The Road to Ruin

The way to ruin your life is simple. It requires nothing of you.

Follow your gut and do whatever comes naturally. Make no difficult decisions. Have no emotional conversations. Always choose the easy way. Avoid discipline. Seek happiness and fun at the expense of everything else.

The road to success is arduous.

This is true in every arena of life. Your marriage, your parenting, your career and even your spiritual life.

If you want a better tomorrow, unfortunately, you are going to have to work for it today.

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I Know You Are Busy

Your schedule is full. Your calendar is jam-packed with activities and events. Running from here to there in a hurried rush has become your way of life.

You need to know that busy is not the same as productive. It is not the same as loving, friendly, full of joy or a host of other things. Being busy does not build relationships. It does not make you healthy or happy. Spiritually speaking, your full schedule is keeping you from developing a relationship with God or any of his followers. It leaves your spirit dry and your friends shallow. In fact, busyness might not be constructive in any way. It might be a sign that you lack priorities. You might be trying to please everyone and make them happy. Busyness is a sign that you have flaws in your schedule and possibly in your soul.

Yes, I know your busy. Maybe you are too busy to understand what you are doing wrong.

Love Me or Hate Me

Just don’t ignore me.

I have a purpose in my life. God has called me to represent him in my life and work. I am committed. I am headstrong. There are the convictions that anchor my soul. I believe in truth and justice along with love and grace.

This type of life attracts some people and repels others.

Jesus was loved and hated. His followers can expect the same treatment.

Weekend Reading

Here are some of the best articles I have read in the last few weeks. Enjoy.

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Mom

Eight Ways Older Believers Can Invest In Younger Believers

Why I Don’t Sit With My Husband at Church

10 Things I’ve Learned About Gossip—And Why I Hate It So Much</a

Three Types of People Who Hinder the Church

Boring Church Services Changed My Life

The problem with forced rankings

Save Your Credibility- Avoid the “I’m So Busy” Trap

Stop Making Excuses

We hear them all the time. An excuse is an attempt to lessen the blame on ourselves and shift it toward something else. The problem was caused by someone else. If things had been just right, I have succeeded. Honestly, I am the victim here. I had the best of intentions, and something stood in my way.

When I was in sixth grade, my teacher Mr. Grimes walked to the chalkboard on the first day and wrote the word “RESPONSIBILITY” in all capital letters. He said something like this, “Next year you are heading off to the Jr. & Sr. High School (held in a different building miles away from the elementary school) and the difference between there and here is this one word.” He continued to say that his goal for the year was to teach us to be responsible. As a result, he drew a hard-line about due dates and late work. Some students received failing grades, despite their protests to him and the principle. There were repeated discipline issues that were handled by Mr. Grimes. He was a hard nose teacher who forced us to learn and move forward into adulthood.

In life, I discovered he was right about the difference between being an adult and remaining a child is responsibility. The willingness to accept total responsibility for my actions is a sign of maturity.

What is true in life is also true in your spiritual life. You are in this place spiritually because of your own actions. Sure, God was involved in leading and prompting you to move. But you chose your course of action along with your reactions to what God presented.

One of the most significant steps to becoming a mature and fully devoted follower of Jesus is to stop making excuses. Your parents, your health, your job, your finances, your children and anything else are not holding you back. The only thing keeping you from growing is your lack of willingness to accept responsibility.

The Summary of Your Life

I am heading out this morning to perform a funeral service for a family. This always proves to be an interesting and awkward time. Usually, these feelings revolve around one question asked to the family, “What would you like me to say about this person’s life?”

How would you want your life to be summarized?

Let’s face it, if the Lord delays his return, that question is going to be asked of all of us.

Do you want to be known as the busy person? Do you want to have the adoration of your children? Do you have some project that reflects what is most important to you? What do you want to be said about you?

The good news, if you are not happy with what you think people will say about you, then you still have time to change it. You can be more loving, kind, forgiving, gracious, helpful, and faithful. You can be an exceptional parent or husband or child that you have longed to become.

The second awkward question is actually the biggest one. I will ask, “Did they have any belief or faith in their life?” Sometimes I am just greeted with blank stares. The number one response is something like, “They may not have gone to Church, but I know they had a belief in God.” Which usually means, despite all evidence to the contrary, I want them to be in heaven.

I frequently encourage people with these words. “Live your life in such a way that no one has to guess where you are spending eternity.” My friend says it more bluntly. He says, “Live in such a way that no one has to lie at your funeral.”

A day is coming in which you will leave this life and enter eternity. I hope it takes a long time for that day to come, but it will happen, there is no avoiding it. On that day, what will people say about you? You have the chance to shape their words starting today.

Moving into a New Phase of Life

Forty-six is not very old. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Occasionally I get a metaphorical slap in the face to remind me that it is older than I realize.

Last week I joined a group of other pastors online to chat about ministry in a small Church. Once we were all online, the discussion started with us telling a bit about ourselves. Each minister said a personal fact or two and then shared a few details about their Church. I went last, as I always like to do, and I mentioned that I started preaching in 1993. One of the other members of the group stated, “That was the year I was born.” Next, a couple more chimed in with things like, “I wasn’t born yet” and “That was the year my parents were married.” I quickly realized how old forty-six felt.

Later that week I saw a list of top pastors under the age of forty. It only served to underline my increasing age. I will never make any list of “young” leaders. As the song says, “I am too old to die young.”

At first, these thoughts were demoralizing, but upon some reflections, I realized that my life is moving into a new phase. I am transitioning from a young gun who is ready to take on the world for Jesus into a mentor of young leaders. Through the years I have learned a few lessons that I would love to share with people to help them on their journey.

1. I have learned from some big mistakes. Yes, I have failed – usually over and over. I have made mistakes in my leadership, my marriage, my parenting, as a Christian, and as a pastor. The list is too long to share. Through those mistakes, God has shaped and molded me. I have learned things that have made me a better person, Christian, and pastor.

2. I have learned from success. While I can share many things that have gone wrong, I have done a few things right. Most of these came as an absolute surprise. God has blessed me, and I have learned from the positive experiences as well as the bad.

3. I have learned from others. I have watch people succeed while others crashed and burned. There are so many life lessons that come from the simple observation of other people.

As I wrote down my list of things, I have learned I realized that I am ready to enter a new phase. My life has been building to this point. Maybe this is true of you too. You are no longer that young person with big dreams. You are the person who has seen a healthy dose of reality, and you are now poised to shape the lives of our young people.

Is it possible that God has been molding you through all your life experiences so that you could be a mentor to those who need guidance?

One of the challenges of life is to accept new roles as they come to us. We desperately want to cling to the old and familiar ways. New roles provide new opportunities for God to use us.