The opposite of pride is a broken spirit. Pride seems to be a common failing of the human delima. While it seems to provide us with a feeling of significance, it is actually deception preventing us from seeing the fallenesss of our human condition. Pride is like an anesthetic or drup, keeping us from feeling the painful reality of the lostnesss that we feel as humans who try-fail-try again. We experience a positive accomplishment and then we wash ourselves in Pride and say "look at me...look what a good thing I have done." Then for a time we feel good about ourselves. But it is an illusion. We have not really changed anything. We have merely Whitewashed our condition. We do this over and over and over until it becomes our way of life. That is...Whitewashing our lostness without an abiding saving total submission of our lives to the One who gave us this life in the first place.
Until each of us comes to that place where we allow... we ask for the blood of Jesus to wash over us and truely cleanse us; Until we come to grips with the reality of our brokenness and our inability to fix this ourselves we continue to Whitewash our condition. If we say that we are broken, but we are not, we are Whitewashing our condition. We deceive ourselves.
I am blessed in so many ways, but right now I am thinking how blessed I am to have Rae Ann in my life. Just now I received an email from her that she sends out to many almost daily. Here is the nugget that she blessed my life with today:
"Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." ~Deut 10:16-17
Do not be stiff-necked any longer....
As humans it is normal to want our own way and to think that our way is the best way. We go to great lengths to protect "our view of the world" and often to convince others that our view is the best view. I know that I have been guilty of this far more times than I want to admit to.
But consider God's view. I did this once many years ago when I found myself alone in a camp high in the mountains for 3 days following a hunt waiting for the outfitter and his horses to come back for me. One afternoon, I watched an airliner fly high overhead. Knowing that he was probably somewhere between 30,000-37,000 feet, it dawned on me that if the pilot were to look down right at the spot I was standing on...he would never see me. God however from a far more lofty perch sees my every move, hears my every word and knows my every thought. And he says to me today through His word..."don't be stiff-necked"...you don't have to have it your way...you don't have to be in control of everything...I know the plans I have for you, to never leave you nor forsake you. Just relax..
Darkness cannot exist in the presence light. Duh you may say. Hang with me on this for a minute.
This morning like most I woke up around 5:30, brewed a cup and settled down with a book from one of my favorite authors to read for a bit. I had been reading for maybe a half hour when the story brought on a feeling of darkness in my spirit. The more I read, the greater the darkness. Now I really do not read weird or dark stuff, but this story just took a turn in that direction. I thought....I'll just press on and get past that part, but it wouldn't go away. Finally I said...enough. I will no longer submit myself to this and I closed the e-book and deleted it from my iPad. I picked up my Bible and turned to my favorite passage, Psalm 119 and dived into God's word. In mere seconds the darkness began to lift and then faded away completely...replaced by light. The light of His love via His word. Again, darkness cannot exist in the presence of Light.
When darkness comes, turn to His Light. Trust me...it works
When I was a teenager I was a pitcher on our baseball team. Like most pitchers of that age I had two pitches...the heat (fastball) which for a left handed 15 year old was blazing fast but very predictable. It would get most simply because their 15 year old brains couldn't process what to do quickly enough. My other pitch was a sidearm pitch that I called my screwball because it was hard for the batter to figure out where it was going....sometimes it was hard for me to figure out where it was going. Needless to say, after one of these coming at your head then breaking for the zone you were a little weary of what the next pitch would be.
Sometimes life just throws us a screwball, we see it coming but we have no idea where it will end up. I am a planner meaning that I like to know what is going to happen before it happens...but life doesn't always follow my plan. In those times, I need to remember that my God knows exactly where that screwball pitch is going and how it will impact my life. He comforts me with His words....I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.
If life is throwing you screwballs, pull out God's word...and lean into Him today!
There was a time when a genuine heartfelt apology meant something. I was raised in a pretty conservative environment where young people were taught to address adults with terms like Mam and Sir. The idea of addressing an adult (read grownup) by their first name was…well I never even thought of it. I was also taught that when I wronged someone; I should apologize…like go tell your brother you are sorry for smacking him in the back of the head. In all honesty, sometimes the apology was truly heart felt and accompanied by an internal desire not to repeat the infraction. Other times, it was just to get mom off my back.
Today, I’m sorry or I apologize has become the standard line for politicos when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar or some other nefarious act. Rarely does a day pass, without the mainstream media carrying a public apology from a politician or CEO admitting that they in fact knew a part was defective and they knew it might result in death, but that at the time it didn’t appear to be significant enough to warrant a recall. Or we knew the danger to personnel in our embassy was critical but we didn’t do anything about it.
American’s are generous and forgiving people. It is part and parcel of who we are. Forgiveness is a divinely ordained act and one that I will continue to exhibit for the remainder of my life. But…I, we Americans are not stupid, and when some dufus stands before us on camera saying I’m sorry…just to get us off their back hoping the news cycle will move on…you need to know….that we know. And you are less for it. Sometimes sorry just doesn’t cut it. Please do not abuse our generosity.
Thriving organizations recognize the value of building and nurturing strong long-term relationships within and outside of the organization. Recently the concept of "developing circles" has been introduced to help us better visualize the mechanism of group dynamics where organizational members choose to come together for mutual benefit. Such benefits may include: growth, fraternity, problem solving, planning, care giving, study, prayer, shared mutual interest such as hobbies, etc. In general the idea is that individuals in the circle benefit in some way from their interaction with other members of the group or the group as a whole, and that the sum value of the group will exceed the value of the individual parts and become a force for growth, service, ministry and change within their community.
While I support the concept of developing strong relationships, I think there is an argument to be made for some measure of caution as we develop such a closed ended model as there exist the potential for members to develop an isolationist mindset.
For example, a few years ago my family having recently relocated, had been visiting a new church in our community to see if it would be a good fit. After about 6 months of attending Sunday services, we decided that the next step would be to become members of a small group (circle). Our first couple of weekly visits went somewhat well, but we could tell there was something amiss. We just couldn't put our finger on it. On about the third meeting, the group leader, who happened to be the associate pastor of the church dropped the bomb when he opened the meeting with an announcement of rules of the group. Rule 1: you cannot invite anyone else to attend or join the group. Rule 2: You need to place the needs of the group above those of yourself or your family. Rule 3: There is no breaking rules 1 or 2. The older members of the group were nodding in assent. All my red warning flags were going off. It is important to note that this small group represented a church from a mainline evangelical denomination yet this group looked and smelled a lot like some sort of cult. Needless to say, that we not only did we never attend that group, but we never attended that church again.
About a year later, I was invited to lunch with the senior pastor of that church...not the same one from the group. Nearing the end of the lunch he asked me why we had left the church saying he thought he had done everything he could to make us comfortable. Trying to be polite, I told him that it just wasn't a good fit hoping that he would leave it at that. He wouldn't. He pressed for details. When I shared with him that the primary reason for our leaving was that his congregation was unwelcoming, unfriendly, and showed little desire to interact with new folks...he was speechless. After a minute or so, when he composed himself he shared that he had never seen such behavior. I then told him of the experience in the small group...again he was speechless.
What had happened? This organization had formed all these circles (small groups) which together constituted a larger circle (the church) and essentially over time had locked out the rest of the community. Every circle had over time turned inward and focused on their own needs and priorities, rather than allowing the strength of the relationships within the group to become a vibrant force for growth, ministry and outreach.
So, am I advocating the overthrow of "Circles?" Not at all. I do believe however that there is value in oversight from without and from periodic redistribution, otherwise we risk walking in circles.
Because I am in the business of helping others to build their business, I am frequently asked, what do I need to do to be successful...as if there is some silver bullet. First let me state for the record....folks there is no silver bullet. That being said, one key factor to consider is that we must be willing to do the work. Sitting back with a "build it and they will come" attitude is, IMO, a sure fire formula for failure.
Just this morning I was reading, as I do most mornings. This morning's read was one of the stories of the legendary western writer of the early part of the 20th century, Zane Grey. If you are a fan of the west or of the outdoors, you should really pick up a copy of his works. Mine is a Kindle download with 25 books for $1.99 total. Anyway back to my point. In the story I was reading this morning, Grey had accompanied some friends on a hunting trip in the Grand Canyon area of Arizona. The hunt was over and the tale was coming to an end when Grey made the following, almost prophetic statement: "If you want to find fame, wealth or wolves, you have to go hunt for it." Immediately Matthew 7:7 came to mind, "seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
How fundamental, yet how critical to our success. My thought: Those who do the most seeking (work) seem to be the ones doing the most finding.
I don't claim to understand how the human heart works, but clearly God had a plan when He knit us together. When I hear powerful powerful music from such greats as Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin or Collin Raye, something inside of me that usually remains quiet switches on, and a part of my heart becomes terribly nakedly exposed. Recently I heard someone speak of what he referred to as man's three hearts.
Heart #1 is the heart we share with the world. Heart #2 is the heart we share only with those closest to us...like our spouse. Heart #3 is the heart that we share with no one. It is in this heart that our darkest secrets, our greatest fears, and our deepest loves lie. It is that place that if opened is totally unguarded allowing access to our innermost being. This is what I like to refer to as God's heart, and it is the place where his Word and His music reside. It is the core of our being and our soul, the place where I believe we are forever connected to our maker. Proverbs 4:23 tell us: "Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life." (ISV). I believe that this "Third Heart" is what we are to protect above all else.
Recently, someone very dear to me asked, "Are you ever satisfied?" I knew instantly what she was asking and why. My first reaction was to come back with some witty quip that would get me off the hook, but 60 years and the wisdom of others has taught me that I don't have to say everything I feel, every time I feel it. It did however get me thinking.
If I was ever satisfied, I might not have left the security of home at 18 and ventured out into the world.
If I was ever satisfied, I might never have joined the Air Force which eventually led to my career flying a jet fighter all over the world.
If I was ever satisfied, I might not have pressed so hard at life and discovered my need for something bigger than myself...God's love.
If I was ever satisfied, I might never have had the courage to write my first book. That was 5 books ago.
If I was ever satisfied, I might not have acquired the courage to stand before hundreds, sometimes thousands, to share my story and God's story.
If I was ever satisfied, I might have missed God's calling my name.
If I was ever satisfied, I would never have discovered what lay over the next ridge when hiking in the Rocky Mountain high country.
If I was ever satisfied, I would never have met the love of my life...Rae Ann.
Am I ever satisfied....no. There will always be something else that I can do for the God who saved my life.
If the term, exceeded or exceeds expectations rings a bell to you chances are that you read it on an HR performance review. If it was your own, congratulations!
Earlier today, I met with a number of men at my church at 6:00 AM for the first of what is supposed to be a six week study...33 The Series. So you say...SIX O'DARK O'CLOCK....in the morning? You gotta be kinddin' me! My expectation was that if I was lucky, I might be able to attract one or two early risers. Imagine my elation when five guys showed up. Now you may say...five doesn't sound like too much of a turnout. I guess it just gets down to where we set the bar...what are our expectations? Today, given that I was asking men to get up with the chickens, I set the bar rather low. But my real goal was not in the actual numbers attending but more so in the participation...and my guys just blew me out of the water. Granted we all had some issue watching a 25 minute video that was designed to stimulate the following discussion, but once the discussion began. WOW! These men engaged!! When I came in that morning I thought I would have to set the place on fire to get them motivated, I WAS WRONG! These men wanted to talk. These men had real life issues that they wanted to discuss. I was impressed. My expectations were exceeded. I'm looking forward to next week and hanging out with my new buds.
I write stuff. I talk about the stuff I write. God has blessed my life in more ways that I can list. I am not nearly as smart as I think I am. God is very patient with me. God has demonstrated how much He loves me. He gave me His only son Jesus. He gave me my wife. He gave me 5 wonderful children and so far 8 beautiful grandchildren. I am blessed above all men.