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Monday, June 28, 2010

Entitled vs. Entrusted

How do you view money? Specifically yours? Not to bring up a touchy issue, but... I think there is something to learn about the Biblical understanding of money. Richard Sterns observers that the American Dream often teaches, "I worked hard, I earned it, and it's mine to do with as I please." This suggests that we are "entitled" to any income that comes to us because we worked for it. The Bible teaches something different. Everything we have and own comes from God; He has simply entrusted it to us. The difference between entitlement and entrustment is huge. When I understand that everything I do is a gift from God -even working- I come to the realization that I am a dependant person. Your gifts and talents that got you to the position you are in right now,were given to you by God. Ultimately, everything we have is owed to God. Living this way will change your life. And most likely the people around you will notice. For example, my wife and I have a garden that is always filled with more plants and veggies than we know what to do with. This is not a problem. You see I did not plant the garden for just me and Christen. It was planted to bless anyone in need of fresh produce. So in this way, the purpose of the garden was a way of saying thanks to God for the abundance He has bestowed on my family. There are times in life, were you are blessed financially too. Maybe this is God providing you an opportunity to bless others?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Divine Design

This past week, I led a study on finding your "Divine Design"with the youth. I used a video by Marcus Buckingham which helps you discover your natural strengths. Marcus suggests an easy way to discover your strengths. He says to take a pad and pen around with you for a week and pay attention to your feelings before, during and after you've done something. He says to write down how you feel and at the end of the week you will find certain things that energize you and certain things that drain you. He says that it is important to then focus your time, energy, and resources on the things you excel at and love doing. The wrong thing to do would be to focus mostly on your weaknesses (the things that drain you --regardless if you are good at them!) Focusing on your weaknesses will leave you in a bad stop as you will never grow as much like you will if you put your focus into your areas of strength. Try it this week and see the areas that leave you energized. In doing so, you will find out your Divine Design. Then look for places to put those passions to use in God's service. And if there is not already a place for you...create one. And if you think that your dream may be small or that one person is not big enough to make an impact...try being closed in a small room with a mosquito!

Monday, June 21, 2010

God pursuing Man

Yesterday at dinner, a conversation was going on about an author who wrote a book about her experiences traveling the world, experiencing culture, food, and life. During this conversation, the person who read the book said that one thing the author emphasized was that "all religions across the board are on a search for God...that is one thing they have in common." Like a chess player who sees a weakness in the other players action in an instant I moved...
"All religions except for the Christian faith" I said.
Blank stares from everyone around the table...
This perhaps is THE defining idea of Christianity. What man cannot do...God does. In the Christian faith, it is God Himself through His precious Son who does the searching. Revolutionary? You bet. It is God Himself who is the hound of heaven according to the Gospel. It is God who sets out and searches for the lost, broken and downtrodden. It is God who sweats. It is God who's heart breaks. It is God that takes on a crowd, takes on a beating, takes on a cross and a crown of thorns in His pursuit of you and me. Jesus. You are forever the King of my heart for this reason. No one can compare to You. If only people would realize that you are for them. If only people would embrace the One who is ready to take them in...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Saved by Grace (Eph. 2:8-9)
Saved for Works (Eph. 2:10)
Unfortunately, many Christians end up emphasizing the fact that Salvation is solely by God's Grace. Focusing only on this side of the coin leads to a kind of faith that often times forgets that following Jesus leads to a life change. That life change starts in your heart and then gets lived out in your daily life.
Jesus is like a Mac Truck. Whatever He makes contact with -it makes an impact.
In other words --God's gracious act of redemption will never cause a person to sit idle.
That being said, if you desire to follow Jesus and have been impacted with and by His grace, then the way you live your life will display that impact. In fact, it will be impossible NOT to have a life alteration. God has saved you by His grace and that grace will find its way to your hands and feet. Did you ever notice how the things you hold dear always do that? The things you love, you spend your time, money, and energy pursuing. There really is no exceptions here.
So maybe a challenge for you? Look at your check book and your calender. What are the things you spend most of your resources and energy doing and thinking about?
-Find the answer to those questions and you will find your true priorities-

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Honey, Locusts & Camel Fur

You know how mom and dad aways tell you to brush your teeth, have clean underwear on and say thank you? Parents are always tyring to refine you. It's kinda their job to turn you into upstanding citizens. I am afraid that somewhere along the line we lost our way. We lost the zeal for life and gained a love for the mundane. I know what your thinking: Anthony, I am happily living my life. I have all the stuff I ever wanted, I am comfortable. --I guess that's the point of this whole blog. Not long ago, I was talking to an acquaintance who works as a back cracker. In this convo I was having with him he told me he was passionate about his job. I sat silent. I was wondering if he meant he was passionate about the money he gets from his job. I also wondered why he never volunteered his services for free for those who cannot afford to see him if he was so passionate about seeing peoples back pain go away. The point of all of this is that we (specifically the Christian Church) seemed to have lost our way right with the world. We settle for a list of Christian do's and dont's, then we tell our family to dress neatly for an hour on Sunday morning then we go home. No challenge. No excitement. No real battle to fight. Its just blah blah blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Have you ever thought about the guy who gave Jesus His baptism? His name was John and by our standards (and anyone's standards for that matter) was considered out of touch with the cultural norm. He dressed funny, He ate weird things, His preaching was, well, lets just say he didn't read Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friend's and Influence People." Interestingly, this is the man God chose to pave the way for Jesus. And by the way, Jesus said that their was no one greater than John. Yep, that means Adam-Malachi-Isaiah-you fill in the blank-- John was anything but ordinary. Maybe you should stop trying to be ordinary & stop pushing your little ones to be so tame and start living out their God given talents and gifts? Maybe you or someone you know might "prepare the way of the Lord" like John did.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Final Myth

Myth Four: Radical Individualism
This teaching brings isolation and excess to the forefront. This idea dismisses the importance of family, church, and community. It elevates individual rights at the expense of living for others and places individual pleasure as the ultimate goal in life.
The motto, "Life is short so get all the toys you can before you die" would embody this false belief.

Myth Three...

Two down and two to go...
Myth Three: Moral Values are relative
A person always appeals to a standard, so the question here is who or what is going to be yours?
The answer is that it is either
1) God
or
2) Yourself
The problem with appealing to number two is that when a society abandons its transcendent values (that is, looking only to man for absolutes), each individuals moral vision becomes purely personal. Society then becomes merely the sum total of individual preferences (WE THE PEOPLE...) and since none is morally preferable (all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory) anything that can be dared it permitted.
-In other words: man is the measure of all things-

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Myth number two

Following right behind the first myth is another false belief...
Myth number 2 is modern cultures promise of the coming utopia
The idea here is that human nature can be perfected by the government. Whether its the Great Society, the New World Order, the government sees itself as the fix-all in peoples lives. It promises solutions to problems like security, peace, meaning, etc...which can only be found when a person puts his or her trust in Christ.
"There is a way which seems right to man but that way always ends in death" -Proverbs 14:12

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1st Great Myth

In the next four posts I will be paraphrasing Dwight L. Johnson's book, "The Transparent Leader." In chapter one, Chuck Colson writes about 4 Great Myths (he calls them the 4 Horsemen) of our time.
Myth Number #1: The Goodness of Man
G.K. Chesterson said that the doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy empirically validated by centuries of recorded history. We multiply evil by denying its existence. This myth deludes people into thinking that they're always victims and never villains, always deprived and never depraved. It dismisses responsibility as a teaching of a darker age. It excuses any crime, any bad behaviour, because it can always blame something else...its either the sickness of the society or a sickness of the mind. It truly is the "golden age of exoneration."
"For there is no one who is righteous except God"
-Paul the Apostle, Romans 3:23

Birthday boy and girl

June is always exciting for me. My birthday is the 9th and Christen's is the 7th. Since day one we have both decided that the 8th would become our new official unofficial day of celebration. This decion has forced us over the years to find things we both like to do together. No presents, no gift wrap, no shiny bags... It is all about spending time together and experiencing something new. This year we went to Cleveland for a couple days. We went to Great Lakes Brewery and to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. (Its a special Bruce weekend). On the way home we stopped at an overpriced Japanese Restaurant and then Panera for some desert and coffee... The weekend was short n sweet, but filled with great times. I love times like these with Christen...just me and her, exploring and falling in love. Is it time for you to plan something like this with your spouse?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Theory Y or Theory X

So there are these two theories about work developed by Douglas McGregor. Namely that either a person will really like to work and the boss will just need to find what really motivates that person or that a person will despise work and basically just shows up to do his or her "duty" for a paycheck. For this person, a boss will need to find the proverbial carrot stick and place it out in front of him or her for motivation. So all this Y and X stuff got me thinking about myself and I started to self-reflect. When I was a senior in high school, I began attending a local youth group and in that short period of time, came to a place in my life where Jesus kind of showed up in a major way and took over my life.
Since that encounter I have never been the same.
He gave me a sense of purpose that was never there. He gave me direction when there was literally none.
Another funny thing started to happen to me at the same time and (not kidding) I actually started to read. Book after book, page after page. It started with the Bible. Then it overflowed into anything Christian. That was over 10 years ago and I have not stopped. If anything, I have increased my desire to know Him. This applies to my work also. Whether it is in my office, at home, or --you plug in the context-- I love to fill my mind with the things of our Lord. There is no one telling me to do this. There is no one I am trying to be like. It comes from deep within my heart and for that I am glad. So I guess, I'm a Theory Y kind of guy and that is because what Jesus started on October 6th 1996.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

First Who then What

Jim Collins writes in his excellent book, "From Good to Great" that the foundation of every organization starts with its people. Many times we get this backwards when we hire folks to "fit" into a specific mold and ignore their unique talents, gifts, and passions. Jim Collins uses an analogy that really stuck with me while reading his book. He says an organization should first get the right people on the bus, then get the wrong people off. Finally, he says the task of leadership is getting the right people into the right seats. Simple but profound. Did you know that the greatest leader in the history of the world did something similar? Jesus in Luke 6: 12-17, prayed all night about His selection of who would become His closest followers...The 12 Disciples. Jesus' plan was to spend as much time training these men as possible because He knew that one day they would be entrusted with the undaunting task of spreading His message across every tongue and tribe on the face of the earth. So if you are ever put in a leadership position, remember to follow in the footsteps of the ultimate leader, Jesus. He set the standard, and if followed, will lead you and your endeavours to the promise land.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Every Good and Perfect Gift...

-If you are successful at anything, those who aren't successful will be jealous-
But Why? The Bible tells us that everything is a gift from God (James 1:17) and if properly understood that person you are jealous of is using his or her God given gifts and talents. Thinking about it this way really shows how insulting it is to God, to be jealous over something God Himself has given to someone.