Sep 16 2013

There Is No Room for Racism

It seems like a glaringly obvious statement, yet we still see racism raring it’s ugly head in America all too frequently. Again last night, after winning the Miss America title, Miss New York Nina Davuluri, was the victim of racism’s ugliness.

Nina is the first Miss America of Indian decent, who like her father, aspires to be a doctor. Sadly, immediately after her crowing, social media exploded with racist and hateful comments, even going as far as calling her a terrorist. 

Rather than celebrating, the newly crowned Miss America was forced to defend herself, saying that she would “rise above the comments." and that she considers herself, “first and foremost, American”. 

Racism’s ugly past must be the catalyst for us to continue to strive for change. Over the weekend, in Birmingham, AL., U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was brought to tears while reflecting on the murder of four young girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church that was bombed 50 years ago, that bombing helped launch the civil rights movement. Mr. Holder said, “hate must be confronted and defeated," and Alabama Gov. Robert Bently said that although his state “bears the ugly scars of a turbulent past," he declared, “Today, we choose to look past those ugly scars.”

The church’s pastor, Arthur Price, said the way that we do that is “love our enemies, and practice a love that forgives.” We, as Christians, must lead this charge to ‘confront and defeat racism.'  The words in the Bible’s book of Esther, must be something that we grab hold of, we must realize that, like Esther, “we are here for such a time as this." 

Abolitionist and author, William Wiberforce, in his book “Real Christianity," perhaps said it best, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

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