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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

No Excuse Sir

In the fall of 1971, Bob McDonald joined the US military Academy at West Point, New York.  Bob learned quickly there are only four acceptable responses when addressed by a superior officer: yes sir, no sir, I don't understand sir, and no excuse sir.  

As Bob explains, imagine I shined my shoes, my trousers pressed, and I go out to formation.  While in line, one of my classmates rushes past and steps in a puddle, splashing mud all over my shoes and trousers.  Then an upperclassman walks by and notices. "McDonald, why are you in formation with mud all over your shoes and trousers?

As a West Point Cadet, I can go through all for possible answers in my head, "yes sir" would restate the obvious, "no sir" would not fit, and "I don't understand sir" would make me look senseless. The only answer I had left was the fourth one, and it's the most powerful one of all, "No excuse Sir."
Even though something happened to me that was outside my control, I wasn't supposed to make any excuses. I was supposed to say, "No excuse, Sir." "It won't happen again." That's how the West Point Cadet takes responsibility and forms character.


Speaking of government agencies, there was a great King in the Old Testament named David. David had his ups and downs as a leader, from slaying the giant Goliath to committing adultery with Bathsheba. However, something peculiar in his narrative connects to the story above. We pick up the story at the end of 2 Samuel after David takes a census (which he was directly told not to do). 
Here is the account recorded, "So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”

And there it is folks.
David was tired of looking out the window of his palace to find someone else to blame; instead he peered into the mirror and took personal responsibility. "No excuses, sir" was the great King's reply. This, I believe represented a real shift in David's life. No longer was he the man that was trying to squirm out of his wrongs, somewhere along the line he had developed broad shoulders of character and quit the blame game. Troubled actor Tom Sizemore had a similar realization too when he said, "I used to blame my problems on other people. But my moment of clarity, if you want to call it that, came when I was looking in the mirror one day and just burst into tears. It wasn't just that I looked bad, it was that I knew my problem was me."

Blame shifting will only get you so far, so quit shifting the monkey and take responsibility for your life. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Father's Eyes

I heard a song in church yesterday titled, “Father’s Eyes.”
Below are some of the lyrics ...

“I may not be every mother's dream for her little girl
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world
But that's all right as long as I can have one wish I pray
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
She's got her Father's eyes, her Father's eyes
Eyes that find the good in things
When good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help
When help just can't be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowin' what you're going through, and feeling it the same
Just like my Father's eyes ... “


As I listened I thought to myself how this could be every Christian’s first prayer of the day.
Before you and I ever walk out the front door to whatever beholds us we can pray to see the world through our Father’s eyes. Imagine how you would see things differently for a moment:
-That annoying kid that keeps cutting through your yard turns into a lonely young man that needs a mentor.
-The group of trashy gals dressed inappropriately morphs into young women that need a proper identity.
-Your frazzled co-worker transforms into a tired mother that needs a hug.

In the New Testament book of Ephesians, Paul is writing the church in Ephesus and tells them that, “I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” This may not strike you at first, but I want to you re-read the passage with an eye on 4 simple words: GIFT OF GOD’S GRACE. There it is. The ultimate perspective change. Before Paul was the Apostle Paul, he was Saul the persecutor (See book of Acts, chapter 7 & 8). Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road and had a radical worldview shift. He met the risen Christ and immediately started seeing through his Father’s eyes. Paul could never be the same thereafter, his life was totally devoted to knowing Christ and helping others discover a new set of eyes.

What about you? Whose eyes do you see through? Do you have your Father’s eyes?
If this is something that interests you, I’d like to take a second and invite you to Faith Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning's for worship. There, you will meet a diverse and loving group that seeks to accomplish this very task. We meet at every Sunday morning, 11a.m.  


A prayer:

“When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
She's got her Father's eyes, her Father's eyes
Eyes that find the good in things
When good is not around
Eyes that find the source of help
When help just can't be found
Eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain
Knowin' what you're going through, and feeling it the same
Just like my Father's eyes ..."




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Friday, May 5, 2017

It's up to you!

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, And Nobody

This is a little story about 4 people named EverybodySomebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

-----Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done...


Got it?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rick

Rick. 

Today I did something that I didn't want to do.

I attended a good friends funeral. 
When I walked in, I caught him in my peripheral, and I started to cry. Hard. 
Real hard. 
If you know me, and you've seen me cry like this; you know it has a ripple effect.

Rick was a fun loving, light hearted, rib-busting kinda guy. Always put a giant smile on people's faces. 

Rick, struggled mightily with addiction -but don't worry, this didn't define him. Nope, not one bit.

Earlier today, with a packed house at the funeral service, I watched his mother give an eulogy that would rival Abe Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Then, I watched his uncle, who is a pastor, share about his life. 

Then it came time for people to share, and I felt as though I would have regretted not sharing my heart. So I stood up in the back of the room and said this: 

Hello my name is Anthony Kladitis, and I have known Rick for about 20 years. 
Rick had a special gift.  
Rick was an encourager. 
In life, you could exert energy in two ways, you could either push people down or pull them up. 
Rick pulled people up. 
Everyone in this room could attest to Rick pulling them up at one time or another.
In conclusion, I could confidently say that I am a better Christian, better pastor, and better human being for having known Rick Glass. 

At the and of the service, his family handed out brightly colored flashlights so that everyone could take one, put it in a place that they could see, and remember the light that Rick showed us all -in the hopes that we could go and do likewise. 

Good vibes and positive thoughts.