Five Powerful Responses to Our Government Leaders

12 02 2018

Politicians can be an especially difficult bunch due to their near truths or outright lies, placating, patronizing, cover-ups, political correctness and bottom line desire of being reelected.  You rarely know who is telling the truth today.  You especially rarely know the full truth because of a press that now also includes “fake news.”  Further, the news outlets often only report what will support their causes and their politicians.  It is why I love inside reports from Christian leaders I am acquainted with (throughout the world) who are in the know about so much of what is truthfully happening around the world.

It is the unshakable kingdom of God we serve first and foremost, not this world’s shakable kingdom.  It is this eternal kingdom that should draw the most passion from us in order to fulfill Matthew 28 in every nation of the world.  So, yes, I care about politics, but I also know how very shallow, surface, selfish and incorrect it can be at times.  It’s a challenge to not be distracted by the shakable kingdoms of this world.

It is easy to get on a bandwagon and rant and react, especially with the access of social media today. It is harder to find the truth, pray, search the scriptures and locate a godly response to these matters.  The latter takes a lot more time, more listening, more humility and less of a desire to be right.  It is good to remind ourselves Jesus lived in troubled times with a very ungodly government and ungodly religious system.

I know I am not a perfect example of this, but I am growing and desiring more grace for such situations. I desire to be a truth giver/teller that brings life and love with it. In an attempt to share with you God’s word on the matter of government, here are five key responses toward our governmental leaders:

 

  1. I urge, then first of all that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (I Tim 2: 1-4)

 

  1. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.  (I Peter 2:17)

 

  1. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:1)

 

  1. The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.  (Proverbs 21:1)

 

  1. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.  (Titus 3: 1 – 2)

 

As Christ followers, we have a long way to go to do more listening, considering, growing and developing.  But there are many undeniable written words from God that do not and will not change with culture.  We are called to influence culture with Biblical truth. While our opinion may be valuable to some, it will not supernaturally change a life.

We are to be known by our love.  Love is not accepting everything that comes down the pike as a, “That’s OK if it works for you,” but loving even when we disagree strongly.  There is an inordinate amount of I John 2:1-8 going on in the world today, i.e., claiming to know God and to love Him, but unwilling to obey Him and His word because of its inconvenience to personal sin or cultural belief.

Let us be reminded of the “rulers” that we are actually struggling against as Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

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Where Did You Develop Your Beliefs?

5 02 2018

Where did your beliefs come from? Have you ever thought about that question or do you just assume your beliefs are mostly correct? It’s a simple question that takes a fair amount of reflection.

Your family raised you with certain beliefs. Influential persons, while you were growing up, infected you with certain beliefs about yourself both good and not so good. You faced difficult times and such seasons of life challenges reinforced undeniable beliefs. Pain and sorrow had its effect. Rejection or being bullied also exposed firm beliefs about you.

Life has its way of forced training, mind manipulation and soul-searching encounters that have helped to craft your personal beliefs over your lifetime. Those beliefs can move you forward in a healthy fashion or stunt your growth by limiting the identification of truth.

There is a Biblical process called renewing the mind and the origination of that phrase is taken from a scripture found in Romans 12:2. From the point of your rebirth until your last breath on this earth, your mind is in the process of renewal. Why? Because your heavenly Father longs to bring you truth. And why is that? The truth… it sets us free. (John 8:32)





Ten Characteristic Challenges When Dating

29 01 2018

Dating is not a centuries old concept. Dating is a far more recent notion than that, but unlike what Hollywood presents, dating is NOT about how good someone is in the bedroom. The following are ten distinctive thoughts to consider if you or someone you know is involved in a dating relationship.

 

  1. Self-Image – You are telling the world who you are by who you date. You are revealing your standard and your self-concept. If you have a healthy self-concept, you will have a high standard in who you date.
  2. Character – Your moral and ethical character shows in who you say yes to when dating. Qualities of honesty and reputation are always evident in your choice of dates.
  3. Personal values – Values determine worth and priority. Do you value yourself enough to date a person who values what you value or do you find yourself lowering or compromising your standard? You do not need to compromise your personal values when it comes to a dating relationship.
  4. Physical Attraction – Let’s face it, physical attraction is pretty significant when dating, but it is not the standard. Physical attraction is a surface judgment, no deeper. Remind yourself of that fact.
  5. Soul Attraction – Mind, will and emotions makeup this area which goes beyond the physical. Does this person of interest challenge you intellectually and emotionally? Do they challenge you to live by a higher or lower standard? Do you feel accepted when you are with this person or do you feel inferior in some way?
  6. Spiritual Attraction – Here is one of the most important levels of attraction. Are you attracted to the life of Christ in this person? Does their walk with God challenge you spiritually? Do you find the commonality of faith with them or are the spiritual belief differences sticking out like a sore thumb?
  7. Honor – Honor shows respect and high worth. Is respect present and is there some attraction toward this person because they treat you, your family and their family honorably?
  8. Purity –  There is no date worth compromising your purity boundaries. If anyone requests this of you, RUN. They are not seeing you; they are seeing their selfish sexual desires being fulfilled. This person does not care about you or your dignity.
  9. Friendship – Dating is about friendship first. The position of friendship cannot be minimized. Are you friends or do you click with this person like an old friend? Does it feel good to simply be around this person and the security they bring to the relationship? Friends do not pick on one another; they believe in one another. Friends do not embarrass each other; they stick up for one another.
  10. Acceptance – Can you feel and do you hear (verbally and non-verbally) the acceptance of this person for who you are, as you are, or do you sense comparison, incompleteness or judgment? To know and feel acceptance and approval is to enjoy a life-giving relationship.




Is Your Marriage Healing You?

22 01 2018

We hear far too many reports about marriages that are not lasting. When marriage is full of selfishness, insecurity and immaturity, marriage becomes an attempt to receive healing from our spouse, i.e., if they’re the problem, they’re the solution as well.  When our spouse deals with the same inadequacies, they are unable to give what we’re looking for. Over a period of time, the thought of having married the wrong person is often generated.

 

But marriage in its purest, God-given form is not meant to harm us; rather, God gave us this gift to heal us. Let’s face it, our spouse can bring the worst out of us. But, seriously, how bad is that? Do you desire to identify and face your worst? When you identify and face your worst, you can actually begin to work on the issues in your life. Too often we blame our spouse for our worst and then think they’re the problem, believing the lie that all would be better if they would make all the changes.

 

Here’s a little secret. As you and your spouse begin to discover your inadequacies and insecurities, do not blame them on one other, rather use them to pursue personal healing. Persons who are healing will bring healing to others. The healthier you become, the healthier your marriage can become.





Growing a Childs Self-esteem

8 01 2018

Maggie has never had a problem with her self-image.  She loves life and makes the best of every minute. She loves people and believes that they all love and accept her unconditionally.  Maggie has never stared into a mirror and felt hopeless. She’s never even desired to look at herself in a mirror and make any kind of judgment.  She is perfectly content with who she is, what she wears, the shape of her body, the color of her eyes, the size of her nose, and the shape of her ears.  Maggie blindly trusts in her Creator.  She is content to be who she is. You see, Maggie is our yellow Labrador Retriever.

There is a lesson in Maggie’s self-acceptance. Maggie is loved and accepted for who she is as a part of our family. She doesn’t need to perform for us. Does she always obey and not get into trouble? No. But her disobedience has never changed the fact that we love her, and she knows it. Neither has it changed how she sees herself. Maggie does not compare herself to the other dogs that wander into our yard. She’s never put herself on a diet because of a fear of losing her wonderful figure. She’s not even concerned about belching or the breath that comes from never brushing her teeth. Maggie is secure in just being a dog and knows her significance to our family.

Early in life children are quite similar. They can look in a mirror and see only good.  Children believe what they’re told.  If I tell my daughter 3 + 3 = 6, she’ll say, “Okay Daddy, 3 + 3 = 6.”

If her older brother tells her the next day that the sum of 4 + 2 = 6, she’ll disagree, because the day before she was told that 3 + 3 = 6. Your pre-school children think in a one-dimensional manner. They do not think abstractly. They cannot decipher truth. They only know what you tell them.

A child receives his self-image through how he perceives the adults in his life perceiving him. When I tell my daughter that she’s beautiful, she will believe that she is beautiful. You see, someone who is very important to her, someone she can trust, someone who is bigger, older, wiser and stronger told her something about herself, and she has no reason to not believe it.

Obviously, the opposite is true. If I, as a parent, tell my children they’re stupid, dumb, bad, worthless, or they have no value, they’ll believe those things and act accordingly. Today we would call this emotional abuse. Years ago it was simply punishment through shame or keeping children “in their place.”

The first stage of a child discovering his worth is through the eyes of those who are important to him. The second is similar but has more to do with performance.

It is not long until we as parents expect things from our children.  We expect them to do their chores, keep their rooms clean, and finish their homework. When they do, we may reward them. When they don’t, we’re sure to let them know about it. Expectations are not wrong; chores are not wrong; rewards are not wrong; and words of correction are not wrong. What is wrong is if you develop within your child this formula:  accomplishment + performance = approval/reward.

God has expectations of His children, but it is not our performances or our accomplishments that gain His approval. God is perfect, yet He is not into perfectionism. In our mere existence, He approves of us.

Let me illustrate. When you brought your newborn son or daughter home from the hospital, did you expect anything of him or her? Did you say, “Here’s the refrigerator; when you’re hungry go ahead and grab a bite to eat”? Of course you didn’t. You expected to do everything for this child without return. It was lots of hard work and sleepless nights. In this baby’s mere existence, you approved of him or her. You had no expectation of performance. That baby, without earning it, had your approval.  Likewise, in your mere existence before God, you have His approval.

When your child begins to relate his or her performance to your approval, he begins to equate what he does as more important than who he is. Ask anyone who felt that he could not perform well enough to meet his parents’ standard, and he’ll tell you that he did not feel good about himself.

If we as parents are relating self-esteem to what our child accomplishes, we are wrong. God is not a harsh taskmaster who only gives His approval when we accomplish something for Him. Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, before performing one miracle, or sharing His first sermon, His Father said to Him, “…this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” What was He pleased with? What had Jesus accomplished?  Even before Christ began His public ministry, His Father affirmed Him and spoke His unconditional love and acceptance to Him.

The answer to a child’s self-esteem is not a high-esteem. The answer is a God-esteem. Your love, acceptance, and approval of your child must eventually translate for him into knowing his heavenly Father’s love, acceptance, and approval.

How is this accomplished? I must correct and reward my children. It’s a part of life. However, I must differentiate that while reward and correction have to do with behavior, it is never a question that I love and accept their personhood. In their mere existence, they are important to me. I always approve of them as individuals. They can never do anything to not be my children. A verse in Colossians, chapter one, will help to explain this principle. Verse 21 tells us that we were at one time alienated from God—even in our minds, because of our evil behavior. “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”

Can you grasp that you are “holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation”? Can you instill these words of truth in your child? This is an esteem not based upon performance or accomplishment but based upon what Christ has done.  It’s a God-esteem!

Note: If you would like this article in tract form you can order it here.





Contentment Is Now, Not When

1 01 2018

Maybe you already know this, but I’m in my sixties. Seems a bit weird to even write that line, but I love this stage of life; it has a certain…appeal to it. You get to hear the statement, “I already gave you the senior discount.” I also hear this comment all too frequently, “Your wife looks younger than you.” To which I normally reply, “Yes, she does, but she’s actually older than me.”

 

So, yes, I’m old(er), but I also have to tell you, I am content and the benefits of contentment far outweigh discontentment. Discontentment brings with it distrust, unhappiness and the lack of feeling settled. There is this overall sentiment of…someday. Someday I’ll have what I need. Someday I‘ll be comfortable. Someday I’ll get to travel. Or, someday I’ll have that dream job.

 

To be in a perpetual state of discontentment is like fishing everyday and never catching a fish; there’s just something missing. You read the book, bought a rod and a reel, have the correct bait, but nothing seems to be working. It’s a proverbial irritation, a low-lying discomfort.

 

Discontentment is fueled by comparison as you continually find yourself coming up short or feeling insignificant. In discontentment you have a closet full of clothing, but it’s always one suit short. Discontentment means you’re never driving the car you really want to drive (I mean that literally and metaphorically).

 

Decades of life do not bring contentment; they bring experience and wisdom, if you’re pursuing maturity. There’s this realization that things, all things, take a back seat to satisfaction and acceptance. Contentment knows when enough is enough and less is more. Contentment cares less about the gift and more about the giver. Contentment is the importance of a personal note in your Hallmark card or the text message that simply reads, “I love you.”

 

“Contentment is now, not when.” That is the word of revelation God spoke to me one evening while driving home from my office many years ago. I choose contentment today over discontentment. My Father has given me everything I need and I can trust Him for everything needed in the future. Contentment is the state of my heart.

You too can choose to live in contentment in 2018. It’s a brand new year with brand new opportunities.





How Important Is It To Take a Sabbatical?

18 12 2017

Should we wait until our leaders are experiencing physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion in their lives before we develop a sabbatical policy for our local church or ministry? In a New York Times article titled, “Taking a Break from the Lord’s Work” (Aug. 1, 2010), Paul Vitello wrote, “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen.”

Leaders are failing and quitting at alarming rates. Do they need proper financial support? Yes. Do they need vacations? Yes. Do they need time with their families? Yes. But, is this enough? Could these failures be a direct result of depleted spirits, drained emotions and not enough rest? Could the lack of healthy recharging today have something to do with those untimely failures affecting so many lives?

Leaders burn out and leaders need intervention. Leaders get into unhealthy life patterns in order to serve others and miss out or set aside certain godly disciplines that will help to maintain their personal health. A two to three-month sabbatical can change that when the right plan is attached.

For Biblical insights into a plan, how to take a sabbatical and the four-step process of a healthy sabbatical, see or recommend the book, The Value Of A Sabbatical, Refocusing Your Life for a Healthy Future. You can order it here.








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