Fresh leadership

No one can say that this newly elected President is “business-as-usual.” One of the reasons is that he is not a career politician; therefore his approach to problem-solving is totally foreign to those have been entrenched in the government system. His Cabinet nominations have caused a lot of anger and criticism. Our senior statesmen point out that the people he has selected not to have the “experience” necessary to run that office. Really?

If experience equals success, then how can they explain that every government agency has failed, though lead by ‘experts’ in their field?

Department of Energy has had 43 years to free us from dependence on foreign oil. How are we doing?
Social Security has had 77 years to correct all their problems. Failed.
Veterans Administration has had 86 years to provide care for our veterans. Failed.
Our Postal system has had 45 years of a constant bailout from the Federal Government.
Department of Treasury has been in existence since 1789. Over two centuries and today we are 20 Trillion dollars in debt! Failed.

Our experts have not solved our problems. It is time for a new approach and I think that people who have had proven success in their field may bring us a solution.

Success or Failure?

There is no question that our culture worships at the altar of success. We love rags-to-riches stories. We swallow the world’s lie that the person with the biggest bank account, largest mansion, most expensive car and who is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is a success. 

In the “religious” world, the church with the largest congregation and the most elegant campus is considered a success. Churches compete with each other for recognition. TV evangelists [some, not all] pride themselves with their ratings. Pastors from the small, country churches feel inferior to the “big-city” pastor. 

While I don’t believe that churches should compete against one another, I do believe we should do and be our best. We are told to be faithful not successful. Matthew 25:20  Sometimes faithfulness and “success” run on the same track but not always. Missionaries and pastors sometimes labor years without seeing the fruit of their labor. 

As Christ-followers, we must remember we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Each of us have our place of service in the Kingdom and it all works together. “The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” I Cor. 3:5-9

Christmas Fears

There are a lot of emotions experienced at Christmas: excitement, depression, even anger but on that first Christmas the predominant emotion was fear. It surprised me how many people experienced fear on the most glorious event in all of history!

Mary experienced fear at the angel’s announcement that she, a virgin, would conceive! In our culture, an unwed pregnant teen is not a real “big” deal but in Mary’s world, it could be the reason for execution.

Joseph  too experienced fear at the news, that his espoused wife would have a child. What would people think? What would this do to his reputation? 

Herod was alarmed at the news of a new-born king. He was afraid he would lose his power. 

Shepherds trembled at the presence of heavenly beings.  Angels are not soft, fluffy, winged beings, but majestic beings surrounded by the glory of God. 

But what are the fears people experience this Christmas?

  • Fear that they can’t find “the” gift that their grandson wants.
  • Fear that the money runs out before all the gifts is bought.
  • Fear that the kids won’t be able to make it home. 

Friends do not allow the pressure of the holiday cause you to fear. Jesus came to earth that we might experience hope, peace, and joy.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”              Roy L. Smith

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 I just watched one of my favorite movies; Shadowlands. It’s the story of  C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian authors. [C.S. Lewis is played by Anthony Hopkins, who gives one of his best performances.]  Allow me to share how Lewis faced the  prospect his wife’s struggle with cancer.

At one point his wife started to get better. His minister commented that God was answering his prayers. Lewis replied, “That is not why I pray. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

Your Storm

Peter was a risk-taker. When Jesus asked him to walk on water. he stepped out of his boat and his faith was rewarded; he actually walked on water! He was on his way to becoming a super-disciple! The hardest part was behind him; getting out of the boat. Right? Then reality set in. He suddenly realized just how bad the storm was and he began to sink. Matthew 14:30

The same thing happens to us. We begin a new job, start a new relationship, go to college, or begin a family. In the beginning we are filled with hope and excitement; then the reality sets in. We see the wind: Our plans go wrong. People we were counting on let us down. Unexpected conflicts arise. Now, what do you do?

People usually respond to serious problems in one of two ways:

  1. Many simply are defeated by their circumstances
  2. Some choose to face the situation and overcome.

I see two life-lessons in this story that will benefit us all.

  • Storms have a way of teaching us when nothing else can.
  • Sooner or later, you have to turn and face the situation. Sooner or later, you have to run to God.

Two Journals

Several weeks ago, I celebrated my sixty-ninth birthday. I know that does not make me unique, but it did cause me to reflect on my childhood. There were things we did as a family that became traditions for us.

I fondly remember every Saturday evening my dad and I would watch professional boxing on television. Of course, we could not watch such an event without refreshments! EVERY Saturday evening we made root-beer floats. And it had to be Dad’s Rootbeer. No substitutes, please.

To be honest, I really didn’t like watching boxing and I still don’t. The rootbeer floats were good, but it think looking back what made it so special was just Dad and me spending time together.

An elderly man was rummaging through his attic when came across a box that contained two journals, one was his and the other was his son’s.

As he opened his journal, the old man’s eyes fell upon an inscription that stood out because it was so brief in comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting were these words:
Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn’t catch a thing.

With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy’s journal and found the boy’s entry for the same day, June 4. Large scrawling letters, pressed deeply into the paper, read: Went fishing with my Dad. Best day of my life.