Monday, March 27, 2017

When serving stinks!

When serving stinks...

My family and I went to a popular restaurant for Sunday brunch. The meal was excellent and of course we were all fat full afterwards. Before we exited the restaurant my mother in-love asked me to take papa - the great grandfather of my children to the restroom.

What I assumed to be a quick trip was longer and more involved than I expected. 

Papa is nearly blind, so I had to guide him through the maze of tables to the obscure men's room tucked in a corner of the restaurant. Inside the restroom, Papa tells me that he would prefer to use the stall instead of the urinal. Not a problem. After I walking him into the stall, I helped him find everything then exited to wait for him to finish. 

Another man walked in the restroom and politely asked me if the stall I was standing near was occupied. I informed him that someone was in there then directed him to the next open stall.

Then, another man walked in. He asked me about the stalls then comments about the restaurant. Around this time, I'm starting to think something is strange.

It was the third man that walked into the restroom and make comments that made me catch it. 

Number one, I realized that papa was not in there for number one. Number two, those men thought I was the bathroom attendant!

That morning, I delivered the message in our adult service, I had to dress like a grown up and not my typical jeans and t-shirt youth service attire. I was inadvertently dressed like the staff of that restaurant. The desire to bust out of there was strong, but I couldn’t just leave Papa alone and come back whenever. True serving is done with few stipulations.

I am reminded of a man named Joseph that served 11 years in the house of Potiphar and subsequently spent a few more years in the prison of Pharaoh. It was those times of serving that set Joseph up for his moments of leading. I am sure there were days that the pain of picking up after others and the discomfort of dealing with other people's problems weren't his best days but they built Joseph a better future.

The Bible says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give upGalatians 6:9 (NLT).

Our giving should not be based on self preservation. Giving is an act of love. After all, didn't God "so love" that he gave knowing that we would act ratchet and not be thankful always. It would be great if everyone that you invested in had a 100% return guarantee. Unfortunately that's not the case. There are those that are truly appreciative of your giving. However, some will accept your giving and ask for more and then there are some that will accept your giving and say nothing at all. How they respond or how quick they respond is not your problem. 

I believe that God has perfect timing for what we need. Just as every planted seed will break through the earth at different yet timely moments, so shall your financial, physical, mental and emotional breakthrough take place at just the divine moment you need it.

Planted seeds take time to succeed and a seed will only grow if it is planted

The good thing to do right now is to serve, to sow, to share, and to send your best when you give. It is true that serving sometimes stinks but i guarantee that you will forget the stench when the pleasant aroma of accomplishment takes place. Your harvest is coming. Be patient and stay consistent. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

cure for ashy hands...

You can’t throw shade with ashy hands

Monthly, I take a few students from our youth department on a campus tour of local colleges and universities. If you have ever traveled with teenagers, you know the types of adventures that can ensue.

Recently we toured a beautiful campus in Houston, Texas. While on the trip, one of the teens asked another teen for some lotion. Instead of just handing over the lotion, the lotion came with all sorts of side comments. It was the response to the comments that created this message.

As my teenager accepted the lotion and the side comments, they responded by saying, “You can’t throw shade with ashy hands!”

The bible tells a story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. There is no uncertainty that she was wrong. The challenge occurs when her accusers seek punishment for her actions.

As Jesus was teaching a crowd of people that day, the accused woman was thrown into His and the crowd’s midst. Partially clothed and fully embarrassed her intimate exchange was publically exposed and a punishment demanded.

Those who are hurting commonly hurt others and will look for open opportunities to publicly assert their vengeance.

The woman’s accusers not only planned to malign the character of Jesus they also wanted to murder the woman.

The religious leaders’ intentions were steeped in personal gain and deceit without regard to how the outcome looked on their part.

Romans 3:23 (NLT)

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Because making mistakes is common we should be cautious about crucifying others for something we have either done or could do ourselves.

As the men continued to accuse the woman of her offense Jesus simply kneeled down and wrote in the loose earth beneath him.

We never discover what Jesus wrote yet His words brought a certain conviction to the accusers and is applicable today. Jesus, with strong admonition, declares, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

Soon the accusers dropped their stones and started slipping away.
The men had secret sins of their own that deemed them worthy of the same punishment they wanted enforced. Before you destroy someone, look at your own dirt. You can’t be messy and be messy.

Finally, when the overwhelming desire to physically defend every accusation arises, remember who not only has your back but also your comeback plan.

Romans 12:19 (NLT)
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Truth is, I am addicted to all shows about fitness and amazing body transformations. One of my favorites is the very popular NBC show “The Biggest Loser”.  For years I have been amazed at the terrific transitions of the competitors and the training techniques of the coaches.

A few weeks ago, Bob Harper, one of the trainers turned host experienced a severe heart attack. It rocked me! How could the quintessential definition of health have health problems? Bob is only 51, he trains for a living, he eats well, he lives well, and yet the personification of fitness fell from cardiac arrest – WHILE WORKING OUT.

Through greater investigation, Bob’s family has a history of heart disease and Bob’s mom passed from a heart attack.

It wasn’t his lifestyle it was his lineage. Generational issues can be addressed. 

The Gospel of Matthew states, “In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (5:45 NLT)

Bad things happen to good people. Salvation is not an impenetrable force field for future problems - it is confidence that you can face and defeat whatever may occur.

Here are my two points and a close.

Firstly, good people still have the capability to make bad decisions.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT)

God is a great Father. He knows what’s right for us, gives us direction in places of trouble (1 Corinthians 10:13), and He still gives us free will. The challenge with free will is that the opportunity to pick wrong is an option when right is simultaneously available.

I don’t know the details of celebrity trainer and health guru Bob Harper’s week, but Bob knew his family history and I wonder if his body was giving him signs before it gave him a heart attack. Did he choose to ignore the signs or did he choose to delay action for a more convenient time? I don't know exactly - but I believe the best. 

Yet and still, people will avoid solutions if they don't fit their convenience. They are still good people but they intermittently make bad decisions based on selfish desire.

Here is my second point. God is still a great God and you are still a great person even on your worst days. Your worst days are often opportunities to prove that your God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, and far above your thoughts or actions.

Outside of God, success is relative. I contend that great success is not only achieved but also better enjoyed when you are in relationship with Jesus.

"In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

The Gospel of John tells a story about a man who was born blind but encountered Jesus. The disciples questioned Jesus regarding what instigated the man’s blindness. Jesus’ response is a life lesson.
It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins…This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (John 9:3)

The blind man was surviving while blind but his encounter with Jesus changed his physical view and the spiritual view of anyone who knew him as a blind man.

Your situational setback will allow God to do major miracles for you and anyone who knows your story.

Life is a great teacher and every lesson learned should't come from your own experiences. You can learn from other’s lessons.

Finally, latch on to the fact that God’s thoughts for you are never evil and it is not His willing intention to afflict or grieve you. (Lamentations 3:33)

Strength, growth, and greater awareness will grow from this place when you believe that through it all God has a plan for your life.

Monday, February 20, 2017

your accident is His purpose

6:45AM, I pulled into my normal spot, pushed the gear shift into park, adjusted my neck tie and prepared mentally for the day. No special prayer or anything today. It was Friday, my mind was on Saturday, and the next eleven hours couldn’t pass fast enough. Although I wasn’t the greatest fan of my job as a rental car assistant manager, it paid the bills. 

I opened the door and noticed my boss standing in the manager's office. It wasn't unusual for him to pop up but it felt strange seeing him there. 

Then, it happened. They let me go. Wait. What?! I wasn’t prepared. I mean I told God I wanted to leave but I had no formal exit plan. All I could think about was my mortgage, my car note, my motorcycle note, my student loans. My creek was dry and I didn’t know my next source.

Recognize that God hears and answers prayers. Your perceived rejection is really the release He created for your next blessing.

I cried and complained but beneath what i assumed to be an unannounced annoyance 
God was pushing me into my purpose.

Genesis 28
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. ” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!””

Jacob tricked his brother Esau, confused his father Isaac and was sent out the door. Wondering and wandering, Jacob chose a spot he believed to be random then found a comfy rock pillow and laid down. 

When Jacob awoke from his dream of ladders and angels, he had a new view of his random location.

Catch this. Your seemingly sudden place of pain or turmoil is intentional. God can and will use what your think is an accident to reveal your purpose. It will be the gateway to your future.

When I left my job that day i was lost but i returned to the place that always made me happy - youth ministry. Remember, God doesn’t deal in accidents. There was an opening at the church i was attending and thirteen years later I am still in youth ministry.

You thought you were a temporary substitute -  God led you to teaching
You thought you were just a great listener - God led you to counseling
You thought you liked cooking - God led you to become a chef
You thought you liked planning - God led you to become a professional planner
God showed you a need because He knew that you could fix it

Your accident is His purpose!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why A SINGLE seed produces a HARVEST - Where's Sasha?

Last night, I was enthralled as I watched President Obama give his farewell address. I was glued to his backing of globally un-biased unity and knocking of bubble-like inclusivity. Each sentence delivered was perfectly crafted to evoke emotion and personal reflection. However, I had one rotating thought throughout the speech – “Where’s Sasha?”

Thanks to our good friends at google and other super resourceful individuals, I discovered the reason she did not attend. Sasha Obama was home preparing for an exam she had the next morning.

If any, this was Sasha’s perfect time to pull the “my dad’s the president card”.  Instead, someone pulled her card and encouraged her to invest in her studies.  Sasha’s sacrifice of time and sowing into an evening of preparation will provide a return but that is only the beginning.

I believe that our President and First-Lady invested in their daughter that night and equally, Sasha invested into studying. As parents, we need to make the tough decisions that will sow/
invest in our children's futures.

In life and love of God, there is a return on effort.

We must stand before God in the midnight of death therefore we must LIVE for God everyday!

We don’t work to reap God’s love - we work to reveal Gods love for us to others

Galatians 6:7-9
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

When a farmer plants an apple seed they expect more than just an apple.

Just the same – your seed can return more! Sow liberally and be mindful of your seeds.

Expect the harvest!

I am not suggesting that you arbitrarily sow into projects and people with a hard spirit of reciprocity. The concept of “I give and you owe me” – is wrong.

People don’t owe you anything and unfortunately they will let you down more often than appreciated. That’s not your problem. God gives increase (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Avoid keeping score.  Give without expectation of what “it” is but understand that somehow “it” is coming.

Give what you want and you will receive what God knows you need

  • Forgiveness
  • Peace
  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Acceptance
  • Encouragement
  • A miracle

God not only meets your need but also exceeds your expectations.

Recently, the Clemson football team, won the highly anticipated college national championship. One of the star players was quarterback, Deshaun Watson.

In 2006, Watson and his family moved from a cramped apartment to a home with enough space for his mom and three siblings. The house was given to them as part of the Habitat for humanity program. When Watson’s mom, Deann, received her keys, NFL Running Back Warrick Dunn was there and Deshaun Watson was only 11 years old.

Cool story, but here is the part that excites me. When Deshaun’s mom was fed up with her small apartment, she found the Habitat for humanity program and diligently began her process for home ownership. The story says that she committed over 300 hours of service building other people’s homes before she received her keys.

On the day Ms. Watson received her keys, the habitat program had more than just a home waiting for her. Because of then Atlanta Falcon, Warrick Dunn, she not only walked into a new home, every room she entered was full of furniture and even the refrigerator was stocked with food.

Deann Watson’s sowing into other’s created her harvest
Warrick Dunn’s sowing into this family created a harvest
Deshaun’s sowing into football practice, sowing into his future and sowing into every second of that game created a harvest.

Keep sowing! Expect your harvest!

And when you become a diamond you will see why life had to pressure you!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The reason my shoes won't fit my son....

"I can't go with these!"

This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and had the audacity to get jealous. Someone that I considered to be a great friend was doing something that I had not achieved.

Side note – I've written this before but how long will you watch others live your dreams?

The bible teaches us in Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT)
4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

The Corner Crew 
Tell your neighbor – I see you but I’m not staring!

I don’t fully know what you’ve gone through to get where you are and you may never know all that you have left to do. However, one thing is for certain - any one CAN do anything thorough the power that is presently, currently, right now, and at this moment working in them.

My son Dylan loves to wear my shoes – he’s not particular. Dress shoes, running shoes, boots, Nike Metcons, or whatever he loves them all. The problem is when he attempts to walk…the weight of the shoes is greater than his capacity to move.

Catch this! There is nothing wrong with trying on the shoes of someone you admire or trying out the possibilities of your future endeavors with someone who has accomplished them. But, just as David told Saul “I can’t go with these” – you must walk the path that was divinely created for you with the power that is surging within you. (1 Sam 17:39)

I am grateful for every mentor and role model I have had growing up. I will never fit their shoes but I am learning how to design and do great things in my own.

YOU CAN DO IT! #GreaterIsInYou