Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why You Shouldn’t Pray For President Trump

Trump
Trump

First of all, years ago, here’s why I wouldn’t pray for President Obama.

Because…

He doesn’t agree with my political philosophy.

He’s made horrible comments about women.

He is a racist.

Etc.

Why I WILL pray for president Trump:

Because…

IF all of the above were to be true, then he needs lots of prayer!

Because no matter who is in the office of the president, NO president will ever be perfect…they all need prayer.

Because we are commanded to by Paul (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

And no, this is not the type of prayer I’m talking about!

Let’s join together and ask God to give our president peace and wisdom as he governs the affairs of our nation. Let’s ask God to bless his family. Let’s ask God for his presence to be made known in our president’s life.

What’s your choice?

 

Are You At The Point Of Breakthrough?

Photo Jul 27, 6 31 40 PM Breakthrough
Breakthrough

Are you at the point of breakthrough?

The breakthrough point is the liminal moment when you are about to pass from one reality to another one.

It’s when your project is almost dead, but suddenly you see a ray of light – an answer – a way out that will bring it back to life.

It’s when your basketball team is down by 10 points with 20 seconds to go, but suddenly everything starts to click, and the distance goes from 10, to 8, to 5, to 2…

It’s when your marriage is on the rocks, but suddently you realize a new truth about what needs to happen, and you begin to rebuild, step by step.

The breakthrough point is a powerful point in every human’s life.

But, you must understand something about EVERY breakthrough:

At this point you’re wondering why you’re even reading my words! But, bear with me!

You see, complacency carries a certain amount of pain, but not much of it. When anyone decides to deal with an issue in order to achieve a breakthrough, that is when the greatest amount of pain starts.

Imagine this…you’re 50 pounds overweight (some of us don’t have to imagine this)! And no, I’m not talking about you!

But, if you were 50 pounds overweight, you would have a certain amount of pain…discomfort, acid reflux, minor back pain, etc.

There is pain to complacency. But, when you decide finally that you want to shed that weight and get in shape, all of a sudden you have a whole other level of pain: early mornings, a proper diet, sore muscles from working out, etc.

At that point, your level of pain dramatically intensifies. This is the same if you want to get out of debt, build a successful business, change your marriage, live a more moral life, or anything else.

But, there is a promise on the other side! The pathway to your success requires pain, but once you breakthrough, you will experience the euphoria of a major change in your life. At that point, the pain becomes worth it!

Maybe you’re going through an incredible amount of pain right now in some area of your life. You’re wondering when it’s going to end. You wish it would just stop.

Let me ask you this: Could it be that you’re on the verge of a breakthrough?

Get ready…it’s coming!

Freedom And Sacrifice

1-03-17-freedom and sacrifice
freedom and sacrifice

We all desire freedom. The longing for it is built into each and every one of us. But there is one truth we must understand in order to be free, and it begins with this: Freedom and Sacrifice go together.

There is no escaping it. Every single person who wants to live free is going to experience sacrifice, loss, and difficulty. Now, this leads us to the simple truth: You choose the order.

We can choose freedom first, which leads to sacrifice as the result of it. Or, we can choose to sacrifice first, which leads to freedom at the end of it.

The question is the following: Which is the correct order?

Since we’ve just passed through the holidays, we have all experienced the “freedom first, sacrifice second” order of things.

-You ate too much food (freedom), then suffered the consequences      of that later (sacrifice).

-You spent more than your budget allowed for Christmas gifts                  (freedom), and now have to deal with the debt that follows                      (sacrifice).

-You waited too long to buy your gifts due to procrastination                   (freedom), and now, because of not getting the right gifts, you’ve         got some family members mad at you (sacrifice)!

Now, if the order was reversed, what would that look like?

-Eating the right amount of food (sacrifice) and feeling good later          because of it (freedom)!

-Spending within your budget for gifts (sacrifice) and realizing that        you are set up financially well for the new year (freedom)!

-And so on.

I suggest that the best order is to sacrifice first, then experience freedom second.

I believe that what comes in second place overshadows what was done in the first place. What I mean by this is that whenever sacrifice is placed first, the freedom that results is even greater than the sacrifice that was taken. When freedom is placed first, the sacrifice that results is even greater than the freedom that was taken.

The conclusion is this: The person who desires greater amounts of freedom should always place sacrifice first in the equation.

Do you desire freedom? Freedom in finances, in relationships, in your relationship with God, in the business you lead or work in? The pathway to that freedom is  a pathway of sacrifice.

The reason why most New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is because most people are committed to the end goal (freedom), without willing to endure the pathway (sacrifice) to get there. Or better said, most people want the freedom that their resolution gives first, so they were never really committed to the sacrifice of that resolution.

What sacrifices do you need to make today in order to experience greater amounts of freedom tomorrow?

Commit to it and you will see your life go to the next level!

 

Integrity Is All You Have

11-01-16-integrity-is-all-you-have
Integrity is all you have

Integrity is all you have. We are all imperfect. We make mistakes, we fail, we screw up. Along the way, we make some good decisions as well. In all of this, each of us wants to continue advancing – in business, in personal growth, in family, in the church, and any other area we can dream of. But in the midst of all of this, integrity is all you have.

Sometimes, along this journey of life, we come to a crossroads. We’re not quite sure what decision to make. We tend to analyze our decisions based off of a matrix of risk vs. reward.

This is all well and fine. But, along the way, moments come when the risk is to lose your integrity, while the reward seems to be great. So, you throw your integrity to the side in order to travel the path that seems will benefit you most.

It seems like a great plan. And we tend to justify, saying things like…

  • No one will ever know
  • The (perceived) benefit far outweighs the cost
  • What could possibly go wrong?

The only problem is this: When you compromise your integrity in the dark, the consequences will be seen in the light.

You see, it is impossible for something to START in secret and to STAY in secret. The compromising decisions that we make will affect certain areas of our lives that are visible, even if no one knows about the original compromise.

It takes a lifetime to build integrity and a moment to lose it.

I have not always made the right decisions, but I have always attempted to make honest decisions. I don’t want to lie to myself, to God, or to others.

Everything that you build in your life will influence others, whether it be kids, spouses, employees, employers, subordinates, friends, acquaintances, etc.

Integrity is all you have. Once you lose that, you begin to lose everything else and everyone else.

Sometimes, choosing integrity means choosing loss. If that is the case, so be it. It would be better to lose everything while maintaining the people that you love, rather than maintaining things while losing those you love.

And remember this: once you lose the people, losing the things will follow closely behind.

Integrity is all you have. Remember, the product you deliver is a representation of your integrity. Your product might be a widget, or influence, or relationships. It might be technological, or service oriented, or something else. Whatever your product is, people will connect your trustworthiness and integrity to the things that represent you.

There really is only one way to live.

Integrity is all you have.

Choose wisely.

When The Going Gets Tough

Have you heard the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”?

It’s a proverb about perseverance and following through, even when things are hard. That is definitely admirable and something that we should work towards.

There is a necessary  step to take after the going gets tough, but before you get going again. That step is this:

Stop and look.

When things get tough, you are going to have to make a deision about persevering through the difficult ircustancecs until you reach the other side. But, before you get there, you need to take a moment. And stop. Then look.

This is especially important when things are tough. At the moment that things turn more difficult than you expected, it is important to ask yourself a few things:

  1. Why are things more difficult now? What changed?
  2. What needs to change in your approach now that the environment has changed?
  3. What do you need in order to make it to the other side, that you might not have needed before?
  4. Will this require a different course of action than what I previously planned?

Taking a moment to stop and survey the road before you is extremely important before you continue.

When things get tough, you definitely should continue. But how you continue makes all the difference.

When the going gets tough, the tough stop and look, then they get going.

I get it…the phrase may not be as interesting now as it used to be! You  might be thinking, “Wow! Jeff just ruined a perfectly good proverb!”

I probably did. But it’s true nonetheless. Take a moment. Catch your breath. Find the best way forward. Then move on!

6 Ways to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth

Read the Bible
Read the Bible

A few weeks ago I shared with you a practical way to engage the word of God on a regular basis. Today, I’d like to give you 6 ways to read the Bible for all it’s worth. These steps aren’t everything you can do, but they will be helpful to you living a life of being impacted by God’s Word. Let’s begin!

  1. Get a plan – You need some type of Bible reading plan. The good news is that there are a million plans and they are easily available. You can get some here. Get a plan, and follow it. I recommend downloading the YouVersion app for both Apple and Android phones or tablets.
  2. Read regularly – Reading the Word of God daily is a pattern of life that we need. Man does not live by bread alone verse. You need regular food everyday. Your soul needs spiritual food every day.
  3. Journal what God speaks to you – This is what I mentioned a few weeks ago. Reading is good, but writing about what you have read is better! It improves memory retention and gives you a written record of what God is speaking to you. It leads me to the next step.
  4. Return and review your journal – From time to time, it’s a good idea to go back and review what God has spoken to you. For this reason, I love the program Evernote. I copy and paste what I read directly into Evernote and add in my thoughts during the journaling portion. I can easily search my notes by date, keyword, or tag. It’s good to be reminded of God’s words to us!
  5. Get a focus – I have read through the Bible around twenty times in my life. I will continue to do more. A couple of those times I have read through it with a particular focus. I don’t do this all the time, but every once in a while it can be extremely helpful. One year I read the Bible while focusing on the word/concept grace. My eyes were opened to God’s incredible love as I read the Bible that year through that filter.
  6. Change it up – From time to time, change your Bible reading plan. Reading the Bible a variety of different ways will keep your interest, maintain your focus, energize your comprehension, and much more.

These are just six ways! There are many more. Got some to add?

Feel free to add them in the comments!

Ear Tuning

Ear Tuning

As you have seen me post before, I love reading God’s Word in order to learn and grow in my relationship with Jesus. I detail about how to create a daily plan for reading the Bible HERE.

This week, I came across an interesting verse that I wanted to share with you:

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.   Proverbs 2:2

As I read that verse it got me thinking about tuning an instrument. I’m a musician myself and play a variety of instruments. While the piano is an instrument that doesn’t need to be tuned on a daily basis, almost every other instrument is.

Every time I play the guitar I have to tune it first.

Every time I play the saxophone I make sure it is tuned.

And, every time an orchestra plays together, they all tune themselves to each other.

Almost every instrument ends up out of tune after not using it…practically on a daily basis. Sometimes the instrument may be out of tune by a large amount, other times by a small amount. The amount doesn’t matter…it happens consistently and frequently.

The same is true with our “ears”.  

Not so much the physical ones, but the spiritual ones.

And the heart ones.

And the emotional ones.

This is why the author of this portion of Proverbs, King Solomon, used this word picture. He wanted to let us know that our ears consistently end up out of tune from wisdom.

Wisdom and understanding are things that are not far away, but we can easily get disconnected from them.

This is why the words tune and concentrate are used. A good musician must both tune the instrument and concentrate closely on the music in order to produce a quality performance.

We must constantly tune our ears and concentrate on what we are doing if we are to live a life connected to wisdom and understanding.

This needs to happen on a daily basis. And, it may even need to happen multiple times during a day.

I encourage you to stop yourself consistently before playing the music of your life, so that you can be sure that the words you say and actions you take are properly tuned to wisdom and filled with understanding.

Do you need an ear tuning today?

 

 

Grace In Your Church Staff

Years ago, I learned about a good pattern to follow when thinking about placing people in certain roles (whether paid or volunteer) inside of the church.

Bill Hybels taught me to look at 3 C’s:

Character, Competence, and Chemistry.

Another blog by Ron Edmondson added a fourth to the list: Culture.

With that in mind, there are moments when someone needs to be released from their role. It might have to do with any of those 4 C’s, but usually the most important one is Character.

Competence might be able to be taught, chemistry might be able to be worked on, and culture might get worked out, but character is entirely up to the individual.

I’ve noticed how, over the years, I’ve had conversations with people who believe someone should stay in their role, even when they have glaring character issues that are damaging themselves and others they influence through their role.

Let me make a side note: Different levels of character may be required by different roles. I require much more out of a person with a high level leadership role than I do out of someone who is just beginning. The problem I’m addressing is when the person’s character does not match the role they find themselves in.

I will hear things like, “We just need to work with that person” or “They’ll get better” or “Just give them time”. Now, there may be some very real issues with regards to character that CAN be worked on.

But, more often than not, the comments I hear basically mean this: “How can we be so judgmental and so lacking in grace?”

This could not be further from the truth. Grace is primarily used in the context of relationships, not just positions or roles that a person holds.

So often, we lack grace in the relational component with a person, while exercising grace in the positional component. This leads to high levels  of frustration, as we keep a person in a position that is damaging them and others, while at the same time being continuously frustrated, angry, or bitter about what the person is doing.

I’m inviting you to reverse the equation.

What if we decided to have more grace with people in the context of relationships while holding positions a little more lightly?

If I have had to remove a person (or if they removed themselves) from a position due to character issues, my hope has always been that grace will continue in the context of the relationship. But, there’s two problems that frequently present themselves:

  1. A person’s personal feelings and identity is tied to the position. In that situation, the person doesn’t feel like relationship can continue because their relationships were completely tied to their position. When they lose the position, they feel like the relationship is lost as well.
  2. A person has no concern for change, so when they leave the position, they also leave the relationship. I have seen this over and over again. What usually happens is that the person makes a decision to leave the church, because they have no desire to make any real changes in their lives. They then go on to repeat the same pattern over again in another place.

Now, there is not much I or you can do about #2. But there is a whole lot we can do about #1. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Make sure that the person you place in a certain role has the matching character for that role BEFORE entering into it.
  2. Continually provide opportunities for relationship building that are not directly related to a person’s position. Go out for coffee, have lunch, go bowling together…not to talk about their role, but to simply talk as people!
  3. Use words to continually affirm people according to WHO THEY ARE, not just WHAT THEY DO. So often we congratulate people on what their accomplishments are. That’s great! But we should also affirm the intrinsic value that everyone holds as God’s most incredible creation, regardless of what they do or don’t do.

Let’s make sure that in our leadership, we approach grace more as a relational concept than a positional concept. Positions can come and go, but life change only occurs in the context of relationships filled with grace.

Do you have any other ideas about how you can communicate grace more as relational concept in your church or organization?

Comment below!

 

 

What’s Your Shoe Size?

“You’ve got big shoes to fill!”

This happens every time.

When a new CEO enters into a successful company. When a new pastor enters into a church previously led by a long time pastor. When a new President fills the role of leading a successful non-profit.

That phrase is repeated over and over again. And, there is some truth to it. Every organization that has been led by a person for some amount of time has usually grown to a certain size which involves many layers of complexity. The person moving into that role has to “fill in” their knowledge, understanding, and leadership capacity to handle that complexity.

In addition, there are many stylistic spaces, created by the previous leader, that the new leader has to navigate. The new leader has to understand the leadership personality of the previous person who filled the role and how employees’ (or volunteers’) expectations and interactions were influenced by that leader’s personality.

But, with all that being said, I don’t know that it’s really helpful to tell an incoming Leader/CEO/President/Pastor that they have big shoes to fill. The phrase automatically assumes that they only exist to carry on the legacy and leadership of the person who preceded them. The phrase also automatically assumes that the person coming in does not have the experience or knowledge base at the present moment to lead the organization. While there may be some truth there, that truth is unhelpful in setting a positive tone for the arrival of the new leader.

Let’s give new leaders the space necessary to grow organically into the roles that they are entering into. Let’s remove the pressure from them having to somehow fulfill the status quo, the stylistic design, or the organizational complexity that makes up the organization. While all of those things are real and need to be understood and processed, let’s allow new leaders the opportunity to develop their own personality as they lead into a new future for the organization.

If you are a leader coming into a previously existing role, you must chart a new course while honoring the path of the past.

Do not walk in and fill someone else’s shoes…walk in, learn all you need to learn, and increase the size of your own leadership capacity. Get yourself your own big shoes to wear!

So how about we change the phrase?

Something like… “Get ready, your shoes are about to get really large!”

Or this one? “Go buy a pair of bigger shoes!”

Do you have any other ideas? Leave them in the comments!

I’m Sick And Tired Of This

Terrorist attacks, police officers being killed indiscriminately, African-American men killed for small infractions of the law, and much more. I’m sick and tired of this.

But I’m not going to blame a group. I’m not going to place the blame at the feet of some group on the political left or right. I’m not going to blame the system, whether that system is a government system, or economic system, or any other system.

It’s not that there isn’t potentially some blame in any of those places. But let’s be clear: any system, or any group, is led by people. In the case of government systems, those who lead have many times been voted into their positions by, guess who? People!

And guess what? People are imperfect, broken, incomplete, and sometimes filled with all sorts of evil.

And, if there is someone to specifically blame, it’s the devil himself. And yes, I do believe he exists. He is the enemy of our souls. He is the enemy of all that is right and good. He is the enemy of people. He sows disunity, discord, anger, rage, bitterness, racism, injustice, and much more. He uses every opportunity he gets to ruin our lives.

And yes, I am sick and tired of this.

And you know what else I’m sick and tired of? I’m sick and tired of people ignoring all of this, thinking that as long as my life is good, I have nothing to worry about.

Let me be clear: if your life is good, but the world is going to hell, eventually hell will come knocking on your door. Evil spreads.

There is only one answer to this. The power of GOOD. And the power of good is only possible through the power of GOD.

And here’s why it’s good to be sick and tired. When we are sick and tired of something, it means we are ready for action.

So, what action is required of us? Put simply, we must choose to live our lives beyond ourselves, living for a purpose greater than our own momentary blessing.

If the purpose of our lives is to get our dream job, make good money, have a good family, and live in a nice house, what do we do once we achieve all that? What is your purpose then? All of those things are fine and good, but our purpose calls us to something bigger and greater than those things.

Here’s my question for you: Are you living your life  with eternal purpose?

This world needs the children of God. It is crying out for people who will step in to the difficult spots…to step in with prayer, to step in with action, to step in with words of life.

Will you step out of your blessed life and step in to a spiritual war that is raging in our country and beyond? Now, more than ever, we cannot place our trust in a politician, or a corporation, or a national leader for our salvation. We must place our trust in Christ and Christ alone, then commit ourselves to action.

Will you join me?