A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

More Tests Should Be Like an Eye Exam

I took Ethan, my eight year old, for an eye exam today. This whole experience proved how uptight I am. Ethan was sitting behind that crazy contraption hearing, “Which looks better? One or Two?” and “Can you read the smallest line?” I was sitting on a chair in the corner upset because I could see the smallest line projected on the wall and he was getting the questions wrong.

Can you believe it? For a brief moment I was sitting there thinking, “Oh my goodness, my son is going to fail his eye exam.” I know, I have issues.

Very quickly it hit me. You can’t fail an eye exam. Eye exams aren’t about pass and fail. The eye exam doesn’t say, “You can’t read the bottom line? You are a loser and a failure.” Rather, it simply says, “Here is where you are and here is how to get you where you need to be.” 

Getting an accurate assessment of exactly where a person is with this exam is pretty important. In fact, we had to have this exam because the new glasses we just spent hundreds of dollars purchasing didn’t work right because the prescription was too powerful. It made his distance vision extremely clear, but he couldn’t read. With school starting up next week, we had to get that fixed.

Plus, since this exam is not about pass and fail, there is no need to cheat. In fact, cheating is detrimental to the process. Cheating will give us the wrong prescription again. 

It dawned on me. Maybe more tests, even in school, need to be more like an eye exam. Instead of testing in order to determine pass or fail, how about we start testing just to see where everyone is and what they need to work on? Instead of saying someone has failed because they can’t read the same line as someone else, how about we just learn where they need to work and then prescribe a plan of action for them. 

Maybe that approach won’t work at school. I don’t know. After all, it will really be hard for one teacher to tailor the teaching to the 25 different levels on which his/her students find themselves. It is just a lot easier to try to get them all on the same page, fail them if they can’t keep up and then shunt them off to the remedial class. 

I can’t fix schools. But I can work on me. My kids and I would have been spared many heartbreaking nights and altercations if I had been taking this approach every time I helped them with their homework. Instead of viewing them as failures because they didn’t get some principle yet, I should have recognized the homework and tests merely showed where they needed to work. It was actually a good thing to learn about the questions they missed. Then I get an accurate assessment of where they are and then I learn how to help.

It also helps me personally. When I mess up and get something wrong. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure or a loser. It just means I have to do some work on that particular spot. That means I don’t have to cheat to impress anybody. I just need to figure out where I am and work to grow from there.

Let’s work and learn together.

ELC

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Making Mistakes, Success | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Video that Has Changed My Life…

…or at least my preaching.

Yes, I admit that every once in a while you come across a video that is so moving it changes your paradigm about how you think, how you act and how you live. Check it out and see if you don’t agree. Especially if you ever preach.

July 30, 2008 Posted by | Preaching Help | , , , , | 1 Comment

A New Take On Knowing When to Apologize

For the longest time I have struggled with Matthew 5:23-26:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny (ESV).

My struggle? Exactly when do I have to make amends? If I want to avoid “prison,” when do I actually have to let someone know I was wrong, apologize and make amends?

Lately, however, I have had a completely different approach. I have realized my past struggle had everything out of whack. I was looking for a line to be good enough to get into heaven because I achieved some kind of good enough checklist obedience to this apology clause in God’s constitution. Therefore, I never drew the line at the right place.

Why do I need to make amends like this? Not because there is some kind of law that says in certain cases God requires I go apologize and make amends. Rather, because in my heart, I know when I have done wrong. That establishes a discordant cycle of guilt. Even if someone else has wronged me, when I have done wrong, I feel it. Something has to be done with that guilt. It won’t just sit there long. It starts to eat at me. It produces shame, the feeling that says not only did I do something wrong but I keep doing things wrong because something is wrong with me. Then I start giving up.

Or the guilt takes me another direction. If I don’t deal with the guilt God’s way by making amends and seeking reconciliation, Satan convinces me to deal with it his way. As with Eve, he convinces me if I eat some of the forbidden fruit, I will feel better. I will have internal peace and contentment. To escape the guilt, shame and pain of the past wrong, I end up sinning more. Of course, that only produces more of the same discordant guilt.

I break this cycle by not worrying about if God has absolutely required I make this particular amends and just make the amends. When I admit my wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness, it releases the guilt. It allows me to connect with other people and it sets me free to reconnect with God.

Do you absolutely have to make that amends in order to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s and obey enough to get into heaven? Does it matter? Just make the amends anyway. I know this, you’ll certainly be right with God if you take that approach. 

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God.

ELC

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Forgiveness, Relationships | , , , , , | 3 Comments

One Day at a Time

One Day at a Time is a motto for many. And it’s a great motto.

But it finally occurred to me that I have been living “One Day at a Time” in all the wrong ways.

How many times have I visited the Canton Buffet or the Grand Buffet and said, “Tomorrow I’ll start eating right, therefore today, I’m going to have one last hurrah”?

How many times have I said, “Tomorrow, I’ll start getting up earlier. So, just for today, I’m going to sleep in and get one last lounge”?

How many times have I said, “Next Saturday I’ll clean out the garage, so just for today, I’m going to get some rest and relaxation”?

How many times have I said, “Tomorrow night I’m going to really get after working on my latest project, so just for today I’m going to play the Wii and watch my favorite movie”?

How many times have I said, “Tomorrow I’m going to get some real work done, so just for today I’m going to spend some time surfing the internet”

And sadly, how many times have I said, “Tomorrow I’ll spend some time talking with my wife and playing games with my kids, so just for today, I’m going to have personal time to do what I really want to do”?

It seems I have been living my life one day at a time, but going in the wrong direction. If I keep one-day-at-a-timing it this way, I’m going to be in real trouble.

You know, I don’t have to manage my time well tomorrow. I don’t have to make healthy decisions tomorrow. I don’t have spend time with my wife and kids tomorrow. I don’t have to get any work done tomorrow. I just need to do all that today. If I keep living like this every day, then all of my days will string together and I will have lived an excellent life. 

So how are you doing today?

 

ELC

July 24, 2008 Posted by | Success | , , | 2 Comments

11 Ways to be an Unremarkably Average Christian

 

 

Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings, he will not stand before unknown men.” That’s all well and good, but the more I think about it, the more I recognize that excellence is overrated. I mean, only a minority ever excel. If everyone started doing it, it wouldn’t be excelling any more, would it? The fact is, most folks never get beyond average. That is why we call it average, because most folks are doing it. With that in mind, I have developed a very simple plan to attain average.

 

 

 

 I share with you 11 ways to be an unremarkably average Christian.

  1. Equate Christianity with “going to church.”
  2. Only do what the preacher proves you absolutely have to do.
  3. Fit spirituality in around everything else.
  4. Overextend yourself financially.
  5. If someone strikes you, hit him back.
  6. Never confess to your brothers and sisters.
  7. Only forgive others if they have earned it and never say you’re sorry.
  8. Never change your opinion on anything.
  9. Never talk to others about spiritual things.
  10. Don’t get out of the boat.
  11. Never worry about being average, no one will ever question you about it.
To learn more or to download the audio of the expanded lesson, go here and here.
 
Nods to Chris Guillebeau for inspiring this idea.
ELC

July 20, 2008 Posted by | Christian living | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My Presidential Candidate Should Be Yours

If you’re like me, you’re struggling to figure out who deserves your vote, struggle no more. For the big, big office and big, big change, we need a big, big man. (Who also happens to be my big, big friend).

Check him out as he throws his hat in the ring.

Don’t forget that he needs to be qualified. Find out why below.

Do you think he might pick me as his running mate?

Find out more about him at his own blog faithandthought.net.

By the way, Shane, I think you should buy me lunch at the Canton for this.

ELC

July 18, 2008 Posted by | Just Plain Fun, Videos | , , , , | Leave a comment

A 10 Question Test To See if Your Light Is Shining

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

We’ve sung the song since we were kids, but are we living it? God wants our lights to shine (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:14-16). He expects us to be the twinkling stars that dance in the vast expanse of the inky black darkness. As sailors once charted their course to safe harbor by using the stars as beacons in the dark nights, we need to live in such a way that others can chart their course to heaven’s harbor by following our light.

We are beacons when we reflect the light of Jesus to the world by walking in Christ’s word so others can follow us to heaven.

However, we sometimes need help on a daily basis trying to figure out if our light is shining with our given choices. I want to share with you a series of questions you can ask to help you determine if you are a beacon.

  1. Am I doing this in the name of the Lord? A question of Authority (cf. Colossians 3:17)
  2. Am I surrendering to God? A question of Lordship (cf. Galatians 2:20)
  3. Am I glorifying God? A question of Goals (cf. Matthew 5:16)
  4. Am I sowing to the flesh or the Spirit? A question of Guidance (cf. Galatians 5:16-25)
  5. Am I providing for the lusts of the flesh? A question of Honesty (cf. Romans 13:14)
  6. Am I professing godliness? A question of Honor (cf. I Timothy 4:7-8)
  7. Am I set apart for holiness? A question of Usefulness (cf. I Thessalonians 4:1-8)
  8. Am I hungering for righteousness? A question of Passion (cf. Matthew 5:6)
  9. Am I cheerful about it? A question of Attitude (cf. Philippians 2:14)
  10. Am I standing out? A question of Commitment (cf. Romans 12:1)

Are you letting your little light shine?

ELC

For more check out the sermon.

July 13, 2008 Posted by | Christian living | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weep with the weeping

Last night was tough for Marita and me. The Camp Kennessee nurse called saying Tessa had a fever all day and would have to go home. Marita and I repeatedly commented on the hour and a half trip to pick her up about how much we hurt for her. I wanted to cry for her.

It makes me think of the second half of Romans 12:15.

“Weep with those who weep.”

This verse doesn’t say:

  • Cheer up those who weep.
  • Say something profound to those who weep.
  • Rebuke those who weep.
  • Ignore those who weep.
  • Be uncomfortable around those who weep.
  • Avoid those who weep.
  • Shame those who weep.
  • Make fun of those who weep.
  • Get angry at the inconvenience of those who weep.
Actually, it tells us to weep with those who weep. 
 
The next time someone you know is sad and weeping, don’t try to stop them. Don’t get mad at them. Don’t avoid them. Don’t try to be the hero who says the really profound thing to lift them up. Just weep with them.
 
Laughter may well be the best medicine, but a good cry can cleanse the soul.

ELC

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Relationships | , , | 1 Comment

You can learn a lot from a knee brace

I guess I should have known when I opted not to wear my knee brace while playing Ultimate Frisbee on Sunday that I would be learning a life lesson on Monday.

But “Hey,” I thought, “my knee hasn’t hurt in a really long time. I’m having trouble finding that stupid knee brace and, frankly, I don’t really like wearing it. So why worry about it?” Well, today, my knee hurts. I guess I should have known, but I am an idiot. Wait a minute. No I’m not. I’m just a human that makes mistakes. But I hope I learn from them.

This is so much like the accountability measures and self-discipline habits I put in my life. I have my readings, my prayers, my accountability partners, on and on the list goes with the measures I have put into place to help me stay healthy spiritually, mentally and emotionally. The problem is after a while, I get tired of doing those things. They take too long. They aren’t all that exciting. Some of them are a bit embarrassing. Some are downright hard. Besides I’ve been doing great on whatever the issue is. Perhaps just this once I can get by without them. But every time I do, I fall. Sometimes hard.

Let me encourage you to grab your knee-brace and put it on any time you have an inkling of a thought that you might need it. Let’s think of it this way, it never hurts to wear it. But sometimes it really hurts if you don’t.

ELC

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Being human, Making Mistakes, Success | , , | 1 Comment

Quit Wishing and Start Working

Today’s thoughts come from my Bible reading. You can see more about it at Give Attention to Reading.

While Jesus taught, a woman cried out “Blessed is the womb that bore you…” The woman was basically decrying her poor state. She might as well have said, “I wish I had been so lucky as to have you as a son. Too bad for me, huh.”

Jesus responded, “Actually, if you will stop wishing and start working, you can be even more blessed than my Mom. The person who listens to my Father and does what He says is the most blessed.”

What an amazing lesson to learn from this brief interchange. Whatever part of our lives we are talking about, whether it is our walk with God, our family, our job, our education, etc., this provides a great lesson.

Instead of whining about the blessings we haven’t received, pursue the ones that are promised if we will just work. Sadly, if we don’t start studying, thinking, meditating, listening, growing and then acting on all of that, we will find ourselves 10 years older but still crying about how unlucky we were and how blessed everyone else is.

If we want to live a blessed life without regrets, we must quit thinking about how lucky everyone else is and start doing what God tells us to do right now. 10 years from now we won’t be pointing our fingers at how blessed everyone else is. We will see how blessed we are.

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God.

ELC

July 7, 2008 Posted by | Blessing | , , , , , | Leave a comment