The Messiness of Grace

Let’s be honest…

It is easier to create a rule than it is to extend grace…

When someone does something wrong…

Grace is not the easy response…

Grace is the harder option…

Grace grants a pardon…

Grace sets a person free…

Grace removes the chains…

People may feel freed to sin again…

People may keep making the same mistakes…

People can abuse grace…

But, the reasons we value grace most…

Also give grace the greatest potential to be messy…

I’ll still prefer grace…

How about you?

The Best 3 Things I Taught My Sons

I watched my oldest son make a life decision recently and it confirmed how proud I am of my two boys. He wrestled through it with wisdom and landed on, what I believe, was the best answer to his situation.

The title of this post may be misleading, because I don’t know if I taught wisdom to my boys or if they just saw me seek it and so it became a part of their life to pursue it, but either way, I’m glad they gained the practice.

Here are three things my boys have that I wouldn’t trade anything for:

The love of wisdom – My boys love to learn. They continue, into their 20’s, to seek wisdom from me and others.

The learning of wisdom – My boys not only listen to the wisdom of others, they seek it out from their own experience. They seem to realize that wisdom comes best through the experiences of life….good and bad…so they continue to learn from the decisions they make.

The living of wisdom – I have to be honest, my boys are two of the wisest young men I know. They truly take wisdom and apply it to their life, making wiser choices as they grow in wisdom.

I’m addicted to growing in wisdom. I’m so proud my boys seem to have inherited the practice.

Let’s talk wisdom.

Answer these questions:

Do you love, learn, and live wisdom as much as you can?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how wise are you these days? (Be honest with your assessment.)

Who is the wisest living person you know?

A Wilderness Reminder

Don’t be afraid of those times in the wilderness…

When you can’t seem to hear from God…

When nothing seems to make sense in your life…

When there’s a nervousness about your future…

When you sense something is about to change…

When there’s a new stirring in your heart…

When you are tempted to become fearful…

In my experience…

God often uses those times to prepare you for better times…

Need more?

You may want to read one of these past posts:

7 Actions for the Times God is Silent

Encouragement to Hold onto God During Difficult Times

7 Actions while Waiting on God

Are you in the wilderness now? Have you been there before?

What advice or encouragement would you give others for these times?

My Thoughts: It’s Friday…but Sunday’s Coming!

When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. Matthew 27:35

The baby was born. It seems we just celebrated His birth a few months ago. He was laid in a borrowed manger. He grew in wisdom and stature. He fulfilled all prophecy that was written about Him.

He performed many miracles. He did only the will of His Father. He never sinned. He cared for the sick. He loved the poor.

He taught the disciples. He baptized many.

But…

He was betrayed. He was arrested. He was given a phony trial. He was mocked.

He was beaten. He was whipped. He was bruised. He was bloodied. He had a crown of thorns placed tightly on His head. He was made to carry His own cross as far as He could. As He walked, blood and sweat dropped into His eyes and mouth.

His hands and feet had spikes driven into them. The bones must have cracked more with each blow. He was spit on. He was stripped naked in front of all. He was placed between two criminals. He was left to die.

He could hardly breathe on the cross. The lack of oxygen caused Him to gasp. He could barely get His words out. The pain was so intense. Soon His earthly life would all be over.

And all He had left, the clothes on His back, were distributed by the casting of lots. They gambled for His last possessions.

It’s Friday…

But Sunday’s coming…

My friend Artie Davis shares this same concept in a powerful video. Check it out HERE.

What are your thoughts about Christ on this Good Friday?

5 High Costs of Character

Being a man or woman of character doesn’t come without some cost associated. If you want to have character that stands strong among the crowds, it will be expensive.

Here are 5 high costs to pay for having character:

Ignoring the right to get even…

Forfeiting profit over integrity…

Refusing personal gain for the greater good…

Resisting temptation when no one would know…

Forgiving when it hurts…

Of course, not all of these require sacrificing character. Thankfully you can still make a profit and maintain your character, but there will be times the choice for character requires the willingness to sacrifice.

You’ll give up a lot to become a person of character, but you’ll gain far more.

What other costs would you add to my list?

If You Only Follow The Rules…

Just a quick reminder…

If you only follow the rules others set for you…

If you only do what others call “safe”…

If you never risk everything…

If you never step out of the norm…

There’s a chance….

Someone could drown…

Sometimes you have to step away from the established rules and traditions of men in order to do something no one has ever done…

You have to go where no one else has gone…

You have to refuse to play it safe…

You may even have to break someone’s established “rules”…

Be honest…if there were only two options…

Which sounds more appealing to you?

Playing by the rules…

Or…

Doing something others say couldn’t…or shouldn’t…be done…

Have you ever had to break the rules to do something worthwhile?

5 Ways to Attract Young People to Church

If a church is more interested in protecting traditions than it is in creating a future, then it will most likely fail to attract young people…

At least that’s been my experience.

If a church is interested in attracting young people, then it must think strategically about doing so…

After all, they are the future…

Here are 5 ways a church can attract young people:

Value their ideas – Young people will want to do some things differently. Give them a voice and access to authority.

Give them a place to serve – Find ways that let young people assist others. It’s a huge value for them.

Be genuine with them – Young people can spot the phonies. Let them see that you are real.

Love them – Young people want to sense they are loved….even when they mess up.

Guide them – Young people want direction and they want to learn from your experience. (Just share it in the context with the other 4 points.)

What would you add to my list?

Guest Post: Tim Sanders

This is a guest post by Tim Sanders, author of Today We Are Rich. Tim is a speaker, author, and change-agent. He’s making a difference for the Kingdom through his connections and his influence. I’m honored to participate in Tim’s ministry with this guest post.

April 20 has a variety of meanings leading to various celebrations – some in the moment and others for future generations.  For me, it’s a big day I’m conducting a media tour to support my new book,  Today We Are Rich.  One of the key points of the book is that you can give your way out of burnout.  In principle four, Give To Be Rich, I echo Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s obsersvation: Generosity  is a Wonder Drug.

In the spirit of Carpe Diem, I’m claiming 4-20 as a national day of giving, observing and sharing of emotions.  Much like Scrooge, anyone can lift their spirits dramatically by giving, helping, volunteering or directly donating to those in need.  Researches have a name for the medicinal power of giving: Helper’s High.  This is the promise made in Isaiah 58: 7,8.

When you share what you have to help others, in that moment, you are worth something – and it will help you ease any pain.  Looking for a blanket to throw over your blues? Here’s what Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute For Research on Unlimited Love would deal to you:  “To rid yourself of negative emotional states, push them aside with positive emotional states and the simplest way to do that is to just go out and lend a helping hand to somebody.”

Looking for a buzz?  Volunteer.  Women participating in a study by the Institute For The Advancement Of Health reported that after volunteering time to help others, they had a physical experience similar to meditation or a vigorous workout.  In a compilation of fifty studies recently published by Case Western University’s Stephen Post, the exact phenom becomes clear:  When we perceive that we’ve helped someone, we trigger the reward center in our brain, which produces Dopamines, Endorphins and Serotonins.  These powerful chemicals give us feelings of profound joy, calmness and spiritual connection.  We get as high as a kite, or gain the internal/chemical feeling of true Richness.

We lift off, emotionally, and it lasts for days, sometimes weeks.  Researchers found that you could reinject yourself with the WonderDrug Of Helping just by thinking about it (but you need to focus your energies on recollecting all the details to generate empathy).  During my book tour stop in Franklin TN, I had a cup of coffee with Sandy Griffin, fellow author and big giver to the homeless in greater Nashville.  As she recounted how she secured some corrective shoes for one of her new friends, and the difference it would make to his quality of life – she lit up, high on the loving-giving experience.  Proof positive that this research is true!

In his research, Dr. Post also observed that when we are in Helping Mode, our body produces Oxytocin, which is known as the “bonding hormone.”  When faced with a crisis or a problem, people on Helper’s High spring into “Tend and Mend” mode, instead of the more aggressive “Fight Or Flight” mode.  In other words, Helper’s High brings out the emotion of trust and nurture.

And that’s not all, choosy drug shoppers, you also get relief from Helping too!  In a surprising study back in 1956, stay-at-home moms had less emotional stress markers than the breadwinners, because their mothering gave them natural relief.  Post explains it this way: Helper’s High (fueled by the brain’s reward center) dominate Cortisol, the stress hormone.  Help and you’ll conquer stress, and according to research in teens as well as adults: You’ll beat most depression too.

Giving, then, is a WonderDrug, the only one to take when you need a dose of Euphoria or a cure for the blues or a stressful life.  It lasts much longer, probably costs you less than substance or alcohol and more importantly – converts your selfish approach to ‘coping with life’ to a life of service and significance.  Try it out today, you’ll see.  Turn up for ‘helper’s radar’ and find an opportunity to do something helpful for someone.  The research warns that writing a check or texting a donation will NOT produce the high, you need direct contact with someone you generally care about or feel sympathy towards.  Give encouragement, a hot meal, a hand up or some volunteer time.  Keep your eyes open for the difference you make and savor the high that will come.  Make a note to reinject your psyche with the experience on May 1.  It’ll work then too!

Here’s How To Spread The Word: Retweet this post if you a Twitter-head or click the Like button is Facebook is your thing.  After you help someone today, either comment about your emotional experience (document your Helper’s High) or share your deed and feeling on Twitter with #HighOnHelping as a hashtag.  The more you talk about it, the more you are dealing a new solution to your extended network: Take Giving, It’s a WonderDrug.

Thanks to Jon Acuff, Randy Elrod, Ken Coleman, Ron Edmondson and others for joining this campaign via their blogs, podcasts and networks.  If you decide to participate, send me a note and I’ll add you to the #HighOnHelping bandwagon.

Pick up a copy of Today We Are Rich: Harnessing The Power Of Total Confidence and sharpen your ability to give, help and produce real meaning with your life.

 

Scripture Memorization, Week 16

Last week, we memorized Jeremiah 24:7. Read that post HERE. Today we have what I believe is a great companion verse to memorize.

Years ago I prayed these two together everyday for a month. I would say I committed them to memory then, except that I couldn’t recall them when I went to do these two posts. I guess it’s time to remember them again. I know this, if God gives you a heart to know Him, as we saw last week, and then singleness of heart and action to carry out what you know….that’s a powerful combination.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

How’s it going? I’d love to hear from some of you doing this with me this year.