Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Red Badge Of Courage, Revisited

I remember reading the book "The Red Badge Of Courage" in Jr. High School. I remember being captivated by the main character Henry, who fled a Civil War battle because of cowardice. And throughout the story, because of the shame of his cowardly act, he sought a war wound, a "red badge of courage" so to speak, to erase his guilt and humiliation.
Did you realize that most people, including most Believers also seek to wear a "badge" throughout their lives. But it is not a badge of courage, but rather a badge of defeat. 

There isn't a week that goes by that when I ask someone how they are doing, they give a "barely getting by" response: Still breathing. I'm making it. I'll survive.

It seems that most Believers live lives of defeat, limits, and emptiness. "Glass half-full" is how one of my friends puts it. And they enjoy living there: Let me complain... You think you've got it bad... Pity me.

But we don't have to live with that outlook...

Jesus said in John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

We think that Jesus came so we can have our sins forgiven, and then hold on and hope for the best until we get to heaven. But that is an incorrect theology. The above verse, and so many others in God's Word, tell us that Jesus came to give us life to the fullest: Abundant life!

We don't have to live defeated, limited, and empty. Rather, we can live lives of victory, abundance, and freedom. We don't have to wait until the weekend, or until we get our "beach therapy" to find life, rest, and purpose. We don't have to wait until football season to have something to be passionate about. We can have a full life every moment of every day.

It's all about perspective... and faith. We must know what God says in His Word about us, about the life He has for us, and how to continually walk in that life.

Do you want to wear a "badge" so all can know who you really are? Don't wear the badge of defeat. Wear the badge of full life! Lead Well!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Are You Safe?

The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
This powerful verse from the book of Proverbs should be an encouragement and an exhortation to all of us. There is hope, life, and truth in this verse. Here are some of those truths…

The Name of the Lord: Many Christians tag all of their prayers with a quick “in Jesus’ Name, amen.” without considering the power behind that short phrase. When we call on the Name of the Lord, heaven stops and God’s attention is focused on us. When we say “Lord”, He says, “Here I Am”.

Strong Tower: God is a refuge for all Believers. He’s an impenetrable fortress that protects, defends, and covers. Picture a mountain fortress that has no outside access, yet is full of abundant provision and supply. Nothing can get in to harm us, and yet we still go through the exit and “play in front of the enemy” instead of resting in the safe place of the Lord's Presence.

The Righteous: Here is where the responsibility falls on us. We must seek to live righteously. Many Believers live their lives the way they want, and then when trouble hits, they cry out “Help!” We must take on the responsibility of becoming the righteous people that God has called us to be. Being a Child of God does not give us a free pass to live the way we want.

Is Safe: Safety needs to be experienced always, not just when we are in need of help. While driving, we don’t move over and drive on the wrong side of the road when no cars are coming. We know that safety is experienced when we stay between the lines of our lane. In the same way, God wants us to experience the safety of His protection all of the time, and not only when we have a problem or a need.

May we call out on the Name of the Lord, hide in His tower of protection, and stay there.  Always… Lead Well!

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Taming The Tongue

I have said in this space before, one of the top axioms I try to live by is: Be interested, not interesting. What I mean by this is keep my mouth shut and listen to others, rather than speaking and expecting others to listen to me.
Do you ever find yourself following another person’s comment (both verbal and social media) with, “That happened to me.” or “I like, I did, I have…” We are seeking to be interesting. We are saying: Listen to me about my life.

A good example of this happened when I was listening to a conversation. One person said, "They just found out my Mom has cancer." The other person immediately responded with, "My Mom died of cancer." (ouch!)

Too often we quickly follow another person's comment with a statement or story from our own lives.

Relating the other person's comment to us very rarely enhances their lives. All we are doing is telling the other person how their experience relates to us. We are essentially saying, "It's not about you, it's about me."

Good Believers, good leaders, good parents, good conversationalists, and good friends are interested more than they are interesting. Being interested makes it about others. Being interesting makes it about self.

And when we do speak, consider affirming, encouraging, supporting, and exhorting the other person. In other words, be interested in their lives. Don’t immediately turn the conversation to make it about you and your life.

Ask the other person to tell us why they enjoyed a restaurant they just mentioned (don't tell them about your favorite restaurant). When a person tells of their vacation, ask them to tell you more (rather than telling about your vacation). 

But if they are critical of something or someone, don't join in on the crjiticism and/or gossip. (Remember: gossip includes speaking about people we don't know personally: politicians, celebrities, people who cut us off in traffic, etc.)

Be a positive influence, not a spreader of negativity.

There is great wisdom in what the writer of Proverbs says in 10:17: Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.

May we listen more, speak less, and be much more interested than interestingLead Well!

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