Stop!

You’re working hard. You’re trying to get ahead. You keep going, believing that the more you do, the more you will get out of what you do.

But there is such a thing as the Law of Diminishing Returns.

Basically, there comes a point where more work does NOT equal more results (or the same results as before).

Brushing your teeth for 20 minutes instead of 2 minutes doesn’t make your teeth 10 times whiter.

If one hour of tv watching makes you relaxed, five hours of watching tv doesn’t make you 5 times more relaxed.

Sometimes you just need to stop. You’ve done everything you can (for the moment). You need to take a break, recoup your energy, then get ready to go again.

Psalms 127:2 says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

Did you notice what the last line says? It makes it obvious that rest is something that God gives. Rest is a GIFT from God!

God would not give you a gift without the time to use it. How horrible would it be to receive a brand new car as a free gift, then to be told that you can’t drive it…it just needs to stay in the garage!

You would think that was crazy! And I would agree.

The same is true of rest. Since rest is a gift given to us by God, then God has already set aside times when we can (and should) do it!

The writer of this Psalm says that it is useless to do all the work that we do, while still worrying if that work will give us enough for our basic needs.

Our job is to work smart, not just work hard, then to take the rest that God gives us, trusting HIM to be the one to provide for each and every one of our needs.

Build rest into your life as a regular rhythm. You will be thankful for it later!

Let’s say it together now: “Stop!”

Today In The News: Istanbul Terror Attack

Not quite today’s news (this happened yesterday), but important nonetheless. Yesterday, 36 were killed and 147 were injured in a terrorist attack that occurred earlier yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey.

You can read about it here.

Unfortunately, these attacks are becoming more commonplace. Multiple attacks have been happening here in the United States and in many places abroad.

No matter who perpetrates terror, the goal is always fear. The impact of terror is far greater than the number of people killed or injured. Fear has the capacity to paralyze entire groups of people, even if they are under no actual threat of violence.

So, what to do? Since terror is reaching across the planet, how is it that this needs to be dealt with? Can it be stopped? What should our response be as Christians, who are called by our Lord Jesus to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)?

I believe there simply needs to be a distinction between the faith that we as Christians hold, and the countries that individual Christian citizens might belong to. This does NOT mean that we, as Christians, shouldn’t attempt to influence the countries in which we live. On the contrary! I am simply suggesting that we as Christians cannot hold our countries/governments to the same standards with which we live.

Countries and Citizens

We live in an imperfect world, filled with imperfect people, There is good in this world, as well as evil. In human society, we must create solutions for the problems we face, even if those solutions are imperfect.

There is NO perfect system for managing politics, economies, poverty, wars, or anything else. But, some systems are better than others!

With regards to terror, countries have the right to do everything in their best interests to protect their people from terror, going to the root cause of the source of such terror if at all possible. Without involving details of the politics of all this, the current fight against ISIS (ISIL, Daesh) is absolutely necessary, since terrorists need to know that there are consequences for their actions.

My prayer with regards to this attack in Instanbul is that justice is served on behalf of the victims of these attacks. And remember, the victims of terror are not only those killed or injured. The victims include all those who are filled with fear because of these senseless attacks.

Christians

Now, as Christians, how must we respond? While countries have the complete right to function and operate as necessary for the protection of their citizenry, what must we do? And while many Christians may participate in the armed services of their respective countries and have a duty to be a part of that process, how do we respond individually to these acts?

One Bible verse in particular comes to mind. 1 John 4:18 states, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

Those who are afraid need to experience the perfect love of Father God that has been expressed to them. Only by living in the eternal confidence gained by knowing Christ are we able to live lives without fear, since our future for all eternity is secure in him. Dying today or dying tomorrow means being with Jesus.

Our job is to love and engage those who do not know the love of Christ…it is only with this love that fear may be removed.

But, even for the terrorists, we must understand that many times their motivation is not only to cause fear in others. On the contrary, they are so filled with fear themselves that they believe it necessary to commit their acts of violence.

We must love terrorists as well. 

Yes, we HATE what they do. What they do is pure evil and we hate all that is evil. And yes, they must face consequences and justice for their actions. Absolutely! There is no room for doubt here.

But, these terrorists are God’s creation. So, we pray. We pray for God to rescue their souls, to fill their hearts with their love, to transform entire societies through revelation of the abundant grace of God.

Does love include justice? Absolutely!

Love includes (1) Love for those impacted by acts of terror (2) Love for those who committed the acts of terror -and- (3) Justice for the victims. All of these combined are an expression of true love.

May the love of Christ dwell richly in all of you!

 

 

6 Ways To Learn

There is so much information in the world today that you can learn anything you want. There is no excuse to not know anything you want to learn…and to learn it in most cases for free!

Want to learn how to cook? Look it up on YouTube.

There is no substitute for learning. Growing in knowledge and wisdom should be our pursuit until the day we die.

Want to be a better parent? Learn more.

A better leader? Keep learning.

A more successful business owner? Yeah, you guessed it. Learn!

So, what are some ways that you can set rhythms for learning in your life?

  1. READ. Books, articles, blogs. Take notes. Highlight.

2.   LISTEN. Listen to thought leaders. Listen to Podcasts. Listen to teaching from pastors and other leaders.

3.   CONFERENCES AND CLASSES. Attend conferences and classes to learn what you want. Need to learn a new trade? Go to a technical school. Want to better your business skills? Go to a conference or participate in a masterclass. As I write this, I am attending the Purpose Driven Conference at Saddleback Church.

4.   MENTORS. King Solomon states in Proverbs 15:22, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” We need multiple mentors in our lives to help bring us success: in our relationships, our finances, our health, and so much more. There is no substitute for having personal advisers. When I started my church (citylifela.org), I had an adviser who met with me once a month for a year and a half. All I had to do was buy him lunch!

5.   EXPERIENCE. Learn from your own experiences and those of others. Learn from your present and your past. Learn from successes AND failures.

6.   ASK GOD. God is our best advisor. His Word (the Bible) is filled with 66 books by 44 authors inspired by God. Pray, read His Word, connect with Him. He is your most important guide in this life to live out the potential he has placed inside of you!

If you set rhythms of learning in your life, you will be guaranteed to be further along tomorrow than you are today. Keep learning!

Today In The News: The Supreme Court and Abortion

The Supreme Court of the U.S. decided today against protections for women who use abortion clinics.

Click here to read the story.

From the USA TODAY article linked above:

The state had argued that the restrictions — requiring clinics to meet surgical-center operating standards and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — were necessary to protect women’s health. Abortion rights advocates said that by adding delays and distance to the obstacles women face, the medical risks would only rise.

Some would argue that Texas was trying to place “restrictions” in order to limit access to abortion. Well, that would certainly be true. If we are to value ALL of human life, then we must choose to do whatever is possible to limit the destruction or devaluation of human life in all the ways that it happens.

But, if we simply look at the merits of the case itself, what we see here is a desire to protect the lives, not only of babies, but also of women who go through an abortive procedure. Abortion can lead to potentially major health complications for the mother and her child in future pregnancies. Go here to find some links to books and articles written on this subject.

I am not an expert on everything having to do with abortion laws, but I do know this: God is the author of life. From the very first chapter of the Book of Genesis we know that God is a Creator. God values human life above all else. Multiple times in Genesis chapter 1, God declares that his creation is good. But, right after he creates humans and assigns them a specific task, God finally declares in verse 31, “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

Only after his creation of humans does God consider his creation to be exceedingly good. My hope and prayer is that God continues to change hearts in our nation to value ALL of human life, protecting, guarding, and caring for those who are most vulnerable.

Going for the Sell

A few weeks ago I was spending time at my mobile office, aka Starbucks. I was minding my own business working on my stuff when two random people walked up to me.

I love working at Starbucks because even though there are a lot of people, since I don’t know any of them, I do a much better job of getting my work done! No distractions and no interruptions, except for this one particular day when I was rudely interrupted by these two people.

They were nice enough…positive, happy people. In their hands they held a ticket. They let me know that they thought it would be great for me to attend an event in order to learn a new type of business where I could make more money.

How nice of them! Inviting me to make more money!!! What an incredible opportunity! Or not. Of course, my participation through their invitation would have made more money for them, as most of these schemes usually do.

But, you see, up until this point none of it was offensive to me. I totally get that they were passionate about what they were doing and they were passionate about making money. There is nothing wrong with that!

They asked me to grab the ticket so I could look at what they were talking about. Of course, I grabbed it as they spoke to me. The ticket was a free entry into their event. As they came to the end of their little speech they asked if I would be interested in going to their event. I politely declined, saying that I wasn’t too interested and it wouldn’t work for my schedule.

What happened next was ridiculous. After I politely declined, they told me that it was necessary that I pass the ticket on to someone else I knew if I wouldn’t be able to make it. Then they asked, “So, are you going to give it to someone else?”, then waited for my response.

Talk about feeling like you’re trapped in a box, stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Here’s the problem with their approach: They were less interested in ME than they were in SELLING to me. 

All of us have a product we want to sell (even if it’s not for the sake of money). What we are looking for is to buy in to our product. We want to sell to our kids the idea of growing up as people of character. If you are religious, you want to “sell” your set of beliefs to other people. If we think someone has a wrong opinion on politics, guns, democrat or republican, education, abortion, or any other item, we typically try to “sell” our opinions to them.

So, let me give you a tip. The best way to sell your product is to show your interest in the PERSON, not the PRODUCT.

Once a person believes that you truly care about THEM, they will be willing to listen to what you have to offer them.

Let’s make life about people!