Many of us struggle to improve because we possess no plan. Ed De Costa of the John Maxwell Team provides and excellent tool to increase our awareness and change our lives.
I have now joined the John Maxwell team. I plan to attend the live certification event in August.
I consult with various business and church leaders using character driven principles to raise their level of influence, so they may add supreme value to others, increase their productivity, and embrace deep abiding joy that will change their quality of life.
Franklin Graham not only lives out his faith, but he speaks out against global injustice. That's what prophets do. Below Graham speaks to the issue of human trafficking in Asia.
The late Beatle George Harrison, once wrote a song entitled "The Devil's Radio." Harrison possessed a penchant for deeply ethereal themes. The Devil's Radio reveals his utter distaste for gossip, the poisonous soul that grows it, and the utter waste it produces. Gossips thrive on the Radio because of a spiritual hole in their hearts. They got nothin' better to do as the local prophets might prophesy. My mother added her wisdom to the subject when she warned me emphatically to watch out for those who carry tales. They dare not earn trust among productive people.
Furthermore, they remind us of the worst of the worst-Mrs. Kravitz of Bewitched fame. Kravitz entered the world through a sour pickle jar and affirmed her disposition by sticking her pointed nose into everyone's business.
We will talk more about this common, destructive tornado of a sin this Sunday.
From a Birmingham jail King wrote his famous letter that later became a manifesto for oppressed people everywhere. Following this provocative event, King marched on Washington and delivered his eternally celebrated "I have a dream" speech. The Birmingham jail incident stamped the prophetic seal on King's character. Of particular note I find these words directed toward the church from the "jail letter" especially compelling and timeless:
In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists. There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Dr. King, I believe the American Church has failed to heed your prophetic warnings. She continues to willingly compromise the truth of Jesus Christ. We label its devil today, not social injustice, but materialism. And indeed a new prophet may very well enter the fray sounding the clarion call to move up on a higher plain. And, like the prophets before, he too will suffer his own martyrdom, only to be enshrined by subsequent generations.
When Jesus entered the scene he turned the religious world upside down. Because the Synagogue fell into the powerless hands of institutionalism, Jesus pulled out a remnant of people and called them into God's mission. He sent them out into a hostile environment.
God's mission conflicted with the culture's mission. Our personal world throws narcissism in our face everywhere we turn. It's enticing voice places self on a beautiful sterling platter and says, "Here, take a bite of this. Surely you will live and become your own God." So we, both institution and individuals, bite into the venomous fruit. Then, the neurosis begins. The image of God gets distorted. Narcissus wins the day.
Therefore, the need to endorse Jesus' mission. He invites us to repent, believe, and accept the rulership (Kingdom) of God into our very soul. In fact the Gospel of Mark explains the mission this way among many:
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, 'Everyone is searching for you' 38 He answered, 'Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.' 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39)
Our culture no longer buddy's-up to Christians. This is not your mom and dad's culture. Time to let it go and save only the traditions that point toward character. We must re-tool so to speak. Seek God's unique missional opportunities for us and our church. I'm convinced more than ever that our God created us for this moment. As your pastor I will continue to challenge us to enter God's mission in a way that still has the capacity for driving out the demons so to speak, of our world.
Tonight I wached the classic movie Hud. Below I republished the commentary I offered on my old blog following the classic Paul Newman's death.
1963 Paul Newman played the man-child Hud based on Larry McMurtry's story Horseman Pass By. I like the story because it introduces us to a typical Texas drugstore cowboy, or as we used to call them, Rexall Ranger, who cannot grow up. His narcissism inevitably leads him to deep, wounding conflicts with his father. The father, played by veteran Melvyn Douglas, represented old fashioned, Bible belt sorts of values that Hud seemingly rejected most of his life. Caught in the middle was Hud's nephew who idolized Hud's wild side, but dearly treasured his grandfather's values. The scene below represents a defining moment in the young grandson's life-one we must all face, when the choice between immature youthful idealism and principled reality stand before us. Paul Newman played Hud the old fashioned way, with a bit of over dramatization emphasizing the complicated character of one who refused to look beyond himself. His spontaneity, overdone accent, and aloof disposition convincingly sold us on McMurtry's moral intent. Again, Like Hud we must all make choices and those choices thrust consequences upon us. In addition, the movie was filmed in Claude, Texas. I know the area well. It's a rough and tumble culture, a cowboy town. In 1963 Hud delivered a powerful moral message to young western boys exploring life, and questing for adulthood.
John Hinderaker at PoweLine called the recent climate rally a zoo. Reminds me of Paul Simon's "At The Zoo."
There appear to be two strains of protesters who attended the People’s March. Some cling desperately to the ideals of Marx and who repeat rhetoric and slogans which have largely remained unchanged since the Rutherford B. Hayes administration. These folks ironically consider themselves “progressives.” The other strain of protester who spoke with Foster seemed lost, misplaced, left behind in a world which no longer made much sense. It is a condition as old as time; the aimless in search of personal meaning complement the ranks of a movement which promises personal purpose. The revolution is over, but the tragically committed revolutionaries persist. NOAH ROTHMAN
One of the most creative geniuses of early television passed away earlier this year. Sid Caesar, born into a family of Jewish immigrants in 1922, starred in the television comedy series Your Show of Shows (1950-54) and later Caesar's Hour (54-57). He learned the art, of rebellious behavior of mimicking people at an early age, which led him to become one of the great television pioneers. Caesar often embodied a humorous caricature of otherwise serious ordinary people and entertainers engaged in serious tasks. Caesar mastered several talents including music composition and playing the saxophone with notable orchestras of the day.
He once performed a sendup of This Is your Life where, instead of letting his past acquaintances shower him with accolades, he desperately tried to get away, as seen in these two classic clips below. (That's Howard Morris or Earnest T. Bass of Andy Griffith fame, hanging on to Caesar. Morris later used this same leg clutching routine in the Andy Griffith Show.)
Caesar employed a number of notable writers such as Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks,Imogene Coca and Howard Morris. Reiner,Coca and Morris appeared in many of Caesar's comedy sketches. Some critics today pass off Caesar's humor as shallow and one dimensional. Those who do so fail to understand the cultural context of Caesar's early work. Vaudevillian humor ruled the hour and many of those early television comedy sketches evolved from Vaudeville. This particular genre was designed solely for the purpose of entertaining those who sought refuge from life's difficulties. Your Show of Shows descended from Vaudeville and added several nuances to its variety show themes, chief among them, the ability to make sport of human nature challenging the audience to look in the mirror, lighten up, and not take themselves too seriously- a lost virtue in today's affluent American society.
Today in our staff meeting we discussed an article about getting our love back for our church. Sometimes we go through difficulties at church. We get our feelings hurt. We miss opportunities. We resemble a family. Dysfunction enters the fray. Therefore, at the suggestion of some staff members, I want to share with you what we shared at staff. This article id primarily addressed to leaders, but it also applies to anyone who concerns themselves with the minor irritations of getting along.
Having been in ministry for over 30 years, I understand. The church is sometimes not easy to love. People claim to be Christian but act like the devil. We say the words, “I love the church” while knowing our heart isn’t there. When you’ve had enough bad days in ministry, love for the church seems to disappear completely.Still, though, we’re called to love one another (John 15:12). Here are some ways to begin reigniting that love:Read 1 Corinthians. In 1 Cor. 1:4 Paul wrote, “I always thank my God for you” (HCSB). In the last verse of that book, he wrote, “My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.” In between these sections, however, the apostle essentially said, “You’re an absolute mess.” Paul thanked God for and deeply loved one of the messiest churches in the New Testament. That’s a good model for us to follow.
Read the Gospel of Mark to see the portrayal of Jesus’ disciples. They were untrained and uneducated men who often did not listen, seldom fully understood, and sometimes failed miserably. Meanwhile, they debated who was the greatest and fought over the best seats in the kingdom. Still Jesus loved them – and we must love our church folks who are often quite like them.
Check your heart. Sin still haunts us, even as church leaders. Sometimes we hold bitterness as an idol. Be honest: we’re not always lovable ourselves. Nevertheless, even those who know us best still love us. We owe to the church the patient love that others give us.
Take a vacation. Sometimes our lack of love for others is really just fatigue. The little things get magnified when we’re tired. Frustration sets in. Love gets strained. Take a break to recover and replenish, and you might find yourself more open to loving your congregation.
Take some folks on a mission trip. Get away from the day-to-day grind of church work while also taking the gospel to the nations. Something unique often happens among a team of believers on the mission field. Get them to focus on those who need to hear the good news instead of on themselves, and you will likely see them as more lovable.
Hang out with a few members who want to grow. Loving the church is not possible without loving a few. Rather than trying to immediately love the whole Body again, focus on a few. Find some believers who are open, and invest in them. It’s amazing how just a few healthy relationships can change your perspective about the whole church.
Get a vision about something in the church. Ask God to help you concentrate on one area of the church’s ministry that most motivates you. Just as focusing on a few believers can be helpful, finding that one area can begin to reignite your love for the church. An outward focus just does that: it takes your eyes off self, and renewed love often follows.
Seek reconciliation with that person. Whether we recognize it or note, one sour relationship can color the way we feel about an entire congregation. Maybe it’s time to say something like, “I’m sorry,” “please forgive me,” or “I fear you have something against me, and I want to fix it.”
Keep doing ministry. When your love for your church is strained, withdrawal is not the answer. Nor is laziness or disobedience. Real love demands that we continue to serve the church even when we don’t feel like it. Be faithful in doing loving ministry for your church, and you might find your heart catching fire for them again.
At the heart of most of these suggestions lies the need to put others first and get self out of the way. Self denial is tough. Yet, provides the cure for a whole host of problems, particularly personal relationship problems. Hat tip (Thom Rainer)