Leadership

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October 19

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

I think one of the hardest things to do is to deflect praise from oneself to where it belongs. In the past we had a boxer (Cassius Clay, aka Muhammed Ali) proclaim early in his career that he was the greatest. Sportscasters are known to choose a GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).  Recently, a football player announced that he was “the greatest.” I was so disgusted by this shameless self-promotion just from a headline, I couldn’t tell you who it was, what team he played for, or what position he played.

How different from these words:

“Praise the LORD! Praise Him, you servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time on and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.” (Ps.113:1-4)

Or these:

Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” (115:1)

What a difference-taking credit or giving credit. The psalmist is unequivocal in his stand: the name of the Lord is to be praised. I don’t, you don’t, deserve any praise. It all goes to Him. Deflect it there.

“Father, You are worthy of my praise. May I never gather praise or seek praise for myself. May I always deflect it to You.”

All Scripture is from the NASB2020 edition.

September 22

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

First day of Fall! I don’t know whether to cry or to cry. 🙂  Yeah, I’m a warm weather person. Sort of hard to ride a bike with snow and ice on the ground. Anyway, right now we are in our 3rd of 40 days of rain. On the positive side, least it is liquid sunshine not white flakes. Okay…on to the devotion.

The dictionary defines hero as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

We hear a lot of talk these days about heroes. For the past year and a half we have been hearing about the front line workers who are heroes. Nurses. Police. Fire. Doctors. In my mind, they are heroes. Sadly, their heroism is being brushed aside and forgotten because of the vaxx mandate.  I will withhold comment.  🙂

I grew up with heroes. Comic books. TV shows. Athletes. Just like every other kid I had my favorites. Over the past decade the idea of a hero-a superhero- has been taken to a whole new level thanks to cinema.  Superman became Spiderman. Spiderman was soon enveloped by the Marvel universe of Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers, and others. Batman rose from the comic book dead. Spiderman came back to life. Jason Bourne lived through mind games and countless fights and car chases to walk away each movie. The list goes on.

I think we need to stop looking to fantasy for our heroes and see them right next to us. They live with us. They work with us. They worship with us. They play alongside us. They are the mom and dad who love their handicapped child as though he/she is “normal.” They are the old man/lady who do their best to care for their mate who doesn’t even remember their name anymore. I recently read of a woman who took care of her former soccer-playing comatose husband for decades. She is a hero.

“Heroes come in every age and size,” Bob Goff writes. (#264-p.313). I’ve always believed that. I’m convinced, while we focus on the few who have prominent names, there are literally hundreds of thousands who go unnamed and unnoticed.

Heroes don’t wear capes (unless it is a dad playing “house” with his daughter). They don’t wear tights and have indestructible shields, and superhuman abilities to leap tall buildings. No…heroes are ordinary people doing ordinary things on ordinary days in extraordinary ways. Be a hero. Better yet…acknowledge one.

“Father, may I recognize a hero and not let him or her go unnoticed.”

September 21

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

One of the “things” that has captured our world is jumping to conclusions. You know…make a decision and let that decision be made before all the facts are in.

This has been especially true in our world of instant news-Twitter, FB, Instagram and the like. We see or hear something and we are ready to be judge, jury, and executioner before knowing all the facts.

Case in point: Our Daily Bread had a story of an event which happened during the 2018 baseball season. A Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. When the coach tossed him a ball, a man sitting next to him scooped it up. He was excoriated by the media. He was called a brute. I vaguely remember seeing that video and I’m ashamed to admit that I thought, “How rude!” The first reaction of the media was to call him out about his cold-heartedness and lack of class. It took 24 hours for the truth to come out that those two had made a deal (after the man had snagged a ball for him earlier) to share any additional balls that came their way. By then, he was blistered.

Jumping to conclusions. We are strong on condemning “obvious” sins-adultery, homosexuality, stealing (unless it is during a riot), lying (sometimes but not always), but we give a free pass to jumping to conclusions and jumping on the bandwagon of condemnation. Exodus 23:2 tells us not to “join together with a crowd in order to pervert justice.” (NASB2020)

Let’s stop jumping to conclusions. Let’s get the facts-the truth-before ruining someone’s life with untruth.

“Father, may I be a truth-gatherer and not a lie-spreader.”

September 15

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

As one reads the Scripture, you will notice that Jesus’ first really public words were in a synagogue. Luke 4 records those words for us and they are directly taken from Isaiah 61:1-2a:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD anointed me to bring good news to the humble; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” (NASB2020)

Jesus then finished His reading with these words: “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, “In Me.”

Jesus didn’t come to the “uppity-ups” or to the “hoity-tointy” crowd. He didn’t come to the castles and palaces, to the kings and queens, to those who thought they needed nothing or no one. (He wouldn’t turn them away though). No, Jesus came to the humble, the brokenhearted, the lost, the lonely, the slaves, the captives, the addict, and others. He came for the blind, the leper, the lame, the prostitute, the falsely accused. He came for those who were lost and knew it. He came for the outsiders. He came for the rejected.

He came for me.

I like what Bob Goff said,

Some people wag a bony finger when we run toward someone who’s messed up. But isn’t that what God does with you and me? Forget being right; be Jesus. (#257-p.306)

It shouldn’t matter what others think. Jesus certainly didn’t care. In fact, if we are his followers, Jesus’ mission and ours should be the same.

“Father, help me to keep my eyes open to the needs of others. Help me to see people, not cases.”

September 13

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Air Force veteran and current Indiana State Police officer, Ryan White, (also part of OVCF), spoke at the memorial on Labor Day for the 13 fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. I liked what Ryan said so I asked for a copy of his notes. Here is some of what he said:

“These men and women epitomized the definition of Duty, Sacrifice, and Heroism. I want to take a closer look at the meaning of those three words.

  1. Duty– The force of moral obligation.
  2. Sacrifice– An act of giving up something valuable for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
  3. Heroism– Conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end.

The word noble in that definition sure rings true when describing these young men and women. They were there to help evacuate Americans and Afghans from certain slaughter from the Taliban regime. What could possibly be more noble, than risking their lives for someone else’s? “

Ryan said more but those hold the weight. We are grateful for these men and women. But do you see Someone else who is pictured in those three words?

Here…let me help you…it begins with a J…ends in an S…and has a ESU in the middle.  The most heroic, sacrificial, and noble person who ever lived.

“Father, may I be like Jesus if ever called to be (outside of living a daily life for Him).”

September 3

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

I’ve been reading a book entitled Expository Apologetics (EA) by Voddie Baucham, Jr. My estimation of him sky-rocketed first when I heard him on a podcast with Alisa Childers where they discussed his book Faultlines as well Critical Race Theory, BLM, and other subjects.  I listened to it twice so that should tell you what I thought of that interview. I just finished reading Faultlines, which took my admiration into the stratosphere. He is intelligent, witty, insightful, and unapologetic about his stand for the gospel. And, one more thing: he comes at it from a black perspective (not that makes any difference to me). You need to read his book!!

Anyway, in EA he wrote something that struck me, even in my afternoon semi-comatose mind. 🙂 I want to share it with you after I say this: I have often heard it said, “We become what we worship.” I wish I could remember who said that.

Voddie wrote this:

“God created us to be image bearers; we are made in His image to reflect His glory. When we turn that worship in another direction, we do not cease to be what we were created to be; we simply pervert the reflection. As we worship, we are conformed to the image of the one or ones to whom we give our allegiance, adoration, obeisance, time, talent, and treasure.” (p.54)

What we give our worship and attention to is what we become. I don’t need to say much more except “Choose Wisely.”

“Father, You and You alone are worthy of my worship. Help me to keep my eyes on you and not on other things, people, or events.”

August 31

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Have you ever wanted to be somebody else or maybe sort of like them? 

I have given that some thought:

  • Growing up I was a baseball fanatic. I wanted to be like certain players. I devoured how certain players played or batted. Their mannerisms. I read a lot about Christian ballplayers.
  • When I played basketball I had my favorite players I followed and wanted to be like. I copied their shot, their mannerisms at the free throw line, etc.
  • As I developed as a pastor/preacher, I wanted to be a pray-er like men I read about; a preacher/teacher like G. Campbell Morgan. Then it was Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur or Charles Stanley.
  • A leader like so-and-so.

The verdict is in. Utter and complete failure. Like bomb. I tried to trade who I was for who I wanted to be. It doesn’t work that way. I am me. God created me to be me. No one else.

What got me thinking of this are the words I read from Bob Goff:

God’s never looked in your mirror and wished He saw someone else.  (#243-p.290)

Whenever I stopped trying to be like someone else (except Jesus), I found peace and contentment in my skin. God never, EVER, wanted me to be or be like someone else. Only what He created me to be.

I’m content.

“Father, thank you for making me to be me and to glorify you in the process.”

August 10

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Years ago I heard a leadership guru say, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

I know what he was trying to say (along with a touch of arrogance). In any situation there are three kinds of people: the leader, the follower, and the dragger. Progress is determined by one of those three types of people.

  • There is the leader, the one who gets out front and takes the bull by the horns and gets things done.
  • There is the follower, the one who gets in line behind the leader with support, encouragement, work, etc.
  • There is the dragger, the one who drags his/her feet for any number of reasons. I’ll not delineate them right now. You can figure them out on your own.

The problem which often arises is the failure to follow. Even the leader is a follower…if he/she is a follower of Jesus. Even the leader can sometimes get ahead of the Guide. I like what Bob Goff wrote:

When we find ourselves losing our way in life, it’s a good time to evaluate whether Jesus is ahead of us leading or behind us just carrying our stuff.  (p.265)  *

I hate to admit there are times (far too many) when I get ahead of Him. Instead of following Him, I strike out on my own. Or I simply walk too fast and get out ahead. I think I know best. I think I know the right, or even the best, path. I get in over my head and get lost or swamped.

It is then I need to have a seat and pause and relinquish my “lead.” It is necessary for me to be the follower, to even admit I’m lost.

“Father, I think I know best. Not always do I know. Not even often do I know. Help me to relinquish the leadership of my life to you.”

*Quote from Live Grace-Walk in Love

August 9

Monday, August 9th, 2021

Okay…slap me with a wet noodle. I didn’t post last Friday. We made a quick trip to Ohio and left Wednesday morning and returned Friday. Rather than throw a devotion together AND try to do it on my phone, I decided not to do anything. But if I was going to post, the following was on my mind.

As followers of Christ we are told to:

Hurt when others hurt.

Cry when others cry.

Laugh when others laugh.

Rejoice when others rejoice.

Love because we are loved.

Show grace because we have been shown grace.

Comfort when others hurt.

The reality is that God often puts us in hard places or takes us through hard moments so that we will be ready when others go through hard moments. When their heart cries out for comfort, we are ready, because our hearts once cried out for comfort.

I think of Mordecai’s words to Esther: “For such a time as this…”  And who knows? All the junk we went through; all the pain we experienced; all the tears; were not wasted just on us. Perhaps it was for us to have a heart that hears and listens and responds to another’s heart cry. Lessons learned were never meant to be kept to ourselves. They are sometimes a path for us to guide a fellow struggler.  Don’t waste the pain or the lessons by keeping them to yourself.

“Father, may I be open to using my pain and heartache to help someone else experiencing that same difficulty.

July 27

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

For the past couple of years I have often thought that if I was to ever start a church (which I have no desire to do), I would call it “Second Chance Church.” I know. Even as I write that it sounds a bit cheesy. Corny. But please hear me out.

Having been a pastor for close to 50 years, I have seen many broken lives. Train wrecks. Twisted beyond recognition. Mangled. Messed up. Even hopeless (as in giving up). I will even admit to being close to that feeling a time or two myself.

Getting broadsided in my car- as I was recently- does not carry the same picture of a car wrecked so badly it is unrecognizable and the “jaws of life” have to be used. There are some people whose lives are dented, smashed into, even put on the shelf temporarily. Then there are those whose lives are truly a disaster. Addiction. Poor choices. Loose morals. Alone. Destitute.

No matter which…we all need second chances (in some cases third, fourth and fifth). One of the biggest roadblocks to that second chance is shame. I want to be able to help people get past shame. I want them to realize there are always second chances. Shame doesn’t have to hang around and keep us where we are; God wants to take us “onward and upward” (to borrow C.S. Lewis’ words in the Chronicles of Narnia).

Second Chance Church. Sounds like a great name. But even without that name, that is exactly what a church should be about.

“Father, my life is a testimony to second chances. May I be your church here on earth offering that to others in Your Name.”