Total Pageviews

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rob Bell on the church

Let me give you a thought from Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis):

The church does not exist for itself; it exists to serve the world. It is not ultimately about the church; it’s about all the people God wants to bless through the church. When the church loses sight of this, it loses its heart.

This is especially true today in the world we live in where so many people are hostile to the church, many for good reason. We reclaim the church as a blessing machine not only because that is what Jesus intended from the beginning but also because serving people is the only way their perceptions of church are ever going to change.

This is why it is so toxic for the gospel when Christians picket and boycott and complain about how bad the world is. This behavior doesn’t help. It makes it worse. It isn’t the kind of voice Jesus wants his followers to have in this world. Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Staying in tune with the Holy Spirit

I was sent a powerful quote last week by R.T. Kendall, former pastor of Westminster Chapel in London.

He writes this in his book, "The anointing," and I quote: "The greatest opposition to what God is doing today comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God was doing yesterday."


Is that correct...and why?

I would say, yes, it's been my experince that many times those who stand in direction opposition to what God is doing today, were on the cutting edge of what God was doing yesterday.

It's ironic that those who stood strong in the face of opposition to the way God moved in the past are the very ones who dig in their heels to how God is moving in the present.

But why?

Wow...what do you think?

Is it because the memories of God's moving in a certain way are so precious to us that we long to keep those memories alive?

Is it because in the midst of God's moving in our lives in the past, it sparked a very natural human emotional response and we long for that same kind of response?

I know that music is powerful. I can hear a song on the radio, and most of the time give you a story about a time when that song was very meaningful in my life.

Some tunes bring back great memories of when Debbie and I first dated.

Some tunes bring back memories of high school.

Well, you get the idea.

And some Christian tunes bring back memories of a time when God worked in my life in the past.

So, is there a possiblity that we begin to rely, not on what God is doing in our lives in the present, but on the emotional memories that we have of what God did in the past, and the songs that bring that to mind?

My prayer is that I will continually, until the day I physically die, be open to what God desires to do in my life and in the lives of those around me in the present.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

are you being tested - part quatre

Well, I trust that this week on the subject of testing has shown us all that the trials we go through are for a purpose.

God tests us to succeed. Satan tempts us to fail.

Again, David writes, "Test me, O Lord...examine my heart and my mind." Psalms 26:2

Let's look at three other tests that God uses to develop us.

There's the test of small things - when we are asked to do something that is "beneath" our ability and potential.

It shows what kind of a servants heart we have. Jesus said in Mark 10:45, "for the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

He also said, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much." (Luke 16:10)

One of the frustrating things I deal with is the idea that comes from time to time to faithful, godly people in the kingdom. They feel God leading them to "go into the ministry."

First of all, they ARE in the ministry. Everyone is a minister. But secondly, if it is really God calling us into some kind of full-time ministry, he watches to see how faithful we are right now with the ministry we have.

That leads us to another test - the motive test.

It's the test that examines our hearts to see if we are doing the right things, for the right reasons.

For instance, it's good to pray.

It's right.

Yet Jesus warns, "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites, for they be seen by men."

What's frustrating is that sometimes WE don't even know why we do certain things. That's why we need the mirror of God's Word.

When you and I stand before Christ to be evaluated and rewarded, the question will not just be WHAT did you do, but WHY did you do it?

Why are you doing what you do?

Great question.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

are you being tested - part trois

Let's take a look at some more tests:

There is the wilderness test.

Have you ever felt spiritually dry with a low joy level in your walk with God?

Perhaps you are not even thinking about it....why not sit back this evening and ask yourself - did I feel God's presence today? Did I hear God speak to me?

The wilderness test reveals our ability (or lack thereof) to handle adversity and change, and as a result we enter into a new level of growth and spirituality.

The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 8:15,16, "He led you through the vast and dreadful you so that in the end it might go well with you."


There is the authority test.

Oh, my, but this is a hard one.

Before Paul took the Gospel to the Gentiles he first went to Jerusalem and submitted his plan to the apostles, asking for their blessing with a "Nobody is going to tell me what to do" attitude.

God placed David under a flawed leader called Saul.

It's not very healthy when your boss wants to kill you - to take you out.

But here's the principle:

You can learn as much from the mistakes of a failure as you can from the achievements of a success.

Only someone who can follow can be a truly great leader.

Do you chafe under the leadership of your boss today? Realize that the person is in your life for a purpose, and that you will learn far more about leadership and about yourself from them than you will from anybody else.

That's hard, because many times, our boss is someone who either worked with us or for us in the past. I have found that people tend to take on the personality of their position. Someone who was once a friend and confidant can become a personal relational challenge because of their new role and their response to that role.

Yet, again, God has the person in our lives for a purpose.

Tough medicine I know...sometimes the cure can be harder than the disease....but healthy and necessary.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

are you being tested - part deux

Test come into our lives in different ways and forms. I don't like it when the come, but they do.

One of the tests that we struggle with in the kingdom is the "offense test." Jesus said, "Offenses will come."

We must be prepared, daily, to recognize that at work, at home, at school, wherever we may be, offenses will come.

So what is your tendency when an offense comes - when you are "offended?"

Do you get mad and hold it in and become bound by the person and their offense toward you? Do you let their bondage become your bondage?

Do you try to get even and make the situation worse?

Or do you get over it by practicing forgiveness?

Jesus said, "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

Then there is the warfare test.

This test is for those who say that they are strong in the faith, but struggle when temptations and trials come their way.

The Bible tells us in Exodus 13:17, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God didn't lead them on the road through the Philistine coutnry, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."

If God has called you to a goal, a mission in life (and He has), it's worth fighting for! So, toughen up!

It's a battlefield, not a bed of roses.

All of us must engage the enemy each day using every spiritual weapon we have.

Satan is out to steal every God-given blessing you have:

Your identity, testimony, integrity, family, calling and your future.

This test demonstrates your ability to continue in your vision even while you're experincing disappointment and opposition.

So remember this:


Monday, October 23, 2006

Are you being tested?

David writes in Psalms 26:2, "Test me, O Lord...examine my heart and mind."

Do you like a test? Most of us don't.

Test show what we have learned in life. Test show what we know and what we don't know. They are opportunities to express our maturity and our potentional.

Here are some things I'm learning about tests:

1. During different seasons of my life tests come - as I grow in God.

2. Our goal, when the tests come is to pass them, otherwise God will allow circumstances to come into our lives that will have us keep on taking THE SAME TEST until we pass it.

3. A test passed brings great reward. It shows that you and I are ready to receive God's blessing. It shows that we are ready and able to handle God's promotions.

4. I must always wait upon divine promotion rather than self-promotion. I can't rush ahead of God - many times I must WAIT and for God to open the door.

5. We can be used until we have been tested.

6. God tests us to succeed, Satan tempts us to fail.

The tests that God allows (or sends in our lives depending upon your theology) are there to help us reach the full potential that he has for us. God's not some hard-hearted parent who enjoys seeing us suffer through the trials of life. But for us to be used greatly, we must be ready for what lies ahead.

Most of God's tests are about our character.

Is God testing you today? Know that there is a purpose. More on this tomorrow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Radical Islam's war against the west

I just watched a one hour movie documentary called, "obsession, Radical Islam's war against the west."

It's powerful. (You can find it at

The basic themes are:

Islam is out to control the world.

Radical Islam is out to control the world through jihad.

There is a distinct comparison between the fascism of Nazi Germany and radical Islamic beliefs.

We must not react in the same way that Prime Minister Chamberlain (England) did in World War II by ignoring the reality of the fight.

It is a clash between two civilizations and cultures. It is a clash between good versus evil in the sense that the radical element of Islam is against Christianity. It desires to destroy the Christian faith through acts of terrorism and fear.

While our role as followers of Christ is to share God's love with Muslims on an individual basis, we must also participate at the same time in being aware of the fact that Muslim extremists are out to terrorize and control the world through violence and fear. We must not be naive.

All of this, I believe, is leading us into the last years of the end times. How much more can our globe take? The world is ripe for one man, one leader, to stand up and say, "this is the way we should go!"

No one seems to have the answers. Everyone is looking for solutions.

Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Believing prayer for a friend

When a believing person prays, great things happen.

In Mark 2:3-5, it states, "Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head...They lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, My child, your sins are forgiven."

The word "prayer" doesn't show up once in this story. But if you look closely you will see it in action; four men lowering their sick friends through the roof into the presence of Jesus.

What does Jesus do? He stops preaching, looks at the man and then announces, "Your sins are forgiven."


What moved Jesus?

Mark says, "seeing their faith."

The faith of 4 friends is the trigger that releases God's power.

The man has no movement, not treatment, no answers, and no hope.

All he had were friends who took the time to bring their friends into the presence of Jesus.

The paralytic might be gulping - "don't drop me"!

The homeowner might be groaning - "who put a hole in my roof"?

But Jesus - he's smiling!

Their faith stirs his spiritual power.

Jesus heals the man.

The man leaves whole in body and soul.

When a believing person prays, great things happen.

Do you have a friend in need?

Faithful friends carry those they love in prayer, into God's presence.

And when they do God responds.



The four guys didn't know. And we don't know either, but we know this.

When a believing person prays, great things happen."

So be that kind of friend today. Bring them to Jesus in prayer.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dealing with storms

I don’t like storms. Trials. Problems. None of us do.

Yet each day we are faced with circumstances that are beyond us. Jesus said that “each day has enough trouble of its own.”

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they get into a boat and set out. Jesus fell asleep. A storm came. The storm was so ferocious that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

Even though the disciples were experienced fishermen, they were scared.

Mark’s version of this story says that the disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Master, don’t you care if we drown?”

Jesus gets up, rebukes the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsides and all is calm. He turns around to the men and says, “Where is your faith?”

Are you going through a storm today? Know this:

Sometimes Jesus leads us into a storm. It was Jesus who said, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” Problems and trials are allowed in our lives to help us to grow, to teach us to depend upon God and to help us keep God central in our lives.

Jesus does care about what you are going through. While it may seem like the Master is asleep and that God doesn’t care – he does. He’s very aware of what you are going through today.

A retired United Methodist pastor by the name of Jones lived through Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

His daughter had been begging him to drive to Atlanta and stay with her in the storm's aftermath. There was only one problem: He didn't have any money. He had money in the bank, but it wasn't open. They were penniless. He couldn't get to Atlanta. He had no place to go.

When the hurricane came, he and his wife left their home and went to a shelter. After the storm had passed, they were allowed back into the city to grab a few belongings. When they entered the house, the water was still knee high, but Pastor Jones was determined to see what he could salvage.

As he went into his flooded house, he saw several framed family photos floating in the water. He really didn't see anything else to save, so he grabbed the pictures and left. Back at the shelter, he took the photos out of their frames so they could dry out. When he removed his father's picture, money fell out of the frame. He couldn't believe his find as he counted out $366. Even more astounding was the fact that his father had died in 1942.

Pastor Jones was only 12 years old at the time. He had no idea that the money was in the frame. He doesn't know how it got there or when it was put there, but it was enough to pay for him and his wife to make their way to Atlanta.

Jesus can calm your storm. Come to him today. Trust in Him. Depend upon Him. Relax in His presence. God is in control.

Devotional prayer: Father, today I give you my trials and problems. They are overwhelming, but I trust in you. Help me to know that you are in control. Amen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Being negative on the negative of the political system

It's the time of year where the country if focused on the 2006 elections that are taking place.

The democratic system of government has proven itself to be the most excellent way of governing peoples and nations since the beginning of mankind.

As with anything, however, there are positives and negatives.

The negative, if you will permit me, is the constant negative campaigning that takes place on a regular basis now.

I hear grown men and women point fingers like children on a playground. "It was him," "no, it was you!" "Did not." "Did so." "He did it." "No, she did it."

I know that you know, or I think that you know, that if you look at anyone's life, and I mean anyone's life you can find flaws and inconsistencies.

Every politician pretends to take the high road.

And yet, where does the fault actually lie?

Would these men and women keep on acting like spoiled children if we didn't pay attention to it?

Maybe we should all take the elections off. Boycott them all and let each politician wrestle the other politician in a pit of mud.

That way, they would go beyond the metaphor of "mudslinging," and actually duke it out in the mud itself.

Just a thought.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Life is short

Corey Lidle died yesterday in a small plane crash in Manhattan. He was 34 years old with a wonderful wife and child. A professional baseball player. I understand him to be a great person.

Life is short.

Psalm 90 tells us:

From Everlasting to Everlasting
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

1Lord, you have been our dwelling place[a]
in all generations.

2Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3You return man to dust
and say, "Return, O children of man!"[b]

4For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

5You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:

6in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

7For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.

8You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

9For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.

10The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span[c] is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?

12So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.

13Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!

14Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

15Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.

16Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.

17Let the favor[d] of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

The psalmist writes that life is short:

Like yesterday when it passes by (verse 4)
As a watch in the night (verse 4)
like sprouts and withers (verses 5,6)
Like a sigh (verse 9)
Soon it is gone (verse 10)

Life is short but life is also uncertain. We just don't know do we.

A single adjective could precede almost every event in our future:


Life is uncertain.

Life is challenging

Because it's short and uncertain we are faced on a daily basis with making adjustments and keeping our perspective whole and eternal.

Rather than these thoughts being negative, I look upon them as positive, for they help us keep everything in perspective.

What is your perspective today? Are your mired in the present and the temporary? Or do you every now and again lift up your head and look around and see that in the whole scheme of things it's not quite as important as we think it is?

Don't sweat the small stuff and everything is small stuff!

Live in the present with gusto, knowing that life is short, uncertain and challenging.

Just some thoughts for a snowy day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Remembering names

Are you good at remembering names?

Sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not. I'm not so good at remembering someone's name if I haven't seen them in a while and I see them out of the context I normally saw them in.

I really admire people like Charles Schwab who knew the names of all 8,000 of his employees at Homestead Mill...Or Charles W. Eliot who, during his forty years as president of Harvard, earned the reputation of knowing all the students by name each year.

I grew up as a youngster with a pastor by the name of Philip Wannamacher. Having moved in and out of Springfield, Missouri 5 different times in my younger days, Pastor Wannamacher saw me at different stages of my life.

He saw me as a boy.
He saw me as a teenager.
He saw me as a college student.
He saw me as a seminary student.
He saw me as a missionary, based in Springfield.

Each time that we met over the years, he would always say, "hey, George, how are you doing?" Each time that he saw me I had changed in some way.

He had a gift for remembering names.

Most of us don't have that gift...And if you do...Rejoice!

I've recently read that the time to remember someone's name is the very brief period of time when we stand face to face with them.

When we meet someone, we are to remind ourselves of two things:

1. The person is important
2. God has arranged your meeting for some purpose.

Some tips on remembering names.

1. Impressions. Allow the name to make an impression on your memory bank.

Repeat the persons name while you are talking to them. If necessary, spell it to the person, asking if that is the correct spelling. Get the exact pronunciation.

2. Association. Think of an association you can link with the name. Visualize the name and think of something that sounds like it or rhymes with it. For instance, John Lincoln (He is tall like president Lincoln)." Marlene Moody (she is sad-looking..moody").

3. Repetition. As you talk with the person, use their name frequently in the conversation. You might introduce the individual to others in the group, and again distinctly repeat the name.

Of course, what's really cool is that God remembers my name. When we are ushered into heaven, we will be given new names....A new name written down in glory!

By the way, what's your name again?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Trusting in God

I like to play basketball, watch football on T.V. and watch baseball in person.

Like all sports, there are many analogies that we can apply to our Christian lives. All of life, H.I. Ironside once said, illustrates Biblical truth.

The recent AL Divisional playoffs come to mind.

According to the experts, the Yankees were supposed to win the series. In fact, according to the experts, the Yankees were supposed to win it all this year.

Think of all they had going for them: They had the best record this season; they won 97 games. They had the largest payroll in the history of baseball; the average player salary is $10 million a year. And they have the best players in baseball; this year 9 Yankees — virtually their entire lineup — made the all star team.

The Detroit Tigers, on the other hand, were just three years past setting the AL record for most losses in a season; many of the players on the current roster were on that team. It’s an inexperienced club; 18 Tigers had never seen postseason play. This was supposed to be a building year for coach Jim Leyland. They didn’t expect to make it this far.

There's no telling how much further the Tigers will go. As for the Yankees, it's clear that their oversized payroll and impressive roster didn’t take them where their owner, George Steinbrenner, thought it would. Some things can never take the place of the will to win.

In the same way, too often we put our trust in the wrong assets. We expect money to bring us peace of mind, relationships to bring us happiness, possessions to bring us satisfaction. It never works, at least not for long.

In the ministry, we sometimes expect a better property to attract new people, or better PA equipment to make the worship more dynamic, or a power point presentation to improve the preaching. These things are all good — we should use them when we can — but they’ll never take the place of power of God.

David said, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7)

What are the chariots and horses in your life? What things do you look to for fulfillment instead of looking to God?

This week, every time you catch yourself lamenting your lack of money, your lack of personnel, your lack of resources — remember David's words. And remember the New York Yankees. You already have the asset you most need in order to do the work God has called you to do: you have his power on your side.

Wallace Johnson, founder of the Holiday Inn, said: "I am totally dependent on God for help in everything I do. Otherwise I honestly believe I would start to fall apart in months."

This is where every Christian, and certainly every minister, needs to be: fully dependent on the power and the provision of God to get through every challenge and meet every opportunity.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Have you listened to the news or to talk radio lately? I tend to be a news junkie like a lot of people, but it's getting crazy out there.

The one thing I've noticed is that people are getting really heavy handed when it comes to labeling others.

THEY are Republicans. THEY are democrats. THEY are conservatives. THEY are liberals.

And it always helps that when people speak of THEY, they speak with authority, sounding pious and being very dogmatic.

Yet do we not do the same thing in the kingdom?

There are temperament labels. She's a choleric...Married to a melancholic!

There are emotional labels. "Well, you know her, she's the nervous type." or, "He's a classic neurotic, a perfectionist to the core."

And then there are doctrinal labels. I always cringe when someone calls me a fundamentalist (especially when they don't know what it means).

Or even Pentecostal. It's so limiting.

"Well, I am a pretribulational, rapture believing, premilllenialist, dispensationalist." Well, whoopty-do.

Sticking a label on something saves time and can sometimes give a fairly clear mental pictures. Yet the main danger in giving labels is that it limits the perception of someone to one area of their lives.

We are far more complex than that. And we are growing. Outside of my strong beliefs in the basics of the gospel, some of my views have changed over the years.

I think you will agree with me that we are not the same today as we were even last week. And that is as it should be.

So don't label me. And Holy Spirit, help me to not label others.

Being alert and discerning, basing our opinions on the absolute truth is a sign of maturity.....But pasting labels on people and churches and schools with only partials facts, feelings, and opinions to back those statements up is worse than unfair...It's un-Christian.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

How does God's timelessness affect prayer?

I read something today in a new book by Philip Yancey on prayer. It stopped me instantly while I was reading. I am still chewing on the concept.

God is timeless. He is beyond time. We experience time in sequence. There is a beginning a middle and an end. With God there is no sequential time. He is timeless.

Yancey writes this...Chew on this and let me know what you think.

"How does God's timelessness affect prayer? C.S. Lewis decided it altogether reasonable to pray at noon for a medical consultation that might have been conducted at ten o'clock as long as we do not know the final result before we pray. "The event certainly has been decided - in a sense it was decided 'before all worlds.' But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are not offering." Lewis notes such a notion would be less shocking to modern scientists than to nonscientists."

The implication of this to me are astounding. If I am understanding Lewis right, I can pray for something that has already taken place, and see God's hand move as long as I don't know the answer to my prayer in the present.

Any thoughts?

Solving problems part 2

We all have problems.

Next to the Law of Gravity, one of the most inescapable universal truths is undoubtedly Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will -- and at the worst possible moment."

A wide-ranging set of principles and corollaries have sprung up that make Murphy look like an optimist. When the Murphologists began looking at the church, here were some of their observations:

The year's lowest attendance occurs when the district superintendent makes a surprise visit.

Members living 15 miles away will be 15 minutes early; members living two blocks away will be 15 minutes late.

Film projectors work only before the service begins (we might update that with power point presentations).

When all five points of the sermon begin with the same letter, people don't even remember the letter.

Saying "Let us pray" or singing "Just As I Am" causes babies to cry.

When you're right, nobody remembers; when you're wrong, nobody forgets.

The previous pastor is to blame for everything wrong in the church -- until his successor leaves.

Nothing is so bad that it can't be made worse by changing pastors.

The shorter the agenda the longer the meeting.

No matter how many show up for choir practice, you need one more copy of the music.

Arguments for tabling a motion are always better than those for taking a vote.

Church furnaces and air conditioners rest on Sunday.

Absent choir members all sing the same part.

Concern for needy people increases with distance.

Car problems, overtime traffic, and sick headaches increase on visitation night.

Door-to-door visitation is most enjoyed when no one is home.

None of us really care to face our problems. To do so might mean confrontation, exposing some weakness in ourselves or others, time and even sacrifice.

Yet problems are to be faced - head on.

The longer we delay facing a problem, the bigger it will get.

Some people try to flee problems.

Others try to forget about them.

Others still try to fight them. They resist, but the problems still persist.

And finally some face them. They look at the problem realistically.

Another suggestion is to evaluate the problem.

Some problems can be solved instantly. Others take time. To discern the timing of the solution comes from experience (success/failure) and prayer.

We can embrace obstacles as opportunities.

They can be wakeup calls for creativity.

One idea that is helpful to me is to think of people who have bigger problems. For every problem that I have - there is always somebody with a bigger problem.

When a friend gets cancer or loses a loved one, then we are reminded of how petty our issues are.

Seek counsel from a friend (mentors, coaches).
Write down possible solutions.
Determine the best three ways to solve the problem. There is generally more than one way to solve the problem.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

I'm continually encouraged by the Holy Spirit's work in our lives when we take a problem to him in prayer.

Come Holy Spirit, we need you!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Solving problems

Yesterday was one of those days that started out with problems, continued with problems and ended with problems. Yet the positive side of it was that it began with a dark and gloomy forecast and ended with partly sunny skies (that a metaphor there gang).

One of my strengths is that I focus on a problem until it is solved. That can be a weakness as well if it takes your mind off other tasks that need to be tended to.

What are some ways to handle problems?

1. Define - what is a problem?

Let me give you a quote to chew on today. "A problem is something you can do something about. If you can't do something about it, then it's not a problem. It's a predicament."

A predicament is something that must be coped with, endured.

To quote John Maxwell, "when people treat a predicament as a problem, they can become frustrated, angry or depressed. They waste energy. They make bad decisions. And when people treat problems as predicaments, they often settle, give up, or see themselves as victims."

Then he goes on to give this illustration:

"If you are married, chances are that if you are a morning person, your spouse is a night person (or vice versa). That is a predicament. You can't change that. You can't change the way people are wired internally. If you try to, you and your spouse will experience lots of conflict, and there will be no resolution. However, your difficulty in findings ways to spend time together because of your different bents is a problem, and it CAN be solved."

2. Anticipate problems.

We really shouldn't be surprised when problems arise. We should be surprised when everything goes well.

Years ago Doc Dobbins told me this, "expect people to act in the flesh. When they act in a spiritual, godly manner, rejoice!"

A problem not anticipated is a problem. A problem anticipated is an opportunity.

Anticipating a problem is not negativity - it is being realistic - and there is a big, big difference.

I really struggle with this second point. But I am learning.

More tomorrow....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


There are a few things in life that are certain. One of them is that we will have problems. They are unavoidable. Certain. They will come.

Problems are everywhere, and everybody has some.

If you are breathing you will have problems.

We can't make it through a day without problems.

Yet, here is what I am learning. Our perspective on the problem, not the problem itself, usually determines our success or failure.

I love the story of a man who stopped to watch a Little League baseball game. He asked one of the youngsters what the score was. "We're losing 18-0," was the answer.

"Well," said the man. "I must say you don't look discouraged."

"Discouraged?" the boy said, puzzled. "Why should we be discouraged? We haven't come to bat yet."

Sometimes we become so involved with a situation that it not only threatens to consume us (we obsess over it) but we become to close to the problem to understand it.

I like that.

Problems are not unsolvable, permanent and normal. Problems are solvable, temporary and a normal part of life.

Instead of problems making us bitter, controlling us or stopping us, problems can make us better, challenge us and stretch us.

And...In an ironic kind of way, problems, if handled correctly, can leave us better than we were before. They shape us and mold us into stronger, better, more effective people.