This morning as I read through the Word of God I stumbled upon a passage that I had to share.

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard” (1 Peter 3:7; NLT)

Now, read this passage a couple of times and see what jumps out to you. I have read this several times over the years and never noticed it… I have drawn out the idea that I need to love my wife but I never realized the end of this scripture. “If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.”

Men: How is your prayer life?

I understand this passage may sound odd, why would my prayers not be heard, so I looked at a few other versions of this text.

“as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (NIV)

“show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (NASB)

“as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (KJV)

If we want a successful prayer life that leads to a full life we must treat our wives with gentle tenderness and love. Our greatest opportunity to glorify God comes to us in our own homes. In regards to how to treat our wives the Bible makes it clear that as men we was must:

  1. Love them and not treat them harshly (Col. 3:19)
  2. Love them as we love ourselves (Eph. 5:33)
  3. Trust in her (Prov. 31:10)
  4. Praise her (Prov. 31:30)

Now, I realize this is a limited scope of how a man should treat his wife but it is pretty apparent that a Godly woman is of great value to man. There will be times when we don’t understand our wives. There will be trials that test our trust in them and they us but we must hold fast in love. If we love, trust, and praise them we will never go wrong. Our prayers will not be hindered and our relationships will flourish.

If you are struggling in your prayer life, look to your wife. How have you been treating her? Have you allowed her to be the woman God has called her to be or have you placed her on the back burner for your life’s goals? Learning to respect your wife will change your relationship with God.

If you make a mistake; fess up. If you are slacking in your household duties, man up. If you are harsh, apologize. Are you sinning behind her back; confess it. Whatever you are doing be sure to be a man. You are responsible for your own actions. You are to be a leader in your home. You are to:

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor. 16:13-14)

Your prayers depend on your interactions with your wife. Love her as the Lord loved the church and you will be among the blessed.

 

 

 

 

“I’ve Got the Power!”

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Growing up as a child in the 90′s the word “power” had great influence over me and my generation. Even today in the 2000′s the idea of power is prevalent. Think about some of the songs of that time:

  • “The Power” by SNAP!
  • “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion
  • “Ninja Rap” by Vanilla Ice
  • “That Power” by Will.i.am 
  • “Power” by Kanye West

Or consider one of my favorite taglines during this time period:

“I have the power of Grayskull!”

Anywhere you look the idea of “power” is there. It seems as if we are attracted to the very word as if it is a light and we are a moth. Power is a word that we need to be aware of in our culture because well, it’s powerful. Book titles, TV shows, movies all try to incorporate the word “power” or the experience that power can grant someone. In this new year, power is something that can be a blessing or a curse to ourselves and our loved ones. It can take control over us or it can pave the way for change.

This morning as I was reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers I stumbled over the following quote:

It is not on what we spend the greatest amount of time that molds us the most, but whatever exerts the most power over us.

This struck me like a knife to the heart. I am prone to think that whatever I give my time to, that is what is most important to me in life. Chambers gives the impression that whatever exerts or pushes us has the most power over us. This made me think; what has power over me? I would like to give the holy answer of “Jesus” but I don’t think that is always the case. As a pastor watching over the church has power over me. Keeping my family safe, nourished and clothed has power over me. Making sure I have spent enough time with God so that I have the right words to say on Sunday even has power over me. What has power over you?

The vast majority of our lives will be spend working and sleeping. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) people who are employed, between ages 25 and 54 with kids spend their time during an average work day:

Time use on an average work day for employed persons ages 25 to 54 with children

http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/

If you use their math, 16.5 hours of each day is given to work and sleep. So it is important to identify what controls us during our “free time.” When we are willing to take an honest look at our lives and see what controls us, this opens the door to change. We can sit down take an inventory of our time and how we spend it and most likely not like what we see.

This past week I preached on the idea of doing all things for God. If we want to take 2014 and make something of it we need to identify if He has the power or if something else does. The Bible encourages us:

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you should do it all for God’s glory. 1 Cor. 10:31 (CEB)

This passage should sum up our lives. Now, I realize this is a board passage and doesn’t give us insight in to how to do this but at least it gives us a goal. If we can look into our lives and remove the things that aren’t God glorifying we will gain time each day. If we intentionally act to glorify God, we will give our lives a since of purpose. Whatever has power over us, if it isn’t the love of Christ we are cheating ourselves out of something grand.

By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces. 2 Peter 1:3-4 (CEB)

This year, as explore what you want your life to look like consider turning the power over to God. His promise to us is clear, the more we seek Him the more He gives us. If you allow Christ to become your power source this year prepare for the best year of your life. Stick with Him. Depend on Him. And know He will pull you through. God bless you and I apologize to those who are now singing “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion.

 

 

Be A Man

Posted: May 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of The Lord your God, walking in His ways and keeping His statues, his commandments, His rules, and His testimonies… that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. (1 Kings 2:2b-3; ESV)

These words are penetrating my heart today. So many times I get distracted in life. I become frustrated with situations, settings or just life in general and forget my mission. The passage above is David charging Solomon to be a man. He didn’t just tell him to man up, he should him through the way he lived and gave him a solid plan to define manhood.

These words penetrate my heart because of my son. Fatherhood has changed me. It has changed my thoughts, world views and mission in life. Prior to my son’s birth I thought my mission was to change the world through the power of Jesus Christ but now my mission has changed. My new mission isn’t the world but my world. I need to foster an environment so my son; the next generation has an understanding of what a man should be.

David did this for Solomon. He charged him with be a man and then instructed him in the ways of The Lord. As a pastor, but even more so as a man, I have to do this for my son. Show him the church isn’t about four walls but the very heart beat of Christ. Show how the Spirit should be as fluid as water flowing in our souls. Teach him that love, true love, is from God and given to others from Him.

I cannot be distracted by the forces in this world. I need to continually fall in love with Christ and show him to my family and church. I think that all men can learn something for this passage. We all need to return to the heart of Christ to define who we are and who are children are to be. The more time we spend in His word, write out our thoughts the deeper the our roots will sink into the the foundation that Christ has laid. My prayer today is for God to help me be a man, a man who sees the world through the eyes of Christ. Be a man; amen.

Remarkable Product

Posted: May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

“Create remarkable products that the right people seek out.”

The above quote comes from Seth Godin’s book “Purple Cow.” So far this book is about the changes of marketing over the years. The old mindset of marketing consisted of produce the right advertisement and get it to as many people as possible. But over something shifted and the new mindset is make a great product and get it in the hands of the right people. What stands out to me most is the idea of a “remarkable product” and how this idea applies to the modern day church.

Think of it this way; most churches are stuck. They are inwardly-focused and concerned more with the people in the building than the people outside of it. Our culture has shifted though and churches are dying (and have been) although most didn’t notice. We’ve marketed the church to Christians. We have programs that Christians would enjoy. We market books, conferences, retreats and cruises that are “Christ” centered to the church goers. We have events that keep our kids safe and away from the heathen population around us. We have essentially, mass marketed ourselves to well, ourselves. We have stopped worrying about the “product” which we market; in this case Jesus Christ and have exhausted our resources. Old Christians are dying. There are few new Christians to market to and because of this our product of Christ suffers.
The church has the most marketable and remarkable product ever created; eternal salvation, heaven on earth, peace, hope, love, joy all made possible through Jesus Christ. Granted Christ isn’t a product, we didn’t create Him. The idea of Christ as a product is to illustrate an important principle; we have lost focus of the church. If we are weakening Christ and His message by being a self-focused, self-indulgent church than we don’t have the promise product that the world needs to meet.

Here is the bottom line on this train-wreck of a thought: The church mass marketed to themselves their own product which they already have and are failing to market it the right people. The church is decaying due to poor marketing of a remarkable product.

The mission of the church is simple: Love God and love others. The way we love God and live our life will reflect Christ and gives us an opportunity to market this remarkable product to the seeking soul. We cannot do this though if we are only concerned with our church and other Christians.

In the book of Jeremiah God speaks to his people, who have lost their way and says:

“There’s no use offering me sweet frankincense from Sheba. Keep your fragrant calamus imported from distant lands! I will not accept your burnt offerings. Your sacrifices have no pleasing aroma for me.” (Jeremiah 6:20, NLT)

In other words the people weren’t doing what God called them to do; they lost their way. They worried about the impending dangers that surrounded them. They turned to themselves and other nations for answers but failed to focus on God and His message. These folks had God in their corner but failed to do as He wanted. They had a product and failed to market it.

As Christians we are doing the same thing. We live in fear of change. We look toward ourselves for the answer and fail to do as Christ commanded us. Our inward focus has created a medial product. There is hope though. God didn’t leave us out to dry. He knew that we would struggle with inward mindsets and selfishness of His Son but He gave us the solution. The solution is change. Change our view, our way of worship, our way of marketing to ourselves and live a new life for Him.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

If we do this, if we change from selfish inward views and get back to the mission that Christ exemplified in the Gospels; we have hope. A life of love is concerned with others who don’t know the greatest source of love. The disciples didn’t hangout together all day; they went and spread the message of love. They died to themselves and they died horrible deaths to become a pleasing aroma to God. They took the message to the streets and marketed their remarkable product of Christ to the lost souls who needed Him. That stance, that message should be what drives our churches. It takes sacrifice. It takes difficult changes but it is what we must do to revive our product. Jesus Christ is the most amazing gift to the world; a world that is seeking something and needs to hear about Him. What are you going to do about this church? How are we going to get our remarkable “product” to the seeking souls?

Build a Battalion

Posted: January 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

“You cannot prevent a major catastrophe, but you can build an organization that is battle-ready, that has high morale, that knows how to behave, that trusts itself, and where people trust one another. In military training, the first rule is to instill soldiers with trust in their officers, because without trust they won’t fight.” -Peter Drucker

I read the above quote in Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust. This book comes as a required reading from our pastoral group meeting we have once a month. In this meeting we discuss things such as spiritual health, the health of our various churches and our plans to make both a success. In all the meetings that I have been apart of in this pastoral ministry this is the first time we have discussed the topic of trust. While I am not enamored with Covey he certainly makes valid points. Trust is a bonding agent that we can all use in our lives. If there is no trust than the is little to no progress, comradery and we create a pseudo-culture.

When I worked in the hospital setting we launched a campaign for the workers of the hospital to “Get on the bus.” This essentially was the companies way of saying, we have custom service issues and need to re-educate you. This campaign was a miserable failure. It was launched at the wrong time, under the wrong leadership and with little trust. It cost the hospital close to a half-million dollars by my meager estimate. Fast forward a couple years. There is a new leader at the helm, a new owner of the hospital and while trust wasn’t fully accepted, it was slowly gaining momentum. Another campaign was launched, but not one to attack the short-comings of the staff but one to build the level of trust between leadership and staff; this campaign was simply called “Town Halls.” This town hall setting gave the employees insights into the current status of the hospital, the vision of where things are heading and allowed for questions. The President of the hospital herself headed these meetings over the course of two or three days at various hours so that all staff could attend. She knew she was new and had to build trust. While still an expensive venture for the hospital this shift from attack the short-comings to challenge the future made all the difference in the world. She built trust, things were done effectively and efficiently. We made it through an extremely trying time at the hospital with Medicare changes, going paperless, new owners, and new rules. Her initiative to lead with trust pulled together the workforce and we succeeded on all levels.

Just like the Peter Drucker quote at the start of this post; trust starts with confidence in ourselves. If we develop self-confidence that trickles down into our circle of influences. Our trust moves from self to others believing in us as a leader and before we know it; the battalion is built. Whatever the cause; church, business or otherwise if there is no trust there is no forward motion. Leaders must be visible  ethical and display excellence in the small daily tasks of life. If we do those things our trust level with the individuals we lead will go up tenfold. This is true in the church world, the corporate world and even in your own home. Trust is built, given, and useful in all situations in life. Start displaying it today. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (Psalm 37:3, NIV).

Leading with a “thumbs up”

Posted: January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Last night I elected to trade sleep to watch the BCS game between Alabama and Notre Dame. The game was was relatively one sided and ultimately led to the Crimson Tide rolling their way to their third BCS title in four years under coach Nick Saban. The game displayed passion, leadership and a heart to win but what will leave an impression on me is a simple thumbs up.

The game had ended and Saban, who at this point was covered in Gatorade runs out onto the field surrounded by security, team members and an assortment of media. As coach Saban ran onto the field, he didn’t appear to be looking for a hug of recognition or a camera to talk into; he simply turned around giving a thumbs up to his players, staff and fan base. This is leadership. More importantly, this is leadership with humility. Nick Saban is something of legend. He will make close to 6 million dollars this year. This is his 4 over BCS title and he has clearly established the makings of a dynasty at Alabama. It would have been easy in the moment to seek attention, a camera, a hug but he turned with his thumb in the air to affirm the team around him.

Leadership knows humility. When we take the office, the courtroom, the pulpit or the stage we should carry this powerful tool of humility with us at all times. The Bible talks of humility on several occasions and God appreciates a humble leader. 

“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Psalms 25:9)

A good leader is one who places their team first. A great leader is one who leads other along the path of humility. A simple thumbs up to a team member today could be a foundation for productivity and trust tomorrow. 

 

 

“I” for an “I”:

Posted: January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

The letter “I” is something magnificent. In Roman numerals it signifies “1.” In our culture it points to the individual (Me, Myself and I). “I” is commonly used in our language as the first letter of the prefix “in” which can be placed on several words for example: different becomes “indifferent” or the word secure can be transformed to “insecure.” This simple change creates a new meaning to the root word.

In the church world and the business world the use of “I” can be a killer of business. When “we” becomes “I” momentum shifts and feelings become numb. The interesting paradox that surrounds “I” words is that while there are five that kill business momentum there are at least three that redeem it. Those five killer “I” words are: Individualism, incrementalism, indulgence, intolerance and ignorance.

Individualism: This brings us back to our culture of the use of “I.” If it is only one person making a difference than not much difference will be made. When we take credit on an individual level and don’t promote the atmosphere of a team, we will kill the momentum that has been built. We must acknowledge the idea that no one stands alone. We are in this church, business and life together.

Incrementalism: This is the idea of thinking small. In his book “Axiom” Bill Hybels writes:

“Almost all churches have one thing in common when they first start out: sky-high idealism… People pray big prayers, they give big dollars, they donate big-time hours, and they believe God is quite capable of doing absolutely anything through them.”

When we start to think small, we shrink ourselves, our co-workers, and our vision. In the church setting when we shrink God into a something we can wrap our minds around, we cheat ourselves, our God and our churches. We serve a big God, with a big vision and we need to keep that big idea in our heads.

 Indulgence: Here I don’t want to come across as a fuddy-duddy but we live a life of indulgence in America. The american church is the richest church ever to be formed; what are we doing with the riches? Most times we are spending them on ourselves, not even within the church. We buy the new car, home, computer, phone, etc…. I am guilty of this as well, but what if we reprioritized  What if we took that money and those possessions that we have and gave them for Kingdom use? Not gave them away, just looked for avenues that God could use them in. It is no secret that we are blessed in the US but we could be a much larger blessing to the world if we weren’t so indulgent to ourselves. We need to up our giving of money, time and resources. As the old preacher says “We have all the money we need, the problem is, it is still in your wallets.”

Intolerance: This is a big one no matter what you do in life. Intolerance has come to the forefront of our world. It seems when we fail to understand something, we start to hate it. We become indifferent towards the subject and will not even allow that subject to state it’s case. The subject could be money, life-style choices, religion, control, etc… It doesn’t matter, the issue is when intolerance happens, systems breakdown and hatred wins the day. We have to keep conversations alive for progress to be made but if intolerance interferes we will be in the same place we started or perhaps even further apart. We may not always agree, but we can at least be civil in the discussions that happen. This goes for all areas in our lives regardless if it is at work, church or even in our own homes.

Ignorance: Some may argue that intolerance and ignorance are one in the same but there is a difference. Intolerance can happen even if we have complete understanding of the subject matter, we just draw a line and will not move from it. Ignorance however comes when we fail to research the topic and ignore the voices of reason. Ignorance is the idea that people just don’t care to learn about anything that is uncomfortable or uninteresting to their current views in life. Ignorance in a business will absolutely kill production and sales. If you don’t know what you are building or selling, your product will be a complete failure. If you are a church member or leader and ignore the Bible, the finances of the church or the community in which you live; the church will slowly die. The more ignorance in a setting the quicker the death of the product or church will happen. We have to be willing to read and educate ourselves and others if we are going to produce in our society.

Now that the gloom and doom “I” words have been identified there are a few that can fix these issues. This is not by any means an extensive list but certainly a starting off point to renew our environments in life.

Intention: When we are intention in our lives we will be more productive. When we intentionally focus our thoughts on our work, our Savior or our family that is when life change will occur. When we make an intentional effort to do the opposite of the above “I” words we will build momentum in our various arenas of life and create more joy in living. Intentional practices team-thinking, vision-casting, generosity  tolerance, and education will build a better world. 

Intimacy: Aside from being intentional in life, if we become intimate with life things start to change. Intimacy with your product will increase your joy for building or selling it in most cases. Intimacy with your God will build a relationship of trust with Him. Intimacy with your family will build a foundation of love. Intimacy with you church and community will create a sense of familiarity with one another that cannot be broken. When we are filled with intentional intimacy we will have an impact on where we are in life.

Integrity: Integrity is the cornerstone of trust. If we are filled with integrity it will pour out from us. People will see the moral and ethical code that God instilled in us and learn from it. Integrity is built through the ideas intention and intimacy. If we are clear that in our intent and show a deep level of intimacy toward the subject matter, then we will show our integrity. Integrity restores faith in humanity and builds up the broken in life.

This list of negatives and positives isn’t extensive but is a great place to start your thinking. As a pastor, I have seen all of these come into play at one time or another in the church. When I worked at the hospital the five demon “I’s” would rear their ugly heads but would be countered with the three “I’s” of wisdom. Regardless of who you are currently, identify the problem areas in life will allow you to make way for a new journey. Try removing a negative and adding a positive and see if this isn’t one of the best years ever.