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Archive for May, 2014

Values And The Wheel Of LIfe

Recently I began a series on Fridays regarding life management.  You can see the first two installments here and here.  Today we will examine the next step in life management.

After developing a vision and mission for life, one should determine the values they will focus on to guide their life.  For the purposes of this exercise, values are defined as what one determines to be  most important in life.

I have gone through this exercise several times over the past few years.  I have listed up to ten values that are most important to me.  However, I found that the more I listed, the less I was able to actually focus on what I considered important.  I whittled and added, added and whittled, and was never happy with my list.

Some time back I ran across Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life.  You can view a graphic below.

 

WheelOfLife

In the example, you will find the following areas of the Wheel of Life:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Physical
  3. Intellectual
  4. Family
  5. Social
  6. Career
  7. Financial

Once I found this list, I decided to stop trying to recreate the Wheel (pun intended), and tailor what Zig Ziglar and others have used for my own benefit.

I suggest using this framework, but making it personal.  For example, I prefer the word Community to Social, so I made that change in my personal Wheel of Life.  Another possibility is to exchange Calling for Career.  None of this is set in stone.  Make it your own so that it is something that you will use to improve your life.

Another way of looking at these values is to see them as your big rocks, the most important things in your life.  You must pay attention to them.  They won’t just happen.

The next step is to create a value statements for each value.  We will explore that in the next post in the series.

Do you know what values are most important to you in life?  Have you written them down?  If not, what’s stopping you?

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Turkey Legs And Shared Experiences

If you haven’t figured out by now, we went to Disney last week.  Bear with me and eventually the Disney posts will end, but until that happens, you’re kind of stuck with me and them.

Before we headed to Disney, I didn’t really have the best attitude.  I considered it something I was doing for my kids that we had never been able to before, but I was just going to have to tough it out.

My brother-in-law was extremely excited about going to Disney.  He and his family had gone a couple of years ago, then again about six months later and again about a year later.  Before we were ever able to experience Disney, they had gone three times in two years.  They would have gone again with us if it could have been worked out.  That’s how excited he is about Disney.

One of the things he was most excited about was the food.  He gushed over the huge waffles that you could buy at the resort which we were staying.  Then what really got him going were the turkey legs that could be bought at some stands in the various parks.  I just stood there and listened while he raved about them.

When we got to Disney, my buddy, David, texted me to tell me about the turkey legs.  At this point I had visions of thousands of Disney visitors walking around munching on huge turkey legs.

About this time I tweeted something like this:

Turkey legs would probably be ok if you like dark meat. #whitemeatrules

I received a comment or two back and came away with an important lesson.

*****

The next thing I tweeted was this:

Almost all of us will base the experience we think others will have on the experience we had.

My brother-in-law and David both liked the turkey legs the vendors sell at Disney.  They like them so much that they recommended them to us knowing that we would be able to buy them for ourselves.  And that ‘s ok.

The thing is that I like white meat and have never been a dark meat guy.  The thoughts of walking around with a big greasy turkey leg had no appeal for me.  And that’s ok.

What had happened was that they based the experience they thought I would have on their own pleasurable experience.

They were turkey leg evangelists.

*****

There was no effort for these two guys to tell me to eat the turkey legs.  It flowed easily from them.  They wanted me to have that same experience.  That’s how much they care for me.

It often isn’t that easy for us when it comes to our faith.

We enjoy it.  It makes a huge difference in our lives.  We want everyone else to share this same experience.  We want everyone to know Jesus like we do.

But when it comes time to really talk to someone about our faith with people, we clam up.  We find it difficult.  Why?

We’ve been conditioned that we shouldn’t.  We don’t want to offend our friends.  We don’t want to be known as “that guy.”  We don’t want to push them away.

Imagine not telling someone about greasy turkey legs if you really loved them.  How delicious they are.  How scrumptious.  Raving about them months, maybe even years later.

Too often we act like we have drunk a glass of persimmon juice  instead of eating a juicy hunk of turkey.

Folks, let’s wake up. Let’s start sharing our faith like these two shares about turkey legs.  How do we?

First, let’s get first things first.  Let’s focus on Christ.  We’re going to run into a lot of imperfect people in our churches who need us to extend a lot of grace to them.  Let’s begin with Jesus and look at them with His eyes.

Next, realize the Church is the creation of Jesus Christ.  It is His Body and His Bride.  Le’t’s not be guilty of dissing what belongs to Him.  If we fail, confess it and move on.

Love your church.  Love them when they are unlovable.  Love them when they don’t deserve your love.  Love them.

Love everyone else.  Love the ones who don’t bother you too much.  Love those that do.  Love those who offend because of the way you were raised.

What’s left?  Share your faith.  Use words if necessary.

If you do all of this, maybe you will even want to share a turkey leg with someone.  You will have had plenty of other shared experiences.

How do you go about evangelism?  How do you share your faith with others?

What Roller Coasters Have To Do With Everything

If you didn’t know by now, my family and I went to Disney last week.  Walt Disney World, actually.  Not every Disney theme park in the world.  That would be an incredibly difficult feat.

One of the things we did while in Orlando was ride every roller coaster possible in all of the Disney parks.  We began with the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.  We rode the Everest coaster in Animal Kingdom.  In the Magic Kingdom there was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and, of course, Space Mountain.  Not wanting to leave any out, Andrew and I even rode the Barnstormer, a coaster for younger kids.

None of this sounds terribly remarkable except for one thing.

I was raised to fear roller coasters.

*****

Every time we saw a roller coaster when I was a kid, my mom recounted how terrible her experience riding a roller coaster was while in high school.  Not just once.

Every time we saw one.

My dad just said there was no way he would ride one.

The fear of roller coasters grew year after year until I was terrified at the mere sight of one.

*****

When I was about nineteen some buddies and I took a trip to Atlanta.  On Sunday we went to see the Braves and the Mets play.  However, we made an important stop on Saturday.

Six Flags.

With three friends I couldn’t exactly be the only one  who wouldn’t ride the rides.  I put my brave face on and first up was not exactly a coaster.

It was the Freefall.  Up we went, there was a pause and then we fell to earth in about three seconds.

Next came the Mindbender.  It was my first true roller coaster experience.  Since I had never rode one, it makes sense that my first one would be a triple looping one.

And I was hooked.

We rode the Great American Scream Machine, but the lines for every other coaster were too long.

Now, I really don’t care, I’m probably going to try any roller coaster I can get on.

*****

So what does that have to do with everything.

We all have fears.

We may fear heights, tunnels or spiders.  I confess to two of those three.

We may fear shipping our work for others to see and possibly reject.  Perhaps we fear letting people get close enough to know us.

Maybe we fear what letting Jesus have control of our lives would really mean.

What’s the answer?

We need to conquer our fear.

We need to get on the roller coaster and ride.

G. Gordon Liddy went to prison because of his role in the Watergate scandal.  He was also a little bit of a nut.  One thing, though, is that he wasn’t afraid of anything.

As a boy he was afraid of thunderstorms.  What did he do?  He tied himself into a tree during a thunderstorm.

He was afraid of  wharf rats.  He shot one, skinned it, roasted it and ate it.

He conquered his fear of thunderstorms and wharf rats.

These are extreme examples, but they serve their purpose.

We need to find out what we fear and conquer it.

Find out what your roller coaster is.  It may not be too hard.  Get on it and ride.

What are you afraid of?  What will you do to conquer your fear?

The Redemption Of Disney

In 1976, my family took a cross-country trip to California.  We saw many sights on our trip.  The Grand Canyon.  The Petrified Forest.  The Redwood Forest.  San Francisco and Las Vegas.  Others, I suppose, that did not interest a nearly eight year old boy.  However, there was one that was the best of all.

Disneyland.

I loved this part of the trip.  We rode the Matterhorn.  I saw all of the Disney characters and, of course, I got my Mickey Mouse ears.

We left the Happiest Place On Earth and as a kid, I was truly happy.

*****

Flash forward eight years.  Following my sophomore year of high school, we went to Walt Disney World.  I was fifteen and the future was fast approaching.  We took a trip to Florida, spending some time at the beach.  One day, though, was dedicated to head to Orlando.  The other Magic Kingdom was our destination.  With the memories of Disneyland just beneath the surface of my mind, I anticipated this part of the trip most of all.

I was let down.

I honestly have no memory of our trip to Walt Disney World at all.  All I recall is that I was miserable and from that point forward, Disney was a bad word in my vocabulary.

*****

About ten years later, I became a father of a little girl who loved all things Disney.  One day when her babysitter was sick, I stayed home with her.  We watched Winnie the Pooh continuously all day.  I can still sing some of the songs from that movie.

Due to the way life happens, we never made it to Walt Disney World when our children were younger.  Quite often we would discuss going, but things just never worked out for us to be able to go.

Until last week.

We finally went to Walt Disney World last week.  We had been planning the trip for about a year.  Each week my daughter grew more excited.  To be honest, each week, my attitude grew worse.

Deep down, due to the poor memories I had of my previous trip, I had no desire to go back to Walt Disney World.  I dreaded this trip like none that I had ever taken.  I was happy that my children would get to experience it, but inside it felt like a business trip.

During the first couple of days, I was still wound kind of tight.  We arrived on Sunday and visited Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and EPCOT by the end of Monday.  Finally, on Tuesday, I relaxed.

And had fun.

And enjoyed the remainder of the trip.

We began talking about how we would come back one day when we had grandkids.  Who knows, we might even return with our adult children before they have children.  We might even try for a trip to California and hit up Disneyland one day.  We had that much fun.

*****

I sat back and thought about this.  What happened?

I kind of see it like how our walk in faith goes sometimes.

I loved church and the Lord as a kid.  I didn’t particularly like having to dress up to go to Sunday school.  It was the 70’s after all and we had some bad polyester back then.

I would sit in the floor and read my illustrated Bible story book.  I loved going to Sunday school and VBS.  It was a ton of fun and full of great memories, just like Disneyland.

Later on, things changed.  I entered the youth group.  I didn’t really fit in with the youth group.  I went to all of the youth events for a while.  I sung in the youth choir.  I went on the youth trips.

I was miserable.

For the next several years I went to church just to try to earn favor with God.  I heard about grace, but it never clicked with me what that meant.  Until.

One day, I just had enough.  I had been struggling with the entire concept of faith.  I believed in God, but I thought He was so far away that there was no way I could reach Him.

Instead, I found out that He was right there on the other side of the door.  First, He made me see myself for what I was.  Like Paul, He removed the scales from my eyes.

I realized that He was the solution for all the misery I had gone through.  He had done the work for me to earn God’s favor that I was trying to accomplish on my own.

I had been blind and suddenly I could see.  I had been lost and now I was found.

I put my faith in Christ and was redeemed.

*****

Our trip to Disney redeemed my entire concept of the Disney experience.  It’s one that I look forward to taking part of again.

My life was redeemed by the Lord.  He changed my entire concept of what it was to be a Christian.  He changed my entire belief about church and gave me a vision of what it means to be the Church.

Redemption is an awesome thing.

Do you see the themes of redemption in different areas of your life?

5 Suggestions For Observing Memorial Day

Wait…..

What are you doing here today?  It’s Memorial Day.  You’re probably off work today.  You ought to be spending your time doing something else besides looking at blogs.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Stop and remember those that have served and fallen in the service of our country
  • Catch up on some chores and/or projects around your home
  • Grill a burger or dog
  • Pause from your normal routine for something fun
  • Praise the Lord who has blessed you richly

What are your plans for Memorial Day?

What Is Philippians About Anyway?

Once I sat in a small class at a church attempting to learn how to study the Bible.  The folks who were teaching the class used Philippians as the example.

The teachers asked the question, “What is Philippians about?”  There were several answers.  The most common was joy.  After all, Paul discusses joy as much a great deal throughout the letter.  The reply back though was no.  After all these years, I don’t recall getting an answer during the class.  Now that I’m preaching through Philippians in my campground ministry, I believe that I have finally seen what the heart of Philippians really is.

Joy is certainly approaching the answer, but there is something just beyond it.  What is the source of Paul’s joy as he writes from his imprisonment in Rome?  It’s one simply word.

The Gospel.

Paul writes that Now, I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.  No matter what Paul is facing, good or bad, his main concern is the gospel being proclaimed.

We might wonder why Christ or God is not the center of Paul’s thought in Philippians.  The reason is that, for Paul, there is no difference.  If he is talking about God the Father or Christ, then he is discussing the gospel.  And vice versa.  A few years ago I saw a book entitled God Is The Gospel.  Honestly, the title confused me, but I now understand it.  The good news of what Christ did for us on the cross is about God.  The good news is God.  So, for Paul to discuss the Gospel, he is discussing God and Christ.

Paul probably didn’t love being imprisoned.  He was chained to a soldier during his entire stay.  Certainly, it beat a dungeon, but it allowed him no freedom.  On the plus side, he had a captive audience for sharing the Gospel.  He writes So that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.  It’s untold how many soldiers were chained to Paul during his stay.  They heard and observed Paul.  They saw how what he proclaimed consumed his life.  They saw how his words and actions matched.  It spread throughout them and others.  People talk and the gospel progressed.

That’s not the only way the gospel was spread though.  Paul continues and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.  It wasn’t the popular thing during Paul’s time to be a Christian.  Many were afraid of what would happen if they shared their faith.  Paul’s circumstances helped them to trust the Lord for their well being and  be bolder in sharing.  Paul was joyful about this.  He was in jail, but the gospel continued to be proclaimed.

Unfortunately, there seems to have been some who were not unhappy with Paul being in prison.  And this was among believers.  Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will.  Who would be preaching from envy and strife?  Perhaps those who were jealous of Paul.  Maybe they did not appreciate him still being in contact with those churches he founded.  Maybe they put Paul down or even considered themselves better preachers and pastors than Paul.  Fortunately, this was not the case for all.  Some had the right motivation.

What was the right motivation?  Love.  The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.  Paul’s role in the Body of Christ was not to pastor in one location.  His job was to go into areas where there was no gospel ministry and proclaim the gospel.  Once the church was established, he left the pastoring those who filled that call.  He still had a love for those churches and loved that love drove their preaching the gospel.

We see a clearer picture of those who preach from envy in strife as Paul continues.  The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.    Some, it seemed, preached the gospel for their own benefit, rather than the benefit of others.  We continue to get a clearer picture of what the envy and strife caused.  They sought for him to be distressed.  However, this did not work.

What then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.  Whether or not Paul was free or imprisoned, the Gospel was proclaimed not matter what the motivation was.

So what for us?  Too often we are wrapped up in our own issues and circumstances.  This is what we depend on for our joy and our happiness.  Instead, we should be focused on the gospel, whether our circumstances are good or bad.

Decoration Day

It’s Memorial Day weekend.  This weekend we celebrate those who have passed away who served in the military.

It began as a day called Decoration Day.  Decoration Day is still observed in the South, though it may be elsewhere as well.  In the area I live in, it is simply called Decoration and graves are decorated regardless of military affiliation.

Decoration Day can be somewhat of a family reunion as family members gather in the cemeteries that hold generations of family members gone by.  I have jokingly said that it wouldn’t surprise me to see a host of tailgaters at certain cemeteries.

I’ll be honest and say that while I understand why families practice this ritual, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I know it’s tradition and it’s a way for some to hold on to the memories of those who went before them.  However, it is with some bemusement that I see people put flowers on dead people’s graves when they rarely, if ever, gave them flowers while alive.

What saddens me in this entire process is that many of the people putting flowers on the graves are as dead as those lying in the graves.  Too many of those who are bringing flowers do not know Christ.  I don’t know any of the people well enough to tell you who they might be.  I’m just playing the percentages.

Basically, though, the cemeteries at Decoration Day remind me of what Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23.  He said that the tombs were beautiful on the outside, whitewashed, but full of dead bones on the inside.

Decoration Day is a nice sentiment.  It is important to many people.  However, when it comes down to it, if someone isn’t following Christ, their lives are just like those cemeteries.  Beautiful to see, but full of dead bones.

That is what any of our lives are like if we don’t repent and come to know Christ.

I plea with you today.  If you don’t know Christ, if He hasn’t renewed your heart, if He hasn’t make you a new creature, if He hasn’t made you alive, repent and come to know Christ today.