Posts Tagged ‘Self Reflection’

More Than “Just”

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

When Jesus came to his home town of Nazareth, people were skeptical and used derogatory and scarcity language to attempt to define him (Mark 6:3): “Isn’t this Mary’s son?” With this statement, they were subtly calling him a “momma’s baby – papa’s maybe” child. They assumed Mary had been creepin’ on Joseph and they really didn’t know who the father was. Subtly they were calling Jesus a “bastard child,” an illegitimate son. “He’s just a carpenter.”  They were using scarcity language to define, undervalue and minimize the Son of God.

Like people attempted to define who Jesus was with derogatory and scarcity language, they will attempt to define you and undervalue you with that same kind of language:

You are “just” a _______________________________ (fill in the blank)

He is greater than your past.

He greater than what has happened to you.

He is greater than labels and incomplete definitions.

He is greater than the foreclosure, greater than the addiction, greater than the abortion, greater than the divorce, greater than the abusive home, greater than your absent parents, greater than the layoff, greater than a rejection letter, greater than your failure, greater than the ridicule for being smart or not being so smart. God is greater than what has happened to you.

God is greater than your skin color, greater than your hair texture, greater than your facial features and your body composition. He is greater than your education or lack of education. Greater than your family and greater than the fact you didn’t have a family. He is greater than the labels that others put on you.

Let this next sentence wash over your heart. You are more than “just.” If you are a believer in and follower of Jesus, then you are:

forgiven

chosen

adopted

treasured

loved

special

included

on His mind all the time

People will always try and define you with scarcity language, and if we are not careful, we will begin to believe what they say. However, remember that you are more than “just.” You are who God says you are. You are a treasured child of the King.

in what ways have people attempted to define you, using scarcity language? How did you respond? How will knowing you are more than “just” help you respond differently?

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My Week In Review

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

This past week was a very busy with travel, learning, reconnecting, and being mentored. As I came to the end of this week, here are a few things I learned last week:

  1. I love traveling, but I really miss my family when I do.
  2. I have to remain curious through asking powerful questions.
  3. I need to do a better job treating those who are closest to me as if they are more important than I am.
  4. I work with and around some really, really smart people.
  5. People cannot grow and be set free until they are honest with themselves.
  6. I have an AMAZING wife. She is better than I deserve. I must affirm her in her ministry and calling every chance I get.
  7. God surprises me with blessings that I simply don’t deserve. My response? Humility and gratitude.
  8. Preach the Bible and love people.
  9. Clear communication prevents misunderstandings and misconceptions.
  10. TIME really does spell love for our children. My kids really look forward to the Day with Dad time. I do too.
  11. Leaders lead.
  12. I learned valuable lessons from sons this week – lessons that will save me a lot of time and trouble.
  13. People resist change. So, I have to help them love the change they hate.
  14. There is something very powerful in people praying with and for one another.
  15. Dr. Pastor Ralph West (fellow Bishop College Grad) The Church Without Walls, Houston) blessed me this week. Can’t wait to receive his teaching on preaching without notes. This man can flat out preach.
  16. When people do a good job, appreciate and celebrate them.  Encouragement motivates.

What did you learn last week? How did God speak to you in your present situation and context?

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Editing My Life

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

 Editing My Life

I am always looking for powerful questions I can use or that my closest friends can use to edit and vet my life. Though I will add to this list, here is a list of questions that I think am going to settle on for a while. These questions were produced by the Church Multiplication Association.  The ten questions are as follows:

1. Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions?

2. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?

3. Have you lacked any integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something that does not belong to you?

4. Have you been honoring, understanding and generous in your important relationships this past week?

5. Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?

6. Have you given in to an addictive behavior this week? Explain.

7. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?

8. Have you secretly wished for another’s misfortune so that you might excel?

9. Did you finish your reading this week and hear from the Lord? What are you going to do about it?

10. Have you been completely honest with me?

What do you think about these questions? Are there others you can add to this list? Do you have someone in your life who can edit your life with these questions?

Popularity: 16% [?]

Protecting His Brand

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Many of you have already seen this ad that Nike and Tiger released this week. Let me say up front, I like Nike and Tiger, and I am really pulling for him to win the Master’s this weekend. If he wins, his will go down in the annuls as one of the most compelling stories in past and recent sports history. More importantly, I am pulling for him to be a better husband, father, friend and person.

Now, regarding the ad. I really didn’t know how to respond when I first saw it, and I wanted to withhold my opinion until I had time to digest its content and true meaning. As I thought more and more about the ad, it was obvious to me that Nike and Tiger weren’t selling clubs, balls, or shoes. But, they were selling something. What they were selling and how they were selling it, made me uncomfortable. They were using Tiger’s dead father’s voice, out of context mind you, to protect, re-image, and sell the Tiger brand. In my humble opinion, it seemed they were more interested in image rather character and integrity.

This ad inspired a personal question in me: As a leader and minister, how do I protect and sell the Jesus brand in my life each day? Here are some of my answers:

1. Begin each day by acknowledging my absolute need for Jesus
2. Express gratitude to Jesus every day for the gifts that he’s given me
3. Quietly transfer all glory to Him
4. Invite and pursue correction from godly men and women
5. Repent quickly and thoroughly
6. Don’t take myself too seriously (laugh at myself)
7. Model my life after the One who made himself of no reputation

What was your initial response to the Nike and Tiger ad? As a believer, what are some other ways you protect the Jesus brand each day?

Popularity: 11% [?]

When Tragedy Strikes

Friday, January 15th, 2010

As the global community has been deployed to provide relief to the people and land of Haiti, we still wrestle with troubling questions regarding this calamity. The fact is, we respond to world tragedies with deep, unsettling questions, don’t we? The earthquake in Haiti caused my kids to ask questions like these: Why do mind-staggering tragedies like this happen? If God is strong and powerful and loving and close, couldn’t he have prevented the devastation in Haiti? Is God punishing the people of Haiti in some way? Are the people in Haiti more unrighteous than thousands of murderers, rapists and thieves in the world, that something like this would happen to them? These questions are legitimate, but they inch me and all of us away from an appropriate personal response to world tragedy. I think I can respond appropriately to world tragedies by answering several important personal questions that Luke 13:1-9 raises – questions of mortality, eternity, and productivity.

The first question is a question of Mortality: How close am I to the end of my life?

Luke chronicles two historical events to show how indiscriminate death is. One event accounts for the evil of one man can exact on another human being. Pilate had some Galileans killed while they worshiped.  These people died at the hands of an evil man. Evil people do evil things to innocent people.

The other event (which has greater relevance to the tragedy in Haiti) shows how death can happen naturally. A tower in Siloam fell and killed 18 people. Many were caught beneath the rubble, hoping and praying for someone would intervene and bring relief and rescue. Our fallen world is filled with such tragedies that break our hearts over and over again. Tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes are natural catastrophes that snatch lives out of this world each year and destroy miles and miles of valuable property. This event was so unlikely, but it happened. It was a natural disaster. Haiti has experienced one natural disaster after another. That one nation can experience so much natural disaster seems unlikely, but it has happened. This was a natural disaster. People die in natural disasters all the time, but it does not make them more sinful than anyone else.

The issue here is not the timing of death or even the cause of death. The issue is that we are mortal beings and we will all die.  We love to talk about others’ deaths and tragedies just as long as it doesn’t get too personal. World tragedy is a prime opportunity for us to discuss our own mortality. Nothing is so certain as death, and nothing is so uncertain as the hour of our death. We will die, either by some horrific calamity, evil plot, cancer, car accident, or some natural cause.  Most of us are not afraid to die; we just don’t want to be there when it happens. In light of this world tragedy, let us consider the question of our own mortality – How close am I to the end of my life?

If death was the end, then I think we could possibly live with that. I mean, we have lived a decent life, made a little money, enjoyed family and friends, and had some good times. But the question of Mortality causes me to consider a second question (next post) – a question of Eternity.

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Dangers to Ministry Leaders

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Danger1 Dangers to Ministry Leaders

I have been in ministry a number of years, serving in small, midsize, and large churches. There are ministry mine fields all over, and one misstep can ruin your family, ministry and influence that God has allowed you to develop. Here are some DANGERS to ministry leaders that I have observed over the years. Our ministries are in danger when:

1. We love ministry more than we love Jesus and the people to whom we minister.

2. We are busy with busyness than busy enjoying the joy of our salvation.

3. Our spouses and families get our leftover energy instead of our best selves.

4. Our spouses and children see more joy in our faces for ministry than for them.

5. We begin to believe and embrace our own press clippings.

6. Our primary motives for ministry are applause, recognition, and idolization from our peers.

7. We allow our accomplishments to cause us to accept and live with “reasonable” sins in our lives.

8. We allow our abilities and gifting to cause us to become less dependent on God.

9. We allow our addiction to success to cut our appetite for our desire for Jesus.

10 We allow work to replace solitude and activity to replace prayer.

11. We let the addiction to the praises of people to keep us from living the truth and convictions of God.

What other dangers to ministry leaders can you add to this list? With which danger(s) do you most identify? How can you guard yourself against these dangers in ministry?

Popularity: 13% [?]

What Will They Say?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Every so often I wonder about my funeral. (Now, I know this is not a pleasant thought, but it has a significant purpose for me). When I think about that day, I wonder what people will say about me, you know, what kind of person I was and what kind of impact I made on the world. This process is quite humbling and motivating. It’s humbling because I know God is the one who controls life and not me. I know my life will end one day. It’s motivating because it causes me to give my life to the things that really matter – God, eternal values, family and friends. 

Therefore, each day I live, I am writing, or at least have opportunity to write the eulogy that I would like read at my own funeral.  Here are some questions that have been very helpful to me as I have thought through this process. They may be helpful to you, too, as you write and live your own eulogy

1. How do I want to be remembered?

2. What personal characteristics do I want people to remember me for or by?

3. What do I want to have accomplished? 

4. What will have been the most important to me in my life? 

5. What will my lasting legacy be?

Have you ever asked yourself these kinds of questions? If so, how did the process make you feel? 

If you don’t mind, take a moment to think through one of the questions above and leave your answer here. Grace and peace.

Popularity: 38% [?]

The Last 3 Minutes

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I was at a luncheon on yesterday, where Don Cousins, author of LeaderShift, was speaking to a group of pastors. I was sitting next to a distinguished gentleman, who is a very prominent leader in the black community and an associate minister at the host church. While we listened to the talk (It really was a great talk), he made it pretty obvious that he did not want to be there. He seemed to grow more and more impatient with each passing minute. He checked his watch at least 10-15 times and held his head down almost the entire talk, fiddling with his PDA.

Minutes before Cousins finished his talk, the man got up to leave, but his pastor asked him to stay until Cousins was completely done. He complied. Afterwards, he told his pastor that during the talk he was convinced that his church was not the place for him and that he was leaving. Then he said, “But, in the last three minutes of the talk, the Lord spoke to me, telling me there is work to be done. I’m staying.” Now, Cousins’ talk lasted almost an hour (Every leader and pastor should have heard it), but it was the last three minutes that impacted this man and changed his mind.

This brief exchange taught me a few lessons:

  • 180 seconds in more than enough time for God to speak and change a mind and a life.
  • If I bail out of a message or prayer or a conversation too soon, I could be missing what God wants to say to me, to disturb me, encourage me, challenge me, bless me, empower me, sustain me, and even rearrange my values to align with his. The last three minutes of my quiet time with God, listening to message, or having a conversation with a mentor or a friend, might be the most important minutes of the entire time. 
  • I need to dial in, be fully present, and listen carefully.

How have you experienced God speaking to you in a short period of time? How did you respond to his voice?

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At the Behest of my Flesh

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

As I ponder the quest to my rest, I am guilty of delaying my yes, at the behest of my flesh. Most days, my first reflex is to acquiesce to the request of my flesh, but I detest my flesh and through the power of the Spirit, I contest my flesh, wrest my flesh, desire to best my flesh, in hopes to arrest my flesh.  I keep reminding him that he’s an unwelcomed guest in my flesh and that he’s too underdressed to play chess with a King who can checkmate him in one move or less. Ah, but as I move toward my spiritual rest, I delay my yes at the behest of my flesh. Every day, in my own power, I am hard-pressed to check my flesh. Ya’ll, it’s complex. So, I must live and move in Him who was made manifest in the flesh in order to divest my flesh, undress my flesh, depress my flesh and give me recess from my flesh. Lest I forget the One who said come to me and I will give you rest and the One whose passion and death removed my sin as far as the East is from the West, I will daily return to Calvary, the place of the Ultimate Love fest.  But, sometimes I am guilty of delaying my yes at the behest of my flesh. Through the Spirit’s power, I will pass the test and my flesh won’t best me today, misdirect me today, negatively affect me today. Ya’ll, I’m walking in the Spirit. I can hear it, that is, His voice, leading me, guiding me, prodding me, prompting me, pushing me, convicting me, changing me, transforming me. I don’t desire to delay my yes at the behest of my flesh. But, why do I say yes to the request of my flesh? Here in lies my stress. So, I must ingest and digest the life and words of the One who gave me this new nature living inside my chest. But, I must confess, I am guilty of delaying my yes at the behest of my flesh. Who will deliver me from the mess of my flesh? Ah, yes! Jesus, the One who bested sin and death. 

How has your flesh/sinful nature delayed your “yes” to our heavenly Father? How will you use your mind and body as instruments of righteousness under the Spirit’s control today?

Popularity: 18% [?]

Defenseless Cities

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

This piece is dedicated to all people who have been hurt in any way and have decided to erect cities and walls to protect themselves from being hurt again. To people who are hiding their real selves behind fortified cites. To people who have become professional image managers because they are afraid of not being accepted. To ragamuffin souls who desire to just be, to live authentic and transparent lives, but are afraid to tear down the walls and leave their fortified cities.    

I have built a fortified city
Where the walls are constructed of the mortar of 
Duplicity
Hypocrisy
Missed opportunities
And inconsistencies 
Uncried tears 
Selfish motives 
Anger 
Pride and fears 
I am safe within these walls
After all 
These walls are 
Impregnable
Impenetrable
Inaccessible 
Impassable 
Trackless, Pathless, Wayless
Would-be intruders are laughable 
I have erected a fortified city 
I am safe within these walls 
However, an undesired fate awaits me behind these walls 
I no longer desire to be safe within these walls 
Today, Jesus, I invite you; Lord, I invoke you; Savior, I need you 
To scale these walls 
Fell these walls
Assail these walls 
Break these walls 
Shake these walls 
Lord, please earth-quake these walls
I know I have erected these walls and 
All my life I have protected these walls
Now, I need you to inspect these walls
Demolish these walls 
And then resurrect these walls 
Tear down these walls 
Lay bare 
and pare down these walls 
Burn these walls 
Help me unlearn these walls 
I need you to day by day 
to dismantle these walls
implode these walls 
Deconstruct 
and expose these walls  
Reconstruct these walls 
By your grace rename these walls 
By your resurrection power reframe and reclaim these walls 
Until it’s a defenseless city, where there are no walls 
of vanity
none of suspicion 
none self importance and none of inhumanity  
No walls of inferiority 
none of arrogant superiority
No walls of jealousy 
none of envy 
None of self-consciousness 
and none of self-pity
Jesus is erecting a defenseless city, where the walls are constructed of 
Unconditional acceptance, Undying love, Untamed grace 
His reign, his authority. 

Popularity: 13% [?]