What If?

I have noticed a vast difference…

A vast difference between being a Christian and being a follower of Jesus. Most people have an amazingly positive response towards Jesus, but when you ask them about Christians, well…the response is a mixed bag at best.

Take a moment and experiment with me. Launch a google search with the phrase, “why are Christians so…”

You will get page after page with responses like: “why are Christians so angry, mean, judgmental, hypocritical, hateful…” It takes a number of pages before you find a more positive response.

Here are the first 3 page that came up on my search which neted over 37 million hits:

 

 

In light of who Jesus is, how He interacted with all types of people, and how He modeled love on steroids, one might expect His followers to have the same impact, or leave a similar aroma with people, but the google results are in, and it isn’t favorable.

I am looking forward to the first conversation in my new series “What If?”  where we will major on becoming more like Christ and less like the Google results!

Generating Good

generous-2

Generosity is a brilliant word and a powerful concept. Kahlil Gibran states , “Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” That is worthy of pondering for a bit.

From this word we understand other things better, like, generate, generator, generative.

Generosity generates something…
It creates something…
From nothing, generosity breathes life and regenerates something beautiful.

However, generosity is not simply about money and wealth. It is a lifestyle that is always humming with creative goodness that brings light to dark places, food to starving spaces and beauty to desolate places.

Steve Goodier sums up the scope well:

“Money is not the only commodity that is fun to give. We can give time, we can give our expertise, we can give our love or simply give a smile. What does that cost? The point is, none of us can ever run out of something worthwhile to give.”

Generosity also has the power to free us from a myopic life of self-everthing. Self-service, selfishness, self-reliance, self-worship. The worship of self has run across the borders of narcissism in our culture, and generosity has the ability to heal us of this most pernicious disease. The Buddha noted:

“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.”

The following video is a commercial from Thailand…it reveals the power that a little generosity has to make the lives of others better, and when you do that you cannot escape the personal benefit generosity re-infuses into your own life.

That video causes an unsolicited smile to form on my lips…

Being generous feels good and the scientific stats reveal that generous people are healthier, happy and live longer lives that are worth living.

The Bible has scads of passages about generosity, here are a few to help you pray and invite a spirit of generosity into your life:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38 

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Psalm 112:5

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.  2 Corinthians 8:12

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Luke 6:30

May you realize just how rich you really are and find yourself coming alive as you become a generous soul that gives especially when there is no chance of repayment.

Mining Out Your Limiting Thoughts

shutterstock_422678236It’s a new year and many people are gearing up to forge a new “me.”

Goals are set, promises made, club memberships purchased and the god of best intentions is beckoned.

Unknown, unearthed, subconscious, limiting beliefs are perhaps the biggest destroyer of good intentions and goals. You also might call them life commandments, or subconscious beliefs, either way, there are limiting beliefs within that tend to sabotage’ our best efforts.

Often these negative beliefs are formed through pain, disappointment, unmet expectations or even betrayal. For example, if you have ever experienced marriage betrayal, you might have declared in your soul “I will never allow myself to be hurt like that again.” This internal statement become a subconscious life commandment that can keep that person from entering into a new relationship out of fear of being hurt once again.

You will have greater success moving towards your goals and desires when you first invest the time discovering the limiting beliefs that you have. This will give you the opportunity to identify and then “Flip the Script” as you transform limiting beliefs into positive and dynamic beliefs.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself to mine out the limiting beliefs that potentially dwell within your soul:

  • When under pressure I ……………………….……………………….
  • I often feel guilty about ……………………………………………………….
  • When …………. happens I stress out and feel like …………….
  • My Achilles’ heel (greatest weakness) is ……………………….
  • I am always trying to stop …………………………. from happening.
  • When the unexpected happens I ……………………………………
  • I always try to ………………………………………………………..
  • The biggest obstacle that stops me loving and approving of myself is …………………
  • What drives most of my behavior is ……………………………………….
  • I am afraid of ………………………………………………………..
  • I seek my ……………’s approval (always / mostly / usually / occasionally)
  • My most frequent negative / uncomfortable emotion is feeling ……………………….
  • The feeling I dislike the most is ……………………….
  • I need to learn to ………………………………………………………..

As you honestly and ruthlessly answer questions like these, you will become aware of which beliefs are really driving your choices and behaviors.

Once the beliefs have been identified, it’s time to flip the script, rewording these life destroyers into positive, life creating beliefs, for example:

  • I’m just not wired that way…can be flipped to -I can do all things through Christ!
  • I don’t have time to make the changes…can be flipped to – I will maximize the time God gives me
  • I don’t think that way…can be flipped to – I will change the way I think
  • I’m just not smart enough I guess…can be flipped to – I will have the mind of Christ
  • I never get any breaks…can be flipped to – God will deliver anything that I require
  • God has it out for me…can be flipped to – God loves me unconditionally
  • I’m just not gifted enough…can be flipped to – I am fearfully and wonderfully made

As you become more aware of the beliefs within that betray you, you are not a hostage to those limiting life commandments! In 2017 choose to flip the script and change your limiting beliefs into unlimited potential!

 

Prayers For Belgium

belgium 2Le-Monde-654733 belgium

 

Another Isis Attack, this time in Belgium. There have been at least 7 other cities this week who also experienced the violent terror of these groups.

Today, I am praying for and with those in Belgium, and all the others who are the latest victims of the evil of ISIS…I’m also thankful for those in the Muslim community who are speaking out against the brutality of ISIS et al.

In the U.S we often wonder how someone becomes “radicalized” by these Jihadist groups. I read a well written article on why peaceful muslims are drawn into radical Islam. It sheds some light on the subject, although it leaves some very hard questions which need deeper conversation.

Check out the article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/03/22/radicalization-isil-islam-sacred-texts-literal-interpretation-column/81808560/

Nabeel Qureshi, author of the article and former Muslim, has also written a book called “Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward” which also looks into this current global problem.

Dealing with ISIS, and other radical groups, requires a global response. Humility, grace and an unshakeable commitment to end terror, injustice, persecution and violence is the only way forward.

When One Hurts…We All Hurt…#Charleston

charleston

I have just woke up after returning from a trip traversing Uganda. While there, I caught a breaking news report concerning the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina. It was a depressing and disturbing feeling watching the news report about more Black Americans being shot in the U.S.

My heart broke. “This is too much.”

As an obvious white American in a room of Ugandans, I thought,  “I wonder if he is a racist too?”

As of this moment I have not had to endure all the spin from the Left and the Right as you have. I have not had to wade through the polarizing news reports. It has been apparent that racism and a hatred of black people was the root of the problem.

I have prayed; repented for our nation; confessed my own “isms.” I have struggled with the moral temperature of our nation; I have tried to enter the pain of my African-American brothers and sisters in Christ in a very insufficient way as I will never fully understand the pain they experience.

As a follower of Jesus, I am spiritually and soul-ularly connected to every other follower of Jesus regardless of race, gender, color of skin, ideology, social status etc.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called to stand in the gap for my brothers and sisters who are hurting, suffering, and have lost their voice.

As a follower of Jesus, I -do- feel the pain and enter into the journey of suffering with those who suffer.

Paul the Apostle said is this way:

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

So I weep those who weep…I grieve with those who grieve…I cry with those who cry.

But, as a follower of Christ I also denounce the violence in our country that continues to be directed towards the Black community. I am amazed that we are actually arguing  whether or not the Confederate flag (a symbol of racism) should be allowed to fly. I wonder (not really) if Germany would argue similarly about reviving the Nazi Swastika; I’m sure (or I would hope) it would be rejected out of hand.

Until we recognize and deal with our national racism the violence will continue.

The lives represented by the list of victims matters:

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74
Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
Rev. DePayne Doctor, 49
Sharonda Singleton, 45
Myra Thompson, 59
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Ethel Lance, 70
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Susie Jackson, 87 

The problem with lists and statistics is that they don’t cry. Each name represents a significant larger story. Each person matters. Each life was intended by God.

If you are a white Christian in the U.S you need to begin reading the stories and articles that are pouring out from the black community. Enter into their pain and feel their faith. It is no longer sufficient to say, “Well I didn’t cause this.” or “Things are way better than they used to be.” or “It’s not my problem.”

While this generation may not have caused the problem, we have inherited it and are called to do something about any and all injustice that we encounter.

While things are better than they once were, there are still miles to go until we reach true equality.

And this is all our problem…

It is time to get off the bench and into the game.

It is time to stand up against any and all forms of violence.

It is time to stand in solidarity with the Black community.

It is time to put people first above ideologies.

Choosing to disengage from the reality of violence in our midst is to join the side of the violence…no one is neutral when it comes to events that affect our nation.

Charleston, my heart and prayers are with you. May the grace and peace of God saturate you hearts and community.