November, 2011

Nov 11

Being Responsible

Responsibility is a funny thing. It’s one of those things that we laud, but sometimes we use it as a coverup for deeper problems.

Imagine: Your coworker is assigned to clean the restrooms at work. He doesn’t. You “assume responsibility” and clean it for him.

You seem like such a team player. In reality, your “responsibility” is masking his irresponsibility. You’ve just become an enabler for his poor choices.

Imagine: You are burning out because you’re stuck in a role that is extremely difficult for you to fill, a load that’s bigger and more difficult than you were ever intended or created to fill. But you are a “responsible person” so you stick it out with Herculean effort.

You seem like such a disciplined person. In reality, your “responsibility” is preventing you from taking care of your own body, investing in your family or friends, and being everything you could be to your team.

Sometimes we define “responsibility” as a “sense of guilt” or “obligation”. We feel a sense of guilt, then follow we through with a certain action in the name of responsibility.

I’m learning to redefine “responsibility”. Responsibility is not guilt but accountability.

As ridiculous as this may sound, I’ve often carried guilt for other people’s poor decisions. After all, is it not “responsible” to care for other people? The truth, however, is that your parents were responsible to raise you, and you are responsible to live your life. Your parents are accountable for how they raised you. You are accountable for how you live your life.

For you leaders, one day you will need to give an account for the souls of those you lead. Because you are accountable, they are also your responsibility.

Meanwhile, I will not give account for everyone else’s actions, decisions, or mistakes. I will give account for how I live my life and how I respond to God’s call and commands. That’s my responsibility.

Go forth in responsible accountability, not in irresponsible guilt. 🙂

Nov 11

Growing Up Too Fast: Introduction

Have you ever thought about what it means to grow up too fast?

Have you heard stories of young children who are forced into difficult physical labor before their bodies are developed? Although I am no medical expert, I am certain this can cause a lifetime of physical ailments, and I can easily imagine it resulting in damaged backs.

Have you heard stories of young children who are required to nurture and care for their (much younger) siblings? Because of situations beyond their own control, they’re given too much responsibility too soon. Sadly, it can leave a deep scar on their lives.

Though these responsibilities are legitimate parts of a human experience, they’re damaging when they come too soon in life. These children lose the benefit of a truly healthy, joy-filled childhood.

Here’s what it means for me.

I just realized last week that it’s possible even for grownups to grow up too fast. More surprising, I found not only that it was possible, but that I was doing that to myself.

Sometimes we force ourselves to grow up too fast in life. We want to move on to the next thing. We want our driver’s license. We want to get out of school. We want to start our first job. We want to fall in love, get married, raise a family, start a business someday, retire eventually, and enjoy our grandchildren. In our haste to reach the next step, we don’t fully develop ourselves to gain the strength that we need for the next step. Even worse, we miss the wonder and joy each “childhood” season of our lives.

You may find yourself stretching for the next “big thing”. Anticipate it, but always remember–your growth in this season will be the strength that will sustain you in your next. Don’t miss what this season of life offers for you, because it can never be regained!

Live where God has you, soak up the wonder of being a child, and look forward to where He will lead you!

Nov 11

Output Is Input

Last week I was reminded of Jesus’ words, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.” I’ve mentioned this verse in previous posts, but I keep returning to it. I’ve been pondering a new aspect of it. Simply put:

  1. Food implies input.
  2. Doing God’s will implies output.
  3. In other words, output is input.

Did you know that lack of activity can be the cause of fatigue?

I’ve been finding myself in that place in my personal life, where I cannot stomach another sermon, another book, or even another truth. I have these ideas swelling within me, and they are begging to be set free. Until I set them free, they eat at my insides like intestinal worms, stealing my appetite and robbing the nutrition of those things I do eat.

Deep within you, you have a compulsion for certain things. If you’re sensitive to those desires, you’ll find ways to express them. But if not, you will suppress them. These are things that God has placed within you to share with the world, and you will not be satisfied or fulfilled until you share them. You may actually find yourself getting tired simply because you’re not using them.

In fact, I believe a doing churches are hungry churches. The ones who can take the God’s truths and live them out are the ones who desire more of God’s truth. The ones who empower people to use their gifts and walk in their call are the ones whose people are pounding the gates of heaven for more of God. Sadly, I believe the opposite is also true. I believe the ones who hear God’s Word but don’t respond are the very ones who become full satisfied. I believe many of the dissatisfied people in the church are those who feel like they are making no significant contribution.

Jesus did not say that His food is to do good works, although Jesus definitely went about doing good works. Jesus said that His food is doing the will of the One who sent Him.

What is it that God has called you to? Where have you deviated from that call? How can you find your way back onto that path?

Soli Deo gloria.

Nov 11


What do you think of when you think about risk? None of us can see the future. Does that uncertainty strike fear in you?

I was recently telling my story to another young man, and he marveled at the risk I took to leave software development and embark on another journey. While he marveled at me, I marveled at him. You see, I don’t see myself as a risk-taker.

If I had moved from my starting point to my destination in a single leap, I might have called it risk! However, looking back, each step of the journey was so small and so measured that it hardly merits being called a risk.

When God calls us to a new task, many of us instinctively respond by calling it a risk. We become scared because the destination is so distant and seems so difficult. However, the same God who called you there is the God who will lead you there. As you follow Him step by step, He will show you the way and lead you there. The more that you journey with God and see His hand at work, the deeper your trust will be in Him to work out the details of the journey.

This is the story of the men and women of faith. God told Abraham, “I will lead you to a land that I will show you.” Abraham’s first step was leaving. After Abraham left, God led him, then finally God showed him.

What is it that God is calling you to that has you paralyzed in fear? What is the next step for you? Can you find the courage to lift up your foot and take the next step? (Or maybe you just need to get off your seat and stand up!)

Take the first step.

Then take the next one.

Keep going.

Then if He leads you to a roller-coaster, just strap in, hang on, and scream! 🙂

Nov 11

Sola Scriptura: Not Talk but Power

This is a series about taking the Scriptures seriously, especially in areas that I (or we?) have overlooked or missed.

In 1 Corinthians 4:20, Paul writes, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Here’s one way I’d like to describe it.

First, imagine that you are the personal friend of a man named Sam. This man has years of experience in business and has keen insight into all facets of business and leadership. You and I get together for lunch one day, and I begin spilling my troubles to you. My business is failing, and my personnel are discouraged. I’m working 80 hour weeks trying to save my business, but everything under my leadership is failing.

Immediately you tell me about Sam. “You need to meet him!” you tell me. “He knows so much about business.”

“Yes!” I reply. “Can I?”

“Certainly!” you respond. “Let me tell you what he’s like. He’s very intelligent, and he has started many companies in his past. He has become a business consultant, and he travels the world, working with multinational corporations, resolving some of their most complex investment strategies.”

“Wow,” I reply. “When can I meet him?”

“Right now,” you say. “In fact, he’s just started working with international governments, developing techniques to stimulate their economies. But more than that, he is an amazing friend to me. He’s just a great person! He is married, has children, and is an amazing husband and father.”

Our conversation ends, but I am never introduced to Sam. I leave, excited over how amazing Sam must be, but I remain imprisoned in my cycle of mistakes because I never met the man who had the answers.

We’re like that sometimes.

It’s easy sometimes to tell people about Jesus and forget the introduction. People don’t primarily need to hear about Jesus. They need to meet Him; they need to be introduced to Him. What good is it to hear a third party’s account if you can’t meet the person? You can’t relate with a description. You can only relate with a person!

Sometimes we try to do the same thing with the kingdom of God. Many of us are awakening to the reality that the Christianity we read about in the book of Acts looks very different than the Christianity we see in many churches today. Many of us begin asking questions about the kingdom of God. How do we get there? What do we do? What does it look like? Does God heal the sick? How does He heal the sick?

While some of these questions need to be answered, they are only effective as a description, not as an introduction. I am coming to realize that the best way to introduce people to these spiritual realities is not by telling them about it, but praying them into it. Information goes to the mind; an encounter reaches your heart.

I am in no means against information and facts! Truth to be told, anything you tell me about Sam will probably be helpful as I relate with Him. However, your information is meaningless to me until I have been introduced to Him.

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. It is more than the expression of doctrines and ideas (though doctrines are important!). It is a demonstration of the power of God that turns people’s hearts towards God. I do not condemn those who have not encountered the power of the kingdom. Yes, some people have closed their hearts to it, but many more live their lives unaware of the power of Christ dwelling within them. Yes, these people may need more information, but most importantly, they need a fresh and deep encounter with the one who is everything–Jesus Christ. That power radically changes people’s lives.

May God take us on whatever journey necessary to become the kind of people who live out the kingdom not in words but in power.

Soli Deo gloria.

Nov 11

Told or Taught?

I have been told many things in my life. Fewer things have I been taught. Told implies hearing; taught implies learning. Told often implies mind; taught often implies heart.

You were told about God, but did you learn to know Him? You were told to love, but were you taught it? You were told ____________, but were you taught?

(The list continues forever.)

What about you?

You are telling people many things.

But are you teaching?