Are you a person of peace?

Are you a person of peace?

There are two kinds of people in this world.

People of Peace and People of Strife.

The question we must ask ourselves is: ‘which one am I?’

Everyday, you have a choice as to which you will be.

Gut check questions:

  • Are you fascinated by strife and discord?
  • Do you become consumed and inflamed by conflict and violence?
  • Do the pattern of your thoughts reflect a thirst for forms of entertainment that portray strife, distrust, envy, violence and conflict?
  • Or, do strive and violence make you sick and sad to your core?

FW Boreham says strife has entered into and permeated every department of life.  It affects society in general. On every hand, in a million different forms- we meet rivalry, suspicion and distrust. We see class contending with class: the rich oppressing the poor; the poor breathing maledictions on the rich. Petty jealousy mars the sweetness of every friendship; it stultifies the efficiency of every organization; and, entering our very churches, it disturbs and destroys that abiding unity that should be their most conspicuous charm.” The seventh Beatitude extends an olive branch…. “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God” One does not need to be a ‘Christian’ to understand Jesus’s teaching here. The peacemaker is a lover of peace and works to preserve peace. “The sounds of strife and discord are an agony to his spirit.” says Boreham. Like a rose exhaling it’s fragrance is an involuntary expression of its nature, the peacemaker exudes a spirit of peace without even realizing.

I challenge you to work to become a peacemaker.

  • Work not to offend others.
  • Work on not taking offense.
  • Work to extend an olive branch of peace to another (this is risky).

In order to change the climate of discourse, we must become people of peace (even when discord is the predominate noise).

Humility Matters

Humility Matters

If you could listen to others describe you, do you think they would say that you are ‘humble’?

I’m certain people would not describe me as ‘humble’. I’m a lot of things but ‘humble’ is not on of them. However, that does not mean I give up on humility. By no means!  Humility is something we can strive for and cultivate.

We live in a culture that places a higher value on personality over humility. As a whole, the leaders we look to demonstrate strong personality traits over strong character traits like humility. I think we’ve lost our way. Perhaps its time for us to recalibrate and course correct as a people.

Humility matters because it truly puts others before one’s self. True humility crosses all dividing lines of race, sex, nationality, etc.

Where do we find this model of humility? Who is the humble hero of our age? We’ve fallen for the lure of big personalities and they let us down. Jim Collins describes humility as a major factor in successful leadership in his book ‘Good to Great’. Conversely, Collins describes ‘Hubris’ (pride) as a major factor in failure in his book, ‘How the Mighty Fall.

Like most things in life, we learn through the demonstration of others. I learned to open doors for others by seeing my dad open doors for others. I learned how to add and subtract by watching my teacher. At some point we must take what we have learned and apply it.

In his book, ‘Humility: True Greatness’, C.L. Mahaney describes humility “as an honest assessment of ourselves in light of God’s Holiness and our sinfulness”. We must have a point of reference on which to base and measure humility. God is the reference point. Jesus Christ is the map that shows us the way to humility.

What does true humility look like?
It looks like Jesus.

Read the passage below.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8)

Read it again and focus on the bold.

Humility Matters because true humility stands champion over personality and other ‘character’ traits! If you and I are constantly putting our own interests and rights aside for one another there is no room for hatred or divisiveness. How can I hate someone who I’m willing to set my life aside for or who has set their life aside for me?

We’ve tried following personality. It doesn’t work! Maybe its time to follow humility.

Let’s look at the my original question but one month down the road.

ONE month from now, If you could listen to others describe you, do you think they would say that you are ‘humble’?

The truth is, #HumilityMatters and deep in your heart you know it.

Priorities – How I get things done

Priorities – How I get things done

As I have made the move from business to ministry in the last 10 months, I’ve found I battle three things. As Local Outreach Pastor (community outreach) at a growing church with 8000 visitors on any given Sunday, two campuses, thirty local ministries partners, hundreds of volunteers, large budgets, various events and personal ministry, things can get a little crazy. In fact, they can feel a bit chaotic and overwhelming. How do I (personally) get things done and stay on top of hundreds of moving parts?  How do I identify the most important priorities?

Well, I have a bunch of God‘s grace and an awesome team. I also have a tool that I’ve adapted from what I’ve learned from others and years of experience.

Are you looking for a better way of staying on top of things?

Know your enemy – Look in the mirror!
There are three things I battle. The first is procrastination. I am gifted at putting important tasks off by replacing them with non-important tasks or tasks I should not be doing. The second is being a slave to the urgent. Emergencies and urgent tasks happen in daily life. When they do, we have to stop what we are doing and engage in the urgent. Many times when I have procrastinated to do an important task, the task migrates into the urgent. The third is deception. This happens when I make an activity of low importance into high importance when that is not the case.

A few years ago, Dave Ramsey provided a helpful tool for establishing priorities. It contains quadrants of activity or tasks.

1. Important and Urgent: This is a crisis or emergency like your child is in the hospital.  This is also task where your immediate action is required or something will break.

2. Not Urgent but Important: This something that is important but not currently urgent like taking care of your body. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could potentially have a health crisis. This is where planning and cultivating relationships reside. This will also include personal growth and health-related activities. Spend your time in this area!

3. Urgent and Not Important: This is someone else’s crisis or activities that we mistake for having high importance and urgency. Responding to email as they hit your inbox lands here. This is something that seems really important but it can wait or be delegated. If there is a crisis, I will get a phone call (sometimes a text but I recommend a call). This is a danger zone as it interrupts important work.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important: There are activities like surfing Facebook or watching senseless videos on Youtube. Dave Ramsey includes gossip here as well.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Ps 90:12

Download a PDF of my Weekly Urgency Chart.

Enjoy the journey!

What I learned about materialism from car tires

What I learned about materialism from car tires

A few years ago, Kathryn and I owned a beautiful SUV. It was truly a work of precision German engineering. It was the top of the line of ‘top-of-the-line’ SUVs containing all the ‘bells and whistles’ one could possibly imagine in a fine motor car. It was stunning and impressive. The darn thing was expensive. The warranty expired and we learned that maintenance was darn expensive as well. The ‘special’ run-flat tires could not be rotated. They had to be replaced (usually two at a time). The tires alone cost $650 each and had to be replaced about every 10,000-12,000 miles. Do the math. That’s $2600 per year in tires! As a special bonus, we had the privilege of replacing a cracked wheel at the low-low cost of $900. In one year, we spent over $3500 on tires and wheels. Oh yeah, did I tell you that it was beautiful, stunning and impressive?  You can learn something from car tires.

Materialism requires maintenance
Here’s the lesson that you should take away from my foolishness. If you place any of your personal self-worth on the stuff you buy, get ready to spin your wheels and work your arse off to maintain it. I don’t care if you have millions or billions, if you place your ANY of your self-worth on the stuff you can accumulate in life, you will live in a cycle of maintenance.  Take if from me, I’m a recovering materialist!

Everything we buy ends up in a trash heap somewhere. That expensive SUV we owned will eventually end up a rusted hunk of junk in a junk yard. That expensive home will eventually be torn down. All the stuff that we buy to impress others and/or make us feel better will eventually decay in some hole in the ground.

The material isn’t the problem, ‘Materialism’ is
Owning nice stuff is not the problem. The problem is when we tie our value to the stuff we own. When we love stuff and our capacity to attain more stuff more than we love God and people, we have exchanged that which is priceless for something with a price tag. Stuff can become an idol. Eventually, we run the risk of allowing that idol to rule over us and we eventually end up in bondage. The stuff owns us.

I’ve seen too many people end up with a pile of really expensive junk and massive bank accounts only to spend their last days completely alone in the pit of regret. They don’t even have anyone to share the regret with except those who they hire to maintain their stuff while they die alone.

You don’t have to get caught up in the nasty cycle of Materialism! Ponder this…

  • Order you life: Life is about relationships. Who would you trade all your stuff to save their life?
  • Motivation of the heart: Have you ever asked yourself ‘why’ before you buy?
  • Value: Do you attach personal value on things you buy? A little status, perhaps? Be honest.
  • Envy: When someone else buys something you desire to own, does it make you angry or bitter?
  • People: Who are the people you spend the most time with? Are they people who work for you?
  • Generosity: One cure for materialism is to give stuff away. Give something you love away (rinse and repeat)
  • Breaking the grip of Materialism: Read this post..
  • Cultivate Relationships: Seek time with God, family and friends.  This means reaping and sowing.  Do you invest in these three relationships? Are you generous with your time, talent and treasure?

What is true wealth?
“Add up everything you have that money can’t buy and death can’t take away.” -Pastor A. Rogers

Explore these passages.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

“Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” Mark 12:17

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22

Stop being a Punk in 8 steps

Stop being a Punk in 8 steps

I am a recovered punk.

So, I know one when I see one. A punk is a selfish adolescent boy living in a 25+ year old body who cares only about his interests. He pursues pleasure and instant gratification. If he seems nice, it was only a means to an end. The older the punk, the bigger the disaster the world must deal with.

Last Sunday, I had the privilege to hang out with abortion survivor, singer and speaker Gianna Jessen. This remarkable woman spoke four times at our church. I won’t go into her story here but I’ll put a link at the end of this post for you to find out more about her. She’s my wise little sister. Gianna challenged me and a couple thousand men to behave like the brave warriors we were created to be and reject the emasculation that plagues our culture. She had a special message to men, “Men, you are made for greatness!” In order to be great, you have to stop being a punk!

On behalf of all recovered punks everywhere, I am sorry. To those we mistreated and misled, particularly the women, I am sorry. We ‘should’ have been lifting you up and protecting you. We should NOT have given into passivity. We should have taken responsibility for our actions.

Now that I got that off my chest, I am happy to tell you I am years removed from my punk days. I may have my moments, but I know my wife, family and friends like the current version better than the old. So, I have some advice for my brothers today.

It’s time that men in this country stop being punks!

Why should you stop being a punk?

First off, because you are not a child and the world does not revolve around you (or me). Not only is a punk selfish and immature, he is a blight on society. A punk is a pimple on the ass of a generation and every generation has their fair share. Men, God did not create us to be punks. He created us in His image. We are to fight the good fight, defending women and children. We are to care for the weak and the needy. We are ordained accomplish big stuff and fight big battles. You can’t accomplish big stuff or win battles if you are a freakin’ punk.

How do you stop being a punk?

1. Admit that you are a punk and turn from your punkish ways.

2. Stop being freakin’ lame and passive. Tolerating every little nuanced proclivity in our culture to be seen as ‘cool’ by your lame friends is foolish and lame.

3. Take responsibility for your actions. If you screw up, own up to it and ask for forgiveness. Don’t do it again.

4. Stop using women. Be a one woman man. Stop worshiping porn idols.

5. Protect women, children and the weak. That means stand up against those who take advantage of them. Take a bullet or beating if you must.

6. Be chivalrous. Open any and every woman’s door. Start there and see if that improves your situation.

7. Clean up your language and your life. Stop behaving and talking like you are some kind of rapper. You are a punk and people think you are an idiot. (I’m not talking about the Ramones sort who played fantastic punk music).

8. Call your mom and apologize. She needs to hear it from you. She knows you are a punk and has been praying for you to stop being an idiot for years. Call her now.

In conclusion, the world needs us men to behave like real men not punks. In fact, the culture is crying out for it. When we take a stand for what is right, things will change.  Our relationships will grow and we will win back the respect we have lost over the last 40 years.

“Men, you are made for greatness!”

Learn more about Gianna Jessen here.
Watch her message here


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Doing the Right Thing the Wrong Way

Doing the Right Thing the Wrong Way

We take up our cause because we believe it is right and good. We know that it is good and we are passionate about reaching the good result. Somewhere along the path toward our goal of achieving what is right and good, we can fall into the trap of the wrong way.

Winning at all costs is not winning.For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26)  If I have not love in my heart as I pursue what is right, I fail. If I love the object of the rightness of my cause and have no love for those on the path, I have created an idol. When my pursuit of what is right destroys fellowship and unity causing division, I have not love in my heart. I have gone the wrong way.

The heart will produce fruit that will manifest in reality. By the fruit, the wise can discern the motivation of the heart. We can attempt to manufacture ‘good fruit’ but eventually the facade will crumble and we will be found on the wrong way.

In the pursuit of doing the right thing, our way must be the way of love. It is a matter of the heart. The heart is the seat of the will. Our motivations are born in the heart.

The right way
A heart that is authentically regenerated and transformed will produce spiritual fruit in one’s life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23).

The wrong way
A heart that is not transformed remains under the authority of darkness and rebellion is completely incapable of producing spiritual fruit in one’s life. The bible calls this state of the heart ‘the flesh.’ “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these…. those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21b)

Doing the right thing the wrong way
There are examples in the Bible of people doing the right thing the wrong way. Cain’s sacrifice was not pleasing to the Lord because of his motivation. Abraham and Sarah’s decision to use Hagar to provide an heir. Jacob and Rebekah’s deception of Isaac to attain Esau’s inheritance. Somewhere along the path toward their goal of achieving what is right and good, they fell into the trap of the wrong way.

How do we know we are doing the right thing the RIGHT way?

  • Pray it through: Why am I really pursuing this ‘good thing’? Is it to earn points with God or man? What is truly motivating me? What is driving me toward this cause or goal?
  • Check your fruit: Keep a journal on your journey and look for fruit.
  • Test it with Scripture: Read God’s word and allow it to minister to you. Don’t treat it like a cafeteria where you pick and choose what supports your goal/mission.
  • Be Accountable: ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ (Pr. 27:17) Share what you are doing with a brother or sister who will test you and hold you accountable. They must be able to ask the tough questions. Don’t trust yourself because you can deceive yourself. Get a trusted friend to help.

The way of love ties it all together.
“Grace and truth need each other. Grace ceases to be grace if it lacks truth. And truth loses its power if it lacks grace. Grace without truth sanctions and perpetuates unwanted actions…. Truth without grace is harsh, usually self-centered, and un-Christlike. Grace without truth is deceptively permissive, often lazy and equally un-Christlike… Should I show grace or should I tell the truth?’ Both. Love unites grace and truth.” – Bill Robinson