Who am I?

The question of who I am and who I belong to becomes a profound thought.  If I belong to a father that was a thief and a liar.  Might I end up in similar circumstances?  Would that kind of role model determine who I was and who I was to become.  It is really interesting to recognize those big influences in our lives and how to accurately be able to unpack who we really are.  Not DNA, but who we have chosen to hitch our wagon to.  Who influences the people that have influenced you?

When someone proclaims that you do not know me.  That is so true. To know who someone is you would need to be able to query very specific questions from people that influence your influencer.  That is exactly what Bruce Bueno de Mequita did working for the CIA. The model was a rational choice theory in political forecasting.  A fancy way of saying, that whoever is about to make a decision will be influenced by their circle of influence.  Learn who is in that inner circle and get the answer to what they believe in specific areas and you have a predictive model that is amazingly accurate.

When we talk about free will, that would likely have more to do with your freedom in choosing your friends.  Based on your friend circle, your choice becomes very predictable.

Back in the time of Jesus and his disciples, they did not know for a while exactly who Jesus was.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah in Matthew 16: 13-17

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Knowing who their leader was had everything to do with who they were.  After seeing Jesus in his resurrected body, they finally knew Jesus as God and they became steadfast as followers of God.

Well the question comes down to having people in our lives that are like a dad to us.  The question remains who is your Daddy.  The home that you reside in, who built it?  Not what was there when you got there, but how you remodeled that home to reflect who you are.

That house does not come with baggage other than the baggage that you bring in.  When you move in, the walls are white and everything is open.  Do you haul in the clutter or do you design with a purpose.  Do you live with a purpose.  That likely comes all the way back to who is your Daddy?

Alignment

Kingdom man

I was at a men’s breakfast on Saturday morning at our church.  We are going through a video series entitled Kingdom Men.  Tony Evans is the speaker and I was thinking about several of the points that he was making.  The idea behind the series is to be a Christian man worthy of our calling.

Tony starts off by telling us that when we are driving our car, at some point you will get your tires replaced.  The technician will come in and tell you about the wear that is occurring and that you can get new tires, but what you really need is an alignment.  We keep getting in the car trying to get from point A to point B, but if we are out of alignment then there is going to be friction and it is going to wear you out.

The question becomes, how do we get that proper alignment with God.  The first thing is to have a fear of the Lord.  Tony says, that is when we take what God has to say seriously.  Others in our session offered that is being in awe of the Lord.  This would be an awe that demands our attention.

Taking God seriously is not a word, but an action.  It is making ourselves available to allow God to use us at anytime and anywhere.  Tony explained that a pig and chicken were walking down the road and saw the farm store had a sign posted that said they needed eggs and bacon.  The chicken told the pig that you should provide the bacon.  The pig suggested that the chicken offer the eggs. The pig made the distinction the chicken could offer the eggs, but for the pig to offer the bacon required a different level of commitment.  In this scenario, the pig would have to be all in and full committed.

God wants us to be all in.  If so, then we can literally change the world by changing ourselves.  If we are not committed, not take God seriously then we will be out of alignment. If we are out of alignment we will create friction and wear.  As leaders of our home, we will lead to friction with our wives and kids.  We will then take that will create a messed up household.  The messed up household will have an impact on the local church leading to a messed up church. The messed up church will have an impact on the community and this will lead to a messed up community.  The community belongs to the city and the messed up house hold, leading to a messed up church, leading to a messed up community will have an impact on the city leading to a messed up city.  The messed up household, causing the messed up church, causing the messed up community causing the messed up city will have an impact on the county leading to a messed up county.  The county is part of the state and the messed up household, leading to the messed up church, leading to the messed up community, leading to the messed up city, leading to the messed up county, which will lead to a messed up state.  the state is part of the country.  The messed up household, causing the messed up church, causing the messed up community, causing the messed up city, causing the messed up county, causing the messed up state, causing a messed up country.  The country is part of the world and your messed up household that is causing a messed up church, causing a messed up community, causing a messed up city, causing a messed up county, causing a messed up state, causing a messed up country, will cause a messed up world.

So if we want a better world than we need a Kingdom Man to fear God and align with his will that will lead to a righteous household, leading to a holy church, leading to a healthy community, leading to a healthy city, leading to a healthy county, leading to a healthy state, leading to a Godly Country, leading to a better world.  It all starts with a committed man of god, who takes him seriously.

 

 

Over Indulgence equals Addiction

The American Culture has been sending us subliminal messages via marketing firms for decades that more is better and bigger is better.  Over Indulgence sounds manageable, but the more accurate term of addiction is avoided like the plague.  What makes addiction so dangerous is that it thrives in the darkness.  Addiction is cloaked in lies.  If we do not think so, ask yourselves if you wait until your spouse to go to bed before you go back to the refrigerator.  That little self test speaks to the secrecy.

In that we love secrecy and prefer the cover of darkness for these addiction, is it any wonder that we find ways to avoid the light.  We know that when our addictions are brought into the light, that they can be cleaned.  Instead we lie to cling to darkness.  While we love God, in many ways we have a more personal affinity to our addiction.  When it is taken away, then we actually grieve it like have lost a dear family member.

Addictions are what we wake up thinking about and what we end our day thinking about. it could be work, vanity, food, pornography, alcohol or drugs.  What is does is rob us of our ability to truly live.  When we think of healthy living, we hear about balance.  When we hear about leadership training it is again about balance in life.  When we think of diet or anything else, many things are permitted in moderation.  What happens when we lose the concept of moderation. That is when we need the truth, we need accountability, we need repentance and forgiveness.  This is captured in 1 Johns 1:5-9

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Life is fully of trials and tribulations.  We all get into fender benders or near fatal accidents.  The response is what matters.  If you are in an car accident, everyone accepts that as being part of normal life.  You just call your local towing company and give them the location and they send out a truck for accident recovery.  When it is us and not the car, why do we have trouble calling for help.  1 John tells us the process.  the only other thing is to tell someone else that you have been in a personal accident.  It might be a fender bender it might be quite serious, but it is imperative to contact someone. That is what accountability requires, it is what living in abundance while being free of addiction demands.

 

NO, I am Good

I have decided to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.  I want to help change the culture at our church.  I want to encourage men in our church to meet with other men and to be accountable to one another.  I want to encourage each of us to be vulnerable and weak so that God can be made perfect in that weakness.

The group dynamic is a crazy thing, because it only takes one or two to kill the trust in a group of men.  I meet with men at a men’s bible study every week.  I have many men new to the faith and they are trying to figure out what it means to be a man of God.  We are literally doing studies on that very topic.  In the group we have many salt of the earth mature Christians that are quick to hear and slow to speak.

Then we have a man that should be part of the marketing campaign of our church.  He is an attractive guy with beautiful younger kids.  At our big Christmas show or in our church talent shows, these young children recite long pieces of scripture from memory flawlessly.

The Church is profoundly impressed with the kids, but also the example of Dad in encouraging them both into this practice of memorizing scripture.  So when we are at the conclusion of the Bible Study we go around and ask for prayer concerns.  Part of walking as a man of God is to walk alongside of your brother and also letting your brother walk along side of you.  Every time this brother takes a pass and says he is good.  It is my understanding that this brother has been approached several times about being open at even the most basic level and he opts out.

The exciting part is that everyone else is opting in.  i was concerned that this was going to create a culture of distrust, because of others not wanting to be open with other men.  Much to my surprise, the rest of us are moving in a healthy direction.  As to how to approach this brother in particular is of significant interest.  I could force the issue, but I want to see how God moves and see if this too will change.  I will defer to grace and continue to do as God has called me and hope that God is Glorified.

My Identity as Part of the Church

I am not sure how long it has been since you started looking for a church.  Whether you have moved or whether your life circumstances have changes.  When you go into a church you are looking for certain things.

  1. Will we be fed? If I am not in the Word on a daily basis, this is literally a life line for many in the church.
  2. Is the worship style aligned with what speaks to us? Are we spiritually moved and entertained?
  3. Do they have a good children’s ministry? My son at one of these critical junctures asked if we were going to the church that was fun or the one that we learned about Jesus.  We felt convicted and went to the one that talked about Jesus.
  4. Do the people in the congregation look like me?  This comes to feeling welcomed and in a place that is not too foreign.
  5. Of lesser concerns initially are whether the church has a vibrant Men’s and/ or Women’s ministry.

That brings me to the point of me in the church.  If we are all part of the body, then why are we reluctant to serve and do it with thanksgiving.  What if a number of those qualifiers are not that good.  Instead of opting to strengthen that ministry, we would rather move on to where we are not required to do any heavy lifting.

I find myself in a bit of that situation has I have now been in the same church for over a decade.  I remember how vibrant the men’s ministry was.  With my first couple of weeks, no less than eleven men had invited me to the Men’s retreat coming up in a couple of weeks.

As many of those pillars of the church have either moved away or passed away, I am realizing that much of that vibrancy has diminished.  We are a fraction of what we used to be.  I then look at what might I be able to add.  I see certain personalities and do not think it will necessarily inspire the guys and get a lot of people wanting to come to the events. In fact our numbers have been declining for years.

Year after year we ask “is is about quantity or quality”?  We lean towards quality, but attrition also says something as well.  So how do I not judge the current situation, but add my help and energy without trying to make it all about me.  The leader is a man wanting to lead Kingdom Men.  I just see fewer and fewer men coming to events.  i find myself forcing myself to go.  I am always glad that I go, I just need to get pushed to go. The problem is that fewer and fewer people are asking me to go.  I then came to the realization that I was part of the problem and now I wanted to be part of the solution.  My church has changed to the extent that people in my circumstance are not stepping up to lead.  This may be because we know how much prep time will be required and it seems so overwhelming.  Or we might just feel insecure about making a difference at all.  I learned many years ago, but I constantly have to remind myself that my goal is to love and encourage.  If I keep it simple and not “about me”, then progress can be made in my church one person at a time.  Time to step it up.

Culture and the Church

I wonder how many Christians struggle with what is necessary culturally and how does that mesh with our purpose of bringing glory to Jesus Christ.  I was reading over The Measure of a Man, written by Gene A. Getz.  He was introducing what it looks like to be a good witness for Christ.  It also gets to what is in our heart and the why we do something.  Getz talks about adorning the Gospel or presenting the gospel attractively.  That can look like many things.  It is our actions that speak to the culture about what Christians are like.  

The example Getz gave was when he moved into a home that was owned by a Preacher.  The home was built on rock.  Not in the context of building your home on a strong foundation.  Actually rock where the grass would not grow.  So the home with the Preacher in it, did not have the time to tend to his lawn or lack thereof and the neighbors resented the impact his property was having on the resale value of homes in the neighborhood.

So when Getz moved into the home, he found out that the neighbors had already had a context on how Preachers take care of their property.  Many walls were erected and he got a cold shoulder from a lot of them.  

Then they proceeded in trying to clear away the rocks in order to put down top soil in order to grow grass.  Gene and his wife made a decision to invest their limited funds on the exterior of the home.  The reason was they wanted to be able to present the Gospel in an attractive way.  The reality was that Gene did not think he would have a receptive set of neighbors unless he removed the negative context of Preachers based on the care given to the property by the previous Pastor.

In that their funds were limited, they had to do a lot of that back breaking chore by themselves.  The effort was not lost on the neighbors and over time many of the neighbors became quite friendly.  The point is you could be trying to create a facade that is pretty for vain reasons or you go do it to testify and be a good witness to Jesus.  The heart of why makes all of the difference.

Many Christians invest in their house so that it can be a blessing for the church.  We have a family at church that has an in ground pool.  Anybody from the church is welcome to use it. No need to call in advance, just be careful and clean up after yourself.  On many a hot afternoon you could go and see a mother with kids enjoying the blessing of a cool pool on a hot summer day.

Others make their homes available for bible studies, youth group meetings or maybe adhoc marriage retreats.  Again is what lies at the heart of it. One can easily fall into the trap of justifying a bigger purchase than is necessary based on benevolent promises for the future.  

The goal is to continually check yourself to see how you are presenting to the culture without being dictated by the culture.  We must adorn the Gospel, but not by watering it down, but rather being a person of character and grace that would allow people to hear you and what you have to say.

It is always tough to do a honest assessment of what people would say about us.  We can get caught saying that I hope they would say this or hope they say that.  When you ask who would say it, then that will cause us to pause? Then ask when that person has witness evidence of that trait? Then ask if they also have evidence that points to that not being the case?  That is a process that will usually induce depression.  

Who witnesses what and where.  it is hard to pinpoint a consistent strand of empirical evidence to support our initial self-assessment.  I participated in a Bible Study called Sonship. The premise was that we are heirs to the King of Kings.  If we have a saving faith in Jesus Christ than we are heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom.  If we are heirs, much like a Prince that comes into town to conduct business, we are under much scrutiny.  How do we measure up to that scrutiny? Everyone is expecting you to act in the same character of the king that you are an heir to.  Going through that self-assessment was quite gloomy.  Then the study says “cheer up, it is worse than you think”.  

This brings us to Martin Luther who started off trying to suffer his way into heaven.  He would deprive himself of all earthly things and continue to flog himself.  He saw how bad he was and was again trying to earn salvation.  That was until the light went on and he saw that you cannot merit salvation.  It is by His grace and Mercy.  It Jesus’s righteousness that we are adorned in.   So being given such a gift, we should be able to share that grace with others. We should be able to endure hardship and not let ourselves be ensnared again in sin.  But God being a gracious God will forgive us should we fall into darkness.  Jesus adorns us with his righteousness before the father.  We should be able to adorn the Gospel with great affection and grace.  

Serving at Church

It is always challenging to look in what ways you may serve at your local church. There are ways to assess your gifting.  it is rather amusing to hear what your gifts are when you cannot see them yourself.  I look and I know that I have taught Sunday school to second graders with my wife.  I have volunteered with the Church Youth Group.  I have stayed invested in a number of those kids that are out of college now.  I Usher and generally go and participate in events.  i have been in skits, lead prayer, taken and acting role in the Christmas Concert.  I have taken an occasional role in leading Wednesday evening Men’s Bible Study.

So why then do I not want to go to classes about serving.  So right as I am pondering this, I have a friend asked if I might be interested in running the men’s ministry at church.  I have always felt like I could not fill the shoes of whoever was there before and I had to ask God, if I am really the right guy yo do this.  i am always the guy they have to ask three times to do something.  I pretty consistently give in, but the bigger question is the fact that I have to be dragged.

Now I do not feel as though I am the best person for this job by any means, but i also know that if I do not jump into something, then I tend to just stand on the outside.  So the Who am I in my mind as opposed to the Who am I intended to be becomes more salient.

If i go all in, then I am pretty confident that it will work out quite well.  But that is the entire issue.  Am I all in?  I know that I need to start pushing myself and stop having to be dragged into service.  Service is a condition of the heart and part of the maturing process as a Christian is to lead.  it is important to be trained, but God meant us to go “train up” others and walk alongside them.

So if you are in a situation where you do not think you are the right person to ask, remember that God is looking for a willing heart.  I am very Confident that God is in control and I just need to do my part.  As I recall, the Bible was filled with characters that did not seem like they were up to the task.

I have to keep telling myself that it is not about me.  It is about Jesus.  I was created to love Him and Glorify Him.  It is funny how the whole world seems to come into focus when we realize that it is not about us.

Own It!

 

I cannot think of  a better example of owning your circumstance and breathing positivity from it  more that Whitney Way Thore.  When I first saw her dance, my immediate thought was “you go girl”. She owns it and from that end she is extremely fun to hang out with on her Cable TV show.  Whitney is as real as it gets.  She is vulnerable, but she is willing to risk that so that others can be inspired.  You can always talk about just owning it and be comfortable in your own skin, but it is hard to find a really good example of that.  I think Whitney fits the bill.  I usually do not include links, but Whitney’s message is worth it.

I know Body Shaming is a high trending topic.  I just know when you take the shame out of how we view ourselves, we remove a lot of that sting that we feel coming from others.  Loving ourselves is where confidence begins.  Remember that just about everyone out there is insecure and will react to someone else’s failing while deflecting anything that would remotely land back on them. Deflection and redirection is an art form for many bully enablers.  If you do not rebuff ignorance, then it only grows.  You do not have to be confrontational, but you can let people know that you are not down with that kind of abuse and walk away from it, while encouraging the one that is being abused.

Everyone has their own shame and insecurities, but once we come to terms with what is actually true versus what is a lie that some where down the road we decided to believe.  Whitney makes me smile and I am going to leave a link so she can make you smile as well.