3 ways to grow through a problem

Some problems are our fault – the results of poor choices.

Some problems are just a part of being human. These things happen to everyone on some level or another.

And some problems are a “gift” from God, provided by Him so that we can make needed adjustments and advancements in our character.

I believe that we can grow through each of these types of problems. Here’s how:

Embrace the problem. No matter how hard we fight, we cannot be problem-free. Learn to accept the inevitability of difficulties. Now, maybe if your problem is self-inflicted, you can learn a lesson and avoid making the same mistake in the future, thereby avoiding a resulting difficulty. But the expectation that our lives will be devoid of problems is immature thinking. Without becoming a pessimist, learn to expect challenges in life. You can’t reach the mountaintop without a difficult climb!

Ask the right questions. The typical first question most people ask when faced with a problem is, “why?” “Why is this happening to me?” I think a better question is, “what?” “What is God telling me?” “What do I need to learn?” “What benefit is there to be derived from this situation that will make me a better and stronger person?” “What will I think about this experience, once it is over?” Asking the right questions at the right time will result in more wisdom gained though experiencing the problem. Make it a goal to learn as much as possible through every problem you experience.

Look for someone else to benefit. As much as we’d like to think it is, it’s not all about us. Many of the struggles I experience are, directly or indirectly, an opportunity to assist someone else. The lesson that I learn, the information I pick up, or the strength that I gain most certainly can make a positive difference in the life of someone near me. If I go through problems staying focused only on myself, two things happen: I increase my self-centeredness and the needs of others go unmet.  The next time you’ve run head-on into a big problem, look around – not to see if someone is watching – but rather to see who you can help.

We’ll never be problem-free. So we might as well get good at dealing with problems. And just maybe, how we deal with problems will be part of the criterion that God uses to reward us once our lives are over. In the end, I want to hear God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Not, “Well, you’re done!”

don’t miss tomorrow at Cross Community

Tomorrow is a very important day at Cross Community Church. I am beginning a new preaching series called “Trees”. The name sounds kind of innocuous, but don’t be fooled. God has given me a very direct Word. We are going to deal, head-on, with some very touchy topics. While I don’t want to give too much away, I am showing you the video I shot today that will be used as part of the message. Watching it now may not make much sense to you, but maybe it will create some intrigue about what will be said.

If you can’t be at one of our worship events tomorrow, check out the message online on Sunday afternoon.

Take a look at the video and let me know what you think.


stuff i say on twitter

I’ve had a Twitter account for a couple of years now. It is pretty active – I usually post something a couple of times every day. It is a good format for me because it doesn’t take long.  I can read good things from some people I admire and I can engage with them in brief conversations. I can also post s few of the thoughts I have on various topics.

I took a look through some recent postings over the last few weeks and thought I’d also share them here. Again, there is no connection between most of the stuff I say, henceforth, the randomness.

We can’t prevent natural disasters. We can prevent moral and ethical disasters. They are equally as devastating.

Why do some wives and husbands express so much love for each other on facebook? Don’t they ever talk face to face?

Religious freedom may not seem like a big deal to you. Ask the people in the Middle East if it would be a big deal to them.

Go – Be Strong – Rescue

“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” Augustine (Confessions)

Do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason long enough, and the right result will come.

in the end…God wins!

Happy 100th anniversary of International Womens Day!

Some days you’re the stick, some days you’re the piñata.

Sheen: “Not held hostage by AA anymore”.

Reading the OT law, before grace. If I’d been alive then, they would’ve had many reasons to stone me. Thk God for grace!

Charlie Sheen is only doing what millions of others would do if they had the money.

Church is like the dentist for some. Other than their annual check up, they’ll only go when they’re in pain.

The shrimp in my instant Noodle Bowl are the size of tiny worms. Hey, wait a second…

If you’re in full time ministry, apprx. how many hours per week do you work? DM me if you want to keep it private. Thx!

Met a pastor of a 206 y/o church that has never done missions work outside the US. How is that even possible?

Just met with a guy who, as a kid, was abused by a religious leader. Too many have been. One is too many.

“He (God) ensures that orphans and widows receive justice.” Deuteronomy 10:18 (NLT) Let’s join Him in that!

I just officiated the funeral of a person I’ve never met. It’s sad for anyone to die without a church family.

Me to God: “I want to be on the mountain top!” God to me: “You’d better get in shape. It’s gonna be a long, hard climb!”

If we are not careful, worship will become more about us than it is about Him.

Off to lead people into a worship experience. A great privilege!

If “it” (your passion) is going to get done, you’re going to have to do it.

When helping orphans, you need not worry about enabling them or them developing an entitlement mentality.

Heard someone say, “when I get rich, I’ll give to the church.” If you’re not giving now, you won’t then.

If we add enough value to people’s lives, we won’t have to beg them to listen to us.

One word of defamation can destroy 1000 words of affirmation. Choose your words carefully.

We may not like it but, where humans are involved, problems are unavoidable.

If you’re on Twitter, feel free to follow: http://twitter.com/#!/rickwhitter

cnn freedom project

I am amazed by something I came across on cnn.com. The CNN Freedom Project is an effort to expose us to the massive problem of modern-day slavery. I won’t say much but I urge you to take a look at what they are saying.

Absolutely astounding!

happy birthday, dad!

Today is my dad’s 86th birthday. Born March 8, 1925! Man, he’s old. Without being morose, I wonder how many more he has in him. He has been ill for many years, suffered a heart attack at 54 and fights various problems.  He tough, though.  My brothers and I joke that he’ll probably be there to bury all of us.

Happy birthday to one of the strongest men I’ve ever known. I love you, dad.

Godly leadership

This is a brief outline of the message I gave at Ridge Community Church on Sunday. Maybe you’ll find it helpful.

Godly Leaders

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

Parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, coaches, spouses… we are all called to lead.

Godly leadership is God’s idea:

The plan that God chose?

God’s plan is for men and women to step up, serve as examples, influence, lead other people into the place where they need to be.

The process that God chose?:

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (NIV)

The responsibility that God gives leaders?:

Take people from where they are to where God wants them to be.

This is God’s vision for His people – to get them where He wants them.

Theodore M. Hesburgh “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

Key text:

Psalms 78:70-72

70 He chose David his servant

and took him from the sheep pens;

71 from tending the sheep he brought him

to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,

of Israel his inheritance.

72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;

with skillful hands he led them.  (NIV)

King David is a great example of a Godly leader.

1. GODly Leaders (emphasis on the GOD part)

It is not the fact that they are leaders that makes them great – it is the fact that God has called them.

Godly leaders are:

Selected by God “He chose David” A divine appointment. Not a democracy. Not a “good ole boy” system.  (Daniel 2:21“He sets up kings and deposes them.”)

Godly leaders are:

Developed by God “took him from the sheep pen”. God sees, not where we are but where we can be. Potential is a key word!

Not what we currently are but what we can become!

Sometimes the development process is not easy.

We see from David’s life that the process of development was life-long.

Godly leaders are:

Appointed by God: “from tending sheep to the shepherd of Israel”

Quite a promotion!

And the two may seem completely disconnected.

But they are related – many times God’s people acted just like a bunch of sheep. (present company excluded!)

Sheep are not always the smartest creatures (they have been known to wander away and fall off of cliffs!)

Sheep are not very strong – there is a wolf that would love to enjoy a lamb or tow for dinner.

Sheep sometimes don’t smell the best – (enough said)

And some sheep bite- and they have sharp teeth!

Do we see the connection?

Godly leaders are:

Gifted by God: 2 elements: integrity of heart and skillful hands. We can’t think of two more important gifts to be displayed by leaders: integrity and ability.

I want to follow a leader who is authentic.  (no time for phony leaders!)

And I want to follow a leader who is good at what he or she does!

2. Godly leaders are human

(various men of God as examples)

Godly leaders are:

Called but not always the likely choice:

David (man looks at the outward appearance, God on the heart. A man after the heart of God.)

Called but not always ready:

Jeremiah “I am only a child” “Don’t say I’m only a child – go to the people I am sending you to!

Called but not always willing:

Moses in Exodus 3: please choose someone else!

(one of the most attractive leadership qualities is humility s long as it doesn’t result in disobedience)

These examples explain where the system breaks down for most people;

They never get beyond the “I’m not qualified” or “Pick someone else” syndrome.

And the result? We lack leaders.

This explains to condition of our culture: Our culture is in such a mess because we lack the right kind of leadership.

A leadership allegory:

Judges 9:7-15

8 One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’

9 “But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

10 “Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

11 “But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’

12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

13 “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?’

14 “Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

15 “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’  (NIV)

The essence of this allegory is, when God-called people refuse to lead, someone will rise to leadership- whether or not they are God-called.

Modern examples in this week’s news:

Moammar Gadhafi

Charlie Sheen

Good men and women have, too many times, said no to leadership calling.

Our culture is being lead by thornbush kings! Those who have their own self-interest at heart!

If God is calling you to influence, to lead, in any capacity, obey!

In the end, God wins!

If God is calling you into leadership, my advice: “your arms are too short to box with God!”

For those who comply – God works in them and through them.

3. Characteristics of Godly leaders:

(Jesus as our example)

Godly leaders are compassionate: Matt 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (NIV)

(it is the compassion that drives you even when you are tired)

Godly leaders are Servants: son of man came not to be served but to serve, lay down his life as a ransom for many

Godly leaders are Courageous: “let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless, not my will …”

Godly leaders are wounded: by His stripes we are healed.

Godly leaders will be tested: (Paul) one of the most sobering verse for leaders:

Galatians 6:17 “Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (NIV)

He carried the scars of his leadership.

Scars can make you trustworthy, give you credibility.

I won’t want to follow a man into battle if he has never been in battle.

If there was ever a time when our world needed godly leadership it is now.

The truth is there are lots of leaders, just the wrong kind.

For everyone who is called to leadership:

Don’t check out – you are ALL called into leadership in one way or another.


Men, lead the home, your wife, your children, your job.

Parents, lead your kids, be examples, influence them for God.

All of you: Lead yourself well. Lead your family. Lead your church. Lead your community. The world becomes a better place.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

But a special note about your spiritual leaders:

Hebrews 13:17 “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

guest speaking

I don’t often get asked to visit another church for the purposes of preaching (except by the people from our church!).   But tomorrow is different. I have been invited by the leaders of Ridge Community Church to speak at their Pastor Appreciation Day!  I am quite excited about it. Here’s why:

  • I know and love their pastor, Steve Thompson. Steve and I went to school together. I have admired him for years. He and Teresa and Letha and I are close. They are the real deal – I find it easy to honor them.
  • Ridge Community conducts one service, beginning at 10:00. I am accustomed to preaching 3 times every Sunday morning, with the first service at 8:00. This will feel like a mini-vacation. I will, however, pour as much of myself into the one message that I generally put into 3. (Hope I don’t preach for 1 ½ hours!)
  • Our church is in good hands. Richard, our Missional Pastor, is preaching at Cross Community tomorrow. He is an excellent speaker and I know his topic for tomorrow. It will be great!
  • There is not as much pressure. One of the nice things about being a guest speaker is, people are more tolerant of you.  If I say something that the people do not like, I don’t expect any emails, phone calls or nasty anonymous letters.  And I really hope that no one will leave the church because of something I do or say tomorrow. Each week, I live with this reality. It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen. This Sunday, if they don’t like me, all they have to do is be patient – I’ll be gone in a few hours!
  • It is affirming to be asked. It feels nice to be trusted enough to be asked to preach. I don’t take that for granted. I am honored.

Say a prayer for me and Letha, for Steve and Teresa Thompson and for Ridge Community Church. I think it’s going to be a lovely day.