Leadership, Prayer, Small Groups, Training

Matching Our Theology with Our Experience

Which is correct: Do we match our theology to our life experience or do we match our life experience to our theology? What do I mean? Let’s say you believe in miraculous healing.  As well, your theology backs up your belief in miraculous healing.  Then you go on to act upon that belief and theology by praying for the sick. You pray with all the gusto and faith you can possibly muster.  You do this repeatedly for a period of several years.  Over that same period no one is healed, not even a headache disappears miraculously.  You are left with disappointment after disappointment and not one single testimony of healing.  Now what do you do?

You have options. You can change your theology to one that says God no longer heals the sick.  You can get angry with God and declare He no longer hears your prayers and you refuse to be embarrassed by such prayers any longer. You can believe that you simply do not have the “gift of healing.”  Or you can back off, be discouraged and give up praying for those who need a miracle. In my lifetime, I have found myself somewhere within this list – mainly discouragement.  Today, because of the lack of experiencing miraculous healing, whole denominations are built on the belief that God no longer heals. It is how they justify their experience or lack thereof.  It’s dangerous to match your theology with your experience because God may have a different answer.  We’ll look at some of those answers next week.

Encouragement, Leadership, Small Groups

Failure, the Pathway to Success

Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM once said, “The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”  It is said that Thomas Edison worked on 10,000 different experiments to find the right filament for the light bulb.  He started in early 1878 and on October 21, 1879, almost two years later the first incandescent light bulb was born.  Edison understood that failure was the pathway to success. Edison believed that he needed to discover what did not work in order to get closer to what did work.  His theory believed in failure as a part of the process to success. For some reason we tend to see failure as a failing – I do not believe we should – mainly because I do not believe God does.  (Why do I believe this?  Because nowhere in His word did He hide the failures of His children.)

I like what Winston Churchill once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”  And Solomon said it this way, “…for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.”  (Proverbs 24:16a)  How does this apply to you and me as leaders today?  We can project ourselves as a leader, one who is the ideal.  Without always realizing it, we can become polished versions of the super Christian, the super pastor, or the super marketplace leader.  We then need to project always being happy, always being well-adjusted, always being in faith, always overcoming every temptation or failure.  We must feverishly protect our fragile esteem and our image of leader at all cost.  Whether trying it or not, owning up to it or not we are saying, “be perfect like me, have my faith – and if I am doing it, certainly I can expect you to.”  Take a deep breath and enjoy today along with the mistakes made by yourself and those around you.  Allow them to be lessons learned toward success.



Have It Your Way ?

Many believe that it is “their freedom in Christ” which allows them the opportunity to set their own standards for living in any way they deem appropriate.  Even when the word of God has set a clear precedence or standard, these same persons enjoy having it their way.  While I have the “personal freedom” to eat at McDonald’s three meals a day, every day, I choose not to because I believe the health risks far outweigh my personal freedom.  It may be personal freedom and my right, but if I desire to live any length of time, I will need to make better choices – healthy choices.

Actually, I suppose I can call anything “my truth,” but that does not make it true or anywhere close to factual.  Regardless of how much independence we claim, there are certain ways to accomplish things and specific practices for most of life.  I am pleased that the pilots who fly the huge jets I am a passenger on follow a certain standard set for them by the Federal Aviation Association.  I am grateful for the boundaries and guidelines our laws create and for those who are paid to reinforce them.  Independence does not give me the freedom to create my own truth.  Why then when it comes to the direction of the scriptures do many persons believe them to be optional?  I am so grateful that our Lord gave up His freedom and His independence to leave heaven and come to earth to die for us.  I am so pleased that He chose to take on the nature of a servant for you and for me rather than claiming His right as God.  Our freedom came as Jesus chose to give His up.

Children, Encouragement

My Heavenly Father is a Gift Giver

It can be overwhelming for me to stop and consider the gifts my heavenly Father has bestowed upon me.  First and foremost there is the gift of my salvation.  Of course the gift of Holy Spirit living within me.  He has generously given me a wonderful and godly wife of almost 39 years.  I have three amazing children who have all gone to college and are now happily married living responsively on their own.  I have had the privilege of working for over 27 years in a ministry I love.  He has given me a home with many possessions.  To top it off, I am now a grandfather.   I am blessed with great health and wealth!


stock-vector-vector-set-of-hands-clients-purchasing-work-in-flat-retro-style.html.jpg  Those blessings toward me from heaven have caused me to be a giver.  I love giving gifts.  I usually give Mary gifts before it’s Valentines Day or even Christmas.  I anticipate and can’t wait to see her face when she is surprised with the new flowers on the dining room table.  I just can’t  seem to wait until the proper day to give.  I love giving gifts to my children.  One day we were enjoying a meal together with my adult children on our deck and I handed each of them some money just to bless them – no other reason.  My oldest son asked, “Who died” and provoked a bit of laughter.  When my children were teenagers, I would locate their wallets at random times and place a $20.00 bill in them.  Why?  My heavenly Father is an extravagant giver and I have come to believe that a sign of Christ-centered maturity is found in our ability to be generous.  The scripture states that as we water others we ourselves will be watered.  Has there been any dryness in your life lately? 


Encouragement, Leadership, Marriage, Singles

Doing a One Eighty at Thirty Seven Thousand Feet

Last week I was in the middle of flying out of the country to spend time with several churches that I have the privilege of serving.  We were at 37,000 feet over the Atlantic and almost half way to our destination, having left Charlotte, NC two hours earlier, when the pilot came on the intercom and announced that we would be returning to the states – Miami, in fact.  None of the passengers, including myself, had realized that the plane had already completed its 180-degree turn around and was headed northwest rather than southeast.  This huge plane, a Boeing 757, with every available seat filled to capacity with mostly tourists completely changed directions and no one knew any different.

I got to thinking about that…  Could we be experiencing a 180-degree turn in our marriage and never have a clue?  Could we as believers experience a 180-degree turn in our devotional life or even our faith and not realize it?  Could our nation be experiencing a 180-degree turn away from a biblical truth and we do not know the Word of God well enough to realize what’s happening right before our eyes?  The scriptures tell us that the enemy of our souls…”masquerades as an angel of light.”  He can make something look good or enticing when in fact it is 180 degrees the opposite of the will of God.  Are you headed in the godly direction that you thought you were in every area of life?  “Lord, reveal to each of us the direction of our heart and soul.”