Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Are You Interested or Committed?

The last week, I have been reading the devotion, 21 Days after Camp. This is the first year I haven't been to a summer camp in almost a decade. My purpose in reading the devotional was to read what our students are reading. My daughter, Mady, has been doing this devotion as well and I wanted to be able to talk with her about what she has been learning. 

In this morning's reading, there was a quote that grabbed my attention. 

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in something you do it when it benefits you and when you have nothing better to do. When you’re committed to something you accept no excuses, only results.” -Kenneth Blanchard

Committed Followers of Jesus...

1. Connect When There's Distractions

There are always distractions in life. From the moment I wake up in the morning, there are emails, social media, phone calls, texts, etc. clamoring for my attention. On the flip side, our society is filled with activities, hobbies and destinations that are appealing. Nothing is wrong with any of that in and of itself. However, when they keep us from connecting with God through prayer and reading/study His word or connecting with others by taking us away from regular church attendance, then it becomes an issue. Interested followers connect when it is convenient. Committed followers connect because they want to be with God and His people. 

2. Love When It is Hard

There are people that are hard to love. They may not look like us, smell like or act like us. They may get on our last nerve and jump up and down on it. The truth is there are probably people we all rub the wrong way too. Interested followers love when it benefits them. Committed people love even the most difficult people. These committed followers are living out the words of Jesus' instruction to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

3. Serve When It is Inconvenient

Last week, several of the men of our church rallied together to help a single mom with trimming some trees. Once we heard of the need, we put together a team quickly. It was the day before a major holiday and several men came out after having worked all day. They are committed! There are times it is inconvenient to serve, but committed people serve when it is inconvenient. The real heroes of our church are the committed followers of Jesus who invest in the next generation every Sunday by serving in our Kids Ministries. These folks volunteer to serve when they could be sitting in the sanctuary being ministered to, but their passion is to invest in the next generation and choose to be committed instead of just interested. 

4. Give When It is Difficult

Luke 21:1–4 (NLT) "While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
This women gave when it was difficult. She was poor and gave her last two coins. Talk about commitment!?! This women had it. She was committed.  

Are you interested or committed? As you evaluate where you are at in your life, ask yourself that question. When you are making decisions and choices whether to connect, love, serve and give, filter it through the lens of interest or commitment. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Tribute to my Grandaddy, Norris Posey

On July 21st of this year, my Grandaddy, Norris Posey, passed from this life into eternity. He was my hero. Prior to his passing, he told my aunts he wanted me to do his funeral message. Instead of posting the transcript, I wanted to post the video to better capture the love I had for him.

There are a few glitches because this was only the second time the church had used the system. We are grateful to Northside for allowing us to use the sanctuary and recording the video.

As an added bonus, here is my Uncle Mike and cousin, Lance Smith, singing "It is well with my soul" during the service.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I Will Not Forget You

I first heard this song while playing with the College Ministry worship band at Lufkin First Assembly around 2000. It really struck a chord (pun intended) with me. It became a staple for our youth ministries and camps I did around that time.

The premise is that a lot of people give credit to other things for the good things God does for us. As for me, I will not forget God. He is my Savior. My hope for you today is you see the goodness of God at work around you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dealing With Disappointment

Have you ever gotten your hopes up only to have your dreams crushed? Ok, that's probably a little melodramatic, but we've all dealt with disappointment. From the rejection of a middle school relationship to losing out on the promotion, disappointments have the potential to crush us. How do we handle disappointment?

Some people handle disappointment by lashing out. They attack the source of their disappointment. They belittle the person who was chosen instead of them. They handle their pain by creating pain for someone else. The old saying is true. Hurting people hurt people. 

Some people handle disappointment by withdrawing. They give up. Instead of trying to do better the next time, they never try again. 

Some people use disappointment as motivation. Athletes use losses to fuel their success. Business leaders turn their passed over promotion to a drive to prove others wrong. Good leaders use disappointment as an opportunity to grow in their professional and people skills. 

Godly people trust God through their disappointment. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) wisely states, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." God has a plan and a purpose for your life. While you may feel disappointed, trust God that he has a better plan for your life. His understanding is better than our understanding. Seek him for your next steps and he will show you the path to take. 

How do you handle disappointment?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Art of Accountability

"Will you hold me accountable?" I've heard that question too many times to count and asked it a few times myself. There is value in accountability. From helping to shed a few pounds to overcoming a sinful addiction, accountability can be the little thing that makes a big difference to your success.

There is an art to accountability. I've had some great relationships for accountability and others that were a waste of time. Through the successes and failures, there are lessons I've learned to have better accountable relationships.

1. "Accountability is giving necessary information before it is required." This statement is attributed to Alton Garrison, the Assistant General Superintendent for the Assemblies of God. One of my former pastors would quote this to the leaders at our church. In an accountable relationship, it is not the job of the person holding you accountable to chase you down to find out what is going on. True accountability is giving necessary information before it is required. If someone asks me to hold them accountable, they should be open enough to tell me how things are going.

2. Transparency, Trust and Honesty are important in accountable relationships. Accountable relationships are built on trust. If one doesn't tell the truth to their accountability partner, they destroy the relationship. If someone is holding me accountable for my health and I give them a false report, I'm hurting myself and our relationship. Be truthful. It is important to note that confidentiality is imperative for trust to be maintained in the accountable relationship.

3. Agree on the parameters of the relationship at the beginning of the relationship. By agreeing on parameters beforehand, it prevents unrealistic expectations on the person holding you accountable. As a person holding someone accountable, we may base our methods on how a mentor held us accountable. That may or may not work with the person you are holding accountable. To avoid confusion and hurt feelings, set parameters for the relationship ahead of time. Parameters for accountability should include, but are not limited to how long will the relationship last, questions to be asked, frequency of the accountability, topics to be covered and things that are off limits.

What are some lessons you've learned to have better accountable relationships?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Do You Know What Your Kids Are Watching?

It has been said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul. What we watch, particularly on Television
and in Movies, can have a profound impact on our worldview. As adults, our worldview more than likely has been solidified for some time. However, Children and Teenagers are more impressionable. What they see and hear shapes their worldview.

Romans 16:19 (NLT) profoundly states, "But everyone knows that you are obedient to the Lord. This makes me very happy. I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong." Donald Stamps, missionary and author of the study notes for the Fire Bible, rightly instructs believers in his commentary on this verse. He writes, "Believers should do all in their power to keep their children from being exposed to sin's deceitfulness and the perverseness of this generation. To refuse to protect our children disregards the Holy Spirit's desire that they be innocent about what is evil." It is a parent's job to train their child in a way that will help them stay innocent of evil.

Do you know what your kids are watching? Through iPads, Television, Video Games, Netflix and Theaters, our children have access to all sorts of corrupt and vile things that have the potential to impact their lives in a negative manner.

So, how do we keep our kids "innocent of any wrong" in the digital age? Let me give you a quick guide to helping your children pick the right things to watch or play.

1. Use the Rating Systems - There are rating systems for movies, television and video games. All advertising should properly display the ratings so you will know ahead of time what rating the movie, show or game your child wants to see or play has. To learn more about movie ratings, go to The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). For Television ratings, go to The TV Parental Guidelines. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has created a rating system for video games.

2. Read Reviews - While the ratings systems give a good initial barometer, they are not entirely reliable when it comes to spiritual matters. Before Sasha and I decide to take our kids to a movie, we typically visit a review site that will tell us about the content of the movie. My favorite website to get reviews is Plugged In by Focus on the Family. They provide a great breakdown of the movies that give parent's a clear guide to what they will see in the movie. In addition to their movie reviews, they also have reviews for TV, Books and Games. Crosswalk.com and the Movieguide are two other great resources.

3. Screen It - If you still have some questions or there is no review, screen the movie or television show ahead of time. When our girls want to watch a new show on television, we will screen it before allowing them to watch it.

4. Set Parental Controls - Parental Controls can prevent kids from watching a show or movie over a certain rating. Dish Network, DirecTV and Netflix have parental controls and web pages about how to use them. We utilize the parental controls on Netflix. In order to watch above a certain rating, you need a password. In our house, only my wife and I know that password.

5. Be Ok With Saying No - There have been times we've had to say "No, that show/movie is not appropriate." There was one show we deemed appropriate only to have an episode come on later that advocated for something against our Biblical beliefs. We had to tell our girls they couldn't watch it anymore. We explained the content of the show had shifted and was against our Biblical beliefs. They understood. It is important to be ok with saying no even if your child is not happy about it. Even if "everybody else is watching it," stay strong. It is our responsibility to train our kids regardless of what everyone else is watching.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tips For Being a Better Loser

Late Sunday Night, Sportsmanship or the lack their of took center stage moments after time expired on Super Bowl 50. On the podium outside was the Sheriff, Peyton Manning, clutching the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Inside the confines of Levi's Stadium was a dejected NFL MVP, Cam Newton. Cam sat in front of a group of media personnel asking him how he felt to lose. In that moment, he didn't feel like responding. His hoodie covering his head hung in shame and misery, Newton gave abbreviated answers to reporters' questions before abruptly ending his media responsibility. In the last 36 hours, Sports columnists, radio hosts, former players and coaches have weighed in on the perceived lack of Sportsmanship displayed by Cam Newton.

I don't mind Cam's flamboyant personality. His celebrations don't bother me. I think it is awesome he gives the ball to a kid in the stands after he scores. Cam's highs are really high. However, his lows are really low. I've never seen a personality profile on Cam Newton, but I would suggest his behavior shows he is a classic Sanguine personality.

Newton defended his actions today saying, "I've been on record to say I'm a sore loser. Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I'm going to show you a loser. It's not a popularity contest. I'm here to win football games.'' This is where I disagree with Cam. To quote Mike Greenberg of Mike and Mike fame, "Being gracious in defeat does not make one a loser." 

I'm like Cam. I hate to lose. If we're playing Monopoly, I will take your railroads and make you like it. My sister once gave me the nickname, Donald Trump, because of my ruthless skills while playing Monopoly. My wife doesn't like to play board games with me because losing is not in my DNA. I will win at all costs. Over the years, the drive for success has worked well for me in some areas of my life, but it also has been a detriment in others. Like my perceived notion of Cam, I am a Sanguine personality. My highs are really high, but my lows are also incredible low. In those moments of failure, I want to put my hoodie on and walk away from the media too. So, how does one lose and be gracious? 

1. Congratulate the Winner. - Cam did great at this. I loved seeing him walk over the Peyton and congratulate him. It was a cool moment. 

2. If you're going to Dish it out, be man enough to take it. - Basically, if you're willing to "dab" for your victories, don't lose your mind when someone "dabs" for your failures. 

3. Don't say anything you'll regret! Mama always said "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." 

4. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your Personality! A great resource for this is a book by Florence Littauer called Personality Plus

5. Handle your frustration privately before you have to face the public. Take time to pray, reflect and get your mind right before facing the public. Your occupation may not give you much time to do this. However, take the time you can so you can come across as gracious rather than immature. 

What other tips would you give for being a better loser?