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Monday, August 21, 2017

The Black Feather

Ever hear of Occam's Razor?
Its basic tenant is, "the simplest explanation is usually the right one."
Many use Occam's Razor as a means to slice through a problem / situation in order to eliminate unnecessary steps.

Today, I would like to apply Occam's Razor to conflict. Jesus said, "If you have an issue with someone, the best way to handle the difficulty is to simply go to them." Face to face. Toe to toe. Heart to heart. It's a rather direct approach.
It's a rather gutsy one too.  The genius is found in its simplicity.

Just think for a moment just how many other ways you and I handle conflict:
-The Ostrich approach (ignore it).
-The Bursting a blood vessel approach (do you really need an explanation?).
-The Big Daddy approach (cover it up).

Possibly the most dangerous approach is the "Black Feather" approach.
Below, I will share a short story that illustrates this powerfully.

In a small German village, a woman differed with her minister and became so angry that she began spreading ugly rumors about him around town. As fate would have it, she eventually became ill and called on the minister to pray for her. He came gladly, and she asked his forgiveness of her gossiping. "I will grant you forgiveness," the minister said, "but there's something you must do."

"I'll do anything," the woman said.

"As soon as you get well, go pluck the feathers from a black chicken and put them into a basket and bring them to me."  When the woman got well, she did what the minister asked her to do and presented the basket of feathers to the minister.

"You did well," the minister said. "Now take this basket of feathers and scatter them in the corners of the marketplace and from the towers of the church. Scatter them throughout the town. Then return to me."

So the woman did.


She walked from one end of town to the other, scattering the feathers. Then she returned to her pastor. "I have done as you asked," she said.
"Very well. Now take your basket and collect all the feathers. Make sure not one is missing."
"But that is not possible!" the woman said with a choking cry.  "The wind has carried many of them away.

"So it is with your words," the minister said. "While I have gladly forgiven you, do not forget that you can never undo the damage your untrue words have done."



Any
reasonable person will see that out of all the alternative options, the direct approach is certainly the best.  It is also the toughest --let's be honest, nobody is running to the front of the line when it comes to conflict resolution. One of my favorite quotes is Thomas Watson's, "What fools are they who, for a drop of pleasure, drink a sea of wrath." This is precisely what happens when you and I choose to let things fester within our hearts by not going directly to the source of our conflict. In a real way, it is like we gladfully go to the shelf, pour ourselves a glass of destruction and drink it straight down. Your life will be better off if you put that glass down and get direct when handling conflict.  When you do, you will switch that old glass of wrath for a fresh goblet of peace. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Welcome to Heaven

I once heard a story about the difference between Heaven and Hell.

A man dies; he’s met in a kind of divine foyer by an angel and taken to a huge room with a long table, covered with plates and bowls heaped with delicious food. There are people sitting all along both sides of the table, but they look angry, frustrated — and famished. Suddenly the man notices that none of the people have elbow joints. They’re all desperately trying to feed themselves, and they can’t reach their mouths. The angel says, “This is Hell.”




Then the man is whisked by the angel to another room that looks exactly the same –long table heaped with food; people down both sides, no elbow joints...but these people look happy and well-nourished.
This is Heaven,” the angel says.


Then the man looks closer,
and sees that all the people are feeding each other across the table.

The point? Much of life is about perspective. 
It has been said that life is not about the cards that you are dealt; rather it is how you play the cards that you have been dealt.  God has placed you here on earth for a reason.  And if you are reading this post, then you can assume that you still have one.

-May you find it.
-----May you thrive.
-May you live. 

May you welcome people to heaven on earth... 

I John 3: 16-17.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him. 
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Good Morning, fellow Lepers.

Good morning, fellow Lepers
Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.

Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before them. 

One morning before Damien was to lead daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot. Again, there was no feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. 

As he walked to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, 'My fellow believers,' but this morning he began with... 'My fellow lepers.' 
                                                                               (Story told by Ravi Zacharias)

Damien could fully relate to the lepers because he became a leper. He knew personally the struggles that they faced. He could actually feel their pain. Let's think about Jesus for a moment. He was made like us and therefore understands the hurts we experience.  According to the book of Hebrews, we learn, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." 


I think I can speak for everyone in regards to our need for a Savior that identifies with our human struggles. Isn't it comforting to know that the frustrations we carry, the sorrows compounded in our hearts and even our failures can be understood by the God-Man, Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why I'm [severely] Unbalanced.

No. I am not talking about having one leg longer than the other or a lop-sided head.

I am talking about my personality & skill set. Now I know that admitting this to you right up front may cause you to pause and scratch your head. Nevertheless, since you are reading this, you and I have some sort of a relationship, so I think it proper to let you know this about me right up front.

See, I am not well-rounded. I am rather obtuse.

And I like it that way.

There is the conventional wisdom going around that is telling people that they should be men and women that seek conformity.  You know the saying, "The nail that stands out gets hammered back in." That's right: be the lame, sorry, boring nail that's in the wood.  Pardon me as I take a nap. No thanks. I'll stand out. Sure it's risky. But tell me, what in your life has made any kind of impact that was not risky?  Recently, I finished up a great little book by Peter Drucker and in it he shared a similar lesson.  During the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed 3 or 4 Generals before General Grant.  He chose the men due to their well-rounded background, personality and skills. And guess what? From 1861 to 1864, the North did not make any headway -that is until Grant commanded the troops.  Grant was known for his capable planning and leading winning campaigns. He was also known, however, for his temper and love for the bottle. Drucker said that Lincoln chose Grant not, "for his sobriety, rather for his ability to win battles."



This is true in any organization.  If you hire a person / staff to avoid weakness, then do not be surprised if you end up with mediocrity. Hiring for well-roundness is a sure recipe for a vanilla workplace.  Strong people have peaks and valleys. Sometimes very high peaks and very low valleys.
But at least you get something spectacular.

Think of the greatest basketball player to ever walk the court, Micheal Jordan (please don't argue this point, just accept this as a reality). Jordan lit up the NBA like no other. He has the titles, MVP's and records to back it up.  He also had this thing about him when he played ... your team would lose and his would win. It was hard growing up in the 90's as anything but a Bulls fan.
  
Remember how Michael Jordan quit basketball in the mid 90's to pursue baseball?  BASEBALL! He played for a minor league team, I believe it was the Chicago White Sox. Let's just say that no one wanted "To be like Mike" when he wore spikes.  On the wood Jordan couldn't be stopped. On the diamond, he couldn't get going. He found out that he needed to stick to what he did best, crushing people in a game of hoops.

See, for some reason we learn how to get A's when we are little and once we do, we are afraid to do anything outside of the box. The reason is because we just want an A.  So we get all the instructions out for our science project and follow all the rules.  Then on the day of the fair, we create the same stale volcano that all the other kids made too.  Forget that.  Forget the volcano. Turn the school into a flying object or something awesome.  Sure, you might flunk and get sent home to get evaluated, but people will have to pick up their jaws when you are done. And that my friend, is the type of person you should endeavor to be. 

And If you think that I am off my rocker a bit, I'd just have you turn to First Peter 2:9 where the apostle teaches that God's people are called to be, "a peculiar people."  

 
SO, you see, Yes, I am unbalanced and I like it that way.
I am the nail that continues to stick out ... but I've got an inkling that you already knew that.

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. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Serial Killler

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired:
How heavy is this glass of water?

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter

It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed –incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. 







Because stress kills.

Remember to put the glass down.

Personally, when I read the above, I am reminded of the story of Joseph in the OT.  Joseph's life was riddled with pain and dispare. From being an outcast in his own family, to being sold into slavery, to being falsely accused by his master's wife -Joseph was no stranger to stress.  But, Joseph had a secret and that secret was the gift of forgetting.  He knew how to put the glass down.  By the grace of God, Joseph eventually climbed over his hurdles and became one of the greatest examples for you and I to emulate.

You are probably no stranger to hurt.  We all carry internal bruises and outward scars from our past. Remember to put the glass down and embrace the gift of forgetting.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dear Person Who Complains A Lot!


I’m sure you’re not a terrible person, and I’m sure God loves you, but I just need to let you know we can’t hang out anymore.

As much as I’d like to keep up the relationship, I just can’t…for my sake, for the organization’s sake and for your sake.

I’m sure there’s some story behind the constant stream of negativity. Maybe your teen years were tough, or you were the last guy to get picked for dodgeball. Or maybe all those Nerds you ate in Grade 5 really messed with your mind.

I don’t know what happened, but there are a lot of positive people around who have sad stories. Some much sadder than yours. And they actually have something to contribute to a better future.

I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I heard you out. I listened.

We went for lunch that day and I took your feedback back to the team. We even made changes.

But then the changes weren’t quite right, and you found 5 new things to groan about. I listened some more, and tried not to get too discouraged.  I took what I could. We even took some of it to heart. At least at first.

But nothing seems to satisfy you. When we would fix one problem, you’d spot another. Whatever progress we make in any direction never seems to be ‘good enough’.

So honestly, the team and I really tried to meet you where you’re at, but…well…here it is.

I can’t let you trip up the mission anymore.

Your negativity is killing us. If we let it, it would kill our future.

And I just can’t…in fact I won’t… let one or two voices scuttle the future of hundreds of people who are okay with the changes.

Let me go further. I can’t let your negativity sabotage the mission of our organization. The mission is too urgent…too sacred…too important for that.

So, starting today, I won’t give you the audience you so seem to desire.

I’ll thank you for your comment, and move on.

I’ll call you on your constantly negative stream—in love— and the conversation will end.

I won’t apologize any more for moving ahead with the agenda so many others have embraced.

You want reasons? Okay…

People with your attitude don’t have a vision for what could be, only a vision for what shouldn’t be. How can you build the future on that?

You don’t just seem to be negative about the odd thing, you’re negative about almost everything here. New issues ‘come up’ almost every month. Seriously? It’s that bad?

In the end, I don’t think you’re just mad at us, it seems like you’re mad at the world. I’m not sure it was ever possible for us—or anyone—to please you.

Your criticism outweighs your contribution. We don’t need people who tell others how they did it wrong nearly as much as we need people who will roll up their sleeves and help us to do it right.

If things are really that bad, one question: Why are you still here? Surely you’re too smart to stay in an organization as bad as you say ours is.

So here’s what I’m deciding right now:

The mission is too critical to let one person continually try to derail it.

There are so many people who want to make it happen. We can build the future on them. Join em if you want to.

If you find a place or start an organization that fits you better, go for it! (We’ll chip in for the cab fare.)

When you leave the room (I know this is hard to hear), many will breathe a sigh of relief. And they’ll wonder why it took so long. Can you see the impact your attitude has had on others? Really? For their sake? For your sake?

So, my friend, the time has come to say goodbye.

You are always welcome here. But the attitude has got to go.

And if it ever does…I think you’ll wonder why you didn’t dump it sooner.

And in the end—I think you know this—I didn’t write this for you, really. I wrote it for me.

I need some courage. I need some resolve.

And I think I’ve got it now.

Because it’s time – finally time – to embrace the future that almost everyone else is ready to seize.

We’re moving on.

 Sincerely, 

- Me

By Carey Nieuwhof

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Good is the Enemy of Great.

Good is the enemy of great. 

Leadership expert and popular author Jim Collins said:
"This is one of the reasons that we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, precisely because it is easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great precisely because they become quite good. - and that is their main problem"  
-Good to Great. 

Why is it so easy to settle for good?  Do we love apathy so much? Are we as humans just lazy? Or is there another reason?  Let me take a stab at at least answering one reason why I believe we settle for good. Thomas J. Watson once said, Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops." How many times have you experienced this phenonema? You attain most of your goals ... so you give up on the rest. You set out to score a touchdown ... then you run to the goal line, put the ball down on the one yard line and call in the field goal team.  3 points is enough, you reason.  
If you are reading this and thinking internally, who really cares? Then I'd say you are in the company of the crowd, and this group is the same group that makes the same noise as those fluffy little things that Shepherds watch over.  In my mind, this demeanor was never the calling of the human race.  Go back in the book of Genesis and you'll see that mankind was the highlight of God's magnificent creation. We are His crowing achievement, made in His image. Part of this image bearing is that we have been instilled with a wonderfully creative spirit.   


This post is about greatness. 
Really, it is about sweat, determination and resolution.  Growing up, I remember hearing about the 5 D's.  Do you know them?
-Determination
-Destiny
-Desire
-Devotion
-Discipline 
(I am sure there are more than 5, so the next time you run into me at Giant Eagle just tell me the ones I missed). 
The point is, many of the 5 D's have vanished in our society. I believe, it is due to our inability to seek greatness.  Handouts are rampant, grades are given to get kids just so they pass, our workplaces are glorified punch clocks for apathy.  Why?  Because greatness is not on our radar.
I am afraid to say that we, as a society, are generally apathetic. We want the crown, but not the cross. We love the destination of easy street, but do not take the grit road to get there.     

I know that for many, at one point in time you felt like you could conquer the world.  Then, life settled in and all those dreams got replaced with bills in your mail box.  If that is you, let me make a few tiny suggestions to propel you in the right direction. The first is to surround yourself with people that are seeking greatness.  Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn rightly teaches that,  You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."   

The second suggestion is to read. 
No that is not a typo.  Fill your mind with new thoughts.  Get inspired! I always tell people that the only way to fill a broken vessel is to continually fill it.  You gotta find ways to spark your creative juices in life and the best way is to find something interesting and read.  Before I move on, let me add this caveat.  I know that for some reading is just drudgery.  You'd rather pave my driveway on a hot, humid August afternoon.  For you, I'd suggest a seminar or a video series.  The same principle applies, it's just a matter of how you achieve gathering new information.  Years ago, a sage told me, "Anthony, if you want there to be a significant difference between the person you are today and the person you will be in 10 years, it will be via the books you read and the people you surround yourself with."  I can testify to that truth as I am a living illustration of implementing both. 

Finally, you might be thinking this is a bit too daydreamish and far fetched.  I say you are correct. But is there a better way to live?  I believe Les Brown summed it up best when he uttered these famous words, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."


Go for greatness my friend! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Last Time

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before, 
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.

One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.

One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.

So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them
and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.

-unknown 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My Interview (with a dead guy).

The Greatest General, by Mark Twain:

A man died and met Saint Peter at the gates of heaven.
Recognizing the saint’s knowledge and wisdom, he wanted to ask him a question. “Saint Peter’, he said, “I have been interested in the military history for many years. Tell me, who was the greatest general of all times?”
Peter quickly responded, “O that is a simple question. It’s that man right over there.”
The man looked where Peter was pointing and answered, “You must be mistaken. I knew that man on earth, and he was just a common laborer.”
“That’s right,” Peter remarked, “but he would have been the greatest general of all time-if he had been a general.”

---What a remarkable lesson.

Shortly after reading Twain's story, I started wondering what it would be like to interview the "would-be-general."

I imagine myself sitting across from him in a fluffy cloud, face to face with the following questions:

Q: What held you back from pursuing your dreams while you were on earth?

Q: Did you have a passion in your heart for the things of the military? If so, why didn't you enlist?

Q:  When you were alive, did you ever feel a sense of destiny?  Like God had a plan for your life?

Q:  How's the food up there? 

Q:  Followed up by, do all dogs really go to heaven?  I'm quite serious.

Q:  Finally, if  you could do it all over again, live your life again on earth, how would you live differently?

I have no idea what the answers would be to those questions. 
But what I do know, is that if you find yourself reading this, you still have a chance. 

-A chance to live.  -A chance to engage

What a terrible thing it would be to find out in heaven that you could have been the worlds all time greatest __________ . 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Took Your Place

One day, a man went to visit a church, He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said, " I always park there
You took my place!" 

Then the visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat! You took my place!" The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday School, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit! You took my place!" The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change. 
Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. 
Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" 
The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, 


"I took your place."



DID you know that the Bible teaches that God literally took your place? This is what the cross was all about, God reconciling all who trust in Him. The Apostle says it like this, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 
(II Corinthians 5:21).  To illustrate, I will recall a popular movie titled the Matrix.  In the third installment, during the final epic battle between Mr. Anderson (really bad guy) and Neo (good guy), Neo let Mr. Anderson punch his fist into his stomach.  When this happened, Mr. Anderson sort of oozed into Neo, thus corrupting him and winning the final war...so he thought.  If you have seen the film, you remember that this was not the end of Neo, rather it was the final act for Mr. Anderson.  See, when Neo allowed Mr. Anderson to enter him, Neo took inside himself pure evil.  
Neo then died. And when he did ... the evil one died too.

Admittedly, this not a perfect parallel with our Lord, but there is something deeply familiar in both accounts, the good overtook the bad by becoming the bad on behalf of others.  So the next time you see a cross, you can be thankful that someone took your place.