Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

3 Must-Do’s to Avoid the Long Way Home

In Chrisian Life, Decisions, Direction on June 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

LongPath_joelgoodman-Flickr

It was 6:42 am as I bolted out of the house and hustled down the hill.  I had 3 minutes to make it down and back up the hill to the bus stop.  I heard it coming before I saw it and hoped the driver would wait just a minute.  The clouds looked full and just as I got there they began to empty themselves!

“The bridge is out”, he told me, “Gonna have to take the long way today.”

From my house there were two options: across the bridge or around the county.  Of course, across the bridge was the best route to school since it only took 40 minutes on the bus.  However, the rain had come hard overnight and the creek had flooded.  The only way across the bridge was by boat.  I settled in for the 95 minute ride.  I hated taking the long way but there was no choice now.

Ever feel like you are taking the long way through life?

Israel had the opportunity to go straight in to Canaan (Promised Land).  God promised them that He was taking them from Egypt to the Promised Land as established in the covenant.  He led them by a pillar of fire at night and cloud by the day.  God gave them freedom from Egypt and guidance through the travels.  They were at the edge of the Jordan River and faltered.  God told them to go take the land. They chose to spy it out first.  This showed lack of trust.  Then they were scared of what they saw and chose to not go. This was lack of trust and rebellion.  What could have been 11 days took them 40 years!

How can we take the short path?

Be Brave

The Israelites were ruled by their fear more than their faith.  They could not just trust.  They had to spy it out first.  When God leads you to do something….do it!  Obviously, you need to be sure it is God doing the leading.  However, once that is certain you must take the brave steps of faith.  Step out and trust God.

Be Bold

Often, logic wins over our heart more than faith.  The spies went to investigate and reasoned that they could never have victory over such mighty armies and large people.  They had iron chariots!  Even after steps of faith, we must find that balance of logic and faith that allows for God to rule our hearts.

Be Bonded

The 12 spies could not find unity.  This caused a great problem for everyone involved.  When you face a large decision, be sure you are bonded with God and with those involved in the decision.  Whether it is a family or business decision we must be unified with God and others to move forward smoothly.

Each day we face circumstances, relationships, or decisions that challenge our faith.  From purchases to programs to people, we must follow God’s leadership or we will find ourselves taking the long way home.  Enjoy these words of a great hymn of the faith.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

In Chrisian Life on December 10, 2013 at 7:00 am

Don't Worry Be Happy

“Don’t worry, be happy” is most notable as Bobby McFerrin’s coming out song in 1988.  What many may not know is that the inspiration for this song came from Meher Baba. The Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba (1894–1969) often used the expression “Don’t worry, be happy” when cabling his followers in the West.[5] However, Meher Baba communicated variations of the sentiment; fuller versions of the quote – such as, “Do your best. Then, don’t worry; be happy in My love. I will help you[6] — which incorporate responsibility (“do your best…”) alongside the detachment (“don’t worry…”), as well as the master/disciple spiritual relationship (“I will help you”). In the 1960s, the truncated version of this expression by Baba was printed up on inspiration cards and posters of the era.

The concept of not worrying is not original to Baba.  When Jesus came on the scene in the 1st Century he addressed the people’s anxiety and plight in a similar manner.  Here we are in John 6:

Jesus fed the people the day before.  He crossed the lake, had a midnight stroll on the water to meet his boys, and arose to find the crowds lurking.  They wanted some more of what Jesus was handing out. However, they played it smooth and asked, “When did you get here?”  The reply Jesus gave cut through all the smack to the heart of the matter.  He addressed their motivations.

The people showed up for breakfast!  They were hungry. Although in first century Israel there was profound poverty and destitution, most of the poor were working poor. The great majority were peasants engaged in subsistence farming, which means that after payment of Roman taxes, there was barely enough for survival, and certainly no surplus for long-term planning, or even enough to meet emergencies. As biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan observes, “Peasants … were structured inferiors.”

What Jesus says next is very interesting in light of their plight.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.    But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”     — John 6:26-27

Did you hear that?  These people are poor and hungry, though they work hard.  Jesus tells them to not worry about just things as food!  This is a moment when we must understand what Jesus is saying and not get all caught up in the moment.  Remember, Jesus uses physical/spiritual talk often.  He is using it here also.  Jesus is not oblivious to their need.  He wants them to rise above and seek God who can provide for their needs.  They wanted a quick fix and hoped this magician/possible Messiah could help.

Jesus is aware of your need.  Jesus wants you to check your motives.  Our life focus trends toward physical and perishable items.  We work so hard for food, clothing, and shelter that we fail to give heed to the higher need for a spiritual relationship with God.  Jesus is not suggesting that your plight is ridiculous.  Jesus wants you to worry less about those things and more about Him.

That’s HARD!

I know it may seem difficult, but that is what He wants.  Following Jesus is more than just quips and quotes, it is a lifestyle of choices to follow the Messiah.  We are called to give focus and energy to that which we cannot touch or feel.  We are called to work toward an eternal payout more than a temporal one.  Let’s do this and show the world the power and majesty of God as He reveals Himself through us because we opened our lives up to the opportunity!

 

Raising Kids Like a Boss, Part 2

In Life and Culture on November 13, 2013 at 7:00 am

Be-Transformed-Christian-PowerPoint

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

— Romans 12:2

I remember the day of birth for each of my children.  I remember holding them in my arms, counting fingers and toes.  I brushed their hair and kissed their heads.  Blondie and Brownie, their names for web purposes, are now 12 and 9.  Much has changed over these past few years.  My wife and I are working hard to do what we discussed yesterday.  However, they are dropped off 5 days a week for 8 hours each day into a culture that is necessary, but difficult.  My kids will go to public school because I want them to be salt and light and I don’t think that happens if I teach them at home.  The trade-off is that they are discovering new things at a rate faster than I would prefer.  They are being washed over by our culture right there in the classroom, the cafeteria, and especially the playground.

How can I help them not be conformed to this world?
How can I help them be transformed so they can know God’s Will and have the ability to do it?

1.  Do NOT let them choose for themselves.  I was standing in line at a fast-food joint the other day watching as a 2-year-old tried to make up their mind about what they would eat.  They were being allowed to choose for themselves what they would eat.  Left to her own devices, Brownie would eat Mac and Cheese every meal.  That is not happening on my watch. I know of one family who attended church regularly.  The father was a leader in the church.  However, they allowed their son to choose for himself about spiritual things.  They did not want to push him.  Now, his life is forever different as an ex-con.  Our kids are not prepared to choose for themselves.  We choose for them and then help them understand why the choice was made.  In this way, you shape them into the ability to make proper choices when they come to a point when you are not around.

2.  Do NOT believe the culture can raise them properly.  A quick review of our culture notes a downward spiral with relation to the Biblical ethic.  Consumerism is on the rise which see a disposable nature in everything.  Now we have starter homes and starter marriages.  Sex used to be inside marriage, now it is a group game on a Friday night.  Life used to be sacred.  Now Euthanasia is on the rise in new ways.  30 years ago boys had no confusion.  Now we have same-sex marriages in 14 states.  With open sexual relationships and now “eye-licking“, we are finding STD’s in eye infections.  Our culture cannot raise our kids properly.  We cannot turn them out and expect them whole when they return.

3.  Do NOT believe we are safe.  Within the Christian community, there has been a thought that everything will be OK.  The problem is that until 30 years ago, most people followed a similar moral and ethic.  Now we have 330 million people in our country and that many ethics and moral codes.  When there are no absolutes, everyone is right.  Of course, no one is right either.  1 out of 5 people consider themselves has having no religious affiliation.  Of those under 29, this rises to 1 of 3.  Our world has changed and we cannot sit back and think otherwise.

Of course, we could just throw this all out and let their friends help them make choices, television shape their morality, and bury our heads in the sand.  We could.  However, this would be the result:

After Joshua sent the people away, each of the tribes left to take possession of the land allotted to them.  And the Israelites served the Lord  throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord  had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord , died at the age of 110.  They buried him in the land he had been allocated, at Timnath-serah  in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord  or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord ’s sight and served the images of Baal.  They abandoned the L ord , the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord .

— Judges 2

 

The Splatter Effect (Thoughts About the Syrian Civil War)

In Life and Culture on September 5, 2013 at 6:00 am

APTOPIX Mideast Syria

I was standing there sort of minding my own business when I was splattered with water. The target was close by, but not me. Why did I get wet? The splatter effect happened. The oncoming water balloon was on target. It hit the target. However, the collateral damage got me wet too. I didn’t want to get wet. I had “not wet” clothes on but that did not matter. The one throwing the balloon wasn’t aiming at me so they felt exonerated. They hit the target correctly. That didn’t help me much at the time.

Syria has been in a civil war for 2 years. There have been uprisings and marches. There have been captures and chemical weapons. Our national leadership is currently discussing/debating whether or not to get involved. Here is an excerpt from a longer article:

This means that if the U.S. took any kind of military action in Syria, the Syrian government might retaliate with strikes against Israel, which could then propel the entire region into a much larger Middle Eastern conflict, potentially even drawing Iran into action.

In other words, to quote Michael Corleone “Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in”. The splatter effect happens. We could target Syria. We could hit Syria. However, if and when this is chosen there will be collateral damage. Israel gets hit. We retaliate. Iran gets in the game. Then others start pulling up there proverbial chairs to the table. We continually seek to bring about peace in an area of the world that is destined to never have peace according to Genesis 21 and following. The boys fought early. The boys fought over land and their descendents still fight today. There will never be peace until Jesus returns.

Should we get involved? This is the volatile decision at hand, isn’t it? Israel is an ally and we feel burdened to protect her. Yet, this war is in Syria. Some feel there is a human interest perspective since so many have died at the hands of the current regime. At what cost should we intervene? Have we learned nothing from the last 20 years? We are not equipped to fight the kind of war this region is prepared to fight. We do not strap bombs on children. We follow a code and convention unrecognized by parts of this world. Are we ready for the splatter effect?

Let’s learn a lesson from history. King David was out on his balcony one evening when he should have been at war. He looked at Bathsheba and desired her for his own. When he could not cover up the incident, he murdered her husband. Later, the child dies and the family is in turmoil. Lastly, another child from this union becomes King over another who felt they were the rightful heir. That one action caused a splatter effect of problems onto so many. David never intended for that to happen but it did and he was made to be accountable for that action.

  • 1 out of 6 children in America go hungry everyday.
  • Our debt is skyrocketing in part because of war-time expenditures.
  • The president has pledged to get out of this type of war and now here we are again.
  • Why fight an un-winnable war….again?

I believe in helping people. I do it everyday. However, there are situations that cannot be helped. We live in a fallen world that is rapidly spiraling out of control. We cannot fix every problem brought to our attention. Domestic policy and needs should triumph foreign policy needs in priority. In the same way, we are told to put the air mask on ourselves before helping someone else as the plane is going down. Why? Because who can you help if you already died? Our country is at the threshold of civil war over a variety of issues.

Why not stop the war at home before jumping into one on the other side of the world?

No Special Treatment

In Faith, Jesus on July 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

the-way-the-truth-and-the-life

As a pastor with two kids there can be challenges.  There are times one will throw into conversation, “My Dad runs this place.”  Now, I have never encouraged this type of attitude.  I will admit I used this line of thinking as far as it would take ME as a pastor’s kid.  I tried to leverage all I could in those days in order to get my way.  It must be in the nature of a child to do so!  Using this kind of statement raises the question of whether or not my kids get a “pass” on certain rules and restrictions that other kids do not.  Dulcie and I have tried to consistently treat our children like any other church kids about getting a “pass”.  I get on to them as much, probably more, than other kids!  I don’t think they get a special pass.  If they make the right choices then they earn the privileges.  It doesn’t diminish my love for them.  However there are certain rules and processes that all must adhere to and they are the same.

30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness —namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law for righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: Look! I am putting a stone in • Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over, yet the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame.

As I read this passage it reminded me that no one gets special treatment.  Paul recalls his time under the Law and now his life under grace.  He recognizes that the Law can lead you to Jesus but cannot provide righteousness on its own.  The law is designed to reveal our faults which are many.  The law does not provide the solution.  The Jew that remains under the Law and refuses Jesus Christ does not get special treatment.  Jesus fulfilled the Law and Prophets.

For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promise of the oath, which came after the law, appoints a Son, who has been perfected forever.

Jesus provided a new covenant in His blood.  By new, it means the old has been put away and replaced.  Because humanity (Israel) broke the covenant there needed to be a new one.  Jesus came that we may have life (John 10:10).  Jesus said He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)  No one gets to God/Heaven outside of Jesus.  There is no special pass.  There is no special treatment.  The Jewish people do not get in by virtue of heritage.

No one gets special treatment.  If you want forgiveness it come through faith in Jesus.  If you want access to Heaven it comes through faith in Jesus.  No passes.  No special groups.  No other way but Jesus.

Life in the Rear View

In Chrisian Life, Decisions, Joshua, Journey on April 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

rear-view-mirror

Traveling to a funeral, we passed through Dallas during rush hour.  I had hoped to get through the city before it got too hectic but missed the window by a small margin.  It is amazing how early it starts now.  As we were passing through miles of construction it became a lot of start and stop.  I have never found myself nervous about driving in traffic, but I was very glad to get through to the other side!  The lanes had been narrowed from 4 to 1, the traffic was rising and everyone was in a hurry.  I am not a saint when it comes to texting in the car and I knew others were not either.  I felt like I had a bobble-head attached to my body because of looking ahead to know when to stop, to the sides to not hit any barrels, and in all the mirror to make sure others were going to stop in time.  There were a few times that I was not sure the car behind us was going to stop!  I could just see being shoved up the backside of the truck in front of us and then having the gravel/stone/dirt unload on top.  One of the times my head bobbled to the rear view mirror, I noticed two smiling faces looking back at me.  I realized my anxiety was based out of a protective sense toward those riding along.

We are told in life to never look back except to learn from history, both good and bad.  We are to look ahead, forge a path, and focus on the future.  There is a balance to all of this looking around.  We cannot simply live in the past and allow that to control our future.  Our destiny is more than responding to the past.  Certainly we can check our past decisions and create a plan to bolster our forward progress.  We cannot live life without looking in the rear view, however a steady gaze takes our eyes off the road ahead and accidents do happen.  If we only look ahead we might forget what lies behind, or just in the back seat!  We can get so enamored with our lives, our goals, our futures, our desires that we leave behind those who love us most.  Concentrating only through the windshield does not fully prepare you for reality.  What happens when your past catches up with you?  What happens if you are hit from behind or side-swiped?  Crashes happen because we are not fully paying attention to our surroundings.  Safe driving involves a balanced approach to looking ahead and in the mirrors as well as glancing at the gauges periodically in case of something critical happening now. Because of what I saw that day, I am reminded of how we are to livevu.  We are to live balanced as well.

We should look back.  We should take a look back to see from whence we came to give thanks and honor to our glorious God.  We look back to better understand how His plan is coming to fruition.  We look back to learn.

We need look around.  We should look in our other mirrors and dash gauges.  Taking a look at our surroundings helps us understand how to pray.  Awareness of our culture and context is invaluable in living a life worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ.  We cannot just mindlessly drive through life.  We are to take advantage of every situation, every conversation, every experience to fully glorify God.  We look around to listen.

We must look ahead.  Just like driving, if we never have our eyes on the road how can we ever expect to stay on the road.  I believe that we often find ourselves outdated and irrelevant when we never look ahead and map out a path.  If we only react tot he past and present without any idea of where we are trying to go we are doomed to repeat the history we are trying to avoid.  Reactionary thinking rarely takes into account the view through the windshield.  We look ahead to live.

There is no joy in reactionary living.  Like the walls around a prison, you find yourself locked inside with no hope.  Take a look back and learn.  Take a look around and listen.  Above all, look ahead so that what you have learned and heard can create a path of life and joy and peace in the hands of God.

Let’s go for a drive!

19 The people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho. 20 Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, 21 and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ 22 you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the •Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. 24 This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always •fear the Lord your God.”

Joshua 4:19-24

 

Would Jesus Have Been In 4-H?

In Chrisian Life, Community, Missional on April 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

Oklahoma 4H

I pledge
my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

My kids are in 4-H.  Right now they both hold offices in their Jr 4-H chapter.  Every month at the meeting they begin with this pledge.  At the first National 4-H Camp in Washington, DC in 1927, the present 4-H pledge, worded first by Otis Hall, state leader in Kansas, was officially adopted.  The Executive Committee of the Land-Grant College Association had requested Dr. R. A. Pearson, president of Iowa State College, and Dr. A. C. True of the Federal Extension Service to write a pledge, and they had turned in the pledge substantially as written by Hall.  In 1973, the words “and my world” were added.

As I stood there and said the pledge I wondered, “Would Jesus have been in 4-H?”  He probably would have shown sheep or goats and showmanship would have been perfect!  Coming from a carpenter family, his skills in construction would have won something at the fair.  As I recited that pledge I thought of how well each of those parts create an individual that would be honorable.  As Moses was wrapping up his time as leader he spoke to Israel and his words are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.  One famous line is now known as the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, “4Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

When asked what was most important about the religious law given to Israel, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”

While the words might be rearranged a little, the same sentiment is seen in the 4H pledge.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking.  The Israelites were told to bind these words to their forehead.  God meant that figuratively to mean that Scripture should be on your mind.  Paul would later write to the Philippians, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)”  Keeping your mind set on Christ generally clears things up!

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty.  Loving God with all your heart means that the passions and desires of your life should be filtered through Scripture more than your friends and followers.  Loyalty does not happen automatically.  it takes time and attention.  Loyalty is a decision.  The wisest of all kings, Solomon, wrote, ‘Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.  Tie them around your neck;write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)”

I pledge my hands to larger service.  Helping other people can be seen throughout the life of Jesus.  Because of Him, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the mute spoke, the sick were healed, and the hungry fed.

I pledge my health to better living.  The antithesis of this is found when we are breaking the other three pledges.  Even the Psalmist knew there was a certain way of living that brought health and choices that did not.  The Psalmist wrote, “There is no health in my body because of Your indignation;there is no strength in my bones because of my sin. (Psalm 38:3)”  If sin is simply seen as missing the mark, then it is right to think that when our head, heart, and hands are not right then our health will not either.

Would Jesus have been in 4H?  I don’t know.  However, I do think 4H provides opportunities that make better kids.

What Would John Do?

In behavior, Church, Family on November 16, 2012 at 9:27 am

I know what you’re thinking, “This slacker is taking a shortcut.  Those stinking’ Gen Xers are always lazy and good-for-nothing….”

Everybody knows we are to do whatever Jesus did.  To ask this question is just silly, right?  How can we ever grow in holiness following John?  How can we ever be sanctified following someone who ate locusts and honey?  (Of course, your insides would be extra clean on this diet!)  Don’t we all know that Jesus is God and God said to be holy like He is holy?  Are you pulling some David Platt experiment on me and want me to be radical, living in the desert having sold all I have?  (That’s a joke David!)

When I read this Scripture:

13 But the angel said to him:Do not be afraid, Zechariah,because your prayer has been heard.Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,and you will name him John. 14 There will be joy and delight for you,and many will rejoice at his birth.15For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.17And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah,to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

Did you notice the last phrase “to make ready for the Lord a prepared people”?  While I understand we are to be holy like God, I feel so much like a failure.  This makes me more humble and hungry for the Word to enrich my life toward God.  However, I resonate with John.  I am a part of the Church.  I am the Gospel Project.  You are too!  John’s purpose according to that last part is to make ready for the Lord a prepared  people.  We wait for Jesus to return.  We want our friends and family to be ready also.  In other words, we are doing the same thing John was going to do: make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

So, what would(did) John do?

1.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit.  From birth the Bible says he was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Later in life he continued to make the choices necessary for the free flow of the Spirit’s power.  The only way to be filled with the Spirit is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross.  He provided life through His resurrection.  Our putting faith in His activity as sufficient for salvation is critical.  The Holy Spirit arrives and gives you the power to put into practice that which He desires.

2.  He didn’t let the culture dictate his desires.  He lived in the desert.  He ate locusts and honey.  He wore camel skins.  He was not a fashionista or hipster.  He didn’t care that the iPhone 5 was out because his iPhone 3 was still working.  Did I mention his housing arrangements?

3.  He believed in family ministry.  He was less concerned with event ministry and more concerned with relationships.  The angel said that John would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.  Research has shown over and over the deep impact a father has over the family.

4.  He believed in redemptive ministry.  How many times have we heard, “Don’t judge me!”?  Two things are going on here.  First, we are probable being judgmental.  Let’s be honest, the Christian community has a way of hating the sin and hating the sinner.  We do poorly at communicating love for the person while trying to express a biblical truth.  Second, people feel the weight of their sin when Scripture is presented and they don’t like it!

In your opinion, what would John do?

A Matter of Trust

In Uncategorized on October 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Both of the candidates brought it home at the end that we have a choice to make.  It would seem that there is no common ground between the parties.  Our country is hanging on by a thin thread.  We have allowed ourselves to be corrupted into a lifestyle of financial ruin.  Exercising no self-control we spend money as if they were Doritos and can always make more.  We can’t seem to spend only what we bring in.  While I appreciate the expansive nature of a national budget, there is still a simple principle we cannot run from forever.  If you spend more than you  make you go broke.  A broke nation becomes a broken nation.  A broken nation cannot support itself or its borders.  There must be cutbacks in spending.  Just because my child requests/demands that I purchase something or give money does not mean that they will receive it.  There must be principle-based rules for spending money.  Without principles we lose.

Our nation is reeling from a self-centered approach to life and politics.  We each want for ourselves without consideration of anyone else.This kind of egotism will drive this nation into oblivion.  We are spiraling out of control because no one can agree on a solution for a better future for all of us.  When did our congress decide their future was more important than all of ours?  The point of representation is that one goes to represent the values and ideals of the many.  They are to think more about us than their job.

Unemployment, taxes, the middle-class, and foreign policy are all important things to consider and they should be discussed and debated.  What we find is two divergent positions like two roads in a wood.  Choosing the one less traveled makes all the difference!  In a culture that is indulgent, relativistic, and borderline psychotic towards hedonism we must drill down to a deeper place:  faith.

When asked about faith the topic of abortion arose.  Why can’t our faith speak to any other issue?  My faith speaks to our economy through basic stewardship.  Jesus said to give to the government what is theirs to have and give to God what is His to have.  Faith speaks to money management just ask Dave Ramsey.  My faith speaks to our need for reform.  Those who do not work should not eat.  Romney has been slaughtered for his “47%” statement.  Of course, those who cannot work because of verifiable need ought to be assisted.  However, there are way too many people who could work but don’t because they would lose certain benefits.  Why are we paying people not to work?  Why do we pay farmers not to farm when 15% are in poverty?  Why are we creating a mentality of unemployment because the government will pay the bills.  The Bible is clear in many places that personal responsibility and work ethic should always be on the rise.  Certainly, it seems, that each party will lead us down divergent paths.  My faith speaks to foreign policy.  The “aliens” and “strangers” were to be allowed to take part but not to the degree that the native would be forsaken.  Allowance and rights are different. Meanwhile, Israel was to be the nation that would make the world better.  However, they were to do this through influence and not payment.  Again, I admit a certain level of ignorance on worldwide issues, but at times it seems that it could be as simple as following the procedures lined up in scripture.  Love God with all you have.  Take care of your fellow-man.  Treat others like you want to be treated.  My faith speaks to these issues, including abortion.  Life begins at conception.  Respect life and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

I think it is clear that Decision 2012 will certainly drive our nation to two very different conclusions.  Take the road less traveled by of faith because it will make all the difference!  As you consider your vote, consider this:

Deuteronomy 30:11-20

John 14:15-18

Our future rests in our faith.  Will we walk toward the desires of God or ourselves?  Choose God.

Choosing Your Next Leader

In Leadership, Transition on April 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

The gathering of resumes and conducting interviews can be a harrowing experience.  Many people have lost all hope and loyalty through such processes.  Too often the behind the scenes politics can become, shall we say, fodder for much gossip and intrigue.  Transition can be rough waters to sail through for a few reasons.

  • Factions begin warring like Greek city-states trying to gain control
  • The group choosing the next leader is not trusted by the whole
  • The next leader is not the former leader
  • Some people will always not like the adjustment.

Samuel had been leading the Israelites on God’s behalf for a number of years.  The people had become unhappy with their current situation and leadership.  They began calling for new leadership and demanded something like those around them had.  Isn’t that how it usually is?  Your organization is going through a difficult time and the leadership is easy to throw under the bus.  You look at organizations in your region and in your market that are successful.  Then the organization begins to envy those leadership styles and successes.  When the resumes arrive and interviews begin objectivity can narrow.  Let’s take a look a unique verse during the ascent of Saul to the throne of Israel.

22 They again inquired of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
The Lord replied, “There he is, hidden among the supplies.”
23 They ran and got him from there. When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else.

24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population.”
And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel proclaimed to the people the rights of kingship. He wrote them on a scroll, which he placed in the presence of the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each to his home.
26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, and brave men whose hearts God had touched went with him.

27 But some wicked men said, “How can this guy save us?” They despised him and did not bring him a gift, but Saul said nothing.

I Samuel 10

The last verse is common among people.  Why does this happen?  Here are 4 common mistakes groups encounter during leadership transition and election.

  1. Taking a false high and holy road.  The men in this scripture despised Saul.  They could have taken the high and holy road thinking that Israel should serve God and not a king.  However, the Bible calls them wicked.  A cursory reading could conclude this about them.  Groups, especially religious ones, can find small factions of people who want to spiritualize everything.  Caution must be taken to not walk too slowly or too swiftly.  This mistake usually is extreme in nature.  Groups move too slowly when they creep along in prayer waiting for God to drop a resume out of the sky.  In this group waiting, not work, rules the day.
  2. There are those times when a member of the group desires to be the next leader.  This can frustrate members of the small, and larger, group.  One organization recently worked through 3 chairman because of various reasons, not the least of which is that one desired the position himself.  This group in Samuel might have desired the position themselves and were angry and not being chosen.  This mistake happens when someone begins to pressure the group toward one decision, thus removing innocence and objectivity.
  3. Once a leader is chosen there is not always unanimity.  Many organizations proclaim unanimity only because members don’t vote, or lie to save potential embarrassment.  In my experience those who actually appear to vote are not the ones about which to be concerned.  Those who do not vote, but are active, are the ones that bring potential trouble.  In reality, those who are backing someone else, and are overruled, must be mature and accept the decision.  The common mistake is that this does not always happen.  The dismantling of many organizations have occurred as a result of hard feelings or immaturity to accept the ruling.
  4. Some people are just grumpy.  Disenchantment and disillusionment have settled in their lives.  A once vibrant individual has been on the wrong side of change once too many times.  Now they are just grumpy.  There is no trust in new leadership.  A dominant feeling is that the organization, and the world at large, is leaving them behind.  One way to combat this problem is bring everyone into the discussion.

Whatever the reason, the Bible called them wicked.  The next time your organization is choosing new leadership be positive, supportive, and follow-through.

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