The Problem with Young People Today

Is the same problem it is has been since the beginning of time.  They lack the experience that brings knowledge. 

They only see the beginning of things.  They do not envision the end of the road.  They don’t wholly comprehend where some of the paths in life lead. 

For example, young people rush into drinking alcohol because they have never sat with a 50-year-old alcoholic who has lost everything.  Their spouse has left them, and their children despise them.  Their pain is greater than the years they have spent pursuing pleasure. 

They take considerable risks in many areas of life because they have never seen someone lose everything.  They have never been witness to the destruction that comes with taking the wrong road.   

The first steps of the path we take are always fun and stimulating.  When you do not see any immediate consequences, we can begin to think there are none.  Unfortunately, many of the paths that people tread lead to dark and awful places. 

Wisdom is the ability to think through the possible conclusions to the choices you are making.  It involves asking yourself, “Where does this behavior lead me in the coming years?” 

Honestly, there is no problem with young people today.  They suffer from the same issue anyone can face.  Anyone can live with short-sightedness.  It is dangerous to think that nothing bad will ever happen to us.  You don’t have to be young to make foolish decisions. 

The way of the wisdom is for anyone willing to look far enough ahead to be sure they are on the right path. 

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Most People Do Not Care About Foundations

Rarely do people drive out their friends to show them the foundation that was just poured for their upcoming house. Your friends and family don’t care about concrete forms, cinder blocks, and drainage plans.

No one has ever invited me into their home and immediately bragged out the foundation of their house. No, they usually show off big kitchens, walk-in closets, and elegant bathrooms.

Nothing is appealing about a foundation, and no one really cares. That is until there is a crack. When the ground settles, shoddy workmanship is exposed, or a natural disaster causes a failure in the foundation, then nothing could be more critical.

While no one talks about it, brags about it or shows it to their friends, the foundation is the most crucial part of a building. If it goes, the whole structure comes down. The kitchen, the closets, and the bathroom have no value on top of a shaking foundation.

The same is true in life. The things you build your life upon are not always exciting, but they are essential. Fancy homes, expensive vacations, and lots of recreational toys mean little when the foundation of your life is crumbling.

What God offers us through our faith in him is not always flashy and will not impress many people. The real question of your life is not, “Is it appealing to others,” but rather, “Will it stand firm when the ground shifts and the storms come?”

More Church Leadership Thoughts

Back on March 8th, I shared some Church Leadership Thoughts from a consultant named Dave Jacobs. Dave spends numerous hours working with Churches all over the country from different denominations through coaching calls. After most of these calls, he then posts a “coaching takeaway” for a group of pastors on social media. Here are ten of the best ones I have read over the past few months. They apply far beyond just Church leadership, and I thought you might learn something from them too. Enjoy.

  1. If there are problems that need dealing with, you can deal with them now or deal with them later. Problems left until later have a tendency to grow into bigger problems. You choose.
  2. In the absence of information, people will come to their own conclusions, and sometimes those conclusions are the conclusions we wish they didn’t come to.
  3. Pour yourself into your best people. Give some of yourself to the rest but only your best to the best.
  4. When faced with relational conflict, or any frustration with a leader, begin by asking yourself, “Is there any way in which I have contributed to the problem?”
  5. The test of our spiritual maturity is seen in how we handle the boring, unexciting, monotonous routines of life.
  6. We must become comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations with people.
  7. We all make mistakes. When your mistake affects someone else, admit to them you made a mistake. Don’t beat yourself up too much; it does very little good. Learn and move forward.
  8. One of the jobs of a leader is to help those they lead to face reality.
  9. Before you can think outside of the box you must understand what’s inside of the box … and why.
  10. Whenever someone’s behavior is “out of character” that can mean something is going on with them that you don’t know about. Find out if that is true before you deal with the behavior.
  11. The older you get, the less time you have to recover from mistakes. God designed us to get wiser as we get older. If you don’t get wiser, then all you get is older.
  12. Don’t blindly believe everything the “experts” tell you, especially if they have a book to sell.

My New Definition of Love

The Bible often speaks of love. It is a word that often endears women and confuses me. Our culture likes to talk about it as a feeling. It is something we “fall” into and out of depending on the circumstances. I usually remind people that Biblical love is an action. It is not something you say or feel but rather something you do.

A few weeks ago, I wrote down a line in my notebook that has become my new definition of love. “Love is making other people’s lives better.”

I think this definition is so understandable and useable.

What does it mean to love your spouse? It means you do everything possible to make their life better. You give to them, you ask about their thoughts and feelings, and you do work that helps them.

What does it mean to love your neighbor? It means you work to make their life better. You help them out when needed. You speak kindly while not gossiping. You do little things that they appreciate.

What does it mean to love your enemy? It means that despite your differences, you continue to seek their best. You do for them what you would like people to do for you.

I think it is a simple definition and it probably isn’t original to me. I do believe it is a practical idea that when implemented, can help to improve all our relationships. So, this week, when you think of how you love someone, ask yourself, “what am I doing to make their life better?” If you can’t come up with anything, then maybe you need to reevaluate your definition of love.

Prepared for Ministry

As I look back on my life, I realize God was preparing me to be a preacher all along.

When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a speech on oceanography and the wonders of the sea. After I presented it to my class, my teacher told me that it was so good that she wanted other classes to hear it. One by one, I went around my elementary school trying to give the same speech to each class, including the older sixth-grade students.

In High School, my favorite teacher was our speech teacher. Mrs. Price was a child of the sixties and held strong opinions about much going on in the world. She also liked me as a student. She helped me with projects and molded my thinking on how to make an impact through public speaking.

In college, while I was still deciding on what God wanted me to do with my life, God opened the door for my first sermon through a girlfriend’s music group. They were singing, and they wanted me to preach after their performance. The sermon did not go well, but a young woman stayed after worship to tell me how touched she was by my words.

Looking back over the landscape of my past, I can see God’s waypoints that moved me from location to location on the trail of becoming a public speaker for the kingdom of God.

Here is my question for you: What has God been preparing you to do? What experiences have you walked through that has uniquely shaped you to serve him? What skills and habits have you developed that God could use?

I do not believe I became a preacher overnight. God spent years molding me, shaping me, and preparing me for what I am doing now. I also believe the same thing is true for you.

The Worship Experience in the Small Church

God does this amazing thing for those who follow him. He puts us together with other believers as a community of people who worship him. Every Sunday, we stand up and sing our praises to the glory of God. A few brave, gifted, and willing people get up and lead us into the presence of God. I believe it is in these gathering where we truly learn to worship. We discover that real worship is not about our likes, dislikes, or feelings but rather about bowing our lives before Jesus because of his grace for us.

Occasionally people walk out of these gatherings and complain to me and others about their experience. If this has ever been you, then let me remind you of a few things.

  1. Our worship is led by volunteers. I appreciate the people who lead us in worship each week. I am grateful for their willingness to lift their voices and lead us without compensation. The whole Church community should be thankful for these brave people.
  2. Our leaders are doing their best. Each week I share the song list for the coming Sunday with the worship team. Many of them listen to the songs on YouTube, and they practice instruments at home. The entire group shows up over an hour before worship each week to practice. They give of their best, so the rest of us can worship.
  3. Some issues are beyond our control. We have experienced computers lock up, power failure, dead batteries, and a host of other problems. We try to do our best quality of work each week, but some things are beyond our control.
  4. Other people might like what you hate. Personal preference in music is unlimited. Some like old songs, others do not. Some like piano music, others do not. It is difficult to make everyone happy. Instead, our church puts the focus on lyrics above all else. We chose a variety of music that we pray is a blessing to everyone.
  5. The primary focus is on Jesus alone. Ultimately what we do each Sunday is an attempt to worship Christ. We do our best to point everyone to Jesus and then to get out of the way. Honestly, I do not care whether you are happy about worship; rather, my concern is that God is glorified.

Every week we gather to worship, and sometimes it is incredibly moving. Other times it is rough, and we do not feel as connected as we might like to be. This probably reveals more about me than about the Church of which I am a part.

Worship in a small community of believers is a unique experience. We are not exactly like a big Church on Sunday morning, but every week we gather in the name of Jesus just like they do. In both cases, I pray that God is glorified, the community becomes a family, and we grow in our faith together.

Keep Swinging

Tonight is most likely my son’s final baseball game of the year. I am not a baseball fan, but I love my son, so I have endured some hot evenings sitting outside the fence, cheering him on to victory. Watching this season, I have realized there are two types of players and teams when it comes to youth baseball.

The first group of players is in the “I hope I get a walk” category. They stand there watching the ball and rarely swing at any pitch. The occasionally strike out but because of the accuracy of young pitchers, many times they get a walk.

The other group of kids are the “I want to hit the ball” hitters. They walk to the plate, and they swing at every pitch near the strike zone and occasionally some that are not so close. They want to feel the swing of the bat and the contact that makes the game so fun. Sure, sometimes they strike out, but once in a while, they get a hit. They run and smile and score.

Baseball at the youth level is not about winning and losing. It is about learning to play. It is about having fun while enjoying an outdoor sport. It is about swinging the bat, hitting the ball and seeing what happens. It emotionally hurts to strike out, but you will never get a hit with the bat on your shoulder. You must keep swinging and trying to get your bat on the ball.

Life is much the same way. You can get up each day and hope something good happens while you stand watching the pitches come at you. Either that or you can get up and start swinging.

I hope you will keep swinging. Keeping swinging in your marriage, your family, your career, and even with your hopes and dreams. There will be days when things go wrong and you feel like you strike out. Other days you will make contact, the ball will fly, and you will not believe how far you will run. It will be fun, and it will touch your soul in a way that walking through life will never be able to do.

Today life is going to throw you some balls; so, set your feet, tighten your grip, and take a swing.