Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Does Disagreeing Mean You're Bitter Or Offended?

I think there's a lot of confusion when it comes to disagreeing with someone or something and being bitter or offended. Often people think that when someone does disagree that they are for some reason bitter or offended. I do think that disagreement can definitely lead to someone being bitter or offended if they're not careful. However, saying someone is bitter or offended simply because they disagree with someone or something is absurd. Think about times when you disagree with your spouse. It certainly doesn't mean you're bitter and offended with them, does it? It's funny that some people might think you are though. Disagreement does not equate to bitterness and offense. Don't read into it and make it a bigger deal than it really is. I think we can learn from the example of John Mark with Paul and Barnabas. Sure there was disagreement but I don't think there was bitterness or offense between anyone. If you see how things ended up with these men, their disagreements were just that and nothing else. But as I started off, disagreement can lead to bitterness or offense, but only if you'll let it. My encouragement to you is don't allow it! Bitterness and offense is a horrible place to be. It's a prison! Disagreements are part of life, but bitterness and offense make life miserable.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Your Personal Convictions Should Be Your Personal Convictions and Not Someone Else's

As a parent I'm always helping and supporting my kids as they develop their personal convictions to help them live out their walk as Christians. I realize that personal convictions are important, but they must be what they are called, personal. Melanie Stone defines personal convictions as, "...a specific boundary of behavior that God has set for a person individually; however it is not necessarily a commandment defined in the Bible, nor is it a behavior meant for others to follow." Unfortunately too many people seem to be confused when it comes to personal convictions. Firstly, they are often based on Bible verses, but are often personalized. For example, if the Bible says we're to live holy, a personal conviction could be developed to achieve this. It may look like not watching R rated movies., but again, that should be your choice. And how it may look for one person may look completely different for another, which is fine. Secondly, personal convictions are just that, convictions, and are not Bible. The Bible is the infallible word of God, whereas personal convictions are developed from the Bible, but are not equal to the Bible or higher than the Bible. Another thing that arises with personal convictions is when people think others should live out their personal convictions instead of their own. If this were the case they wouldn't be called "personal" convictions. It doesn't mean that people can't adopt someone else's convictions, it simply means they shouldn't feel like they have to or should live out someone else's. Never should a person try to put their own personal convictions on someone else. Personal convictions should be personal with the goal of growing as and living as a Christian. If you don't have personal convictions I highly recommend you develop some. They should have the goal and purpose of helping you live victoriously as a Christian. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hearing Problems

Too often we hear people say, "I can't hear you," but actually what they're really saying is more like, "I don't want to hear you!" I'm seeing more and more examples of this in every arena of our culture. People plugging their ears because they don't want to hear what's being said (and I don't mean garbage talk). I'm sure from time to time I've been guilty of this myself, but definitely now realize the dangers involved when we choose to do it. What would make someone not want to listen to what you're saying? Maybe they feel threatened by your words or perhaps it's not wanting to hear the truth? Busyness could also bring this into play and so could pride. In fact there are many reasons people don't want to listen to what others say, but what's important is seeing and understanding what things we need to listen to. The perspective and view of others could be the very thing that helps us keep on course and grow as a person. How are you when others want to bring a different opinion, perspective or idea (and I'm not taking about what the Bible clearly says, but the practical living of such things). Things that are more personal preference or philosophy? Helping with life, your choices and decisions, your schedule, taking care of yourself, your marriage, and practical parenting, what you should and shouldn't do, etc. Are you quick to plug your ears? Perhaps you're formulating your response as they speak ignoring all that's being said? When others come to you don't be so quick to move your fingers up to your ears. That person may have something you need to hear. I know recently I've worked on this and greatly benefitted from it :) Try it and see what happens...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I've Been Up To Lately...

The past 3 months have been such a wonderful journey since stepping down from overseeing the HITC internship. I have enjoyed many things, missed some things but most importantly, I've learned so much. Throughout it all I've come to see the indescribable faithfulness of God. He has been with my family and I every single step of our journey. A lot of people have wanted to know what I'm doing now job wise since my transition. When it comes down to it, two things keep me very busy. Firstly, I've been teaching tennis at Crane Creek Country Club here in Boise. Lessons have been picking up rapidly and I've been on court over 20 hours last week and will be around 20 this week. I was hoping for about 20 hours per week so to reach my goal after only 3 weeks is awesome. I'm working with men, women and kids of all abilities. And let me tell, after stepping away from tennis for 12 years, I'm absolutely loving it! And what's even better my boss is a New Zealander :) Secondly, many of you know I have a knack for finding quality products and then reselling them. So that's what I've been doing along with tennis. I have a niche with what I'm looking for to resell and then I go for it. Over the past several months I've been selling about 200 items per month online trying to make 300-1000% on every item I sell. And guess what, God's blessing what I'm doing :) When people ask me how I'm enjoying what I'm doing, all I can say is, "I love what I'm doing!" I'm truly having a blast. One of the most surprising things I've learned, which I think many people need to know is this. You can pastor people anywhere and everywhere. It's amazing the opportunities I've had already to help minister to people. There are hurting people everywhere who need the Lord. I may no longer be known as Pastor Lee, but believe me, I am now Lee who pastors and ministers to people. It's awesome! Just as there are many opportunities around me, I also know there are many opportunities around you. Will you love, care for, help and serve others? You have no idea the impact this will have on others. In closing, I do want to thank everyone who has prayed for me and my family. Your prayers and encouragement have meant the world to us :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't Miss Out On the Small Stuff

My life has had many twists and turns these past two years in so many different areas. In the midst of all of these changes I must say that I'm totally loving life in a way that I haven't in a long time. Life is awesome. But don't get me wrong, the things I'm loving the most are things that could be easily overlooked due to busy lives and busy schedules. The rat race robs us daily of some of the most important things. I've loved holding Cami sitting in the chair. I've loved sitting with Katherine on the couch talking about our days. I've loved doing late night Sonic runs for half price shakes with my kids. I've loved getting out on the tennis court and helping people feel good about themselves in a brutally critical world. All of us have little things we're missing out on. Be aware of them and don't bump them for other things. Hug your spouse and tell them how much you love them. Spend time with your kids. Go get some ice cream or a coffee. Yes these things are very simple, very overlooked, and yet so important :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Does Your Family Get Only Your Leftovers?

Do your friends, job, hobbies or whatever else get the best of what you have to offer while your family only gets your leftovers? This questions hits me like a ton of bricks! As much as we want to answer no, I think all too often the obvious answer would be yes. Unfortunately it becomes commonplace to give our best effort and virtue, plus a majority of our time to others and other things. And when we're around our family all they seem to get are morsels and a dad who's wiped out from everything else he's been doing. When you think about it, shouldn't my wife and kids get my best (after Jesus)? Or should they be at the bottom of my priority list? Absolutely not! In fact, behind God, they should be next on your list. I can see seasons in my life where I must ashamedly say my family wasn't at the top of my list. My busy life and schedule along with putting the urgent over the most important, relegated them to the next tier down. But I'm happy to say that now they are now at the top of my priority list, obviously behind my personal relationship with the Lord :) For me to realize my goofed up priorities actually took a good dose of humility and a listening ear to those closest to me. As I stepped back and looked at my life I began to see the obvious. As I listened to the hearts of my family, without any defensiveness I must say, I clearly saw what they were telling me. Are others important? Is your job important? Are hobbies and activities important? The answer is yes to each of them. However, not one of these should supersede your family and their needs. I have taken action and turned the ship around in my family. It took time,  patience, saying no to some things, and humbly listening to my family. If you asked me if it was worth it, with a resounding Yes you'd know how I feel about it :) I love this quote from Fierce Marriage which was recently shared on Facebook..."Spending all our energy, kindness, generosity, smiles and graciousness on our daily contacts and jobs and then giving out families the left overs and pent up frustrations or tiredness symptoms like snapping or short fuses is completely opposite of the original design....If strangers, coworkers, or even church friends see a better side of you than your spouse sees, something is terribly wrong. Give your spouse the best of you; your marriage is your first ministry." And I couldn't agree more :) Don't be afraid to make changes in your life if you need to--you and your family won't regret it :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Of Course I'm Better Than You...

"Of course I'm better than you" is a phrase we occasionally hear someone say. And yes, saying words like this can verge on being very dangerous. But even though we may not say it, we can certainly think this way or act like it. For someone to believe that they are better than anyone else is plain and simple pride. I'm seeing there have been times where I've been proud with what I've said, thought and how I've acted. But I now see how wrong it is and at the same time how blind someone can be to it. Pride can be so subtle, and we can even deny it, but unfortunately it's alive and well in our lives. Webster describes pride simply as, "a feeling that you are more important or better than other people." It's hard to deny that this definition doesn't describe us all at times. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, "First pride, then the crash--the bigger the ego, the harder the fall." The warning against pride, or thinking that you're better than someone else, is very serious. If you're ready for a crash or fall, all you have to do is think you're better than others. Humility is what our goal should be. Webster describes being humble as, "not proud; not thinking of yourself as better than other people. "Humility is the example shown to us by Jesus with His words, thoughts and actions. Shouldn't this be the pattern we should follow? Don't even let an ounce of pride be found in you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Other Side

These past few months have been one of the most learning seasons of my life. It's like every single day holds opportunities to learn and grow. And one of the most important things I've learned is never to forget that there are always two sides to ever story. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to accept the first person to present something is always right. To do this is can be a very dangerous practice. Proverbs 18:17 NLV tells us, "He who tells his story first makes people think he is right, until the other comes to test him." As I've been thinking about this, there have been many times where unfortunately I've done this very thing. I've heard people tell me something and immediately believed it, regardless of whether it sounds accurate or far fetched. But what I've come to realize is that the picture can change drastically when you hear the other person's side of the same story. Here's the lesson to learn. Don't quickly jump to judgement, agreement or viewpoint simply based on one side of the story. What does the other person have to say? What's their perspective? If you take the time to find out, you may get a completely different picture of what actually took place. By looking at and hearing both sides you will get a much better and accurate perspective of why actually happened :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Truly Following Jesus...

As I look back on the past year and a half, my journey of following Jesus has taken twists and turns that I never would have expected. Having a baby at 47, already having a 19, 17 and 14 (almost 15) year olds caught us a little off guard. Deciding to leave a comfortable job after 12 years at the Lord's leading, not knowing where I would land next (and still don't) was also from left field. Plus there have been many other little things to go along with these two. For many people it's hard for them to even comprehend what God's doing in my life, but really when it comes down to it, do you really have to understand or comprehend when God's does things? Do you need all the answers or have everything laid out in front of you? I've learned in this season that the answer to these questions is "No!" When Jesus said in Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 to follow Him, that's exactly what those He was talking to did. They followed Him, without any answers, directions or knowledge of what was going to happen to them. I've learned that when Jesus speaks, you listen and then follow :) Now don't get me wrong, I do have questions and each day definitely requires faith, but I can never forget who it is I'm following. I'm not a person who's leading me that can be wrong, but it's the Son of God. I trust Him and will follow Him wherever He leads, whether He lets me in on what's going on or not. I have decided to follow Jesus, choosing to walk and live out the lyrics of the great old hymn. As I reflect on my last few days at my job of the past 12 years, I'm learning to enjoy the adventure I'm on and I look forward to what's ahead for me. One day I know I'll look back on the present season I'm in and will see God's hand woven through it all :) There's nothing I'd rather be doing than following Him...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Challenging Yet Necessary...

Many people consider the Bible to be a good book, or simply a good read. But to me it's a lot more than that. It's not only something to be read, but it's to be lived out. It's a book which stirs me to action. As I read Philippians I'm challenged over and over again to live out the life and wisdom found in its pages. Two such verses are found in Philippians 2:3-4 which tell us, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." What a challenge for me (and actually everyone). Now many people would say that these things are what they do in their life, but what fruit do can be found that would back them up? I'm challenged to look deep into my own life in this area. I know there have been seasons in my life where unfortunately I haven't done what these two verses say to do (and I have asked the Lord to forgive me), and now my goal is to live them out. My desire is to do nothing from a selfish ambition or motive standpoint. Not to manipulate or twist things to where I benefit or gain from anything. I choose to be a humble man (following Christ's example) desiring for not a morsel of pride be found anywhere in my life. I choose to put others first in all areas. It's time to stop putting me or my interests first. I want to see others succeed, grow, be blessed and shine ahead of me. Isn't that why Jesus came? For others and not Himself? The interests of others must be a priority for me and not my own. I want to serve others and not get caught up in the life of self. I am ready to see these things happen and the fruit that comes from living out the Word. God has been doing so much in my life during this season, some of it challenging, yet all of it necessary. I have chosen the path of surrender to do His will and not my own, and I wouldn't change it for anything :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The X-Factor of Any Company or Organization…People

In a recent job interview I was asked to describe my perfect job. I think my answer caught the interviewer a little off guard, but what I said I truly meant. My perfect job (from me in a supervisory position) is simple. One where customers are taken care of, listened to and appreciated causing them to want to come back to see you in the future. And where employees love their job so much that they can't wait to come into work the next workday. My role as a supervisor would be to try and achieve these goals. Unfortunately in many businesses and situations, customers are made to feel like they're a problem and employees hate their job. Is this really how it's meant to be? I believe that if you take care of a customer or consumer, even in the most mundane situation making their experience memorable, that person will be back. If you take care of employees to where they know they're appreciated and feel like they're an asset, it will only help grow and strengthen the company. There are many reasons why companies are successful. But in a culture where many offer the same or a similar product, something must set them apart. This something is what I call the "X-Factor" and it revolves around people. If you take care of and look after your customers and employees, your company will grow. If you see people as the most important part of your company you'll develop a healthy reputation for this and you will see the results. Now whether or not my answer lands me the job has yet to be seen. But I do know that applying the "X-Factor" to your company, business or organization will only bring great and healthy results :) Go ahead and try it...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Doing Things Others Don't or Won't Understand

When you follow Christ we often make decisions that others just don't seem to understand. In fact, that's right where I am right now as I transition from being on staff as a pastor at my church to my next job. Often I don't think we realize how much we walk by sight instead of by faith, although many think they're actually walking by faith. In life we experience things that others may see differently or have a different perspective on, but when it's the Lord who's leading you, there's really no option other than to follow Him. People ask me where I'm going to be working and I have to say (in faith) that only God knows the answer to that right now. What I do know is that He's fully aware of my situation and has a great plan for me. Their response is usually one of surprise. My words usually don't satisfy what they're looking for and end up not understanding my journey. I'm sure you've from time to time had the same experience with others? I can't help but think of those Jesus said to follow Him early on in His ministry. Their response was one of obedience and they left (forsook) everything that they knew in order to follow Him. That's the journey I'm on right now. One of uncertainty and the unseen, but at the same time one of trust, surrender and obedience. Please take a moment to watch this incredible clip of some other people who chose to do something that others didn't understand...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not Knowing Where You're Going Yet Being OK With It...

The job search continues...with lots of "We're sorry but..." responses and for the time being. I must say that the roller coaster of ups and downs is like nothing I've experienced recently. For those of you who know me, I'm a planner and strategist who loves to have things laid out. I know this can't happen 100% of the time, but I try to do it as much as possible. My walk of faith in this season, just like many others have to live out, is one of trusting God completely, even when I can't see what He's doing or where He's leading. I want answers, timing and direction. He says, "Do you trust Me?" But Lord I only have 5 weeks left at my present job. Again He says, "Do you trust Me?" I cling to Hebrews 11:1 on my journey which says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." If I can see it, is it really faith? If I have a hand in making it happen, is it faith? Great questions for sure! Here's what I do know: 1) God knows my needs 2) God is for me and not against me 3) God is my provider and protector and 4) And every one of God's promises will come to pass. The season I'm in is so good for me, as it pushes me toward God and strengthens my faith in Him. I'm learning to rest in His goodness and peace, while winning the battle against failure and discouragement. What I can tell you right now is that God has my life in His hands and has everything under control. People ask me how I'm doing and if I'm OK? My answer to that is simple, true and gives me peace. I'm doing good, my relationship with Him is growing even deeper, and my walk of faith is strong. I must never forget that faith is a muscle which must be exercised daily :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lessons I'm Learning As I Search For A Job

No news yet on the job scene, but I continue turning in applications on a daily basis to companies. As I knock on employment doors, I don't simply want a job, but the right job that God has for me. Over the past month as the job search has ramped up, I am learning many things on a daily basis. I've decided to share a few of them with you in no particular order. Firstly, the old saying, "It's not what you know but who you know" couldn't be more true. In looking for a job, if you know someone or have a connection, it can open up lots of doors for you. This is so much more true than I could have imagined. Secondly, I have run across some people who care way more about you and who you are as a person than what you do, have, or could do. Too many times all a person is interested in is what you can do. How sad when this is their focus. As good leaders know, if you care for, empower and strengthen a person, they will become a better employee and help build the organization. Thirdly, discouragement is a vicious enemy when looking for a job. It seems to be at every turn, knocking on the door, just to remind you about how things are going and how much of a failure you are. I couldn't imagine going through this without the Lord, who is my strength, shield and lifter of my head. Some close friends recently reminded me of Jeremiah 29:11 and Hebrews 6:10. Both were just what I needed at the right time. Thank you to you both :) And finally, it's hard work looking for a job. It takes endurance, perseverance, strength, strategy, timing and a lot of God. Anyone who thinks sitting at home waiting for the call will get you a job is probably still unemployed and sitting at home. You have to be a go-getter! Chase your dreams and knock every door you can! And listen for God's still, small voice as He whispers how much He loves you and cares about you :) Continue to pray for me in this season of my life and the faith-filled journey of following Christ.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Job Search...

As I continue my job search, my prayer continues to be, "Not just a job, but the job You have for me, Lord." Should it just be about money, benefits, location, work schedule, and other things? I really don't think so. To me it's about being in the right place at the right time as I do what God wants me to do. As I turn in job resumes on a daily basis doing my part, I must believe that God will do His part and open the right door for me. That's why I seem to have such a peace. God is faithful, trustworthy and knows the plan for my life. As I put my trust in Him, peace is the only thing that can and should arise. As people ask me what I want to do, I say things like, "HR, management, administration or communications", but really it's whatever the Lord wants. It's whatever door He opens for me where there are people who need Christ. The journey of faith is definitely one of adventure, with the opportunity of great highs or lows, depending on what you allow to yourself to think about. In this season of searching for the next step in my career, I have a wonderful opportunity to live out my favorite two verses Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." There's nothing quite living out your favorite verses :) There are definitely things I'd like to do, but I need to make sure they're what God wants me to do. I know that as I seek His will in this season, He's going to make the path I'm to take so obvious...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Learning to Surrender

The journey I'm presently on is one of learning what total surrender to the Lord is and having to trust Him at every turn. Surrender is a word most people dislike, or simply don't fully understand. Webster describes surrender as, "giving control to someone else." As a Christian I choose to surrender my life to God, allowing Him to use me as His servant. That means allowing His desires to be accomplished through me. Unfortunately, it's very easy to do what we want to do and how we want to do it. Personally, I think it's easy to say that our life is surrendered to the Lord, but in reality, the way we live it out may not line up with what we say. I think it's easy to say, "I want this or that. Or I want to go there or do this." But have you ever wondered if what you want is actually what God wants? I'm now frequently asking the question, "God, what do you want today?" If I don't, before you know it, I could be way off course. God's will must become my will. What He desires must become my desire. What He wants me to do must be what I choose to do (and with the right attitude). A life of true surrender isn't doing what I want or what seems good, it's doing what He wants. Why is surrender so difficult for some people? Because it means moving from the driver's seat into the passenger's seat. What I'm learning on my journey is that there's no place I'd rather be than in the passenger's seat, with God in the driver's seat :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Timing is Everything...

The quote "timing is everything" couldn't be more true when it comes to life. You can do the right thing or even have the right answer, but if it's done or said at the wrong time, it usually doesn't work out. Every single day our lives are full of timing-related things. Think about your day up to this point and look at how many things have happened that required right timing. How about bringing your toothbrush up to your mouth to brush your teeth, which is a good thing, yet you don't open your mouth? A good thing that doesn't work out. How about changing gears, which is a good thing, but but you don't push in the clutch? I can hear that grinding sound now. One of the things I'm learning in this season of my life is how important timing can be. Timing that's not too early or not too late, but timing that's right on. Timing can be difference maker or difference breaker. I'm learning with timing that there are things I need to wait on and other things I need to move on. So how do you learn good timing? I've found that I can learn good timing from either experience or from the wisdom of others. Both are invaluable when it comes to learning better timing. What are the things you need good timing with in your life? How are you going to get better at your timing? These are great questions to think about and grow in :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Want God to Resist You?

Have you ever thought about what 1 Peter 5 says when it comes to pride and humility? Verse 5 says, "...For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble (AMP). Humility must describe who we are, not allowing any form of pride to even be in the same zip code. I'm challenged with the practical side of 1 Peter 5:6 which says, "Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you..." (AMP). Have you ever wondered why there's such a battle in our lives between humility and pride? Although humility is what's to be seen in our lives, pride somehow worms its way in. Unfortunately, in my own life there have been many times where I have allowed pride to lead me, when it should have been humility. But I clearly see how this battle must be fought on a daily basis, with humility being victorious and pride being crushed. With every word spoken, thought thought and action done, I must not give an inch to pride. If I'm to be Christ-like, humility will be evident in my life and who I am. I definitely don't want God to resist me in any way, and am in need of His grace that's given to the humble :) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Every Single Day...

It's funny to me how people can perceive things about you simply because of your title. Yes, I am a pastor. But does that make me any different than the next person? Not really! I have responsibilities and requirements associated with being a pastor, but in reality I'm just like everybody else :) I have struggles and battles. I need strength and courage. My faith and trust in God can constantly stretched. Just like you, not every day is off the charts or something to talk about. However, we have a God who is with us, hears our prayers and moves on our behalf. This is what helps us make it through the day sometimes. This is what gives us strength to walk the path He asks us to walk. This is our source of hope for today and tomorrow. I always enjoy someone's reaction when I'm asked if there's anything they can pray for me about. And as I give them several things, they seem taken back by the fact that in no way am I perfect or have everything under control (too funny...) I'll be the first to admit I'm not perfect and that most things are out of my control and I'm always having to trust the Lord. The thing I'm thankful for is a God who loves me and cares about me. It makes ALL the difference in my life :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

97% Truthful

A little bending of the truth here and a little hiding of there isn't wrong, is it? A few little white lies here and some complete fabrications there won't hurt anyone will they? It's so sad to realize that honesty, integrity, truthfulness and accuracy of facts are not very common. We not only live in a culture where lying and dishonesty take place, but where it's encouraged and seen as being right to do when necessary, especially to protect self. If only we'd take heed to Proverbs 19:5 which says, "A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape." As I meditate on this warning, why would I let anything that's not 100% truth come out of my mouth? Great question! Sometimes lying, deceiving and not being completely truthful can get us out of a jam, eliminate consequences or sway someone to take your side in some matter, but is it really worth it? I'm a firm believer in the truth. The truth will always win out. When lying and falsehood are part of who you are, at times it can be difficult to separate the truth from lies or reality from make believe. Living life above board where truth, accuracy and honesty are the norm, will bring a liberty and freedom that some only dream of having. The challenge for today is to be completely honest in everything you say and do. No lies, exaggerations, deception, hiding some of the truth, falsehood, or misleadings. I know this may seem like a challenge, but allow verses like Proverbs 19:5 stir us to live this way :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Walking Through Challenges

Life has its challenges. Life can sometimes throw you curveballs that were unforeseen and not planned for. Unfortunately too many give up, or at least contemplate giving up. Challenges are just as much a part of life as are victories. Life will always contain both victories and challenges. But as we know, it's easy to walk through a victory, yet walking through a challenge may require more from us. Perhaps your challenge involves a relationship, finances, job, family or something else. Regardless, it can sometimes take everything we have just to make it through the day. One thing I've found is that whatever my challenge, God's with me as I go through it. He leads me, guides me, strengthens me, uplifts me, encourages me and sometimes even carries me. My focus must be on Him as I walk it out. I may not have answers or solutions, but He does. Your challenge may be much bigger than you, but it's never too big for God. In times of challenge will you trust Him and follow His leading? Letting someone else take the lead through a challenge takes a lot, but if we'd only see His love for us as we walk through our challenge. His love for us is immense and powerful. I can't help but be encouraged by the promises found in Psalm 34:6-7, "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them." As I walk through challenges in life, I can do it with confidence knowing that God is with me :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Who Are You In Private?

A quote we often hear goes along the lines of, "Who you are in private is the real you." I believe this couldn't be more true. We can be easily fooled into thinking who someone is in public is how they are all the time. I think everyone would agree that people can be very different in private, when noone else is around, than the person they are in front of others. As I think about this I can't help but ask the question, "Why?" Some of the most incredible people I know are the same person, whether surrounded by others, a few, or even noone. But this can be such a challenge. I think not wanting others to see who we really are is a big part of the problem. We can be afraid of what they'll think, say or see. The best example I have to follow with this is that of Jesus. He wasn't two different people depending on who was around Him. Whether it was a multitude, a solitary person, or noone, He was consistent. He didn't need the approval of others, His goal was to please His Father. It allowed who He really was to always be who was seen. Today, when noone else is around or looking, will I be the same person as if I'm surrounded by others? That's my goal :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Fear of Human Opinions Disables...

Criticism is everywhere and will always be. Sometimes criticism can be helpful, but too often it's not. I've come to the conclusion that people are going to criticize you when you do the right thing and people will criticize you when you don't. So that puts us in a difficult spot, right? I don't think so. One of the most liberating things I've learned is that when I do things, my focus shouldn't be to please people. The Message Bible says it perfectly in Proverbs 29:25, "The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that. If the fear of human opinion is my focus, I'll always be fighting a losing battle. But when pleasing the Lord becomes my focus, and not people, I've found I have great liberty and satisfaction. Even though people will continue to criticize me when I make choices that are right, it really doesn't bother me anymore. If what I'm doing clearly lines up with the Bible then I'm good with that. There are many people who do the right thing and are then criticized for it, but they'll tell you that they'd do it all over again because it was the right thing to do. I see many examples of people in the Bible who made choices that were right, even though publicly unpopular, because they knew who they were aiming to please. Can you imagine if people did this? Decisions not being based on the popular opinion or fear of man, but on what was obedient to the Bible and pleasing to the Lord. Today you may have some difficult decisions or choices to make. Let them be based on the Bible and move forward, regardless of what others may think or the criticism you'll recieve. Don't forget, people are going to criticize you regardless. As Seth Godin said, "Criticism will come to those who stand out."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Keeping the Main Things the Main Things

Have you ever noticed how easy it can be to focus on things that shouldn't be your main focus? Busyness, pressure and stress is everywhere. The pulls, demands and expectations of life can be overwhelming at times. But when you really think about it, what are the main things that should have our focus? The Bible gives us a very clear answer in Mark 12:30-31, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these."If this is the main thing according to the Bible, then it's my responsibility to make it the main thing in my life. Loving God and loving people! I like the ring to it. Now I can take my list of 101 very important priorities and focus on these two. I love simplicity and these verses help me to make life simple. Loving God and loving people allows me to evaluate where I put my time, money, virtue and everything else. You may ask me, "Lee, what are your priorities?" And my answer is simple, "To love God and to love people." :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We've Got It All Wrong...

The motto of our culture is "Take care of yourself." We're encouraged to make every decision based on how it will affect or benefit self. How we look, act, what we say and what we have can always have a self-focus. But when this mindset is compared to the Bible, there's a stark contradiction. John 3:30 lays it out pretty plain and simple, leaving no room for ambiguity or gray areas when it says, "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." It's too easy to forget sometimes that life isn't about us becoming greater and greater. No, it's quite the contrary. It's about us becoming less and less and allowing Jesus to become more and more. This passage can be applied to any area of life, if we'll let it. Realize that today isn't about you! (I'm preaching to the choir now)! In my life today I'm going to make sure that it's not about me, but is all about Him :)