Hebrews 13:8,9--Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.
Psalm 85:15--But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth
Chad* called me and asked if I would meet with him and a criminal investigator. When I arrived at the meeting, Chad explained that a former leader, Pat, he had worked with, had moved to his hometown and was lobbying to join a historical organization of which Chad was a member. He then went on to explain how decades earlier, this member had badly hurt him professionally. As he described the events his body stiffened, his face contorted and it was obvious that he was under stress just retelling the story.
My good friend Dan moved from Tigard to Albany Oregon to work with Dana, another mutual friend. Unfortunately, Dana’s business experienced a downturn and he had to let Dan go. In 2012 Dan felt led to stay in Albany and serve as an Associate Pastor in a Calvary Chapel.
The Denver West Point Society hosted its first Leadership and Ethics Conference for high school juniors in Colorado. It was entitled “Living an Honorable Life.” General (ret) George Casey served as the keynote speaker. I had the privilege of hosting at my table six juniors—Amaya, Grace, Elias, Sandra, Caleb and Haley representing three different high schools and towns. We studied vignettes that featured moral/ethical dilemmas with the students working through ethical decision-making models to reach wise solutions.
Have you ever been frustrated by something that should work and doesn’t? For the last several months I’ve had a rotten time trying to charge my phone. I purchased several charging cords but the connection always seemed to be an issue to the point where many times I would have to hold the phone and firmly push the cord to get a steady charge. I was just about to take the phone into the store and replace it when I had an idea. Taking a pin I probed the cavity where the cord connected and immediately all kinds of dirt and matted hair began to come loose. Honestly, I felt pretty foolish—no wonder the phone was not properly charging—it was plugged up with debris.
My son Bryan was invited to share his story at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He was one of two featured speakers on a night when almost every participant in the room shared some kind of disability. Disabilities included Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), asthma, depression, cancer, arthritis, etc. Each person was asked to write a poem about their challenges and to highlight what was bad as well as what was good. Then, throughout the evening, volunteers could come to the front of the room and share what they wrote.
Stan* came over to my house. Earlier he sent me an email stating that he and his wife would not be attending our small group. But I wanted at least a chance to get to know him so I invited him over to chat. During the course of our conversation Stan said he and his wife were having a difficult time finding a church to attend in Colorado Springs because of theological differences. When I asked him what that meant Stan said that they did not believe Jesus was God. Therefore, church leaders were not comfortable putting them in a leadership position. He further elaborated that 95% of Christians mistakenly are taught and believe in Jesus’ deity. No wonder they were having trouble finding a church home!
Luke 15:2—And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
Our pastor recently received an anonymous email that was highly critical of himself and his executive pastor. As an elder, I can honestly share that this kind of message serves only to discourage leaders. The person criticizing picks apart whatever he or she disagrees with, is not part of a solution and hides behind a cloak of anonymity rather than come and personally share what is misunderstood. It is too easy to be critical. It is also immature to lob rocks from the other side of the hill.
Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a significant book entitled Necessary Endings. Cloud wrote, “When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on.” He shares observations why pruning may be essential for an organization to move forward; why many leaders struggle to understand that endings are a natural season in life; the difference between pain with a purpose and pain for no good reason; hoping versus wishing; three kinds of people; creating urgency and motivation for change; how to handle resistance; and, many other excellent insights that best position leaders to succeed in the future.
George Washington, probably American’s most famous leader, once said, “Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy. Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.” How true those sage words ring today! And how well we would do to heed them.
Acts 10:1,2—There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.
It should not surprise us that Cornelius was God’s choice to first bring the gospel to the Gentiles. When we study his profile, it is inspiring and gives us a clear picture of what right looks like and thus why he was favored in God’s eyes. Cornelius was:
Acts 5:34,35,38,39—A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men . . . And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him.
Lisa was quite frustrated with Jacov. He and his wife were not in agreement when it came to living sensibly. She wisely stewarded resources while he grew up living lavishly. Their arguments over finances and possessions put significant strain on their marriage. His lack of preparation and impatience often caused them unnecessary challenges. Finally, in desperation to bring peace, Jacov found a marriage counselor that he and Lisa could go to for help. To their surprise, the counselor actually made their sessions pleasant and more importantly, he equipped them with ten guidelines to help them live sensibly. He encouraged them that if they both observed these recommendations they should have less friction and fighting in their marriage
2 Corinthians 10:12—For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.
Three definitions for the word compare are worth noting. One is to appear in a similar standing, a second is to differ in quality or specified accomplishment and the third is to vie or rival. In the tenth chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul notes that the act of comparison is unwise when believers do so with other believers.
For my sixtieth birthday my son Stephen gave me a Fitbit, a smartwatch designed to help mestay motivated and improve my health by tracking my activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep. Stephen loves using his and weekly checks to see how I am doing. I use it almost exclusively as an exercise incentive and, wow, after wearing it for almost a month I’m amazed at how much my workouts have increased. The hourly reminders to exercise motivate me to get up from behind my desk—away from the computer to walk. But it has also radically affected my prayer life—an unexpected benefit. Because, when I’m walking to increase my step count, I’m now also concentrating on conversing with my Father.
Romans 13:12—The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.