beware of cool

I realize that the people who might need to read this won’t because I am not cool enough for them to visit my blog. So maybe you can pass this along, if you are cool enough to actually know any cool people.

It has always been the case, some people just think they are better than others. So this is no new revelation. We need to guard against thinking that others aren’t as good as us, ESPECIALLLY if this is based on the way they dress, the computer they use, their hairstyle, the music they listen to, how old they are, the church they attend, the movies they like, the books they read or don’t read and so on.

I really dislike the hugely popular mac commercials. Again, nothing new here but these guys are blatantly making fun of PC users and it works as a great PR tool for them. You know the setup: PC users are unpopular, out of touch with modern culture, wear frumpy suits and they are losers. Mac users are awesome, the girls prefer them, they dress better, they don’t shave, they don’t need glasses… If you are a mac user, good for you – but you are no better than those who aren’t. And yes, I use a PC.

Seriously, watch your heart. People who exclude or disrespect others who aren’t cool are wrong. Some important scriptures come to mind: Romans 12:3 “so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are.” (CEV) Galatians 6:3 “If anyone thinks he is important when he really is not, he is only fooling himself.” (NCV) Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (NIV) James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)

I have a little theory. I think that many really cool people are compensating for their low self esteem. They don’t feel very good about themselves so they create or copy an image hoping to show others, and maybe themselves, that they really are something special. Obviously this is not the best plan. Just go ahead and be happy with who God made you to be. Everybody will also like you a lot better.

Beware of cool – it will getcha.

strengths or weaknesses?

American motion picture director, writer, and producer, and playwright Dore Schary said: “A person who calls himself frank and candid can very easily find himself becoming tactless and cruel. A person who prides himself on being tactful can find eventually that he has become evasive and deceitful. A person with firm convictions can become pigheaded. A person who is inclined to be temperate and judicious can sometimes turn into someone with weak convictions and banked fires of resolution . . . Loyalty can lead to fanaticism. Caution can become timidity. Freedom can become license. Confidence can become arrogance. Humility can become servility. All these are ways in which strength can become weakness.”

Even our spiritual gifts can have negative expressions. If you are a leader, be careful. Your administrative abilities can easily become dictatorial tendencies. Vision can be interpreted as selfish ambition. Passion can be seen as pushy.

Evaluate yourself and allow someone close to you to provide personal evaluation. This will help keep you in balance and on target.

Be sure that your strengths remain strengths.

post-Christian

It is no secret that the spiritual climate of the US has changed drastically over the past several years. For most of our country’s existence, we have been clearly seen as a Christian nation. Our laws were based on Scripture, there was a general respect for the things of God and people went to church because it was the right thing to do. Well, times have changed. We are now in what has been defined as a post- Christian culture.

In his recent book, Church Unique, Will Mancini helps define post-Christianity: “there is no starting point and no embedded influence toward Judeo-Christian values, latent within the culture.” (p. 33) As a spiritual leader in a typical community in America, I have complained about the downward spiritual spiral that we are experiencing. For years, I have worried along with other pastors about what can be done to turn things around and salvage the country before it is too late. I admit to laying blame for this crisis on the portion of our of population that does not follow Christ. It is easy to look around at the depravity and point a finger of judgment. There are lots of easy targets.

In Mancini’s book, he credits Christian researcher and statistician George Barna with uncovering the truth that “the primary indicators (that we are in a post-Christian culture) being the continued decline of church attendance and the validation that those professing Christianity reflect little difference in life-change factors from those who reject Jesus.” (p. 33) Did you get that? He is saying that the church, believers in Christ and our lifestyles are proof that our nation is no longer a Christian nation. Maybe we are even the reason why the country no longer believes in God. 2 things: we don’t go to church like we used to and our lifestyles are no longer any different from those who do not know Christ. Wow! That is a revelation for me! The country is no longer Christian because Christ followers don’t behave like Christians.

I have serious doubts that our country will revert back to our Christian roots. History tells us that once the momentum has built as it has in opposition to the ways of the Lord, it is very difficult to return. We are, however, not without hope. But rather than blaming culture, looking at the world as the evil ones and placing the responsibility on the enemies of God, we should begin in our own hearts.

When believers in Christ fall deeply enough in love with Him and His family that we commit unquestionably to His processes, the pendulum will swing back. Corporate worship has to return to its rightful place near or at the top of our life’s priorities. We have to get rid of the compromise that has pervaded our behavior and attitudes. Until we do, we will have to settle for post-Christian. If we do, we have a shot at “Christian” again.

good search


There are two factors that are currently creating a lot of opportunities, or pressure (depending on your perspective) regarding reaching out and helping the needy. 1) Our economy is in the tank and lots of people are hurting worldwide. 2) The unprecedented crises and natural disasters that are taking pace. These two realities open doors for the average person to make a decision to do something practical that can change a life.

One of the simplest ways I know of that can have big impact was introduced to me last year by my daughter. She writes about it on their blog.

Goodsearch.com is as easy as it gets. All you have to do is designate the charity of your choice and then use goodsearch as your search engine. As ABC News puts it: “Give to charity just by searching the internet.” It’s that simple. I suggest you make it your homepage until you get used to the idea of using it.

If enough people will take small but measurable steps like this one, we will see some of the pain that is being experienced in our world alleviated.

Have a great week everybody!

my utmost

I was reading Oswald Chambers’ (1874-1917) classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. The entry for today, June 1, deals with our utter need for God’s grace. I see in it a reminder that nothing we can do or say has any bearing on our ability to be forgiven or to live a life that pleases God. It is His grace alone that accomplishes these things. Chambers confronts our desire to work it all out by our efforts and to attempt to earn the good things that only God can provide.

Below are some excerpts, enjoy:

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would far rather work for God than believe in Him. Am I quite sure that God will do what I cannot do? I despair of men in the degree in which I have never realized that God has done anything for me. Is my experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never despair of anyone I see? Have I had any spiritual work done in me at all? The degree of panic is the degree of the lack of personal spiritual experience.

When God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He only does it when His Spirit is at work), you know there is no criminal who is half so bad in actuality as you know yourself to be in possibility. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” God’s Spirit continually reveals what human nature is like apart from His grace.

Thanks Dr. Chambers, for the reminder. I highly recommend his daily devotional. Thanks to the Father for accomplishing what none of us can apart from Him. I highly recommend His grace.

kicking against the tide

Memorial Day provided a snorkeling trip for my family at the gorgeous John Pennekamp Park and Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary. What an awesome experience, we had a blast! The coral reef was fabulous and the fish were beyond description.

Unfortunately, the weather was a little bad and it wasn’t the best of days by South Florida standards. It rained on us a little and we got wet (jk). Seriously, the wind was really strong and it created a strong current. The tide required that we swim pretty hard to stay in the area where we needed to be. Later, the Captain of the boat told us that if we could make it through these conditions, we could snorkel anywhere.

Here’s the point. We swam hard to get up current and then would stop to enjoy the scenery. It only took a few seconds of looking around at the ocean floor, and all of the ground that we had gained was lost, we had to swim back against the wind and current so we could enjoy the view some more. The beauty of the sea life could only be enjoyed in short stints. If we got too distracted, we would only have to work harder.

What a dead-on analogy to being a leader! It takes a lot of effort and energy to get to where you need to be. There is a strong head wind. The tide is against you. You have to kick hard just to stay steady. You get tired and feel like floating back to the boat. Once you get to your goal, you really want to look around and enjoy the scenery. You’ve earned a rest. You pause a minute just to feel good about what has been accomplished. You take a deep breath or two and then it hits you, you are back where you started.

The visual imagery isn’t very encouraging here. Sounds a little depressing to think that we can’t even celebrate victories or get some well deserved rest. That is not what I am trying to say. An important part of leading is the ability to recognize progress, to rejoice when something goes well. If you don’t take time to do that, you won’t last very long as a leader. But if you spend too much time admiring where you are, you won’t be there any longer. (That was dangerously close to being a Yogism!)

The key –as usual- is balance. Know when to kick and know when to look around. Learn how to recognize seasons of fighting the tide and the seasons of rest and celebration. Don’t ever become so wrapped up in the scenery that you wind up in trouble.

On Monday, some of the wimpier snorkelers got tired and went back to the boat. No way, we paid our money and we were staying out as long as they would let us.

Never pass up a chance to swim in the ocean. It is awesome. But be aware of rip tides, high waves, jellyfish – don’t laugh, they really sting. Never pass up a chance to influence someone for the good, to impact the life of another person. Be aware of the challenges, the weariness and the temptation to quit. But the rewards are certainly worth the work.

At least there were no sharks – not that we knew of! (cue theme music from Jaws!)

Indiana Jones (4)

We got to go see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Thursday. I thought it was great. Very entertaining and exactly what I expected. Since then, I have heard several people who also saw it say things like, “it wasn’t very believable”, “I thought it was hokey”, and “it was too cheesy”. Come on people, it’s Indiana Jones, what did you expect? You pay $9 to see an old guy with a whip surviving falls in several waterfalls, live through a nuclear blast (in a refrigerator) and single handedly out-fight dozens of Soviet soldiers, you thought it was a true story?

It was precisely what I needed to see on Thursday. We had a tough week and a little unbelievable, far out entertainment was good for us. I had some laughs – it was nice. I would recommend it if you don’t take everything seriously.

I may go see the Incredible Hulk when it comes out. I wonder if it will be realistic?

Lighten up and smile!