Archive for January, 2012

January 29, 2012

“Proper Prior Planning Prevents…”

Proverbs 16:9

Whether you believe it or not, God is always at work in our lives. God’s word says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Prov 16:9 (NIV). Think about how many steps we take every day to get from here to there. Think about the plans, or routes, we make for our lives.  As many of us know all too well, a plan’s first brush with reality often ends in horrible failure. Failure according to our perspective, that is. If we are taking a road trip, we check the weather, consider traffic patterns, etc… However, there is no way to plan for the unexpected occurrences that will inevitably happen along the way. I’m sure we all have stories, some of them very colorful, about the unexpected things that happen during a road trip. We cannot foresee everything that will happen to us during our trip…our life. Therefore, we have to get as ready as possible. The key is not simply to plan. The key is to plan and prepare…properly.

Being properly prepared allows us to experience fully and recognize God’s providence in all of the things that will happen while on the road. Rain, while difficult to drive in, fosters a rainbow when it’s done. And detours, while usually inconvenient and annoying, often reveal a much preferable route with breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences. Besides, how boring would it be if all our travels were filled with blue skies, warm winds, open roads, and no speed traps?

Challenge: There is a concept of The 6 P’s: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. For our road trip, would consider the destination, conditions, and duration in determining the appropriate gear needed…appropriate being the operative term. We must be as prepared as possible in order to handle whatever comes our way, both good and bad. On the road of life, we can be assured that we will get quite a bit of each. However, we can also be assured that the One who is in absolute control loves us and has provided us the greatest “How To” manual and “Prep Tool” ever printed…His Word.

Prayer: Lord, I know that I don’t know what tomorrow brings. However, I do know Your plan is perfect and that You are never surprised. You tell me in Your word that if I acknowledge You in all I do, You will make my paths straight. I trust in that because Your promises are always true. Thank you for Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

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“Judging from the cover…”

1 Samuel 16:6-7

There was a story that came out in the late nineties about how Stanford University was founded. The account of the story was that Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the home of Harvard University, in order to speak to university’s president about erecting a building in honor of their son who attended Harvard but died unexpectedly. Apparently, the president of the university responded rather gruffly to the shabbily dressed ‘country hicks’ and asked if they had any idea how much it costs to build a building. He told them he had over seven and a half million dollars in the physical structures on the campus. Mrs. Stanford looked at her husband and commented that if that was all it cost to start a university they should start their own. Her comment left the Harvard president speechless and the Stanfords went back to California and started Stanford University. While this rendition of the origin of Stanford University is absolutely false, the underlying moral of the story and premise of “never judging someone by mere appearance” couldn’t be truer.

Every day, in the business marketplace…in schools…in our neighborhoods…in churches…people are judged based on their appearance. Of course, I am not speaking only of those who are looked down upon because they don’t quite meet a certain dress code or look. An attractive outer appearance has a similar impact but in the opposite way. How we present ourselves is very important. However, our outward appearance is not the determinant of who we are…and certainly is not what God looks at. A perfect example is the Lord’s appointment and rejection of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 9, 15) and anointing of young David as the future king (1 Samuel 16). “When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (ESV).

Challenge: I started at an early age to live by the creed “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” And appearance is a major factor in the impressions, both first and ongoing, that we make. However, one’s outer appearance doesn’t always reveal the “real” person. I have been guilty, more than I would like to admit, of judging someone based on appearance, both positively and negatively. I looked at them through my own filter and not God’s. And it’s interesting…and humbling…how God convicted me when I did…and how still He convicts me when I do.

Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to form opinions and impressions based on appearance. In today’s world, appearance has become so important and a condition of acceptance…of promotion. Lord, despite of what we look like to others and see others as, You know our heart and the people we are…and likely the people we want to be. Lord, give me the courage to look beyond the appearance to reach others and love them as You did…and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.           

January 15, 2012

“In Hot Pursuit…”

Proverbs 21:21

What is it that we pursue? Fame? Success? Possessions? Knowledge? Power? The perfect golf swing? There are so many things in this life and this world we pursue that we often lose sight of what is truly important, what will have lasting impact, and what will not fade away. In fact, those things we find hardest to attain are the very things we pursue with a relentless tenacity comparable only to that of a heat seeking missile. Status, wealth, accomplishment, recognition, and possessions are natural pursuits for the human spirit. It is that spirit of pursuit that resides in all of us. It is how we are wired. God tells us through His word that “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 (NIV).

Challenge: King Solomon, the man who literally had everything, said, “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). We are told in God’s word to pursue righteousness and not the things of this world. We are told to seek first the kingdom of God… and the things that we need will be given to us (Matthew 6). We are also told to ‘delight in the Lord and he will give us the desires of our hearts.’ (Psalm 37:4). The challenge this week is to commit to pursue God and His righteousness…first. If this is new for you, don’t worry. We all crawled before we were able to run.

Prayer: Lord, Your word tells me that if pursue You, You will give me everything I need. Sometimes it is hard for me to focus on You first when all of my needs are staring me in the face. You also tell me that if I keep with You, I will get the desires of my heart. Lord, I am so grateful for your forgiveness because I need it. Because if I am honest, with myself and with You, sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, I have a hard time going after what You want me to rather than what I want to. Please help me to look upward before I look forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Don’t forget to visit Servant Warrior Ministries at www.servantwarriorministries.org

January 8, 2012

“Go Where Your Competition’s Not”

Matthew 9:10-13

In today’s world of information overload and instant access to almost anything via the internet, cable television, satellite radio, etc…, advertisers and marketers are faced with an uphill battle on how to blaze new and unchartered trails in order to reach their desired target market or customer. The ability of companies and/or organizations to tap into potential clients that reside in the third, fourth, and fifth ring of the “Target” (we will talk about my ‘Target Theory’ in the coming weeks), there has to be a strategy, but more importantly a plausible purpose and reason for why they are ringing their doorbell. Good organizations and companies are able to connect the dots and show potential customers in the third, fourth, and fifth ring of the target the benefit of doing business together. Tapping into the outer rings often puts folks where their competition is not. While those who are a bit more tunnel-focused will wonder why in the world, let’s say as they did a number of years ago, a car dealership is putting cars in the middle of the mall. The reasoning was two-fold. One, there are no other car dealerships doing it. And two, there are a lot of people in the mall and they need cars too. I like the rationale. And it worked.

After Jesus called Levi (aka, Matthew), a tax collector, to follow Him, He went to Matthew’s house for dinner and ate with other tax collectors and ‘sinners’. The Pharisees, not only did they think it was wholly inappropriate and wrong for Him to be associating with such people, they couldn’t see the reasoning or the rationale of why Jesus would eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’. “On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick….For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:12-13 (NIV).  There was the strategy, purpose, reason, and benefit. Jesus came to deliver ‘sinners’. So He had to go where ‘they’ were. They were His customers…still are. And there obviously were no other competitors bidding for His customers’…eternal… business.

Challenge: In business, whether in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors, having the ability to connect the dots and build relationships to potential “customers” in the outer rings of the target is essential to increasing market share and building lasting and beneficial relationships. Sometimes, the only way to reach those in the outer rings is to go where some either can’t understand why or think it’s “inappropriate”. “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field.’” Matthew 9:37. The Message of Christ has eternal implications…and benefits. Be open to opportunities to share the grace and unconditional love of Christ and the Message with other…sinners.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your love and grace, neither of which I deserve. Forgive me for judging others. Please help me to look inward before I look outward. And please give me the strength, confidence, and courage to go where You call me to go and share Your message of eternal life…despite what others may think. Your word tells me I am more than a conqueror if I am in You. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

January 1, 2012

“New”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”     2 Corinthians 5:17. The old year is gone…the new year is ahead. With Christ, all things are new. ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV).

Challenge: Simple…Let the past pass. Learn from it. Cherish great moments. Remember God’s blessings…His faithfulness. Look to each day as a new opportunity to make a difference…to live for Christ.

 Prayer: Lord, Your word tells me your faithfulness and love are eternal and your compassions are new every morning. Let my strength to live every day for You be in You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.   

“The Matter Between Our Ears”

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Articles

Hello, 2012. Wow. It seems like just the other day it was 2011. My…how time flies. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year. I also hope 2011 was everything you had hoped it would be. If it wasn’t, rest easy my friend. It’s in the past and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s time to hit it again…a new year and new opportunities. I’m so glad I serve a God that makes all things new. Let’s get on with it…start the year off right…set the tone…and get folks talking.

I’m a sports guy. As a coach, leader, and strategist, I love to dive deep into the nuances and strategy of the game. The chess matches that occur between racing teams, dugouts, and sidelines are often as interesting, exciting, and enjoyable as the action itself. However, we sometimes get so caught up in the strategy and “out-smarting” the other guy, that we actually over analyze and out think ourselves. Admittedly, I catch myself doing this more often than I would like. One of my favorite movie lines comes from the movie “Major League”.  It’s top of the ninth…two outs…two strikes on the batter and Ricky Vaughn (played by Charlie Sheen) is standing on the mound, staring down a monster of a homerun hitter, and thinking about what pitch to throw. The screen then switches over to his coach and in a gruff and crusty voice the coach says, “Forget about the curve ball, Ricky. Give him the heater.”  What I hear in that is, ”Don’t think…just throw.”  If you are ever around a ball field with one of my little league pitchers on the mound, you will hear that phrase being preached…over and over.  It’s amazing how often our minds and the amount of knowledge, intellect, and skill we acquire get in the way.

Jesus Christ said, “Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Luke 18:17 (MSG) Why do we have such a hard accepting the simple message of grace, unconditional love, and salvation? The word “simple” is not used to denote easy. Rather, it means uncomplicated. I interpret the words Christ spoke about God’s kingdom to say that unless we accept the message of grace, love, salvation, and eternal life at face value, without clouding it up with the world’s analytical, scholarly, or intellectual insight, we will miss the point entirely and could very well find ourselves on the outside looking in. I don’t know about you but being on the outside of anything related to the God of heaven and earth is NOT where I want to be. As we go through life, the filter we see the things through is impacted by our experiences, knowledge, etc…Children, on the other hand, do not have those filters. They don’t look at anything beyond its face value…its simplicity. Isn’t it funny the more knowledge and experience we acquire, the less we are able to accept the most simple, basic, and transparent concepts.

Think about it. What were the academic resumes of the twelve…those first men that Christ chose to change the world by spreading the Message of salvation? Using today’s language, I don’t think there were many legal scholars or PhD’s. There is no doubt they were bright, gifted, and intelligent. Perhaps not by the world’s standards…or even the church’s…but the apostles accepted and understood the Good News Message at its core essence and were able to share it in a way that not only spoke to the hearts of people and changed lives forever, but they wowed the elite with their boldness and oratory skills (Acts 4:13 NLT). Don’t get me wrong. Getting an education and obtaining knowledge are essential….and Biblical. If you have any doubt, read through the book of Proverbs. But again I ask the question, “Why did He choose the twelve men that He did and not the scholarly elite? I’ll let you think about that one as it is a question that can be discussed at length…but it is a question for another time.

There are those that tout a belief in the reality of heaven, grace, unconditional love, salvation, absolute truth, an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and loving God, and an all sufficient Savior who hung on a cross and died for the sins of humanity, past-present-future, is a naïve, narrow-minded, uneducated, and simpleton perspective and point of view. The world tell us that things that sound “too good to be true”…usually are. However, we are clearly told in God’s word that it will take a childlike faith in order to enter heaven. (Matthew 18:3)  And if we will humble ourselves and seek His wisdom , and not our own, He will reveal a message of grace, forgiveness, freedom, salvation, and eternal life that truly is…“just that simple.” Remember, everything comes from the Lord. That includes knowledge, wisdom, and perspective. When we are praying, it would serve us well to pray that God will provide us the right amount of each. Until next time, keep it real…and Armor Up.

Don’t forget to visit www.servantwarriorministries.org

The above article was published in the January 2012 Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com, and can be viewed HERE.