are reminding you that they are calling once again, pick up on that, you might have already begun to frustrate them.
  • Maybe you’re the forgetful type. Write down or place a message on your phone to remind yourself to return the call within a certain time frame.
  • Apologize for responding too slowly and make a commitment to the person to respond in a more timely fashion in the future.

Finally, if this speaks to you, confess that you deal with this issue and be accountable to change for the better, because those whom you oversee and those who oversee you are counting on it and integrity in leadership requires it.








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