Dude, I don’t want my black friend…

This interview was a great promo video for ARC, but it goes beyond that. I love the explanation that Jimmy Rollins gives to a conversation he had with Rick Bezet at about the 2:00 mark of the video. “Dude, I don’t want my black friend…”

I will be having a Ministry Hangout on Wednesday, April 9 at 2pm EDT. Jimmy Rollins is one of the guests and we will be talking about diversity in the church. You can watch it HERE.

When a friend blows it

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God doesn’t humiliate repentant sinners.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)

He understands our weaknesses. Too often when I read this scripture I focus on the fact that ‘he did not sin’ rather than the truth that ‘he understands our weaknesses’.

We ought to have his heart toward those who have given into temptation. We have to treat them with dignity and not scorn. The truth is – “they” are us. The measure of grace we use in judging others failures will be measured back to us when we need it.

Shame grows in the soil of guilt.

Strength grows in fields of Grace.

Grace is amazing.

Some things you probably shouldn’t tweet

There are some things that would be better left un-twittered.

I recently saw a tweet extolling the virtues of the tweeters current boss. Something like this: “So refreshing to work under wise Godly leadership.”

My first thought was: “That’s true. It’s great to work in a life giving environment.” I knew the pastor he was currently working for. The assessment was right on.

My second thought was: “I wonder how this is landing with his former employer?” I knew him too. Great guy. Wise and Godly also. Apparently not so much – at least not in the eyes of the tweeter. His experience working for my friend had apparently left him somewhat less “refreshed“. In less than 140 characters he had dissed him to the world (at least to the twitter followers who knew of his work history). Maybe he didn’t mean too, but that’s the sum result.

What to think about when you are frustrated with your job

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Have you ever been frustrated with your job? Wondered if anything you are currently doing really matters?

Recently my daily Bible reading took me thru Isaiah. In chapter 49:1-7 he has a conversation with God about his frustration with his job.

Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord ’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” And now the Lord speaks— the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the Lord, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49:1-7 NLT)

10 things to remember when your job’s going nowhere:

  1. God’s plan for you began long before you were born
  2. He’s the one that chose your gifts (Given a choice Isaiah might not have chosen the one he got)
  3. Your gifts are all about bringing him glory
  4. Even when you are in the center of God’s will, it will at times seem mundane and boring
  5. It’s best to leave the score keeping to God & trust him for your reward
  6. During un eventful days, it’s good to remind yourself of who God is and what he’s called you to do
  7. Never forget what an honor it is to do what you do for him
  8. God’s plan for you is bigger than what you have imagined
  9. If you remain in the posture of a servant, the same people who won’t give you the time of day now will pay close attention to you later
  10. When things do get better (they will), don’t forget who it’s all about

What do you do when you are bored by your work?
Which of the 10 helps you the most?

 

You’d better plan to fail

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When I saw the water leaking from the ceiling in our main floor bathroom – leaving ugly yellow stains and buckled sheetrock tape in its wake – I knew I’d made a serious error in judgement ten years prior:

I hadn’t planned to fail.

Sure enough, upon further inspection, the washing machine in the laundry room directly above was spewing rusty water onto the tiled floor and down thru the walls to the bathroom below. What a mess. A soon to be expensive mess.

It could have been avoided had I planned to fail.

I probably could not have avoided the malfunction of the machine. After years of near daily use, it had reached its life expectancy date. While the timing was a surprise, the inevitability shouldn’t have been. The problem lay in a decision that I made the first day it was installed just short of ten years ago.

Instead of planning for its failure I acted as if it would live forever.

When asked if I wanted to put a water pan under it, I declined. It probably cost extra, or would have delayed the installation in some way, or maybe I’d just never seen how much water a damaged machine can produce. Whatever my reasoning, I made a decision that now will cost me plenty.

They say that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” All I know is this: I’m going to get better at planning to fail.

I’m already thinking about other appliances in the house that have expiration dates. Do I have safeguards in place for that inevitable day when they quit working like they did on the showroom floor? I’ve got a water heater in the attic. Have I planned sufficiently for its failure? That will be a fun day.

What about as a leader? Am I planning enough to fail?

Am I spending enough time thinking about succession plans and things with expiration dates? Or am I sticking my head in the sand and pretending like everything will just last forever. The best time to make a good decision is before a lack of foresight costs you more than you can afford to pay.

How about personally? Do I have a plan for failure?

What am I going to do when I’m tempted, when I’m discouraged, when I feel like throwing in the towel? You know it’s going to happen. The exact day and circumstances may be surprising, but the inevitability shouldn’t be. What will be my safety net? How will I keep the overflow from messing up those around me? If I don’t have a plan for failure, the stain and destruction may cost more than I had bargained for.

This time when I purchased a new washing machine I chipped in a few extra bucks for the floor pan. That baby looks great right now but its going to quit working someday. I’ll be ready for it this time.

Failure is inevitable, stupidity is just an option.

Where do you need to plan to fail?

How I nearly ruined Mother’s Day

I’ve got to admit – Mother’s Day is one of the most fear eliciting, stress inducing weekends of the year for me. It’s not so much about my ineptness in selecting a gift or honoring the mother of my house – Debbie. Although, I’ve messed that up more than once :-)

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No, the trepidation comes from the annual exercise of trying to prepare and deliver a message that navigates the veritable minefield of emotions that women are feeling on that day. You’ve got women who are: mom’s, want to be mom’s but haven’t been able to yet, mothers who’ve lost a child, women who’ve lost a mother recently, moms with wayward children, women who have lost their husbands, women who would LIKE to lose their husband, women who would like to find a husband, career moms, stay at home moms. The list goes on.

I try to do my best but over the years, admittedly, there have been times that my sermons probably did more harm than good. My heart was right but my sensitivity meter was broken. Clueless might best describe it.

Honestly, we could probably just blow right thru Mother’s Day. Ignore it from the pulpit. It not in the Bible. Just a few years after it became a holiday, the person who created it was arrested for disturbing the peace while protesting against it. We could just take a pass and avoid the potential pain entirely.

That’s probably the best idea, but unfortunately it’s not the one I’ve chosen. I still think its a great weekend to tackle issues that impact women and give them an encouraging word from the wisdom of God. We’ve just got to be less clumsy.

So here’s what I’m doing this year:

  • First – Debbie sat me down and made me read this blog post by Amy Young. It was golden! I was going to innocently violate the most basic no-no – asking mothers to stand so I could pray for them. I would have ruined Mother’s Day for someone. Good catch Deb!
  • Second – I made a list of several women who represented some of the above mentioned stations in life and then asked them to help me with the message.
  • Third – I’m praying like crazy that God will use it in a powerful way.

Now I’m really looking forward to Mother’s Day. It should be great – if I don’t figure out a new way to mess it up :-)

Why do I feel this way on the day after Easter?

As a pastor, you have a variety of emotions on the day after Easter. Since this is my 25th Easter (we’ll celebrate that later this year), I’ve experienced all of them at one time or another – sometimes all on the same Monday.

Sometimes you feel…

  • Delirious – The service went great, or your neighbor came for the first time, or you broke through a growth barrier and you feel like you’re walking on air. We’ve had a few of those in our time. I can remember being dog tired on Sunday afternoon but wanting to take a walk in the neighborhood just to talk to God about my feelings. I couldn’t believe that he would use us like this. I couldn’t believe how many people came to church on Easter. We broke through a growth barrier on this our 25th year. It never gets old.