Monday, September 28, 2009

Live, Learn, Leave

I was talking with a guy recently about some things that were happening in his life. He was telling me about some very bad decisions he had made and what the outcome of them had been. He is a very smart guy. He knows what the Bible has to say about his situation, and he knows what he did was wrong. So he came to see me to figure out what to do next. He said, "I need to read a book or something." I laughed out loud.

As we talked along and I asked him some questions, he made an interesting statement regarding his life and where he was headed now. He was trying to determine how to move on from his mistakes. He said, "I guess there's nothing I can do about what happened. I mean, I lived it."

My response was quick and concise (and I'm convinced it was from God). I told him that he had lived it now he must learn from it and leave it. While it's true we can't go back and undo the past, it is also true that we can, and should, learn from it and then move on with what we have learned.

So What?

You lived it, now learn from it, and leave it. What is there in your past that has kept you down and left you feeling guilty and ashamed? Learn from it and leave it behind. God can use that in your life and maybe even in the life of someone else. He never intended you to live in guilt. While you will have to deal with the consequences of your decisions, live it, learn from it, then leave it. You will find God's Best waiting for you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pancake Church

My wife and I went to the new IHOP in town recently. It has only been open for a week. If you have ever been to a newly opened restaurant, you will recognize this scene. There were tons of servers hovering around us. There were Managers and imported Trainers scurrying around. There were Corporate Bosses mingling about. All of the above mentioned were making sure that everything in the place was perfect for our visit.

Since they were not very busy this particular day, we probably got a little extra attention. But I was able to make a few observations that I think churches should consider.

The servers all put on their best smile. They were very attentive to us and our needs and did their best to take care of everything. Not only that, I was really impressed with the team work I saw. Our server took our order and brought our drinks but two different servers brought our food and got me some hot syrup. We were not "their" table and I dare say they did not share the tip, yet they assisted their team mate anyway.

I was especially intrigued by one of the imported Trainers. He is one of these guys who travels to different restaurant openings and gets all of the staff ready to run the new restaurant. These guys usally arrive weeks prior to the opening and stay for a week or two after the opening. Here's what I noticed about this guy. He would randomly walk up to a server and ask them questions regarding their training or the restaurant's policies and procedures. Things like, "What are the three types of guests we have?" Or, "What should you do when...?" He would then either correct the server's response or congratulate them for knowing the answer. But no matter what, He would smile, pat them on the back, and encourage them to keep serving.

One more thing. The place was spotless. I know it had only been open a week but still. No stuff on the floor. No chairs out of place. Not even anything sticky on the chairs or tables. There's an IHOP first!

So What?

What if we, as Churches and as Christians, applied these some kind of principles to the way we live our life or conduct our services on the weekend? What difference would it make?

What if you who are leaders in your work place applied this some principles to the people you lead? What difference would it make?

I can't help but believe that if we, as Christian leaders and as churches in general, began to smile more, train more effectively, encourage more, and be more attentive to our guests and facilities, we would see a greater impact on our communities. If we quit being so "territorial" in our ministries and communities, we would see more people attracted to Jesus. People want to be loved, cared for, and noticed. Little things mean a lot. If the people at IHOP have that much respect for their organization, why should we have any less for our churches and, more importantly, our Savior?

I want to encourage you to get involved in your church and serve. Show God's love in your work place and home. And take time to encourage others along the way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Joy of MERGE-ing

This new series has been a ton of fun. I have really enjoyed teaching it and have enjoyed the comments I am getting even more!

Families are the essential building blocks of our society. For the past several decades we have seen those blocks corrode, crack, break, and even disintegrate. There are tons of reasons for this and I don't really even want to begin to try and address them. That's not the purpose of this post. What I do want to address is the hope that I am seeing as I deal with families.

Has anyone ever told you something or explained something to you in a way that you were able to immediately understand and grasp the concept? When that happened, do you remember the feeling of excitement, joy, and encouragement you received? Like when your math teacher explained that you have to show all your work when you do a problem so that he knows that you understand how to get to the solution? Bad Example...sorry.

More like this. When you are trying to figure out why the economy is so bad and you hear someone explain it in terms you completely understand. Or when you are confused about a diagnosis the doctor has given you and the nurse or a close friend or relative explains it to you and you have one of those "Oooohh, Ok!" moments. Or when you don't fully get the meaning of a song you heard on the radio so you google it and get the story behind the song and now when you hear that song you enjoy it even more because you understand where the singer is coming from when he/she sings it.

Get the point?

I have been seeing and hearing those kinds of responses to the truth that we have been discovering in God's word when it comes to families and relationships. Husbands who are finally beginning to understand that their selfishness is a big part of the problem at home. Wives who are finally beginning to understand that their poor communication skills are a major factor in the conflict they have at home. Singles who are beginning to understand that their pride and impatience are causing much of the frustration in their date life. People are starting to "get it." As a result, hope is being restored, excitement is beginning to build, and healing is taking place. Lives and families are being changed.

That's good stuff.

So What?
The Bible says in Proverbs 19:8 "To acquire wisdom is to love oneself;people who cherish understanding will prosper." When you and I gain more understanding in the area of our relationships, we will gain more success in our relationships. The more we learn, the more we experience God's Best in our marriages, dating life, and family. Do what you have to do in order to gain understanding so that you can experience God's Best in your life. The only thing you have to lose is some of the junk you are dealing with right now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What About Time

What if you had a Time Machine? What would you do with it? Of course you would first need 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, but then, what would you do?

I have been learning a lot lately about time. Especially how I manage the time that I have been given. We are all given an amount of time. Each of us has 24 hours each day to use as we please. Or as our boss pleases. Or our spouse. But I digress...

How you spend your time each day has an amazing impact on not just you, but everyone around you. Your family, co-workers, and even complete strangers. Since we only have a specified, limited amount of time available, we had better learn to use it wisely.

One of the things I am learning is that there are many things that can waste our time. Some are things that we bring on ourselves. Some are not. All time wasters are things we can control, however.

One of the biggest time wasters I have become aware of is people who waste time. Have you ever noticed that person in your office who always wants to just sit and talk? Or the one who wants you to come watch a video on his computer? Or the person who seems to always have plenty of time to just do nothing?

Don't get me wrong. I do not have any particular people in mind so don't even go there.

And there is nothing wrong with taking a little break once in a while, catching up on what's going on, and being friendly. But there is a time and place for everything.

So What?

Gently communicate to others that you appreciate their friendship and you are concerned about them but you really have to get your work done. Don't tell them that you have more important things to do or that you don't have time for them. Schedule that kind of interaction into your day. You will find that not only will you be more productive, so will those around you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who's There?

I have the outside door to my office open getting some of this awesome, cool, fresh air in. Unseasonably cool for the first week of September, isn't it Al Gore?

I hear a small jingling sound and turn around and the dog you see in the pic is standing in my office. She comes right to me, lets me pick her up, and is sitting in my lap as I type this. I have contacted the owner and they are on their way to get her. Her name is Hershey (love me some Hershey's chocolate).

This little incident got me thinking about something.

What am I allowing into my life because I have left the door of my heart open?

The Bible says that we should "guard" our heart because it "determines the course" of our life (Proverbs 4:23). In other words, be careful what you allow into your life because whatever comes in is what will come out. If we allow good things into our life, good things will flow out of our life. Conversely, if we allow bad things into our life, bad things will flow out of our life.

So What?

Well, this one is obvious: Be careful what you allow into your life. Make sure that the things you watch, listen to, and read are going to produce good, not bad. Make sure that the people you hang around and the conversations you take part in or listen to are filling you with things that will allow you to live out God's Best in your life. Otherwise, you never know what may wander in.

She's asleep now. Guess I should probably take a nap too. Would hate to disturb her.