You Cannot Control Outcomes

20 01 2010

This morning Mark Batterson of NCC posted some great insight on ministry.

“One of the lessons I’ve learned in ministry is that you cannot control outcomes. We plant and water, but God gives the increase! That drives us crazy as control freaks, but it also takes all of the pressure off of us. We can’t do it. Only He can!

The most gratifying thing is ministry is when God does something you cannot take credit for. That’s what I live for! And the truth of the matter is this: most of the good things that happen don’t happen because of us. They happen inspite of us. We just need to stay out of the way!” FULL EVOTIONAL POST

Now that is so frustrating, because it’s so true.


Two Friends on a Bus…the MLK Legacy

18 01 2010

As a kid growing up the 70s in the suburbs of Detroit, the Civil Rights movement seemed like the distant past (1o years is an eternity when you’re eight). The truth was racial equality was still very much a work in progress, especially in a community as racially divided at metro Detroit. Even though I grew up watching an African-American woman as the anchor on the evening news, the change on the street came slowly. The Civil Rights movement was moving through institutional and overt racism to subtle racism. Even today, just mention the word “8 Mile” and what comes to mind is the divisions…Divisions between communities and division between races.

As a kid, I remember being strangely drawn to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. I secretly wished I had been born 10-20 years earlier so I could have participated in the Civil Rights movement and the cause of racial equality. Even though many years have passed, I am still motivated by his powerful words, inspired by his passionate leadership…and most of all I am personally impacted by his legacy.

A couple years ago, my daughter Hannah and her 4th grade class visited The Henry Ford Museum. It was just an ordinary school field trip until one extraordinary moment. We walked inside the bus where Rosa Parks refused to get up and courageously decided to not give in. On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, by sitting down she inspired many in our nation to stand up.

Hannah and her best friend Tanesha sat down together in the EXACT SEAT where Mrs. Parks made that bold statement on equality. In that moment, tears welled up inside me. Only 50 years ago, the idea that you would judge someone “not by the color of one’s skin but the content of one’s character” was still only a dream. But these kids are living the dream. Words like integrated pools and segregation are foreign to them. They don’t see color…they only see their friend.

Are we there yet in equality? I don’t think so. Subtle racism and segregation still exists in the thoughts and actions of Americans. I believe that words of Martin Luther King that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America. We still have a lot to do as far as equality.

But today on Martin Luther King Day, I am inspired two friends sitting together on a bus. They are living the legacy of his words…

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

C.S. Lewis on Love

14 01 2010

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it in tact you must give your heart to no one. Lock it up safe of the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe and dark and motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken but it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be safe from all the dangers of love is hell.” C.S. Lewis

Proven Marriage Advice from REAL Experts

12 01 2010

I saw an interesting fact this morning from “Eat, Love, Pray” author Elizabeth Gilbert in Time Magazine: Only 15% of people who marry before 25 years of age end up staying together. Instead of focusing on the negative, I was wondering what makes a marriage beat the odds and thrive. From the FaceBook and Twitter world, here’s the advice from friends married before 25 and still going strong!

My advice is three things; God, Communication and Laughter. Scott, married 22 years

The grass is never greener on the other side. Every marriage has its ups and downs.Laura, married 28 years

We always remind ourselves that a healthy marriage requires work and effort everyday. Take time for each other, don’t yell when you disagree, and if all else fails – give your problems up to God. Remember, nothing that’s worthwhile comes easy. Brandon, married 7 years

1. Love God more than anyone else (including your spouse). 2. God’s Grace. 3. Compromise. 4. Compromise. 5. Compromise. Amy, married 20 years

Tend to the needs of the other. There are no other options but he and me. Extend grace. Laugh a little. Mary Jo, married 30 years

It’s not EASY!!! Marriage is a full-time job. Know that going in and you aren’t surprised. Promise to never say the D word. You don’t want that worry hanging out somewhere in the back of your mind. Holly, married 22 years

I would say fiercely protect your time, date nights! Geoff, married 6 years

We keep the lines of communication open. We are also each others best friends. So work together and don’t blame each other. Prayer, God and trust sure helps. Kim, married 21 years

Think of your partner before yourself. Jesus did it, so can we. David, married 15 years

Don’t try to change your spouse. If you think someone has to change in your marriage, it will have to be YOU. One of the biggest blessings in my life has been that Dave helps with everything around the house and does so without resenting it.Wendy, married 33 years

Never say the “D” word. If you rule out divorce as an option, it makes the disagreements and arguments a little easier to get through. stop focusing on how things might be better apart, or somewhere else, and start using that energy to focus on making the relationship they’re in better. Believe it or not, every marriage/relationship will have its own set problems and tough things to work through…and really, be careful, the grass might be browner on the other side. –Jodi, married 19 years

Your comments got me thinking: Listen to the Real Experts! We hear all kinds of relationship advice from people (media, authors, filmmakers, etc.) who have a lot to say about marriage, but haven’t lived through the ups and downs of a long-term committed marriage. I’ve been married 18 years and I’m still learning it’s one of the hardest, most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. Keep growing. Keep seeking advice from real experts. Keep learning from the success of others.

Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:14-15

Jesus: The Most Inclusive Person to Ever Walk the Earth

6 01 2010

Lee Strobel in his book, “God’s Outrageous Claims” shares a great story about the inclusive nature of Christ and Christianity.

Imagine two country clubs. The first has a strict set of rules and only allows in people who have earned their membership. hey have to accomplish something, obtain superior wisdom, or fulfill a long list of demands and requirements to qualify for entry. Despite their best efforts, lots of people just won’t make the grade and will be excluded. In effect, this is what other religious systems are like.

But the 2nd country club throws its doors wide open and says, “Anybody who wants membership is invited inside. Rich or poor, black or white, regardless of your ethnic heritage or where you live, we would love to include you. Entry is based not on your qualification but only on accepting this invitation. So we’ll leave the matter up to you. You decide. But remember, we will never turn you away if you seek admittance.”

That’s what Christianity is like. Which country club is being snobbish? Christians aren’t being exclusive; they’re being inclusive.

Listen how Jesus described the inclusive nature of the kingdom of God in Luke 14 “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’

“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.’

Jesus was the most inclusive person to ever walk the earth. That is revolutionary love.