Monthly Archives: July 2009

Running into the Wind

On Sunday I went on a run in the afternoon. It was nice out, but very windy. The first half of my run was into the wind. It was hard going, I couldn’t hear the music from my iPod and I felt like I was working twice as hard. As I was running I felt like God wanted me to turn off the music. As I continued it hit me that running into the wind is hard and it is difficult to hear anything, even when I turned off the music.

That is a lot like our lives isn’t it? We are running into the wind, working extra hard and not making good progress. The wind can be the struggles of life, sin, bad habits, past hurts, bad relationships and nasty people. When we are running into the wind it is hard to hear from God, because the wind is so loud in our ears.

God tells us to simply turn around and run with the wind. He calls it to repent or turn around. When the wind is at your back you can run much faster and smoother. You can also hear much better and be more aware of your surroundings.

So if you feel like you are constantly running into the wind, maybe you need to turn around and go the other way. Maybe you need to stop doing some of the things you are doing. Maybe you need to do some things differently. Maybe you need to get some help. Maybe you need to simplify your life.

The other lesson I learned on that run was that when your running in the heat of the day, the shade is very comforting. When you are in a lot of heat God brings us small amounts and times of shade to keep us going. Sometimes we need to seek out the shade and slow down to rejuvenate. Maybe you need to go find some shade and rest for a bit. Maybe you need to look for those brief times of shade during the day, those times you can spend with God. When we plug into Him, He gives us strength to finish the race.

Do you have a headwind or a tailwind in your life? Do you have enough shade? Is the wind so loud you never hear God’s voice? Do you need to turn the music off?

Mentoring Men

Today I met with a group of guys from my church. We went to one of the guys homes, actually a farm that is fairly secluded. All of these guys have a heart to help other men. They are mentors, real men that love the Lord and other people. As we went around and introduced ourselves each guy shared how someone had made a difference in their lives, that helped them become the man they are today.

As I was preparing for this meeting today, I started to write down some of the men that have influenced me or mentored me over the years. I easily filled a page, and could go on. I had to think how blessed I have been to have so many people be a part of my life. These men took the time to get to know me and encourage me or sometimes even push me. Most of the time it took me being open to this idea and letting others into my world. When I did that I was able to make some positive changes in my life. These men have helped me become a better man, husband, employee, leader, follower and mentor.

God’s purpose for every Christian is that he or she develop into Christ likeness or godliness (Romans 8:29). But how does that happen? 1 Timothy addresses this idea “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” So how do we discipline ourselves? For most of us that is very hard on our own. That is where mentoring comes in. Having someone come alongside us to encourage us in discipline and also to hold us accountable.

Tom Landry, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys for nearly 30 years, said “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they have always wanted to be.” It is the same way in our Christian walk, we need other people to help us do some of the things we don’t want to do in order to become who we want to be.

I have mentored numerous men and have seen great changes in some and very little in others. What I have had to remember is that I am not the one doing the work, but the Holy Spirit. I am simply making myself available to be used as an instrument in another persons life. I am planting some seeds of truth that are helping God shape this person.

I really believe that a lot of guys are searching for what it means to be a man. For a safe place where they know someone understands them and they are not alone. Men need a compelling vision of a biblical masculinity that they can grasp. Men want to know what God intends for them. We need practical how to’s and time to process how to put that into action in our lives. Men need other men that are cheering them on and encouraging them to stay the course.

Guys need to have defining moments when they know they have become a biblical man, when they know they have purpose and meaning in their lives.

I am passionate about helping other men grow, and then mentor and help other men themselves. As we shared story after story today about how God has worked in our relationships I was very encouraged that we are making a difference every day. We will never know the full extent of our influence until we are in heaven. Can you imagine what could happen if hundreds of guys would band together to mentor and encourage other men?

Of course all of this also applies to women mentoring other women.

Who are you mentoring? Who is mentoring you? If you said no one to those questions, something needs to change.

7 Leadership Perspectives

I am passionate about leadership, it’s part of my personal mission statement – “Growing in Faith, Character and Leadership.”

There are many different types of leaders. I don’t believe that there is a certain type of leader that is more effective than another. Many things go into your makeup as a leader. Your personality, your education, your experiences, your culture, your family, your mentors, your worldview, your passions, your gifts, your talents, your hurts and so on.

Here are some different perspectives on leadership, which one best describes how you lead?

  • Visionary – is committed to growth, looks beyond problems to causes, and develops precise solutions for success
  • Teacher – imparts wisdom, maturity, and skill to others; validates direction; and ensures completeness
  • Server – sees and meets others’ practical needs, frees them to accomplish their goals, and invests time and energy in their success
  • Organizer – visualizes final results and directs resources for the successful completion of goals
  • Mediator – is deeply loyal and compassionate, analyzing the benefits and problems of a given direction
  • Idealist – should have impeachable integrity, be open to correction, be willing to identify problems as they arise, and speak the truth boldly
  • Provider – is resourceful, prudent, and thrifty, constantly ensuring the best use of all available resources.

You might see yourself in several of those descriptions, most people are a blend depending on your current situation. However, there tends to be one that you are most like on a consistent basis. Think about your team, what leadership perspective does each person bring to your team. If you all are the same, you are in trouble. Every successful team needs different leadership perspectives to able to become great.

You can even think about this in your relationships and marriage. What is the leadership perspective of your spouse , your friends, your children?

Lean On!

Mentoring

I believe in mentoring. I have had key people throughout my life that have been mentors for me and have helped me to grow and become who I am today. I have also been a mentor to others and tried to help them on their journey as well. As I look back over the people that have influenced my character, work ethic and faith, I must say that I was impacted more dramatically by a few important people, than anything else. Some of my mentors have been through reading books or listening to talks, but the most impactful have been the ones I met with face to face.

I work at NewPointe Community Church and we have been implementing a mentoring ministry over the last several years. A definition of a mentor is a trusted counselor or guide, a teacher or coach. Another great definition would be: Mentoring is the process of opening our lives to others, of sharing our lives with others; a process of living for the next generation.

Mentoring is a relationship in which a mentor helps a protege reach her/his God-given potential.

At NewPointe we have Pre-marital Mentors that help engaged couples prepare for marriage. We have Marriage Mentors that mentor couples that are struggling in their marriage. We have men and women mentors that mentor one-on-one other men and women. In each of these relationships the focus is helping the mentee take their next step spiritually, relationally or emotionally.

Mentoring allows a couple or an individual to give time to another couple or individual. Time to listen to them, encourage them, share wisdom with them and help them view their situation in a new light. Our mentors help prepare people for the next step in their lives. They help to repair and reconcile damaged relationships and help to maximize or deepen and enrich current relationships.

When you take the approach of one couple at a time and one individual at a time you can make a bigger difference, because you are up close and personal. This ministry allows mentors to speak truth into the lives of their mentees. God has been bringing couples and individuals with the gift of mentoring to our mentoring team. Couples that have been through hard times and were able to reconcile make great mentor couples. Individuals that have been through hardships like addictions, divorce, grief, job loss, bankruptcy and other difficult experiences make great mentors as well. We try to match up mentors with people that are going through similar experiences as they did.

If you have experienced depression, you can relate to someone that is struggling with depression. If you and your spouse went through a separation or an affair and were able to reconcile, you can use that bad experience to help a couple that is going through it right now.

I hope you get the idea. God never wastes a hurt, He uses it to minister to and mentor other people if you are willing to make yourself available.

I believe that Marriage mentoring is a key to reducing the divorce rate, because it prepares people for marriage and it helps couples reconnect and reconcile. At NewPointe mentoring is required for anyone to get married by one of our pastors. We also require people asking for financial assistance to meet with a mentor. This ministry is already making a difference in peoples lives, helping them, preparing them, enriching them and encouraging them.

I hope you will consider finding a mentor and being a mentor.

Irrational Beliefs

Do you have any irrational beliefs? Did you know that irrational beliefs, cause us to make irrational decisions, which lead to bad consequences and often much pain. When we come to the choices of life, our beliefs really direct what choice we make. If your beliefs are off or irrational, you will go with what you believe, which often leads to bondage.

If you believe you are worthless, unworthy, dumb or ugly, your decisions will line up with that belief. Many of these irrational beliefs have been planted in us from an early age. As we grow up these lies have been ingrained into us to the point that we really believe them. Things about ourselves, the world, relationships, money, sex, and even God.

Rational emotional behavior is vital to a healthy person. When you are faced with an event that is causing you to make a decision, your beliefs guide that decision. Consequences follow that decision. An emotionally healthy person will dispute irrational beliefs, with truth, which leads to effective beliefs that lead to better decisions.

We need to dispute our irrational negative thinking, by seeking truth. We need to doubt the doubts that we often have. We need to take thoughts captive and let truth set us free from irrational beliefs and behavior. The only way to do that is to fill our mind with truth. The Bible is filled with truth, about how to live life. Truth about money, sex, work, relationships, marriage, serving, loving, giving.

We have been looking at lies that Satan wants us to believe over the past several weeks at NewPointe. Things like, God can’t be trusted, I can’t change who I am, Sure it’s sin, but I can get away with it. Or this one – God can’t use me.

God uses imperfect people, messed up people. Doubt the irrational beliefs that come into your mind. Those thoughts and beliefs are not from God. Start seeking truth with all your heart today.

Masks

I read this quote from William Shakespeare today and it got me thinking – “God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.”

In ancient Greece they loved the theater, they wore giant masks to portray good or evil. It was always a caricature to emphasize the character. They would sometimes switch masks during performances to let you know they had changed. These performers were not known as actors. They called them hypocrites, which literally means “one who wears a mask”.

Today we too wear masks, we are all performers because we don’t often show our real faces. Here are some of the masks we wear:

  • The “happy” mask
  • The “I’m better than most” mask
  • The “I’m very together” mask
  • The “I’m a victim of others” mask
  • The “I don’t care” mask
  • The “I’m self-sufficient” mask
  • The “I’m very important” mask
  • The “I’m competent enough to not need love” mask
  • The “I’m the expert” mask
  • The “I’m not hurt” mask
  • The “I have the answers” mask
  • The “I am independent” mask
  • The “I am cool” mask

Those came from a book called “True Faced” by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John Lynch. Here are some I thought of:

  • The “I don’t have an addiction” mask
  • The “My marriage is doing great” mask
  • The “My children are doing great” mask
  • The “I don’t have an anger problem” mask
  • The “I don’t need accountability” mask
  • The “I don’t need to be in a small group” mask
  • The “I don’t need a church home” mask
  • The “I don’t want to get involved” mask
  • The “My finances are fine” mask
  • The “I’m a Christian” mask

The reason most of us wear these masks, is we have a fear of people really knowing who we are. We are afraid they won’t accept us or will think we are unworthy. These fears keep us behind our mask, trying to convince ourselves we are not being a hypocrite.

Here is a pattern that I see often in people I talk to. There is some issue or hurt that causes pain in their hearts. They feel alone, hurt, desperate, filled with anguish and many other emotions. Others around them are not struggling as much and so they feel alienated and alone. They push the pain down deep inside their heart and hope it will eventually go away. Unfortunately it keeps popping its head up again and again. Slowly they lose hope that they can change or be “fixed”. They decide that they must live with this pain and therefore they start wearing masks to cover up their dysfunction.

I think that Christians wear more masks than those still seeking Christ. We think we have to have it all together and are afraid we will be discovered. We can be like Jekyll and Hyde. Acting one way in public and another in private. That kind of behavior has turned a lot of people off to Christianity.

To overcome this problem of mask-wearing, it starts with Trusting God. Trusting that He is who He says He is. That He will do what He said He would do. Understanding the grace that He has given us, that we are forgiven and made white as snow.

The more intimate we get with God the more He can heal those hurts, help us overcome those hangups and habits that are unhealthy. Only Jesus can heal you. To smash those masks, you need to get real with some people. You have to let some people into your world, admit you have struggles and issues. Community and accountability are required for the masks to come down. That is the beginning of being the real you and not a mask wearing hypocrite.

So make the effort to first of all admit what masks you wear and determine to be true to who you are. It means taking a risk and letting down your guard, but the freedom on the other side of that is amazing. Smash your masks today. Be real.

Captured

We live beside a woods and because of that we have lots of critters that come and hang out at our house. The problem is we have outside cats and the critters eat their food. We suspected we had some bandits coming at night, so we set our live trap. The last three nights we have caught a raccoon. This morning we caught a bigger one. I think it is one big family, hopefully we can help all of them relocate.

No animals were harmed physically, there may be some emotional trauma, but nothing they can’t overcome with some good counseling.

“Oh” moments

This week I went to visit an elderly man and his wife. They started attending NewPointe about two years ago. I first met them at our NewPointe 101 class, which is our membership class and a great place to learn about why we do church the way we do.

They recently discovered that he has bone cancer and will soon start radiation treatment and is undergoing many test. As you can imagine they are somewhat shocked. I went over to visit with them, pray with them and anoint him with oil.

As we sat talking together, I was so impressed with Bob. He told me that if it is his time he is ready and OK with that. He also said if its not his time, he wants to make the most of that as well. He told me that he thought when he reached his age he would be this wise, kind of all knowing person that had it all together. He said that is so not true. He said he still has a lot of “Oh” moments. Times when he learns something new, discovers a new insight into God word, and how to apply it to his life. Those moments when a light bulb goes off and you finally get it.

He was very humble and talked mostly about growing and changing no matter how old you are. He told me that he never thought they would go to a mega church and especially not one that played loud “rock” type music.

He said he thinks it is very important for the church to grow and reach as many people as possible. He sees how NewPointe is connecting with a wide range of people and that excites him. He loves going to church when his health allows him to. They bring their granddaughter whenever she visits as well.

I really enjoyed my time with Bob and his wife Betty. They are great people and I am so glad I got to meet them. It really challenged me to keep growing, learning and having those “Oh” moments myself. It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to be used by God to impact someones life. When was the last “Oh” moment for you?

The Old And The New

I read this quote today from Lee Iacocca: “The most successful business people hold onto the old just as long as it’s good & grab the new just as soon as it’s better”

I think you could say most successful leader’s hold onto the old as long as it’s good & grab the new just as soon as it’s better.

Great leader’s have a sense about how long to hang onto something, whether it’s a product, system, strategy, or even employee. They know when it’s time to start something new before things are declining. If you wait until something is declining it is too late.

Churches are the same way. As church leader’s we need to hang onto the old as long as it is good, but be willing to make changes when we can make it better. What I am talking about here is systems, strategies and even worship style. There is a constant tension to find the new and better or keep the old and familiar. We need to be watching others that are farther ahead of us to learn from them. We also need to be aware of our own culture and people and how we can connect with them and help them grow spiritually.

The lesson we all need to be aware of is to be aware of things that may have worked in the past, but may not in the future. Just because you are doing well now, does not mean that will always be the case. Don’t get stuck doing things only one way, when a better way may be available.

What new thing do you need to grab, or what old thing do you let go?

The Quest

This morning I went on a red raspberry quest with my wife. She was my guide on this quest, because she had gone many times before. She helped me pick out the right kind of clothes (long sleeved shirt and old sweats, rubber boots).

As we headed out on our quest, I wondered if I had what it takes to complete this quest. What would I learn on this expedition into the forest? Would we find lots of berries or get shut out? Could I fill my bucket?

The first stop was about 4 miles from our house. Here are some of the lessons I learned on the Raspberry Quest:

  1. Having the right gear saves you time and pain
  2. You need to focus on one berry at a time
  3. Sometimes you need to get down on your knees to find the low lying fruit
  4. The best berries are usually hiding behind a leaf
  5. Look for the path others made
  6. Sometimes you need to make your own path
  7. The best berries are in the thickest thorn patch
  8. If you look from a different angle you can find new berries
  9. Sometimes you need to step back to get a bigger picture, and know where to go next
  10. Enjoy the sights and sounds around you as you search for more berries

All that work will yield some good eats. I may have picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along this quest. Can’t wait for the next quest – Blackberries!