How Did I See God? (Reflections on the Detroit Missions Trip)

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How Did I see God?

This question was asked of us and asked of the youth that participated in a recent Missions trip that Crossroads Church in Albert Lea went on. We had an amazing time together and I am very thankful I went on the trip.

I see God in Detroit

I saw God in the city of Detroit. I saw God in the people of Detroit Love. Detroit Love is the organization that Crossroads partnered with for this missions trip (CLICK HERE for Detroit Love’s website). Their love for the city and the people of Detroit was evident with how they saw hope, love, and redemption happening in the city. The staff showed us hope throughout the city while being realistic of the challenges that are ahead for the city.

I also saw God in the people of Detroit. The kids showed joy and laughter that was contagious. They also loved our teenagers that came to serve on the missions trip. Kids of course are kids and can present some challenges, but they were receptive to our teenagers and to the messages they shared from God’s Word. We also served people in the community and city. They were so thankful for what we were doing for them. A lot of this also has to do with the trust that Detroit Love has gained with those in the community.

I see God in Our Teenagers

I really believe in mobilizing a teenager’s potential so that they can begin to realize their potential. This was the perfect opportunity for them to begin to realize their God-given potential. I absolutely saw God in these teenagers. They had quick thinking and flexibility when planning the Vacation Bible School the night before we had the Vacation Bible School. They showed genuine love and patience toward the kids from Detroit. They had fun dancing, jumping around and playing games. They were profoundly impacted by the city, kids, and people of Detroit.

What Now?

The amazing thing about these teenagers is that they have a passion to serve. I ask myself this question:

What would happen if we took this passion to serve and did that in our community?

The passion to serve and love others out of the love we have for God should be something that is part of our daily lives.

We have jobs, we go to school, we have families, and we have responsibilities so I get that most of us cannot quit what we are doing and do this full-time. However, there is something that I learned that can change how we live our daily lives. We can continue to serve others while maintaining our lives. That doesn’t mean that God won’t ask us to give up things or we might need to adjust our priorities.The thing I learned is to ask this question:

How did I see God today?

This question will help us to anticipate God’s work in our lives and then begin joining in with what he is doing.

So how did you see God today?

Thanks for reading.

Work Is Hard But Its Worth It

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Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. Proverbs 10:4

You know your lazy if . . .

instead of ironing your shirt you just throw it in the dryer.

you hit snooze 5 or more times before you actually wake up.

you hear your baby crying and pretend to be asleep so your spouse has to wake up and deal with the baby.

you mow your leaves instead of bagging them even if it might kill your grass.

Maybe not all of these are being lazy. And I may have been guilty of some of the above. Sometimes we don’t want to work hard. We have moments like this. But have you ever believed in the myth that work doesn’t have to be hard?

The Myth

Work isn’t hard. This is a big misunderstanding. People can hear the quote below and miss point.

If you don’t love what you do, then you shouldn’t do it. Marcus Lemonis

I love what I do. I believe what I do has purpose. It has value. I think what I do brings purpose to my life. What I do helps me grow and develop as a leader and pastor. What I do has an impact on the lives of people. I love working with my coworkers. I love what I do.

But does this mean that what we do shouldn’t be hard? If its too hard, should we quit? If its too hard, do we ask start questioning if we love what we do any more?

Long hours, hard labor, staring at a computer screen all day, and coming home and falling asleep before 9:00pm can be very hard. It makes someone wonder if they should stop doing their job.

The Truth

Anything worth doing is hard.

Its not always hard, but it can be hard at anytime. Its not always hard, but there are moments that are challenging.

Starting a business that you love, starting a church, rebranding your business, opening a new location, planting in the fields, and raising children are all hard work. But anything worth doing is hard. It takes diligent hands to do these things.

President John F. Kennedy in a speech he gave to a stadium full of people at Rice University in 1962 talked about the importance of the USA going to the moon. He called on the pioneering spirit of the US that accomplished so much up until this point. He believed that they would accomplish this goal. Below is an excerpt from that speech.

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.

We choose to go because they are hard. Anything worth doing (like going to the moon) is worth it. No matter how hard, we intend to win!

What is the one thing you choose to do? This is the thing that you love to do. This one thing you love is a challenge. Will you accept it?

There are so many things we could choose to do. What will you choose to do? What are you doing now? What would happen if you believed anything worth doing is hard? You wouldn’t doubt this fact. You would embrace it. You would thrive in this environment. You wouldn’t push through.

Does this mean that you don’t have hard days? Does this mean that you don’t fall asleep the second you get home? Not at all. But you push through those days. You take a day off or a vacation to rejuvenate.

Maybe things are coming easy to you right now. That’s great, but there could come a time when things get hard. This doesn’t mean you need to quit. Ask your self why you are doing what you are doing. And remember anything worth doing is hard.

What do you think? Is anything worth doing hard? What do you do to persevere and not quit?

Thanks for reading!

Good News for Yesterday, Today and Forever

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Good News

We have all gotten good news before. We got a letter in the mail that we were accepted to that college we were hoping to get into.

When my girl friend at the time said YES to my proposal! That’s great news!

Your team won the championship! That’s good news! We receive all kinds of news some good and some bad. I am a Lakers fan and it was good news when they won their championship in 2010. That was good news. It now seems like a distant memory as they have not even made the playoffs the last few years.

News can some times become outdated. With the advent of the 24 hour news cycle news can change quickly. Yesterdays news can seem like a lifetime away.

However, there is news, good news, that is relevant yesterday, today and forever.

Check out what Paul says in his letter to the churches in Roman about this good news.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life g was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power i by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7

Good News for Yesterday

The gospel is the good news that he is talking about. Paul refers back to yesterday. He is saying that the good news was spoken about in the prophets and the holy scriptures. This is referring back to the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. The good news was talked about in the past. Paul gets specific here he says “a descendant of David” and Jesus is Christ our Lord.

Jesus is a descendant of the greatest king of Ancient Israel’s history. And he is the “Christ” or Messiah and king.

Paul says this in the book of Acts when referring to Jesus as a descendant of David

“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“ ‘You are my son;
today I have become your father.’
34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
“ ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’
35 So it is also stated elsewhere: “ ‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ Acts 13:32-35

This is good news was relevant yesterday and it is relevant for today.

Good News for Today

The good news that Paul spoke was good news for today. It clearly spoke of good news that was relevant for their today, and for our today as well.

It was good news for today because it brings salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

We are saved from our sins. We have eternal life. We are made right and have a relationship with God forever. This is for those of us who put their trust in Jesus.

This is also good news for today because it engages culture. The words “Good News,” “King,” and “Lord” were all also in reference to Caesar. His birthday was even called “Good News.” He was king and Lord. The early church new that this could create tension with the culture. And yet they were to proclaim that Jesus the King is Lord!

Paul’s good news is good news for yesterday, today and forever.

Good News for Forever

Paul’s good news is for forever.  Paul says this later on in Romans

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:11

Jesus our king was raised, so we too will be raised. What happened to Jesus will happen to us. He give us life now and forever. This is good news for yesterday, today and forever.

Conclusion

I think it is easy for us to get bogged down with the issues of life. Even for those who work in the church. We can forget “the why.” Why do we do what we do? Why do we follow Jesus? Why do we serve in the church? It is because the Good News is always good news.

The good news is always good news

This news never goes out of style or becomes outdate. What would happen if we lived our lives day in and day out like the Good News is still good today? What if we realized that the Good news engages culture today? What would happen if we lived like “The gospel” was relevant to our lives today? What if we lived like the good news is not yesterday’s news?

I believe we would not grow weary in doing good. I believe we would engage culture instead of isolating ourselves. I believe we would live out this good news and share it with others.

What do you think? How would treating the Good News like its still good news change how we live? Thanks for reading!

 

 

The Insecure Leader Part Two: There Is a Way out of the Maze

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Why put up a facade of perfection? Why appear perfect when most can see right through the facade? For many leaders they feel trapped by what drives their decisions. Why do they put up a false facade? One reason is they feel like people can’t see the real them.

For many leaders, their insecurity drives their decisions that pass the blame and put up a false facade.

In my previous post, I talked about how the insecure leader says, “It wasn’t me.” “It was them.” They pass the blame to anyone or anything. This becomes a pattern. They have programmed themselves by a history of decisions to act this way. They cannot image a way to act differently.

They have to appear in control even if they are not. It can sometimes feel like, while this isn’t the best way to lead, there is no other option to lead. Is there another way?

The Maze

Sometimes the thought patterns and behaviors we have can feel like a maze. We want to find another way out and another way to live, but we don’t know any other way to think, act and live. What would happen if the insecure leader found a way out of the maze? What would happen if this leader began to lead not out of insecurity but began to put those he/she leads first?

So is there a way out? Is there away out of the maze? Here are two practices that leaders can put in action that will help them get out of their fears and insecurities and to begin to  put those they lead ahead of their own interests.

Be Honest

Be Honest. It is simple, yet true. What would happen if the insecure leader was honest to those he/she leads? This leader would become real. This leader would be human. The leader would gain relational capital and others would follow.

People follow leaders who are honest and not those who appear perfect.

Fears and insecurities can drive the leader to be dishonest. They are afraid that if people found out the real them, those they lead would leave. However, many times their worst fears come true and people leave anyway.

“If people see the real me, they won’t trust me anymore!”
The insecure leader says this to themselves and attempts to fool those they lead.

Yet who are you trying to fool by being dishonest? You just end up fooling yourself.

Be honest and others will follow. This doesn’t mean we make the same mistakes over and over again. “Well, if I am just honest, I can make as many mistakes as I want.” A great leader reflects on their experience and learns from their mistakes.

Remind Yourself Who Makes You Happy

Many of us strive for happiness in life. While we think we can find some happiness in material wealth and status. True happiness is found in the relationships we have. Remind yourself of the close relationships you have. At the end of the day, whether it’s a good day or a bad day, who do you go home to that loves you unconditionally? This could be a father, mother, brother, friend, husband, wife, etc. If you are a Christian, Jesus is the one that loves you unconditionally. No matter what, you know that you are loved by God because he sent his son for you. You are a child of God. If you are a Christian, you also know that the love you see from loved ones is an expression of the love of God.

Imagine if you began to live knowing what truly makes you happy? What if your relationship with God drove how you lead?

Make a list of what truly makes you happy and go over them regularly. Allow these things to be your motivation to lead. And when you lead be honest.

Conclusion

When you lead by being honest, and when you lead from a place of being secure in what makes you happy, you will find a way out of the maze of insecurity. You will lead and others will follow.

The first step out of the maze is always the hardest, but the second, third and fourth steps will be easier. It takes thinking and acting in different ways over time to see change and a way out of the maze.

This is by no means an exhaustive list to help an insecure leader. Do you have any practices to add to the list? Thanks for reading!

The Insecure Leader Part One: I Messed Up

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I Messed Up

I messed up recently. I miscommunicated with some people I lead.

Communication is so important when you lead others, and I dropped the ball with some important information.

Have you ever done that? Chances are you have, if you have led people for any duration of time. There comes a point when a leader can respond in a few different ways, when he/she messes up. In this post we will take a look at two ways a leader can respond.

Pass The Blame

The insecure leader passes the blame. It is easy to pass the blame. Blame someone, anyone, anything for the ball that was dropped. It was that person’s fault for not making sure we were communicating the right info. They didn’t do what needed to be done. If they would have just gone the extra mile, then this wouldn’t have happened. They will get there soon, we just need to be patient with them. I am the expert, if they would have just listened to me. They weren’t listening, it’s not my fault. Now the insecure leader can even blame technology. The email or text message was never sent.

“It wasn’t me,” the insecure leader said. “It was them.”

Appear Perfect

The insecure leader feels the need to keep up the appearance of perfection. They put up a false facade of perfection. They really aren’t perfect because no one really is perfect. This leader cannot be real or show vulnerability. They are afraid to lose control or appear like they don’t know what they are doing.

They cannot say, “I messed up.” “I dropped the ball.”

So they pass the blame and attempt to keep up the appearance of perfection.

Conclusion

I didn’t pass the blame with this situation I mentioned. And anyone who has worked with me or anyone who I’ve led knows that I don’t put up a facade of perfection. I am not even close to perfection.

Why put up a facade that everyone can see right through?

This hasn’t always been the case for me. I used to be more apt to pass the blame or attempt to put up a facade of perfection. Leaders can do something about their insecurity. It doesn’t have to drive their decisions.

Be on the look out for “The Insecure Leader Part Two: There Is a Way out of the Maze”, when I talk about some practices that can help a leader deal with their insecurity. This is an ongoing battle, but you can do it!

 

 

 

 

 

God Made You to Do Good Right Where You Are

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Imagine overlooking the Grand Canyon. I have been there once and its unbelievable. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. And your reaction might be “Wow, look at what God made.” Or imagine you are walking around lake or standing by the lake and overlooking a sunset and sunrise. It is beautiful. And you say, “Wow, look at what God made.” I believe when God sees a mom praying with her kids, Someone serving in the community, A women listening and praying with her coworkers. God says “Wow, look at what I made.” I made them to do that. God has made you too. If you are single or married, if you are working or not, if you are suffering or not, God made you right where you are to do good. This could mean simply but powerfully listening to someone who is hurting, or caring for your kids who need you, serving in the church or community or praying with someone.

God made you to do good right where you are.