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Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability…

I was watching the news over a lunch break just a few moments ago and couldn’t help but notice, through sheer repetition, Jay Carney, President Obama’s Press Secretary saying, “The President believes that the Press should have unfettered & balanced freedom to information so as to honor the first amendment rights of the Constitution, anything else would be inappropriate.”

I’m grateful to know that our constitutional rights are being protected and valued by our leaders of this great country. I do worry about its validity though. Why? Not because I may or may not be a fan of this administration…I pray for it daily, but because I believe deeply, that if you or myself have to keep repeating something publicly, the only persons we may be trying to convince is ourselves.

Does Martha Stewart have to publicly say that she is a great cook?
Does Michael Jordan have to publicly say that he is a great basketball player?
Does Billy Graham have to publicly say that he is a great evangelist?
Does Mother Theresa have to publicly say that she is compassionate?
Does the Miami Heat have to say that they will win the 2013 NBA Championship?

The answer is no, to all the questions above. Why? Because it is obvious. Actions speak louder than words.

In the past I have encountered individuals and groups of people who hungered for their personal agendas to be protected. I have worked through forgiveness for these tragic situations and now have the privilege to be able to write about lessons learned and observations made as I look back now with 20/20 hindsight. I am grateful for you, as you read this, for you have granted me such a privilege of writing, because—well, you are reading this. 🙂

In the multiple accounts I am referring to, I have noticed a similar pattern in each. First, an unspoken and obvious desire to have no accountability or responsibility when something goes wrong. Second, a hunger for power. And third, a hunger to pursue selfish ambition. By the way, ambition is not a sin. The Bible doesn’t warn us against ambition. Jesus was ambitious. What the Bible warns us of, is selfish ambition. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.” What is the difference between ambition and selfish ambition? One promotes the progress of self at the apathy towards others. Personal agendas are very dangerous. I might add, personal agendas without accountability grow into forms of devastating evil.

Do a self check right now. This is hard to do when you think you do no wrong. I confess that I have had times in my life where I felt I could do no wrong. The ability to confess that fact is the very act that cleanses that sin. So, I say all that to say, those who need to do a self check the most, won’t…because they don’t think they need it.

Self-Check Time. Is there something in your life that you keep telling yourself or publicly declaring? You will notice it by its sheer repetition. I have repeated to myself in the past, “These people will like me”…and I had to keep telling myself such. Why? Because I really didn’t think people would like me for who I was. It was just a deep insecurity that I grew up thinking. I played on a basketball team in college that was lead by a coach who kept saying that we were a united team, while allowing a couple of players to travel on their own on B-ball trips in their own vehicle. (Not coach Rupe…in case some are wondering) It was clear we had unity problems on and off the court. Yet, the coach kept saying we were a united team? He was only trying to convince himself, we all knew better. I have encountered people who believed the best thing that could happen to their company was simply making sure their presence remained in the company for as long as possible. Who were they trying to convince? I have encountered a group of people who kept telling themselves and me, that they had to have the power. Who were they trying to convince and what was their agenda?

When you hear a preacher, continually harp on an issue…it’s is likely that he/she is struggling with it him/herself.
When you hear a Press Secretary repeat something over and over, it is likely that he is trying to convince himself and/or protect a personal agenda.
When you hear a group of people continually debate about who is in charge, it is likely that they are trying to self-preserve.
I am a student of Church world and have noticed some churches keep repeating how they are the biggest church in their town.(I’m not referring to CCV) Why are they repeating that? When you hear a professional athlete repeat how dominant he is, who is he trying to convince and who is he trying to protect?

What is it in your life that you have been vocally repeating? Who are you trying to convince? You don’t have to convince the people who are watching you. We know you by your actions. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 (NASB), “You will know them by their fruit.” When my words do not back up my actions, everybody knows it but me, and how I look foolish. When your words do not back up your actions, everybody knows it and how foolish you look. Once, there was an elder who told me in front of a bunch of other people that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. That reason is to talk less and listen more. That was great advice that cut to my core. I learned from that elder. I appreciated the accountability, even though it hurt at the time, it made me sit back and shut up and listen. I am still working on getting better at such. What shocked me, is that specific elder was one who wouldn’t shut up in our private meetings. LOL. Crazy isn’t it? We are imperfect people and the only time that gets us in trouble is when we actually try to make other people live better than we do ourselves. I call that behavioral modification and control. It’s everywhere, but it is at its stinkiest in the church. It is crazy how Christians get very angry at other people for sinning differently than they do themselves.

Bottom line…We all need accountability. We need it of any kind. If someone tells you they don’t need accountability…that is the very person who needs it most. Why? Because they said it! Who are they trying to convince?

As far as the Top of the News is going right now….

We are seeing what happens when power seeking more power goes “unfettered” by a lack of accountability through biased-non-reporting from the press. The press is crying foul at something they actually empowered to happen. I pray it is a lesson learned. This lesson should soak into every fragment of our individual lives, corporate lives, committee lives, elder’s in church’s lives, marriage lives, and friendship lives. Hunger for power and living for self leads to secrecy, and secrecy is the beginning of sin/evil…let it go unchecked by covering up the truth and the truth will build such power that it will eventually blow forth in such a mighty way that it will reveal the culprit in a very naked way.

If you are a Christian and in a healthy Church, you should be able to come forward, confess your sin and be embraced by the loving arms of the body of Jesus Christ. There will still be consequences to covering up the truth and sin, but you will be loved not judged. That is the Church behaving its best.

If you are not in the Church, and are, like in today’s top news stories, the U.S. Government…well… your role, and the hot water that seems to be coming to a boil. I’m afraid more judgment is coming than love. The Government is not like the Church. The Government works for the people, and hell hath no fury than a people scorned, lied to and tricked. Its different for the Church, nobody answers to people, we answer to Jesus. There’s a big difference. I would rather answer to Jesus than to people. People are scary. Jesus is not. People are unpredictable, Jesus is not.

I like to say, “Time tells all things.”
Jesus said it better. “You will be known by your fruit.”
Jesus said it best, when He said, “The truth shall set you free.”
Be truthful now and there is nothing to hide and nothing to blow up in our face and leave us naked before our judges.

Power, Secrecy and a Lack of Accountability are very dangerous things.
I’ve never seen a single soul, in all of world history, be able to safely play with power, secrecy, lack of accountability, and not get burnt and thus be left naked and exposed before the whole world.
If you hunger for power, have secrets and a lack of accountability I’ll bet you keep secretly telling yourself that it will all be okay.
Who are you trying to convince?
My advice, if you will accept it, is to take up 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

God is the Power. God knows all secrets. God is the ultimate accountability. AND…God is love. That makes me stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. He is the one and only true King.

In 1905, Charles Gabriel wrote a great Hymn called ‘I stand Amazed in the Presence.” It’s one of my favorite songs. I think when you read the lyrics below, the notes will play in your head. I dare you sing it right from where you sit…who cares who hears you…sing it! 🙂

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

Refrain:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.
(Refrain)

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.
(Refrain)


Spiritual Influence is portable…This is new to me.

The last two years of my life has schooled me. I believe education is good, even though the cost can be tremendous. This schooling has caused me to change my ministry position and even my family’s physical location. I naively assumed that my spiritual influence, on the people I influenced in my previous ministry position and physical location, would end as my position and location changed. I was wrong, and so many wonderful people in AZ and FL, this past weekend, demonstrated to me that spiritual leadership does not center around what state I live in or what happens to be the name of the Church we all attend or what position I hold. Earned spiritual leadership is portable and eternal. I am deeply grateful for those who have entrusted to me the function of friend, leader, teacher, pastor, mentor, encourager or any other function of influence that you might have allowed me to earn from you. I am humbled and grateful to be given the chance to continue that influence, wherever I live or whatever position I assume. I certainly am learning from all of you, and I do not see that ever ending. I was reminded this weekend that God has placed the entire world in our hands to influence and inspire. We are the body of influence that is holding the whole world. God has given us the huge responsibility of influencing each other and the whole world. I am looking forward to our continued spiritual journey together through this side of life that will ultimately land us in the presence of our King where we will spend eternity in community with one another on the other side of this life. We are family and location or position will never sever that. Until we gather in Heaven, we must keep our spiritual influence on one another portable. That is Church! I look forward to our continued influence upon one another’s lives. This past weekend was healing and revealing for me and I pray it was for you too. So, as we break out of the huddle and head off to our individual ministry positions and physical locations, let’s keep influencing each other, leading one another, loving one another and taking on the world together. We’ll have plenty of time together when our King is told to return and do His thing. Until then…let’s spread out and influence this world in the mightiest way we can with the short time we have left.


What Is The Motivation?

Jesus’s teachings, life and death are common. Many others have taught, lived and died. These common things didn’t motivate the apostles to begin The Church. It is Jesus’s resurrection that charged His followers to boldly give everything for Him.

The resurrection is what set Christianity apart. The resurrection is what makes Christianity right. The resurrection, not your personal preferences, is what should cause deep passion in you. THE RESURRECTION OVERRULES your need to be right, your music preference, what you wear, your leadership style, your insecurity, your ignorance, your sin, your attitude, your control, your dominance, your flesh, and your last breath. They all have been overruled! What else could it mean to be titled, “Lord of Lords and King of Kings?!”


Theology on Love from my 10 year old.

I have four children. I am honored to have been entrusted by God to raise them. I learn from each of them on a regular basis. I learn my weaknesses and strengths through them. They aid me in viewing life through their filters and not just my own. Just a few moments ago, while going through my nightly ritual of tucking my 10 year old daughter Mia to bed…God spoke to me.

On a side note, I’ve said recently that I’ve never heard the voice of God audibly. Tonight Mia taught me that God’s audible voice isn’t as I expect it….sounding like thunder or at least sounding like Dennis Haysbert…the man with the great voice in the Allstate commercials. I learned tonight that God’s audible voice can come in any form. Its easy to test if it was actually the voice of God. Whatever was spoken must be parallel with the Written Word of God in the Bible. If what I heard, or you hear, does not line up with the Written Word of God, then it wasn’t God’s voice we heard.

What did God say through Mia?

We always have this ritual we go through at night. First she stands up on her bed. It wasn’t that long ago when she stood up on her bed and she would still have to reach up and squeeze hug me and then kiss me on the cheek. (When Mia hugs me…you can tell she means it…I love her hugs.) Tonight, when she stood up on her bed, she had to reach down to give me that hug and kiss on the cheek. My baby girl is not a baby anymore. After she gives me the hug and kiss on the cheek, I return by giving her a hug, but my hug is intended to squeeze her hard enough that I pop her back…she’s gotten strong now, and as she giggles, she tenses up and its a rare thing to actually get her back to pop anymore! When we are done laughing…I turn and walk to the door, and turn off her light. She then jumps down from her bed, runs to me and hugs me one more great time and then I close the door. Every time the door closes she speaks from her bed to me through the door… “Dad.” I always answer, “Yes?”. Then she says, “I love you, dad.” I always smile and say, “I love you more.” She’s a little competitor and she always tops my reply by saying back to me, “I love you most.”

Tonight…I, don’t know why I said what I said, but I replied back to her by saying, “Mia…I believe you.” And I just stood outside her door as she was obviously thinking. It was a long pause. Normally I would just walk off and get ready for bed, but I stood there longer than normal. Then she spoke.

She said, “Dad.”
I replied, “Yes?” Only a thin door between the two of us.

And then God spoke through her. She said, “Dad…I love you more than the word love.”

I didn’t know what to say. I just stayed silent. But my heart melted. I know she didn’t expect a reply. She just wanted to say what she felt. I don’t know if you have experienced the feeling or not, but God spoke and I heard Him audibly…His voice just came tonight in the form of a loving child. Pure. True. Real. Love.

“I love you more than the word love.” My 10 year old understands the theology of love better than most tenured doctorate degreed professors, theologians, preachers and seasoned christians. Love is so much more than a word…a greek study…or an acronym in a four point sermon.

“I love you more than the word love.”

Maybe this story has touched your heart in a way tonight that would cause you to have the perseverance to read through 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Mia…if you read this someday…“I love you more than the word Love, too.”

Thank you Mia…for loving me more than the word love.
Thank you God for loving me more than the word love, too.
I don’t deserve it, but I accept it.

By the way, reader…God loves you more than the word love, too.


A Dog’s Purpose (Perspective of a 6 yr old)

This post is simply a copy from the book called “A Dog’s Purpose written by W. Bruce Cameron. Thought I’d take a break from the heavy hitting material and share a cool perspective from a 6 year old boy about his dog. Learning from a dog and a 6 year old demonstrates to us sophisticated adults that we have a long ways to go. (Something Jesus said about having “Faith Like a Child” rings a bell when I read this great story. Enjoy it and let it convict you.

____________________________________

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Photo Credit

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

the Six-year-old continued …

”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Comfortingly true…

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Puppy games are for big dogs too
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


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