A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

5 Keys for Standing Out in the Crowd

Have you ever read the first ten chapters of I Chronicles? Talk about chloroform in action. I generally just scan through them and try to get done with them as quickly as I can. However, stuck smack in the middle of this droning roll call of humanity stands I Chronicles 4:9-10.

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (NKJV).

Apparently, when God got to Jabez’s name, He wanted to call attention to it. It is as if when God was going through this roll call and He got to Jabez, He stopped and said, “Whoa! Wait a minute. You need to know about this guy.” But what was it that made him so special? Why did he stand out in the crowd? As I consider these two verses, I notice five keys in Jabez that will help us also stand out in the crowd.

1. If you want to stand out in the crowd, don’t let the crowd determine where you will stand.

Can you imagine being named “Jabez”? That sounds bad enough for us today just because it is so archaic. But when you recognize that it meant “Causes pain,” you suddenly realize how bad it really is. Every day of his life, just by hearing his name, Jabez was called “causes pain.” Can you imagine hearing day in and day out that you are nothing but a pain to those around you? After a while, you might begin to believe it. Jabez’s mother prophesied his life for him. She told him over and over again that he would be nothing more than a pain. But Jabez refused to listen. He prayed to God that he would not cause pain.

These kinds of prophecies go on all the time. Every day parents, professors and peers prophesy our lives. Some times it is positive. Some times it is negative. Each day some children are told they will be doctors, lawyers and even presidents. Others are told they will be hoodlums, thieves and crooks. Some are called the class star, some the class clown. Some are Daddy’s girls, while others are Momma’s boys. When we hear these message over and over again, we begin to believe them. 

Don’t.

You do not have to be limited by the prophecies of your parents, professors and peers. You, like Jabez, can stand out in the crowd if you will simply throw yourself on God’s mercy and let him help you be all He has planned for you. Don’t let the crowd determine where you will stand.

2. If you want to stand out in the crowd, stop standing still and start going somewhere.

Jabez had goals. He wanted an enlarged territory. Within the context of his mother’s prophecies for him, this is impressive. It demonstrates a great mindset. He wasn’t trapped within his circumstances. He would step out of those and pray that God give him a blessing to help him with his plans. 

What plans do you have? While we are not of this world, we are in this world. God has not demanded that we hole up in monasteries and have no involvement or plans within this world. We are allowed to have goals. We are allowed to have plans. Yes, we must keep them within the confines of God’s will understanding that we will be judged. However, if we just stand still, we will never stand out. No, don’t get bogged down in worries about the future. But look ahead. Plan ahead and ask God’s blessing on your future as well as your present.

3. If you want to stand out in the crowd, stop standing and start kneeling.

Sadly, so many have focused on what Jabez prayed, even turning it into a mantra of sorts to be repeated as if the words themselves are magical that they have missed the real point. We must not so focus on what Jabez prayed that we miss the important point is that Jabez prayed. Jabez was not more honorable because of what he prayed. He was more honorable because he prayed. He was more honorable because the fact that he prayed represented that he relied on God.

When God wanted us to know about Jabez, he didn’t tell us a out his property, his prowess, his predecessors. He told us about his prayer. If God were going to point us out to the world, would He have anything to say about our prayer life? The fact is, we can only stand out if we rely on God.

I think that is why these two verses are even here. In the books of Chronicles, God is going to tell all kinds of stories about all kinds of people. In reality, they are all judged based on how they measure up to Jabez. Do they rely on God or on idols? Do they pray to God or to false gods? That will be the dividing line between those God blesses and God condemns.

If you want to stand out in the crowd, you can’t do it alone. God has to be on your side. So, stop standing and start kneeling.

4. If you want to stand out in the crowd, recognize you aren’t standing on your own two legs but on legs God has given you.

Jabez recognized that he could not enlarge his own borders. From the beginning of God’s dealings with the Israelites, He pointed out that He would be the one to enlarge borders. Jabez grasped that and instead of relying merely on his own strength, he relied on God’s strength.

Too often today, we have a “pull myself up by the bootstraps” mentality that says we don’t need help. We have this idea that we can do things all on our own and only need God for really big things. That just isn’t true.

You realize, of course, that the only reason you are breathing today is because God is letting you, right? You realize, of course, that the only reason you are moving today is because God is letting you, right? You realize, of course, that the only reason you are walking today is because of the legs God has given you, right?

The fact is, apart from God we can do nothing. Therefore, if we want to stand out in the crowd, we must start recognizing any real strength comes from God and not from us. We can’t do this on our own. We have to rely on God.

5. If you want to stand out in the crowd, don’t let Satan cut off your legs.

Jabez understood that committing evil would be contradictory to what he was asking of God. He did not expect, as too many do today, to live however he wanted and still receive God’s blessing. However, he also knew evil was too powerful for him. Therefore, he asked God to keep him from evil so that he would not be a pain to others.

We need to recognize this. We may have all kinds of plans. We may even say we are relying on God and offering all kinds of prayers. However, if we are going from our prayers to simply walk in sin, Satan will cut our legs out from under us and we will not stand out in the crowd. Sin is diametrically opposed to what God wants for us. If we want to stand out in the crowd, we need to turn from our sins.

Keep in mind the last two points, however. We will not overcome sin on our own or by our own power. We will only be able to do that by relying on God. This is not about proving to God how great we are. This is about recognizing how weak we are and just surrendering to Him to help us overcome.

 

What a great example Jabez is. He stood out in a crowd and we can too. But we have to follow these same five steps.

If you would like to read more about this or hear a sermon I have presented on these very same points. Feel free to check out the presentation made to the Franklin Church of Christ at the link below.

Jabez: A Man Who Stood Out in the Crowd

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November 3, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Success | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trina Discovers Chocolate OR Why I Should Never Be Left Alone to Watch the Kids

There I was, minding my own business, doing my work, updating my blogs. When it dawned on me. Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be watching the kids. Why can’t I hear Trina (my 10 month old)? I guess I better go look for her. Lucky for me, she is apparently not allergic to peanuts.

Check out what happened.

Maybe Marita won’t leave me alone with the kids anymore.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Fun, My Family, Raising Kids, Uncategorized, Videos | , , , | Leave a comment

Two Ways to Grow from Negative Feedback

Oh no! The dreaded review. Your boss has just given you some feedback. Sure, most of it was positive but some was negative. Or maybe a co-worker just passed something on to you showing you where you are falling short. Our natural response? “Who does he think he is?” Or “What business does she have telling me that, she does _____________________.” 

Few of us do naturally well with complaints and criticism. Sadly, when we react this way and filter out what people are saying to us, we miss some golden opportunities to help others and reach our potential.

 

Key #1: Don’t filter out the feedback, ask growth questions.

Follow the advice of Roger Connors and Tom Smith in their great book, Journey to the Emerald City, the follow up to their awesome book The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability. Instead of filtering the feedback, ask three simple questions.

  1. Is this a belief I want people to have?
  2. Will this belief get in the way of my desired results?
  3. What can I do to change this belief?

Think about it. Does it really matter if your boss does the same thing for which she has just criticized you? Does it really matter if the guy pointing out your flaw is the youngest and newest guy in the company? Does it matter if the person who has accurately described your shortcoming is the oldest and most out of date and backward person you’ve ever met? NO! NO! and NO!

What matters is are you engendering in people the confidence they need to trust you and rely on you and turn to you. So, don’t filter out the feedback to salve your conscience. Ask the right questions to promote growth.

 

Key #2: Reinterpret the complaint as expressions of need.

Instead of letting the complaint be about you, reinterpret it in a way that says something about the person making the complaint, listening to the complaint as an expression of the person’s needs.

For instance, your boss complains in your review because your reports aren’t clear and concise enough. Don’t walk away saying, “I’ll show you clear and concise, pal.” Instead recognize the request in this. See the need your boss has. What the boss is saying is the demands on his time are great and what he really needs from you are reports that he can work through quickly because they are lucid, logical and brief. He isn’t rejecting you. He isn’t saying you are a bad worker. He’s saying he needs some help from you. Wow. How great that is that you can really help your boss.

Perhaps a subordinate complains to your superior about how you are never available for consultation and help. Instead of blowing up about all your time constraints and how you don’t have time, recognize the need being expressed behind this. What does this complaint say about the needs your subordinates have. They are not rejecting you. They are not saying they don’t want to work under you. They are not saying other managers are better than you. They are instead saying that they need guidance from you. They need more than just a figurehead manager or boss who lays out guidelines and offers goals but then leaves them alone. They need someone who is actually invested in their success and will help them when they are struggling.

Yes, yes, I know there are situations where you have to say some reports are just going to be complex and you don’t want to enable lack of initiative for your subordinates. But if you want to grow and reach your potential, reinterpret complaints as expressions of needs and ways to help the people who are offering them.

October 30, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Growth | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teach Your Daughter How to Dress

Dads, if you don’t let your daughter dress like one, she won’t be mistaken for one.

I think that says it all.

October 28, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Daughters, Raising Kids, Videos | , , , | 1 Comment

Three Questions for a Real Disciple Learned from Someone Who Was Only Almost a Disciple

The Rich Young Ruler

We’ve all heard of him. The man presented himself as a great disciple who had kept God’s law from his youth. But in the end, we find out that really he was only almost a disciple. I don’t want to be in that boat. I want to be a really, truly, totally and all the way a disciple. How about you? 

When I examine his story in Luke 18:18-23, I find three questions that will force us out of the shallow end of discipleship and push us into the deep end of true discipleship.

Three Questions

Question #1: Do I live as though Jesus is merely good or truly God?

The Rich Young Ruler called Jesus “good teacher” and Jesus called him on it. Jesus wasn’t questioning His own deity. Rather, He was highlighting a problem the man had. He called Jesus good, but did he really believe Jesus was the ultimate good? Did he recognize that Jesus was actually more than a good teacher and that He was God in the flesh?

We listen to a good teacher when we want to. We listen to a good teacher when we like what he says. We listen to a good teacher as long as we still think he is good. We take a good teacher’s words as advice, something to do when we get around to it. That is not how we take God’s words. Jesus’ words are not just good advice, nice suggestions or possibilities. Jesus was more than a good teacher. He was and is God. Therefore His word is law. 

When we live as though Jesus is truly God, then we surrender to His word. When He says, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved,” we believe and get baptized. When He says “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” we don’t let the sun go down on our anger. When He says “Treat others as more important than yourself,” we treat others as more important than ourselves.

Why do we do this? Because we know Jesus is not just a good teacher. He is the Great God.

Question #2: Who is my God?

The Rich Young Ruler said he had followed all the 10 commandments since his youth. He had not committed theft, murder, false witness or adultery. He had honored his father and mother. What a great man he was. How could he not possibly be a great disciple and inherit eternal life?

As we study this text, we realize this poor man actually was lying to himself. One of those commandments said, “Do not have other gods before Me.” Yet the Rich Young Ruler clearly had a god before Jehovah. His God was his material goods. He couldn’t possibly sacrifice them to have the eternal life God offered. Through that, he demonstrated who his real god was.

So, who is your God? Learn the lesson of the Rich Young Ruler. We can easily lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that Jesus is our God and runs our lives. Instead of just trusting what we’ll say when put to the test, let’s examine our lives. Where do we spend our time? Where do we spend our money? Who are best friends? What would we not give up if God asked? These questions can help us cut to the chase.

Or ask a friend. Ask your spouse. If you have kids, ask them. “What do you see is most important in my life?” They’ll be able to tell you and that can help you determine who your God really is. Don’t be like the almost disciple and simply trust your intellectual answer to the question. Dig deep and examine with rigorous honesty.

Question #3: What do I value?

At first glance, the Rich Young Ruler appeared to value eternal life. He came asking about it. Further, he claimed to have scrupulously kept the law since his youth. Even more, he was willing to go beyond that asking what more he needed to do. 

However, as we see the story unfold, we find out that he did not truly value eternal life. Eternal life was not a driving core value. It was merely an aspiration. He would like eternal life if he could get it but not at the expense of his material goods. Through we find out what was his driving core value–Money. He valued money and material goods. That drove his decisions. He would be happy to keep God’s law until God’s law told him to give up his goods. 

What do you value? Again, don’t just accept whatever you say when asked this intellectual question. We all know the right answer and can give it whenever asked. Instead of looking at this intellectual answer, we need to examine our lives. What drives our choices? Is it the pursuit of God’s kingdom and righteousness or is it the pursuit of wealth, fame and influence? 

 

Be careful. As we can see in the Rich Young Ruler, these are tough questions because we can so easily deceive ourselves. Don’t just ask them once. Ask them repeatedly. Question yourself like this regularly. Question your choices with these questions, especially those big life decisions like where will you work, who will you marry, where will you live, with what church will you work. 

Don’t be only almost a disciple like the Rich Young Ruler. Be all the way a disciple.

ELC

October 27, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Christian living, Discipleship, Growth, Spiritual Growth | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rhett and Link Explain How I Feel in the Blogging World

Rhett and Link hit my nail on the head. I’m so last year on here. But I am catching up.

I wonder where you can hire one of those password guys.

October 24, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Fun, Videos | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting to Did! (Coming Out in February 2009)

We’re closing in on the publication of my next book. “Getting to Did! How to Get Rid of Your Big BUT and Live a Life without Regret.” Working on getting the cover done and final editing. 

For your reading enjoyment, I am including the introduction below. There will be more information in the weeks to come. Keep your eyes open for pre-publication ordering specials.

Enjoy!

 

Sam’ Crumbling World

Sam’s world was crumbling. Have you been there? Are you there? Are you afraid you are going there? Then you know how Sam felt. Not that his world had ever really been that big or that stable. But it had been his. It had been comfortable. Had been. Now it was collapsing.

Sam was 49. He had been semi-happily married to Susan for 25 of those years. His oldest son, Sam Jr. was 23 and a recent graduate from Sam’s alma mater. Sarah, the lone female, was 20. Scott was 17 and would be starting his senior year in high school in just a few months. The youngest, Sid, was 14 and going into the eighth grade.

Seven months ago, Sam was at the top of his world. A few years earlier, he had been promoted to Vice President of Sales in the company that had pursued him as a salesman when he was 32. He and Susan had finally bought that bigger home. Since Sam had been given a company car, he bought Susan the Lexus she always wanted. Things were good. But then Sam’s company was sold. The buyer wanted to keep several workers in Sam’s company, but wanted to rely on her own management team. Sam no longer fit. She let Sam go the week after Christmas.

He was given a decent severance package, promised a good recommendation and then politely escorted with his box of office paraphernalia off company property, where he called Susan to pick him up because he was no longer allowed to use the company car. She handled the news relatively well. Sam cried for a week.

For months he called it his worst Christmas present ever. However, in years to come he called it his best.

Realizing Susan’s income, supplemented by the severance package and their meager savings, could support their lifestyle for about a year, he started looking for another job.  “Really,” he thought, “I don’t know why I’ve been so depressed. I’m highly qualified. I have a Bachelors degree in business and marketing and a Masters in accounting. I’ve worked for the same company for 17 years. My track record is good. Who wouldn’t want to hire me?”

Sam, however, learned that “overqualified” was the politically correct and lawsuit safe euphemism for “too old.” None of the companies to which he applied wanted 49-year-olds with good track records. They were too busy head hunting 32-year-olds with promising futures.

 Though he was only halfway through his severance package, Sam felt he was at the end of his rope. As he often did when particularly stressed and depressed, he manicured his lawn. Keeping his yard “green and pristine,” as he called it, was about the only joy he had. It gave him time alone to think, provided a sense of accomplishment and, if nothing else, hid from the neighbors the turmoil going on inside the house.

He had just finished and was sitting down on his back deck with a glass of ice water, when his neighbor, Dave, came around the corner of the house and said, “Hey Sam. How’s the job hunt going?”

“Great Dave, just great. You trying to pour salt in the wounds?”

“Still no luck, huh? Keep trying. Something is bound to come up.”

“I hope so, but I’m beginning to doubt it. Right now, however, I’m more ticked at Scott,” Sam unloaded.

“What? I thought Scott was the good kid.”

“He is, but we’ve been fighting a lot lately. He’s going to be a senior this year and I’ve been on him to get his application in to the ols alma mater. But he keeps putting it off. I told him if he keeps waiting, it’ll be too late and he’ll be stuck going to the local community college. Do you know what he said?” Without giving Dave time to answer, Sam continued, “He said, ‘So? I’m not sure I want to go to your alma mater anyway.’” Sam gave an exasperated “you know how dumb kids can be sometimes look” to Dave, but Dave didn’t respond.

Sam simply continued talking, “I told him I was only looking out for his own good. He needed to go to a good school, study hard, make good grades and then he could get a good secure job and provide for his family. You know what he said then?” Sam plunged on, “He said, ‘You mean like you?’ Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down.”

“Well, Sam, he does have a bit of a point. It’s hard to take that kind of advice from a guy whose good secure job has left him so insecure.”

Sam, his eyes wide, spluttered, “Well… yeah, I know. But I just want what’s best for him. My dad went to that school and so did his dad. It’s done all of us well. I mean, didn’t you want Dave Jr. to go to your alma mater?”

“I guess I might have, if I had one. But, I never went to college. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Dave Jr. to go. I thought that was important, and I told him so. But I didn’t think it was so important he should sacrifice what he thought was important.”

Sam sat in stunned silence for a moment. Dave the most successful men he knew didn’t even go to college? How could that happen? He owned several restaurants and a few apartment buildings. In fact, it had always amazed Sam that Dave lived in his neighborhood, when surely he could have afforded something much more. Dave and his wife Deborah always looked happy. In fact, despite their having been married over 40 years, Sam always had the impression they were newlyweds. He chalked that up to no longer having kids at home. On top of that, he had heard Dave’s kids were also pretty successful.

“You never went to college?” Sam questioned, words tumbling out in gusts. “How on earth have you done so well? Did you get a big inheritance? I could sure use one.” Sam slouched back in his chair.

Dave smiled slightly. “I guess you might say I got a big inheritance, but not the kind you’re thinking of. I consider my dad one of the most successful men to have ever lived, but he never had much money. There were some things he always DID however. He always DID his best. He always DID what he enjoyed. And he always DID take care of us. He died while I was still in high school.” Dave paused, looked up and smiled again as though he had just relived some great moment. Then he continued, “He DID leave me a legacy of knowing how to get things done. That’s why I’m successful. That’s why I was able to start my first restaurant when I was 25 and then invest in several franchises over the years. That’s why I was able to get into real estate investing. That’s why I was able to quit working for money in my 40s.”

“Yeah, I coulda started my own business, but I was newly married and I needed the benefits, you know what I mean?”

“Sure, I know,” Dave responded. He continued after a brief pause, “Exactly what are those benefits doing for you now, Sam?”

“Well, I shoulda handled my money more wisely, but my wife and kids were always wanting more and I wanted to give them the best. You know, I wanted them to have what I never got.”

“How much longer are you going to be able to do that, Sam?”

“Come on, Dave, I woulda got a job by now, but all those companies want young guys. I feel like I’m in my prime. Fifty is the new thirty, you know, but they think I should be put out to pasture. I wish I had done things differently, but hindsight is 20/20. I’ll just have to live with my regrets. Right now I just need a job.”

Dave fixed Sam with a hard gaze. He paused for a moment as if measuring the words in his mind before letting them slip out of his mouth. “Sam, if you want my advice, you need to get rid of your big BUT.”

“What?!” Sam squawked nearly spilling his drink as he jumped forward in his chair. “You…you think my weight is holding me back?”

“Wrong ‘butt,’ pal. You’re filled with COULDAS, SHOULDAS and WOULDAS. Then you cap them all off with a big BUT. That’s why you’ve got so many regrets. You need to turn those into CANS, SHALLS, WILLS and DID. That was the inheritance my dad left me. He taught me to get rid of my big BUT, to reach my potential, getting past COULDA, SHOULDA and WOULDA and get things done. Or as I call it, GET TO DID. That’s what’s helped me be successful. That’s what’s helped me live a life without regrets.”

“Wow…I think,” Sam said, scratching his head. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Sounds like some kind of crazy PMA stuff we used to get from the home office.”

Dave responded, “No, it’s not just PMA and you probably do know what I’m talking about. You just don’t realize it. You can’t possibly have been as successful at sales as you have been without following some of the principles I like to share with people. You just don’t realize how they apply to everything in life, even trying to make ends meet after losing your job. Somebody told me that Plato said all learning is really remembering. I don’t really know what he meant by that. But I’ve found that when someone passes on a true principle to me, I really already knew it in my gut, I just needed someone to formulate it into words to give it power in my life.

“I’ve been watching you and hurting for you, Sam. I normally wait until someone asks me for advice to give it, but we’ve been friends for a while and I’d like to ask you to trust me and let me give you some real help. In the end, if you think it’s crazy and my friends and I are just flukes or flakes, you can go back to hunting for a job your way.”

Sam crossed his arms and cocked his head to one side. “So you think you could help me by GETTING TO…what was it you said?”

GETTING TO DID. No, I COULD not. I steer clear of the COULDAS. Rather, I CAN, I SHALL and I WILL. In fact, consider it DID.”

Sam’s face said it all; he didn’t get it. “Dave, what you just said didn’t make a lick of sense to me.”

“Of course not. You don’t know the tools yet. But if you’ll let me give you just a few opportunities to talk with my YES MEN and me, you’ll understand all of it.”

YES MEN? I already don’t like the sound of this. I’ve never liked those kind of people.”

“That’s because you’re thinking about a completely different kind of YES MEN than I am. But again, that’ll be something you learn  when you talk with my friends. How ‘bout it?”

“Alright, Dave. This sounds crazy, but I think you must know what you’re talking about. I mean, I guess it can’t hurt,” Sam gave a weak laugh, “When do we start? I only have about six months to get things on track or it’s foreclosure and dog food time.”

“Let’s start in the morning. I’m already having coffee with one of my advisors then. I call him my TRAINER. I’ve stayed in touch with him for years because he helps me turn my COULDA into CAN. I’ll let him know you’re coming. I CAN get him to clear some time for you and let him teach you the first step on the journey to DID. Meet me in my driveway at 5:45.”

 

October 23, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, My Books, Success | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christians, Quit Telling Me How To Vote! From One Christian to Others

A Bit of a Rant

I know this is not a normal day for a springboard for your life. I just wanted to take this little day off and rant a little bit.

I’ve received lots of kudos and also lots of nay saying since I preached my sermon “For Whom Should a Christian Vote?” and then posted it on the web. I had no idea it would make the rounds as it has. I guess it just goes to show how brainwashed Christians are today thinking that who we vote for actually matters to God as if God is watching over our shoulders in the ballot box to see if we vote for His candidate. As intense as so many are about this, I’m kind of surprised we don’t ever see people struck down with fire from heaven right there inside the voting booth.

We all know Republican Christians believe Christians have to vote Republican because of the issues of abortion and homosexuality. We all know Democrat Christians think Christians have to vote Democrat because of the issues of poverty and compassion for the poor. Here is my question: Why would God pick one or two issues out of the whole Bible and expect us to vote based on them? Why wouldn’t He expect us to vote on every issue? Let’s face it Christians, the Bible teaches that if people are going to be saved they need to go through Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that the one true religion that all are supposed to follow today is Christianity. Should we Christians really vote for a candidate who believes in freedom of religion? Or should we find one that wants to outlaw all religions but Christianity? (Personally, I’ll vote for the freedom of religion guy every time. Does that make me less of a Christian than you?)

Whoa there! Don’t act like this is a moot point. If God really has demanded that we vote for a candidate based on biblical issues, which biblical issues should we pick? Should we only pick those that our culture is willing to argue about or should we demand that all the biblical issues be addressed? The fact is I have yet to meet anyone who is truly honest about this whole voting and Christianity thing. They pick an issue and then act like they’ve got God’s stamp of approval when their candidate is ignoring a million biblical issues and so is their vote.

 

The Heart of the Matter

Here is what we really need to recognize. God has never asked us to spread His will politically. He has never asked us to try to make America a Christian nation. There is only one political concern God has ever asked us to have. I Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” The only political concern that God has asked us to have is that our leaders will let us lead a peaceful and quiet life as we strive to live as Christians. Did you also notice that He did not ask us to accomplish this through any political means? He asked us to do this through prayer.

I think it is awesome that we get to vote. I think it is awesome we get to say how we think the country should be run. I think you should let your say be heard and I think you should make that decision based on the issues you think are most important for preserving this country. I even think you should try to persuade people to vote for your candidate if you really think that candidate is what is best for our country. What you simply cannot do is act like God has endorsed your candidate or like God is remotely going to judge people based on their vote. 

Churches need to get out of the election business. Christians need to quit acting like their Christian duty is to vote a certain way. If you want to do God’s will about abortion, homosexuality or helping the poor, then talk to your neighbor about the saving Gospel of Jesus and what it says about these issues. Quit thinking you’ve done your Christian duty by voting. You haven’t. Quit thinking others have violated their Christian duty by voting differently than you. They haven’t. 

 

“It’s Really about Preserving the Democracy.”

And please, do not give me this baloney that we have to vote for the “Christian” candidate to preserve the democracy. Somehow we have acted like the Founding Fathers got democracy from the Bible. They didn’t. It isn’t there. If you remember, when God set up a nation, it wasn’t a democracy. It was a monarchy. Where on earth do we get that God’s biggest concern today is that America or any other nation be a democracy? 

God doesn’t remotely care what kind of government a nation has. What God cares about is that we serve Him properly no matter who our nation’s leaders are or what kind of government we have (cf. Acts 5:29). God doesn’t care what kind of earthly kingdom structure we have in place. He cares that we are seeking first His kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matthew 5:33).

So, Christians, please quit telling me how to vote. Instead, let’s start telling people how to know Jesus and leave the politics to people whose lives are bound up in this world.

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 2 Comments

The Church and Family Togetherness (an excerpt)

Built by the Lord

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If you haven’t read the last two Springboards for Your Family Life as part of this series, I encourage you to read “The Great American Struggle” and “Meaningful Together Time” first. That will get you caught up for this final installment in the series.

The Church and Family Togetherness

At this point we enter some muddy waters. The modern trend is for churches to provide activities for all the young people. Even if the activities are scriptural in nature, I begin to question the ultimate benefit of the church being overly involved in this.

Churches, instead of being another institution that separates the family into age categories, ought to do everything possible to get families together. We must remember the church is not supposed to take the place of the family.

Satan is working in our culture to rip our families to shreds. Churches must stand as shining beacons to overcome Satan in this by drawing families together in Christ. Perhaps we really should encourage kids to sit with their families in worship. Maybe we should try family-based Bible classes sometimes and not just age-segregated classes. Maybe we should teach fathers and mothers to train their children instead of just scheduling another training class at which parents drop off their kids. I am not sure all the ways this can be done, but I am sure we need to examine this.

Whatever the approach of the congregation, we must keep in mind our family has got to stay together. What are we doing to draw our families closer? In our culture this kind of togetherness does not happen accidentally. If we are not doing something to accomplish this on purpose, we are probably not going to accomplish it.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Family Time, parenting, Raising Kids | , , , , | 6 Comments

God, the Love (an excerpt)

Walks with God

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Getting our Bearings

“God is love.”

The Romans had cupid and Venus. The Greeks had Eros and Aphrodite. The Etruscans had Alpan, Turan and Uni. The Mesopotamians had Ishtar. The Canaanites had Anath. The Norse had Astrild, Freya and Sjofn. The Egyptians had Qadesh and Qetesh.

In one way or another, each of these gods and goddesses were connected to love by the people who believed in them. Their special province was love. However, the gods and goddesses themselves may not always be very loving. They were like all the gods and goddesses of the pagans–fickle; their devotion had to be won by some merit of the men and women who called on them.

That is not our God. When John said, “God is love,” he didn’t mean God had some special province oer love or some special attachment to those who love. He meant God is love. God’s very nature is love.

No doubt, this boggles our minds. The God who is a consuming fire, is also love. The God who brings judgment on sinners, loves those very sinners. We struggle to see how both can be true at the same time. Let’s not struggle, let us merely accept what God says of Himself. However, this should really not be all that difficult to understand. In fact, it is very much like our parenting. I love my children very much. I imagine if you have children, you love them too. However, we discipline our children for their own good and when they rebel, we punish them. Why then is it so hard to understand our heavenly Father is at the same time a consuming fire and love?

John’s point was to explain why God loves us. The pagan gods and goddesses loved their devotees because they were pretty, rich, smart or had offered good enough sacrifices. Jehovah God, however, love us because He is love, because love is His very nature. Some parents love their children when they do well in school, when they are good at sports, when they are pretty or when they act just like the parent. But not our Heavenly Father. He loves us because He is love.

No matter our looks, wealth, health, strength, physical prowess or even holiness, God loves us. No doubt, God will not accept us if we sin without repentance. He will punish us because He is a consuming fire if we rebel, but all the while He loves us. We know that because I John 4:9 says God sent His Son so we might live through Him. Romans 5:6-8 says God sent His Son while we were ungodly, sinful enemies.

He did not accept us while sinfully rebellious. He did not just save us in our sins. He is a consuming fire. He couldn’t abide with that. However, He is also love. Therefore, though we were rebellious, He sent His Son that we might have the means of salvation. That is love. Can you imagine providing the very means by which everyone who has ever hurt, betrayed or victimized you can be forgiven? That is God’s love.

This is the God we adore. The creating ruler/judge who is a consuming fire is also love. Therefore, despite our rebellion He provided a way of escape from our rebellion so we might be saved and enjoy the benefits of His love.

 

Hand in Hand

If we are going to walk hand in hand with the God who is love, we need to remember that love. We need to remember God has displayed His love in no uncertain terms.

Sadly, too many Christians have been turned from God by the devil’s lies. Satan wants us to believe God doesn’t love us. One way of accomplishing this is to make us suffer. Job is one extreme example. Satan was sure if God moved the hedges of safety, Job would curse God. We can argue about whether or not Job ever sinned within the book; we can’t, however argue with the fact that Job never cursed God and up to the end, Job knew his salvation came from God. he knew who was His redeemer. he continued to hope in God even at his lowest.

Paul addressed this issue in Romans 8:35-39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This passage recognizes that Christians will face distress, persecution, famine and danger. We will get sick. Our loved ones get sick. We may get fired from our jobs. We may get hurt in accidents. We may get cancer, diabetes, heart disease. We may endure strokes, heart attacks and car wrecks. Enemies will attack us. Friends will betray us. Even our brethren will let us down. Satan has one goal in all this. He wants us to doubt God’s love. He wants us to get upset with God and turn our back on Him.

We need to remember God has already shown His love and nothing else will change that. God doesn’t have to heal our cancer to show His love for us. He doesn’t have to steer our car away from a wreck to say He loves us. he doesn’t have to find us a job when we first ask to demonstrate His love. He sent His Son to die for us while we were undeserving sinners. What more could He do to say, “I love you”?

Do not let Satan block your view of Jesus on the cross. He will try. No matter what you face, look to Jesus. I believe this is one of the reasons the Bible indicates we should take the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. We need the constant reminder. God loves me this much. He loved me so much he shed His own Son’s blood on the cross. He offered up His own Son’s flesh as a sacrifice. 

If we are going to walk hand in hand with God, we need to envision Jesus on that cross every day. We must not let Satan hinder that vision.

October 20, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, God's Love, My Books | , , , , , , | Leave a comment