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Archive for the category “time for action”

Who is your Boss?

“And they were astonished at His (Jesus) teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22

Two things about this scripture jump out at me:

  1. Jesus wasn’t the only one teaching information; in this case the scriptures in the world.
  2. He was the only one teaching with authority.

 

So, do you agree or disagree? Have you experienced this in your life; someone teaching with authority and others not?

I immediately think of several situations where I have experienced this situation:

  1. Professional baseball… the pitching coach goes to the mound to help, encourage, and correct the pitcher. He does not do anymore than that. But the head coach is the one who speaks authority. He is the one who goes to the mound and removes the pitcher from mound and game. You, see the head coach has the Authority to move or change things in a game.
  2. College.. Many of us had Associate professors who would teach but they conducted themselves through the authority of the Professor. The professor as ultimate authority in the classroom but grants some authority to his assistants.

 

What does this mean to the average person? We are always lobbing and checking out whose authority we are under. We live in a world where someone is in charge, maybe your teacher who has a boss, the principal, who has a boss, the super-intendant, who has a boss the School board, who has a boss, the voters who elect him or her. No matter what situation we find ourselves under, we have some authority over us. This is both good and challenging, since we are required to figure it out and balance the tension within it.

Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authority.”

We have a president who is elected official. One the people (not 100% of the people) elected. Some have been vocal for and against this elected official.

I struggle with the extremes simply because he is a human being and has feelings. But as a Christian, struggle more from the teaching of Romans 13:1.. see above.. It says every person be subject to the governing authorities. It doesn’t say to the authorities you like or voted for or align with. I am not saying I agree with everything our presidents (most of them in my years of voting) but I do try to honor them as authority.
I am not tooting my own horn but challenging my fellow believers…how are you being subject to the authority? I know it might be more challenging for some than others but where do you sit… ? Where does it end? If we want our kids to follow under our authority shouldn’t we be setting the example and doing the same for those who are in authority of us? I would say yes. We need to practice what we preach.

Love in a coke bottle

“Love never gives up, never loses faith is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
“Love…. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love as mentioned above has no limits but what about our limits? Do we put limits on love? Limits to manipulate and gain something for ourselves? Limits to protect our hearts that have or may have been hurt or damaged?

Yes, we all have the ability to love without limits. The challenge is determining a couple things:

1. Do you have a healthy respect for myself?
2. Have I dealt with any past hurts or fears that might prohibit love without limits?
3. Have you risked love in a healthy way and found some success?
4. Do you find a longing to connect and be in love with someone, something?

The challenge isn’t finding love as much as it is discovering love that is pure, and a love that never gives up, never loses hope, always endures etc… That love only comes from God.

We are designed to be in relationship, that relationship is often connected with money, stuff, people or careers but God designed the relationship to be with Him.

A Youth Pastor friend of mine once told a story, illustration really, about people having a coke bottle shaped (we all know it isn’t a coke bottle but it worked for the example since he was holding one) container in our hearts. We will try our hardest to put things in it… for example.. sports, games, friends, drugs, alcohol, relationships. He went on further to say some of those things seem to fit for a season then we become discontent with them and then look to fill the bottle with something else and repeat… We never seem to fill that with something that lasts or holds long term.
Guess what? The reason isn’t because of the stuff we are putting into it are bad or unhealthy, it is due to the source. The source is supposed to be God.

The challenge isn’t fitting God into the bottle of our heart; it is allowing God to consume the space meant for him.

My friend went on to invite people to fill the coke shaped god bottle if you will with God. Some accepted, others waited and some didn’t respond at all which is ok.

We transition through Valentine’s Day this week and watching so many people stand in line at the local store buying flowers. I am not talking one or two but a line about 10 people long. We want to give our loved ones gifts that they can see, taste, feel but we should be giving the gift of God. A relationship with Him that fills the void and gives so much we change and share it with others. A gift that shares grace, patience and peace.

I encourage you all to spend a little time enjoying the gifts, flowers eventually die, the chocolate with run out, gift cards will be used, the watch or other material thing will break or wear out, but also invest in the eternal gift.. a relationship with Jesus.

Hold your tongue…

Proverbs 5:1-2 “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise council. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned.”

Interesting thought?  If we pay attention to wisdom, listening carefully to wise council.. we will show discernment and we can express what we learned. One might think, how does this play out in the world of life as we know it.  Well, allow me some time to unpack it bit…
1. Do you listen to your athletic coach? Really, do you then practice what he or she is asking you to do?
2. Do you listen to your math, english, science teacher? Really, do you then practice what he or she is asking you to do?
3. Do you listen to your pastor? Really, do you then practice what he or she is asking you to do? Especially, when it is directly from the Bible?
4. Do you listen to your parents? Really, do you then practice what they are asking you to do?

I confess NO to each of the above questions throughout my teen years, and since then but I also confess to working on being a better listener and apply the lessons that I have before me.
I have since then am working on the idea of gaining discernment and that I can express the words to others but more importantly applying them to my life.

Things I know…
It will take submitting to authority.
It will take submitting to the process of learning and growing.
It will take submitting to a bigger picture then the one I currently see or even think I see.
It will take submitting to the idea of work, and more work and more work.. you get the picture. It will take work for me to listen… learn and apply…. work

I often find the most challenging moments happen when I want my way, my stuff or my agenda. I am working towards the future and it will take time but I will get there. I hope you will too.

Sow Seeds of Righteousness

Proverbs 11:18 “Evil people get richer the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.”

Righteousness is the quality or state of being righteous.. Righteous is characterized by uprightness or morality; Morally right or justifiable.

How do we sow seeds of Righteousness in a world that seems to lack both the quality and state of being upright and moral?

We need to keep working our our salvation as we pursue the godly rewards that will last, Contentment, peace, grace, eternal life.
We need to fend off instant gratification, one thing I admit to struggling with.. the latest gadget, the new computer, the vast amount of stuff we “need” to make ourselves feel content, peace, and full.

I want to challenge you and myself to begin focusing on both ends of the Proverbs 11:18 verse.. we need to beware that evil people (I will define them as not with God) seek and gain their riches in the present. But the reward we seek is that of God and of the future.

For some it is saving up the money to pay cash for those shoes, phones, etc..
For some it is leaving or not being friends with certain people, let me reframe this maybe it is not having the best friend but just keep them at a safe distance.
For some it is working hard in their present employment to get to their new and better job.
For some it is studying a little bit harder to pass the test that we normally blow off.
For some it is putting in a tougher practice when the rest of the team is comfortable with the current…. swim another set, shoot another 50 free throws, run another mile, do some extra reps in the weight room.. you know
For some it is putting down the iPhone, remote control or tv and pick up the bible or devotional.

I honestly do not know what you need but you do. Let’s be honest, you have always known what you need to be doing so lets begin fresh and get it going.

Today is a new day… a fresh start… a new beginning to a more rewarded future. Please consider starting today.

 

Cut the Cord…

I recently watch a beats by Dre (oops by Apple) the other day. It was of a guy (sorry I don’t have a clue who he was) who was walking around, mowing his lawn, cutting flowers while wearing wireless head phones. Head phones that will charge in 20 minutes or less and it lasts for several hours…..

It was rather a cool commercial and I enjoyed watching it.. not enough to buy them but hey it is a cool commercial. But this whole commercial got me thinking about cutting the cords…

How often do we talk about cutting the cord….

  1. Headphones
  2. blu tooth everything
  3. wireless routers
  4. lap tops (not connected to the wall very often)
  5. even can walk around a hospital while wired to a machine
  6. remote keyless entry on the car, house etc
  7. we can even turn on the heater via our cell phone…

The cool factor is we are cutting cords. That hit me pretty square between the eyes and I quickly reflected on a season in my life where I decided to cut the cord with my church attendance, and Christian life. It isn’t a proud moment in my life journey but it is a very faith shaping and refocusing time. I get the emotion behind it totally. I would also admit it was a time in my life that I needed connection the most. Why do we run when we are really needing to be connected to the source and others.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 message version,  “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”
We are far stronger when we are connected with other people. God is giving us some insight here. We are wired to be in community with others and God. Genesis speaks of this truth. But Satan would want us to be isolated, sitting alone so we can be tempted by him to doubt, think negatively and doubt even the littlest of things. I would encourage to do two things… well three

  1. Stay connected to your church community… that might be the church, a small group, etc..
  2. Recognize the fact Satan will tempt you to abandon your friends, your church and your faith.

I am one who is praying and focused on staying connected to Jesus, my friends and the church and would encourage and challenge you to do the same.
If you need a church to connect with please please search your area for one. we have a spot for you http://www.dhumc.com. I would encourage you to join or begin a small group.
You can get connected at school… check for your FCA, prayer or bible study meetings times…

Remember cutting your cord is something we can do but even the beats headphones require a charge inorder to function.

Working, playing and living with purpose

I have no clue what you do for a job, or even if you have a job.
I have no clue what you do for fun, or even if you have fun playing in life.

I have no clue what you do while living in between the two… life of purpose…

I am not referencing The Purpose Driven Life, or The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, etc… I do believe they are good writings and have a ton of application however I know you can buy one of these resources on Amazon or some other resource site.

I do want to focus a brief moment on what you do part.

What do you do for employment matters… It might be the very way God is sharing to his people through you… It might be the very way God is sharing His love for you.

What do you do for fun matters…. It might be the very way God is sharing His joy with others around you. It might be the very way God is sharing His joy with you.

I am a compartment person at times… I will admit it. I put my life and activities in nice little compartments. I have a compartment for fun, work, faith, family, food and even serving (though they all blend in together being a Youth Pastor). I often do this when I am in control.

Think about it for yourself?… When is this true for you? Do you feel compartmental when you are in control? Out of control or in the middle? Do you feel like you are a bomb waiting to happen? Or maybe simply going through life as it is.. Just life..?

God has given us a special uniqueness, a gift if you will, that I would like to refer to as YOU. You are a gift from God. You aren’t required to compare, compete or even judge yourself based on those around you, judge yourself based on your history. God will do just judging when He chooses.

I don’t think age has a factor… I know mature people making good and bad choices, who doubt who they are in this world. I know young people making good and bad choices, who doubt who they are in this world. I know people in the middle doing the same.

 

The challenge in my opinion is living life as you figure out who God created you to be based on His Word. The deal is spending time with God in His Word working on His version of you.

Live life with Purpose day to day!

What does your look communicate about you?

I was recently at a National Youth Pastor Event ( it has a name but I am trying to write this with some grace too….) while at the event several things became apparent to me….. maybe I am a bit off or sounding judgmental but it is where I land today.

Some of the participants had a typical hipster look to them:

  • Flip Flops
  • Tattoos
  • Flannel shirts
  • Skinny sweats or jeans
  • Ear rings and even man buns
  • Apple everything (phone, ipad, watch, mac book etc)
  • Straight billed hat ( I threw this in here since everyone knows you bend the bill… LOL)

Yet others looked more business

  • Collared shirts
  • Dress shoes
  • Ties….. ooh ties….
  • A Franklyn Timer folder
  • Hair nicely trimmed

Others looked confused

  • Dressed like everyone else
  • Jeans
  • Shoes
  • T-shirts
  • Some bald
  • Shorts
  • Skirts

While at the location (hotel) a flight crew was leaving to catch a flight… they had

  • Uniforms
  • Women had some sort of white scarf flowing
  • Polished shoes
  • Flight bags (all matching)
  • Walked a calculated distance from one another
  • professionalism
  • they exhibit a look of “Hey, I know you want to be me..” but with a grace and modesty.

(believe it or not it was the United Arab Emirates flight crew)

Each of these groups represent something or someone, some are a blend of other group.

How do the groups speak to me?

 

The hipster group comes across young, excited, naive, confused, passionate and even at times together and unified.

The Business group comes across as driven, unattached, cutthroat, and ready to add you to their agenda.

The confused group comes across as settling in, rhythm, paces yet in a hurry, but also willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

The flight crew… I will admit caught my attention and that of the others near me… they had a presence, professionalism, grace, and calm about them.

 

I know we are all pursuing a goal, some seasons I can dwell in the hipster mode (though I don’t own a flannel shirt nor do I plan to).

Some seasons in my ministry year I am functioning in the business mode and I am not just referring to board meetings.

Most of the time I am settled in the confused mode…. Not confused with what or how I am doing but within seasons.

The Group I really want to dwell in is the flight crew. I am not kidding you, they walked through as if to say (without words) I know you noticed me, I know you are wondering can I be that and finally I know your life has been marked (altered) due to this sighting… Notice I didn’t mention talking to them… I just watched them come down the escalator; walk towards and through the Hotel door…. I was struck and God began to use them to inspire me to pen this blog.

 

Think about who you are… How has God wired you, created you and formed you in His image? How are you set apart?

 

We all can easily fit into the hipster (fun loving, go with it naïve eyes), or the Business (all work no play at any cost) and the confused (doing what we can when we can with purpose to get it done) or we can strive to be like the Flight crew…. Graceful, aggressive, patent but calculated, happy but ready for action.

God has designed us uniquely, we can dwell in each category, move from one to another but I know for me… I want to be remembered for who I am in through Christ, through the actions and interactions with those outside and inside the church. I am striving to be an impact player for Jesus.

I will laugh at some of the hipster actions and looks, will feel intimidated, in awe with the business actions and looks, will feel comfortable in my confused dwelling (I reside here most of the time). But I long to be in that flight crew space and look.

 

Philippians 3:14 “Press on towards the goal to win the prize….”
We need to keep striving to be who we are in Christ.

Perspective… does it matter?

It has been a while since I have last blogged.. but maybe you aren’t aware of that tidbit. Well, until I mentioned it.

I have been very busy with life, work and COS (think college without credit). But the very topic is the topic of discussion today. Perspective!

Perspective… the dictionary.com refers to it as a mental view point,

I have to admit I function 70% of the time within my own perspective. That being said, I admit to focusing on what I see. The lenses I see through most of the time are based on the following criteria…. Do your own list too..

  • Parents had me later in life (parents in mid 40’s); most thought they were my grandparents.
  • My sister is 20 years older than me; most thought she was my mom.
  • I have an identical twin; we don’t dress or act alike. (twin day isn’t really twin day it is dress like your best friend day.. we wouldn’t dress alike on purpose)
  • I am married to Shelly; therefore one man and one woman-married matters to me.
  • I have been blessed with four kids; therefore saying you have a handful with your two kids doesn’t carry a ton of weight for me.. if you say 6 then I am praying for you.
  • I was born in Michigan, therefore I am a Michigan fan; most think this it true. Or they should lol.
  • I refer to Michigan as God’s country; most don’t get it until they visit West Michigan.. Then they believe or are just in denial.
  • I am a youth minister; most think I am holier than them, nope just saved through grace like we all are.
  • I have a full time job; most think I have the weekends off.. nope Monday is my day off
  • Since I am a pastor I am always working; the reality is I need down time too.
  • If I don’t write it down it will not happen; most who know me know this truth.. it is a fact!
  • I have 3 girls and a son; most think I wanted kids until a son is born; reality is God blessed us with 4 individually awesome unique kids..
  • Most think my kids are or should be perfect due to my employment; however they are still kids and I can’t assume your kids is a rocket scientist because you are can I? for argument I do know a rocket scientist and his kids aren’t rock scientists….

I think you get my point…

So how do we deal with perspective?

The news has been all over cop shootings, cops shooting people and black lives matter.

I have been taught to respect authority, to care for and respect all life and everyone matters. I have been struggling to watch videos and news footage of people killing people, then people retaliating on people (even though they are different people than the one they had issues with) and so forth. It is a vicious cycle.

One video I watched showed an older white male trying to walk down the street, through a demonstration of black lives matter (African American women) who wouldn’t let him pass… they were making a point that black lives matter but demonstrated our protest (example) matters more than you walking down the street.

I know several police officers who are very good people. They care about their community, and being a safe person for those in need. They will do their job to the best of their ability within the law. They love their kids, they wives and work hard to keep us safe. They would never just shoot someone… in fact the ones I know have never drawn a gun on someone. They would rather avoid conflict than create it. Plus one said it is a lot of paperwork and who likes paperwork.

 

I have four kids (mentioned before) and they are all uniquely different. I am figuring out something finally. They are all wired differently and I need to adjust to their perspective if I am going to be used by God to help shape them into the people He has created them to be. I admit…. Most of the time I fail at this because I am concerned about my perspective not theirs.
I have done some poor perspectives when it comes to helping them grow, being a safe place for them to turn. It is a two way street but I always need to be the one looking at their perspective and determining the best communications possible to connect with them. Again.. I fail often here.. if you would ask them I would guess they would say fail more than not but it is perspective.

 

When someone sees me in the community, they assume I am working and bring up a work need or situation. However they wouldn’t think of being asked a question about their employment when they aren’t at work.. see the perspective changes how we respond to people. I admit again, times I fail at remembering their perspective and helping them learn mine.

 

As I mentioned before, I am in COS and our class is based on several books, bible books and writings. One of the objectives was to take strength finders assessment. This assessment helps you know your strengths with the hope you will focus to grow them more than you try to grow your weaknesses. The book (resources) believes it is better to grow your strengths and help others grow theirs as we align with others who have different strengths than we do to accomplish certain tasks. I felt this was a great way of looking at things but realize.. it is also perspective.

 

I am closing out this portion of the blog (which should be multiple posts but isn’t) with a thought.

How much better would our life be, our world be if we would take a deep breathe and look at it from others perspectives.. This might help us understand we all have needs, wants, opinions and perspectives. No one’s perspective is wrong to them, it is just that a perspective.

We can change the world by changing ourselves and looking to view things through others perspectives not assuming they all know ours….

 

 

 

Looking at the man in the mirror

I’m going to make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference, gonna make it right…

The above is the beginning to Michael Jackson’s song called Man in the mirror.

I was flipping through the music stations as I drove back form dropping my daughter off to school. Then it hits me, a flash back from the past…
Michael Jackson singing man in the mirror… wow but reality brought me back.

I was listening to the song in a different light since the early 1990’s when I first heard the song as a middle/high school song. I confess back then it was another Michael Jackson song… bring out the blinged glove and some smooth moon walking… For you young readers… look up moon walking … I would rather not relive those moments…

Today is just another day of the week but for some odd reason, maybe it was due to driving in the fog of the morning, maybe it is the reality of being tired at 9AM with a to do list a mile long (who came up with that analogy anyways) and not enough time to get it all done….. when Michael says:

“ I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place. Take a look at yourself and then make a change….”

Those words carry more weight today…
Maybe it is due to the difference in life then and now…

Then…. I looked out for me. I went to school, played sports, played video games, went out with my friends or on a date. I spent time with family and some summer work.

Now… I look our for me and my family, team at work, friends and others, I go to school to teach or visit students (worry about them surviving the day). I don’t play as many video games, do less sports (more due to being old), and worry about the today, tomorrow and the next.. for all I know and work alongside.

What is the common core… Me… I am in both situations, my life is still full of the same 24 hours in a day that I had back in the day. I am in control of the ability to look in the mirror and change me..
Our world tells us to make excuses for our actions, to fill our schedules with stuff to do, baseball games, movies, vacations, work etc.. , to spend spend spend and enjoy today.

I get the privilege of sharing time with Students … today we discussed spending time with God. Through out the New Testament Jesus withdrawals often in the morning to a quiet place… in the beginning God created everything in 6 days and the 7th he rested..

What this guy realizes when I look at the man in the mirror is way to much and personal for this blog but a simple observation is this…

I need to rest…. Here are a few areas in my life I need rest in:
Sleep.. I require a solid amount of sleep. I need to have down time from work, from noise, from being around people.
One of my strengths is being an extreme extrovert and when I am feeling the need to avoid people.. I know I need to look at the man in the mirror and say make a change… I know people need you … I know you are the man but the reality is I need a break..
I would encourage you today to look at the person in the mirror… look often and don’t fall to the sin of nitpicking what you look like.. that isn’t healthy… but looking at who you are and what you need is…

I close with this wisdom….”I am starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer…” make the time to make the change

The assumed

I am continually consumed and battle with the idea of assumed. For example:

  • since I am a pastor, people assume I know God better than others
  • since I am a youth worker, people assume I know everything about parenting teenagers.
  • since I am a white male, people assume I don’t struggle with stereotypes, being seen as a productive person in society etc..
  • since I am a public figure, people assume I am always enjoy being in the spot light.
  • since I am pastor, people assume I work the same schedule as they do.
  • since I am a leader, people assume I always know what is going on.
  • since I am a twin, people assume I feel everything my twin does.

I am sure this could go on and on and on… and you have your own set of assumes… some of the assumptions above maybe close to accurate but most of them are not even close to being truth.

So, what can I do about it? What can you do about your assumption list?

I know the answer is not an easy one but simply put, we can help educate people to some truths and not assume they know.  Here we go:

  • when some one suggests I know God more, I can help them realize we all struggle and those in the bible did too.
  • when some suggests I know it all or I am a great parent, I can help them realize I struggle with parenting too. It is a serious deal.
  • when someone suggests only people of different color or etc. struggle with stereotypes, I can help them realize we all struggle with it.. try being a white, balding youth minister who is a twin…..
  • when someone assumes I am working on Monday… I can help them realize it is my off day, a day not spent working… also I can not take phone calls and on my message say hey it is Monday and I am off today.. I will call you back tomorrow.

I often assume… much like we all do… we assume a lot about others and sometimes organizations without taking them time to learn and better understand. I admit it takes time to learn and understand, maybe that is the issue, it requires time.

I am feeling challenged in my life to assume less and look to learn more. How about you?

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