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.

Weekend Giveaway: Mustard Seed Devotional

Weekend giveaway: Mustard Seed Devotionals winners announced:

Dale

Keisha

FlicShis

Congratulations!

 

 

I’m feeling generous this weekend and, since I’ve been working this week on my new book, I thought it was time to share the one I already have. It’s a devotional book and I haven’t pushed it much yet, simply because it’s a collection of previously published devotionals I wrote for my ministry website MustardSeedMinistry.com. Once a week or so, however, someone will ask about or comment on this book, so here is an opportunity for you to have a copy.

This weekend I’ll give away three (3) copies of Mustard Seed Thoughts: A Devotional.

If you want a copy, simply:

  • Retweet this post on Twitter or share this post on Facebook.
  • Comment on this post (Make sure I have your name or email address) and when you do your daily devotions….Morning, Lunch, Evening, or Never

Monday I’ll give away three (3) copies of my devotional book to random commenters.

Thanks for reading this blog.

Friday Discussion: Importance of Being Healthy

I’m using the LoseIt application. I’ve downloaded it on my iPhone, iPad and laptop. It keeps up with my calorie intake and my exercise each day. Some of those closest to me have picked on me for how intense I’ve been. Someone saw me recently looking to put a few M & M’s in the app. I didn’t eat a whole package.

I’m not tremendously overweight, but over the last year or so I’ve picked up an extra 8 to 10 pounds and I can feel it. It’s impacted my running, which is my way to relax. It’s made my clothes tighter.  It’s made me more conscious about what I wear. More than that, I just haven’t felt as good as I did before I gained the few extra pounds. It’s really affected the quality of my life. I’m determined to get back to my ideal weight. As busy as I am, I can’t afford anything that slows me down that I can control.

I know health is a touchy subject. Some people have medical issues that keep them from exercise. Others have dietary concerns. I don’t mean to offend anyone who may be overweight. For me, however, this is an important issue. My physical health seems to impact every other part of my life, so if I can do something about it, I feel almost an obligation to be healthy. I realize I may be in a minority among some pastors, so I am curious enough to make it a Friday discussion topic.

Consider these questions:

  • Is it important that we monitor our health?
  • Is it important for a leader to be physically healthy?
  • Does a leader’s health determine how well you listen to them or take his or her advice?
  • Do you want your doctor to be in shape when he or she tells you that you should be in shape?
  • Let me take it a step further. Would it be a sin to not take care of your body?
  • Are there any special requirements as believers to be healthy?

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the importance of being healthy. Dialogue. Discuss. Debate if you will…

Let me hear from you.

You can read a couple posts I did about this issue HERE and HERE.

Bonus points: Tell me how you maintain your health. What’s your plan?

7 Actions When You Can’t Respect the Leader

I received a message from a staff member of another church recently. He is struggling with the current leadership and wondering how long he can continue to be where he doesn’t support the vision and direction of the pastor. He wanted my advice on how he should be responding during this season of ministry.

This situation is obviously not unique to churches, but also happens frequently in other organizations. One problem is that in this economy, it’s much harder to transfer jobs, so many people are feeling stuck with their current position. I don’t believe all hope is lost during these times and an individual can continue to grow even with a leader he or she cannot respect.

Here are 7 actions I encouraged him to do:

Talk to God – That’s an obvious, but sometimes it’s not the obvious that we do. Ask God to reveal to you His purposes for your life. It could be He’s preparing you for something, stirring the nest so-to-speak, or that you are in a time of testing. Don’t assume God is absent during this time. I assure you He’s not asleep at the wheel and has a plan. The closer you are to Him during this time the sooner you’ll understand that plan.

Keep working – Most of us need a paycheck. Be grateful while you have one. Unless you know for certain you are to quit, it is destroying you or your family, or you sense something immoral is happening, there’s nothing wrong with working until you find something else.

Do your best – While you are there be above reproach in your work ethic. Make it your aim to prepare for your successor and to leave your area of responsibility better than you found it when you arrived.

Follow the leader – I know. That’s the tough one, but as long as you’re there you must respect authority. You may not respect him as a leader but you can respect him as the boss.

Learn all you can – The fact is we learn more during the stressful and difficult times, so be a sponge. You may gain all the wisdom of what not to do when you are in control, but you will learn something if you try.

Be thankful for the connections and experience – You will be gaining connections in the church (work) world…or at least you have that opportunity. It’s easier to network when you’re in the field than it is once you are no longer working. Be thankful for that opportunity.

Be a cheerleader for life – You may not enjoy your work setting but you can still be a positive life influence for those around you. Use your smile and your pleasant disposition as an encourager for others. You’ll feel better about yourself after you eventually leave.

Keep watching – Be open to what God will do next in your life. It may not be what you are expecting. Chances are good it will stretch you and require a leap of faith. Prepare your heart, family and attitude for that opportunity when it arrives.

By the way, because I know someone will think this, my friend understands the concept of a call but isn’t sure God hasn’t already released him from his assignment. He just can’t find another position right now.

I have thoughts on the call I can share in another post, but basically I believe the call is more to a person (Christ) than to a location. I think we often confuse those two and the person call trumps the location call every time.

Have you ever been in this position?

What would you say to my friend? What advice would you give him?

Don’t Pray Before You Eat

It happened like this…

Cheryl and I were eating at a restaurant…

That’s happened many times before…

There was a large family gathered at a table nearby…

We’ve seen that before too….

The family prayed before their meal came….

That was nice…

We noticed…

Then their food came…

The order wasn’t right…

They were mad…

They made it known that they were made…

Numerous times…

They were just plain rude to the waitress…

We felt bad for her…

Cheryl even apologized for “their” behavior after they left…

It made me wonder….

If you’re going to be a rude customer, should you even bother to pray before you eat?

Aren’t you sending mixed signals?

Just asking…

What do you think?