Sep 13 2013

What's the Big Deal in Making a Difference?

Well I am really glad that you asked, because making a difference for others is a really big deal to Dad, and by Dad, I am mean God, our heavenly father. Like any good parent, God has expectations for us, He has things that He wants us to do; expects us to do.  Our moms and dads, had expectations for us growing up, and we, as parents, have expectations for our own kids, why shouldn’t we expect God to have expectations of us, His children.

Living in our culture requires us to stand guard against “selfishness," one of the very things we caution our own children against.  If we are honest, it’s perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face. As Christians, there is no denying that Jesus’ life is the groundwork, the model, for how we are called to live our lives, a life that required the greatest of sacrifices. That is not a word that we like to hear, by it’s very meaning ‘sacrifice’ is a tough pill to swallow, it requires you to give something up, something you value. 

In fact, the Apostle Paul says it this way, in Romans 12:1, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him." He says we must examine what God has done for us (at the Cross), and then live our life in the same way, as “living sacrifices." Then Paul goes on to say, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” 

Ha! Doesn’t that sound like something Dad would say? His call for us to live a certain way, is the same thing that we want for our own children, a life that is ‘better.' God’s call to service and sacrifice “brings out the BEST in you," it “keeps the culture around you from dragging you down." The words Paul wrote, although written two thousand years ago, are timeless. God wants us to live a life that “Makes A Difference," in doing so, not only are you honoring Him, you are pointing others to His great love and grace.

So instead of seeing serving and sacrifice as a burden, see it as an opportunity to make Dad proud; a chance to be a part of His work kingdom on the Earth. It doesn’t mean you have to change the world, you just have to change the world for one person. Mother Theresa said it this way, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.”

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well," those are the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and at the end of our days, is there anything more glorious that standing face to face with Jesus, and having Him say, “Well done! Good and faithful servant.”

Find out how you can Make a Difference and join us next week in Nashville, TN! And here are some other ways you can help out in your local community:

http://www.allforgood.org

http://www.voa.org

http://www.volunteermatch.org

http://www.christianvolunteering.org

http://www.serve.gov

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/PublicService.shtml#Volunteer_Your_Time 

 

Sep 12 2013

Constructive Criticism

If you ever had to critique someone, it can be really difficult. Finding the right words is hard, especially when it comes to someone you care about. I read a really great article recently about how to deliver criticism in a way that's going to mean the most to the person on the receiving end.


Here are some helpful guidelines:

1. Understand why you're giving the criticism in the first place

2. Always put yourself in the other person's shoes

3. Make sure to direct your criticism to the present not the past

4. Remember, and most importantly, criticize the deed not the person

 

"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help” – Abraham Lincoln

Sep 11 2013

We Must Never Forget

One definition of the word ‘forget’ is “to treat with inattention or disregard," and that is simply something we can NEVER do on this day, September 11th.

I remember hearing my mom and dad talk about the assassination of JFK, they would recite in vivid detail where they were, how they felt and what they were doing when they heard about what had happened that terrible day in Dallas. As we have grown up, we have our own memories associated with historic events, but I would venture to say, none more memorable than what happened on this day in 2001. The events of 9/11 are events that we would certainly like to forget, but we must never forget. 

As a nation, we must never forget the nearly 3,000 sons, daughters, moms, dads, brothers and sisters that were lost that day. We must never forget the families that they left behind; this week I was reminded of just how important that is after getting a call from Maddie; she called to ask for prayer because she was having an especially tough time, Maddie lost her dad in the Twin Towers on 9/11, she was only a year old at the time, and she said every year this day is really hard for her. 

We must never forget the thousands of men and women who have sacrificed since, in the armed forces, to prevent another day like this from ever happening again. 

And we must never forget how the ‘American spirit’ shone through the tangled mess of concrete and steel in New York City, Washington D.C., and in a lonely field in Shankesville, PA. The tragedy that attempted to rip us apart was the very thing that brought us together.  

After the attacks on 9/11, we were all challenged by the sacrifice of men and women who instead of running from the Twin Towers, ran in to save others, there were heroes who stayed behind in the Pentagon so that others could flee to safety, and on flight 93, passengers refused to let terror win by storming the cockpit and crashing the plane into a Pennsylvania field.   

Their heroic acts must never be forgotten, in fact, they should fuel us to look for ways that we can serve one another, just as they did immediately following the attacks on 9/11, 12 years ago. Today is Patriot Day, a day of service and remembrance, a day that we are encouraged to serve one another. 

We cannot treat the call to ‘serve others’ with “inattention and disregard," for in doing so, we fail to honor the code by which Christ calls us to live by.  As Christians, we are called to live this way every day, because in doing so we honor Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice to save us. 

In living our lives to ‘serve others,' we live in a way that never forgets what Christ did for us, that we could not do for ourselves.